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Title: Black Diamonds
Author: Jókai, Mór, 1825-1904
Language: English
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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 "Black Diamonds" ***

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[Illustration: Budapest 1896 17/III Dr. Jókai Mór]



MAURUS JOKAI


BLACK DIAMONDS


A Novel

TRANSLATED BY
FRANCES A. GERARD


NEW YORK
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS

Copyright, 1896, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

All rights reserved.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                          PAGE
I.        A BLACK PLACE                             1
II.       THE SLAVE OF THE BLACK DIAMONDS          11
III.      THE MAN-EATER                            27
IV.       A MODERN ALCHEMIST                       35
V.        THE DOCTOR                               50
VI.       COUNTESS THEUDELINDE                     63
VII.      THE COUNTESS'S ALBUM                     79
VIII.     THE EXORCIST                             95
IX.       "AN OBSTINATE FELLOW"                   132
X.        THE HIGHER MATHEMATICS                  146
XI.       SOIRÉES AMALGAMANTES                    155
XII.      RITTER MAGNET                           166
XIII.     ONLY A TRIFLE                           189
XIV.      THIRTY-THREE PARTS                      207
XV.       TWO POINTS                              225
XVI.      GOOD-BYE                                232
XVII.     THE LAST REHEARSAL                      245
XVIII.    FINANCIAL WISDOM                        253
XIX.      FILTHY LUCRE                            259
XX.       NO, EVELINE!                            278
XXI.      RESPECT FOR HALINA CLOTH                291
XXII.     TWO SUPPLIANTS                          301
XXIII.    FINANCIAL INTRIGUE                      312
XXIV.     THE BONDAVARA RAILWAY                   317
XXV.      THE POOR DEAR PRINCE                    324
XXVI.     DIES IRÆ                                327
XXVII.    FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS      348
XXVIII.   TWO CHILDREN                            352
XXIX.     IMMACULATE                              357
XXX.      MAN AND WIFE                            365
XXXI.     EVA DIRKMAL                             373
XXXII.    CRUSHED                                 378
XXXIII.   CHARCOAL                                387
XXXIV.    CSANTA'S LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT        395
XXXV.     THE GROUND BURNS UNDER HIS FEET         401
XXXVI.    CHILD'S PLAY                            406
XXXVII.   EUREKA                                  411
XXXVIII.  AT PAR                                  419
XXXIX.    THE UNDERGROUND WORLD                   428
XL.       ANGELA IS EVEN WITH IVAN                442
XLI.      HOW IVAN MOURNED                        450
XLII.     EVILA                                   453
XLIII.    THE DIAMOND REMAINED ALWAYS A DIAMOND   459



BLACK DIAMONDS



CHAPTER I

A BLACK PLACE


We are in the depths of an underground cavern. It is bad enough to be
underground, but here we are all enveloped in black as well: the
ceiling is black, so are the walls; they are made of blocks of coal.
The floor is one great black looking-glass. It is a sort of pond,
polished as steel. Over this polished surface glistens the reflection
of a solitary light, the light of a safety-lamp shining through a wire
net.

A man guides himself over the pond in a narrow boat. By the doubtful
light of the lamp he sees high pillars, which rise out of the depths
below and reach to the very roof of the cavern--pillars slender, like
the columns of a Moorish palace. These pillars are half white and half
black; up to a certain point only are they coal black, beyond that
they are light in color.

What are these pillars?

They are the stems of pines and palm-trees. These gigantic stems are
quite at home in the layers over the coal-mine, but how have they
descended here? They belong to another world--the world of light and
air. The coal layers overhead sometimes take fire of themselves, and
the fire, being intense, has loosened the hold of these giants and
sent them below.

Coal-pits kindle of themselves often, as every novice knows, but in
this case who extinguished the flames? That is the question.

The solitary occupant of the rudely shaped boat or canoe goes
restlessly here and there, up and down. He is a man of about thirty
years, with a pale face and a dark beard. His firmly closed lips give
him an expression of earnestness, or strong, decided will; while his
forehead, which is broad, with large bumps over the eyes, shows that
he is a deep thinker. His head is uncovered, for here in this vault
the air is heavy, and his curly black hair is in thick masses, so that
he needs no covering.

What is he doing here?

He drives his boat over the black looking-glass of the lake; round and
round he goes, searching the black walls with anxiety, his lamp raised
in his disengaged hand. Does he imagine that a secret is hidden there?
Does he think that by touching a spring, and saying "Open Sesame," the
treasure hidden there for hundreds of years will spring forth?

In truth, he does find treasures. Here and there from the black
wall--weakly constructed in some places by Nature's hand--a piece of
stone loosens itself--upon it the impression of a leaf belonging to a
long-ago-extinct species. A wonderful treasure this! In other places
he comes upon unknown crystals, to which science has not as yet given
a name; or upon a new conglomeration of different quartz, metal, and
stone--a silent testimony to a convulsion of Nature before this world
was. All these witnesses speak.

The pillars, too; over them the water of the pond has by degrees
formed a crustation of crystals, small, but visible even without a
glass. This, too, gives testimony.

The pond is in itself wonderful. It has ebb and flow: twice in the day
it empties itself; twice in the day it fills. The water rushes in
leaps and bounds, joyously, tumultuously, into this dark, sullen
vault; fills it higher, higher, until it reaches the point on the
pillars where the color changes. There it remains, sometimes for two
hours, stationary, smooth, and placid as a glass. Then it begins to
sink, slowly, surely, until it vanishes away into the secret
hiding-places from whence it has come. Curious, mysterious visitor!
The man in the boat knows its ways; he has studied them. He waits
patiently, until, with a sullen, gurgling sound, as if lamenting the
necessity, the last current of water vanishes behind a projecting mass
of coal. Then he hurriedly casts off his coat, his shoes, his
stockings; he has nothing on but his shirt and trousers. He fastens
round him a leather pocket, in which is a hammer and chisel; he takes
his safety-lamp and fastens it to his belt; and, so equipped, he
glides into one of the fissures in the black rock. He is following the
vanishing stream. He is a courageous man to undertake such a task, for
his way lies through the palace of death. It needs a heart of stone to
be there alone in the awful silence. It is a strong motive that brings
him. He is seeking the secret which lies under seven seals, the
treasure which Nature has concealed for thousands of years. But this
man knows not what fear is. He remains three hours seeking. If he had
any one--a wife, a sister, even a faithful servant, who knew where he
was, what danger he was in, how their souls would have gone out in
agony of fear for what might happen!

But he has no one; he is alone--always alone. There is no one to weep
for his absence or to be joyful at his coming; his life is solitary,
in the clear air of daylight as well as in the depths of the cavern.

The vanished stream is as capricious as a coquettish maiden, as full
of tricks and humors. Sometimes it does not show itself for three or
four hours; at other moments it comes frolicking back in one, and woe
to the unfortunate wight who is caught in its embrace in the narrow
windings of the coal-vault! But this man knows the humors of the
stream; he has studied them. He and it are old acquaintances; he knows
the signs upon which he can depend, and he knows how long the pause
will last. He can gauge its duration by the underground wind. When it
whistles through the clefts and fissures, then he knows the stream is
at hand. Should he wait until the shrill piping ceases, then he is a
dead man.

In the darkness a ghostly sound is heard--it is like a long-drawn
sigh, the far-away sobbing of an Æolian harp; and immediately the
shimmer of the lamp is seen coming nearer and nearer, and in a minute
the mysterious searcher of the hidden secret appears.

His countenance is paler than before--deathly; and drops of sweat
course down his forehead and cheeks. Down below the air must be
heavier in the cavern, or the nightmare of the abyss has caused this
cold damp. He throws his well-filled wallet into the boat, and seats
himself in it again.

It was time. Scarcely has he taken his place when a gurgling is heard,
and out of the fissures of the rock comes a gush of black water,
shooting forth with a loud, bubbling noise. Then follows a few
minutes' pause, and again another gush of water. The cavern is filling
rapidly. In a short time, over the smooth surface of the wall, the
watermark shows itself. Clear as a looking-glass it rises,
noiselessly, surely, until it has reached the black line upon the
pillars.

The boat, with its silent, watchful occupant, floats upon the water
like the ghost of the cavern. The water is not like ordinary water; it
is heavy like metal. The boat moves slowly, only now the rower does
not care to look into the depths of the black looking-glass; he pays
no attention to the mysterious signs on the walls. He is occupied
taking stock of the air about him, which is growing denser every
moment, and he looks carefully at his safety-lamp, but it is closely
shut. No escape there.

There is a great fog all round the lamp. The air in this underground
abyss takes a blue shade. The man in the boat knows well what this
means. The flame of the safety-lamp flares high, and the wick turns
red--bad signs these! The angel of death is hovering near.

Two spirits dwell in these subterranean regions--two fearfully wicked
spirits. The pitmen call one Stormy Weather, the other Bad Weather;
and these two evil spirits haunt every coal-mine, under different
names. Bad Weather steals upon its victim, lies like a thick vapor
upon his chest, follows the miner step by step, takes away his breath
and his speech, laughs at his alarm, and vanishes, when it has reached
its height, just as suddenly as it came. Stormy Weather is far more
cruel--fearful. It comes like a whirlwind; it sets everything in a
flame, kindles the lumps of coal, shatters the vaults, destroys the
shaft, burns the ground, and dashes human beings to pieces. Those who
gain their livelihood by working underground can never tell when they
may meet one or other of these evil spirits.

The secret of "stormy weather," whence it comes, when it may come, no
man has yet discovered. It is believed that it arises from the
contact of the hydrogen gases with the acid gases which are contained
in the open air; and "bad weather" needs only a spark to turn into
"stormy weather." The thoughtless opening of a safety-lamp, the
striking of a match, is sufficient to fuse the two evil spirits into
one.

The solitary man whom we have been shadowing sees, with an anxiety
that increases every moment, how the air becomes more and more the
color of an opal. Already it is enveloping him in a thin cloud. He
does not wait for the flood to rise to its highest point, for, when he
reaches a place in the wall where a sort of landing-stage has been
made, he jumps upon it, draws the boat by its chain, and moors it
fast, and then, ascending by some rude steps to a strong iron door, he
opens it with a key, and, closing it behind him, finds himself in a
passage which leads him straight into the pit.

Here he is in a busy world, very different from the solitude he has
left. The streets, which are narrow and close, are full of miners hard
at work with their hammers. The men are nearly naked, the boys who
push the wagons are wholly so. There is no sound heard but that of the
never-ceasing hammers. In the mine there are no jolly songs, no hearty
laughter. Over the mouth of each miner a thick cloth is tied, through
which he breathes.

Some of the passages are so narrow that the worker is obliged to lie
upon his back, and in this position to reach the coal with his pick.
When he has loosened it he drops it into the little wagon, which the
naked boys, crawling upon their stomachs, push before them to the
opening.

The man who has come out of the dark cavern does not differ in dress
from any of the others. He is clothed, certainly, but his clothes are
covered with coal-dust, his hands are just as coarse, and he carries
a pick and a hammer on his shoulder. Nevertheless, they all know him;
there is a rough civility in the tone of each man as he answers the
other's greeting, "Good-evening. Bad Weather is coming."

The word is repeated all round.

It was true. Bad Weather _was_ close at hand, and these men and boys,
who quietly come and go, hammer, shove the wagons, lie on their backs,
all know, as well as the convict who is awaiting the execution of his
sentence, that death is near.

The heavy, damp fog which lies upon each man's chest, and which fills
the mine with its unwholesome smell, needs only a spark, and those who
now live and move are dead men, buried underground, while overhead a
hundred widows and orphans weep and clamor for their lost ones.

And yet, knowing this, the miners continue calmly to work, as if quite
unconscious that the dread Angel of Death is hovering about them.

The man who has just entered is Ivan Behrend, the owner of the mine.
He unites in himself the office of overseer, director, surveyor, and
bookkeeper. He has enough to do; but we all know the proverb, and, if
we have lived long enough, have tested its truth, "If you want a thing
well done, do it yourself." Moreover, it is an encouragement to the
worker if he sees his employer go shoulder to shoulder with him in the
work. Therefore, as we have just seen, the master greets all his
workmen with the words, "Bad Weather is coming," and they all know
that the master does not consider _his_ life of more value than
theirs; he does not fly and leave them all the danger, because he is
the owner and gets all the profit. Quietly, with the most perfect
composure, he gives his orders--the ventilators are to be opened--a
charge of cool air at once to the heated coal; and the workers are to
go off work after three instead of six hours. He gets into the pail,
covered with buffalo-skin, and lets himself down to the bottom of the
shaft, to see if the new openings are dangerous. He turns over
carefully with an iron bar the coal-dust, to try if any of it is
heated, or if gas is there concealed which might cause an explosion.
Then, as the ventilators below and the air-pump above begin to work,
he takes his place at the anometer. This is a tender little machine,
something like the humming-top of children. Its axle turns upon a
ruby, and the spring sets a wheel with a hundred teeth in motion; the
velocity of this wheel shows the strength of the current of air in the
shaft. It should neither be stronger nor weaker than the motion of the
"bad weather."

He has now seen to everything; he has taken every precaution, he has
left nothing to chance, and, when all the miners have quitted the pit,
he is the last to ascend in the basket to the fresh air and the
daylight.

Fresh air--daylight!

In Bondavara the sun never shines, the shadow of the smoke hangs like
a thick cloud over the land; it is a black country, painted in chalk.
The roads are black with coal-tracks; the houses are black from the
coal-dust, which the wind carries here and there from the large coal
warehouses; the men and the women are black. It is a wonder the birds
over there in the woods are not black also.

The mouth of the Bondavara pit is on the slope of a hill, which, when
you ascend it, gives you a fine view over the whole country. On the
other side, in the valley, are the tall chimneys of the
distilling-ovens. These chimneys are busy night and day, vomiting
forth smoke, sometimes white, but generally coal-black; for here is
distilled the sulphur which forms a component of the coal.

The metal can only be melted when in this condition. One of the
principal customers of the coal-mine is the iron-foundry on the
neighboring mountain, which has five chimneys from which the smoke
issues. If the hammer throws up white smoke, then the oven distils
black smoke, and so contrariwise. Both factories working together cast
over the valley a continuous veil of cloud and smoke, through which
even the beams of the sun look brown and dingy.

From the foundry flows a rusty-red stream, and out of the coal-mine
another, which is as black as ink. In the valley both these streams
unite and continue their course together. For a little the rusty-red
tries to get the better of the inky-black, but it has to give up, and
the black rivulet flows on triumphantly through the black meadow
lands.

It is a most depressing landscape, and it is saddening to reflect that
in such a place men have grown from childhood to middle age, from
middle age to old age, and have never seen the green fields or the
blue sky of God's heaven.

But Ivan Behrend, when he ascended from the pit into the open air,
found little contrast between the upper and the under ground. Below,
there was the stifling smell of gas; above, a suffocating fog: below,
the black vault of the mine; above, the murky vault of the heavens:
and the same men above and below.

It was then evening; the sun had gone down, and for the moment even
the vile smoke could not rob it of its setting glory. The towers of
the distant castle of Bondavara were touched with its gleam, and the
chimneys of the distilling-houses were aglow with this crimson light.
The miners were standing about idly; the women and the girls, who are
employed in shoving the wheelbarrows, sat gossiping together, as is
the manner of the sex. One of them, a young girl, began to sing--a
simple little song, with simple words. It was a Slav volkslied--a sort
of romance. A mother is taking leave of her daughter, a bride of a few
hours; she recalls to the girl her childish days and her mother's care
in these words:

   "Wenn ich das Haar dir strich,
      Zerr' ich am Haare dich?
    Wenn ich dich wusch, mein Kind,
      War ich je ungelind?"

The melody was touching, with the sad strain that all the Slav music
has, as if composed with tears; and the voice of the one who sang was
musical and full of feeling. Ivan stopped to listen to the song until
the singer and her companions disappeared behind the houses.

At this moment it seemed to him that there was a great difference
between life underground and life in the open.

The song still sounded in the distance; the clouds had passed over and
extinguished the light of the setting sun, enveloping the landscape in
total darkness. No star, no white house; only the light from the
windows of the foundry lighted up the darkness of night; and the smoke
of the distilling-factory rose from the chimneys and cast yellow
circles upon the sky.



CHAPTER II

THE SLAVE OF THE BLACK DIAMONDS


There is nothing startling or new in the declaration that when we
speak of "black diamonds" we mean _coal_. That beautiful, brilliant
stone, the diamond, is made of carbon. So is your house-coal--the only
difference being, the one is transparent, the other black; and the
first is the demon, the last the angel.

Coal moves the world. The spirit of progress comes from it; railroads,
steamboats borrow from it their wonderful strength. Every machine that
is, and works, has its existence from coal. It makes the earth
habitable; it gives to the great cities their mighty blaze and
splendor. It is a treasure, the last gift presented by earth to
extravagant man.

Therefore it is that we call coal "black diamonds."

Ivan Behrend, the owner of the Bondavara coal-mine, was not exactly in
the condition of some of his pitmen. He had seen God's heaven, and
knew how in happier lands life was bright, careless, sunny as the
cloudless sky itself. But for an existence which was all play and no
work, Ivan would not have cared. He had inherited the coal-mine from
his father, who had left him also an inheritance of a strong will and
inflexible perseverance. No trifle, nor even a great obstacle, could
stand in the way of Ivan's wishes, and his wish and his pride was to
work the Bondavara mine without any help but what his pitmen gave
him. It was his ambition--perhaps a foolish one--to have no company at
his back, no shareholders to find fault, no widows and orphans to be
involved in possible ruin; the mine was his, and his it should be
absolutely. Therefore it was a quiet business. The foundry and the
inhabitants of the nearest town consumed the yearly output at an
uncommonly low price. It never could be, unless with enormous outlay,
a great money-making business, seeing that the mine was too far away
from any of the great centres. Nevertheless, it brought in a steady
income, especially as Ivan paid no useless expenses, and was, as we
have said, his own overseer and accountant. He knew everything that
went on, he understood his own business perfectly, and he took a
pleasure in looking after his own affairs; and these three
qualifications, as any business man knows, insure ultimate success.

It was well, however, that he enjoyed such good health, and that this
superabundance of vital energy kept him always occupied, and, by a
natural consequence, never dull. There was no denying that it was a
solitary life for so young a man.

Ivan was very little over thirty, and when he opened the door of his
small house with his key, and closed the door behind him, he was
alone. He hadn't even a dog to come and greet him. He waited upon
himself; and in this he was a great man. Eating he looked upon as an
unnecessary waste of time; nevertheless, he ate a great deal, for his
muscular and mental system needed food. He was not delicate in his
appetite. He dined every day at the tavern. His food was very little
better than that of his pitmen, the only difference being that he
avoided the strong drinks they indulged in--for this reason, that they
worked only with their bodies; he had to bring to his work a clear
intellect, not a soddened one. His bed needed no making. It was a
wooden plank, upon which a mattress was placed, covered with a
sheep-skin. There was no use in brushing his clothes; they were always
permeated with coal-dust.

Any one who would offer, by way of doing him a service, to clear out
his room, would, in fact, have done him a deadly injury. It was full
of every sort of thing--new books half cut, minerals, scientific
instruments, plans, pictures, retorts. Not one of these should be
moved from its place. There was order in the disorder, and in the
heterogeneous mass Ivan could find what he wanted. In one corner was
Lavoisier's pyrometer; in another Berard's gas food-warmer. Over there
a wonderful sun-telescope; against the wall Bunsen's galvanic battery,
together with every conceivable invention, every sort of chemical
apparatus for analyzing and searching into the mysteries of Nature.

Amongst these things Ivan was wont to spend the long nights. Another
man, tired as he must have been with his day's work, would have flung
himself upon his bed, and have sought in sleep some compensation for
the labors of the day, or if not weary enough for this, would have sat
before his door and breathed the fresh air, which at night was free
from smoke and coal-dust. But this student of the unseen withdrew into
his inner chamber, lit his fire, made his lamp blaze, and busied
himself breaking lumps of coal, cooking seeds, developing deadly
gases, a breath of which was enough to send a man into eternity.

What was it he searched for? Was he seeking the secret of the
philosopher's stone? Did he abandon sleep to find out how diamonds can
be made out of coal? Did he strive to extract deadly poisons, or was
he simply pursuing the _ignis fatuus_ of knowledge--trying
experiments, grubbing in the dark until, in the hopeless endeavor, the
over-strained brain would give way, and there would be only the wreck
of what was once a noble intellect?

Nothing of the sort. This man had a purpose; he wanted to learn a
secret which would be of infinite benefit to mankind--at least, to
those who are buried in the pits and caverns of the earth. He wanted
to find out by what means it would be possible to extinguish fire in
burning pits. To discover this he consumed his nights and the years of
his youth and his manhood. It was no thought born of to-day or
yesterday; it had been his one desire for many years. He had seen so
much misery, such heartrending scenes enacted before these pit
mouths--these monsters which swallow up human life like the
Juggernauts of old. He wanted to prevent this amount of sacrifice--a
sacrifice never thought of by those who profit from the labor of these
victims, whose very blood is spilled to keep others warm. It is
possible this one idea might drive him mad, or he might lose his life;
but the knowledge, if he did gain it, would be, in his opinion, worth
the loss. After all, what is the loss of one life against the saving
of millions? This man had a fine nature; there was no tinge of self in
Ivan Behrend. Also, he had a certain enjoyment in his search.
Enjoyment is not the word. Whenever he got even a glimpse of what he
wanted, his joy was something unearthly. Surely these moments were
worth all the pleasures the world could offer him; and if we can bring
our minds to understand this, then we shall comprehend how a young man
preferred to be shut up in a cavern, in danger of losing his life, or
in a stifling room, trying risky experiments, rather than spend the
night with beautiful maidens or pleasant fellows, drinking, dancing,
and love-making. There is a charm in Science to those who know her
that far surpasses carnal joys.

To-night, however, it must be confessed, Ivan's experiments fell a
little flat. Either he was tired, or some other cause was at work.
Could it be possible that a girl's song-- Yes, such was the
humiliating condition of affairs. At the moment when he least expected
it, this thing had unexpectedly seized upon him.

With an effort Ivan lit his lamp and lighted his furnace. His
experiments, however, were a failure. That girl's song kept running in
his head, and the words--how did they go?

   "Say when I smoothed thy hair,
      Showed I not tender care?
    Say when I dressed my child,
      Was I not fond and mild?"[1]

     [Footnote 1: These lines have been kindly translated
     from the original by Miss Troutbeck.]

It was very pretty, and the voice wonderful--so sweet and clear and
melodious. To-morrow evening she might be at the pit's mouth again,
and then he would find out her name. Even if she were not there, the
other girls would know; there were not so many singers among them.

    "Say when I smoothed thy hair"--

Oh, he could settle down to nothing with this tiresome song!--

    "Showed I not tender care?"

He wished he had seen her face, merely to know if it matched the
voice. Very likely not. She would be hard-featured, like the other
girls--bold, unwomanly creatures; beauty and modesty were rare gifts
in Bondavara.

The next day Ivan was early at the pit. The opening of the air-oven
had done its work; there was only a fractional quantity of hydrogen
mixed with the pit air. The ventilators could be shut, and Ivan was
able to spend some time in the open.

At twelve o'clock the bell rang to leave off work. As the girls came
from the wheelbarrows, he again heard the clear young voice singing
the same song. He had not been wrong as to the voice; it was fresh and
lovely, like the blackbird in the woods, uneducated and unspoiled, but
full of natural charm, tender and joyous as the feathered songster. He
could now see the singer--a very young girl, not more than sixteen.
The common blue bodice she wore showed every undulation of her girlish
figure, untrammelled by any fashionable stays. Her short red skirt,
tucked up on one side, and fastened to her waist, disclosed her still
shorter chemise, which only reached to her knees, so that her legs
were uncovered. They might have been modelled for a statue of Hebe, so
perfect were they in shape--the ankles small, and little feet
beautifully rounded, like a child's. About her head the girl had wound
a colored cloth, and under this she had tucked away her hair; her
face, like those of her companions, was blackened by the coal-dust,
but even this enemy to beauty could not disfigure her. You could see
that her features were regular, her eyebrows thick and dark, her lips
red. There was a mixture of earthly dirt and supernatural beauty about
this child; besides, she had one thing that even coal-dust could not
conceal or dim, her eyes--her large black eyes--shining like two
diamonds, which lit up the darkness as two stars.

As these wonderful eyes met Ivan's glance, it seemed to that
philosopher as if these diamonds cut away a portion of the glass phial
in which he had preserved his heart, and so kept it untouched up to
this. But he did not know that this was only the beginning; his glass
protector will soon lie in fragments all round him.

The girl made a little curtsey to her employer, and accompanied this
small act of duty with a smile which showed two rows of beautiful,
pearly-white teeth.

Ivan felt like an enchanted knight in a fairy tale. He forgot what had
brought him here, and what he wanted to say; he remained rooted to the
spot, gazing blankly after the retreating figure of the girl and her
companions. He hoped, without exactly defining what his hope was, that
she would look back. That little action would have broken the charm
under which he lay. But she did not look back, although one of her
companions called her by her name, "Evila." Ivan could see them
talking to her, whispering, no doubt, about him. This did not seem to
rouse any curiosity in her. She and they had now come to an open shed.
Here they seated themselves upon the ground, took out of their pockets
pieces of black bread and wild apples, and ate their meal with as much
zest as if it had been chicken and grapes.

Ivan returned to his house. For the first time in his life it struck
him how lonely it was. It was his custom to keep a sort of log-book,
in which he entered his personal notes upon all his work-people. He
found this practice very necessary; he knew that a skilled workman of
good conduct is far more useful at high wages than a lazy,
good-for-nothing fellow of doubtful character who would come for half
the wage. At the footnote by the name "Evila" he read--

"A young orphan; supports a crippled brother younger than herself,
who goes upon crutches, and whose tongue is paralyzed. She is very
steady, and does not go to the town."

It was certain, therefore, that he must have seen this child before,
but had given no attention to her. Every Saturday he paid every
workman, every girl and lad in the pit; how, then, had he escaped
noticing those wonderful eyes? He did not know, learned as he was,
that there is an affinity between two souls destined for one another.
It is like an electric shock, this sudden birth of love; but Ivan
ridiculed such an idea. Love? Nonsense! He in love with a girl out of
the pit? Ridiculous! It was compassion, merely pity for a pretty
child, left without either father or mother to watch over her tender
age, and, still worse, with a deformed brother to care for and provide
with food and medicines. No doubt she gave him the best of everything,
while she had to be content with black bread and wild apples, and all
the time remained an honest, steady girl. She never even turned her
head to look after him. There was nothing but pity in his heart for
this coal-black Naiad; it was only pity made him wish to cover those
tender little feet with proper shoes; it was only a proper regard for
the weakest among his work-people which would cause him to make
inquiries as to this poor forlorn child. Oh, self-deception, what a
part you play in men's hearts!

The following Saturday the workers came to receive their weekly wages.
Ivan, who always paid them himself, remained at his desk until the
last one came. On this occasion Evila was the last. Ivan sat at a
table, on which was placed the sum to be paid, which was regulated by
the account of the work done, which was registered in the day-book.

When the girl, who was dressed as when we first saw her in her blue
bodice and red skirt, presented herself, Ivan said to her kindly--

"My child, I have determined to increase your wages; from this day you
shall have double pay."

The girl opened her large eyes, and stared in surprise. "Why so?" she
asked.

"Because I am told that you have a crippled brother, whom you have to
keep out of your small earnings. You cannot have enough to clothe and
feed both him and yourself. I have also heard that you are a
well-conducted, honest girl, and therefore it gives me pleasure to
reward you by giving you double pay."

"I cannot take it."

"Why not?"

"Because I know what the others would say. They would joke and tease
me about your being my lover, and I should get so tormented that I
could not stay in the place."

Ivan was so confounded by this naïve explanation, given without the
slightest confusion, that he could make no answer. He counted out the
usual week's wages, which she stowed away in the bosom of her bodice,
wished him good morning, and went her way.

He remained, his thoughts in a maze. In all his experience--and he had
a good deal, for his time had not been always spent in Bondavara, and
out in the world he had known many women--he had known no woman like
this.

She is afraid they will say I am her lover; she is afraid they will
tease her so much on that account that she may have to leave the
place! Has she, then, no idea that once I, the master, loved a girl
here, she would not push the wheelbarrow any more? Does she even know
what a lover is? She knows well that she must guard herself against
one. Poor child! How earnest she was, and yet she laughed, and she did
not know why she laughed, nor yet why she was grave. A savage in the
guise of an angel!

He got up, locked his desk, and turned to leave his office; then again
remained, thinking.

She is unlike every other woman. I doubt if she knows how beautiful
she is, or what is the worth of beauty. She is Eve, a perfect copy of
Eve--the Eve of Scripture, and the Eve of Milton. She is Eve, in not
knowing wherefore she should blush over her own nakedness--the type of
the beautiful in its primitive state, unwashed, savage, with hair
unconfined, who wanders through the garden, fearing nothing, and even
playing with a serpent. With men she is a woman, by herself she is a
child, and yet she displays a motherly care for her little brother.
Her figure is a model for a sculptor, her countenance is full of mind,
her eyes bewitching, her voice melodious; and yet her hands are hard
with the barrow-poles, her mind is troubled with sordid cares for her
daily bread, her face is covered with coal-smut, and she has learned
her songs in the street.

"The worse for her!" and, after a pause, Ivan added with a sigh, "and
the worse for another besides her."

In his mind a total revolution had taken place. The intellectual
spirits had for the nonce deserted him, and in their place others had
come of a very different order--those demons which the blessed Antony
had fought with such good effect in the desert.

When poor Ivan tried to banish these tempters by burying himself in
his books and his scientific instruments the form of Evila came
between him and the experiment he was busy on, just as Marguerite
appeared to Doctor Faust in his laboratory; her voice sounded in his
ear, her eyes glowed in the coals, and when he tried to write he found
himself drawing a maiden in a blue bodice and short red skirt. It was
the same with everything he undertook. Some mocking demon seemed bent
on tormenting him.

Abandoning his experiments, this unfortunate man took to reading a
volume of light literature. What did he open on? The loves of great
and nobly-born men for lowly-born and inferior women. Thus Lord
Douglas fell in love with a shepherdess, and became a shepherd for her
sake; Count Pelletier took for his wife a gypsy girl, and went about
the streets turning an organ; Bernadotte, the King of Sweden, sought
the hand of a young girl who watched a flock of geese for a farmer;
Archduke John married the daughter of a postmaster; and another
Austrian duke raised an actress to the position of grand duchess; the
consort of Peter the Great was the daughter of a villager; a Bonaparte
married a washerwoman who had been his mistress.

And why not? Are not beauty, sweetness, fidelity, and true worth to be
found under a woollen as well as under a silken frock? And, on the
other hand, do we not find sinners enough in the upper circles?

Did not Zoraida kill her own children, and was she not a born
princess? Faustina took money from her lovers, although she was the
daughter of an emperor; the Marquise Astorgas ran a hairpin through
her husband's heart; Semiramis strewed a whole churchyard with the
corpses of her spouses; King Otto was poisoned in a grove by his
queen; Joanna of Naples treasured the ribbon with which the king, her
husband, was strangled; Jeanne Lafolle tormented her husband to death;
the Empress Catharine betrayed her sovereign and consort, and connived
at his murder; and the Borgias, Tudors, Cillis, all had wives who
became notorious in that they wore entwined in their crowns the girdle
of Aphrodite.

And do we not find the most exalted virtue in what is called low life?
The actress Gaussin, to whom her wealthy lover gave a check with
_carte blanche_ to write a million thereupon, only wrote that she
would always love him, Quintilla, another actress, bit off her tongue,
lest she should betray her lover, who was implicated in a conspiracy;
Alice, who undertook to fight a duel for her husband, and was killed;
and many others who have suffered silently and died for very love.

Philosophy and history both conspired against Ivan. And then came
sleep.

A dream is a magic mirror in which we see ourselves as we would be if
our own wishes and inclinations were all-powerful. In his dream the
bald man has hair and the blind sees.

Towards the end of the following week Ivan made the discovery that he
had lost the use of his understanding. The more he endeavored to force
his mind back to its original groove of abstract theories, the more
the demons ranged themselves against him. One evening, in a fit of
absence of mind, he overheated one of the retorts, so that it burst in
his face, and the small glass particles cut his nose and cheek, and he
was forced to bind up his wounds with bits of sticking-plaster. It did
not occur to him that these strips of black diachylon placed obliquely
across his nose did not improve his appearance. He was, however, very
angry at his own folly--a folly which went still further, for he began
to argue with himself in this way:

"It would be better to marry this girl than to become mad for her
sake. Marry her? Who ever heard the like? A pit-girl! What a
_mésalliance_! And who cares? Am I not alone in the world? Do I not
form the whole family? And does not this constant thought of her come
between me and my business? If this goes on I shall be ruined; and as
for the _mésalliance_, is there a soul for six miles round who
understands the meaning of the word? Not one; and if there should be
one, he would have to seek me in the coal-pit, and he would find my
face blackened with coal-dust, so that no one could see me blush for
shame."

All the same, he never sought the girl. He waited for the Saturday,
when he knew she would come for her weekly wages, and on that day she
appeared, as usual, the last, because she was the youngest, and stood
before him as he sat at his desk. But this time, when Ivan had put the
money into Evila's hand, he kept the little fingers in his firm clasp.
The girl laughed--perhaps at the plasters, which still ornamented her
lover's face.

"Listen to me, Evila. I have something to say to you."

Evila looked uneasy; she ceased to laugh.

"Will you have me for your lover? Nay, my child, I mean you no harm;
only one must play the lover before one talks of marriage."

The girl nodded, and then shook her head. "It is not possible," she
said.

"Not possible! Why not?"

"Because I am already engaged."

Ivan let go his clasp of her hand. "To whom?"

"That I am not going to tell you," said Evila, "for if I did, I know
very well what you would do. You would discharge him, or you would
keep him back, and we cannot be married until he is taken on as a
regular pitman."

"You mean as a day laborer?"

"Yes."

"And you think more of this low fellow than you do of me, your
employer?"

The girl shrugged her shoulders, held her head a little to one side,
and threw a look at Ivan which sent the blood coursing to his head.
Then she went on, quietly--

"I gave him my promise before mother died, and I must keep my word."

"To the devil with your father and your mother!" cried Ivan, out of
himself with baffled hope and rage. "Do you imagine I care what you
have promised to a fellow like that? I ask you again, will you give
him up and come to me?"

Again Evila shook her head. "I dare not. My bridegroom is a wild,
desperate fellow; he would think nothing of doing for you, and setting
the pit on fire into the bargain when bad weather was on.
Good-evening!" And so saying, she ran away quickly, and mingled with
her companions.

Ivan threw the day-book from him so violently that the leaves flew
from one corner to another. A common creature, a wheelbarrow-girl, a
half-savage, had dared to cross his wishes and refuse his offer! And
for a dirty, miserable, underground miner--a common mole!

Ivan had a hard battle to fight with himself when he was once more
alone in the solitude of the night. The suppressed passion of the
ascetic had suddenly broken through the dams, which moderation had set
up to restrain its course.

Beware of the man who professes to be above human passion, who glories
in his iron will and his heart of ice; avoid him and the quiet, holy,
studious man of soft tongue, who turns away his eyes from women, and
shuns what others enjoy. It is upon such as these that outraged human
nature revenges itself; and once the demon within gets loose, he plays
a fine game to indemnify himself for all the restraint he has
undergone. The love of the worldling is a small dog; that of the
hermit is a lion.

With this wild beast, which he had suddenly unchained, did Ivan, the
man of science, spend the long night, now walking up and down the
narrow room, now throwing himself on his bed, a prey to the most
horrible temptations, his heart beating with a thousand passionate
desires, his thoughts running in as many evil directions. The
opposition that had been made to its wishes by Evila had stimulated
his passion, and also roused the pride of his nature. The master of
the Bondavara mine was a man of fiery temper, kept in check by his
strong command over himself; but this command seemed now at fault. He
had no longer any power to lay this demon, which had got possession of
him, tempting him from every side. With his powerful fist he struck
himself a blow upon his chest, near to his throbbing heart.

"Wilt thou be silent? Who is master, thou or I? Do thy duty, slave. I
am thy lord, thy king. Thy duty consists in nothing but keeping my
arteries in motion, in pumping the air into my lungs, in forcing the
blood in the right direction. When you cease your work, your illness
is atrophy; but you cannot be my master, for the sovereign ruler is my
will."

And as Ivan beat his breast, it seemed to him as if in a magic mirror
there were reflected two forms--himself and another Ivan, with whom he
waged a deadly combat. It appeared to him as if this other self had
robbed him of his form and features, to perpetrate in his name the
most odious sins, and as he hit out against this horrid image of
himself, it slowly vanished; and then Ivan, falling back upon his
pillow, cried out in a loud voice, "Never return, O fiend; never
defile my sight again!"

In another hour, pale and exhausted, Ivan was seated quietly before
his desk. It required an heroic effort on his part to go into prosaic
calculations, to add up long columns of figures; but he forced his
weary brain, his tired fingers to the task, and the slave obeyed its
master, the body submitted to the mind.



CHAPTER III

THE MAN-EATER


The morning light found Ivan still seated at his table. As daybreak
and lamplight did not agree, he extinguished his lamp, threw aside his
papers, and gave himself a momentary rest.

He had conquered; he was himself again. All the fire of passion had
died out, the sinful images had vanished, and in his breast reigned
profound peace. He had resolved upon his course; an angel had been at
his side and inspired him.

It was Sunday morning. The engines which work the distillery were at
rest. On Sundays the enormous water-basin, or trough, which fed the
steam-pump was utilized to remove the dirt of the week from the
miners. From six to seven the basin was free to the women, from
half-past seven to nine to the men. The keys of the great pump-house
were given over by the machine superintendent on every Saturday night
to Ivan, so that no curious or peeping Tom of Coventry could hide
himself there, and see these Venuses bathing through a little window,
which gave upon the basin, and which was placed there to allow the
stoker to see that the water-course was not disturbed when the pumps
were at work.

It had never once entered Ivan's brain that he could play Tom if he
were so minded. But on this Sunday morning he took the key from its
nail and put it in his pocket. Don't start; he did this, not between
six and seven, but shortly after eight o'clock. He wanted to see the
men bathing, unseen himself. And wherefore? Because he knew the
customs which prevail in coal-mines, and that when a pair are engaged,
it is customary to inscribe the name of the girl upon the man's naked
body. Where the miners have got this Indian and savage method is hard
to say. There is a certain tenderness in it, and tenderness is more
often found with the savage than the civilized man. The lovers tattoo
themselves with a needle, upon the arm or shoulder, and then rub in a
corrosive acid, either red or blue. Such a testimony is ineffaceable.
Sometimes some poetic temperament adds two hearts transfixed by an
arrow, or a couple of doves, or it may be the signs of the miner--the
mallet and the pick. It occasionally happens that the relations alter,
and the lover would gladly remove the name of the fickle one from his
album. This can be done by placing a blister over the name, and then
the writing vanishes, together with the skin; a new skin grows, and
upon this a new name can be written. It is a real palimpsest. Many are
not so discreet. They punctuate a fresh name under the old one, and
let the register increase, until sometimes there is not a vacant
place.

It did not give Ivan much trouble to find the man he sought. As soon
as the water removed the black soot from the bodies of the bathers, he
saw on the shoulder of one of them the name of Evila, the letters in
blue, two hearts in red. His rival was an intelligent, most
industrious laborer; he was called Peter Saffran, and his comrades had
added the nickname--the man-eater. To this misnomer Peter had never
taken any umbrage. He was a particularly quiet man, and when they
teased him he took no notice. He never complained of anything, and
never entered either the church or the tavern. Towards children he had
a particular antipathy. If one came near him he drove it away, ground
his teeth together, and threw anything he had in his hand at it. This
peculiarity was so well known that the mothers always cautioned the
little ones against the man-eater. For the rest, he was on good terms
with every one.

Ivan, having found what he wanted, left the pump-house and returned
home, placing himself before the door, so that he could see the people
as they went by presently in groups towards the neighboring village to
the church. He noticed that Evila was among them. He examined her
critically and in cold blood, and he came to quite a scientific
conclusion as to the peculiar character of her beauty, which showed a
mixture of races. The small hands and feet, the slender form, the
narrow forehead, the finely cut nose, the silky black hair--all spoke
the Indian or Hindoo type; but the short upper lip and the long,
serpent-like eyebrows were derivable from some Slav ancestor. The
starry, seductive eyes were decidedly Eastern, the chin and the
coloring recalled the Malay race, and the quick, sudden rising of the
red blood to the velvet cheek the Caucasian--for this people blush
constantly, owing to the cellular texture being fine almost to
transparency.

Ivan pondered on all this as Evila passed him; he wondered also why
her lover was not with her, for this was an established custom in
Bondavara. Peter, however, evidently did not mind these rules of
courtship; he was lounging on one of the benches outside the gates of
the ventilation-oven, close to the pitmouth, his head in the air, his
chin in his hand.

Ivan went to him. "Good-morning, Peter. What are you doing there, my
man?"

"I am listening to the wind that is coming from below."

"Why don't you go to church?"

"Because I never pray at all."

"And why not?"

"I do nobody any harm. I neither rob nor murder, and if there is a
God, He knows better than I do what is good for me."

"You are quite wrong there, Peter. In these matters there is an
immense difference between educated people and what are called the
children of Nature. I have my science and thought to fall back on--my
intellect is my guide, and preserves me from temptation; but with you,
and men like you, it is otherwise. Those who have no other knowledge
but what concerns their daily labor have need of faith, of hope, of
consolation, and of forgiveness." As he spoke, Ivan seated himself
beside the other and laid his hand upon his shoulder. "Something is on
your mind, Peter?"

Peter nodded. "There is something."

"Does it weigh on your soul?"

"On my soul, on my body--everywhere!"

"Is it a secret, Peter?"

"No, it is not. If you care to hear it, I will tell it you."

"A murder?"

"Worse than that."

"Don't you think you had better not tell it to me? It may place you in
danger."

"There is no danger for me. If it were published on the Market Cross,
the law could not touch me; besides, most people know it. You would
hear it from some one else if not from me."

"Then tell me."

"It is a short story. When I was only a lad, not quite twenty, I went
to sea to seek my fortune. I bound myself as stoker on board a Trieste
steamboat. We sailed with a cargo of meal to the Brazils. Our voyage
there was prosperous. On our return we took black coffee and wool. On
this side of the equator we met a tornado, which broke our engine,
smashed our mainmast, and drove the vessel upon a sandbank, where she
foundered. Some of the passengers took to the boat; they went only a
short way when she upset, and they were all drowned. The rest made a
raft from the planks of the sunken ship, and trusted to this frail
thing on the open sea. I was one of them. We were in all thirty-nine,
including the captain, the steersman, and a merchant from Rio de
Janeiro, with his wife and a three-year-old child. We had no other
woman or child, for the rest had perished in the open boat. We thought
them unfortunate, but now I think they were happy. Better, far better,
to have died then. Out of our thirty-nine, soon only nine remained.
Oh, how I wish I had been among the dead! For eight days we floated
upon the water, the sport of the waves; now buffeted here and there,
again in a calm, immovable, nailed as it were to the ocean, without
one drop of water to quench our thirst or one morsel of food. Ten of
us had died of hunger. For two days we had never eaten, and the ninth
day came, and no hope of succor. The sun was burning us up, and the
water reflected the heat, so that we lay between two fires. Oh, the
horror of that awful time! That evening we took the resolve that one
of us should be a victim for the others--that is, that we should draw
lots which should be eaten by the others. We threw our names into a
hat, and we made the innocent child draw for us. That child drew its
own name.

"I cannot tell you, sir, the rest of the ghastly business. Often I
dream the whole thing over again, and I always awake at the moment
when the miserable mother cursed all those who partook of that
horrible meal, invoking heaven that we might never again have peace.
At the recollection of her words I spring out of my bed, I run into
the woods and wait, to see if I shall be changed into a wolf. It would
serve me right.

"Of the partakers of the cursed meal I am the only survivor. The
thought haunts me; it burns into my very soul. Besides my own blood,
the blood of another human being circulates in my veins. Fearful
thoughts pursue me. The piece of human flesh that I have eaten is in
me still; it has taken away all wish for any other food. I understand
the delight of the cannibals. I never see a rosy-faced child without
thinking what a delicious morsel his little rounded arm would be. When
I behold a sickly, pale baby, the idea at once occurs to me--Why let
it live? Would it not be better--"

He shuddered, and stood up. He hid his hands in his blouse, and after
a pause, went on--

"Tell me now, sir, is there any relief for what I suffer? Is there a
physician who can cure me, or a priest who will absolve me? I have
told my story to both priest and doctor, and one has enjoined me to
fast and to chastise myself, the other to drink no brandy and to have
myself bled. Neither of them is worth a straw, and such counsel only
makes the matter worse."

"I will advise you," said Ivan. "Marry."

Saffran looked with some surprise at his employer, and after a minute
a feeble smile stole over his face.

"I have thought of that. Perhaps if I had children of my own this
horror of them would disappear."

"Then why don't you marry?"

"Because I am such a poor devil. If two beggars come together, then
you have a couple of paupers instead of one. One must first have
something to live on."

"That is true; but you are an industrious fellow. I have long wanted
to have you as a first-class pitman, but I waited to advance you until
you got married. It is my rule to give all the best places to married
men. I have found by experience that the unmarried ones, when they get
higher pay, go straight to the bad. There is more dependence to be
placed in a married man; he won't leave his place for a mere nothing.
Therefore, consider the matter. After the first Saturday on which you
can tell me that you have been called in church with your intended,
you will receive the pay of a pitman, and I shall give you a
dwelling-house for yourself."

Peter's face was a study. He could not believe that what he heard was
real earnest. When this was made clear to him, he was ready to fall at
the feet of his benefactor; he almost sobbed as he stammered forth
some words of thanks.

"Now," cried Ivan, with friendly encouragement, "to-day is a Sunday.
Does nothing occur to you, my friend?"

The man sprang to his feet.

"Service has not yet begun," went on Ivan; "the congregation have not
all arrived at the church yet. I think there would be time for you to
catch up your bride and go with her to the clergyman."

Peter said no word to this proposal, but he began to run; his legs
were long, and he was soon out of sight. He was bareheaded; he had
forgotten his hat upon the seat. Ivan saw it, and took it into his
house to keep, but he stood looking after the fleet lover until he had
disappeared behind the stone wall at the turning. Then he went in,
with Saffran's hat in his hand.

"How happy he is!" he thought, and sighed.

When he was in his room he wrote in his day-book that from the
following day, Monday, he had engaged Peter Saffran as a first-class
pitman with the usual wages, and that in his place another day-laborer
should be taken on. When he had closed the book, his heart whispered--

"My cruel master, art thou content?"

But Ivan had his misgivings, and answered his heart thus--

"I don't believe in you, since I have seen how easy it was for you to
slip on the ice. I must for the future watch closely. I am not sure of
the purity of my own motives even now. God knows what lies under this
apparent abnegation. Perhaps you think as a young wife--But I shall
watch you closely, traitorous heart of mine; you shall lead me into no
more pitfalls."

Again he consulted his account-book, and found that the increase in
this year's income allowed him to take on an overseer at a very fair
salary. He wrote out the proper advertisement, and despatched it that
very evening to different papers for insertion. In this way he would
not be thrown into daily contact with his work-people.



CHAPTER IV

A MODERN ALCHEMIST


A fortnight had passed since Ivan sent his advertisement for
insertion, when, one morning, and again it was Saturday morning, Peter
Saffran came and told him that two gentlemen had just arrived, who
wished to see the mine.

"They must be foreigners," he added, "since they spoke French
together." Peter's life as a sailor had given him some knowledge of
the French tongue.

"I shall be with them immediately," returned Ivan, who was busy
pouring a green liquid through a pointed felt hat. "Let them meanwhile
get into the usual miner's dress."

"That is already done; they are all ready for you."

"Very good. I am going. And how are you getting on, Peter?"

"With the wedding? Everything is in order; to-morrow we shall be
called in church for the third time."

"And when shall you be betrothed?"

"It is just now Advent, and our priest will not marry us; but on the
first Sunday after the Three Kings we shall have the wedding. I am not
at all annoyed at the delay, for I have to get together a little
money. When a man marries he must have all sorts of things--furniture
and the like; and something for the cold winter into the bargain."

"And have you put by nothing out of your wages?"

"Yes, sir; I had over a hundred and fifty gulden laid by. I had spared
everything on myself--food and drink, and even the pipe--and I had got
together this sum. Then what should the devil do but bring the
recruiting commission down here, and I had to give all my money into
the greasy palm of the examining doctor, so that he might report me as
being unfit for service because I squinted. It's a trick I have. I can
squint for a quarter of an hour together, although my eyes are
straight; on this account I shall be let off by the doctor, but my
hundred and fifty gulden are gone. I shall have to squint at the
marriage ceremony, for the priest only marries me because I am unfit
for service."

"Well, Peter, you may count upon some help from me."

"Thank you, sir, but I don't like loans; that is like eating one's
supper at dinner."

By this time they had reached the place where the strangers were
waiting.

"Ah," cried Ivan, "so it is you, Felix!" and he held out his hand
cordially to the visitor.

The old acquaintance whom Ivan called Felix looked as if he belonged
to another generation. His soft complexion, carefully waxed mustache,
short imperial, his fine, dark-blue eyes, and particularly the shape
of his head, and the way it was placed on his shoulders, taken
together with his elegant dress, which the rough miner's blouse could
not quite conceal, betrayed the man of the world. When he spoke, his
voice was almost womanly; the tone was clear and high, like one of the
Pope's choir.

Felix hastened at once to put his friend's mind at ease upon a
necessary part of his visit.

"I hope you will forgive our putting up at the inn. I was sure you
would have made us welcome, but you are a busy man, and you would not
care to be at the bother of entertaining us; besides, like all men of
business, you are, I dare say, a little in the rough, and the inn is
really very comfortable. May I introduce you to my travelling
companion, Gustav Rauné? He is a mine-surveyor and engineer."

Ivan was well pleased at his friend's forethought in the matter of
hospitality; not that he would not have made him welcome so far as lay
in his power--and there were unoccupied rooms in the house which would
have accommodated the two men--but his manner of life would have been
disturbed. He had never for one moment thought of entertaining a
guest.

"My house," he said, frankly, "is not fitted to receive my friends,
and, indeed, none come; but the inn is also mine. I trust you will
consider yourselves my guests while you remain here."

"We accept your offer," returned the other; "the more readily, since
we have really come here on your business. Yesterday I read your
advertisement. You require an overseer?"

"I do." Ivan looked doubtfully at the two gentlemen.

"No, no; it is not for me," laughed Felix. "I understand nothing of
the business; but Rauné is inclined to join you, should he find that
there are capabilities here for real work. Rauné is an old friend of
mine. He has learned his business under Erenzoter. You know the firm
of Erenzoter? He is thoroughly up in the whole thing."

Rauné all this time said not a word, perhaps for the best of reasons,
that, being a Frenchman, he did not understand the language in which
the others spoke. He was a small man, slight, and well-made, with
penetrating eyes, a sharp-cut face, and very long mustache.

To this gentleman Ivan explained in fluent French that he would be
glad to show him all the properties of the Bondavara mine before going
closer into the matter of engaging him permanently.

After these courtesies they went down into the pit. Here the two men
were soon convinced that each was thoroughly conversant with the whole
machinery and working of a mine. Sometimes they held different
opinions upon certain systems, and in the dispute or argument which
would arise each disputant saw that the other had nothing to learn
from him.

Rauné displayed extraordinary quickness and knowledge in valuing the
coal stratum. Even without looking at the geometrical maps he was able
to decide upon the probable profit, as also upon the probable extent
of the layer or stratum beyond the actual ground covered by Ivan's
pit. His valuation agreed in almost every particular with that already
made by Ivan. By mid-day the inspection was over, and they went to the
inn for dinner, having first given some time to washing and general
purification. A visit to a pit is by no means a cleanly undertaking.

The afternoon was devoted to the inspection of the distilling-ovens,
and in the evening they went over the foundry. When they returned from
the foundry, Felix went in with Ivan to his house, while Rauné
returned to the inn.

Ivan led his old acquaintance into his workroom, where, in truth, a
wonderful disorder prevailed, cleared a chair, full of maps and books,
for him to sit upon, and told him to light his cigar at a chemical
lamp of a new construction. After a pause Felix began:

"You were always of an inquiring mind, Ivan. I remember well how at
college you distanced every one. As for me, I was a pygmy near a
giant. Now, tell me truly, have all your science, your industry, and
your physical exertions made you a rich man?"

Ivan laughed. "This mine gives me an annual income of ten thousand
gulden."

"In other words, it produces nothing, or, at least, next to nothing.
You are director, overseer, cashier, engineer, secretary, bookkeeper,
and conveyer of goods, and you receive, roughly calculated, just what
you would have to pay these employés if you had not united all their
different offices in yourself. In other words, your work, your talent,
your studies, your zeal, your expenditure of thought and strength upon
this mine of yours only bring you in the miserable return which any
proprietor would give to a man who filled only one of these offices.
As a fact, you don't get a farthing by it."

"The mine is not to blame, neither am I; it is the result of a small
consumption, and, in consequence of this, the production cannot be
increased."

"I will tell you in two words where the fault lies. In the present day
strength is alone to be found in co-operation. In the political world
the smaller states go to the wall; they are forced to tack themselves
on to larger ones, and so form a union. It is the same in the
commercial world; small tradesmen must give way to the larger
co-operative centres, and it is better for them to understand this,
and make part of a company."

"There is no danger of our foundry closing; our iron and our coal take
a first place, and could not be crushed out."

"An additional reason for developing my idea--an idea which, I may as
well tell you, was the factor that brought me here. You have already
guessed, I imagine, that I am not such a good fellow as to undertake
the journey solely on Rauné's account. He is not a chicken, and could
have introduced himself. I have a great plan in my head. I intend to
make you a wealthy man, and, naturally, I shall feather my own nest at
the same time."

"How so?"

"I do not know where I once read this short synopsis of how different
nations acquire money: 'The Hungarian seeks it, the German earns it,
the Frenchman wins it, and the American makes it.' It is a most
characteristic description. You have only to watch the Hungarian, how
he seeks in every hole and puddle for a piece of gold; the German will
work in the sweat of his brow till he gets his reward, a piece of
gold; the light-hearted Frenchman will win the last piece of gold his
victim has; but the Yankee sits in a corner, gnaws his finger-nails,
and makes his pile. Yes, gold lies in undiscovered millions, only
waiting to be 'made.'"

"Where does it lie?"

"In the capabilities of life, in bold undertakings, in the concealed
treasures of the earth, which require development, and in the outlay
of capital; in new discoveries, in the extension of the means of
communication, in the increase of luxury, in the follies of mankind,
in the exertions made by scientists; and especially in the money-box
where small capitalists keep their gold, which should circulate
through large channels to be of use. The number of small capitals
should be thrown into one large, commercial mart, and by means of this
credit every gulden would bring in three times its value. This is the
art of the American; this is how to make a pile of gold. It is a
splendid art, an honest art, and it seems to thrive with those who
adopt it."

When he had concluded this rather long-winded exordium, Felix threw
himself back in his chair with an air as who should say, "Are you not
dazzled with the brilliancy of my conception? Is not Felix Kaulmann
one of the greatest financiers of the day? Surely you are convinced
that he is."

So far as that went, the name had a fair reputation. The Kaulmanns had
always been in finance, and were well-known bankers. Of late, since
Felix had inherited the business from his father, the firm were more
before the public. Ivan knew his old schoolfellow well; he looked at
him now quietly.

"How do you propose to make a pile out of my pit?"

"I have a big scheme in my head."

"But the whole pit is anything but big."

"So it appears to you, because you don't view it from my standpoint.
You have sought for diamonds in the mine, but it has never occurred to
you that there may be iron ore. This pit produces, you tell me, a
profit of ten thousand gulden; that is the interest of two hundred
thousand florins. I can get you a company who will buy the whole place
out and out for two hundred thousand florins."

"But I would not part with my pit at any price. I am here in my
element, like the mud-worm in the mud."

"You need not leave it--certainly not; on the contrary, if you wished
to go, I would keep you chained, if necessary. The company will start
with a recognized capital of four millions; we will form a large
business, which on one side will ruin Prussian coal, on the other side
will drive the English iron out of market. You shall be the principal
director of the business, with a yearly salary of ten thousand
florins, and two shares in the business; besides which you will be
allowed to take, if you wish it, a portion of the purchase-money in
bonds at par, and these will bear interest at twenty per cent. You
will enjoy an income of thirty thousand florins, instead of your
beggarly ten thousand florins, which you now have, and, into the
bargain, hardly any work."

Ivan listened to this proposal without interrupting the speaker. When
Felix had finished, he said, in a calm voice--

"My dear Felix, if I were to propose to a company ready provided with
four millions the purchase of a business which up to the present had
only produced ten thousand guldens profit, and which profit could
never in the future realize more than eight hundred thousand gulden,
do you not think I would be a despicable villain? If, on the other
hand, I placed my own money in such a company, I should be equally a
perfect fool."

At this clear definition of his recent proposal Felix burst into a
peal of laughter. Then, passing his pliant little walking-stick behind
his back, he placed both his hands on the ends, and said with an air
of profound wisdom--

"You have not heard all my plan. It has not altogether to do with your
colony. You know well that your pit is only a small portion of the
monster coal stratum of the Bonda Valley, which stretches far away--as
far, indeed, as Muld Valley. I intend to buy this entire region; it
can be had now for a mere song, and when properly worked it will be
worth millions--millions earned by honest means. No stealing or taking
unfair advantage of any one. We only raise a treasure which lies at
our feet, so to speak, which is there ready for us, or for any one.
It needs only sufficient strength on the part of those who lift it."

"That is quite another thing. Now I can understand your scheme. I will
also not contradict your assertion that it is lawful and generous; but
it is just because it is so that it is full of holes. It is quite true
that the treasure which lies concealed in the Bonda Valley is
immense--it is possible that it represents millions; but this treasure
cannot be discovered, for the Bondavara property is not for sale."

"Really!"

"I will tell you why; because at this moment it belongs to Prince
Bondavary, who is one of the richest men in this country."

"I should imagine that no one knows better than I do how rich he is."

"In the next place, this man is one of the proudest of our
aristocrats, to whom I, for one, would not venture to make the
proposal to turn his old family property--the cradle, we might say, of
his race--into a mine to be worked by a company."

"Oh, so far as that goes, we have seen many an ancient race glad to do
a bit of commercial dirt. The King of Italy is a crowned king; and,
nevertheless, he has sold Savoy, the place from which his family took
their name and the right to have a cross on their shield."

"Well, suppose the old prince were inclined to sell this property, he
could not do so as long as his sister, the Countess Bondavary, is
alive. Her father left the castle and the property round about to his
daughter, who is now nearly fifty-eight, and may live yet another
thirty years. She has grown up in that castle; she has, to my
knowledge, never left it, not even for one day; she hates the world,
and no human power would induce her to part with her beloved
Bondavara to a coal company, not if the last remaining stratum were to
be found under the castle, and without this the world should perish
from want of fuel."

Felix laughed, then answered with an air of ineffable conceit--

"I have conquered greater difficulties than an old maid's fad, and for
the matter of that, women's hearts are not locked with a Bramah key."

"Well, let us suppose," said Ivan, good-humoredly, "that you have
overcome the prejudices of the prince and his sister, and that you
have actually started your monster company. Then begin all the
technical difficulties; for what is the first necessary to an
undertaking of the kind?"

"A sufficient supply of money."

"By no means. A sufficient supply of workmen."

"Wherever money is plentiful, human beings are pretty sure to flock."

"Between men and men there is a wonderful difference. This is an
article in which one is likely to be easily deceived. With us there is
a want of first-class workmen."

"We would get men from France and Belgium."

"But the men who would come from France and Belgium would not work for
the wages we give our men. They would ask double. In such a commercial
undertaking, the first false step would be to raise the wages to more
than the old system, for my conviction is that every industrial
enterprise to be safe must work upon its own internal capabilities. We
should measure our strength according to the circumstances in which we
find ourselves, and we should educate our own workmen; draw them to us
by learning together. The trade should extend slowly, but surely, by
small experiments."

"You are too cautious. I can convince you to the contrary. For
instance, a steam-engine of a hundred-horse power needs just the same
labor to work it as one of four-horse power; and a small business
requires as many account-books as a large one, and small undertakings
in like manner, even if they are in themselves lucrative, will
eventually be swamped by the larger ones on account of the want of the
proper activity, without which all trade dies of itself."

"Nevertheless, there is less danger of sudden collapse in a small
business," returned Ivan, reflectively. "I like a certainty."

"And what certainty have you? Suppose, just for the sake of argument,
that one bright morning the Austrian minister of trade listens to the
petition of the English iron masters, and that the free importation of
raw iron is allowed. Your neighbor over there will at once shut his
foundry, and you may go and sell your coal to the smithy, eh, Ivan?"

"I have gone into all that. Our raw iron can compete with the English,
and there would be--"

"Your ideas are _rococo_; they belong to the last century. If America
had worked on these lines she would not have overshadowed Europe."

"That may be. What I maintain is that foreign workmen are a bad
investment. Those who come to us are, for the most part, men who
cannot get on in their own country; restless fellows, ever wanting
change; members of secret societies, socialists, and atheists; and so
soon as they get among our men they begin disseminating their vicious
doctrines, and the next thing is a strike for higher wages."

"Have you ever had a strike here?"

"Never!"

"How do you prevent it?"

"That is my secret, which cannot be told in a few words. I am,
however, convinced of one thing: the first obstacle a company would
have to contend against would be the price of labor, and the second
difficulty would be to secure the services of a really capable
overseer; one who would understand the _technique_ of the business."

"We could easily get one from abroad."

"That might be; but I, as a private individual, could get one easily
if I had sufficient money to pay him, for I could choose the best for
my purpose, and could give him what I chose, as far as his merits
deserved."

Felix laughed at Ivan's description. "That is it exactly, as if you
read it out of a book; and just on this account I intend to give the
complete direction of the business to a man who understands it to a T,
and this man is you."

"That is a complete mistake. I do understand the working of my own
small business, but I am quite ignorant of the ways of a great
concern. Like many another small man, I should be a child in the hands
of big speculators, and I should probably wreck the whole concern."

"You are too modest. On the contrary, I think you would outwit the big
speculators."

"Well, suppose all went according to your wishes, or, rather, as it
presents itself to your imagination. The great business is in full
swing, delivers goods at moderate prices, and in sufficient quantity.
Now comes the real objection--the topographical impediment. The Bonda
coal-mine is twenty miles from the nearest railway, and twenty-five
miles from the nearest river. On your way here you must have noticed
the state of the roads. During four months of the year we can send no
freight to a distance, and at any time the cost of transporting our
coal and iron adds so much to the price that it is impossible for us
to compete with either Prussia or England."

"I know all that," said Felix, stroking his beard with the coral head
of his stick; "but a light railway would soon settle all this. We
could run it from Bonda Valley to the principal emporium." He spoke as
if running light railways were a mere trifle.

"A railway through the Bonda Valley!" returned Ivan, in a tone of
surprise. "And do you really believe that with a capital of four
millions you could construct a railway twenty miles long?"

"Certainly not. That would be quite a separate affair."

"And do you think you would find people ready to advance money for
such an uncertain return as mere luggage traffic would insure to the
shareholders in such a railway?"

Felix moved his stick from his beard to his mouth, and began to suck
the top.

"And why not," he said, at last, "when the state would guarantee a
certain rate of interest on the advance?"

Ivan opened his eyes still wider, and placed upon each word an
emphasis.

"The state will give to this railway a guarantee of interest! You will
excuse me, Kaulmann--that is not possible."

Felix answered, after some consideration, "There are certain keys by
which the bureaus of even ministers of state can be opened." After
this oracular speech he was silent, pressing the top of his stick upon
his lips, as if to restrain his words.

Ivan drew out the drawer of his writing-desk and took therefrom a
piece of black bread.

"Do you see this? People who eat such coarse stuff don't dance
attendance upon ministers."

Felix threw his head back with a scornful laugh and twisted his stick
impatiently between his fingers.

"_Allons, n'en parlons plus_," he said. "You have plenty of time to
make up your mind, for what I have once resolved to do, that I do. I
am quite ready to bet with you that I shall secure the Bonda Valley
property from under the nose of the old prince and the faddy countess,
and that the largest factory in the kingdom shall be established
_here_, and the trade carried on with the outside world. This will all
come to pass, as sure as my name is Felix Kaulmann."

"Well, I wish you every luck in your undertaking, but for my part I
will have none of it."

The arrival of Rauné interrupted the conversation. The Frenchman
explained that he had considered Ivan's offer, and was ready to agree
to his conditions and to enter on its office at once. Thereupon Ivan
gave him his hand as a sign that the agreement was concluded. Then he
handed him the books and the strong-box, the former with the complete
list of the pitmen, the laborers, the girls, and boys engaged in the
mine; the latter with the money which was paid to them for the week's
work, and he asked the new overseer to appoint a room in the inn,
where he was going to live, as the place where the miners should come
to be paid.

As it happened, this was a Saturday, and therefore on this evening
the overseer should enter on his new duties.

The inn was exactly opposite to Ivan's house. Groups of pitmen
collected on the vacant space between the two houses. Ivan went to the
window to see in what order the payments would be made by the new
director. Felix also amused himself by means of his pocket-glass,
staring at all the women.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, suddenly, "that little Cinderella over there in
the red skirt wouldn't be bad for the model of a bronze statuette. I
should like her to teach me how to say 'I love you' in the Slav
language."

"Take care," laughed Ivan; "she is betrothed, and her lover is called
a man-eater."

Just then Peter Saffran came out of the tavern. He had received
Evila's money with his own, and offered it to her. She, however,
refused to take it, and the pair went off together in good-humor with
one another. The young girl's hand was upon Peter's arm, and as she
passed the window they heard her singing.

"_Saperlot!_ What a voice!" exclaimed the banker. "Why, she beats
Thérèse. If she were in Paris--"

He didn't finish his sentence. Ivan lit a cigar, and sat smoking
silently.



CHAPTER V

THE DOCTOR


The next day was Sunday. Ivan took Felix and Rauné through the
workmen's colony to show them the dwelling-houses, which were
clustered together like a village. This village had been made by
Ivan's father. The district had been formerly occupied by the very
poorest, who eat nothing but potatoes; but now the miners who lived
here were well-fed and well-lodged. Each pitman had his own cottage
and fruit-garden.

When the three men came to the house in which Evila lived they stood
still and looked into the little yard beyond. They felt obliged to do
so, first, because the door stood open, and secondly, because in the
yard a scene was going on of which they were unseen spectators.

Peter Saffran was beating Evila. The lover held his betrothed by her
long black hair, which fell over her shoulders nearly to the ground.
He had the rich masses gathered up in his left hand and wound round
his wrist, while in his right hand he had a thick plaited cord with
which he struck the poor girl over the shoulders, neck, and back. As
he did so, his eyes expanded until nearly all the white was visible,
his eyebrows almost touched one another, his countenance grew white
with rage, and through his open lips his white teeth looked like those
of an infuriated tiger. At each blow of the rope he growled out--

"So you will have your own way, will you? You will defy me, will you?"

The girl made no protest against her lover's violence. She did not
cry, neither did she beg him to spare her. She pressed her apron to
her lips, and looked at her cruel persecutor with eyes full of the
most divine compassion.

"What a beast!" cried Felix. "And he is her lover!"

"Just so," replied Ivan, indifferently.

"But you should interfere; you should not allow that pretty child to
be ill-used by the savage."

Ivan shrugged his shoulders. "He has the right; she is his betrothed,
and if I were to interfere he would beat her more. Besides, don't you
see he has been at the brandy flask? There would be no use in
reasoning with him."

"Well, I shall reason with him to some purpose," returned Felix. "I am
not going to stand by and see that pretty creature beaten."

"You will do no good, I warn you. The underground laborer has no
respect for men in black coats."

"We shall soon see as to that. Do me the favor to call out 'doctor' as
soon as you see me take the fellow by his arm."

As he spoke, the elegantly attired Felix rushed across the narrow
passage which led to the yard, and confronted the infuriated savage.

"You brute!" he cried. "Let go that girl. Why do you beat her?"

Saffran answered phlegmatically, "What is that to you? She is my
betrothed." He smelled fearfully of brandy.

"Ah, so you are thinking of marrying, are you?" returned Felix,
looking at the Hercules, to whose shoulder he hardly reached. "And how
is it that you are not on military service, my friend?"

The cord slipped from Peter's hand. "I could not pass," he said, in a
low voice. "I have it in black and white. I am not fit."

"Could not pass--not fit--when you can use your arms so well? Who was
the upright doctor that gave you that certificate in black and white?
Such muscles--" He touched with the tips of his gray gloves the
starting muscles on the brawny arm.

"Doctor!" called out Ivan.

When Peter heard this exclamation, and felt the pressure of Felix's
fingers, he let go his hold of Evila's hair. She was free.

"You just wait till to-morrow, young man," continued Felix, shaking
his cane before Peter's nose--"till to-morrow, and you shall have a
second examination. I shall be curious to find out what is the secret
impediment which makes _you_ unfit to serve your country. That is my
business here."

Peter began suddenly to squint.

Felix burst out laughing. "Two can play that game, young man," and he,
too, fell to squinting. "I shall pay you a visit to-morrow."

At this Peter took to his heels, and making one rush of it, was soon
over the wall of the yard, and never ceased running until he reached
the wood.

Ivan was astonished at the result of Felix's interference. He, who was
twice as strong mentally and physically as this effeminate town-bred
man, would have been routed signally, and behold, the weak one in gray
gloves had chased the savage from the field, and was master of the
situation! He felt vexed, yet he wished to conceal his vexation. He
saw Felix calmly conversing with Evila, whose deliverer he had been.
Ivan was not going to stand open-mouthed looking at the hero.

"Let us go on," he said to Rauné. "Herr Kaulmann can follow us if he
wishes."

Herr Kaulmann was not inclined to continue his walk. A full hour
afterwards, when they were returning, he met them. He said he had been
looking everywhere for them without effect. He had done a good
morning's work in their absence. Finding himself alone in the yard
with the girl, he had spoken to her in a sympathizing tone.

"My poor child, what did you do to that brute, that he should ill-use
you so cruelly?"

The girl dried her eyes with the corner of her apron and made an
effort to smile. It was a piteous attempt, tragic in its effort to
hide her sufferings.

"Oh, sir, the whole thing was only a joke. He only pretended to strike
me."

"A nice joke! Look at the welts his blows have made."

He took from his pocket a little case, which held his pocket-comb, a
dandified affair with a small looking-glass, which he held before her
eyes.

Evila reddened over face and neck when she saw the disfiguring marks
of her lover's affection. She spoke with some anger in her voice--

"Sir, you have been very kind, and I will tell you all about it. I
have a little brother who is a cripple. As soon as father died mother
married again. Her husband was a drunkard, and when he was tipsy he
would beat us and tear my hair. Once he threw my brother, who was only
three years old, down a height, and since then he has been crippled.
His bones are bent and weak, and he has to go on crutches; his
breath, too, is affected; he can hardly breathe from asthma, and this
was stepfather's doing. But that did not soften him; on the contrary,
he persecuted the poor baby, and it was ten times worse after mother
died. How many blows I have had to bear, and glad I was to get them if
I could only spare the child! At last stepfather fell from the shaft;
he was drunk, and he broke his neck. A good thing it was, too; and
since then we have lived alone, and what I earn does for us both. But
now I am going to marry Peter, and Peter hates my poor crippled
brother. He says he must go out and beg; that an object like him on
crutches could stand at the church-door on Sundays, and in the market
on week-days, and get pence enough to support himself. Oh, it is
shameful of him! And to-day we had a quarrel about it. He came to take
me to church, where we were to be called for the third time. I was
nearly ready, but I said I should first give my little brother some
warm milk, and I went to fetch it. The boy was sitting on the doorstep
waiting for it.

"'Warm milk!' cried Peter, in a rage. 'I will give him what will make
him fat!' and then he struck the child and tore at his ear as if he
would tear it from his head. The child has a peculiarity--strange for
a child--he never cries, although you might beat him to death. He
opens his eyes and his mouth, but says nothing, and gives out no
sound. I implored Peter to let the poor thing alone, for I loved him.
This set him in a horrible rage.

"'Then let the dwarf go packing!' he screamed. 'Give him a beggar's
wallet, and let him beg from door to door; there never was a more
unsightly cripple than he is, so let him bring home something for his
keep, the scarecrow!'"

The tears ran down the girl's face as she told this.

"How can he help being so ugly and deformed?" she went on. "It was not
God who made him so, it was stepfather; and so I told Peter, and that
I would rather he would beat me than that he should touch the child.

"'And I will beat you,' he said, 'if you say another word'; and then
he seized hold of the child and kicked him. 'Get out of my sight, you
little monster of ugliness!' he said. 'Go to the church-door and beg,
or I will eat you.' And he made such a horrible face that my poor
little brother shrieked with fright. I could not stand seeing him
tortured in this way. I took him from him, and would have covered him
up in my arms, but he ran and hid himself in the chimney. I _was_ very
angry.

"'If you torment him like this,' I said, 'I shall break with you.'

"Then he seized me by my hair and fell to beating me, as you saw. Now
he will do it every day."

"No, no," returned Felix. "The fellow will have to serve his term; a
muscular giant like him cannot shirk military duty. If every one did
that, who the deuce would defend the country and the emperor? It
cannot be winked at--"

"Then are you really a doctor?" said Evila, doubting.

"Of course I am, when I say I am."

A faint reflection of pleasure crossed the girl's face.

"Then perhaps you can tell me if my little brother can ever be cured?"
she said, eagerly.

"I can tell you. Bring me the child."

Evila went into the kitchen, and after some trouble persuaded the
cripple to come out of his shelter in the chimney. This poor victim of
man's cruelty was a miserable object. He looked as if nature had
exhausted the stuff of which he was made; not one of his limbs fitted
the other, and his will seemed to have no power over his body.

Evila took the sick boy upon her knee, and kissing his cheek, withered
like a bit of dried parchment, told him not to be afraid, for that the
stranger was a kind gentleman.

Felix examined the limbs of the cripple with all the attention of an
experienced surgeon, and then with a professional air said--

"The injury can still be cured; it requires only time and care. There
is in Vienna an orthopedic institution expressly for such cases;
cripples are there treated, and grow up strong, healthy boys."

"Ah!" cried the girl, taking hold of Felix's hand. "Would they take
Janoska there? But it would cost money, which I haven't got. I might
get employment in this institution where cripples are made straight
again. I would serve them well if they would cure my little brother."

"I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be admitted," returned Felix,
gravely, "especially on my recommendation. I have great influence, and
a word from me--"

"You will say it, won't you, and God will forever bless you?" cried
the girl, throwing herself on her knees and covering the hands and
feet of the pretended doctor with kisses. "I will serve them; I will
work for them day and night. They need not keep a dog; I will be their
dog, and guard the house for them, if they will make Janoska straight,
so that he need not beg at the church-door. Is it far to Vienna?"

Felix laughed. "You don't think you could carry the boy to Vienna, do
you? I will manage the journey for you. When I have once promised, I
keep my word. I have my carriage here; I will, if you like, take you
both to Vienna."

"Oh, I will sit by the coachman, with Janoska on my lap!"

"Very well, my child," returned Felix, with the air of a patron. "I am
glad to help you; therefore, if you have resolved to take your brother
to Vienna to have him cured, I shall give you the opportunity. Be
ready to-morrow morning when you hear the post-horn sound. That rough
fellow who beat you just now will be taken by the pioneers corps, who
recruit next week, and he will have to serve his four years. Now, here
is some money for you, that you may buy some warm clothing for the
boy, for the nights are cold, and I travel day and night."

The sum of money he placed in the girl's hand took away her breath,
and left her no voice to thank him. Two bank-notes, ten pounds each--a
fortune to a poor girl. The gentleman was a great nobleman; he was a
prince. He was, however, already on his way before she could speak a
word, and it would not do to run through the street after him.

Evila then gave way to her joy like a child, as she was. She laughed,
ran about the room carrying the boy, set him on a seat, knelt before
him, kissed and hugged in her arms his emaciated body.

"We are going away, Janoska, my heart's darling, in a coach to Vienna.
Ho, ho, little horse, ho! In a coach with four gee-gees all hung with
little bells! And Janoska will sit in my lap. Janoska will have good
medicine and good food, and his feet and his hands, his back and his
chest will get straight. He will be a big fellow, like other boys.
Then we will come home, not in a coach, but on our feet. We go in a
coach, and we come back on two feet without a crutch!"

Then the poor little cripple began to laugh like her. Evila ran off to
the store, and bought for the child a warm winter jacket, a cap, and
boots; still, she could not, even with these stupendous purchases,
spend half of the money. What she had left she determined to return to
the gentleman.

Now it was full time to go to church. Her friends wondered to see her
come in alone. They asked her where was Peter? Evila answered she had
not seen him that day. It went against her conscience to tell a lie
before mass, but then, when one is placed in a situation that one must
lie, what can be done? A woman or a girl who has been beaten by her
betrothed or her husband must deny it. God pardons the lie, and
society demands it.

Peter Saffran was nowhere to be seen in the church. Evila felt
terribly ashamed when the clergyman from the pulpit gave out for the
third time the banns of her marriage. And there would be no marriage!
Tears came into her eyes and sorrow filled her heart at the thought
that she was leaving her home, her bridegroom, her friends, all the
places she knew, the things she was accustomed to, and was going out
into the world alone. These thoughts preyed upon her all day, until
she was obliged to go out and look for Peter Saffran. She suspected
where she would find him.

In the depths of the woods at the bottom of a mountain ravine lay a
cottage, or hut, where, at the time of the recruiting, the men and
boys who wanted to avoid the conscription would hide themselves for
weeks, until the officers would have gone on to another place. Not one
betrayed their hiding-place; and here, no doubt, Peter lay concealed.
Evila went blindly through the thicket. The night was dark, the wood
still darker. From the mountain came the growling of the hungry
wolves. The girl trembled with fear, but went her way, nevertheless,
resolved to find her betrothed, although she was sure he would again
beat her. On the path she picked up a stick, and as she went along she
beat the bushes, crying, "Go away, wolf!" But her heart beat wildly
when, with a rustling sound, some beast flew away through the
brushwood. She was getting deeper into the wood, and every moment it
was growing darker; still she kept on her way.

At last through the darkness she saw the glimmer of a light in a
window. This was the hut. Her breath came shorter as she drew near to
the house, from whence came the sound of bagpipes mixed with shouts.
They were very merry inside. She stole softly to the lighted window,
and peeped in. They were dancing. Evila knew the girls who were there;
they were none of her companions; she and her friends crossed the
street when they met these. The piper sat upon the pig-trough, and
when he blew his instrument grunted like so many pigs.

Among the men Evila saw Peter Saffran. He was in high spirits, leaping
so high as he danced that his fist struck the ceiling. He danced with
a girl whose cheeks had two spots of red paint. Peter had both his
arms round her waist; he threw her up and caught her again, kissing
her painted face.

Evila turned away in disgust and hastened back through the woods,
unmindful of the cries of the wolves and the howling of the wind. She
had not even her stick; that she had dropped, and she had no means of
beating the bushes.

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening Felix Kaulmann came again to Ivan.

"I want to have your last word," he said. "Will you join my
speculation?"

"I don't change my mind so quickly," returned Ivan, coldly. "My answer
is the same as it was this morning--I will not."

"Very well. I have acted in a friendly manner in this matter, and now
I tell you frankly that, as you do not choose to join me, I shall
start the company alone, always leaving it open to you to rescind your
determination and to join me if you wish. I cannot say fairer than
this, and I trust we shall always be good friends. You will forgive me
if I try to pick up some of the diamonds which are scattered about."

"I leave you perfectly free to do what you can."

"I shall avail myself of your permission, and the day will come when I
shall remind you of your words."

Ivan's forehead contracted as he thought, "What does he mean? What can
he take from me? Not my coal-mine; that is mine by right of
possession, and the law protects me. The cut on the neighboring
mountain? So he may! What I have suffices for me."

"Good-luck to your company!" he said, aloud; "and many thanks to the
director."

So they parted. Early next morning Ivan was roused from his sleep. It
was the post-horn which sounded the note of Felix Kaulmann's
departure. Ivan wished him a happy journey, then fell asleep again.
Later, as he was leaving his house, he met Peter Saffran at the door.
The miner presented a sorry figure. His features bore the impression
of his night's dissipation; his eyes were bloodshot, his hair ragged,
his dress in disorder.

"Now, what is it?" asked Ivan, angrily.

"Sir," said the man, in a hoarse voice, "that doctor who was with you
yesterday--his name?"

"What do you want with him?"

"He has carried off Evila!" burst out Peter. In wild agitation he
snatched the hat off his head, tore his hair, and raised both his
hands to heaven.

In the first moment Ivan was conscious of feeling a cruel
satisfaction.

"It serves you right, you beast!" he said. "Serves you right! What
business had you to ill-use the girl--your promised wife--on the very
day that you were called for the third time?"

"Oh, sir," cried the miserable man, his teeth chattering, and beating
his head with his hands, "I was drunk! I did not know what I did; and,
after all, it was only a few blows with a light strap. What was that?
With us common people it is nothing. A woman likes a man the better
when he cudgels her. It is true; but to leave me for a gentleman--"

Ivan shrugged his shoulders and went on his way. The miner caught him
by the tail of his coat.

"Ah, sir, what shall I do? Tell me, what shall I do?"

Ivan, however, was in no mood for giving advice; he was angry. He
pushed Peter away, saying, sternly:

"Go to hell! Run to the tavern, drink brandy, then choose among the
girls whose company you frequent another bride, who will be only too
glad if you are drunk every day in the year."

Peter took up his hat, put it on his head, looked Ivan in the face,
and, in an altered voice, said:

"No, sir, I shall never drink brandy again; only once in my life shall
I taste the accursed thing--once. You will remember what I say, and
when I smell of it, when I am seen coming out of the public-house, or
when you hear that I have been there, then stay at home, for on that
day no one will know how or when he will die."

Ivan left the man standing, and going back into his house, shut the
door behind him. His first satisfaction at the news was passing away.
This miserable peasant, who had dared to be his successful rival, had
lost the treasure which he coveted. The fool had the pearl in his
keeping, but he didn't know how to value it, and he had let it fall.
That was good; but where had it fallen, this pearl so white and lovely
in its purity and innocence? His soul was full of sorrow as he thought
how in his eyes it had lost all its value. The girl who had seemed to
him so virtuous, who kept her troth so faithfully, whose simplicity
had been what he really loved--she had fallen at the first word from a
villain. She refused her master, who had honorably offered her his
name, his house, his all. But he had not the gifts of the other; he
was not a dressed-up fellow, with town manners and seductive ways; he
had not the tongue of a seducer, and had not promised her jewels and
fine clothes, balls and operas. It was the same story with all women,
and Mahomet was right when he gave them no souls, and no place either
on earth or in heaven.



CHAPTER VI

COUNTESS THEUDELINDE


The mistress of Bondavara was at this time fifty-eight years old. Ivan
had not overstated her age when he gave Felix the information.
Countess Theudelinde had long since given up the world. The
renunciation cost her very little; she had never been in touch with
it. Up to her fourteenth year she had grown up in the house of her
father, the prince; at that period her mother, the princess, died. The
governess of Theudelinde was beautiful, the prince was old. The
countess--only the first-born can have the princely title; the younger
children are all counts and countesses--could not, for various
reasons, remain under the paternal roof; she was sent out of the way
and to finish her education at a convent. Before she went, however,
she was betrothed to the Marquis Don Antonio de Padua, only son of the
Marquis de Colomorano, then eighteen years of age. It was settled
between the two fathers that when Antonio was twenty-four and
Theudelinde twenty, she should be fetched out of her convent, and both
should be united in wedlock by Holy Church. This arrangement was
carried out so far as Theudelinde spending six blameless years in a
most highly respectable convent. She was then brought home, and the
marriage bells were set ringing. But, horror of horrors, when the girl
saw her betrothed husband, she shrieked and ran away! This was not
the man she had promised to marry; this one had a mustache!
(Naturally, for he was an officer in the hussars.)

Theudelinde had never seen a man with a mustache. Six years before,
when she was at home, all the distinguished guests who came to her
father's house, the magnates, the ambassadors, were all smooth-shaved,
so were the man-servants, even the coachman. In the convent there was
only one man, the father confessor; his face was like a glass. And now
they proposed to marry her to a man all hair! Impossible! The saints
and the prophets of old wore beards, that was true; some of them had a
good deal of hair, but none had it only on the upper-lip. The only one
she could remember with this adornment was the servant of the
high-priest in the Stations of the Cross, which, to a pious mind like
Theudelinde's, was conclusive. She would hear no more of the marriage;
the betrothal rings were returned on both sides, and the alliance was
at an end.

After this the countess avoided all worldly amusements. Nothing would
induce her go to a ball, or to the theatre. Nevertheless, she did not
seem inclined to take the veil; she had strong leanings towards this
wicked world, only she wanted one of a different sort, without the
wickedness. She desired out of the general chaos to create an ideal,
and this ideal should be her husband. He should be tender, faithful,
no wine-drinker, no smoker; a man with a smooth face, a pure soul, a
sweet-sounding voice; a gifted, sympathetic, patient, amiable, soft,
romantic, domestic, pious man; prudent, scientific, literary,
distinguished, well-born, much respected, covered with orders, rich,
loyal, brave, and titled. Such a _rara avis_ was impossible to find.
Countess Theudelinde spent the best days of her life seeking a
portrait to fit the frame she had made, but she sought in vain; there
was no husband for her.

When the countess had reached thirty there was a halt. The ideal was
as far off as ever. She was anxious to come to terms with the world,
but the world would have none of her. Her day was past; she had no
right to any pretensions. She found herself in the position of having
to choose between utter renunciation or acceptance of the world, with
all its wickedness. At this critical juncture the old prince, her
father, died, leaving the countess the property of Bondavara, together
with the castle. Here Theudelinde retired to nurse her ideal, and
mourn over her shattered idols. Here she was absolute mistress, her
brother, to whom the property reverted, leaving her to her own
devices.

The countess carried out, therefore, her theories unmolested, and her
dislike to beards and mustaches had free play. The growers of these
enormities were banished from her presence, and, as was only a natural
consequence, as time went on her hatred of the male sex increased. No
man was allowed in the neighborhood of the countess. She only suffered
women about her--not alone in the house, but outside. The garden, the
conservatories, were attended to by women--unmarried women, all.
Matrimony was as a red rag to Theudelinde, and no one durst mention
the word in her presence. Any girl who showed any inclination to wear
the "matron's cap" was at once dismissed with contumely. Even the
"coachman" was a woman; and for the reason that it would not have been
fitting to sit upon a coach-box in woman's clothes, this female Jehu
was allowed to wear a long coachman's cloak, a man's coat, as also a
certain garment, at the bare mention of which an Englishwoman calls
out, "Oh, how shocking!" and straightway faints. Truly, at the time
this history was written, in our good land of Hungary, this very
garment played a serious part, since it was the shibboleth and visible
sign of fidelity to the governing powers, and of submission to the
mediators; in truth, ever since those days the "leg of the boot" has
been worn. So it came to pass that Mrs. Liese wore this thing, the
only one of the kind to be seen in the castle. Liese, also, was
allowed to drink wine, and to smoke tobacco, and, needless to say, she
did both.

Fraulein Emerenzia, the countess's companion, was, so to speak, the
exact counterpart of her noble mistress. The countess was tall and
slender; she had a white skin, her features were sharp, her nose
almost transparent, her lips, scarlet in color, were shaped like a
bow; her cadaverous form bent forward; her eyelids fell over her
lack-lustre eyes, her face appeared to have two sides which didn't
belong to one another, each half having a totally different
expression; even the wrinkles didn't correspond. She wore her hair as
it was worn in the days of her youth, as it was worn when Caroline Pia
was married, and as it is possible it will be worn again. Her hands
were fine, transparent; they were not strong enough to cut the leaves
of a book with a paper-knife. Her whole being was nerveless and
sensitive. At the slightest noise she would shriek, be seized with a
cramp, or go off in hysterics. She had certain antipathies to beasts,
flowers, air, food, motion, and emotion. At the sight of a cat she was
ready to faint; if she saw a flesh-colored flower her blood grew
excited. Silver gave everything an unpleasant taste, so her spoons
were all of gold. If any women crossed their legs she sent them out of
the room. If the spoons, knives, or forks were by accident laid
crosswise on the table, she would not sit down; and if she were to
see velvet on any of her attendants she was thrown into a nervous
attack, from the bare idea that perhaps her hand might come in contact
with this electric and antipathetic substance.

Fortunately for her household her nervous fears kept her quiet at
night. She locked and double-locked the door of her room, and never
opened it until the morning came--no, not if the house were burning
over her head.

Fraulein Emerenzia was, as we have before said, the counterpart of her
mistress, in so far that she affected a close imitation of her ways,
for in her appearance she was a direct contrast, Emerenzia being a
round, short, fat woman, with a full face, the skin of which was so
tightly stretched that it was almost as white as the countess's; she
had a snub nose, which in secret was addicted to the vice of
snuff-taking. Her dress and her manner of doing her hair were
identical with the countess's fashion in each, only that the stiff-set
clothes had on her small body a humorous expression. She affected to
be as nerveless as the countess; her hands were as weak--they could
not break a chicken bone. Her eyes were as sensitive to light, her
antipathies were as numerous, and she was as prone to faints and
hysterics as her patroness. In this direction, indeed, she went
further. So soon as she observed that there was any cause for
emotional display, she set up trembling and screaming, and so got the
start of the countess, and generally managed to sob for a minute
longer; and when Theudelinde fell fainting upon one sofa Emerenzia
dropped lifeless upon another; likewise, she took longer coming to
than did her mistress. At night Emerenzia slept profoundly. Her room
was only separated from that of the countess by an ante-chamber, but
Theudelinde might tear down all the bells in the castle without waking
her companion, who maintained that her sleep was a species of nervous
trance.

One man only was ever allowed entrance into the Castle of Bondavara.
What do we say?--no man, no _masculinum_. The language of dogma has
defined that the priest is _neutrius generis_, is more and less than a
being of the male sex; bodily he can be no man's father, spiritually
he is father of thousands. No one need think he will here read any
calumnies against the priesthood. The pastor Mahok was a brave, honest
man; he said mass devoutly, baptized, married, buried when called
upon, would get up in the middle of the night to attend the death-bed
of a parishioner, and would never grumble at the sacristan for waking
him out of his first sleep. The pastor wrote no articles in the
_Church News_, neither did he ever read one. If he wanted a newspaper
he borrowed from the steward the daily paper. When his clerk collected
Peter's pence, Pastor Mahok sent it with an additional gulden or two
to the office of the chief priest; but this did not prevent him
sitting down in the evening to play "tarok" with the Lutheran pastor
and the infidel steward. He held to having a good cellar; he had a
whole family of bees in his garden, and was a successful cultivator of
fruit. In politics he was a loyalist, and confessed he belonged to the
middle party, which in the country means just this, and no more, "We
vote for the tobacco monopoly, but we smoke virgin tobacco because it
is good and we have it."

From this account every one will understand that during the course of
this narrative this excellent gentleman will offend no one. We would,
in fact, have nothing to say to him were it not that he came every
day, punctually at eleven o'clock, to Bondavara Castle to hear the
countess's confession, and that done, he remained to dinner, and in
both directions he honestly earned his small honorarium. There was a
general air of satisfaction in his whole appearance, in his double
chin, in his fresh color, in his round, shining face.

To-day the excellent man was punctual. The countess, however, was not.
Just as eleven o'clock struck, the spiritual man knocked at the door
of the sitting-room. Only the voice of Emerenzia answered, "Come in!"

The smile of greeting on the countenance of the visitor was reflected
on that of the companion. It was the meeting of two full moons.

"The countess is still locked in her room," Emerenzia said in a
whisper, as if afraid that her voice could penetrate into the third
room.

The pastor expressed by a movement of his hand and an elevation of his
eyebrows that the sleep of the just was not to be disturbed. The good
man was not aware that it was the toilette of the just that was then
in progress. These mysteries were conducted by the countess in
private. No one, not even a faithful maid, was admitted until
Theudelinde was clothed, and for this reason her garments were made to
close in front.

The priest made use of this unexpected delay to search in the pocket
of his coat, and to draw from thence a mysterious something, which,
after first casting a look round the room, to make sure no one was
spying on him, he pressed into the fat hand of the countess's
companion, who hastily concealed this surreptitious something in the
depths of the pocket of her dress, expressing her gratitude by a
friendly nod, which the pastor returned by a courteous movement
which expressed, "No thanks are necessary for so small a service."
Whereupon Emerenzia, turning away, half-shyly drew the something
carefully out of her pocket, peered into the contents of the same,
held it close to her nose, drinking in the scent of the something,
turning her eyes up to heaven, and again to the pastor, who, on his
part, expressed by the motion of the thumb and forefinger of his
left hand, "Excellent--special brand!" Then, no longer able to
restrain her feelings, the companion took from the mysterious packet
between the thumb and forefinger of _her_ right hand something which
she placed in both nostrils, and sniffed up in silent ecstasy. It
was the pastor's pleasure to fill Emerenzia's snuff-box with the
very best mixture. This was the platonic bond which existed between
them--the mutual desire of two noses for one ideal.

Yellow snuff is not an unattainable ideal. In the ordinary way of
business a quarter of a pound can be procured for a few pence; but
common snuff was as different from the priest's mixture as cherry
brandy is from Chartreuse, or Veuve Cliquot from the vintage of
Presburg. This is easily understood by those who take snuff. How is it
that a clergyman always has the best tobacco? How does he prepare it?
Does he get it prepared? These are broad questions that a man of
liberal mind dare not ventilate. Even if he knew, it would not be
advisable to make use of his knowledge. One thing is certain, the best
tobacco is used by the Church. A bishop, who died not long since, left
behind him a hundredweight of the most heavenly stuff, two ounces of
which fetched a ducat.

The quiet _tête-à-tête_ between the two snuff-takers was disturbed by
the sound of a bell; then a metal slide in the door of the countess's
room opened, and a tray with an empty teacup was put through. This was
a sign that the countess had breakfasted.

Every door in the castle had sliding panels, some large, others
small. The slides were made of copper, the doors of strong wood,
with brass locks and fasteners. The door of the countess's bedroom
was all of iron, covered on the inside with a tapestry curtain.
Since no man was allowed in the house, it was necessary to have a
defence system against any possible attack. This system included
some cleverly-constructed machinery, by means of which the countess,
by pressing her foot, could raise up the flooring, and precipitate
any bold invader of the sacred precincts of her bedroom into a
cellar without light or exit. From the alcove of her bed an electric
telegraph connected with the fire-tower, so that by raising her
finger the alarm-bell could be set ringing, and in case of danger
the masculine inhabitants of the adjacent farm-houses and
hunting-lodges could be summoned without a moment's delay. In
Emerenzia's room there was likewise a communication with this
electric apparatus, and to the door were affixed the different signs
by which the countess expressed her wishes. The cup signified that
the waiting-maid was required, a book would have meant that the
companion was needed.

Emerenzia, therefore, sent the girl to her mistress. When her work was
finished the bell rang again, the book appeared, and the companion
went to the countess. After a short time she returned, and opened the
door for the pastor, while she whispered to him softly--

"She has seen the spirits again; she has much to tell you."

We will follow the pastor into his penitent's room; but no one need be
afraid that he or she is about to listen to the lady's confession.
When the pastor had closed the door behind him, he came to the
countess, who sat in a large armchair, looking pale and exhausted.
She signed to the priest to take his place in another armchair
opposite to her.

"Have you seen them again?" he asked.

"I have," said the countess, in an awed whisper. "All happened in the
same way as usual. So soon as the clock-tower had sounded midnight,
there rose from below, as if out of the vault, a fearful chorus of
voices intoning the _De Profundis_. It was a ghostly, terrible sound.
I could distinguish the solo of the celebrant, the antiphon, the
chorus; and between them loud laughter, diabolical words, the shrieks
of women, and the clatter of glasses. I heard comic songs accompanied
by wild howls; then, again, the soft, pious hymn succeeded by the wild
disorder. I pinched my arm to see did I dream. Here you can see the
mark. 'Twas not dreaming. I got up; I wished to convince myself that I
was awake. I took my pencil and note-paper, and when a distinct tune
reached my ear I wrote it down. Here is the paper. You understand
music."

The priest threw a hasty glance over the ghostly melody, and
recognized a well-known Hungarian volkslied--"Maiden with the black
eyes, let me taste thy lips." Undoubtedly an unclean song to issue
from the family vault at midnight!

"And, gracious countess, have you never heard the peasants singing
this in the fields?"

The countess drew herself up with dignity. "Do I frequent the places
where peasants sing?" she made answer; and then continued her story.
"These notes are sufficient proof that I was awake; my nerves were too
excited to allow me to sleep again. Moreover, I was drawn by an
invincible desire to go to the spot from whence the sound came. I
dressed myself. I am certain that I took out my grass-green skirt of
Gros de Naples, with a flounce of cashmere. I called none of my
servants; every one in the house was asleep. An extraordinary courage
awoke in me. Quite alone I descended the steps which lead to the
family vault. When I reached the door both sides opened of themselves;
I entered, and found myself in the presence of my departed ancestors.
The monuments were all removed, the niches empty; the occupiers of
both sat round the long table which stands in the vault, in the
identical dress in which they are painted in the portraits which hang
in the hall, and by which their calling in life is distinguishable. My
great-uncle, the archbishop, in full canonicals, celebrated mass
before the requiem altar; my grandfather, the chancellor, had large
parchment documents before him, upon which he affixed the state seal.
My great-uncle, the field-marshal, in armor, and with the marshal's
baton in his hand, gave orders. My ancestress Katherine, who was a
lady of the court, and of remarkable beauty, rolled her eyes about,
and in her whole face no feature moved but those glittering eyes; and
my aunt Clementina, the abbess of the Ursuline Convent, sang psalms
with my uncle, in which the others from time to time joined."

"But the laughter, the tumult, the comic songs?" asked the pastor.

"I am coming to that. At the other end of the table sat some of my
more distant relatives--my young cousin Clarissa, who danced herself
to death; and a cousin, who was a celebrated flute player; and my
great-uncle Otto, who was devoted to hazard, and now rattled dice into
a copper goblet, and cursed his bad-luck when he made a bad throw;
also another cousin, who died on the very night of her marriage, and
still wore a faded wedding wreath; finally, my uncle Ladislaus, who
was banished from the family circle early in the century, and whose
frame hangs in the picture-gallery empty, his portrait being removed."

"How did you know him, then?" By this question the pastor hoped to
check the flow of the countess's visions.

Theudelinde, however, answered that her uncle Ladislaus, being a rebel
and a heretic, had not alone been declared a traitor, but had incurred
the ban of excommunication. He was taken prisoner and beheaded. "And
therefore," she added, with an air of conviction, "it was easy to
recognize him by his death's-head. Likewise, during his lifetime he
ignored the king's express command, and was the first to introduce
tobacco-smoke into the country, and on this account, at his execution,
he received the punishment awarded to the smoker, of having a
pipe-handle run through his nose. Last night, as he sat at the table,
he held between the teeth of his monstrous death's-head a large
meerschaum pipe, and the whole vault smelled in the most fearful
manner of tobacco-smoke."

This remark convinced the priest that the countess had been dreaming.

"Between both my cousins," she went on, "the nun and the bride, there
was an empty chair. There I felt obliged to seat myself. The bride
wished to hear of the fashions; she praised the stuff of my Gros de
Naples dress, taking it between her fingers, which, when they touched
mine, were cold as death itself. The upper end of the table was
covered with green cloth, the lower end with a yellow silk
table-cloth, embroidered with many-colored flowers. At this end every
one laughed, talked, sang noisy songs; while at the top the psalms
were intoned and the antiphon was sung. Both sounded horrible in my
ears. The dishes contained cooked hazel-hens and roast pheasants, with
the feathers sticking in their heads; sparkling wine filled the cups.
I was pressed to eat and drink, but neither the food nor the liquor
had any taste. Once the bride, my cousin, as is the custom with very
young girls, offered me the spur of the pheasant's breast, saying,
jokingly, 'Break this spur with me, and we shall see which of us two
gets a husband first.' I seized hold of my end of the spur; I tugged
and tugged, and at last broke it. The largest half remained in my
hand. The bride laughed. 'Theudelinde shall be the first married!' she
cried. I blushed; it seemed to me something terrible that the spirits
of my dead ancestors should be so frivolous."

The worthy pastor said nothing. Nevertheless, he was minded to agree
with his penitent. He could not imagine why blessed souls, or even
condemned ones, should occupy themselves breaking pheasant bones with
an old maid, of all people in the world.

"What gave me most offence," continued Theudelinde, "was the
outrageous behavior of my uncle Ladislaus. One minute he shrieked,
then laughed loudly, sang horrid songs. Again he broke out into
fearful curses, scorned the saints, the pope, the sacraments, made
witticisms that brought a blush to the faces of the ladies, and blew
all his tobacco-smoke over me. I shook the skirt of my green silk to
prevent the horrid smell sticking to it, but I felt this precaution
was of little use. My uncle Ladislaus began then to tease me, and said
I had concealed the prophetic bone in the pocket of my green dress. My
face glowed with shame, for it was true. I denied it, however,
whereupon he began to swear in his heathenish way, and to thump with
his fists on the table until the vault resounded with his blows. My
cousins put their hands over his mouth. Then he spoke through his
empty eye-sockets. It was terrible! He cursed all the saints in the
calendar and the emperor. My great-uncle, the archbishop, stretched
out his hands and damned him; my grandfather, the chancellor, sealed
the sentence; and my great-uncle, the field-marshal, drew his sword
and cut off my uncle's death's-head. The head rolled over, and fell at
my feet, still holding the pipe between its teeth, and blew its filthy
breath over me. Then I arose and fled."

The pastor had now made up his mind that the whole story was nothing
but the dream of an hysterical woman. It was strange, however, that
the countess should have the same vision so often, and that it should
always begin in the same manner.

As she now concluded her recital with the words, "As I took off my
silk dress it smelled horribly of tobacco-smoke," a brilliant idea
came to Father Mahok.

"Will you excuse my asking you where your green dress is?" he asked,
gravely.

The countess betrayed some embarrassment.

"I do not know. My wardrobe is in the care of Fraulein Emerenzia--"

"Allow me to ask you the question, did you not take the dress off in
this apartment?"

"I no longer remember. Emerenzia has been here since; she may know."

"Will you grant me the favor, countess, to send for Fraulein
Emerenzia?"

"Certainly. She will be here in a minute."

The countess pressed her finger twice on the electric apparatus, and
the companion entered.

"Fraulein," said the countess, "you remember my green Gros de Naples
silk, bordered with a trimming of fur?"

"Yes; it is a pelisse of peculiar cut, with hanging sleeves, and
fastened by a silk band and buckle."

"That is the dress," returned the countess. "Where is it?"

"In the wardrobe. I hung it there myself, first putting camphor in the
sleeves, that the moths might not get at the fur."

"When did you do this?"

"Last summer."

The pastor laughed slyly to himself. "Now," thought he, "the countess
must be convinced that she dreamed the whole scene she has so
accurately described."

"Have I not worn it since last summer?" questioned Theudelinde.

"Not once. The open-hanging sleeves are only for the hottest weather."

"Impossible!"

"But, countess," put in the priest, "it is easy to convince yourself
of what ma'm'selle says. You have only to look into the wardrobe. Who
keeps the key?"

"Ma'm'selle Emerenzia."

"Do you command me to open the press?" asked the companion, with a
discomfited look.

"I do," answered the countess, nodding to the pastor to follow her
into the next room.

Emerenzia, her face puckered into an expression of annoyance, drew her
bunch of keys from her pocket, and placed one in the lock of an
antique and highly ornamented press, of which she threw the doors
open. At least fifty silk dresses hung there, side by side. The
countess never allowed any of her clothes to get into strange hands;
no man's eye should ever rest upon what she had worn. Through this
museum of old clothes Emerenzia's fingers went with unerring
certainty, and drew forth the oft-mentioned green silk dress with the
fur trimming.

"Here it is," she said, shortly.

The pastor was triumphant, but the countess, whose nerves were more
impressionable than those of ordinary mortals, grew suddenly pale and
began to shake all over.

"Take that dress down," she said, in a whisper. And Emerenzia, with a
jerk, tore it from its peg. What, in Heaven's name, had come to the
pastor and her mistress?

The countess took it from her hand, and held it, while she turned her
head the other way, across his nose.

"Do you smell it?" she said. "Is it tobacco-smoke?"

Father Mahok was astonished. This fine silk dress, straight from out
of a lady's wardrobe, smelled as strongly of the commonest tobacco as
the coat of a peasant who had passed his night in an ale-house. Before
he could answer Theudelinde's question she was ready with another.
From the pocket of the green Gros de Naples she now drew forth a
broken pheasant bone.

"And this?" she asked. But here her strength was exhausted. Without
waiting for a reply, she fell fainting on the sofa.

Emerenzia, sobbing loudly, fell helplessly into an arm-chair. The
clergyman was so upset by the whole thing that, in his embarrassment,
he opened the doors of three more wardrobes before finding the one
which communicated with the sitting-room. Then he summoned the
servants to attend to their mistress. _The evidence of witchcraft was
proved._



CHAPTER VII

THE COUNTESS'S ALBUM


The worthy Pastor Mahok was of opinion that the mystery of the
countess's dress smelling so strongly of tobacco-smoke could not be
accounted for by any law of Nature, and judged, therefore, by the
light of his priestly office, as well as from his worldly experience,
that these diabolical visions were matters worthy of deep
consideration on his part. They occupied his mind during dinner, which
he partook of in company with the countess's companion, but of the
subject of his thoughts he spoke no word to her. They were alone at
table. The countess remained in her room, as was her habit when she
suffered from what was called "cramps," and her only refreshment was
some light soup. After dinner she again sent for the pastor.

He found her lying on the sofa, pale and exhausted; her first words
had reference to the subject which filled both their minds.

"Are you now convinced," she said, "that what I told you was, indeed,
no dream?"

"Doubtless there has been some strange work going on."

"Is it the work, think you, of good or bad spirits?" asked the
countess, raising her eyes.

"That can only be ascertained by a trial."

"What sort of a trial, holy father?"

"An attempt to exorcise them. If these spirits who every night leave
their graves are good, they must, by the strength of the exorcism,
return to their resting-places, and remain there till summoned by the
angel's trumpet to arise on the last day."

"And in case they don't return?" inquired the countess, anxiously.

"Then they are bad spirits."

"That is to say, damned. How do you know that?"

For a minute there was a struggle in the pastor's mind; then he
answered, boldly:

"This night I shall keep watch in the castle."

"And if you hear the unearthly noises?"

"Then I shall descend into the vault, and scatter the ghosts with holy
water."

The countess's face glowed with fervor as she exclaimed:

"Holy father, I shall accompany you."

"No, countess; no one shall accompany me but my sacristan."

"The sacristan! A man! He shall not put his foot in this house!" cried
the countess, excitedly.

The pastor, in a soothing voice, explained to her that his sacristan
was almost as much a part of the Church as himself; moreover, that he
was absolutely necessary on this occasion for the performance of the
exorcism; in fact, without him the ceremony could not take place,
seeing that the sacred vessel containing the holy water, the
crucibulum and lanterns, should be carried before him to give all due
effect to the religious rite.

Under these circumstances Countess Theudelinde gave her consent, on
the condition that the obnoxious male intruder should not enter the
castle itself. Still more, the pastor promised to watch in the
greenhouse after the castle gates were locked.

According to these arrangements, when it began to get dark, Father
Mahok arrived, bringing with him his sacristan, a man of about forty,
with a closely shaved mustache and a very copper-colored face. The
pastor left him in the greenhouse, and proceeded himself to the
dining-room, where the countess was awaiting him for supper. No one
ate a morsel. The pastor had no appetite, neither had the countess,
nor her companion. The air was too full of the coming event to allow
of such a gross thing as eating.

After supper the countess withdrew to her room, and Herr Mahok went to
the greenhouse, where the sacristan had made himself comfortable with
wine and meat, and had kept up the fires in the oven. The servants had
been kept in ignorance of what was going on; they had never heard the
midnight mass, nor the wild shrieks and infamous songs of the
inhabitants of the vault, and the countess would not allow the ears of
her innocent handmaidens to be polluted with such horrors. Therefore,
every one in the castle slept. The pastor watched alone. At first Herr
Mahok tried to pass the long hours of the night in reading his
prayers, but as his habitual hour for sleep drew near he had to fight
a hard battle with his closing eyelids. He was afraid that if he
slumbered his imagination would reproduce the countess's dream, to
which, be it said, he did not give credence; at the same time, he did
not wholly doubt. Generally, he found that his breviary provoked
sleep, and now he thought it better to close the book, and try what
conversation with the sacristan would do as a means to keep awake.

The clerk's discourse naturally turned upon ghostly appearances; he
told stories of a monk without a head, of spirits that appeared on
certain nights in the year, of hobgoblins and witches, all of which he
had either seen with his own eyes or had heard of from persons whose
veracity was unimpeachable.

"Folly! lies!" said the excellent pastor; but he could not help a
creeping sensation coming over him. If he could even have smoked, it
would have strengthened his nerves; but smoking was forbidden in the
castle. The countess would have smelled it, as the giant in the old
fairy tale smelled human flesh.

When the sacristan found that all his wonderful tales of ghosts and
hobgoblins were considered lies, he thought it was no use tiring
himself talking, and as soon as he ceased sleep began to fall upon his
eyelids. Seated upon a stool, his head leaning against the wall, his
mouth open, he slept profoundly, to the envy, if not the admiration,
of the good pastor, who would willingly have followed his example.
Soon some very unmusical sounds made themselves heard. The sacristan
snored in all manner of keys, in all variations of nasal discord,
which so jarred on the pastor's nerves that he several times shook the
sleeper to awake him, with the result that he slept again in no time.

At last the clock on the castle tower chimed twelve. Herr Mahok struck
the sacristan a good blow on his shoulder.

"Get up!" he said. "I did not bring you here to sleep."

The clerk rubbed his eyes, already drunk with sleep. The pastor took
his snuff-box to brighten himself up with a pinch of snuff, when
suddenly both men were roused out of all the torpor of sleep by other
means. Just as the last beat of the clock had finished striking the
unearthly mass began to be intoned in the vault below. Through the
profound silence of the night was heard the voice of the priest
singing the Latin mass, with the responses of the choir, accompanied
by some instrument that sounded like an organ, but which had a
shriller tone, and seemed to be a parody of the same.

Over the whole body of Herr Mahok crept a ghostly shiver.

"Do you hear it?" he asked the sacristan, in a whisper.

"Hear it? Who could help hearing it? Mass is saying somewhere."

"Here, under us, in the vault."

"Who can it be?"

"The devil! All good spirits praise the Lord," stammered the worthy
pastor, making the sign of the cross three times.

"But it seems that the evil spirits praise the Lord as well as the
good ones," returned the clerk.

This assertion of his was, however, quickly contradicted, for in the
middle of the next psalm a diabolical chorus struck in wildly, and the
air resounded with--

   "Come, dearest, come to me,
      Come, I am at home;
    Two gypsies play for me.
      And here I dance alone."

Then followed shrieks of laughter, in which women's shrill cackle
mingled with the hoarse roar of men and the wildest discord, as if
hell itself were let loose.

The poor priest, who had trembled at the pious psalms, nearly fell to
the ground on hearing this pandemonium. A cold sweat broke out all
over him; he knew now that the countess was right, and that this was,
in truth, the work of the evil one.

"Michael," he said, his teeth chattering with fear, "have you heard--"

"I must be stone deaf if I didn't--such an infernal din!" replied the
other. "All the spirits of hell are holding a Sabbath--"

Just then there was the tinkle of a bell. The tumult subsided, and the
voice of the celebrant was once more heard intoning mass.

"What shall we do?" asked Herr Mahok.

"What shall we do? Descend into the vault and exorcise the evil
spirits."

"What!" cried the priest. "Alone?"

"Alone!" repeated Michael, with religious fervor. "Are we alone when
we come in the name of the Lord of armies? Besides, we are two. If I
were a priest, and if I were invested with the stole, had I the right
to wear the three-cornered hat, I should go into the vault, carrying
the holy water, and with the words, 'Apage Satanas,' I would drive
before me all the legions of hell itself."

The excellent pastor felt ashamed that his ignorant sacristan should
possess greater faith, and show more courage in this combat with the
powers of darkness, than himself; still, fear predominated over his
shame.

"I would willingly face these demons," he said, in a somewhat
hesitating manner, "were it not that the gout has suddenly seized my
right foot. I am not able to walk."

"But consider what a scandal it will be if we, who have heard the
spirits, have not pluck enough to send them packing."

"But my foot, Michael; I cannot move my foot."

"Well, then, I will carry you on my back. You can hold the holy water
and I will take the lantern."

There was no way out of this friendly offer. The pastor commended his
soul to God, and, taking heart, resolved to fight the demons below,
armed only with the holy insignia of his office. The good man,
however, did not mount, like Anchises on the back of Æneas, without
much inward misgiving.

"You will be careful, Michael; you will not let me fall?" he said, in
a somewhat quavering voice.

"Don't be afraid, pastor," returned the sacristan, as he stooped and
raised the pastor on his shoulders. "Now, forward!" he cried, taking
the lantern in his hands, while Herr Mahok carried the vessels
necessary for the exorcism.

A cold blast of air saluted them as they issued from the greenhouse
and crossed the large hall of the castle, which the glimmering light
from the small lantern only faintly illumined. Half of it remained in
darkness; but on the side of the wall where hung the portraits of the
armed knights an occasional gleam showed Herr Mahok the faces of the
countess's warlike ancestors, who had done in their day good service
against the Turks. They looked at him, he thought, somewhat
contemptuously, and seemed to say, "What sort of man is this, who goes
to fight pickaback?"

Michael stopped before a strong iron door in the centre of the hall.
This was the entrance to the subterranean vaults and cellars
underneath the castle. And now the pastor suddenly remembered he had
left the key of this gate in the greenhouse. There was nothing for it
but to retrace their steps. Just as they reached the threshold,
however, Michael suggested that something very hard was pressing
against his side. Could it be the key which was, after all, in his
reverence's pocket? This suggestion proved correct, and once more he
had to run the gantlet of the old crusaders and their contemptuous
superiority.

The key creaked as it turned in the lock, and a heavy, damp smell
struck upon them as they passed through the iron gate.

"Leave the door open," said the pastor, with an eye to securing a safe
retreat.

And now they began to descend the steps, Herr Mahok remarking that his
horse was not too sure-footed. He tottered in going down the steps so
much that the pastor, in his fright, caught him with his left hand
tightly by the collar, while he pressed the other more closely round
his throat, a proceeding which Michael resented by calling out, in a
strangled voice:

"Reverend sir, don't squeeze me so; I am suffocating!"

"What was that?"

A black object whizzed past them, circling round their heads. A bat,
the well-known attendant upon ghosts!

"We shall be there in a few minutes," said the clerk, to encourage his
rider, whose teeth chattered audibly.

While they were descending the steps the noise in the vault had been
less audible, but now, as they came into the passages which ran
underneath the hall, it broke out again in the most horrible discord.
The passage was long, and there were two wings; one led to the cellars
proper, the other to the vaults. Opposite to the steps there was a
cross passage, at the end of which, by ascending some seven or eight
steps and passing through a lattice door, you could get into the open
air. This lattice served likewise as a means of ventilating the
passages, and on this particular night there was such a strong current
of air that the light in the lantern was in danger every minute of
being blown out. It would have been well if that were all. The
sacristan hadn't taken three steps in the direction of the vault
before a terrible sight revealed itself to both men.

At the other end of the passage a blue flame burned; before the flame
there stood, or sat, or jumped, a dwarfish figure all in white. It was
not three feet in height, and, nevertheless, its head was of monstrous
size. As the sacristan, with the pastor, drew near this horrid
appearance, the blue flame suddenly flared up, throwing a bright,
whitish light all over the passage, and by this light the terrified
spectators beheld the dwarfish figure stretch itself out, and grow
taller and taller--six, eight, twelve feet--and still it grew and
grew. Its shadow danced in the light of the blue flame upon the marble
floor of the passage like a black serpent. Then the fearful appearance
raised its head, and the vaulted roof echoed with its howls and
shrieks.

Michael's courage flew out of the window. He turned, and, burdened as
he was with the weight of the pastor on his back, he ran back as fast
as he could. In the middle of the passage, however, he made a false
step and fell, with Herr Mahok, flat upon his face. In the fall he
broke the lantern, the light went out, and left them in the dark.
Groping along with outstretched hands, they missed the steps which led
up to the iron gate, but after some time found themselves in the cross
passage, and saw the soft light of the moon shining through the
lattice window. They made at once for the door. At first there was
some difficulty in opening it, but Michael managed to force it, and,
to their great joy, they were once more in the open air. Over the
stubble, through the thorn-bushes they flew, never pausing to look
back. Singularly enough, the gout in the pastor's foot in no way
affected his speed. He ran quite as fast as Michael, and in less than
a quarter of an hour was in his bed. So, too, the sacristan, whose
fright produced an attack of fever, which kept him a prisoner there
for three days.

The next morning Herr Mahok, with many inward qualms, went up to the
castle. His was an honest, simple mind; he preferred rather to believe
in the wiles of the devil than in the wickedness of human nature; he
credited what he had seen with his own eyes, and never sought to
penetrate the dark veil which shrouds many supernatural mysteries. He
believed firmly that he had now to do with damned spirits, who at
their midnight orgies cracked pheasant bones to see who should first
be married.

He found the countess in good humor; she was friendly, lively, and
received her visitor with a smiling countenance. This change did not
surprise Herr Mahok. He was by this time accustomed to the caprices of
Countess Theudelinde. One day she was out of humor, the next all
serenity.

The pastor went straight to the kernel he had to crack.

"I watched last night," he said.

"Oh, father, thanks, ten thousand thanks! Your mere presence has been
sufficient to banish the evil spirits which have haunted the castle
for so long. Last night all was peace; not a sound did I hear."

"Not a sound!" cried the pastor, rising from his chair in his
astonishment at such a statement. "Countess, is it possible that you
did not hear the noise?"

"Profound repose, Arcadian peace, reigned in the house, both up-stairs
and below."

"But I was there, and awake. I did not dream it. And, moreover, I can
show you the bruises and abrasions on my elbow; they witness to the
fall we had, to say nothing of Michael, the sacristan, who is this
moment in a high fever in consequence. No, never did any one hear so
demoniacal, so terrible a noise as echoed through the vault last
night. I was there myself, countess, in my own person. I was ready to
encounter the wicked spirits; I would have met them armed with all the
terrors of Mother Church, but the courage of my weak-kneed sacristan
failed. I have now come to tell you that my knowledge is at an end.
This castle is bewitched, and, countess, my advice to you is to leave
it without delay, and to take up your residence in a city, where your
family ghost cannot follow you."

The countess placed the middle finger of her left hand upon her
breast, and spoke with haughty dignity:

"I leave this castle because the spirits of my ancestors dwell here!
Your advice, reverend father, shows how little you know me. To my
mind, it is a powerful reason for remaining. Here the spirits of my
forefathers, the ghosts of ancestors, surround me. They know me, they
claim me as theirs; they honor me with their visits, with their
invitations, and you counsel me to abandon them. Never! Bondavara is
dearer to me than ever; the presence of my ancestors has doubled its
value a hundredfold."

It was on the tip of Herr Mahok's tongue to answer, "Well, then,
remain here by all means, but for my part I give my resignation;
provide yourself with another confessor." He restrained himself,
however, and said, quietly:

"Will you tell me, countess, how it happens that, if you have these
close relations with your ancestors' spirits, you heard nothing of
the witch's Sabbath they kept last night?"

At this bold question the countess's pale cheeks were suddenly
decorated by two carnation spots; her eyes fell before the sharp look
of her father confessor, and, striking her breast with her hand, she
sank slowly on her knees, whispering, in great agitation:

"Pater, peccavi. There is something which I have never confessed to
you, and which lies heavy on my conscience."

"What is it?"

"Oh, I fear to tell you!"

"Daughter, fear nothing," said the priest, soothingly. "God is
merciful to human weakness."

"I believe that; but I am more afraid that you will laugh at me."

"Ah!" And the pastor, at this strange speech, fell back in his chair,
smiling to himself.

The countess rose from her kneeling position and went to her
writing-table; she opened a secret drawer, and took from thence an
album. It was a splendid book with an ivory cover, chasings of gilt
enamel, and clasp of the same.

"Will you look through this album, father?"

The priest opened the clasp, took off the cover, and saw a collection
of cabinet photographs, such as are generally to be found on drawing
room tables. There were portraits of eminent statesmen, poets, actors,
with whose likenesses all the world is familiar. Two points were
remarkable in this gallery--one, that no one was included who had any
scandal connected with his name; secondly, it was only clean-shaved
men who had a place in the volume. Herr Mahok recognized many whom he
knew either by sight or personally--Liszt, Reményi, the actors
Lendvay, Szerdahelyi, and others, together with many foreign
celebrities, who wore neither beard nor mustache. Another peculiarity
struck the pastor. Several of the leaves, instead of portraits, had
pieces of black crape inserted into the frames. This circumstance made
him reflective.

"It is a very interesting volume," he said, closing the book' "but
what has it to do with the present circumstances?"

"I confess to you," said the countess, in a low voice, "that this book
is a memorial of my folly and weakness. A picture-dealer in Vienna has
for many years had an order from me; he sends me every photograph that
comes out of clean-shaved men, and I seek among them for my ideal. I
have been seeking many years. Sometimes I imagine I have found it;
some one of the portraits takes my fancy. I call the man whom it
represents my betrothed. I place the photograph before me; I dream for
hours looking at it; I almost fancy that it speaks to me. We say to
one another all manner of things--sweet nothings, but they fill my
mind with a sort of ecstasy. It is silly, I know, and something tells
me that it is worse than silly, that it is sinful. I have been for a
long time wondering whether I should confess this as a sin, or keep
silence about such foolish nonsense. What is your opinion, father?"

Herr Mahok, in truth, did not know what to say. It was true that in
the Scripture some words were said about sinning with the eyes, but
photographs were not named. He answered, vaguely--

"Anything further, my daughter?"

"After I had for some time been silly over one of the portraits, I saw
in a dream the man it represented. He appeared to me as a beautiful
apparition, we walked together through fields and meadows,
arm-in-arm; a sort of heavenly halo surrounded us, flowers sprang up
under our feet. We were young, and we loved one another." The poor
lady wept bitterly as she related her dream, and she sobbed as she
said, "Is not this a sin, father?"

Herr Mahok had no hesitation in answering. He had found the name of
the sin--it was witchcraft; but the form the penance should take
puzzled him. The countess, however, helped him to a decision.

"Ah," she said, sadly, "I thought it was some demoniac possession; and
for these visions, sweet as they were, I must now do penance. Is it
not so, father? Will it satisfy for my fault if I burn in the fire the
portrait of the man who appeared to me in my dream, and fill the empty
space in my book with black crape?"

This remark explained the many frames filled with crape. The pastor
thought that the penance was well chosen. Nothing could be better than
a burnt-offering.

Theudelinde continued, "During these visions I lie in a profound
slumber. My soul is no longer on the earth; I am in the paradise of
lovers. No earthly feeling chains me here below; I am a clear spirit,
consequently no sound reaches me. I am as deaf to this world as if I
were already dead."

"Therefore the ghostly tumult never reached you last night; you were
wandering in your dream world."

"I confess it was so," whispered the countess, covering her face with
her hands.

"Now, here is a nice state of things!" thought the pastor. "The dead
ancestors play all manner of pranks in the family vault, while their
descendant projects herself out of her human body to make love in some
other region. They are, indeed, an extraordinary race. A poor man
daren't even think of such extravagances, and how can I, a poor
parish priest, deal with such queer goings-on? I only know how to
settle with the every-day penitent, who commits the usual sins."

This complication, in truth, of the ghosts below and the bewitched
countess above, was too much for a man of his calibre to deal with. It
required a superior genius to exorcise the spirits and to calm the
hysterical mind of Theudelinde. In the difficulty it appeared to him
better to temporize.

"My daughter, the penance you have imposed upon yourself is well
thought of. Have you already committed to the flames the portrait of
the last demoniacal appearance?"

"No," answered the countess, with all the hesitation a young girl
would have in speaking of her lover's picture.

"And why not?" questioned the priest, almost sternly. He was glad to
find some tangible fault.

"It would be wrong, I think, to throw this particular portrait into
the fire."

"And wherefore should it be wrong?"

Before she replied the countess opened a concealed pocket of the album
and drew forth what it contained.

"Ah!" cried the pastor as he took the photograph, which he at once
recognized as the Abbé Samuel, the head of an influential order which
possessed many different branches.

"The photographer in Vienna had my directions to send me the
photograph of every clean-shaven celebrity. He, therefore, has
committed the sin of sending me the portrait of an eminent priest. The
fault is mine, not his."

"And in your dreams have you wandered arm-in-arm with the original of
this?" asked Herr Mahok, still holding in his hand the photograph.

"I am guilty!" stammered the countess, laying her hands upon her
breast.

"Then," said the pastor, "Heaven inspired you not to throw this
portrait, like that of the others, into the fire, for in this man you
will find a physician able to cure your sick soul. It is really
providential that this portrait should be in your hands, for the
others were idle, foolish dreams. Here you have found your ideal,
under whose guidance you may hope to find health and salvation. He
will lead you, not in a dream, but in reality, to the blessed regions
of peace and true piety, where alone, my daughter, real happiness is
to be found. This man possesses strength of mind and elevation of
character sufficient to exorcise all the spirits which haunt your
castle, and to banish from your mind those temptations which spring
from the same source as the more visible demons which we call
ghosts."



CHAPTER VIII

THE EXORCIST


Acting upon the advice of Herr Mahok, the countess resolved to lay all
her troubles before a new physician for her soul. That very day the
pastor wrote to Abbé Samuel, who was then in Pesth, inviting him to
come to Bondavara Castle.

The abbé was a man of high calling; one of those priests who are more
or less independent in their ideas. He had friendly relations with
certain personages, and the initiated knew that certain articles with
the signature "S," which appeared in the opposition paper, were from
his pen. In society he was agreeable and polished, and his presence
never hindered rational enjoyment. In intellectual circles he shone;
his lectures, which were prepared with great care, were attended by
the _élite_ of society, and, as a natural consequence, the
ultramontane papers were much against him. Once, even, the police had
paid him a domiciliary visit, although they themselves did not know
wherein he had given cause for suspicion. All these circumstances had
raised his reputation, which had lately been increased by the
appearance of his picture in a first-rate illustrated journal. This
won for him the general public. So stately was his air, his high,
broad forehead, manly, expressive features, well-marked eyebrows, and
frank, fearless look, with nothing sinister or cunning in it. For the
rest, there was little of the priest about him; his well-knit,
robust, muscular form was rather that of a gladiator. Through the
whole country he was well-known as the independent priest, who
ventured to tell the government what he thought.

For this reason the excellent Herr Mahok had for him the greatest
respect. He, as an insignificant parish priest, could do nothing for
his fatherland. It was true that, many years ago, he had fought more
than twenty battles with the Honvéd Battalion; he had preached to his
men how they should love their country, and for this he had been
sentenced to death, which sentence had been commuted to ten years'
imprisonment; he had passed five of those years in chains, and his
feet still bore the marks of the wounds made by the heavy irons. But
what were these trifles, of which Herr Mahok thought little, in
comparison to the bold deeds of the Abbé Samuel, who dared to write
independent articles in the papers, and to sign them with the initial
of his name. To have fought with Haynau against the Russians under
fire of heavy cannon, to have been in the galleys, that was a mere
joke. To have the fearful police upon your track, that was serious.
Herr Mahok thought most highly of the abbé's capabilities, measuring
them by the loss of his own physical and mental energy--for after
fifteen years, five of which had been spent in heavy iron chains, a
man is not what he was.

After some days the invited guest arrived at the parsonage of Herr
Mahok. The pastor related to him, circumstantially, all that had
reference to the countess, with the exception, of course, of such
matters as were under the sacred seal of confession. He told him about
the ghosts, and his own experience under that head.

Herr Samuel received the narration with fits of laughter.

"You may laugh here as much as you like, but I beg of you not to do so
before the countess; she holds to her ghosts," remarked the pastor,
with an air of one who knew what he was saying.

The abbé then asked for information concerning the disposition of the
rooms in the castle, how they were situated in regard to one another.
He made the pastor describe minutely every particular of what he had
himself been witness to, also how he and his sacristan had made good
their escape through the lattice door.

The equipage of the countess came at the usual hour to fetch both the
guests to the castle, which lay at some little distance from the
village.

It was only natural, all things taken into account, that the countess
on her first introduction to the abbé should lose all control of her
nerves, and that she should give way to several hysterical symptoms,
which could only be calmed by the abbé laying his hand in paternal
benediction upon her forehead. Fraulein Emerenzia's nerves, in
accordance with the sympathy which existed between her and her
mistress, became at once similarly affected, and required a similar
imposition of hands; but neither of the priests troubled themselves
about her, and when the countess recovered from her attack, the
companion did likewise.

During dinner, which was served with great elegance, the abbé
discoursed upon every possible subject, and made inquiries as to the
prospects of the country, the occupations of the people, the age of
the servants, and so forth. He addressed a great deal of his
conversation to Fraulein Emerenzia, attended to her wants; when he
offered her wine she covered her glass with her hand, and declared
she never tasted anything but water, which seemed infinitely to
surprise him; also, when he wished to know whether the ring on her
finger was one of betrothal, Emerenzia tried to blush, and gave him to
understand that, from her own choice, she meant to live and die a
maid.

After dinner was over, Herr Mahok remained in the dining-room to
entertain the Fraulein--that is to say, he seated himself in an
armchair, folded his hands upon his rotund stomach, closed his eyes,
and during a sweet doze heard the clatter of Emerenzia's sharp voice.

The abbé went with the countess into her private sitting-room. She sat
upon the sofa, her eyes on the ground, waiting with much inward
trepidation to hear what sentence so exalted a personage would
pronounce upon the demoniacal possession. As he did not speak, she in
a timid voice began--

"Has my confessor told you the terrible secret of the castle?"

"He has told me all that he knows."

"And what view would the authorities of the Church take, do you
think?"

"My individual opinion, countess, is that the whole thing is a
conspiracy of the living."

"Of the living!" repented the countess. "And my visions?"

"Those can be explained by psychological means. You are of a
susceptible, nervous temperament; your senses are made acquainted with
the first portion of the history, your imagination works out the
remainder. Your dreams, countess, are hallucinations, nothing else.
Visible ghosts do not exist; those who are dead cannot live and move,
for the reason that their organic powers are at an end."

The countess shook her head incredulously. To say the truth, she was
ill-pleased. She had expected from so high and intellectual an
ecclesiastic a very different explanation. If he could only tell us
this, it was, indeed, lost trouble to send so far for him.

Herr Samuel was quick enough to read in her face what was passing in
her mind, and hastened to apply a radical cure.

"Countess, I know you doubt what I say, because you have firm faith in
what your eyes have seen, your ears have heard. You are quite
convinced that you yourself have been many times in the haunted vault,
and have there seen the spirits of your departed ancestors."

"Only last night," whispered the countess, in an awed voice, "the
tumult was fearful. They told me they would come again to-night, that
they would expect me."

"And have you promised to go to them?"

"When day comes I shudder from the idea, but at night some strange,
mysterious power draws me to the vault; I know all fear will vanish,
and I shall not be able to stay away."

"Very good. Then to-night I shall go with you to the vault of your
ancestors."

At these words a sudden flush covered the pale face of the countess.
The living portrait! She should go with him--where? Perhaps into hell.
She trembled at the thought; then with a violent effort recovered her
composure, and said, in a hesitating manner--

"I do not know. I do not think it would be possible. I should have to
let my household into the secret."

The abbé understood the nature of the question, and all the
consequences it involved.

"That would not be necessary. On the contrary, your household must
know nothing of my visit."

The countess looked at him. She was puzzled, agitated. What could he
mean? He could not imagine for a moment that he was to spend the night
with her--alone?

The abbé read her thought and answered quietly--

"I shall go away now with Pastor Mahok. I shall return about midnight,
and will knock at your door to announce my arrival."

Theudelinde shook her head. "That is impossible. In winter every door
in my house is locked by seven o'clock. To reach my suite of rooms,
you should pass through no less than seven doors. First the castle
door. This is watched by my portress, an old woman who never sleeps;
besides, two monstrous bloodhounds keep guard there. They are chained
to the door with long chains; they would eat you if you tried to pass.
Then comes the door of the corridor, to which there are two locks; my
companion keeps the key of one, my housekeeper the key of the other,
and to open it you must awake both. The third is the door to the
staircase; the cook has the key under her pillow, and she sleeps so
soundly, and the whole house is astir before she moves. The fourth is
the entrance to the secret lattice passage; this is in the keeping of
the housemaid, a nervous girl, who, when it grows dark, would not go
into the next room. The fifth door leads to the chamber of my own
maid, a very modest young person, who would not open the door to a man
were he prophet or saint. The sixth door is that of Fraulein
Emerenzia, my companion; she falls into violent hysterics if at night
any one turns the handle of her door. The seventh and last door is
that of my dressing-room, which is fitted with a peculiar self-acting
lock, a new invention. I ask your reverence if, under such conditions,
you could make your way here at midnight?"

"Permit me, in my turn, to put a question to you. You have given me to
understand that you descend constantly to the vault of your ancestors.
How does it happen that you pass through all these well-guarded
doors?"

Over the countenance of the countess a triumphant smile passed. The
superstitious woman could repel the attack of the scientist.

"Oh, I do not pass through any of them! From my bedroom a secret
staircase leads to the chapel vault. I go down this staircase."

It would have been only natural that the abbé on hearing this should
have proposed to conceal himself in the library, and there await the
countess. But he read the character of his hostess and knew that such
a proposal would have shocked her prudish mind and have offended her
so deeply that, in all probability, she would have refused to listen
any further. She required the most delicate management; this the
quick-seeing abbé recognized perfectly.

"I am still of the same mind," he said, calmly. "I shall knock at your
door this night at twelve o'clock."

At these words the countess was seized with a nervous shudder, but the
abbé went on without taking any notice--

"If you believe that there are unearthly beings who are possessed of
mysterious powers by which they pass through locked doors and make
themselves visible to some human beings, invisible to others, then why
should I not have this power also? But you imagine that because I am
only a man born of dust I cannot infringe the laws of nature. Let me
remind you that there is a natural explanation for all that may seem
to you incomprehensible. Witchcraft is now no longer a mystery. We do
not now burn Boscos and Galuches upon funeral piles. Do not for a
moment think that I am a Bosco or a Paracelsus. I repeat that what I
promise I will perform; at the same hour at which the ghosts begin
their orgies will I knock at your door with the words, _In nomine
Domini aperientur portæ fidelium_--'In the name of the Lord may the
doors of the faithful be opened.' Remember, no one but us two is to
know anything of my coming to-night. Till then may the blessing of God
be with you."

Theudelinde was much impressed by her strange visitor. His confidence
infused courage into her weak mind, while his masterful ways
influenced her like a spell. He addressed her from such a superior
height that she felt it would be almost desecration not to place the
utmost faith in his promises, and, nevertheless, he had promised to
perform an impossible thing. How could she reconcile the two, unless,
indeed, she had to do with a being of another world? She saw from the
window the carriage drive away with the two clergymen. She watched
them get in; she remained at her post until the carriage returned
empty.

The female Jehu showed to the other servants the _pourboire_ she had
received; it was a new silver piece. It passed from hand to hand. What
a miracle! Of the fifteen million inhabitants of Hungary, fourteen
million five hundred thousand had never seen such a thing as a silver
piece of money. There was a clergyman for you, of a very different
pattern from that other, who gave, every Sunday, a fourpenny piece
wrapped carefully in a piece of paper, to be _divided_ among the
waitresses!

The time passed slowly to the countess; the clock seemed to go with
leaden weights. She wandered through all the rooms, her mind
revolving in what possible manner, by what possible entrance a man
could find his way into the castle. When it had struck seven o'clock
she saw herself that every door which communicated with her wing was
carefully locked; then she sat herself down in her own room. She took
out the plan of the castle, which had been prepared by the Florentine
artist who had built it. It was not the first time she had studied it;
when she had received the castle as a present from her father, she had
made herself mistress of every particular concerning it. The building
was three times larger than her income could afford to maintain. She
had, therefore, to choose which wing she would occupy. In the centre
there were fine reception-rooms, a banqueting-hall, an armory, and a
museum for pictures and curiosities. This portion was out of the
question. Also, from this portion of the castle a concealed staircase
led to a subterranean passage. This could be used as a means of
escape, and had no doubt served such a purpose when the old castle had
been besieged by the Turks. The grandfather of the countess had walled
up these steps, and no one could now get into the secret passage. The
left wing, which was similarly constructed to the one which the
countess inhabited, had served as a sort of pleasure residence to her
pleasure-loving ancestors. There were all manner of secret holes and
corners in it, communications of all kinds connecting the rooms, doors
behind pictures, concealed alcoves, and the like. The architect's plan
showed these without any reticence. Theudelinde naturally turned away
in horror from the idea of inhabiting this tainted wing, so full of
sinful associations; she set up her Lares and Penates in the less
handsome, but more homely, right wing, where were a few good rooms
fitted for domestic life, an excellent library, and the family vault
below. It contained no other secret staircase than the one which led
to the tombs of the departed members of the family. For the rest,
Countess Theudelinde had taken care to wall up all the passages which
led to either the centre or left wing of the castle, and there was no
means of communication between them and her apartments. All the
chimneys had iron gates to shut off any possible entrance that way;
every window was provided with strong iron bars. It would have been
impossible for even a cat to effect an entrance into this enchanted
castle.

The countess, meditating on all these precautions, came to the
conclusion that there was only one way by which the Abbé Samuel could
introduce himself into the house, and that was by a secret
understanding with some one of her household. But again, setting
altogether aside the high character borne by the priest, which would
render such an act upon his part improbable, the very nature of the
circumstances attending his visit made it impossible. He had never
been absent from the countess for a minute, except during his short
walk to the carriage, and then Herr Mahok had been his companion.
Theudelinde, therefore, dismissed the idea from her mind. She sent her
household early to bed; she complained to Fraulein Emerenzia of
suffering from pains on one side of her head. Immediately that
sympathetic companion complained of pains on the other side of her
head. When the countess thought she would try to sleep, Emerenzia felt
the like desire; she wrapped her whole head up in warm cotton wool,
and snored without mercy.

Theudelinde shut herself up in her bedroom and counted the minutes.
She tried to play Patience, but the cards would not come right; her
mind was too much disturbed. She took out her Bible, splendidly
illustrated by Doré. She looked at all the pictures; she counted the
figures of the different men and women upon those two hundred and
thirty large plates; then the horses and the camels, till she came to
the scenes of murders. Then she tried to pass the time by reading the
text. She counted which letter of the alphabet was repeated the most
frequently upon one side of the page. For the greater part the letter
_a_ was the favorite, _e_ came next, then _o_, also _u_; _i_ was the
worst represented. This was in the French print. In the Hungarian text
_e_ had the majority, then _a_, _o_, and _i_, and, last of all, _b_
and _u_. But of this she also wearied. Then she sat down to the piano,
and tried to calm her agitation by playing dreamy fantasias; neither
did this succeed. Her hands trembled, and she could not sustain
herself at the instrument, she was so wearied; and as the fatal hour
of midnight drew nearer she gave up making efforts to distract her
mind, and abandoned herself to thoughts of the impending ghostly
tumult. She found herself altogether under the influence of her
ancestral spectres, for she was always consumed with _ennui_ until the
noise began. Then a sort of fever would come to her; she would undress
herself, crawl into bed, draw the coverings over her head until she
broke into a perspiration, and then fall into a deep sleep. The next
morning, when she awoke, she really believed that she had witnessed
the scenes of which she had only dreamed.

This night she drew forth her talisman, the photograph of the abbé,
and tried to find some strength by considering it. She placed it
before her on the reading-desk and sat gazing at it. Was he really a
superior being, at whose command the doors of the castle would fly
open, spectres would vanish, and the gates of hell would close upon
them? It could not be that such things would happen. The more the
night advanced the greater grew her nervous fears. Her heart beat
loudly. It was not so much the nightly ghosts that she dreaded, but
this new and equally unearthly visitor. What was he? A wizard, an
enchanter like Merlin of old, or a saint come to exorcise and banish
her tormentors?

The weary lagging hours went by, until at last the pendulum of the old
clock began to vibrate, and its iron tongue gave out midnight. The
countess counted every stroke. Its vibration had hardly ceased when,
punctual to its usual time, the infernal noise began; from the vault
below the tones of the mass reached Theudelinde's ears. She was,
however, listening for another sound, listening with feverish anxiety
to catch a stealthy footfall in the adjoining room, to hear the rattle
of a key surreptitiously moving in the lock. Nothing! She came to the
door, and, putting her head to the keyhole, strained her ears in vain.
All was still. It was now a quarter past midnight; the tumult in the
vault below was in full swing--the witches' Sabbath, as it might be
called, with its yells, shouts, songs, prayers; it was as if all the
devils of hell had given one another rendezvous in the company of the
countess's ancestors.

"He will not come," she thought, and trembled in every limb of her
fever-stricken body. It was folly to expect it. How could a man
accomplish what is only permitted to spirits?

She retired to the alcove and prepared to lie down. At this moment she
heard a tap at the door of her sitting-room, and, after a moment, a
low voice spoke in firm tones--

"In nomine Domini aperientur portæ fidelium."

It was the signal given by the abbé. Theudelinde gave a shriek; she
nearly lost her senses from fright, but gathered herself together with
a supreme effort. It was real; no hallucination, no dream! He was at
the door, her deliverer. Forward!

The countess ran to the door and opened it. The crisis gave her
unusual strength. This might be a trap, and instead of a deliverer she
might find herself opposite to a robber or murderer. Under the carpet
lay concealed the trap-door; the midnight visitor stood on the very
spot. One pressure of the secret spring and down he went into the
abyss below. Theudelinde had her foot on the spring as she undid the
door.

There stood the abbé before her. No appearance of his clerical calling
was to be seen. He wore a long coat, which reached to his feet, and
carried neither bell, book, nor candle, wherewith to exorcise the
spirits. In his right hand he held a thick stick made of rhinoceros'
skin, and in the left a dark lantern.

"Remain where you are," said the countess, in a commanding voice.
"Before you set foot in this room you shall tell me how you got here.
Was it with the help of God, of man, or of the devil?"

"Countess," returned the abbé, "look about you. Do you not see that
every door in your castle stands open? Through these open doors I have
passed easily. How I passed through the court is another thing. I will
tell you that later."

"And my household, who sleep in those rooms?" said the countess, in an
incredulous voice.

"The curtains hang round every bed; I have not raised them. If your
household be asleep, they will no doubt sleep as the just do, without
waking."

The countess listened, only half believing what she heard; she was
growing nerveless again. She led the abbé into the sitting-room, and
sank exhausted upon the sofa.

The tumult in the vault was indescribable.

"Do you hear _it_?" she said, in a whisper.

"I do hear, and I know whence it comes. I am here to face those who
cause this unseemly riot."

"Have you the weapons that Holy Church has provided for such a task?"
asked Theudelinde, anxiously.

The priest for all answer held towards her the strong staff he
carried.

"I have this good stick, countess."

"Do you hear above all the tumult that strident voice? It is my uncle
Ladislaus," cried the countess, grasping the abbé's arm with both her
hands. "Do you hear that horrible laugh? It is my uncle's laugh."

"We will soon learn the author of that unpleasant cachinnation,"
remarked the priest, quietly.

"Why, what do you propose to do?"

"I shall go down and join the worshipful society below."

"You will descend into the vault? What to do?"

"To pass judgment upon that unruly gang, countess. You promised to
accompany me."

"I promised!" and Theudelinde retreated from him, her eyes staring
wildly, her hands pressed to her breast.

"It was your own wish."

"True, true! I am so confused; my thoughts are all astray. I cannot
recollect them. You here, and that fearful noise below! I am terribly
afraid."

"How? You who had the courage to go among the ghosts by yourself, are
you afraid now that _I_ am with you? Give me your hand."

The countess placed her trembling fingers in the abbé's hand, and as
she felt the firm, manly clasp, an unusual sense of strength and
protection possessed her; she ceased to shake and shiver, her eyes no
longer saw shapes and fantasies moving before them; her heart began to
beat steadily. The bare touch of this man's hand gave her new life.

"Come with me," he said, in a decided voice, while he stuck his whip
under his left arm, and with the right drew the countess after him.
"Where are the keys of the secret staircase, and of the room through
which we must pass?"

Theudelinde felt that she could not let go his hand for one minute.
She was for the moment, so to speak, mesmerized by his superior mind.
She crawled after him submissively; she should follow him, were it to
the very gates of hell itself. Without a word she pointed to the key
cabinet, an antique piece of furniture which would have made the joy
of a bric-à-brac collector, and in which there was a drawer full of
keys.

Without a moment's hesitation the priest put his hand on the ones that
were wanted. It was no miracle that he should do so, although to the
weakened mind of his companion it appeared to be miraculous; on one of
the keys there was the well-known sign of a vault key, the crucifix.

The abbé now drew aside the curtain which concealed the secret passage
to the library, and here, at the first step, he was met by a certain
proof, if such were wanting, to show him the credit to be given to the
countess's statements that she was in the habit of descending to the
vault: as he opened the door a mass of cobwebs blew into his face. The
countess, however, was firm in her hallucination. It is a phase of
such nervous disorders as hers to believe that what they have dreamed
is actual fact; they can even supply small details.

As the countess went up the steps she whispered to her companion--

"A window is broken here, and the wind whistles through it." And as
they turned the angle of the steps there was a narrow slip-window
which in the daytime gave light to the staircase, the panes of which
were actually broken. She had never seen this. When they came to the
door of the library she confided to the abbé that she was always
frightened to pass the threshold.

"It is such a ghostly place!" she said. "When the moon shines through
the shutter of the upper window it throws white specks upon the mosaic
pattern of the marble floor, which makes it look like some mysterious
writing. In one of the corners between two presses there is a glass
case with a skeleton in it; in another case the wax impression, taken
after death, of Ignatius Loyola."

Everything was precisely as the countess related. The moon shone
through the upper panes of glass, the skeleton stood in his glass
case, the waxen head of the dead saint lay in the other, but the
countess had never crossed the threshold. In her childhood her nurse
had told her these tales of the Bondavara Castle, and when she had
become its mistress her first care had been to lock these rooms. Ten
years' dust lay on the carpets, on the chairs and tables; cobwebs hung
from the ceilings, mice played games in the deep wainscots, for no one
ever came here.

At the moment in which the countess and her companion entered the
library a certain peace reigned in the vault below. The tumult seemed
lulled; there were neither shrieks nor demoniacal songs to be heard.
From the mortuary chapel, however, the notes of the organ reached the
ears of the two listeners. It sounded like the prelude which is played
in church before mass begins, only the chords of the prelude were all
discords; it was as if the organ were played by a condemned spirit.

The countess stood before the chapel door, her breast heaving with
emotion. She caught hold of the abbé's hand with a strong grasp, and
kept him from turning the key in the lock. She trembled in every limb.

"What are those fearful tones?"

Then came a confused sound, as of many voices intoning the vespers.
One voice, which imitated the monotonous delivery of the celebrant,
began to sing in Latin the words of a hymn--

    "Bacchus, prepare the libation."

Another voice answered in the same tone--

    "And hasten, brethren, to drink!"

Then a third took up the text in a parody of the _Gloria_--

"Gloria Baccho, et filiæ ejus Cerevisiæ et Spiritui vini, sicut erat
in Baccho natus, et nunc, et semper, et per omnia pocula poculorum.
Stramen."

The countess felt her whole body turning into ice; fear mingled with
horror. She understood the impious parody.

Now the organ accompanied the antiphon.

"Date nobis de cerevisia vestra; quia sitiunt guttura nostra"--"Give
us of your beer; our throats are dry."

Then followed the psalm--

"Brother to brother spoke these words: shall two goblets of beer
quench man's thirst?"

"Two, three, five, six are not enough for man's satiety."

"Blessed be Bacchus, who gave us beer."

Then followed the Capitulum.

"Brethren, attend, and do as I command ye. Before ye leave the
ale-house for your own homes empty all the pots, leave not a drop
therein, but tilt them and drain every drop of wine. This do from
goblet to goblet. Stramen."

The countess felt, as she listened to this profanity, what a damned
soul must experience when for the first time it consorts with devils.
But now a hellish chorus broke forth of men's and women's voices,
yelling out a parody of a hymn--

   "Bacchus, who gave us drink,
    Art thou not called the god of liquor?
    Grant us all the holy grace,
    Strength to drink in every place,
    So that, drinking everywhere,
    We for glory may prepare
    In thy everlasting wine-cellar."

This was followed by the ringing of the bell, and the priest's voice
intoned the blessing.

"Bacchus be with you."

The chorus answered, "And with thy pint-pots."

Then came the Oratio--

"Let us eat. O all-powerful Bacchus, since thou hast created this
society of ours for thine own honor, grant to us its continuance, and
give to us a constant supply of brave topers, who never may cease
drinking from goblet to goblet."

And the chorus answered, "Stramen."

The countess was not able any longer to hold herself up. She sank upon
her knees, and looked up at the priest in mute horror. Hardly knowing
what she did, she gazed in utter despair at the tall figure lit up as
it was by the rays of the moon, which played round his head like a
halo.

The abbé put the key into the lock of the chapel door. The countess
caught his hand; her fright amounted to agony.

"Do not--do not open it!" she cried. "Inside is hell let loose."

With an elevation of his head, the abbé answered proudly--

"Nec portæ inferi--the gates of hell shall not prevail"; and then he
turned the key, and the heavy iron door swung open, and disclosed the
actors in the strange drama.

On the altar all the candles were lighted, and their light showed with
distinctness every incident of the performance, every feature in the
faces of the performers.

What a scene!

On one side of the vault ran a long table, round which was seated,
eating and drinking, not the countess's ancestors and ancestresses,
but all the servants of her household. The maids, who were so strictly
guarded, were here in the company of the men who were so rigorously
excluded. The countess could, therefore, see that these were
flesh-and-blood ghosts which had so long haunted her ancient castle.
Each of her handmaidens had a lover in either the steward, bailiff,
gamekeeper, or clerk in the neighborhood. The nervous housemaid, who
at night was afraid of her own shadow, was now drinking out of the
glass of the innkeeper; the virtuous maid was embraced by the mayor's
footman; the portress, an elderly virgin, held a jug in her hand,
while she executed a clog-dance upon the table. All the rest clapped
hands, shrieked, sang at the top of their voices, and beat the table
as if it were a big drum. The shepherd, who represented the countess's
grandfather, sat upon the monument of the chancellor, his legs round
the cross, and played the bagpipes. It was this instrument which at
the burlesque of vespers imitated the harmonium. Upon the gravestone
of the first archbishop the beer-barrel was set up. The maids were all
dressed in the countess's silk dresses, with the exception of the
female coachman, who, as usual, wore man's clothes, but by way of
symmetry her lover, the coachman of the neighboring brewery, was
dressed in woman's clothes. The countess recognized on the head of
this bearded fellow her nightcap, and round his body her cloak,
trimmed with her best lace. Worst of all, at the top of the table sat
Fraulein Emerenzia, on very intimate terms with her neighbor, a young
lawyer. She wore the skirt of a favorite dress of Theudelinde's, a
flame-colored brocade; the body could not fit her corpulent form, so
she had her mistress's best lace shawl wrapped round her. Her face was
red; she had a large tumbler of wine before her, and she smoked a
pipe. The modest Emerenzia!

The men were all drunk and noisy, the women screamed in an unearthly
manner; the bagpipes squealed; the table resounded with thumps and the
clatter of the portress's clogs. From the altar came the voice of the
mock priest, his arms outstretched in blessing. Through the din the
words "Bacchus vobiscum" were heard, and the tinkle of the bell. This
mock priest was no other than Michael the sacristan, who brought all
the church ornaments confided to his care. He wore the pastor's
vestments, and on his head an improvised skull-cap. The acolyte was
the parish bell-ringer.

The countess was cut to the heart. The terrible ingratitude,
especially of these girls, to whom she had been as a mother--more
anxious indeed than their own mothers to keep them pure and
innocent--wounded the poor lady who had taught them to sing hymns on
Sunday, had fed them from her own table, and had never allowed them to
read a novel or hear a bad word. And this was the outcome of her
efforts. They insulted the graves of her ancestors, played upon her
nervous fears, destroyed her rest, nearly drove her mad with their
ghostly noises, wore her clothes at their orgies, and, worse insult of
all, she, a high-born lady and a pure woman, had the degradation of
wearing these same garments, defiled as they were with the smell of
wine and stale tobacco.

Bitter as such ingratitude was, it counted as nothing in comparison
with the profanation of using the holiest things of religion, the
sacred ornaments of the Church, to carry out these impious rites. "Woe
to them from whom scandal cometh," says the Scripture, and this woe
means pain and suffering that no soothing balsam can alleviate.

A mortal terror still filled the countess's heart. She was in the
presence of those who had no control over their already besotted
senses. If these drunken savages, these unsexed women, found their
revels were discovered, what was to hinder them tearing her to pieces?
There was only one man between her and them. Theudelinde looked at her
solitary protector. His eyes gleamed with such apostolic anger that
her timid soul grew fearful of the consequences, both to him and to
herself, of his just wrath. She seized both his hands, to hold him
from venturing among such demons. The abbé easily freed himself from
the clasp of her weak fingers. In one bound he sprang down the steps,
fell upon the false priest as he was in the act of pronouncing his
final stramen; with the butt-end of his rhinoceros whip he gave him
two blows.

What the countess now witnessed was truly no vision. She saw how one
man, armed with no more formidable weapon than a horsewhip, ventured
into the midst of the hellish assembly, with one hand seized the table
and overturned it and all that was on it of dishes, glasses, and
wine-cups, with the other cracked his whip in the faces of the guests,
who sprang to their feet in all the terror of detection, like to the
profaners of the Temple. They were driven towards the door of the
vault, the abbé's whip descending on their shoulders with impartial
justice. They went tumbling over one another, howling and screaming,
pressing onwards and pursued by the flagellation of the abbé. The
bagpipe player in his haste missed his footing, those behind stumbled
over him, and so lay all in a heap together. Not one went without
carrying a remembrance of the abbé's strong arm, for he spared no one.
No effort was made at reprisals; the criminal who is caught seldom
shows fight. These last were, moreover, taken by surprise, and the
clergyman was possessed of extraordinary strength; one man who tried
to drag the horsewhip from his hand was dealt such a blow in his face
that he was glad to relinquish his hold and take to his heels without
loss of time.

"Give it to them! give it to them!" cried the countess, who had no
pity for her former servants, who had to pass her as they made their
way pell-mell to the door. Emerenzia covered her head, not from shame,
but fearing her face might get a blow. Almost the last was the
sacristan, whose clerical dress hindered his speed, and whose back was
so battered by the abbé that the vestment he wore hung in ribbons.

After the last guest had departed, the abbé closed the heavy door of
the vault and returned to where the countess was standing. His face
wore an almost glorified expression; it was the consciousness of
having asserted his strength. As he approached the countess fell on
her knees, and made as if she would kiss his feet, but the abbé raised
her.

"Compose yourself, countess. Your present situation needs all your
strength. Do you know that at this moment there are only two persons
in this castle, for I have locked the door which leads to the
court-yard. This folly is played out. You see now that no wicked
spirit had any part in it. It was no ghost, only human beings who have
had to do with this miserable business."

"What shall I do?" asked the countess, constraining herself to speak
calmly.

"Take my lantern. I am going to lock the lattice door, so as to stop
any entrance from this side. But you can return by the way we came,
back to your own apartment, where I advise you to make yourself some
tea; you are freezing with cold."

"Must I go back all that way alone?"

"Remember the words, 'If God is with me, who is against me,' and you
can never be alone. To see ghosts is an illness; the method of curing
it must be heroic."

And as he saw that the countess, in spite of her efforts, could not
subdue her nervous tremor, he took her by the hand, and, returning
with her to the library, led her to the glass case which enclosed the
skeleton, and opened the door.

"Were you afraid of this? Why, it is nothing to fear. It is a standing
proof of the wisdom of God. Every limb of this wonderful collection of
bones tells us the Almighty created man to be ruler of the earth. Look
at the skull; upon this arched forehead is written the birthright of
humanity, in every corner and line of the face the superiority of the
white race over all others. This skull teaches us how deep should be
our gratitude to an all-seeing Providence who has created us the
superior over all other beings on the earth. The sight of a skull
should cause no shudder in the breast of man; it should give rise to
feelings of thankfulness and reverence, for it is the symbol of the
great love which our Heavenly Maker has for the creature He has made
and chosen from all eternity."

As he spoke the priest laid Theudelinde's cold hand upon the skull of
the skeleton. The countess trembled no more. New life and strength
born of the words of this singular man seemed to infuse themselves
into her veins. She looked another being.

"Now go to your room," said the abbé. "I shall soon follow, but I must
first put out the torches on the altar. We must not have a
conflagration on our hands."

"I am quite ready to go alone," returned the countess. "My foolish
fears are cured, but I am now concerned for you. Perhaps those
wretched servants of mine are still about, and if you venture into the
vault in the dark they may fall upon you and take their revenge for
being discovered."

"Oh, I am provided with what would soon scatter such cowards as they
are," said the abbé, drawing a revolver from a secret pocket. "I had
resolved to use stringent measures with them if necessary. Now, in
God's name, retire to your room, countess."

Theudelinde, without another word, took the lantern and went through
the long library. The priest watched her until she had crossed the
passage, and had opened the door of her own apartment. He then
hastened back to the vault. In the passage he saw a blue flame
burning on a tin dish.

"Alcohol and ammonia mixed together," murmured the priest. "This is
what frightened Herr Mahok." Close to it lay the winding-sheet and
mask. The abbé pushed the vessel with the flame into the corner, for
he knew that in an encounter with an adversary it would be little
profit to have an illumination, and then he went down the dark passage
carefully. No one was there; they had all run away, and were probably
running still. The lattice door stood open; he drew it to, and barred
it carefully; then he returned into the vault and locked it also,
having first extinguished the lights, with the exception of one, which
he took to light him back to the countess's room.

He found her sitting composedly before the tea equipage. She had
obeyed him. As he entered the room she rose, and, folding her hands
upon her breast, cried:

"Most holy saint and apostle!"

"You must not give me such exalted titles," said the abbé, smiling.
"What I have done does not merit such high-sounding terms. I have
accomplished no miracle, for I had to do with mortals only. One
circumstance which appears to you in a miraculous light is easily
explained. I allude to my entering a house wherein all the doors were
locked. But first, will you pour out the tea?--and if you will give me
a cup I shall be grateful, for the occurrences of the last hour have
somewhat excited me. Then we will talk the whole affair over."

The countess gave her guest his tea, then sank back in her arm-chair,
and wrapped herself in her cloak; she was still shivering.

"That the supposed ghostly appearances and noises were in no sense
supernatural was borne in on me," continued the abbé, as he sipped
his tea, "from the first moment Herr Mahok took me into his
confidence. I was convinced that the nocturnal disturbance was the
work of your own household, and it served their purpose to make it as
ghost-like as possible. The situation had been created by your
over-caution, countess. Your women servants were not allowed to hold
communication with the opposite sex; they, therefore, found other
means to meet, and to give a cover to these illicit meetings they set
up an atmosphere of ghostly mystery, by which their goings-on were
well concealed. The conspiracy was perfectly carried out. If they had
conducted their sinful intercourse on any other lines you would have
long since discovered them. When the pastor told me that he and his
sacristan had escaped through the lattice door, I suspected that it
was through this door the men found their way into the vault, and that
the sacristan must be a participator in the plot, whatever it was.
Moreover, I calculated that the women must, of necessity, find their
way through the cellar passage, and that, therefore, they would
naturally leave every door in the house _open_, so that their return
might be conducted without any danger of awaking you by noise, such as
unlocking doors. The countenance, the coloring, the eyes of your
companion betray her; it is easy to see what she has been, and that,
moreover, she drinks. I knew to-day at dinner that she was a
hypocrite. She held forth against all alcoholic drinks; that settled
her with me. I had no doubt that I should find all the doors open, and
I did. In order to make no noise I came on foot to the garden door.
Countless footsteps in the fresh snow showed me that the company had
already assembled. From the open garden door the foot-prints led to
the lattice door, and thence to the vault. This door was put to. I
pushed it open and was in the passage. I went to the left, up the
steps to the cellar passage; the door was open. I could not count upon
finding every door open; it was exactly as I imagined. The only
difficulty lay in passing through your wardrobe-room, which has no
key, but a peculiarly constructed spring-lock. I felt certain that
your maids would borrow some of their mistress's silk dresses, and
therefore the spring-lock would be arranged so as not to betray by its
loud snap the return of the stolen garments to their proper place. On
looking closely I found this to be the case; the lock was kept in its
place by the insertion of a penknife, which could be easily withdrawn.
Therefore, countess, you have, night after night, slept in this castle
with every door open--in real danger--at the mercy of robbers, or even
murderers; all the time frightened to death with ghostly noises, which
kept you a prisoner to your room, not venturing to call your
treacherous servants. Countess, you have been terribly punished."

"Punished!" stammered the countess, her face growing even paler.

"Yes, punished; for you have richly deserved to suffer."

Theudelinde fixed a horrified look on the abbé.

"Countess, at your door," said the priest, sternly, "lies the heaviest
portion of the sins into which your servants have fallen. You have, in
fact, driven them into vice. Your eccentric rules, bizarre and
ridiculous ideas, made your women servants liars and induced their
irregularities. Nature punishes those who revolt against her, and the
long years during which you have isolated yourself from the world and
from society have been flat rebellion, which has brought its own
punishment. You now stand before two judges, Heaven and the World;
Heaven is ready to punish you, the world to laugh at you; and the
wrath of Heaven and the ridicule of the world is equally hard to bear.
How do you mean to protect yourself against both?"

The countess sank back annihilated. Only just recovered from the
anxieties, horrors, and dangers of this dreadful night, she was not
able to face the denunciations of the priest, which were, in fact,
only the echo of her own conscience. The torture was greater than all
she had undergone. There was silence in the room, during which the
words rang in Theudelinde's ears like the tolling of a bell.

"How shall you face the anger of Heaven and the ridicule of the
world?"

At last she thought of a way out of the difficulty, and, raising her
head, she said, in a low voice:

"I will hide my miserable head in a convent. _There_ the ridicule of
the world will not reach me; there, kneeling before the altar, I will
day and night pray to God to pardon my fault. You, oh most reverend
father, will perhaps use your influence with the abbess of some
convent--I should prefer the very strictest order--and get me
admitted. There I shall find a living grave, and no one will ever hear
my name. I shall leave this castle, and all my fortune, together with
my savings of the last few years, to your order, with only one
condition, that every night at twelve o'clock vespers shall be sung in
the family vault, which has been desecrated by such abominations as
have been practised there."

The countess's voice, which was low and broken in the beginning,
gathered strength as she made this renunciation of her worldly goods.

The abbé rose up as she finished, and took her trembling hand in his,
while, with a haughty elevation of his head, he answered:

"That everything may be quite clear, I beg you will understand,
countess, that neither I nor my order need, nor would accept, the
donation of your castle, your property, or your money. It is not our
custom to take advantage of weak-minded persons in a moment of
contrition, and to extort from them compensation for their sins in the
shape of their worldly goods. We have no desire to acquire property in
so sneaking and contemptible a manner, and therefore, countess, in the
name of my order, I decline to spend the night singing vespers in your
family vault, or the day in living on your fortune. This idea you may
dismiss altogether from your mind."

These words filled the countess with admiration. She had already felt
herself singularly attracted by this man. This proof of his
disinterestedness and indifference to worldly considerations completed
his dominion over her mind, and subjugated her to his authority. She
listened submissively while he continued his admonitions.

"For the rest," he said, "I should recommend you to abandon all ideas
of conventual life, which is quite unsuited to a person of your
nervous, excitable nature. You would find neither peace nor happiness;
on the contrary, you would be a prey to all manner of scruples and
disquieting thoughts. There are those who find a refuge and salvation
in a cloister; for you it would be a foretaste of damnation, and in
all probability you would end like the hermit who fled from the world
to pray to God, and instead of praying, cursed Him."

The eyes of the countess glared at this awful prospect, but she
murmured to herself, "True, quite true!"

"The recollection of your faults has banished you from the Church and
has robbed you of all power to pray," continued the priest, in a harsh
voice.

"True, quite true!" sobbed the countess, and beat her breast. "I can
never again enter a church, and I dare not pray." Then with a cry of
despair she threw herself at the feet of the abbé, and with feverish
strength clasped both his hands, while she screamed out, "Where shall
I go, if not to the Church of God? Who shall help me, if I cannot pray
to Him?"

The clergyman saw it was necessary to soothe her terrible excitement.

"Your proper refuge is in your own heart," he said, gently, "and your
good deeds shall plead for you."

Theudelinde pressed the priest's hand to her burning forehead. Then
she rose from her kneeling position and stretched out her arms.

"Command me. Advise me. What shall I do?"

"Return to society, and take the place your rank and wealth entitle
you to hold."

The countess fell back a step, and stared at the abbé, her face all
astonishment.

"Return to the world! _I_ who left it five-and-twenty years ago! I
should be the laughing-stock of every one were I to seek, at my age,
pleasures which I long ago renounced."

"Countess, you have voluntarily thrown away that portion of your life
to which the world offers its best gifts; but there still remains to
you that other half, wherein you can acquire the esteem of the
world--that is, if you avail yourself of the means necessary for
success."

"My father, remember that in that circle which you wish me to enter I
shall meet nothing but contempt and humiliations. The present
generation don't know my name, my contemporaries despise me."

"But there is a magic circle in which every one is recognized and no
one is despised. Would you wish to enter this circle?"

"Place me in this circle, father. Where is it to be found?"

"I will tell you, countess. Your nation is passing through a crisis;
it may be called the battle for intellectual freedom. All are striving
to place themselves on a footing with the intellectuality of other
nations--philosophers, poets, industrials; men, women, boys,
gray-beards, magnates, and peasants. If they all knew how to strive
together they might attain their purpose, but all are divided; each
works for himself and by himself. Individual effort is doomed to
failure, but united, certain of success."

The countess listened in breathless astonishment. She did not
understand where the abbé was leading her.

"What is wanting in this tremendous struggle is a centre. The country
has no centre. Debreczyn is thoroughly Hungarian, but its religious
exclusiveness has narrowed its sphere of influence. Szegedin is well
suited, but it is far too democratic. Klausenburg is indeed a
Hungarian town. The aristocracy are to be found there, and a certain
amount of culture, but it lies beyond the Kiralyhago, and the days of
the Bethlens and the Bocskais are over. Pesth would be the proper
centre; it has every qualification. I have been through the five
quarters of the globe, and nowhere have I found such a place. In Pesth
no man troubles himself about his neighbor, and each man believes that
the world is made for him alone. The first look of the city takes one
by surprise; the fine embankment along the broad Danube River, the
beautiful squares and streets, with the six-story tin houses, each in
a different style of architecture. Side by side are palaces built in
the Roman, Moorish, Spanish, or Renaissance style, with, perhaps, the
occasional introduction of a quaint Dutch mansion or Gothic structure.
Opposite to the great edifice of the chain bridge rises a large stone
bandbox with four towers; this is called the Basilica, but it looks
more like a giant scaffold than anything else. On all sides rage
monster factory chimneys, which vomit forth volumes of poisonous smoke
upon the town. Factories, docks, academical palaces, redoubts, tin
card-houses, art conservatories, are crowded one over the other. The
academy interferes with the business of the docks, and the noise of
the shipping-trade disturbs the academicians. The smoke of the
steam-engines suffocates every one; while the town-hall, with all its
ornamented peaks and minarets, says to the stranger, 'Come nearer,
friend; this is Constantinople.'"

The countess could not help smiling over this graphic description.

"The inner town," continued the abbé, "is a labyrinth of narrow,
irregular streets, which were built when the site of the present
town-hall was only a marsh for the pigs to wallow in. In spite of the
narrow proportions, these streets contain some of the finest shops in
Europe. The contrasts are something wonderful; the finest equipages
jammed against the overladen wagons conveying merchandise; the most
elegantly dressed women jostling against beggars in rags. The
prettiest women are to be seen in this quarter, and this in face of a
wind that drives all the dust into the eyes. In the suburbs houses are
rising on all sides with marvellous rapidity, little and big, in every
style and variety, giving more dust for the wind to play tricks with.
The whole place is a stony wilderness, with here and there a small
green oasis not bigger than a private garden. Round about the city
lies a Sahara, the earth of which is constantly dug up, so that the
sirocco is never in want of dust. This is the exterior appearance of
Pesth, which in itself presents the different features of a
manufacturing town, an emporium for trade, and a city of arts and
science, as well as those of the capital of an empire and of an
American colony, where men of all classes assemble to make their pile
of gold, but when this is secured hurry away to spend their winnings
in other places.

"So far as social conditions are concerned, and these, after all,
concern us most," said the abbé, with a quick look at his listener,
"they are as complicated as the commercial interests of Pesth. Each
class is surrounded, so to speak, with a Chinese wall. Trade and the
stock-exchange are altogether in the hands of Jews and Germans. This
would not be so much an evil were it not that a great amount of
fraudulent speculation goes on, and at every turn of the money market
in Vienna the funds go down. The Hungarian element is made up of
tobacco-merchants and hand-workers; there are, besides these, about
twenty thousand Slavonians from the hills, who are day-laborers. Pesth
is, or should be, the headquarters of national education. It is,
however, not the fashion to support it. It should be also the centre
of science and literature; it is not, however, considered good 'ton'
to cultivate anything but foreign literature. Pesth can boast of very
distinguished _savants_, and of a very haughty aristocracy; but no one
is allowed to enter this magic circle but those who belong to the
upper ten. The whole society is on a wrong footing; each one fights
his own battle, bears his own burden; the finest ideas are lost
because no one understands the other. A common standpoint is wanting.
All healthy life is dying out, full freedom of thought and action
being strangled by the iron laws of the short-sighted government,
which forbids discussion of any kind.

"The Reichstag and the Comitatshaus are both closed. The only free
ground left is that of general society; but here class prejudices step
in. A certain portion of our aristocracy are too indifferent to
trouble themselves to do anything for the general good; the rest are
too fond of their own ease and amusement; they acknowledge no other
aim in life but their own pleasure. There are some, however, who do
know what their duty is, and who would willingly make sacrifices to
fulfil it, but during the last ten years they have suffered such a
loss of income that they are no longer in a position to bear the
expense which would be entailed by opening their houses. There are
others, those most fitted by intellect as well as by position to be
leaders. Alas! they will never return to Pesth; it is to them full of
tragic memories, which haunt the houses where they once lived, and
which have banished forever the laugh and jest from those walls.
Therefore it is that we have arrived at this position, that there is
not a single centre where the clever, the good, the nobleman, and the
gentleman can meet on equal terms; and without this no real good can
be done."

"Then let me create this centre!" cried the countess, rising to her
feet and addressing the abbé with an inspired look. Her whole being
seemed changed by this new thought, which had been skilfully suggested
by the words of the clergyman, who seemed well pleased at the effect
he had produced.

"Then you understood," he said; "and for you the advantages will be
incalculable. Here is the shelter you require. If you come to Pesth,
if you live there as befits your rank and your fortune, you can
assemble round you the very cream of society. To your _salon_ will
come every one, distinguished not alone by birth, but by
talent--politicians, artists, poets, magnates, priests, prelates, and
laymen, the aristocracy of the land and the aristocracy of intellect
shall be alike represented. Your mission will be to further by this
means the apostolate of truth, of culture; and, by so doing, to assist
the progress and development of your own nation, and for the rest your
own position will be most honorable. As hostess and mistress of such
you will be respected and admired."

The countess seized the clergyman's hand in both hers, and covered it
with kisses, while in her excitement she sobbed:

"I thank you, I thank you, I thank you!"

"Do you not see, countess, that there is a vocation for you besides
that of conventual life?"

"You are a prophet."

"In the meantime, may I ask you a practical question? For the task
which you have undertaken with such praiseworthy zeal there are
certain material qualifications absolutely necessary, the first being
a sufficient income. May I ask you to give me your confidence on this
delicate subject?"

"I am rich," answered Theudelinde. "I have my capital at good
interest. Likewise, out of my savings I have bought a fine mansion
situated in the best part of Pesth; it is at present let."

"You will now take it into your own hands," said the abbé, "and have
it properly appointed, suitable to your rank. So far as your
securities go, it may be better to invest your capital differently.
We shall see. How much does your yearly income from the Bondavara
estate amount to?"

"About twenty thousand florins."

"How large is the estate?"

"From about nine to ten thousand acres."

"Then the return is far too small. The agent is to blame for this;
this income would be too little to support the position you now intend
to hold. Twenty thousand florins would not be nearly enough to keep up
an establishment on a proper footing in Pesth."

The countess was surprised. She said, humbly, "I imagined it was a
great deal of money."

"So it is for living in the country; but Pesth is as dear, if not
dearer, than Paris. To keep a proper establishment going, and take the
position of a leader of society, such as it is your ambition to be,
you must at least command a yearly income of forty thousand florins."

"But I cannot do that. What shall I do?" Theudelinde said, in great
distress.

The abbé's lips parted in a smile. "Oh, we will manage it for you! For
the rest it will not be difficult. The rental of the estate must be
overhauled; you must get a better agent, a more enterprising steward.
I myself do not understand finance, but I have friends in the inner
circle of the stock-exchange, and one or other of these will undertake
to advise you as to your affairs when you are settled in Pesth. In any
case, I am quite certain that your land is let too low, it should
bring in double the interest you get from it. I know so much of
political economy."

The countess was delighted at these words. What a friend to have! Her
income to be doubled! Truly this abbé was sent to her from heaven.

"Do as you think best," she said. "I give you full power to act for
me."

"Then, if you will allow me, I shall have your property revalued, and
fresh leases made. This will double your income, and it will only cost
you a trifle--a factor's fee, in fact."

Theudelinde was like a child in her joy--like a child in her
submission to her spiritual adviser, to whom she looked up as a
father, a counsellor, a true friend.

All this he might be; but it was also true that from the date of this
conversation the owner of Bondavara lost her hold on her own property
forever.



CHAPTER IX

"AN OBSTINATE FELLOW"


Countess Theudelinde was beside herself with joy. She ran to her
bell-apparatus, touched the spring, and the machine put itself into
motion.

"What are you doing, countess?" asked the abbé, in some amazement.

"I am desiring my steward to be sent for at once."

"By what messenger?"

And then for the first time the countess remembered there was not a
living soul in the house.

She grew very grave.

"It is truly a problem," continued the priest, "to know how we are to
get out of the castle."

"What do you mean?" asked Theudelinde, who was so weak-minded that she
always required to have everything explained to her.

"We two are quite alone in this house," returned the abbé. "If I go
away to get the necessary assistance for packing up your things and
making the arrangements for departure I must leave you alone here."

"I would not for all the world remain alone here."

"Then you have the alternative of accompanying me on foot to the
nearest post-house in the adjacent village."

As he spoke the snow-storm was heard outside beating against the
window. Theudelinde shivered.

"Why cannot we drive? My horses are in the stable."

"But I can neither harness them nor drive them."

"Oh, I should never think of such a thing!"

Nevertheless, the countess had now to consider whether she should
remain alone in the castle or take the alternative of accompanying the
priest in a heavy fall of snow.

"Somebody is knocking at the door," said the abbé.

"It must be my steward," returned Theudelinde. "He has heard what has
happened, and has come to our assistance."

"But there is no one to open the door. Your portress was one of the
ghosts."

"She was the old witch who danced on the table."

"Have you by chance a second key?"

"It hangs there on that large bunch to the right."

"Then I will take it with me, in case there is none in the lock."

"But the dogs, father, they will tear you in pieces. They are fierce
to strangers."

"I will call them by their names, if you will tell me what they are."

"I don't know their names," returned the countess, who never troubled
herself about such a common thing as a watch-dog's name.

"Then I must shoot them."

"But, father, as gently as you can." By this Theudelinde did not mean
to appeal to his compassion for the dogs, but to remind him to spare
her sensitive nerves.

The abbé took his revolver and went on his mission; he carried no
lantern with him, for daylight had come.

Both the watch-dogs lay one on each side of the doorway. They were
chained loosely, so that they could keep well clear of one another,
but it was impossible to pass between them to the door, if you escaped
being bitten by one, the other was sure to tear you. The abbé,
therefore, to get to the door, had to shoot one and wound the other.
He then drew the bolt, and saw a man standing before him, a revolver
in _his_ hand.

"Who are you? What do you want?" asked the priest.

"Who are you, and what brings you here?" returned the stranger.

"I am the Abbé Samuel, the countess's confessor."

"And I am Ivan Behrend, the countess's next neighbor."

The abbé lowered his pistol, and changed his tone to one of courtesy.

"You must confess that it is rather an unusual hour for you to come,"
he said, smiling.

"Honi soit qui mal y pense," said Ivan, putting his weapon into his
pocket. "I came at this unusual hour in consequence of a letter which
I received this very night, in which I was informed that the castle
was in a state of confusion, and the countess was in great need of
help."

"The cause of the confusion--"

"Oh, I know, that was also in the letter. Therefore, I have come to do
what I can, although I am aware the countess admits no man into her
house, especially at this hour."

"She will receive _you_ most certainly. Allow me first to close the
door. There is absolutely no one in the house. Take care of the dog on
the left-hand side; he is still alive."

"You have shot the other?"

"Yes; you heard the shot and drew your revolver?"

"Naturally. I did not know who might have fired the pistol."

Both men ascended to the apartments of the countess. The abbé entered
first to prepare her.

"We have got unexpected help," he said; "a neighbor of yours, Ivan
Behrend."

"A doubtful person," returned Theudelinde, scornfully. "He is an
atheist."

"It does not matter in the present crisis whether he be a Thug, a
Mormon, or a Manichæan, we have great need of his help. Some one told
him of the plight you are in, and he wishes to see you."

"I will not see him, or speak to him. I beg you will confer with him
instead of me."

"Countess, if this man is what you say, a heretic, he may say that he
will not confer with one of my cloth."

"Very well. I suppose I must see him, but you will be present?"

"If it should be necessary."

The countess rolled her shawl round her, and went into the
reception-room, into which the morning light was breaking. Abbé Samuel
thought it necessary, however, to light the candelabras on the
chimney.

Theudelinde, with a freezing air, asked Ivan to take a chair, and
placed herself at a considerable distance from her visitor. She signed
to him to begin the conversation.

"Countess, this night while I was busy reading, some one tapped at my
window, and when I opened it thrust this note into my hand. It is
written by your steward."

"By my steward!" exclaimed the countess, in a tone of surprise.

"It is written in his style, and quite unfit for you to read. I will
tell you what interests you. The steward says that your entire
household, without any exception of sex, have made good their escape,
and that he is following their example."

"My steward also! And for what reason?"

"He gives the reason in his letter. I suspect, however, it is only a
pretext on his part to conceal a very criminal design. I am of opinion
that he has robbed you."

"Robbed me!" repeated the countess.

"Do not alarm yourself; there are different sorts of robbery, such as
being an unfaithful steward, injuring your land, making profit to
himself to your disadvantage. This man, I imagine, played this game,
and has now tried to give a humorous turn to his flight, so that the
laugh may be turned against you. This is my idea."

The countess was obliged to acknowledge that her neighbor was both a
clever and a kind-hearted man.

"In this letter," continued Ivan, "your steward states that after what
has happened he could never dare to look you in the face again, as he
could not convince you that the late scandals in the castle had gone
on without his knowledge. I did not believe these words. I felt
certain that you had dismissed your household on finding out how
grossly they had deceived you; therefore, my first care on getting
this letter was to send a messenger on horseback to the nearest
telegraph-station with a message to your banker in Pesth, to tell him
that the agent of the Bondavara estate had absconded, and on no
account to honor his checks. I thought it was probable he had liberty
to draw in your name."

"This was really very practical and thoughtful on your part," said the
abbé. "The countess must feel most grateful to you."

Theudelinde bowed her head graciously.

"One reason that brought me here," continued Ivan, "was to know if you
approved of what I had done, and also to offer you my assistance in
case you wish to leave the castle. I will help you to get away, and I
will send my people to look after your property till you can make
further arrangements."

"This is really most neighborly and friendly, and the countess owes
you a debt of gratitude," repeated the priest, again assuming all
responsibility.

"I am merely doing my duty," returned Ivan. "And I would add that if
you should be in any difficulty as to the necessary funds, which is
very likely, as the steward and bailiff have both made off, don't let
this for a moment distress you; I can lend you ten thousand florins."

The Abbé Samuel whispered to the countess to accept this offer in the
spirit in which it was meant, and on no account to say anything of
interest.

Theudelinde accordingly held out her hand with gracious dignity to her
chivalrous neighbor, who drew from his pocket the money in bank-notes.
The countess wished to give him an acknowledgment, which he declined,
saying the money was lent for such a short time that it was not
necessary.

"And about leaving the castle," he said. "How soon do you start?"

"The sooner the better!" cried the countess.

"Then, if you will allow me to suggest a plan for accomplishing the
first stage of the journey, which is the difficult part of the
business, in the first place it will be necessary to pack up what you
need. Will you be good enough, countess, to select the trunks you mean
to bring? When this is done I will harness the horses; then we must
lock and seal the rooms, and my servants will watch them until you
send your proper people. This done, we can set out; and as we shall
have to pass the steward's house, we can call there, and look for any
books he may have for keeping the accounts of the estate. They would
be useful."

"I shall not go there; I don't want any accounts."

"Very good. Then we shall go straight to the inn in my village."

"What to do?"

"Because the post is there. We must get post-horses."

"And why post-horses? Cannot I drive my own horses?"

"No."

"And why not?"

"Because they are screws. They would not reach the next station."

"My horses! Why do you say they are screws?" asked the countess,
angrily.

"Because they are in bad condition."

"Bear!" thought Theudelinde. "He answers me so roughly."

"I shall not enter the inn," she said, determinedly. "I go nowhere
where men drink. Cannot I wait at your house until the horses are
changed?"

"Certainly. I am charmed to receive you, countess; only you will find
nothing suitable for you. I live alone _en garçon_."

"Oh, that does not matter," returned the countess, with an air of
indifference.

"Will you have the goodness, then," said Ivan, "to begin your
preparations and select the clothes you mean to pack up?"

Theudelinde gave a strange smile. "My packing will not take long; my
luggage will not be heavy. Will you make a good fire while I go to my
wardrobe? It is very cold in this room."

In the sitting-room there was a large marble fireplace, and in the
ashes of the grate some sparks still lingered. Ivan put some wood on
the smouldering fire, and soon a genial blaze glowed in the chimney.
It welcomed the countess, who presently returned, carrying in her arms
a heap of dresses and clothes of all description.

Ivan looked at her in dismay. "You are going to pack all those?"

"Yes, and as many more, which still remain in my wardrobe."

"But, countess, where?"

"Here," returned Theudelinde, as she flung the bundle on the fire.

It filled up the whole fireplace, and the fire, catching the light
materials, there was presently a crackling sound, while the old
chimney roared again with joy over such a splendid contribution.

The two men looked on in silence at this _auto-da-fé_.

Ten times did Theudelinde go backward and forward to her room, each
time returning with fresh armfuls of finery, and when these were
exhausted, her linen, boots, shoes, etc., followed; while at each
sacrifice the flames in the chimney leaped and danced, and the wind
blew the flames up the chimney, where they roared like so many demons.

"Well, this sort of packing makes short work," thought Ivan, but said
nothing.

The clergyman stood with his hands behind his back. The countess's
eyes danced, her cheeks were flushed, her activity was unceasing. When
all was consumed she turned to Ivan with a triumphant air.

"It is finished," she said.

"And may I ask in what toilette your ladyship intends to travel?"

"In the clothes I wear, and my fur cloak."

"Then I shall go and get the carriage."

When he was gone the countess, assisted by the abbé, put on her fur
pelisse lined with sable. She took with her nothing that she had ever
used; in her opinion everything was defiled.

After a few minutes Ivan returned, and announced that the carriage was
at the entrance. The doors were then locked, and a seal affixed to
each.

When they entered the hall the sight of the dog which the abbé had
spared presented a difficulty. If they left him he would die of
hunger. The countess thought it would be better to shoot him also.
Ivan, however, was more merciful.

"I will chain him to the carriage, and he will follow us."

Theudelinde was certain the hound would bite him; but the dog's
instinct assured him that it was a friend who now approached. He
allowed Ivan to put on his chain, and licked his hand to show his
gratitude. All was now done, Ivan locked the gates, gave the key to
the abbé, who with the countess was already seated in the carriage,
jumped on the coach-box, and drove away from Bondavara Castle. They
went slowly, for the two miserable nags, which were dignified with the
name of carriage horses, could hardly drag them along. They were spent
with age and starvation, and were only fit for the knacker's yard.

As the vehicle turned in the direction of the coal-mine Ivan remarked
a cloud of smoke in the distance, and soon after they met a group of
laborers carrying requisites for putting out a fire, hurrying in the
direction of the smoke. On being questioned they said the granary of
the noble countess was burning, but that they hoped to extinguish the
fire.

"I think it will be easily done," Ivan said. "The steward set it on
fire to conceal the defalcation in the crop."

The countess was indignant, but Ivan remarked dryly that property had
its duties, and that those who never looked after their own interests
were fair game for the thief.

A rough, ill-mannered man!

It was full daylight before the noble coach, drawn by the pair of
noble nags, made its way through the heavy snow into the Bergwerk
Colony. The wretched beasts were steaming as they drew up at Ivan's
door. Ivan's first care was to call the postmaster to take them to his
stable, and to order a good pair of fresh horses to replace them. Then
he led his tired guests into his workroom. All the other rooms were
cold and cheerless, so he took them where there was warmth and light.

In the room everything was in the utmost disorder; it was hard to find
a place where the countess could sit down. She looked about her with
astonishment at the strange objects which encumbered the tables and
chairs; every available spot was taken up by some extraordinary,
diabolical-looking invention. She cast a look of terror at the
chemical laboratory, upon whose furnace the coals still glimmered,
testifying to the experiment upon which Ivan had been at work when
interrupted by the steward's tap at the window.

"Cagliostro's workshop," she whispered to the abbé. "There are
mysterious things done here."

What annoyed the countess far more than the evidences of mystery and
magic which surrounded her was the idea that she was the guest and
the debtor of this rough, common fellow. She, rich, well-born, a
faithful child of the Church, owed her rescue from a most unpleasant
position to this obscure, godless tradesman. If she could only pay him
the heaviest interest for his loan, and had not to say "thank you!"
And yet she had to swallow the indignity.

Ivan, after an absence of a few minutes, returned, followed by a maid
carrying a tray with the steaming breakfast. She laid the cloth, and
set out the cups and coffee-cans. The countess would gladly have made
some excuse to avoid tasting the food presented by her unholy host,
but the abbé, who was a man of the world, drew his chair to the table,
and invited Theudelinde to follow his example, "For," he said, "we
shall not get anything to eat till the evening, as there are no inns
on our road; and you want refreshment before your long journey."

When the countess saw that no demons seized upon the clergyman, and
that the coffee of the Warlock seemed innocent of all evil, she, too,
came to the table and sipped a few spoonfuls, but she found it was
execrable stuff; the milk was not so bad, and she contented herself
with that and bread.

Ivan began to talk about the weather--a very general subject of
conversation; but herein there was this difference. Instead of an
ignoramus, it was a meteorologist who handled the theme. Ivan assured
the countess that both the barometer and his English glass pointed to
fine weather, the sun was as warm as in May, their journey would be
excellent. As he spoke, Ivan drew back the thick green window
curtains, and let in the bright sunlight to enliven the half-darkened
room. The first effect of this sudden eruption of light was to show
the countess her own face reflected in a large concave mirror which
hung on the wall opposite to her.

It is an undoubted fact that we all like to see our reflection in a
glass; our eyes wander to it naturally, and the most earnest orator,
in the midst of his finest peroration, will gesticulate to his own
image with more satisfaction than to a crowded audience; but it is a
totally different thing if it should be a magnifying-glass. What a
horrible distortion of ourselves--head as large as a cask, features of
a giant, expression that of a satyr; a sight too dreadful to
contemplate.

"What an awful glass you have there," said the countess, peevishly, as
she turned her back to the mirror.

"It is undoubtedly not a toilette mirror; it is a glass which we use
in chemical experiments to test the highest degrees of heat."

Here the abbé, who wished to air his scientific knowledge, put in--

"As, for example, for burning a diamond."

"Just so," returned Ivan. "That is one of the uses of a concave
mirror; it is necessary for burning a diamond, which requires the
flame of a gas retort."

The countess was grateful for the abbé's remark, for it gave her a
happy inspiration.

"Do you mean to tell me," she said, addressing Ivan, "that a diamond
is combustible?"

"Undoubtedly, for the diamond is, in fact, nothing but coal in the
form of a crystal. With the necessary degrees of heat you can extract
from the patrician diamond ninety florins carat weight, the same
amount of invisible gas or oxide of coal as from the plebeian lump of
coal."

"That is proved by the focus of the magnifier," remarked the abbé.

"I don't believe it," said the countess, throwing back her head.

"I am sorry," returned Ivan, "that I cannot give you a proof that the
diamond is combustible. We do not use such costly things for mere
experiment, but have splints for the purpose, which are cheap in
comparison. I have, however, none of these by me."

"I should like to be convinced, for I do not believe it," repeated the
countess. "Will you make the experiment with this?" As she spoke she
unfastened a brooch from her dress, and handed it to her host. The
centre stone was a fine two-carat brilliant. Theudelinde expected that
Ivan would return it to her, saying, "Oh, it would be a pity to use
this beautiful stone;" and then she would reply, "Then pray keep it as
a slight remembrance;" and in this manner this perverse individual
would have been paid and forgotten. But, to her amazement, the
countess found she had deceived herself.

With the indifference of a philosopher and the courtesy of a gentleman
Ivan took the brooch from its owner.

"I conclude you do not wish to have the ornament melted," he said,
quietly. "I will take the diamond out of its setting, and if it should
not burn you can have it reset."

Without another word he extracted the stone with a little pincers, and
placed it at the bottom of a flat clay saucepan; then he opened the
window, which lay in the full blaze of the sun. He placed the saucepan
upon a stand in the middle of the room and just in front of the
countess; then he took the magnifying-glass and went outside, for in
the room the sun's rays had not power to concentrate themselves upon
the mirror.

The countess was now certain that the trick would not succeed, and
that she would have an opportunity of offering the diamond to Ivan on
the pretext of repeating the experiment when the sun's rays would be
more powerful.

Ivan, when he had found the proper spot outside the window, directed
the rays from the apex of the burning-glass straight upon the
saucepan, where the diamond was waiting the moment of its
annihilation. The stone emitted a thousand sparks. As the sun's rays
touched it, it threw out as many colors as are in the rainbow; it
seemed as if it were to be the victor in this fight. All of a sudden
the fiery rays condensed themselves in a narrower circle upon the
doomed diamond, the small room was filled with a blinding light that
turned everything into silver; not a shadow remained. Out of the
saucepan shot a ball of fire like a flash of lightning; the next
minute the burning-glass ceased to work.

Ivan still stood outside the window. He spoke to the countess, who was
transfixed with astonishment.

"What is in the saucepan?" he asked.

"Nothing."

Ivan returned to the room, hung the mirror in its place, and returned
to the countess her brooch without its centre stone.

The abbé could not help remarking, dryly, "That little drama is fit to
be played before a queen."

But now the postilion blew his horn, the countess put on her fur
pelisse, and was escorted to the carriage by Ivan. She was obliged to
give him her hand, and to say the words, "God be with you."

When the carriage had gone a little way she said to the abbé, "That
man is a sorcerer."

But the clergyman shook his head. "He is far worse; he is an inquirer
into the secrets of nature."

"H'm! he is an obstinate, disagreeable man."



CHAPTER X

THE HIGHER MATHEMATICS


The counting-house of the firm of Kaulmann stands in the same place
where it stood fifty years ago. The entrance is as it was, and the
very panes of glass are identical with those through which the founder
of the house, in 1811, was wont to make his observations--as from an
observatory--upon the countenances of the passers-by, when a rise or
fall in the funds was expected. He knew what an excellent barometer
the faces of a crowd make, and how much can be gleaned by observation;
so too a chance word, which is let fall as it were by accident, often
contains the germ of much truth, and is, to an experienced man, in a
measure prophetic.

The young head of the house did not set much store by the
counting-house business. He had higher aims. He lived on the first
floor in luxurious bachelor chambers; his sitting-room was a museum,
and his writing-table was crowded with bronzes and antiques; his
inkstand was a masterpiece of Benvenuto Cellini's--or, perhaps, a
good imitation in galvanized plaster; his pen was gold, with a
diamond top; he used gold sand for blotting-paper; the sand-sifter
was made of porphyry, the pen-holder was a branch of real coral, the
paper-weight a mosaic from Pompeii, the candle-shades of real
crystal, the cover of the blotting-book Japanese. Every article had
a value of its own, from the Turkish paper knife to the paper
itself, which was of all sorts and descriptions, from the thickest
vellum to the most delicate straw note, perfumed with mignonette and
musk. In spite of these elaborate arrangements, no one had ever been
known to write at this so-called writing-table. The science
cultivated by Felix Kaulmann did not require the use of pen and ink;
it was purely mental work. Felix worked night and day; during his
sleep, even, he worked, but no trace of his labor was to be found on
paper. When he amused himself--dancing, riding, making love--he
seemed altogether occupied with the subject on hand; he worked,
nevertheless, all the time. He had a certain goal at which he was
aiming; for this he lived, for this he strove, and this alone
aroused his interest and his enthusiasm; he never forgot for one
moment the aim of his life. He had something more to do than to make
a pen travel over paper; he had to move men.

One day, not long after the events in the Castle of Bondavara, the
Abbé Samuel was seated in Felix Kaulmann's room. Both were engaged in
serious conversation. Before them an elegant equipage of fragrant
Mocha, whose fumes mingled with that of the Latakia, which our friend
the abbé smoked from a genuine Turkish pipe. Felix only smoked cigars.

"Well, here is your agreement with the countess. As you wished for
thirty-two years, it is regularly drawn up. And now I should like to
know of what use it can possibly be to either you or your company. It
is not enough for the countess to sign it; it wants the signature of
the prince to make the contract advantageous to you, for the countess
has only a life-interest in the Bondavara property. As soon as she
dies it goes to the prince, or to his grandson, and then your
agreement is null."

"I know that," returned Felix, knocking the ash from his cigar; "and
for this reason we must take care and keep the old girl alive. Let her
have a good time, and she will live to a great age. It is very hard to
kill an old maid, especially if she has lots of money. Besides, I am
not so careless as you suppose. I have looked into the matter; I have
seen the will of the old prince, and I know all its provisions. There
is a clause that makes me pretty safe. When Countess Theudelinde goes
off the reel, her brother, the present man, or his heirs, are obliged
to compensate all those, either tenants, householders, or creditors,
who may have erected any buildings on the estate. You see, the old
prince considered that it would be more than probable that his crazy
daughter might, in a fit of holy enthusiasm, build either a church or
a convent, and he thought he would give the heirs the advantage of her
generosity. It never entered into his head that any one would erect a
factory, a refinery, or open a mine. Now you see how useful this
clause is to me, the heirs will not be in a position to refund us the
two millions of money we are putting on the property."

"Unless they find another company to advance them the money."

"That would not be so easy. First of all, it would have to go into the
very intricate affairs of the Bondavara family; then it would require
immense capital, great energy, and a certain amount of risk. For the
rest, I can see as far as my neighbors. I don't sit with my hands in
my lap, I can tell you, and I have not put all my money on one card."

"Right! By-the-way, what has become of the little wild kitten you
brought away from the Bondavara mine?"

"I have placed her for the present in Madame Risan's school; she is
being educated, for she has extraordinary capabilities, although in a
general way she is a stupid creature. She has a splendid voice, but
she cannot sing, as singing is nowadays; she has a wonderfully
expressive face, but does not know how to make use of it; she is full
of feeling, and speaks no language but her mother-tongue."

"Do you mean to educate her for the stage?"

"Certainly."

"And then?"

"I intend to marry her."

The abbé raised his eyebrows in some astonishment.

"I should hardly have thought," he said, coldly, "that a pupil of
Madame Risan's would be likely to make a satisfactory wife, although
she might be an excellent actress."

Felix looked haughtily at his visitor, then shrugged his shoulders, as
who would say the abbé's opinion on this point was indifferent to him.
For a few minutes the men smoked in silence; then, with a sudden
clearing of his face, Kaulmann said, in his blandest manner:

"I want to ask you a question. You know the ins and outs of the
marriage laws. Is there any means by which a marriage can be set aside
without having recourse to the divorce court? That is always attended
with great expense and a good deal of scandal; and if the other side
should be obstinate and malicious, it can drag for an interminable
time."

"I know of only one other method. We will suppose that you are already
married according to the rules of the Church in this country. You
wish, for some reason, for a dissolution of this marriage. Well, you
have only to go to Paris, and take up your residence in the
banking-house your firm has there. Your father was a French subject,
so are you. According to the French law, no marriage is valid that is
not solemnized before the civil authorities; therefore, the remedy
would be in your hands. A short time ago the process was tried by the
French court. A certain count had married in Spain; the eldest son of
this marriage sought to recover his birthright, which had been
forfeited in consequence of his father's having neglected to be
remarried before the registrar in France. The court, however,
pronounced the Spanish marriage invalid, and yours would be a similar
case."

Felix got up from his seat. "I thank you," he said, "more than I can
say. If the recollection of our youthful friendship didn't remind me
that our compact was always to _love_ one another, I should certainly
feel that I owed you a heavy debt."

"For what?" returned the abbé, lifting his eyes in some surprise. "It
is well for you to remind me of our young days. Was I not then the
debtor of your father? What did he not do for me? He found me a
miserable, overworked, ill-paid student; he made me your tutor, and so
opened for me the road to better things. Oh, I never forget! But let
us not talk any more of the past."

"No, for the future is before us, and we shall work together. Now, I
must ask you, as the countess's representative, to sign the necessary
papers. There is the contract, and here is the check for the first
half-year's rent, and here is another check for the sum of forty
thousand gulden on my cashier."

"To whom payable?"

Felix answered by pressing the check into the abbé's hand, while he
whispered in his ear:

"To the friendly representative."

The other shook his head, with a wounded look on his face. "You mean
to offer _me_ a present?" he said, haughtily.

"You do not understand," returned Felix. "This money does not come
from me; it forms part of the expenses of the company, and in all such
undertakings figures under the head of 'necessary expenses.'"

As he spoke, Felix lit another cigar, and looked slyly at his
companion, as who should say, "You see what a capital fellow I am!"
Round the abbé Samuel's mouth a contemptuous smile flickered as he
tore the check for forty thousand gulden into four pieces; then he
laid his hand upon the banker's shoulder.

"My dear boy," he said, "I had the whole Bondavara property in the
hollow of my hand; it was mine to do as I chose with it. I did with it
as I do with these pieces of paper." He threw the torn check into the
grate. "Know me, once for all. I am no begging monk. I am a candidate
for high honors; nothing will content me but to be ruler of a
kingdom."

The haughty air with which the abbé said these words impressed the
banker so much that he laid down his cigar and stared vacantly at his
visitor.

"That is a great word," he said, slowly.

"Sit down and listen to what I shall disclose to you," returned the
priest, who, with his hands behind his back, now began to walk up and
down the room, pausing from time to time before his astonished
listener, to whom he poured out a torrent of words.

"The whole world is in labor," he said, "and brings forth nothing but
mice. And wherefore? Because the lions will not come into the world.
Chaos rules everywhere--in finance, in diplomacy, in the Church. One
man who would have intellect enough to see clearly could be master of
the situation. But where is he to be found? Fools in embroidered coats
are the leaders; therefore we see a country governed by incapables,
who do not know even where to begin. They would fain force it to
submit, but are afraid to use the necessary means. They oppress it,
and at the same time live in dread of what it may do. And this same
country does not itself know what to-morrow may bring, whether it
shall submit, pay the demands of its oppressors, or appeal to arms
against their tyranny; neither does it know who is its foe, who is its
friend, with whom to ally itself, against whom to fight; whether it
will go on submitting, whether it shall break out into curses or wild
laughter at its own follies. The country still possesses one element,
which stands, as it were, neutral between the two parties; this
element is the clerical; the Church is a power in Hungary."

Felix's face grew darker; he could not imagine what all this would
lead to. But the abbé had now paused, and was standing before him.

"What do you think, my son," he said, "would be the reward due to the
man who could find a way out of this mass of confusion--who could
unite the classes, and bring them into conformity with the wishes of
the government? Do you not think that there is nothing which would
better further your Bondavara speculation than a submissive deputation
of priests and people, who would give a promise of fidelity to the
minister? One hand washes the other; he who brings about such an
unlooked-for condition of affairs must be recompensed. Now do you
understand what use this would be to you?"

"I think I begin to see."

"And what office do you think should be offered to the man who brings
the peasant's frock into subjection and elevates the mitre?"

Felix clasped his hands together. That was his answer. The clergyman
resumed his walk up and down the room; his lips were compressed, his
head in the air.

"The primate is an old man," he said, suddenly.

Felix leaned back in his chair. He could see better in this position
the various expressions which passed over the abbé's face. He started
when the abbé murmured, almost under his breath:

"The pope is still older."

There was a moment's silence, and then the abbé continued, speaking
fast and with excitement:

"Dwarfs are at the rudder, my son; dwarfs who believe that their
impotent efforts will stem the storm. The Church is in danger of going
to pieces, and they make use of the old worn-out means of support.
Listen to my words. All the efforts of Rome are fruitless; it tries to
maintain its dignity with Peter's pence, and has allowed millions to
slip through its fingers. Only here in Hungary has the Church any
property left. I know well that in the minister's drawer there is a
paper prepared which only needs the signature of the state to become
law; it only requires a slight pretext, and Vienna will declare war
against the clerical power in Hungary. She will fight it upon the
liberal principle, and those who oppose will be the unpopular, the
losing side. It is only a question of time. The deficit grows daily,
the government is in a hole, the treasury is empty, there is no loan
possible. Hence a fight over the budget, or a trifling war somewhere.
You know the proverb, 'When the devil is hungry he eats flies.' The
clerical property in Hungary is the fly, and Austria will make one
bite at it. The chair of St. Peter and the Church property in Hungary
are both in danger. How is the danger to be averted? Let us put our
shoulders to the wheel; let us be more patriotic than the democrats,
more loyal than the prime-minister, more liberal than revolutionists;
let us save the Church property from the government, and the Church
itself from the revolution. Let us throw into the market a gigantic
loan of a hundred millions upon the property of the Hungarian Church
for the rescue of the throne of St. Peter. What do you now think of
the man who could do this thing? What should be his reward?"

"Everything," stammered Felix, his mind confused over this
bewildering, yet fascinating, programme.

"To this great work I have destined you," said the abbé, with a
solemn, majestic air. "Your Bondavara speculation is necessary, for
with it you can make a _coup_ which shall bring you a world-wide
reputation, your name shall be on a par with that of the Strousbergs,
the Pereiras, with that of Rothschild itself. This is the reason why I
have given you my support. When you are firmly established, then I
shall say to you, 'Lend me your shoulder,' upon which I shall climb
where I will."

After this Felix sank into a waking dream. Before his eyes gleamed the
gigantic loan, and through a mist he saw the tall form of the abbé
with a crown upon his head.



CHAPTER XI

SOIRÉES AMALGAMANTES


One winter's morning Ivan Behrend, to his great astonishment, received
a notice from the president of the Hungarian Academy of Arts and
Science. This notice set forth that the members of the physical,
scientific, and mathematical department had in the last general
assembly chosen him as an honorary member of the before-mentioned
departments; and before being elected member of the academy itself he
should, in conformity to the established custom, read before the
assembly his first address. Ivan was petrified with amazement. How had
such an honor come to him? He who had never written a scientific paper
in any periodical; who had no connections or friend in the academical
assembly, who was not a magnate, or had played no part in political
life. He was puzzled; he could not conceive who had brought forward
his name. Could it have been, he thought, that in some way his
chemical researches had reached their ears? In which case, as he told
himself, every director of a mine, every manager of a factory, would
be considered a philosopher and made member of the Academy, for every
one of them possessed as much knowledge as he did. There was no use in
thinking about it; the honor had come to him, and should be accepted.
Ivan thought it best not to look the gift-horse in the mouth; he
therefore wrote to the secretary, expressing his gratitude for the
unlooked-for honor conferred upon him, and stating that towards the
end of the year he would present himself in Pesth, and read before the
illustrious assembly his inaugural address. Then he considered the
subject of this address long and carefully, and spent much of his time
over its elaboration. It was an account of microscopical crustations,
the study of which he had followed closely during the boring of an
artesian well, and which during ten years he had perfectly mastered.
It took him until late in the autumn to complete his essay on the
subject.

In many places, where such scientific research is valued at its proper
merit, his paper would have been appreciated, and would have even
caused a sensation; but we are bound in honesty to confess that it did
not do so in Pesth, and that during the sixty minutes allowed by the
canon law of all institutions for such lectures, the microscopical
crustations produced an amount of yawning unprecedented, even among
academicians.

After the reading of the lecture was over the very first person to
greet the neophyte and offer his congratulations was the Abbé Samuel,
and then a light burst suddenly upon Ivan. He now saw who it was who
had discovered his talents, and who had been his patron. It was
something of a fall to his vanity; he had thought--well, it didn't
matter, the abbé was doubtless as learned as any one in the assembly,
and his thanks were due to him. Small attentions, it is said,
consolidate friendship.

Ivan decided to spend some days in Pesth; he had business to do.
During the week several papers noticed his academical address; the
most merciful was one which announced he had given an interesting
lecture upon the "Volcanic Origin of the Stalactites." Ivan's only
consolation was that in his own country no one read _The Referate_,
and that abroad no one understood it, as it was written in Hungarian.
He was wrong, however; some one did read it--but of this again. One
day, as Ivan was making his preparations for his homeward journey, he
received from the Countess Theudelinde Bondavara a card of invitation
for a _soirée_, which would take place three evenings later.

"Aha!" thought Ivan, "another thank-offering. It is well that it did
not come sooner."

He sat down to his writing-table and answered the invitation in the
most courteous manner, regretting his inability to avail himself of it
in consequence of his immediate departure from Pesth. He was in the
act of sealing the letter when the door opened and the Abbé Samuel was
announced. Ivan expressed his great pleasure at receiving so
distinguished a visitor.

"I could not let you leave Pesth without coming," answered the abbé,
in his most friendly manner. "My visit was due, not only because I am
much indebted for your kind assistance at Bondavara, but also because
I felt it a necessity to tell you what an honor I count it to know
such a distinguished scholar as you have proved yourself to be."

Ivan felt inclined to say that he was neither distinguished nor a
scholar; he remained, however, silent.

"I trust," continued the abbé, seating himself upon the sofa, "that
you intend to make a long stay in Pesth?"

"I am leaving to-morrow," returned Ivan, dryly.

"Oh, impossible! We cannot lose you so soon. I imagine you have a card
for the Countess Theudelinde's next _soirée_?"

"I regret that I am prevented from accepting her agreeable invitation;
I have pressing business which necessitates my return."

The abbé laughed. "Confess honestly," he said, "that if you had no
other reason to return home, you would run away from an entertainment
which would bore you infinitely."

"Well, then, if you will have the truth, I do confess that a _soirée_
is to me something of a penance."

"These _soirées_, however, are on a different footing from those
_réunions_ which, I agree with you, are more pain than pleasure, and
where a stranger feels himself 'out of it,' as the saying goes.
Countess Theudelinde aims at having a _salon_, and succeeds admirably.
She receives all the best people. I don't mean by that generic word
only the upper ten, but the best in the true sense, the best that
Pesth affords in art, in literature, in science; the aristocracy of
birth, talent, and beauty."

Ivan shook his head incredulously. "And how does such a mixed
gathering answer?"

The abbé did not reply at once; he scratched his nose thoughtfully.

"Until they get to know one another, it is perhaps somewhat stiff. But
with intellectual people this stiffness must soon disappear, and each
one will do something to keep the ball rolling. You have an excellent
delivery; I noticed it the night of your lecture. You could easily
find a subject on which to lecture which would interest your listeners
by its novelty, surprise them by its profundity, and amuse them by its
variety; their intellect and their imagination would be equally
engaged."

It was Ivan's turn to laugh, which he did loudly. "My excellent sir,
such a subject is unknown to me. I confess my ignorance; neither in
print nor in manuscript have I met with it."

The clergyman joined in the laugh.

At this moment a servant brought Ivan a despatch, which claimed
instant attention, so that the receipt might be given to the messenger
who waited for it. Ivan begged his guest to excuse him if he opened
this urgent document. The abbé, with a wave of his hand, requested him
not to mind his presence.

As Ivan read the letter a remarkable change passed over his face; he
grew suddenly pale, his eyebrows contracted, then a sudden rush of
color came into his cheeks. He held the letter before him, read it
several times, while his eyes had a wild stare, as if he had seen a
ghost. Then all at once he fell to laughing. He thrust the letter into
his pocket, and returned to the subject he had been discussing.

"Yes, yes," he said, "I shall go to Countess Theudelinde's _soirée_,
and I shall give a lecture before her guests such as they have never
heard the equal; that I promise you. Science and poetry, imagination
and learning mixed together, with dates and genealogy, so that the
_savants_ present will not know what to think; I shall give a lecture
which will make every geologist a prince, and every princess a
geologist. Do you follow me?"

"Perfectly," returned the other; not, indeed, that he saw what Ivan
meant, but that he wished to encourage him. "That will be the very
thing--first-rate!"

"What do you say to illustrations by means of an electric-magnetic
machine, eh?"

"A capital idea, and amusing. My dear friend, you will have a
_succès_."

"May I ask you to convey to the countess my acceptance of her
invitation? I shall require a large apparatus."

"I can assure you in advance that the countess will be charmed at your
kind offer. As for the apparatus and arrangement, leave that to her,
she will be overjoyed when she hears that she is to expect you."

The abbé then took his leave, fully contented with his visit. Ivan
again read his letter, and again sat staring into space, as if a ghost
had appeared to him.

People said the Countess Theudelinde's _Soirées Amalgamantes_ would
certainly make history. The mixture was excellent: grandees jostled
elbows with poets; academicians with prelates; musicians, painters,
sculptors, actors, critics, professors, physicians, editors,
sportsmen, and politicians of all shades gathered under one roof. It
was a bold experiment, a brilliant society _in thesi_. Neither was
there wanting the element of female attraction; all that Pesth held of
beauty, charm, and grace lent its aid to the scheme of amalgamation.

Count Stefan, a cousin of Countess Theudelinde, was a great help to
her _soirées_, for he was a well-informed and cultivated young man,
able to talk on all subjects, and especially on the poetry of the
world. As for the Countess Angela, she was a classic beauty; her
grandfather was a political celebrity--a great man, who had a
surrounding of all kinds, bad and good. It was therefore quite in
keeping, according to the usages of society, that when an unfortunate
outsider was presented to Countess Angela, he should, after the third
word or so, make mention of her illustrious grandfather, Prince
Theobald of Bondavara, and inquire after his health. After this
question, however, the Countess Angela never addressed the stranger
another word. She allowed him to speak, if he so wished, and to retire
in some confusion. Even the most dried-up specimen of university
learning felt aggrieved. His heart could not resist the first glance
of those heavenly eyes, so sweet and friendly, now so cold and
haughty. And yet what had he done? The poor man will probably never
know; he is not in the inner circle.

Countess Angela was indeed a perfect ideal beauty; this cannot be too
often repeated. A pure, noble face, with classical, well-proportioned
features, nose and lips finely cut, long, straight eyebrows and
lashes, which veiled the eyes of a goddess. When these eyes glowed, or
when they were half-closed under their downy lids, they looked black,
but when they laughed at you, you would swear they were blue. Her hair
was rich, of that most lovely of all shades, chestnut brown; her whole
countenance betrayed that she knew herself to be charming, that she
was aware that she was the centre, at all times, of admiration, and
that such knowledge pleased her well. And why not? A woman must be
very silly not to be aware that beauty is a gift and a power.

But what was the reason of her cold looks at the mention of her
grandfather's name? Just what one might expect from a woman with her
face. All the world--that is, her world--knew that she and her
grandfather, Prince Theobald of Bondavara, were at daggers drawn. The
wily old politician had given his only and beautiful granddaughter to
a German, Prince Sondersheim. She was to consolidate some political
matter, only she didn't see it in that light, and refused to ratify
the bargain, not caring for Sondersheim; and, for the matter of that,
neither did he care for her. But, then, it didn't mean so much to him.
Angela had her ideal of married life, however, and so she quarrelled
with her grandfather because he pooh-poohed her ideals and called them
romantic folly. Upon this she vowed she would never speak to him
again, and he, being angry, told her to leave his house, which she did
at once, and came to her Aunt Theudelinde, who had just set up at
Pesth, and was glad to have so bright and beautiful a niece. Since
then she had refused all communication with her grandfather. This was
the reason that she would not even hear his name mentioned; and it
never was, except by ignorant outsiders, or "know-nothings," as the
Yankees call them.

The Abbé Samuel had wit enough to see that the _Soirées Amalgamantes_
were not the success they should be. Conversation did not suffice;
amalgamation was at a standstill. The young girls sat in one room, the
married women in another; the men herded together, looking glum, but
not so bored as the women. Then the abbé, considering what ought to be
done, had a happy idea. He introduced dramatic representations,
dramatic readings, concerts, which were a decided success. Soon
conversation became lively, strangers got to know one another; when
they rehearsed together duets and little pieces their stiffness wore
off. The women seemed different in morning dress, free from the
restraints of the grand toilette; they grew quite friendly, and later
on they found a subject upon which they discoursed quite at their
ease. It must be confessed, however, that after midnight, when the
readings, the concert, or the representation was over, and the
outsiders had gone home to their beds, society began to enjoy itself.
The young people danced, the old played whist or tarok, and they
stayed till daybreak. They would have done the same had the
scientists, the poets, the artists remained; they didn't want them to
leave, but, naturally, these people felt themselves out of it, and,
besides, they could not sit up all night like the others, so they went
home very properly; they knew their place.

The Abbé Samuel understood how to manage matters. Whenever the
countess was to have a particularly good evening he took care it
should get talked about, and the names of the performers, their
parentage and history, together with any interesting circumstance,
true or false, should be subjects of conversation for days before. In
this way he sent about Ivan Behrend's name with a great many details
as to his interesting life in the mines, his extraordinary cleverness,
and the wonderful lecture he was going to give at the countess's next
_soirée_.

The abbé knew his world, and how to whet its curiosity by exaggerated
reports.

"Is it true that, for one experiment only, he burned a brilliant
belonging to Countess Theudelinde which was worth eight hundred
gulden?"

"The stone weighed four carats, and was worth fifteen hundred pounds."

"We must give him a good reception. See, here he comes, escorted by
Abbé Samuel!"

The gentleman who had just spoken, and who was the Countess Angela's
cousin, was Count Edmund, a handsome young man of about twenty-two
years of age. He hastened to meet Ivan and the abbé as they entered
the door, and introduced himself as nephew to the lady of the house.
He took Ivan by the arm in the most friendly manner, and led him to
Count Stefan, uncle to the countess. The count was a man of
intelligence and reading; he assured Ivan there were those in the room
who were much interested to hear his lecture. After this he was
presented by his new friend to several distinguished-looking persons
with decorations, who all pressed his hand, and spoke in the most
friendly manner. The beginning of the evening was the most agreeable
portion. The abbé and Ivan finally made their way into the next room,
where the ladies were assembled, and here they found the Countess
Theudelinde, who received them, and especially Ivan, most graciously.
The young man, Count Edmund, again took possession of him, and,
laughing and talking, led him up to the Countess Angela, to whom he
was introduced with a great flourish. Before this lovely vision Ivan
bowed, feeling somewhat stunned, yet not shy or awkward.

"You come very seldom to Pesth," said the young countess, with a
reassuring smile.

"It is some time since I have been here; but I understand this is your
first visit, countess. You have never lived in Pesth?"

Angela's face assumed its cold expression; she felt sure he was going
to inquire for Prince Theobald.

"I do not see," she said, in a sarcastic voice, "what it is to any one
whether I have ever been in Pesth."

"It is not an uncommon accident," returned Ivan, quietly, "that a man
visits a place where he has never been before; but when many people
meet in the same spot, it looks as if there was something more than
accident in such a gathering; and in this instance, where so many
brilliant personages are brought together, it seems as if Providence
had more to do with it than mere chance."

At these words Angela's face cleared. "Then you believe in Providence?
you acknowledge there is such a thing as Divine ordinance?"

"Undoubtedly, I do believe."

"Then we shall be friends." She turned away as she spoke, and Ivan
took this movement as a signal to retire.

After a quarter of an hour's further waiting, Edmund came to tell him
that everything was in readiness in the lecture-room, and the company
had already gathered there in considerable numbers. Ivan, therefore,
ascended the stage, which had been erected at the farther end of the
large room, and, holding his papers in his hand, addressed his
audience. He had a pleasant voice, his manner of address was perfectly
unaffected, composed, and taking. From the first moment he held the
attention of the audience--his subject was _Magnetism_.



CHAPTER XII

RITTER MAGNET


When the lecture had concluded the lamps were carried out of the room,
and only the candles in the lustre were left lighted. Ivan then
exhibited to the astonished spectators the electric light. Many of
them had never seen such a clear, beautiful light as this ball of
virgin-like purity. It looked like one of the heavenly planets, as if
Venus had descended from her place in the firmament and was shining on
the company. The candles in the lustre burned blue, and threw shadows
on the wall. Every face lost all trace of color from the effect of
this strange illumination; people whispered to one another, almost
frightened. Ivan, standing upon the platform, looked like some
magician of old, his features chiselled like a statue, his eyes in
deep shadow; and what added considerably to the picturesque effect,
and heightened the charm of this noble assembly, was the strange
coloring given by the light to the splendid national costume worn by
the company, and the enamelled appearance of the jewels on the ladies'
necks and arms.

The eyes of every one were directed to two persons, while an
involuntary "Ah!" was whispered about at the extraordinary
transformation produced in their appearance. One was Countess Angela.
The light seemed to have taken from her face that pride and
self-satisfaction which, although natural in one so beautiful, gave
an earthly expression to her face, and somewhat marred its beauty. Now
she looked a heavenly vision, with the expression of a glorified
spirit who had done with earth and had soared upward to her true home
in heaven; all earthly passions, joy, sorrow, love, and pride, had
vanished. Such was the miraculous effect of the magic light. The other
transformation was in Countess Theudelinde. She was seated in an
armchair, raised upon a sort of divan. The magic light touched her
face gently, and gave it a fairy-like expression; the noble features
were spiritualized, her naturally pale coloring became transparent,
the brilliants in her magnificent tiara sparkled over her forehead as
a garland of stars; she was sublime, and for five minutes the most
beautiful among the beautiful. It was, nevertheless, many a long year
since her mirror had told her she was beautiful. This, too, was the
miraculous effect of the magic light. Round the hall there were large
pier-glasses set into the wainscot, which reflected every one of the
company. Theudelinde, therefore, could see herself beautified. She
sighed as she thought, "I look like Queen Mab."

Suddenly the miraculous light went out, and the room, lit only by the
candles, seemed in total darkness. "Ah!" in sorrowful tones was echoed
through the assembly; people rubbed their eyes and recognized the
familiar faces again. Alas! it was over too soon. There were no more
angels, fairies, queens, or heroes; only a group of excellent
every-day people, counts and countesses. The face of Angela again wore
its proud, vain expression, and Theudelinde was once more stiff and
ill-tempered.

Ivan now descended from his platform, and received the congratulations
and compliments due to his efforts. There were different opinions, of
course, but they were private. Every one joined in praising the
lecturer to himself.

Ivan thanked every one for their approval, but with a coldly reticent
manner, and soon disengaged himself from his admirers to go in search
of his hostess; he wished to thank her for her kindness.

Theudelinde received him with smiles. Countess Angela was with her,
leaning on the back of her aunt's chair. The young girl had just said:

"You looked, auntie, quite lovely--a perfect Queen Mab."

The smile these words had called to Theudelinde's face still lingered
round her lips when Ivan presented himself. For these five minutes of
beauty she was indebted to this man, and was not ungrateful. She gave
him her hand, and thanked him in the most gracious manner for the
enjoyment he had given her.

"I owe you something," returned Ivan. "When you honored my house with
a visit, you gave me a diamond which you allowed me to burn before
your eyes. I now in return for your goodness on that occasion give you
this diamond, which was created before your eyes." With these words he
handed her a piece of carbon, which he had taken from the voltaic
pillar. "As I explained to you in my lecture, coal can be changed by
electricity into a diamond, and in this condition can cut glass."

"Ah!" cried the Countess Angela, her eyes beaming with pleasure, "let
us try the experiment now. Where is there a glass? Yes, one of the
pier-glasses. Come."

Countess Theudelinde was also excited. She stood up, and went with the
others to the pier-glass.

"Write one of the letters of the alphabet," said Angela, and watched
Ivan attentively. She was curious to see the letter he would choose.
If he were vain, as very likely he was, he would write his own initial
"I"; if a toady and flatterer, like most of the people round her aunt,
he would choose "T," as the countess's initial; and if he were a silly
fool, like so many other men, he would write "A." In either of these
cases he would have seen on the beauty's face a scornful smile.

Ivan took the piece of coal, and with the point wrote on the glass the
letter "X." Both ladies expressed their astonishment at seeing the
coal write, and Countess Theudelinde assured Ivan it should be
preserved carefully with her other jewels.

Countess Angela stood so near Ivan that the folds of her dress touched
him.

"I believe," she said, slowly, "every word you told us. I beg of you
do not tell me that all your romantic descriptions were but the
necessary clothing of a dry scientific subject, meant to make it
palatable to your silly, ignorant audience, and to raise in their
minds a wish to seek further, so that they might in so seeking acquire
a taste for knowledge. I do not want to seek, I believe implicitly all
you said; but of this world of wonder and miracles I would know more.
How far does it go? What more do you see, for the magician must know
everything?"

The young countess looked into Ivan's eyes as she spoke with a strange
magnetic power impossible to resist. Such a look as this had often
dazzled men's brains.

"You said, also," continued Angela, "how fiery and strong are those
who live in this magnetic kingdom, but that they have no credit for
the virtues they possess; it is due to the working of magnetism. I
believe this also. Magnetism has, however, two poles, the north and
the south pole. I have read that the opposite poles are drawn to one
another, and the homogeneous drift asunder. If, therefore, in the
magnetic kingdom hearts are drawn to one another, seek one another,
love one another, which is an immutable fact, so also is it an
immutable fact that there must be human beings who hate one another
with an undying, a deadly hatred, and that such hatred is no sin. Am I
not right?"

Ivan felt that he was driven into a corner; he understood the drift of
the countess's question. Here his knowledge of natural philosophy came
to his assistance.

"It is true," he said, "that so far as life upon the earth is in
question, there must also exist antipathies and sympathies. You have
studied magnetism, you have read of the poles, therefore you must know
that there exists an equator, or line, which is neither north nor
south. This is the magnetic equator, that neither draws the magnet nor
repulses it, and here there is perfect peace. Just such an equator is
found in every human heart, and however a man may be carried away by
the passions of love or hatred, his line remains unchangeable, and
those who dwell there dwell in peace."

"And who are the people who live under the magnetic equator?" asked
the countess, with curiosity.

"For example, parents and their children should dwell there."

The young girl's face was covered with a vivid blush; her beautiful
eyes shot a battery of lightning glances at Ivan, who remained quite
unmoved under this battery.

"We must talk more of this," she said, with sudden dignity.

Ivan bowed before the haughty beauty, who turned and left him to the
company of her aunt or of his own sex. He preferred the latter.

Meantime, the lecture being over, a rush had been made to the
refreshments. The army of outsiders were the first in the field. If
they were of little account elsewhere, they took first place at the
buffet, and here the citizen showed distinctly his origin.

Ivan mixed with the company, and conducted himself as one accustomed
to such society, and quite at his ease in it, and he was well
received. The men were very civil towards him; every man under forty
used the friendly "thou" in addressing him; he was made one of
themselves. It didn't matter much, as he was said to be leaving Pesth
the next day, and would be lost in the depths of Mesopotamia. Some one
said he came from Africa. They tried teasing him a bit, all in a
friendly way, and were pleased to find this pedant was an excellent
fellow, who took the joke in good part, laughed heartily at a
well-delivered thrust, and returned it with a sly hit, which never
offended any one's feelings.

"He is one of us," they said. "This man is up to everything; he is a
capital fellow. We must give him a good time."

"Is it true that you don't drink wine?" asked the Marquis Salista of
Ivan.

"Once a year."

"And to-day is not the anniversary?"

"No."

"Then we have drunk enough for one year; let us be moving."

Some of the men returned to the drawing-room; these were, for the most
part, the young fellows, and those who wished to dance. The ladies,
after their tea, had begun to play quadrilles, and even the "Csárdás"
for those who wished for it.

Count Stefan, however, drew away the better portion of the men to his
quarters, which were on the second story of the countess's house. Here
he entertained in his way. His rooms being on the other side of the
house, no noise penetrated to the story below, which was necessary, as
the count's champagne was of the very best, and given with no sort of
stint; it flowed, in fact. Ivan, who was of the party, showed himself
in a new light; he drank wine; his toasts were spicy, his anecdotes
fresh and amusing, his wit sharp and unrestrained; and although he
drank freely, he didn't turn a hair, he was quite steady.

"Brother," hiccoughed Count Geza, who towards two o'clock was half
drunk, "the captain and I have agreed that when you are quite done up
we shall carry you home and put you to bed; but, my dear friend, my
dear Ritter Magnet, the misery is that I don't think I can get up the
stairs; I am quite done. Therefore, take your wings and fly, and let
the captain take his, and both of you fly home. As for me--" Here the
count laid down on the sofa and fell asleep.

Every one laughed; but the name he had given Ivan--Ritter
Magnet--stuck to him.

"Do you care to play cards, my learned one?" said the Marquis Salista.

"Once every three years."

"That is not often enough."

The marquis could not at this moment explain why it was not often
enough, for at this moment Count Stefan acquainted his guests that it
was time for them to depart, seeing that the ball below stairs had
broken up, and every one had gone away. The countess's rest,
therefore, might be disturbed by any noise overhead. Every one agreed
that this was quite proper.

"Only," said Salista, "there is no need for us to go home. Let us
have the card-table. Let us spend our time well. Who is for a game?"

Three players soon presented themselves; Baron Oscar was one of the
first. But the fourth? The captain called to Ivan.

"Now, my learned friend."

Count Stefan thought it necessary to inform the stranger, who was his
guest, that at the tarok-table the stakes were very high.

"Only a kreuzer the point," said the captain.

"Yes, but kreuzer points in such a game often amount to seven or eight
hundred gulden to the losing side. These gentlemen have changed a
simple game into a hazardous venture."

Ivan laughed. "Every day of my life I play hazard with nature itself;
every day I speculate with all I have on a mere chance, and play only
one card." So saying, he rolled his chair to the green table.

The game commenced. The game of hazard, as it is generally played, is
a game of chance, it needs only luck and boldness; a drunken man can
almost win by accident. But as it is played in Pesth it is something
quite different; what is called luck, chance, accident, is here allied
to skill, prudence, consideration, and boldness. The tarok-player must
not only study his cards, but also the faces of his adversaries. He
must be Lavater and Tartuffe in one; he must be a general who develops
at every moment a fresh plan of campaign, and a Bosco who can, from
the first card that is played, divine the whole situation; he must,
however, be generous, and sacrifice himself for the sake of the
general good. Therefore it was that the spectators pitied Ivan when he
sat down to the card-table to play with these three masters of the
game.

It was seven o'clock when the players rose from the card-table. As
Ivan pushed back his chair, the marquis said to him:

"Well, comrade, it is a good thing for the world at large that you
only drink once a year and play cards once in three years, for if you
did both every day there would be no more wine in Salista's cellar nor
no gold left in Rothschild's bank."

Ivan had, in truth, stripped the three gentlemen.

"Nevertheless, we must have a parting cup," continued Salista. "Where
is the absinthe?" As he spoke he filled two large glasses with the
green, sparkling spirit, of which moderate people, regretting this
prudence, it may be, never drink more than a liqueur glass.

Count Stefan shook his head over what he considered a bad joke, but
Ivan did not shrink from the challenge; he clinked his glass with that
of the captain, and emptied it without drawing breath. Then, with his
most courteous bow, he took leave of his host, Count Stefan, who on
his side assured him it would always be a pleasure to receive so
delightful a guest.

As Ivan made his way into the anteroom his step was steady, his air
composed. Not so the marquis; the dose had been too potent for him. He
insisted upon claiming Ivan's astrakhan cap as his, and, as there was
no use arguing the matter with an inebriate, Ivan had to go home in
the military helmet of a hussar officer. On the staircase the captain
maintained that he could fly, that he was one of the inhabitants of
the magnetic kingdom, and had wings. The others had all the trouble in
the world to get him down the stairs. When he came to the first floor
he thought of paying the Countess Theudelinde a visit, to thank her
for her kind reception of his lecture, for he was the lecturer, and he
was ready to blow out the brains of any one who contradicted him. He
was with great difficulty got into a _fiacre_, and driven to his
hotel. When he got there he had to be carried to his bed, where he lay
in a deep sleep until late in the following day.

Meantime Ivan, after a short rest, went about as usual, wrote his
letters, and paid some visits.

"He carries his liquor like a man," said Count Stefan. And from this
time all the world called him the knight of the magnet.

The knight was to be met everywhere. He had numerous visitors; he was
invited to the best houses. He was elected honorary member of the
club; he had been introduced by the abbé. The club had three classes
of members--the day grubs and the evening and the night birds. In the
daytime the library, which was an excellent collection of rare books,
was visited by all the _littérateurs_ of Pesth. From six to eight came
the lawyers and the politicians to play whist and talk politics, and
from eight until midnight the men of fashion had their innings. In
this way two men might go every day to the club and never meet one
another.

Ivan first ransacked the library, then he distributed his time
equally. He thought no more of returning home. He enjoyed everything
and went everywhere, never missing on the opera nights to pay a visit
to the Countess Theudelinde's box on the grand tier.

In the second week of his stay the countess gave her ball. Ivan was
invited, and went.

"Shall you dance?" asked the captain.

"I haven't done so for fifteen years."

"It suits men of our years to look on," remarked the marquis,
languidly. "No man dances now after two-and-thirty."

Looking on was pleasant enough. The nameless grace and wonderful
agility displayed by the aristocratic, fashionable woman was a sight
for the gods to admire. Countess Angela was to-night surpassing fair.
She wore a rose-colored dress, with a body, in the Hungarian fashion,
all studded with pearls; the sleeves were of lace. She had taken a
fancy to dress her hair like the peasant girls, in two long tresses
plaited with ribbons; it suited her to perfection. But men get tired
of everything, even of a sight fit for the gods. After supper one said
to the other:

"Let us make use of our time; the young fellows can dance; let us play
tarok."

Ivan played cards every day. He played most games well; he never
disputed with his partners. He could lose with a good grace; when he
won was not elated. When he held bad cards he showed no ill-temper,
and seldom made a mistake. He was looked upon as an acquisition, and
for a _savant_ he was really a useful man. On this evening he was in
exceptionally good-luck.

Suddenly Count Edmund came into the card-room in a violent hurry. He
said to Ivan:

"Throw down your cards. Angela wishes to dance a turn of the Hungarian
cotillon with you."

Hungarian cotillon! Strange times, that we should have a Hungarian
court, a Hungarian ministry, Hungarian silver and gold coins. That is
nothing wonderful; it is only natural, it is fate, and due to us. But
a Hungarian cotillon belongs to the day of agitators. We dance the
cotillon to the air of "Csárdás."

Ivan obeyed Angela's mandate. When he came to her he bowed low before
her.

"You wouldn't have troubled yourself to come near me only I sent for
you," she said, in a tone of gentle reproach.

"Into the presence of a queen one doesn't intrude; we wait to be
summoned."

"Don't try and flatter me; if you do like the others I shall treat you
as I do them, and not speak one word to you. I much prefer your way,
although you are always offending me."

"I do not remember to have ever offended you."

"Because you do nothing else. You know that very well."

It was now their turn; they joined the waltzers, and no one would have
guessed that it was fifteen years since Ivan had danced.

Meantime, in the card-room there was some gossip over this new whim of
the young countess. Count Edmund, as he shuffled the cards, declared
his cousin Angela was bewitched about this Ritter Magnet.

"Ah, is that so?" cried the Marquis Salista.

"Don't you believe him," interrupted Count Stefan. "I know our pretty
Angela; she is as full of mischief as a kitten. As soon as she remarks
that a man has a hobby-horse, she makes him ride it, puts it through
all its paces, caracoling, leaping, _haute école_. This is her trick:
once she knows the subject which interests a man, she talks of it with
such an earnest face, such sympathetic eyes; and when he has left her,
charmed at her intelligence, her sweetness, she ridicules the
unfortunate devil. This is the way she treated poor Sondersheim, a
very brave young fellow, who has only one fault, that he worships
Angela, and she abhors him. She laughs at everybody."

"That is true; but she praises Ivan, not to his face, but behind his
back to me, and not because he is a man of science, a geologist, but
because he is such a brave man."

"That is another of her tricks; the artful puss knows right well that
the praise which comes at third-hand is the sweetest of all flattery."

"I take good care not to repeat one word to Ivan."

"There you show him real friendship," remarked Salista, laughing.

In the ball-room the dancers had returned to their places.

"You were ready to leave Pesth," Angela was saying, with a charming
pout. "You needn't deny it; the abbé told me."

"Since then circumstances have detained me longer than I expected,"
returned Ivan, coolly.

"Have you got a family at home?"

"I have no one belonging to me in the world."

"And why have you not?"

This was a searching question.

"Perhaps you already know what my business is. I have a colliery; I
work with the miners, and spend my day underground."

"Ah, that explains everything," said Angela, regarding him with tender
sympathy. "Now I understand that you are indeed right. It would be
terrible to condemn a woman to the sufferings a miner's wife must
endure. What can be more terrible than to take leave of her husband
each morning, not knowing whether they will ever meet again; to know
he is in the depths of the earth while she breathes the fresh air of
heaven; to fancy her beloved is perhaps buried alive, and she cannot
hear his cries for help; that even if it is not so, that he is
surrounded by a deadly atmosphere, that it only needs a spark to
become a hell, in which her darling would be lost to her forever? I
can understand how a woman's heart would break under such a daily
agony; even to her child she would say, 'Do not run so fast, else a
stone may fall on your father's head and kill him.'" Then, with a
sudden change of expression, Angela turned angrily to Ivan. "But why
do you stay down in the mine like a common miner?"

"Because it is my element, as the battle-field is that of the soldier,
the sea of the sailor, the desert of the traveller. It is with me as
it is with them--a passion. I love the mysterious darkness of the
world underground."

The warmth with which Ivan spoke these words kindled an answering
enthusiasm in his listener.

"Every passion is absorbing," she said, "especially the passion for
creation and for destruction. I understand how a woman would follow a
man she loved, not only to the field, but into the battle itself,
although the art of war has now become a very prosaic and second-class
affair, and has lost every trace of idealism. I confess, however, the
heroism of the miner is to me incomprehensible. A man who occupies
himself with dead, cold stones is to me like that Prince Badrul-Buder
in the 'Arabian Nights,' who was turned into a stone, and whose wife
preferred a living slave to her marble husband. I prefer those who
penetrate to unknown regions of the globe, and I could envy the wife
of Sir Samuel Baker, who travelled by his side all through the deserts
of South Africa, holding in one hand a pistol, while the other hand
was clasped in that of her husband. Together they bore the burning
heat, together repulsed the savage wild beasts. Hand in hand they
appeared before the King of Morocco, and what the arm of the husband
failed to procure was given to the charms of the wife. I can place
myself in the position of this woman, who, alone and deserted in the
Mangave wood, sat through the livelong night with the head of the
wounded traveller on her lap and a loaded pistol beside her. To heal
his wounds she ventured into the woods and found herbs; for his food
she contrived to cook in the desert. She did this for the only man she
loved, whose only love she is and has ever been. Her name is known and
revered in every place where Europeans have penetrated."

Again they had to join the circle of dancers, and when they returned
to their place Angela resumed the conversation:

"What I said just now was sheer nonsense; the whole thing was the
outcome of despicable vanity. A miserable idea to travel through
countries where a woman is hardly to be distinguished from a beast,
and that because she walks upright; where the ideal of beauty is to
have the upper lip bored into a big hole, so that when laughing the
nose is visible--ridiculous! And then to be proud because she was the
most beautiful woman, and her husband perforce was faithful to her. A
great thing, indeed, to be the queen of beauty amid monsters of
ugliness! No, no; I know of something better, far bolder. A woman,
Fraulein Christian, has accomplished a journey alone on horseback all
across the steppes of Asia. What if a man and a woman had the courage
to penetrate through the Polenia Canal to the warm seas discovered by
Kane? or if a man and a woman had the courage to cast anchor in the
regions of the north pole, and to the inhabitants of that magnetic
kingdom boldly say, 'Compare yourselves with us; we are handsomer,
stronger, more faithful, happier than you are'? That would be a
triumph; and such a journey I would willingly undertake."

As she said these words, Angela's eyes gleamed upon Ivan with the
splendor of the aurora borealis. Ivan decided within himself upon a
sudden experiment.

"Countess, if you have the passion or desire to visit strange worlds,
and to excite the benighted inhabitants to a proper emulation for
something better, truer, more intellectual than that they have
hitherto known, if this is really your laudable wish, I can recommend
to your notice a country equally in need of such enlightenment, and
infinitely nearer to you."

"What is it?"

"It is Hungary."

"But are we not in Hungary already?"

"Countess, you are in it, but not of it. You are merely visiting us.
You do not know what and who we are. You need not go so far as the
poles or Abyssinia; here is a new world open to you, a large field
where your passion for creating and improving can be easily
gratified."

Angela opened her fan, and with an air of indifference fanned her
white bosom.

"What can _I_ do? I am not my own mistress."

"You are not your own mistress, and, nevertheless, you rule."

"Over whom?"

"Countess, it would only need one word from you to bring the green
palace and all it contains from Vienna to Pesth. The society here
requires that leading personality which now in Vienna is lost among
the crowd, whose existence is spent in aimless inaction. Pesth needs
the prince, your grandfather. He adores you. One word from you would
give to our life a new being; one word from you and Prince Theobald
would reside here."

Angela ceased fanning herself; with an angry gesture she folded her
hands, and turned an angry look upon Ivan.

"Do you know that the subject you have just mentioned is so
distasteful to me that any one who has ventured to name it to me has
forfeited my acquaintance?"

"I am quite aware of the fact, countess."

"And why have you dared to approach the subject?"

"I will tell you, countess. Because of an old connection between our
families."

"Ah, that is something quite new. I have never heard of it."

"Possibly not. One of your ancestors was a cardinal, and one of mine
was a minister in Patak--a great difference in their relative
positions, no doubt; and this difference had a terrible result for my
ancestor. The cardinal condemned him to the galleys for life. The
minister had, however, only one word to speak, as the cardinal told
him, and he would be free. That word was _abrenuncio_--'I renounce,'
or 'recant.' He would not say the word, however, and so he went to the
galleys. As they were putting round his neck the iron collar, from
which the chains hang which fasten the slave to his bench, your
ancestor, the cardinal, who was not a hard-hearted man, with tears in
his eyes entreated my ancestor to say the word 'abrenuncio.' The
minister, however, not only refused, but called out 'Non abrenuncio.'
In the same manner I now stand opposite to you and repeat the same
words--'Non abrenuncio.' This is the _rapport_ between us. Would you
treat me as the cardinal did my ancestor?"

Countess Angela tapped her fan upon her knee as she whispered between
her small white teeth, and with a cruel smile upon her lips:

"What a pity that those days are past! If I were in the place of my
ancestor I would order you to have iron goads driven under your
nails."

At this formidable threat Ivan burst out laughing. After a minute
Angela followed his example and laughed also.

It was rather a bold experiment to meet the young beauty's wrath with
a burst of laughter, but it was a good answer to her foolish speech.
The countess felt now that she had given cause for laughter; but she
was offended, nevertheless, and with a haughty look at the offender
she seated herself.

Ivan did not move from her side. A cotillon, even though it be the
"Hungarian," has its uses. One partner cannot leave the other if they
wish to separate.

In the meantime a young man, one of the stupid persons of society,
came to Ivan and whispered in his ear that Edmund sent him to say he
should return to his game; the luck had changed, and the heap of gold
Ivan had left was lost.

"Tell him he has done well," returned Ivan; and he took his
pocket-book from his breast-pocket and handed it to the messenger.
"Tell him to make use of what is in this," he said, "and lose it, if
necessary." And he remained where he was.

Angela never turned her head to him again. The cotillon lasted a long
time; Count Geza, who led it, wished to show that the Hungarian
presented as many opportunities for new figures as the German
cotillon, and the demonstration lasted two hours. Ivan remained to the
end, although Angela preserved her cold silence. When they had to join
in the waltz circle she leaned on his shoulder, her fingers pressed
his, her breath touched his face; when she returned to her place she
resumed her coldness, and kept her head steadily averted.

When the cotillon was over Edmund brought Ivan the news that this long
dance had cost him a thousand gulden. Ivan shrugged his shoulders, as
if the loss didn't concern him.

"Wonderful man!" thought Edmund. Presently he said to his cousin:

"It seems that you kept Ritter Magnet all to yourself, my pretty
cousin."

Angela raised her white shoulder to him, while she said, angrily:

"This man has bored me for a long time."

From the moment that these words were spoken by the queen of fashion a
marked change took place in the opinion of the world as to Ivan's
merits. He was no longer considered a capital fellow, but was looked
upon as a pushing _parvenu_. Angela said nothing more, but this one
sentence conveyed much. There are men of low origin whose own vanity
misinterprets the true meaning of the condescension shown to them by
those above them in station, and by so doing make terrible mistakes
which must be punished. Such bold _parvenus_ must be taught to curb
their wishes. Ivan was counted as one of these. The foolish man had
imagined that a high-born lady, a Bondavara, because she was
patriotic, would, forsooth, stoop to such as he; he had mistaken her
graciousness for the encouragement she might give to one of her own
class. He must be ostracized, and that speedily.

The signal had been given by those words of the countess's: "He has
for a long time bored me." The first means taken under such
circumstances is to make the offender ridiculous. This can be done in
different ways. The victim remarks that his weak points are held up,
that he is never left in peace, that he is perpetually placed in
situations which are arranged to make him a laughing-stock. Not that
any one is rude enough to laugh at him openly; on the contrary, they
are most polite to him, but it is a politeness that provokes laughter.
He soon finds that no one is his friend, no one makes any intimacy
with him, although no one actually insults him; but if he is a man of
any intelligence he soon feels that he is not one of the society, and
that his best part will be to take his hat and go.

This happened now to Ivan, but his habitual phlegm did not desert him;
he understood the situation, and was determined to stand his ground to
the bitter end. He was invited to take part in an amateur opera, made
up of most aristocratic personages; it was done on purpose to subject
him to a mortification. He was given the _rôle_ of the "King." He made
a sensation; his voice was a fine, melodious bass. Angela was the
"Elvira"; Salista, "Ernani"; but the "King" was the favorite.

"The devil is in the man," growled the marquis. "He has been an actor,
I'll bet."

On another occasion he was invited to a fox-hunt at Count Stefan's
splendid hunting-seat near Pesth. The _élite_ of the country round
gathered at these hunts, which took place in the beginning of the
season. It was arranged that Ivan should be mounted on a fiery
Arabian. This was considered a great joke. It would be such fun to see
the quiet book-worm in the saddle; he would have to cling on, for the
Arabian would hardly allow his owner to ride. It would be rare sport.
But here was another disappointment; Ivan sat the fiery racer as if he
had grown in the saddle. When Salista saw him mounted, he muttered
between his teeth:

"The devil is in the fellow. I would take a bet he has been a hussar."

Countess Angela took part in the first run at Count Stefan's. She sat
her horse splendidly; she was quite at home in the field.

About ten sportsmen drew the first cover; the hounds had the fox out
of the bushes, and the cavalcade rode after Renard, who took his
course over a slope of a hill, which was divided by a cleft in the
rock, at the bottom of which ran a mountain stream. The fox took
refuge in this cleft; he probably thought he might find there an empty
fox-hole, into which he might sneak. In any case he might escape by
the skin of his teeth, as the horses could not venture to follow him.
It was a chance, for if the dogs hunted him out of the burrow he could
make tracks by the right-hand side. The hunt was on the left.

"Forward!" cried the daring Countess Angela, and put her horse to leap
the cleft.

It was a breakneck jump. How many will risk their lives to follow her?
When she reached the other side she turned and looked back. Ivan was
beside her. The dogs pursued the fox, who had taken to the stream; the
rest of the hunt galloped along the left side of the chasm. Angela
thought as little about them as they did of her. In every one's mind
there was only one idea--the fox. The countess rode at the very edge
of the chasm, taking no heed of the dizzy height she was on and the
dangerous depths into which one false step of her horse might
precipitate her. She followed poor Renard, who was seeking an outlet,
distracted as he was by his pursuers. Suddenly he rushed out through
the riders on the left bank and took to the woods.

"After him! Tally ho!" resounded along the hillside, and soon fox,
dogs, and horsemen were lost to Angela's sight. At once she turned
her horse's bridle; she made for a short-cut through the mountain,
over which she meant to jump her horse, and so join the hunt without
loss of time. She never looked back to see if Ivan followed her, but
galloped up the steep mountain-side, sitting her horse in splendid
style. At the turn of the path a hare suddenly broke from the cover
under the horse's feet. The animal shied, and swerved violently to one
side, throwing the countess out of the saddle. In the fall the long
skirt of her habit got entangled in the saddle and kept her fastened
to the horse. Her head hung, with all her hair streaming on the
ground. The frightened horse ran towards the crevice; if he dragged
his rider down its side her head would be battered to pieces by the
trunks of the trees. Ivan fortunately caught his bridle in time. He
freed the foolhardy rider from the saddle; she was unconscious. Ivan
laid her upon the soft turf, and pillowed her head upon the stump of a
moss-grown tree. Then he saw how the fall had disarranged her dress.
The malachite buttons had come off the body of her habit, and the
bodice was treacherously open. Ivan drew from his necktie his
breast-pin, and with it closed the countess's corselet.

When Angela came to herself she was alone. Both the horses were tied
to a tree by their bridles. In the distance through the gathering mist
she saw a man coming towards her from the valley below. It was Ivan,
who had gone to fill his hunting-flask with water. The countess rose
at once to her feet; she needed no help. Ivan offered her the water;
she thanked him, but said she was quite herself. Ivan threw the water
away.

"I think it would be well if you were to return to the castle."

"I will do so."

"It is not far. I know a short way through the wood. We can lead the
horses."

"Very well," returned the countess, submissively. But when she looked
at her dress and saw how it was fastened a hot blush covered her face.
When she was in the shade of the wood she turned to Ivan, and said,
suddenly, "Have you ever heard of Julia Gonzaga?"

"No, countess."

"She was the Chatelaine of Fondi. Barbarossa had surprised Fondi in
the night and carried off Julia. A noble knight came to her rescue,
and she escaped with him from the freebooter. It was in the night, and
she had to ride barefooted, for she had just risen from her couch. Do
you know how she rewarded her deliverer? She stabbed him through the
heart with the first dagger that came to her hand."

"And she did right," returned Ivan. "A strange man should not have
seen her naked feet."

"And the man?" asked Angela.

"Ah, poor fellow! he had the misfortune of enjoying too much
happiness."



CHAPTER XIII

ONLY A TRIFLE


The fox was taken. Out of the far distance a triumphant "Halali!" was
heard, and then the horn sounded to collect the scattered members of
the hunt. Countess Angela and her escort were by this time at the
border of the wood. Ivan sounded his horn in answer to the summons,
and to show the others that they were already on their way home. They
arrived at the castle a quarter of an hour before the rest of the
company. Then they separated, and did not meet again until
supper-time. The huntsmen spent the interval talking over the day's
exploits, and the ladies were occupied with their toilettes.

Countess Angela told her aunt what had happened. She was incapable of
any sort of deceit. Lies, which come so easily to the lips of some
women, were impossible to her. If she did not tell a thing she kept
silent; but to speak what was not true--never! But what if Ivan
related to the men what had occurred? It was so much the habit to talk
over the day's sport, and make a jest of everything. Why should he not
make capital of such an adventure--a rescued lady--a beauty in
_déshabille_?

When supper-time came it struck every one that the countess had a
constrained manner, and closer observers noticed that she avoided
looking at Ivan. She was dressed all in black, which was, perhaps,
the reason that she was so pale. She was silent and preoccupied; she
was wondering if they all knew what Ivan knew. The gentlemen tried to
amuse her. They were full of the day's run, how the fox had doubled,
how they thought they would never catch him, how they regretted that
the countess had not been present, how unfortunate it was that she had
been on the opposite side of the mountain, but that it was far better
for her to have lost the run than to have ventured to leap the
crevice. That would, indeed, have been madness; an accident would
certainly have been the result. No one alluded to the fact that she
had met an ugly one; but, then, well-bred people never do allude to
anything unpleasant, which, though otherwise agreeable, has this
drawback, that one never knows how much or how little they know.

It was a remark of her cousin Edmund that convinced Angela eventually
that Ivan had kept his own counsel as to her accident.

"Did Behrend accompany you to the house?" he asked. (No one now called
him Ritter Magnet, nor were there any familiar jokes with him).

"Yes."

"And his escort was not agreeable to you?"

"What makes you say that?" inquired Angela, hastily.

"From Ivan's manner; he seems terribly down in his luck. He hasn't a
word to say to a dog, and he avoids looking at you. Don't you remark
it? You have, I think, made the place too hot for him; he won't stay
longer. Have I guessed right?"

"Yes, quite right."

"Shall I give him a hint to go?"

"Do, for my sake; but without harshness. I will not have him
offended."

"Do you think I am such a bungler? I have an excellent plan to get him
away quietly."

"You must tell me what it is. I am not vexed with the man, only he
bores me. Do you understand? I won't have him driven away by any of
you; but if he goes by his own free choice, I should be glad if he
were at the antipodes."

"Well, I have no objection to tell you what I mean to do. This man is
a scholar, a philosopher, as you know. He holds very different
opinions from us who live in the world. For one thing, he abhors
duelling. Don't spoil your pretty face by frowning. I am not going to
call him out, neither is any one else, so far as I know; that would be
a stupid joke. But this evening, in the smoking-room, Salista and I
will get up a dispute about some trifle or another; the end of it will
be a challenge. I will ask Behrend and Geza to be my seconds. Now,
what will happen? If Behrend refuses, which is most likely, he will
have to withdraw from our party--that is the etiquette--and we will
have nothing more to say to him. If, on the contrary, he accepts, then
the other seconds will manage to fall out about the arrangements of
our meeting--Salista's and mine--and the regular consequence of such a
falling out is that the seconds challenge one another; then our
philosopher packs up his traps, thanks us for our hospitality, goes
back to brew his gas. He doesn't fight, not he; for I hold that,
although it is within the bounds of possibility that even a
philosopher, if deeply insulted, may have recourse to his pistol to
punish the offender, yet, when it is a matter of pure, worldly
etiquette, it is only your born gentleman who will stand up in a
duel."

"But suppose he does consent to fight this duel?"

"Then my plot has failed. We should then have a sort of court-martial,
and it would have to decide that no offence was meant and none given.
We would all shake hands, and the little comedy would be at an end."

Angela yawned, as if weary of the subject. "Do as you like," she said.
"But take care. This man can show his teeth; he can bite."

"Leave that to me."

That evening at supper the conversation was purposely turned on
duelling, for the purpose of convincing Angela that Ivan's views on
the subject were sound as regarded his own safety. The opportunity
offered, for the latest event in fashionable life was a duel, in which
the only son of a well-known and distinguished family had lost his
life for some silly dispute about a trifle.

"I hold the duel to be not merely a mistake, but a crime," said Ivan.
"It is flying in the face of God to take the law into our own hands.
The _Te Deum_ which the conqueror sings over his murderous act is a
disgrace; it cries to Heaven for vengeance. The appeal to weapons as
satisfaction is likewise an offence against society, for it hinders
the possibility of telling the truth. The man who tells us our faults
openly to our face is a benefactor, but by the present laws of society
we are bound to challenge him, and to kill him if we can; we have no
other course, so it must be false compliments or the duello."

Edmund continued the discussion. "I take a different view of the
matter," he said. "If duelling were not a law of society it would be
in a sense a denial of God's mercy, for if you look at it in this way
it cannot be denied that one man is weak, another man strong, and
that this is a decree of Providence. The result of this difference in
many instances would be that the weaker would be the slave of the
stronger, who could box his ears, insult him, and all the law would
give him would be, perhaps, a couple of pounds. This chasm between the
law of God and the law of man is filled by the pistol-ball, which puts
the strong and the weak on the same level. The pistol is not a judge,
for it often decides the cause unjustly. Nevertheless, this unwritten
law, and the respect, not to say fear, it infuses, has a salutary
effect, and makes it impossible for the bully to tyrannize over a man
of more education but less physical strength."

"But that it should be so is a crime of society," answered Ivan. "A
false sentiment of honor has dictated this law. The world has no right
to make such a rule; it should honor those equally, be they poor or
rich, well-born or humble, who keep the law of the land as it is
constituted. But what does society do? If a gentleman gets a box on
the ear from another, and does not immediately demand satisfaction for
the insult, and, _nolens volens_, make himself a target to be shot at
by perhaps a better marksman than himself, what happens? He is at once
dishonored; society ostracizes him. The world, if it pretend to any
justice in the matter, should reform this absurd principle, and punish
the man who has given the first offence. Then society, and not a
leaden ball, would be judge."

"That is all very fine in theory, my dear sir; but I ask you, as a man
of honor, to put yourself in the position in which, for some reason or
another, you find it necessary to have satisfaction for an affront."

"I could not imagine myself placed in any such position," Ivan
answered, quietly. "I offend no one intentionally, and should I do so
inadvertently, I would at once apologize. I give no man the
opportunity to asperse my honor, and if he were foolish enough to do
so I would call upon those who know, and I should deem myself indeed
unfortunate if they did not clear me of any such accusation."

"But suppose the honor of some one near and dear to you were
attacked?"

"I have no one who stands to me in that close relationship."

This last remark cut short the discussion. Nevertheless, before many
hours had passed the Marquis Salista proved to Ivan that there was one
person whose good name was dear to him.

It was at supper, and Angela was present. The marquis was entertaining
her with anecdotes of the revolution, in which he had taken part. He
was bragging fearfully that when he was lieutenant of the cuirassiers
he performed prodigies. At the battle of Izsasseg, with only a handful
of men, he routed the entire regiment of Lehel Hussars, and at Alt
Gzoney he cut the Wilhelm Hussars to pieces, and didn't spare a man.

Not a feature in Ivan's face moved. He listened silently to these
wonderful tales. Angela at last grew weary of all this boasting and
glorification of the Austrians over the degraded Hungarians; she
turned to Ivan, and put to him a direct question:

"Is this all true?"

Ivan shrugged his shoulders. "What can I, a poor miner who lives
underground, know of what goes on on the surface of the great earth?"

Angela need not have anxiety about him. He is a philosopher, and there
is no fear he will go too near the fire.

After supper the company separated; Count Stefan, with Countess
Theudelinde and some other ladies, went into the drawing-room. The
moon shone through the bow-windows. The countess played the piano, and
Angela came and spoke to Ivan.

"Here is your pin," she said. "You know the old superstition--a
present of sharp-pointed instruments dissolves friendship, and those
who wish to be friends never give them?"

"But," answered Ivan, smiling, "the superstition provides an antidote
which breaks the spell. Both friends must laugh over the present."

"Ah, that is why you laughed when I spoke of the iron goads. There,
take back your pin, and let us laugh for superstition's sake!"

And they laughed together, because it was a superstition so to do.
Then Angela went out on the balcony, and took counsel from the soft
air of the summer's evening; she leaned over the balustrade, waiting
for Count Edmund, who had promised to bring her the first news of how
the plot had worked.

The gentlemen stayed late in the smoking-room; the night is their time
for enjoying themselves, so Angela had a long vigil. The moon had long
disappeared behind the high tops of the poplar-trees before Angela
heard Edmund's step coming through the drawing-room to the bow-window.
The ladies were still playing the piano; they could talk unreservedly.

"Well, what has happened?" asked Angela.

Edmund was agitated. "Our trifle has turned out a rank piece of
folly," he said, crossly.

"How?"

"I should not tell you, Angela, but the situation is such that it
would be wrong to conceal anything from you. We had it all arranged
just as I told you. When we were in the smoking-room we began to play
our practical joke. Some one said how pleased you seemed to be with
Hungary--"

"Oh, how stupid of you!" said Angela, angrily.

"I know now it was a stupid thing to do. I wish I had seen it before;
but it always happens the knowledge comes too late."

"What business had you, or any one, to mention my name? I gave no
permission to have it done."

"I know, I know; but in men's society, unfortunately, no one asks a
lady's permission to mention her name. It was only a joke. It had been
settled among us that I, being your cousin, should protest against
this chatter in connection with your name; then Salista was to say
that he knew well that what kept you in Pesth was the fine eyes of a
certain gentleman, that I was to get angry, and forbid him to say any
more, and that then we should get up the mock duel."

Angela was trembling with anger, but, anxious to hear more, she
controlled herself with difficulty.

"I never heard such a childish joke," she said. "It was a college
trick."

"It would have been good for us all if it had ended like a college
trick. When I told you that we had prepared a trick you approved of
it, Angela; you know you did. None of us thought for a moment that it
would end as it has done. Behrend was sitting at the chess-table;
Salista was opposite to him, leaning against the chimney-piece. After
Salista had said the words, 'I know that a certain pair of eyes keeps
Countess Angela in Pesth,' and before I had time to make the answer
agreed upon, Ivan threw down the gauntlet. 'That is a lie!' he said."

"Ah!" cried Angela, while an electric thrill ran through her veins.

"We all sprang to our feet; the joke had ended badly. Salista grew
pale; he had not counted upon this. 'Sir,' he said to Behrend, 'take
back that word of yours; it is a word that in my life no man has said
to me.'"

"And Behrend?" asked Angela, seizing Edmund's hand.

"Behrend stood up from the table, and answered quietly, in a cold
voice, 'It is possible that up to the present you have given no
occasion for this reproach to be cast in your face; but to-night I
repeat that you have lied.' Then he left the room. I ran after him to
try and smooth down matters. I met him in the hall. He turned to me
and said, quietly, 'My dear friend, you know what must now happen. I
beg that you will ask Count Geza in my name, and that you and he will
be my seconds. You will communicate to me what has been settled; all
is in your hands.' In this way he invited me to play the part which I
had destined for him. Now he is the duellist, and I am the second. I
tried to drive him into a corner. I represented to him that it was not
his right to throw down the gauntlet for the Countess Angela. He
answered, 'It is the right and the duty of every gentleman to protect
the lady whose guest he is.' This answer, from a chivalrous point of
view, is perfectly correct, but it sounds strangely from the lips of
the man who a couple of hours ago told us there was no one in the
world for whose good name he would fight a duel."

Angela sank back in her chair. "Oh, what terrible folly it has all
been!" she wailed. "No, no, this duel cannot be! I shall prevent it!"

"I wish you would tell me what means you intend to take to prevent
it."

"I will at once speak with Ivan Behrend--this moment; do you hear?"

"Unfortunately, that is impossible. When he left me he gave the order
to put his horses to. There, you hear those wheels? That is his
carriage. Geza has gone with him, and we four are to follow him
presently. One cannot arrange this sort of thing in a strange house;
that is done only on the stage. The principals must wait in their own
houses to hear what we have decided to do."

"But, my God! I will not let it be done; do you hear? I will speak to
Uncle Stefan."

"I have told you everything, so that our sudden departure should not
surprise you; but I can tell you exactly what Count Stefan will
say--that no fuss must be made; let the whole thing be done quickly
and quietly. The seconds, too, must act with great prudence, and not
irritate the principals by much delay."

"What do you mean by saying the seconds should act with prudence?"

"So far as depends upon them they must determine the issue of the
duel, and either soften or accentuate the conditions according to
circumstances. In this case we will soften. Your name will not appear
as the cause of the challenge. We will induce Behrend to say that he
used the word 'lie' in connection with Salista's expressions
concerning the Hungarian troops. This plausible ground for a challenge
will be accepted as sufficient by both sides, and in this way your
name need never be mentioned."

"But I do not care! What does that matter? If any one is killed for my
sake--"

"Compose yourself, my dear cousin; the seconds will be prudent. We
shall place them thirty feet apart, and give them worn-out pistols
with which, at half the distance, the aim would be uncertain; then we
shall not allow them to take aim more than a minute, and you may be
certain if they were both as thick as an elephant and protected like
robin red-breasts they couldn't be safer; they may fire away for hours
and never hit one another. Now, my dear child, be sensible, I beg of
you. When you have a husband he will have many an affair of this kind
upon his hands, and all for your beautiful eyes. But I must be going,
the carriage is at the door, and we start at daylight."

And Edmund took himself off with a hasty good-bye.

This little joke had spoiled all the sport. The loss of six men made
it impossible to continue hunting the next day; therefore every one
resolved to return to Pesth in the morning. The night was disturbed.
The companion of the Countess Angela, who slept in her room, told
everyone that her mistress had hardly slept a wink, that she was
constantly getting up and lighting the candle, saying that it must be
daylight and time to set off for the city.

The next morning, at ten o'clock, when all the guests had left, and
Countess Theudelinde and her suite were already in Pesth, Countess
Angela went to her room, and walked up and down restlessly until about
eleven o'clock, when Count Edmund was announced.

He came in pale and disturbed, and Angela, who tried to read his face,
concluded that something had happened.

"In God's name, what is it?" she asked. "Who is hurt?"

"No one," replied Edmund, dryly; "but the affair is in a worse state
than it was."

"Has the duel taken place?"

"Yes and no. It has begun, but is not finished."

"I do not understand."

"I own it is something quite new. I have never known such a thing in
my experience. If you wish, I will tell you all about it."

"Oh, for Heaven's sake, do!"

"As agreed, I called at Behrend's house at six o'clock to fetch him;
Geza went on with the doctor. When we got to Lassloosky, Salista was
just getting out of his carriage. Ivan lifted his cap and wished him
good-morning; he probably did not know that this is not usual. The
principals never greet one another. Salista did not return his bow,
although he might have done so, seeing that Ivan was evidently
ignorant of the proper etiquette. From Lassloosky we all drove
together to Leopold's Field, where we got out of the carriages and
went on foot through the forest. When we reached the appointed place,
a clearing in the wood, we stopped, and the seconds on both sides
asked the principals, according to precedent, whether they would not
make up their difference. Both sides refused. Upon which we measured
the distance, marked the barrier with our pocket-handkerchiefs, and
loaded the pistols. When this was over, the principals, who had been
pulling blades of grass and standing about, took their places. We
handed them their pistols; the signal was given by Geza clapping his
hands. Salista made two steps forward and shot. Just as I expected, he
did not hit his man. Ivan called out in a loud voice, 'To the
barrier!' and Salista advanced to where the white pocket-handkerchief
lay, while Ivan went to his barrier. Then he said, addressing Salista,
'You did not return my salutation, but if I hit your head-piece you
will have to take off your cap to me.' He then took aim; the
half-minute during which he held his pistol showed us his nerve was
perfect. The pistol went off, and Salista stood opposite his adversary
bareheaded; his helmet lay two perches behind him, with the gold rose
torn from its front."

"Ah!" cried Angela.

"This man shoots as well as Robin Hood. We loaded the pistols again,
because, according to the agreement, they were to have three shots
each."

"Three shots!" exclaimed Angela.

"Yes. We all agreed it was better to have the affair on a proper
footing, so far as the conditions went. Thirty steps is a great
distance; besides, the pistols were bad. In addition, both men were
wrapped up to the chin; one had a black coat, the other a dark gray
military cloak--colors bad for hitting; and both had their
shirt-collars concealed. There was not a point about either that would
serve for a target. But the cap business had changed the nature of the
whole affair, and made much bad blood. It proved, for one thing, that
Behrend was a first-rate shot, and this put Salista's military spirit
on its metal. The barriers were withdrawn for the second shot. Salista
took off his gray cloak, tied back his hussar jacket, so that his red
waistcoat and white shirt stood out clear, and instead of standing, as
is usual in a duel, with one side to your adversary, he presented to
him a full front, and this with red and white, the best colors, as
every one knows, for a mark. Yes, and while we were loading the
pistols, what do you think he did? But Salista is a madman when he is
roused! He took his cigar-case out of his pocket, and lighted one to
show his indifference. For the second time it was his turn to begin.
He took much more pains than the first time; in fact, he was such a
time taking aim that we had to call to him to shoot. Again he missed.
The leaves of the branches under which Ivan stood fell upon his head;
the ball had gone into the tree."

Angela shuddered.

"Ivan now addressed his opponent. 'Sir,' he said, 'it is not fitting
that at such a supreme moment as this you should smoke a cigar.'
Salista made no answer, but stood fronting Behrend; his face was
slightly turned to one side, and he blew clouds of smoke into the air.
Ivan raised his pistol for a second, took deliberate aim, then a sharp
report, and Salista's cigar flew from his mouth into space."

An involuntary smile spread over Angela's lips, but it was gone in an
instant, and her face resumed its immovable expression, as if cut out
of stone.

Count Edmund went on. "In a fury Salista threw his pistol upon the
ground. 'The devil take me,' he cried, stamping with rage, 'if I shoot
any more with this man! He is Beelzebub in person. He has shot the cap
from my head, the cigar from my mouth, and the third time he will
shoot the spurs from my boots. He shoots all round me; he is like a
Chinese juggler. I will not shoot any more with him; that's flat!' His
seconds in vain tried to persuade him; he would not listen to them; he
was furious; he would hear nothing. He wasn't going to be such a fool
as to stand up there to be a mark for a second William Tell, who would
not only shoot the apple from his head, but aim right at his heart. If
they wanted to have a fair fight, with all his heart--but let it be
with swords; then one would see who was the best man. We all talked to
him, told him not to play the fool, that he must stand his adversary's
fire no matter where he was shot, in his spur or his head. The
duellist has no power to refuse; he is in the hands of his seconds. At
last Behrend got curious to know what the row was about; he called to
me and Geza, and we had to tell him that Salista would not stand
another shot, but had demanded that the duel should be decided by
swords. To our surprise Ivan answered, coolly, 'With all my heart.
Give us the sabres.' 'Do you consent?' 'I consent to fight with
scythes if he wishes.' So it was agreed. Salista's seconds heard this
discussion with great satisfaction; they were very much put out by his
outbreak, it being quite unusual to change the weapons in a duel; and
there would have been a regular scandal if Ivan had used his right of
refusing any such alteration in the conditions under which the duel
was to be fought."

"And you have allowed such an innovation to be made?" said Angela,
looking at her cousin with contracted eyebrows.

"Certainly, when the challenger has agreed to it."

"It was shameful of you!" Angela continued, with suppressed tears in
her voice--"ungenerous to allow such an unequal fight. One man has
practised fencing all his life; it is his profession; the other has
never had a sword in his hand."

"The fight will be drawn at the first blood," said Edmund, in a
soothing voice.

"But you had no right to agree to such a bloodthirsty idea; you have
overstepped your duty as second. You should have said to Salista's
seconds that the affair should conclude then or never."

"That is quite true; and we should have done so, only Behrend chose to
interfere."

"You should not have allowed it; you could have stopped it. When does
the duel take place?"

"As we had no swords we could not fight this morning. It is against
the law to have a duel in the afternoon, therefore we have postponed
the second meeting until to-morrow at daylight."

"Before daylight to-morrow I will put a stop to the duel."

"How so?"

"I shall speak to Behrend; I shall explain everything to him."

"If you tell him that this affair has arisen out of a joke, the result
will be that, instead of fighting a duel with one man, Behrend will
have six duels on his hands."

"I will tell him in such a way that he will not ask to fight with any
of you."

"Then you will have ruined Salista."

"How so? What has he to do with it?"

"If this half-finished _rencontre_ gets wind, and it reaches the ears
of the authorities that an officer refused his adversary's third fire,
Salista will have to leave his regiment, he will be received nowhere,
and he would have to go back to the pope's army as zouave."

"For my part, I don't care if he becomes the devil's zouave! What do I
care about him? Let him go to the Sultan of Dahomey. He is only fit to
be the general of his army. For my part, he may go quite to the bad;
he is half-way there already. But who cares what happens to him? _I_
don't. Your duty is clear; you should protect your man. Isn't that
so?"

Edmund looked with astonishment at the excitement into which the
countess had thrown herself; she was trembling, and her eyes gleamed
with passion.

"This is quite a new view of the affair," he said. "If you look upon
it in this light, I must agree that we have been wrong, and you most
certainly right. I shall go at once and look for Geza; we will both
repair to Behrend, and tell him our opinion."

He bowed low before his cousin, and left. In an hour he returned. He
found Angela in the same place.

"Well, what is done? Is it all settled?"

"Listen. Geza and I went to Ivan. I explained to him that we
considered it our duty not to infringe the conditions laid down in
such matters, and that we were resolved not to allow the duel with
swords to proceed. He pressed both our hands warmly. 'I thank you,' he
said, 'for the friendship you have shown me, and since your
convictions will not allow you to stand by me in this affair, I shall
not try to persuade you. I shall go to the nearest barracks, the Karls
Kaserne, and I shall tell the first two officers I may meet that I am
engaged in an affair of honor to be fought with swords, that I am a
stranger in the town, and that I throw myself upon their kindness to
be my seconds.'"

Angela, with a despairing gesture, clasped her hands together.

"You said the truth," continued Edmund, "when you prophesied that this
man would show his teeth. He has the grip of a bull-dog when he gets
an idea. We told him that Salista was a celebrated swordsman. He took
it quite coolly. 'If the devil himself was my adversary, I should look
him in the face,' was all he said."

Angela sat down and hid her face in her hands.

"We had no other course than to assure him, so far as our services
went, he was free to make use of us. So it was settled. We go for him
to-morrow at daybreak. How it will all end, God only knows!"

With these words Edmund took himself away. Angela never noticed he had
left the room.

That night she never lay down. All through the long hours of the night
she walked to and fro in her room. When fatigue forced her to sit
down for a moment she could not rest. Once only the thought that was
in her mind found expression in words:

"I have treated him as Julia Gonzaga treated the man who saved her
life."

When daylight broke she threw herself, dressed as she was, upon her
bed. The maid next morning found the pillow, in which she had buried
her face, wet with tears.



CHAPTER XIV

THIRTY-THREE PARTS


It must certainly be said of our philosopher that he was acting
somewhat inconsistently. He had left his home and property, where he
had lived a simple country life amid his own people, happy in the
study of those mysterious powers--fire and water; he had abandoned all
his scientific pursuits to belong to a world to which he was, and must
ever be, a stranger, feeling more or less like a fish upon dry land.
Even his science he had turned into a farce, so bringing it into
disgrace. He had lent himself to lectures and tableaux, to singing
operas, and dancing Hungarian cotillons, to hunting foxes at breakneck
speed, to rescuing beautiful ladies, mixing himself up therewhile in
the affairs of noble families, to fighting duels with officers for the
sake of lovely countesses, and running the risk of being sabred by an
intemperate savage! It was no wonder that, reviewing all this, Ivan
should say to himself, "Good heavens, what an ass I have made, and am
making, of myself! What have I to do with all the nonsense that goes
on in this fashionable world of Pesth? Above all, what is it to me
whether Countess Angela is at war with her grandfather, whether she
goes to Vienna, or whether he comes to Pesth? Why is it necessary for
me to remain here, leading such an uncongenial life, apparently
without any object?--and, although I have an object, yet if this were
known to the world I should be considered an even greater fool than I
am at present deemed to be."

Now, as Ivan's reflections have been made public, it is only proper
that the reason of his apparently objectless conduct should be laid
before the reader of these pages, so that he or she may be in a
position to judge whether he was a fool or a wise man, or something
between the two--a man of sentiment and feeling, who does what his
heart commands him to do. With some natures the heart cannot be
silenced; it has its rights. We may remember that when the Abbé Samuel
paid his first visit to Ivan, he found that gentleman in the act of
writing a refusal to the Countess Theudelinde's invitation; that he
was, in fact, upon the point of returning to Bondavara, and that the
arrival of a letter changed all his plans, and was the cause of his
remaining in Pesth. This letter came from Vienna; the writer was a
certain pianist whose name had been for some years mentioned among the
first class of artists--Arpad Belenyi.

Nearly fourteen years before our story began Ivan had lived for a long
time in the house of the Belenyis. We shall know later what he did
there. Arpad was at that time a child of five years old; he was
already counted a prodigy, and could play long pieces upon the piano.
At that time warlike and patriotic marches were all the fashion. One
day the bread-winner of the family, the father, died suddenly. The
widow was in despair, especially for her orphaned boy. Ivan consoled
her with the promise that he would look after him, and provide for his
education.

On account of certain circumstances, some months after, however, Ivan
had to leave the family Belenyi somewhat suddenly, and it seemed
doubtful if he should ever see them again. Ivan at parting gave all
the money he could spare to the widow, and told her to get Arpad a
good musical education, such as would fit him for an artistic career.
The boy, he thought, would attain eminence, and make a livelihood by
his art. And here let it be clearly understood that Ivan was neither a
friend of Belenyi nor the lover of Madame Belenyi; neither was he
connected with the family in any way, nor was he in duty bound to do
as he did. For years the Belenyis heard nothing from Ivan, nor he from
them. Once, on his inquiring about them, he was told that in
consequence of a lawsuit they had lost their house, had left the town,
and that neither mother nor son had since been heard of. Then, after
another spell of years, Arpad Belenyi's name began to be mentioned in
different newspapers, always as a young and astonishingly clever
artist. From this time Ivan took in regularly a musical paper or
magazine, and so followed attentively his adopted son's career. The
latter, however, knew nothing of his kind benefactor until, later,
Ivan's name also appeared in the papers. His discourse at the Academy
led to his being traced by his adopted son, who at once wrote him a
letter, beginning with the words, "My dear father." It was a letter
full of simple, boyish sentiments, through which broke at intervals
the natural fun and playful humor of the artist. He told Ivan
everything concerning himself; how he had travelled in many countries,
accompanied always by his mother, to whom he had always to give an
account of his actions as near the truth as possibly could be. He had
already given concerts before crowned heads, and had received several
orders which he was allowed to wear only on Sundays; the other days of
the week they were locked up by his mother. He had earned a good deal
of money, but he was not permitted to spend much. Mamma gave him
every day a five-shilling piece for pocket-money; the rest she put by
to buy back her little house which "old Raize" had robbed her of. He,
therefore, to make more money, gave music-lessons and played
accompaniments for artists. This was well paid, particularly of late,
when he had fallen in with a little artist, a new singer, who paid
splendidly. She was said to be the wife of Felix Kaulmann, the rich
banker.

When he came to this passage Ivan's heart began to beat. He laid down
the letter, then took it up again, and read it with renewed attention.

"This girl is a mixture of Muse and Mænad," wrote Arpad. "Now she is a
petulant child, the next minute a wild Amazon; a born artist, full of
genius, yet she is not likely ever to rise above mediocrity. She is
full of intelligence and life, and with this often as stupid as a
donkey. There is no doubt she could attain an unenviable notoriety,
but she shrinks from it, for although she conducts herself like a
courtesan, I would take my oath she is in reality as innocent as the
child she really is. She is very trying to me, full of mischief and
petulance, and this because I treat her to no soft manners, but scold
her well for being so naughty. If you could only see, dear papa, what
a splendid master I am, always serious, no frivolity allowed! Now I
have photographed myself for you, have I not? Do not think, however,
that I would have scrawled all over my paper this monologue about my
pupil, as if I had nothing better or wiser to write about. I have done
so because the subject has a certain interest for you. You must know
this curious little angel confides in me as if I were her confessor.
Sometimes she chatters all through her lesson, telling me where she
has been, what she has done, everything that has happened to her; and
she often tells me things which, if I were in her place, I would not
talk about. Have a little patience, my dear good papa. This lady has
thirty-three different _rôles_, all of them of different kinds. They
are not, strictly speaking, stage parts, but monologues, which are
composed expressly for her. These scenes we rehearse together; I play
her accompaniment, while she sings and acts.

"I am coming now to the kernel of the nut. I am going to crack
it for you. Here are the names of the actress's thirty-three
parts--'Loreley,' 'Cleopatra,' 'The Queen of the Sun,' 'The Greek
Slave,' 'The Bacchante,' 'Nourmahal,' 'The Bride,' 'The Matron's
Cap,' 'The Bayadère,' 'Claudia Laeta, the Vestal,' 'Amalasontha,'
'Magdalene,' 'Ninon,' 'La Somnambula,' 'Medea,' 'Salome,' 'The
Houris,' 'The Despair of Hero,' 'The Phrygian Cap,' 'Turandot,' 'The
Peasant Girl,' 'The Mother,' 'Jeanne la Folle,' 'Ophelia,' 'Judith,'
'Zuleika Potiphar,' 'The Market Woman,' 'The Grisette,' 'The
Creole,' 'Lucretia,' 'The Will-o'-the-Wisp,' 'Julia Gonzaga.'

"The thirty-third part I do not know; we have not as yet rehearsed it.
But why the deuce does she learn all these parts, for she never treads
the boards? The report is that the reason why this lady's talent is so
much cultivated is that she is engaged to sing at the Opera-house.
This seems even more strange, and I, for one, am slow to believe it. A
banker like Kaulmann, who is a millionaire, and whose wife pays for
her apartment four thousand florins! Besides, she would have to give
her singing-master, who has got her the engagement, six thousand; to
the leader of the orchestra, two thousand; four thousand to the
newspapers to puff her; another three thousand to the _claqueurs_; and
something else to the men who throw the wreaths and flowers. There
would remain for her about a thousand florins; that would hardly pay
for her scents. So you see the absurdity of the whole thing. Where are
we now? This pretty creature, who wishes also to be a famous artist,
has several lovers who can easily pay their court to madame, seeing
that she and her husband live in separate apartments. This is only
natural; the banker could not have his mind, which is occupied with
important speculations, disturbed by constant _solfeggi_. There are
several persons in Vienna who bear the title of the 'Mæcenas of Art';
they are gentlemen of high position, who have great weight in the
departmental government, and whose voices are heard in all social and
official capacities. These have been allowed the privilege of being
present during the rehearsals of the thirty-two monologues; the
thirty-third has not as yet been played before any one. In all this I
can assure you everything is conducted with the greatest propriety, I
am always present, also the husband, who remains so long as the comedy
continues. Among the company are representatives of the highest
nobility, counts, princes, senators, and ministers. They are good sort
of people, and call one another Fritz, Nazi, Muke, etc. Among others
we have two princes, who come every time we have a rehearsal--the
Prince Mari and the Prince Baldi; the names they received on baptism
being Waldemar and Theobald. Yesterday Eveline--for so is my pupil
named--was not inclined to work, and without my asking her what ailed
her, with her usual frankness she came out with her annoyance.

"'Only fancy,' she said; 'that odious Prince Waldemar, when he was in
my opera-box last night, threatened that if I did not let him come to
our next rehearsal he would ruin Lixi.' (Lixi is short for Felix, her
husband's name.)

"'Why don't you admit him?' I asked. 'He is not worse than the other
jackanapes who come here.'

"'Because I cannot endure him. I told Lixi what Prince Waldemar had
said, and Lixi answered that he would ruin the prince. At the same
time he gave me to understand that Prince Theobald must be invited to
the rehearsal.'

"'All right,' said I; 'he is a fine old gentleman. You can have no
objection to him; he is old enough to be your grandfather.'

"The young wife bit her lips, and, with a frown on her lovely face,
said:

"'I have to ask him to do something. What do you think it is? Oh, you
could never guess! It is to give his signature that he will consent to
a certain affair which will cost him nothing, but which will help Lixi
greatly. You know that Lixi has a grand speculation on hand, a
gigantic coal company, which is to start the business with I don't
know how many millions of money; but the place where the coal-mines
are situated, the Bondavara property, belongs to Prince Theobald and
his sister. The countess has already given her consent, but without
his ratification the shares would not be taken up at the exchange.
Prince Waldemar is working against us, and therefore I am to win over
the old prince to our side. Lixi says it will be very easy to get
round him just at the present moment, because his granddaughter,
Countess Angela, of whom he is very fond, has quarrelled with him and
left him. The poor old man is very sad and lonely, and Lixi says
whoever cheers him up will be able to do anything with him; and,' she
added, with a wise look, 'we are not deceiving him, for the Bondavara
coal is the finest in the world.'

"I burst out laughing; I could not help it. Then she pulled my hair
and said:

"'Why do you laugh, you ridiculous donkey? I think I must be a judge
of coal, for I worked as day-laborer for ten years in the mines of
Herr Behrend.'

"At these words my astonishment was so great that I jumped up from my
seat.

"'You may stare your eyes out of your head,' she said, laughing at my
amazement, 'but it is quite true. I used to shove the coal-wagons, and
barefoot into the bargain.'

"'Gracious lady, believe me, I did not jump up from astonishment; I
was surprised to hear you name Ivan Behrend. What do you know of him?
Pray tell me.'

"'He was the owner of the coal-mines in Bondavara, near which Felix is
going to open works upon an enormous scale. He was my master; God
bless him, wherever he goes!'

"Now, dear papa, I have come to the heart of the business, after, it
must be owned, an unconscionably long prelude. With my weak intellect
I have thought out the whole thing. Here is my kind friend, my adopted
father, the owner of a mine in Bondavara, and beside him men with I
don't know how many millions at their backs are going to form a coal
company. It would be a good thing to let him know, that he may act in
time; it may be good for him, but it would seem to me that it may also
be very bad. Here the air is full of speculation; you see, I am
already slightly bitten. Let me know how and in what manner the affair
affects you and your interests. I shall write to you what goes on
here, for I shall be behind the scenes; this little fool tells me
everything."

The receipt of this letter had decided Ivan to accept the Countess
Theudelinde's invitation to give a romantic reading at her house, and
to enter into the society of Pesth. He wrote to Arpad, and begged him
to give him every day an exact account of what he heard through Evila
of the progress of the coal-mine company.

From this time Ivan received regularly every week two or three letters
from Vienna.

"The old prince nibbles at the bait. Kaulmann has brought him to the
rehearsal of the new piece. Eveline sings and acts enchantingly; that
is, when she is within four walls, and has only a few people for
audience. If she acted like this on the stage she would be a
celebrated actress in no time; but so soon as she comes before the
footlights stage-fright seizes upon her, she trembles, forgets
everything, stands there like a stick, and, worst of all, sings quite
false. These rehearsals have been given on the pretext that the prince
should have an opportunity of judging of her talent, so that he may
influence those in power to give her an engagement at the opera. I
know what their real object is. The prince is a real connoisseur in
music, and he understands not alone art, but artists. He knows that
there is a price set upon such black diamonds as sparkle in Eveline's
eyes. There is the additional incentive that Prince Waldemar is
desperately in love with this woman, and Prince Theobald, for certain
reasons, will do anything to prevent her falling into his hands. He
would even go the length of taking her himself sooner than such a
misadventure should happen.

"A short time since Prince Waldemar met me, and offered me one hundred
ducats for every leaf of the album in which are the portraits of
Madame Kaulmann in her character costumes. You must know, of late,
each day that we rehearse one of the monologues at the piano a
photographer is present and takes the artist in her costume.
Everything must be finished in the house, and not more than four
pictures are allowed to be executed; one of these is for Prince
Theobald, one is kept by herself, one she presents to me, and the
fourth is for my friend Felix. The negative is then broken. I would
not sell my photographs to Prince Waldemar, but I send them to you as
they follow one another. Mamma does not like to see such pictures in
my room."

Ivan received with each letter a photograph; each portrait represented
Evila as a lovely creation in a most graceful pose. Arpad had not the
least idea what a hell of different passions were raised in Ivan's
breast as he looked at the beautiful image of the woman he had and
still loved.

In the first portrait she was represented as "Loreley" the fairy, who,
in the whirlpool of the Rhine, sings her magic song and combs her hair
with a golden comb, while her left shoulder rises from the waves,
which partially conceal her form. Her eyes gaze invitingly at the
fisherman, whom she entices to his ruin. In the second photograph she
appeared as "Cleopatra" at Tarsus, where she is displaying all her
charms to seduce her conqueror and make him her slave; a rich
portrait, in which the lascivious queen is represented laden with
splendid dresses and jewels, while the expression of the beautiful
face was an admirable mixture of pride, dignity, and weakness. The
third photograph presented the sun-queen, "Atahualpa," the wife of the
last Inca. Her look was haughty and sublime; the sublimity of the
expression diverts attention from the uncovered arms, white as marble,
round as an infant's, which are raised to heaven, offering as a
sacrifice a human heart. Her face mirrored the coldness of heaven
itself. The fourth, as the "Greek Slave"; she represented the
tortured beauty, who in vain tries to break the chains of shame in
which she is bound--a lovely marble statue, equal in conception to one
by Thorwaldsen or Pradier. The fifth was the "Bacchante," from one of
the Roman bas-reliefs, which represents the procession of Bacchus. A
wild, bold, dissolute conception; showing accessories of surprising
drapery, panther skins, cups, etc., an ideal debauch; limbs in wild
movement. The sixth portrait was of a bride; a white lace dress, upon
her head a white garland, her figure concealed by a white veil, on her
face an expression of soft emotion at the approaching realization of
her happiness, in her eyes tears, on her lips a tremulous smile. With
what wonderful charm she stretches out her hand to receive the
betrothal ring! The eighth portrayed a young woman who for the first
time puts the matron's cap upon her head. Pride, shame, and conscious
triumph are all in her face. She feels that the cap upon her head is a
well-deserved crown--a crown for which she has sacrificed a garland.

Ivan contemplated this picture for a long time; his heart was full of
the bitterness of disappointed love. His adopted son's present had
been somewhat unfortunate.

The ninth photograph represented Evila as a "Bayadère," in the
artistic dress of the Indian dancer, striking the tambourine over her
head. Round her slight figure a shawl embroidered in gold was wound in
careless folds, on her neck a chain of gold coins, her small feet
bare, and strings of pearls up to the knee.

In the tenth portrait she appeared as "Claudia Laeta," the vestal
virgin, at the moment when she is led to the stake because she has
refused the solicitations of Caracalla; on her face an expression of
horror, of virginal modesty. With one hand she tries to cover her
head with her cloak to escape from the gaze of the multitude.

How is it possible for one woman to play so many parts? Arpad
accompanied these pictures with diffuse explanations, which were so
many arrows in the heart of Ivan. The result of all this posturing
was, he said, becoming every day clearer.

"The prince is more and more fascinated; he is falling deeper and
deeper into the net spread for him. After each rehearsal he declares
that a real treasure has been concealed, which has been a loss to art
that must be at once remedied."

But such treasures are very costly, especially when a man has reached
the age of sixty-eight, close on seventy, and has a marriageable
granddaughter; then it is necessary to look very closely into his
check-book to see if it would be possible to provide for the
grandchild and at the same time satisfy the caprices of a beautiful
young woman.

Not long ago Prince Theobald had built a splendid palace in the
Maximilian Strasse; it was destined for the Countess Angela, in the
case that she agreed to her grandfather's wish as to her marriage. The
palace was furnished with the utmost magnificence. The countess,
however, had thought otherwise. She broke off her marriage with
Sondersheim; she had good reasons, no doubt, but she need not have
openly defied her grandfather. It was unwise of her so to do, for
Evila was weaving her spell closer round the old man's heart, and
Angela had best be prudent, and return speedily to Vienna, else the
palace in the Maximilian Strasse will be presented, without a shadow
of doubt, to Madame Kaulmann.

Arpad's letters had made Ivan acquainted with the ins and outs of the
whole affair; through them he had learned that the woman he had loved
had become the wife of another man, and was likely to be the mistress
of a third. The first blow he could bear with a certain resignation;
he wished her all happiness; but that she should sink up to the neck
in shame, led thither by the act of her own husband, was a bitter
thought! No, that she should be saved from, if Ivan could compass her
deliverance. For this end he remained in Pesth. Hence it seemed to him
he could pull the strings of this complex drama, and defeat the
conspiracy against Evila's honor; for this purpose he went into a
world that he despised, affected a manner of life totally inconsistent
with his ideas, and cultivated a friendship with the Countess Angela,
that his influence might induce her to play the part of the good
angel.

Was he a fool to sacrifice his own feelings for a woman who had
inflicted upon him the severest mortification a man can endure? Those
whose hearts are dominated by cold prudence will judge his folly
perhaps rightly; those who have hearts that feel for others will
acknowledge that he did well in obeying its dictates, and from his own
point of view, perhaps, he acted for his own ultimate advantage.

If Prince Theobald is induced to consent to the lease of his property
to the Bondavara Company, Ivan's little coal-mine is ruined. Good if
he can, while working for another, help himself. A man of business is
always a speculator; therefore we say to the warm-hearted and
compassionate that Ivan acted a part to save Evila from shame, and to
the cold-hearted and unfeeling that it was all in the way of business,
to save, if he could, his little all from the monster company ready to
devour it bodily.

Arpad continued to send the photographs. They were of all kinds,
tragic and comic. "Medea," with her murderous revenge and jealousy;
the daughter of Herod, with her voluptuous dance to gain the saint's
head; the cruelty of "Judith," the wild laughter of "Jeanne la Folle,"
the devotion of a holy nun, the coquettish tricks of a _grisette_, a
languid Creole, a supernatural "Will-o'-the-Wisp"--these were the
principal representations in which Ivan found rather studied effort at
catching an artistic effect than natural instinct or expression. This
was the school of Madame Grissac, to whom Felix had intrusted Evila's
education. Two portraits that came at the end produced upon Ivan a
painful impression. One represented a mother by the cradle of her
child, the other a peasant girl, a coal-carrier, with her hair plaited
down her back, and a red frock tucked up above her ankles. It pained
Ivan deeply that she should profane these two sacred subjects. Why
take a mother's love to be made a vehicle to create an old man's
admiration? And the girl with the red frock! Ah, that was
unpardonable! He could not forgive her for having wounded him to the
very heart.

One day the artist wrote to Ivan--

"My good patron, Felix Kaulmann, is an out-and-out scoundrel. Up to
the present he generally attends the rehearsals when the prince is
present. Yesterday Prince Theobald seemed quite excited, so much so
that Kaulmann was struck by it. To his question the prince said that
he was very happy. He had received a letter from his granddaughter,
the Countess Angela. She wrote in the most friendly manner. She told
him that she had met a certain Ivan Behrend, who had the courage to
give her a regular scolding, and had told her to her face what was the
duty of the Hungarian magnates towards their country, a duty in which
they were wanting, and which Prince Theobald would fulfil if he left
Vienna and came to reside in Pesth, in which case the countess would
agree to a reconciliation. The old prince seemed so happy at the idea
of seeing his child again! Kaulmann, however, looked very black,
blacker still when the prince said he would consider the matter; but
that, as the countess had taken a fancy to Pesth, he thought he would
go there. Inwardly Felix gnashed his teeth with rage, outwardly he
expressed great satisfaction that the countess had at last broken the
ice; it was a good sign that she was getting tired of her obstinacy.
But if he were in the prince's situation he would try and persuade the
countess to come to Vienna, instead of going himself to Pesth. The
prince listened to this suggestion; he fell into the trap, and will
not go at once to Pesth, but will try to bring back the countess. In
the meantime we are to have the two last rehearsals. The thirty-second
is the representation of 'Julia Gonzaga,' whose story you will find in
any library. The most interesting part of this scene is the toilette
of the heroine, who appears in a night-dress made of muslin, with her
feet naked. In spite of this rather risky costume the lady's virtue
was irreproachable, for in her hand she held a dagger, and threatened
to kill any one who ventured to look at her feet. As I wrote to you,
Kaulmann has always been present at these rehearsals, but from this
one of 'Julia Gonzaga' he is obliged to absent himself, as he has to
go away for a few days. I believe that my office should be called
_garde des dames_. As it happens, however, on this occasion I, too, am
unavoidably prevented from being present. When I went home and showed
mamma the enclosed photograph she shuddered, and positively forbade me
to assist at a rehearsal in which a woman appeared in such a costume.
I must plead illness or any other cause, but stay at home I must. I
thought over several lies, but at last I decided that I would tell my
gracious pupil the truth; so I did.

"'Listen,' I said. 'My mother will not allow me to accompany you if
you sing barefoot. If it is really the point of the piece that 'Julia'
must present herself without stockings on her feet, then I must deny
myself the pleasure of playing on the piano.'

"The silly child laughed very much, and said she would get somebody
else. She may do as she likes; I don't care. Mamma is perfectly right
in forbidding me to go, and I think that I have done perfectly right
to tell my pupil why I refuse to accompany her."

This letter depressed Ivan. For a long time he looked at the
photograph, considering it from every point of view. Evila in a dress
the thin material of which showed every motion of her plastic limbs;
in one hand she gathered the folds across her breast, her eyes had a
murderous glare in their violet depths, her long and beautiful hair
fell to her feet; in her right hand she pointed a dagger towards a
motionless form which lay at her feet covered by a rug. This was the
second time that Ivan had heard the story from a lady.

The next day he received another letter from Arpad; he found it on his
return from the first meeting with Salista.

"Eveline," wrote the artist, "performed her tableau before the prince
without the accompaniment of the piano and without the company of her
husband. She looked so lovely that all the prince's good principles
melted away like snow before the sun. He took her hand and kissed it;
then the murderous look disappeared from her sweet eyes; she broke out
into a ripple of laughter.

"'Prince, do you not see that I have a knife in my hand?'

"'I can take it from you.'

"The young girl laughed again; and we all know how easy it is to take
anything from a smiling woman.

"At this moment there resounded through the room an echo of Eveline's
laugh; that is to say, if you can call a frog's croak an echo of a
nightingale's song. Out of the conservatory, which ornaments one side
of the room, there came a crippled dwarf, who supported himself upon
crutches. His long head was sunk between his high shoulders, and his
white, satyr-like face was distorted by an odious grin as he dragged
himself between the prince and his inamorata.

"'Prince, we are not alone,' laughed Eveline, freeing her hand from
the clasp of the astonished nobleman.

"'In Heaven's name, who is this splendid specimen of a toad?' he
cried, with an air of disgust.

"'This is my only beloved little brother,' cried Eveline, putting her
arms round the little monster, and covering him with kisses while she
stroked his head. 'My dear, only little brother, my all, my dearest;
my ugly, cross, quarrelsome little tyrant, who comes to me whenever he
likes.'

"'A horrible creature!' said the prince. 'The hobgoblins who kept
watch over the gate of the Witch of Endor were cherubims as compared
with this monster. I beg of you, Eveline, not to kiss his face, as it
takes away forever the pleasure one would have in kissing so lovely a
mouth.'

"Eveline made no answer, but, suddenly turning away, she threw a
burnoose round her shoulders, put her tiny feet into a pair of
slippers, and said, demurely:

"'Prince, the thirty-second rehearsal is over, and there only remains
the thirty-third to complete the course.'

"The prince asked what the title of this last should be, and Eveline
whispered in his ear that he would know the next day but one.

"'And how many more will know it?'

"'No one but you.'

"'Not this Caliban?'

"'Certainly not.'

"The prince took his leave in an ecstasy, firmly convinced that at the
last representation he would have Eveline all to himself. Eveline
needed a day to prepare herself.

"The scene was repeated to me by the cripple, who likes me very much,
and comes nearly every evening to share my supper; for although
everything possible for his comfort is provided by Eveline, he is
never happy unless he begs from some one. If he were a prince, I do
believe the creature would get out of his carriage to ask for alms. He
finds such a wonderful pleasure in begging. For a stick of
sugar-barley he will tell me everything. What pleased him most was the
prince's remark about his being a splendid specimen of a toad. He
imitated for me how he crept out of the conservatory on his crutches,
and how he laughed when he saw the gentleman wanted to take the knife
from his sister. You will hear from me again the day after to-morrow."

The day after to-morrow! These words to a man who might be lying stark
and stiff by that time! They gave Ivan a sudden chill; but he said to
himself he would not die easily, he would fight for his life.

That night he dreamed a curious dream, in which he saw two "Julia
Gonzagas," who both wanted to kill him, and yet he had deserved
nothing but good at their hands.

So goes the world!



CHAPTER XV

TWO POINTS


A duel with swords has this distinct advantage over a duel with
pistols: you need have no concealment concerning it; the day before it
is spoken of as an interesting wager would be. In former times it
happened rarely that a duel with swords had a fatal ending, and
therefore it is surrounded with none of the mystery that attends the
more serious affair; for the seconds, likewise, there is far less
responsibility. If a principal gets severely hurt, the attending
surgeon declares that the sufferer has not died of the wound, but that
there was some trouble in the organism which would have probably
killed him within the next forty-eight hours. And who, nowadays, would
make a fuss over a man who was doomed to die in forty-eight hours?

The duel which was to take place between the Marquis Salista and Ivan
was spoken of at the club with indifference, as a thing that had a
foregone conclusion. Salista spoke most of it himself, and at six
o'clock the evening before stood at the chimney-piece and entertained
a select group of friends, among whom were the four seconds, with his
ideas on the subject.

The golden youth of Pesth, being in the habit of having constant
fencing-bouts at the different gymnasiums, know well who is the most
skilful fencer, and are therefore able to predicate, accurately enough
in many cases, what the result will be. Salista had the reputation of
being a first-rate swordsman; he had already fought several duels, and
always been the victor; he had one particular stroke, a master-stroke,
which few fencers could parry; it was a quick thrust in the stomach,
which, passing round the point of his adversary's sword, ripped up his
abdomen. If the other intercepted the thrust, he was likely to get out
of time, so that his face, being left uncovered, was exposed to a
well-delivered thrust which would spoil his beauty, if it did not have
more dangerous consequences. Some men would have felt that the
circumstances connected with the preceding duel required explanation,
that the refusal to stand your adversary's fire had a doubtful sound.
For a similar offence others had been rigorously punished by having to
leave Vienna for some weeks, and being sometimes kept in Coventry even
longer. Salista was, however, a privileged person; his courage was not
called in question. He was, moreover, a cool hand, and carried off his
difficult position with the most astounding _aplomb_. As he now stood
upon the rug he talked with a good deal of swagger as to what would
happen on the morrow.

"We shall see what stuff this Admirable Crichton is made of.
Sword-exercise is not like pistol-shooting; there can be no
mathematics. We will ask him how he construes the under-cut when the
sabre takes his legs from under him."

Count Geza rebuked the boaster. "You must remember," he said, "that
Ivan acted towards you in the most chivalrous manner when he accepted
the sword instead of the pistol, and you must also consider that he is
a man of learning, very much thought of, and likely to be of service
in his generation."

"Very good. You needn't be afraid, I shall not kill him; I shall only
slice a piece off his nose, that he may carry home a souvenir of
Pesth. A scholar like him will not care if his beauty is spoiled;
science is not sniffed up like snuff, and his nose is no use for
looking through the telescope at the stars."

Here Edmund interfered, and protested hotly against any injury being
done to the nose of his principal. At last the marquis had to content
himself with a slice off his ear; but Edmund still remonstrated.

"You should be satisfied with a cut on his hand," he said; "the whole
matter is not worth more."

Count Stefan here made a suggestion in his quiet way.

"My good Salista, what if this coal-heaver were to cut _you_ down?"

"What!" blustered the marquis, standing with long legs apart in front
of the chimney-piece. "To show you what I think of him, I will give
him two points; I will let him have two cuts at me on my arm, and then
I will cut him down. You shall see! You can make your bets. Who holds
the wager?" So he went on boasting until the discussion came to an
end. His last question was whether the seconds would be quick enough
to interfere before he made a cripple of their great scholar.

On the following day the two parties met. The large ball-room in the
hotel had been thought the most suitable place, as it was generally
hired for such occasions. The seconds had chalked the floor with
pulverized chalk to prevent the combatants from slipping. In an
adjoining room both the principals had to strip to the waist; then
they were led into the room. There was no necessity to draw lots as to
the placing of the men, as the room was panelled all round with
looking-glasses. Before they were given the sabres the following
conditions were read out:

"First blood. Stabbing is not allowed."

Salista protested. He would not hear of first blood. The duel should
go on until one of the combatants declared himself no longer able to
fight. Every one tried to persuade him to be more moderate, but he
would not give in.

"Give us the swords!" cried Ivan, out of all patience. "I am getting a
chill, half-naked as I am."

This interruption decided the matter. The paces were measured, the
principals placed in position, and their swords handed to them.

Both were naked to their waists. Salista exhibited Herculean muscles,
Ivan had a well-developed form. He had certainly not so much flesh as
his adversary, but was bony, had long arms, and a vaulted chest. The
fight began in the usual manner. Both men held the points of their
swords towards each other, had the left hand drawn back, and their
heads protected by their arms. Now and again they crossed their swords
dexterously, trying to find a place for a good thrust, and striking
one another softly. Each stared into his adversary's eyes, seeking to
read his intentions. Salista essayed to give his adversary a thrust
which would injure his face. This was very difficult, for the face is
always protected by the arm. Ivan, on his side, endeavored to give his
opponent the double thrust. This requires extraordinary agility; but
he succeeded. He tore the top muscle of Salista's right arm the whole
way down. That this blow does not bleed at once is explained by the
cellular texture of the muscles.

"Forward!" cried Salista. "No blood!"

He now gave up all efforts at injuring his adversary in the face, and
resorted to his well-known trick, the belly-thrust, which is difficult
to parry, and if it hits is often deadly in its effect. If it is not
parried, the effect is certain; and if it is, the giver can, if he is
a good swordsman, hit his adversary a terrible cut over the head. Ivan
did not parry, good or bad. Salista had not forgotten that the
duelling-sword is shorter than the cavalry practise-sword; but he
forgot, or rather didn't know, that his adversary had arms of unusual
length. This is, therefore, what happened. Ivan did not attempt to
parry the belly-thrust; he raised his arm, and let the sword-point of
his opponent pass at a distance of two lines over his body, while he
aimed straight at the other's arm, cutting him crossways in the same
place where he had before cut lengthways.

These were the two points. Through this cross-cut the difference of
strength between the two men was equalized. This last defeat filled
Salista with fury. With the roar of a wild beast he threw himself upon
his adversary, and with all his strength made two cuts at the head. He
cut as a butcher cuts with his axe; it was a miracle that both swords
didn't break in two, for, according to rule, Ivan received both
thrusts upon the handle of his sword, and before the other could give
him a third he gave him quickly a thrust in front with such strength
and precision that it came with full force on the head and face of the
marquis. It was lucky that the sword was light, otherwise he would
have split his skull in two. Salista reeled under the blow, then
raised his left arm to protect his head, tottered sideways, and fell
down, supporting himself upon the handle of his sword. His seconds ran
to him to raise him up and lead him away. Ivan stood with his
sword-point lowered, his face apathetic, as if turned to marble. His
seconds congratulated him.

"Are the gentlemen content?" he asked.

"I dare swear they are," returned Count Edmund. "Nothing could have
turned out better; the affair is at an end."

With these words they conducted Ivan into the next room to dress
himself.

When he returned to the hall he found that his adversary had recovered
consciousness; the two doctors were with him, one binding up his head,
the other his arm.

According to the usual etiquette, Ivan went to him.

"Forgive me, comrade," he said.

Salista gave him his left hand, and said, cordially, "It is not worth
talking about; but it was a splendid fight. The other two don't count,
because I had said I would give you 'two points;' the third--ah, that
was a cut! But I shall be all right in a week."

Ivan asked the doctors if the wounds were dangerous, but Salista
answered for them.

"Soldier's luck," he said. "I have given similar cuts a hundred times;
now it is my turn, and I don't complain. Only one thing troubles me.
Neither arnica nor ice-bandages can do me any good; but _you_ who have
caused this suffering can mitigate it. Confess, now, that you have
been in the army."

"Without doubt," returned Ivan. "During the War of Freedom I was
lieutenant of hussars."

"May the devil fetch you! Why didn't you tell us before? In what
regiment did you serve?"

"In the Wilhelm Hussars. Therefore I am the sole survivor and witness
of that memorable exploit of yours, when you cut us to pieces."

Everybody burst out laughing. No one laughed more than the wounded
man. The doctors reminded him that he must not laugh, else the bandage
over his face would get disturbed.

"Very good," said Salista. "I shall laugh only on one side of my face.
Comrade, God bless you! I shall not think any more of the cut now that
I know it was the work of a soldier, and not of a civilian. Come, kiss
me on the other cheek, the one you have left me whole and entire. So,
my brother. I cannot give you my right hand, for you have given me a
cross-cut there that will show a scar for many a day. It was
first-rate, that cut, a regular hussar cut, and, therefore, I don't in
the least mind it."

And the combatants kissed one another.

The next moment the wounds began to bleed afresh, and Salista fainted
from loss of blood. Ivan held his head upon his knees while the
doctors bound up the veins; then he helped to carry him to the
carriage.

Every one said, "What a capital fellow!"



CHAPTER XVI

GOOD-BYE


The friends and acquaintances of both parties were assembled at Count
Stefan's to hear the result of the duel. The seconds on both sides had
promised to come and give the earliest news. All the _habitués_ of
society were waiting; there was suppressed excitement; bets were made
upon which should be wounded, and whether Salista would give a heavy
wound or only a slight scratch to his adversary. Count Stefan had the
courage to bet ten to one that Salista would get a scratch; he also
risked "even money" that the marquis would be the only one wounded.
That Ivan would escape with a whole skin no one else for an instant
imagined. If they had done so they might have offered a hundred to
one, and even at that no one of the party would have taken the bet.

The outposts planted themselves at the windows, to be the first to see
the carriage with the seconds. When a cab drove up, they shouted to
the others:

"Edmund and Geza have arrived!"

"Then I have won my bet," said Count Stefan; "the seconds of the man
who is least hurt get away first."

Count Edmund went to the countess's apartment to let her know what had
happened, while Geza ascended to Count Stefan's rooms. He rushed in
with the triumphant air a victorious second should have.

"He has put him to the sword."

"Who? Who? Ivan? Salista?" cried the company, surrounding the
messenger in their excitement.

"Ivan has put the marquis."

An "A-ah!" was the incredulous rejoinder of the others.

"But I tell you he has," repeated the young count; "he has cut him
into a jelly."

"And Ivan?"

"He is as untouched as I am."

"Ah, you are making fun of us."

"It is no subject for fun. Ask Salista."

"But where is Ivan?"

"He will be here immediately, and will convince the unbelievers, who
will find no wounds into which they can poke their fingers. He went
home with the doctors, for Salista had two, who have at last succeeded
in stitching him together."

Then he related to them circumstantially all that had happened. For
those who did not clearly understand, he demonstrated with the help of
two walking-sticks the course the duel took. He came to the
double-cut.

"In this way Ivan parried the stomach-thrust and gave the
fore-cut--the final a _tempo contre coup_. The performer of these
wonderful exploits had not even turned a hair."

"Why, he is a miracle!"

"No such thing," protested Count Geza. "He has been in the
army--captain in the hussars." (He advanced him a grade, but captain
sounds better than lieutenant.) "He fought all through the revolution;
he was nineteen times in action, and fought with the Cossacks besides.
He has also received a good-service medal."

All this the count imagined might be the fact, although he had
certainly not heard a word of such a history from Ivan. Once a man has
scored one success, he is credited with twenty more.

"Truly a wonderful man!" said Baron Oscar. "For three months he has
been among us every day, and has never mentioned his soldiering
experiences."

"Now we have really landed him upon us, like a Sindbad that can never
be shaken off," remarked Baron Edward. "We wanted to be rid of him,
and instead we have raised him into the saddle. He will never
dismount; he is saddled on us forever. No one would dare now to speak
to him."

"Good God of Saxony!" cried Baron Oscar, "how the man will carry his
nose in the air! There will be no standing him, for the women will, of
course, make the deuce of a fuss about him, and men must have a
certain respect for him. _Sacré bleu!_ A man who can shoot and fence
like this fellow! But I would bet anything that it was a mere
accident."

"I think quite the contrary," remarked Count Stefan, "and I very much
fear that Ivan will leave us all cooling our heels here, and not show
his face. He will never cross any of our thresholds again."

"Oh, he wouldn't be such a confounded fool! I bet you a hundred to
one."

"First pay me the bet you have lost."

Baron Oscar put his hand in his pocket, but before he drew out his
pocket-book a happy thought struck him.

"But how if Geza and his brother second were playing off a joke? They
may have concocted this story. Perhaps the truth is that at the last
moment the quarrel was made up and there was no duel, and that they
have both come from a luncheon where no blood, but plenty of
champagne, flowed."

"If you don't believe me, then drive to Salista. My cab is at the
door. Go and convince yourself."

The baron rushed off. On the staircase he met Count Edmund coming up
from the ladies. He asked where Oscar was rushing in such haste.

"He doesn't believe Geza's story."

"That is just the way the ladies have treated me; they won't believe
me. They say, 'If nothing has happened to Ivan, where is he?' The
Countess Theudelinde sheds tears like a river; she execrates us all,
and declares we have killed her hero. The cuckoo only knows which of
the two ladies is the most in love with him. Up to this I thought I
knew, but now I am all in the dark."

Baron Oscar returned at this moment. He didn't say a word, but took
out his pocket-book and paid Count Stefan his bet. It was a very
convincing answer.

"Well, how is Salista?" asked several voices together.

"He is terribly disfigured."

On this every one took out their purses and paid their lost bets; they
did it with very sour faces. If only Ritter Magnet had been
disfigured!

Just then Ivan was announced. The sour faces changed with marvellous
rapidity into friendly smiles. He was greeted warmly; every one wanted
to shake hands with him. He was the hero of the hour, but he looked
tired and very serious. Count Stefan was the last to press his hand.

"I rejoice," he said, "to see you uninjured."

Two young fellows said to one another, "Old Stefan may very well
rejoice; he has made a good thing of the handicap, and cleared us out
jollily." But in spite of their losses, they, too, congratulated the
victor.

Every one seemed pleased except, perhaps, Ivan. "I thank you all," he
said, in his grave voice, "for your warm sympathy; and I thank you,
count, in particular, for your cordial reception, and for the
friendship which you have accorded to me. I shall always preserve a
grateful remembrance of your kindness. I beg of you to bear me
likewise in your recollection, for I have come now to take leave. I am
returning to my home to-morrow."

The count winked with his left eye at Baron Oscar, as who should say,
"Did I not tell you so?" But he spoke no word to induce Ivan to
rescind his resolution. He pressed his hand warmly as he said:

"Be assured that I have a sincere esteem for you, and wherever we may
meet again always consider me as an old friend. God bless you!"

Baron Oscar made much more fuss. He held Ivan with both hands on his
arm.

"My dear friend, we cannot allow this. Such a good fellow as you have
proved yourself to be cannot slip away from us in this manner--just at
the moment, too, when you are going to be the lion of the season. You
sha'n't escape; you belong to us."

Ivan laughed; gentle sarcasm, half pain, half irony, totally unmixed
with bitterness, was in the laugh. Then he answered this burst of
friendship:

"I thank you, comrade, for the honor you do me, but I am not fit to be
Governor of Barataria; it is far better for me to be at home. I go to
get my 'grison' saddled, and I ride away."

(Any one who is conversant with "Don Quixote" will remember the skit
upon the island of Barataria, and the affecting meeting between the
ass and his master.)

When he had finished speaking, Ivan made a deep bow to the company
and left the room. Count Stefan followed him, and, in spite of his
protestations, accompanied him down the stairs to Theudelinde's door.
He was much moved by Ivan's last words.

When he returned he found the entire company still in a very
uncomfortable frame of mind, discussing the scene that had just
happened with much annoyance.

"Who has told him the joke about the island of Barataria?" asked Baron
Oscar.

Each one gave his word of honor that he had not betrayed confidence.

"Then may the devil fly away with me if I don't believe it was the
abbé."

But Count Stefan shook his head. "No, my friends," he said, "believe
me, no one has told Behrend anything. He is a man of acute
penetration, and he has read you like a book without appearing to take
notice."

Geza, however, swore that the priest had blabbed.

We swear to nothing, but think it right to mention that a few days
previous the Abbé Samuel had received a letter from Vienna with the
words, "What are you about? You are ruining the whole thing. That ass
Behrend is bringing about a reconciliation between the countess and
the old prince. Get him out of Pesth, for he is working dead against
us.--FELIX."

"At all events, we have pleased my pretty cousin," remarked Count
Edmund. "She wanted him to be sent about his business, and we have
done it."

"Oh, is that so?" And Count Stefan smiled sardonically. "_Cherchez la
femme_, as Talleyrand said. But I know the dear, capricious sex. When
Ivan tells the ladies down-stairs that he is leaving, there will be a
reaction, and your pretty cousin will cry out, 'Then we shall go
together!'"

The others laughed incredulously; only Edmund assumed the air of
Pontius Pilate.

"I should not be surprised," he said. "_Enfin_, there would be nothing
disgraceful in the affair. The fellow is a gentleman; he was a
soldier, and is of good birth. His land joins the Bondavara property;
his income is something under two hundred thousand florins. Angela is
heiress to twenty millions; but then, if our well-beloved uncle,
Prince Theobald, lives another ten years and carries on as he is
doing, it may result that Ivan and Angela may be on the same platform
as regards their fortunes. So far as rank is in question, if the
government continues to play the game they are playing with our rights
and privileges, and if under the new parliamentary _régime_ the
peasant's coat is to ascend the tribune, then I shall ask to be
_raised_ to the peasantry."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Countesses Theudelinde and Angela received Ivan in their private
sitting-room--a mark of close intimacy. He came in with a constrained
air; his face was pale, and the emotion he could not suppress gave
softness to his usually stern expression. Theudelinde came to meet him
with outstretched hands. When she drew near she took his in her clasp,
and pressed his fingers warmly. Her lips trembled, and with difficulty
she kept the tears which filled her eyes from coursing down her
cheeks. She could not speak, but simply nodded to Ivan to take his
place before a small table, upon which a splendid bouquet stood.
Theudelinde sat on the sofa, Angela beside her. The young countess was
simply dressed; she had not even a flower in her hair. She was grave,
and hardly raised her eyes to Ivan.

It was Theudelinde who broke the rather embarrassing silence.

"We have been in terrible trouble about you," she said. "You cannot
imagine what tortures of anxiety we have gone through during these two
days."

Angela's eyes were on the carpet; she was included in the "we."

"I cannot forgive myself, countess, for the share I have had in
causing you pain. I can only do penance for my fault, and to-morrow I
am going into banishment at Bondathal."

"Ah!" Theudelinde's voice expressed surprise. "You are going to leave
us? What are you going to do in Bondathal?"

"I will return to my business, which I have too long neglected."

"And do you like to live in Bondathal?"

"I am tranquil there."

"Have you relatives?"

"I have none."

"You have a household?"

"So far as I can, I do everything for myself."

"You have surely friends and acquaintances who form a pleasant circle
around you?"

"I have only my workmen and my machines."

"You live there a hermit's life?"

"No, countess, for a hermit lives alone, while I have my books and my
work; I am never alone."

The countess's face assumed almost a solemn expression.

"Herr von Behrend, give me your hand, and stay here."

Ivan got up, and bowed low before her. "The kind feeling which has
prompted your words, as well as the honor you have done me, shall
never be forgotten by me. It is a proof to me of your great goodness,
and I beg of you to accept my heartfelt thanks."

"Then you will remain? How long?"

"Until to-morrow morning."

"Ah," cried the countess, with a petulant air, "when I ask you to
stay!"

Her disappointment was so transparent, her annoyance so sincere, that
it was impossible not to feel sorry for her. Theudelinde looked at
Angela as if she expected her to come to her help; but Angela never
raised her eyes, shaded by their long lashes, while her fingers
plucked nervously at the petals of a marguerite, as if she were
consulting that well-known oracle.

"Countess," said Ivan, still standing, and with his hand on the back
of his chair, "when I answer a friendly invitation such as yours with
an apparently uncivil refusal to remain, as you so kindly wish me to
do, I feel that it is incumbent on me to give you my true reason for
withdrawing myself from your society. I cannot say to you what I would
to a mere acquaintance; I cannot make such excuses as 'that I have
business at home; that I have been too long here; that I shall return
soon.' To you I must confess that I go away because no inducement
would prevail on me to remain, and that when I go I mean never to
return. Countess, this is not my world; here I _could_ not live. I
have spent three months here; I have been a daily guest in the best
circles; I have lived with members of the highest and most cultivated
society, have studied closely their manner of life. I quite agree that
these people have every right to live in what manner they choose; but
I, who have been accustomed to a totally different manner of life, who
have been taught to consider existence from a different point of view,
to reverence the higher aims and obey its finer instincts, _I_ should
be acting a lie and violating my own principles were I to remain in
such an atmosphere and live after such a fashion. Here, in this
exalted rank, you are all solitary rings, while we in the lower order
hang together as links of one chain. You are totally independent one
of the other, therefore you follow each one his own inclinations. With
us the pressure of life knits us more closely together, and we call
egotism and generosity by different names from what you do. I am,
therefore, not fit for your circle. I am ashamed to be haughty towards
those upon whom you look down, and I cannot bend before those whom you
delight to honor. I do not recognize the gods whom you adore, neither
can I mock at _my_ God, and ignore Him as you do. In this world of
yours there is a malicious demon who transforms all that is good in
man's nature, and who prompts him to laugh and deny every inclination
to virtue. Who tells his friend or neighbor the truth to his face, and
who cares for any one who is not present? Dear friends race together
over hill and dale; but suppose one makes a false step and breaks his
neck, good-bye to him, the dear friend is gone. Another does not break
his neck in the race, but he dissipates all his fortune; those who are
running with him never say to him, 'Step out of the course; you are
going to the bottom.' All at once he stumbles, and his fortune and the
honors of his ancestors lie tumbled in the dust. Good-bye to him; his
name is struck out of the club-list; that dear friend is no more. It
is true we knew yesterday and the day before yesterday that he would
surely get a bad fall, but no one else knew of it, so we rode with our
dear friend to the last. Now all the world is aware of his tumble in
the dust, therefore we know him no more. If any one wishes to go on
his own way, and live a rational life to himself, oh, then, he is a
coward, a miser, a carpet knight! And how do the women fare in this
world of yours? What about domestic life, and the sweet joys of the
home? What tragedies are enacted inside those splendid mansions, and
outside what fun is made of them by friends and acquaintances! What
refinement in sin! what idolatry of false joys! And when these are
over, what _ennui_ of life, what endless weariness! No, countess, this
life is not for me. I should be poisoned in such an atmosphere. You
can bear it, you grace it by your presence; but for me, I should go
mad were I to remain. Therefore I go, and all that is now left is to
ask your forgiveness for my bold words. I acknowledge my indiscretion;
I have spoken bitterly of society, and yet I stand on its parquet
floor. I have been ungrateful; I have given expression to my
antipathies in the presence of those who have shown tolerance towards
my faults and my awkward manners; who have accompanied me to the door
of the circle where I have often played a ridiculous part, and,
notwithstanding, have never been laughed at before my face. But,
countess, the words I have uttered I have felt, so to speak,
constrained by your goodness to say. You have, with extraordinary
kindness, asked me to remain, and I would prove to you that I am
forced to leave by a power stronger than myself."

During Ivan's rather lengthy address Countess Theudelinde had risen to
her feet. Her eyes began to light up, her face to wear a glorified
expression, her lips to move as if she repeated each word he said; and
when he had spoken the concluding sentence she seized both his hands,
while she stammered out:

"You speak the truth--the truth--nothing but the truth; you speak as I
spoke forty years ago, when _I_ left the world as you are doing now!
The world is ever the same; it does not change." Here she wrung her
hands passionately. "Go home," she sobbed out; "go back to your
solitude, hide yourself under the earth, conceal yourself in your
mine, God will be with you wherever you are--everywhere! God bless
you! God bless you!"

She did not remark that Angela had also risen from her seat, and as
Ivan took his leave she made a step forward, and said, in a firm,
decided voice:

"If you go away, you do not go alone, for I shall go with you." Her
whole face glowed as she spoke these words.

Ivan was master of the situation. Standing upon this giddy height, he
did not for that reason lose his balance. With wonderful presence of
mind he answered the excited girl:

"You will do well, countess. To-morrow is your grandfather's birthday,
and early to-morrow you can be with him. He is ready to clasp you in
his arms."

Angela grew white as a marble statue. She sank back in her armchair,
the leaves she had plucked from the flower lay scattered at her feet.
Ivan bowed to her respectfully, kissed the hand of Countess
Theudelinde, and quitted the room.

Ah, there are men who never forget their first and only love!

       *       *       *       *       *

Not long after Ivan had left, Count Edmund dropped in to see the
ladies. He appeared to come by accident, but he was dying with
curiosity. Countess Angela was more amiable than usual. When he was
leaving, she said to her cousin:

"Go to Salista, and tell him that I have inquired for him."

Count Edmund was courtier enough to conceal the astonishment he most
certainly felt, but as he went down the stairs he began to hum
Figaro's song from the _Barber of Seville_:

   "The falseness of women
    One never can know,
    One never can know!"

Countess Angela wrote that same evening to her grandfather. Ivan was
right in saying the next day was his birthday, and this was her
birthday greeting:

"I am not coming home. Adieu."

       *       *       *       *       *

For two days every one in Pesth spoke of Ivan and his duel with
Salista; the third day he was forgotten. Good-bye to him!



CHAPTER XVII

THE LAST REHEARSAL


On the morning of his birthday Prince Theobald received a letter. It
was from his only grandchild, and ended with the word "Adieu."

The prince's birthday had been always a festival. From Angela's
childhood up to the last anniversary of the day she had each year
given him a remembrance. On this day it had been a bitter gift.

Among his treasures the old man kept a particular casket, handsomely
fitted with gold mountings, in which he preserved these birthday
offerings. There was the wreath Angela had given him when she was nine
years old; the scrawl she had written in her childish handwriting on a
sheet of Bristol-board; the bit of embroidery, worked in pearls and
gold, which later she had done for him with her own hand. To these
gifts the prince, with a deep sigh, added her last letter, with its
cold farewell.

Prince Theobald was easily moved to anger, while his heart was
sensitive to affection. When he reflected calmly he found he had every
right to exact obedience from his granddaughter. Angela owed a duty to
him, to his position, to the princely house from which she sprang. If,
indeed, her heart stood in the way of agreeing to his wishes, one
might, perhaps, excuse her; but Angela, he knew, loved no one. Why,
therefore, should she seek to defy him for a mere foolish whim?
Prince Theobald went to Eveline's last rehearsal with his mind in a
tumult of annoyance and excitement; his blood circulated wildly. He
could send a strange answer to her farewell. Yes, and he would!

When he reached Eveline's house the servant admitted him as a favored
_habitué_, without a word, and left him in the drawing-room while he
went to announce him to his mistress. The prince looked round him; it
was the room where Eveline usually gave her representations. The
rose-colored curtains were drawn, one corner was filled with
greenhouse exotics, the air was perfumed with the scent of the
flowers. In another corner two turtle-doves cooed melodiously, while
from behind a little _bosquet_ a nightingale sang its soft stave of
love, sorrow, and triumph. One could hardly imagine one's self in an
ordinary drawing-room; it was more like the throne of a nymph, or
fairy, in the depth of a wood.

The prince seated himself upon a sofa, and, taking up an album which
lay upon the table, he turned over the leaves. It was a collection of
photographs of Eveline in her different parts. He went through it from
cover to cover, examining each tempting and seductive portrait
carefully, and as he did so there rose before his memory the casket in
which Angela's letters and embroidery were preserved. His thoughts
were so absorbed in these recollections that, with a start, he found
himself at the last page in the book before him. He roused himself to
look at the beautiful figure in a common stuff frock. How captivating,
how simple, how lovely!

The nightingale sang, the doves cooed, the air grew heavy with the
scent of the pomegranates. The prince wondered in what form of
enchantment would his hostess appear. And now there fell on his ear,
coming from a distance, a forgotten tune. Once he had heard it, long
ago; but the air he remembered. It moved him strangely. It was a
simple volkslied, the same with which the nurse was wont to rock the
cradle of Angela when she was a baby--a Slav tune. The text was
unknown to him.

After a few minutes the song ceased, the door of Eveline's
dressing-room opened, and she came in--and how? In what new and
captivating costume did she appear?

She wore a simple white-and-black dress of crape cloth; her hair was
smoothly combed back from her young face, and hung down in a long
plait; a white lace collar was round her throat.

Softly, modestly, and yet with the confidence of a child, she drew
near to the prince, and when she was close to him she handed him a
little sachet of white satin, upon which was embroidered the kneeling
figure of a child. Then raising her eyes, full of tears, to his face,
she said, in a low voice, which trembled with emotion:

"My lord, will you accept this little birthday gift from me? May
Heaven preserve your days."

This scene was so devoid of all acting, it was so full of feeling and
sincerity, that Prince Theobald, thrown off his guard, forgot himself,
and, instead of the formal "madame," said:

"My child--"

At these words the young girl, sobbing wildly, threw herself into his
arms.

"Oh, prince," she cried, "do not recall those words; call me your
child. There is on this earth no creature more desolate, more unhappy
than I am."

Prince Theobald laid, his hand kindly upon the fair head of the
sobbing girl and kissed her gently on the forehead.

"Be it so," he said. "Look up and smile, Eveline. I am in earnest. You
are almost a child, and you shall be one to me. I will be your
father--no, your grandfather. Fathers love their children sometimes,
but not always; but grandfathers never fail in loving their
grandchildren. You shall be my little granddaughter. When I am sad you
will cheer me with your gay chatter; you will read or sing to me when
I cannot sleep; you will care for me and nurse me when I am ill. I
shall adopt you as my child. I shall take care of you, and provide you
with all that you want. In return you will obey me; you will listen to
me; you will bear with an old man's whims and his petulant temper; you
will try and please me. I promise you that you shall be treated well.
You shall be mistress over all that I have; you shall have everything
suitable to the position of my daughter; but I must exact the
obedience of a child."

Eveline answered by kissing her benefactor's hand.

"Are you pleased at my proposal? Do you think you will be happy?"

Eveline laughed in childish delight. She danced about the room in her
joy, and fell down at the prince's feet, crying out:

"Oh, my dear, dear grandpapa!"

Prince Theobald threw himself back on the sofa and burst into a harsh,
bitter laugh.

Eveline drew back, hurt and frightened by the horrid discord in the
laugh.

"I am not laughing at you, my dear," said the prince, kindly. "Come,
my pretty granddaughter, and sit beside me." (He had laughed at the
answer he could now make to Angela's farewell.) He stroked Eveline's
hair tenderly. "Now we must talk seriously. Listen to what I have to
say, for my words are commands. In _our_ family there is only one
master, whom all obey. First of all, there is your husband to be
considered. It seems to me he takes the responsibilities of his
position lightly. Still, he must give his consent to my adoption of
you. I don't apprehend, however, any difficulty in obtaining it; you
may leave that to me. After that you will take up your residence in my
palace in the Maximilian Strasse. It shall be yours on one
condition--that you receive no visitors without previously consulting
me. Kaulmann is included in this condition. You must have no
intercourse with him, except on matters of business. Will it pain you
to be separated from him?"

"I could not be pained by that. We have always lived apart."

The prince pressed her hand kindly. "Poor child!" he said. "Your
husband is a scoundrel. He has treated you as one of his speculations,
and has attained his end. One thing, however, you receive from
him--his name. He cannot take that from you. By-and-by you will learn
what an inestimable advantage it is to a woman to bear her husband's
name. It is a passport; but I do not think Kaulmann meant it in that
light. Well, let us talk no more of him, but of your future. I shall
procure for you an engagement at the Opera-house. You must have a
certain position before the world, by whom the secret tie between us
would not be understood. The title of actress is like the mantle of a
queen; it gives you the _entrée_ to the _salons_ of a certain artistic
world. Your future shall be my care. You have talent; if you study you
will succeed. You must rise to the head of your profession, so that
when I die you will be able to support yourself."

"If I could only get over my stage-fright!" said Eveline, sadly.

"You will when you get accustomed to the footlights. You will learn by
experience that in this world, and especially on the stage, every one
is taken at his own valuation. Any one who makes little of himself
goes cheap. Above all, you must be most careful how you choose your
friends. This is important, and on this point you must allow me to
judge for you. If you feel a preference for any one person you must
tell me with frankness, and I shall know whether it will be a safe
friendship for you."

"Oh, prince," cried Eveline, "I shall be guided in all things by you!"

"My child, do not promise too much. Engagements made in a moment of
enthusiasm or sentiment are speedily forgotten; but there is one
promise I would have from you. There is one man whom you must give
your word to me that you will _never_ receive--that you will never
break the seal of a letter that comes from him; that you will never
accept a present from him, never take up a bouquet he may throw you,
never notice his applause. This man must not exist for you; you must
take as little notice of him as if he were a crossing-sweeper. This
man is Prince Waldemar."

"Oh, sir, I already hate him. I shudder at his approach."

"I am glad to hear it. He deserves every good woman's hatred; but he
is rich, young, handsome. He raves of you. Women are flattered by the
love of such as he; and circumstances may arise to alter your ideas.
Wealth has a wonderful attraction, and poverty is a great temptation.
The time must come when I shall no longer be here. You must swear to
me that when I am dead or removed from you you will keep your oath to
accept nothing from Prince Waldemar."

"I swear it to you by what is most sacred--the memory of my dead
mother."

"Now allow me to kiss your forehead. I am going to Kaulmann to make
the necessary arrangements. I thank you for your remembrance of my
birthday. Your little present has made me rich. I came here in a very
perturbed state of mind; I go away with a tranquil heart. I shall
always be grateful to you. God bless you!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Some days later Eveline removed to Prince Theobald's palace in the
Maximilian Strasse, where she was surrounded by every splendor and
luxury.

The world supposed--and we must acknowledge there was reason for the
supposition--that Kaulmann's wife was the Prince's mistress. The
prince imagined that he would frighten the Countess Angela and bring
her to reason, and Eveline thought she was fulfilling her duty as a
wife when she obeyed her contemptible husband by sacrificing her good
name to further his ambitious schemes.

       *       *       *       *       *

At this time, and as the result of Eveline's obedience, the
Joint-Stock Mining Company received the assent of Prince Theobald
Bondavary to the contract already signed by his sister, Countess
Theudelinde.

And in this manner the Bondavara property passed away from the last
two possessors. If Countess Angela had followed Ivan Behrend's advice
this would not have happened, and the property would have been hers.

       *       *       *       *       *

Why was the Countess Angela so obstinate? Why did she behave so
foolishly as regarded her own interests, so ungratefully towards her
kind grandfather? A word must be said in her defence. This Prince
Sondersheim, whom Prince Theobald wished his granddaughter to take as
her husband, was the same Prince Waldemar of whom mention has already
been made. Prince Theobald knew his character well. We have heard what
he said to Eveline. The world had the worst opinion of him, and Angela
knew what the world thought of her future husband.

Was it any wonder she refused to give herself to such a man? Could she
act otherwise than she did? Women are the best judges on this point.
Men cannot witness against themselves.



CHAPTER XVIII

FINANCIAL WISDOM


The Bondavara Joint-Stock Company was about to issue its prospectus;
the speculation had been advertised largely, and now it only waited
the necessary capital of ten millions to start the railway which was
to put the finest coal-mines in the kingdom within the reach of the
markets of the great cities. The speculation did not, however, attract
the public. Who knows about the value of the mine? said one. Who
believes what the papers say? We all know that trick. The gudgeons
held off, and did not rise to the bait offered.

One day Felix Kaulmann brought one of the directors to see Ivan
Behrend, and while these two were in conversation he noticed, lying on
the table, a piece of coal from the Bondavara mine, upon which was
distinctly visible the outline of a plant about the size of a finger.

"Is this the impression of an antediluvian bird's claw?" he asked.

"No," returned Ivan; "it is a petrified plant."

"Ah, I am making a collection of petrifactions."

"Then take that to add to it," said Ivan, carelessly.

Felix carried away the piece of coal in his pocket.

Shortly before the prospectus was issued there appeared in one of the
best-known scientific journals an illustration and article descriptive
of the petrified _bird's foot_ which had been found in the Bondavara
mine. The article was signed "Doctor Felicius."

All the _savants_ were excited. "We must see this impression!" they
cried.

The discoverer had given to the creature, whose foot-mark had remained
unalterably impressed upon the tender (!) coal, the learned name of
_Protornithos lithanthracoides_.

"Ho, ho!" exclaimed the united bodies of geologists, physiologists,
professors, philosophers, artisans, and artesian-well borers, "that is
indeed a long word!"

One set of learned men declared the thing to be possible, another
denied its possibility.

And why was it not possible? Because at the period of coal-formations
neither birds nor any one of the mammalia could exist, or did exist,
in the bowels of the earth. There we find only traces of plants, of
mussels, of fish sometimes.

And why is it credible? Because in these days we make discoveries
every day. Humboldt declared that in the antediluvian world no apes
had ever lived, for the reason that the fossil of an ape had never
been found. Since then one fossil ape has been discovered in England,
in France three of the Ourang species.

By degrees the strife raged in every newspaper; it was taken up in
English, French, German, and American publications. At last it was
proposed that the matter should be referred to a commission of five
well-known professors, to whom the petrifaction should be submitted,
and who should decide the question in dispute. Doctor Felicius offered
one thousand ducats to the one who would prove that his bird's claw
was not a bird's claw.

The tribunal of the five learned judges examined the petrifaction
with microscopical attention, and after a long sitting brought in a
unanimous verdict that the impression was not made by the claw of a
Protornithos, but was that of a leaf belonging to the plant _Annularia
longefolia_; in fact, there could be no question of the bird species,
as the specimen of coal produced was not brown coal, but the _purest_
black, in which coal formation it was not possible for even a bird to
exist.

Doctor Felix Kaulmann quietly paid the thousand ducats, and thanked
the whole republic of professors for the service they had rendered to
the Bondavara coal; such an advertisement could not have been obtained
at an expense of forty thousand ducats. Let people say that the
Protornithos was a humbug--who cares? The reputation of the Bondavara
coal was firmly established on the best scientific grounds.

The period had now arrived when the undertaking should be floated at
the exchange. This, perhaps, is the greatest science on earth. The
stock-exchange has its good and its bad days. Sometimes it is full of
electricity, the sheep frolic in the meadow; at other times they hang
their heads and will not touch the beautiful grass. Sometimes they
come bleating to the shepherd to beg that he will shear them, for
their wool presses too heavily on them; another day they butt their
heads together and will not listen to their leader. Again, and no one
can tell why, when the bell-wether begins to run, all the rest of the
flock run after him; neither the shepherd nor his dog can stop them.
The science lies in knowing when there is good weather on the
stock-exchange. On a favorable day men are in such excellent
humor--there is so much gold in every pocket, everything goes
well--that even a company for the excavation and alienation of the
icebergs would find bidders. On a bad day the best and safest
speculation would get not a single offer.

It was on one of the good days that the Bondavara Coal Company made
its _début_ at the Vienna Stock-exchange. It caught on, and by the day
on which the subscriptions should be paid into the Bank of Kaulmann
came round it was necessary to have a military cordon drawn across the
street, to allow the stream of people to pass through in any sort of
order. The subscribers had, in fact, collected before the doors early
in the morning; those who were strong trusted to their own strength to
make way for themselves by elbow force. In the crush battered hats and
torn coats were matters of small consequence; verbal insults and
personal injuries, such as pushing and squeezing, were treated as
nothing. The windows of the bank which looked on the street were burst
open, and some excited individual called out:

"I subscribe ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a million!"

When at last six o'clock struck, and the doors of the bank were
closed, a stentorian voice called from the balcony to the crowd below:

"The subscription is closed!"

What a disappointment for those who had not been able to get their
money in in time! They went away dejected men.

The Bondavara mine had indeed "caught on." Instead of ten millions,
eight hundred and twenty thousand millions had been subscribed. Did
the subscribers really possess all that money? Certainly not. Each one
deposited the tenth portion of the sum subscribed as a guarantee, and
this only on paper; actual money the company did not as yet touch.
Those who made part of the vast crowd, who tore the coats from one
another's backs, were not blessed with a superfluity of money, neither
had they the slightest interest in the production of coal, but to-day
it is fine weather on the exchange; the Bondavara Company's bonds
stand at par. Every one wanted to make this small profit; that done
they care no more for the bonds or the company.

It is, however, a fact that trees do not grow in heaven. Prince
Waldemar was at the head of the countermine, and he was one of the
cleverest, most astute men "on 'change."

To understand the business the reader should be himself a speculator.
It is carried on something after this fashion. Those who want to buy
in are oftentimes men of straw; they merely want shares to sell them
at once to the first bidder. As a natural consequence, this lowers the
value; there is a fall, sometimes a total collapse. If the investment
is a sound one it recovers vitality, and the shares go up again. There
is, however, a way to guard against this trick. Almost every company
has a syndicate, whose office is to ascertain whether the applicants
for shares are men of straw or not. Pending the inquiry, the time is
made use of to employ certain agents, to whom a free gift is made of,
say, five hundred shares. These men immediately set up a tremendous
uproar; they drive up the shares, they tear the certificates out of
one another's hands, screaming out the high rate at which they are
buying. But the general market sees no shares pass; the experienced
ones know that this is all a well-acted farce, and that any one who
has ready-money need only go to the fountain-head and buy as many
shares as he wants at par. On the other hand, the bears are waiting
their time to rush in and cause such a depreciation as will run down
the shares to almost nothing. When they have got them at this low
figure they may allow them to rise again.

The only one who loses in this cruel game is the small capitalist, who
has ventured, poor soul, on ice, and who has sacrificed his little all
at the shrine of the golden calf, taken his carefully hoarded store,
his hard-earned salary out of his drawer, and has cast it upon these
unprofitable waters, tempted by the tales of high interest, and the
like. All of a sudden the bears have rushed in, the mine has exploded,
his hopes are blown into air, vanished like a dream; his shares are so
much waste-paper. He goes home certainly a sadder if not a wiser man.
Well for him if he is not a beggar. This is how they manage matters on
the stock-exchange.



CHAPTER XIX

FILTHY LUCRE


In the town of X---- there is a street called Greek Street. It is a
circle, or crescent, of pretty houses, which at one time were erected
and peopled by Greek merchants. In the middle of the street stands a
church with a façade of marble and a splendid gilt tower, whose bells
are the most tuneful in the whole town. It is said that when those
bells were cast the Greeks threw, with both hands, silver coins into
the liquid metal.

Old Francis Csanta was now the last of the race. Once he had been a
jovial fellow, a careless, free liver, towards ladies a gallant
cavalier, among men a desperate gambler. With years he became silent,
moody, miserly, avoided the company of his fellow man or woman, and
was a hater of music and all pleasure. The more he indulged in
solitude the worse his peculiarities grew. So soon as one of his
former friends, or relations, or boon companions died, he bought the
house in which they had lived. By degrees the whole street belonged to
him; only one house remained, and that next door to his own. This had
been occupied by a connection of his who had left one daughter.
Strangely enough, she had not followed the general custom of celibacy,
but had married, and was the wife of a music-master, who enjoyed the
Magyar name of Belenyi. This pair had in due course a son born to
them, to whom they gave the name of Arpad.

This vexed old Csanta sorely. Why should the last remaining Greek girl
have married--above all, married a music-master? Why should there be a
son? Why should that son be baptized Arpad? And why should these
annoying circumstances take place under his very nose? The house, too,
was an offence; the only house in the street that did not belong to
him. The church was his; no one went in except himself; the clergyman
said mass for him only. He was the patron, the congregation, the
curator, the vestryman, the supporter; he filled every office; he was
everything. When he was dead the church would be closed, the grass
would grow upon the threshold.

The generation in the next house showed no sign of dying; the boy
Arpad was as lively as an eel. At the age of five he threw his ball
over the roof, and it fell into the old Greek's garden, who there and
then confiscated it. The lad gave him much more annoyance.

About this time evil days came to the country. The Hungarians and the
Austrians killed one another. The reason of their so doing is hard to
find. Historians of the present day say that it was all child's play,
and that the cause lay in the refusal of the Hungarian sepoys--who are
Mohammedans--to bite off cartridges which had been prepared with the
fat of swine--the German method. Or did this happen in India? Nowadays
it is all uncertain; mostly what is known about it comes through the
songs of the poets, and who believes them?

What interests us in this old story is that it has to do with Ivan
Behrend, and how he came to dwell in the Belenyi's house. It so
happened that he was one of the regiment who repulsed an assault on
the town, and in consequence he was billeted on the music-master and
his wife. He was well liked. He was young then, and had good spirits.
One day the poor musician, coming home through the streets, was struck
by a shell, and brought into his house dead. Such things happen
occasionally in time of war. Little Arpad was an orphan, and then it
was that Ivan adopted him as his son. A short time after this Ivan
laid down his arms and retired into private life. Why he did so, and
where he went, is quite immaterial. Before he went Ivan gave the widow
Belenyi all the gold he had with him, so that with this money Arpad's
musical education might be paid for. He did not care for the gold, and
he could not have employed it better. If he had taken it with him, who
knows into what worthless hands it would have fallen?

He hadn't been long gone when a Hungarian government official stood in
the market-place of X----, and, to the accompaniment of much drumming,
gave out the government order that all German bank-notes should be
brought to the great square, and there made into a funeral-pile and
set fire to. Any one refusing to obey this order should be dealt with
accordingly. Every one knew what this meant, and all who didn't wish
_to be dealt with_ hastened to bring their bank-notes, which were then
and there burned.

The widow Belenyi had her little savings, a few hundred gulden. What
should she do? It went hard with her to see her money thrown into the
fire. She went to her rich neighbor and besought him to help her, and
to change her money into Hungarian bank-notes. The old Greek at first
refused to listen, but by-and-by he relented and did as she wished. He
even did more, for after a week had passed he came to her and said:

"I will no longer keep the money which your father lent to me at the
rate of six per cent. Here it is for you--ten thousand gulden; take
it, and make what you can of it." As he spoke he paid her the whole
sum in Hungarian bank-notes.

A week later another commandant arrived in the town; this one was a
German. The next morning more drumming was heard in the market-place,
and the order was given that all who possessed Hungarian bank-notes
must give them up to have them burned. Those who refused would be shot
or hanged.

The poor widow ran weeping to her neighbor, and asked what she should
do. The whole sum he had given her lay in her drawer untouched. If it
were taken from her she and her child must beg or starve. Why had he
given her this money? Why had he changed her German notes if he knew
that this was going to happen?

"How could I know it?" shrieked Csanta; and, still screaming, he went
on to lament over himself. "If you are beggared, so am I--ten thousand
times more beggared than any one. I haven't a copper coin in the
house. I don't know how I can pay even for a bit of meat. I shall have
a hundred thousand bank-notes burned. I am ruined! I am a beggar!"

And he fell to cursing both Germans and Hungarians, until the widow
Belenyi implored him not to shriek so loud, else he would be heard,
and, God help us all! hanged.

"Let them hear, then! Let them hang me! I don't care. I shall go to
the market-place and tell them to their faces they are robbers, and if
they won't hang me I'll hang myself. I am only considering whether I
shall suspend myself from the pump-handle or from the steeple of the
tower."

The widow besought him, for Heaven's sake, not to do such a terrible
deed.

"And what's to become of me? Am I to go round with a hat and beg for a
penny? Here, these are my last halfpence."

He drew a few coins from his pocket, and began to weep piteously; his
tears flowed in streams. The poor woman tried her best to console him.
She begged him not to despair; the butcher and the baker knew him, and
would trust him. She was tempted to offer him a piece of twenty
groschen.

"Oh, you will soon see!" sobbed the old man. "Come to-morrow morning
early, and you will see me hanging from a hook in the passage. I
couldn't survive this!"

What could she do? The poor soul carried her Hungarian bank-notes to
the commander, and saw them consumed in the market-place.

Oh, it was a laughable joke! To this day when people talk of it their
eyes fill with tears.

For the widow, and many like her, there followed months and years of
grinding poverty. She had lost all the capital saved for her by her
father; there remained nothing but the house. The front rooms she let
as a shop, and in the back she lived and eked out her miserable income
as best she could.

For a long time she looked with a frightened gaze at her neighbor's
passage, expecting to see the old man hanging from an iron hook; but
she was spared this sight. The old man had no notion of ending his
days. He had certainly lost a few thousand gulden, but these were only
the chaff; the corn was safe. He had a secret hiding-place to which he
could have access by a secret passage underneath his house; the cellar
was, in fact, underneath the water. A mason from Vienna had built it
for him, and the people of the town knew nothing of it. The cellar was
full of casks, and every cask was full of silver; the old man's cellar
concealed a treasure. By means of secret machinery constructed in his
bedroom the owner was able by touching a spring to open a sluice
concealed in the bed of the stream, and thus in a few minutes to
submerge his cave. No robber could have penetrated there. All the gold
and silver pieces which came into Csanta's hand found their way to
this subterranean hiding-place, and never saw the light of day again.

Meantime his neighbor, the widow, suffered the grip of poverty; she
sewed her fingers to the bone to keep things together and to earn
their daily bread. The gold pieces Ivan had given she wouldn't have
touched even to save herself from starvation; they were used for the
purpose for which he gave them--for Arpad's musical education, and
musical instruction was so dear. The child was a genius.

But living grew dearer, work harder to get. The widow was forced to
get a loan upon the house; she asked her neighbor, and he gave it
readily. The loan grew and grew until it reached a good sum of money,
and then Csanta asked it back. Frau Belenyi was not able to refund,
and the old man instituted proceedings, and as he was the only
mortgagee he got it for one-quarter its real value. The amount over
and above the debt and the costs were handed to the widow, and there
was nothing left but to leave. Madame Belenyi took her son to Vienna,
to begin in earnest his artistic education.

The old Greek possessed the whole street; there was no one left to
annoy him in his immediate neighborhood; he suffered neither from
children, dogs, or birds. And his treasure increased more and more.
The casks which filled the cellar that lay beneath the water were
filled to overflowing, and the contents were always silver.

One day Csanta received a visit. It was an old acquaintance, a banker
from Vienna, whose father had been a friend of the old man's, and at
whose counting-house he could always get exchange for his bank-notes
and other little accommodations. The visitor was Felix Kaulmann.

"To what circumstance do I owe the honor? What good news do you bring
me?"

"My worthy friend, I shall not make any preamble. Time is precious to
you, as it is to me, and therefore I go straight to the point. By the
authorization of the Prince of Bondavara I have been placed at the
head of a joint-stock company, who have just started some gigantic
coal-works, whose capital has risen from ten millions to eight hundred
and twenty millions."

"That is eighty-two millions more than you would require."

"The money is the least part. What I stand in need of is well-known
men for the administration, for the result of the whole undertaking
rests upon the zeal, the capability, the intelligence of the governing
body."

"Well, such men are not difficult to find if there is a prospect of a
good dividend."

"The dividend is not to be despised. The bonus to each member of the
administration will be, yearly, five or six thousand gulden."

"Really? What a nice income!--a stroke of luck for those who are
chosen."

"Well, I have chosen you for a member, my worthy friend."

"An honor, a great honor for me; but how much must I put down before I
am admitted?"

"Neither before nor after shall you be asked to put down anything. The
only condition is that every member of the administration must hold
one thousand shares."

"That means paying in a deal of money, my young friend."

"I didn't say a word of paying in; I only spoke of holding."

"But, my young friend, although I am only a provincial merchant in a
small way, I know that, so far as money is in question, to subscribe
is another word for payment."

"With this exception--if both subscriptions equalize one another. Ah,
I see you do not like even a question of subscribing. Well, listen. We
will suppose that you take one thousand shares in my coal company, and
at the same time I give you an undertaking to take over one thousand
shares at par from _you_; in this way we are even, and neither of us
loses a shilling."

"Hem! But what is the necessity for such a joke?"

"I will be frank with you. The world has its eyes fixed upon the
actions of important men; if these stir in any affair, the others stir
likewise. If on 'change it is known that you, my worthy friend, have
bought a thousand shares, a hundred small speculators will immediately
invest in shares. In this way you secure to yourself a sinecure which
will give you five or six thousand gulden, and I will secure for my
undertaking a splendid future. Now, have I not spoken the truth?"

"H'm! I will consider the affair. Meet me to-morrow at the
restaurant."

Csanta spent all the morning in the restaurant; he listened to all
that was said of the Bondavara speculation, and came to the conclusion
that he would risk nothing, since all danger was covered by Kaulmann's
bond. When Felix arrived he had made up his mind.

"Good! I shall draw the shares; but none of them shall hang round my
neck, for I don't like paper. Paper is only paper, and silver is
always silver."

"Don't be afraid, my friend, I shall retain all shares for myself. I
deposit the caution for you, and I pay the instalments."

Felix completely satisfied the old Greek as to his upright intentions
in the matter of the shares, and left in his hands the undertaking in
which he pledged himself to take them over at par.

Now began the manœuvre behind the scenes. The agents, the makers of
books, the brokers rushed in; the Bondavara shares rose rapidly. The
syndicate had, all this time, never given a share into any one's hand.
The bears had not yet begun to dance. Herr Csanta had become a student
of the newspapers. True, his eyes never left one column, but that
contained for him the tree of all knowledge; it spoke golden truth.
With amazement he read how every day the value of the Bondavara shares
increased. The profit grew higher and higher; it went up in leaps and
bounds; sixteen, eighteen, at last twenty gulden over par. Those who
had put down two hundred thousand gulden had won in two weeks twenty
thousand gulden. A splendid speculation, indeed, in less than a
fortnight to make a fortune! Compare the case of an honest,
hard-working usurer like himself. What difficulties he had to go
through to extract twenty per cent. out of his miserable clients! The
work was hardly worth the gain; the fatigue of trapping some silly
idiot, the odium and hatred incurred by exacting his rights from some
miserable beggar with a family, or taking the pillow from under the
head of a dying man; these things go against the grain, but they must
be done if you want to fill your cellar with silver coins. And here a
wretched, good-for-nothing speculator, by merely a stroke of the pen,
makes in two short weeks a fortune. Luck is not evenly meted out to
mortals.

The time had come when Felix Kaulmann could demand from Csanta the
thousand shares upon which he could now make a profit of twenty
thousand gulden. No honest man could allow such an iniquitous robbery
of his rights, or, at least, not without making a struggle. It is only
a fool who allows himself to be made a tool of. A man may steal for
himself; to rob the widow and the orphan to fill another man's purse,
that is wicked and immoral.

When Felix Kaulmann came again to the town of X----, the old Greek
received him with great ceremony and seeming cordiality.

"I hope you bring good news, my dear young friend," he said, clasping
Kaulmann's hand in his.

"I have come about that little business of the shares," returned
Felix, with the air of a man of business. "You remember our
agreement?"

"What shares do you mean? Oh, the Bondavara! Is it pressing?"

"Yes, for the first instalment of interest is now due; two gulden each
bond, which, as the shares are in my name, will make an addition to my
savings."

"Oh, so you intend to call in the shares?"

"But that was our agreement."

"And if I do not wish to surrender more than five hundred?"

Kaulmann drew in his lips. "Well, I suppose I should be content."

"And if I do not wish to surrender any of the shares?"

Kaulmann looked at him uneasily. "Sir," he said, "I thought I was
dealing with an honest man. Besides, you forget I gave you a written
agreement."

"My friend, my good young friend, that is true. You gave me a written
agreement signed with your name, which covenanted that you were
obliged to take these shares from me at par; but I gave you no signed
document, and there is nothing that can force me to hand you over
these shares. There you have the whole thing in a nutshell."

"But, my good sir," repeated the banker, taking hold of the lapels of
the old Greek's coat, "listen to me. Don't you know that it is one of
the laws in the Chamber of Commerce that there is no need of written
indenture? If I take shares from you I have only to make a note in my
pocket-book. Surely you know that this is the law on 'change?"

"What do I know of the laws they make there? I never set my foot in
the place."

Kaulmann made an effort to laugh. "I must confess I have never been so
sold by any one. I have found my master. Will you give me none of the
shares?"

"Not half a one."

"Very good. Then you must count out the sum-total agreed upon."

"Certainly. I shall pay down the money."

"I mean the whole sum. Do you understand?"

"Undoubtedly. Don't be afraid; the money is ready; this house is bail
for more than that amount. If needs be I can pay you in gold, if needs
be in silver."

"Well," cried Kaulmann, bringing his clinched fist down on the table,
"I would never have believed that in this little town I should have
been so sold."

Csanta suspected that were he to fail in paying his first instalment
his shares might be annulled. He therefore lost no time in placing the
first thirty-five per cent. into the bank. But this was not an easy
task. To transport seventy thousand silver gulden to Vienna would
necessitate a conveyance, and not only a conveyance, but an escort of
gendarmes, and this paraphernalia would make people stare. Well, let
them stare!

When the old man descended into his cellar and looked at the casks
which contained the necessary sum, his heart beat, his limbs trembled.
These casks contained the treasure he had garnered up; his solid
capital. It was foolish, he knew, still he could not help tears coming
to his eyes as he chose seven casks from the twenty which should be
the first to go. He wept as he spoke to these children of his heart.

"You shall have no cause to reproach me, you who remain here," he
said; "those that are now leaving you shall soon return. They are
going on a safe journey, not on a wild, venturous sea, where there
would be danger of shipwreck, but on a safe railroad, to increase and
multiply. Once I have the shares in my hand, they shall not stay a
night in my possession. I shall sell them at once, and get back my
silver. The profits, too, I shall change into silver. Instead of seven
casks I shall return with nine."

In this way did the old Greek miser comfort himself for the temporary
loss of his silver pieces. He counted them that night when the day's
work was done, and then set about arranging the transport of his
treasure to Vienna.

The day before Csanta had decided upon this step the "bears" had begun
to explode their mine. It was, however, only a trial; they wanted
merely to show their teeth. Specie was in demand; if silver goes up,
paper securities fall. The seven casks from Csanta's cellar arrived
opportunely. Two wagons laden with leaden casks, and guarded by
gendarmes with drawn sabres as they went slowly through the streets,
attracted the attention of passers-by. When it came to be known that
these casks were full of silver, and that all this silver was to be
paid as the first instalment of some Bondavara shares, there was
considerable excitement. Peru and Brazil were opening their
floodgates. The firm of Kaulmann very naturally made as much as
possible of the event, as being a feather in their commercial cap. The
delivery arrived, as it happened, during the absence of the chief
cashier, which involved an immense amount of running hither and
thither in search of him, as it was necessary Csanta should receive
his receipt. In the afternoon the shares were handed over and the
silver was counted. All this made much stir and business in the
Kaulmann Bank. Kaulmann intrusted the conduct of the affair to his
most capable clerk. He instructed him how to act in regard to the
matter, and added that if the old Greek gave him a gratuity, he was to
kiss his hand, and to place himself altogether at his service. This
man's name was Spitzhase.

Later in the day Spitzhase brought Csanta his account, regularly drawn
up, together with the shares, and begged to inform his excellency
"that he had brought seven hundred gulden more than was necessary, for
the reason that since yesterday silver had risen one per cent."

"H'm!" thought Csanta, "this is an honest fellow; I shall give him a
gratuity." And he gave him a bank-note of twenty gulden.

Spitzhase overpowered him with thanks; then took his hand, and kissed
it.

"H'm!" thought Csanta, "I have given him too much; perhaps five gulden
would have been sufficient." Aloud, he said:

"I made a mistake. Give me that note back; I will give you another."
And he gave him a bank-note of the value of five gulden.

Spitzhase thanked him warmly, and kissed his hand.

"H'm! this is really a good fellow--quite after my heart. Give me back
those five gulden; here is another note. I made a mistake." And he
handed him a note of fifty gulden.

Spitzhase kissed both his hands, and showered blessings upon him.
Csanta was now convinced that he had made this man his friend for
life.

"If I had brought the silver to-morrow, I should have got more," he
said, reflectively.

"No, you may believe me, to-day was the right moment; to-morrow silver
will fall two per cent."

"How do you know?"

"Oh, I am acquainted with the weather on the stock-exchange."

"You are? Then why don't you speculate if you know so well the ins and
outs?"

"Because one must have money, and I have none. I can only dabble in
trifling matters."

"Are you well known on 'change?"

"I spend all my time there, except when I am asleep."

"Then take me to the stock-exchange. I should like to look about me."

Csanta meant, as soon as he could find a suitable purchaser, to sell
his Bondavara shares.

"One can go in the evening?" he asked, as they went along.

"That is the most lively time, particularly on a day like this."

Csanta was now introduced into the Temple of Mammon. Even outside the
door he could hear a strange noise and tumult of voices, and as he
stepped inside his head almost reeled at the strange spectacle. The
large hall was stuffed full of men, who circulated in a narrow circle.
Each one spoke, or rather shrieked, as if all were quarrelling. They
gesticulated with their hands, holding up pieces of paper in the air,
making signs and figures on their fingers, and screaming out names and
making offers until the noise was deafening.

Spitzhase, who was perfectly at home, led Csanta through the throng.
The old merchant was indignant at the manner in which he was pushed
and driven about, no one even begging pardon for his rudeness. He
would have liked to know what was meant by the words so constantly
repeated, "I give!" "I take!" His attention, however, was at once
riveted by another word which seemed to be in every man's mouth, and
which gradually became plainer: "Puntafar! Puntafar!" It dawned upon
him that it must be Bondavar. He stopped and timidly asked one of
those who were shrieking, "Who wants 'Puntafar'? What is the price at
which the Bondavara shares are selling?"

"Thirty over par."

Csanta's eyes blazed. "It is impossible; it cannot be!" he said.
"Yesterday they were at twenty."

"That was yesterday. To-day they are thirty. If you want to buy to
morrow you will have to pay thirty-five. The whole world is buying
the scrip. A rich nabob from India has brought all his silver here,
and bought Puntafar shares. The Dey of Morocco and a Russian prince,
who both own silver mines, have each ordered ten thousand shares. Even
the little folk, who have only a few hundreds, are tearing the shares
out of one another's hands; they won't have anything but Puntafar.
What will you take?"

Csanta had very little idea that he united in his own person the East
Indian nabob, the Dey of Morocco, and the Russian prince, as likewise
that it was he who had caused this uproar. Far from such an idea
crossing his mind, he believed that this man was making game of him.

"Oh, sir," he said, "thirty gulden exchange is too much. I can give
you a thousand Bondavara shares at five-and-twenty."

These words caused such a tumult as hardly ever had been heard on
'change. Every one crowded round Csanta; he was set upon from all
sides--behind, before, at his side, on his back--he was fairly mobbed.
People fought with one another over his head, and flourished their
fists in his face.

"Who is he? Who is he? A bear, a conspirator, a thief, an agent! Out
with him! Bonnet him! Pitch him out! Twenty-five, will he take? Give
him twenty-five blows on his back and tear his coat in pieces!"

Spitzhase could hardly manage to get him out. He was in a deplorable
condition when he issued forth, his hat smashed, his clothes all awry,
his face pale, his breath short. Once in the open air his rescuer
began to scold him.

"What the devil did you do that for? Just at the moment when the cabal
was silenced and trampled in the dust, to come forward as one of them
to run down your own shares!"

"I did not want to run them down; I only wanted to ascertain if it was
really the case that such an advance on the price could be realized."

"Oh, that's the way with you," returned Spitzhase, in an aggrieved
tone. "Well, I can tell you the exchange is not a good place to try
jokes in. It was all quite authentic. The Bondavara scrip is as sound
as ready-money. To-day it is thirty for scrip, eight-and-twenty for
gold; to-morrow it will be thirty-two, and so on--always getting
higher. If I had the money I would put in my last farthing. I know
what I know, and I have studied the weather on 'change, but what I
have learned from Kaulmann I cannot tell; my lips are sealed."

Upon this Csanta pressed the clerk very hard. "You can tell me," he
said; "I am already in the boat. What have you heard?"

"Well," said Spitzhase, lowering his voice and looking round
cautiously, "what you say is true; you are a large holder of stock, so
perhaps I may give you this hint. _Puntafar has not reached its
highest point yet._ Oho! they are very tricky who hold over. I am in
the secret, and there is a plan, the details of which I durst not
reveal, which will give such an impulse as will drive the shares still
higher. In six months one impulse will be given, in another six months
another. Oh, the world will open its eyes and its ears; but what I say
to you, you will see! In a year's time Puntafar will be at one hundred
over par."

"A hundred!" repeated Csanta, falling back against the wall in his
astonishment. But he soon recovered himself. He was angry with
Spitzhase for treating him as if he were a fool.

"I tell you what you are," he said; "you are a great boaster. Leave
me; I shall get home by myself." And he dismissed Spitzhase angrily.

The next morning his first word was to ask the waiter for the papers.
His eyes eagerly sought the exchange column, and there, just as
Spitzhase had prophesied, silver currency had dropped two per cent.
Bondavara stood at thirty to thirty-two florins, and what is written
is gospel truth.

"Not one shall I sell!" cried Csanta, clapping his hands.

And then he got up and dressed himself. Here was a stroke of luck. It
was like a fairy-tale; a man had only to leave the window open at
night and next morning his pockets are full of gold.

He was swallowing his breakfast when Spitzhase was ushered in, his
face beaming with triumph.

"Now, what did I tell you?" he cried, as he laid down the paper before
Csanta, pointing with his finger to the exchange column.

The old Greek said not a word of having read the good news; he nodded
his head as he answered, with great composure:

"Is it really true? Well, that is satisfactory."

"I rather think so; by the evening they will be up to thirty-two. Oh,
if I had only some money!"

"Well, here is another note for you. Go and buy yourself a share.
There, don't kiss my hand. I cannot allow it." But he did allow it.

"Don't sell the share," he went on; "keep it for yourself. When the
next instalment comes due I will pay it for you. For God's sake, don't
kiss my hand again! I will do more than that for you. If you kiss my
hand every time I shall have no hands left. Remember that I shall
expect you to show your gratitude in a more tangible manner. You must
let me know the first thing if the head of your bank is going to try
any tricks with the bonds. You will be sure to give me the first news
as to when I should sell. Do you understand me? Good! Now that you
have a share yourself you have an interest in the matter, and if we
sell our shares are we not entitled to a commission?"

Spitzhase kissed every finger of the old man's hand.

"I implore one thing of you, master," he said; "don't betray me to
Kaulmann. If he found out that I betrayed his secrets to any one he
would dismiss me on the spot."

"Don't be afraid. You have to do with an honorable gentleman,"
returned the Greek, with an air of dignity.

The honorable gentleman believed that he had won over the honest clerk
to betray the secrets of the honorable banker, his employer. It was an
honorable game all round. We shall see which of the honorable
gentlemen played it best.



CHAPTER XX

NO, EVELINE!


It was high time Ivan returned to his coal-mine; he was needed there.
While he was fighting duels in Pesth, strange things were happening in
Bondathal. Not far from his workmen's colony there arose enormous
buildings with almost miraculous quickness. As often happens when no
difficulty is made as to price, the only question asked is, how soon
shall the work be finished? The shares had not yet been issued, and
the company had already spent in the interest of the undertaking a
million of money. Everything was pressed forward at fever-heat. Here
was a new invention for making tiles by machinery, there a
donkey-engine supplied the materials for building the walls. The
earthworks were in a most advanced condition, the chimneys smoked, the
roofs were covered, a whole street was already built, a new town was
rising as if by magic.

Of all this activity Ivan had been kept in ignorance by his assistant,
Rauné, who had, likewise, been silent as to another disturbing element
which had made its appearance for the first time among the workmen,
and which disputed the palm with "choke-damp" and "foul air," and was
quite as fatal as either. This new element was "a strike." A portion
of Ivan's workmen struck for higher wages, otherwise they would join
the new coal-mine, which was called "The Gentleman's Colony." It
offered nearly double the wages, certainly more than the half again,
of what Ivan paid. This happened after Rauné had explained to the men
that he had accepted the office of director, which had been offered to
him by the new company, and he naturally wished to take with him the
best and cleverest among Ivan's men, so that they, too, might profit
by the higher wages. Who could resist such advantageous offers? Miners
are like all other men; they have their price.

Ivan now gnawed the bitter bread of self-reproach. He saw the folly he
had committed in taking into his service and admitting into the
secrets of the business the paid director of a company created to
bring about his own ruin.

A scientific man is not a good business man. While he was making
investigations as to the probability of animal life existing in the
antediluvian strata of coal-mines, he was blind to the danger of a
rival company close to his own factory. Nay, more; he had allowed
himself to be hoodwinked by an inferior intelligence, and had fallen
into the trap set for him by his old friend Felix. Ivan was
philosopher enough to accommodate himself to circumstances. There was
little use, he told himself, in crying over spilt milk; he had broad
shoulders, and they should, if it were possible, push the wheel of
fortune. But though he said this, he had little hope of succeeding.

On his return, and when he got, as he thought, to the bottom of the
evil, he called his workmen together.

"Comrades," he said, "a great undertaking has risen up beside us; the
company of the new coal-mines offers you wages which I give you my
word of honor it is impossible to pay without considerable loss to
themselves. Up to the present I have worked my mines with a certain
amount of profit; I offer you to-day, in addition to your usual wages,
a share out of this profit. For the future we shall divide with one
another what we earn. At the end of the year I shall lay my accounts
before you; one of your number, chosen by yourselves, shall examine
and audit them, and according to the wages of each man and the work he
has done he shall receive his share. If you agree to this fair offer I
shall continue the work. If, however, you think it better for your
interests to take the higher wages offered by the company, I shall not
enter into competition with men who have millions to spend; it would
be a folly on my part. I shall, therefore, sell them my mine, and you
may then be certain of one thing, that when they have both mines in
their own hands, and find that no rivalry is possible, the rate of
wages will be lowered. To those who stand by me I offer a contract
_for life_; the profits of this mine, so long as I live, shall be
divided between myself and my workmen."

This was an excellent stroke, especially as the company could not
imitate it. More than half the men closed with Ivan's offer, and
undertook to remain with him. A great number, however, influenced by
paid agents, who were sent about to stir them up, went over to the
"Gentleman's Colony."

Those who remained had a great deal to suffer from the ones who left.
Not a Sunday passed without fights taking place between the two
parties.

Ivan soon heard that his powerful rival had found a way of checkmating
him. His customers, to whom he sent large consignments not only of
coal but also of copper and iron bars, wrote to him that the new
Bondavara Coal Company had offered the same class of goods at fifty
per cent. less, and that therefore, unless he was prepared to make a
similar reduction, they could not deal with him. Fifty per cent.
higher wages and fifty per cent. less profit means working for
nothing. Rauné had Ivan's business in the hollow of his hand; he could
ruin it, and he meant to do so. Ivan saw this quite clearly, but he
did not lose heart. He wrote to all his former customers that it was
not possible to give either the coal or the iron a farthing cheaper,
not if it hung round his neck as a dead weight. The consequence was
his coal and his iron accumulated in his warehouses; scarcely a wagon
with his name was to be seen in the streets of Bondathal. He had to
work the mine and the foundry for himself alone.

For the men who had remained true to him there was, indeed, a bad
outlook. Their former comrades jeered at them in the open street.
"Where is the profit?" was a popular cry. Ivan tried to quiet the
disappointed men; he asked them to wait patiently. By the end of the
year, he prophesied, they would be on the right side. To give things
for nothing was not trade, and if the company chose to do it he wasn't
going to follow such a suicidal example.

The great buildings of the new colony being now completed, the
directors of the company announced that they would hold high festival
in honor of the opening of the undertaking. The principals, directors,
managers, shareholders were to come from Vienna and be entertained at
a banquet. The largest room in the factory was fitted up as a
dining-room, the tables being laid for workmen as well as for the
distinguished company of strangers. It was widely circulated that the
prince was coming. The company had chosen him as their president. Both
the princes were patrons of commercial and industrial undertakings,
but Prince Theobald possessed an extraordinary financial talent; any
speculation he engaged in was a sound and sure one, so it was said, as
also that he had taken a million shares in the new company. It was so
far true that Kaulmann had offered him this million, which was to
increase the value of the Bondavara property, but it is needless to
remark that the million of shares had no tangible existence. Previous
to the inaugural ceremony a religious service was to take place, and,
as was only fitting, this was to be conducted by the eminent Abbé
Samuel. Before such distinguished guests it would hardly be in keeping
to have a man such as pastor Mohak, although it was true that he
slaved all through the year among the people.

The guests came from the castle, where they had arrived the previous
day. They drove into the town in splendid coaches. That of Prince
Theobald came first, with his armorial bearings emblazoned on the
panels. Behind two footmen with dazzling liveries of scarlet and gold.
On the box the coachman with a powdered wig and three-cornered hat.
The coach drew up at the church door, the footmen jumped down and
opened the carriage door. There alighted first an old gentleman with
white hair, a clean-shaven, soft, friendly face, and a very
distinguished air. He gave his hand to a splendidly dressed lady in a
velvet and lace costume, who descended from the equipage with graceful
nonchalance. The crowd saw her violet velvet boots and embroidered
silk stockings.

"What a great lady!" cried the boors to one another. "She must be a
princess, for all the gentlemen at the church door received her hat in
hand."

Only one man in a rough workman's coat called out: "Evila!"

It was Peter Saffran who had recognized her.

The lady heard the exclamation, and turned a laughing face to the
crowd outside.

"No," she said; "it is _Eveline_."

She bowed her head sweetly as she crossed the threshold of the church.

Eveline's vanity had brought her to Bondathal; she wanted to show her
silk stockings to her former companions, who had seen her in wooden
shoes with no stockings, except on occasions. It was the vanity of the
peasant girl--not pride, take notice, but mere vanity. She did not
look down upon her friends, as some upstarts do; she wanted to do good
to every one of them. She was ready to give them money, to earn their
grateful thanks, particularly to those who had been kind to her in the
old days; to those especially she wished to prove that, although she
had risen to a high position, she had never forgotten how much she
owed to them. She would now, in her turn, do them good. Eveline had
looked forward to seeing her former bridegroom. Most probably he had
long since consoled himself for her loss, and had married another. A
present of money would make _him_ happy. She had also counted on
meeting Ivan. She had the most grateful remembrance of his goodness,
and she was glad to think she had it in her power to prove her
gratitude by deeds. She could not give him a present, but she could
tell him of the dangers that threatened his property from the large
undertaking of the company, and she promised herself to use all her
influence to make the best terms for Ivan in case he would consent to
arrange matters with his gigantic rival.

Yes, it was indeed the vain desire of doing good that had brought
Eveline to Bondathal. She had arranged how and where she would have
her first meeting with Ivan.

The notabilities and proprietors of the neighborhood had been invited
in the name of the prince to the banquet, which was to inaugurate the
opening of the works. No one could refuse such an invitation. It was
true that when Eveline had proposed to the Abbé Samuel that he should
undertake the office of intermediary, and call on his learned
colleague Behrend, and bring him with him to the banquet, the abbé had
exclaimed not for all the world would he venture to propose such a
thing as that Behrend should wait upon their excellencies. And when he
said this he knew very well what he was saying.

To return to the church door. As Peter Saffran stood stock-still,
gazing after the vanishing figure of his former betrothed, he felt
some one tap him on the shoulder; turning round, he saw standing
behind him Felix Kaulmann. Peter's face went deadly white, partly with
fear, more from inward rage. Felix, however, laughed carelessly, with
the indifference of a great man, to what was, in his opinion, only a
good joke.

"Good-day, fellow. Mind you come to the dinner," he said, as he
followed the prince into the church.

Peter Saffran remained gaping at the noble gentlemen as they got out
of their carriages, and when the crowd began to move into the church
he followed in the stream. He made his way into the darkest corner,
before the shrine of a saint, knelt down, with both his hands laid
upon the wall and his head upon his folded arms, and there he made a
vow--an awful, terrible vow. Those who saw him in his kneeling
attitude, with bent head, imagined he had been struck at last by
grace, and was repenting of his sins. When he had finished his
prayer, or his curse, he got up quickly, and, without waiting for the
end of the splendid ceremonial, hastened out of the church, casting a
wild look behind him as he went, for he imagined that the saint in the
shrine was pointing her finger at him and calling out, "Take him
prisoner! He is a murderer!"

The church service being over, the distinguished company drove to the
company's colony, and went over the works. They drove under triumphal
arches which were erected in the streets, and were received by a
deputation of workmen. The best orator made a speech, which would have
been very eloquent only he stuck fast in the middle. The young girl
who recited some verses was more happy in her delivery, and her
youngest sister presented a bouquet to Eveline, who kissed the child.

"Ah! you are little Marie. Don't you know me?"

The child, however, was too frightened at this beautiful lady to make
her an answer.

The guests visited the buildings under the guidance of Herr Rauné, who
spared them nothing--the factory, the machinery, the iron-works. They
were terribly tired of it all, and glad to get into the large rooms
which had been temporarily arranged as the banqueting-hall. Here they
were received by two bands playing Rakoczy's "March." To the banquet
came a crowd of guests alike invited and uninvited--gentlemen,
peasants, clergymen, and Bohemians. Eveline, however, looked in vain
for her former master. Ivan was not among the guests. He had not even
sent an excuse. What an uncouth man! and yet, perhaps, he had reason.
If you drink beforehand to the skin of the bear, the bear has every
right to decline being present at the feast. Peter Saffran, however,
came; he was treated as the chief guest, and given the first place at
the workman's table. This struck even his obtuse senses. Looking
round he saw he was the only representative of the Bondathal mine.

The banquet lasted far on into the evening. Gentlemen and workmen were
exceedingly merry. Towards the close of the feast Felix sent for
Peter. He presented him to the prince.

"Here is the brave miner of whom I have told your excellency."

Saffran felt the blood rush to his face.

"Well, my good friend," continued Felix, "how has the world treated
you since I last saw you? Are you still afraid of 'the doctor'?
There's a plaster for you; it will heal any remains of your former
injuries." So saying, he took out of his pocket-book a note for a
hundred gulden and put it into Peter's hand. "No," he added, "don't
thank me, but thank the kind lady there, who remembered you."

He pointed to Eveline, and Peter kissed her hand, or, rather, her
beautiful mauve glove.

What a transformation in the man-eater! He had grown obedient and
gentle.

"That good lady," continued Felix, "wishes you well. At her request
his excellency, Prince Theobald, has given you the post of overseer in
the new company's colony, at the yearly salary of a thousand gulden.
What do you say to that?"

What could he say? He kissed the hand of his excellency.

Kaulmann filled a large goblet to the brim with foaming champagne and
handed it to Peter.

"Toss that off," he said. "But first drink to the long life of his
excellency, our generous prince."

"And to the health of this dear lady," added the prince, gallantly, at
which the trumpets sounded shrilly, and Peter Saffran, the prince,
the banker, and Eveline drank to one another.

This scene delighted the working-men. Here was no pride, the gentlemen
clinking glasses with the common miner. This was the right spirit.

Peter Saffran, meantime, was wondering within himself which of the two
gentlemen was Eveline's husband, and in what relation did the other
stand to her? He emptied his glass and put it down again, but it did
not occur to him to put the question to either of the three, therefore
it remained unanswered.

The festival closed with a splendid display of fireworks. The sparks
from the Catherine wheels fell in a shower of molten gold into Ivan's
mine.

The following morning Saffran came to Behrend and informed him that he
had taken service with the company.

"You also?" said Ivan, bitterly. "Well, go!"

Peter was paler than ever. He had expected reproaches for his
treachery, but as none came he suddenly burst out with what had been
for some time in his mind.

"Why did you _that time_ call your friend a doctor?"

"Because he is one. He is a doctor of law."

Saffran raised his finger in a threatening manner. "Nevertheless, it
was very wrong of you to call him _that time_ a doctor." And then he
turned on his heel and went his way.

Ivan's strength of mind was more and more put to the proof. Each day
brought fresh defections. His best men left him to go over to his
enemy, who, like some horrid monster, raised large furnaces which
crushed the very life out of his smaller chimneys. His business
friends fell away from him. They looked upon him as an obstinate
fool, carrying on such an unequal fight; but the darker the outlook
the stronger grew his determination to see the affair to the bitter
end. He would not leave his old home, his own little territory; he
would carry on the unequal, perhaps the fruitless, task of opposing
his apparently triumphant adversary.

In the depth of his misfortune one true, reliable friend remained to
him, and saved him from utter despair. This friend was the
multiplication-table. Before he began to calculate he put these
questions to himself, as if he were some one else:

"Is this colony a company of commercial men? No, a company of
speculators. A joint-stock company? No, it is a game of chance. Is it
a factory? No, a tower of Babel." Then he went on to consider this
point. "Two and two make four, and, turn it how you like, it makes
nothing _but_ four; and if all the kings and emperors in Europe, with
decrees and ukases, were to tell their individual subjects that two
and two make five, and if the pope fulminated a bull to enjoin on all
true believers that two and two make five, and if even the best
financial authority was to declare that we should count two and two as
five, all these--kings, emperors, popes, and accountants--would not
alter the fact that two and two make four. These generous shareholders
of the Bondavara Company are working against a well-known fact. The
new company builds, creates, invents, contracts, buys, and sells
without taking any heed of the primary rule of arithmetic; therefore
it is clear that the company is not working for the future, but merely
for present gain. Therefore, I will live down this swindle."

       *       *       *       *       *

At the end of the year the company gave their shareholders a surprise.
The Bondavara shares began to fluctuate between thirty-five and forty
florins exchange, although the date of the payment of second
instalments of capital was at hand. At such times all the early bonds
are handed in. Csanta thought this would be a good time for him to
bring in his shares and to get his silver back. He was contemplating a
visit to the bank when he received a private note from Spitzhase,
putting him on his guard not to fall into such a mistake as to sell.
"This very day the board of directors had met, and a resolution had
been carried unanimously that at the next general meeting the
shareholders should be surprised by getting a bonus of twenty per
cent., upon which the shares would at once rise higher. This was a
profound secret, but he could not allow his good friend to remain in
ignorance."

And at the next general meeting the commercial world heard the same
story. The first two months of the Bondavara Coal Company had been
such a signal success that, besides the usual rate of interest, the
directors were enabled to offer upon each share a bonus of six
florins, which amounted (with the usual rate) to thirty-five per
cent., an unheard-of profit in two months.

When Ivan read this in the newspaper he burst into a loud laugh. He
knew, no one better, what amount of profit the factory had made, but
it is easy to manipulate accounts so that the ledger presents these
remarkable results. What do the unbusiness-like, credulous
shareholders understand of such matters? The board of directors know
very well how matters really stand; but they have their own ends to
serve. The outside world may bleed; what is that to them? There is no
court-martial in the stock-exchange, and no justice for the injured.

Csanta did not sell his shares. He paid his second instalment in
silver pieces, rejoiced over the bonus, and blessed Spitzhase for
preventing him from selling his bonds at thirty-five. They had now
risen to forty florins, and continued to rise.

Ivan watched this diabolical swindle with calmness. He said to
himself:

"How long will the game last?"



CHAPTER XXI

RESPECT FOR HALINA CLOTH


It was a singular coincidence that in the same moment that Ivan said
to himself, "How long will this game last?" Prince Waldemar, meeting
Felix Kaulmann, beaming with triumph, at the exchange, put to him the
question, "How long, do you think, will this comedy last?"

"The third act is still wanting," replied the banker.

"Yes, the third instalment. Then I shall hoist you on your own
petard."

"We will see about that."

The bears could not imagine what Kaulmann had in his head. That he had
a plan was certain; what it was no one knew but the Abbé Samuel and
Prince Theobald.

The third act was not the instalment; it was the Bondavara Railway.
This question bristled with difficulties. The government was irritated
against Hungary, and in their irritation would not listen to any
proposals as to railways and the like. Even the country party was
sulky. Let the country go to the devil; what did they care? And no
doubt they had justification for their righteous indignation. Every
Hungarian who wore "broadcloth" was against them. The body of
officials, the middle class, the intelligence of the country,
preferred to lay down place and to give up government patronage sooner
than submit to the chimeras which the cabinet at Vienna indulged in
by way of government. Good! So far as officials went, men were easily
got to fill the places the others had resigned, for when a good table
is spread, needless to say, guests are not hard to find. The hired
troop pocketed their salary, took the oath, stuffed their pockets, but
did nothing to promote the government measures. Between the men who
had resigned and the newly appointed officials there was only this
difference: that one set openly declared they would do nothing; the
others pretended to do something, but found it impossible to
accomplish anything. They tried to shove, but the cart would not move
an inch. From those who wore cloth among the middle classes the
government had to expect nothing, that was evident. Formerly those who
wore silk and satin acted as a sort of counterpoise--the high and
mighty, and the magnates, the lawyers, and the priests--but now all
these held aloof. The primate remonstrated, the bishops advised the
nobility, the higher classes collected in Pesth and talked treason.

_Flectere si nequeo superos_--

Let us turn now to the Halina cloth. Halina cloth is, as every one
knows, the commonest description of cloth, only worn by the poorer
classes. This cloth was suddenly adopted in the capital of the
Austrian empire. This was no capricious freak of fashion set in motion
by some high lady who "imagined" her elegance could give dignity to
the roughest material; this was another affair altogether, inaugurated
by the legislative body of the kingdom, who were all clothed in
Halina. Well, what has any one to say against this? Why not? Are we
not democrats? It is true that these right-minded men hardly
understood a word of the language in which the legislative debates
were carried on, but this had the inestimable advantage that they
could make no long speeches, and therefore could in no way impede the
course of business. Neither did they possess any knowledge of the laws
of nations, the rights of citizens, the complicated details of
finance, nor the construction of budgets; and this pastoral innocence
entitled them to universal respect and confidence, for it placed them
above suspicion. No one could suspect these honorable deputies of
siding with the government because they held government appointments.

We repeat that the introducer of Halina cloth to be worn by the
legislative assembly was a man of talent. But in Hungary, also, the
fashion should be adopted. Were there not one hundred and eight seats
in the legislative assembly ready for so many excellent men? These
should not be left vacant. To fill these seats, however, there was one
lever necessary, and that was the influence of the clerical party.

The clergy in Hungary were such poor creatures, so ignorant and
uneducated, that they actually preferred to remain faithful to the
traditions of Rakoczy than to adopt the new-fangled ideas promulgated
at Vienna. Even such an insignificant pastor as Herr Mahok returned
the decree which had been sent to him from headquarters, with
directions to read it on Sundays to his flock, saying that it was a
mistake; he was not the village crier. If the government wished to
issue a protocol, let it be done in the market-place, by order of the
judge of the district, and accompanied by the drum and trumpet. The
pulpit was not the place for government protocols. The like refusal
came from every pastor in Hungary, and in face of this flat rebellion
the ministers resolved that the power of the clerical party should be
broken.

"Now is the time to act," said Felix Kaulmann to the Abbé Samuel.

The primate had been in Vienna; he had been refused an audience; he
had fallen into disgrace. The Bishop of Siebenburg had been elevated
to the primate's seat, and given all its honors and dignities. The
clerical party in Hungary was doomed. Against it the sword was drawn;
the moment was approaching when it would be cut in two.

The Bondavara Railway was the _gradus ad Parnassum_. If it succeeded,
if it was worked properly, the house of Kaulmann would rank with that
of the Pereires and Strousbergs; then, also, the pontifical loan upon
the Church property in Hungary could be effected. All this with one
blow! Rank in the world, power in the country, influence in the
empire, success in the money-market, and the triumph of the Church.

The Abbé Samuel had begun his ambitious career. The first task was to
introduce the hundred and eight Hungarian wearers of Halina cloth into
the legislative body, and thus to secure the Bondavara Railway, the
title of bishop, and a seat in the House of Peers. These three things
lay in the hollow of his hand, for he had three strings ready to pull,
which would set in motion the statesman, the financier, and the
influence of woman.

       *       *       *       *       *

On one Saturday Ivan, to his surprise, received a visit from Rauné,
who, in a few words, stated the matter which had brought him. The
proprietors and inhabitants of the different parts of Bondathal wished
to send a deputation to Vienna, to lay before the government and
Parliament their request that the means of communication between their
mountainous territory and the other parts of the empire should be put
on a better footing. This matter interested Ivan equally with the
rest, and therefore it would be desirable that he and his workmen
should attend the mass-meeting which would be held on the next day.

Ivan at once refused all co-operation. "We live," he said, "under
exceptional laws, which forbid political meetings. This mass-meeting
has a political object, and therefore I refuse to disobey the law."

In spite of this protest the assembly took place next day, and the
Abbé Samuel made a brilliant speech. His dignified appearance imposed
respect, his proposal was intelligible and for the general good; its
usefulness could not be gainsaid. To insure its popularity the astute
abbé took care not to introduce into his speech the hated word
"Reichstag." The resolution was carried unanimously that a deputation
of twelve men should be chosen to proceed at once to Vienna, and there
present the wishes of the people. The twelve delegates were then
chosen by the abbé, and his choice was received with loud shouts of
approbation. The Bondavara shareholders came forward with unexampled
generosity, and presented each member of the deputation not only the
price of the journey, but a cloak made of Halina cloth, a hat, and a
pair of boots. Twelve new suits! That was worth going to Vienna for.
Still, it went against the grain. A peasant is suspicious; they don't
care to crack nuts with gentlemen; they mistrust presents that most
probably will be dearly bought. If any man in a black coat had made
the proposal it would have encountered vigorous opposition, but a
priest, a distinguished priest, his advice can safely be followed;
there is nothing to be afraid of when he is at the head of the
deputation. All will go well, even although they may have to undertake
heavy responsibilities which may some day involve loss. But what
loss? Ah! time will tell. Once on a time twelve men went to Vienna,
and sold the rights of their fellow-countrymen to the devil. God knows
what might happen, only that the priest is with them; there is the
plank of safety.

Nevertheless, the twelve men had to swear, man to man, before they put
on the new suits, upon their souls, that they would deny that they
could write. They were to sign nothing, and if they were asked if such
a one in Bondathal had houses and fields, and, above all, sons, they
were not to give any answer.

The deputation started in a couple of days after the meeting, under
the guidance of the abbé. Peter Saffran went also. He had been named
one of the twelve, for he was specially wanted in Vienna.

A day or so later Ivan was cited before the military officer
commanding the district; he was accused of having acted against the
law by causing the "Reichstag" to be lowered in the eyes of the
people, of having kept the people, especially his own workmen, from
taking part in legal demonstrations, of having insulted members of the
legislature, and of having allied himself with secret societies. He
was cautioned to avoid anything of the sort in future. The next time
things would be more serious; he was at liberty to go this time
unpunished.

Ivan knew perfectly well from what quarter this denunciation had come.
To destroy his business utterly it would be necessary to place its
owner for a year in confinement; his innocence would then be
established, and he would be allowed to go scot-free. In the meantime
his property would be ruined. It was lucky for Ivan that on this
occasion the jailer's wife was ill. It would have been necessary to
remove her from the rooms which were set apart for prisoners under
suspicion, and so Ivan was allowed to go his way.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ah, it was a great day when the twelve men from Bondathal, in the
twelve new suits of Halina cloth, arrived in the metropolis. Here they
are! Here are the Hungarians, the indomitable sons of the soil. A
deputation to the Reichsrath, an acknowledgment of the February
patent, the first pioneers! They deserve three times three.

All the newspapers hastened to congratulate them; the leading articles
of all political shades were full of this new and remarkable
demonstration.

The minister gave the deputation a private audience, where the abbé
set forth their demand in a well-expressed speech, laying great stress
upon the fact that it was the people themselves who wished to free
their country from its present condition, having learned to
distinguish their real benefactors from those false prophets who
wished to condemn them to a baneful and ruinous inactivity. The abbé
dwelt expressly upon the great intelligence of the men who formed the
deputation. In return his excellency the minister pressed the hand of
the abbé, and assured him that the bishopric would soon be vacant, and
that it would be his care to see that a loyal prelate should fill the
seat. His excellency then entered into conversation with the members
of the deputation, and as none of them understood a word of his
language, they were much pleased with what he said. His excellency,
having been told by the abbé that Peter Saffran was the most
distinguished of the party, took especial notice of him. He pressed
his hand, while he expressed a hope that the members of the deputation
would attend the morning sitting; places would be reserved in the
gallery--for the present in _the gallery_.

Peter promised for his fellow-members. He could speak German as well
as French; he had picked up both languages during his ship
experiences.

All this time the minister had said nothing as to the grant to the
Bondathal Railway, and that was the principal thing.

At the next sitting of the Reichsrath the front row of the gallery was
reserved for the distinguished guests. They sat in arm-chairs, leaning
their elbows on the cushions, and letting their round hats hang over
the rails.

His excellency the minister gave a discourse which lasted over an
hour. The opposition maintained that during his speech his excellency
had glanced fifty-two times at the gallery, to see the effect he was
producing upon the Hungarians. One fell asleep, and let his hat fall
into the hall. The hat fell upon one of the deputies, and awoke him
from a sweet doze.

For three days this trivial circumstance gave food to the government
papers; then it became the absolute property of the accredited wit or
fun journals, which put into the mouths of the Hungarians all manner
of things which they had never said. Never mind; those excellent men
couldn't read German, so it didn't matter. They stuck fast to their
arm-chairs in the gallery as long as the sitting lasted; they were
more comfortable than their beds.

The last evening of their stay they were taken to the theatre. Not to
the Burg Theatre--that would not do for them--but to the Treumann
Theatre, where a piece was playing suitable for them, with plenty of
fun, singing, dancing, laughing; and the great joke of all was that
the principal part was to be played by the beautiful Eveline, Frau
von Kaulmann. Will Peter Saffran recognize her?

It had not been possible to get an engagement at the Opera-house for
Eveline, for there was an Italian season running. When it finished
there would be a prospect of an engagement for her if she first
learned the routine of acting at some less important theatre, and grew
accustomed to the footlights. Therefore, she played _en amateur_ on
the boards of the Treumann Theatre. Her natural gifts and her
extraordinary beauty caused a sensation. The _jeunesse dorée_ went mad
over this new favorite of the hour. The piece which was played in
honor of the peasants was one of Offenbach's frivolous operas, in
which the ladies appear in the very scantiest of costumes. The noble
portion of the audience enjoy these displays more than do the poorer;
it did not, at all events, amuse the simple folk in Halina cloth. The
ballet, with the lightly clothed nymphs, their coquettish movements,
their seductive smiles, their bold display of limbs, and their short
petticoats, was not to the taste of the Bondavara miners. It was true
that the girls in the coal-pit wore no petticoats to speak of, but
then they were working. Who thought anything of that? Chivalry belongs
to the peasant as much as to the gentleman; the former indeed practise
the motto, "Honi soit qui mal y pense" more than do their
better-educated superiors. But now as Eveline entered they felt
ashamed. She came on as a fairy or goddess, concealed in gold-colored
clouds; the clouds were, however, transparent. Peter glowed with rage
to think all the world could penetrate this slight transparency; he
burned with jealous fury as Eveline smiled, coquetted, cast glances
here, there, and was stared at through a hundred opera-glasses. Peter
forgot that this was only a stage, and that the fairies who played
their parts upon it for an hour or so were many of them most virtuous
women, excellent wives and daughters; for what happens on the stage is
only play, not actuality. The former bridegroom did not reason in this
wise. You see, he was an uneducated peasant in coarse Halina cloth,
and his ignorant mind was filled with horror, disgust, rage. That she
should allow herself to be kissed, to be made love to--shame! No, my
good Peter, it was no shame, but a great honor. Out of the boxes
bouquets and wreaths fell on the stage; there was hardly a place where
she could put her feet; it was all flowers. The house resounded with
applause. This was not shame, but honor--certainly not of the same
kind that would be offered to a saint or a good woman; it was more the
worship offered to an idol, and most women like to be worshipped as
idols.

Peter told himself all the sex are alike, and comforted himself with
the thought that not one of his companions would recognize Eveline.
But Peter took a sore heart back to his inn.

In the hall he met the abbé, and asked him, "When are we going back?"

"Are you weary of Vienna, Peter?"

"I am."

"Have a little patience. To-morrow we must pay a visit to a charming
lady."

"What have we to do with charming ladies?"

"Don't ask the why or the wherefore. If we want to attain our end we
must leave no means untried. We must beg this lady to interest herself
for us. One word from her to his excellency the minister will do more
than if we said a whole litany."

"Very good; then we had better see her."



CHAPTER XXII

TWO SUPPLIANTS


The next day, at eleven o'clock, Abbé Samuel came to fetch his
followers, and conduct them to the house of the influential lady whose
one word had more weight with his excellency than the most carefully
arranged speeches of priests and orators.

The carriage stopped before a splendid palace; a porter in a
magnificent scarlet livery, with a bear-skin cap, answered the bell,
and between a double row of marble pillars they ascended the steps.
The staircase was also of marble, covered with a soft, thick carpet.
The school-master at home, if he had a bit of this stuff, would have
made a fine coat of it. Up the staircase were such beautiful statues
that the poor peasants would have liked to kneel to kiss their hands.
The staircase was roofed in with glass and heated with hot air, so
that the lovely hot-house plants and costly china groups suffered no
injury from the cold air. In the anteroom servants wearing silver
epaulettes conducted the visitors into the drawing-room. The sight
almost took away their breath. There was no wall to be seen; it was
panelled in the most sumptuous silk brocade; the curtains of the same
texture had gold rods, and splendid pictures in rich frames hung on
the silk panels. The upper portion of the windows was of stained
glass, such as is seen in cathedrals, and opposite the windows was a
large fireplace of white marble, upon whose mantelpiece stood a
wonderful clock, with a beautiful figure which moved in time to the
melodious tick. The furniture was all of mahogany. From the ceiling,
upon which the arabesques in gold were a feast to the eye, there hung
a lustre with a hundred lights, whose thousand glass drops sent out
all the prismatic colors of the rainbow.

The good peasants of Bondathal had hardly time to take in the wonders
of this fairy palace when a gentleman in a black coat and a spotless
white tie came out of an adjoining room. This grand personage, whom
they imagined to be the master of the house, turned out to be an
equally important person--the groom of the chambers. He informed them
that his mistress was in the next room, and ready to receive them.

There was no door to this inner apartment, only curtains of heavy
damask, such as church banners are made of. This second drawing-room
was still more wonderful than the first. The walls were panelled in
dove-colored silk. From the ceiling to the floor there were enormous
mirrors set in china frames, and between each mirror were _consoles_
with marble statuettes representing dancing nymphs. The stone floor
was covered with a soft carpet, into which the foot sank as into
summer grass. The fireplace was of black marble, with a silver
grating. The furniture was of the Versailles pattern; tables and
chairs, arm-chairs and foot-stools, of delicate coloring; chairs of
Sèvres, with feet and elbow rests ornamented with delicate
flower-garlands and charming Watteau figures. Every piece of furniture
was a masterpiece. Upon the centre-table and _consoles_ were Japanese
vases of different and most elegant shapes. In one of the windows an
aquarium had been constructed full of gold-fish and sea-anemones.

The poor peasants did not notice all these beautiful objects; their
attention was fixed upon their own reflections in the long glasses,
and which in their ignorance they imagined were other deputations,
headed by another abbé wearing a gold cross. But even this strange
spectacle was lost sight of in their amazement at the beauty of the
great lady who now came forward to receive them. She was a lovely
vision. Her dress of violet silk was covered with the most costly
lace, her black hair fell in curls over her shoulders; her face was so
beautiful, so fascinating, so dignified, that every man in the
deputation was ready to fall at her feet.

Peter Saffran was the only one who recognized her; it was Eveline, his
promised bride.

Now the abbé, bowing low, addressed her in most respectful language,
as he laid before her the desire of the deputation, that she would
accord her powerful protection to the Bondathal population. The lady
answered most graciously, and promised that, as far as possible, she
would exert her influence. She was heart and soul in the matter, for
she added, smiling:

"I am myself a child of Bondathal."

At these words the deputation exchanged glances, and every one thought
she must be the daughter or wife of one of the Bondavara magnates.
Only Saffran was gloomy.

"What is she?" he thought. "Only last night she was singing, dancing,
and acting; her beauty was displayed to the eyes of a crowd, who
looked at her through opera-glasses, while I had to cover my eyes with
my hat so as not to look on her degradation, and here to-day she is a
sort of queen, promising us her influence with cabinet ministers.
What is the truth? Was last night a comedy, or is to-day a clever
farce played by her and the priest?"

You see, Peter Saffran had been in the Fiji Islands, and he remembered
how amazed the savages had been when the white man washed the black
from his hands, and showed their natural color; only here it was the
whole body that was in question.

The abbé, who seemed highly pleased with the success of his interview,
now gave those behind him a sign to move on, and bowed respectfully to
the lady, who whispered a few words in his ear.

The abbé stopped Peter Saffran as he was leaving the room, and said,
in a low voice:

"You are to remain; this kind lady wishes to speak with you."

Saffran felt the blood rush to his head. He almost tottered, and as he
returned to the room he could hardly move. But Eveline hastened to
him, holding out both her hands. She had taken off her gloves, and he
felt the soft, velvety clasp of her fingers as she pressed his horny
hand in hers; he heard in his ear the sweet, fresh ring of her voice,
to which he had often listened.

"Ah, Peter, say a word to me--a kind word;" and she patted him two or
three times on the back. "Are you still angry with me? There, Peter,
don't be vexed any more. Stay and dine with me, and we shall drink to
our reconciliation."

And she put her arm into his, and stroked his cheek with her delicate
little hand, which looked as if it had never known what hardship was.

       *       *       *       *       *

Eveline had kept religiously to her promise of always informing Prince
Theobald when she expected guests, and the prince reserved to himself
the right of a veto if he did not approve of their reception, for
there were among the _dilettante_, and even among apparently most
respectable gentlemen, certain individuals who should not have the
_entrée_ to the drawing-room of a lady who is not living under her
husband's roof.

The prince liked pleasant society, and, if he approved of the company,
enjoyed himself all the more that Eveline did the honors for him.

On this particular day Eveline had told the prince she expected two
visitors. One was Peter Saffran.

The prince laughed. "Poor fellow!" he said, "treat him well; it will
do him good." But when he heard his excellency the minister was coming
he frowned heavily. "What is this?" he asked. "What brings _him_ to
see _you_?"

"Why! Is he a woman-hater?"

"On the contrary, he is a scoundrel, only he wears a hypocrite's
cloak. Great men who are at the helm and guide public affairs have
their weaknesses, but they dare not sin openly. A man in his position
might as soon become a member of the Jockey Club as visit a beautiful
actress, unless he had some ostensible reason to give for so doing."

"But he has a reason, and a very good one. I asked him to make the
appointment."

"_You invited him here!_" The prince's face grew more cloudy.

"That is to say, I asked him to give me a private audience, and his
secretary wrote to say his excellency would prefer to come here."

"And for what purpose do you require an audience?"

"Felix desired me to ask for it."

"Ah, it was Kaulmann's doing! Wherefore?"

"He wants these documents to be signed."

Eveline showed the prince a folded parchment.

The prince glanced at it and shook his head. "And does his excellency
know that this is the reason why you asked for an audience?"

Eveline burst into a laugh. "Oh dear, no! When his secretary first
wrote he asked why I required an audience; I answered it was about my
engagement at the Opera, and then he said he would come. He knows
nothing of this," she added, touching the papers in her hand.

"And Kaulmann told you to do this?"

"Yes."

"Then Kaulmann is a refined villain. Do as he has told you; but you
may take my word that your husband deceives himself if he imagines you
can snare a savage with a silken net. You can receive your guest, but
I do not think you will succeed in your scheme."

       *       *       *       *       *

Eveline put her hand upon Peter Saffran's, and led him into another
room, where there was a wonderful display of silver, and thence,
through a private door, into a fourth apartment, the walls of which
were wainscoted with dark wood; the ceiling, too, was supported by
cross-beams of wood, and finished with painted shell-work.

No one was in the room. Eveline sat down on the sofa, and made Peter
sit beside her.

"Listen, Peter," she said, laying her hand on the rough sleeve of his
Halina-cloth coat. "It was the will of God that I should separate from
you. It grieved me very much to leave you, because, you know, we had
been called in church three times. But, then, you could not bear my
little brother; you were cruel to him, and you beat me. I don't bear
you any malice now. I have forgotten and forgiven, but at the time I
was very angry with you, not so much because you ill-treated me, but
I followed you that night to the cottage in the wood. I was quite
ready to forgive and forget, only I looked through the window, and I
saw you dancing with Ezifra Mauczi. I saw you kiss her, and I was
angry in downright earnest."

Peter gnashed his teeth. He felt the tables were turned against him,
and he could say nothing. It would be very different if it were his
wife who accused him of such things; he would know how to treat a
jealous, scolding wife; but he couldn't take this beautiful lady by
the hair, and drag her round the room, and beat her on the head until
she begged for pardon.

"But, as I said," continued Eveline, smiling again, "we are not going
to talk about bygones. It was all God's will, and for the best. We
would have been a most unhappy couple, for I am passionate and
jealous, and you would have given me cause. Now you can do as you
like, and I have the happiness of doing good. I like to help as many
people as possible, and every day twenty poor creatures are fed in my
house. Oh, I do more than that; I get heaps of things done for the
poor! I speak a good word for them, and get them helped by rich
people. Also, I mean to be a benefactress to your valley; thousands
and thousands of people will bless my name for what I shall do for
them. Is it not a happiness to be able to help others?"

Eveline paused for an answer. Peter felt he ought to say something, if
it was only to show that he had not become dumb.

"And does all this money come from the Bondavara Company?" he asked.

Eveline blushed scarlet. How was she to answer such a question?

"Not altogether. I earn a good deal by my art; for every performance I
receive five hundred gulden."

"Five hundred gulden!" thought Peter. "That explains a great deal. A
good salary indeed! A woman might spare some of her clothing to earn
so much money. It is money got by work, and not such hard work as
carrying coals. She had to show her legs for that also. But all said
and done, it was money honestly earned."

Peter's face began to clear.

"There, you look more like yourself. Don't look wicked again," pleaded
Eveline; "and when you go back home tell every one that you have seen
me, and that we had a great talk together, and are good friends again.
If at any time you know of any one in want, send me a line, and, if it
is in my power, I will gladly help them. You must marry, if you are
not already married. No? Well, then, you must choose a good girl,
Peter. There is Panna, she is just the wife for you, and she was
always a friend of mine, or there is Amaza, she liked you, I know, and
she is an excellent housekeeper; only, don't marry Mauczi; you would
be very unhappy with her, she is a bad girl. And in case you do marry,
Peter, here are my wedding-presents for your wife; and remember, I
advise you to marry Panna. Here are a pair of ear-rings, a necklace,
and a brooch; and to you I give, as a remembrance of myself, this gold
watch. See, Peter, my likeness is on the back. Think of me sometimes
when you are very happy."

When she said these words Eveline's eyes overflowed, and her lips
trembled convulsively. Peter saw it, and drew the conclusion that with
all her splendor she was not happy. One thought now took possession of
him. He gave no heed to the bridal presents. Whether they were of
gold or lead was all one to him, no one should ever see them; but what
he thought was:

"She has a good heart, she is generous, she gives with an open hand;
but I do not care for her gifts. If she will only kiss me once I will
bless her. What is a kiss to her? An alms, one out of the numbers she
gives to those fellows on the stage, with their smeared, painted
faces."

Poor fool! he didn't know that stage kisses are only mock kisses, just
as stage champagne is only lemonade or pure water. Peter believed that
one kiss from Eveline would satisfy his thirst; it would assuage the
pangs of regret, of jealousy, or rage that had consumed him since the
previous night. All would vanish when he would touch her cold, fresh
lips. And, after all, had they not been betrothed to one another--all
but man and wife? Who could object? Only he didn't know how to express
what was in his mind.

"And now let us eat together, Peter," said Eveline, kindly. "I am
certain that you are tired of all the good things you get every day;
you are satiated with the Vienna cookery. Wait, and I shall cook you
something myself--your favorite dish, Peter, which you often said no
one cooked so well as I did. I shall make you some porridge."

Peter was electrified. A smile broke out all over his face, either at
the mention of his favorite dish, or at the thought that his hostess
would herself prepare it. But how is she to cook? There is no hearth,
no cooking-vessels.

"Everything will be here," said Eveline, laughing joyously. "I shall
change my dress; I cannot cook in this."

She ran off as she spoke, and returned in two minutes. Actresses
learn how to dress quickly. She now wore a white embroidered maid's
frock, and a little cap on her head. She called no one to help her,
but laid a cloth on the oak table, filled a silver kettle with water,
set it to boil on a spirit-lamp. She turned up the sleeves of her
dress to the elbows, and shook with a light hand the meal into the
boiling water; then she turned the mixture deftly with a silver spoon
round and round until it became thick. Then she took the kettle by the
handle, emptied it on to a glazed clay plate--yes, actually a clay
plate!--and poured some cream over the mixture. She fetched two wooden
spoons, one for Peter, one for herself.

"Let us eat off the one plate, Peter."

And they ate this porridge off one plate. Peter felt a strange
moisture fill his eyes; he had not wept since he was a child. The
porridge was excellent; all the cooks in Vienna put together couldn't
have given him a meal so much to his mind. There was wine on the
table, but no glasses.

Peasants never drink during meals; but when they had finished Eveline
fetched a clay jug and asked Peter to drink, after, as is the custom,
she had taken a draught.

"Drink this, Peter; it is your old favorite."

There was mead in the jug--a very innocent sort of drink--and Peter
thought it was his duty to empty the last drop. The hell that had been
raging in his breast seemed all at once to be extinguished. He said to
himself:

"Yes, I shall go back to the church, and to the spot where I made that
awful vow; I shall implore the Holy Mother to allow me to take it
back. I shall hurt no one; I shall take no revenge. Let the green
grass grow again in the fields, and let her live in splendor in the
smiles of the great ones. I shall not grudge her her happiness. This
day, when she has received me so kindly, has banished from my memory
the day upon which she left me. But I shall ask her for one kiss, so
that I may remember nothing but that."

He delayed, however, too long in putting his desire into words. They
were, indeed, hovering on his lips when the door suddenly opened, and
a servant announced that his excellency was in the drawing-room.

(Now, Peter, God help you; you may go hence without your kiss!)

Eveline could hardly say good-bye; she had to change her dress. The
footman showed him out at the secret door; there another footman led
him down the back stairs, and, opening another door, left Peter in a
narrow street, where he had never been before. While he made the best
of his way to the hotel he had leisure to think over what he should
say to Evila if he ever again had the chance of being alone with her
in the round room. The recollection of how he had missed his
opportunity roused the demon again in his mind. The burning lava of
hell began once more to fill his veins, the stream of sulphur which
the lost souls are ever drinking. He kept repeating to himself, "The
grass shall not grow again!"

By the time he reached the inn he brought with him a goodly
company--hatred, envy, rage at his own weakness, horror at his own
wickedness, mixed with political fanaticism. A delightful gathering in
one man's breast.



CHAPTER XXIII

FINANCIAL INTRIGUE


We can give no authentic account of the interview between his
excellency the minister and his beautiful hostess. We were not
present, and neither had we a phonograph.

No doubt he complimented her upon her charming talent, and promised
her his powerful interest, and as in this world nothing is given for
nothing, there is every probability that his excellency, who was an
undoubted scoundrel, hinted at the reward he would expect for using
his powerful interest in her behalf; upon which Eveline, like a
prudent woman, wishing to have everything in black and white, produced
from the drawer of her writing-table the parchment which we have
already heard of.

His excellency took the paper, probably believing it was a petition to
grant her an engagement. He held it in his hand while he smilingly
assured her that the matter was as good as concluded. It is, however,
more than probable that when he gave a hurried glance at the contents
his face assumed its official expression; he saw it did not refer to
an operatic engagement, but to the grant for the Bondavara Railway.
Seeing this, it is likely that his excellency got up at once, and, hat
in hand, explained to his lovely hostess how distressed he felt not to
be in a position to comply with her wishes, as there were insuperable
objections in the way, great opposition from the legislative body, and
yet greater opposition in the Upper House, where Prince Sondersheim
was working heaven and earth against the Bondavara Railway, and,
therefore, from political and financial reasons, from the condition of
the country and many other causes, it would be impossible, or almost
impossible, to hold out any hope of granting the Bondavara Railway a
guarantee from the government. That then his excellency made a
profound bow and left the room may be considered a fact. It is
psychologically certain that he descended the staircase with a frown
of vexation on his face, and that he murmured between his teeth:

"If I had known that I was going to talk to the _banker's wife_ I
should never have come here." As he got into his carriage--and this is
historical--he banged the door with such violence that the glass
window was shattered in pieces.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the very hour when this interview was taking place a
committee-meeting was being held in Prince Theobald's palace, which
had for its object to lay before the shareholders the necessity of
paying the third instalment--a critical operation, this attack upon
the pockets of the public. The Bondavara Railway now played its part.
Felix Kaulmann announced he had every confidence that in a couple of
weeks it would be a fact. The deputation from Bondathal had caused a
sensation, besides which the company had the interest of a very
influential person, who could persuade his excellency to do anything,
even give the grant for the railroad. The finely cut, aristocratic
face of the president did not betray by a sign that he knew who this
person was.

Kaulmann never for a moment suspected that Eveline told the prince the
names of all the visitors who came to the palace during his absence,
and that they were admitted through the little door. He would have
called such stupidity by an ugly name.

While the meeting was sitting a note was brought to Kaulmann, who at
once recognized Eveline's writing. He read the letter quickly, then
laid it on the table with a discontented air.

"What is that?" asked the prince, pointing to a roll of paper.

It was the unsigned document which Eveline had returned.

Kaulmann wrote on a slip of paper, "Another hitch in that damned
railway."

The prince said to himself, "Then his wife has again escaped." Then he
bent over Kaulmann, and, laying his hand upon his shoulder, whispered
to him:

"My dear friend, one doesn't get everything by a pair of black eyes."

Spitzhase was the secretary of the meeting. After this little scene he
wrote upon a piece of paper, and, twisting it up, handed it to
Kaulmann. Kaulmann read it; then tore it in small pieces and shrugged
his shoulders.

"I know all _that_," he said, sulkily. "I don't want any advice."

The committee went away in bad humor with one another. The expense of
bringing the deputation from Bondathal had been two thousand gulden,
and this comedy had been of no use. The last stake should now be
played. Csanta had determined not to pay the third instalment. He
would sell all his shares at the price quoted and refill his casks
with silver. On the day of the Proclamation, however, he received a
letter from Spitzhase, which ran as follows:

      "SIR,--To-morrow Herr Kaulmann is going to you to
      offer to buy all your shares at forty-five florins
      exchange. Be on your guard. I can assure you that the
      government has signed a grant for the Bondavara
      Railway, and so soon as this is public the shares will
      rise another twenty per cent."

Csanta believed in Spitzhase as in an oracle, and with reason. All
happened as he said. Immediately upon the issue of the Proclamation,
and when the shares were a little flat, Kaulmann appeared in X----,
and offered him forty-five florins exchange upon his shares. But the
old Greek was firm, not one would he part with; he would rather take
his last cask to Vienna and empty its contents than part with one
share.

He was rewarded for his firmness. Two days later he read in the
newspaper how generously both Houses had voted a grant to the
Bondavara Railway.

His excellency the prime-minister had himself pleaded for the cause in
the Lords and Deputies House, and had proved conclusively that, from
the political point of view, from the present favorable condition of
the money market, as also from the side of the landed interest, from
every point of view--strategical, financial, co-operative, and
universal--the government guarantee for the Bondavara Railway was
absolutely necessary, and, as a natural consequence, the motion was
carried. Prince Waldemar, indeed, opposed it vigorously, but his
following was small, so nobody minded him.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the next audit of the Bondavara Company's accounts presented to the
shareholders there appeared under the heading of expenditure this
remarkable entry: "Expense of foundations, forty thousand gulden."

"What does this mean?" said the shareholders, with one voice.

Kaulmann whispered something to the man nearest him; he passed the
whisper on, whereupon every one nodded his head, and tried to think it
was all right. So it appeared to be, for after the government grant to
the railway the Bondavara shares rose to seventy florins above par.
Nothing could be more convincing. Csanta had punch at dinner, and got
drunk for joy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some evenings later Eveline met his excellency in the green-room of
the Treumann Theatre. The minister thought it was time to press for
payment of his services.

"My dear lady," he said, "have I not obeyed your wishes in regard to
the Bondavara Railway?"

Eveline made him a low courtesy. She wore the costume of the Duchess
of Gerolstein.

"I am eternally indebted to your excellency," she said. "To-morrow
evening I shall blow you _forty thousand_ kisses."

At the words "forty thousand" his excellency grew red. He turned on
his heel, and for the future Eveline was relieved from his attentions;
but it was also quite certain that she had lost all chance of an
engagement at the Opera-house. She might sing like a nightingale, but
her petition would never be signed.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE BONDAVARA RAILWAY


The Bondavara Railway was begun. Prince Waldemar and his followers,
the bears, were crushed--there _are_ always people who die of hunger
in the midst of a plenteous harvest.

Prince Waldemar met his noble relative, Prince Theobald, at the Jockey
Club. Their encounter was hardly a friendly one, considering their
close relationship.

Said Prince Waldemar: "You have chosen to put yourself at the head of
my enemies. You have done your utmost to trump my best card. You have
allied yourself with that man Kaulmann, with whom I am on bad terms. I
sought your granddaughter in marriage; you promised she should be my
wife, and then you sent her away from Vienna. You have invented all
manner of pretexts to keep her at Pesth, and now the secret is
out--she is betrothed to Salista. I had a fancy for a pretty little
woman, and just to prevent my having her you invite her to your palace
and forbid her to receive my visits. Worse than all, you have given
over your only unmortgaged property, Bondavara, to a swindling
company, who want to set themselves over me; and you have become their
president. You have schemed and jockeyed the government into giving
the guarantee for a railway that won't pay two per cent. You haven't
an idea how you are implicated in these transactions. I pity you--for
I have always felt esteem for you--and I intend to set myself the task
of regulating _your_ affairs some day. Meantime take care, for if I
succeed in upsetting the human pyramid upon whose shoulders you stand
the greatest _fall_ will be yours."

Of all this long harangue Prince Theobald only gathered the fact that
Angela had chosen the Marquis Salista for her husband, and had never
written to tell him. She let him hear it from another.

The Bondavara Railway was being pressed forward; it was nearly
finished. There was no further need for a woman's black-diamond eyes.
They had done their work. One day Eveline visited her husband. Felix
received her with apparent satisfaction.

"I have come," she said, "to ask you a question. Prince Theobald has
been for some days so sad; it is melancholy to see his distress. Have
you any idea of its cause?"

"I have. His granddaughter, the Countess Angela, is married, and her
husband, the Marquis Salista, is taking steps to put the prince under
restraint, on account of the foolish manner in which he is squandering
his fortune."

"And much of this foolish extravagance is spent on me."

"You are really wonderfully sharp, Eveline."

"I shall put an end to his spending his money on me. I shall tell the
prince that I must leave his palace. I shall be always grateful to
him; he has been a benefactor to me--and so have you. I ought to have
mentioned you first. You have had me educated; you have taught me a
great deal. I have to thank you for being what I am. I can earn my own
living, thanks to you. I mean to become a real artist. But I must
leave Vienna; I do not care to remain here any longer."

"I think, Eveline, you have decided well, and our minds have really a
wonderful sympathy. I was about to advise the very course to you. By
all means, leave Vienna; by all means, make use of your talents, and
take up work seriously. I shall continue to do my duty as your
husband. I shall take you to Paris; I shall settle myself in my house
there on purpose to be of assistance to you. You will make a hit
there, I know, and we shall be always good friends."

In spite of her previous experience of this man's character, Eveline
was weak enough to be touched by his words and to blame herself for
having done him injustice, for it was a great sacrifice on his part to
leave Vienna for her sake. She could never have supposed that this
sacrifice was part of his well-considered plan for ridding himself of
her. She had played _her_ part in making his fortune, and now she
could go where she chose--to her native coal-pit if she liked. Once in
Paris, he would be able to say, "Madam, you are here under the French
law, and as no _civil ceremony_ has passed between us, you are not my
wife; you are at liberty to call yourself unmarried."

Felix had another reason for settling himself in Paris. It was here he
counted on carrying out the second part of his programme. Now that the
Bondavara Railway was nearly finished, the castles in the air of the
Abbé Samuel were beginning to take shape; the next step should be a
gigantic loan in the interest of the Church. This loan would be
another means of aggrandizing the house of Kaulmann; its reputation
would be world-wide. Already Kaulmann's name was of European
celebrity; he belonged to the stars of the first order in the
financial world. From being a _baron_ of the stock-exchange he had
become a prince. If he succeeded in effecting this loan he would be a
_king_ of the money-market, before whose name even that of Rothschild
would pale.

A halo was also beginning to surround the name of the Abbé Samuel. The
government had begun to see that this popular orator held the people
in his hand, and could lead them as he chose. The people looked upon
him as their benefactor, a man whose influence could get them
benefits. Was not the Bondavara Railway a proof of this? The twelve
Halinacoats were firmly persuaded that the abbé had carried back in
his pocket the government grant. The clerical party acknowledged him
as a new light. In Rome he was lauded for his zeal in the papal cause.
If he was made bishop, which was almost a certainty, he would be the
first Hungarian prelate who had taken his seat in the Austrian House
of Lords. The minister would stare when he found his scheme for the
secularization of Hungarian Church property met by another scheme from
the new bishop, which, while proposing a gigantic loan upon these same
Church lands, had for its object the elevation of the Holy See by
these very means. The money-markets of France, Belgium, and the Roman
States would vie with one another in promoting the loan, and the
pontiff would look upon the man who had conceived such a project as
the saviour of the pontificate; his name should be written in letters
of gold. In Hungary, also, the scheme would be favorably received as a
means of saving the church property already threatened, for the
government dared not refuse this alternative.

Moreover, the primate was an old man; the pope was still older. All
the wheels were in readiness; the machine could now be put in motion.

The day the first locomotive steamed out of the Bondavara station the
Abbé Samuel might say to himself, "The way to Rome is clear." It would
be also safe to prophesy that on this day Ivan Behrend's ruin would be
complete.

       *       *       *       *       *

This railroad would bring the goods of the Joint-Stock Company into
the markets of the world, where they could compete with the coal of
Prussia and the English coal. But, it will be said, Ivan had the same
chance; his coals were equally good, and the giant with the seven-mile
boots would carry his coal as well as his enemies'. But here was where
the shoes pinched. What was of use to the company was destruction to
him.

The railway was not to run through the valley where his mine was
situated, although that line was the best and most natural course to
take; instead of which mountains had to be made level, tunnels had to
be bored through the hills, to avoid his colliery and to carry the
rails close to the company's mine. In consequence of this, Ivan would
be obliged to make a circuit of a half-day's journey to get to the
railway, and so the freightage to the station made his goods five or
six per cent. dearer than those of the company. For him, therefore,
the railroad was a crushing blow.

In the meantime the end of the year drew near, the time when the
miners were to receive their share from the profits. But profit there
was none. Neither coal nor iron had any sale. The company's low prices
had taken every customer from Ivan.

Any one who possesses ready money can always _say_, even if he loses,
that he wins; the common people call this eating your own entrails.
Ivan had a sum by him, which he had carefully gathered in better days.
It amounted, all told, to several thousands, and he calculated he
could hold his own against his giant rivals for at least ten years. He
forgot that the giants were cunning as well as strong, and that they
did not despise the smallest artifice.

When the railway directors issued their prospectus, inviting all
contractors to send in contracts for iron rails, etc., Ivan thought to
himself, "Now, I will have some fun. The shareholders of the
Joint-Stock Company offer their iron six per cent. cheaper than it
costs them. I will offer to the railway directors to deliver iron
rails at ten per cent. cheaper than they cost _me_. I shall lose fifty
thousand gulden, but I shall have the satisfaction of punishing my
neighbors for their folly in lowering the price of the raw material."

Simple fool! Just as an honorable gentleman imagines that when a
letter is sealed no one would venture to open it, so Ivan thought that
all the offers were read together, and that the most advantageous to
the company was accepted.

Good gracious! nothing of the kind.

It is always settled beforehand who is to have the contract. When the
proposals come in it sometimes happens that some one makes a yet lower
offer than that of the _protégé_, and this last is then told to take
pen and ink and write an offer proposing to give the goods half per
cent. lower than the offer made by the outsider.

This is a well-known trick, and it is only men like Ivan, whose minds
are occupied with petrifactions and the stars, who are in ignorance
that such things are done.

The contract offered by the shareholders was half per cent. lower than
the one offered by Ivan.

But even this rebuff didn't daunt him. Two and two make four, and
those who sin against multiplication must come to ruin sooner or
later.

Ivan continued making in his workshop iron bars and rails. He
accumulated a store in his magazines. Some time they would be wanted.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Bondavara Railroad was to be made.

Csanta wanted to sell his houses in X----; the whole street was for
sale. He said he was going to live in Vienna, and to fill his office
of one of the directors to the company. He was to receive a large
salary, and to have little or nothing to do. He had changed all his
gold into papers--there is no use nowadays for houses or land or
cattle or mines; nothing is good but paper. _It_ wants neither groom
nor manure nor pay nor machinery.

Therefore, he wished to sell the whole street. Fortunately, there was
so little money in X---- that the inhabitants of the whole town put
together couldn't produce enough money to buy a poor little street.

The Bondavara Railway was in progress. Along the line the navvies were
working like a swarm of ants; they shoved wheelbarrows from morning
until night; they dug the ground, blew up rocks, bored mountains,
rammed plugs into water-sources, hewed stones, dammed rivers.

In the dark mouth of the Bondavara mine one man stood immovable. He
was ever watching the work. His gloomy, threatening face was fixed
steadily upon a windlass.

This man was Peter Saffran. He held in his hand a lump of coal, and as
he looked back from the noisy landscape to the remnant of trees his
eyes seemed to say, "Thou art the cause of all this tumult, this
wealth, this splendor; thou art a living power--thou!" And he hurled
the coal against the wall.



CHAPTER XXV

THE POOR DEAR PRINCE


"You have something to tell me: what is it?" asked Prince Theobald, as
he entered Eveline's drawing-room in answer to a letter from her,
written after her interview with her husband.

"I wish to leave Vienna."

"Ah! this is sudden. And where are you going?"

"My husband is obliged to go to Paris. I am going with him."

The prince looked inquiringly at her. "Have you, then, grown tired of
being under my care?"

"I am afraid I cannot deny it. I am like a slave in a gilded cage. I
am a sort of prisoner, and I want to see life."

"You repent, then, of the promise you made me? Well, then, I release
you; but stay with me."

"I should be too proud to receive benefits from any one to whom I am
ungrateful. Besides, it would be enough for me to know that you are
the master of the palace to take all sense of freedom from me. I don't
want to receive any more favors."

"You wish to become an actress?"

"I do wish that." Eveline laid a stress on the last word.

"From ambition?"

"I cannot say so. If I were ambitious I should be more diligent. I
want my freedom. I don't want my wings clipped. I like to feel I can
use them as I choose."

"That is rather a dangerous experiment for any one so young and pretty
as you are."

"One never falls so low that one cannot rise again."

"Where did you learn that?"

"From what I see every day."

"You are resolved to leave me?"

"I am--I am--I am!" Eveline repeated these words impatiently.

"Then I had better free you from my disagreeable society as soon as
possible," said the prince, taking up his hat. Then, with an ironical
bow, he added, "Forgive me, madam, for the weary hours I must have
imposed upon you."

Eveline, with an impatient stamp of her foot, turned her back upon
him. The prince, when he had got as far as the anteroom, found that he
had forgotten his walking-stick in the drawing-room. It had been a
Christmas present from Eveline, and he would not leave it with her. He
went back to fetch it.

He opened the door gently, and he saw a sight that surprised him.
Eveline still stood with her back to him. She had in her hands the
stick he had come for, which she kissed two or three times, sobbing
bitterly. The prince withdrew gently. Everything was made clear to
him. Eveline quarrelled with him to make the separation less hard for
him. She pretended to be mean and ungrateful in order that he might
forget her more easily. Why did she do this?

The next day the prince found the solution of this riddle. His servant
brought him the key of Eveline's apartments. The lady had left by the
very earliest train. The prince hastened to the palace, and he then
understood why it was that Eveline had left. She had taken nothing;
everything was there. She was a pearl among women. A lock of her hair
was wound round the handle of the walking-stick--her beautiful hair,
which fell from the crown of her head to her feet.

       *       *       *       *       *

Eveline arrived in Paris before Kaulmann. It had been settled between
them that she should stop at a hotel until he arranged where she
should live.

Some weeks later Felix came and said: "Your house is ready for you.
Will you come and see it?"

Eveline drove with Felix to her new home, which was in the Rue
Sebastopol, one of the best situations in Paris, the first floor. As
she came into the apartment her heart beat. Everything was familiar to
her eyes--the cherry-colored curtains, the carpets, the dove-colored
panels, the black marble fireplace, the oval frames in china, the
window looking into the garden--all as in Vienna. The same pictures,
the same service of silver, the wardrobes, the jewel-cases, even to
the glove which she had left upon the table.

The tears fell from her eyes as she murmured to herself, "The good,
kind prince!"

Felix, however, with perfect _aplomb_, took all the credit to himself,
and asked her, "Have I not arranged your apartment to your taste?"

Eveline made him no answer. Her thoughts were with the good, kind
prince, her best friend. To him she owed her engagement at the
Opera-house in Paris, the wreaths that were thrown to her on her first
appearance, the carriage she drove in every day. All was due to the
paternal interest of Prince Theobald, who, from the day he called her
his daughter, had never ceased to care for her as his child.



CHAPTER XXVI

DIES IRÆ


One gloomy day in late autumn Ivan went from the forge to his mine,
and upon the way his thoughts ran in a sad groove. "What a curious
world we live in; everything goes wrong--at least, for most people.
Bread is not for the wise man, nor success for the strong; it was so
in the days of Solomon. One bad year follows the other, for even
nature acts like a step-mother to men. The poor are hungry and beg for
bread, and when they have eaten they forget from whom they received
nourishment. All the great proprietors go to their graves without
doing, either for their country or their neighbor, anything worth
mentioning; all the burden of the present and the future seems to fall
upon the less numerous and more exhausted class. The patriots are all
hollow; they weep when they are in their cups; they show their fists,
but no one dares to strike a blow. All manly strength is gone; there
is not a man worth the name in the whole country. And the women--they
are all the same, from the high-born dame to the peasant girl--false
and heartless. Even in the bowels of the earth it is no better. For
the last two days there has been choke-damp in the mine; the escape of
gas has been so great that the men cannot work; it is as likely as not
that there will be an explosion while I am in the pit."

You see, Ivan's thoughts were as black as the landscape, and suited
to its gloom. His road from the forge to the mine led him past the
workmen's houses, and as he passed one of these a miner came stumbling
out of the door. The house was a wine-shop. The miner had his back
towards Ivan, who did not recognize him, but he noticed that the man
had great difficulty in walking straight.

"I wonder who it is that has got drunk so early in the day?" thought
Ivan, and hastened after the man to find out who he was. When he got
up with him he saw, to his surprise, that it was Peter Saffran. This
struck Ivan unpleasantly; he recalled how, on the day when Evila had
eloped, Saffran had sworn never again to touch brandy; he knew also
that Peter had kept this oath. He recollected also, but imperfectly,
that when he said that he wouldn't drink any more he had let fall some
threat. Well, it didn't much matter; if he got drunk, that was his
affair. But why did he come to Ivan's village to get drunk? Why didn't
he go to the tavern in his own colony?

Ivan hailed the man. "Good-morning, Peter."

Peter did not return the greeting; he stared like a stupid dog who
doesn't know his own master. He looked at Ivan with a wild eye, he
pressed his lips together, and his nostrils extended. He drew his cap
down over his eyes.

Ivan asked him, "Has the choke-damp got into your pit?"

No answer from Peter. He shoved his cap from off his forehead, and,
opening his mouth to its full extent, bent his face to that of Ivan,
and let his hot, spirit-laden breath blow over him. Then, without
saying a syllable, he turned away, and set off running in the
direction of the company's mine.

The heated breath of the man, with the sickening smell of bad brandy,
sent a shudder through Ivan's frame. He stood still, staring after the
runaway, who, when he had got a certain distance, stopped and looked
back. Ivan could see his face distinctly. He looked like a madman; his
lips hung apart, like those of a mad dog; his white teeth gleamed in
contrast to his red gums. His whole appearance was so strange and
desperate that Ivan laid hold of the revolver in his pocket. For one
moment the thought passed through his mind that he would be doing a
good work in freeing the world of such a creature, but on second
thoughts he let him go unharmed, and continued his way to the mine to
look after the ventilators.

In the vault the proportion between the hydrogen and the air was three
to seven. Ivan forbade any work to be done in the mine, or any pumping
out of the dangerous gas. He employed his men in the open air,
removing the coal that was required, and only allowed those to remain
below who had to look after the air-pumps.

He remained the whole day on the spot, controlling everything and
keeping a close watch. Towards evening he left the mine and returned
to his house. Everything was apparently safe. It was a nasty, foggy,
gloomy evening; the state of the atmosphere reacted upon the mind and
body alike. When nature is out of sorts, man suffers; when the sky is
overcast, he, too, is gloomy. And when the earth is sick, when worms
and mould destroy the fruit, when the harvest is ruined by blight, and
the cattle are decimated by pestilence--above all, when the noxious
vapors from the coal-mines rise to the surface and poison the very
air--then men sicken and die.

All through the day Ivan had felt cold shudders running over his whole
body. His limbs were contracted by that unpleasant feeling called
goose-skin, and when he got home he shivered, although his room was
warm. He was restless, uneasy. He could occupy himself with nothing;
everything palled upon him. The worst symptom of all, he could not
even work.

When a man refuses food or drink, when he does not care for the
company of a pretty woman, when his club wearies him, these are
unhealthy signs; but when he turns away from work, and finds no longer
any interest in his usual occupation, then it is time to send for the
physician.

Ivan's head throbbed, yet he could not sleep, and to stay awake was
torture. He lay down, and with a resolute effort closed his eyes. A
panorama of past, present, and future kept dancing before him. Peter
Saffran's hot, stinking breath seemed to breathe again in his
nostrils, and the very horror brought back to his memory the man's
long-forgotten words:

"No more during my life shall I drink brandy--_only once_; and when I
do, and when you smell from my breath that I have been drinking, or
see me coming out of the public-house, then take my advice and stop
safe at home, for on that day no man shall know in what manner he
shall die."

Who cares for the threat of a drunken man? Let me sleep. No, the
drunken man would not allow Ivan to sleep; his breath was there.
Faugh! it made him sick. His blear-eyed, pallid face was there bending
over the bed, looking into Ivan's eyes with his blood-shot eyes; his
open mouth and shut teeth came quite close to the sleeper, who, vainly
beating his arms in the air, tried to drive away this horrid
nightmare.

Ah, what is that sound? A crack like the crack of doom awoke Ivan; not
alone awoke him, but threw him violently out of bed and on to the
floor, where he lay stunned.

His first consecutive thoughts were, "The choke-damp has exploded! My
mine is in ruins!" This was enough to get him on his legs and to send
him out in the darkness--darkness, raven-black darkness, the stillness
only broken by a whistling sound in the air. Ivan stood for a moment
wondering. He felt the earth swaying under his feet; he heard a
subterranean grumbling. There! the pitch-dark night was suddenly
illumined; a bright pillar of fire rose out of the Bondavara Company's
mine. At the same moment another fearful explosion was heard, worse
than the last. The windows of the house were shattered in a thousand
pieces, the chimneys, the roofs fell in. The pressure of the air
forced Ivan back and threw him against the door of his own house. By
the strong light of the demoniacal pillar he could see his own workmen
all on their knees with a horrified expression upon their ghastly
faces. Women and children were gathered at the doors of the houses,
but the terror was so great that every one was speechless.

The entire valley glowed like the crater of a volcano. It vomited
forth a rain of fire-sparks, as in Gomorrah. The flames reached almost
to the clouds, and heaven sent forth clap upon clap of thunder, the
like of which in the most terrible thunder-storm had never been heard.

Two minutes later the flames were extinguished. The whole valley was
again enveloped in pitch-darkness, only over the company's mine
floated a filmy white cloud.

"The neighboring mine has exploded!" shrieked Ivan. "Help! help!" He
never remembered that it was his enemy's mine; he only thought that
there, in the bowels of the earth, a fearful, indescribably fearful,
calamity had happened. "Help! help!" he cried, and ran to the
alarm-bell, at which he pulled with all the strength of his body.

His own men came rushing in hot haste, all repeating to one another,
as if it were something new, "The neighboring mine has exploded!"

Then followed a significant pause. The men carrying lanterns
surrounded Ivan, and looked at him questioningly, waiting for him to
speak.

How had he guessed their thoughts?

Those who under God's free heavens drew their breath were bound to go
to the rescue of those who lay buried underground, and who perchance
still lived. Here it was no case of friend or foe. They were human
beings; that was enough.

"We must get the ventilators, the well-buckets to work!" called Ivan.
"Let each man bring a thick cloth to tie over his mouth. Bring
crow-bars, cords, ladders, india-rubber tubes, hose-pipes. The women
only are to remain behind. Forward, my men!"

He threw on an old coat, seized a strong iron bar, which he carried on
his shoulder, placed himself at the head of his men, and led the way
to the company's mine.

It was not easy to force an entrance into the works. The proprietors
had set up all manner of barricades in order to prevent Ivan's carts
from making any use of the new road. On the gates there were boards
with "No trespassing. No one to pass this way without a written
order."

No one now minded these orders. If a door or a gate impeded their
progress, Ivan thrust his iron rod through it and soon made a passage,
through which his men rushed pell-mell. The miners did not pause to
harness any horses to the machines. They harnessed themselves, while
others shoved behind, and drove them on over sticks and stones down to
the mouth of the pit. Like an army of lunatics the party of rescuers
rushed on through the night, making their way as best they could by
means of the lanterns fastened to their waistbands. Soon, however, the
darkness was again illumined. The forge nearest to the pit, and
consequently the most exposed to the fiery heat, blew up suddenly, and
the flames from the heating-oven filled the air with a red glow. The
miners avoided, however, the direction in which it burned, as it would
be impossible to predicate the direction which the molten metal would
take.

When they reached the pit an awful spectacle presented itself. The
ventilation-ovens which were placed over the shaft-mouth were gone.
The bricks and tiles were scattered in a thousand directions all over
the fields. The large windlass of cast-iron lay on the ground at a
considerable distance from its former position, and of the conical,
bell-shaped buildings hardly a stone was left. Only one wall was still
standing; the iron fasteners hung from its side. The northern entrance
to the pit had fallen in. The handsome stone gates lay in ruins.
Stones, beams, iron bars, coals were all mixed up together in
heterogeneous confusion, as if a volcano had vomited them out.

The air was filled with the cries of weeping women. Hundreds upon
hundreds of women and children, probably widows and orphans, held up
their hands to heaven and wept. Under their feet their husbands, their
fathers, brothers, lovers lay buried, and no one could help them.

More from recklessness than from actual courage some men had already
attempted to go down into the pit. They had been at once stunned by
the pressure of the gas, and now their comrades, at the risk of their
own lives, were trying to drag them out by cords and slings. Already
one lay on the grass, while the women stood round him wringing their
hands.

Ivan now began to make his plans. "In the first place," he said, "no
one is to venture near the pit. Let all wait until I return."

He took his way towards the house of the directors. He forgot that he
had sworn never to hold any communication with Rauné. In any case, he
was not to be found. In the next town there was high festival. The
directors of the new railway had given a banquet in honor of the
completion of the tunnel. Rauné was there. Ivan, however, met the
second engineer coming out of his house. He was a cool, phlegmatic
man, and consoled himself with the trite reflection that these things
happened everywhere. "The gates must be rebuilt," he said. "The pit
roads must again be re-made, and probably we shall have to sink
another shaft. It will cost a lot of money. _Voila tout!_"

"How many men are below?" asked Ivan.

"Probably about a hundred and fifty."

"Only! And what is to be done for them?"

"It will be a hard job to get them out, for they were at work at the
passage which we were making between the north pit and the east to
improve the ventilation."

"Therefore there is no other entrance to the pit but the one which has
fallen in?"

"No; and the eastern shaft is also in ruins. The flames came from
there; you must have seen them."

"Yes; and I couldn't understand how it was that the second explosion
followed the first after an interval of a few minutes."

"That is easily explained. The communicating wall was already so thin
that the explosion in the north pit blew it into fragments; the gas in
the east pit undoubtedly was not kindled by the flames, for they had
already gone out, but by the strong pressure of the air, which was
heated to fever-heat by the accumulation of coal, and which,
therefore, exploded through the shaft. So it is when you put sand into
the barrel of a gun; the powder bursts the barrel before it throws out
the sand."

It was plain that the engineer took a very cold-blooded view of the
whole affair, and that the design for the new stone gate was a matter
of more interest to him than the hundred and fifty lives which were in
jeopardy. Ivan saw there was little assistance to be got from him.

"Before we can attempt the rescue of the men who are buried in the
pit," he said, "we must pump the gas out of the opening of the cavern.
Where is your air-pump?"

"Up there," returned the engineer, pointing to the sky; "that is to
say, if it hasn't fallen down."

"You have no portable ventilator?"

"We never contemplated the necessity of having one."

"I have brought mine, if we can adjust it."

"I would gladly know how that can be done. If the ventilator has a
copper tube, it would be impossible to introduce it through all the
zigzag of the rubbish and general wreck; if it has an india-rubber
pipe it would be too weak, and wouldn't stand being shoved forward."

"Some one must carry it into the pit."

"Some one?" repeated the engineer, with an air of amazement. "Look
yonder; they are drawing up the third man who was foolish enough to
venture down there; he is dead, like the other two!"

"No, none of them are dead; they will soon recover consciousness; they
are stifled by the foul air."

"All the same, I can hardly believe that you will find a man mad
enough to be the first to carry a tube fifty steps through all the
wreckage."

"I have already found the man. I shall do it."

The engineer shrugged his shoulders, but he made no effort to dissuade
him.

Ivan went back to the men, who meantime had been getting ready for
work. He called the oldest miner on one side.

"Paul," he said, "some one must carry the india-rubber tube of the
ventilator into the mouth of the pit."

"Good. Let us draw lots."

"We shall do nothing of the kind. I shall go. You are all husbands and
fathers with families. You have wives and children to provide for. I
have no one. How long can a man hold out in that foul air without
drawing his breath?"

"A hundred beats of his pulse; no longer."

"Good. Fetch me the pipe. Bind a cord round my body and hold the other
end. When you see that I no longer carry the pipe, draw the cord
slowly back, but take care to draw slowly, in case that I should have
fainted and that a sudden pull might strangle me."

Ivan loosened the woollen band from his waist, steeped it in a vessel
of vinegar, and wrung it out and wrapped his face in it, so that his
nose and mouth were covered. He then bound the cord firmly round his
body, took the foremost end of the india-rubber pipe upon his
shoulder, and began to make his way through the rubbish and _débris_
at the pit's mouth.

The old miner called after him, in a broken voice: "Count the seconds.
Fifty for going, fifty for coming back."

Ivan vanished behind the ruins. The miners took off their caps and
folded their hands. The old man held the fingers of his right hand on
the wrist of his left and counted his pulse. He had already counted
over fifty and the other end of the pipe had not moved. It had passed
sixty and was near seventy when suddenly it was pulled forward. Ivan
had penetrated into the deadly atmosphere. The old miner wiped the
perspiration from his brow. He counted eighty, ninety, a hundred
seconds. They shall never see him again. Then the pipe remained
steady.

Now they began to draw the rope. It was slack, and not tightened by
any burden. Ivan was, therefore, so far safe; he was still walking,
for the rope continued slack. Suddenly it got stiffer. Be careful now.
The cord again slackened; the old miner counted a hundred and sixty
seconds. Suddenly Ivan was seen coming out of the pit's mouth,
supporting himself upon the fallen stones of the archway; but his
strength failed, and as the men rushed to his assistance he tottered
and fell into their arms. His face was like that of a dying man.

They rubbed him with vinegar, and the fresh air soon revived him. He
sat up, and told them he was all right, but--

"The air down there is something awful," he said. "What is happening
to those poor creatures who are buried below?"

It never occurred to him to remember that those poor creatures were
the same ungrateful men who had deserted him, who had taken service
with the men who had sworn to ruin him, who had formed a conspiracy
against him, who were ready to murder him, who had sent a deputation
to the enemies of their native land. Here they lay, buried in the
depths of mother-earth, which thus revenged upon them their treachery.
Ivan had forgotten their sin against him and their country, and his
only thought was to save them if there was yet time.

Now that the ventilator had been set in motion, the work of rescue
might begin; but all the same it was a terribly hard fight.

Ivan divided his band of men into two divisions. Each man was only to
stay an hour at the dangerous work of clearing away the rubbish. Every
one must have his face covered by a cloth steeped in vinegar. So soon
as he began to feel faint he was to be carried away by his comrades.

When the day began to break the wreck of the fallen entrance had been
moved to one side, but in the mouth of the pit the sun could not
penetrate. The vault of slate-clay had fallen altogether to one side,
so that Ivan, when he had carried the pipe into the pit, had found
there was scarcely room to allow it to wind through the chasms. In the
spot where he had placed the mouth of the pipe the vault was
altogether destroyed.

It was an undertaking almost superhuman. What had been the work of
weeks had to be done in so many days. And yet it must be done.

In their work of clearing away the rubbish Ivan's men had very little
assistance from the company's men for this reason: the explosion had
taken place at the time when the miners were relieved. When men are
working in collieries it is usual to relieve them four times. It was
the time of the midnight relief when the accident happened. One party
of the miners had already gone down the shaft; they were undoubtedly
suffocated. The other party were on their way out, and were killed at
once by the explosion. There was another party who had only reached
the resting-stage, where neither the flames nor the fragments could
touch them. These men were buried alive. It therefore resulted that of
all the company's miners only from twenty to thirty were available.

The men who worked the forge were forbidden by the director to give
any help in the work of rescue. In all the ovens the metal was in a
liquid state; if it was not attended to it would turn into rammers.
The workmen give the name of _ram_, or _rammer_, to a solid mass of
iron, which, in consequence of faulty melting, cannot be removed from
the oven, and it and the oven have to be thrown away as useless
lumber. The forge-work was urgently needed. The railway greaves had to
be finished by a certain date, or a large fine would have to be paid.
Ivan therefore had to set his men almost unaided to the task of
clearing the pit. The women helped with all their strength. Their
husbands, the bread-winners, were underneath the ruins.

What a terrible undertaking! In consequence of the falling in of the
arches the roof had, at a distance of six feet, to be supported on
plugs, and a sort of street made through the ruins, where at every
corner a new enemy waited for the intrepid pioneers.

After the explosion the pit had been overflowed by water. The
water-pipes had to be set to work, and where these were not sufficient
the men were obliged to empty out the black slime in buckets, standing
for hours in stinking mud, breathing foul air, threatened with death
or mutilation from the constant falling of stones and wreckage.
Undaunted by these obstacles, the men made their way step by step into
the bowels of the earth.

In the afternoon Rauné arrived. In the middle of a convivial festival
he had heard the news. He was raging. He came down the shaft and
cursed all the dead men.

"The scoundrels! They have cost the company a million of money! What
does it matter if they are all killed? Serves them right! Why should
any of them be saved? Stuff and nonsense! Let them suffocate, the
drunken dogs!"

The workers made him no answer. First, because they could not take up
their time talking, and, secondly, because every man's mouth was
covered. The clearing of a mine is very silent work.

But in the midst of his curses Rauné encountered one workman, who
placed himself in front of him and confronted him with a steady look.
This man was covered with mud and coal like the other laborers, his
face was tied up with a cloth, and only the eyes were visible; they,
too, were blackened with coal-dust, but Rauné knew by their expression
that it was Ivan. No one who had ever looked into his eyes could
forget him.

Rauné turned away without another word, and, in company with his
engineer, left the pit. He interfered no further with Ivan's work.

Four days and four nights the men never ceased working. They triumphed
over every obstacle and cut a pathway through every difficulty. During
those four days Ivan never for one hour left the mine. He ate his
meals sitting on a stone, and snatched an hour's sleep in some corner.

On the fourth day the workmen came upon one of the missing men. A
man--no, but a mass, flattened against the wall, of flesh and bones,
which had once been a man.

Some feet farther on there lay another body on the ground, but the
head was nowhere to be seen. They tried to get him on one of the
wheelbarrows which were for drawing coal, but he was all in fragments;
splinters and shreds of that human body were sticking to everything.

Then they came upon the charred, blackened corpses of the men who had
been burned. They were not recognizable.

Farther on there was a group of fifteen men crushed by a huge weight
of slate stratum. This could not be moved, so they were left. It was
more necessary to look after the living than the dead. Everywhere they
found corpses; still the number of the missing was not complete.

The miners employed by the company told Ivan that if any of the men
were still living they would be found at the resting-stage, where they
left their coats before they began to work and fetched them again as
they went up. In the passages, however, there had been such a total
upset that the oldest hand could not find his way. In many places the
explosion had torn down the partition wall, in other places the
entrance was stopped up with rubbish, or the roof taken off some of
the passages which led into the inner vaults. It was all in such utter
confusion that no one could find out where the large vault lay.

At last it struck Ivan that underneath a mass of coal and slack he
heard a faint, whimpering sound. He said to the men, "Dig this spot."

At once they set to work to clear away the rubbish, and as they
cleared the company's men began to recognize different landmarks,
which convinced them they were at the right place.

"Yes, here is the door which leads to the resting-stage." The pressure
of the air had shut the door close, the side walls had fallen in, and
so these, who had been safe from the conflagration, had been buried
alive.

The whimpering cry for help, like that of an infant's wail, was heard
now more distinctly. The door, too, was plainly visible, and as it was
swung off its hinges Ivan took a light and peered into the dark cavern
below.

No cry of joy reached him; the rescued men had not the strength to
make a sound. They were about a hundred in all. They lay there
still, speechless. Life had almost ebbed away, but not altogether.
They had suffered the tortures of hunger and thirst, they had been
suffocated by the foul air, broken-hearted, despairing. And now
these human skeletons, when they saw the light, could hardly raise a
finger to show they were alive. A heart-rending whimper, in which
there was no human tone, rose from the hundred parched throats. When
the explosion came they had been thrown upon their faces. Their
lamps had gone out, and it would have been madness to relight them.
They had remained in total darkness. After a little the danger of
their situation increased. Soon they began to feel that the water
was gradually--slowly at first--filling the space which served them
as a refuge and a grave, and this space or vault was, they knew, a
fathom deeper than the pit. They tried--for at first they were not
so weak--to get hold of some boards and plugs that lay about, and
out of these they made a sort of stage or platform, upon which they
all clambered, and there waited for death--the death that might come
either through hunger, foul air, or drowning. When their rescuers
opened the door the water had reached the threshold and touched the
bottom of the wooden stage.

Ivan directed that the poor creatures should be carried carefully and
silently out of their living grave. They did not press forward, for
they could not stand. Each man lay where he was, and waited until his
turn came. The foretaste of death made every one tranquil. Some of
them could not at first open their eyes, but all were alive, and Ivan
could not help thinking how wonderful is the strength of human nature.

He had saved them all, but the work was not yet finished. How if,
beyond the breach of which the engineer had spoken, there were more
men waiting for deliverance? One thing they must ascertain
positively--if the explosion had finished the work begun by the
engineer's men, and had carried away the wall which had divided one
pit from the other. If this were so, it would considerably lighten the
work of those who had come to seek for the victims. At the opening of
the breach-tunnel lay a man's body; he was such a charred, burned mass
that he was unrecognizable. The dead man held in his hand his
safety-lamp. _It was open._

So this was the accursed one who had done the hellish deed, and it was
human folly that had caused this demoniacal explosion.

The corpse was not recognizable, the clothing was burned to ashes. In
his girdle, however, they found a small steel casket, and in this
casket a gold watch; upon the enamelled back was the portrait of a
lovely woman.

When the watch was brought to Ivan he recognized the portrait. It was
Eveline. With the watch there was also a bank-note for a hundred
gulden. It was half burned. Upon the back was written:

"A year ago to-day I received this money; to-day I pay it back." What
a fearful repayment!

       *       *       *       *       *

Ivan was now able to grasp the connection between the words and the
acts of this terrible man, whose recollection of his own act of eating
human flesh had prompted him to an unexampled and most horrid
massacre. His threats after Evila's elopement, his entering into the
company's service, the last occasion upon which he had drunk brandy,
and the breath he had blown into Ivan's face. All was now explained.
This was part of the drama. This man had a character such as
Antichrist might be possessed of. His soul and body were full of
concealed demons, who prompted him to take revenge of those who had
offended him, ridiculed him, stolen from him, scorned him, treated him
as a fool, insulted him with money, tempted him with luxuries, and
taken advantage of his simplicity to pull him by the nose.

All of them should fall. He would pull the foundation-stone from under
their feet, even if he dug his own grave in so doing. They should fall
from their high estate--the banker, the pastor, the capitalist, the
minister, and the actress.

In hell the demons could teach Peter nothing.

Ivan stood before the unsightly corpse deep in thought. In his heart
there raged a wild conflict of passions. He also had been robbed,
oppressed by the wealth of his enemies, his heart wounded by a hundred
poisoned arrows, and this by the same men upon whom the revengeful
hate of Peter Saffran had fallen. Ivan had come to their help. He had
saved the lives and the property of his foes--at least, what they
called their property; the monstrous treasure which lies in the very
bowels of the earth does not, in truth, belong altogether to any man,
but to all men; it is the treasure-trove of the state, destined to
serve and minister to all ages.

And yet a great dread, an unconquerable fear, possessed Ivan. He dared
not mention his fear to any one, for if he were to share his
suspicion with any one of the workmen, who up to this had followed him
obediently through every peril, they would, without another word, have
turned their backs and fled for their lives.

The wire cylinder of Saffran's safety-lamp was filled to the very top
with a red flame. This was a warning that the atmosphere was still
charged with one-third of hydrogen gas, and that only two-thirds were
of fresh air.

But there is an even greater danger to be feared than the pit-gas. Its
fearful spirit had been laid; the victims lay silent upon the
wheelbarrows. Yet another and a worse spirit lurks in ambush--a foe
who goes about with closed eyes, whose presence is awful in its
consequences: it is the carbon from the coals.

When the men had made the breach through the tunnel, they found, just
as the engineer had said, that the explosion had burst through the
partition wall, and that the _débris_ had only to be removed, and the
passage between the east and the north pits would be established. Not
one of the workmen could remain long at this work. After some moments
each one returned coughing, and complaining that in that place his
safety-lamp would not burn.

In the pits the flame of the lamp filled the whole cylinder; this was
not reassuring. But in the neighborhood of the ruins it would hardly
burn; this was a far more serious sign.

The last miner who returned said that as he removed a large lump of
coal such a terrible stench had penetrated through his mouth-protector
that he had almost fainted. The smell was like that of putrid
vegetable matter.

The old hands knew what this putrid stench signified. Paul suggested
to Ivan that he should go and examine whence it came. Let him cover
his mouth very carefully, and hasten back as soon as possible.

Ivan took his iron rod and his lamp, and went. Seizing hold of the rod
with both hands, he struck it with all his strength into a mass of
coal, upon which the lump rolled with a great noise into the adjoining
space. He then fastened his lamp to the hook of his rod and pushed it
into the hollow. The lamp went out at once, and as he looked from the
darkness into the hollow, to his horror he saw in the next vault a red
glow which lighted up the space. He knew at once there was no time to
lose. He never paused to withdraw his rod, but rushed back to the men.

"The east pit is burning!" he cried.

No one answered, but the men seized hold of Ivan, and bore him with
them out of the pit into the open air. Behind them followed the
horrible stench--not merely that of foul air such as accompanies "bad
weather," often with fatal effect; this was the more insidious carbon,
that which kindles pit-fires, baffles the ingenuity of man, respects
neither the brave nor the scientific, and which, when once it has
begun, can never be turned back. There is nothing to do but to run for
the bare life.

In a few minutes the pit was empty.

As they issued into the light of day they were surrounded by countless
women and children, weeping and screaming in their joy at being
reunited to their lost ones.

The engineer was also there. Ivan went straight to him. Taking the
cloth from his mouth, he said:

"Do you know, sir, what is going on down there in your mine? Complete,
utter ruin! The east pit is burning; it must have been alight some
days, for the whole pit is red-hot. I shall never forget the sight.
Now let me tell you what this means. It is not the hand of human
wickedness, neither is it the avenging hand of God; it is altogether
caused by the negligence of the overseer. You, who are a great
scientist, know as well as I do that collieries take fire when sulphur
gets mixed with coal-dust and is allowed to lie in a heap. It is
always hot down there, and when the stuff is fanned by the air it
lights of itself. Your pit is full of this dangerous burning mist. And
now both your pit and my mine are finished. The colliery fire can
never be extinguished. You have heard of the burning mountain of
Dutweeler? A hundred and twenty years ago that coal-mine took fire; it
is still burning. Here we shall experience another such tragedy.
Good-morning."

The engineer only shrugged his shoulders; it was nothing to him.

Ivan shook the dust of the God-forsaken colony off his feet. He and
his men returned to his own side of the mountain.

Meantime what had happened to his own mine? He had been absent four
days and four nights, and had never given it a thought.



CHAPTER XXVII

FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS


Any one who wishes to understand the meaning of the proverb, "There is
only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous," should gamble on
the stock-exchange; there he will learn the full meaning of the words.

To-day you are a deity, to-morrow the meanest of street curs. To-day
sixty agents shriek out the name of your speculation; you are a sort
of king, and all the other kings on 'change study your countenance to
see how the wind shifts. To-day, so soon as one o'clock strikes by the
town clock, a swarm of buyers come round you. Your note-book is held
up to the view of all the agents. It is handed from one to another; it
is placed upon the back of an agent, and the competitors write the
number of shares they want. To-day all hands point to the percentage,
which is the proof of your high estate. To-day the crowd who are
speculating on your credit fill all the passages; they scream out, "I
sell!" "I buy!" Even outside the stock-exchange sweet creatures of the
opposite sex, who like dabbling in stock quite as much as do the male
creation, make their books. Women are prohibited from showing their
faces on 'change; but they gamble all the same. Hundreds of ladies
wait upon the stock-broker, with a copy of the exchange list in their
hands; they have marked your shares. Still greater ladies sit outside
the exchange in their grand carriages. In their eagerness they stretch
their heads out of their carriage windows to know from the first-comer
at what figure the shares--your shares--stand.

This is all to-day. To-morrow you are not to be found; your name is
scratched out of the exchange list. Every one knows that your affair
has "burst." You are nowhere. You are nobody. Your place is empty.

       *       *       *       *       *

The firm of Kaulmann stood at the summit of its triumph. Felix and his
bosom friend, the Abbé Samuel, were enjoying their afternoon siesta.
The room was full of a cloud of smoke, and under its soothing
influence the friends were building castles in the air.

"To-morrow," said Felix, "the pope's loan upon the Hungarian Church
lands will be floated at the exchange."

"To-morrow I shall receive from Vienna my appointment as titular
Bishop of the Siebenbürger."

"The silver kings are ready to plank down their millions on the loan."

"The pope gives it his blessing," murmured the abbé. "The cardinal's
hat is ready for my head."

"The legitimist financiers have shown a decided objection to my wife
appearing on the stage. This may injure the loan; therefore I intend
to-morrow to explain to her that she is not legally my wife."

"Is it true that Prince Waldemar has arrived in Paris?"

"Yes, he has come after Eveline."

"But his presence here will be injurious to our speculation. He is our
declared enemy."

"He cannot injure us now. Since he met such a total defeat in the
matter of the Bondavara mine and the railway his teeth have been
drawn. He and his bears have kept very quiet."

"Then it is Eveline who has brought him here?"

"He is mad about her; he follows her everywhere like a dog, and is
only anxious to pick up any crumb she will give him."

"But she cannot endure him."

"That is the worse for her. It was greatly Prince Theobald's doing.
That old fellow is mad."

"Is it not the case that the Countess Angela's husband wants to put
the prince's affairs into the hands of trustees?"

"Before we left Vienna there was some talk of it."

"Will this affect in any way the Bondavara shares?"

"In no way. The only unmortgaged portion of his capital is absolutely
made over to the company. I can assure you, the Bondavara speculation
is built upon a rock of gold."

As he spoke three telegraphic despatches were brought in by the
servant. One of these was addressed to the abbé, under cover to the
firm of Kaulmann.

"Lupus in fabulâ," said Kaulmann, as he handed the first telegram to
the abbé. The abbé read:

      "The Prince Theobald has been declared incapable of
      managing his own affairs."

"Poor Eveline, she will have leisure to repent!" remarked Felix, with
a cynical smile.

As he was speaking the abbé opened the telegram addressed to him. He
handed it to Felix, saying:

"And I, too, shall have time to repent."

The telegram ran:

      "The minister has resigned; the emperor has accepted
      his resignation; the whole system is to be changed."

      "Good-bye to the bishop's mitre, to the cardinal's
      hat; good-bye to the velvet arm-chair in the House of
      Peers."

They read the third telegram together. It contained these words:

      "Explosion in the Bondavara colliery. The whole mine
      is on fire."

"This is indeed a blow," said Felix, as he let the telegram fall from
his hand. The three telegrams had come like three flashes of
lightning. The last was the worst.

When the news reached Prince Waldemar he would let the bears loose
with a vengeance. Something must be done to avert the imminent
danger--but what?

If there was only time allowed to float the papal loan such small
things as the Bondavara shares and the burning of mines would be of
little consequence. But could the enemy be reduced to silence?

It was settled that the abbé should without delay repair to Eveline,
and that Kaulmann should speak to Prince Waldemar.

The beaming faces of the two men now wore a sombre air. They had only
one card to play--the smile of a woman was their only salvation.



CHAPTER XXVIII

TWO CHILDREN


Eveline had arrived in Paris at a very important moment. Two great
changes had been made in the world of fashion: the Empress Eugenie had
decreed that the crinoline should be laid aside, and Cardinal Chigi,
the papal nuncio, had pronounced that dresses closed to the throat
should be worn at receptions. Piety had become the rage. It was
considered good taste to go to church and to wait for the sermon.

Piety being, therefore, the fashion, no better moment could have been
chosen by Kaulmann for floating the papal loan. He was well pleased to
find that Eveline was as eager in the pursuit of piety as any of her
fair sisters, the truth being that it harmonized with the poor child's
frame of mind. A few days after her arrival in Paris her cripple
brother had died. A celebrated surgeon had performed an operation
which had put him out of pain forever. Eveline grieved over her loss;
now she felt alone in the world, she had no one to love, no one to
live for. She kept the boy's useless crutches in her room, one on each
side of her dressing-table, and twice a week she went to the
church-yard and put fresh flowers on the little grave. The penitential
fashion just suited her. She preferred to sing Mozart and Handel in
the church than Verdi at the opera.

One day she conceived the idea that she would have a sacred concert
in her own drawing-room; the price of the tickets should be high, and
the proceeds would be for some good purpose--God knows what! perhaps
to buy arms for the papal zouaves. She was busy making out her
programme when the door opened, and Arpad Belenyi, unannounced, rushed
in in his old unceremonious way.

Eveline was delighted to see her former friend. She threw down her
pen, ran to meet him, holding out both her hands.

"Oh, you delightful person, what has brought you here?"

"My profession. I am looking for some place where I may strike the
cymbals and give a concert."

"What a coincidence; you have come at the right moment. But how did
you find me out?"

"Not much difficulty in that. If I didn't see your name in the list at
the Opera, I couldn't avoid seeing it outside St. Eustache."

"Then you have heard me sing?"

"In both places--the theatre and the church. I must tell you I think
the good fathers lay it on pretty strong. For twelve francs I heard
you at the Opera, and had the play into the bargain; but I didn't get
out of the church so cheap. A beautiful lady took twenty francs from
me."

"You silly man! Well, I will pay it back to you. What are your terms?"

"May I ask your reason for the question?"

"How stupid you are! I am not going to engage you for a restaurant.
What are your terms for playing the piano at an evening concert?"

"To you, merely thanks; to the public, five hundred francs."

"But if it is for a charitable purpose?"

"Then either not at all or for money."

"No, no. You are a cynical creature! Don't you feel sympathy for any
one? Would you do nothing for the poor?"

"I know a poor woman to whom I owe everything; that is my mother.
Every farthing which I give to another is taken from her. When the
world has given back to her all that she has lost, then I shall give
to the world all that I possess; but until then everything belongs to
my mother."

"Very good; you shall pay your mother. You shall have the five hundred
francs; but for this you must play something super-excellent--Liszt's
Mass or one of Handel's oratorios."

"What is the concert got up for? Is it to help a religious object? or
is it for the papal zouaves?"

"Yes. I am arranging it."

"Then I can do nothing."

"Why so?"

"Why, because I shall not play for Garibaldi's enemies!"

"Oh, what a goose you are, to be sure! Who asks you to play for
Garibaldi's enemies? You play for my friends."

But the young man kept repeating no, no, he wouldn't, and in his
excitement he got up from his seat, and, throwing back his waistcoat,
showed her that he wore a red shirt.

Eveline laughed unrestrainedly. "A red shirt! So that means that you
have enlisted as a Garibaldian?"

"I should have done so long ago only for my mother."

"And what would you do if your hand was shot off?"

"Then I should become a pensioner to some fine lady, who would, I
know, support me."

Eveline burst into tears. His words had touched a chord in her tender
heart. Arpad, however, could not imagine what he had said to grieve
her; he tried to console her, and asked how he had offended her. Still
sobbing, she said:

"My poor little brother is dead. There by my table I keep his
crutches."

"I am sorry for you; with all my heart I sympathize in your grief. He
and I were good friends; we had plenty of fun together."

"Yes; you liked him. The world is quite dead to me; everything is
changed. I listen for the sound of his crutches scratching along the
floor up the stairs. Ah, my little brother! I have no one now. I want
some one to take care of. I should like to nurse some one--an artist
who had lost his eyesight; a musician whose right hand had been shot
off; or a political hero, who, being pursued, concealed himself in my
room, and to whom I should be benefactress, protectress, bread-winner,
everything."

"Why don't you go to Garibaldi?"

She was laughing now; her moods were as variable as an April day.

"You have heard me sing in public. What do you say of me?"

"I say you would be a great artist if you could sing for the devils as
well as you do for the angels."

"I don't understand. What do you mean by the devils?"

"You surely have heard from the pulpit that the theatre is the devil's
synagogue?"

"You rude man! Don't you know that I belong to the theatre?"

"I beg pardon a thousand times. I believed that in the daytime you
were an abbess and at night you were an actress; that would be a fair
bargain."

"You silly boy! Why do you think I am an abbess?"

"Because you are dressed as such."

"This is only a penitential dress. You godless creature, you are
making fun of religion!"

"No, madame. I agree that it is a great mortification to wear gray
silk, a great penance to play the coquette with downcast eyes, a real
fast to eat crawfish at twenty francs the dish. I am also told that
the reason the fashionable ladies of Paris have taken to wearing high
dresses is that they discipline the flesh so severely that their
shoulders and necks are one mass of scars, and therefore the effects
of their flagellations must be concealed."

"That is not true. We don't do anything of the kind."

"The world says so. I don't want to inquire; it is your secret."

"It is not true," Eveline repeated. "We do not flagellate ourselves;
look!" And kneeling down before Arpad she raised the lace collar which
was round her neck and made him look at her fair skin.

They were a pair of children.

Arpad took his hat and his leave. He left a card with his address, but
he would have no share in her concert.

Eveline, however, went on writing her programme.



CHAPTER XXIX

IMMACULATE


Eveline was still writing her programme when the Abbé Samuel was
announced. In Paris it is not thought out of the way for an abbé to
visit an actress, and, for the rest, the abbé was an old friend, well
known to both husband and wife. He was naturally very much interested
in the concert, and read the programme most attentively.

"It would have been all so nice," said Eveline, in a vexed tone, "only
for that stupid Arpad. See, father, just there, between my song and
the violoncello solo, he would have come in so well."

"Is Arpad in town?"

"Yes, he has only just gone. I begged of him to help my concert; and
my song from the Stabat Mater would have gone so much better to the
harmonium, and he accompanies beautifully; but he has grown quite
silly; he has become a heretic."

The priest shook his sides with laughter, and then a sudden idea
struck him. It was plain Eveline liked Arpad, which was only natural,
for they were about the same age. He was twenty, she nineteen--a pair
of children, and children like to amuse themselves. They don't care
for serious things; that comes later. What if he made use of Arpad to
introduce Waldemar?

"I should like to take a bet with you that Arpad Belenyi will play
the piano at your concert, and that, moreover, he will accompany your
Stabat Mater on the harmonium. If he does so, what will you give me?"

"Oh, he won't do it; you may be sure of that! I know him well; he is
very obstinate once he takes anything into his cockatoo's head, and if
_I_ have not been able to persuade him--"

Eveline had immense faith in the magic power of her black eyes.

"Well, you shall see. What will you give me if I succeed?" repeated
the abbé.

Eveline replied to this question by another:

"How do you mean to get round him?" She said nothing of what she would
give in case he succeeded.

"Oh, there are many ways; for instance, I might say to him that if he
played in your drawing-room it is very likely he may be engaged by the
empress, and that then his fortune was made--at least, for this
season. An artist would at once see what a chance this would be. Then
I would offer him money."

"I have done that already--five hundred francs."

"Well, although a young man may turn up his nose at five hundred
francs, an old woman will appreciate a hundred Napoleons at their true
value. Arpad must obey his mother's wishes, and what she promises for
him he must do. I know the circumstances."

"You are a very sensible man. I should have begun with the mother, but
it never occurred to me. Well, manage it all for me. If you only
accomplish it I shall do whatever you ask me."

She was in such good-humor that the abbé saw he could ask her
anything; still, it was with a slight hesitation that he said:

"I want you to give me an invitation for your charity concert for a
friend of mine."

"You shall have ten," cried Eveline, joyfully.

"I only require one, but this invitation must be written with your own
hand."

"Give me the name of your friend and I will write the card this
moment."

As she spoke she seated herself at her writing-table, took an
invitation-card from her drawer, and made all ready to begin.

"Now the name."

"Prince Waldemar Sondersheim."

When she heard the name Eveline threw down her pen and sprang hastily
to her feet.

"No," she said, decidedly, "never!"

The abbé burst into a shrill laugh. "Your excitement is very
becoming," he said. "You are a fine actress."

"I shall not invite Prince Sondersheim to my concert," returned
Eveline, seating herself on the sofa with a defiant air.

"Is the prince disagreeable to you?"

"I loathe him."

"Do you imagine that the world contains nothing but simpletons like
Arpad Belenyi?"

Eveline got up from the sofa, went to the writing-table, and tore the
programme she had been writing into a hundred pieces.

"Arpad may stay at home, tied to his mother's apron-strings. I don't
want him nor any one. I'll give up the concert;" and she threw the
torn fragments of her programme into the fireplace.

The abbé rose from his seat and took the excited girl by the hand.

"Compose yourself, my dear young lady," he said. "I have come to you
on a most urgent matter--a matter which is of serious consequence to
you and your husband, and I do not deny that it is of great moment to
me. I may, in fact, call it of vital importance to each one of us. If
it should turn out as badly as it threatens your husband shall have to
go to America, I must return to my monastery, and what will become of
you I do not know."

Eveline sat down again on the sofa. She listened to him attentively.

"At all events, you will have to go out of this," went on the abbé,
"and that without loss of time. You must know that the old Prince
Theobald, after you had returned to him the palace in the Maximilian
Strasse, which he had made a present to you, took shares in your name
in the Bondavara Company to the amount of a million."

"I never knew it," said Eveline.

"That proves that you never thought of asking your husband what the
expense of this splendid hotel was, to say nothing of your magnificent
carriage and horses, your numerous servants, your conservatory--"

"I thought that my salary, added to what Herr Kaulmann--" She stopped
suddenly; the incredulous smile on the abbé's lips made her silent. He
continued:

"All this splendor is at an end. A telegram which came a few hours ago
brings the news that, at the suit of his son-in-law, Prince Theobald's
affairs have been placed in the hands of trustees; the trustees will,
without any doubt, seize the shares taken for you."

"They may do as they like," returned the girl, indifferently.

"Oh, there may be a lawsuit! But there is worse to come. Another
telegram brings the news that last week there was a fearful explosion
at the Bondavara colliery."

At this news Eveline gave a cry; then quickly asked:

"And Herr Behrend, has his mine also exploded?"

The abbé looked somewhat surprised, but continued, in his earnest
manner:

"I believe not. The company's shares, however, have received a
terrible blow. The more so, that one of the collieries is still
burning, with no chance of being extinguished."

As he spoke he looked fixedly at her, and his penetration soon took in
the truth: that her joy at the escape of Behrend's property outweighed
her sorrow for her husband's loss.

"You can understand," continued the abbé, "in what danger we are of
actual ruin; everything now depends upon one thing. Of course, you are
aware that, in consequence of the Bondavara Company, Kaulmann's
reputation is one of the highest in the financial world. Millions of
money have actually been put into the affair, and ten times as much is
floating in the air of the stock-exchange. Money is not a tangible
quantity. This catastrophe--which, after all, may still be averted,
for it is possible that the fire may be extinguished--will be a
terrible engine in the hands of the enemies of the company, who want,
above all things, to upset Kaulmann. The colliery explosion is a
powder-mine in the hands of the bears. To-day he is a king, hands full
of gold are stretched out to him, a hundred millions are eagerly
offered to him; to-morrow these very people will surround him,
clamoring to get back their money, which they have intrusted to him.
Whether the cry is raised or not depends altogether on one man, and
this man is Prince Waldemar Sondersheim. He is here; he arrived
to-day. Probably he has had news of the explosion sooner than
Kaulmann, whose director, Rauné, no doubt, hoped against hope to get
the fire under. Kaulmann's fate lies in the hands of Prince
Sondersheim, and so does my own. I do not conceal it. I was the pivot
of an enormous, world-wide project. To-morrow Kaulmann's proposal for
the Church loan was to be laid before the financial world of Paris and
Brussels; it is an important crisis that may give to history a new
page. If Prince Waldemar makes use of his knowledge of the collapse of
the Bondavara Company to raise a cry against us, then the whole fabric
upon which so much is built vanishes as a dream. If he or his bears
call out on the exchange that the Bondavara shares are sixty per cent.
below par we are lost. If he keeps silent the loan will float
splendidly, and then the Bondavara misfortune will sink into a matter
of small importance, such as constantly occurs in the money-market.
Now you can understand what an effect a word from you may have, and
what you can do if you speak this word."

Eveline shook her head, and laid her finger on her lips; she looked
the very genius of silence.

"What!" cried the abbé, his anger getting the better of him, "you
refuse? You think more of one word that can cost you nothing than of
the consequences? The Holy See may be overthrown, the standard of
infidelity may be unfurled, the saints torn from their shrines--and
all for a woman's caprice."

Eveline spread out her arms as if she were engaged in a combat with a
giant. She called out, in a resolute voice:

"No; I cannot speak to that man."

The abbé grew angry. He said to himself if he could not persuade this
vexatious woman, at least he would give himself the pleasure of
wounding her in a tender point. He took his hat in his hand, and,
holding it behind his back, said, in a cold, cutting voice:

"I neither understand your dislike to the prince nor your extreme
delicacy. Prince Sondersheim is no way inferior to the men you have
admitted to your intimacy."

At this insult Eveline seized the hand of the abbé, and cried, with a
sudden abandonment of her usual reserve:

"Oh, father, I have never been a wife; I am still as innocent as a
child!"

The abbé looked at her in unfeigned astonishment. He saw by her
burning blushes, her modest, downcast eyes, her childish sobs, that
she was speaking the truth. He sighed deeply; he could not help it. It
was his last stake, and he had lost. Good-bye to glory, to greatness.
All had vanished into thin air at Eveline's words; they had scattered
his dreams. He recognized that all the great deeds which have made men
famous were as dust and ashes in comparison with the real nobility of
soul possessed by this peasant girl, this woman who, in obedience to
her husband's infamous commands, and because she had sworn to obey
him, had worn the mask of a Phryne while she preserved the purity of a
saint. By no act of his should she descend from her pedestal.

"Eveline," he said, in a voice of deep emotion, "the words you have
spoken banish me to my cell. My dreams of power and splendor lie in
the dust--their fitting place. You said,'I am still innocent'; my
child, keep yourself so. The French law recognizes no marriage unless
it has been contracted before the civil authorities. Your marriage
with Felix Kaulmann is in this country null and void; you are here
Mademoiselle Eva Dirkmal, nothing more. You can tell Kaulmann that I
have told you this. I have given him the same information, as he
wished to free himself from this nominal tie to you. And now,
farewell; I return to my monastery, to reconcile myself with an
offended God."

Eva Dirkmal threw herself at the feet of the priest, and covered his
hands with tears and kisses.

"Put your hand upon my head," she sobbed, "and ask God to bless me."

"My daughter," said the abbé, "an invincible hand watches over you and
protects you. May you ever be thus safely guarded."

With these words the priest left the room. He did as he said; he
sought no further interview with Kaulmann, but went straight to the
railway, and buried himself in his monastery. The world knew him no
more.



CHAPTER XXX

MAN AND WIFE


Felix lost no time in seeking an interview with Prince Waldemar. He
preferred to look for him in his own house than to meet him
accidentally on 'change.

Waldemar did not keep him long waiting, neither did he treat him to
any display of his superior rank. He received him in his study.

"Ah, your highness is occupied with business," said Felix, with the
airy manner of an intimate friend; but he was secretly astonished to
see that a man of the prince's high position was actually cutting the
pages of the pamphlet before him, and underlining with red and blue
pencil-marks the passages that pleased him most.

The prince laid down the pamphlet, and asked Felix to take a chair.

"I have only this moment heard," continued the banker, "that your
excellency had arrived in Paris, and I hastened to be the first to pay
my respects."

"Strange! At this very moment, I, too, was occupying myself with your
affairs," returned the prince, with a peculiar smile, which Felix
noted and thought he understood. He tried to put on a jaunty air as he
made answer:

"I have come as an envoy under the protection of a flag of truce into
the enemy's country."

The prince thought to himself, "The fellow's flag of truce is a
handkerchief worked with the letter E."

"Even greater powers than we," went on Felix, twirling his hat in his
fingers with some embarrassment, "have in sudden emergencies
co-operated, and from being enemies have become fast friends,
recognizing that to bury the hatchet was for their mutual advantage."

"And may I inquire what is for our mutual advantage?"

"My projected loan."

The prince said nothing, but the smile that played upon his thin lips
was a sufficient and most irritating answer. Felix began to lose his
calmness. He rose from his chair, and in his earnestness leaned over
the table at which the prince was sitting.

"Prince," he said "this loan is for the benefit of the Holy See. You
are, I know, a good Catholic."

"Who has betrayed my secret?"

"Besides, you are a thorough aristocrat. It must go against your
highness's feelings to see that while in Hungary a bureaucratic
minister pillages the Church and puts its revenues in his pocket, a
band of freebooters throws the patrimony of St. Peter to the mob. All
this can be prevented by our striking one blow. You will strike it,
for you are a nobleman in the best sense of the word."

"What else am I?"

"Above all, you are a financier. It cannot escape your keen eye that
this loan is one of the greatest, the soundest of speculations; for
you are a prudent man, and you know how to add two and two."

"Have I any other qualifications?"

Waldemar's cold, sarcastic rejoinders did not put Felix out of
countenance. His face assumed a still more amiable expression as he
offered his hand to the prince, saying, in a cordial manner:

"I trust you will be the honored friend of the house of Kaulmann."

These words would be met either by a warm shake of the hand or by a
box on the ear. He ran the risk, waiting breathlessly for the answer,
which was different from, and yet worse than, that he expected. The
prince took up the pamphlet which he had been busy underlining with
red and blue pencil.

"Now, my excellent brother in the faith, my fellow aristocrat, my
comrade in finance, and my best friend, just you throw your eye over
this little brochure, for there you will find my answer. I beg that
you will take your time."

He handed the pamphlet to Felix, and while that gentleman cast his eye
over it the prince pared his nails carefully.

Felix laid down the pamphlet. "This purports to be my biography."

"As I think the title-page mentions."

"Your highness is, I presume, the writer?"

"I have given the heads."

"There are all manner of affairs mentioned here in which I have played
a sorry part by throwing dust in the eyes of the public, principally,
however, in the Bondavara speculation, in which, it seems, I have
announced a false balance and a feigned bonus, drawn ten millions out
of the capital, which capital is now irrecoverably lost by the late
catastrophe in the mine. It is a terrible indictment against me."

"Perhaps it is not true?"

"_It is true!_ Your highness is my faithful biographer; but allow me
to fill up the details of the memoir. The unlooked-for misfortune of
yesterday can be repaired to-morrow; the unlucky speculation may be
glossed over if a better takes its place; a small defeat is
compensated by a great victory. What use does your highness intend to
make of this brochure?"

"Frankly, I intend, as soon as you declare your new loan, to circulate
this pamphlet freely on 'change. I shall then set the bears to work,
so that in no time your shares shall be driven out of the market."

"I guessed as much, and, to be frank, it was on this very account that
I have come here, to prevent, if I can, such ruin to myself."

Felix tried by continuous winking of his eyes to express his despair.
He put his right hand into his vest, and in a low voice added:

"Perhaps when you see me stretched dead before you your aim will then
be accomplished."

Prince Waldemar broke into an irrepressible fit of laughter and
clapped Kaulmann on the shoulder.

"I beg of you not to act a farce for my benefit. You did not come here
to blow your brains out. Nothing of the sort; you came to sell me
something. You are a ruined speculator, but you still possess one
jewel of value, a wonderful black carbuncle which you found in the
coal-mine and got smoothly cut, which you have already sold at a great
profit, but which is now back on your hands. You are perfectly aware
that I desire to get this jewel if I can, that I am willing to offer
all I have for it; and this is why you have come here to-day. Let us
understand one another. I will treat with you. What is your price?"

The prince threw himself back in his chair, but he let Kaulmann stand
without again asking him to be seated.

The banker gave up his tragic manner, and resumed his customary cool,
hard, matter-of-fact voice.

"First of all, this;" and he laid his hand upon the pamphlet.

"Good! You shall have it--a thousand copies and the manuscript. You
can burn it, unless you care to keep it as a souvenir."

"Secondly," went on Felix, "you must abandon your conspiracy against
me. During the three days of raising the loan your bears are to keep
quiet; there are to be no manœuvres. Thirdly, your name must appear in
the list of subscribers with a good sum after it."

"Good! We shall understand one another. Now listen to my modifications
of your proposal. On the first day when the shares of the new loan are
drawn I undertake to keep the bears quiet, but I shall take no shares.
On the second day I shall also keep quiet, but I shall not give you a
shove. On the third day I shall take one million shares, and from that
time I undertake to push your speculation as if I were your best
friend."

"And why not on the first two days?"

"I will tell you what is to happen on those days. This very day you
must go to madame and tell her that Prince Theobald's fortune is
sequestrated and that she can no longer occupy his hotel. Madame was
once generous enough to return to the prince his palace in the
Maximilian Strasse, together with all it contained. She will have to
repeat this act of renunciation and return to her husband's roof. Her
husband must celebrate this happy event by a splendid entertainment,
to which he will, as a matter of course, invite his best friend." Here
the prince laid, with a significant gesture, his little finger on his
breast. "The friend will take this opportunity to show madame a
photograph of his summer palace, which is situated on the Lake of
Constance, and only waits for the presence of its mistress to be
perfection, while she stands in great need of the lovely breezes of
the lake to restore her."

"You are really very thoughtful."

"Do not praise me too soon. On the second day you must have an
explanation with madame. You will tell her that in France a marriage,
to be legal, must be contracted before the civil magistrate; therefore
you will go with her before the registrar and have yourself legally
married."

"But, prince," cried Felix, with a horrified expression upon his face,
"why should I do that?"

"Why?" returned the prince, standing up in his turn, so as to be able
the better to overwhelm his victim. "Because I wish to defeat your
little game. You took to yourself a wife in another country, knowing
you could repudiate her here. It is my wish that madame shall bear
your name always; otherwise you would have it in your power on the
fourth day to say to me, 'I gave you what was not mine to give.' I
shall have the diamond in its proper setting. I shall not remove the
centre-stone from your wedding-ring; but I shall wear it on _my_
finger."

Kaulmann could not conceal his embarrassment. "This whim is
incomprehensible," he said.

"On the contrary," returned the other, with a devilish sneer, "it is
quite clear; it simply means that _I know you au fond_. And now to my
own affairs. I am desperately in love with one woman, and she detests
me. She will not even look at me. But she little thinks I know the
reason of her abhorrence. Your wife is a virtuous woman. You look
surprised--naturally. It is no merit of yours that she has remained
so. Oh, you need not protest! Prince Theobald has told me the whole
history. Among other things, he made her swear that she would never
receive me. Poor old fool! He did not act with much knowledge of human
nature. If he had not interfered it's very likely I should have tired
of pursuing a woman who did not care for me; but the mystery that
surrounded her has added to my interest. I adore her, not alone for
her beauty, her charm, but for her innocence, her goodness. She
requires nothing to raise her in my estimation; but before the world
she must take her fitting place. She must have the shield of her
husband's name, the right to his protection. Now you understand what I
require of you."

"Prince, your ideas are demoniacal. You wish to bind me to my
dishonor."

"To your dishonor!" and the prince laughed scornfully. "My good
Kaulmann, who asked you to come here and sell your honor? Ah, you
cannot answer that! Never mind, we shall keep our secret; the world
shall know nothing. In society the head of the house of Kaulmann shall
be considered an honorable gentleman, an excellent husband, a good
family man. In the commercial world he will be looked upon as a sound
financier. Honors will crowd upon him; he will go far. . . . His real
position will be known to only three people. There, my good friend,
don't feign so much virtuous indignation. You are overacting, which
always spoils the effect. I will take it all for granted. Time is
short; it will be better to make use of it."

This was true. Every moment was precious. Felix abandoned all attempts
at outraged feelings of honor and the like, and, composing his
agitated features, held out his hand to the prince. The latter,
however, did not take it.

"There's no need to shake hands over our honorable compact. Take your
note-book and write down the conditions, and be sure you put the dates
correctly. To-morrow, if I receive by one o'clock the card of
invitation to your entertainment, I shall remain away from the
exchange. The next day I do the same; that is, if I receive _before_
one o'clock the official notification that your civil marriage has
taken place. On the _fourth_ day, if _before_ one o'clock your
solicitor brings me the news that you have set off to Brussels to
negotiate the papal loan, and that he hands me the key of your house,
with the request that I will look after the business in your absence,
then I shall go down to the exchange, and push your affair as if it
were my own. Now you may go, sir, and indulge your outraged feelings
in private."



CHAPTER XXXI

EVA DIRKMAL


Felix Kaulmann felt that he had made good use of his opportunity. All
would now go well. The prince would no longer avail himself of the
Bondavara catastrophe to ruin him; on the contrary, his influence
would stem the panic which the news had, no doubt, already caused in
the Vienna money-market, and when the papal loan was concluded all
would be smooth. There was Eveline, of course; but a man such as
Kaulmann, whose conscience had long since been as withered as was his
heart, soon found excuses for any ill-doing. No one could blame him
for the prince's infatuation; it would be only a fool who wouldn't
take advantage of it, especially one in his situation. A drowning man
catches at any plank; and as for Eveline, she owed him a debt of
gratitude. Had he not raised her from the very dust of the coal-pit to
her present situation, saved her from a brutal husband like the savage
Saffran, educated her, made her a fit companion for a prince? Better
women than she would be glad of the elevation that was awaiting her;
and this reminded him that the Abbé Samuel's interview must have
opened the matter, so he went in search of him. The priest, however,
was not to be found at any of his usual haunts. Felix, therefore,
repaired to Eveline's hotel; neither was she at home. She had gone to
the theatre; it was one of her acting nights.

Felix drove to the Opera-house. He went first to his wife's box, where
there was no one but her companion. He took a view of the house. In
the pit there were numerous _claqueurs_. In one of the front boxes he
saw Prince Waldemar. Then he went behind the scenes, for he was known
as the husband of the prima donna and was allowed access to her
dressing-room.

Eveline was dressed for her part and waiting to go on. When she saw
Kaulmann she turned away angrily. Why did he disturb her when she was
busy with her calling?

"I have only come to wish you good-evening," he said.

"You might have waited until to-morrow."

"To wish you good-evening? Ha! ha!"

"No; but you know I am always so nervous before I go on--"

"I only wished to tell you that the cream of Parisian society are
fighting to get tickets for your concert. Have you reserved one for
me?" Felix was full of amiability and admiration.

"I have reserved none."

"Ah! And why not?" He said this in a soft, complaining voice.

"Because I have given up the concert. It shall not take place."

The face of her husband suddenly lengthened. "Will you kindly tell me
the reason of this change?"

"After I have come off. My scene has come. I must go." So saying, she
left the room and went to the wings.

Felix followed to a point from which he could see his wife on the
stage and have a general view of the house.

Eveline played badly and sang worse. Her voice trembled, she was out
of tune, and her runs and _roulades_ were imperfect. She was evidently
nervous. Nevertheless, she was applauded to the echo, the _claque_
worked hard; and Prince Waldemar, from his box, clapped as if he had
been paid for it. When she had finished her last song a shower of
bouquets and wreaths came from the prince's box and fell at her feet.

Eveline left them on the stage and hurried away to her dressing-room.
Kaulmann followed her.

"Why didn't you pick up those lovely bouquets?" he asked, carelessly.

"I felt I didn't deserve any. I know I did badly to-night."

"But surely for the sake of the giver you should have taken one of the
bouquets."

"Ah, you would like that."

"I?"

"Yes. All those flowers came from you--at least, so I have always
understood."

"Pardon me, _ma chère_. Didn't you notice that they all came from the
side box? Didn't you recognize who was in that box?"

"I never looked."

"It was Prince Waldemar."

"The man who is your enemy--who wants to ruin you?"

"Oh, that is not so! He has quite changed. He is now _our_ best
friend."

"_Our_ friend? Whom do you include in 'our'?"

"You, as well as myself."

"Thanks; but I decline my share."

"I am afraid you will find it difficult to stand aloof, for I consider
Prince Waldemar as my best friend, and henceforth my house is open to
him as to a brother."

"As you please. My house shall be shut in his face."

"I am sorry, but your words oblige me to break a disagreeable piece of
news to you. But I see you are busy; you don't take any interest--"

"Go on talking," returned Eveline, who was standing before the
looking-glass washing the paint off her face. "I am listening."

"For the future, I regret to say, you will not have a house of your
own. The affairs of your friend, Prince Theobald, have been
sequestrated; his property is now in the hands of trustees. I need not
tell you, for I am sure you have known all along, that the hotel you
occupy, together with all your expenses, has been paid for by him.
This, naturally, is at an end. In my circumstances I could not afford
to give you a separate establishment; we will, therefore, be obliged
to live together, and it follows naturally that I shall expect my wife
to receive as her guests _my friends_, and to make them welcome."

Eveline had laid aside her queenly robes; she now took off her diadem,
and as she slowly unfastened her bracelets she turned and faced Felix.

"And do you think," she said, "that when I leave my hotel I cannot get
for myself a garret somewhere, where there will be a door with a
strong bolt, with which I can bar the entrance of any unpleasant
visitors?"

Felix looked at her in amazement; he constrained himself to take a
more friendly tone.

"I must call your attention to one fact. We are in Paris, and the
French marital law is strict. A wife must dwell under her husband's
roof. She must go where he goes. She must obey him."

Eveline was now busy undoing the gold sandals which bound her feet.
She looked steadily at Kaulmann, with her eyes glowing like lamps.

"I must call your attention," she said, "to one fact. We are in Paris,
and according to the French law those persons who have been married
before the altar, and not before the civil authorities, are not
considered legally married, and that, therefore, our marriage is null
and void."

Kaulmann sprang to his feet as if he had been bitten by a tarantula.

"What are you saying?" he cried, in a voice that was almost a shriek.

Eveline had loosened the golden sandals. She stood before Felix in her
bare feet, and threw him the sandals.

"These belong to you. I am once more Eva Dirkmal. I belong to myself."

"Who has told you this?" stammered the banker, pale with rage.

"The Abbé Samuel, who advised you to treat me in the same manner."

Kaulmann felt the room going round.

"And now," continued Eveline, with a dignified motion of her hand, "I
must remind you that this is the dressing-room of a young girl."

Felix did not wait to have his dismissal repeated; he took his hat and
went without another word. He ran away, and he ran so fast that he
took no heed where he was going till he stumbled and fell.

All was over; he had played his last card and lost. Everything was
gone; there was no more help. He had two courses open to him: he might
put a pistol to his head, and so end the drama, or he might take all
the money in his counting-house and fly. He chose the last.



CHAPTER XXXII

CRUSHED


Eveline felt as if she had been given new life. She was no longer
married, and yet she was not a widow. She had to shed no tears over
happiness that had vanished, no regrets for domestic joys. Her heart
was full of newly awakened desires, hopes she hardly dared to confess
to herself, dreams that delighted while they embarrassed her--a
delicious riddle that she feared to guess. Next day, however, when she
heard that Kaulmann had absconded and would never return, she
recognized fully that her chains had fallen off.

When the caged bird has escaped into the open air of heaven, does he
ever regret his gilded cage and all its luxurious comforts or the
tender endearments of his owner? The bird enjoys his freedom, and
rejoices he is no longer a slave. It may be that wilder and stronger
birds tear him in pieces; that the frost and rain may chill his body,
unused to exposure. He cares not. He wings his flight still higher; he
seeks for a branch; he cooes to his lady-love; he is happy.

Eveline never for one moment reflected that she was in any way
implicated in the fall of Kaulmann and the shame that attended his
ruin. She had no idea that her name was bandied about. She who had
been as a queen, who had been so admired, had such a _succès_! What
was to become of her now? She belongs to no one. No one knows
anything of her past; but it is pretty safe to prophesy her future.
She will have another protector. Of course; but who will he be? Which
of her many admirers? She has a legion of adorers from which to
choose.

This was the talk of the clubs and the gossip of society. While
Eveline sat in her room, rejoicing at her new life of freedom, an idea
suddenly came into her head. She looked for Arpad's visiting-card,
ordered her carriage, and drove out to visit the Belenyis. They lived
some little way from Paris, in the suburbs, where houses can still be
had with rooms on the ground floor. Madame Belenyi liked to live on
the ground floor. The house she had lost was of this sort, and it had
the advantage that, having her own kitchen, she could cook for her
son, and feel sure he was not dining at some tavern in bad company.
Unless on special occasions Arpad invariably came home to dine with
his mother; he would not have missed doing so for a splendid feast. He
thought there was nothing to compare with her dishes of pig's ear and
delicately cooked vegetables.

Eveline's coachman found it hard to make out the narrow little street
in the neighborhood of Montmartre, where the Belenyis had established
themselves. Eveline would not let the carriage go farther than the
corner; there she got out, and, accompanied by her footman, walked up
the street, looking for the right house. It was an old fashioned
cottage, in which Madame Belenyi had hired two rooms divided by a
kitchen. A girl who was working in the garden showed Eveline where the
young gentleman lived. As Eveline pushed open the kitchen-door very
gently she noticed that the door of the inner room opened suddenly and
a woman looked out. This was undoubtedly Arpad's mother, who was
curious to see who had come to visit her son.

Eveline went on her toes to the door of the opposite apartment, and
noiselessly turned the handle; she wanted to surprise Arpad.

His room was the picture of comfort and order. It was easy to see how
carefully it was kept by his mother. The table, the walls, were
crowded with handsome pictures and ornaments, the gift of different
persons--cups, wood-carvings, antique weapons, classical paintings;
the windows were supplied with plants in bloom; there were bookcases
full of books. Everything was well arranged; there was taste and
comfort, and Arpad liked to be at home better than anywhere else. The
hired piano was from Erard's manufactory, and was now open. Arpad was
sitting with his back to it, brush in hand; he was painting. The
pianoforte-player was also a painter. Artists, many of them, indulge
in these freaks. One of our most distinguished portrait-painters loves
to torture his neighbors by scratching like a cat upon the strings of
a violin; so also a well-known musician spends his time writing feeble
verses; and a third, who is a real poet, produces unsightly
excrescences in marble and terra-cotta.

What was Arpad painting?

Eveline stepped softly behind his back, but the rustle of her silk
dress betrayed her presence.

Arpad turned scarlet, shoved the picture into a drawer, and, getting
up quickly, confronted his visitor, who had only time to see that it
was a portrait he was painting.

"Ah, it is you," he stammered, in an embarrassed voice. "I thought it
was my mother."

"Aha, you are doing something you should not! Your mother does not
allow you to paint; isn't that it? Well, it is a silly thing, I must
say, for a pianoforte-player to spend his time painting; and what is
the subject?"

"Oh, nothing--a flower!"

("What a lie!" thought Eveline; "it was a portrait.")

"Then if it is a flower, give it to me."

"I should rather not."

"But if it is only a flower?"

"I am not going to give it to you."

"Don't be so cross. Won't you ask me to sit down?"

Arpad was really vexed. Why had she come to disturb him just at this
moment? Any other time she would have been welcome. This beginning
spoiled the happy hour; for the picture was not Eveline's portrait.

"Sit near me, else I shall think you are afraid of me. I expected that
you would have come to see me, to find fault with me for my
performance yesterday evening. Tell me frankly--didn't I sing badly?"

"Very badly," returned Arpad, discontentedly. "You are going back
instead of forward; and you seem to forget all you learn. I was quite
ashamed of you. And your acting! I thought I was looking at an
automaton."

"To tell you the truth, I was in a miserable state of mind; I had
several domestic troubles. I am separated from Kaulmann."

"That was no reason to sing false; he wasn't worth risking your
engagement for, and playing in such a perfunctory manner--singing,
too, all out of tune. You never troubled yourself much about him."
(Arpad knew nothing of what had happened to Kaulmann; the news had not
penetrated to Montmartre.) "And, at all events, you should have had
the discretion not to order a shower of bouquets when you were doing
so badly; it doesn't look well."

Eveline was very much wounded at this unjust accusation. She answered,
almost crying:

"I beg to assure you I have never ordered bouquets to be thrown to
me."

"Well, it was one of your adorers, that crazy prince. It is all the
same thing. To be handsome, to sing badly, and to receive wreaths,
those are three sins rolled into one. The world cannot distinguish
between them."

"Very well; go on finding fault, go on scolding, my excellent old
master. What else have I done that is displeasing to you?"

Arpad began to laugh, and held out his hand to Eveline.

"Forgive me," he said. "My roughness is only the grumble of the
preceptor; it is over. Now we shall be young again and chat. Shall I
fetch the draught-board? Shall we play for love or for nothing?"

This tone warmed Eveline's heart. She laughed, and slapped Arpad's
hand, which he did not like.

"What are you going to do now you have got rid of Kaulmann?" he said.
"Will you marry again? Is another man ready for the yoke? Men are as
plentiful as blackberries. Or are you going to preserve the autonomy
of the actress?"

Eveline cast down her eyes and grew suddenly grave.

"I have no one," she said, sorrowfully.

"Ah, that does not mean that there are not plenty you can have if you
like."

"It means the same thing. I shall belong to no one. I shall never take
a husband who is above me in station. Do you see, the girl who went
barefoot in the coal-mine must stay in her own class. If I could give
any one a place in my heart, it would be to one who was as free and
independent as I am. He should owe nothing to great people; he should
depend absolutely on his own genius; live absolutely by his own work.
He should be esteemed not for his money nor his rank, but for his
talent; he should glory in being an artist."

This was a frank confession for any one who understood. Arpad
understood; he became more discontented.

"H'm! Then I am afraid you are walking in a path that leads you away
from such a man as you describe."

"What _do you_ mean?"

Arpad got up from his chair. "Artists have many strange ideas; these
are inseparable from the artistic temperament. Do you see that antique
goblet there in the centre of the table? It was a present to me from
Count Demidoff on the occasion of a concert. It was an heirloom in his
family. It is a wonderful relic; a classical work. Princes, generals,
rulers have drunk out of it. I have a great respect for it, and I keep
my visitors' cards in it. But I never drink out of it; I prefer a
common glass, for which I have paid fifteen pence, but out of which no
one has drunk but myself."

Eveline flushed deeply at this cruel speech.

Arpad had, however, resolved to make the matter still clearer.

"You say," he went on, "that you would like to find an artist, a
genius, a proud, independent man; him you would choose for your
husband! And you imagine that a man of this type would submit to sit
by your side as you drove in the Champs Élysées, knowing that the
people driving behind in other carriages or walking along the path
were saying, 'There is the curled and scented Hyperion, but the steeds
that draw him are not paid for by _his_ muse, they are the
blood-horses of Prince X----; and his wife is not content with the
glory of _his_ name, she wears the diamonds provided by Marquis
G----.' Do you think you will easily find such a husband?"

Poor Eveline! She tried to defend herself against this cruel boy.

"But I am ready to throw away all splendor--everything that is not
earned by my honest labor. I wish to live by my art, to be what I
am--an actress. I would work night and day to perfect myself. I do not
want any other distinction but that of an artist."

Arpad then told her what she had never heard until now. Children and
fools speak the truth, and in Arpad there was a mixture of both; he
was a child in years, and a fool as regarded the claims of art.

"My dear Eveline, you are not an artist; you will never be an actress;
you are one of the step-daughters of the muses. There are many such,
to whom have been given great capabilities; one only is
wanting--courage. You sing wonderfully well, you act with feeling,
with humor--_at home_, before three people; but so soon as the lights
of the proscenium are lit your voice grows weak, you sing false, you
see and hear nothing, and you act like a wooden doll. This is called
stage-fright, and it is _never cured_; it has ruined more brilliant
careers than the critics have. You shake your head and appeal to your
former triumphs. Don't deceive yourself; I know the machinery of the
stage well, and how artificial thunder and lightning are manufactured.
At every performance you gain a triumph; you receive thunders of
applause, mountains of flowers. The morning after your performance
your breakfast-table is covered with newspapers teeming with laudatory
criticisms. This is all gold-dust, and will only last as long as some
rich admirer pays the piper. But try the experiment of closing your
doors to your wealthy patrons, and step on the boards with no help
but your own talents; ask to be applauded for your own sake. Then you
will learn the price of the entertainment, and that the critic's
praise is only to be bought."

Eveline's head sank. She knew that every word he said was true. Arpad
viewed the matter not so much from the artistic side as from his
youthful, ardent nature. He was indignant against the fashions of the
world; he was indignant that Eveline should have lent herself to these
low intrigues, and so taken the place of better artists, better
musicians, better actresses; but in his heart he was sorry for her.
She had been kind to him; she had never offended him. Why was he so
cruel to her? It was due to the petulance of his boy's nature. Why had
_she_ disturbed him when he was happy at his painting? Why had she
asked him questions? What was it to her whether it were a flower, and,
if it were a flower, why should she want it? And when he put out his
hand, why should she tap it in that intimate manner? The picture was
not painted for her.

"What shall I do? What am I fit for?" asked Eveline, with a downcast
air. Her beautiful eyes were full of tears; she was crushed to the
earth.

The young man considered a few minutes what he should answer. As she
had asked to drink the chalice she should do so to the dregs.

"You have two courses open to you, for I would not advise you to take
a third and return to your husband. If I were a woman I would prefer
to lie stretched out at the morgue than be the joint possessor of that
man's ill-gotten wealth. We therefore have only the two courses to
consider. Either you continue on the stage as before, take the bought
applause and the flowers paid for by your noble patrons, or return
from whence you came, and be content to shove wheelbarrows for the
rest of your life."

Eveline rose from her seat, drew her wrap round her shoulders, and,
with a low, constrained voice, murmured:

"Thank you." Then she silently left the room.

Tears came into Arpad's eyes. But why had she come here? Why had she
disturbed him when he was happy painting? The moment she had closed
the door he returned to the table and took from the drawer _his
flower_, to see if it had sustained any injury. It was in one sense a
flower--a fair child with blue eyes!

The door opened again; the picture was hastily concealed. No one,
however, came in. Arpad's mother spoke through the half-opened door.

"Arpad, my son, who was that beautiful lady who was here just now? A
princess, was she not?"

"She was a poor woman who came to beg from me."

"H'm! Surprising! What extraordinary beggars there are in this
city--beggars dressed in silk, with a Persian shawl for a wrap. Did
you give her anything, Arpad?"

"Mother, I had nothing to give her."

"You have done well, my boy." And she shut the door and went back to
her own room to finish stitching at her son's shirt-collar.



CHAPTER XXXIII

CHARCOAL


Eveline had resolved to make a great effort. She recognized that there
was truth in what Arpad had said; only in one particular he was wrong:
he had not measured the gulf between "can" and "must."

She felt herself possessed by sudden energy; her resolution to succeed
grew in proportion as her chance of success was less. Many people have
found strength in the thought, "If I have no one to care for me, I, at
least, am master of myself." She would carve her own future; she
_would_ be an actress. She would show the world what was in her. She
would nerve herself to courage before the footlights. The very
circumstances which had deprived her of all courage would now give her
strength; she would sing to the public as if she were alone. The crowd
should go for nothing, except in being sharers in her triumph.

She spent a miserable night. The luxury which surrounded her, the
works of art which lay upon her tables, in her cabinets, the costly
vases, seemed silently to reproach her; the cups set with precious
stones recalled Arpad's words. Better to be a glass of fifteen sous
than a goblet of silver!

At last sleep fell upon her tired eyelids, and in the morning she
awoke refreshed and full of fresh energy.

This day the opera in which she had sung the day before yesterday was
to be repeated. The rehearsal was to take place in the morning. At
this rehearsal, then, she would show what she could do; she would look
at no one; she would sing like a blind nightingale.

She ordered her carriage. When she reached the theatre she told the
servants to return for her in two hours.

As she entered the vestibule the stage-manager came to meet her, and
told her that her part had been given to another singer.

Eveline flew into a passion. Why had it been taken away from her, and
in such a manner, without asking her permission? Such a want of proper
deference towards her!

The man regretted the circumstance, but either could not or would not
offer any explanation. Would she like to see the manager?

Eveline, in a very excited frame of mind, went to look for him; but he
was not in his office. His secretary, however, handed her a letter,
which the manager had desired him to send to her address.

Eveline took the letter, and when she was in the hall she broke the
seal and read it. It was a dismissal, immediate, discourteous, on the
grounds that she was quite unequal to fill the position of prima
donna.

How she got out of the theatre and into the street she did not know;
she came to herself when she saw the crowd of passers-by staring at
her. She felt that it was no wonder they looked at her. She was
walking like one who was dead; her body moved forward, but her mind
was lifeless. It was strange to feel one's self thus annihilated.

Then it was true; the cruel boy was right. The clouds were golden only
so long as the sun shone. All her splendor had been on the outside.
There was nothing tangible; nothing came from herself. The whole thing
had been a _fata morgana_; it had now vanished forever.

Eveline wandered, she didn't know where. Suddenly she found herself
opposite her own house. She would not have thought it strange if some
one had told her at the door of the hotel that no one of her name
lived there, that she had been dead and buried years ago. She thought
she was too stunned to feel either astonishment or pain, but her
composure soon gave way under a new trial.

She walked up-stairs, still in a dream, and through her apartment
until she reached her dressing-room. When she entered it she saw,
stretched in an arm-chair, Prince Waldemar.

He was faultlessly attired, with a most elegant _tournure_, carefully
arranged hair, and fair whiskers, hanging down on both sides in what
were then called "cutlets"; his mustache was pointed and waxed.

Eveline called out, in a voice of fear, mixed with anger:

"May I ask, sir, what you want here?"

"I was waiting to see you," said the prince, with well-bred
nonchalance; but he never rose from the seat in which he lounged so
comfortably.

"Who gave you permission to enter my room?"

"I asked for no permission."

"What right have you to intrude yourself here?"

With a lazy air the prince put his hand into the pocket of his coat
and drew out a red paper like a bill; this he handed to Eveline with a
slight motion of his head, which conveyed, "This is the cause of my
presence here."

Eveline took the paper, which trembled in her hand.

"What is it? I do not understand it."

"It is, however, very intelligible," said the prince, at last getting
out of the chair. "The creditors of Kaulmann have seized your things.
Kaulmann was careless or thoughtless enough--I really cannot say
which--to announce that what belonged to his wife was _his_, and
therefore his creditors have seized everything here, believing it is
his. During your absence this morning they got the law officers to
break open your door and to take possession. They affixed a notice
outside, inviting all passers-by to come in and inspect the things for
sale. In consequence of this invitation I am here. I came in to look
about me. You will observe that there are government seals upon
everything. I am here in the right of purchaser."

Eveline looked round, and saw that what he said was true.

"But, sir, it is impossible. Kaulmann knew perfectly that nothing here
was his property."

"I am sure of that. It was gross negligence on your lawyer's side; he
should have protected your interests better. Every one knows that
Kaulmann brought the goods here; it was supposed that he bought them.
In any case, he cannot testify in your favor. A misfortune has
happened to him. When he saw that the police were after him he jumped
out of the railway-carriage he was in. Unfortunately, he broke his
neck and died immediately."

Eveline fell back upon the sofa and hid her face in her hands.

"If you wish to shed a few tears to the memory of Kaulmann I will
retire to the window," remarked Prince Waldemar, with ironical
courtesy.

Eveline made him no answer. In her mind everything was in confusion;
she could think of nothing. Let everything go; what did it matter?
Should she institute a law-suit to recover her property? Should she
bring witnesses to prove that this ornament, these costly hangings,
these rich carpets were not the property of her husband, but the gifts
to her from a gray-beard--the most upright, the dearest of men, a
Hungarian magnate, who had adopted her, an actress, to be his own
child, with no self-seeking, no sinful gratification, but out of pure
affection? No one would credit her story. She would tell it to no one.
She would not subject the name of her benefactor to the jeers and
laughter of the incredulous. Sooner let everything go.

"I am not weeping, sir," she said to the prince. "If you have anything
further to tell me I am ready to listen."

"I could tell you many other unfortunate circumstances," returned
Waldemar, leaning against the fireplace with the silver grate. "For
one thing, Prince Theobald, your former patron, has been placed by his
family under legal restraint, and cannot take any active part in the
affairs of this world."

"I know that."

"The shares which he took as a provision for you in the Bondavara
Company have been also sequestrated by law."

"That has been told to me already."

"This loss, however, has a compensation: those shares are now almost
worthless. Since the colliery explosion, and the impossibility of
extinguishing the fire in the mine, they have fallen to nothing."

"That does not concern me."

"I have not quite finished. The clergyman who was your friend, whose
dreams were of a bishop's mitre, has returned to his monastery."

"I have known that some time."

"You seem to have learned everything. Perhaps you know also that your
manager has cancelled your engagement and given your part to another
actress?"

"Here is the letter," answered Eveline, drawing a crumpled paper from
her pocket. And then she looked at the prince with proud contempt. She
was wondrously beautiful. "Have you taken the trouble to come here to
tell me all this?" she asked, her eyes gleaming not through tears but
with indignation.

"I did not come here on that account," answered the prince, sitting
down on the sofa and bending over her. "I came to speak to you
frankly. Do you not see that the whole fabric upon which your golden
dreams were built has crumbled? The Bondavara mine is on fire; the
shares are falling; the prime-minister is disgraced; the prince is
under restraint; your husband is dead; your property will be sold by
auction; you are dismissed from the theatre. The five acts of the
drama are played out. Let us applaud the finish, if we are so minded,
and let us begin again. I can give you back your shares. I can get you
a palace in the Maximilian Strasse. I can buy back for you all your
seized goods--your furniture, your diamonds, your horses. I can
arrange matters with the manager of the theatre; you shall be
reinstated as prima donna on better terms than before. I can give you
a far greater position than you have ever enjoyed, and I can offer you
a truer, more self-sacrificing, more adoring lover than you have
possessed. His name is Waldemar Sondersheim." He bowed low before her.

Eveline looked with intense gravity at the top of his boots.

Waldemar was now certain that he was master of the situation. He took
from his waistcoat-pocket a watch, and pressed it into her hand.

"My sweetest love, my time is precious. I am expected at the
stock-exchange. The Kaulmann speculation has to be crushed. It is just
twelve o'clock. I give you one hour to think over what I have said and
to decide your own fate. I am content to wait until then; it is only
one word I ask for--yes or no."

Eveline gave him a yet shorter answer. She dashed the timepiece which
he had put into her hand with such force on the floor that it flew
into a hundred pieces. That was her answer!

Prince Waldemar laughed, put his hand in his left-hand
waistcoat-pocket, took out another watch, and said, dryly:

"I expected just such an answer, and therefore I brought with me
another watch. I beg of you to break this one also. I shall be only
too happy to provide you with a third."

This time, however, Eveline did not take the timepiece in her hand.
She sprang to her feet, and, pointing with her hand towards the door,
cried out:

"If you have bought my things, take everything away; but the apartment
is still mine. _Go!_"

Prince Waldemar looked at her haughtily, although he was still
smiling.

"My dear lady, this is easily said; but reflect a moment. What will
become of you if you reject me? You have no other expedient."

"I have a shelter," returned the girl, bitterly, "to which I can turn,
and that is charcoal."

Prince Waldemar made her a low bow, and, without uttering another
word, took his hat and left her.

A woman who appeals to charcoal needs no man's friendship. In the
metropolis of fashion many poor wretches have found their last refuge
there.

That evening Eveline paid a visit to her jeweller. She brought him a
pair of diamond ear-rings. They were all she had; her ornaments had
been seized by the law officers. She sold these to the jeweller, and
left the purchase-money in his care, to be spent in a yearly sum on
her little brother's grave in Père la Chaise, to have sods of green
grass round it, and have fresh flowers placed there on All-Souls' Day.
The jeweller promised, for she had been a good customer. She told him
she was going to travel. Apparently it was a long journey, for the
next morning a bundle was found by the police on the banks of the
Seine. It was tied up in a cashmere shawl, which her maid recognized
as belonging to the lost actress.

Prince Waldemar offered a large reward to whoever found the body. But
it was never found, for the bundle laid at the water-side was only a
pretence; and while every one was dragging the river, Eveline had kept
her word and sought refuge in the charcoal pit.

Prince Waldemar never heard of her again. He and his household wore
mourning in memory of her for six weeks.



CHAPTER XXXIV

CSANTA'S LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT


We have now to go back to the Bondavara Company before the crash came,
and when the shares stood at sixty over par, and looked as if they
would go even higher. But Csanta was satisfied to sell at sixty. There
could be too much of even a good thing. One should not be too
grasping, and sixty thousand gulden is a nice profit in one year. He
thought he would act as Spitzhase had often recommended, and sell out
his shares in small quantities until they were all gone. It would add
to the pleasure not to do it all at once.

For some time the quotations had been stationary. He was accustomed to
go every morning to the café and read the exchange column, and had
always seen the same quotation--"Bondavara, sixty above par."

On the morning of the day upon which Csanta had arranged to send the
first instalment of his shares to Vienna he went to his café, and,
while waiting to be served, took up the first newspaper that came to
hand. As usual he commenced by reading it backwards, beginning at the
exchange column. The first thing that caught his eye was, "Bondavara,
sixty _below par_."

A printer's error; and a very serious one! The printer was drunk when
he printed it. The fellow ought to be put in prison. If there is any
police in Vienna, or justice in the government, such a thing should
not pass unpunished; it is enough to shake the nerves of any man not
made of iron. If this is not a disturbance of the peace, I don't know
what you can call it.

Then he took another paper. The same mistake! He went through the
round of the daily papers, and found that all the printers must have
chosen this day for a drinking-bout, as each one made the same error
between _above_ and _below_ par.

Csanta was convinced that some great mistake had been made; but as he
could not rest until it was cleared up, he telegraphed to Spitzhase.

A telegram from Spitzhase crossed his. It ran:

      "Great misfortune. The Bondavara mine is on fire.
      Great panic. The shares are sixty below par. Every one
      is selling."

Csanta cursed and swore with rage. "The devil take him! Sixty below
par; a loss of sixty thousand gulden! That means for me extinction.
Where is the cord and the nail? Let me hang myself! Six casks full of
silver gone! I shall murder some one! I must go to Vienna. I shall
knock the whole place about their ears like a card house if I don't
get back my silver. I didn't take my money to Vienna to leave it
there."

He foamed like a madman, dragged his bonds out of his safe, threw them
on the floor and stamped upon them.

"Villains! knaves! paper beggars! It is you who have eaten up my
silver crowns! You have swallowed my sixty thousand silver crowns! I
will tear you in pieces! I will cut my crowns out of your stomachs! I
will kill you dead!"

The upsetting of his safe had disturbed his papers. He suddenly
caught sight of a deed. He looked at it closely. His mood changed.

"What a fool I have been. I don't lose as much as my finger-nail. Here
is my young friend's signature. How lucky I didn't destroy this, or
light my pipe with it. He binds himself _at any time_, subject to my
desire, to take over a thousand shares _at par_. Ah, well done,
Csanta! You are an old bird not easily caught with chaff. I am saved,
thanks to my own sagacity, to my prudent, far-seeing nose that smells
danger ahead. This letter covers all loss. So far as I am concerned,
stones may fall from the sky. I am safe."

He folded the shares tenderly, and locked them and the precious letter
safely up in his safe. He then sat down and wrote to his dear young
friend in Paris. Fortunately he had the address. He asked him
politely--seeing how the matter stood--to send at once some accredited
person to take over the bonds, according to their previous agreement,
and to arrange in what manner the money should be paid. As for the
outstanding interest, some compromise or arrangement could be made.

A week passed, and no answer came; but, after all, it is more than a
cat's jump from X---- to Paris.

During the week he received twice every day, morning and evening, a
telegram from Spitzhase pressing him to part with his shares, for
every day they were falling ten per cent. lower. At the end of the
week they had gone down still more. The bears had won the day.

Csanta never moved a finger. He hugged himself in his own safety; and
as for the others, their shares might go to the bottom of the sea for
all he cared. He had no shares. They were all Kaulmann's. "Take them
away, and give me back my silver!" This was his cry. "Rogue! villain!
I have you by the neck!"

The accounts that he read of the sudden collapse of the company and
the ruin of the shareholders did not in the least disturb him. The
losses of others could not affect him. On the ninth day, however, he
began to tremble. The morning's paper contained an account,
telegraphed from Paris, of the flight of the banker, Felix Kaulmann,
leaving his affairs in the uttermost confusion. This was succeeded by
a second telegram, announcing that the banker, Kaulmann, seeing that
the officers of police were on his track, had thrown himself from the
window of the railway-carriage, and had been killed instantaneously.

Csanta narrowly missed an apoplectic stroke. When he came to he
telegraphed to Spitzhase to sell all his shares for what they would
fetch.

Spitzhase answered by return:

      "Too late; they are quoted at _seventy_, but this is
      only nominal. There are neither buyers nor sellers.
      The mine is gone; the railway is gone; everything is
      gone. Why didn't you part with them a week ago, when I
      advised you? Now you can put your shares in the fire,
      and cook chestnuts at the blaze."

"All is over with me!" sobbed Csanta. "Let me get home; let me lie
down and die! I cannot live! I shall not be alive in three days!"

He took leave of his acquaintances; he had no friends. He told them
they need not be afraid, he would do himself no injury. He was simply
dying of grief, just as a man might die of sickness.

All gone!

Some compassionate souls had pity on the old man and took him home. If
he had been alone he had never found his own house. Once arrived
there, he insisted on going down to his cellar, to see with his own
eyes if it were not some hideous dream, from which he would wake and
find his beloved casks in their old places. When he saw all were gone,
he set up a fearful cry, "Fool! fool! fool!" and fell forward on his
face.

They carried him up-stairs, tenderly undressed him as if he were a
child, and put him to bed. He shrieked for a priest, so they fetched
him one. He made his confession, and received the sacrament.

His lawyer then appeared on the scene, and his last will was written
out and duly signed. He had still something to leave. There were his
houses, the whole street front; the church into which no one came, on
whose threshold between the stones the grass grew thick, in whose
court-yard the school-boys played ball on Thursday half-holidays.

The church, notwithstanding, was endowed with a priest, a verger, and
a bell-ringer. The priest should say mass, the bell-ringer should ring
the bell, the verger should open the door _every day_; just as a
hundred years ago, when through the open church doors a stream of men
passed, with silver buttons on their jackets, and women with long silk
veils. The old man now dying is the last descendant left on this earth
of the old Greek traders. The church shall remain standing in memory
of them.

The house next door to his own he bequeathed to the widow, who was the
daughter of the last Greek. This woman and he had quarrelled long ago.
God alone can decide the justice of a quarrel that has to do with
paper money, which to-day is worth a great deal and to-morrow not a
penny. Therefore, he bequeathed to her and her son the heap of cursed,
worthless papers called shares in the Bondavara Company, which have
caused his unexpected death. They shall have these papers, whether for
good or ill.

After he had made these depositions and arranged his affairs his will
was sealed and inscribed by himself. He divided among his neighbors
and servants his few remaining possessions. He called the bell-ringer,
and enjoined him to toll the bell three times every two hours, and if
any one asked the reason why, he should answer, "The Greek, Csanta, is
dead." Then he sent every one out of the room.

When next morning they returned he was dead. He had died of grief,
just as an aged husband will not survive the loss of his wife with
whom he had grown old. So a man with a strong will dies when he has
said that he can no longer support life.



CHAPTER XXXV

THE GROUND BURNS UNDER HIS FEET


Peter Saffran's curse seemed likely to be fulfilled: "Upon this field
no grass shall grow for evermore."

It was true the green grass grew still upon the field, but who could
tell what was seething underneath, in the bosom of the earth?

The directors of the company's mine believed that when they closed all
the entrances and openings to the shafts and vaults, they had given,
by so doing, a check to the conflagration; by preventing the current
of the outer air from getting in, they felt sure the fire must in a
short time be extinguished.

On the other hand, there was the irremediable evil that the supply of
coal gradually diminished; even the necessary material for keeping the
forge heated was wanting. They tried to heat it with wood--there were
plenty of trees in the forest--but without coal the heater would not
work, and much iron was lost in consequence. Instead of iron bars, a
great quantity of "rammers" lay scattered about. It was soon patent
that, from all these causes combined, the company were not in a
condition to fulfil their contract for supplying the railway
contractors with iron rails. The guarantee was in danger, as was also
that of the railway company, in case the railway could not be opened
for traffic at the time promised in their agreement.

The Bondavara Mine Company and Railway Company were, so to speak,
glued to one another; one could hardly take a step without dragging
the other down the dangerous path on which both were going headlong to
ruin.

Being in such evil straits, the directors began to look for help to
the other mine. Coal they must have. In Ivan Behrend's colliery there
must be a large supply. For a whole year he had sold none. They must
buy from him, even at an advanced price.

Rauné also bethought himself of begging for coal from the same source.
Surely no one could refuse to oblige an old friend and neighbor.

His letter, however, came back to him with the seal unbroken. At this
moment Rauné was terribly hard pressed. He resolved to wait upon Ivan,
and make his request in person.

His visit was a short one. He was in all less than two seconds in
Ivan's room, from which the first thing that issued was his hat, which
he followed promptly. After this Ivan's voice was heard.

"I hold no conversation with spies."

Rauné wrote the directors a long letter, in which he said that Behrend
was a boorish, selfish man, who was determined to profit by the
misfortune which had happened to the Bondavara mine, and would not
give his coal at _any_ price; instead of selling, he was using it in
the manufacture of a quantity of iron rails, and speculating on the
chance that the company would be forced to buy at any sum he chose to
ask.

The result of his letter was very different from what he had looked
for. The railway directors wrote at once to Ivan, and made him an
advantageous offer for his iron rails; and if he had asked fifty per
cent. more they were prepared to accede to his demand.

The profit for Ivan's faithful workmen was a very full harvest. The
deserters to the enemies' camp now implored to be taken on again; they
had no work. But they were not received by their former comrades; a
committee of the men decided, without a dissentient voice, against
taking on one of the deserters, but took on a total stranger. This
decision settled the matter, and Ivan was forced to acknowledge it was
just. The new member was bound to work for a year as a common laborer,
and the committee were not to decide whether he should be admitted to
the rights of the existing colony, and entitled to his share of the
profit; this should be put to the vote.

Meantime the work was splendidly done. Each man looked upon the mine
as his own property; there were few blunders, and the success was
remarkable; neither labor nor time was spared. Order was preserved,
discipline maintained, and there was no necessity for harsh measures,
nor for overseers.

Under all this fine weather, however, there lurked clouds. In the far
distance storms were gathering, evident to an experienced eye.

Ivan noted the coming danger, but he did not let it escape his lips.
It could not be averted. His mine was threatened; the fire that was
consuming the neighboring colliery might spread to his. This thought
filled his mind by day and by night. From the situation of the
coal-stratum he could draw the conclusion that the conflagration must
spread to Bondathal. It might take years, but in the end the Bondathal
mine would share the same fate as its neighbor of Bondavara, and be
reduced to ashes.

The earth has buried many such wrecks in its bosom. But not alone
below, but on the earth itself this Bondavara misfortune had ruined a
multitude of people.

In the beginning the board of directors, who administered the affairs
of the shareholders, hit upon the idea that with the ready money at
their command they would buy up all the shares in the market, and in
this way serve a double purpose. In the first place, they would secure
for themselves the shares which had been issued at par at a price far
below par, and in the next they would check any further fall.

The board, however, by this manœuvre only effected a more rapid smash;
the money in the treasury dwindled away until at last for the
necessary expenses there was nothing left.

Prince Waldemar knew how to make use of the daily papers. He was
always ready, and the shares having, through him, fallen thirty per
cent. lower, he was resolved to send them still further down. The time
was at hand when they would stand at _nil_, and then the owner of
these miserable shares would be glad to _offer_ one per cent. to any
one who would take them off his hands.

It was a wicked game to play. Thousands were made beggars. The poorer
people suffered most--those who a short year ago came with their
little savings in their hands, crying to take shares. Poor souls! the
high interest had tempted them to their ruin. Ah, it is an old story
this, that repeats itself with periodic fidelity; the clerk, the old
man, the widow, the old maid, the governess or teacher--these are the
victims of this cruel Juggernaut. The cashier who has gambled with his
master's money fills in the picture. But there are not wanting others
who suffer, but are not reduced altogether to want. Solid tradesmen
are crippled, people who drove their carriages have to walk, lovers
whose wedding-day was fixed have to wait, and sometimes pine away in
single blessedness. Woe! woe! on every side.

But the Bondavara catastrophe had ruined not alone poor and well-to-do
people; it had dragged down in its fall the high and powerful family
of Bondavary, one of the most ancient in Hungary. The Marquis Salista
had learned a severe lesson; he found that you cannot take away the
centrepiece of a building without endangering the whole edifice. The
sequestration of the prince's property had drawn the whole body of
creditors upon him. And so it came to pass that the large property of
a great nobleman, a reigning prince, fell under the administration of
his creditors; the heirs had really burned the ground under their own
feet.

If the stewards and agents in the prince's time had been thieves, the
administration of the property by the creditors was the very
realization of plunder on all sides.

The result was disastrous so far as the Countess Theudelinde was in
question; there was no one responsible, so it appeared, for her forty
thousand pounds. All the family charges and mortgages came first on
the list of payments. Let her grasp hers--if she could.

The one who suffered most was the Countess Angela. Her husband,
Marquis Salista, had from the first lived in the extravagant manner
befitting a man who has come into a fortune of twenty millions. It was
impossible to induce him to change his ideas. This led to sharp
conflicts between the married pair.

On the other side, Angela showed him plainly that she had married him
not from liking, but out of pique.

The marquis knew it--and so did Ivan; but he had something else to
think of. The ground was burning under _his_ feet.



CHAPTER XXXVI

CHILD'S PLAY


The concert season was in full swing when the Belenyis received the
news that Csanta was dead and had bequeathed to them their former
house. If Arpad had been engaged to play a quartet with Beethoven,
Mozart, and Haydn he would have thrown up his engagement and flown
back with railway speed to his old home. His mother was just as eager
to be gone as he was. Not a day did they stay; they were off the very
same evening.

On their arrival at X---- the magistrate unlocked the door of their
old home and gave Madame Belenyi possession. Everything was exactly as
they had left it, only the dust of years covered all the pretty
things.

Arpad's first thought was to run down to the garden. The magistrate,
however, detained him. He had another legacy to make over to him, a
large iron case fastened with three iron locks. It contained the
Bondavara shares.

"The devil take his shares!" cried Arpad, laughing. "Unluckily it is
summer, so we don't want to make a fire."

"They are down to nothing," said the magistrate. "They are quoted
to-day at ten guldens. They killed poor Csanta."

They had to take the shares all the same. You must not look a
gift-horse in the mouth.

Arpad slipped out of the room and ran down to the garden. The
fruit-trees were untouched, and all in full bloom. The cherry-tree was
one mass of rosy blossom. He remembered well how he daren't touch a
blossom under pain of a good whipping. And the forget-me-nots on the
bank of the stream, which flowed past the end of the garden, and the
May bells were ringing in a chorus, to which no one listened.

Everything was just as it had been, only grown. The trees had such
long branches that they were entangled with those on the opposite
shore.

He laid himself down in the green grass, all dotted over with yellow
cowslips. No one could beat him now. He might waste his time and drink
his fill of lazy enjoyment. Fame, the chatter of the newspapers over
his sudden disappearance, the ladies who would regret him--what were
they all in comparison with this? In a hiding-place on the river-bank
he sought for the little flute he had secretly made in those old days.
To his great joy it was there, just as he had left it.

Arpad took from his pocket a newspaper full of his Parisian triumphs,
an announcement of his next appearance. Where is Paris now? Out of the
sheet he made a large boat with sails, that it might take a cargo on
board. He pulled a bunch of the cherry blossom; he set the tiny vessel
on the water, and while it danced over the little bubbles in the
stream he laid down again among the forget-me-nots and played upon his
flute the national air, "Repülj fecském."

At the sound of the flute another child appeared. She came from the
house opposite: a young girl about fifteen. She had a round, fair,
laughing face and beautiful blue eyes. Timidly, like a frightened
fawn, she made a few steps, then stopped and listened. By-and-by she
drew nearer, then stood still again. She did not see the flute-player;
she noticed nothing but his flute and his boat with the cherry
blossoms.

The girl had come quite close to the bank without Arpad having seen
her approach. He was made aware of her presence by hearing her laugh.
The laugh of a child is as clear as a bell. Arpad looked up,
surprised.

"Ah, is that you, Sophie? How pretty you have grown! I beg you will
send me back my boat."

Sophie did not want to be asked twice. She held up her frock with one
hand, tucked it between her knees, and after she had replaced the red
cherry blossoms by some white flowers, she gave the little boat such a
hearty shove that it came back to the opposite side. Then the game
began again. It was so amusing!

Madame Belenyi saw the pair from the window. She didn't disturb them,
but let them amuse themselves until the sun went down and the air
began to get chill. Then the most prudent of the two children--it was
the girl, no doubt--suggested to the other that the grass was wet with
dew, and that it would be well to go back to the house.

Arpad took his boat out of the water, and put it and the flute back in
their hiding-place, and returned to his mother.

Madame Belenyi did not scold him. She did not, however, kiss him on
his forehead, as she was wont to do. She showed him all she had done
to settle the house while he had been amusing himself in the garden.

Arpad was very much pleased to find it so comfortable.

"Mother," he said, "we will live here always."

"I don't object to our living here, Arpad; only there is one
condition. You must marry a good girl, and bring her here to help
me."

"I, mother?" returned Arpad, half pleased and yet astonished.

"Yes, you. Why not? You are a young man. I cannot look after you
always."

Arpad laughed again. "So, because I have grown a young man, and that
you cannot keep me any longer at your apron-string, I must take a wife
who will keep me in better order than you can. Is that it, mother?"

"My son, it is in the natural order," returned Madame Belenyi,
gravely, and as if there were no other course for a young man but to
have either a mother or a wife to look after him. It did not enter
into her imagination that he could look after himself.

"Sooner or later I shall obey your wishes; but just now, as we have
got a house, I shall have enough to do to provide the house-keeping,
and I could not take a wife with me here and there when I have to
fulfil my professional engagements. For this sort of Bohemian life,
vagabondizing from Paris to London, Petersburg to Vienna, is a bad
thing for a woman, whether she goes with her husband or is left
behind."

"But we have something to live on, Arpad. I have been very lucky with
your earnings, and there is a nice nest-egg in the bank. Besides,
there are the shares. Don't laugh, you silly boy! Although they are
only worth ten gulden, yet there are a thousand of them. If we realize
them, that would be ten thousand gulden. In a small town like this
that sum would be a fortune, and with it you need not scruple to take
a wife."

"Mamma, you don't understand about these shares. _One_ could easily be
realized, but if the next day I were to go to the same place with
another for sale they would kick me out. Any one who would offer a
thousand Bondavara shares in the money-market would be sent to the
mad-house. Put the shares away with those other important papers
Csanta gave you, and, if you like, treasure the hope that one day they
may be worth as much as the paper they are printed on."

"Well, stranger things have happened. Did you ever think we would come
back to this house? I am very sorry I did not keep the other papers. I
burned them. Who knows what luck we may have with those bonds? If, one
day, they rise again to par, we shall realize twice two hundred
thousand gulden--"

"I don't count on such strokes of luck as that, mamma. The worst
compliment Providence can pay a man is to let him win in a lottery. It
is just as if God said to him, 'You ass! I cannot keep you in any
other manner.' God would not allow a man who has any intellect to win
in a lottery. To such a one he would say, 'Wilt thou cease to beg alms
of Me in such a shameless manner? Is it not sufficient that I have
endowed thee with talent? My consolation prizes are reserved for the
dunderheads.'" Then he added, "Mother, don't be afraid, we shall live
from my art. Wait a little and you shall see; only give me time.
Meantime I shall buy for the little girl a doll with a china head as a
plaything. You must take care of me for a little longer."

At these words the widow embraced her boy tenderly. She was happy; but
that evening Arpad, when it was moonlight, went out and sat under the
weeping-willow and played a melancholy air on his flute. Sometimes he
stopped to listen to a soft silvery voice singing a national air on
the other side of the stream. The singer, however, when she heard the
flute no more, knew that he was listening, and stopped her song. It is
so sweet to be young!



CHAPTER XXXVII

EUREKA


Ivan's fears as to the safety of his own colliery were growing day by
day. One morning he found that the amount of hydrogen was scarcely
perceptible; still there was water in the pit. This discovery made him
thoughtful; he could not understand it. He descended into the cavern
where the pond was. Not one drop of water!

Ivan remained for three hours, watching anxiously to see would the
water rise; but none came.

At the end of three hours he was relieved by the men, and it was then
arranged that during the night they would take turns in watching the
tank. As soon as the water began to rise they were to call him. Ivan
went home, lay down, and fell into a deep sleep, from which he did not
awake until the sun was high in the heavens. He wondered that no one
had called him, as had been agreed.

It might be that the men had also been overcome by sleep. Poor
wretches, they also were exhausted. He hastened to the pit. The men
told him they had watched all night, but there had been no sign of
water in the tank. He waited patiently for twenty-four hours. Not a
sign of water!

Ivan thought he could explain the absence of the water by the theory
of the periodic springs--a theory too complicated to enter upon here.
It is sufficient to say that the water-supply of the mine was worked
by the pressure of the air upon these springs. If the water did not
now return, it would be attributable to one of two causes: either the
pipe which conducted the water from the larger basin had suddenly
closed, and was no longer subject to atmospherical pressure, on which
it depended to keep open; or some split or crevice had come in the
stone masonry which protected the basins, and the force of the air had
driven the water down farther into the bowels of the earth, where, no
doubt, another basin was ready for its reception. We will remember
that from the first Ivan had the idea that some such reservoir
existed. But where?--that was the problem; and if the reservoirs were
not found, what then?

The cavern where Ivan stood was empty. The black portals which guarded
the subterranean kingdom of death stood open to him. He could enter
the labyrinth; he could discover what he had long sought, the
communication between the upper and the lower water basins. One
difficulty lay in his way. He should take a workman with him. He
called the old miner, Paul.

"Paul, how old are you?"

"Sixty-nine."

"You would like, no doubt, to complete your seventieth year."

"I should like to see the gold wedding of this pit. Next year it will
be just fifty years since it was opened."

"And if you die before then?"

"I should say, 'The name of the Lord be blessed.'"

"Are your sons grown to man's estate?"

"My grandson is able to keep himself."

"Would you be ready to accompany me on a dangerous expedition--one
where the chances are we might never return?"

"I think I have run that chance before now."

"You must understand, Paul, the whole risk before you agree. We are
going to look for the water that has left the tank. It is a matter of
life and death to every one of us, and, therefore, I think God will
help us; but it may not be so. The Almighty may say, 'Why should you
mere worms of the earth dare to interfere between me and the sentence
I have passed against you and yours? I did not listen to the
entreaties of Lot, and now the Dead Sea covers the ruins of the city.
You men of Bondathal are not better than the men of Gomorrah.' Do you
understand me? I have often sought for the source of the spring
through the narrow winding paths of this cavern. These windings are so
narrow that one must sometimes press through them by mere force, at
other times creep along upon one's stomach. Great abysses yawn under
the feet; a fall down one of these would be fatal; we will have to
cling to the wall as we creep along. Again, we will pass through
stinking sewers, up to our elbows in putrid filth. All these clefts
and fissures have been made some time--God knows when--by an
earthquake which has caused the uprooting of the coal stratum. Now it
is quite possible that this last explosion has closed again many of
these clefts and opened others. If it has happened, as I surmise, that
the aperture has been shut which communicated between the pit beneath
us and the one above--if this has taken place, then we have a tank
full of water over our heads. If we, in our search through the bowels
of the earth, come upon this aperture, and accidentally break the
smallest hole, not the size of a pin's point, the water in the basin
over our heads will burst through and annihilate us; if we hear it
roaring we are already lost. But, on the other hand, it may be that
the explosion caused a rent in the upper cleft, and if so the water
has rushed through it to the lower basin under our feet. What we have
to do, whether we die in the search or not, is to find out where the
water is."

"I have no idea what you mean; all I know is that I am ready to go
with you."

"Then go home and take leave of your family, as if you were going a
long journey. Go to your priest and make your peace with God. Then
come back, and tell no one where we are going."

Ivan now made his own preparations. From this adventure he might never
return. He made his will. He bequeathed his mine to his workmen, his
money to Paul's family. This was an act of justice. If the old man
were killed, it was in a measure his, Ivan's, doing.

When this was all done he went out and took his leave of light and air
before going into the blackness of everlasting night. It was well
under the free air of heaven. The sky might be bluer elsewhere, the
grass greener; still, it was not eternal darkness.

The post brought him a letter. It was from Arpad Belenyi. It told him
all that we already know--the fall of Kaulmann, the disappearance of
Eveline, whom every one thought had drowned herself. Ivan's heart was
stirred by deep sorrow. The sky lost its brightness; the meadow was no
longer green; the blackness of the pit would be welcome to him. This
news acted upon him as a tonic; he felt braced; his fears vanished.
Life was now more worthless than before.

He set about the necessary preparations with calmness. He collected
the instruments which would be needed for this strange search--the
levelling instrument, the circumferentor, the plumb-line. He put them
in a bag, which he tied round his neck. Paul carried the pick, the
iron rod, and a strong cord.

With this equipment they descended into the cavern, and vanished
through the windings of the water-course. After six hours they
reappeared. This went on day after day.

Ivan took the measurements of all the windings of the labyrinth, and
when he was at home compared them carefully. It took him hours. At
night he retired into his laboratory, heated deadly gases in his
retorts, and forced the mysterious elements to surrender their
long-concealed secrets. He fought with demons who refused to obey him.

"Which of you is the spirit that can extinguish fire? Appear! appear!
Not with Alpha and Omega, not with Solomon's Seal, not in the name of
Abraxas and Mithras do I conjure you, but by the force of all-powerful
science I order you appear!"

But no spirit appeared.

This double battle, the one under the earth, the one in the air above
it, this fight with the two great demons of the world's creation, went
on day by day, in daylight and darkness. Ivan had no rest.

One morning he was told that the water in the castle well was hot, and
it had a decided taste of sulphur. He began now to despair. The
subterranean conflagration was closing round him sooner than he had
looked for it. The situation was lost; one year, and the whole place
would be consumed.

Rauné, when this fact became known, threw up his appointment and
openly took service with Prince Waldemar. He was commissioned by his
employer to write--as an authentic witness--the accounts of the
catastrophe, which appeared constantly in the Vienna papers.

Ivan threw himself with the energy of despair into the search; he
penetrated farther into the subterranean labyrinth. Paul was like a
ghost; his very soul was steeped in terror, but he held bravely to his
master.

One day, amidst the confusion of the different winding passages in the
rock, they came to a place out of which there seemed to be no exit.
They struck the wall. It returned a hollow sound, so that they drew
the conclusion that on the other side there was a large cavern, or
space of some sort. The tumbled masses of slate-stratum fallen over
one another was a proof that the blockade had been recently made.

"We must clear a passage here," said Ivan, taking the pick in his
hand.

Paul cowered down, clinging to the wall. He trembled at every blow of
the pick given by the vigorous arm of Ivan, who worked with terrible
earnestness. So might a despairing soul beat against the gates of hell
and summon the devil to single combat.

At last the pick made a small hole, through which Ivan passed the iron
rod, and raised a whole mass of slates.

"Now, if the water is overhead the crack of doom has come."

The old man crossed himself, and recommended his soul to God.

Ivan, however, shouted with all the joy of a discoverer: "Do you hear?
The rubbish as it falls makes a splash. The lower basin I am in search
of _is here_, underneath us!"

But what if the one above is full? They had still to wait while they
counted a hundred beats of the pulse.

Never was a pulse felt under such terrible circumstances, not even
when Ivan had gone down into the burning mine. Not a sound was heard.
In the bosom of the earth all is quiet. Ivan was trembling with joyful
excitement.

"Found at last!" he cried. "Now bind the cord round me, and lower me
into the well cavern."

It was done. The old miner, as he held the rope, prayed fervently to
the Blessed Mother that she would forgive this heretic, who did not
know what he was doing. Meantime the lamp sank deeper and deeper.

Suddenly Ivan cried out, "Pull me up!"

His old comrade drew him slowly out of the depths of the earth. As he
held out his hand to help him, Ivan suddenly threw his arms round him
and embraced him.

"We have reached our goal," he said. "The plumb-line shows a monstrous
depth of water."

Paul's brain began to clear. For the first time he had a dim idea of
the aims of their labors.

"Now let us get into daylight."

As soon as Ivan got out of the pit he ran home as fast as he could. He
compared his measurements, and was well content with the result. At
night he shut himself in his laboratory. He was flushed with triumph;
another victory would be his. He would also conquer the demon that had
hitherto resisted his will. He had the proud feeling of a victorious
general who demands the last stronghold to surrender.

"I have already conquered," he said. "You are the next to submit. God
sometimes lends to his creature immortal gifts, moments of creative
power, when the infinite takes, as it were, shape, and the finite
cries to the infinite, 'Eureka!'"

Ivan poured out ten drops of the water he had brought from the well.
There was not more than would be held in the point of a pen. The
laboratory became suddenly dark. The strong heat of the burning coal
in the oven went out as if by magic. All was dark; black as night.
This darkness was the light for which Ivan had been seeking.

"I have found it!" he cried aloud. "I have found it!" he cried to his
workmen, among whom he rushed, half undressed, with his hat off, like
a lunatic.

They did not know what he had found, but they felt certain the
discovery which was considered so important by their guide and master
must be a matter of rejoicing, in proof of which the miners cheered
lustily.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

AT PAR


The devil's comedy was being played daily on the stock-exchange. The
Bondavara Company's shares, the Bondavara Railway shares were tossed
here and there, from one hand to another. The tragedy had turned to
comedy--that is, for some people, who found the game very humorous.
The very word Bondavara made the stockbrokers laugh. When it happened
that some fool bought a share, no one could help laughing. The shares,
in fact, were given in exchange for anything of little value--for
instance, as make-weight with an old umbrella for a new one. They were
also presented to charitable institutions.

One witty man went to a fancy ball in a coat made of the shares. This
conceit was thought diverting. The exchange, however, was still the
field where a desultory fight was kept up by the shareholders. These
poor wretches fought for the last flicker of the lamp, which the bears
wanted to extinguish altogether.

Prince Waldemar, the leader of the conspiracy, forced the shares day
by day lower and lower. At last they fell to one and a half per cent.,
then to one and a quarter, and this quarter was to go lower, the
prince wanting to banish the shares from the quotation list. The
owners were making a fight to prevent this--an ineffectual one, it
seemed to be. They were almost agreed to give up the fight as a
forlorn hope. How could they make head against such odds? The day upon
which Rauné's report was in the newspapers they resolved to lay down
their arms; there seemed no good in protracting the struggle. The
report in question was the one which stated what was the nature of the
elements that, since the fire in the Bondavara mine, had been found
mixed with the water on the lake of the castle; this caused a great
"sensation," and was the last straw upon the back of the unfortunate
shareholders.

Prince Waldemar had the news proclaimed on 'change that on the last
day of the month he would sell his Bondavara Company shares at ten
florins. Some people took up the gauntlet he had thrown down. These
were shareholders who knew that they would lose by taking this wager,
but at the same time hoped by this stroke of policy to prevent the
shares from disappearing altogether from the share list. If,
therefore, at the end of the month the shares went down to six gulden,
they must pay the other side twenty thousand gulden difference; if the
shares went up, the other side must do the same.

About noon a broker came to the bank, and said, loud enough for all
bystanders to hear, that a gentleman was present who would take five
hundred Bondavara shares at par.

If some one had struck a hammer upon the open keys of a piano no
greater whir and whiz could have been heard than now ran through the
hall. Screams of laughter, exclamations of astonishment, howls of joy,
curses, and ejaculations of incredulity were raised in every corner.
Who is he? Is he a lunatic? At par! Bondavara shares! Where is the
man?

The broker pointed him out. He was evidently a provincial gentleman,
very unassuming in his appearance. He was leaning against a pillar,
calmly surveying the Olympian games.

"He is evidently a silly knave who wants to have a joke," scoffed
Prince Waldemar. "Go to him," he went on to the agent, "and ask him
for his name. We must know what is the name of any one who treats with
us."

The broker returned in a few minutes with the news that the gentleman
gave his name as a Hundred Thousand Gulden, saying that money was the
best surname. He showed his hands full of bank-notes, which he
received from the stranger.

"Who sells five hundred Bondavara shares at par?"

This cry caused a revolution on 'change. Tranquillity was at an end;
tumult took its place; uproar and confusion reigned. Credulous and
incredulous people surrounded the stranger; they pressed upon him,
overwhelming him with questions, stretching over one another to thrust
their note-books into his hands. The unknown met all this noise with
cool indifference, merely pointing out to his broker the crowd who
were ready to do business with him.

Prince Waldemar now made his way through the mob to where the
new-comer stood. With the most refined impertinence he drew the brim
of his hat over his eyes and stuck his hand into his waistcoat pockets
as he surveyed the other.

"Sir, your appearance has caused a sudden revolution. May I ask your
name?"

"My name is Ivan Behrend," returned the stranger, without changing his
negligent attitude.

"Ah," said the prince, suddenly taking off his hat and bowing low. "I
have had the honor of hearing of you. Are you not the renowned
pistol-shot, who can shoot a cigar out of a man's mouth? I am a nobody
in comparison; I am only Prince Waldemar Sondersheim. I cannot shoot
as you do. But let us talk sensibly. You want to buy Bondavara shares
at par? Have you inherited suddenly the fortune of an Indian nabob,
who made it a condition that you should buy the shares at par?"

"No. I buy them because they are worth that price."

"Don't you know that the Bondavara mine is on fire?"

"I happen to own the adjoining one, therefore I am quite aware that
such is the fact."

"Then your mine will be on fire next."

"Not so. I extinguished the fire in mine a fortnight ago."

At these words the noise rose to a regular tumult; the shareholders
pressed round Ivan, and nearly suffocated him. The man is there who
can extinguish the fire. The mine will soon be again in working order.
Bondavara stands once more at par.

The bears had to retire. The joyful shareholders surrounded Ivan and
carried him in triumph out of the hall.

That same evening a large meeting was held, at which Ivan, before an
enormous audience, filling the room to suffocation, declared
authoritatively that he had an infallible plan, which had, in fact,
been tried on the Bondavara mine, and had put out the conflagration.
He invited every one present to see the experiment tested next day in
the open air, when it would be distinctly proved that his words were
no idle boast.

The following morning, in presence of a large crowd, he fulfilled his
promise, succeeding admirably in the demonstration. A funeral pile of
coal and turf, over which petroleum had been poured, was set fire to,
and when blazing to its greatest height was put out in a few minutes
by some drops from a small bottle.

The jubilant public conducted Ivan back to the town in triumph, and
at the next general meeting of shareholders it was resolved to offer
him a remuneration of six hundred thousand gulden if he would
undertake to bring the Bondavara mine into working order.

There were not wanting, however, plenty of opponents. Foremost there
was Prince Waldemar, who possessed the largest proportion of shares,
and who, nevertheless, offered the most determined opposition. He did
everything to embarrass and obstruct Ivan's scientific propositions.

"I grant," he said, "that you may be able to put out with one bucket
of fluid six cubit feet of burning coals; but consider for a moment
that in the Bondavara pit, reckoning from the place where the
explosion took place to the castle, there must be at least sixty
thousand cubit feet of burning stratum. You must have, to meet this,
ten thousand buckets of fluid ready to shoot over the mass. What
machine have you that would be able for such an operation as this?"

"I have not forgotten that such a machine would be necessary,"
returned Ivan, quietly.

"Let us suppose," continued the prince, "that you do succeed in
getting a sufficient quantity of fluid to bear upon the burning mass.
Don't you perceive that this very supply will develop a monstrous
amount of gas, which would permeate the pit from top to bottom, and
cause another and still worse explosion?"

"I have foreseen this danger."

"And, finally, if you possess any idea, which you evidently do, of the
mechanism of machines and the expenditure necessary to procure the
best, you must face the problem that a million of money will not be
sufficient to procure the necessary materials which would be wanting
to make the experiment successful."

"I have drawn up an estimate of probable outlay."

The shareholders here shouted out to him that they undertook all
expenses, even if they amounted to a million, and on the spot it was
agreed that Ivan should receive full powers to do for the Bondavara
mine what he considered necessary, let the cost be what it might.

Prince Sondersheim saw that he could not stem the course of Ivan's
popularity; it must have its way. While the assembled shareholders
were signing the deed of authorization, he took Ivan aside, and said
to him:

"Ivan Behrend, whether the undertaking you have engaged in succeeds or
not--I do not believe that it will succeed--you will have taken out of
my pocket a million--a million net. Besides this, you have squandered
five hundred gulden of your own money, without reckoning what is yet
to be spent. Let that be. You have done this by fixing the quotations
at par. It is true that the shares will neither be bought nor sold,
for both sides will be afraid, and will hold back; nevertheless, the
quotation will stand at par, and I am obliged to pay the difference on
this--that will cost me a million. But that is nothing; I have lost as
much before now, and recovered it again. One has only to play the
waiting game. If, however, in a fortnight's time you find that you
miscalculated your powers, and that your experiment fails, you have
only to let it be known, and I shall pay one million into your hand."

Ivan answered this contemptible proposal with business-like composure.

"Prince Sondersheim, the stock-exchange is, as I am well aware, a
privileged place. Here a man can say things without having any fear of
consequences. What a man says or does, what proposals he
makes--everything is, in a sense, allowable, and the ordinary rules
which govern the outside world do not apply. Here one man may ask the
other, 'How much do you ask for selling the honor of your company?'
and if the answer is, 'It is not for sale,' that is enough. Here there
is plain speaking; no one is offended at being asked to be an
accomplice in a robbery. It would be no reflection on his character;
he would assume no airs of righteousness, but simply answer, 'I really
haven't time.' If men quarrel, if they spit at one another, tear the
hats off one another's heads, that is nothing; it goes no further; no
one turns round to look at them. They wipe the spittle off their
faces, pick up their hats, and after half an hour walk about arm in
arm. No one remembers that they were fighting; it was only a little
'difference,' which led to an animated scene. Therefore, to the
proposal made by Sondersheim, the Bondavara coal-merchant, to Behrend,
the Bondavara coal-trader, there is but one answer, 'Sir, I cannot
entertain your offer.' Prince Waldemar Sondersheim will, however, do
well to remember not to repeat outside the stock-exchange such a
proposal to Ivan Behrend."

The prince laughed. "I guessed as much. I have often heard of you, and
if you behave well you shall hear how it came to pass that I know so
much about you. Once upon a time you took my part in a very energetic
manner; and to a very pretty woman. I do not know why you should have
done so; it is sufficient for me that you did. Also, you withdrew your
own claim to the favor of this very pretty woman. But it was no good,
she is now the wife of an unworthy fellow; but your unexplained
intervention in my favor, which could not have been a business
manœuvre, but must have sprung from almost a chivalrous Puritanism,
has placed me under a debt of gratitude towards you. If that lady had
listened to your advice, things would have been very different. No
sulphur deposit would have been found in the castle lake; the whole
speculation, in fact, would have had no existence. Outside the
exchange we will not recur to the subject. I have mentioned it from a
sense of gratitude, and I shall note it in my book. If you succeed in
extinguishing the fire you are to receive six hundred thousand gulden
from the company; if you fail you shall have a million from me."

This long conversation between Ivan and the prince excited some alarm
among the shareholders; they tried to interrupt it.

"No tampering, prince. Let our man alone." They were afraid he would
turn round.

"Don't be afraid," returned the prince; "we are talking of a lady whom
we both admired."

But the shareholders' suspicions were not allayed by these words. They
chose from among themselves a commission of three members, who should
accompany Ivan in every step he took, never leave him, eat with him,
sleep outside his door, keep watch under his window, so that their
enemy should not approach him without their knowledge. This was all
done under the pretence of giving him assistance, and for the purpose
of keeping him supplied with money.

Ivan procured the necessary machines and workmen, and travelled back
with them and his three companions to Bondavara.

His three commissioners were likewise to furnish the company with a
daily report of the progress of the work. One of the three was the
clerk Spitzhase, who had the reputation of being the most circumspect,
careful, and impudent servant of the company. This last epithet is
not meant in the worst sense of the word. In money matters modesty and
meekness are oftentimes great faults, and the contrary qualities are
of infinite use. The word is therefore meant in praise. Ivan many
times chucked Spitzhase out at the door, but the clerk always returned
by the window.



CHAPTER XXXIX

THE UNDERGROUND WORLD


The three commissioners for the first fortnight had little to say;
their report was meagre of incident. Behrend came morning and evening
to dine and sup with them in the little village inn; the rest of the
day and of the night he spent continuously underground. When they
asked him what he was doing, he said, shortly, that everything was
going on well.

Things might be going well, but there was nothing visible to the
commissioners. And, moreover, there was _one_ very suspicious
circumstance which struck Spitzhase especially, and this was that
Behrend spent his time in his _own colliery_. It was there that all
the expensive machines had been set up and all the chemical stuffs had
been taken. Not a single thing had been done to the company's mine;
not a bit of rubbish had been cleared away, not one of the entrances
had been opened; in fact, a fortnight had slipped away, and no work
had been undertaken. It was undoubtedly true that the machines were
always at work, and cart-loads of clay and stones were perpetually
being wheeled away.

The whole thing was incomprehensible, and Behrend would not give the
slightest explanation.

At the beginning of the following week Spitzhase lost all patience.

"Sir," he said to Ivan, with suppressed irritation, "you promised
that in a fortnight the conflagration in our mine would be
extinguished. The time is up, and I have not seen that anything has
been even attempted."

"That is very probable," returned Ivan, quietly.

"Do you maintain still that everything is progressing satisfactorily?"

"I do."

"Can I see for myself what has been done?"

"Where you are standing it would be impossible for you to judge."

"Well, let me go where I can see something."

"Do you really wish to go below? It is not a pleasant place."

"Where you go, so can I; for my part, I don't care if it was hell
itself."

"It is not unlike what hell must be."

"Well, I am resolved to pay it a visit. I want to make the
acquaintance of the devil; perhaps I could make an arrangement with
him to supply us with coal."

"You may come on one condition: if you accompany me you must
understand that I cannot let you stand gaping about. There is not room
in the place for more than two people, and they must both work."

"I am not afraid of work. I am the devil for work."

"Very good, then, come along," said Ivan; "and if the other gentlemen
would like to accompany us to where the machines are working they can
follow us."

The others seized the opportunity.

Ivan made them put on miners' dress. They were then hoisted into the
crane, and descended into the shaft. Each one had a safety-lamp
fastened to his belt and wore a thick felt hat.

Ivan led them through the different windings of the pit until they
came to the iron door of the cavern in which, not long since, the
pond used periodically to come and go. The middle of this space was
now filled by a large mill-like machine, which was kept in motion by
an endless strap worked from above. In this mill some substance was
being ground, and, when reduced to fine powder, was carried, by means
of certain mechanical contrivances, through a pipe and over a bridge,
where it disappeared from view.

Ivan led his guests through still more tortuous ways. Once they
descended the shaft of a well; once they mounted high ladders, finding
themselves when they had done so in a small chamber, not measuring six
feet in circumference, in which two miners were waiting--an old and a
young man.

"Now," said Ivan to Spitzhase, "here is our dressing-room; we must put
on our costume."

"What! have we another change of clothes?"

"Yes, we have to don a coat of mail in the tournament in which we are
going to take part; we require armor."

At a sign from him the miners came forward and began to prepare the
two gentlemen. The equipment was something similar to that of a
fireman--a coat and stockings, the outer stuff being made of asbestos,
while the space between that and the lining was filled with pulverized
charcoal; the hands and arms were also covered with long gloves made
of asbestos, the fingers being air-proof.

"We could pass for knights," said Spitzhase, jestingly.

"Wait until you see our helmets," returned Ivan.

The miners brought two helmets made of glass, each of which had a
hollow space with twelve joints and three apertures. Ivan explained
the use of these.

"The place into which we are about to descend is full of coal-gas. We
must have an apparatus which will enable us to pass through fire and
to dive under water."

Spitzhase began to repent that he had been so venturesome, but he was
ashamed to turn back now, and he had a certain amount of pluck.

"We need," continued Ivan, "an apparatus which is a combination of the
diver's and the fireman's dress. To the glass helmet, which will be
attached to the coat-collar by means of air-proof caoutchouc, there
will be fastened two tubes, through one of which the necessary amount
of air will be conveyed to us, and through the other the bad air will
be expelled. The ends of both the tubes will remain here, while we
drag them after us in the same manner as does the diver. Although all
bad air escapes from our helmets, still we shall find the air rather
warmer than it is up here, and it will smell like vulcanized
india-rubber; still we cannot suffocate. To this third aperture an
elastic tube will be fixed, which unites both helmets; through this
tube each will hear what the other says, for the glass is so thick
that no sound penetrates it, and when you have it on your head you
will with difficulty hear what is said by me."

Spitzhase had begun to feel very uncomfortable, for now the miner
proceeded to adjust the glass helmet to his head. When the tubes were
being fixed into the three apertures he perceived that he had become
suddenly stone deaf. He saw the lips of the two commissioners moving,
but not one word could he hear. He no longer belonged to the world.
Only one sound reached him, and that was the voice of the man to whose
head he was fastened.

"Take one end of the hose upon your arm," shouted the voice into his
helmet; yet the sound seemed to come from a long way off, or as if out
of a tunnel.

Mechanically he took the coil on his shoulder.

"Let us go," shouted Ivan, taking the other end of the coil on his
shoulder, and, opening a thick oak door, which had hitherto escaped
Spitzhase's observation, they passed through.

The two commissioners had heard nothing that had passed between the
two "knights"; but when they saw the oak door open they hurriedly
asked the miners whether the foul air did not come in. The older
workman reassured them; the carbon was much heavier than oxygen, and
even thicker than hydrogen. The foul air remained below, where the two
divers had gone. They might have every confidence so long as the
safety-lamps burned. Meantime, the others had penetrated into a roomy
cavern, the walls of which proved it had not been made by the hands of
men, but was a natural formation. Each partition of the wall fitted
into another, like the blocks of a puzzle, and each block was as
smooth as a steel mirror. They were masses of coal set obliquely one
upon another. The cavern was bridged over with thick, strong wooden
planks. The gearing strap, which had made its way from the cavern in
serpent-like fashion, had set a wheel in motion, and the noise of the
clapper resounded under the bridge, and made a sound as if it were
working in deep water. From this bridge a narrow path led obliquely
into the stone layers. Once beyond the entrance into this dark path
the lamps ceased to burn; the coal-gas had begun its sway. Upon the
bridge an electric machine was placed, whose brilliant light was
shaded by a wire screen.

The old miner set the machine working, and the light flashed into
every nook and cranny of the subterranean cavern. It lighted up the
narrow tunnel which, for the last month, Ivan had been boring from his
own mine to that of his neighbor. He had told no one what he had been
doing, but now the work was almost finished; it only required to be
broken through. This work, which would take another week to complete,
needed to be done in a diver's equipment. The length of the narrow
tunnel was perfectly illumined by the electric machine, as if in the
broad light of the sun. Where it turned out of its course high
looking-glasses of polished steel were placed in positions which
reflected the light itself until it faded away to a faint glimmer. The
two divers could now hardly discern an object.

"We shall soon be in darkness," said Spitzhase to Ivan.

"We shall have light enough," returned Ivan; and he led the way
farther into the tunnel.

Spitzhase was forced to follow, for his head was fastened to Ivan's
head. Wonderful pair of Siamese twins! If the pipe that bound them
together were to break, both were dead men.

"Halt!" cried Ivan. "Here is the pump. Give me the pipe."

In the half-darkness a little machine three feet high was discernible;
it was provided with a spring wheel. This suction-pipe had been
brought here only the day before. Ivan took the caoutchouc coil from
his companion's shoulder, and screwed the pipe to the aperture of the
machine; then he set the wheel in motion, and in a few seconds it,
with the heavy balls attached, was revolving with velocity. Then he
took the end of the pipe and gave the coil back to Spitzhase with this
difference: instead of putting it over his arm he hung the hose over
his neck. Spitzhase felt as if the pipe were about a hundredweight
heavier, and that it had grown suddenly stiff.

"Forward! quick march!" shouted Ivan into his helmet.

"It begins to be hot as hell itself," grumbled Spitzhase, who was
suffering horribly.

"Because we are in a part of the mine where the fire has been put
out."

Both the men wore on their feet glass slippers, otherwise they would
have felt that the ashes through which they were wading were glowing
with heat.

The india-rubber hose hung round Spitzhase's neck. It grew darker and
darker, until at last it was as dark as Erebus.

"I can see nothing," shouted Spitzhase.

"You are safe if you follow me," returned Ivan.

It began to grow somewhat lighter. The light, however, was rose color;
there was twilight, then, in the bowels of the earth.

Spitzhase complained he could hardly draw his breath.

"That will get better presently," said Ivan, encouraging him.

They had now turned the corner of the road, and the terrible tragedy
of hell itself lay before them. Yes, hell itself was there. A burning
labyrinth, in whose glowing passages the prismatic colors changed
every moment. The blue-green flames leaped from the ground and blended
with the flames of brilliant scarlet which played upon the burning
wall, and again faded in the far distance into a deep purple color. It
was like a fairy transparency at a pantomime. Through the fissures and
crevices sheets of white sun-rays poured like molten silver. Amid the
glowing coals there seemed to rise shapes as of demons dancing,
creatures with green hair and red beards, and from the red sulphate
of the vaulting there fell slowly a golden shower, a melting rain of
sparks. From the clefts in the side walls the gas, let loose from all
restraint, hissed like so many demoniacal serpents, and kindled a
subterranean flame of its own. Out of the depths of the pit a
waterspout of fire shot suddenly, sending in every direction a shower
of sparks. Over the whole floated a milk-colored cloud, which filled
the vault with a nebulous vapor, wandering as a will-o'-the-wisp here
and there, and threatening every moment to envelop the rash visitors
to hell in its chill embrace. Spitzhase, alarmed out of all control,
pressed closer to the wall; fright was overcoming him.

"Let go the hose!" shouted Ivan. The hose fell like a serpent
unchained, wriggling backward and forward. "Now follow me. Hold the
pipe on your arm;" and he drew Spitzhase after him.

He was constrained to follow, although his heart was in his mouth;
their heads were fastened to each other. If he had had sufficient
strength to free himself from this terrible companionship, it would
have in no way helped him, for the carbon would have killed him
instantaneously.

Mechanically he allowed himself to be drawn on. Hell with all its
horrors disclosed itself to his affrighted gaze. His companion seemed
to fear nothing. Was he a human being, or a fiend, who was in reality
possessed of power over the demons of hell? He dragged him to the very
border of the fiery lake; then he took from his shoulder the hose,
which lay in rings and coils, and, opening the mouth of the stop-cock,
directed its force at the bosom of hell. The hose shot forth a flash
like a diamond; the water-spirit fell into the glowing Gehenna.

"Hold tight!" shouted Ivan.

And from the force which the stream from the pipe exercised upon the
burning mass the air was filled with dark clouds of smoke, which
peopled the still brilliantly lighted cavern with strange, unearthly,
spectral-like shadows, which, dissolving suddenly into steam, covered
the two adventurous visitors with a damp moisture. One of them
tottered.

"Fear nothing," calls out the other; "we are quite safe here."

"It is suffocating; I am burning!" cried Spitzhase.

"Do not be afraid; follow me," said Ivan, and drew his trembling
comrade after him over the wet rocks, over the charred, burning
mounds. Every spot where he saw the flames rising he directed the
hose, and a shower of cool, refreshing water fell from the
india-rubber pipe upon the burning, seething demoniacal flames. The
gas hissed, the hot steam boiled round them, the flames, beaten down
in one place, sprang up in another, but on they went. He was afraid of
nothing. "Forward! go on! forward!" The mysterious clouds hovered over
him.

"We are lost!" moaned the other poor mortal, whose fear began to be
uncontrollable. He fell on his knees.

"You of little faith," said the conqueror of hell, "get up. Let us go
back." And he lifted him up, as the Redeemer did Peter on the stormy
Sea of Galilee.

Then he rolled the hose once more round his neck, and took it back to
the suction-pump; this he closed, and then led his comrade again to
the little room where they had put on their equipment.

Spitzhase sank back when he reached this haven. When his helmet was
taken off he panted like a man who was suffocating for want of air.
Ivan looked at him compassionately.

The miners gave each of them a glass of fresh lemonade to drink, and
rubbed their temples with vinegar. They then undressed them to the
skin, put them into a tub of cold water, took them out in two seconds,
and rubbed them with coarse towels. Spitzhase began to recover his
senses.

As they put on their usual clothes Ivan said to him, "Well, sir, how
did you like being below?"

Spitzhase was no fool, but he answered, good-humoredly, "I wouldn't
have missed going down for a hundred gulden, but I would pay twice
that sum rather than go there again."

"Now you know what to write to your board of directors. Paul, take
this gentleman home. I remain here to continue the work."

Spitzhase wrote a glowing account of what he called "the fight with
the world of spirits" to the Vienna papers.

The next day Ivan said to the commissioners, "We have now laid pipes
four inches in diameter to work upon the very heart of the fire. So
soon as I am ready we shall set the high-pressure machine at work.
This will empty in four hours ten thousand buckets of fluid on the
burning mass."

"The devil take it!" cried Spitzhase. "Will this farce never have an
end until the escaped gas blows up the colliery, and makes of it and
of us a new Pompeii?"

"Do not be afraid. I have thought of this danger. We have taken care
to stop all the outlets to the quarry gallery with sand-bags. We have
walled up every possible fissure, crevice, and exit. The entrance to
the well-shaft has been provided with a strong iron door, over which
we have fastened a thick bed of clay. If, therefore, it should happen
that in the gallery, where the conflagration is at its worst, and
where the fluid must be poured freely, the mass of gas should develop
in such force that it must explode, then the iron door will prove our
salvation. It will resist all attack, and the force of the gas will be
broken."

The members of the commission shook with fright. Here was a pleasant
prospect! Ivan, however, had no time to spare on reassuring them; the
crisis was at hand, and he had still much to do. Prudence, foresight
was necessary. At mid-day he returned to the quarry gallery.

As the clock struck twelve he gave the signal at which the large
suction-pump was to be set in motion. He remained from this time at
his post, never leaving the machine until the work was finished. To
their honor be it spoken, the three commissioners remained with him;
they kept their places without moving, never speaking a word. During
the awful time that followed no voice was heard but that of Ivan. Soon
after the signal was given a rushing sound was heard underground,
faint at first, but growing louder. It sounded as if in the distance
water was pouring from an open sluice.

At first the machine was worked at only half its strength. After half
an hour or so there mingled with the rushing sound a great tumult, as
if many bells were vibrating in the air. The noise did not die away;
on the contrary, the vibration grew every moment stronger.

The earth was in labor; the ground heaved and trembled, and those who
felt its throes trembled also. The earth's sufferings were shared by
her children. Only one man was calm; the master-spirit was not afraid.

With close attention Ivan watched the pendulum and the thermometer of
the machine; he marked the variations in the condition of the
barometer, the ozonometer, and electrometer, writing his observations
in his note-book. After another hour he made a sign to the man working
the machine to put on more pressure.

Thereupon arose from below a terrible uproar; it was the battle of the
Cyclops. The bowels of the earth sent up a dull roar like the rolling
of thunder; occasionally came a shock as of an earthquake. The houses
began to rock, the tops of the tall trees and the cross upon the tower
tottered, and its fall added to the anxiety felt by the entire valley.
The underground fight grew every moment fiercer; the giants joined
issue with their foes. They howled in rage; they put their gigantic
shoulders together and tried to upset the earth. To their cries was
added the bellowing of the hurricane confined in the cave, and the
tumult was indescribable.

The listeners to this fearful scene looked with a stony stare of
horror; they were speechless, but their look seemed to say, "What rash
act have you done? Are you inciting the spirits who dwell under the
earth to war against one another?"

Ivan answered with another look of calm superiority. "Fear nothing; I
have my foot upon the head of the giant."

The underground battle had lasted three hours. The people were beside
themselves with fright; they turned upon Ivan and cursed him.

"Do you think you are a God," they cried, "and can create an
earthquake?"

Ivan paid no attention either to their fears or their curses; he gave
another signal to the men at the machine--

"With the whole power!"

The machine, the outcome of the wonderful inventive genius of man,
stormed the very gates of hell itself. The underground tremblings
followed one another rapidly, growing stronger and stronger; the deep
groaning rose to a stentorian, deafening roar.

"It is all over!" shrieked the people in the valley, and fell upon
their knees.

In the air a shrill, whistling sound was now heard, as if an engine
had suddenly let off steam, and out of the shaft of the company's mine
there arose rapidly a white column of steam, which, as soon as it
encountered the cold regions of space, shot up into the sky, where it
formed itself into a white cloud, which cloud suddenly broke into a
deluge of rain. At once the underground convulsion ceased, and the
shrill whistling died away in the distance.

Ivan, looking round, said, quickly, "Paul, collect the rain-water; I
must know what it is made of." Upon this he gave the machinist the
signal to stop the machine. There was not even a drop of perspiration
upon his forehead. He took the bottle of rain-water that Paul brought
him and put it in his pocket. "Now, gentlemen," he said, "you can go
to supper. The work is accomplished."

"Is the fire extinguished?" asked Spitzhase.

"Absolutely."

"And the pillar of steam yonder?"

"Will remain in the sky until midnight and then slowly damp away. Go
to supper. I have something of importance to do at home."

Who cared to eat supper?

The pillar of steam still continued to rise from the shaft, and to
form a cloud from which a steady downpour of rain fell continuously,
occasionally interspersed by flashes of lightning; but no one thought
of going indoors. The richer members of society wrapped themselves in
mackintoshes, the workmen in their cloaks, and all continued to watch
the strange appearance, until at last, towards ten o'clock, it began
to grow smaller. The whistling sound was interrupted now and again by
a piercing shriek, and sometimes a flash of lightning illumined the
shadow of the pillar--the white cloud.

The steam giant then sank back; not all at once, but by degrees, into
the pit from which it had arisen. Only occasionally, from time to
time, its head reappeared for a second, but the whistling ceased
altogether; so, too, did the heaving of the earth. The unearthly
tumult was silenced. In the church the sound of the organ was heard,
and voices intoning "Alleluia! Alleluia!" The people walked in
procession, carrying lanterns and banners.

The commissioners made their way to the inn, where they found Ivan
eating his supper. He could eat now; it struck him that he was mortal
and wanted food.

"I have finished the chemical examination," he said to the other three
with polite indifference, "and I can give you the satisfactory news
that in the residue 0.75 of carbonic acid is to be found."

Spitzhase did not understand. "What good is it," he asked, "if
seventy-five parts of carbonic acid are in the residuum?"

"To-morrow we can open both entrances to the colliery, and after the
air-pumps have been settled the work can be resumed."

Alleluia! Alleluia!



CHAPTER XL

ANGELA IS EVEN WITH IVAN


Success brings with it fame, fortune, and universal esteem. Men
worship success, and with justice.

He who has saved a great treasure, who has restored to thousands of
people their country, their industry; he who has overcome a universal
calamity which threatened an entire province; he who has given to
thousands on the verge of beggary their livelihood, who has dried the
tears of the widow and the orphan--he is near to God himself.

Honors and rewards were showered upon Ivan. The government gave him
for all time the patent for his discovery. By the Joint-Stock Mining
Company he was handsomely remunerated. A monster deputation obliged
him to accept the place of director. Scientific societies at home and
abroad elected him member. His picture and biography appeared in all
the illustrated papers of Europe and America. The simple villagers in
Bondathal prayed for him night and morning; and when the first train
steamed out of the Bondavara station, the locomotive bore the name of
"Behrend." It was only God's providence that preserved him from
receiving "an order."

Perhaps the most interesting testimony, and the one most valued by
Ivan, was a letter which the Countess Angela wrote to him with her own
hand.

The countess told him frankly all that had happened to her since they
had met; how she had married the Marquis Salista; how unhappy he had
made her by the pressure he brought to bear upon her grandfather,
Prince Theobald, which ended in his property being sequestrated, to
the ruin of the whole family of Bondavary. She had suffered greatly in
consequence, and had known what privation meant; also the income of
the Countess Theudelinde had been considerably diminished, and the old
lady had been forced to reduce her household. This condition of
affairs had shown them their former friends in their true light--among
others, Salista, her husband, who had gone to Mexico, and left her to
shift for herself. Then Ivan had come to the rescue. Prince Waldemar's
triumphal progress had been effectually checked. The million of money
placed by Prince Theobald in the Bondavara Company had regained its
value. The prince had arranged with his creditors, and his affairs
were once more settled. She had been reconciled to him, and lived with
him. Countess Theudelinde likewise had recovered her rents. The great
family of Bondavary, which had been so near ruin, was reinstated in
its former position. And for its new lease of life it had to thank a
certain beneficent, clever--

Here Countess Angela's letter broke off. There was, however, a
postscript:

"Answer this letter. I beg for one word. Write 'I forgive you.'"

Ivan answered her immediately. He expressed his gratitude for her kind
remembrance of him, but he could not imagine what he had to forgive.
On the contrary, he had a lively recollection of the many kindnesses
he had received from the Countess Angela Salista.

The letter was evidently written with an effort to be cold and polite.
It was followed by a second letter from Angela, which ran thus:

"Do not answer me in that way. I have sinned against you. You do not
reproach me, but my own heart and conscience do. To quiet these
tormentors I need your pardon. Answer me sincerely. Can you ever
forgive me? I should not have treated you as I did--"

Ivan answered this by a long, confidential letter. He confessed to her
secrets of his heart, made to her confessions which never before
passed his lips. The countess might be confident that she had never
offended him. She had never forfeited the place she held in his
respect.

A third letter came from Angela.

"If you can do so from your heart, write upon a piece of paper,
'Angela Bondavary, I forgive you, from my heart.'"

Ivan wrote these words and nothing else.

       *       *       *       *       *

One evening two carriages drove into the court-yard of Ivan's house.
He lived now in the handsome residence provided by the company for the
director of the mines. The porter exchanged some words with the person
who sat in the first carriage, and then came to Ivan with two
visiting-cards.

Ivan, to his surprise, read the names--

     _Countess Theudelinde Bondavary._

     _Countess Angela Bondavary._

These names caused a great disturbance in Ivan's mind. What did they
want? Why did they come to him? He told the porter to show the ladies
in, and then, taking up the cards again, it struck him as odd that
the Countess Angela's did not bear the name of her husband.

The door opened, and only one lady entered. She was dressed in
mourning, and her face was covered by a thick veil, the thick crape
concealing her features. It was the Countess Theudelinde. She had on a
long black travelling-cloak with two capes. She came to Ivan and held
out to him the finger-tips of her black glove, which he carried to his
lips, while she murmured some words of greeting.

"Where is the marquise?" asked Ivan, anxiously.

"She will be here immediately; but it is very difficult to bring her
in."

Ivan conducted the lady to a sofa and asked her to be seated.

"Do not go to meet her," continued the countess. "She will find her
way. You will receive her kindly, won't you?"

"Oh, countess," Ivan began; but Theudelinde interrupted impatiently.

"No phrases, please. We have not come here for polite words or to
exchange compliments. We come to make a request; the answer is simple.
Yes or no. Angela wants to remain here."

"Here!" repeated Ivan, horrified.

"Yes, here! Do not be afraid; not in this house, but in the
neighborhood. She wishes to remain near you--never to leave you--that
is her desire; and she has a right to have her wishes granted."

Ivan began to think he must be dreaming; he did not know what to say,
but his thoughts were distracted by a strange noise outside. Along the
passage came the heavy tread of several men. The door opened and four
miners came in, carrying between them a metal coffin, on the lid of
which lay a white wreath of _repoussé_ silver.

The wreath surrounded the arms of the Bondavary family, and underneath
was carved in gold letters--

     ANGELA BONDAVARY.

The coffin was placed upon the oak table. Ivan stood as if he were
turned into a statue, his eyes fixed upon the wreath and the name
underneath.

Theudelinde got up and seized his hand, saying, in a low, agitated
voice:

"This is the Countess Angela Bondavary, who begs of you, as the master
here in Bondavara, to find for her a small place in the family vault
of the castle, where she may lie among her own people, waiting for the
coming of Jesus Christ--the Bridegroom of all poor women whose lives
have been desolated."

"How is it possible that she is dead?" said Ivan, who was deeply
moved.

"How? Very easily! When you throw a rose into the fire, in two minutes
you will only find its ashes. I had just heard her laugh; she was
quite gay. Then she went too near the stove; the next moment she
screamed, and I saw her enveloped in flames!"

"She was burned to death!" cried Ivan, covering his face with his
hands. Then, after a pause, "Was there no one near to save her?"

"Was there no one?" answered Theudelinde. "Were you, then, asleep at
midnight? Did you not hear her call, 'Ivan, help me!'? Did you not see
her standing beside your bed in flames--an angel with hell in her
heart? Why were you not by her side to hold her in your arms, to
stifle the flames, to snatch her from the jaws of death? Where were
you, who should have saved her? Now she is here, and says to you, 'I
am gone. I am no one. Let us be united.'"

Ivan felt as if an iron band had been laid upon his heart.

"She lived," continued Theudelinde, "for two days. She suffered the
most terrible pain. When I think of all she went through I feel as if
my senses were leaving me. To the last she was conscious. She spoke--
But no--why should I tell you what she said? Just before she died she
asked for a pencil, and wrote a few words to you. Here they are in
this envelope. Do not break the seal, do not read them, so long as I
am here. I would rather give you no explanation. If you have anything
to ask, ask it from her. Here is the key of the coffin; I give it to
you."

Ivan recoiled from receiving such a present.

"Why should you be afraid? Why do you object to opening the coffin?
There is nothing to fear. The body is embalmed, and the flames did not
touch her face. You will see that she smiles."

Ivan forced himself to raise the coffin-lid and to look on the face of
the dead. There was no smile on her lips. She was calm and cold; as
when she lay insensible in the wood, with her head upon a cushion of
moss, so now she lay upon her white satin cushion. Ivan felt that if
she could open her eyes for one minute she would look at him proudly
and say, "I want nothing," and close them again. How beautiful she
was, with her still, marble face, her immovable eyebrows. Ivan would
not disturb its calm loveliness by even one kiss. He would have felt
it to be dishonorable, and yet, if she could have come to life again,
who knows--? As on the day when he had closed her dress with his
breast-pin, so now he shrouded her secret with the coffin-lid. Her
secret was safe with him.

"Keep the key," said Theudelinde. "The coffin, its key, and the
treasure it holds are yours; that is settled. You are the master of
the vault; it is your duty to take her there. You cannot escape it."

With eyes that were hot and tearless, Theudelinde looked through her
veil at Ivan. He returned the glance. If either had shed a tear, or
even let a sob escape, both would have burst into passionate weeping,
for grief is infectious; but each one of them was resolved to show
mental strength in the presence of the other. They could even command
their emotions.

"Do you undertake the duty?"

Ivan bowed his head.

"Then you will perform it alone. Alive I shall never enter the family
vault. You know why."

Both were silent. Then Theudelinde burst out:

"Why was I not left in my castle? Why was I undeceived when I imagined
that my ancestors visited me? If I had not been shaken in my delusions
I should still have been happy. I should never have gone into the
world, where I have only found misery; Angela would not have come to
me; my brother Theobald would not have been ruined; hell would not
have been let loose in the Bondavara mines; I should have never known
you; all--all would have been different!" Then, after a pause, she
went on: "There is no need of a clergyman; there is no need of any
ceremony. You can say some prayers. You are a Protestant--so was
Angela. She became one that she might get a separation from her
unworthy husband. Let them carry the coffin quietly and reverently to
the family vault. There I shall leave you and it, for I shall not go
inside--never, until I am dead. You will put the coffin in its place,
and then I return whence I came, where I am wanted by no one."

Ivan called the miners to take the coffin again upon their shoulders,
and told them to carry it through the vestibule to the private door
which led into the park. The park separated the director's house from
the castle.

As they walked through the winding paths of the park the trees shed
their golden leaves upon the coffin and the titmice in the brushwood
chanted the dirge.

Ivan walked bareheaded behind the coffin, and behind him came Countess
Theudelinde.

When they reached the entrance of the vault Ivan told the bearers to
put the coffin down, and, kneeling down beside it, he remained for a
long time praying. God hears us if we speak to Him in a whisper; nay,
He hears us, even although we do not speak, but feel.

Theudelinde bent over Ivan and kissed his forehead.

"I thank you. You walked behind her with your head uncovered. Now she
is all yours." Then she returned by the winding path, as if she were
afraid that Ivan would make her take away what she had brought.

Ivan placed the coffin in its resting-place and sent away the bearers;
then he remained for many hours beside it. By the light of the torches
he read Angela's last words to him--

"For whom shall I wait on the shore of the new world?"

Ivan sighed deeply. "Who will wait for me on the shore of the new
world?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Then he made his way back to the house. There was no trace of either
the countess's travelling carriage or Angela's hearse.



CHAPTER XLI

HOW IVAN MOURNED


They were both gone, the high-born lady and the peasant girl--gone
where there is no sorrow and no more sin. One had lost her life by
charcoal, the other by fire--two vengeful spirits.

Ivan thought of both with bitter regret. He felt now that he was alone
in the world. He would have given all the fame he had acquired, the
money he had earned, the good he had done, to have been able to save
even one of these women. He mourned for them not in black, not with
crape on his hat. What good are these signs of grief?

The European mourns in black, the Chinese in yellow, the Mussulman in
green; in the classical age they mourned in white; the former
generation of Hungarians in violet; the Jews in rags; the philosopher
in his heart. The wise man never shares his grief, but he does his
joys.

Meantime, in the Bondavara Valley there reigned peace and plenty;
where there had been a half-savage race there was a happy people. The
worst characters had settled down, morality had grown popular.

Ivan sent the young men at his own expense to factories abroad, where
they learned the arts of civilization. He brought wood-carvers from
Switzerland and lace-workers from Holstein to teach their trades to
the women and children, so that they might unite artistic labor with
increase of wages. For a population where every one, big and little,
works either from necessity or for amusement--a people who look upon
work as pleasure and who feel it no privation to be employed--such a
people are ennobled by their toil.

Ivan looked after the schools. He emancipated the national teachers
from the misery of their national tyrants; he rewarded the student
with scholarships, the school-boy with useful prizes; in every parish
he established a library and reading-room. He accustomed the people to
put by the pence they could spare; he taught them how to help one
another; he established in Bondavara a savings-bank and a hospital.

His own colliery was a model. The miners and himself were the joint
owners, and shared the profit. Whoever was taken on in this colliery
should pass an examination and work one year on trial. This rule
applied to women and men alike. This trial year was not easy,
particularly for the girls.

Nowhere was a girl so looked after; not in her mother's house or in a
convent or state institution was there more particularity as to
manners and morals than in Ivan Behrend's colliery. Every word, every
act was watched. If any one failed to be up to the mark during his
year of probation, no one taunted him, nor was he despised. He was
simply told to go and work in the company's colliery, where there was
better pay; and the workman or workwoman imagined this was an advance,
not a degradation. In the company's colliery there was certainly more
freedom, the rules being less strict.

If, however, at the end of the trial year the applicant had fulfilled
all requirements, he or she was received into the colony and became a
shareholder, so far as the profit was in question. Besides this, a
prize for virtue was given once a year, on the anniversary of the
great pit-burning, to the most modest, well-conducted girl in the
colony.

Ivan spent on this prize fifty ducats, and the miners on their side
promised the winner a handsome wedding present.

It was, of course, an understood thing that no one went in for the
prize. No one knew who was likely to get it. The elders took notes; it
was their secret.

The giving of this prize was not to be attended with any ceremonial.
It would take place on an ordinary working day, when all the miners
would have picks and shovels in their hands, so that every one could
see that the reward was not for a pretty face, but for a good heart
and industrious fingers. It was to be a day of general rejoicing.

This was how Ivan mourned.



CHAPTER XLII

EVILA


It was the anniversary of the great pit fire. Old Paul had gone to
look for Ivan at his house in the principal colony, but Ivan had
already started for the smaller colliery. He saw Paul on the road,
and, stopping his carriage, took the miner up.

"This day last year was a memorable day," said Paul.

"I recollect it well," returned Ivan; "but to-day we have to give the
prize for virtue. Have the jury settled to whom it is to be given?"

"They are agreed. A girl who has been little less than a year in the
colliery."

"And she has fulfilled all conditions?"

"In every way. The child is most industrious. She is every morning the
first to come and the last to leave. She never complains of the work,
as many of them do; she treats it as if it were a pleasure to her. If
her wheelbarrow is overloaded, she encourages the digger to put on
still more; then she runs away gayly with her burden, and comes back
singing as if she had been amusing herself. At the end of the
recreation she drives the other girls back to their work."

"Is she vain?"

"No; she wears the same holiday clothes in which she was dressed when
she came a year ago; naturally they are not quite as fresh as they
were. She has a little string of beads round her throat, and in her
hair a narrow ribbon. At night she washes her clothes in the stream,
for she has one peculiarity--she wears fresh linen every day; but she
makes it up herself, so she alone has the trouble."

"Is she saving?"

"She has more in our savings-bank than any one of the girls. She would
have still more, only that on Sundays she gives a whole day's wages to
the beggar who sits at the church door."

"Does she go to church regularly?"

"Every Sunday she comes with us, but she never sits with the other
girls; she kneels before a side-altar, covers her face with her hands,
and prays all through mass."

"Is she good-tempered?"

"She has offended no one and has never been angry. Once a woman said
something very offensive to her, for which we gave her a heavy fine.
The woman was ready to pay it, but the girl denied that she had been
offended. Soon after the woman got ill; she had no one to nurse her,
because she is a solitary widow, and this girl nursed her every night,
and fetched the medicine from the apothecary for her."

"Do you think she is a hypocrite?"

"She is too merry for that, and ready for a joke. Hypocrites are
gloomy folk. Our people would soon find her out if she wasn't on the
square; but she is a prime favorite with every one. We don't choose
our words exactly, but we can make a fair guess at the girl who
respects herself. We like one that gives a good box on the ear to a
fellow who would make too free. Sharp with the hand, but soft with her
tongue; that's our sort. And still, sometimes I have watched her when
she was in quite another mood; for instance, on Sunday afternoons,
when we sit under the mulberry-trees, they all get round me and make
me tell them--God knows how often!--the story of how you carried the
pipe of the air-pump into the gallery of the Bondavara mine, and how
we all thought you were a dead man. Women and children hold their
breath while I tell it. I believe I do tell that story well, for they
know it by heart, and yet they cannot but listen. They take it in
different ways; but this girl, I have noticed her, she covers up her
face and cries the whole time."

"And is she a modest girl?"

"To ascertain this point we had to call a jury of married women. They
couldn't bring forward a single charge against her. Then we got the
girls together, and we pressed them very close, if there was anything
with the young men, but they all said--no. And there was no need for
them to deny, for a peasant girl is fitly mated with a miner, and if
he wants her he can have her."

They had now reached the colliery, and went into the station-house,
which stood at the corner of the branch railroad. There was now
another line, which ran underground and connected the two collieries.
Here Ivan found a great many of the miners. He sent for the rest, and
told them work was over for the day. Men and women assembled by
degrees, and only one group of girls still remained working. These had
agreed not to leave off until they had driven their load of coals to
the coal-hill, which lay between the entrance to the quarry gallery
and the station-house where Ivan sat waiting. He could not see the
girls; he could only hear their clear voices as they called to one
another to make haste and get the work finished.

Some one began to sing. The melody was familiar to Ivan--one of those
sad Slav airs in which the singer seems on the brink of tears; and the
voice was sweet and tuneful as a bell, full, too, of feeling.

  "Say when I smoothed thy hair,
    Showed I not tender care?
    Say when I dressed my child,
    Was I not fond and mild?"

Ivan's face clouded. "Why do they sing that air? Why should it be on
the lips of any one? Why not let it fall into oblivion?"

"The girl is coming," said old Paul. "I hear her singing; she is now
coming down the hill with her wheelbarrow."

The next moment the girl appeared upon the summit of the coal-hill.
With a run she had shoved her wheelbarrow forward and emptied the
contents with extraordinary dexterity; the big lumps of coal rolled
down the hill. She was a young, well-developed girl in a blue jacket
and a short petticoat; but this red petticoat was not tucked up--it
fell over her ankles, and only showed her feet. The colored
handkerchief on her head had fallen backward, and the rich plaits
wound round her small head could be seen. Her face was smudged with
coal-dust and was beaming with good-humor--earthly dirt, supernatural
glory. But what the coal-dust could not conceal were the two large
black eyes shining like two brilliants--the darkness illumined by
dazzling stars.

The girl stood immovable on the summit of the coal-hill, then looked
down with some surprise on the crowd gathered in and around the
station-house.

The next moment Ivan was beside her. In his joy he had made one bound
from the station-house across the rails and had rushed up the
coal-hill.

"Eveline!" he cried, clasping the girl's hand in his.

She shook her head, smiling at him. "No, sir," she said, "Evila."

"You here! You have come back here!"

"I have been in your colliery, sir, for a year, and if you will keep
me on I should like to stay."

"You shall stay only on one condition--as my wife," cried Ivan,
pressing her hand to his heart.

All who were at the foot of the hill saw this action; they could
almost hear his words.

Evila shook her head and drew away her hand. "No, no. Allow me to be
your servant, a maid in your house, the maid of your wife. I shall be
quite happy; I expect nothing more."

"But I wish it. You have come back to me; you are mine. How could you
be so cruel as to be a year so near me and never to tell me?"

"Oh, sir, you cannot raise me to your position!" said Evila, with a
sad yet dignified expression. "If you knew all you would never forgive
me."

"I know everything, and forgive everything."

These words proved that Ivan knew nothing. If he had known the truth
he would have been aware there was absolutely nothing to forgive. As
it was, he pressed his young love close to his heart, while she
murmured:

"You may forgive me, but the world will never pardon _you_."

"The world!" cried Ivan, raising his head proudly. "My world is
_here_"--laying his hand on his breast. "The world! Look round you
from this hill. Everything that lives in this valley owes its breath
to me; every blade of grass has to thank _me_ that it is now green.
Hill and valley know that, under God, I have saved them from
destruction. I have acquired a million, and I have not despoiled any
one. With every penny I receive a blessing. In the palace of the
prince and in the cottage of the widow I have dried the tears of
despair; I have delivered my enemies from a living grave, and I have
saved their wives and children from the misfortune of being widows and
orphans. My name is spoken of with admiration all over the globe, and
yet I have hid myself _here_, not to be troubled with their praises; I
do not care for praise. The most lovely of women has smiled on me and
loved me, but she was not of _my_ world. She is dead, and the key of
her coffin is a perpetual reminder to me that her world has passed
away. My world is within me, and into that inner world of mine no one
has ever entered, no one _will_ ever enter, _but you_! Speak, Evila;
answer me. Will you try to love me?"

The girl's eyes sank before the ardent gaze of her lover. Many men had
made love to her, but none like this man, whose face shone like
Jupiter's when, with a look, he killed Semele.

"Oh, sir," she murmured, "if I do not die I shall love you always; but
my mind misgives me that I shall die."

As she spoke she fell back fainting, her brilliant color faded to a
waxen pallor, the flashing eyes closed; her body, which a moment
before was like a blooming rose, was now as lifeless as a withered
leaf.

Ivan held her motionless form in his arms. The woman whom he had so
loved, for whom he had suffered so much, was his, just as her pulse
ceased to beat, just as she had said, "I shall love you always, but I
know that I shall die."

       *       *       *       *       *

But she did not die.



CHAPTER XLIII

THE DIAMOND REMAINED ALWAYS A DIAMOND


THE END



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Published by Harper & Brothers, New York.



Transcriber's Note: The following typographical errors present in the
original print edition have been corrected in this electronic edition.
In Chapter VIII, "been witnsss" was changed to "been witness".

In Chapter XIII, a missing quotation mark was added after "less
physical strength".

In Chapter XVIII, "if he is not a begger" was changed to "if he is not
a beggar".

In Chapter XXI, "traditions of Radoczy" was changed to "traditions of
Rakoczy".

In Chapter XXIV, "Jocky Club" was changed to "Jockey Club".

In Chapter XXVI, a period was changed to a question mark after "the
tavern in his own colony", "predicate the direction" was changed to
"predict the direction", and "at the pit's month" was changed to "at
the pit's mouth".

In Chapter XXIX, a period was changed to a question mark after
"introduce Waldemar".

In Chapter XXXI, "claquers" was changed to "claqueurs", and "did badly
to night" was changed to "did badly to-night".

In Chapter XXXII, "classsical work" was changed to "classical work".

In Chapter XXXIX, "the three apartures" was changed to "the three
apertures".

In Chapter XL, a quotation mark was deleted after "She had never
forfeited the place she held in his respect".





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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.



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