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Title: Whirlpools - A Novel of Modern Poland
Author: Sienkiewicz, Henryk, 1846-1916
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.

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Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://www.archive.org/details/whirlpoolsnovelo00sien



                               WHIRLPOOLS



                                WORKS OF

                           HENRYK SIENKIEWICZ

                               *   *   *

      Whirlpools
      "Quo Vadis"
      With Fire and Sword
      The Deluge
      Pan Michael
      Children of the Soil
      Hania, and Other Stories
      Sielanka, a Forest Picture and Other Stories
      The Knights of the Cross
      Without Dogma
      On the Field of Glory



                               WHIRLPOOLS

                        A Novel of Modern Poland



                                   BY

                           HENRYK SIENKIEWICZ

             Author of "With Fire and Sword," "The Deluge,"
                  "Quo Vadis," "Children of the Soil,"
                         "Without Dogma," Etc.



                    _TRANSLATED FROM THE POLISH BY_
                             MAX A. DREZMAL



                                 BOSTON

                       LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY

                                  1910



                           _Copyright, 1910_

                     By Little, Brown, and Company

                               *   *   *

                         _All rights reserved_

                          Published June, 1910



               THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, U. S. A.



                              WHIRLPOOLS.



                              PART FIRST.



                                   I

Gronski arrived at the Jastrzeb manor-house about midnight. In the
house all were asleep excepting an old servant and the young heir,
Ladislaus Krzycki, who awaited his guest with supper and greeted him
with great cordiality, for notwithstanding the disparity in their ages
they were bound by ties of an old intimacy. It continued from those
days when Gronski, as a university student, surrounded with a tutelary
friendship the youthful Krzycki, who was attending the gymnasium. Later
they met frequently and the closer friendly relations between Gronski
and the Krzycki family did not undergo any interruption.

Therefore when, after the first greetings, they repaired to the
dining-room the young heir of Jastrzeb again began to embrace Gronski.
After a while, having seated him at the table, he shook from his eyes
the remnants of drowsiness which had oppressed him, became thoroughly
animated, and said with sincere happiness:

"How immensely fortunate I am that at last we have you at Jastrzeb; and
Mother, how she has been expecting you! I, whenever I am in Warsaw,
always begin with you, but a year has passed since your last visit
here."

Gronski inquired about Pani Krzycki's health and that of the younger
members of the household, after which he said:

"It is, indeed, strange that I have not been out in the country, not
only with you but elsewhere. In summer time they dispatch me every year
to Carlsbad, and after Carlsbad one strays somewhere in the west.
Besides, in Warsaw matters are now seething as in a caldron, and it is
difficult to tear one's self from all this."

The conversation, which started with a lengthy discussion of public
affairs, was afterwards turned by Ladislaus towards private matters:

"Did you," he said, "besides the notification of the death of Uncle
Zarnowski, receive a letter from Mother? I ask for this reason: I
mailed first the notification, and later in the day Mother decided to
write the letter."

"I received both and for that reason I am here. I tell you candidly I
would not come merely to attend your uncle's funeral. It is true that a
year ago, when he was in Warsaw for medical treatment, we dined
together for several months at the same club, but that was all; though
people were astonished that such a misanthrope, who avoided everybody,
did not somehow run away from me. How were your relations? Were they
cool to the end?"

"Rather, there were none. He would not receive anybody and did not wish
to see any one, not even his parish-priest. Extreme unction was
administered by the Canon of Olchowa. When he became seriously ill, we
visited him in Rzeslewo, but he received us with blunt discourtesy.
Mother did not mind it and repeated her visits, though at times he was
disagreeable towards her. As for myself, I confess that I did not call
there again until he was in a very critical state."

"Did he leave a large estate?"

"Rzeslewo is a huge patch of that kind of soil in which you can
anywhere plant at least onions. There is not one copper coin of
indebtedness. At one time Uncle had a house in Warsaw, to which he
removed the entire equipment from Rzeslewo, which was not, by any
means, despicable. We thought that he would reside permanently in the
city, but he later sold everything; from which I infer he must have
left funds. Some, as is customary with people who are fond of
exaggeration, say hundreds of thousands. The Lord only knows. But this
much is certain: he inherited a great deal from his brothers. I do not
know whether you have ever heard that there were three of them. One
perished, while yet a student, in a duel at Dorpat; the other died,
also young, from typhoid fever, and Uncle Adam got everything they
left."

"It is said that he lived very poorly."

"He stayed a great deal in Warsaw and abroad for his health. How he
lived there I do not know, but, after his return to Rzeslewo, very
wretchedly. I think, however, that this was more due to whimsicality
than to greed, for he was not greedy. You would not believe how that
manor appeared; how everything was denuded and abandoned. In every room
the roof was leaky, and if some unexpected guests or unknown relatives
arrive for the funeral, I will have to invite them to Jastrzeb, for
there I would not know where to house them."

"Do you know of any other relatives?"

"Yes, there are Pani Otocka and her sister; also Dolhanski, who
undoubtedly will come, and ourselves. I have not heard of others,
though in all probability they will be found, as in Poland everybody is
related. Mother insists that we are the nearest, but, to tell the
truth, we are not very close; as the deceased was a distant cousin of
Mother's."

"And Pani Otocka and Panna Marynia?"

"Better ask Mother about that; yesterday for an hour she was expounding
to me as to who was born to whom; what he was to whom; whom did who's
sister marry, and what was who's relation to the deceased. I could not
grasp it all. Those ladies will be here to-morrow at one o'clock, and
with them an English lady, their friend."

"I know; they told me about that in Warsaw, not knowing that they would
chance upon the funeral. But that English lady speaks Polish almost as
well as we do."

"What? How is that?"

"Her father owned a factory in which he employed many Polish workmen.
The young lady, while a child, had a Polish nurse, and later some
emigrant taught her Polish."

"And that she should care for it!"

"Among the English people you will find many odd characters, and this
Mr. Anney was an odd character in this respect, that he could, like
Lord Dudley, select for his heraldic device: '_Causas non fata
sequor_,' because, like him, he also loved Poland, Polish history, and
the Poles. The workmen were sometimes turbulent and caused him much
annoyance, but this did not dishearten him. He established schools for
them, procured priests, took charge of the orphans, etc."

"That was a righteous man. But Miss Anney, is she pretty?--young?"

"About Pani Otocka's age--a year younger or older--and they are very
fond of each other. How long is it since you have seen Pani Otocka and
Marynia?"

"It is six years. Pani Otocka was not yet married and Panna Marynia
Zbyltowska was a girl, perhaps ten years old, in short dresses. I well
remember her because even then she played the violin and was regarded
as a child-wonder. My mother drew nearer to them last summer in Krynica
and has become extraordinarily captivated with them. She insisted that
this winter I should renew their acquaintance, but they left Warsaw for
the winter. Even then she commanded me to invite them in my own name to
Jastrzeb, and a few days before the death of Uncle, she wrote to them
to come for a lengthy visit. Day before yesterday we received a
dispatch that they will come. You are on intimate terms with them?"

"Yes, on intimate and very sincere terms," answered Gronski.

"Because I wanted to speak with you a little about them, but the hour
is late and you are after a journey. Perhaps it would be better to
defer it until to-morrow."

"I slept on the train and it is not far from the station to your place.
Besides, I have the bad habit of not retiring to sleep before two
o'clock."

Ladislaus' countenance bore slight traces of perplexity. He poured out
for himself a glass of wine, drank it, and then said:

"The matter is somewhat delicate. I am certain that Mother has
concocted some scheme. Perhaps she may have written to you about this
and, if not, she will speak about it, because she is much concerned
about your opinion, and in a certain contingency will ask your
assistance. Several times she incidentally spoke about your influence
with Pani Otocka. I believe that you have influence with everybody, not
excluding my mother. For that reason I would like to ask a favor of
you."

Gronski glanced at the young nobleman and afterwards at the servant, as
if he wanted to say: "Why is this witness here?" Ladislaus understood
and said:

"He is very deaf, so we can speak quite freely. He wheezes because he
has the asthma."

Afterwards he continued:

"Mother for the past two years has been bent upon my getting married,
so she bustles about, writes voluminous letters, and sends me every
winter to Warsaw, and I am certain that last summer she was in Krynica
not so much for her own health, which, God be praised, she preserves so
well, but to look over the young ladies and make a selection. And there
these cousins of mine have so bewitched her that she returned, as I
surmise, with a prepared project."

"I must give you warning," interrupted Gronski, "that so far as Panna
Marynia is concerned you are building an edifice upon ice, as in the
first place she is but sixteen; and again she will, at the end of
autumn, return to the conservatory in Brussels; and thirdly her whole
soul is wrapped up in her violin and in all probability will always
remain there."

"May it stay there. You say 'you are building,' but I not only am not
building, but would prefer that Mother would not build, as it will be
unpleasant for her. After all, my dear mother is the most upright soul
in the world, and beyond doubt all she desires is that I should have a
good and estimable woman for a wife; but I would prefer that my future
spouse should not resemble too much a Grecian statue."

"Well then?"

"Well then, Panna Marynia is not involved but only an ideal and, at the
same time, a warm young widow: to which arrangement I cannot by any
means assent."

"I will answer with a Lithuanian anecdote, according to which an old
woman, to a peasant's assertion that he did not fear the master,
replied, 'Because thou hast never seen him.' Likewise, you have never
seen Pani Otocka, or have forgotten how she looks."

But Ladislaus repeated:

"Not for the world, even if she looked like a sacred painting."

"Then perhaps you love another?"

"Why, you yourself tormented me last winter about Panna Rose
Stabrowska, and I admit that she has made an impression upon my heart.
But I did not permit myself to fall in love with her, because I know
her parents would not give her to me. I am not and will not be rich
enough for them. For that reason I escaped from Warsaw before the close
of the carnival. I did not wish to envenom with vain feeling my life or
hers, if she should love me."

"But in case of a will in your favor? Would you not rush into the smoke
like a Uhlan of old? Is it not true?"

"Most assuredly; but as I cannot depend upon that, and as that will not
happen, there is no necessity of talking further about it."

"You spoke, however, of asking a favor of me. In what can I serve you?"

"I wanted to beg you not to fortify my mother in her designs as to Pani
Otocka."

"How queer you are! Why, when your mother perceives your disinclination
towards her, she will banish the thought."

"Yes, but there will remain a little regret for herself and for me. A
person is always disappointed when his plans miscarry, and Mother is so
eternally worried, though often without reason, because, after all, no
ruin is threatening us. But she has so much confidence in your judgment
that if you will explain to her that it is better to abandon those
thoughts, she will abandon them. However, you will have to contrive it
so that it will appear to her that she herself came to that conclusion.
I know you can do it, and I rely upon your friendship."

"My dear Laudie," said Gronski, "in these affairs I have less
experience, and therefore less judgment, than the first female neighbor
on the border of your estate. In your mother's letter there appears,
word for word, the same expression: 'I rely upon your friendship.' In
view of this, there remains only one thing to do, and that is not to
meddle in the affair at all,--especially as I will candidly state to
you that I entertain for Pani Otocka no less friendship than I do for
you. Considering the matter from another light, it is peculiar that we
should speak of Pani Otocka without considering her. It is allowable
for your mother to believe that every woman, if you would but stretch
out your hand towards her, would grab it with alacrity; but not for
you. For you renounce things in such a way as if everything depended
upon you, and I assure you that it is not so, and that if Pani Otocka
should ever decide to marry, she will be exceedingly particular in her
choice."

"You are perfectly right," answered Krzycki, "but I am not, of course,
so foolish or so vain as to imagine that the whole thing depends upon
me. If I have expressed myself in an unsuitable manner, it is because I
thought only of Mother and myself and not at all of Pani Otocka. All
that I care about is that Mother should not urge me to seek her hand,
as I conjecture I might, after all, get the mitten."

Gronski scanned the shapely figure of the youth and answered with a
certain benevolent petulance:

"That is well, although I do not know whether you are talking
sincerely; for men like you, the deuce knows why, have great luck with
women and they know it perfectly well. What have you against Pani
Otocka? Why, you hardly know her. Let me tell you that both of those
ladies are of such high quality as you rarely find."

"I believe it, I believe it; but, in the first place, Pani Otocka is
fully three years younger than myself, which means that she is
twenty-four, and yet she is a widow."

"Then you have a prejudice against widows?"

"I confess that I have. Let matrimony give me everything that it can
possibly give, but a marriage with a widow will not give me all that. A
widow!--To think that every word which the maiden blushingly and with
palpitating heart whispers, the widow has already told to some one
else: and that which in a maid is, as it were, a sacrifice to love, in
a widow is but a repetition. No, I thank you, for a flower which
somebody else has previously plucked. Good fortune is not inherited
with a heritage, nor procured at second hand. Let not only matrimony,
but also love, give me all they can give, and, if not, then I prefer
remaining an old bachelor."

"My dear," answered Gronski, "between the heart and a bag of money
there is, however, a vast difference. Money, after you once part with
it, you have no more, but the heart is a living organism which
regenerates and creates new forces."

"That may be,--in every case, however, the memory of the past remains.
Finally, I am not enunciating any general theories, but merely my
personal views. Plainly, I could not love a widow and I do want to love
my wife, even though slightly. Otherwise what enjoyment would I have in
life? A rural estate? Good! I am an agriculturist and I agree to plough
and sow until death. But whoever imagines that this will give peace and
happiness, simply has no conception of the load of care, bitterness,
affliction, deception, self reproach, and strife with the bad will of
mankind and nature which one must endure. There are, it is true,
brighter moments, but far oftener one must defend himself against
downright loathsomeness. Now I want at least this: that I shall return
willingly home from the field or barn; that in the home there shall
await me fresh, rosy, and tempting cheeks which I crave to kiss, and
eyes into which I would long to gaze. I want to have some one on whom I
can bestow all that is best in me. I speak of this, not as one who is
infatuated with the romantic, but as a sober man who can keep accounts
of expenditures and receipts, not only in husbandry but also in life."

Gronski thought that in reality every matured masculine life should
bear two faces; one with wrinkled brow, expressive of intense mental
strain, turned towards the problems of humanity, and the other calm and
peaceable at the fireside in the home.

"Yes," he said, "I would be delighted with such a home as a refuge from
care and in it 'fresh, rosy and tempting cheeks' as an attraction."

Ladislaus, in his laughter, displayed his sound, shining teeth and
answered joyously:

"Ah, how it does delight me! the soul almost squeaks."

And they both began to laugh.

"But," said Gronski, "one must be lucky enough to find that and
courageous enough to win."

To Krzycki there suddenly came the recollection of a certain ball in
Warsaw; of Panna Rose Stabrowska, her pensive eyes, and her white,
half-childlike shoulders protruding from the net-lace like watery foam.
He therefore sighed quietly.

"Sometimes," he said, "courage also is necessary to bridle one's self."

In the chamber for an interval could be heard only the measured
tick-tack of the cumbrous clock and the wheezing of the asthmatic
servant, who dozed, leaning against the sideboard.

The hour was late, Gronski rose and, having roused himself from a
momentary revery, said, as if speaking to himself:

"And those ladies will be here to-morrow."

Afterwards he added with a touch of sadness:

"Ah, at your age it is not permissible to bridle one's self."



                                   II

The ladies did actually arrive at Jastrzeb the next day about noon,
followed immediately afterwards by Dolhanski, who did not, however, see
them on the road, because at the station he became occupied entirely
with the receipt of the baggage and therefore arrived in a separate
conveyance. The guests did not find Krzycki at home. As the burden of
the funeral, and all cares connected with it, fell upon him, he left an
hour earlier for Rzeslewo. The obsequies were to take place at three
o'clock. Ladislaus' mother arrived at the Rzeslewo church with Pani
Otocka, Panna Marynia, and their friend Miss Anney. In the second
carriage Gronski and Dolhanski came, while the third and last one
brought the younger members of the Krzycki family,--eleven-year-old
Anusia and Stas, who was a year younger, together with their French
instructress and the tutor, Laskowicz. Pani Krzycki reminded her son of
his feminine relatives and introduced him to Miss Anney, but he barely
had time to bow and cast a glance at her when he was summoned away on
some matter relating to the final funeral arrangements. Alighting from
the carriage, the ladies could scarcely press their way into the
church, although an effort was made to clear a path for them, for in
the church and adjacent enclosure an unusual throng held sway. The
greater landed gentry were represented in extremely scant numbers, as
the deceased Zarnowski did not associate with any one, and besides
Jastrzeb, Gorek, and Wiatrak, did not visit any of the manors in the
neighborhood. In their place, the Rzeslewo peasantry appeared as one
man, with their wives and children. The reason for this was that from
some unknown source and for some inexplicable reason, a rumor
circulated among them that the deceased had bequeathed to them his
entire fortune. Quite a number stood outside the church fence, and
their loud voices and anxious faces indicated the impression which the
rumor of the bequest had made upon them.

After chanted vigils and a sufficiently long mass, white surpliced
priests, preceded by a cross, appeared at the church doorway. After
them the coffin was borne. The hearse stood ready to receive the
remains, but peasants, in implicit faith of the bequest, lifted it upon
their shoulders to carry to the cemetery, which was a verst distant and
in which was located the tomb of the Zarnowskis. Gronski gave his arm
to Pani Krzycki, Dolhanski to Pani Otocka, while the duty of escorting
the light-haired Miss Anney fell to Krzycki. After an interval, the
funeral cortege slowly proceeded in the direction of the cemetery.

From under the shade of church lindens it soon advanced upon the
field-road, flooded with sunshine, and extended itself in a long line.
At the head went the priests; after them the coffin, swung high up on
the shoulders of the peasants; the relatives and guests followed, and
after them came swarms of gay peasant national dresses and feminine
handkerchiefs gaudily spotted with yellow and red colors, which
glaringly contrasted with the green, sprouting spring corn. Church
flags, with skulls and pictures of saints, floated heavily in the
golden air and at times heaved with a flap when assailed by the wind.
In this manner, glistening in the sun, the crowd approached the poplars
which shaded the cemetery. From time to time the chant of priests
resounded, breaking out suddenly and with great sadness. Nearer the
cemetery the peasants commenced the litany and gusts of wind seized
these Polish and Latin songs and carried them with the odor of candles,
which were continually blown out, and the scent of the drippings of the
torches to the forests.

Krzycki, who escorted Miss Anney, observed that her hand, which rested
upon his arm, trembled considerably. It occurred to him that she
probably had tired it, holding her parasol on the road from Jastrzeb to
Rzeslewo, and he paid no more attention to it. In the conviction that
such a solemnity as a funeral exempted him from starting the usual
social conversation, he walked in silence. He was fatigued and hungry.
Disordered thoughts rushed into his head. He thought of his uncle,
Zarnowski, of his inability to mourn for him, of the funeral, of his
newly-arrived cousins, and of yesterday's conversation with Gronski.
At times he would gaze, abstractedly, at the near by fields and
half-consciously would note that the winter-corn on the fertile
Rzeslewo soil, as well as the spring grain, gave promise of a bountiful
harvest. After a certain time he recollected that it would be proper
for him to devote a little more attention to his companion.

Somehow, after a few stealthy glances, his curiosity, which thus far
had been deadened by fatigue, hunger, and ill-humor, was awakened. The
proximity of a woman, young and, as he observed, stately, began to
affect him. It seemed strange to him in the first place that he was
conducting over the Rzeslewo highway an Englishwoman, who came, the
Lord knew from where; that a short while before he was unacquainted
with her and at present felt the warmth of her arm and hand. He
observed also that her hand, tightly incased in a glove, though
shapely, was not at all small; and he thought that the reasons for this
were the English sports--tennis, rowing, archery, and the like. "Our
Polish women," he thought, "look differently." Under the influence of
these reflections upon English sports, it seemed to him that from this
quaintly attired form some peculiar power, healthiness, and energy
emanated. His companion began to interest him more and more. Leading
her on his arm, he could see only her profile, upon which he bestowed
increased attention. As a consequence of more exact observation, his
curiosity intensified. In the first moments he conceded only that she
was a comely and buxom person, but later he soliloquized in this
fashion: "How vastly more stately and, sincerely speaking, more
beautiful she is than Pani Otocka or that child, whose dresses reach to
her ankles and whose soul, as Gronski says, is in the violin!" But
this, however, was not the strict truth, for Pani Otocka, a slender
brunette with the expression of a blonde, was of a type more exquisite
and racial, and the "child" had a countenance simply angelic. But at
that particular moment, if a secret ballot had been taken upon this
question, Krzycki, owing perhaps to his opposition to his mother's
designs, would have cast his vote for Miss Anney.

After a certain time, it seemed to him that Miss Anney also was casting
stealthy glances at him. He determined to catch her in the act and
looked at her more openly. And then he saw something which astonished
him in the highest degree. On the cheeks of the young Englishwoman tear
after tear coursed. Her lips were compressed as if she desired to
stifle her impressions and her hand, supported on his arm, did not
cease to tremble.

"Either this is affected sensibility," Krzycki thought, "or else her
English nerves are jangled. Why the deuce should she weep over a man
whom she never saw in her life? Unless it reminded her of her father's
burial or that of some near relative?"

Miss Anney did not look at all like a person with jangled nerves.
Somehow, after a time, her emotion passed. She began to gaze with
particular interest and attention upon the throng of people, the
neighborhood, the fields, and the distant fringe of the forest as if
she desired to retain them all permanently in her memory.

"She should have taken a kodak with her," thought Ladislaus.

They were already not far from the cemetery gates. But in the meanwhile
a wind stronger than the former gusts broke loose. It swept suddenly
across the field of sprouting grain, raised a cloud of dust on the
highway, snuffed out the mendicant candles which were not extinguished
before, and entwined Krzycki's neck with Miss Anney's long boa.

She relinquished his arm and, freeing him from his ties, said in Polish
with an almost imperceptible foreign accent:

"I beg your pardon. The wind--"

"That is nothing," answered Ladislaus. "Perhaps you would prefer to
take a carriage, for the squalls are breaking out more frequently."

"No, thank you," she replied; "I believe we are near the cemetery. I
will walk alone, because I must hold my boa and dress."

During this conversation they stood opposite each other for a moment
and, although that moment was brief, Ladislaus made a new discovery.
Not only did he confirm his previous opinion that Miss Anney was, in
reality, very beautiful and had an extraordinarily transparent
complexion, set off with light hair, but above all else that her blue
eyes did not radiate with two separate beams, but rather with a single,
gentle, blue, slightly misty, soulful light. He was unable to explain
to himself in what lay the distinct and peculiar charm of that look,
but he felt it perfectly.

In the meantime, they reached the cemetery. A short prayer detained all
at the gates, after which the funeral cortege moved between the
poplars, swung by the winds, and crosses overgrown by luxuriant grass
on the mounds, under which slept the Rzeslewo peasantry. The Zarnowski
tomb stood in the centre. In its front walls could be seen an opening,
knocked out for the reception of a new member of the family. At the
side there were two masons, with whitened aprons, having at their feet
prepared cement and a pile of new bricks. The coffin was placed upon
the sand near the opening and the priests began a long chant over it.
Their voices rose and then fell, like waves, in a rolling and dreamy
rhythm, which was accompanied by the roar of the poplars, the flapping
of the flags in the air, and the hum of prayers uttered, as if
mechanically, by the peasants. Then the parish-priest of Rzeslewo began
a discourse. As he did not live on good terms with the deceased, he
commended his soul to the divine mercy rather than praised him. About
could be seen the faces of the Zarnowski relatives, grave and
appropriately grouped for the occasion, but no grief, not a tear. They
were rather indifferent, with an expression of expectancy, and even
tedium. The coffin appeared to be only awaiting the close of the rites,
as if it was anxious to enter that vault and darkness, for which it was
appropriately designed. In the meantime, after the sermon, songs began
to ring. At moments they subsided, and then could be heard only the
revelry of wind among the poplars. At last a high voice, as if
startled, intoned "requiem aeternam" and fell suddenly like a pillar of
dust twirled by the storm; and after a momentary silence "eternal
repose," full of solace, resounded and the ceremony was over.

On the coffin they threw a few handfulls of sand, and then pushed it
into the opening which the masons began to wall up, laying brick upon
brick and coating them with mortar. The barrier, which was to forever
separate Zarnowski from the world and light, grew with each moment.
Groups of peasants slowly left the cemetery. Two female neighbors from
Gorek, a Pani Wlocek, an old and pathetic dame, and her daughter, who
was not young, approached Pani Krzycki and felt it incumbent upon them
to offer a "few words of consolation," which nobody expected and which
were absolutely unnecessary. Gronski began to converse with Ladislaus:

"Observe," he quietly said, looking at the work of the masons, "yet a
few more bricks and then, as Dante says, 'Aeterna silenza.' No sorrow,
not a tear; no one will ever come here expressly for him. Something
similar awaits me, and you remember that thus they bury old bachelors.
Your mother is quite right in wanting to have you married."

"To tell the truth," answered Krzycki, "the deceased was not only an
old bachelor, but also was unsocial. But finally, is it not all the
same?"

"After death, certainly. But during life, when you think of it, it is
not at all the same. This 'lust for posthumous grief' may be illogical
and foolish, but nevertheless it exists."

"Whence does it come?"

"From an equally unwise desire to outlive self. Look, the work is
finished and Zarnowski is sealed up. Let us go."

At the gates the rattle of the approaching carriages was heard. The
party moved towards the exit. The ladies now were in the lead; after
them the priests and guests walked, with the exception of Dolhanski,
who was talking to the Englishwoman.

Suddenly Ladislaus turned to Gronski and asked:

"What is Miss Anney's Christian name?"

"While we are in the cemetery you might have thought of something else.
Her Christian name is Agnes."

"A beautiful name."

"In England it is quite common."

"Is she rich?"

"And that question you could defer to another time, but if you are in a
hurry, ask Dolhanski. He knows those things best."

"I ask you because I see him with her and hear him chattering in
English."

"Oh, that is a play within a play! He is after Pani Otocka."

"Ah!"

"Equally as old as it is fruitless. For it is yet difficult to
ascertain with any exactness how much Miss Anney possesses, while the
amount which the late Director Otocki left his wife is perfectly
known."

"I have a hope that my beautiful cousin will give him the mitten."

"Which would increase a beautiful collection. But tell me, what do you
think of your cousins?"

"Certainly--Pani Otocka--certainly--both have what the Galicians call
'something ennobling.' But Panna Marynia is still quite a child."

Gronski directed his eyes at the slim and slender figure walking before
them and said:

"That is a child who could as well fly in the air as walk on earth."

"An aëroplane or what?"

"I warn you that she is the object of my highest adoration."

"So I have heard. It is already known to all men."

"Only they do not know that that adoration is not of a red color, but
heavenly blue."

"I do not understand that very well."

"When you are better acquainted with her you will understand me."

Krzycki, who was more interested in Miss Anney, wanted to turn the
conversation to her, but they passed the gates, before which the horses
waited. The young man proceeded to assist the ladies to their seats, in
which operation he saw directed towards himself for a moment the
soulful eyes of the Englishwoman. Preparatory to her departure, his
mother asked him whether he had finished his duties connected with the
funeral and whether he would return immediately to Jastrzeb.

"No," he answered; "I have made an arrangement with the parish-priest
that he should permit me to invite the priests to the rectory, and I
must entertain them there. But as soon as I greet them and eat
something, I will excuse myself to the guests and return as soon as
possible."

Here he bowed to the ladies, after which he removed his hands from the
carriage, cast a glance at the chestnut thill-horse to see if he did
not overreach, and shouted:

"Go ahead!"

The carriage trundled over the road on which the funeral cortege had
passed. Of the participants who were dressed in surtouts, besides
Ladislaus, only Dolhanski remained. He felt that, as a relative of the
deceased, it was also his duty to entertain the priests who officiated
at the obsequies; and besides, he had other reasons which induced him
to remain in Ladislaus' company.

They had barely settled in the britzska, when he began to look around
among the peasants, who still stood here and there in groups, and then
asked:

"Where is the notary Dzwonkowski?"

Ladislaus smiled and replied:

"He rode ahead with the priests, but to-night you will see him at
Jastrzeb, for he invited himself there."

"So; then I regret that I did not return with the ladies. I wanted to
wring from him some information regarding the will, and I thought that
later that might not be possible."

"Patience. The notary told me that the will is to be opened the day
after to-morrow in his office and that we will have to drive over there
for that purpose."

"But I wished to know to-day whether it will be worth while for me to
wait until to-morrow or the day after. If this precious uncle of ours
has let us drift, as the saying is, upon a swift current of water, then
Pani Wlocka was right in offering us words of consolation. I, at least,
will need them for a long time."

"How can you talk that way?"

"I am saying aloud what you all secretly think. I am very anxious about
that will. I care more for Dzwonkowski at the present moment than for
the entire terrestial globe together with the five parts of the world;
and more particularly since I have seen that he brought a bundle of
papers with him."

"As to that you may rest at ease. He is the greatest musico-maniac that
I have ever met. He worships Panna Marynia, with whom he became
acquainted at Krynica. From Gronski I have learnt that in the moonlight
sonata, in the Benois arrangement for the violin, he arranged the notes
for the flute and sent them to her in Warsaw. Today he wants to see how
they will go. Therefore he invited himself to Jastrzeb, and he brought
with him, besides the sonata, a bundle of other notes. I assure you
that he will not want to talk or speak of anything else."

"In that case, may the devils carry off Dzwonkowski's flute, Panna
Marynia's violin, your Jastrzeb piano, and music in general."

On this Ladislaus looked at him spitefully and said:

"Be careful about our Jastrzeb piano, because if you hear a trio
to-night, you will find Pani Otocka at the piano."

"I have a hope that it will be, at least, as much out of tune as I am
at present and, in that case, I will not envy either her or the
auditors. But I see that Gronski has filled you with idle gossip.
Good! Unlike him, I do not have an old bachelor's hankering after
boarding-house misses and I like young teals only on a platter. Let him
feast his eyes with his Marynia; let him pray to her, but let him leave
me alone. They all have gone crazy on music there, and are ready to
infect you in Jastrzeb. Only Miss Anney does not play on anything, and
has a little sense."

"Ah, Miss Anney does not play on anything?"

"Yes. But that does not prevent her from playing, in a certain case,
upon me or on you, but much more easily upon you than me."

"Why more easily upon me?"

"Because I am that particular kind of instrument that wants to know in
advance how much the concert will bring."

Ladislaus, accustomed of old to Dolhanski's cynicism, shrugged his
shoulders, but did not have time to reply as they had in the meantime
arrived at the rectory.



                                  III

Dolhanski, in fact, could not extract from the notary, anything but
testy replies. Immediately after his reception at the rectory the old
notary became very garrulous, but spoke with Ladislaus only about
Marynia, for whom he had an unbounded admiration. At present he feared
that Pani Krzycki might not consent to an evening musicale on the day
of the funeral of a relative, and that fear did not cease to disturb
him. Under this impression he began to demonstrate that music may as
well be associated with death as with life; that impressive music
always attends funerals, and that as mankind has not devised anything
better than music, not even for the worship of God, therefore it may be
taken for granted that music facilitates the flight of the soul to
heaven, and even salvation. Ladislaus bit his mustache and, without
qualification, concurred in this reasoning, knowing that the amiable
old gentleman was wont to berate his opponents unmercifully. With this
kind of talk, in which, to Dolhanski's great irritation, there was no
mention of the will, they passed their time on the way to Jastrzeb.
There they were served with tea. As the wind had subsided entirely
before the setting sun and the evening was delightful, the ladies, with
Gronski, were in the garden. When Ladislaus and his companions followed
them, they found Pani Krzycki and Pani Otocka on the bank of the pond,
while Miss Anney and Marynia were in a boat on the pond. A ruddy lustre
permeated the whole air; the scent of elders, which grew near the
water's edge, blended with the odor of the turf, duck-weed, and fish.
The water was dark green on the border from alders and willows which
hemmed it in, but in the centre, on the overflow, it was golden, with
reflections of purple and peacock feathers. The boat floated towards
the point, whose narrow girdle from the garden side served as a
landing-place. Marynia sat in the middle of the boat, but Miss Anney,
standing at the stern, manipulated it with a single oar, propelling and
at the same time steering with uncommon skill. On the background of
water and sky she loomed up from head to foot with strong and graceful
form, her rounded bosom moving in unison with the movements of the oar.
At moments she ceased to paddle and when the boat, gliding each moment
more slowly, at last stood still upon the smooth water, there could be
seen in the mirrored pellucidness another boat, another Marynia, and
another Miss Anney. In this picture there was great pastoral calm. The
lustre in the heavens grew ruddier as if the entire western world had
been embraced in a conflagration. High above the pond, under the
flaming cupola of heaven, strings of wild ducks appeared as if tied
together by black crosses.

The trees stood motionless and the silence was broken only by the
sounds of the windmill, coming from the direction of the dam.

After a while Miss Anney touched shore. Gronski, who was anxious that
his "adoration" should not wet her feet, hastened to assist her out of
the boat, while the Englishwoman leaped unassisted upon the sand and,
approaching the company, said:

"How charming it is here in Jastrzeb!"

"Because the weather is fine," said Ladislaus, drawing nearer.
"Yesterday it was cloudy, but to-night it is beautiful."

And having scanned the heavens, he, like a true husbandman, added:

"If it will continue thus, we will start mowing the hay."

And Miss Anney gazed at him, as if she discovered something unusual in
the sounds of those words, and began to repeat them in the same fashion
that one repeats words which he desires to firmly implant in the
memory.

"The hay--the hay."

The party turned towards the house, which was being bleached, or rather
rouged, amidst the lime-trees, conversing a little about the funeral
and the late Zarnowski, but more about the village, the spring evening,
and music. Pani Krzycki assured the newly-arrived ladies that in
Jastrzeb before their arrival music was not wanting, as there were so
many nightingales in the park that at times they would not let any one
sleep. At this Gronski, who was a man of great erudition, began to
discourse upon country life; that, in truth, it was, from time
immemorial, considered the only real and normal life. He mentioned
incidentally the Homeric Kings, "who rejoiced in their hearts, counting
sheaves with the sceptre," and various Roman poets. In conclusion he
announced, as his opinion, that socialism will shatter to pieces upon
agriculture and the soil, because it considers them only as a value,
while they are also an affection, or, in other words, not only is a
price placed upon them, but they are also loved. Men know what cares
are coupled with country life, but in truth it is the only life they
prize, as if in it "even bird's milk was not lacking."[1]

To Pani Krzycki, who, next to her children, loved, above everything
else in the world, Jastrzeb, the words of Gronski appealed very
convincingly, but Dolhanski, recalling a village he once owned and
squandered, replied, drawling his words as usual:

"Bird's milk may not be lacking, but money is lacking. Besides, it is
amusing to hear these eulogies upon country life pronounced by a rich
man who could buy for himself a tract of land and settle in the
country, but whom it is necessary to pull out of the city with hooks."
Then addressing Gronski:

"Apropos of your Homeric Kings, and with them your Virgils and Horaces,
why, in their days there certainly were not such hotels on the Riviera
and such clubs in Nice as at present."

But this observation was passed in silence, or rather it was
interrupted by a musical passage intoned to Marynia in an old wooden
voice by the notary who wanted in this manner to illustrate the
junction of two phrases in Bruch's concerto. Afterwards various other
phrases incessantly resounded until the party returned to the house.
Gronski knew the mania of the old man and envied him for having found
something in life which filled it out so completely for him. He was a
highly educated dilettante, but had settled upon nothing permanently in
life and did not consecrate all his spiritual powers to anything
exclusively. This was partly due to his environment, and partly to his
own fault. The profoundest essence of his soul was a sad scepticism.
One of his friends, Kloczewski, called him "an ecclesiastic in a
dress-suit." Somehow, the final result of Gronski's meditation upon the
future and human life, individual as well as collective, was the
conviction that the future and the human life may, with time, become
different, but never better. So he thought that it might be worth while
not to spare efforts to make them sometime better, but it would not be
worth while that they should be different only. This thought protected
him, however, from the bordering pessimism, as he understood that the
measure of happiness and misfortune rested not on the external, but in
the man himself, and that as long as otherwise did not mean _better_,
then by the same reasoning it did not also mean _worse_. At bottom he
was persuaded that the one and the other were only a mistake and a
delusion, and that everything, not excluding life, was one great
vanity. In this manner, he revered, across the sea of ages, the true
Ecclesia.

But, being at the same time a man of sentiment, he fell in a continual
clash with himself, his sentiment always craving for something, while
his sad scepticism iterated that it was not worth while to desire
anything. His feelings were preyed upon by the thought that his views
were in conflict with life, while life was an imperative necessity.
Therefore, whoever with doubts corroded its roots injured humanity, and
Gronski did not desire to injure anybody, much less his own people. For
this reason the ecclesiastic, contending that all was vanity, wrangled
within him, with the patriot who said, for instance, that national
suffering was not in vain. But this state of affairs bred within him
such incessant discord that he envied men of action who journey through
life without any whys or wherefores, as well as people who absolutely
succumb to one great feeling.

For the old notary and Marynia, such a great feeling was music; so that
as often as Gronski saw them together, so often did he have before his
eyes a living example that things do exist with which one can fill out
his life from dawn until the last moments,--if only one does not
subject them to a too close analysis.



                                   IV

At the supper the aged notary was occupied solely with music and
Marynia. To the others, with the exception of the lady of the house,
upon whom permission for the concert depended, he replied irascibly;
especially to Dolhanski, who several times tried to elicit from him
some information about the will. His angry and apoplectic face cleared
up only after Pani Krzycki announced that she would have no objections
to devoting the remainder of the evening to decorous music, and that
she herself would be glad to listen to Marynia, whom she had not heard
since the last charitable concert in Krynica.

Towards the close of the supper the old gentleman again began to get
impatient, remarking that it was a pity to waste time in eating, and
discussing even music, if light and frivolous, with profane individuals
who had no conception of the real art. He became more interested after
listening to the reasonings of Gronski, who began to talk about the
origin of music and refute the Darwinian theory that songs and the
sounds of the primitive string instruments arose in some misty era of
the human race from the amorous declarations and calls of men and women
in the forests. Gronski shared the opinion of those who against these
views cited the fact that among the most savage tribes no traces of
love-songs exist, but in their place are found war-songs and martial
music. The theory of calling through the forests appeared to the ladies
more poetical. Gronski placated them with the statement that this did
not lessen the civilizing importance of music, that it, with the dance,
was one of the first factors which promoted among the scattered tribes
of men a certain organization.

"The Papuans," he said, "who gather together for the performance of a
war or ceremonial dance in accordance with the rhythm of even their
wildest music, by that act alone submit to something, introduce some
kind of order, and form the first social ties."

"That means," observed Dolhanski, "that every nation owes its origin to
some primitive 'high-diddle-diddle, the cat and the fiddle.'"

"Of course it is so," angrily answered the old notary.

Afterwards turning to Gronski, he said: "Please proceed. We can at
least learn something."

"Yes, please proceed," repeated Marynia.

So Gronski began further to speak of the history of music; how through
the entire course of ages it served war, ceremonies of state, as well
as religious and secular, and how considerably later it outspread its
own wings, on which it soars as at present, like an eagle, over the
entire human race.

"A strange art," he concluded; "the most primitive; yet to-day resting
more than any other upon science; the most precisely confined within
certain technical requirements, as if bound by dams and dykes; yet the
most illimitable, the most mystical; overflowing the borders of
existence and life. Perhaps this gives it such incomprehensible power
over the human soul; speaking the least expressive of tongues and at
the same time the most idealistic. It is the most powerful spur to
action. Yes, to the Polish regiments in the battle of Gravelotte the
Prussian bands played 'Poland is not yet lost,' and everywhere you may
behold the same. Play to the Frenchmen the 'Marseillaise,' the Germans
'Wacht am Rhein,' how their hands begin to quiver! Even the eyes of
phlegmatic Englishmen and Americans sparkle when they hear 'Rule
Britania' or 'Yankee Doodle.' Strange art!--the most cosmopolitan and
at the same time the most national,--universal and individual."

"One thing you did not say and that is that of all arts it is the
purest," added Pani Otocka.

"Attempts have been made to illegitimatize it," answered Gronski, "but
licentiousness never can be rhythmical nor harmonical, and for that
reason from these attempts there was born an antichrist of music."

But Ladislaus, who was a trifle bored and would have preferred to talk
with the light-haired Miss Anney, spoke out with the evident desire to
close the discussion.

"Yes, it is plain that not only every nation but every man has his own
music. I, for instance, am always willing to hear a concert or an
opera, but I admit, that when sometimes the boys and girls at work in
the field sing until the pitchforks and harrows ring, that is the only
music for me."

"Slavonian, Lechite, Piast--come to my arms," drawled Dolhanski.

Ladislaus blushed a little from fear that the young Englishwoman and
his refined female relatives might judge him too rustical, but they
glanced at him with a certain sympathy. Only the beard of the old
classical notary drooped with his nose in a manner boding no good, and
from his lips he mumbled a half-distinct grumble:

"To some folks it is sufficient, when anything jingles in their ears."

But recollecting that it would not be agreeable to Pani Krzycki if
caustic remarks were directed against her son, he cast an uneasy look
at her and became silent.

The supper was finished. The company went to the salon in which
prevailed coolness and the slight scent of jasmine blown in from the
garden by the light evening breezes before the windows were closed. In
the glass doors appeared the big full moon, which but recently arose
slowly in the heaven, still ruddy after a bath in the evening twilight.
Pani Otocka sat at the piano; beside her the notary began to blow, as
if with anger, into the flute; while behind them stood Marynia with a
violin at her shoulder. Gronski with rapture gazed at her luxuriant
dark hair; her peaceful, arched eyebrows under a forehead plainly
immaculate; her small countenance; her slender, growing, childlike
form, and thought that this sight alone would suffice for music, or at
least that such a violinist might pass for its incarnation and symbol.
Ladislaus, although he had previously enlisted in the ranks of the
English faction, could not remove his eyes from her. After completing
his university education, he had accompanied his mother on a journey to
Italy. He visited various galleries and, though he lacked solid
artistic culture, nevertheless the thought crossed his mind that this
maiden with the bright and peaceful countenance, bending over the
violin, might have served the old masters as a model for Saint Cecilia
or for one of those angelic violin-players which he had seen in the
paintings of Fra Angelico.

The other listeners, like Pani Krzycki, her children, the instructress,
and Miss Anney, gazed at her as if at a miracle-working image. Only
one, Laskowicz, young Stas' tutor, did not share in the general
rapture. He was a medical student who, owing to the closing of the
university, was earning money by teaching for the further pursuit of
his studies, and he found himself, together with his inexorable hatred
for the "pampered" of this world, like Pilate in Credo, in this country
home. His convictions by this time were not a secret to anybody in
Jastrzeb; he was tolerated, however, with that improvident indulgence
of which the Polish nobility is only capable, upon the principle that
"the greatest radical must eat," and also in the hope that Stas was yet
too young to be infected with the "evil spirit" by his tutor.

To Laskowicz, when he looked at the gentle young lady, it seemed that
she was a flower which grew higher than the hands of a proletaire could
reach; therefore she was bred to the injury of the proletariat. This
was sufficient for him to look on both sides with reluctance and a
readiness to hate.

But, in the meanwhile, the moment for beginning the concert had
arrived. For some time Marynia had been drawing the bow over the
chords, turning the ringlets of the violin, and passing her fingers
over the notes, indicating something to her sister and the notary;
afterwards silence ensued, interrupted only by the indistinct talk of
the servants, assembled beyond the windows, who for the first time in
their lives were to hear the young lady play on the violin.



                                   V

The first chords of the moonlight sonata are sounded and a vision
begins. Lo! a pale ray creeps stealthily through a crevice and touches
the forehead of a sleeper, as if it wanted to arouse thought;
afterwards the lips, as if it wished to waken words, and later the
bosom, as if it desired to stir the heart. But the weary body slumbered
in a heavy sleep. In its place the soul emerges from its embrace, like
a butterfly from a cocoon, and flies into space. The night is bright
and silent. Below, alders are dimly wrapped in muslin mists. On the
sylvan meadows nymphs dance their rites, accompanied by the playing of
a faun on a flute. About, stand with flaming azure eyes, stags, crowned
with antlers. On the heath, glow-worms glimmer; on the moss,
phosphorate toadstools, under whose canopies tiny elfs watch the
gambols. From the decaying vegetation and fens rise Jack-o'-lanterns
which flit about lightly and mysteriously, as if seeking something in
vain. The moon ascends each moment higher and higher, and bounteous dew
falls.

Over the vast fields rivers wind in silvery ribbons and tracks of the
roadways can be seen leading to towns and castles. Through the narrow
Gothic windows the moon's lustre invades silent castle-halls, where
lurk the ghosts of dead knights and maidens. At the feet of the
castles, cities slumber. In the calm light the roofs of houses whiten
and crosses on the towers glitter. From the blossoming orchards, with
the vapors rises the fragrance of flowers and grass. But lighter than
the fragrance and the moonlight the winged soul soars higher and
farther. The lowly habitations of men vanish; likewise vanish the
forests, vales, sparkling shields of ponds, and the white threads of
streams. Gradually lofty regions are attained.


And lo, the mountains! Amidst the crags sleeps the translucent buckler
of the lake. In the chasms lies concealed cool dusk. The needles of the
glaciers shine verdantly. On the declivities and rocky nests rest the
weary clouds and mists; and on the peaks, on the eternal snow the
moonlight reposes. Even the wind has fallen asleep. How still,
ethereal, and immense! Here the moon is the only sentinel of silence
and the human soul the only living entity. Free as a mountain eagle,
detached from the flesh, enamoured with the expanse, desolation, and
silence, happy, and sad with a supernal sorrow, dissolved in the
stillness, she hovers and courses above the precipices; and again flies
farther on, entirely abandoned to pleasure, flight, and speed.


And the mountains have already disappeared beneath her and lo! some
voices rise and reach from below as if summoning her to them. It is the
sea. It, alone, never sleeps; restless and vast, it dashes wave after
wave against the shore, as if it were an immense pulsation of life. Its
monstrous lungs heave and fall eternally and at times groan in
complaint of endless toil.

The ruffled expanse of the sea throbs with the opalescent lunar lustre
and the silvery laces of stars, and on those illuminated tracks, in the
distance appears, wakeful as the sea itself, a ship with sails and a
sanguinary light in the rounded windows.


But thou, oh soul, mountest higher and higher. Already the earth is
left somewhere at the bottom of the abyss. Thou, light as down, dost
pass feathery clouds, which have strayed upon the heights and dost
pierce space flooded with splendor--empty and cool. There thou liest
upon thine own wings and floatest about in luminous nothingness; higher
and higher; and now doth scintillate and change color over thee, in
gold and purple, the jewels of heaven, and thou dost frolic and swing
in the unattainable ether, serene, freed from the dross of matter as
if, beyond the limits of time and space, thou wert already partly
admitted into heaven.


The firmament of heaven grows each moment darker, but the moon, great
as the world, shines more and more brightly. Already we behold her
glistening plains, mangled, wild, studded by mountain peaks, perforated
with the blackness of craters, bleak, frosty, and lifeless. Thus in the
abyss of space appears this silvery, corpse-like wanderer, who speeds
around the earth as if condemned by a divine command to a perpetual
race. Above and about her, an immensity which the swooning brain is
incapable of comprehending. A new galaxy of stars twinkle sanguinarily
and powerfully, like distant fire-places. The music of spheres is
heard. Here Eternity fans with her breath and a supernal chill
prevails.


Return, over-indulged swan, return, oh soul, before some occult rapids
and whirlpools seize thee and tear thee forever from the earth.


Thou returnest from the pinnacle of all-existence, bathed in the waves
of infinity, purer and more perfect. Lo, thou furlest thy wings! Look,
in the depths beneath are those downy, light clouds, which now thou
greetest as thine own and kin. Below, the earth. The protuberances of
the mountains flash to the moon; at their feet sobs the sea. And now
lower, the vague outlines of forests, enveloped in mist. Again whiten
the cities, silent towers and roofs of villages sunk in sleep. The
night grows pale. On the moors, ostlers build fires and play on fifes.
The roosters crow. The day breaks. It is dawn.


The strains subsided and silence ensued. Marynia stood near the piano
with a countenance, composed as usual, but seemingly, awakened from a
dream.

The aged notary sat for a while with bowed head, moving his toothless
jaws; afterwards he rose, and when the young maid placed the violin
beside the key-board, he ardently kissed her hands; after which he
threw a challenging look at those present as if he sought the person
who would dare to protest against that mark of homage or deem it a
superfluous act. Nobody, however, protested because under the
enchantment of that music that happened with the listeners which always
happens with mankind, when fanned by the breath of genius. As sometimes
in a dream it seems to a person that having shoved himself off the
earth with his feet, he afterwards reels a long time in the air, so,
too, their bodies became lighter, less material, as if deprived of
those heavy and gross elements which bound them to the earth. Their
nerves became more susceptible and subtle and their souls more
volatile, approaching more closely those boundaries on which eternity
begins. It was an unconscious feeling; after the passage of which the
daily life was to encompass and drag them down. But during this
momentary exaltation there awakened within them, unknown to themselves,
a power of apprehending, appreciating, and feeling beauty, and in
general such things as in their customary moods they had not felt and
did not know that they could have felt.

Even the young and unfledged physician, Laskowicz, notwithstanding all
his prejudices, could not resist this influence. The moment when
Marynia stood up to play, he began to scrutinize her from his dark
corner in the salon and examine her form as an anatomist. He was
conscious that there was something brutal in this, but such a viewpoint
gave him satisfaction, as being proper for an investigator and a man of
his convictions. He started to persuade himself that this young lady of
the so called higher spheres was for him merely an object which one
should examine in the same manner as a corpse on the dissecting-table
is examined. So, when tuning her violin, she bent her head, he took a
mental inventory of the Latin names of all her cranial bones, repelling
the thought which, against his will, rushed to his head that this was,
however, an extraordinarily noble skull. Afterwards, during the first
moments after the beginning of the concert, he became occupied with the
nomenclature of the muscles of her hands, arms, breast, limbs, outlined
under her dress and whole figure. But as he was not only a medical
student and a socialist, but also a young man, this anatomical review
ended in the conclusion that this was a girl, not yet sufficiently
developed, but exceedingly pretty and attractive, resembling a spring
flower. From that moment he began, to a certain extent, to forgive her
connection with spheres living "from the wrongs of the proletariat,"
and could not get rid of the thought that if, as a result of some
unheard-of social upheaval, such "a saintly doll" became dependent upon
his favor or disfavor, then such a state of affairs would bring to him
an indescribably coy delight.

But when Beethoven placed his hands upon his head, there awakened
within him better and higher instincts. He saw during the performance
the lips and eyebrows of the young lady contract, and began to concede
that "she, however, felt something." In consequence of this, his
ill-will towards her began to melt away, although slowly and with
difficulty. He half confirmed, half conjectured that not only the hands
but also the soul played. He did not have sufficient culture for music
to appeal to him as it did, for instance, to Gronski, nevertheless
there awakened within him a certain dismal consciousness that this was
something, like the air, which all breasts can breathe, regardless of
whether they love or hate. Amazement seized him at the thought that
there were things lying beyond the swarm of human passions. At the
conclusion he so identified music with the figure of the playing girl
that when the old notary, at the end of the concert, kissed her hands,
he almost felt inclined to do the same.

In the meanwhile, Ladislaus said to Miss Anney:

"As long as Jastrzeb has been Jastrzeb, never yet has such music been
heard. I am not a connoisseur, but must admit that this has captivated
me. Besides, though I am often in the city, it has always so happened
that I never have had an opportunity of seeing a woman play on the
violin. And this is so beautiful that I now have an impression that
only women should play the violin."

"One gets such an impression when he hears Marynia play."

"Assuredly. I even begin to understand Pan Gronski. You, of course,
know that she is his adoration?"

"The greatest in the world. And mine and everybody's who knows
her,--and soon she will be yours."

"I do not deny that she will be, only I doubt whether she will be the
greatest."

A temporary pause in the conversation followed, after which Ladislaus,
not desiring that Miss Anney should take his words as an untimely
compliment, added:

"In any event, I owe her gratitude for music which is slightly
different from that which we hear every evening in spring and summer."

"What kind of music is that?"

"From dusk to moon-rise the orchestra of frogs, and afterwards the
concert of nightingales, which, after all, I do not hear, as, after
daily toil, I am sound asleep. The frog band has already commenced.
This also has its charm. If you care to hear it, let us go out upon the
veranda. The night is almost as warm as in summer."

Miss Anney rose and together they went on the veranda, which the
servants, who listened under the windows to Marynia's performance, had
already left, and only in the distance the blooming jasmines, shaded by
the dusk, whitened. From the pond came the croakings of the
confederation of frogs, drowsy and, at the same time, resembling choral
prayers.

Miss Anney for a while listened to these sounds and afterwards said:

"Yes, this also has its charm, particularly on a night like this."

"Are not nights the same in England?"

"No, not as quiet. There is hardly a corner there to which the
whistling of locomotives or the factory noises do not reach. I like
your villages for their quiet and their distance from the cities."

"So, then, this is not the first time that you have seen a Polish
village?"

"No. I have passed the last month with Zosia Otocka."

"I wish that our Jastrzeb would find favor in your eyes. It is too bad
that you chanced here upon a funeral. That is always sad. I saw that
you were even affected."

"It reminded me of something," answered Miss Anney.

Whereupon, evidently desiring to change the subject of the
conversation, she again began to peer into the depths of the garden.

"How everything blooms and smells agreeably here!"

"Those are jasmines and elders. Did you observe on the forest road,
riding to Jastrzeb, that the edges of the woods are planted with
elders? That is my work."

"I only observed it at the bridge, where an old building stands. What
kind of building is that?"

"That is an ancient mill. At one time there was a great deal of water
in the stream beside it, but later my uncle, Zarnowski, drained it off
to the fish-ponds in Rzeslewo and the mill stood still. Now it is a
ramshackle building in which for over ten years we have stored hay
instead of keeping it in hayricks. Folks say that the place is haunted,
but I myself circulated, in its time, that myth."

"Why?"

"First, so that they should not steal the hay, and again because it was
of much concern to me that no one should pry in there."

"What an invention!"

"I told them that near the bridge during night-time the horses get
frightened and that something in the mill laughs; which is true,
because owls laugh there."

"Perhaps it would have been better to have told them that something in
there weeps."

"Why?"

"For greater effect."

"I do not know. Laughter in the night in the solitude creates a greater
impression. People fear it more."

"And nobody peeps in there?"

"Not a soul. Now, if they only would not steal the hay, it would be all
the same to me, but at that time I was anxious to screen myself from
the eyes of men--"

Here Ladislaus bit his tongue, observing in the moonlight that Miss
Anney's eyebrows frowned slightly. He understood that in repeating
twice that it was important to him that no one should pry into the
mill, he committed a breach of etiquette and, what was worse, had
presented himself to the young English lady as some provincial boaster,
who gives the impression that often he has been forced to seek various
hiding-places. So desiring to erase the bad impression, he added
quickly:

"When a student, I wrote verses and for that reason sought solitude.
But now all that has passed away."

"That usually passes away," answered Miss Anney. And she turned to the
doors of the salon, but without unnecessary haste, as if she desired to
show Ladislaus that she accepted as good coin his explanations and that
her return was not a manifestation of displeasure. He remained a while,
angry at himself and yet more angry at Miss Anney for the simple reason
that the indiscretion was committed solely by him and he could not
blame her for anything.

"In any case," he said to himself, "that is some deucedly penetrating
Puritan."

And he began to repeat, with some indignation, her last words:

"That usually passes away."

"Did she," he thought, "intend to give me to understand that from such
grist as is in me nobody could bake any poetry. Perhaps it is true, and
I know that better than anyone else, but it is unnecessary for anybody
to corroborate the fact."

Under the influence of these thoughts he returned to the salon in not
quite good humor, but there the duties of host summoned him to his
feminine cousins and that evening he did not converse any more with
Miss Anney.



                                   VI

The notary left the same night because his official duties required his
presence in the city the following morning. On the day after, Gronski,
whom Pani Otocka requested to act as her representative, with Ladislaus
and Dolhanski departed for the notarial bureau. All three were troubled
and curious about the will, of which the notary did not drop a single
hint. Dolhanski feigned a jocose mien and displayed more sangfroid than
he really possessed. He was most anxious that something should "drop
off" for him. He was a man who had squandered a large fortune, but, not
having changed his habits, kept on living as if he had not lost
anything. Therefore he sustained himself upon the surface of life by
the aid of extraordinary, almost acrobatic, efforts, of which after all
he made no secret. In general, he was a sponger and possessed a million
faults, but also certain social qualities for which he was esteemed.
Belonging to an aristocratic club, he played cards with unusual good
luck, but irreproachably. He never borrowed money from people in his
own sphere; never gossiped, and was a tolerably loyal friend. Lack of
education he supplied with cleverness and a certain intellectual grasp.
He jested about himself, but it was unsafe to jest at him, because he
possessed, besides wit, a certain candor which bordered upon cynicism.
So he was not only countenanced but willingly received. Gronski, for
whom Dolhanski had such high regard that he permitted him alone to jest
about him, said that if Dolhanski only had as great a gift of making
money as he had of spending it, he would have been a millionaire.

But while waiting for such a change, heavy moments fell upon Dolhanski,
particularly in spring when the play at the club slackened or when the
outing season began. Then he felt fatigued after the winter struggles
and sighed for something to turn up which would not require any labor.
The will of Zarnowski might be such a gratuity, although Dolhanski did
not expect much, as during the lifetime of the deceased he did nothing
to deserve it. He even frankly repeated that his precious uncle bored
him. He reckoned, however, that something might be sliced off for him;
enough for the temporary pacification of his creditors or, better
still, for a trip to a fashionable, aristocratic French seaside resort.

Before leaving Warsaw he announced in the club that he would return
sitting upon a pillow stuffed with pawn-tickets. At present he
attempted, with a certain affected humor, to convince Gronski and
Ladislaus that by rights neither Pani Otocka with her sister, nor the
Krzyckis, but himself ought to be the chief beneficiary.

"One of the female cousins," he said, "is a warm widow, who has a fat
fortune from her husband, and the other is a budding muse, who ought to
be satisfied with ambrosia. What a pity, that I am not the sole
relative of the deceased!"

Here he addressed Ladislaus:

"The Krzyckis, I think, need not be considered, because you have had,
as I heard, a dispute about the Rzeslewo boundary. I hope that you will
not get anything."

"What is the use of your hoping?" said Gronski. "Limit, above all
things, your wants."

"You remind me of my lamented father," answered Dolhanski.

"He certainly must have repeated that to you often."

"Too often, and besides, he set himself up as an example, but I
demonstrated to him, as plainly as two times two are four, that I could
and ought to live on a higher scale than he."

"What did you tell him?"

"I spoke to him thus: Firstly, Papa has a son, while I am childless,
and again, I am a better noble than he."

"In what respect?"

"Very plainly, since I can count one generation more in my line of
nobility."

"Bravo!" exclaimed Krzycki. "What did your father say to that?"

"He called me a dunce, but I saw he was pleased with it. Ah, if my
conceits would only please Pani Otocka as they once did Papa. But I am
convinced that my constancy and my appetite will avail me naught. My
dear cousin is after all more practical than she seems. You would
imagine that both sisters live only on the fragrance of flowers; and
yet when they learned of a possible inheritance, they hastily arrived
at Jastrzeb."

"I can assure you that you are mistaken. Mother invited them last year
while in Krynica and now, at least a week before the death of Uncle
Zarnowski, she reminded them of their promise. They wrote back that
they could not come because they had a guest. Then mother invited the
guest also."

"If that is so, it is different. Now, not only do I understand your
mother, but as you are a shapely youth and, in addition, younger than
myself, I begin to fear for Cousin Otocka's fortune, which more justly
belongs to me."

"You need have no fear," answered Krzycki drily.

"Does that mean that you prefer pounds to roubles? Considering the rate
of exchange, I would prefer them also, but I fear that too many of them
might have sunk in the Channel on the way from England."

"If you are so much concerned about that," said Gronski, "you might ask
Miss Anney about the precise amount. She is so sincere that she will
reply to a certainty."

"Yes, but it is necessary that I should believe her."

"If you knew a little of human nature, you ought to believe her."

"In any case, I would fear a misunderstanding; for if she answered me
in Polish, she could make a mistake, and if in English, I might not
understand her perfectly."

"She speaks better Polish than you do English."

"I admit that this astonishes me. Whence?"

"Haven't I told you," answered Gronski, with some impatience, "that she
was taught from childhood, because her father was an Englishman who had
great sympathy for the Poles?"

"De gustibus non est disputandem," answered Dolhanski.

And afterwards he again began to speak of the deceased and of the old
notary, mimicking the movements of his toothless jaws and the fury of
his look; and finally he announced that if something was not "sliced
off" for him he would either shoot himself upon Pani Otocka's threshold
or else would drive over to Gorek and offer himself for the hand of
Panna Wlocek.

But Gronski was buried in thought about something else during the time
of this idle talk, while Ladislaus heard him distractedly as his
attention was attracted by the considerable number of peasant carts
which they were continually passing by. Supposing that he had forgotten
some market-day in the city, he turned to his coachman.

"Andrew," he asked, "why are there so many carts on the road to the
city?"

"Ah, those, please your honor, are Rzeslewo peasants."

"Rzeslewo? What have they to do there?"

"Ah! please your honor, on account of the will of the deceased Pan
Zarnowski; it is to give them Rzeslewo."

Krzycki turned to Gronski.

"I heard," he said, "that somebody circulated among them such a story,
but did not think that they would believe it."

And afterwards again to the coachman:

"Who told them that?"

The old driver hesitated somewhat in his reply:

"The people gossip that it was the Tutor."

Ladislaus began to laugh.

"Oh, stupid peasants!" he said. "Why, he never in his life saw Pan
Zarnowski. How would he know about the will?"

But after a moment of meditation he said, partly to his companions and
partly to himself:

"Everything must have some object, so if Laskowicz did that, let some
one explain to me why he did it."

"Do you suspect him of it?" asked Gronski.

"I do not know, for heretofore I had assumed that one could be a
socialist and keep his wits in order."

"Ah, so he is a bird of that nest? Tell me how long has he been with
you and what manner of a man is he?"

"He has been with us half a year. We needed an instructor for Stas and
some one recommended him to us. We were informed that he would have to
leave Warsaw for a certain time to elude the police and, in fact, for
that reason received him more eagerly, thinking that some patriotic
matter was involved. Later, when it appeared that he was of an entirely
different calibre, mother would not permit his dismissal in hope that
she might convert him. At the beginning she had lengthy heart-to-heart
talks with him and requested me to be friendly with him. We treated him
as a member of the family, but the result has been such that he hates
us, not only as people belonging to a sphere which he envies, but also,
as it seems, individually."

"It is evident," said Dolhanski, "he holds it evil of you that you are
not such as he imagined you would be; neither so wicked nor so stupid.
And you may rest assured that he will never forgive that in you."

"That may be so. In any case, he will shortly despise us from a
distance, for after a month we part. I understand that one can and
ought to tolerate all convictions, but there is something in him,
besides his principles and hatreds, which is so conflicting with all
our customs, and something so strange that we have had enough of him."

"My Laudie," answered Dolhanski, "do not necessarily apply this to
yourself, for I speak generally, but since you have mentioned
toleration, I will tell you that in my opinion toleration in Poland was
and is nothing else than downright stupidity, and monumental stupidity
at that."

"In certain respects Dolhanski is right," answered Gronski. "It may be
that in the course of our history we tolerated various ideas and
elements not only through magnanimous forbearance, but also because in
our indolence we did not care to contend with them."

To this Ladislaus, who did not like to engage in general argumentation,
said:

"That is all right, but all that does not explain why Laskowicz should
spread among the peasants the news that Uncle Zarnowski devised
Rzeslewo to them."

"There is, as yet, no certainty that he did," answered Gronski. "We
will very soon learn the truth at the notary's."



                                  VII

The hour was five in the afternoon. The ladies sat on the veranda, at
tea, when the young men returned from the city. Miss Anney rose when
they appeared and, not wishing to be present, as a stranger, at the
family conversation, left on some pretext for her room. Pani Krzycki
greeted them with slightly affected calm, because in reality the
thought of the will did not leave her for a moment. She was not
greedier than the generality of common mortals, but she was immensely
concerned that, after her demise, at the distribution of the estate,
Ladislaus should have enough to pay off the younger members of the
family and to sustain himself at Jastrzeb. And some respectable bequest
would in a remarkable manner facilitate the making of such payments.
Besides, at the bottom of the noble soul of Pani Krzycki there lay
hidden the faith that Providence owed, to a certain extent, greater
obligations to the Krzycki family than to any ordinary family. For that
reason, even if the whole of Rzeslewo fell to the lot of that family,
she would with readiness and willingness submit to such a decree of
Providence. Finally, descending from the blood of a people who in
certain cases can sacrifice fortune, but love extraordinarily to
acquire it without any effort, she fondled all day the thought that
such an easy acquisition was about to occur.

But in the countenances of Ladislaus and Gronski she could at once
discern that they brought specific intelligence. Dolhanski, who was the
first to alight from the carriage, was the first to begin the report.

"I anticipate the question, what is the news?" he said, drawling his
expressions with cold irony, "and I answer everything is for the best,
for the Rzeslewo Mats and Jacks will have something with which they can
travel to Carlsbad."

Pani Krzycki grew somewhat pale and, turning to Gronski, asked:

"What, in truth, gentlemen, have you brought with you?"

"The will in its provisions is peculiar," answered Gronski, "but was
executed in a noble spirit. Rzeslewo is devised for a peasants'
agricultural school and the interest of the funds is to be devoted to
sending the pupils of the school, who have finished their courses, for
a year's or two years' practice in country husbandry in Bohemia."

"Or, as I stated, to Carlsbad, Marienbad, Teplitz, and other places of
the same character," explained Dolhanski.

A moment of silence followed. Marynia, who was pouring the tea, began,
with teapot in hand, to gaze with inquiring look at those present,
desiring evidently to unriddle whether they praised or condemned it and
whether it gave them pleasure or annoyance. Pani Otocka looked at
Gronski with eyes which evinced delight; while Pani Krzycki leaned with
both hands upon the cane which she used owing to rheumatism in her
limbs, and after a certain time asked in a slightly hoarse voice:

"So, it is for a public purpose?"

"Yes," answered Gronski, "the organization of the school and afterwards
the division of the funds for the stay in Bohemia is to be assumed by a
special Directory of the Trust Society of this province, and the
designated curator of the school is Laudie."

"Too bad it is not I," interposed Dolhanski. "I would arrange it very
quickly."

"There are specific bequests," continued Gronski, "and these are very
strange. He bequeaths various small sums to the household servants and
ten thousand roubles to some Skibianka, daughter of a blacksmith at the
Rzeslewo manor, who in his time emigrated to America."

"Skibianka!" repeated Pani Krzycki with astonishment.

Dolhanski bit off the ends of his mustache, smiled, and started to
grumble that the nobility was always distinguished for its love of the
common people, but Gronski looked at him severely; after which he drew
from his pocket a memorandum and said:

"That provision of the will is worded as follows: Whereas the parents
of Hanka Skiba or Skibianka emigrated during my sojourn abroad for
medical treatment, and I have not had the opportunity of ascertaining
where they can be found, therefore I obligate my relative, Ladislaus
Krzycki, to cause to be published in all the Polish newspapers printed
in the United States and in Parana, advertisements. If the said legatee
does not within two years appear to receive the bequest, the entire sum
with interest becomes the property of the said Ladislaus Krzycki."

"And I already have announced that I do not intend to accept that
specific bequest," cried the young man excitedly.

All eyes were turned toward him; he added:

"I would not think of it; I would not think of it."

"Why not?" asked his mother after a while.

"Because I cannot. Let us suppose that the legatee appears, say for
instance, within three years instead of two, what would happen? Would I
pocket the bequest and drive her away? No! I could not do that.
Finally, there are other considerations of which I do not wish to
speak."

In fact, only by these "other considerations," could such a
considerable bequest to a simple village girl be explained; therefore
Pani Krzycki became silent. After a while she said:

"My Laudie, nobody will coerce, nor even try to persuade you to
accept."

But Dolhanski asked:

"Tell me, is this some mythical disinterestedness or is it ill humor
caused by your not receiving a greater bequest?"

"Do not judge by yourself," answered Krzycki; "but I will tell you
something which you certainly will not believe; since this estate is to
be devoted to such an object as a peasants' agricultural school, I am
highly delighted and have much greater esteem for the deceased. I give
you my word that I speak with entire sincerity."

"Bravo!" exclaimed Pani Otocka, "it is pleasant to hear that."

Pani Krzycki looked with pride first upon her son, then upon Pani
Otocka; and, though a feeling of disappointment lingered in her heart,
said:

"Well, let there be a peasants' school, if only our Jastrzeb peasants
will be permitted to send their sons to it."

"That does not admit of any doubt," explained Gronski. "There will be
as many pupils as accommodations can be provided for. They may come
from all parts, though preference is to be given to Rzeslewo peasants."

"What do they say about the bequest?"

"There were more than a dozen of them at the opening of the will, as
they expected a direct gift of all the manor lands to them. Somebody
had persuaded them that the deceased left everything to them to be
equally divided. So they left very much displeased. We heard them say
that this was not the genuine will and that they do not need any
schools."

"Most fully do I share their opinion," said Dolhanski, "and in this
instance, contrary to my nature, I will speak seriously. For at present
there is raging an epidemic of founding schools and no one asks for
whom, for what, how are they to be taught in them, and what is the end
to be attained. I belong to that species of birds who do not toil, but
look at everything, if not from the top, then from the side, and,
perhaps for that very reason, see things which others do not observe.
So, at times, I have an impression that we are like those children, for
instance, at Ostend, who build on the sea-shore forts with the sand.
Every day on the beach they erect them and every day the waves wash
them away until not a trace of them remains."

"In a way you are right," said Gronski; "but there, however, is this
difference: the children build joyfully and we do not."

Afterwards he meditated and added:

"However, the law of nature is such that children grow while the adults
rear dykes, not of sand, but of stone upon which the weaves dash to
pieces."

"Let them be dashed to pieces as quickly as possible," exclaimed
Ladislaus.

But Dolhanski would not concede defeat.

"Permit me then," he said, "since we have not yet grown up and have not
yet started to build of stone, to remain a pessimist."

Gronski gazed for a while into the depths of the garden like a man who
was pondering over something and then said:

"Pessimism--pessimism! We hear that incessantly nowadays. But in the
meanwhile if there exists anything more stupid than optimism, which
often passes for folly, it is particularly pessimism, which desires to
pose as reason."

Dolhanski smiled a trifle biliously and, turning to the ladies, said,
pointing to Gronski:

"Do not take this ill of him, ladies. It often happens for him in
moments of abstraction to utter impertinences. He is a good--even
intelligent--man, but has the unbearable habit of turning over
everything, examining it from all sides, pondering over it, and
soliloquizing."

But Marynia suddenly flushed with indignation in defence of her friend
and, shaking the teapot which at that moment she held in her hand,
began to speak with great ardor:

"That is just right, that is just sensible; that is what everybody
ought to do--"

Dolhanski pretended to be awe-stricken and, bowing his head, cried:

"I am vanquished; I retreat and surrender arms."

Gronski, laughing, kissed her hand, while she, abashed at her own
vehemence and covered with blushes, began to ask:

"Is it not the truth? Am I not right?"

But Dolhanski already recovered his presence of mind.

"That does not prove anything," he said.

"Why?"

"Because Gronski once promulgated this aphorism: It is never proper to
follow the views of a woman, especially if by accident she is right."

"I?" exclaimed Gronski. "Untangle yourself from me. I never said
anything like that. Do not believe him, ladies."

"I believe only you, sir," answered Marynia.

But further conversation was interrupted by Pani Krzycki, who observed
that it was time for the May mass. In the Jastrzeb manor-house, there
was a room especially assigned for that purpose and known as the
chapel. At the main wall, opposite the windows, stood an altar with a
painting of the Divine Mother of Czestochowo. The walls, altar,
painting, and even the candles were decorated with green garlands. On
the side tables stood bouquets of elders and jasmines whose fragrance
filled the entire room. Sometimes, when the rector of Rzeslewo arrived,
he conducted the services; in his absence the lady of the house. All
the inmates of the house, with the exception of Laskowicz, during the
entire month of May met every evening in the chapel. At present the
gentlemen followed the ladies. On the way Ladislaus asked Gronski:

"Is Miss Anney a Catholic?"

"To tell you the truth, I do not know," answered Gronski, "but it
seems--but look, she is entering also. So she must be a Catholic.
Perhaps her name is Irish."

In the chapel the candles were already lit, though the sun had not
entirely set and stood in the windows, low, golden, and ruddy, casting
a lustre on the white cloth which covered the altar and on the heads of
the women. At the very altar the lady of the house knelt, behind her
the lady visitors; after them the female servants and the old asthmatic
lackey, while the gentlemen stood at the wall between the windows. The
customary songs, prayers, and litanies began. Their sweetness struck
Gronski. There was in them something of spring and at the same time of
the evening. The impression of the spring was created by the flowers,
and of the evening by ruddy lustre entering through the windows, and
the soft voices of the women who, repeating the choral words of the
litanies, reminded one of the last chirp of birds, subsiding before the
setting of the sun. "Healer of the sick. Refuge of sinners, Comforter
of the afflicted," repeated Pani Krzycki; and those soft, subdued
voices responded, "Pray for us,"--and thus did that country home pray
on that May evening. Gronski, who was a sceptic, but not an atheist,
like a man of high culture, at first felt the æsthetic side of this
childlike "good-night" borne by these women to a benign deity.
Afterwards, as if desiring to corroborate the truth of Dolhanski's
assertion that he was wont to turn over every subject on every side and
to ponder over every phenomenon, he began to meditate upon religious
manifestations. It occurred to him that this homage rendered to a deity
was an element purely ideal, possessed solely by humanity. He recalled
that as often as he happened to be in church and saw people praying, so
often was he struck by the unfathomable chasm which separates the world
of man from the animal world. As a matter of fact, religious
conceptions can only be formed by higher and more perfect organisms;
therefore he drew the conclusion that if there existed beings ten times
more intelligent than mankind, they would, in their own way, be ten
times more religious. "Yes, but in their own way," Gronski repeated,
"which perhaps might be very different." His spiritual drama (and he
often thought that there were many people like him) was this: that the
Absolute appeared to him as an abyss, as some synthetic law of all the
laws of existence. Thus he presumed that according to a degree of
mental development it was impossible to imagine that law in the form of
the kindly old man or in the eye on the radiant triangle, unless one
takes matters symbolically and assumes that the old man and the eye
express the all-basis of existence, as the horizontally drawn eight
denotes infinity. But in such case what will this all-basis be for him?
Always night, always an abyss, always something inscrutable; barely to
be felt by some dull sensation and not by any clear perception, from
whose power can be understood the phenomenon of existence and an answer
be made to the various whys and wherefores. "Mankind," mused Gronski,
"possesses at the same time too much and too little intelligence. For,
after all, to simply believe one must unreservedly shut the blinds of
his intellectual windows and not permit himself to peer through them;
and when he does open them he discovers only a starless night." For
this reason he envied those middle-aged persons, whose intelligence
reared mentally edifices upon unshaken dogmas, just as lighthouses are
built upon rocks in the sea. Dante could master the whole field of
knowledge of his time and yet, notwithstanding this, could traverse
hell, purgatory, and paradise. The modern man of learning could not
travel thus, for if he wished to pass in thought beyond the world of
material phenomenon, he would see that which we behold in Wuertz's
well-known painting, a decapitated head; that is, some element so
undefined that it is equivalent to nothing.

But the tragedy, according to Gronski, lay not only in the
inscrutability of the Absolute, in the impossibility of understanding
His laws, but also in the impossibility of agreeing on them and
acknowledging them from the view point of human life. There exist, of
course, evil and woe. The Old Testament explains them easily by the
state of almost continual rage of its Jah. "Domine ne in furore tuo
arguas me, neque in ira tua corripias me," and afterwards "saggittae
tuae infixae sunt mihi et confirmasti super me manuo tuum." And once
having accepted this blind fury and this "strengthening of the right
hand," it is easy to explain to one's self in a simple manner
misfortune. But already in the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes doubts
whether everything in the world is in order. The New Testament sees
evil in matter in contraposition to the soul; and that is clear.
However, viewing the matter, in the abstract, as everything is a close
chain of cause and effect, therefore everything is logical, and being
logical it cannot per se be either evil or good, but may appear
propitious or unfavorable in its relation to man. Besides, that which
we call evil or misfortune may, according to the absolute laws of
existence, and in its profundity, be wise and essential principles of
development, which are beyond human comprehension, and therefore
something which in itself is an advantageous phenomenon.

Yes, but in such case, whence does man derive the power to oppose his
individual thoughts and his concrete conceptions to this universal
logic? If everything is a delusion, why is the human mind a force,
existing, as it were, outside of the general laws of existence? There
is this something, unprecedented and at the same time tragical, that
man must be subjected to these laws and can protest against them. On
earth spiritual peace was enjoyed only by the gods, and is now only by
animals. Man is eternally struggling and crying veto, and such a veto
is every human tear.

And here Gronski's thoughts assumed a more personal aspect. He began to
look at the praying Marynia and at first experienced relief. There came
to his mind the purely æsthetic observation that Carpaccio might have
placed such a maiden beside his guitar-player and Boticelli should have
foreseen her. But immediately afterwards he thought that even such a
flower must wither, and nothing withers or dies without pain. Suddenly
he was seized with a fear of the future, which in her traveling-pouch
carries concealed evil and woe. He recalled, indeed, the aphorism which
he had uttered, a short time before, about pessimism; but that gave him
no comfort, because he understood that the pessimism which flowed from
the exertions of the intellect is different from the worldling's
pessimism which Dolhanski, by shrugging his shoulders at everything,
permitted himself to indulge in when free from card-playing. He
moreover propounded to himself the question whether that debilitating
pessimism could in any manner be well founded, and here unexpectedly
there stood before his eyes another friend, entirely different from
Dolhanski, though also a sceptic and hedonist,--Doctor Parebski. He was
a college-mate of Gronski and in later years had treated him for a
nervous ailment; therefore he knew him perfectly. Once, after listening
to his various reflections and complaints about the impossibility of
finding a solution of the paramount questions of life, Doctor Parebski
said to him: "That is a pastime for which time and means are necessary.
If you had to work for your bread as I have, you would not upset your
own mind and the minds of others. All that reminds me of a dog chasing
his own tail. And I tell you, look at that which environs you and not
at your own navel; and if you want to be well, then--carpe diem!"
Gronski at that time deemed these words somewhat brutal and more in the
nature of medical than philosophical advice, but now when he recalled
them he said to himself: "In truth the road on which, as if from bad
habit, I am continually entering leads to nowhere; and who knows
whether these women praying this moment with such faith are not,
without question, more sensible than I am, not to say more at ease and
happier?"

In the meantime Pani Kryzcki began to speak: "Under Thy protection we
flee. Holy Mother of God," and the women's voices immediately
responded: "Our entreaties deign not to spurn and from all evil deign
to preserve us forever." Gronski was swept by an intense longing for
such a sweet, tutelary divinity who does not deign to scorn entreaties
and who delivers us from evil. How well it would be with him if he
could enjoy such peace of mind, and how simple the thought!
Unfortunately he already had strayed too far away. He could, like
women, yearn, but, unlike them, he could not believe.

Gronski mentally reviewed the whole array of his acquaintances and
noted that those who fervently believed, in the depths of their souls,
were very few in number. Some there were who did not believe at all;
others who wanted to believe and could not; some acknowledged from
social considerations the necessity of faith, and finally there were
those who were simply occupied with something else. To this latter
category belonged men who, for instance, observed the custom of
attending mass as they did the habit of eating breakfast every morning,
or of donning a dress-coat each evening or wearing gloves. Through
habit it entered into the texture of their lives. Here Gronski
unwillingly glanced at Ladislaus, for it seemed to him that the young
man was a bird from that grove.

Such, in fact, was the case. Krzycki, however, was neither a dull nor
thoughtless person. At the university he, like others, philosophized a
little, but afterwards the current of his life carried him in another
direction. There existed, indeed, beside Jastrzeb and the daily affairs
connected therewith, other matters which deeply interested him. He was
sincerely concerned about his native land, her future, the events which
might affect her destiny, and finally--women and love. But upon faith
he reflected as much as he did upon death, upon which he did not
reflect at all, as if he was of the opinion that it was improper to
think of them, since they in the proper time will not forget anybody.

At present, moreover, owing to the guests, he was more than a hundred
miles from thinking of such questions. At one time, while yet a
student, when during vacation time he drove over with his mother to
Rzeslewo to attend high mass, he cherished in the depths of his soul
the poetical hope that some Sunday the rattle of a carriage would
resound without the church doors and a young and charming princess,
journeying from somewhere beyond the Baltic to Kiev, would enter the
church; that he would invite her to Jastrzeb and later fall in love
with her and marry her. And now here unexpectedly those youthful dreams
were in some measure realized, for to Jastrzeb there came not one but
three princesses of whom he could dream as much as he pleased, for
behold, they were now kneeling before the family altar, absorbed in
prayer. He began to gaze--now at Pani Otocka and then at the form of
Marynia, which resembled a Tanagra figurine, and repeated to himself:
"Mother desires to give one of them to me as a wife." And he had
nothing against the idea, but thought of Pani Otocka, "That is a book
which somebody has already read, while the other is a fledgeling who
can play a violin." Ladislaus was of the age which does not take into
calculation any woman under twenty years. After a while, as if
unwillingly, he directed his eyes towards Miss Anney,--unwillingly
because she formed the most luminous object in the room, for the
setting sun, falling upon her light hair, saturated it with such lustre
that the whole head appeared aflame. Miss Anney from time to time
raised her hand and shaded her head with it as if she desired to
extinguish the lustre, but as the rays each moment became less warm,
she finally discontinued the action. At times she was hidden from view
by the figure of some dark-haired girl, whom Ladislaus did not know,
but who, he surmised, must be a servant of one of these ladies. Towards
the close of the services the girl bowed so low that she no longer
obscured the view of the light hair or the young and powerful
shoulders.

"That," he said to himself, "would be the greatest temptation, but
mother would be opposed, as she is a foreigner."

But suddenly, as if to rebuke his conscience, there came to his memory
the pensive eyes and slender shoulders of Panna Stabrowska. Ah! if only
Rzeslewo and the funds had fallen to his lot! But uncle bequeathed
Rzeslewo for educational purposes and the funds for trips to Carlsbad
by the Mats, as Dolhanski had said, and a few thousand for Hanka
Skibianka. At this recollection his brow clouded and he drew his hand
across his forehead.

"I unnecessarily became excited before mother and the ladies," he said
to himself, "but I must explain this matter to Gronski."

Accordingly, at the close of the mass, he turned to him:

"I want to speak with you about various matters, but only in four eyes.
Is that satisfactory?"

"All right," answered Gronski, "when?"

"Not to-day, for I must first go to Rzeslewo to question the men, look
over the estate, and then attend to the guests. It will be best
to-morrow evening or the day after. We will take our rifles with us and
go to the woods. Now there is a flight of woodcocks. Dolhanski does not
hunt, so we will leave him with the ladies."

"All right," repeated Gronski.



                                  VIII

The very next day, towards evening, they strolled with their rifles and
a dog in the direction of the mill, and on the way Ladislaus began to
narrate all that he had learned the previous day.

"I was in Rzeslewo," he said, "but there you hear nothing good. The
peasants insist that the will was forged and that the gentry twisted it
about so that they could control, for their own benefit, the money and
the lands. I am almost certain that Laskowicz is pouring oil upon that
fire. But why? I cannot understand; nevertheless, that is the case. The
landless, in particular, are wrought up and say that if the fortune is
divided among them, they, themselves, will contribute for a school. In
reality, they have no conception of the kind of school Zarnowski
wanted, nor of the cost of establishing it."

"In view of this, what do you intend to do?" asked Gronski.

"I do not know. I will see. In the meantime I will try to convince
them. I also begged the rector to explain the matter to them and spoke
with a few of the older husbandmen. I seemed to have persuaded them;
but unfortunately with them it is thus: that everyone, taken singly, is
intelligent and even sensible, but when you talk to them together, it
is like trying to smash a stone wall with your head."

"That is nothing strange," answered Gronski; "take ten thousand doctors
of philosophy together and they become a mob which is ruled by
gesticulations."

"That may be," said Ladislaus, "but I did not wish to speak of the will
only. I also saw the old Rzeslewo overseer and learned a great many,
intensely curious things. Figure to yourself that our guesses were
wrong and that Hanka Skibianka is not the daughter of Uncle Zarnowski."

"And that seemed so certain! But what kind of proof have you of this?"

"Very simple. Skiba was a native of Galicia and emigrated to Rzeslewo
with his wife and daughter when the latter was five years old. As
Zarnowski, while well, stayed in the village like a wall, and at that
time for at least ten years had not travelled anywhere, it is evident
that he could not have been the father of that girl."

"That decides the matter. I cannot understand why he bequeathed to her
ten thousand roubles."

"There is an interesting history connected with that," replied
Ladislaus. "You must know that the deceased, though now it appears that
he loved the peasants, always kept them under very strict control. He
managed them according to the old system; that is, he abused them from
morning till night. They say that when he cursed in the corridor you
could hear him over half the village. A certain day he went into the
blacksmith's shop and, finding something out of order, began to berate
the blacksmith unmercifully. The smith bowed and listened in humility.
It happened that little Hanka at that time was in front of the smithy
and, seeing what was taking place, seized a little stick and started to
belabor Zarnowski with it all over the legs. 'You will scold Tata, will
you?' It is said that the deceased at first was dumbfounded, but
afterwards burst into such laughter that his anger against the
blacksmith passed away."

"That Hanka pleases me."

"So did she please Uncle. The very same day he sent a rouble to the
smith's wife and ordered her to bring the child to the manor-house.
From that time he became attached to her. He commanded the old
housekeeper to teach her to read, and attended to it himself. The child
likewise became devoted to him, and this continued for a number of
years. In the end people began to say that the master wanted to keep
the smith's daughter entirely at his residence and have her educated as
a lady, but this, it seems, was untrue. He wanted to bring her up as a
stout village lass and give her a dowry. The Skibas, whose only child
she was, declared that they would not surrender her for anything in the
world. Of course, I know only what the overseer told me, for our
relations with the deceased were broken on account of the mill from
which he drained the water for his ponds."

"And later the Skibas emigrated."

"Yes, but before that time Zarnowski began to fail in health and moved
to Warsaw, and subsequently resided abroad; so that their relations
relaxed. When the Skibas emigrated, the girl was seventeen. Uncle, on
his return to Rzeslewo to die, longed for her and waited for some news
of her. But as he had previously removed even his furniture from
Rzeslewo to the city, she evidently assumed that he never would return
and did not know where to write."

"The bequest proves best that he did not forget her," said Gronski,
"and from the whole will it appears that he was a man of better heart
than people thought."

"Surely," answered Ladislaus.

For an interval they walked in silence; then Krzycki resumed the
conversation.

"As for myself, I prefer that she is not the daughter of the deceased."

"Why? Has that any bearing on the bequest?"

"No. Under no circumstances will I accept that bequest. Never!"

"That is all very well, but tell me, why did you renounce it with such
vehemence that everybody was astonished?"

"There is one circumstance which neither Mother nor anybody else even
suspects, but which I will sincerely confess to you. In the proper time
I seduced that girl."

Gronski stood still, gazed at Ladislaus, and ejaculated:

"What's that?"

As he was not prone to treat such matters with levity and, besides, the
previous narrative of Krzycki had awakened within him a sympathy for
Hanka, he frowned and asked:

"For the fear of God! You seduced a child? And you say it was done in
the proper time?"

But Ladislaus replied quite calmly:

"Let us not stop, for the dog has gone too far ahead of us," and here
he pointed at the white spaniel running before them. "I did not seduce
a child, for at that time she was sixteen. It happened more than seven
years ago, while I was still a student and came to Jastrzeb on a
vacation."

"Were there any consequences?"

"As far as I know there were none. You will understand that having
returned the following vacation and not finding either her or the
Skibas, I did not ask about them, for on the thief's head the cap
burns.[2] But to-day I casually asked the overseer whether the Skibas
had not probably emigrated because some mishap had befallen their
daughter. He answered, 'No.'"

"Then it is better for her and for you."

"Certainly it is much better; for otherwise the matter would have been
brought to light and would reach Mother's ears."

"And in such case you would suffer much unpleasantness."

There was irony in Gronski's voice, but Ladislaus, absorbed in his own
thoughts, did not notice it and said:

"In such case, I would have unpleasantness because Mother in such
matters is exceedingly severe. So, to-day, after mature deliberation, I
am like a wolf, who will commit no injury in the neighborhood where he
keeps his nest, but at that time I was more headstrong and less
careful."

"May the deuce take you!" exclaimed Gronski.

"For what?"

"Nothing; speak on."

"I have not much more to say. Recurring to the will, you now understand
why I could not accept it."

"Perhaps I do, but tell me 'thy exquisite reason,' as Shakespeare
says."

"Well, as to the seduction of a girl, that does happen in villages, but
to seduce a girl and appropriate to one's own use that which had been
provided for her,--why, that would be too much. And perhaps she may be
suffering, in want, somewhere in America."

"Everything is possible," answered Gronski.

"So that if the advertisements, which I will make, do not reach her
notice, in such case, I would be using her money, while she would die
of starvation. No. Everything has its limits. I am not extraordinarily
scrupulous, but there are some things which I plainly cannot do."

"Tell me, but sincerely, do you entertain towards her any sentiment?"

"I will tell you candidly that I completely forgot her. Now I have
recalled her and, in truth, I cannot have any ill-will towards her. On
the contrary, that kind of recollection cannot, of course, be
disagreeable, unless it is linked with remorse. But we were mere
children--and a pure accident brought us together."

"Then permit me to ask one more question. If the deceased bequeathed to
her the whole of Rzeslewo, and the funds, and if she did not within two
years appear to claim them, would you renounce such a bequest?"

"I cannot answer a question to which I have not given any
consideration. I would not want to represent myself to you any better
or any worse than I am. But this much is certain: I would publish the
advertisements, and would publish them for the two years. But after
all, of what importance to you can my answer be?"

And here he abruptly paused, for from the direction of the adjacent
birch grove some strange sound reached them, resembling a snort, and at
the same time, above the tops of the birch and the lime-trees, there
appeared upon the background of the twilight a gray bird, flying in a
straight line to the underwood on the opposite side of the meadow.

"Woodcock!" cried Krzycki, and he bounded forward.

Gronski, following him, thought:

"He certainly never read Nietzsche, and yet in his veins, together with
the blood, there courses some noble super-humanity. If anybody betrayed
his sister, he would have shot him in the head like a dog, but as a
village girl is concerned, he does not feel the slightest uneasiness."

Later they stopped at the edge of the birch grove. For a time intense
silence prevailed; after which a strange voice resounded again above
their heads and another woodcock appeared. Gronski fired and missed;
Krzycki bettered--and they saw how, with descending flight, the fowl
fell in the underwood farther off. The white dog for a while lingered
in the dusk of the thicket and returned carrying the dead bird in his
mouth.

"She was already wounded when I fired," said Ladislaus. "It is your
bird."

"You are a gracious host," answered Gronski.

And again silence ensued, which even the rustle of leaves did not
disturb, as there was not a breath of air. But after a time two
woodcocks snorted above their heads, one following the other, at which
Gronski could not shoot, but Ladislaus winged both cleanly. Finally a
more reckless one took pity on Gronski for she flew accommodatingly
over him, as if she desired to save him any inconvenience. He himself
felt ashamed at the thrill of pleasure he experienced when, after
firing, he saw the bird hit the ground; and agreeable to his
incorrigible habit of meditation upon every phenomenon, he came to the
conclusion that his strange sensation could be attributed to the
aboriginal times, when man and his family were dependent for
subsistence upon skill in hunting. Thanks to this reasoning, he did not
shoot at another bird that flew nearer the edge of the underwood and
with which the flight evidently ended, as they waited for others in
vain. In the meanwhile it grew dark, and after an interval the white
spaniel emerged from the nightfall, and after him came Ladislaus.

"We had a bootless chase," he said, "but that is nothing. In any case,
there are four morsels for the ladies. Tomorrow we will try for more."

"This was but a slight interruption in your confessions," answered
Gronski, slinging his rifle over his shoulder.

"My confessions?" said Ladislaus. "Aha!--yes."

"You said that a mere accident brought you together."

"That actually was the case. But we must now go ahead and you will
kindly follow in my footsteps, as it is damp here in some places. This
way we will reach the bridge and at the bridge we will have the road."

Not until they were on the road did he commence his narrative:

"It all began and ended in the mill, which even at that time served as
a storage place for hay; and it did not continue more than a fortnight.
It occurred thus: I once went out with a rifle to hunt for roebucks,
for here roebucks come out in the evening at the clearing on the
stream. It was very cloudy that day, but as it appeared to be clear in
the west, I thought that the clouds would pass away. I took a position
of a few hundred--and even more--steps from the mill, for nearer there
was lying on the meadow, linen, which might scare the bucks; and about
a half hour later I actually killed a buck. But in the meanwhile it
began to rain, and in a short while there was such a downpour as I had
never seen in Jastrzeb. I seized my buck by the hind legs and began to
scamper off with all my might for the mill. On the way I noticed that
some one had carried away the linen. I rushed into the mill and buried
myself up to the ears in the hay, when I heard somebody breathing close
by me. I asked: 'Who is that?' A thin voice answered me, 'I.' 'What
kind of an I?' 'Hanka.' 'What are you doing here?' 'I came for the
linen.' Then it began to thunder so much that I thought the mill would
fall to pieces;--and not until it had subsided somewhat did I learn by
the aid of continuous questions that my female companion was from
Rzeslewo; that her family name was Skibianka, and that she finished her
sixteenth year on St. Anne's Day. Then, and I give you my word, without
any sinister will or intent, but only as a jest and because it is
customary to talk that way with village maids, I said to her: 'Will you
give me a kiss?' She did not answer, but as at that moment a thunder
clap pealed, she nestled closer to me--perhaps from fright. And I
kissed her on the very lips and, as I live, I had the same impression
as if I had kissed a fragrant flower. So I repeated it twice, three
times, and so on, and she returned the tenth or twentieth. When the
storm passed away and it became necessary for us to part, I had her
arms about my neck and at the same time my cheeks were wet with her
tears,--for she cried, but I do not know whether from the loss of
innocence or because I was leaving."

Here, in spite of himself, the song of Ophelia, when insane, flitted
through Krzycki's memory.

Ladislaus continued:

"On our departure she said that she knew I was the young lord of
Jastrzeb; that she saw me every Sunday in Rzeslewo and gazed upon me as
upon some miracle-working painting."

"Ah, you certainly are handsome to the point of nauseousness,"
interrupted Gronski, with a certain irritation.

"Bah!--I have already three or four gray hairs."

"Surely, from birth. How often did you meet thereafter?"

"Before I left her, I asked her whether she could not slip away the
following evening. She answered that she could, because in the evening
she always gathered the linen, which was being bleached upon the
meadow, for fear that some one might steal it, and that besides, in
summer time she did not sleep in the cabin with her parents, but on the
hay in the barn. After that we met every day. I had to conceal myself
from the night watch, so I slunk out of the window into the garden,
though this was an unnecessary precaution, for the watch slept so
soundly that one time I carried off the trumpet and staff belonging to
one of them. It was amusing also that, seeing Hanka only in the night
time, I did not know how she really looked; though in the moonlight she
appeared to me to be pretty."

"And in church?"

"Our collator's pew is near the altar, while the girls knelt in the
rear. There are so many of the same red and yellow shawls, studded with
so many flowers, that it is difficult to distinguish one from the
other. At times it seemed to me that I saw her in the distance, but I
could not see her perfectly. The vacation soon ended, and when I
returned the following season the Skibas were gone."

"Did you bid her farewell?"

"I admit that I did not. I preferred to avoid that."

"And did you ever long for her?"

"Yes. In Warsaw I longed for her intensely, and during the first month
I was deeply in love with her. After my return to Jastrzeb, when I
again saw the mill the feeling revived, but at the same time I was
content that everything should drop, as it were, into the water and
that Mother should not know anything about it."

Conversing in this manner, they turned from the side road to the shady
walk leading to the manor-house, whose low lights, from a distance of
about a verst, at times glistened through the boughs of the linden, and
then again hid themselves, screened by the thick foliage. The night was
starry and fair. It was, however, quite dark, for the moon had not yet
risen and the copper glow upon the eastern sky announced its near
approach. There was not the slightest breath of air. The great
nocturnal stillness was broken by the barks of dogs, barely audible,
from the distant slumbering village. Involuntarily, Gronski and
Ladislaus began to speak in lower tones. However, everything was not
asleep, for a few hundred paces from the walk, on the meadow near the
river, firelights were intermittingly flashing.

"Those are peasants pasturing the horses and catching crawfish by the
lights of the resinous wood," said Krzycki. "I even hear one of them
riding away."

And in fact at that moment they heard on the meadows the clatter of the
horse's hoofs, deadened by the grass, and immediately afterwards the
loud voice of a herdsman resounded, who, amidst the nocturnal quiet,
shouted in a drawling tone:

"Wojtek--Bring with you some more fagots, for these are not
sufficient."

The night rider, having reached the road, soon passed by the chatting
friends like a shadow. He, however, recognized the young heir, as in
riding by them he pulled off his cap and saluted:

"Praised be the Lord!"

"Now and forever."

And for some time they walked in silence.

Ladislaus began to whistle quietly and to shout at the dog, but
Gronski, who was cogitating upon what had occurred in the mill, said:

"Do you know that if you were an Englishman, for instance, your idyl
would have ended, in all probability, differently, and you would
throughout your life have had a chaste remembrance, in which there
would be great poetry."

"We eat less fish, therefore have a temperament differing from the
Englishmen. As to poetry, perhaps there also was a little of it in our
affair."

"It is not so much different temperament as different usages, and in
that is the relief. They have a soul, healthier and at the same time,
more independent, and do not borrow their morality from French books."

After which he meditated for a while and then continued:

"You say that in your relations there was a little poetry. Certainly,
but looking at it only from Hanka's side, not yours. In her, really,
there is something poetical, for, deducing from your own words, she
loved you truly."

"That is certain," said Ladislaus. "Who knows whether I ever in my life
will be loved as much?"

"I think that you will not. For that reason, I am astonished that this
stone should drop into the depth of your forgetfulness and that you
should have so completely effaced it."

These words touched Krzycki somewhat, so he replied:

"Candidly speaking, I related all this to you for the purpose of
explaining why I do not accept the bequest, and, in the naïveté of my
soul, I thought that you would praise me. But you are only seeking sore
spots. Indeed, I would, after all, have preferred that this had not
happened, but, since it happened, it is best not to think of it. For if
I had as many millions as there are girls seduced every year in the
villages, I could purchase not only Rzeslewo, but one half of the
county. I can assure you that they themselves do not look upon it as a
tragedy, neither do such things end in misfortune. It would plainly be
laughable if I took this to heart more than Hanka who in all
probability did not take it to heart and does not."

"How do you know?"

"That is usually the case. But if it were the reverse, what can I do?
Surely I will not journey across the ocean to seek her. In a book that
might perhaps appear very romantic, but in reality I have an estate
which I cannot abandon and a family which it is not permissible for me
to sacrifice. Such a Hanka, with whom, speaking parenthetically, you
have soured me by recalling, may be the most honest girl, but to marry
her--of course I could not marry her; therefore what, after all, can I
do?"

"I do not know; but you must agree that there is a certain moral
unsavoriness in the situation in which a man, after committing a wrong,
afterwards asks himself or others, 'What can I do?'"

"Oh, that was only a façon de parler," replied Krzycki, "for, on the
whole, I know perfectly. I will publish the advertisements and with
that everything will end. The penance, which the priest at the proper
time imposed upon me, I have performed, and I do not intend to make any
further atonement."

To this Gronski said:

"Sero molunt deorum molæ. Do you understand what that means in Polish?"

"Having assumed the management of Jastrzeb, I sowed all my latinity
over its soil, but it has not taken root."

"That means: The mills of the gods grind late."

Krzycki began to laugh and, pointing his hand in the direction of the
old mill, said:

"That one will not grind anything any more; I guarantee that."

Further conversation was interrupted by their meeting near the gates
two indistinct forms, with which they almost collided, for though the
moon had already ascended, in the old linden walk it was completely
dark.

Ladislaus thought that they were the lady visitors enjoying an evening
stroll, but for certainty asked, "Who is there?"

"We," answered an unknown feminine voice.

"And who in particular?"

"Servants of Pani Otocka and Miss Anney."

The young man recalled the young girl whose dark head obstructed his
view of the lustrous hair of the English woman during the May mass.

"Aha!" he said. "Do not you young girls fear to walk in the darkness? A
were-wolf might carry off one of you."

"We are not scared," answered the same voice.

"And perhaps I am a were-wolf?"

"A were-wolf does not look like that."

Both girls began to laugh and withdrew a few steps; at the same time a
bright ray darted through the leaves and illumined the white forehead,
black eyebrows, and the whites of the eyes of one of them, which
glittered greenishly.

Krzycki, who was flattered by the words that a werewolf did not look
like that, gazed at those eyes and said:

"Good-night!"

"Good-night!"

The ladies, with Dolhanski, were already in the dining-room, as the
service of the supper awaited only the hunters who, after their return,
withdrew to change their apparel. Marynia sat at one end of the table
with the children and conversed a little with them and a little with
Laskowicz, who was relating something to her with great animation,
gazing all the time at her with intense fixedness and also with
wariness that no one should observe him. Gronski, however, did observe
him and, as the young student had interested and disquieted him from
the time he learned of his agitation among the Rzeslewo peasants, he
desired to participate in the conversation. But Marynia at that moment
having heard the conclusion, joined the other ladies, who, having
previously heard from the balcony the shooting in the direction of the
old mill, inquired about the results of the hunt. It appearing that
neither Miss Anney nor the two sisters had ever seen woodcocks except
upon a platter, the old servant upon Krzycki's order brought the four
lifeless victims. They viewed them with curiosity, expressed tardy
commiseration for their tragic fate, and asked about their manner of
life. Ladislaus, whom the animal world had interested from early years,
began to relate at the supper the strange habits of those birds and
their mysterious flights. While thus occupied he paid particular
attention to Pani Otocka, for he was, for the first time, struck by her
uncommonly fine stature. On the whole, he preferred other, less subtile
kinds of beauty, and prized, above all else, buxom women. He observed,
however, that on that night Pani Otocka looked extraordinarily
handsome. Her unusually delicate complexion appeared yet more delicate
in her black lace-stitched dress, and in her eyes, in the outlines of
her lips, in the expression of her countenance, and in her whole form
there was something so maidenly that whoever was not aware of her
widowhood would have taken her for a maid of a good country family.
Ladislaus, from the first arrival of these ladies, had indeed enlisted
on the side of Miss Anney, but at the present moment he had to concede
in his soul that the Englishwoman was not a specimen of so refined a
race and, what was worse, she seemed to him that day less beautiful
than this "subtile cousin."

But at the same time he made a strange discovery, namely: that this
observation not only did not lessen his sympathy for the light-haired
lady, but in some manner moved him strongly and inclined him to a
greater friendship for her; as if by that comparison with Pani Otocka
he had done an undeserved wrong to the Englishwoman, for which he ought
to apologize to her. "I must be on my guard," he thought, "otherwise I
will fall." He began to search for the celestial flow in her eyes and,
finding it, drank its dim azure, drop by drop.

In the meantime Pani Krzycki, desirous of learning the earliest plans
of the sisters, began to ask Pani Otocka whether they were going to
travel abroad, and where.

"The doctor," she said, "sends me to mineral baths on account of my
rheumatism, but I would be delighted to spend one more summer with you
somewhere."

"And to us your sojourn at Krynica left the most agreeable memories,"
replied Pani Otocka; "particularly, as we are in perfect health, we
willingly would remain in the village and more willingly would invite
Aunt to us, with her entire household, were it not that the times are
so troublous and it is unknown what may happen on the morrow. But if it
will quiet down. Aunt, after her recovery, must certainly pay us a
visit."

Saying this, she ardently kissed the hand of Pani Krzycki who said:

"How good you are and how lovable! I would with all my heart go to you,
only, with my health, I must not obey the heart but various hidden
ailments. Besides, the times are really troublous and I understand it
is rather dangerous for ladies to remain alone in the villages. Have
you any reliable people in Zalesin?"

"I do not fear my own people as they were very much attached to my
husband, and now that attachment has passed to me. My husband taught
them, above all things, patriotism, and at the same time introduced
improvements which did not exist elsewhere. We have an orphanage,
hospital, baths, stores, and fruit nurseries for the distribution of
small trees. He even caused artesian wells to be sunk to provide enough
healthful water for the village."

Dolhanski, hearing this, leaned towards Krzycki and whispered:

"A capitalist's fantasy. He regarded his wife and Zalesin as two
playthings which he fondled, and played the rôle of a philanthropist
because he could afford it."

But Pani Krzycki again began to ask:

"Who now is in charge of Zalesin?"

And the young widow, having cast off a momentary sad recollection,
answered with a smile:

"In the neighborhood they say Dworski rules Zalesin.--He is the old
accountant of my husband and is very devoted to us.--I rule Dworski,
and Marynia rules me."

"And that is the truth," interjected Miss Anney, "with this addition,
and me also."

To this Marynia shook her head and said:

"Oh, Aunt, if you only knew how they sometimes twit me!"

"Somehow I do not see that, but I think that the time will come when
somebody will rule you also."

"It has already come," broke out Marynia.

"So? That is curious. Who is that despot?"

And the little violinist, pointing with a quick movement of her little
finger at Gronski, said:

"That gentleman."

"Now I understand," said Dolhanski, "why, after our return from the
notary, he had a teapot full of hot water over his head."

Gronski shrugged his shoulders, like a man who had been charged with
unheard-of things, and exclaimed:

"I? A despot? Why, I am a victim, the most hypnotized of all."

"Then Pan Laskowicz is the hypnotizer, not I," answered the young miss,
"for he himself at supper was telling me about hypnotism and explaining
what it is."

Gronski looked toward the other end of the table, in the direction of
the student, and saw his eyes, strained, refractory, and glistening,
fastened upon Marynia.

"Aha!" he thought, "he actually is trying his powers upon her."

He frowned and, addressing her, said:

"Nobody in truth knows what hypnotism is. We see its manifestations and
nothing more. But how did Laskowicz explain it to you?"

"He told me what I already had heard before; that the person put to
sleep must perform everything which the operator commands, and even
when awakened must submit to the operator's will."

"That is untrue," said Gronski.

"And I think likewise. He claimed also that he could put me to sleep
very easily, but I feel that he cannot."

"Excellent! Do such things interest you?"

"Hypnotism a little. But if it is to be anything mysterious, then I
prefer to hear about spirits; especially do I like to hear the stories
which one of our neighbors relates about fairies. He says they are
called sprites, and indulge in all kinds of tricks in old houses, and
they can be seen at night time through the windows in rooms where the
fire is burning in the hearth. There they join hands and dance before
the fire."

"Those are gay fairies."

"And not malicious, though mischievous. Our aged neighbor piously
believes in them and quarrels about them with the rector. He says his
house is full of them and that they are continually playing pranks:
sometimes pulling the coils of the clock to make it ring; sometimes
hiding his slippers and other things; making noise during the night;
hitching crickets to nut-shells and driving with them over the rooms;
in the kitchen they skim the milk and throw peas into the fire to make
them pop. If you do not vex them, they are benevolent, driving away
spiders and mice, and watching that the mushrooms do not soil the
floor. This neighbor of ours at one time was a man of great education,
but in his old age has become queer, and he tells us this in all
seriousness. We, naturally, laugh at it, but I confess that I very much
wish that such a world did exist;--strange and mysterious! There would
be in it something so good and nice, and less sadness."

Here she began to look off with dreamy eyes and afterwards continued:

"I remember also that whenever we discussed Boecklin's pictures, those
fauns, nymphs, and dryads which he painted, I always regretted that all
that did not exist in reality. And sometimes it seemed to me that they
might exist, only we do not see them. For, in truth, who knows what
happens in the woods at noontime or night time, when no one is there;
or in the mists during the moonlight or upon the ponds? Belief in such
a world is not wholly childish, since we believe in angels."

"I also believe in fairies, nymphs, dryads, and angels," answered
Gronski.

"Really?" she asked, "for you always speak to me as to a child."

And he answered her only mentally:

"I speak as with a child, but I idolize."

But further conversation was interrupted by the servant, who informed
Ladislaus that the steward of Rzeslewo had arrived and desired to see
the "bright young lord" on a very important matter. Krzycki apologized
to the company and with the expression, customary with country
husbandmen, "What is up now?" left the room. As the supper was almost
finished, they all began to move, after the example of the lady of the
house, who, however, for a while endeavored in vain to rise, for the
rheumatism during the past two days afflicted her more and more.
Similar attacks occurred often and in such cases her son usually
conducted her from room to room. But in this instance Miss Anney, who
sat nearest to her, came to her assistance and, taking her in her arms,
lifted her easily, skillfully, and without any exertion.

"I thank you, I thank you," said Pani Krzycki, "for otherwise I would
have to wait for Laudie. Ah, my God, how good it is to be strong!"

"Oh, in me you have a veritable Samson," answered Miss Anney in her
pleasant, subdued voice.

But at that moment Ladislaus, who evidently recalled that he had to
escort his mother, rushed into the room and, seeing what was taking
place, exclaimed:

"Permit me, Miss Anney. That is my duty. You will fatigue yourself."

"Not the least."

"Ah, Laudie," said Pani Krzycki, "to tell the truth, I do not know
which one of you two is the stronger."

"Is it truly so?" he asked, looking with rapt eyes upon the slender
form of the girl.

And she began to wink with her eyes in token that such was the fact,
but at the same time blushed as if ashamed of her unwomanly strength.

Ladislaus, however, assisted her to seat his mother at the table in the
small salon, at which she was accustomed to amuse herself in the
evenings by laying out cards to forecast fortunes. On this occasion he
unintentionally brushed his shoulder against Miss Anney's shoulder and,
when he felt those steel-like young muscles, a violent thrill suddenly
penetrated through him and at the same time he was possessed by a
perception of some elementary, unheard-of, blissful power. If he were
Gronski and ever in his life had read Lucretius' hymn to Venus, he
would have been able to know and name that power. But as he was only a
twenty-seven-year-old, healthy nobleman, he only thought that the
moments in which he would be free to hug such a girl to his bosom would
be worth the sacrifice of Jastrzeb, Rzeslewo, and even life.

But in the meanwhile he had to return to the steward of Rzeslewo, who
waited for him in the office upon an urgent matter. Their talk lasted
so long that when Ladislaus reappeared in the small salon, the young
ladies had already withdrawn to their rooms. Only his mother, who was
purposely waiting, desirous of knowing what was the matter, remained,
with Gronski and with Dolhanski, who was playing baccarat with himself.

"What is the news?" asked Pani Krzycki.

"Absolutely nothing good. Only let Mamma not get alarmed, for we are of
course here in Jastrzeb and not in Rzeslewo; and eventually we can
brush this aside with our hands. But nevertheless, strange things are
occurring there and Kapuscinski, in any event, did right to come here."

"For the Lord's sake, who is Kapuscinski?" exclaimed Dolhanski,
dropping the monocle from his eye.

"The steward of Rzeslewo. He says that some unknown persons, probably
from Warsaw, appeared there and are acting like gray geese in the
skies. They issue commands, summon the peasants, incite them, promising
them the lands and even order them to take possession of the stock.
They predict it will be the same in all Poland as it is in Rzeslewo--"

"And what of the peasants? what of the peasants?" interrupted Pani
Krzycki.

"Some believe them, while others do not. The more sensible, who attempt
to resist, are threatened with death. The manor farm-hands will not
obey Kapuscinski and say that they will only pasture and feed the
cattle, but will not touch any other work. About fifteen of the tenants
are preparing to go to the woods with hatchets and they declare that,
if the foresters interfere with their right to cut wood, they will give
them a good drubbing. Kapuscinski has lost his head completely and came
to me, as one of the executors of the will, for advice."

"And what did you tell him?"

"As he declared to me that he was not certain of his life in Rzeslewo,
I advised him by all means to pass the night with us in Jastrzeb. I
wanted first to consult Mother and you, for in fact, advice under the
circumstances is difficult to give and the situation is grave. Of
course such a situation cannot continue very long, and sooner or later
the peasants themselves will suffer the most by it. This we must
positively prevent. I will candidly state that for the past two days, I
have been considering whether it would not be better if I renounced the
curatorship of the new school and Rzeslewo matters in general. I
hesitated only because it is a public service, but in truth, I have so
much work to attend to here in Jastrzeb, that I do not know on what I
shall lay my hands first. But now, since it is necessary to rescue the
peasants, and since a certain amount of danger is connected with it, I
cannot retreat."

"I will fear about you, but I understand you," said Pani Krzycki.

"I think that by all means, I should drive over to-morrow morning to
Rzeslewo, but if I do not secure a hearing there, then what is to be
done?"

"You will not get any," said Dolhanski, not pausing in his distribution
of the cards.

"If you go, I will go with you," announced Pani Krzycki.

"Ah, that would be the only thing needful! Let Mamma only think that in
such a case I would be terribly hampered and certainly would not gain
anything."

After which he kissed her hand and said:

"No, no! Mamma does not understand that matters would be worse and, if
Mamma insists, then I would rather not go at all."

Gronski propped his head upon his hand and thought that it was easier
to analyze at a desk the various phases of life than to offer sound
advice in the presence of urgent events. Dolhanski at last stopped
playing baccarat with himself and said:

"The position we are placed in passes all comprehension. But were we in
any other country, the police would be summoned and the matter would
end in a day."

To this Ladislaus replied with some anger:

"As for that, permit me! I will not summon the police; not only not
against those peasants, but not even against those forbidden figures
who now haunt Rzeslewo. No, never!"

"Very well; long live an epoch of true freedom!"

"Who knows," said Gronski, "but that the summoning of the police would
just suit these gentlemen?"

"In what way?"

"Because they themselves, at the proper season, would disappear, but
later would incite the people again and would cry all over Poland,
'Behold! who appeals to the police against peasants.'"

"That is a pertinent observation," said Ladislaus; "now I understand
various things which I did not comprehend before."

"From the opening of the will," said Dolhanski, "Rzeslewo and its
inhabitants did not concern me in the least. However, one thought
occurred to me while dealing the cards. Laudie will drive over to
Rzeslewo to-morrow on a fruitless errand. He may receive only a sound
beating, without benefiting anybody--"

"It has never yet come to that, and that is something I do not fear.
Our family has lived in Jastrzeb from time immemorial, and the peasants
of this neighborhood would not raise their hands against a Krzycki--"

"Above all, do not interrupt me," said Dolhanski. "If you do not get a
sound thrashing--and I assume that you may not--then you will not
secure a hearing, as you yourself foresaw a little while ago. If we
two, that is, Gronski and myself, went over there, we would not effect
anything because they have seen us at the funeral, and the estimable
Slavonians of Rzeslewo look upon us as men who have a personal interest
in the matter. It will be necessary that some one unknown go there, who
will not argue, but who will act as if he had the right and power and
will command the peasants to behave peaceably. Since you are so much
concerned about them, that will be the only way. So, then, since by
virtue of the unfathomable decrees of Providence there exist in this
beloved land of ours National Democrats, whom, parenthetically
speaking, I cannot endure any more than the seven-spot of clubs, but
who, in all probability, have fists as sweaty and as heavy as the
socialists,--could you not settle this matter with their assistance?"

"Of course, naturally, naturally!" exclaimed Gronski; "the peasants,
after all, have great confidence in the National party."

"I also belong to that party with my whole heart," said Krzycki, "but,
sitting, like a stone, in Jastrzeb, I do not know to whom to apply."

"In any case, not to me," said Dolhanski.

But Gronski, though he did not belong to any faction, thoroughly knew
the city and easily suggested the addresses and the manner in which the
party could be notified. He afterwards said:

"And now I will give you one word of advice, the same which you,
Laudie, gave Kapuscinski, namely, that we go to sleep, for you,
especially, madam,"--here he addressed the lady of the house--"were
entitled to that long ago. Is it agreed?"

"Agreed," answered Ladislaus; "but wait a few minutes. After conducting
Mother, I will accompany you upstairs."

Within a quarter of an hour he returned, but instead of bidding his
guests the promised "good-night" he drew closer to them and resumed the
interrupted conversation.

"I did not wish to relate everything before Mother," he said, "in order
not to alarm her. But in fact the matter is much worse. So, speaking
first of what concerns us, imagine for yourself that those strangers
immediately after their arrival asked first of all about Laskowicz, and
that Laskowicz was in Rzeslewo this afternoon and returned here an hour
before we came back from the hunt. Now it is positively certain that we
have in our midst an agitator."

"Then throw him out," interrupted Dolhanski. "If I were in your place,
I would have done that long ago, if only for the reason that he has
eyes set closely to each other, like a baboon. In a man that indicates
fanaticism and stupidity."

"Unquestionably I will be done with him to-morrow, and I would end with
him even to-day, notwithstanding the late hour, were it not that I
desire first to calm down and not create any foolish disturbance. I do
not like this, and I would not advise those apostles to peer into
Jastrzeb. As I live, I would not advise it."

"Have they any intention of paying you a visit?"

"Certainly. If not to me personally, then to my farmhands. They
announced in Rzeslewo that they would cause an agrarian strike in the
entire vicinity."

"Then my advice, to drive out one wedge with another, is the most
feasible."

"Assuredly. I will adopt that course without delay."

"I know," said Gronski, "that they want to inaugurate agrarian strikes
throughout the whole country. They will not succeed as the peasant
element will repel their efforts. They, like most people from the
cities, do not take into account the relation of man to the soil.
Nevertheless, there will be considerable losses and the confusion will
increase, and this is what they chiefly care for. Ah! Shakespeare's
'sun of foolery' not only shines in our land, but is in the zenith."

"If we are talking of that kind of a sun, we can, like a former king of
Spain, say that it never sets in our possessions."

But Gronski spoke farther:

"Socialism--good! That, of course, is a thing more ancient than
Menenius Agrippa. That river has flown for ages. At times, when covered
by other ideas, it coursed underground, and later emerged into the
broad daylight. At times it subsides, then swells and overflows. At
present we have a flood, very menacing, which may submerge not only
factories, cities, and countries, but even civilization. Above all, it
threatens France, where comfort and money have displaced all other
ideas. Socialism is the inevitable result of that. Capital wedded to
demagogism cannot breed any other child; and if that child has the head
of a monster and mole, so much the worse for the father. It
demonstrates that superfluous wealth may be a national danger. But this
is not strange. Privilege is an injustice against which men have fought
for centuries. Formerly the princes, clergy, and nobility were vested
with it. To-day nobody has any; money possesses all. In truth, Labor
has stepped forth to combat with it."

"This begins to smell to me like an apology for socialism," observed
Dolhanski.

"No. It is not an apology. For, above all things, viewing this matter
from above, what is this new current but one more delusion in the human
chase after happiness? For myself, I only contend that socialism has
come, or rather, it has gathered strength, because it was bound to
grow. I care only about its looks and whether it could not have a
different face. And here my criticism begins. I do not deem socialism a
sin in the socialists, but only that the idea in their school assumes
the lineaments of an malignant idiot. I accuse our socialists of
incredible stupidity; like that of the ants who wrangled with and bit
the working ants, while the ant-eater was lying on the ant-hill and
swallowing them by thousands."

"True," cried Ladislaus.

"And, of course," concluded Gronski, "on our ant-hills there lie a
whole herd of ant-eaters."

Here Dolhanski again dropped the monocle from his eye.

"That you may not retire to sleep under a disagreeable impression," he
said, "I will tell you an anecdote which will illustrate what Gronski
has said. During the last exposition in Paris, one of the black kings
of French Congo, having heard of it, announced his wish to see it. The
Colonial government, which was anxious to send as many exotic figures
as possible to Paris, not only consented, but sent to this monarch a
few shirts with the information that in France such articles of attire
were indispensable. Naturally the shirts excited general admiration and
surprise. The King summoned ministers, priests, and leaders of parties
for a consultation as to how such a machine was to be put on. After
long debates, which undoubtedly could not be held without bitter
clashes between the native rationalists and the native nationalists and
progressionists, all doubts were finally set at rest. The king pulled
the sleeves of the shirt over his legs, so that the cuffs were at his
ankles. The bottom edge of the shirt, which in this instance became the
top, was fastened under his arm-pits by a string in such a manner that
the bosom was on his back and the opening was at his neck--somewhat
lower. Delighted with this solution of the difficulty, the ruler
acknowledged that the attire, if not entirely, was, at least in certain
respects, very practical and, above all, extraordinarily striking."

"Good," said Gronski, laughing, "but what connection has that with what
I had previously said?"

"Greater than may appear to you," replied Dolhanski; "for the fact is
that the various Slavonians are prepared to bear liberty and the
socialists socialism in the same manner as that negro king wore his
European shirt."

Saying this, he replaced the monocle in his eye and announced that as
in virtuous Jastrzeb and in such company there could not be any talk of
a "night card party," he would take his leave and go to sleep. The
others decided to follow his example. Ladislaus took the lamp and began
to light the way for the guests. On the stairs he turned to them with a
countenance which depicted ill humor and said:

"May the deuce take it, but all these disturbances must occur at a time
when we have in Jastrzeb such lovely ladies."

"Beware," answered Dolkanski, "and know that nothing can be concealed
from my eyes. When you assisted Miss Anney to conduct your mother, you
looked like an electrical machine. If anybody drew a wire through
you, you could illuminate not only the mansion but the adjoining
out-buildings."

Ladislaus raised the lamp higher so that the light would not fall upon
his countenance, for he felt at that moment that he blushed like a
student.



                                   IX

Ladislaus Krzycki possessed such a happy nature that, having once lain
down to sleep, he could a few minutes later fall into a deep slumber
which would continue until the morning. That night, however, he could
not fall asleep because the impressions of the day, together with the
parting words of Dolhanski, had led him into a state of exasperation
and anger. He was angry at Rzeslewo; at the disturbances which were
taking place there; at Dolhanski because he had observed the impression
which the young girl had made upon him--and particularly because he
himself had afforded him an opportunity to comment upon it--and finally
at the innocent Miss Anney. After a time, rolling from side to side, he
opened an imaginary conversation with her, in which he assumed the rôle
of a man, who, indeed, does not deny that he is deeply under the spell,
nevertheless, can view matters soberly and sanely. Therefore he
admitted to Miss Anney that she was handsome and amiable; that she had
an immensely sympathetic voice, a strange, fascinating look, and a body
like marble--ah, what a body! Nevertheless, he made the explicit
reservation that she must not think that he loved her to distraction,
or was even smitten with her. He would concede anything to her that she
desired, but to admit that he was in love with her was as far removed
from his thoughts as love is from matrimony, of which, of course, there
could not be any talk. Above all, she was a foreigner, and Mother in
that respect had her prejudices, justly so; and he himself would prefer
to have at his side during the remainder of his life a Polish soul and
not a foreign one. True, there was something homelike in her, but after
all, she was not a Pole. "Identical blood has its own meaning; it
cannot be helped," he further told Miss Anney. "So, since you are an
Englishwoman, marry some Englishman or Scotchman, provided, however,
you do not require me to form the acquaintance of such an ape and
become intimate with him, for that is something I can dispense with
perfectly." And at that moment he was seized with such a sudden,
unexpected antipathy to that eventual Englishman "with projecting jaw"
and Scotchman "with bare knees," that he felt that upon a trivial
misunderstanding he could flog them. But through this attack of rage he
roused himself completely from that half-drowsy, half-wakeful condition
in which whimsical fancies mingle, and having recovered his senses, he
experienced a great relief in the thought that the betrothed person
beyond the sea was only a figment of his imagination, and at the same
time a wave of gratitude towards Miss Anney surged in his heart. "Here
I am, quarrelling with her and making reservations," he thought, "while
she is snugly nestling her bright head upon a pillow and peacefully
slumbering." Here again his blood began to frisk, but soon the perverse
musings vanished. This became easier for him, as he was encompassed by
a yearning for honest affection and for that future being, yet unnamed,
who was to share his life. Again he resumed his imaginary conversation
with Miss Anney, but this time in a meek spirit. He assured her, with a
certain melancholy, that he was not solicitous about her, as he well
knew that even if there were no obstacles she certainly would not have
him, but that he was anxious that his future life-companion should
resemble her a little; that she should have the same look and the same
magnetic strength to which, if he did not succumb it would be a
miracle. As to Miss Anney personally, plainly speaking, he owed only
gratitude. Of course, nowhere was it so well with him as at his beloved
Jastrzeb, but nevertheless he could not deny that in that exclusive den
it became lively and bright after her arrival; and that after her
departure it would become darker, more dreary and monotonous than ever
before. So for those bright moments he would willingly kiss her hand
and, if that seemed insufficient to her, then her feet. In the meantime
he begged her pardon for the mad thoughts which passed through his
brain when he brushed against her shoulder in the salon, for though he
was always of the opinion that responsiveness upon her part was worth
the sacrifice of life, yet at the same time he had to contend that
Dolhanski was a blockhead and cynic who meddled with matters which did
not concern him and who was unworthy of notice. Here renewed rage
against Dolhanski possessed him, and he continued for some time to toss
from side to side until finally the late hour, youth, hungry for sleep,
and weariness sprinkled his eyes with poppy.[3]

There was, however, in the Jastrzeb manor-house another who did not
sleep and who talked with a person not present, and that was Laskowicz.
After all that had taken place and what had been revealed in the past
few days, he was prepared for his farewell parting with the Krzycki
family, as he well knew that his further presence in Jastrzeb would be
intolerable. And nevertheless he desired at present to stay in it, even
though for a few days, in order that he might gaze longer upon Panna
Marynia and, as he called it, "further narcotize himself." Somehow,
from the first moment he had heard her play, she actually absorbed his
thoughts in a way that no woman up to that time had done. Foremost
among the prepared formulæ which he, with dogmatic faith, had adopted
to judge mankind with, was the precept that a woman belonging to the
so-called pampered class was a thoughtless creature. In the meantime he
had to dissent at once from that formula as a soul had spoken to him
through the violin. Later he was astonished to find in that young lady
two entities, one of which manifested itself in music as a finished
artist, concentrated, filled with exaltation within herself, dissolved
in the waves of tones and playing as if she drew the bow over her own
nerves; the other appeared in every-day life in her customary relations
with people. The latter seemed at the first glance of the eye, if not
an insignificant, a common girl, full of simplicity and even gaiety,
who screamed like a cat when Dolhanski, for instance, said things
disagreeable to her; who jested with Gronski, telling him absurdities
about spirits or, to the great alarm of Gronski and her older sister,
fled into the garden for a boat ride on the pond. Laskowicz did not
fully comprehend the world and was not a subtle person; nevertheless,
he observed in the "common girl" something which made her, as it were,
a little divinity, haloed with a quiet worship. Evidently she herself
did not appear to be conscious of this and, viewing such a state of
affairs as something which was self-understood, she lived the life of a
flower or a bird. Confident that she will not suffer any harm from any
one, gentle, bright, living beyond the misery and wretchedness of life,
beyond its cares, beyond its chilling winds which dim the eyes with
tears, beyond the dust which defiles, she resembled a pure spring which
people look upon as blessed and whose translucency they fear to muddy.
It seemed that the environment did not exact of her anything more than
that she should exist, just as nothing more is demanded of a
masterpiece.

To Laskowicz, as often as he gazed at her, there came recollection of
his childhood days. He and his older brother, who, a few years before
falling into consumption had committed suicide on the Riviera, were the
sons of a woman who conducted near one of the churches in Warsaw a shop
for the sale of consecrated wax candles, medals, rosaries, and
pictures. Owing to this, both brothers were, in a way, bred upon the
church portals and were in constant relations with the priests. Once it
happened that the aged canon, the rector of the church, bought at an
auction an alabaster statuette of some saint, and for an unknown reason
took it for granted that it was not only the work, but the masterpiece
of Canova. The statuette, which, in reality, was pretty and finely
executed, after consecration, was placed in a separate niche near one
of the altars under the name of Saint Apollonia and from that time the
gentle old rector surrounded it with great worship as a holy relic and
with more particular care as the greatest church rarity. He led his
guests and more pious parishioners before it and commanded them to
admire the work and got angry if any one ventured to make any critical
observation. In fact, the admiration of the canon was shared by the
organist, the sexton, the church servants, and both boys. The thought
that Panna Marynia amidst her environment was such a Saint Apollonia
unwittingly suggested itself to Laskowicz. For that reason, after the
first impression he called her "a saintly doll." But he also recalled
that when in the course of time he lost his faith--and he lost it in
the gymnasium where, speaking parenthetically, he completed his studies
with the aid of the venerable canon--he often was beset with a desire
to demolish that alabaster statuette. At present he was consumed with a
greater desire, for it bordered upon a passion, to destroy this living
one. And yet he did not in the least bear her any hatred. On the
contrary, he could not resist the charm of this maiden, so loved by
all, any more than one can resist the charm of dawn or spring. It even
happened that what vexed and exasperated him also at the same time
attracted him towards her with an uncontrollable force. Consequently he
was drawn to her by her appurtenance to this world, the existence of
which he deemed a social injustice, crime, and wrong; she attracted him
in spite of his internal anguish, and even by the thought that beside
such a flower the proletariat was but manure. A lure for him was her
refined culture and her art, though he regarded such things as
superfluous and unnecessary for people of deflorated life; the
fascination was her utter dissimilarity to the women whom he met up to
the time of his arrival at the village, and her whole form was an
intoxication. Never before was he under the same roof with a being like
her; therefore he forgot himself and lost his head at the sight of her,
and though he had not yet familiarized himself with the power which
began to play in his bosom and had not christened it with the name of
love, the truth was that during the past few days he was aflame like a
volcano and loved her to distraction. He vaguely felt, however, that in
this passion there was something of the lust of a negro for a white
woman, and what was more, that in that particular love there was
apostasy to principles. So then in the same germ he poisoned her with
the virus of hatred and the wolfish propensity of annihilation.

And now he was summoning this "saintly doll" to come to him. Accepting,
indiscriminately, and also with all that exaggeration peculiar to
fanaticism and youth, everything which the books published as the
results of the latest researches or phenomena in the domain of science,
he believed that hypnotism was a secret and gigantic power which, when
applied, would become invincible. Holding himself on the strength of
experiments tried among his classmates as a hypnotizer, and considering
the delicate and impressionable young girl an excellent medium, he was
most firmly convinced that he could put her to sleep and command her
from a distance. Conscience, indeed, whispered to him that what he
contemplated doing was an abuse of science, but he silenced that voice,
persuading himself that it would at the same time be a triumph of a
proletaire over this world, for which it is not permissible to have any
pity, and that a man belonging to the camp which had declared a war of
life and death on the entire social structure and "had appraised at
their true worth" all current ideas has the right to and must be
heedless.

Above all, however, he yearned to subjugate this elegant and immaculate
maiden, to dominate not merely her body and soul, but also her will; to
transform her into something like himself; to draw her to himself, to
awaken within her the slumbering feminine instincts, to open before her
the closed doors of passion; to inflame her, to embrace her, to toy
with her, and afterwards keep her forever close to his bosom. And at
that thought he was beset by a strange joy like that which madmen feel
while profaning objects held in reverence and fear, and,
simultaneously, lust and love within him intensified. He felt that
after all that and for all of that, he would love this booty of his,
this sacrifice, to distraction.

But as he was a madman only about the heart of a maid, and not a
depraved man, he was at times possessed by a tenderness so great that
if his summons were productive of any results he might not pass the
bounds of transgression. But these were transient moments; after which,
straining the whole strength of his will and the sight of his closely
set eyes in the direction of Marynia's sleeping chamber he said and
commanded: "Rise!--do not light the candles--do not awaken your
sister--open the door quietly and walk in darkness on the path of my
thoughts until you come to me, to my arms, to my bosom!" And he
imagined that at any moment he would behold her, resembling that
alabaster statuette, entering with the mechanical step of a
somnambulist in a single gown, silvery, dreamy, with head tilted
backward, with closed eyes and opened lips drinking the lustre of the
moon which shone in the windows. Afterwards he listened in the silence
and, concentrating yet more powerfully his will, he repeated again with
emphasis as if each word was chiselled out of stone: "Rise! do not
light the candles--do not waken your sister--open the door--go on the
path of my thoughts--and come!"

Horrible indeed would have been the fate of the young lady were it not
for one fortunate circumstance, and that was that she never dreamt of
rising, opening the door, going on the path of his thoughts, etc. On
the contrary, she slept as peacefully as if an angel had bent over her
and with the movements of her wings had driven away from her
disquieting and feverish dreams. The little household fairies of
Jastrzeb, such as those about which she spoke to Gronski, also did not
disturb her repose. Perhaps some of them chased the moths from the
windows in order that they might not make any noise by striking the
window-panes; perhaps others, climbing the curtains and window sashes,
gazed at her from a distance with their keen little eyes and whispered
to each other: "Sleep, little maiden, who played for us on the
violin--sleep--hush--let us not waken her." And though a desire to turn
the pins of the violin and touch the chords with their tiny fingers may
have taken hold of them, they did not, however, do so, through honesty
and hospitality. Through the openings of the shutters the moonlight
streamed in, brightening the interior and slowly advancing on the
opposite wall. The silence was great; only somewhere beyond the house
the night-watch on the premises whistled; while within the house the
old standing clock, which measured the lives of several generations,
continued to speak with resignation the "Tick!--Tack!--Tick!" of the
seconds sinking into the past.

And Laskowicz in the course of time issued further commands from his
room which reached no one's knowledge. A strange thing! Inwardly
something was telling him with sober, almost absolute certainty that
the maid would not come and he nevertheless believed that she ought to
have come. Not until a long time elapsed, did the consciousness dawn
upon him that if she did not come, then he, together with his
hypnotism, played the rôle of an addle-pated fool. Finally fatigue,
disaffection, and anger at himself gripped him. Sleep irrevocably left
him. Hour flew after hour. In the east the sky was deepening and it was
becoming green. Soon the rosy lower border was striped with the
transparent riband of dawn. The young student, not undressing himself
at all, opened the window to breathe the bracing morning air. In the
garden the first chirp of the birds began, and from the direction of
the not distant pond, with the odor of the acacias, came the cries of
herons and the subdued, as if yet sleepy, quacks of the wild ducks.
After a while the sweep of the well creaked in the village.

It then occurred to Laskowicz that this was the last daybreak he was to
behold in Jastrzeb; that on the morrow he would wake in the city and
would not see either Panna Marynia or little Anusia whom only, of all
the inmates of that Jastrzeb mansion, he liked; and he felt a little
sorrow. But as he understood that, after the arrival of his party
associates at Rzeslewo and yesterday's visit of the steward Kapuscinski
to Krzycki, it was unavoidable, he preferred to tender his resignation
rather than suffer a dismissal. With this intention, he decided to
write a letter to Ladislaus and inform him that he had enough of
pedagogical work. He foresaw that eventually they would have to see
each other, if only at the payment of the salary, and as a dispute
about principles might arise which might go very far, he had a revolver
ready for certain contingencies. He deemed that, before that happened,
a dry, peremptory letter would be a step more consonant with his pride;
therefore, when it was quite bright, he sat down immediately to write.

Krzycki awoke, though not in the dusk, nevertheless with the rise of
the sun, for in the country he thus habituated himself to wake,
regardless of whether he retired to bed early or late. He felt in his
bones that he had had too little rest and, stretching out his arms, he
said to himself that he would be repaid only in case Miss Anney at some
time would learn that he lost that sleep for her sake and would pity
him, though slightly. Meanwhile he recalled to his mind all that he was
to do that day and formulated the following plan; he would rouse
himself, drive out the lassitude in his bones; afterwards, before
breakfast, would drive over to Rzeslewo and "look a little in the eyes
of those worthies;" and if possible talk with the peasants; later he
would return; after breakfast he would finish with Laskowicz and send
him away with the team which was to bring the physician; the balance of
his time, he would devote to the guests, to writing letters, and to the
farm. He positively determined to go to Rzeslewo, because, though he
agreed in his heart with Dolhanski that for the nonce he would be
unable to accomplish anything, nevertheless, he did not wish the ladies
to think that he stayed away through fear.

Having arranged everything in this manner, he carelessly put on his
clothes and, slipping his feet into his slippers, repaired to the
bath-room, without any foreboding that he would meet with an unusual
accident and that he was soon to see, not in truth such an alabaster
statuette as the one Laskowicz was raving about all night, but, at any
rate, something resembling Diana in a fountain. In the second in which
he opened the door he saw streams of water splashing and beheld under a
shower-sprinkler a nude, female figure, strewed with pearls of azure,
with head somewhat inclined, and hands raised to her hair, whose black
waves concealed her face. This lasted only a twinkle of the eye. A
suppressed scream and the slam of the closed door resounded
simultaneously. Krzycki rushed like the gale for his room; excited and
at the same time shocked, he clutched with shaking hand a decanter,
filled a glass of water, gulped it, and began to repeat confusedly:
"What has happened? Who is she? For God's sake, what has happened?" In
the first moments he conjectured that she might have been Pani Otocka,
or Marynia, and in such a case the misadventure would be appalling.
Those ladies would undoubtedly leave Jastrzeb at once and it would
perhaps be incumbent upon him to propose marriage to the one whom he
had seen in such paradisiacal shape. "But was it my fault?" he thought.
"Why didn't she lock the door? There was a bolt." He drank another
glass of water to cool his agitated blood and to think more calmly of
what he was to do and who that nymph was. Somehow after an interval he
reached the conclusion that she could not have been either of the
sisters. Firstly, why should they rise so early? and again, both were
slim, while this form was stouter and on the whole was built so,
that--Oh! Oh! Finally, he became satisfied that it surely must have
been no other than the brunette who obstructed his view of Miss Anney
during the mass and whom he met on the dark walk when returning with
Gronski from the hunt. If such was the case, nothing terrible had
happened, but rather the contrary. It occurred to his mind that those
blue window-panes were an excellent device, for in such a light the
spectacle was delightful. At the thought of this, he felt the necessity
of drinking a third glass of water. This, however, he did not do, but
instead, after an interval, went again to the bath-room, which now was
vacant, and after a cool bath dressed himself and hastened to the
stable. There he ordered a horse to be saddled and sped away on a
gallop for adjacent Rzeslewo.

The day was mild; the hour very early. But all nature was already awake
and bedewed, bathed in the sun, she appeared to simply cry out with
joy, just as village maids from an excess of life and health sing unto
forgetfulness, "Oj dana! Oj dana!" Birds carolled until the leaves on
the trees trembled. In the distant oak grove resounded the coo-cooing
of the cuckoo; yellow thrushes whistled amidst the boughs of lofty
trees; from the depths of the forest, sounding like the noise of a
sawmill, came the outcries of an old raven, watching a crowded nest,
while from time to time the shrieks of a jay, resembling a laugh, burst
forth.

Ladislaus rode out of the woods onto the open roadway. Here on one side
was a stretch of waving grain; on the other a meadow--from which odors
of turf and spring were wafted,--all overgrown with marigold and
rose-campion, quivering in the solar warmth and under the gentle breath
of the wind, as if in delight. This delight, this widespread joy and
luxuriance of life overflowed in the breast of Ladislaus. He felt
within himself such a vigor of youth and strength that he was prepared
to challenge to a hand-to-hand combat full hundreds of socialists and
at the same time press the whole world to his heart, especially women
under the age of thirty. The white vision of that Diana, enveloped in a
shell of blue pearls, again began to glide before his eyes, but he now
thought that if, instead of dark tresses on the bowed head of that
goddess, he had seen golden, he would have probably toppled over.

Amidst such sights and impressions he arrived at Rzeslewo, where,
however, in conformity with Dolhanski's prediction, he was unable to
accomplish anything. The "worthies" whom he wanted to look in the eyes
had left during the night time for the city; the husbandmen were in the
field, each upon his own patch of ground; the blinds of the rectory
were shut, as the rector for the last few days was feeling unwell. In
the manor out-building where the laborers dwelt there was not a sign of
a living soul. Later the old keeper of the stockyard informed him that
the hired help, after watering the stock, drove it out into the pasture
and went without asking the permission of any one to a church festival
at Brzesno, whither many of the husbandmen and tenants had also gone.

So, then, here was a strike of farm-hands and open contumacy, but
Krzycki was helpless. He only ordered the aged keeper of the stockyard
to tell the hired help that there would come to Rzeslewo to establish
order certain gentlemen before whom the vagabonds, who were there the
previous day, would abscond as soon as they heard of them; after which
he turned back and in half an hour was in Jastrzeb.

A servant told him that all were still asleep, excepting Laskowicz, who
had charged him with the delivery of a letter. Krzycki took it and went
with it to the office. Having read its contents, he rang for the
servant.

"Was he dressed when he gave you the letter?"

"Yes, sir, and was packing his things."

"Ask him if he can come to my office, and if he can, request him to
step in."

After a while, the young student entered the room.

Krzycki motioned to him to take a seat in the chair, which was near his
desk.

"Good day, sir! I learn from your letter that you wish to leave
Jastrzeb and that, at once. I presume that you have cogent reasons for
this step. I therefore regard any discussion of them as superfluous,
and will not detain you. Here you have what is due to you and the
horses will be ready at any time you desire."

But Laskowicz, who in money matters was extremely scrupulous, after
counting the money, said:

"You are paying me my whole salary, but as I am leaving before the
expiration of the term, I am not entitled to pay for the last month."

And somewhat discourteously he flung the unearned balance upon the
desk.

Krzycki's cheeks quivered slightly about the mustache, but as he had
pledged himself before Gronski that he would not create any disturbance
and had made the same promise to himself, he quietly replied:

"As you please."

"As for the departure," said Laskowicz, "I would prefer to leave at
once."

"As you please," repeated Krzycki. "In an hour I will send after the
physician for my mother and if it is convenient for you, you may go
with that team."

"Very well."

"Then the whole thing is settled. I will give orders at once."

Saying this, he rose and closed the desk, as if he wished to intimate
that the interview was over. Laskowicz glared at him with eyes blazing
with hatred. He did not seek any broil, but anticipating one, he stood
before Krzycki, bent like a bow. Meanwhile nothing approaching an
altercation occurred and the revolver, which he had ready for a certain
contingency, was of no service to him. There was no reference even to
the letter, though that was indited in harsh and rude terms.
Nevertheless there was something offensive in the cold tones in which
Krzycki spoke, something insulting in the eagerness with which he
accepted his offer of departure. To Laskowicz, who viewed everything
from his own standpoint, it seemed that the icy conversation
accentuated something else, namely, the attitude of a wealthy man who
owned Jastrzeb, a desk filled with money, horses, and equipages,
towards a poor, homeless fellow. But it did not occur to him at that
moment that he on his part had done nothing to improve their relations,
but on the contrary had done a great deal to make them worse, and that
from the time of his arrival he had shut himself, like a turtle in a
shell, in a doctrine inimical to these people. Everything conduced to
stir the bile within him to such a degree that he actually regretted
that the matter did not end in a personal encounter. But as in the
words of Krzycki there was nothing which gave him a pretext for one, he
abruptly left the room without any leave-taking and with redoubled
rancor.

Ladislaus rang to have the horses ready within an hour, and as it
happened to be Friday, he ordered the gardener to catch some fish;
after which he began to consider whether the affair with Laskowicz had
terminated in a desirable way. He was pleased and displeased with
himself. He felt a certain satisfaction and even pride in the fact that
he could be laconic and firm, cold but polite, and that he did not
stoop to any ruffianly dispute. But at the same time, notwithstanding
his pride, a certain disrelish remained, for which he could not account
as he was not sufficiently developed psychologically. He kept repeating
to himself that such scenes are always disagreeable, and so was the
whole business. In reality there was another reason for it. His whole
behavior, which appeared to him so temperate, sensible, and well-nigh
diplomatic, did not emanate from his temperament, but in direct
opposition to his not too deep, but open and impulsive nature. If he
had acted in keeping with it, he either would have come to blows with
the young student or else would have said something like this: "You
have strewn our path with thorns and have upset the minds of our
people, but since you are leaving, give me your hand and may you fare
well." The one or the other act would have been more consistent with
his character, and he would not have experienced that jarring which he
could not understand, but felt none the less.

But further reflections were interrupted by the servant with the
announcement that breakfast was ready and that the guests were at the
table. In fact, all had already assembled in the dining-room, through
which pervaded the odor of coffee and the hum of the samovar. At the
sight of the white dresses of the ladies and their fresh, well-rested
countenances, Ladislaus' soul gladdened to such an extent that he
immediately forgot all squabbles and vexations. By way of greeting, he
kissed Pani Otocka's hand; then, as if absent-mindedly, that of Miss
Anney, but so forcibly that she reddened like a cherry; after which he
squeezed Marynia's hand, saluted the gentlemen and began to cry
merrily:

"Coffee! coffee! From the rise of the sun I drank only two glasses of
water and I am as hungry as a wolf."

"Was that a cure? Did you have a fever?" asked Dolhanski.

"Perhaps I did have a fever, but nevertheless I had a horseback ride to
Rzeslewo and transacted a thousand matters."

"How is it in 'rustic-angelic' Rzeslewo," interrupted Dolhanski.

"There is nothing further that is disturbing. Those trouble makers whom
I wished to look at, in the eyes, are gone. But now above all things, I
want coffee and will not answer any more questions."

Marynia, as the substitute of Pani Krzycki, who remained in bed owing
to rheumatism, poured out the coffee for him, and he also kissed the
hand of his young cousin; whereat she was pleased as she fancied that
it added to her dignity.

"That is due me as a vice-hostess," she said, shaking her head.

"And especially taking age into consideration," added Dolhanski.

She did not show him her tongue only because she was too well-bred.

But Dolhanski, who suffered from catarrh of the stomach, gazed
enviously at Ladislaus, eating with such relish, and said:

"What an appetite! A genuine cannibal."

"Go also over the road a mile before breakfast and you will have the
same appetite. But cannibal or no cannibal, when I entered this room, I
was ready to devour even this bouquet of flowers which is before me."

"The time will come when the country nobility will not have anything
else to eat," replied Dolhanski.

But Marynia quickly seized the bouquet and, laughing, shoved it to the
other side of the table.

"After coffee there is no fear," cried Ladislaus. "But what beautiful
field flowers! Did you ladies pick them?"

"We are sleepy-heads," answered Pani Otocka; "they were gathered by
Aninka's servant."

Aninka was the pet name which both sisters gave Miss Anney.

Ladislaus turned a sharp glance towards the ladies, but as their faces
were perfectly calm, he thought:

"She gathered the flowers and did not mention the mishap."

And Miss Anney, turning the bouquet about and examining it, said:

"An apple-blossom is in the middle,--the good-for-nothing girl plucked
it from some little tree, for which she must be reprimanded; these are
spearwort, those primroses, and those pennyroyal, which are now coming
out."

"It is, however, astonishing that you speak Polish so well," observed
Dolhanski; "why, you even know the names of plants."

"I heard them from the lips of the village maids in Zalesin at
Zosia's," answered Miss Anney. "Besides, I evidently possess linguistic
abilities for I learned from them to speak in a rustic style."

"Truly," cried Ladislaus, "could you say something in peasant fashion.
Say something, Miss Anney! Do!" he entreated, folding his hands as if
in prayer.

She began to laugh and feigning shyness, bowed her head and putting the
back part of her hand to her forehead, as bashful peasants girls
usually do, said, drawling each word somewhat:

"I would do that only I do not dare--"

Laughter and bravos resounded; only Pani Zosia glanced at her with a
peculiar look and she, by becoming confused, enhanced her beauty to
such an extent that Ladislaus was completely captivated.

"Ah! now one could lose his head," he cried with unfeigned ardor. "I
pledge my word, one could lose his head."

And Gronski, who in common with the others fell into good humor, said
in a low voice:

"And even consummatum est."

But further conversation was interrupted by the rattle of the carriage
wheels which could be heard in the courtyard and ceased at the balcony.

"What is that?" asked Gronski.

"I am sending for the doctor for Mother," answered Ladislaus, rising.
"Whoever has any errands in the city may speak."

Dolhanski and Gronski also rose and went out with him into the
vestibule.

"I was about to ask you for a horse," said Gronski. "I know that you
have but one saddle for ladies in Jastrzeb, so I ordered another one
and must receive it in person at the post-office. I did not want to
speak about it before the ladies as it is to be a surprise."

"Good!" answered Krzycki, "but I will give you another carriage, for
Laskowicz is leaving by this one and you surely would prefer not to
ride with him."

"He?" cried Dolhanski. "You do not know him then. He is ready to ride
with old Aunt Beelzebub, if he could pull her by the tongue and do all
the talking and descanting."

"There is a little truth in that," said Gronski. "I am a veritable
chatterbox. Indeed, I will willingly go with Laskowicz and will try to
get him into a talkative mood for, after all, he does interest me. Did
you conclude with him this morning?"

"Yes. I must see Mother for a while and tell her about it. I finished
with him and in addition finished peaceably. I, at least, was perfectly
calm."

"So much the better. Go to your mother and I will go to my room for a
linen duster; for the dust on the road must be quite thick. I will be
back soon."

In fact he returned in a few minutes, dressed in a linen coat. About
the same time a servant brought down Laskowicz's trunk, and soon the
latter appeared, wrapped up in himself and gloomy as night, for the
thought that he would not behold his "alabaster statuette" filled him
with pain and sorrow; the more so, as after those hypnotic exertions,
when daylight restored him to his senses, he began to feel guilty of an
offence against her. Instead of swallowing with unnecessary haste his
breakfast in his room upstairs, he might have come downstairs and gazed
upon Pani Marynia for half an hour longer; but he had not wished to do
that because, in the first place, he had not cared to meet Krzycki and,
again, he felt that in such company he would enact the rôle of Pilate
in Credo. At that moment he regretted that he had not come down and
feasted his eyes with her form for the last time.

But a pleasant surprise awaited him when the young ladies, in the
company of Dolhanski and Ladislaus, came out on the balcony; and
afterwards little Anusia, with whom he was always on friendly terms,
having learned that he was leaving, ran with eyes overflowing with
tears, pouting lips, and a bunch of flowers in her chubby fist to bid
him good-bye. The young student took the flowers from her, kissed her
hand, and with heavy heart sat in the carriage beside Gronski, who in
the meantime was chatting with Pani Otocka.

Anusia descended the stairs of the balcony and stood close to the
carriage doors; upon perceiving which Marynia hastened after her and,
evidently fearing that the little girl might be jolted when the
carriage started to move, took her hand and began to comfort her.

"Of course he will not forget you," she said, bending over the little
girl, "he surely will write to you and when he becomes very lonesome,
will return."

After which, raising her eyes directly at Laskowicz:

"Is it not true, sir? You will not forget her?"

Laskowicz gazed into the depths of the pellucid pupils of her eyes, as
if he wished to penetrate them to the bottom, and being really moved,
replied with emphasis:

"I will not forget."

"Ah, you see," and Marynia pacified Anusia.

But at that moment Krzycki approached.

"Mother directed me to bid you God-speed." And he immediately shouted
to the driver: "Drive on."

The carriage moved, described a circle in the courtyard, and
disappeared on the avenue beyond the gate.

Miss Anney and the two sisters now went to Pani Krzycki, desiring to
keep her company at breakfast, which she on the days of her painful
suffering ate in bed. Ladislaus, recalling that he ordered some fish to
be caught, walked directly across the garden towards the pond to see
whether the catch was successful.

But before he reached the bank, at a turning of the shady yoked elm
lane, he unexpectedly met his morning's vision of "Diana in the
fountain."

At the sight of him the maid stood still; at first her countenance
flushed as if a live flame passed through it; after which she grew so
pale that the dark down above her lips became more marked, and she
stood motionless, with downcast eyes and heaving breast, bewildered and
abashed.

But he spoke out with perfect freedom:

"Good-day! good-day! Ah, what is your name?"

"Pauline," she murmured, not raising her eyes.

"A beautiful name." After which, he smiled somewhat roguishly and
added:

"But Panna Pauly--the next time--there is a bolt."

"I will drown myself," cried the maid in a hysterical voice.

And he began to speak in persuasive tones:

"Why? For what? Why, no one is to blame,--that was a pure accident. I
will not tell anybody about it and that I had seen such beauty; that
was only my luck."

And he proceeded to the fishing place.

She followed his shapely form with her tear-dimmed eyes and stood on
the spot for quite a while in reverie, for it seemed to her that by
reason of the secret known to them alone something had transpired
between them which would unite them forever.

And afterwards when she recollected how that charming young heir of
Jastrzeb had seen her, she shuddered from head to foot.



                                   X

Gronski was a man of gentle and kindly disposition. Notwithstanding his
penchant for philosophical pessimism, he was not a pessimist in his
relations to men and life. Speaking in other words, in theory he often
thought like Ecclesiastes; in practice he preferred to tread in the
footsteps of Horace, or rather as Horace would have trodden had he been
a Christian. Continual communing with the ancient world gave him a
certain serenity, not divested indeed of melancholy, but peaceful and
harmonious. Owing to his high education and extensive reading, which
enabled him to come in contact with all ideas which found lodgment in
the human mind and familiarize himself with all forms of human life, he
was exceedingly tolerant, and the most extreme views did not lead him
into that condition which would cause him to screech like a frightened
peacock. This deep forbearance and this conviction that all that is
taking place has to occur, did not deprive him of energy of thoughts or
words; it deprived him, however, in some measure of the ability to act.
He was more of a spectator than an actor on the world's stage, but a
well-disposed spectator, acutely susceptible and extraordinarily
curious. He sometimes compared himself to a man sitting on the bank of
a river and watching its course, who knows indeed that it must roll on
and disappear in the sea, but who is nevertheless interested in the
movements of its waves, its currents, its whirlpools, mists rising from
its depths, and the play of light upon its waters. Besides his genuine
love of ancient languages and authors, Gronski was interested in
politics, science, literature, art, the contemporary social tendencies,
and finally in the private affairs of mankind; and this last to such an
extent that he was reluctantly charged with undue love of knowledge of
his fellow-men. From this general, lively curiosity flowed his
loquacity and desire to expatiate upon anything which passed before his
eyes. He was well aware of this, and jocosely justified himself before
his friends by citing Cicero, who according to him was one of the
greatest discoursers and meddlers whose memory is preserved by history.
Aside from these weaknesses, Gronski possessed a highly developed
capacity for sympathizing with human suffering and human thoughts, and
was on the whole a man of fine sentiment. Poland he loved sincerely as
he wished her to be; that is, noble, enlightened, cultured, as European
as possible, but not losing her Lechite traits, and holding in her hand
the flag with the white eagle. That eagle seemed to him to be one of
the noblest symbols on earth.

Within the compass of his personal feelings, as a man and æsthete, he
loved Marynia, but it was a love of a heavenly-blue hue, not scarlet.
At the beginning he admired within her, as he said, "the music and the
dove;" afterwards, not having any near relatives, he became attached to
her like an older brother to a little sister, or as a father to a
child. She, on her part, grateful for this attachment and at the same
time esteeming his mind and character, reciprocated with her whole
heart.

In the main, human sympathy and friendship encompassed Gronski, for
even strangers, even people separated from him by a chasm of belief and
convictions, even those whom he annoyed with his habit of pressing his
forefinger to his forehead and thinking aloud, esteemed him for his
ability to sympathize, his humanity and forbearance, which were like
the open doors of a hospitable house.

Laskowicz also felt this. If he was to ride with Dolhanski, for
instance, he would have preferred to go afoot and carry his luggage on
his back. But Dolhanski in Jastrzeb pretended not to see him at all,
while Gronski always greeted him amiably, and several times opened a
conversation with him which never was lengthy for the reason that
Laskowicz limited it and broke it off. Now, however, sitting beside
Gronski he was pleased with his company. He cherished in his soul a
hope that Gronski, speaking of the persons remaining in Jastrzeb, would
say something about Panna Marynia and he craved to hear her name.
Besides, he was moved by the leave-taking with little Anusia, for it
happened for the first time in his life that any one bidding him
farewell had tears in her eyes, and he was grateful to the chance which
afforded him an opportunity of exchanging a few words with Panna
Marynia before driving away. So his heart melted and he was willing to
talk sincerely, especially with a man against whom he felt no
antipathy.

Somehow they did not wait long, for they had barely reached the end of
the avenue when Gronski, with the kind and confidential anxiety of an
older man who does not understand what has taken place and is ready to
grumble, placed his hand upon his knee and said:

"My dear sir, what mischief have you stirred up in Rzeslewo? It may now
come to some serious collisions, and it is said that you people intend
to do the same everywhere."

"In Rzeslewo we did what the good of our idea demanded," answered
Laskowicz.

"But an agricultural school is involved and such schools are absolutely
necessary for the people. Why did you circulate the story among the
peasants that the land was to be divided among them?"

Laskowicz hesitated as to whether to leave the question unanswered, but
he was disarmed by Gronski's countenance, at once benevolent and
worried, so he replied:

"Every party must keep its eyes upon everything in order to know what
is occurring in the country and take advantage of its opportunities. In
the case of Rzeslewo I was the eye of the party, and in the further
course of time I acted in accordance with the directions sent to me. In
reality, we could not foresee how the deceased would dispose of his
estate. But that is all one. We do not need schools founded by the
classes with which we are at war and conducted in their spirit."

"You do not need them, but the people need them."

"The people can learn husbandry without the assistance of the nobility
as soon as they own something on which they can learn. The lands of the
nobles will be more beneficial to them than their schools. They have
tilled that soil of Rzeslewo for hundreds of years, and if you figure
at the rate of one penny for each day's labor, that land has been paid
for a hundred times more than it is worth."

"But you arouse merely a desire for land; you cannot give it. Besides,
permit me, sir, to say that in respect to your doctrine you are
illogical. For, of course, your aim is to nationalize the land. Now
such land as that of Rzeslewo, for instance, donated for school
purposes is, in a manner, nationalized; but a partition of it among the
peasants would disintegrate it into individual ownership by a number of
small holders."

"The nationalization of land is our ultimate object, therefore distant.
In the meantime we want to get the people into our camp, so we use such
means as will lead to that end. We cannot give the land, but the people
themselves can take it."

"The most you can accomplish is to get them to take it. Assume that in
Rzeslewo the husbandmen, tenants, and hired hands seize the land and
divide it between them. What follows? Do you not see the clashes, the
knouting, the courts and sanguinary executions which will overtake
them?"

"Do you not believe that this would be water for our mill? The more
there is of that, the sooner our end will be attained."

"And so I guessed rightly," said Gronski, recalling his statement to
Ladislaus and Dolhanski that the summoning of the police would be
playing into the hands of the agitators.

Laskowicz wanted to ask what Gronski had guessed rightly, but the
latter forestalled him and continued:

"There is another singular thing. If misfortune overtakes any one of
you, whether imprisonment, deportation, or death, then we, that is, the
people who do not belong to your ranks, the people against whom you
have declared war to the death, say: 'Too bad! such zeal! what a
pity--such misguided sacrifice! how deplorable,--such a young head!'
and we grieve for you. But you do not regret those people whose
defenders you proclaim yourself to be. You arrange industrial strikes
and pull the string until it breaks and later, when the manufacturers
tie it again it becomes shorter than ever before. Already thousands are
dying of starvation. And now you want an agricultural strike, after
which bread becomes dearer and scarcer. Who suffers by this? Again the
people. Truly at times it is impossible to resist the thought that you
love your doctrines more than the people."

To this Laskowicz answered in a harsh, hollow voice:

"That is war. There must be sacrifices."

Gronski involuntarily looked at him and, seeing his eyes set so closely
to each other, thought:

"No! Such eyes really can only look straight ahead and are incapable of
taking in a wider horizon."

For some time they rode in silence. A light southern breeze rose and
bore with the cloud of dust the odor of the horses' sweat. From
thickets on the wayside flew swarms of horse-flies, which pestered the
horses so much that the coachman brushed their backs with the whip and
swore.

Suddenly Gronski asked:

"Sacrifices! But to what divinity do you offer those sacrifices? What
is your aim and what do you want?"

"Daily bread and universal liberty."

"But in the meantime, instead of bread, you give them stones. As to
liberty, you will please, sir, take into consideration two thoughts.
The first can be expressed thus: Woe to the nations that love liberty
more than fatherland! Naturally I am not speaking of subjugated
nations, for in such a situation the conceptions of liberty and
fatherland become almost identical. But consider, sir, what really
caused the political downfall of Poland and what is blighting France,
which before our eyes is falling apart like a barrel without hoops? A
second thought which often comes to my mind is that liberty crossing
the boundaries set by national prosperity and safety is necessary only
for rogues. You certainly will regard this last opinion as the acme of
retrogression, but it is none the less the truth."

Laskowicz's face reflected suspicion and offence, but it was so
apparent that Gronski did not allude to him personally, and was only
enunciating a general view, that he did not break off further
conversation.

"Liberty of association and syndicates," he said, "by the aid of which
the proletariat is defending itself, do not endure any limitations.
You, sir, after all confuse the conceptions of the people and the
empire;--as a realist you are concerned above all about the empire."

And Gronski began to laugh:

"I, a realist?" he said. "I do not belong to the realists. They are not
foolish people and on the whole act in good faith, but they commit one
error. They go out to plough for the spring sowing in December; that is
when the ploughshares cannot break the frozen ground. Or if you prefer
another comparison, they buy their summer clothing during the severest
winter season. I do not know; perhaps the sun will at some time shine
and it will be warm, as everything in this world is possible, but in
the meantime the ears are frost-bitten and the moths destroy the
clothes."

And thinking only of the realists, he continued:

"Realists desire to reckon with this reality, which does not want to
reckon with them or anybody else. For assume, sir, for example, that
the name of a faction is Peter and this Peter in perfect sincerity
turns to Reality and says: 'Listen, oh Maiden! I am prepared to
acknowledge you and even love you, but in return permit me to stand on
my own feet, to breathe a little and stretch out my aching bones.' And
Reality with true Ural affability answers: 'Peter, my son Peter, you
are wandering from the subject, and I take away from you the right to
speak. I am not concerned about your acknowledging or loving me, but
only that you should unbutton yourself, divest yourself of certain
clothes which, speaking parenthetically, may be of service to me; that
you should again lie upon that bench and as to the rest trust in my
power and whip.' If any realist heard me he might dispute this, but in
his soul, he would concede the justness of the illustration."

"You will admit, then," exclaimed Laskowicz, with a certain triumph,
"that we alone are hitting this Reality on the head?"

"You are hitting her," answered Gronski, "but your fists rebound from
her stony head and land in the pit of your own community, which loses
its remnant of breath and swoons. By this, you even aid Reality."

And here recollecting what he had said about the anthills and
ant-eaters, he repeated it to Laskowicz.

But Laskowicz would not agree to the comparison, observing that it had
only a specious appearance of the truth, for the human conditions could
not be adjusted by conditions existing in an ant-hill.

"Whoever aspires to make the proletariat powerful by the same act gives
the nation new strength sufficient to repel all attacks and blows. Only
on this road can anything be gained, though only for the simple reason
that it will have allies in the proletariat of adjoining countries, who
from enemies will become friends."

"That would only be a coalition at the bottom," said Gronski.

"And for that reason irrepressible and effectual. For we are
continually hearing of Poland! Poland! But those who all the time are
repeating that combine with Poland various things which have outlived
their usefulness, such as religion, church, and conservatism, which
cover her with mould or with corpses which already are rotting. We
alone unite Poland with an idea, powerful, young, and vital, if only
for the reason that all youth is with us."

"In the first place, not all youth, nor even one half," answered
Gronski; "and again, the church has survived and will survive many a
social movement; and thirdly, your idea is as ancient as poverty itself
on this earth. If you desire, sir, to contend that the form which La
Salle and Marx gave it is new, then I will answer you thus: Your modern
socialism has too thick tufts of hair on its scalp, but when it begins
to get bald, none will scoff at it so much as the young."

"You are continually speaking in aphorisms, but fortunately aphorisms
are like paper lanterns hung on the trees of dialectics; in the dark
they can be seen; in the broad daylight they are extinct."

"Behold another aphorism, cut and dried," answered Gronski, laughing.
"No, sir, that which I said had another meaning. I wanted to say that
the socialist commonwealth, if you ever establish one, will be such a
surrender of human institutions, such a jamming of man into the
driving-wheels of the general mechanism, such a restraint and slavery
that even the present kingdom of Prussia, in comparison, would be a
temple of liberty. And in reality, a reaction would set in at once. The
press, literature, poetry, and art, in the name of individualism and
its freedom, would declare an inexorable war; and do you know, sir, who
would carry the banner of the opposition? Youth! That is as true as
that those lapwings are now flying over that meadow."

And here he pointed at a flock of lapwings, hovering over a field on
which cattle were grazing. After which he added:

"In France it is already beginning. Not long ago a few thousand
students paraded the streets of Paris, shouting: 'Down with the
Republic!'"

"That is merely swinging around in a circle," replied Laskowicz; "that
was a clash with radicalism and not with us. We also despise it. The
bourgeoisie imagine that radicalism in a certain emergency will shield
them from the revenge of the proletariat, but they are deceiving
themselves. In the meanwhile they are clearing the way for the
revolution."

"In this I admit you are right;" answered Gronski, "I saw in Cairo how
the _saïs_ ran before the carriages of the pashas shouting, 'Out of the
way! Out of the way!' Radicalism is performing the same service for
you."

"Yes," corroborated Laskowicz, with a brightened countenance.

Gronski took off his spectacles to wipe off the dust and winked his
eyes.

"But amongst you there are also differences. The French socialism is
different, so is the German, and the English, and in their midst we
find opposing camps. For that reason I shall not speak of socialism in
general. I am only interested in the home product, of which you are an
agent; for, from what you have said, I infer that you belong to the
so-called Polish Socialistic party."

"Yes," answered Laskowicz with energy.

Gronski replaced the cleaned spectacles and unfurled all his sails:

"You claim, therefore, that in the name of Poland you have joined youth
with a powerful idea, through which you have infused into her veins new
blood. And I reply that this idea, whatever it may be, has degenerated
in your minds to the extent that it ceased to be a social idea and has
become a social disease. You have infected Poland with a disease and
nothing more. The new Polish edifice must be constructed with bricks
and stones and not with bombs and dynamite. And in you there is neither
brick nor stone. You are only a shriek of hatred. You have abandoned
the old gospels and are incapable of creating a new one; in consequence
of which you cannot offer any pledge of life. Your name is Error and
for that reason the resultant force of your activities will be contrary
to you presuppositions. By pulling the strings of strikes you lead the
people to naught else than to debility and wretchedness and from feeble
beggars you are not able to build a powerful Poland. That is the actual
fact. Besides, on one and the same head you cannot wear two caps unless
one is underneath. So I ask which is underneath? Is your socialism only
a means of building Poland? Or is your Poland only a bait and catchword
to gather the people into your camp? The socialists, who call
themselves socialists without any qualifications and do not insist that
the same entity can be fish and fowl at the same time, are, I admit,
more logical. But you mislead the people. The truth is that even if you
wanted to you could not do anything Polish, for there is nothing Polish
in you. The schools from which you graduated did not take away the
language, for they could not do that, but they molded your minds and
souls in such a manner that you are not Poles, but Russians despising
Russia. How Poland and Russia will fare by this is another matter, but
such is the case. To you it seems that you are making a revolution, but
it is an ape of a revolution, and in addition a foreign one. You are
the evil flower of a foreign spirit. It is enough to take your
periodicals, your writers, poets, and critics! Their whole mental
apparatus is foreign. Their real aim is not even socialism nor the
proletariat, but annihilation.--Firebrand in hand, and at the bottom of
their souls hopelessness and the great nihil! And of course we know
where it originated. The Galician socialism likewise is not an Apollo
Belvedere, but nevertheless it has different lineaments and less broad
cheek-bones. There is not in it this rabidness and also this despair
and sorrow which conflicts with the Latin culture. You are like certain
fruit: on one side green, on the other rotten. You are sick. That
sickness explains the limitless want of logic, based on this; that
crying against wars, you create war; decrying courts-martial, you
condemn without any trial; and denouncing capital punishment, you
thrust revolvers in the hands of the people and say, 'Kill.' This
disease also explains your insane outbreaks, your indifference to
consequences, and to the fate of those ill-fated men whom you make your
tools. Let them assassinate, let them rob the treasuries, but whether
later they will hang in the halter is a matter of little consequence to
you. Your nihil permits you to spit upon blood and ethics. You open
wide the doors to notorious scoundrels and allow them to represent not
their own villany, but your idea. You, generally speaking, carry ruin
with you and join Poland to that ruin. In your party there are, without
doubt, men of conviction and good faith, but blind, who in their
blindness are serving a different master than they imagine."

Gronski knew that he was speaking in vain, but whether from habit, or
because he wanted to relieve himself of all that had accumulated within
him, he talked until the rattle of the wheels on the city pavements
drowned his words. They parted rather coldly before the hotel, for
Gronski's views touched the young medical student to the quick. He did
not admit that Gronski was in the least right, but that such views
should be entertained filled him with rage and indignation. He indeed
said to himself, "It is not worth while answering, but our minds are
not foreign, and our idea is new. Society is like a person who, having
for many years lived in a house, is always reluctant to move into
another though that other is much better." Nevertheless the words of
Gronski stung him so deeply that at that moment he hated him as much as
he did Krzycki and would have given a great deal if he could trample
upon and crush the charges, so odious to him. Unfortunately for him he
lacked time for it, and besides, weariness after a sleepless night
began to overpower him more and more.

Gronski went to the post-office, received a package with the saddle,
and afterwards drove to the doctor's, but learning that the latter
would not be free for an hour, he left the carriage at his door and
went to visit the old notary and at the same time deliver to him an
invitation from Krzycki to visit Jastrzeb.

The notary was pleased to receive the invitation, as he had decided to
visit the Krzyckis without one, in order, as he said, to behold the
"eyes of his head" and hear her miracle-working violin. In the meantime
he began to speak about the events which had occurred in the city and
neighborhood. He was so impressed and affected by them that his
customary choler left him, and in his words there was an undertone of
bitter sorrow and heavy anxiety for the future of the community, which
seemed to have lost its head. Factory strikes and to some extent
agricultural strikes were spreading. In the city the lime-kilns had
ceased to burn and the cement works were at a standstill. The
workingmen, who, not having any savings, formerly lived from hand to
mouth, in the first moments lacked bread. After the example of Warsaw,
a local committee was organized for the purpose of collecting funds to
prevent starvation. But as a result, this peculiar situation was
created: the people most opposed to the cessation of work encouraged it
by furnishing food to the idle. "A veritable round of errors!" said the
worried old gentleman. "Do not give; then starvation follows and
despair hurls the workingman into the arms of the socialists; give, and
you also are playing into their hands, because they have something with
which to support the strike and can convince the people of their
omnipotence." He further related that outside of the committee the
socialists were collecting money, or rather were extorting it from the
timid by threats; that they called upon him but he told them that he
would give for bread but not for bombs. They then threatened him with
death, for which he had them thrown out of his office.

For a while he remained silent for the inborn choler assumed supremacy
over sorrow; he also began to roll his eyes angrily and moved his jaws
furiously, as if he wanted to eat all the socialists, together with
their red standard.

Afterwards, when his rage had spent itself, he continued:

"Day before yesterday they sent me a sentence of death which they
surely will execute, as they have declared war against the government
and they butcher their own countrymen. Well, that is a small matter!
Three days ago they killed a master tinner and two workingmen in the
cement factory. In Wilczodola, a few versts from here, they waylaid and
maimed Pan Baezynski and robbed the branch office of the governmental
whiskey monopoly besides. Szremski, that doctor for whom you came and
whose optimism sticks like a bone in my throat, says that it is but a
passing storm! Yes, everything does pass away, individuals as well as
whole nations. I fear that ours too is passing away; for we have become
a nation of bandits and banditism never can be a permanent institution.
Well! The people, after these acts of violence, have in reality become
tired of robbing for the benefit of their party and now prefer to rob
on their own account. Do I know whether we will arrive alive at
Krzyckis to-day? Bah! Krzycki ought to be more on his guard than any
one else. He passes for a rich man and for that reason they will keep
him in their eye. I will go to Jastrzeb for if I am to be assassinated,
before it takes place I want to hear once more our child-wonder. But in
truth, Krzycki, instead of inviting more guests, should dismiss those
who are staying there now. The doctor, if he had any sense, would find
an excuse for dispersing them all to-morrow."

"I heard that he is an excellent man," said Gronski.

"An excellent devil!" answered the notary. "You remember whom you have
among you, and it is only about her that I am concerned."

Gronski, though disquieted and distressed by Dzwonkowski's narrative,
could not refrain from laughing when he heard the last admonition, for
translated into plain words it meant, "May the deuce impale you all, if
only no evil befalls the little violinist." But whenever Marynia was
involved he himself was always willing to subscribe to similar
sentiments; therefore he began to pacify the aged official by telling
him that in Jastrzeb there were, counting the guests and manor people,
too many hands and too many arms to have any fears of an attack; and
that, besides, Pani Krzycki's probable departure would end the visit of
the guests. Further conversation was broken by the arrival of Doctor
Szremski who, having dashed in like a bomb, announced that he was free
for the remainder of the day and could ride with Gronski.

Gronski gazed at him with great interest, for even in Warsaw he heard
of him as an original and prominent personality, in the favorable
meaning of those words.

He was quite a young man, with tawny hair, swarthy like a gypsy, with a
countenance alive with fire, bubbling with health, somewhat loud and
brisk in his manners. In the city he played an uncommon rôle not only
because he had the largest medical practice, but because he belonged to
the most active men in any field. He entered into every project as if
to an attack, and thanks to a sober and an exceptional temper of mind,
whatever he did was done, on the whole, sensibly and well. He was, as
it were, a personification of that phenomenon, frequent in Poland,
where, when amidst a public not only trammelled but negligent and
indolent by nature, a man of energy and with an idea is found, he is
able to accomplish more than any German, Frenchman, or Englishman could
have done. He himself participated in every undertaking and compelled
others to work with such spirit that he was nicknamed "Doctor Spur." He
established secret schools, reading rooms, nurseries for the children,
economical associations, and for everything he gave money, of which he
earned a great deal, though he treated gratis throngs of the penniless.
The local socialists hated him, for by his popularity and influence
with the workingmen he frustrated their efforts. The authorities looked
at him with suspicion and with an evil eye. A man who loved his
country, organized life, spread enlightenment, and donated money for
public uses, must in their eyes be a suspicious character and deserved
at least deportation to a "distant province." Fortunately for him, the
governor's wife imagined that she was suffering from some nervous
ailment and the local captain of the gendarmery was actually troubled
with incipient aneurism of the aorta. So then the governor's wife, who
through her connections had made her husband governor and ruled the
province as she pleased, was of the opinion that if it were not for
this "l'homme qui rit" (as she called the doctor), eternal mourning
would have befallen the governor, and the captain of the gendarmes
feared alike the gubernatorial connections and the aneurism. He had
indeed prepared a report which he regarded as the masterpiece of his
life; and perhaps he became ill because he dared not send it to the
higher authorities. Sometimes in his dreams, he arrested the doctor,
subjected him to an examination, forced him to divulge his accomplices,
and dreamt also that the report might be used in case the governor and
himself were transferred to another province; but it was only a dream.
In reality the report reposed on the bottom of a drawer and the doctor,
who read it (for the captain showed it to him in proof of what he could
have done but did not do), laughed so ingenuously and was so confident
of himself that it occurred to the captain's mind that in reality there
was no joking with the governor's wife or the aneurism.

The doctor laughed because he was by nature unusually jovial. In
certain cases he could think and speak gravely, but at chance meetings
and at casual talks, in which there was no time for weighty discourse,
he preferred to slide over the surface of the subject, scatter jests,
and tell anecdotes, which later were repeated over the city, and which
he himself much enjoyed. His optimism and beaming countenance created
incurable optimism and hope and good thoughts wherever he appeared. He
joked with the sick about their sickness and with jokes dispelled their
fears. His mirth won the people and a well-grounded medical knowledge
and efficacious watchfulness over their health and lives assured him a
certain kind of sway over them. For this reason he did not mind the
"big fish," or in fact anybody. Such was the case with the notary whose
perpetual choler and irascibility were known all over the city, so that
social relations with him were maintained only by those who were
exceptionally interested in music. The doctor, who also cracked jokes
about music, sought his company, purposely to nettle him and afterwards
to tell about his outbreaks, to his own amusement and that of his
hearers.

And now he rushed in with the crash of a squall, became acquainted with
Gronski, asked about the health of Pani Krzycki and about the pretty
ladies staying in Jastrzeb of whom he had already heard; after which,
observing the distressed face of the notary, he exclaimed merrily:

"What a mien! Is it so bad with us in this world, or what? Seventy-five
years! A great thing! Truly it is not the age of strength, but it is
the strength of the age! Please show your pulse!"

Here, without further asking the notary, he grabbed his hand, and
pulling out his watch, began to count:

"One, two--one, two!--one, two! Bad! It is the pulse of one in love.
There are symptoms of a slight heartburn! Such is usually the case.
Such a machine cannot last more than twenty-five years,--at the most
thirty. Thank you!"

Saying this he dropped the old man's hand, whose mien brightened in
expectation, for he thought that twenty-five years added to what he had
already lived would make quite a respectable age.

Pretending, however, to scowl, he answered:

"Always those jokes! The doctor thinks that I care for those wretched
twenty-five years. It is not worth while living now. Of course you know
what is taking place. I have such a mien because I was just talking
with Pan Gronski about it. I also have a heartburn. Well, I ask what
will become of us if all the people should follow the socialists?"

But the doctor began to swing his arms and deny this categorically. Not
all the people, nor a half, nor a hundredth part. And even those who
say that they belong to the socialists say so under terror or through
misapprehension.

"I will give you gentlemen two examples," he said. "I live on a lower
floor and beneath me in the basement there is a locksmith's shop. This
morning I overheard fragments of a conversation between my servant and
the locksmith. The locksmith said, 'I am a socialist; there is nothing
more to be said about it.' 'Why is nothing more to be said?' said my
servant. 'Then you do not believe in God and do not love Poland.' 'And
why should I not believe in God and love Poland?' 'Because the
socialists do not believe in God and do not love Poland.' And the
locksmith replied, 'So? Then may sickness plague them.' That is the way
people belong to the socialists. I do not say all, but a great many.
Ha!"

And he began to laugh.

"The doctor always finds an anecdote," grumbled the notary; "but let us
tell the truth, thousands belong to them."

"Then why do they not elect one deputy in the kingdom?" retorted the
doctor. "Bombs explode loudly, so they can be heard better than any
other work. But how many thousands participated in the national parade?
Do these also belong to them? When in a factory ten men manage to hang
a red flag on the chimney it seems that the whole factory is red, but
that is not true."

"Why do not the others tear it down?"

"Simple reason! Because the police tear it down."

"And also because the socialists have revolvers and the others have
not," added Gronski.

"Undoubtedly," continued the doctor. "I have ten times closer relations
with the workingmen than any manager of a factory. I go into their
dwellings and know their home life. I know them. Socialism is engaged
in a struggle with the bureaucracy; so it seems to many that they
belong to it. But, to the outrages only the worst and most ignorant
element assents. The latter soon change into bandits, and that is not
surprising. Their consciences have been taken away from them and
revolvers are given to them. But the majority--the better and more
honest majority--have under the ribs Polish hearts; and for that reason
this demon, who wants to snatch and carry them away, called himself, as
a bait, Polish. Ah! they only need schools, enlightenment, a knowledge
of Polish history, in order not to allow themselves to be hoodwinked!
Ay, that is what they need! Ay, ay!"

And in his gesticulations, he seized the old man's arm and began to
turn him around.

"Schools, Pan Notary, schools; for the Lord's mercy!"

Blood rushed to the notary's head from indignation.

"Are you crazy!" he yelled. "Why do you jolt me like a pear?"

"True," said the doctor, leaving him alone. "True, but the extent to
which these poor fellows misapprehend things is enough to cause one to
weep and laugh at the same time."

"No, not to laugh," said Gronski.

"Do you know, sir, that at times, yes," exclaimed the doctor; "for
listen to my second instance. Last Sunday, being tired as a dog, I
drove out to the Gorczynski woods, just outside of the city, for a
little airing. In the woods from the opposite direction came more than
a dozen of workingmen who evidently were enjoying a May outing. I saw
one of them carrying a red flag on a newly whittled stick. He probably
brought it in his pocket and fastened it when they got to the woods.
'Good!' I thought to myself, 'Socialists!' And now, when they were
near, the one who carried the flag sang lustily to the tune of
'Bartoszu! Bartoszu!' that which I will repeat to you, and I pledge my
word, I will not add or subtract anything.


            'Kosciuszko, though a cobbler,
            Oj, soundly thrashed the Germans,
            Oj, soundly thrashed the Germans;
            Only, it is a great pity
            For us, that he drowned.
            Only it is a great pity
            For us, that he drowned.'"


"Ah, honest simplicity!" exclaimed Gronski. "I would embrace him and
present him with a history of Poland of recent times."

"Wait, sir," shouted the doctor. "I stopped my socialists of strange
rites. It appeared that almost all were known to me and I said: 'For
the fear of God, citizens, Kosciuszko was not a cobbler, he never
thrashed the Germans, and he did not drown, only Prince Joseph
Poniatowski did. Come to me and I will give you a book about
Kosciuszko, Kilinski,[4] and Prince Joseph Poniatowski, for you have
made of them a bigos.[5] They began to thank me and then I asked: 'What
has become of the eagle on your flag? did he go hunting for mushrooms?'
They became confused. The flag-bearer started to explain why they had
no eagle. 'Why, may it please the doctor,' he said, 'they told us: Do
not take a flag with an eagle, for if they take the flag away from you,
they will insult the eagle and you will suffer shame and disgrace.'
Yes. In this manner they cheat the Polish heart of our own people."

But the notary did not want to part with his black spectacles.

"Well, what of it?" he asked. "Do you claim that if it was not for this
and that there would not be any socialism amongst us?"

"There is socialism over the entire world," rejoined the doctor,
"therefore there must be with us. Only if it was not for this and that,
there would not accompany it highway robbery, savagery, and blindness;
there would not be this modern socialism which has styled itself
Polish, though its pitch can be smelt a mile away."

"Bravo!" cried Gronski. "I said the same thing in other words to
another person on the road from Jastrzeb."

"Ay, Jastrzeb," said the doctor looking at his watch. "Here we are
talking and it is time that we started."

"Perhaps the notary can go with us," said Gronski. "The carriage has
seats for four."

"I can. Only I will take my flute with me. Well!" answered the notary.

"Well!" repeated Szremski, mimicking him. "Aha, the flute! Then there
will be a serenade in Jastrzeb, while here the socialists will rob the
office."

The notary who was going after his flute, suddenly turned around,
sniffed vehemently, and said:

"To-day they sent me a sentence of death."

"Bah! I already have received two of them," merrily answered the
doctor.

A quarter of an hour later they were on the road to Jastrzeb. On this
occasion, Gronski and the doctor drew so closely to each other and
talked so much, that, as Gronski said later, there was not a place in
which to stick a pin.



                                   XI

The distance between the city and Jastrzeb was not more than a mile and
a half. For this reason Gronski, the notary, and Szremski reached their
destination before four o'clock. They were expected for dinner but in
the meantime Ladislaus conducted the ladies over the sawmill; so the
doctor repaired to Pani Krzycki and Gronski ordered the saddle unpacked
and taken to Marynia's room. In a half hour the young company returned
and, greeting the notary, assembled in the salon to await the dinner.
The notary at the sight of Marynia forgot all about death sentences,
about the outrages perpetrated in the city, about socialism and the
whole world and, after kissing her hand, appropriated her exclusively
for himself. Gronski began to initiate Pani Otocka into the reasons of
his trip to the city, while Krzycki conversed with Miss Anney and
became as engrossed with her as if there were no one else in the room.
It was apparent that his exclamation on that morning that "one could
lose his head" was but a confirmation of a symptom which intensified
more and more with each moment. His uncommonly handsome young face
glowed as if from the dawn, for in his bosom he did have the dawn of a
new, happy feeling, which beamed through the eyes, the smile on the
lips, through every motion, and through the words he addressed to Miss
Anney. The spell held him more and more; a secret magnet drew him with
steadily increasing power to this light-haired maid, looking so young,
buxom, and alluring. He did not even attempt to resist that power.
Gronski observed that he evinced his rapture too plainly and that in
the presence of his mother he should have acted with more
circumspection. Miss Anney also felt this, as from time to time blushes
suffused her countenance and she pushed back her chair a little,
besides glancing about at those present as if in fear that the
excessive affability of the young host towards her might attract too
much attention. But the matter, however, was agreeable to her, for in
her eyes a certain joy flamed. Only Dolhanski gazed at her from time to
time; the others were mutually occupied.

The appearance of the doctor ended the conversations. Krzycki, after
introducing him to the ladies, together with them began to inquire
about the health of the patient, but the doctor was evidently
disinclined to speak at any length, for he answered in a few words and
in accordance with his habit spoke so loudly that Dolhanski, in his
surprise, placed the monocle on his eye.

"Nothing serious! Monsummano! Monsummano! or something like that! I
will prescribe everything! Nothing serious! Nothing!"

"But what is Monsummano?" asked Ladislaus.

"That is a warm hole in Italy in which rheumatism is boiled out. A kind
of purgatory after which salvation follows! Besides Italy, a delightful
journey! I will prescribe everything in detail."

Gronski, who often had travelled over Italy, also knew this place and
began to describe it to the curious ladies. In the meantime Ladislaus
talked about his mother's health with the doctor, who, however,
listened to him inattentively, repeating, "I will prescribe
everything," shaking his head, and looking about him, as if with
curiosity, at each of the ladies in rotation. Suddenly he slapped his
hand on his knee with a thwack which could be heard all over the room
and exclaimed:

"What marvellous faces there are in Jastrzeb and what skulls! Ha!"

Dolhanski dropped his monocle, the ladies looked amazed, but Krzycki
began to laugh.

"The doctor has a habit of thinking aloud," he said.

"And bawling out yet more loudly," grumbled the notary.

"How is your flute?" the doctor replied, laughingly.

But at that moment the servant announced that dinner was ready. Hearing
this, Pani Otocka turned with a peculiar smile to her sister and said:

"Marynia, your hair is all disheveled. Look at yourself in a glass."

The young lady raised her hands to her head, but as there were no
mirrors in the salon, she, a little confused, said:

"Beg pardon, I will return immediately."

She hastened to her room, but soon returned still more confused with
blushes and with a radiant countenance.

"A ladies' saddle!" she began to cry, "a most beautiful ladies'
saddle!"

And passing her eyes over those present, she pointed at Gronski:

"Was it you?"

"I confess," said Gronski, spreading out his hands and bowing his head.

She, on her part, had such a desire to kiss his hand that if the doctor
and the notary had not been present, she certainly would have done so.
In the meanwhile she began to thank him with effusive and perfectly
childish glee.

"I see, Panna Marynia, that you are fond of horseback riding," said
Szremski.

"I am fond of everything."

"There you have it," cried the amused doctor.

"Only secure a gentle horse; otherwise it will not be hard to meet with
accidents," observed the notary.

It soon became apparent that such a one could be procured, for on the
economical Jastrzeb estate horses were the only item of which a strict
account was not kept. Krzycki indeed maintained that they could be bred
profitably, but he did not breed them for gain but from that
traditional love of them, the immoderateness of which the reverend
Skarga,[6] a few centuries before, censured in his ancestors in the
eloquent words: "Dearer to you is the offspring of a mare than the Son
of God!" Horses therefore were not wanting in Jastrzeb and the
conversation about them and horsemanship continued, to the great
dissatisfaction of the notary, throughout the whole dinner. Those
present learned that Marynia was not entirely a novice, for at Zalesin,
at her sister's, she rode in summer time almost daily in the company of
the old manager on a clumsy, lanky pony, named Pierog. Her sister would
not permit her to ride on any other horse and "what enjoyment could
there be riding on Pierog?" She stated that this Pierog had a nasty
habit of returning home, not when she wanted to, but when he desired
to, and no urging nor threats could swerve him from his purpose when
once formed. She also sincerely envied Miss Anney who rode so well and
had ridden all the horses in Zalesin, even those unaccustomed to the
saddle. But in England all the ladies ride on horseback, while with us
somebody is worrying about somebody else. She hoped, however, that in
Jastrzeb with so many skilled riders, "Zosia" will not have any fears
about her; and that immediately after dinner they will go on an
equestrian excursion and that she will be allowed to join the party,
without, thank God, Pierog.

Ladislaus, in whom expectations of distant horseback jaunts in Miss
Anney's company had excited fond hopes, and whom, as well as the
others, the story about Pierog had put into good humor, turned to
Marynia and said:

"I will give you a horse with iron legs, who is called 'Swimmer'
because he can swim excellently. As for an excursion, the day is long
and we could arrange one, if it were not that it is beginning to get
cloudy."

"It will surely clear up," answered Marynia, "and I will dress myself
right after dinner."

In fact, after dinner the guests were barely able to finish their black
coffee before she appeared on the veranda, dressed in a black,
tight-fitting riding-habit. In it she was simply charming, but so
slender and tall that Gronski, gazing at her with his usual admiration,
was the first to begin jesting:

"A real little flute," he said. "The wind will carry off such a
woodcock, especially since it is commencing to blow."

And a strong blast of the western, warm wind really began to bend the
tree-tops and drive here and there over the heavens clouds which on the
azure background assumed large, ruddy, and globular forms.

Ladislaus, however, gave orders to saddle the horses and soon
thereafter hastened to the stables to supervise the work. Miss Anney
went upstairs to change her clothes; Gronski and Dolhanski followed her
example. On the veranda remained only Pani Zosia, the doctor, the
notary, and, attired as an equestrienne, Marynia, who cast uneasy
glances alternately at the stables and at the sky, which was becoming
more and more cloudy. After a time the first drops of rain began to
fall and immediately thereafter a more important hindrance to their
excursion occurred, for unexpectedly neighbors from Gorek, Pani Wlocek
and daughter, the same who attended the funeral of Zarnowski, arrived
in a carriage. In view of this, the horseback jaunt had to be
abandoned.

The Wlocek ladies came to ascertain the condition of Pani Krzycki's
health and at the same time to beg Ladislaus for advice and succor, for
in Gorek an agricultural strike had suddenly broke out among the manor
and farmhouse laborers. The old coachman could hardly be induced to
drive them to Jastrzeb for he was threatened with a beating. Both
ladies were much frightened, much powdered, and more pathetic than
ever. After the first greetings, mutual introductions, and a short talk
about Pani Krzycki's rheumatism, the mother, at the after-dinner tea,
addressed Ladislaus in doleful terms, adjuring him to hasten, like a
knight of old, to the defence of oppressed innocence. She said that she
was not concerned about herself, as after the losses she had survived
and the suffering she had undergone, "the silent grave" in the Rzeslewo
cemetery was the most appropriate refuge for her; but an orphan
remained who still had some claims upon life. Let him extend some
friendly protection and shield from blows and attacks this lone orphan
for whom she herself was ready to sacrifice her life. To this the
orphan replied that she too was not concerned about herself but about
the peace of Mamma;--and in this manner the conversation changed almost
exclusively in to a dialogue between these ladies in which the words,
"Allow me, child," "Permit me, Mamma," were repeated every minute and
in which the immoderate willingness of both parties to be immolated
became in the end almost tart. Ladislaus, knowing these ladies of old,
listened gravely; Pani Zosia looked at the bottom of her cup, not
daring to glance at Marynia, who contracted the corners of her mouth;
the notary sniffed and chewed; and the doctor ejaculated his "Ha!" with
such resonance that the flies whisked off the net mantle which covered
the butter and pastry.

But, in the meanwhile, out-of-doors the storm and thunder began to rage
and interrupted the sacrificial dialogue between mother and daughter.
The rooms darkened; on the windows for a time the patter of the shower
was heard; and the lightning illuminated the cloudy firmament. But this
lasted a brief while; after which Ladislaus began to reply and promise
aid to the ladies, always with becoming gravity but at the same time
with a peculiar kind of expression on his face which portended that the
young wag had a surprise concealed in his bosom. He announced,
therefore, that he was ready to mount a horse and invest Gorek with his
care; afterwards he quieted the ladies with the assurances that the
manifestations which had so alarmed them were transient; that in
Rzeslewo, it was temporarily the same, but that undoubtedly within a
short time means of foiling that evil would be found. In conclusion he
turned to Pani Wlocek and, pointing at Dolhanski, unexpectedly said:

"I do not know whether my protection will be effective for I must watch
at the same time over Rzeslewo and over Jastrzeb, in which at present
we have such agreeable guests. But here is Pan Dolhanski, a man well
known for his courage, energy, and sagacity, who has given me the best
advice about Rzeslewo. If he wished to aid you or if he agreed to take
into his hands the affairs of Gorek and Kwasnoborz, I am certain that
he would establish order there in the course of a few days, and under
his wings, ladies, no dangers could befall you."

All eyes, and particularly the eyes of the mother and daughter, were
now directed at Dolhanski. But if Ladislaus, who wanted to revenge
himself on him for his "officiousness," calculated that he would get
him into an unexpected scrape, he was mistaken, for Dolhanski coolly
bowed to the ladies from Gorek and replied, drawling each word as
usual:

"With the greatest pleasure, but we must wait until the rain stops."

"Then, sir, you agree to be our knight?" cried Pani Wlocek, extending
her hands towards him and at the same time gazing at him with a
suddenly awakened curiosity and surprise.

"With the greatest pleasure," repeated Dolhanski; "the strike will be
over to-morrow."

His complete self-assurance impressed everybody, particularly the
ladies from Gorek. At the same time, the cold tone in which he spoke
affected Pani Wlocek so much that for a while she lost her usual
pathetic volubility and after an interval she replied:

"In the name of an orphan, I thank you."

But the orphan apparently preferred to thank him herself, for she
stretched out both hands towards Dolhanski and after a brief silence,
which might be explained by her emotions, spoke in a voice resembling
the rustle of leaves:

"I am concerned about mamma."

"So am I," Dolhanski assured her.

But the mother and daughter now turned to each other:

"Allow me, child; here I am nothing."

"Permit me, Mamma; Mamma is everything."

"But I beg pardon, child--"

"Pardon me, Mamma,--"

And the strife about the burnt offerings began anew. It did not,
however, last long, as, firstly, the doctor began to make so much noise
that they could be heard with difficulty and then, Pani Krzycki, whom
the young physician permitted to rise and move to an armchair, sent a
message asking the ladies to visit her. After their departure the
doctor went to the office to write out specifically where and how the
cure should be conducted; the notary became occupied with his flute in
the vestibule. Gronski, Dolhanski, and Ladislaus for a while remained
alone.

Then Dolhanski addressed Ladislaus:

"What are these Gorek and Kwasnoborz?"

"About fifteen hundred acres, and there is also Zabianka."

"So I have heard. And the soil?"

"Almost the same as at Rzeslewo. In Zabianka it is said to be better."

"So I have heard. The state of the fortune?"

"Bad and good. Bad, because these ladies will not invest in anything.
Good, because they have no debts and every penny which flows from the
husbandry, after it gets into the stockings, never beholds daylight
again."

"That is what I have been waiting for," said Dolhanski.

"They are as stingy as they are pathetic, and who knows whether they
are not stingier?"

"Let them hoard."

And Gronski began to laugh and quoted:

"Sic vos non vobis nidificatis aves--sic vos non vobis mellificates
apes--"

"Yes," said Dolhanski.

After which suddenly to Gronski:

"To-morrow I will propose for the hand of Cousin Otocka."

"To-day you are full of surprises," replied Gronski.

"Wait! And I will be given the mitten."

"Without any doubt."

"But I want to have a clear conscience. After which I will drive over
to Gorek."

"That is already known. And you will quell the agitated waves of a
strike."

"In the course of a day. As you see me here."

After which he pointed at Ladislaus.

"That simplex servus Dei became unwittingly an instrument in the hands
of Providence. The Lord often avails Himself of pigmies. For this, when
you become bankrupt in Jastrzeb, apply to me at Gorek."

"Provided that before that time you are not reduced to the same level,"
responded Ladislaus, laughing. "You are an excellent leveller."

"We live in an age of universal levelling. But what is Panna Wlocek's
Christian name?"

"Kajetana."

"Plait-il?"

"Kajetana," repeated Krzycki. "Her father's christian name was Kajetan
and she was named in memory of him."

"Tell me then why that well-stocked Kajetana preserved herself in her
virgin state until the age of thirty or more?"

"Thirty-five, to be accurate. That is what my mother said not long ago.
She remembers the day of her birth. As to why she is unmarried the
reason is plain. Parties were not wanting but those ladies looked too
high. In the neighborhood, we only have the common nobility; and among
the Krzyckis there was not a bachelor of suitable age. You, in this
respect, would correspond to their fantasy--"

"That is well!" answered Dolhanski, "only that name! Kajetana!
Kajetana! That seems to be a kind of carriage or boat! Do I know?"

Gronski and Ladislaus regarded Dolhanski's announcement as a joke, as
one of the sallies of wit which often crossed his mind. He, however,
kept his word, for on the following day he proposed to Pani Otocka with
due gravity and, after receiving an equally grave refusal, rode off to
Gorek and settled there for a time. The young ladies, and even Pani
Krzycki, were greatly amused and interested in all this, especially
when the news reached them that the agrarian strike in Gorek ended the
same day on which Dolhanski appeared. And it also ended a few days
later in Rzeslewo, partly from the force of circumstances, from the
conviction innate in the peasant soul that the "holy land" is not to be
trifled with, and partly owing to the news which spread over the
village that somebody from some kind of a committee was to come and
decide the whole matter. Such was the case with the manor servants. The
peasants and husbandmen did not want to agree to any school and would
not relinquish the possession of the manor lands, but awaited this
somebody in equal fear and hope, sacredly believing that not the will
nor the law but some unknown power would decide everything. In the
villages, in the meantime, more peaceful days ensued, and though the
daily papers brought intelligence of increased commotion in the cities,
Ladislaus believed that the local storm had passed away. This belief
was shared by the guests. As the doctor had announced that Pani
Krzycki's departure depended upon the first signs of alleviation of her
suffering, Ladislaus determined to take the best advantage he could of
the brief time the young ladies were to remain in Jastrzeb. The
horseback excursions began and unless prevented by rain took place
every morning. They were particularly agreeable to Ladislaus because
Gronski, riding leisurely, kept company with his "adoration," while he
could pass hours alone with Miss Anney. Both were expert riders; they
usually dashed ahead and most frequently disappeared from view in the
distance. At times, they set off at full gallop, and intoxicated
themselves with the mad speed, the air, the sun, and each other. At
other times they rode abreast, slowly, stirrup to stirrup, and then the
silence into which they fell, anxious, full of inexpressible delight,
linked them with ties yet stronger than those with which their
conversation bound them. With a glance Krzycki scanned the figure of
the golden-haired maiden, resembling on horseback the divine Grecian
forms or those on Etruscan vases, and feasted his eyes. He listened to
her voice and it seemed to him that it was music still nearer
perfection than that which poured forth from Marynia's violin. At times
when he assisted her to mount her horse, he had to exert the full
strength of his will to refrain from pressing her foot to his lips and
forehead. And often he thought that if he ever dared to do so, he would
desire to remain in that position as long as possible. To this feminine
being all his thoughts were impelled, and through the might and flight
of his feeling, his desires ceased to be like crawling serpents and
became like winged birds, capable of soaring unto heaven. His love each
day became more like a whirlpool which drags to itself and engulfs
everything. It seemed to Ladislaus that the air, the sun, the fields,
the forests, the meadows, the scent of the trees and flowers, the song
of birds and the evening playing of Marynia,--all these were only some
of the elements of that love which belonged to Miss Anney and entered
into her being and, without her, would be insignificant and without
essence. Moreover, the whirlpool seized him and plunged him more and
more deeply with a power to which each day he offered less resistance,
for the simple reason that the abyss appeared to him to be the abyss of
happiness. Ladislaus now did not surrender her to any Englishman "with
protruding jaw" or any Scot "with bare knees," and would not have given
her up for the whole of England and Scotland. He ceased trying to
persuade himself that this was a type of woman, which he might have
loved and, instead, he confessed to himself sincerely that she was a
woman whom he did love. Love generated in him a bright and determined
will; so now he thought, with the strict logic of feeling, that he
craved to win this, to him, most precious and most desired being, to
take and retain her for his whole life. There was only one road leading
to that: therefore he determined to enter upon it with that heedless
willingness which a man, who desires to be happy, evinces. Sometimes
also a confession quivered upon his lips. He restrained it however and
deferred it from day to day, at first owing to a timidity which every
enamoured heart feels, and again through calculation. For if Love is
blind, it certainly is not so to whatever may bring it benefits. It can
even weigh benefits and obstacles upon such delicate scales that in
this regard it is perhaps the most cautious, the most prescient, and
the shrewdest of human feelings. In fact Ladislaus observed that his
mother and Miss Anney were bound by a sympathy which, on the part of
youth, health, and strength was productive of a certain friendly care,
and on the part of weakness and old age, of gratitude. All three ladies
were solicitous about his mother, but neither the solicitude of Pani
Otocka, nor that of Marynia, was so vigilant or so efficacious as the
watchfulness of Miss Anney. Pani Krzycki candidly said that even
Ladislaus could not move from room to room with such dexterity the
armchair to which temporary disability had riveted her; that he could
not anticipate and humor her wants as could this light-haired "good
English diviner."

To Krzycki, it frequently occurred that certainly this "good diviner"
did all that through kindness and sincere friendship, but also because
she wanted to conciliate his mother. And his heart trembled with joy at
the thought that the moment would arrive when the wishes of his mother
would coincide with that for which he, himself, most strongly yearned.
He feared that a premature avowal might sever the ties which were being
formed and for that reason he checked the word, which often burned his
lips like a flame.

After all, there was an avowal in their silence and glances. Ladislaus
did not dare and, until that time, did not wish to tell her plainly
that he loved her; he wanted, however, with each word to clear the path
and approach that eagerly desired moment. In the meantime it happened
that, either from lack of breath he could not speak at all, or else he
said something entirely different from what he intended to say. Once
when they rode amidst luxuriant winter corn and when a light breeze
bent towards them the rye stalks, together with the red poppy and the
gray fescue-grass, he decided to tell her that all Jastrzeb bowed at
her feet; and he said, with a great beating of his heart, in a hollow
voice not his own, "that in places the grain is lying down." After
which, in his soul, he called himself an idiot and fretted at the
supposition that a similar opinion of him must have crossed her mind.
It seemed to him that she, beyond comparison, exercised a better
self-control and that she could always say just what she wished to say.
Consequently, even at times when partly through coquetry and partly
because of her habit of repeating his expressions like an echo, she
answered, for instance, "that in places the grain is lying down," he
discerned in her words an unheard-of significance and later pondered
over them for hours.

But he also had, particularly in the morning, moments of greater
tranquillity of mind and greater peace, in which his words were not
like a disarrayed rank of soldiers, each one marching in a different
direction. At times, the themes for these quieter conversations were
furnished by some external objects, but oftener by anxiety occasioned
by the impending separation. Krzycki at such times hid behind his
mother and in her name expressed that which he did not dare to say in
his own.

"I can imagine," he said the day following the second visit of the
doctor, "how Mother will long for you."

And the maiden, to whom it evidently occurred that not only the mother
but the son would long for her, looked at him a little teasingly, with
the hazy light of her strange eyes, and replied:

"I am such a bird of flight that your mother will soon become
disaccustomed to me."

"Oh, I warrant you that she will not," exclaimed Ladislaus.

After which, he added:

"I know Mother; she has fallen in love with you immensely."

"Why, hardly ten days have elapsed since we arrived. Is it possible to
fall in love so soon?"

To this Ladislaus replied with deep conviction:

"It is! I give you my word, it is!"

There was something so naïve in the manner and tone of the reply that
Miss Anney could not refrain from laughing. But he observed this and
began to speak rapidly as if he wished to explain and justify himself:

"For do we know whence love comes? Often at the first glance of the eye
upon a human face we have such an impression as if we found some one
whom we were seeking. There are certain unalterable forces which
mutually attract people, although before that time they may have never
met and though they had lived far away from each other."

"And must such persons always meet each other?"

"No," he answered, "I think not always. But then perhaps they are
continually yearning, not knowing for what, and feel an eternal vacuity
in life."

And here, in spite of his will, the sincere poetry of youth and
sentiment spoke through his lips:

"You called yourself a bird of flight," he said. "Beloved also is that
bird, only not as a bird which flies away but rather as a bird which
flies hitherward. For it flies unexpectedly from somewhere in the
distance--from beyond the mountains, from beyond the sea, and nests in
the heart, and begins to sing such a song that one hearing it would
fain close his eyes and never waken again."

And thus he spoke until he grew pale from emotion. For a time he was
agitated, like a whirlwind, by the desire to dismount from his horse
and embrace the feet of the maiden with his arms and cry: "Thou art
that beloved one: therefore do not fly away, my dear bird!" But
simultaneously he was seized by a prodigious fear of that night which
would encompass him if his entreaty should prove futile.

So he merely uncovered his head, as if he wanted to display his heated
forehead. A long silence, which fell between them, was only interrupted
by the snorting of the horses, which now proceeded in an ambling pace,
emitting under the bridles a white foam.

After which Miss Anney spoke in a subdued voice which sounded a little
like a warning:

"I hear Pan Gronski approaching with Marynia."

In fact the other couple soon approached, happy and animated. Marynia,
a few paces away, exclaimed:

"Pan Gronski was telling me such beautiful things about Rome. I am
sorry that you did not hear them."

"More about the neighborhood of Rome, than Rome itself," said Gronski.

"Yes. I was in Tivoli. I was in Castel Gandolfo, in Nemi. Wonders! I
will tease Zosia until in truth we will go there and Pan Gronski with
us."

"Will you take me along?" asked Miss Anney.

"Of course! We will all go in the autumn or next spring. Did you folks
also talk about a trip?"

For a time there was no response.

"No," Miss Anney finally replied. "We were talking about birds of
flight."

"Why, now it is spring and birds do not fly away."

"Nevertheless, you ladies are making preparations for flying away,"
answered Ladislaus with a sigh.

"True," rejoined Marynia; "but that is because Aunt is going away; and
she"--here she pointed at Miss Anney with her riding whip--"has urged
us all three to go where the doctor is sending Aunt."

After which she said to Ladislaus:

"You would not believe, sir, how honest she is and how she loves Aunt."

"I, not believe? I?" cried Ladislaus with ardor.

But Miss Anney, who a short time before had asked him whether one could
fall in love so soon, became greatly confused and, dropping the reins,
began with both hands to set something right on her hat, wishing to
cover with them her countenance which glowed like the dawn.

Ladislaus had heaven in his heart, and Marynia, for some time, gazed
with her pellucid eyes, now at him and then at Miss Anney, for it was
no secret to her that Krzycki was in love up to his ears, and this
aroused her curiosity and amused her indescribably.



                                  XII

"See what I received to-day," said Ladislaus, handing Gronski a letter
which came with others in the morning mail.

Gronski glanced at it and knit his brow.

"Ah!" he said, "a death sentence."

"Yes."

"With the seal of the P. P. S. They are distributing them quite
prodigally."

"Yes, just like the opposite party."

"Both are alike. The notary also has one and the doctor several. What
do you think of it?"

"Je m'en fiche! But the situation amuses me. I do not know whether you
have heard that the Provincial guards have unearthed a secret school in
Jastrzeb, which I founded a year ago because my conscience commanded me
to. It is a case which I greased but have not yet greased sufficiently.
As a result, I now have suspended over me the fists of the authorities
and the fists of the socialists. Enjoyable, is it not?"

"It has often occurred to me that elsewhere people could not live under
such conditions, and we not only live but laugh quite merrily."

"For such is our sinewy Lechite nature."

"Perhaps that is so. You must, nevertheless, be on your guard and it
will be necessary to send the ladies away."

"It will be necessary, it will be necessary," repeated Ladislaus. "And
abroad too, for it is unsafe in Warsaw. But please do not say anything
about this foolish sentence to Mother or any one else."

"Certainly."

"Mother positively insists upon my accompanying her, and I do not try
to shun that--oh, no, not in the least! But summer is approaching and
after that there will be the harvest. The overseer is an honest man but
before my departure I must give him some specific instructions how and
what he is to do. After they all leave, I would like to stay yet for a
week or ten days. Mother will not be alone and without care, as in the
first place the younger members of the family will be with her, and
again you heard Cousin Marynia say that the ladies will go wherever
Mother would be. Through all my life I will ever be grateful to Miss
Anney for that proposal; for to Mother nothing could be better or more
agreeable."

"And for her son also, it seems to me," said Gronski, laughing.

Ladislaus remained silent for a time; after which he began to press the
palms of his hands on his temples and replied:

"Yes. For why should I deny that which I confessed to myself and which
everybody sees but Mother, who has not observed it because she seldom
saw us together. But she also has fallen in love with Miss Anney. Who
would not love her? Such a dear, golden creature. I have not, as yet,
said anything to Mother because she has her mind set upon Pani Otocka
and it will be unpleasant for her to give up the thought. I fear she
might be offended. After all, I only know what is taking place within
me, and nothing more. I dare not even say that I have any reasons for
my illusion. I fear that it may all at once burst like a soap-bubble.
Ah! How unhappy I would be. Already I cannot see anything in this world
beyond her. Candidly speaking, I do not know what to do with myself,
Jastrzeb, and life."

And grasping Gronski's hand, he continued:

"If you would only speak with Pani Otocka and ascertain from her
whether I may have hope; for they are friends and certainly do not keep
any secrets from each other. If you would only do this for me; and in
due time speak with Mother! But with Pani Otocka as soon as possible!
Will you do it?"

"I have spoken with Pani Otocka about that," replied Gronski, "but
what, do you suppose, she answered? That she could not tell me anything
as Miss Anney confided to her a certain personal secret which she was
not at liberty to divulge. I admit that this surprised me. In reality,
the secret cannot be anything derogatory to Miss Anney, as otherwise
Pani Otocka would not be on such cordial and intimate terms with her.
They are like sisters, and in Warsaw they lived together, almost door
to door. After all, Pani Otocka, it seemed to me, was sincerely in your
favor and, at times, I received the impression that she was concerned
in having matters come to the pass which they have. As for Marynia, she
wriggles her little ears and with that it ends. In any case, be assured
that you have not enemies in those ladies and, if you want to know my
personal views, much less in Miss Anney."

"Would to God! Would to God!" answered Ladislaus. "You have given me a
little encouragement and I breathe more easily."

"But you, I see, have fallen unto your ears," observed Gronski.

"I give you my word that I prefer one of her fingers or the ray of her
hair to all the women in the world. I never had a conception that one
could thus surrender himself. At times I do not know what is happening
to me or what will occur, for only think: I have Jastrzeb, the estate,
the Rzeslewo affairs, Mother's departure, and here I cannot think of
anything but her--but her--and to nothing else can I apply my mind. I
regret every moment in which I do not gaze upon her. To-day, for
instance, I received a summons from the Directory to come in reference
to the will and Rzeslewo, and I postpone the matter until tomorrow. I
cannot--plainly--I cannot! I would go at night were it not that the
Directory is closed for the night."

"Remember, however, the death sentence."

"May the devil take them with their sentence, or let them finally shoot
me in the head. I would still be thinking of her, especially after what
you have told me. But how do you know that Pani Otocka is in my favor?
Those are honest, golden hearts, both of those cousins! How did you say
it? That they are not my enemies? Thank God, even for that! For, why
should they hate me? But please speak with Pani Otocka again. I am not
concerned about her betraying any secret but only that, knowing Miss
Anney, she should say something one way or the other--you know what I
want--certainty--even though a morsel--"

"Certainly," said Gronski, laughing, "I will seek an opportunity
to-day."

"Thank you! Thank you!"

In fact an opportunity was easily found, as Pani Otocka also had some
news which she desired to impart to Gronski, and with this object she
sent her maid to him with an invitation to meet her on the yoked elm
walk, near the pond. When they met there she gave him, just as
Ladislaus had done a while before, a letter which arrived in the same
morning's mail and said:

"Please read it and advise me what to do with it."

It was a letter from Laskowicz to Marynia and its tenor was as follows:

"A great idea is like a gigantic bird: her wings cast a shadow over the
earth, while she hovers in the sun.

"Whoever does not fly upwards with her is surrounded by darkness.

"And darkness is death.

"In that darkness, I behold Thee, like an alabaster statuette. This
night the sounds of thy music reach me.

"And lo, in my lonely chamber I think of Thee and grieve for Thee.

"For Thou couldst be a beam-feather in the wings of this gigantic bird
idea and inhale the pure air of the dizzy heights and play in glory to
the legions of the living; and Thou breathest the air of tombs and
playest to a life which is moribund and to souls that wither; and not
to people but to ghosts.

"I grieve for Thee, my silvery one.

"And my thoughts fly to Thee like eagles.

"For heretofore there was imbedded in my strength a part of human
happiness but there was not in it my own happiness.

"Now Thou suddenly glidest before my eyes like a light, and through my
ears like music, and hast filled my bosom with a yearning for things I
had not known before, and hast filled me with Thine own indispensable
quintessence and a consciousness of my happiness.

"Therefore I loved Thee the same night when I beheld Thee and heard
Thee for the first time.

"Henceforth, though Thou are not near me, I am with Thee and will
follow wherever Thou wilt be.

"For Thou art necessary to my existence and I am to Thee, in order to
resuscitate Thee.

"In order to snatch Thee from destruction; from amidst those who are
about to die.

"In order to surrender Thee to the great idea, and the exalted, and the
light, and the living hosts who suffer from a dearth of bread and
music.

"Thee and Thy music.

"May extermination not fail upon you both.

"Oh, beloved one.


"A certain night I summoned Thee but Thou didst not hear me and didst
not come. Now I extend my hands towards Thee and say unto Thee: Come
and slumber in my heart.

"And when the time of awakening comes, I will wake Thee for a brief
moment of pleasure, which love gives for the toil without an end and
which the idea demands.

"For toil and perchance for martyrdom.

"But in that martyrdom for the dawn of a new life, there is greater
happiness than in the dusk, mephitic air, ashes and mould of graves.

"Therefore come even for martyrdom.

"And until our existence floats into the sea of nothingness, abide with
me.

"Oh, beloved one."


Gronski's countenance reflected perturbation. For a time he and Pani
Otocka walked in silence.

"What shall I do with this, and what does it mean?"

"This is a disagreeable and vexatious matter, and the letter means that
Laskowicz, who never in his life saw a being like Marynia, has fallen
in love with her from the first acquaintance, as he himself says. I
observed that after a few days and if I did not say anything to you
about it, it was because Laskowicz was soon to leave. But he has fallen
in love with his head and not his heart, for otherwise, instead of
high-flown expressions, borrowed, as it were, from some school of
literature, he would have found simpler and more sincere words. His
exaltation may be sincere, it may waste and destroy him like a fever;
it may last for whole years, but its chief source is the head and not
the heart."

But Pani Otocka, who at the moment was not in the least interested in
an analysis of Laskowicz's feelings, interrupted a further
disquisition:

"But what are we to do, in view of this? How are we to act? It is about
Marynia that I am concerned."

"You are right," answered Gronski. "Pardon my untimely reflections, but
it is always better to know with whom and with what one has to do. My
opinion is that it would be best not to do anything, just as if this
letter had not arrived. You may return it to Laskowicz, but that would
be exceedingly contemptuous: this letter deserves, perhaps, to be
thrown into a fireplace, but in my opinion it does not merit contempt.
It is, if you will permit me to thus express myself, nervous and
insolent, but it preserves a certain measure in its expressions and
there is nothing brutal in it. Besides it expresses rather the thoughts
which came to Laskowicz's mind than any actual hopes, and to that
extent it might be explained to Marynia that this is not a letter to
her but a poem for her, not quite felicitously conceived. And Marynia?
What impression did it make upon her and what does she say?"

"Marynia," answered Pani Otocka with a certain comic uneasiness, "is a
little offended, a little worried and frightened, but in the innermost
recesses of her heart, she is a little proud that somebody should have
written such a letter to her."

"Oh, I was certain of that," exclaimed Gronski, laughing involuntarily.

After a while he began to speak seriously.

"No doubt other letters will come and as these maybe more glaring, we
will have to persuade the little one that she should not read them. If
you will permit, I will undertake that, after which, you ladies ought
to go to Warsaw, and, in a short time, journey abroad and the matter
will end of itself."

"To tell the truth," responded Pani Otocka, "I want to leave Jastrzeb
as soon as possible. We are not necessary for Aunt but are rather a
hindrance in the preparations for her departure, and I confess that I
am possessed by fear. Please read that letter again carefully. Why,
there are threats there against all the residents of Jastrzeb and even
against Marynia if she stays with us."

Gronski thought of Ladislaus receiving at the same time a death
sentence, and in the first moments it occurred to him that it might
have some connection with Laskowicz's letter. But after a while he
recollected that similar sentences were sent to the doctor and even the
aged notary: therefore to pacify Pani Otocka, he said:

"These are times of continual menaces and everybody receives them, but
I do not think that Laskowicz intended to warn Marynia of any imminent
attack threatening us in Jastrzeb. He undoubtedly wished to say that
the waves of socialism will sweep away all who do not float with it,
and therefore us. But as the peace of yourself and Marynia is involved,
as to leaving, why of course! Why should we not leave even to-morrow?"

"I already thought of that, but Aunt urged us to wait for her and
Aninka promised her that."

"Then let her remain, and you ladies leave. Ah, so Miss Anney delays
the departure? Good news for Laudie! May I tell him that? A while ago,
he begged me to learn something from you,--for the poor fellow barely
lives. He is the most love-sick swain within the boundaries of the
Commonwealth."

"So it has gone as far as that?"

"It has! Evidently there is something inflammatory in the atmosphere of
Jastrzeb. Here everybody falls in love, either openly or in secret."

Hearing this, Pani Otocka unexpectedly blushed like a fifteen-year-old
girl, and though this happened often and upon the most trivial
provocation, Gronski being unable to surmise what had passed through
her mind, looked at her with a certain wonder.

"How then?" he said. "There are Laudie, Laskowicz, and Dolhanski. But
Dolhanski has the most energy, for, after his latest repulse, he
immediately decamps upon a new expedition, while Laudie fears."

"What?" asked Pani Otocka, raising her eyes.

"First, a repulse from which he thinks he could not recover, and,
again, a discussion with his mother which awaits him."

"Perhaps something else awaits Cousin Laudie, but he need not fear
about Aninka."

"He will die from joy when I tell him that, but in my way, I, who am
known to you as a meddler, could die from curiosity."

"What of it, when I have no right to speak about it?"

"Not even when we leave Jastrzeb?"

"Not even then. After all, everything will soon clear up."

"In such case, I have procured enough for the nonce, and in the
meanwhile I will return to Laudie to tell him the good news and apprise
him of our departure. I will not mention anything about Laskowicz's
letter, for tomorrow he will set off for the city and, if they met, a
nasty encounter might result."



                                  XIII

Ladislaus, however, did not go to the city on the day following his
conversation with Gronski, for he was notified that the meeting of the
executors of Zarnowski's will was postponed for one week. The reason
for this was that in two days a convention of the citizens of the
vicinity was to commence in reference to providing insurance for the
superannuated rural officials and manor-servants, and also in regard to
the more burning question of introducing the Polish language into the
communes,--a question in which the communal justices as well as the
villagers were interested. Ladislaus determined, by all means, to
participate in these debates, but as they were to take place in the
forenoons, he formulated a plan of going to them every morning and
returning home in the afternoon. In view of the proximity of Jastrzeb
to the city, this plan was quite feasible.

However, he was disappointed in the hope that he could devote those two
days exclusively to the guests, or rather to the most precious of
guests in Jastrzeb, as the disorders in Rzeslewo broke out with renewed
virulence and they required almost all his time. The strike of the
manor help, indeed, ceased so completely that the intervention, which
Dolhanski advised, became superfluous and it was necessary to restrain
it. But in the meantime individual tenants and some of the husbandmen
began to commit depredations in the forest. Ladislaus, at the head of
the local and Jastrzeb foresters, sought these disorderly persons, who,
indeed, hid at the sight of him: nevertheless they assumed a very
threatening attitude towards the servants, promising to all swift
vengeance. The foresters received bulky letters, assuring them "that
they would get a bullet in the head, and the heir also would." But the
heir, who was not wanting in youthful energy and was not averse to
adventure, did not at all neglect the defence of the Rzeslewo forests,
and, what was more, he personally rushed over to Rzeslewo and summoning
the malefactors, declared that he would invoke courts and punishment.

And afterwards, he repaired at the designated time to the conference.
It was to be the last day of the sojourn in Jastrzeb of Pani Otocka,
Marynia, and Gronski, who decided to leave on the following day for
Warsaw. Miss Anney, at Pani Krzycki's solicitation, agreed to remain
for a few days, and leave with her. Ladislaus announced that he would
return as soon as possible in order to spend the evening with all of
them and to listen for the last time to Marynia's bewitching violin. He
also said that he would induce the notary and the doctor to come with
him.

As a result, they waited dinner for them. In the meantime, about four
o'clock, Gronski sat in his room writing a letter to Dolhanski,
Marynia, upstairs, played her daily exercises, Pani Otocka sat with the
patient, and Miss Anney went out on the balcony, ostensibly to
photograph the old and lofty trees which enclosed the courtyard on two
sides, but in reality to see whether he, whom they expected at home,
was returning. So instead of photographing, she began to lose her sight
and soul in the shady depths of the old linden roadway. Hope that soon
she would behold in that depth a cloud of dust, horses, and carriages,
and that afterwards the lively form of a youth would leap out, filled
her with a quiet joy. Lo, after a while she would see before her that
countenance, stately, sympathetic, and sincere; those eyes, whose every
glance spoke to her a hundred times more than the lips, and would hear
that voice which penetrated to her heart and thrilled it like music. At
this thought, Miss Anney was encompassed with such sweet, calm feeling,
as if she were a child and as if some loved hand were lightly rocking
her to sleep; as if she were resting in a boat, which the gentle waves
bore somewhere into a distance, unknown, but radiant. To permit herself
to be rocked, to allow herself to be borne, to confide in the waves, to
not think, for the time being, of where the boat will stop,--this was
all that the heart of the maiden, at such moments, desired. But at
other moments, when she propounded to herself the question, "What will
happen further?" she looked with faith into the future. Sometimes when
sleep refused to close her eyes, there flitted through her mind, like
dark butterflies, uncertainties and fears, but even then she said to
herself that the heaven may become cloudy in the future, but at present
she was enjoying charming, fair weather, and every day was like a
flower, and she plucked those flowers, one after another and laid them
upon her bosom. So she thought that for this it was worth while to live
and even to die.

And at that moment, though her soul was dissolving in the sun, in the
serene atmosphere, in the rustle of leaves and in the great pastoral
calm, flooded with light, she had no desire to die, for it seemed to
her that, with the air, she inhaled joyful appeasement. Everything
about her began to lose the mark of reality and change into an azure
vision of happiness, half dreamy, half wakeful. From this revery she
was aroused by the sight, awaiting which she had sat for almost an hour
on the balcony. Lo, at the uttermost end of the roadway her eagerly
desired cloud of dust appeared and it approached with unusual rapidity.
Miss Anney recollected herself. In the first moments she wanted to
retire. "It is necessary, it is necessary," she said to herself,
"otherwise he will be apt to think that I was waiting for him." And she
would have been sincerely indignant had any one suggested to her that
such was the case. But suddenly her knees became so weak that she sat
again, clutching the camera in order that it might appear that when
found on the balcony she was taking photographs. In the meantime the
cloud drew nearer the gates of entry, continuing with the same speed.
Soon in harmony with the picture which the maiden had previously
formed, the gray heads of the fore horses emerged from the dust. Like
lightning, an impression of joy shook Miss Anney. "How he is flying and
how anxious he is!" But immediately afterwards, as she began to wonder
at the amazing speed, she thought that the horses were frightened.
They were already so close to the gates that she could perceive the
wind-tossed manes, the distended bloody nostrils and the frantic
motions of the horses' feet. Suddenly she rose and her eyes reflected
horror, for she observed that the coachman sat, bent so that only the
top of his head could be seen--without a cap. In the meantime the
intractable horses dashed through the gate; at the winding, the
coachman fell off and the carriage with slightly diminished speed swung
in a semi-circle along the border of the flower-bed. In the carriage,
on the rear seat, Ladislaus sat alone, with his head tilted upwards and
propped upon a carriage cushion. A cry of terror escaped from Miss
Anney's breast. The horses, in the twinkle of an eye, reached the
balcony and being accustomed to stop before it, implanted their hoofs
in the ground. Ladislaus moved and, pale as a corpse, with blood
streaming over his collar and coat sleeves, staggered from the
carriage; when the maiden hurried towards him, he cried, grasping the
air with his mouth:

"Nothing!... I am wounded, but it is nothing!"

And he toppled to the ground at her feet.

And she, in a moment raised him with a strength, amazing in a woman,
and supporting him with her arms and breast, began to shriek:

"Save him! Help! Help!"



                              PART SECOND.



                                   I

When Miss Anney raised the wounded young man, the household servants
were in the other part of the house. Nearest to her--for they were in
the vestibule playing billiards--were Pani Zosia and Marynia. These
ladies rushed upon the balcony and, seeing Miss Anney supporting the
disabled youth, emulating her example, began to shout at the top of
their voices. She, in the meantime, placed him upon a bench on the
balcony and enclosing him in her arms, called for water. Both sisters
hurried to the sideboard for it and alarmed the whole house. Gronski
and everything living collected there. In the first moments Gronski
lost his head and when he recovered his senses he sent Pani Otocka to
Ladislaus' mother to apprise her of the occurrence. In the meanwhile
Miss Anney ordered the servants to carry the wounded man. She, herself,
was compelled for a while to attend to her maid, who at the sight of
Ladislaus, began to scream and then fell into hysterical convulsions.
Gronski hastened to the stable to dispatch horses for the doctor.

But before the wounded man was borne to his room his mother came
precipitately. At the news of the misfortune, she forgot about her
rheumatism and assisted in the removal of her son, and in undressing
and laying him in bed. Afterwards she began to wash out the wounds with
a sponge. Ladislaus, owing to a copious flow of blood, fell into a long
faint, and, after regaining consciousness for a brief interval, fainted
again: in consequence of which he could not give any information about
the occurrence. He only repeated several times, "In the woods, in the
woods!" From which they could infer that the attack took place, not
upon the public highway but on the borders of Rzeslewo or Jastrzeb.

In the meantime, the rattle of a britzka resounded before the balcony
and, a moment later, Gronski summoned Miss Anney from her room, where
she was hastily changing her clothes, which were covered with blood.

"I am riding alone," he said. "The coachman is on the sick list and the
housekeeper has taken charge of him. None of the grooms want to go. All
are scared and positively refuse. Only the old lackey is willing to
drive, but I think that he cannot drive any better than I can."

"It is imperatively necessary to drive for the doctor at once,"
answered Miss Anney, pressing the palms of her hands to her burning
cheeks, "but it is also necessary to prepare for the defence of the
house. Please hurry to the farmers' quarters and send for the forest
rangers to come with their arms. Otherwise those men will be apt to
break in here and administer the finishing blow to him."

"That is true."

And she continued hurriedly:

"It is necessary to send some one for the men in the sawmill and arm
them with firearms. The field hands will follow their example. In all
probability an assault will be made upon the manor-house and here are
only women. You must assume charge of the defence. Please go at once,
and do send for the forest rangers."

Gronski admitted the propriety of the advice, and proceeded immediately
to the farmers' buildings. It was within the range of possibility that
the assailants, not knowing the result of their shooting, might wish to
ascertain and perhaps finish their work. This had happened in several
instances, and in view of this, all, and, more particularly, the women,
were concerned. Gronski was not an energetic man, but no coward, and
the thought of the being most precious to him in the world, Marynia,
infused him with energy. He immediately sent the field hands for the
forest rangers, as well as to the sawmill, where a dozen or more men
worked, of whom it was known in the manor, as well as in the village,
that they read "The Pole" and did not fear any one. The manor domestics
very quickly recovered from their consternation. The reason for this
was that the wounded coachman, though he did not see the assailants who
had fired from thickets, claimed with great positiveness that "the
Rzeslewo people attacked the young heir" on account of disputes about
the forest. This removed from the affair the awe of mystery; and a
peasant does not fear danger but mystery. Besides, as there existed
between the men of Jastrzeb and the men of Rzeslewo an ancient grudge,
dating from the time of the wrangle about bounding the stream, as soon
as the news of the attempt of the Rzeslewo men spread over the village,
those of Jastrzeb ceased not only to fear, but a desire for revenge was
bred in them. The manor servants began to feel ashamed now that they
had refused to drive for the doctor. Others, hearing that Rzeslewo
wished to make an onslaught on Jastrzeb manor, seized pitchforks and
pulled out pickets from the fences. Gronski, aware of the death
sentence received by Ladislaus, viewed the matter differently, but kept
his opinion to himself, understanding that a peasant, though he often
suddenly displays unusual terror, when once he starts to pull out
pickets from fences, does not fear anybody whatsoever.

Therefore delighted with this turn of affairs, he took with him a stout
groom, who undertook to convey him to the city. But here a surprise
awaited him, for before the balcony there was not a trace of the
britzka and on the balcony stood the old lackey Andrew, with dejected
face, and Marynia, pale, terror-stricken, with tears in her eyes, and
who seeing him began to cry:

"How could you, sir, permit her to ride alone? How could you do it?"

"Miss Anney drove alone to the city!" exclaimed Gronski.

And his countenance reflected such amazement that it was easy to
perceive that it had happened without his knowledge or consent.

"My God!" he said, "she sent me to the farmhouses to arrange the
defence, and it never occurred to me that in the meantime she would
jump into the britzka and drive away. It never occurred to me for a
moment."

But Marynia did not stop her lamentations.

"They will kill her in the woods; they will kill her," she repeated,
wringing her hands.

Gronski, in order to quiet her, assured her that he would send out
succor at once, but returning to the farmhouses, he began to reason
that if he, himself, set out after her on horseback he would accomplish
nothing and would leave the house without a masculine head, and if he
should send the field laborers, before they reached the forest Miss
Anney would outstrip them. It was possible for them to insure, fairly
well, her safe return, but to insure her safe passage through the woods
in the direction of the city it was absolutely too late.

This was likewise acknowledged by Dolhanski, who not knowing of
anything, returned by chance a half an hour later from Gorek to
Jastrzeb. Hearing of the occurrence and Miss Anney's expedition, he
could not refrain from exclaiming:

"But that is a brave girl. I wish I was Krzycki."

After which, going with Gronski to see the injured man, he added:

"We will have to go out to meet her. I will attend to that."

Ladislaus was already completely conscious and wanted to rise. He did
not do so on account of his mother's entreaties and adjurations. His
two friends did not tell him who had gone after the doctor. They only
informed him that the doctor would arrive without delay and, after a
short while, left, having something else to attend to. Dolhanski now
assumed command over the improvised garrison which was to defend the
manor-house. Gronski did not expect to find in him such an
extraordinary supply of energy, sangfroid and self-confidence. He soon
imparted this feeling to the household servants and the foresters; and
the organization of the defence was not difficult. Two Jastrzeb forest
rangers and one from Rzeslewo, who came later, had their own firearms,
and in the manor-house were found Ladislaus' six fowling-pieces and, of
these, two were short rifles. Dolhanski distributed this entire arsenal
among men who knew how to use the weapons. A few servants from the
village, who had participated in the Japanese war, appeared. Under
these circumstances there was no fear of a sudden and unexpected
attack. The workingmen from the sawmill, being of the Nationalistic
persuasion, were anxious "that something should happen," so that they
could "show how the teeth of uninvited guests are cleaned."

Having arranged everything in this manner, Dolhanski intrusted the
defence of the manor-house and the women to Gronski. Before that,
however, he calmed them as to Miss Anney with the assurance that he
returned from Gorek through the selfsame forest and rode in safety.
This was the actual fact. But what was stranger, he did not meet the
Englishwoman, from which they inferred that the courageous but prudent
young lady evidently drove on another side road. However, as the
distance to the city was not great and her return might be expected
soon, he proceeded to meet her, taking along with him two forest
rangers armed from head to foot. Gronski again was compelled to admire
the shrewdness and ingenuity with which he issued in the name of the
"Central Government" a command to the peasants of the village, that
they should, in case they heard shots in the forest, rush in a body to
their aid. The peasants did not know what this "Central Government"
was. Neither did Dolhanski. He only knew that the name alone would
create an impression, and the supposition that it was some Polish
authority would ensure it a willing obedience.

But these were superfluous precautions, as it appeared that there was
no one in the Jastrzeb and Rzeslewo forests which extended along the
other side of the road. The miscreants who fired at Krzycki had
decamped with due haste, evidently from fear of pursuit; or else they
awaited the night, concealed in some distant underwood belonging to
other villages. One of the forest rangers, who had previously fully
questioned the coachman about the place of the ambush, found, while
beating the adjacent thickets, empty revolver cartridge shells, in
consequence of which the supposition arose that the attack was
perpetrated by Rzeslewo peasants. Dolhanski did not doubt that what
happened was a sequel of the death sentence, of which he learned from
Gronski. But this seemed to him "much more interesting." He thought
that to meet the assailants and settle the issue in a proper manner
would be a sort of hazard not devoid of a certain charm. And, in fact,
soon a few more empty shells were found, but further search was without
any results.

Then Dolhanski turned towards the highway leading to the city, and a
half an hour later met Miss Anney, driving the britzka as fast as the
horses could run; on the rear seat was the doctor.

It was market-day in the city. It happened therefore that at that time
a dozen or more carts from Jastrzeb and Rzeslewo were returning
homeward, and there was considerable bustle on the road. In consequence
of this, Miss Anney did not become frightened at the sight of three
armed men approaching her from an opposite direction, and, after a
while, recognizing Dolhanski, she began to slacken the speed of the
horses.

"How is the wounded man?"

"Conscious. Good."

"How is it in the house?"

"Nothing new."

"God be praised."

The britzka again rolled on and after an interval was hidden in a cloud
of dust, and Dolhanski, having naught else to do, returned also to
Jastrzeb.

The forest rangers who were walking behind him began to converse with
each other and interchange their ideas of a lady "who drives as well as
the best coachman." But in Dolhanski's eyes there lingered also the
picture of a young and charming maiden, with reins in hand, glowing
countenance and wind-tossed hair. How much resolution and vivacity
there was in all this! Never before did Miss Anney appear to him so
enchanting. He knew from Gronski in what manner she had dashed to the
city, and he was sincerely captivated by her. "That is not one of our
transparent, jelly maidens who quiver at the slightest cause," he said
to himself, "that is life, that is bravery, that is blood." He always
admired everything which was English, beginning with the House of Lords
and ending with the manufactured products of yellow leather, but at the
present time his admiration waxed yet greater. "If her marriage portion
is reckoned not in Polish gold pieces but in guineas," he soliloquized
farther, "then Laudie was born with a caul." As he was an egotist, as
well as a man of courage, he, after a while, ceased to bother his head
about Krzycki and the danger which threatened all, and began to
ruminate over his own situation in the world. He recollected that at
one time he could have sold himself for a fat marriage settlement but
with such an appendage that he preferred to renounce all. But if he had
only found such an appendage as Miss Anney! And suddenly he was beset
by regret that, after making her acquaintance, he had not been more
attentive to her and had not tried to arouse in her an interest in
himself. "Who knows," he thought, "whether at the proper time, that was
not possible." But, in such case, it was proper for him to appear
before her as more knightly and romantic and less sardonic and fond of
club life. Evidently that was not her genre. Above all he could pot
delude himself as to Pani Otocka. Dolhanski, from a certain time, had
suspected his cousin of a secret attachment for Gronski, and at the
same time could not understand what there was in Gronski that a woman
could like. At the present time he was harassed by certain doubts about
himself, for he felt, contrary to the good opinion which he entertained
of himself, that there was something lacking in him; that in his
internal mechanism some kind of wheel was wanting, without which, the
entire mechanism did not go as it should. "For if," he cogitated
farther, "I can sustain myself upon the surface, only through a rich
marriage and my genre pleases neither Pani Otocka, nor Miss Anney, nor
women in general, then I am a twofold ass: first because I thought I
could please and again because I cannot afford to change." And he felt
that he could not afford to change because of his indolence and from a
fear that he would appear ridiculous.

"In view of this it will perhaps be necessary to end with Kajetana with
her appurtenances."

In a sour temper he returned to Jastrzeb and, having given orders to
the night watch, he went into the house where he received better news.
The doctor announced that Ladislaus had a lacerated left shoulder, but
as the shot was fired from below and went upwards, the bullet coursed
above the lungs. The second shot grazed over the ribs, tearing a
considerable portion of the flesh, while the third one carried off the
tip of the small finger. The wounds were painful but not dangerous. The
coachman received a scalp wound. The most severely injured was the left
forehorse, who, however, owing to the small calibre of the bullet was
able to gallop with the other horses, but died an hour after the
return.

All of which, however, tended to prove that the attack was not the
swift revenge of the landless of Rzeslewo in defence of the forest
rights, but a premeditated attempt. For this reason Gronski was of the
opinion that Pani Otocka and Marynia ought to leave the following day.
He wanted to escort them himself to the railroad station and then
return. But both declared that they would remain until all were able to
leave. On this occasion Marynia, for the first time in her life,
quarrelled with Gronski and the matter actually ended in this, that
Gronski had to yield. After all, the departure was not delayed for a
long time, for the doctor promised that if great caution was observed,
they could transfer the injured man to Warsaw in the course of a week.
No one suggested an immediate departure to Miss Anney.

The rest of the evening was passed in conference. About ten o'clock Dr.
Szremski, having performed all that was required of him, wanted to
leave for the city, but out of regard for Pani Krzycki he remained for
the night, and as he was much fatigued, he went to Gronski's room and
fell asleep at once. The ladies divided the work among themselves in
this manner: the two sisters were to watch Pani Krzycki, who after the
temporary excitement suffered severely from heart trouble and asthma.
Miss Anney in conjunction with Gronski undertook to pass the night with
the wounded young man.



                                   II

Out in the world the first glow of dawn was just visible when Ladislaus
awoke, after a fitful and slightly feverish sleep. He did not feel
badly; only a thirst was consuming him; he began to seek with his eyes
for some one near who could give him water, and espied Miss Anney
sitting at the window. She must have watched a long time for she dozed,
with her hands resting inertly upon her knees, and her head was bowed
so low that Ladislaus at first caught only a glimpse of her light hair,
illuminated by the light of the green lamp. She immediately started up
however, as if she had a premonition that the patient was awake, and it
seemed to him that she divined his thoughts, for, approaching
noiselessly, she asked:

"Do you wish any water?"

Krzycki did not answer; he only smiled and winked his eyes in sign of
assent; when she handed the drink to him, he eagerly drained the glass,
and afterwards gently taking her hand in his own, which was uninjured,
he pressed it to his lips and held it there a long time.

"My dearest ... my guardian angel," he whispered.

And again he pressed her hand to his lips.

Miss Anney did not even withdraw her hand; only with the other one she
took the glass and placed it upon the small cupboard standing near the
bed. She bent over him and said:

"It is necessary for you to keep quiet.--I will be with you until you
get well, but now it is essential that you think only of your health;
only of your health."

Her voice sounded in tones of quiet and gentle persuasiveness.
Ladislaus dropped her hand. For some time he moved his lips, but not a
word could be heard. Evidently, he was weakened from emotion, as he
grew pale and beads of perspiration stood upon his forehead.

Miss Anney began to wipe his face with a handkerchief and continued:

"Please be calm. If I thought that I was harming you, I would not come
here, and I do want to be with you now. Not a word about anything until
the wounds are healed; not a word. Promise me that."

A moment of silence ensued.

"Let the lady retire for a rest," Krzycki said in a pleading voice.

"I will go, I will go, but I am not at all tired. During the first half
of the night, Pan Gronski sat up at your side and I slept. Really, I am
not tired and I will sleep during the day. But you, sir, try to sleep.
All that is necessary is for you not to look at me, and close your
eyes. Then sleep will come of itself. Good-night, or rather good-day,
for the day is breaking in the world."

In fact the morning's dawn reddened and gilded the sky, and the sun was
about to rise at any moment. The light of the green lamp grew paler
each moment and was merging into the brightness of the day. Ladislaus,
desiring to show how he obeyed every word of his beloved guardian,
closed his eyes, pretending to sleep, but after a while footsteps were
heard in the hallway and the doctor entered accompanied by Miss Anney's
maid, whose turn it now was to attend to the patient. The doctor was so
terribly drowsy that instead of eyes he had two slits surrounded by
swollen eyelids, but he was as jovial and noisy as usual. He examined
the bandages, admitted that the dressing was in proper shape, felt the
pulse, and found everything in good order. Afterwards he opened the
windows to freshen the air which was saturated with iodoform.

"A splendid morning," said he. "Health flows from the skies. Let the
windows remain open all day. As soon as they hitch the horses, I shall
return to the city for I have patients who cannot wait. But I will come
back in the evening and bring a nurse for our wounded friend."

After which, addressing Miss Anney, he said:

"Only do not let it get into your head to drive for me, alone. The
injured man is getting along nicely--a slight fever, very slight. I
will see Pani Krzycki before I leave. Do not let her leave her bed all
day, and let her nieces watch her. To you, sir, I recommend the bed. It
is permissible to inhale but not to breathe one's last breath. Ha! I
will return about five in the evening, unless indeed, I am forced on
the road to swallow a few pills from the socialist pharmacy. That is a
stylish medicine and, it must be confessed, acts quickly."

"How is Mother?" asked Ladislaus in alarm.

At this the doctor again turned to Miss Anney.

"Order him to lie quiet for he will not mind me. Your mother has more
than fifteen years. Yesterday she started up suddenly, forgetting her
rheumatism and weak heart action, laid you in bed, waited for my
arrival; was present at the dressing, and after learning that there was
no danger--at once! bah!--it was necessary to put her to bed. That is
always the way with our women. But nothing is the matter with your
mother; the usual reaction after a nervous strain. When she came to
herself, I ordered her to remain in bed and not to appear here under
the penalty of death--for you. With that, I restrained her. Otherwise
she would have stuck here all night. Now your filigree cousins are
watching her. They also almost turned topsyturvy; then I would have had
four patients in one house. That would be a harvest--ha? Luckily there
was to be found in this house one soul with different nerves, who did
not swoon poetically. Ha!"

"How he is chattering," thought Ladislaus.

But the doctor began to gaze with great respect at Miss Anney and
continued:

"Rule Britannia! It is a pleasure to look at you, as I love God! What
health, what nerves! She sat up all night until the morning,--and
nothing! As if she freshly shook the dew off herself! I repeat once
more, it is a pleasure to behold you. I am going to the dining-room to
see if they will not give me some coffee before I leave, for I am
hungry."

But before he left he said to Miss Anney and her maid:

"Let the lady go with me and drink something warm before going to
sleep, and you, little miss, sit here beside Pan Krzycki. It will be
necessary to take his temperature and write it down. In case anything
happens let Pan Gronski know. I will tell him to look in here
occasionally. Good-by!"

Allowing Miss Anney, who smiled at the wounded man and repeated
"Good-by," to pass before him, he followed her. In the dining-room,
they found not only coffee, but the two sisters with Gronski and
Dolhanski. The former had sat up all night with Pani Krzycki, whose
illness was much more serious than the doctor told the son. At one time
it was even so serious that it was doubtful whether she would revive
from a long faint. Both "filigree" sisters were almost worn out, and
Marynia had eyelids of actual lily color. Gronski, by all means, wanted
the doctor to examine her and prescribe something strengthening.

But he, feeling her pulse for a while, said:

"I will prescribe for you, miss, as a medicine, a certain maxim of
Confucius, which says, 'If thou wouldst know the truth, it is better to
sit than stand, better to lie down than sit, and rather than lie down,
it is better to sleep.'"

"That is all very well," she answered, "but after all that has taken
place, I do not know whether I can sleep."

"Then let some one sing to you the lullaby, 'Ah, ah! Two little
kittens'; but only not your sister, as for her I prescribe the
same--until it is effective."

The rattle of the britzka interrupted further conversation. The doctor
swallowed the hot coffee and took his leave. Dolhanski followed him and
mounted a horse, held by a stable-boy. He announced that he would
accompany the doctor through the forest.

"If that is for my safety, then it is absolutely unnecessary," said the
doctor.

"I ride on horseback daily," replied Dolhanski, "and besides I want to
see whether some May party has not again come to the Jastrzeb forest."

"No," answered the doctor, laughing. "I do not think that they will
reappear so soon. They have in these matters a certain method. They
prefer to be the hunters rather than the quarry, and understand that
now it might come to a man hunt. In about a week or two, when they find
out that their attempt was unsuccessful, it will be necessary to be
more guarded."

"When will Krzycki be able to leave?"

"It all depends upon the purity of his blood; and I presume that it is
pure. After all, it will not be necessary to wait in Jastrzeb for a
complete cure. He had a pretty close call; that cannot be gainsaid. For
if I had not come the same day, infection might have set in. But the
antiseptic did its work. Ah, that Englishwoman who looks through a
heavenly mist. There is a woman for me. What? Would you believe that at
first I was upset with indignation at you gentlemen for permitting her
to drive under those circumstances? Only later did she tell me the
actual facts. If I do not fall in love with her, I am a marinated
herring without milt."

"I would not advise it," said Dolhanski, "as it seems that in that
territory there already has appeared a William the Conqueror."

"Do you think so? It may be possible! That also has occurred to my
mind."

"Was it because the English prudery has disappeared in a corner?"

"No. Nursing a wounded man is a woman's duty and, in view of that,
prudery must retire to a corner. Even yesterday's expedition
demonstrated only courage and energy. But through that heavenly mist
there reach our wounded friend such warm rays that--oh! But that does
not prevent me from being in love. If old Dzwonkowski fell in love with
your little cousin why should not I indulge in the same pleasure."

"In the same way you might fall in love with Saint Cecilia," said
Dolhanski. "My cousin is not a woman on two feet, but a symbol."

And he stopped abruptly for he heard some voices coming from the depth
of the forest and he sped his horse towards them.

"Nevertheless this clubman does not carry his soul on his shoulder,"
thought the doctor.

But it was only a false alarm, as it was merely village boys tending
cattle. The doctor, who alighted from the britzka to rush to
Dolhanski's assistance in case of need, soon saw them among the forest
thickets. After a while Dolhanski reappeared and pressing on his eye
the monocle which some twigs had displaced, said:

"That is only an innocent rural picture; cowherds and cows trespassing
in other people's forests; nothing more."

After which he bade the doctor adieu and returned to the house.

Miss Anney had not yet retired to sleep, for he found her conversing
with Gronski and engaged in winding iodoform gauze. At the sight of
him, she raised her eyes from her work and asked:

"Anything new in the forest?"

"Yes, indeed; something has happened to the doctor. He has been shot."

At this, both suddenly rose, startled:

"What? Where? In the forest?"

"No! In Jastrzeb," answered Dolhanski.



                                  III

Ladislaus complied in every particular with Miss Anney's injunctions
for, immediately after she left, he dozed again and did not waken until
the rays of the sun, which had ascended high in the heaven, fell
on his head. He then knit his brows and, having partly shaken off
his drowsiness, requested that the roller-blinds be lowered. The
black-haired maid approached the window, wishing to lower them, but as
she did this too eagerly and did not retain her hold on the string, the
roller-blind dropped so suddenly that it loosened completely from the
fastenings and tumbled down on the window sill. Then the maid, ashamed
of her awkwardness, leaped upon the chair and from the chair to the
sill and began to place anew the rollers in the rings. Krzycki looked
at her bent form; at her upraised arms and at her black coiled hair,
with a not yet conscious gaze, blinking his eyes as if he could not
recall for the time being who that was; and not until she jumped from
the frame, displaying at the same time graceful and plump limbs in
black stockings, did he know who was before him; and he said:

"Ah! It is Panna Pauly."

"It is I," answered the girl. "I beg your pardon for making so much
noise."

She blushed like a rose under his glance, and he recollected how he
once saw her attired only in azure watery pearls; so he gazed at her
with greater curiosity and said:

"That does not matter. I thank you, little Miss, for your solicitude."

At the same time, as a sign of gratitude, he moved the hand lying on
the bed-quilt but feeling simultaneously a piercing pain, he made a wry
face and hissed.

And she sat on the edge of the bed, leaned over him, and asked with
intense anxiety:

"Does it pain?"

"It does."

"Can I hand you anything? Shall I call any one?"

"No, no."

For a certain time, silence followed. Ladislaus frowned and clinched
his teeth; after which, drawing a deep breath, he said, as if with a
certain rage:

"This was done for me by those scoundrels."

"Oh, if they only fell into my hands," she replied through her set
teeth.

Such a fathomless hatred glistened in her eyes and her entire
countenance assumed such an expression of cruelty, that it might serve
as a model for a Gorgon face. Ladislaus was so astonished at this sight
that he forgot about his pain.

Again silence ensued. The maid recollected herself after a while, but
her cheeks grew so pale that the dark down above her lips became more
marked:

She then asked: "What can I do to relieve you?"

Her voice now rang with such cordial solicitude that Ladislaus smiled
and answered:

"Nothing, unless it be to commiserate with me."

And in a moment she was transported with spasmodic grief; she flung her
face at his feet, and, embracing them with her arms, began to kiss them
through the quilt. Her raven-like head and bent body shook from
sobbing.

"Why little lady! Panna Pauly!" cried Ladislaus.

And he was compelled to repeat this several times before she heard him.
Finally she rose and, covering her eyes with her hands, went to the
window, pressed her face against the pane, and for some time remained
motionless. Afterwards she began to wipe her eyes and readjust her
hair, as if in fear that somebody, entering unexpectedly, might surmise
what had taken place.

In the meantime, all the moments in which he had come in contact with
her coursed through Ladislaus' mind, commencing with meeting her on the
dark path, when she told him that a were-wolf did not look like that,
and the vision in the bath-room, until his conversation with her, after
that vision, on the yoked elm grove near the pond. He recalled how from
that time she alternately reddened and grew pale at the sight of him;
how she drooped her eyes and how she sent them after him whenever it
seemed to her that he was not observing. From one view, Ladislaus
accepted this as the sequel of the incident in the bath-room; from
another as admiration for his shapeliness. This admiration, indeed,
flattered his masculine vanity, but he did not give it much thought,
as, having his mind absorbed with Miss Anney, her servant did not
concern him. Now, however, he understood that this was something more
than the blandishments of an artful chambermaid after a handsome young
heir, and that this maiden had become distractedly infatuated with him
and in a kind of morbid manner. His love for Miss Anney was too deep
and true for him to be pleased with such a state of affairs or for him
to think that after his wounds were healed he could take advantage of
the maiden's feelings in the fashion of a gallant. On the contrary, the
thought that he had unwittingly aroused such feelings appeared
disagreeable and irksome to him. He was seized by a fear of what might
result from it. There came to him, as if in a vision, troubles, scenes,
and entanglements, which such a passion might produce. He understood
that this was a fire with which he could not thoughtlessly play; that
he would have to be careful and not give her any encouragement. He
decided also, notwithstanding the pity and sympathy he felt in the
depth of his heart for the maiden, to avoid in the future all
conversations, all jests, and everything which might draw her nearer to
him, encourage intimacy, or provoke in the future outbursts similar to
the one of that day. It even occurred to him to request Miss Anney not
to send her to him any more, but he abandoned that resolution,
observing that it might cause sorrow or cast upon him a shadow of
ludicrousness. Finally he came to the conclusion that above all it was
incumbent upon him not to ask the maid about anything; not to demand
any explanation as to the meaning of that outbreak and those tears, and
to behave coolly and distantly.

In the meantime the maiden, at the window, having regained her
composure, again approached the bed and spoke in a meek and hesitating
voice:

"I beg your pardon, sir. Be not angry at me, sir."

He closed his eyes and only after an interval replied:

"Little lady, I am not angry, but I need peace."

"I beg pardon," she repeated yet more meekly.

However she observed that he spoke in a different tone, drier and
colder than previously, and intense uncertainty was depicted upon her
countenance, for she did not know whether this was the momentary
dissatisfaction of the patient, who, in reality, did desire quiet or
whether it was the displeasure of the young heir at her--a servant
maid--having dared to betray her feelings. Fearing, however, to again
offend him, she became silent and seating herself upon the chair which
Miss Anney had occupied, she took from the commode the work which
previously had been brought and began to sew, glancing from time to
time with great uneasiness, and as if in fear, at Ladislaus. He also
cast stealthy glances at her, and seeing her regular features, as if
carved out of stone, her sharply outlined brows, the dark down above
her lips, and the energetic, almost inflexible, expression of her face,
he thought that it would be much easier for a man who could arouse the
thoughts and feelings of such a girl to form various ties than later to
be able to free himself from them.



                                   IV

Contrary to expectations, the doctor did not arrive that day, owing to
an unusual number of engagements and a few important operations which
he was compelled to perform without delay. Instead, he sent a young
hospital attendant, skilled in dressing wounds, with a letter in which
he requested Gronski to inform the ladies that they should consider his
postponed visit as proof that no danger actually threatened the wounded
man. Ladislaus, however was not pleased with this news, for the wounds
tormented him acutely; particularly the flesh torn by the bullet along
the ribs afflicted him painfully; and besides, his mother felt worse.
The asthmatic spell recurred, after which a general weakness followed,
so that notwithstanding her warmest wishes she was not able to rise
from her bed. Pani Otocka did not leave her for the entire day, and at
night her place was to be taken by Miss Anney, who, however, needing
rest after the recent events and, passing a sleepless night, was sent
to sleep by both sisters and Gronski. The rôle of the housekeeper of
Jastrzeb was assumed by Marynia, for she wanted by all means to be
useful, and was not permitted to attend to the patients. Instead, she
was intrusted with all the keys; the management of the house; with
conferring and taking an accounting with the cook whom she feared a
little and did not like, because he looked upon her as if she was a
child who was amusing herself rather than one upon whose shoulders
rested the responsibility of superintending everything. She adopted a
mien full of importance, but nevertheless "the dear gentleman," that is
Gronski, had to promise that he would be present, as if by chance, in
the room when the accounting was taking place.

As, after the arrival of the doctor on the third day, it appeared that
Ladislaus' condition was quite favorable and Pani Krzycki's asthmatic
spells were leaving her and her nerves were getting in order, the
general aspect of Jastrzeb became calmer and happier. Dolhanski began
to fill with a certain humor the rôle of a generalissimo of all the
armed forces of Jastrzeb while Gronski played the part of military
governor. The doctor brought with him a second nurse, who thenceforth
was to alternate with the one who came previously. This relieved the
ladies of the house of the necessity of continual watchfulness and
unnecessary fatigue. Ladislaus alone was dissatisfied with the
arrangement, for he understood that now Miss Anney would not pass days
and nights in his chamber, and that in all probability he would not see
her until he was able to leave his bed. In fact, it happened that way.
Several times during the day she would come to the anteroom, send
through the attendants whatever was needed, inquire about his health
and also send a "good-night" or "good-day" but would not enter the
room. Ladislaus sighed, swore quietly, and made life miserable for his
attendants, and when he learned from Dolhanski of the enthusiasm with
which the doctor spoke of Miss Anney he began to suspect him of
purposely sending the attendants in order to make it more difficult for
him to see her. His mother rose the fourth day and, feeling much
better, visited him daily and sat up with him for hours. Ladislaus
often asked himself the question whether she surmised his feelings.
They were indeed known to all the guests in the house, but there was a
possibility that she did not suspect anything, as for a considerable
time before the occurrence in the forest she did not, in truth, leave
her room; in consequence of which she seldom saw her son and Miss Anney
together. Krzycki often deliberated over the question whether he should
speak with his mother at once about it or defer the matter to a later
date. In favor of the first thought, there was the consideration that
his mother, while he lay in bed wounded, would not dare to interpose
any strenuous objections from fear that his condition might grow worse.
But on the other hand, such calculation, in which his beloved one and
the whole happiness of his life were involved, appeared to him that day
as miserable craftiness. He thought besides that to extort an assent
from his mother through his sickness would be something derogatory to
Miss Anney, before whom the doors of the Jastrzeb manor-house and the
arms of the entire family should be widely and joyfully opened. But he
was restrained by another consideration. And this was that,
notwithstanding the conversation he at one time had with Gronski,
notwithstanding the words he exchanged with the lady, notwithstanding
her solicitude, her sacrifices, and the courage with which she did not
hesitate to drive for the doctor, and finally notwithstanding the
visible marks of feeling which could be discerned in every glance she
bestowed upon him, Ladislaus doubted and did not dare to believe in his
own good fortune. He was young, inexperienced, in love not only up to
his ears but like a student; therefore full of alternating
uncertainties, hopes, joys, and doubts. He doubted also himself. At
times he felt at his shoulders wings, as it were, and in his soul a
desire for lofty flights; a latent ability to perform acts clearly
heroic; and at other times he thought: "Who am I, that such a flower
should fall upon my bosom? There are people who are endowed with
talent; who possess education; and others who have millions, and I,
what? I am a mere nobleman farmer, who will all his life dig the soil,
like a mole. Have I then the right to pinion to such a life, or rather
to confine in a sort of cage such a paradisiacal bird, which soars
freely across the firmament for the delectation and admiration of
mankind?" And he was seized by despair. But when he pictured to himself
that the moment might arrive when this paradisiacal bird might fly away
forever from him, then he looked upon it with amazement as if upon a
calamity which he did not deserve. He also had his hours of hope,
especially in the morning when he felt better and stronger. Then he
recalled everything that had taken place between them, from her first
arrival at Jastrzeb and his meeting her at Zarnowski's funeral until
that last night when he pressed her hand to his lips and gained greater
confidence. Why, at that time, she told him "not a word about anything
until the wounds are healed." Therefore through that alone she gave to
him the right to repeat to her that she was dearer to him than the
whole world and to surrender into her hands his fate, his future, and
his entire life. Let her do with them what she will.

In the meanwhile his mother will accustom herself to her, will grow
more intimate, and become more attached to her. And her maternal heart
is so full of admiration and gratitude for what Miss Anney had done for
him that from her lips fell the words "God sent her here." Ladislaus
smiled at the thought that his mother, however, ascribed the sacrifices
and courage of the young maiden not to any ardent feeling but to an
exceptionally honest heart, as well as to English training, which was
conducive to energy alike in men and women. And she had likewise
repeated to Pani Otocka several times that she would like to bring up
her Anusia to be such a brave woman; give her such strength, health,
and such love for her "fellow-men." Pani Otocka smiled also, hearing
these praises, and Ladislaus thought that Miss Anney perhaps would not
have done the same for her fellow-men, and this thought filled him with
happiness.

Eventually he became quite certain that his mother would consent to his
marriage with Miss Anney, but he was anxious as to how she would agree.
And in this regard he was much distressed. His mother, judged by former
requirements and conceptions, was a person of more than medium
education. She possessed high social refinement, read a number of
books, and was proficient in the French and Italian languages. During
her younger days she passed considerable time abroad, but only her
closest friends could tell how many national and hereditary prejudices
were concealed in her and to what extent all that was not Polish,
particularly if it did not of necessity come from France, appeared to
her peculiar, outlandish, strange, and even shocking. This appeared
accidentally once before the attack upon Ladislaus when she saw Miss
Anney's English prayer-book and, opening it, noticed a prayer beginning
with "Oh Lord." Belonging to a generation which did not study English,
and having lived in retirement for many years in Jastrzeb, Pani Krzycki
could not imagine the Lord other than a being with yellow whiskers,
dressed in checkered clothes, and to Marynia's great amusement could
not by any means understand how the Divinity could be thus addressed.
In vain Ladislaus explained to her that in the French and Polish
languages analogical titles are given to God. She regarded that as
something different, and exacted a promise from Miss Anney that she
would pray from a Polish book, which she promised to buy for her.

Finally the fact that Miss Anney was not in all probability a member of
the nobility would play an important part. Ladislaus feared that his
mother, having consented to the marriage, might in the depths and
secrecy of her soul, deem it a mésalliance. This thought irritated and
depressed him immeasurably and was one of the reasons why he postponed
his consultation with his mother until their arrival in Warsaw.

He was angered yet more at his enforced confinement in his bed; so that
for three days he declared each evening that he would rise the
following morning, and when on the fourth day Miss Anney and Marynia
said to him through the doorway, "Good-day," he actually did get up,
but in his weakened condition, he suffered from dizziness and was
forced to lie down again. He was steadily improving, however; he
continued to sigh more and more and felt his inactivity most keenly.

"I have got enough of this loquacious doctor," he said to Gronski,
"enough of dressings and iodoform. I envy not only you, sir, but even
Dolhanski, who is roaming about on my horses all over creation, and
very likely reaches as far as Gorek."

"He does," answered Gronski gayly, "and this leads me to think that he
makes a mystery of it, for he has ceased to talk about those ladies."

This was but a half truth for Dolhanski did actually go to Gorek but
did not remain entirely silent about the ladies, for returning the next
day, he entered Ladislaus' room, bearing with him still the odor of the
horse, and said:

"Imagine to yourself that the Wlocek ladies received a command from
some kind of committee from under a dark star to pay under the penalty
of death one thousand roubles for 'party' purposes."

"There you have it!" cried Gronski. "Now that is becoming an every-day
occurrence. Who knows whether similar commands are not awaiting us upon
our desks in Warsaw?"

"Well, what of it?" asked Ladislaus.

"Nothing," answered Dolhanski; "those ladies first argued as to who was
to first expose her breast to shield the other; then fainted; after
that they came to, then began to bid each other farewell, and finally
asked me my advice as to what was to be done."

"And what advice did you give them?"

"I advised them to tell the executors of the command, who would come
for the money, that their plenipotentiary and treasurer, Pan Dolhanski,
resided at such and such address in Warsaw."

"Really, did you advise them to do that?"

"I give you my word."

"In such a case, they will undoubtedly call upon you."

"You can imagine what rich booty they will get! I also will have some
recreation in these tedious times."

"Pardon me," said Gronski, "the times are trying; that is certain, but
no one can say that they are tedious."

"But for whom?" answered Dolhanski. "If I ever borrow money from you,
then I will have to conform to your inclination, but before that time
you cannot draw me into any political discussion. In the meantime I
will only tell you this much, that I am the only social microbe that
can remain at perfect peace. All that I require is that 'bridge' should
be going normally at the club and soon this will be impossible. These
times may be interesting to you but not for me."

"At any rate," observed Gronski, "a certain ventilation of torpid
conditions is taking place, and since you compared yourself to a
microbe, by the same token, you admit that these are times for
disinfection."

At this Dolhanski turned to Ladislaus.

"Thank Gronski," he said, "for the disinfection started with you; from
which the plain inference is to be drawn that you are a more harmful
microbe than I am."

"Get married, get married," answered Ladislaus banteringly; "for you, a
good marriage settlement would be the best cure for pessimism."

"That may be possible, as in that case, I may have something with which
I can leave this dear country and settle elsewhere. I once told you
that Providence speaks through the lips of little innocents. But I
should have thought of marriage when in the perspective there were no
Goreks, but instead, four million franks."

"Did you have such an opportunity?"

"As you see me here. It happened in Ostend; an old Belgian relict of a
manufacturer of preserves, and having cash to the amount specified,
wanted to marry me and that for the waiting."

"And what?"

"And nothing. I remember what Pan Birkowski, who at that time was in
Ostend, told me. 'Do business,' he said. 'At the worst, you may leave
the old woman two millions and leave her in the lurch, and you can take
two millions with you and enjoy yourself like a king.'"

"And what did you say to that?"

"And I said this to that: What is that? Am I to give from my own
hard-earned money two millions to an ugly old woman? For nothing! And
now I think that for a mere quibble, I permitted a fortune to slip away
from me and that the time may come when owing to a 'retirement from
business' I will have to sacrifice myself for a smaller price."

Gronski and Ladislaus began to laugh, but Dolhanski, who spoke with
greater bitterness than they supposed, shrugged his shoulders and said:

"Amuse yourselves, amuse yourselves. One of you already has received a
taste of the times and the other, God grant, will not escape so easily.
Nice times, indeed! Chaos, anarchy, political orgy, lack of any kind of
authority, the dance of dynamite with the knout, and the downfall of
'bridge.' And you laugh!"



                                   V

Nevertheless that which Dolhanski said about a want of any kind of
authority appeared to be not exactly the truth, for, after an interval
of one week, the authorities did give signs of life.

An imposing armed force, together with gendarmes and police, made its
appearance.

Of course the perpetrators of the attempt upon Krzycki did not wait a
whole week for the arrival at Jastrzeb of a military relief, as they
evidently had engagements in other parts of the county. As a result the
Jastrzeb, as well as the Rzeslewo, forests appeared to be deserted.

In lieu of this, about a score of men in Jastrzeb, itself, were placed
under arrest. Among these were the two forest rangers, the old coachman
who was wounded at the time of the attack, and all the workingmen at
the sawmill.

In the manor-house all the passports were verified with exceeding care,
reports were written, and the host, hostess, and guests, not excluding
the ladies, were subjected to a strict examination.

From these examinations it developed that in reality they did not come
on account of the attempt upon the proprietor of Jastrzeb, but for the
purpose of apprehending a dangerous revolutionist, a certain Laskowicz,
who, according to the most reliable information secured by the police,
was hiding in Jastrzeb and was shielded by its denizens.

The declaration of the Krzyckis to the police, that in due season the
passport of Laskowicz was forwarded, and if Laskowicz had left the city
he must have received it, as well as the assurances of all present that
Laskowicz was not in Jastrzeb did not find any credence.

The authorities were too experienced and shrewd to believe such
nonsense and they detected in them "an evil design, and want of
sincerity and cordial candor."

The house also was subjected to a most painstaking search, beginning in
the garret and ending in the cellar. They knocked on the walls to
ascertain whether there were any secret hiding places. They searched
among the dresses and linen of the women; in the hearth, under the
divans, in the drawers, in the boxes for phenicine pastilles, which
Gronski brought with him; and finally in the manor outbuildings, in the
mangers of the stable, in the milk churners, in the tar-boxes, and even
in the beehives, whose inmates, undoubtedly being permeated with the
evil-disposition prevalent in Jastrzeb, resisted the search in a manner
as evil disposed as it was painful.

But as the search, notwithstanding its thoroughness and the
intelligence with which it was conducted, was not productive of any
results, they took a hundred and some tens of books, the farm register,
the entire private correspondence of the hosts as well as the guests,
the bone counters used in playing cards, a little bell with a
Napoleonic figure, a safety razor, a barometer, and, notwithstanding
the license which Krzycki possessed, all the fowling pieces, not
excepting a toy-gun with which corks were shot and which belonged to
little Stas.

Ladislaus himself would have been undoubtedly arrested as an
accomplice, if the doctor, who treated the captain for his heart
trouble, had not arrived and if Dolhanski, growing impatient beyond all
endurance, had not shown the captain a message before sending it to the
city. It was addressed to the highly influential general W., with whom
Dolhanski played whist at the club, and it complained of the brutality
and the arbitrariness of the search.

This to a considerable extent cooled off the ardor of the captain and
his subordinates, who previously, at the scrutiny of the passports, had
learned that Dolhanski was a member of the club.

In this manner Ladislaus preserved his liberty, supplemented by police
surveillance, and little Stas regained his toy-gun for shooting corks.
The captain could not return the arms as he had peremptory orders in
black and white to confiscate even the ancient fowling-pieces of the
whole community.

"Doux pays! Doux pays!" cried Dolhanski after the departure of the
police. "Revolvers now can be found only in the hands of the bandits.
In view of this I will submit to a demission as the commander-in-chief
of the Jastrzeb armed forces, land as well as naval. We are now
dependent upon the kindness or unkindness of fate."

"Go to Warsaw, ladies and gentlemen, to-morrow," said the doctor; "here
there is no joking."

"Let us go to Warsaw," repeated Dolhanski, "and, not losing any time,
enroll in the ranks of the believers in expropriation. I regard social
revolutionists as the only insurance association in this country which
does really insure."

"From accidents," added Krzycki; "and we shall insure with my personal
friend and 'accomplice' Laskowicz."

To this Dolhanski replied:

"That accomplice gave you a payment on account. In the future you will
receive yet more."

To Gronski's mind came thoughts of the personal enmity of the young
medical student to Krzycki and the letter of Laskowicz to Marynia, of
which he among the men in Jastrzeb alone knew.

It was quite probable that Laskowicz saw in Ladislaus a rival and
future aspirant for the hand of Panna Marynia who, besides, had nipped
in the bud his work in Rzeslewo and that he might have thought that he
actually could gratify his hatred from personal consideration, and in
the name of the "cause."

Laskowicz, himself, in his own way, might have been an honest man, but
the party ethics were, in relation to the antiquated morality,
revolutionary, and sanctioned such things.

But at present there was not much time to ponder over that; so after a
while Gronski waved his hand and said:

"Whether or not the hand of Laskowicz is imbrued in this the future
will show. Now we must think of something else. I assert positively
that I will take away my ladies from here, but I wish that the entire
Jastrzeb family would follow my example."

After which, he addressed the doctor.

"Would it be safe for Ladislaus to travel to-morrow?"

"He? Even as far as England," answered the doctor.

Gronski and Dolhanski laughed at these words but Ladislaus blushed like
a student and said:

"It will be necessary to inform the ladies."

"And to-morrow the general exodus will take place," added Gronski.

And he went to the ladies, who received the news of the decision with
evident relief. Both sisters decided to have Pani Krzycki at their
residence in Warsaw, but she, desiring to be with her son, would not
accept the invitation; and only consented when Gronski announced that
he would take Ladislaus to his home and guaranteed that he should not
suffer for want of care and comfort. Miss Anney, whose apartments were
directly opposite to those of Pani Otocka also offered her rooms for
the use of the younger members of the Krzycki family and their female
teachers. In the meanwhile the doctor permitted Ladislaus to get up, so
that he would not have to start on his journey directly from his bed.
In the evening the entire company assembled on the garden veranda.
There was missing only Dolhanski who rode off to Gorek, for he had
decided to advise Pani Wlocek and Panna Kajetana to remove to the city
likewise. Ladislaus, after a considerable loss of blood and a somewhat
lengthy confinement in bed, looked pale and miserable, but his
countenance had acquired a more subtile expression and actually become
handsome. At the present time the ladies were occupied with him, as an
invalid, with extraordinary watchfulness. He was a person who attracted
general sympathy; therefore, though from time to time his eyes grew
dim, he assured his mother that it was well with him, and he really was
delighted to breathe the fresh evening air. At times he was overcome by
a light drowsiness. Then he closed his eyelids and the conversation
hushed, but when he opened them again he saw directed towards himself
the eyes of his mother and, illuminated by the setting sun, the young
faces of the ladies, which appeared to him simply angelic. He was
surrounded by love and friendship; therefore it was well with him. His
heart surged with feelings of gratitude, and at the same time with
regret that those good Jastrzeb days would soon end. In his soul he
cherished a hope that he would not be absent from Jastrzeb long, and
promised himself a speedy return, and he promised this with all the
strength with which a person craves happiness. Nevertheless, the times
were so strange, so uncertain, and so many things might happen which it
was impossible to foresee, that involuntarily a fear generated in his
heart as to what turn the current of events would take; what the future
of the country would be, and what, in a year or two, would become of
Jastrzeb, which, indeed, became precious to him for it opened before
him the portals, beyond which he beheld the great brightness of
happiness. Love, as well as a bird, needs a nest. So Ladislaus plainly
could not conceive of himself and the light-haired lady being anywhere
else than at Jastrzeb. For this, his heart beat with redoubled force,
when glancing at her, he indulged in fancies and imagined that perhaps
after a year, or sooner, she will sit upon the same veranda, as the
lady of the house and as his wife. Then he turned towards her and asked
her with his soul and eyes: "Dost thou guess and perceive my thoughts?"
But she, perhaps because she was restrained by the presence of so many
witnesses, did not reply to his glances; sitting as if immersed in
thought and letting her gaze follow the swallows, which flitted so
nimbly above the trees of the garden and the pond. Ladislaus, when he
now looked at her was impressed, as if with certain admiration, at the
contrast between her full-grown form, powerful arms, and well developed
bosom and her small, girlish face. But he saw in all this only a new
charm and spell under whose powers there flew at times through his love
a burning desire similar indeed to pain and stifling the breath in his
breast.

In the meantime the sun sank measurably and began to bathe in the ruddy
evening twilight. From the freshly mown lawns came a strong fragrance
of the little hay heaps, which were warmed by the daily summer heat.
Somehow the air with the approach of night became more bracing, for,
from the alder-trees bordering on the pond, came from time to time a
cool breath, so weak and light, however, that the leaves on the trees
did not stir. The swallows described curves higher and higher above the
reddened surface of the pond. In the lofty poplars with trimmed tops a
stork clattered in his nest, now stooping with his head backward and
then lowering it as if bowing to the setting sun or officiating at the
evening vespers.

"I will play something as a farewell to Jastrzeb," Marynia suddenly
announced.

"Ah, beloved creature!" said Gronski; "shall I go for the stand and
notes?"

"No. I will play something from memory."

And saying this, she handed to Miss Anney an album with views of
Jastrzeb, and hurried upstairs. In a short time she returned with her
violin. For a time she kept it propped on her shoulder and raising her
eyes upwards, considered what she should play. She selected Schumann's
"Ich grolle nicht." The overflowing tones filled the quiet of the
garden. They began to sing, muse, long, and weep; oscillate, hush, and
slumber, and with them the human soul acted in unison. Sorrow became
more melancholy, yearning more longing, and love more tender and deeply
enamoured. And "the little divinity" continued playing--white in her
muslin dress--calm, with pensive eyes lost somewhere in the illimitable
distance, immaculate, and as if borne to heaven by music and her own
playing. To Gronski it seemed that he had before him some kind of
mystic lily, and he began in his soul to say to her, as it were, a
litany, in which every word was a worship of the little violinist,
because she was playing and she awoke in him a love as destitute of the
slightest earthly dross as if she were not a maiden composed of blood
and flesh, but in reality some kind of mystic lily.

Marynia had ceased to play and her hand, with the violin, hung at her
side. No one thanked her; no one uttered a word, for the strains of
that music lingered with all and, echo-like, it was yet playing within
them. Pani Otocka unwittingly drew nearer to Gronski as if they were
attracted towards each other by their mutual worship of this beloved
child. In Pani Krzycki's eyes glittered tears, which under the spell of
the music were contributed and provoked by memories of former years and
the present suffering of her son and fresh worries about him, and the
uncertainty of the future. Miss Anney sat in reverie, holding
unknowingly between her knees the album, which during Marynia's playing
had dropped from her hands; and through the open doors, in the already
dimmed depths of the salon, could be seen the indistinct form of a
woman, who evidently also was listening to the music.

A somewhat stronger breeze which blew from the alder-trees awoke all,
as if from a half-dream. Then Pani Krzycki turned towards her son:

"A chill is coming from the pond. Perhaps you may wish to return to
your room."

"No," he answered, "I feel better than I have felt for a long time."

And he began to assure her that he did not feel any chill and
afterwards appealed to the doctor, who, lulled to sleep by the music,
could not at once understand what was the matter.

"Can Laudie remain?" asked Pani Krzycki.

"He can, he can; only as soon as the sun disappears, it will be
necessary to cover him better."

Afterwards the doctor looked at his watch and added:

"It is time for me to go, but I have had so few evenings like this that
it is a hardship to leave. As God sees, it is a hardship."

And here he began to rub his fatigued brow with the palm of his hand.
Pani Krzycki and Ladislaus declared that they would not permit him to
leave before supper. The doctor again looked at his watch, but before
he could make any reply there appeared upon the veranda the same
feminine figure that had been listening to the music in the depths of
the parlor, but this time with two plaids upon her arm.

"Is that you, Pauly?" said Miss Anney. "Ah, how sensible you are."

And Panna Pauly began to cover Ladislaus with the plaids. She placed
one over his shoulders and the other around his limbs. In doing this
she knelt and bent in such a way that for a moment her breast rested on
Krzycki's knee.

"Thank you, little Miss, thank you," he said, somewhat confused.

She glanced quickly into his eyes and then left without a word.

"But I have taken your plaids," Ladislaus said addressing Miss Anney.

"That does not matter. I am dressed warmly. Only, you, sir, will have
to take care that the wounded shoulder is well covered."

And approaching him, she began to push lightly and carefully a corner
of the plaid between the back of the chair and his shoulder.

"I am not hurting you?" she asked.

"No, no. How can I thank you?"

And he looked at her with such enamoured eyes that for the first time
it occurred to his mother that there might be something more than
gratitude in this.

She glanced once or twice at Pani Zosia's delicate countenance, and
sighed, and her heart was oppressed with fear, disquiet, and regret.
This was her ideal for her son; this was her secret fancy. She, indeed,
had fallen in love with her whole soul with the young Englishwoman, and
if foreign blood did not course in her veins, she would not have had
any objections, but nevertheless this first fleeting suspicion that the
structure, which she, in her soul, had erected from the moment she
became intimate with Zosia, might crumble, was to her immeasurably
disagreeable. For a time she felt, as it were, a dislike for Miss
Anney. She determined also from that moment to observe them both more
carefully, and to speak with Gronski.

But in the further course of the evening her hopes revived, for when
the company returned to the salon it seemed to her after a time that
what she had seen on the veranda was an illusion. In fact that day did
not end for Ladislaus and Miss Anney as serenely as the setting sun had
augured. A cooler wind blew between them, and Pani Krzycki could not
know that the reason for it, on the part of her boy, was jealousy. Miss
Anney, after the return to the parlor, began, on the side, a
conversation with the doctor which continued so long that Ladislaus
became irritated. He observed that she spoke not only with animation,
but also with a desire to please. He saw the brightened visage of the
doctor, from which it was easy to read that the conversation afforded
him sincere pleasure, and a serpent stung Ladislaus' heart. He could
not overhear what Miss Anney was saying. It seemed to him only that she
was urging something. On the other hand, the doctor could not speak so
quietly, but to Krzycki's eavesdropping ears from time to time came
such fragmentary expressions as "I intended to do that, only after a
week"; "Ha!" "Some may object"; "If that is the case, very well"; "It
is well known how England conquers"; "Good, good."

Ladislaus decided with all possible coolness to ask Miss Anney whom
England had now subjugated and whether the newspapers had made any
mention of it, but when Miss Anney and the doctor at the conclusion of
their tête-à-tête had rejoined the rest of the company, he changed his
plan and, with the offended dignity of a schoolboy who is ready not
only to spite those dear to him but also himself, he determined to
cover himself with the cloak of indifference. With this view he turned
to Zosia and began to inquire about the Zalesin estate and begged her
permission to inspect it; and she told him that it would give her great
pleasure. He thanked her so warmly that his mother was led into an
error. Miss Anney tried several times to participate in the
conversation, but receiving from him indifferent replies, surprised and
slightly touched, began to listen to what Gronski was saying.

After supper the doctor announced that he would have to leave. For a
while he spoke with Gronski, and then took his leave of the ladies,
repeating, "Until to-morrow; at the railway station." He advised
Ladislaus to return immediately to his room and secure a good rest
before proceeding on his journey. Gronski, after escorting the doctor
to the gate, accompanied Ladislaus to his room, and when they found
themselves alone, perceiving his mien and easily surmising the cause
asked: "What ails you? You are so agreeable."

And Krzycki answered with some irritation: "I am still feeling weak;
otherwise I am as usual."

But Gronski shrugged his shoulders.

"These," said he, "are the usual misunderstandings of lovers, but you,
above all, are a child and caused her unpleasantness. And do you know
what for? Simply because she urged Szremski to accompany you to
Warsaw."

Ladislaus' heart quivered, but he put a good face on a bad matter and
would not yet be reconciled.

"I do not feel at all weak and can get along without his assistance."

To this Gronski replied:

"Good-night to you and your logic."

And he left the room.

But Ladislaus when he was undressed and in bed, suddenly felt tears
welling in his eyes and began with extraordinary tenderness to beg
pardon of--the pillow.



                                   VI

Gronski, who by nature was very obliging and devoted to his friends,
was at the same time a man of ample means and high culture; in
consequence of which Ladislaus found in his home not only such care as
sincere good will alone can bestow, and comforts, but also various
things which were lacking in Jastrzeb. He found, especially, books, a
few paintings, engravings, and various small objects of vertu;
moreover, the residence was spacious, well-ventilated, and not
over-crowded with unnecessary articles. Thanks to the host a highly
intellectual and esthetic atmosphere prevailed, in which the young heir
felt indeed smaller and less self-confident than in Jastrzeb, but which
he breathed with pleasure. He was seized, however, with a fear that by
a lengthy stay he would cause his older friend trouble, and on the
following evening he began to argue with Gronski about going to a
hotel.

"Even the doctor considers me well," he said. "The best proof of it is
that he permits me to go about the city in three days."

"I heard something about five," answered Gronski.

"But that was yesterday; so, not counting to-day, three remain. You
have your habits which you must not change on my account. It is indeed
a pleasure to look at all these things; so I will come here, but it is
one thing to visit you for an hour, or even two, and another to
introduce confusion into your mode of life."

"I will only say this," answered Gronski, "Pani Otocka and Panna
Marynia regard me as an old bachelor and promised to make a call
to-morrow, or the day after, as they have often done before, in the
company of Miss Anney. Do you see that armchair? On it, during the
music-playing, sat your light-haired beauty. Go, go to the hotel, and
we will see who, besides your mother, will visit you."

"You are too good."

"I am an old egotist. You see that I have a few old household effects,
which, during the course of my life, I have collected; but one thing,
though I were as rich as Morgan and Jay Gould combined, I can
unfortunately never buy, and that is youth. And you have so much of it
that you could establish a bank and issue stock. From you rays plainly
emanate. Let them illuminate and warm me a little. In other words, do
not worry, and keep quiet if you are comfortable here with me."

"I only do not desire to be spoiled by too much attention, for,
speaking sincerely, I feel I am strong enough now."

"So much the better. Thank God, Miss Anney, and the doctor that the
journey did not injure you. That is what I feared a little."

"It did not hurt me, neither did it help."

"How is that?"

"Because I had a hope that on the road I could tell my bright queen
that which I hid in my soul, but in the meantime it developed that this
was a foolish hope. We sat in the compartment like herrings. The doctor
hung over me continually, like a hangman over a good soul, and there
was not a chance, even for a moment."

"Never, never make any avowals in a railway car, for in the rumble and
noise the most pathetic passages are lost. Finally, as Laskowicz has
not dispatched you to the other world, you will easily find an
opportunity."

"Do you really think that it was the work of Laskowicz?"

"No. But if ever I should ascertain that it was he, I would not be much
surprised; for such a situation, in which one could gratify self and
serve a good cause, occurs rarely."

"How gratify self and serve a good cause?"

"Good in his judgment. Do you not live from human sweat and blood?"

"That is very true. But why should my death afford him any
gratification personally?"

"Because he has conceived a hatred for you; has fallen in love with
some one and regards you as a rival."

Hearing this, Ladislaus jumped up as if scalded.

"What, would he dare?"

"I assure you that he would dare," replied Gronski quietly, "only he
made a mistake. But that he is not wanting in courage he gave proofs
when he wrote an avowal of love to Marynia."

Ladislaus opened wide his eyes and began to wink:

"What was that?"

"I did not want to speak to you about it in Jastrzeb, as at that time
you often drove to the city. I feared that you might meet him and might
start a disagreeable brawl. But at present I can tell you every thing;
Laskowicz has fallen in love with Marynia and wrote a letter to her,
which of course remained unanswered."

"And he thought that I also am in love with Marynia."

"Permit me; that would not be anything extraordinary. He might have
overheard something. Whoever is in love usually imagines that every one
is reaching after the object of his love. Understand that Laskowicz did
not confide in me, but that is my hypothesis which, if it is erroneous,
so much the better for Laskowicz. The party sent you a death sentence
in consequence of his reports and this was working in his hand for
personal reasons. After all, he may not have participated personally in
the attempt--"

"Did you see him after that letter?"

"How could I see him, since he wrote after his departure. But it was
lucky that I advised Pani Otocka to burn that lucubration, for if the
letter had been found during the search at Jastrzeb, you can readily
understand what inferences the acuteness of the police might have
drawn."

Anger glittered in Ladislaus' eyes.

"I prefer that Miss Anney be not involved," he said; "nevertheless I
would not advise Laskowicz to meet me. That such a baboon, as Dolhanski
says, should dare to lift his eyes to our female relative in our home
and, in addition thereto, write to her--this I regard plainly as an
insult which I cannot forgive."

"In all probability you will never meet him; so you will not move a
finger."

"I? Then you do not know me. Why not?"

"Among other reasons, out of consideration for our pleasant situation.
Consider; duels they will not accept and in this they are right. What
then? Will you cudgel him with a cane or pull his ears?"

"That is quite possible."

"Wait! In the first place there was nothing in the letter resembling an
insult and, again, what further? The police would take you both into
custody, and there they would discover that they had caught Laskowicz,
a revolutionary bird, whom they have been seeking for a long time and
would send him to Siberia, or even hang him. Can you take anything like
that upon your conscience?"

"May the deuce take these times," cried Ladislaus. "A man is always in
a situation from which there is no escape."

"As is usual between two anarchies," answered Gronski. "After all, this
is a slight illustration."

Further conversation was stopped by the entrance of a servant who
handed to Gronski a visiting card and he, glancing at it, said:

"Ask him to step in."

Afterwards he asked Ladislaus:

"Do you know Swidwicki?"

"I have heard the name, but am not acquainted with the man."

"He is a relative of Pani Otocka's deceased husband. A very peculiar
figure."

At that moment Swidwicki entered the room. He was a man of forty years,
bald, tall, lean, with an intelligent and sour face, and at the same
time impudent. He was attired carelessly in a suit which appeared to
fit him too loosely. He had, however, something which betrayed his
connection with the higher social spheres.

"How is Swidwa?" Gronski began.

After which he introduced him to Ladislaus and continued:

"What has happened to you? I have not seen you for an age."

"Why, you were out of the city."

"Yes; but before that time you did not show up for a month."

"In my old age I have become an anchorite."

"Why?"

"Because I am wearied by the folly of men who pass for reasonable
beings and by the malice of men who pose as good. Finally, I now roam
all over the streets from morning until night. Ah! There exist 'Attic
Nights,' 'Florentine Nights,' and I have a desire to write about
'Warsaw Days.' Delightful days! Titles of the separate chapters 'Hands
up! The Rabble on Top.' 'Away with the Geese.' Do you know that at this
moment there are so many troops patrolling the streets that any one
else in my place would have been arrested ten times."

"I know, but how do you manage to avoid it?"

"I walk everywhere as peacefully as if in my own rooms. The way I do it
is simple. As often as I am not drunk, I pretend to be drunk. You would
not believe what sympathy and respect an intoxicated person commands.
And in my opinion this is but just, for whoever is 'under the
influence' from morning till night is innocent and well thinking; upon
him the so-called social order can rely with confidence."

"Surely. But the social order which depended upon such people would not
stand upon steady legs."

"Who, to-day, does stand on steady legs? Doctrines intoxicate more than
alcohol--therefore at this moment all are drunk. The empire is
staggering, the revolution is reeling, the parties are floundering, and
a third person stands on the side and looks on. Soon all will tumble to
the ground. Then there will be order, and may it come as soon as
possible."

"You ought to be that third person."

"The third person is the German and we are fools. We begin by falling
to loggerheads, and have reached such a state that the only salvation
for our social soul would be a decent civil war."

Here he became silent and after a while turned to Ladislaus.

"I see that your eyes are wide open, but nevertheless it is so. A civil
war is a superb thing. Nothing like it to clarify the situation and
purify the atmosphere. But to be led to such a situation and not to be
able to create it is the acme of misfortune or folly."

"I confess that I do not understand," said Ladislaus.

Gronski motioned with his hand and remarked:

"Do not attempt to, for after every fifteen minutes of conversation you
will not know what is black and what is white and your head will swim,
or you will get a fever, which as a wounded man you should try to
avoid."

"True," said Swidwicki, "I had heard and even read in some newspaper of
the occurrence and paid close attention to it because in your home Pan
Gronski and Pani Otocka with her sister were being entertained. I am a
relative of the late aged Otocka. Those women must have been scared.
But if they think that they are safer here in the city they are
mistaken."

"Judging from what can be seen, it is really no safer here. Have you
seen those ladies yet?"

"No, I do not like to go there."

At this, Ladislaus, who by nature was impetuous and bold, frowned, and
looking Swidwicki in the eyes, replied:

"I do not ask the reason, for that does not interest me, but I give you
warning that they are my relatives."

"Whose cause a young knight would have to champion," answered
Swidwicki, gazing at Ladislaus. "Ah, no! If I had any intention of
saying anything against the ladies I would not say it, as Gronski would
throw me down the stairs and I have a favor to ask of him. What I said
is the highest praise for them and simply gall and wormwood for me."

"Beg pardon, again; I do not understand."

"For you see that for the average Pole to have respect for any one and
not to be able to sharpen his teeth upon him is always annoying. I
cannot speak of the ladies as I would wish, that is, disparagingly. I
cannot endure ideal women; besides that, whenever it happens that I
pass an evening with them, I become a more decent man and that is a
luxury which in these times we cannot afford."

Ladislaus began to laugh and Gronski said:

"I told you that surely your head would swim."

After which to Swidwicki:

"If he should get any worse, I will induce him to send the doctor's and
apothecary's bill to you."

"If that is the case, I will go," answered Swidwicki, "but you had
better come with me into another room for I have some business with you
which I prefer to discuss without witnesses."

And, taking leave of Ladislaus, he stepped out. Gronski accompanied him
to the ante-room and after a while returned, shrugging his shoulders:

"What a strange gentleman," said Ladislaus. "I hope I am not
indiscreet, but did he want to borrow any money from you?"

"Worse," answered Gronski. "This time it was a few Falk engravings. I
positively refused as he most frequently returns money or rather he
lets you take it out of his annuity, but books, engravings, and such
things he never gives back."

"Is he making a collection?"

"On the contrary he throws or gives them away; loans or destroys them.
Do I know? You will now have an opportunity of meeting him oftener, for
though I refused to loan them, I permitted him to come here to look
over and study them. He undoubtedly is writing a book about Falk."

"Ah, so he is a literary man."

"He might have been one. As you will meet him, I must warn you a little
against him. I will describe him briefly. He is a man to whom the Lord
gave a good name, a large estate, good looks, great ability, and a good
heart, and he has succeeded in wasting them all."

"Even a good heart?"

"Inasmuch as he is a rather pernicious person, it is better that he
does not write. For you see that it may happen that somebody's brains
decay, just as with people, sick with consumption, their lungs decay.
But no one has the right to feed the nation with the putrefaction of
his lungs or his brains. And there are many like him. He does not act
for the public weal but merely for his own private affairs. Do you know
how he accounts for not accomplishing anything in his life? In this
way: that to do so one must believe and to believe it is necessary to
have a certain amount of stupidity which he does not possess. I am not
speaking now of religious matters. He simply does not believe that
anything can be true or false, just or unjust, good or bad. But Balzac
wisely says: 'Qui dit doute, dit impuissance.' Swidwicki is irritated
and filled with bitterness by the fact that he is not anything;
therefore he saves himself by paradoxes and turns intellectual
somersaults. I once saw a clown who amused the public by giving his cap
various strange and ridiculous shapes. Swidwicki does the same with
truth and logic. He is also a clown, but an embittered and spiteful
one. For this reason he always holds an opinion opposite to that of the
person with whom he is speaking. This happens particularly when he is
drunk, and he gets drunk every night. Then to a patriot he will say
that fatherland is folly; in the presence of a believer he will scoff
at faith; to a conservative he will say that only anarchy and
revolution are worth anything; to the socialist that the proletariat
have 'snouts.' I have heard how he thus expressed himself, and only for
this reason, that he, 'a superman,' might have something to hit at when
the notion seizes him. And thus it is always. In discussion he shines
with paradoxes, but sometimes it chances that he says something
striking because in all criticism there is some justice. If you wish, I
will arrange such a spectacle, though for me he has a certain regard,
firstly, because he likes me, and again because I have rendered him a
few services in life. He promised to repay me with black ingratitude,
but in the meantime he does not molest me with such energy as the
others."

"And no one has yet broken his bones," observed Ladislaus.

"He does not, in the least, retreat from that. He himself seeks trouble
and there is not a year in which he does not provoke some encounter."

"In the taverns?"

"Not only there. For belonging by name and family connections to the so
called higher walks of life, he has many acquaintances there. Two years
ago, indeed, the artists gave him a good cudgelling in a tavern; and,
for instance, Dolhanski (their dislike is mutual) shot him last spring
in a duel."

"Ah, that was when I heard his name; now I remember."

"Perhaps you heard it before, for previously he had a few affairs about
women, as, in addition, he is a great ladies' man. Finally he is an
unbridled rogue."

"As to women? or up to date?"

"He is not an old man. For some time he has been in the state where he
likes not ladies but their maids. Fancy that not long ago he was so
smitten with Miss Anney's maid,--the same brunette who nursed you a
little in Jastrzeb,--that for a time he was continually dogging her
steps. He said that once she reviled him on the stairway but this
charmed him all the more."

Krzycki at the mention of the brunette who nursed him in Jastrzeb
became so confused that Gronski noticed it, but not knowing what had
passed between him and Pauline, judged that the enamoured youth was
offended at the thought that such an individual as Swidwicki should
bustle about Miss Anney. So desiring to remove the impression, he
remarked:

"He says that he does not like to call upon those ladies, but Pani
Otocka does not welcome him at all with enthusiasm. She receives him
merely out of respect for the memory of her husband, who was his cousin
and who, at one time, was the conservator of his estate. After all, it
is probable that Swidwicki feels out of place among such ladies."

"For microbes do not love a pure atmosphere."

"This much is certain: there is within him 'a moral insanity.' I have
become accustomed to him, but there are certain things in him I cannot
endure. You have no idea of the contemptuous pity, the dislike, and the
downright hatred with which he expresses himself about everything which
is Polish. And here I call a halt. Notwithstanding our good relations,
it almost came to a personal encounter between us. For when he began to
squirt his bilious wit, a certain night, on all Poland, I said to him,
'That lion is not yet dead, and if he dies we know who alone is capable
of kicking at a dying lion.' He did not come here for over a month, but
was I not right? I understand how some great hero, who was repaid with
ingratitude, might speak with bitterness and venom of his country, but
Swidwicki is not a Miltiades or a Themistocles. And such an outpouring
of bile is directly pernicious, for he, with his immensely flashing
intellect, finds imitators and creates a fashion, in consequence of
which various persons who have never done anything for Poland whet
their rusty wits upon this whetstone. I understand criticism, though it
be inexorable, but when it becomes a horse or rather an ass from which
one never dismounts, then it is bad, for it takes away the desire to
live from those who, however, must live--and is vile, because it is
spitting upon society, is often sinful and, above all, unprecedentedly
unfortunate. Pessimism is not reason but a surrogate of reason;
therefore, a cheat, such as the merchant who sells chiccory for coffee.
And such a surrogate you now meet at every step in life and in
literature."

Here Gronski became silent for a while and raised his brows; and
Krzycki said:

"From what you say, I see that Swidwicki is a big ape."

"At times, I think that he is a man incredibly wretched, and for that
reason I did not break off relations with him. Besides he has for me a
kind of attachment and this always disarms one. Finally, I confess
openly that I have the purely Polish weakness, which indulges and
forgives everything in people who amuse us. He at times is very
amusing, especially when in a talking mood and when he is tipsy to a
certain degree."

"But finally, if he does not work but talks, from what does he live?"

"He does not belong to the poor class. Once he was very wealthy; later
he lost a greater portion of his fortune. But in the end the late
Otocki who was a most upright man, and very practical besides, seeing
what was taking place, took the matter in his own hands, saved
considerable and changed the capital into an annuity. From this
Swidwicki receives a few thousand roubles annually, and though he
spends more than he ought to, he has something to live upon. If he did
not drink, he would have a sufficiency: one passion he does not
possess, namely, cards. He says that for cards one must have the
intellect of a negro. From just that arose the encounter with
Dolhanski. But after all, they could not bear each other of old. Both,
as some one had said, are commercial travellers, dealing in cynicism
and competing with each other."

"Between the two, I, however, prefer Dolhanski," said Krzycki.

"Because he amuses you, and Swidwicki has not thus far had the
opportunity. Eternally, it is the same Polish weakness," answered
Gronski.

After a while he added:

"In Dolhanski it is easier to see the bottom."

"And at that bottom, Panna Kajetana."

"At present it may, in truth, be so. Do you know that Dolhanski brought
those ladies with him on the train which followed ours? He told me also
that they would at once pay a visit to your mother and Pani Otocka."

"You will really call upon them to-day?"

"Yes, I call there daily. But as you are not permitted to go out, I
will invite the ladies to come here to-morrow afternoon for tea."

"I thank you most heartily. I am not allowed to go out but I could
drive over."

"My servant told me that by order of the Party a strike of the
hackdrivers will begin to-morrow morning."

"Then how can those ladies ride over here to-morrow?"

"In the private carriages. Unless they are forbidden to ride in
private.--"

"In that case Mother will be unable to see me."

"If it is quiet upon the streets, I will conduct her here and escort
her home. At times it is so that one day the streets are turbulent as
the sea, and the next, still and deserted. In reality it is a relative
security; for whoever goes out to-day in the city cannot feel certain
that he will return. If not these then the others may stick in your
side a knife or a bayonet. But for women it is comparatively safe."

"Under these circumstances, it would be better if my mother did not
visit me at all. I prefer to stay out those three days which Szremski
has imposed upon me, to exposing her or any of those ladies to peril.
Please postpone that 'five o'clock.'"

"Perhaps it will be necessary to do that. But your mother will not
consent to not seeing you for three days. Maybe some one else will
importune me that I should not defer the party."

Ladislaus' face glowed with deep and tender joy.

"Tell Mother that worry about her may harm me and cause a fever, and
tell that other one that I kiss the hem of her dress."

"No. Such things you must say yourself."

"Oh, that I could not only tell her that as soon as possible, but do
it. In the meantime I have a favor to ask of you. Please send your
servant to the city. If he is afraid let him call a messenger. I would
like to send that other one a few flowers."

"Then send also some to your cousins, as otherwise your mother will be
prematurely surprised."

"Surely she would be astonished, for owing to her sickness she saw us
so little together that she could not take in the situation. But soon I
will confess all to her."

"I will only tell you what Pani Otocka said to me. She said this: 'Let
Ladislaus not speak with his mother before his final interview with
Aninka as otherwise he would be unable to tell her everything.'"

Krzycki looked Gronski quickly in the eyes.

"And do you not know what the matter is?"

"You know that I have never been accused of a lack of curiosity,"
answered Gronski, "but I judged that Pani Otocka has sufficient reasons
for remaining silent, and, therefore, I did not question her about
anything."



                                  VII

Gronski actually did postpone his "five o'clock." Pani Krzycki,
however, visited her son, sometimes twice in a day, claiming justly
that less danger threatened an elderly woman than any one else.
Ladislaus passed long hours with her, speaking about everything, but
mostly about Miss Anney. After Gronski's admonition, he did not,
indeed, confess to his mother his feelings for the young Englishwoman
and did not mention a word about his intentions, but the fact, alone,
that her name was continually on his lips, that he ascribed his
preservation to her alone, and incessantly talked about the debt of
gratitude which he and his family owed to her, gave his mother much to
think about. The suspicion, which had flitted through her mind on the
eve of their departure from Jastrzeb, returned and became more and more
strongly fortified. She did not, indeed, take it for granted that
Ladislaus had already taken an unbreakable resolution but came to the
conclusion that he was "smitten" and finally that the light-haired
maiden had made a greater impression upon him than had his cousin
Otocka. This filled her with sorrow. During the journey and their few
days' sojourn in Warsaw she took a fancy to Miss Anney for her
demeanor, simplicity, and complaisance; but "Zosia Otocka" was the
little eye in her head. From the moment she met her in Krynica, she
never ceased dreaming of her for her son. She judged that, in respect
to nobility and delicacy of sentiment, no one could compare with her.
She regarded her as a chosen soul and the incarnation of womanly
angelicalness. She had awaited her arrival with palpitation of the
heart, not supposing for a moment that Ladislaus would not be
captivated by her figure, her sweet countenance, that maidenly charm,
which, notwithstanding her widowhood, she preserved in full bloom. And
until the end Pani Krzycki indulged in the hope that all would end
according to her desires, not taking into account the fleeting
impression in Jastrzeb; only during the journey to Warsaw and in the
course of the last few days did she note that it might happen
otherwise, and that Ladislaus' eyes were enraptured by another flower.
She preferred, however, not to question him for she thought that it
might yet pass away.

He, in the meantime, chafed as if imprisoned, and would undoubtedly
have not observed those few days which the doctor stipulated, were it
not for the fact that he had made a promise to his mother in Miss
Anney's presence, and feared to create an opinion in her eyes that he
was a man who did not keep his word. After the advice which Pani
Otocka, through the instrumentality of Gronski, gave him that he should
first speak with Miss Anney, it became more unendurable for him to sit
in the house. From morning till night he racked his brain as to what
that could be and could arrive at no satisfactory solution. The day
following the conversation with Gronski, he decided to ask Pani Otocka
about it by letter and sat down with great ardor to write. But after
the first page he was encompassed by doubt. It seemed to him that he
could not express that which he wished. He understood that, under the
address of Pani Otocka, he was really writing to Miss Anney. So he
yearned to make it a masterpiece, and in the meantime came to the
conclusion that it was something so bungling and maladroit that it was
impossible to forward it. Finally he lost all faith in his stylistic
accomplishments, and this spoilt his humor so far that he again began
to ask himself in his soul whether such "an ass," who is unable to
indite three words, has the right to aspire to such an extraordinary
and in every respect perfect being as "She." Gronski, however,
comforted him with the explanation that the letter was not a success
because from the beginning the project was baffling and under such
circumstances no one could succeed. After which he also called his
attention to another circumstance, namely, that from Pani Otocka's
words and her advice that an interview with Miss Anney should precede
any talk with his mother could be drawn the inference that there
everything was prepared for an explosion, and all means preventative of
a heart-break had been provided. Mirth immediately returned to
Ladislaus and he began to laugh like a child and afterwards again sent
to the three ladies bouquets of the most magnificent roses which Warsaw
could provide.

The day concluded yet more propitiously, for proofs of appreciation
arrived. They were brought to Gronski's house by Panna Pauly in the
form of a small and perfumed note, on which was written by the hand of
the light-haired divinity the following words: "We thank you for the
beautiful roses and hope for an early meeting." Further came the
signatures of Agnes Anney, Zosia Otocka, and Marynia Zbyltowska.
Krzycki pronounced the letter a masterpiece of simplicity and
eloquence. He certainly would have kissed each letter of it separately,
were it not for the fact that before him stood Panna Pauly, with
clouded face, and eyes firmly fixed upon him--uneasy and already full
of suspicious jealousy, though obviously not knowing against which one
of the three ladies it was to be directed. Krzycki, not concealing the
joy which the letter gave him, turned to her and said:

"What is new, little Miss? Are the ladies well?"

"Yes. My mistress instructed me to inquire about your health."

"Kindly thank her. It is excellent, and if I am not shot again, I will
not die from the first shooting."

And she, not taking her bottomless eyes off him, replied:

"God be praised."

"But that you, little Miss, should not fear to go out in such turbulent
times!"

"The lackey was afraid, but I do not fear anything and wanted to see
for myself how you were."

"There is a daring body for me! I am grateful to you, little Miss.
Since this stupid strike of hackmen ended to-day, it is better for you
to return by hack. Please accept this--for--"

While saying this, he began to search for his purse, and taking a
five-rouble gold piece, he offered it to her. At the same time he felt
that he was doing something improper, and even terrible. It was so
disagreeable to him that he became confused and reddened, but it seemed
to him that any other method of showing his gratitude would be food for
the feeling which he perceived in her and which he wished to dispel,
because of some strange kind of fear intensified even by the fact that
the girl was Miss Anney's maid.

Therefore he began to repeat with a forced and slightly silly smile:

"Please, Panna Pauly, take it, please--"

But she withdrew her hand and her face darkened in a moment.

"I thank you," she said. "I did not come for that."

And she turned towards the door. To the dissatisfaction with himself
which Krzycki felt was joined pity for her. Therefore he followed her a
few steps.

"Let not the little lady be offended," he said; "here, of course, was
no other thought than of her safety. It was only about this that I was
concerned. Shall the servant summon a carriage?--"

But she did not answer and left the house. Krzycki, walking to the
window, gazed for some time at her graceful form, disappearing in the
depths of the street; and suddenly again appeared before his eyes the
vision of the white statue in azure drops of water. There was, however,
something exasperating in her; and unwillingly there occurred to the
frail young gentleman the thought that if she were not Miss Anney's
maid, and if he had known her formerly, that as two and two are four he
would have succumbed to temptation.

But at present another, greater power had snatched away his thoughts
and heart. After a while he returned to the letter and began to read it
anew: "We thank you for the beautiful roses and hope for an early
meeting." And so they want to see him over there. The day after
to-morrow he will not be sitting here, bound by the chains of his own
words, but will go there and gaze in those wonderful eyes, looking with
a heavenly stream, and will so press his lips to her beloved hands that
in one kiss he will tell everything which he has in his heart. Words
will be later only an echo. And imagination bore him like an
unmanageable horse. Perhaps that idolized maid may at once fall into
his arms; perhaps she may close those wonderful eyes and offer her lips
to him. At this thought a thrill passed through Krzycki from his feet
to his head and it seemed to him that all the love, all the impulses,
and all the desires which ever existed and exist in the world at
present were hoarded in him alone.



                                  VIII

Gronski spent the entire next day in the city; at night he was at Pani
Otocka's, so that he did not return home until near midnight. Krzycki
was not yet asleep and as his mother, on account of the disturbances on
the streets could not visit him that day, he awaited with impatience
Gronski's return, and immediately began to question him about the news
in the city and of the ladies.

"The news in the city is bad," answered Gronski; "about noon I heard
the firing of musketry in the factory district. Before calling upon
Pani Otocka, I was at a meeting in the Philharmonic at which
representatives of some of the warring factions met, and do you know
what kind of an impression I took away with me? Why, that,
unfortunately, Swidwicki in certain respects was right and that we have
come to the pass where only a civil war can clear the atmosphere. In
this would be the greater tragedy for it would, at the same time, be
the final extinction. But of this later. I have a head so tired and
nerves so shattered that to-day I cannot think of such things."

Here he rang for the servant, and notwithstanding the late hour
directed him to prepare tea. Then he continued:

"But from Pani Otocka I bring news. You would not believe your ears
when I tell you what happened. Why this afternoon, before my arrival,
Laskowicz called on those ladies."

Krzycki dropped from his hand the cigar which he was smoking.

"Laskowicz?" he asked.

"Yes."

"But the police are looking for him."

"They are looking for him in the country and not in Warsaw. The police,
like all the rest, have lost their heads. After all, it is easier to
hide in a large city. But, really, if he himself flew into their hands,
they might clutch him."

"But what did he want from Pani Otocka?"

"According to my conjectures, he wanted to see Marynia, but came
ostensibly for a contribution for revolutionary purposes. After all,
they are now continually soliciting contributions."

"And did the ladies give?"

"No. They told him that they would not give anything for the
revolution, and for the hungry and those deprived of employment they
had already sent as much as they could to a newspaper office. In fact,
this was the truth. Pani Otocka donated a considerable amount, and Miss
Anney also. Laskowicz attempted to explain to them that a refusal would
expose the refractory to dangers and for that reason he came to them
personally to shield them from it. He was very much displeased and
incensed, particularly as he saw only Pani Zosia and Miss Anney, for
Marynia did not appear. He announced however that he would come again."

"Let him try!" cried Ladislaus, clenching his fists.

But afterwards he asked with surprise:

"How did he get in there, and why did they receive him?"

"The male servants throughout the whole city are terror-stricken and
the words 'From the Party' everywhere open the doors like the best
pick-lock. But Laskowicz did not have to use even these means, as it
happened that Pani Otocka's footman was in the cellar and he was
admitted by Miss Anney's maid, who knew him from Jastrzeb and thought
that he came as a good acquaintance."

"In any case she acquitted herself foolishly."

"My dear sir, what could she know about him? Of course, no one told her
what he was and she saw him among us; she saw how he rode away to the
city with me and that he was the tutor of the younger members of your
family. That he participated in the attack upon you, also, could not
have occurred to her mind, for from our side that is only a supposition
which we did not confide to the ladies, in order not to disquiet them,
and much less to her."

"Perhaps she herself is a socialist."

"I doubt it, for after the attempt, hearing that you were wounded, it
is said she wailed so bitterly that she could be heard all over
Jastrzeb; she invoked all the punishments of hades upon your would-be
assassins. Miss Anney was much affected by that. I remember also that
when it was rumored that the Rzeslewo people did it, she vowed to set
fire to Rzeslewo. Ah, you always have luck--"

"I do not care for such luck. But as to Laskowicz she, of course, saw
during the search at Jastrzeb that they were seeking him."

"Well, what of it? Were you not persecuted for establishing a school?
In this country all sympathy is always on the side of the fugitive.
Imagine for yourself that when Miss Anney forbade her to admit
Laskowicz any more, she became indignant. Evidently it seemed to her
that Miss Anney did that from fear of the police."

"Miss Anney gave indisputable proofs that she does not fear anything."

"So I also do not suspect her of fear, nor Pani Otocka. But, instead, I
confess to you what I fear. That madman, if he does not personally
appear there, will hover about them, and what is more will write
letters; all letters now travel undoubtedly through the black cabinets.
If I knew where I could find him, I would warn him above all things not
to dare to write any more."

"I will warn him of that and something else, if I can only meet him."

"Since he visited the ladies, he may come to see me. We had, while
riding together from Jastrzeb, a discussion which he has not forgiven
me."

"If he comes here, do you give me carte blanche?"

"I would not think of it. Previously I had propounded to you the
question whether if, as a result of a personal encounter with you, he
was arrested you could take upon your soul his destruction, and you
answered 'No.' Now I will ask you differently: If Laskowicz, tracked
and pursued as a wild animal, hid in your house, would you not endeavor
to hide him or assist him in escaping?"

To this Krzycki replied in anger, but without hesitation:

"I would help him--the dog's blood."

"Ah, you see!" observed Gronski. "You curse, but admit. If they come to
me for a contribution--it is all the same whether with or without
Laskowicz--I will tell them that I will give for people destitute of
bread but will not give for bombs, dynamite, and strike propaganda. I
will tell them more: that in collecting contributions for a revolution
from people who do not want to give and who give only from fear, they
degrade their own citizens."

"Perhaps that is of import to them. The more the higher strata become
cowardly, the easier it will be for them."

"That may be, but in such case they are the full brethren of all those
who purposely and of old have debased the community."

And Krzycki pondered and said:

"With us these things are often done--from above and from below."

Gronski glanced at him with a certain surprise as if he did not expect
from his lips such a remark.

"You are right," he declared; "from above, a continual lowering of
great ideals, from below, because at present they are being directly
trampled upon."

"Bah! There remain yet the solid multitude of country peasantry."

"Again you are right," replied Gronski. "Formerly Dabrowski's March[7]
was the watchword for a hundred thousand, to-day it is the watchword
for ten millions. Blessed be folk-lore!"

They remained silent. Gronski for a time walked about the room, taking,
according to his custom, the eyeglasses off his nose and replacing
them. After which, he said:

"Do you know what surprises me? This: that in such times and under such
conditions, people can think of their private happiness and their
private affairs. But nevertheless such is the law of life, which no
power can suppress."

"Have you me in mind?"

"In theory, I am verifying a fact which in practice even you confirm.
For lo, at this moment it is as if an earthquake took place; the
buildings tumble, people perish, subterranean fires burst forth and you
and Miss Anney love each other and think of founding a new nest."

"How did you say it?" Krzycki asked with radiant countenance, "'you
love each other.'"

"I said 'you love each other,' for such is the case. You, after all,
are more in love than she."

"Certainly," answered Ladislaus, "there is nothing strange in that; but
what inference do you draw?"

"This, which you have not heretofore either directly or indirectly
asked and have not even tried to ascertain, namely, how much can Miss
Anney bring to you. In a rural citizen this is proof that the
thermometer shows the highest temperature of love."

"I give you my word, I would take her in a single dress," answered
Krzycki.

"But you would rather she had something?"

"I will answer sincerely that I would. There are many neighbors poorer
than I am and a piece of bread will never be lacking to us. But at
Jastrzeb there are three of us--counting Mother, four. I am heir of
one-fourth and the unsalaried manager of the three-fourths belonging to
my family and Mother. I would wish that Jastrzeb would solely belong to
myself and my wife, and in succession to my children, if we have any."

"As to that, I have no doubt; but as to a dowry, I am not tormented by
unnecessary fears," said Gronski. "Miss Anney lives, travels, dresses,
and resides in comfort, but she is not a person who would desire to
create false impressions. I assume that she does not possess millions,
but her fortune, particularly in comparison to our condition, may
appear even more considerable than we might have thought."

"Let her have it or not have it," exclaimed Krzycki, "if she only will
give herself to me. Whoever possesses that jewel can be crowned with it
like a king."

"I foresee a coronation soon," replied Gronski, laughing.



                                   IX

On account of Marynia's birthday, Miss Anney with her maid went to buy
flowers. The day before, Gronski told her that he saw in one of the
stores Italian rosy lilies, such as are sold in whole bundles in the
vicinity of Lucca and Pisa, but which are cultivated but little in the
conservatories of Warsaw and seldom imported into the country. As
Marynia had inquired about them with great curiosity. Miss Anney
decided to purchase for her all that could be found in the store. The
previous evening she bantered Gronski, telling him that she would
forestall him in the purchase, for he, as a known sleepy-head, would be
unable to leave his home early enough. Determined to play a joke upon
him, she left the house at eight in the morning, so as to be present at
the opening of the store. She had, besides, a letter prepared, with the
words "They are already bought," which she intended to send to Gronski
by Pauly, and exulted at the thought that Gronski would receive it at
his morning coffee.

In fact everything went according to her plans, for she was the first
buyer at the store. She was disappointed only in this: that there were
too few lilies. There was only one flower-pot, containing about a dozen
stalks with flowers. So the decoration of Marynia's whole room with
them was out of the question. But for just this reason Miss Anney
eagerly bought the one sample and, paying the price asked for it,
directed that it be sent to the Otocka residence. She was annoyed,
however, when informed in the store that the gardener delivering
flowers could not come until noon-time, for she desired that Marynia
should have them before she rose from bed.

"In that case," she said, turning to Pauly, "call a hack and we will
take the flower-pot with us."

But Pauly, who, though she behaved quite indifferently and even
refractorily in respect to her mistress and also to Pani Otocka, had a
sort of exceptional adoration, bordering on sympathy, for Marynia,
replied:

"Let Madame permit me to carry these flowers alone. In the hack they
will be shaken up and may fall off."

"But you are to go with the letter to Pan Gronski and, besides, you
will tire yourself with the flower-pot."

"Pan Gronski's residence is on the way; and what if I do tire myself a
little for the golden little lady. May I not do that much for her?"

Miss Anney understood that a refusal would cause her great vexation,
therefore she said:

"Very well. You are an honest soul. But if it should be too heavy for
you, take a hack. I will go to church."

And she went to church to pray for Ladislaus, who was that day to leave
the house for the first time and pass the evening at Pani Otocka's,
owing to Marynia's birthday. She expected that the following day he
would visit her and she wanted also to commit that day to divine
protection.

Pauline, taking the lilies, went in an opposite direction towards
Gronski's residence. After a few score of steps the flower-pot filled
with earth began to grow heavy; so, shifting it from one arm to the
other, she thought:

"If it was for any one else, I would throw everything upon the ground,
but she is such a bird that it is hard not to love her--I would carry
for her even two such flowerpots and I would not do her any harm.--Even
in case--he loved her alone."

And at this gloomy thought her countenance darkened yet more. In her
heart, capable only of extreme feelings, began a struggle between her
strange adoration for Marynia and her blind and passionate love for
Krzycki; it was accompanied by the terrible and hopeless consciousness
that under no circumstance could he be hers, as he was a young lord,
heir, almost prince royal, and she a simple girl for sewing, setting
the parlor in order, and household work. To this was added immediately
a feeling of a prodigious wrong. Why, she might have been born also a
"little lady" and not brought up in an orphan asylum, under the care of
sisters of charity, but in a rich lordly home. Why was it not so,
instead of the vile work of the servant's station awaiting her till
death?

And here it occurred to her mind that there is now, however, a kind of
people, a kind of "party," which wants to take away property from the
rich, distribute it among the poor, level all people, so that there
will be no rich men and paupers, no servants and lords, no wrong of any
kind in the world; and in the place thereof, all ranks will be one and
the same, and liberty will be identical. She had heard of this from the
servants in the house, from the craftsmen, from the salesmen in the
stores to which she went to make purchases, and also through
overhearing the conversations of the "gentility." It surprised her that
these people were called socialists, for heretofore a "socialist" and a
madman roaming over the streets with knife in hand meant to her one and
the same thing. For a time after the attack upon Krzycki, when the
report was spread that the socialists did it, she even felt for them
such furious and blind hatred that she was willing to poison them or
bake them upon live fires. Later, when the servants in Jastrzeb began
to repeat that the young heir was waylaid not by them, but by people of
Rzeslewo, this hatred became extinguished. But subsequently, when the
girl learned more accurately what the socialists aimed at and who they
were, she was but little interested in them. She partly regarded their
ideas as foolish and partly thought of other things more personal, and
finally, she distinguished in Poland only "her own" and "not her own,"
loving, not knowing why, the first, and hating indiscriminately all the
others. It was not until the last few days that it began to dawn in her
head that among her own there existed terrible and painful differences;
that for some there was wealth, for others poverty; that for a few
there was enjoyment and for others toil; for some, laughter, for
others, tears; for some, happiness, for others, woe and injury.

This became clear to her, particularly at that moment when with greater
suffering than ever before she became aware that this young gentleman,
to whom her soul and body were urged, was simply an inaccessible star,
on which she was barely permitted to gaze. And although nothing had
happened that day which particularly irritated her and nothing had
altered, she was possessed by a despair such as she never felt before.

But the course of her gloomy meditations was finally interrupted by an
external incident. Notwithstanding the early hour, she observed on the
corner of the precinct a large crowd of people, agitated by some
uneasiness. Their faces were turned towards the depth of a cross
street, as if something unusual was taking place there. Some rushed
forward while others retreated with evident fear. Some, arguing
heatedly and pointing at something with their hands, looked upwards to
the roofs of the houses. From all directions flocked new crowds of
workingmen and striplings. Among the hack-drivers standing on the
corner an unusual commotion prevailed: the drivers, in groups of
varying numbers, wheeled their horses about in different directions as
though they wished to blockade the street. Suddenly shrill cries
resounded and then shots. In one moment an indescribable confusion
arose. The throng swung to and fro and began to scamper; the cries
sounded shriller and shriller each moment. It was evident that they
were pursuing somebody. The girl, with her lilies, stood as if
thunderstruck, not knowing what to do. Then, suddenly from amidst the
hacks, a man dashed out, bent forward with lowered head, and at full
speed ran towards her. On the way he flung away his cap and snatched a
hat from the head of a stripling who, understanding the situation in
the twinkle of an eye, did not even quiver. The hack-drivers began yet
more zealously to block the street, evidently with a view to make the
pursuit more difficult. But right behind them again rattled the
revolver shots, and amidst the general cries and tumult already could
be heard the shrill sounds of the police whistles and the hoarse,
bellowing shouts of "Catch him! catch him!" A blind, excessive fright
now seized Pauly, and she began to run, squeezing unconsciously to her
bosom the flower-pot with the lilies, as if she wanted to save her own
child.

But she had barely run a dozen or more steps when a panting, low voice
began to cry close behind her:

"Lady, give me the flowers! For the mercy of God, lady, give me the
flowers! Save!"

The girl turned about suddenly with consternation, and indescribable
amazement was reflected in her eyes, for she recognized Laskowicz.

He, having violently wrested from her the flower-pot, to which, not
knowing what she was doing, she clung with all her strength, whispered
further:

"Perhaps they will not recognize me. I will tell them that I am a
gardener. Save me, little lady! Perhaps they will not recognize. I am
out of breath!"

She wanted to run farther but he restrained her.

In the meantime, from among the chaos of hacks, a dozen or more
policemen and civil agents emerged. The majority of the mob moved at a
running pace in a direction opposite to the one in which Laskowicz and
the girl were going, and undoubtedly they intentionally moved that way
in order to deceive the pursuers. To better hoodwink the police, cries
of "Catch him!" resounded among the laborers. Some workingman began to
whistle shrilly on his fingers, imitating the sound of a police
whistle. Accordingly the policemen and agents plunged headlong after
the dense mob. At the intersection of the streets only a few stood
still, and these, after a moment's irresolution, set off in the other
direction, but they ran at full speed by the girl and the man with the
light hat, carrying flowers. Rushing ahead they seized a few
workingmen, but other workingmen rescued them in a moment. Pauly and
Laskowicz walked farther.

"They missed me," said the student. "Here no one would betray. They
missed! Those flowers and another's hat fooled them. I thank you,
little lady; I thank you from my whole soul, and until my death I will
never be able to sufficiently repay you."

But she, not having yet entirely recovered from her amazement, began to
ask:

"What happened? Where did you come from?"

"From the roof; they pounced upon us in a printing plant. The others
will get a year or two and nothing more will happen to them--but for
me, there would be the halter."

"How did you manage to escape?"

"When we got on the roof, I slid down the gutter-pipe. I might have
broken my neck. It was not until I reached the street that they
observed me. They fired shots at me, but luckily I was not hit, for the
blood would have betrayed me. Whoever was alive helped me, and I was
hidden by the hacks. They did not see how I changed a cap for a hat.
But if it was not for my female associate it would have been all over
with me."

"What female associate?"

"I speak of you, little lady, thus. Amongst us such is the custom."

"Then do not call me that, for I am no female associate."

"That is a pity. But this is not the time to speak of that. Once more I
thank you for the rescue, though it is for a short time."

"Why for a short time?"

"Because I do not know what to do with myself, where to go, and where
to hide. Every night I sleep in a different place but they are seeking
for me everywhere."

"That is true. They were searching for you in Jastrzeb. Do you know
that there was a police-search there?"

"Was there?"

"Yes. Gendarmes, police, and soldiers came. They almost put everybody
under arrest."

"Oh, they would not arrest them--"

The clatter of horses' hoofs and the rattle of the horseshoes over the
stony pavements interrupted for a while their conversation. From a side
street ahead rode out a Cossack patrol, consisting of several scores of
men. They rode slowly, with carabines resting upon their thighs and
looked about cautiously. At the sight of them, Pauly became somewhat
pale, while Laskowicz began to whisper:

"That is nothing. They see that I am carrying flowers from the store.
They will take me for a gardener and will ride by."

In fact they did pass by.

"They are now arresting every moment people on the streets in whole
crowds," said Laskowicz. "To some one else that would be a small
matter; but if I once fall into their clutches, I will never be able to
get out again."

"Well, what do you intend to do?"

"Carry these flowers for you, little lady."

"And after that?"

"I do not know."

"Of course you must have some acquaintances who will hide you."

"I have, I have! But the police have their eyes upon all my
acquaintances. Every night there is a search. For the last two nights I
slept in a printing establishment, but today they discovered the
printing press."

A moment of silence followed.

After which Laskowicz again spoke in a gloomy voice:

"There is now no help for me. I will deliver these flowers and go
wherever my eyes will take me."

But in the heart of the girl suddenly there awoke a great pity for him.
Before that she was indifferent to him. At present she only saw in him
a Polish student hunted, like a mad dog, by people whom she of old
despised.

Therefore on her energetic and obstinate countenance, inflexible
determination was depicted.

"Come what may, I will not desert you," she said, knitting her dark
brows.

Laskowicz was suddenly seized with a desire to kiss her hand and would
have done so if they were not on the street. He was moved not only by
the hope of escape, but also by the fact that this girl, who hardly
knew him, who did not belong to his camp, was ready to expose herself
to the greatest dangers in order to come to his aid.

"What can the little lady do? Where will she hide me?" he asked
quietly.

But she walked on with brows knitted by the strain of continuous
thinking, and finally said:

"I know. Let us go."

He shifted the flower-pot to the left hand. "I must tell you," he said
with lowered voice, "that the least punishment for concealing me is
Siberia. I must tell you that! And I might cause your destruction, but
in the first moments--the little lady understands--the instinct of
preservation--there was no time for reflection."

The little lady did not very well understand what the instinct of
preservation was, but instead understood something else. This was that
if she brought him, as she intended, to Gronski's, she would expose to
danger not only Gronski but also Krzycki.

And under the influence of this thought she stood as if stupefied.

"In such a case, I do not know what I can do," she said.

"Ah, you see, little lady," answered the student, as if in sorrow,
while she, on her part, again began to rack her brains. It never
occurred to her to conduct Laskowicz to Miss Anney's or Pani Otocka's.
She felt that here masculine help was necessary and that it was
imperative to find some one who would not fear and for whom she,
herself, did not care. Therefore she mentally reviewed the whole array
of Miss Anney's and Pani Otocka's acquaintances.--Pan Dolhanski?
No!--He might be afraid or else send them to the devil and sneer at
them. Dr. Szremski? He had probably left the city. Ah, were it not for
this "young lord" she would conduct this poor fellow to Pan Gronski,
for even if he did not receive him, at the worst he would give good
advice, or would direct them to somebody. And suddenly it came to her
mind that if Siberia threatened the person who concealed Laskowicz, Pan
Gronski would not direct them to anybody; but if he could, he would
direct them to only one man, whom she also knew. And on this thought,
she dusted her dress with her hands and, turning to Laskowicz, said:

"I know now! Let us try."

After which, standing for a while, she continued:

"Let us enter this house, here, at once. You will wait with the flowers
in the hallway and I will deliver the letter upstairs and return. Do
not fear anything, for the doorkeeper here knows me and he is a good
man. After that I may lead you somewhere."

Saying this, she entered the gate and, leaving Laskowicz below, rang,
after a moment, Gronski's bell.

Gronski, rising that day earlier than usual, was already dressed and
sat with Krzycki having tea. When Pauly handed him the letter, he read
it and, laughing, showed it to Ladislaus; after which he rose and went
to his writing desk to write an answer. During this time Ladislaus
began to question her about the health of his mother and the younger
ladies.

"I thank you, the ladies are well, but my lady has already gone down
town."

"So early? And is not your lady afraid to go alone about the city?"

"My lady went with me and bought flowers for Panna Marynia and after
that she went to church."

"To what church did she go?"

"I do not know."

Panna Pauly knew well, but she was hurt by his asking her about her
mistress; while he, conjecturing this, ceased to question her further,
for he had previously resolved to converse with her as little as
possible.

So, silence--a little embarrassing--ensued between them, and continued
until Gronski returned with the letter.

"Here is the answer," he said; "let the little lady bow for us to the
ladies and say that to-day we both will be there, for Pan Krzycki's
imprisonment is now ended."

"I thank you," replied Pauly, "but I have yet a favor,--I would like to
learn the address of Pan Swidwicki?"

Gronski looked at her with astonishment.

"Did the ladies request you to ask?"

"No--I just wanted to know--"

"Panna Pauly," said Gronski, "Pan Swidwicki lives at No. 5 Oboznej, but
it is not very safe for young girls to go to him."

She colored to the ears from fear that the "young lord" might think
something bad about her.

And she hesitated for a while whether she should tell that Laskowicz
was in the hallway and that it was necessary to hide him, as otherwise
destruction awaited him. But again she recollected that Laskowicz had
been sought in Jastrzeb and that Krzycki, on account of that had been
almost arrested. A fear possessed her that perhaps Gronski himself
might want to hide the student and in such case would jeopardize the
young lord. She looked once or twice at the shapely form of Krzycki and
decided to remain silent.

But Gronski spoke further:

"I do not advise you to go to him. I do not advise it. It is said that
you once gave him a tongue-lashing."

And she, raising her head, answered at once haughtily and indignantly:

"Then I will give him a tongue-lashing a second time; but I have some
business with him."

And bowing, she left. Gronski shrugged his shoulders and said:

"I cannot understand what she is concerned about. There is something
strange in that girl, and I tell you that your future lady gives
evidence of holy patience, that she has not dismissed her before this.
She always says that she is a violent character but has a golden heart,
and that may be possible. I know, however, from Pani Otocka that the
golden heart enacts for her such scenes as no one else would tolerate."



                                   X

In the evening of Marynia's birthday, Ladislaus and Miss Anney for a
time found themselves at some distance from the rest of the company, at
a cottage piano, decorated with flowers. His eyes shone with joy and
happiness. He felt fortunate that his imprisonment had ended and that
he could again gaze upon this, his lady, whom he loved with the whole
strength of a young heart.

"I know," he told her, "that you were this morning in the city and
bought flowers. I learned this from your maid, who brought the letter
to Pan Gronski. Afterwards you went to church. I asked her to which
one, as I wanted to go there, but the maid did not know."

"That is strange, for she knows that I always go to the Holy Cross, and
at times I even take her with me. I am there, daily, at the morning
mass."

"She told me that she did not know," answered Ladislaus. "Will you be
there to-morrow?"

"Yes; unless the weather should be very inclement."

Ladislaus lowered his voice:

"I ask because I have a great and heartfelt prayer. Permit me to come
there at the same hour and before the same altar."

Blushes suffused Miss Anney's countenance and her breast began to move
more quickly. She inclined her head somewhat and placing the edge of
the fan to her lips answered in a low voice:

"I have not the right to forbid nor to permit. The church is open to
all the pious."

"Yes. But I want to kneel a while beside you--together, and not with
customary humility; but for a special purpose. As to my piety, I will
candidly state that I believe in God, ah! especially now--I believe
in God and in His goodness; but heretofore I have not been very
pious--just like all others. When, however, a whole life is concerned,
then even a man, totally unbelieving, is ready to kneel and pray. To
kneel beside you, that alone is an immense boon, for it is as if one
had beside him an angel. And I want to beg for something else: and that
is that we should together, at the same time, say 'Under Thy protection
we flee, Holy Mother of God.'"

Ladislaus became pale from emotion and on his forehead beads of
perspiration appeared. For a time he remained silent, to permit the too
violent beating of his heart to subside. After which he again spoke:

"'We flee'--that will mean us both. Nothing more, dear, dearest lady,
nothing more. After that I will go, and in the afternoon, if you
permit, I will come to your residence and will tell you everything
which has collected within me from the time I first saw you in
Jastrzeb. In your hands, lady, lies my fate, but I must, I must divulge
it all; otherwise my bosom will burst. But if you, lady, will agree to
a joint prayer of 'Under Thy protection,' before that time, then I
shall be so happy that I do not know how I will survive until
to-morrow."

And she looked at him guilelessly and straight in his eyes with the
celestial streak of the hazy pupils of her eyes and answered:

"Come to church to-morrow."

And Ladislaus whispered:

"And not to be able to fall at your feet at this moment--not to be able
to fall at your feet!"

But Miss Anney tapped lightly, as if reluctantly, his hand, resting on
the piano with her own, which was incased in a white glove, and walked
away, for, not forgetting herself to the same extent as Ladislaus, she
noticed that they were observed. Owing to Marynia's birthday there
assembled that evening at Pani Otocka's quite a considerable gathering
of acquaintances. The notary, Dzwonkowski, appeared; also, an old
neighbor from the vicinity of Zalesin; and besides these Dolhanski and
both Wlocek ladies, who after a previous exchange of visits, were
invited by Pani Otocka. Gronski actually appeared the earliest and well
nigh played the rôle of host, in which part he was assisted by the
former teacher of Marynia, the violinist Bochener, not less in love
with her, and finally Swidwicki, who on that day was exceptionally
sober. Pani Otocka was occupied with the Wlocek ladies; Gronski
conversed with Swidwicki in so far as he did not direct his eyes after
Marynia, who, in her white dress, adorned with violets, slender, almost
lithesome, actually looked like an alabaster statuette. But she, and
with her Pani Krzycki, began to look with especial attention at
Ladislaus and Miss Anney. The little ears of Marynia reddened from
curiosity, while on Pani Krzycki's countenance there appeared
uneasiness, and, as if it were, a shadow of dissatisfaction.

But Miss Anney, breaking off her conversation with Ladislaus,
approached directly towards his mother and sat down in a chair beside
her.

"Pan Ladislaus is so happy," she said, "that his confinement is ended."

"I see," answered Pani Krzycki, "but I fear that conversation fatigues
him yet. What did he say to you with such animation?"

For a moment, Miss Anney inclined her head and began to smooth out with
her fingers the folds of her bright dress as if troubled, but later,
having evidently formed a sudden resolution, she raised her frank eyes
straight at Pani Krzycki, just as she had previously at Ladislaus, and
replied:

"He said such pleasant and loving things; that he wants to go to church
to-morrow and say 'Under Thy protection'--together with me--"

In her eyes there were no interrogatories, nor uneasiness, nor
challenge, but great goodness and truth.

Pani Krzycki, on the other hand, was put out of countenance by the
candor of the reply, so that at first she was silent. It seemed to her
that what heretofore was a doubtful, blurred, and indistinct
supposition, lightened up and plainly emerged upon the surface, but she
tried to disbelieve it; so, after a certain hesitation, she replied:

"Laudie otherwise would be ungrateful. He owes you so much--and I
also."

Miss Anney understood perfectly that Pani Krzycki wanted to give her to
understand that the motive of Ladislaus' words was only gratitude, but
she had no time to reply to the remark, as at that time across the arm
of her chair the slender form of Marynia was leaning:

"Aninka, may I trouble you to step over here for a moment?"

"Certainly," answered Miss Anney.

And rising, she left. Pani Krzycki eyed her and sighed. There was in
that beautiful form so much youth, health, radiance, so many golden
tresses, glances, so much bloom, warmth, and womanly fascination, that
an older and experienced woman, like Pani Krzycki, was forced to admit
in her soul that it would have been rather incomprehensible if
Ladislaus had remained indifferent to all those charms.

And sighing for the second time, she thought:

"Why did Zosia bring her to Jastrzeb?"

And she began to seek with her eyes Pani Otocka, who at that moment was
approaching the door to greet an elderly gentleman with a white leonine
mane and the same kind of white beard who, evidently being almost
blind, stood on the threshold and gazed over the salon through his
gold-rimmed spectacles.

Finally espying Pani Otocka, he seized both her hands and commenced to
kiss them with great ardor, while she greeted him with that shy grace,
peculiarly her own, which made her resemble a young village maid.

"How sweet she is and how lovable!" Pani Krzycki said to herself.

But her further meditations and regrets were interrupted by Swidwicki,
who, taking the chair vacated by Miss Anney, said:

"But your son, benefactress, is a genuine Uhlan from under Somo-Sierra.
What a race! what a type! I, who everywhere fancy beauty as a setter
does partridges, observed this at once to Gronski. Only put a sabre in
his hand and place him on horseback. Or at some exhibition! plainly on
exhibition, as a notable specimen of the race. Ah, what blood with
milk! The women must rave over him!"

Pani Krzycki, notwithstanding her internal worries, was pleased to hear
these words, for Ladislaus' shapeliness was from his childhood days a
source of pride and joy for her. But in reality, she did not deem it
proper to admit this before Swidwicki.

"I do not attach any importance to that," she answered, "and I thank
God that it is not the only thing that can be said of my son."

And Swidwicki snapped his fingers and said:

"You do attach importance to it, madame, you do, and so do I, and those
ladies only pretend that they do not--that young Englishwoman as well
as even that translucent little porcelain maid; though apparently she
thinks of nought but music.... Perhaps the least of all Pani Zosia, but
only because from a certain time she too sedulously reads Plato."

"Zosia--Plato!" exclaimed Pani Krzycki.

"I suspect so, and even am certain for otherwise she would not be so
Platonic."

"Why, she is not versed in Greek."

"But Gronski is, and he can translate for her."

Pani Krzycki gazed with astonishment at Swidwicki and broke off the
conversation. Becoming acquainted with him only that evening and having
no idea that he was a man who, for a quip, for a wretched play on words
and from habit, was ready always and everywhere to talk stuff and
nonsense in the most reckless manner, she could not understand why he
said that to her. Nevertheless his words were for her, as it were, a
ray illuminating things which heretofore she had not observed. She
found new proofs that her heartfelt and secret wishes would always
remain a dream without substance--and she sighed for the third time.

"Ah, then it is so," she thought to herself in her soul.

"Yes, yes," Swidwicki continued. "My cousin is very Platonic and in
addition a trifle anæmic."

In his laughter there was a kind of bitterness and even malice, so that
Pani Krzycki again looked at him with astonishment.

In the meantime Marynia led Miss Anney to another chamber. Her ears
each moment became redder and her eyes sparkled with a perfectly
childish curiosity. So pressing her little nose to Miss Anney's cheek,
she began to whisper:

"Tell me! Did he propose to you at the piano? Did he propose? Tell me
now."

And Miss Anney, embraced her neck with her arms and kissing her
cordially, whispered in her ear:

"Almost."

"What?--at the piano! I guessed it at once! Ho, ho! I am thoroughly
conversant with such matters. But how was that? Almost? How, almost?"

"For I know that he loves me--"

"Laudie? What did he say to you?"

"He did not even have to say it."

"I understand, I understand perfectly."

Miss Anney, though her eyes were moist, began to laugh, and, hugging
the little violinist again, said:

"Let us now return to the salon."

"Let us return," answered Marynia.

On the way she said with delighted countenance:

"You and Zosia, thought that I saw nothing, and I--oho!"

In the salon they chanced upon a political discussion. The tall elderly
gentleman with the white mane, who was a colleague and friend of the
late Otocki and at the same time editor of one of the principal dailies
in Warsaw, said:

"They think that this is a new state of affairs, which henceforth is
bound to continue, but it is an attack of hysteria, after which
exhaustion and prostration will follow. I have lived long in the world
and often have witnessed similar phenomena. Yes, it is so. It is a
stupid and wicked revolution."

If Swidwicki had heard from some madman that this was a wise and
salutary revolution, he undoubtedly would have been of the opinion of
the old editor, but, as he esteemed lightly journalists in general, he
was particularly angered at the thought that the amiable old gentleman
passed in certain circles as a political authority; so he began at once
to dispute.

"Only the bottomless naïvete of the conservatives," he said, "is
capable of demanding from a revolution reason and goodness. It
is the same as demanding, for instance, of a conflagration that it
should be gentle and sensible. Every revolution is the child of the
passions--unreason and rage--and not of love. Its aim is to blow up the
old forms of folly and evil and forcibly introduce into life the new."

"And how do you picture to yourself the new?"

"In reality as also foolish and wicked--but new. Upon such transitions
our history is based, and even the annals of mankind in general."

"That is the philosophy of despair."

"Or of laughter."

"If of laughter, then it is egoism."

"Yes, that is so. My partisanship begins with me and ends with me."

Gronski impatiently smacked his lips; while the editor took off his
spectacles and, winking with his eyes, began to wipe them with a
handkerchief.

"I beg pardon," he said with great phlegm. "Your party affiliations may
be very interesting but I wanted to speak of others."

"Less interesting--"

But the old journalist turned to Gronski.

"Our socialists," he said, "have undertaken the reconstruction of a new
house, forgetting that we live huddled together in only a few rooms,
and that in the others dwell strangers who will not assent to it; or
rather, on the contrary, they will permit the demolition of those few
rooms, but will not allow their reconstruction."

"Then it is better to blow up the whole structure with dynamite,"
interjected Swidwicki.

But this remark was passed over in silence; after which Gronski said:

"One thing directly astonishes me, and that is that the conservatives
turn with the greatest rage not against the revolutionists, but against
the national patriots, who do not desire a revolution and who alone
have sufficient strength to prevent it. I understand that a foreign
bureaucracy does this, but why should our patres conscripti clear the
way in this for them?"

The editor replaced the spectacles, wetted his finger in the tea
seeking the cup, afterwards raised it to his lips, drank, and replied:

"The reason of that is their greater blindness and sense."

"Please explain!" exclaimed Swidwicki, who was a little impressed by
this reply.

And the neighbor from Zalesin, who eagerly listened to the words of the
journalist, asked:

"How is that, sir benefactor? I do not understand."

"Yes, it is so," answered the editor. "Their greater blindness is due
to the narrower horizon, to the lack of ability to look ahead into the
future, into those times and ages which are yet to come, for which it
is a hundred times more important that the great Sacred Fire.[8] should
not be extinguished than that any immediate paltry benefits should be
obtained. It is necessary to have a sense of coming events, and this
they do not possess. They are a little like Esau who relinquished his
heritage for a pot of lentils. And for us it is not allowable to
relinquish anything. Absolutely nothing! On the other hand, when
concerned about isolated moments, about ranks and connections in a
given instant of time, the conservatives are a hundred times more
sensible, adroit--commit far less errors in details and view matters
more soberly. I speak of this with entire impartiality for I myself am
a nonpartisan."

"Who is right neither in the present time nor will be in the future,"
interposed Swidwicki. "After all, I agree that the difference between
the views of politicians favoring reconciliation and sentimental
patriots and zealots in general lies in this, that from political
moderation you can immediately coin money, though at times counterfeit,
but from sentimental politics,--only in the future. History confirms at
every stage that what one hundred, fifty, or twenty years ago appeared
to be political or social insanity, to-day has entered into being. And
it will be ever thus in the further course of time."

"That may be," said Gronski, "but it is only just so far as radicalism
of ideas or the furies of feeling do not strike terror in a great,
stupid, immediate act. For if this occurs a crime is perpetrated, and
error is born which menaces the future. This happens frequently."

"And I assume that this is just what the conservatives fear," answered
the journalist, "an excessively warm patriotism--and it must be
admitted, often improvident and absurd in its manifestations--strikes
them with terror. Formerly they feared that the peasants, who read 'The
Pole' might take to their scythes. At present they have gooseflesh when
some zealot breaks out with a word about the future kingdom of Poland."

"Kingdom of Poland!" said Swidwicki, snorting ironically. "I will tell
you gentlemen an anecdote. A certain Russian official became insane and
suffered from a mania of greatness. In reality his delusion lay in
this, that he attained the highest position in heaven as well as on
earth. And whom do you suppose that he imagined himself to be?"

"Well! God?"

"More."

"I confess that my imagination reels," answered Gronski.

"Ah, you see! In the meantime he invented a position still higher, for
he represented himself as the 'presiding officer' of the Holy Trinity.
Understand? That there was a committee consisting of God, the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Ghost--and he was its chairman. Is not that
more?"

"True, but why do you cite that anecdote?"

"As a proof that for diseased brains there are no impossibilities and
that only such brains can think of a kingdom of Poland."

Gronski remained silent for a while, and then said: "Twenty millions of
people are something tangible, and permit me to say that the
chairmanship of the Holy Trinity is a greater impossibility. What do
you know about the future and who can divine it? The most you can say
is that in view of the present conditions the thought of creating
anything like it by force, through revolution, would be a mistake, and
even a crime. But our nation will be devoured only when it allows
itself to be devoured. But if it does not? If through great and noble
efforts it shall bring forth enlightenment, social discipline,
prosperity, science, literature, art, wealth, sanitation, a quiet
internal strength, then what? And who to-day can tell what shape in the
future the political and social conditions will assume? Who can vouch
that the systems of government of the present day may not entirely
change, that they will not fall and will not be adjudged as idiotic and
criminal as to-day we regard tortures? Who can divine what governments
will arise in that great sea which is humanity? The man who, for
instance, in the time of Cicero would have said that social economy
could exist without slavery would have been deemed crazy, and,
nevertheless, to-day slavery does not exist. And in our political
relations something similar might take place. To-day's conditions of
coercion might change into voluntary and free unions. I do not know
whether it will be so, but you do not know that it will not be so. In
view of this, I see the necessity of quiet and iron labor, but I do not
see the necessity of the repudiation or renunciation of any ideals--and
I will tell you too that the Pole who does not bear that great ideal,
at the bottom of his soul, is in a measure a renegade; and I do not
understand why he does not renounce everything."

"Write that in verse and in Latin," answered Swidwicki with impatience,
"for in that manner you will upset the heads of a less number of men."

"Then our present day antagonists may themselves say to us: 'Arrange
matters to suit yourselves.' At the present moment it may seem a naïve
fancy, but the future carries in its bosom such surprises, as not only
the shortsighted politicians have not dreamed of, but even philosophers
who can look ahead."

After which, having evidently sufficient of this discussion, he added:

"But enough of this. I suspend the argument and pause. To-day we must
occupy ourselves not with politics, but with the young lady whose
birthday we celebrate and whom undoubtedly such things weary."

Saying this, he turned to Marynia, standing at Miss Anney's side, but
she, shaking her little head, replied at once with great ardor:

"On the contrary! I am of the same opinion as Pan Gronski."

And she blushed to her ears, for all began to laugh, while Swidwicki
replied:

"If that is so, then everything is settled."

Ladislaus smiled at Marynia's embarrassment, though in truth he did not
know what it all was about, as his whole soul surged in his enamoured
eyes, gazing at Miss Anney. She stood between two chairs, calm,
smiling, white in her light dress, cheery as the summer dawn, and only
after the close of the discussion rosier than usual, and he plainly
devoured her with his gaze. His thoughts and heart raged within him. He
looked at her radiant countenance, on her bare arms, chiseled as if out
of warm marble, at her developed strong breast, on the sinuous pliant
lines of her figure, on her knees turned towards him and outlined under
her light dress, and he was seized by a whirlwind of desires, which
struggled with the feeling of worship and respect which he entertained
for this maiden, pure as a tear. His pulse commenced to beat strangely
and on his forehead appeared a braid of veins. At the thought that she
was to be his wife and that all these treasures would be his, he was
enveloped by a fire of blood, and at the same time by some kind of
debility so great that at times he was uncertain whether he would be
able to lift the chair. At the same time he quarrelled with himself. He
became indignant from his whole soul at that "animal" which he could
not subdue within himself, and upbraided himself to the last words
because he did not love her--"that angel"--as he should love her, that
is with the love which only kneels and idolizes. So, in thought, he
fell on his knees before his loved one, embraced her limbs, and
implored forgiveness, but when he imagined that his lips kissed her
feet, again lust seized him by the hair. And in this struggle he felt
not only unworthy of her, not only "a beast," but at the same time a
half-baked and ludicrous blunderer, deprived of that reason, peace, and
self-control which a true man should possess.

He was also possessed by astonishment that everything which could
promise delight should also at the same time torment him. Fortunately,
his further torments and meditations were interrupted by music, with
which an evening at Pani Otocka's had to conclude. Bochener sat at the
piano, the irascible notary began to blow in his flute, and Marynia
stood aside with the violin, and if those present were not accustomed
to the sight of her, they would have been astonished at the change
which took place in her. The beautiful but childish face of a delighted
and inquisitive girl assumed in a single moment an expression of
gravity and profound calm. Her eyes became thoughtful and sad. On the
red background of the salon her slim form appeared like a design of the
best style on a painted church window. There was something in her
plainly hieratic.

A trio began. The gentle tones began to rock Ladislaus' agitated soul.
His senses gradually fell asleep and his desires were extinguished. His
love metamorphosed into a great winged angel who carried his loved one
in his arms as if a child, and soared with her in the immeasurable
space before an altar composed of the lustre of the evening twilight
and the nocturnal lights of stars.

The hour was late, when Gronski, Swidwicki, and Ladislaus left Pani
Otocka's. On the streets they met few pedestrians, but every few paces,
they encountered the military and police patrol, which stopped them and
asked for passports. This time Swidwicki did not pretend to be
intoxicated, for he fell into a bad humor just because at Pani Otocka's
he had to content himself with two glasses of wine. So, showing the
policeman the passport, he pointed to his dress-suit and white cravat
and asked them surlily whether socialists or bandits dressed in that
manner.

"If only lightning would smite the one and the other," he said,
striking the sidewalk with his cane. "In addition, everything is
closed, not only the restaurants in the hotels, but even the
pharmacies, in which in an extreme case, vin de coca or alcohol can be
procured. The pharmacies are striking! We have lived to see that! The
doctors also ought to strike and then the grave-diggers will
unwillingly have to strike also. May the devil seize all! At home I
have not a single bottle; so throughout the entire night I will not be
able to sleep a wink and to-morrow I will be as if taken off the
cross--"

"Come with us," said Gronski, "perhaps we may find a bottle of
something and black coffee."

"You have saved not only my life but that of my 'associate,' especially
if two bottles are found."

"We will seek. But what kind of associate are you speaking of?"

"True, you yet know nothing. I will relate it over a glass."

It was not far to Gronski's residence, so soon they were seated
around a table on which was found a bottle of noble Chambertin and a
coffee-percolator with black coffee, steaming in a delicious manner.

Swidwicki regained his spirits.

"Those ladies," he said, "are real angels, and for the reason that it
is there, as if in Paradise, where happiness consists in gazing upon
eternal brightness and listening to the archangel choir."

Here he addressed Krzycki:

"I observed that this suffices for you and Gronski--but for me it is
absolutely too little."

"Only do not begin to sharpen your tongue on those ladies," replied
Gronski, "for I shall order the bottle removed instanter."

Swidwicki hugged it with both hands.

"I idolize--all three," he exclaimed with comic precipitancy.

"Of what kind of associate were you speaking?"

Swidwicki swallowed the wine and, closing his eyes, for a while
appraised its value.

"I have with me from this morning some kind of gallows-bird, for whom
the police are looking and, if they find him with me, they will
probably hang us both."

"You, however, have given him shelter?"

"I gave him shelter because he was brought by one whom I could not
refuse."

"I will wager that it was some woman."

"That is true. I can add that she is comely and one of those who excite
in me a responsive electric current. But I cannot tell you her name, as
she begged me to keep that secret."

"I do not ask," said Gronski, "but as to the current I have no doubt,
as otherwise you would fear to place yourself in jeopardy."

To this Swidwicki said:

"Know this, that I do not fear anything in the world, and this gives me
in this enslaved country such an unheard of independence as is not
enjoyed by any one else."

Saying this, he drained the glass to the bottom and exclaimed:

"Long live liberty--but only my own."

"Nevertheless, all this demonstrates that you have a little good in
your heart."

"Not in the least. I did that, firstly, because I expect a reward,
on which, after all, in such virtuous company, I prefer not to
dilate--unless after a second bottle--and again, because I will have
some one upon whom I can vent my spleen and assert my ascendency. I
assure you that my gallows-bird will not sleep upon roses--and who
knows whether after a week he will not prefer the gallows to my
hospitality?"

"That is possible. But in the meantime?"

"In the meantime I bought for him Allen's Waters in order to bleach the
black tufts of hair on his head into a light color. 'Are te
biondegiante'--as during Titian's time. I feel also a little
satisfaction at the thought that the police will stand on their heads
to find him and will not get him."

"But if they find him?"

"I doubt it. Do you remember that for a certain time I had a footman, a
native of Bessarabia, whom you knew? Over two months ago he robbed me
and ran away. He has already written to me from New York with a
proposition which I will not repeat to you. A superb type! Perfectly
modern. But before his escape he begged me to return to him his
passport, as now they are asking about passports every moment. But I
mislaid it in some book and could not find it. But recently--two or
three days ago--I accidentally found it, so that my gallows-bird will
have not only blond hair but also a passport."

"And will he not rob you like his predecessor?"

"I told him that he ought to do that, but he became indignant. It seems
to me that he is boiling with indignation from morning until night, and
if in the end he should steal from me it would be from indignation that
I could suppose anything like that of him. That little patroness who
shoved him on my neck vouches also that he is honest, but did not even
tell me his name. Clever girl! For she says thus: 'If they find him,
then you can excuse yourself on the plea that you did not know who he
was.' And she is right--though when some marks of gratitude are
concerned, she scratches like a cat. For her, I expose myself to the
halter, and when I wanted from her a little of that--then I almost got
it in the snout."

Gronski knit his brows and began to sharply eye Swidwicki; after which,
he said:

"Miss Anney's servant asked me this morning about your residence. Tell
me, what does that mean?"

Swidwicki again drank the wine.

"Ah, she also called--she was there. Pani Otocka sent through her an
invitation."

"Pani Otocka sent you an invitation through Pauly. Tell that to some
one else."

"About what are you concerned?" asked Swidwicki, with jovial
effrontery. "She ordered her to send the invitation through a messenger
but the messengers since last night are on a strike. Now everybody
strikes. Girls also,--with the exception of the 'female associates,'
particularly the old and ugly ones. These, if they strike, then sans le
vouloir."

The reply appeared to Gronski to be satisfactory, as in reality
messengers had been absent from the streets since the previous day.
Then Swidwicki turned the conversation into another direction.

"I received him," he said, "not to save an ass, but because I am bored
and it just suited me. Some wise Italian once said that the divinity
which holds everything in this world in restraint is called la
paura,--fear; and the Italian was right. If the people did not fear,
nothing would remain--not a single social form of life! On this ladder
of fear there are numerous rounds and the highest is the fear of death.
Death! That is a real divinity! Reges rego, leges lego, judice judico!
And I confess that I, whose life has been passed in toppling from
pedestals various divinities, had the most difficulty in overcoming
this divinity. But I overcame it and so completely that I made it my
dog."

"What did you do?"

"A dog, which as often as it pleases me, I stroke over the hair,
as for instance now, when I received that revolutionary booby. But that
is yet nothing! See under what terror people live: the executioner's
axe, the gallows, the bullet, cancer, consumption, typhoid fever,
tabes--suffering, pain, whole months and years of torture--and why?
Before the fear of death. And I jeer at that. Me, hangman will not
execute, cancer will not gnaw, consumption will not consume, pain will
not break, torture will not debase, for I shout, in a given moment, at
this divinity before which all tremble, as at a spaniel: 'Lie down!'"

After which he laughed and said:

"And that mad booby of mine, however, hid himself as if before death.
Tell me what would happen if people actually did not fear?"

"They would not be themselves," answered Gronski. "They desire life,
not death."



                                   XI

Swidwicki did not lie when he said that he did not know the name of the
revolutionist to whom he promised an asylum, for in reality Pauly had
made a secret of it. She so arranged it with Laskowicz on the way. The
young student, learning that Swidwicki, to whom the girl was conducting
him, was an acquaintance of Gronski and Pani Otocka, in the first
moments became frightened inordinately. He recollected the letters
which he had written to Panna Marynia, and his odious relations with
Krzycki upon whom his party a short time previously perpetrated an
attack. Personally he did not participate in it and the suggestion did
not emanate from him, but on the other hand he did not have the
slightest doubt that the committee issued the death sentence as a
result of his reports designating Krzycki as the chief obstacle to
their propaganda, and he remembered that he did nothing to prevent the
attempt, and was even pleased in his soul that a man, hateful to him
and at the same time a putative rival, would be removed from his path.

For a time he even felt, owing to this "washing of hands," a certain
internal disgust; at the intelligence, however, that the attack was
unsuccessful he experienced, as it were, a feeling of disappointment.
And now he was going to seek shelter with a man who was a relative of
Pani Otocka and who might have heard of the letters to Marynia and his
relations with Krzycki. This was a turn of affairs, clearly fatal,
which might frustrate the best intentions of Panna Pauly.

Considering all this he began to beg the girl not to mention his name,
giving as a reason that in case the police should find him, Swidwicki
would be less culpable.

Pauly admitted the full justness of this; after a while, however, she
observed that if Pan Gronski should ever visit Swidwicki then
everything would be disclosed.

"Yes," answered the student, "but I need that refuge for only a few
days; after which I will look for another, or else my chiefs may
dispatch me abroad."

"What chiefs?" asked Pauly.

"Those who desire liberty and bread for all, and who will not tolerate
that some one should be raised above you, little lady, either in rank
or money."

"I do not understand. How is that? I would not be a servant and would
not have a mistress?"

"Yes."

Pauly was struck by the thought that in that case she would be nearer
to her "young lord," but not having time to discuss this any longer,
she repeated:

"I do not understand. Later, I will question you about it, but now let
us proceed."

And they walked hurriedly ahead, in silence, until they reached
Swidwicki's door. On the ringing of the bell, he opened it himself.
With surprise but also with a smile he saw Pauly in the dark hallway
and afterwards catching sight of Laskowicz, he asked:

"What is he here for? Who is he?"

"May we enter and may I speak with you in private?" asked the girl.

"If you please. The more private, the more agreeable it will be to me."

And they entered. The student remained in the first room. The master of
the house conducted Pauly to another and closed the door after him.

Laskowicz began to examine the large room, full of disorder, with
books, and engravings, and an abundance of bottles with white and blue
labels. On the round table, near the window, piled with daily
newspapers, stood a bottle with the legend: "Vin de Coca; Mariani," and
a few ash trays with charred lighters for cigars and cigarettes. The
furniture in the room was heavy and evidently when new was costly but
it was now dirty. Hanging on the wall were pictures, among them a
portrait of Pani Otocka, while yet a young unmarried lady. In one
corner protruded the well known statue of the Neapolitan Psyche with
mutilated skull.

The student placed the flower-pot with the Italian lilies on the table
and began to eavesdrop. His life was involved, for if shelter was
denied to him he undoubtedly would be arrested that day. Through the
closed door came to him from time to time Swidwicki's outbursts of
laughter, and the conversing voices, in which the voice of the girl
sounded at times as if entreating, and at other moments angry and
indignant. This lasted a long time. Finally the doors opened and the
first to enter was Pauly, evidently angry, and with burning cheeks;
after her came Swidwicki, who said:

"Very well. Since the beautiful Pauly so wishes it, I will not tell any
one who brought to me this Sir Ananias, and will keep him under cover,
but on condition that Pauly will prove a little grateful to me."

"I am grateful," answered the girl with irritation.

"These are the proofs," said Swidwicki, displaying marks on the back of
his hands. "A cat could not scratch any better. But to only look at
little Pauly, I will agree even to that. The next time we will have
some candy."

"Good-by till we meet again."

"Till we meet. May it be as frequent as possible."

The girl took the pot with the flowers and left. Then Swidwicki thrust
his hands into his pockets and began to stare at Laskowicz as if he had
before him, not a human being, but some singular animal. Laskowicz
looked at him in the same way, and during that short interval they
acquired for each other a mutual dislike.

Finally Swidwicki asked:

"Ah, esteemed Sir Benefactor, of what party? Socialist, anarchist, or
bandit? I beg of you! without ceremony! I do not ask your name, but it
is necessary to be acquainted somehow."

"I belong to the Polish Socialist Party," answered the student with a
certain pride.

"Aha! Then to the most stupid one. Excellent. That is as if some one
said: To the atheistic-Catholic or to the national-cosmopolitan? I am
truly delighted to bid you welcome."

Laskowicz was not in the least meek by nature, and besides he
understood in a moment that he had before him a man with whom he would
gain nothing by meekness; so, gazing straight into Swidwicki's eyes, he
replied almost contemptuously:

"If you, sir, can be a Catholic and Pole, I can be a socialist and
Pole."

But Swidwicki laughed.

"No, Sir Chieftain," he said, "Catholicism is a smell. One can be a cat
and have a fainter or stronger odor, but one cannot be a cat and dog in
one and the same person."

"I am no chieftain; only a third-class agent," retorted Laskowicz.
"You, sir, have given me a refuge and yourself the right to mock me."

"Exactly, exactly! But for that I shall not require any gratitude. We
can, after all, change the subject. Sit down, Sir Third-class Agent.
What is new? How is His Majesty, the king."

"What king?"

"Why the one you serve and who to-day has the most courtiers; the one
who, most of all, cannot endure the truth and most easily gulps
adulation; the one, who in winter smells of whiskey and in summer of
sour sweat,--that mangy, lousy, scabby, stinking, gracious, or rather,
ungracious ruler of the day. King Rabble."

If Laskowicz had heard the most monstrous blasphemies against a holy
object, which heretofore mankind venerated, he would not have been more
horrified than at the words which passed Swidwicki's lips. For him it
was as if he were struck on the head with a club, for it never crossed
his mind that any one would have dared to utter anything like that. His
eyes became dim, his jaws tightened convulsively, his hands began to
tremble. In the first moments he was possessed by an irrepressible
desire to shoot Swidwicki in the head with the revolver he carried with
him and afterwards slam the door and go wherever his eyes would take
him, or else to place the barrel to his ear and shatter his own head,
but he lacked the strength. All night long he had toiled in the
printing plant; after which he had fled over the roofs and through the
streets like a wild animal. He was fatigued, hungry, and exhausted with
the frightful experiences of that morning. So he suddenly staggered on
his feet, became as pale as a corpse, and would have tumbled upon the
ground if a chair had not stood close by, into which he sank heavily,
as if dead.

"What is this? What in the devil ails you?" asked Swidwicki.

And he began to assist him. He poured out of a bottle the remainder of
the cognac and forced him to drink it; afterwards he lifted him from
the chair and led him to another room and almost forcibly put him in
his own bed.

"What the devil!" he repeated; "how do you feel?"

"Better," answered Laskowicz.

Swidwicki glanced at his watch.

"In about ten minutes, the old woman who serves here ought to come. I
will order her to bring something to eat. In the meanwhile lie
quietly."

Laskowicz obeyed this advice, as he could not do otherwise. Lying
there, however, he for a time knit his brow, and evidently his mind was
laboring. Then he said:

"That king--about whom you inquired--is--starving--"

"May the devil take him!" replied Swidwicki. "The bourgeoisie will feed
him, and for this he at the first opportunity will cut their throats.
But do not take to heart too seriously whatever I say; for I say the
same and stronger things to all parties. All! Do you understand, sir?"

The bell interrupted further conversation. Laskowicz trembled like an
aspen leaf.

"That is my old woman. I recognize the ring," said Swidwicki. "She is
earlier to-day than usual. Very well. I will order her to bring food at
once."

In fact, after a quarter of an hour, food was placed on the table.
Refreshed, Laskowicz came entirely to himself and did not think of
forsaking his new shelter. Swidwicki began to open and rummage through
various drawers. Finally, finding a passport, he handed it to Laskowicz
and said:

"Before you, Sir Benefactor, become dictator of all Poland you will
call yourself Zaranczko. You come from Bessarabia and have served with
me a year. If they should catch you and, with you, me, repeat only one
expression, '_Mamalyga_,[9] _mamalyga_.'"

In this manner Laskowicz was installed in Swidwicki's home.



                                  XII

The morning after Marynia's birthday was unusually gloomy. The western
wind drove heavy black clouds, which hung over the city, foretelling a
storm. The atmosphere became oppressive and sultry. When Ladislaus
entered the church it was completely dark within. In the Chapel of the
Divine Mother a quiet votive mass commenced almost with his entry, and
the flickering little flames of the candles, lighted before the altar,
poorly illuminated the darkness. Ladislaus began to search with his
eyes for Miss Anney and he recognized her by the light hair protruding
from under her hat. She knelt in the first pew, her hands crossed in
prayer and resting upon an open book. Seeing Ladislaus, she nodded her
head and drew aside, to make room for him, not pausing in her prayers.
He wanted to speak to her but did not dare, and only kneeling, drew
somewhat towards himself the book so that they might pray from it
together. It was, however, so dark that he could read nothing and after
a while he became convinced that he could not pray at all. He was
seized by great emotion, for he understood that a new epoch in his life
had commenced, and that this moment, in which by the consent of Miss
Anney he knelt at her side before the altar to mutually entreat God for
blessing, signified more than any other avowals, and that it was the
first sanctification of their loves and their joint future lives. He
was possessed by a sense of his happiness, but at the same time by some
kind of solemn apprehension at the thought that everything would soon
cease to be only a dream, only a fancy, only a phantom of happiness,
and become realized and accomplished. Through his mind glided the
interrogatories,--How will he be able to bear this happiness, what will
he do with it, and how will he acquit himself,--and from these
questions there was bred in him a sense of immense responsibility,
surcharged with fear. It was like certain worries which hitherto, as a
free man, he had not known or at least had not met face to face. And he
saw before him cares more direct and immediate. The moment of his
interview with his mother was approaching; there were also some secret
obstacles, which Gronski mentioned, and it was incumbent upon him to
weigh everything, to plan, settle various matters, and set aside
anticipated difficulties. In truth, now, if ever, it was worth while
and necessary to trust to the Divine favor, invoke the All-provident
aid, and deliver her to the care of the Future. Ladislaus observed that
similar feelings and similar thoughts must have swayed Miss Anney as
her countenance was calm, composed, grave, and even sad. The little
flames of the candles were reflected in her upraised eyes and for a
while it seemed to Ladislaus that he saw tears in those eyes.
Apparently with the whole strength of her soul she committed him and
herself to God. And thus they knelt beside each other, shoulder to
shoulder, heart to heart, and already united, happy, and a little
timorous. Ladislaus, having suppressed the whirlwind of thoughts, at
last began to pray and said to God, "Do with me whatever Thou wilt, but
grant her happiness and peace." And a prodigious overflowing wave of
love deluged his bosom. His prayer became at the same time a solemn
espousal and internal oath that he would never wrong that most precious
being in the world, and that those eyes would never weep for his sake.

In the meantime the votive mass was nearing its close. When the priest
turned from the altar, his words, in the half-empty chapel, were as if
dreamy and like whispering amidst sighs--as usually happens at the
early morning mass. But at times they were deafened by thunders, as the
storm began outside. The windows of the chapel darkened yet more, and
from time to time livid lightning illuminated the panes; after which
the darkness grew yet denser, and on the altar the little flames of the
candles twinkled uneasily. The priest turned around once more; "Dominus
vobiscum!" after which, "Ite missa est." Afterwards he blessed the
assembled and retired. The small number of faithful who heard the mass
followed his example. Only they two remained. Then she began to say in
a whisper, broken by emotion, "Under Thy protection we flee. Holy
Mother of God," and the further words "Our entreaties deign not to
spurn and from all evil deign to preserve us forever," were said
jointly with Ladislaus, and in this manner the entire prayer concluded.

After this, silence fell between them, was broken only after a long
while by Ladislaus.

"We will have to wait," he said in a low voice. "The storm is yet
continuing."

"Very well," answered Miss Anney.

"My dear, dearest lady--"

But she placed her finger to her lips and silence again ensued. They
did not, however, have to wait very long, for the summer storms come
and pass away like birds. After the lapse of a quarter of an hour they
left the church. The streets were flooded by the rain, but through the
rifts of the scattered and rent clouds the sun shone brightly and, it
seemed, moistly. Miss Anney's eyes winked under the flood of light and
her countenance was as if she was awakened from a dream. But her
composure and gravity did not pass away. Ladislaus, on the other hand,
at the sight of the sun, and the bustle and life on the streets, was at
once imbued with gayety and hope. He glanced once and again at his
companion and she seemed to him as wonderful as a dream, charming as
never before, and adorable simply beyond measure and bounds. He felt
that he was capable of seizing her at that moment in his arms; of
showing her to the sun, the clouds, the city, the human multitude, and
exclaiming: "Behold my wealth, my treasure; this is the joy of my
life!" But, conjecturing properly that Miss Anney would not assent to
any manifestations like that, he subdued this impulse and directed his
thoughts to more important matters.

"My adored lady," said he, "I must give utterance to words which burn
my lips. When may I come to see you?"

"To-day at four," she replied; "I also have to tell you something upon
which everything depends."

"Everything depends upon you, lady, and upon nothing else."

But her clear cheeks were suffused with confused blushes: her eyes
shone as if with disagreeable uneasiness; and she replied:

"God grant--you do not know, sir--you do not know sir--" she repeated
with emphasis. "We will be alone.--But now we must part."

Ladislaus escorted her to the carriage, kissed her hands and remained
alone. Her words, corroborating that which Gronski had intimated as a
result of his interviews with Pani Otocka, disquieted him, however, but
only for a short time, as he was too much in love to suppose that it
could change his love or swerve him from his purpose. At the mere
thought of this he shrugged his shoulders.

"Women," he said to himself, "are always full of scruples and to actual
difficulties they add chimerical ones."

After which, he returned home in the best of humor, and besides
Gronski, found there Dolhanski.

"Behold," exclaimed Gronski, "lo, here is Dolhanski the bachelor.
Congratulate him for he is going to marry."

"No?" Truly? asked Ladislaus, amused.

"With Panna Kajetana Wlocek," added Dolhanski, with sangfroid and
extraordinary gravity.

"Then I tender my best wishes from the whole heart. When is the
wedding?"

"Very soon, on account of the weather, famine, fire, and war, also
similar exceptional circumstances. In a week. Without publication of
the banns, on an _indult_. After the wedding, the same night a trip
abroad."

"And you say all this seriously?"

"With the greatest seriousness in the world. Observe the exquisite
consequences."

"Here Dolhanski spread out his fingers and began to enumerate:"

"Primo, my credit is resurrected, as a Hindoo fakir, who, buried in the
ground for a whole month, awakes after exhumation to a new life;
secundo: Gorek is without a copper coin of indebtedness and without
society; tertio: my marriage settlement surpasses my expectations;
quarto: my fiancée from good luck has grown so beautiful that you would
not recognize her."

"What are you saying?" cried Ladislaus, ingenuously.



                                  XIII

Promptly at four, Ladislaus appeared at Miss Anney's. She received him
feelingly and for a greeting offered both hands which he began to press
alternately to his lips and his forehead. Afterwards they sat beside
each other and for a long time heard only the quickened beating of
their own hearts and the faint sounds of the clock on the writing-desk.
They reciprocally glanced at each other but neither was able to say the
first word. After a while life could glow for them like a new dawn,
glistening with joy and happiness, but, for the time being, it was
heavy, embarrassing, the more embarrassing the longer the silence
continued.

Finally, Ladislaus from a feeling, that, if he kept silent much longer,
he would appear ridiculous, mustered enough courage and spoke in a
broken voice, whose sounds appeared strange to him!

"From this morning I have a little hope--and nevertheless my heart
beats as if I did not have any--I could not say a single word until I
caught my breath--but that is nothing strange as my whole life is
concerned.--Lady, you long ago, of course, surmised how deeply--how
with my whole soul I love you,--you knew this long ago--is it not so?"

Here he again inhaled the air, took a deep breath, and continued:

"To-day in the church I said to myself this: 'If she will hear me, if
she does not spurn me, if she consents to be my own for my whole
life--my wife--then I vow solemnly to God before this altar that I will
love and honor her; that I will never wrong her and will give her all
the happiness which is in my power.' And I swear to you that this is
the truth--It only depends upon you, lady, that it shall be so--upon
your consent--upon your faith in me."

Saying this, he again raised Miss Anney's hands to his lips and
imprinted upon them a long imploring kiss and she leaned towards him so
that her hair lightly brushed his forehead, and quietly replied:

"I consent and believe with my whole soul--but this does not depend
upon me alone."

"Only upon you, lady," exclaimed Ladislaus.

And believing that Miss Anney had his mother in mind, he began to say
with a brightened face and deep joy in his voice:

"My mother desires my happiness above all things and I assure you that
she will come here with me to beg of you; and with me she will thank
you for this great, this ineffable boon, and in the meantime I on my
knees thank--"

He wanted to drop on his knees before her and embrace her limbs with
his arms, but she began to restrain him and say with feverish haste:

"No, no. Do not kneel, sir,--you must first hear me. I consent, but I
must confess things upon which everything depends. Please calm
yourself."

Ladislaus rose, again sat beside her and said, with anxious surprise:

"I listen, my dearest lady."

"And I must compose myself a little," replied Miss Anney.

After which she rose, and approaching the window, pressed her forehead
against the pane.

For some time silence again ensued.

"What is it?" spoke out Krzycki.

Miss Anney withdrew her forehead from the pane. Her countenance was
calmer, but her eyes were dimmed as if with tears. Approaching the
table, she sat down opposite to Ladislaus.

"Before I relate what it is now necessary for me to state," she said,
"I have a great favor to ask of you. And if you--love me truly--then
you will not refuse--"

"Lady, if you demanded my life, I would not refuse it. I pledge you my
word," he exclaimed.

"Very well. Give me your word. Then I will be certain."

"I pledge it in advance and swear upon our future happiness that I will
comply with your every wish."

"Very well," repeated Miss Anney. "Then I first beg of you, by all you
hold most precious, not to feel at all bound by anything you have said
to me just now."

"I not feel bound? In what way? Of course, it may not be binding upon
you, lady--but on me--"

"Well, then, I release you from all obligations and consider that
nothing has been said. You promised me that you would not refuse me
anything, but this is not all."

"Not all?"

"No, I am anxious that after what I shall tell you, you shall not give
me any answer--and for a whole week shall not return to me and shall
not try to see me."

"But in the name of God, what is it?" cried Ladislaus; "why should I
suffer a week of torments? What does this mean?"

"And for me it also will be a torment," she answered in a soft voice.
"But it is necessary, it is imperative. You will have to explain
everything to yourself; weigh everything, unravel and decide
everything--and form a resolution--afterwards you may return or may not
return--and a week for all that will be rather too little."

And perceiving the agitation on Ladislaus' face, she hurriedly added,
as if alarmed:

"Sir, you promised--you pledged me your word!"

Ladislaus drew his hand across the hair of his head; after which he
began to rub his forehead with his palm.

"I gave the word," he said at last, "because you requested it,
lady--but why?"

And Miss Anney turned pale to the eyes; for a while her lips quivered
as though she struggled vainly to draw the words from her bosom, and
only after an interval did she reply:

"Because--atone time I--did not bear the name of Anney."

"You did not bear the name of Anney?"

"I--am--Hanka Skibianka."

Ladislaus rose, staggered like a drunken man, and began to stare at her
with a bewildered look.

And she added in almost a whisper:

"Little master!--'tis I--of the mill."

And tears coursed quietly over her pallid countenance.



                               PART III.



                                   I

Krzycki left Miss Anney's with a sensation as if lightning had struck
directly in front of him and suddenly stunned him. He could neither
collect nor connect his thoughts; he was not even in a condition to
realize his situation nor reflect upon it. The only impression, or
rather feeling, which in the first moments remained was a feeling of
illimitable amazement. On the way he repeated every little while,
"Hanka Skibianka! Hanka Skibianka!" and seemed incapable of doing aught
else. He did not find Gronski at home, as the latter had left
immediately after the noon hour, telling the servant that he would
return late at night. So he went to his room, locked himself in without
knowing why; afterwards he flung himself into an armchair and sat
abstractedly for over an hour. After the lapse of that time, he opened
his trunk and began to pack things into it with excessive zeal, until
finally he propounded to himself the question: "Why am I doing this?"
Not being able to find an answer, he abandoned that work and only
resumed it when he came to the unexpected conclusion that in any case
he would have to move away from Gronski's.

Having finished, he put on his hat and left, without any well-defined
object, for the city. For a while a desire rose in him to call upon his
mother and Pani Otocka, but he stifled it at once. For what? It seemed
to him that he had nothing to tell his mother about himself and his
intentions; and that he could talk with her only about this unheard-of
intelligence, the discussion of which would be for him, beyond all
expression, afflicting. Unconsciously, he reached the Holy Cross Church
and wanted to enter it, but the hour was late and the church was
locked. The morning of that day and the joint prayer with her stood
vividly before his eyes. Ah, how sincerely he prayed; how he loved her;
how he loved her! And now he could not resist the impression that this
light-haired, idolized lady, with whom he said in that chapel "Under
Thy Protection," and Hanka Skibianka were two different beings. And he
felt in his heart a kind of disenchantment with which he began to
contend. For why was he nevertheless so acutely affected by it? Was it
because Hanka was a peasant girl and he a nobleman? No! Miss Anney
never represented herself as an English noblewoman, and a Polish
peasant is no worse than an English commoner. He could not clearly
perceive that the reason of it lay in this: that Miss Anney through her
descent alone, foreign and distant, appeared to him a sort of princess,
and Hanka was a near and domestic girl from Zarnow. She aroused less
curiosity and therefore was less attractive. She was so much easier,
therefore, cheaper to him. In vain he recalled and repeated that this
Hanka is that same light-haired lady, charming as a dream, alluring,
genteel, womanly, responding in sentiment to every thought and every
word; the feeling of disenchantment was more powerful than those
thoughts, and that charm of exoticism, which suddenly was lacking in
the girl, minimized her worth in his eyes.

But, besides this, there was something else, in view of which the
disenchantment and all unexpected impressions stood aside and became
matters of secondary importance. This was, that he had once possessed
that girl--body and soul. She was at that time almost a child--a flower
not yet in full bloom which he plucked and carried for some time at his
bosom. The memory of that could be a reproach only for him; no fault
whatever weighed on her. He recollected those moonlight nights on which
he stole to the mill; those whispers which were one quiet song of love
and intoxication, interrupted only by kisses; he recalled how he
clasped to his heart her girlish body, fragrant with the hay of the
fields; how he drank the tears from her eyes and how he said to her
that he would give up for her all the ladies of all the courts. The
idyl passed, but now there wafted upon him from her the breath of the
first youthful years, the first love, the first ecstasy, and the truly
great poetry of life. Besides, there was truth in what he had confided
to Gronski in Jastrzeb: that the girl loved him as no other woman in
the world surely would love him. And at the thought of this, his heart
began to melt. Together with the wave of recollection, Hanka returned
and again engaged his thoughts.

Yes. But that was Hanka and she is Miss Anney. In Ladislaus, from the
time he fell in love with her, his senses leaped wildly towards her
like a pack of yelping hounds; but he held them in leash because at the
same time he knelt before his beloved. She was to him an object of
desire but at the same time a sacred relic; something so inaccessible,
exalted, pure, and mysterious in its virginity that at the thought that
the moment would arrive when he would be the master of those treasures
and secrets appeared to him a delight beyond all measure of delight;
all the more fathomless as it was, united, as it were, with a
sacrilege. And now he had to say to himself that this sacrilege he had
already committed; that the charm of something unknown was dispelled;
that in this vestal there were for him no mysteries and that he had
already drunk from that cup. And this again was one lure less; one
disenchantment more. In this manner Miss Anney muddied his recollection
of the field peasant-girl, Hanka,--Hanka depreciated the charm of Miss
Anney. Both were so different, so unlike each other, that, being unable
to merge them into one entity, he vainly intensified that jarring
impression with a feeling of disquietude and pain.

In this vexation of spirit there occurred to him one wicked, low, and
ugly thought. In what manner did the poor and simple Hanka change into
the brilliant Miss Anney? In what manner could a gray sparrow from
under a village thatched hut be transformed into a paradisiacal bird?
Hanka was a betrayed girl; therefore the bridges had been burnt behind
her. Amidst the wealth of a foreign land, beautiful but poor girls have
before them only one road to the acquisition of affluence and even
polish, and that was the road of shame. Hanka found one patron who took
care of her in the appropriate manner; how many similar patrons and
protectors could Miss Anney find? At the thought of this Krzycki's head
swam. Conscience said to him, "You opened those gates before her," and
at the same time he was seized by such anger at Miss Anney and himself
that if the life or death of both rested in his hands, he would at that
moment have selected death. Something within him was rent asunder;
something crashed. It seemed to him that again, just above his head,
pealed lightning, which stunned him and burnt, within him, to a crisp,
the ability to think.

He wandered a long time over the city. He himself did not know in what
manner he again found himself before Pani Otocka's home, but he did not
enter for he once more felt that at that time he could not speak with
his mother. He returned to his own house late at night. Gronski was
already at home, and for an hour had been waiting for him with the tea.

"Good evening," he said, "I have returned from your mother's."

And Ladislaus asked him with blunt impetuosity, "Do you know who Miss
Anney is?"

"I do. Pani Otocka told me."

A moment of silence followed.

"What do you say to this?"

"I could ask you that question."

Ladislaus sat heavily in the chair, drew his palm over his forehead and
replied with bitter irony:

"Ah, I have time. I was given a week for consideration."

"That is not too much," answered Gronski, looking at him questioningly.

"Certainly. Does Mother also know?"

"Yes. Pani Otocka told her everything."

Again silence ensued.

"My dear Laudie," said Gronski, "I can understand that this must have
shocked you, and for that reason I will not speak with you of it until
you calm down and regain your equipoise. You must also become familiar
with and well weigh the reasons why Miss Anney told only Pani Otocka
who she was and why she came to Jastrzeb under her new name, to which,
after all, she has a perfect right. Here is a letter from her. She
requested me to deliver it to you to-morrow and that is why I did not
hand it to you as soon as you appeared. At present I do not think that
it would be proper to defer the matter. But do not open it at once nor
in my presence. Put it away and read it when alone, when you can ponder
over every word. Positively do this. That which has happened moved me
to such an extent that for the time being I could not speak of it
calmly. To-day I can only give you this advice: be a man and do not
allow yourself to be swept away by the current of impressions. Row!"

To this Ladislaus, who sobered up a little under the influence of these
words, said:

"I thank you, sir. I will read the letter in privacy. It is now so
indispensable to me that I trust, sir, that you will not take it ill of
me if I no longer abuse your hospitality. I am sincerely and cordially
grateful to you for everything, but I must lock myself up. How long--I
do not know. When I am myself again, I will come to you to discuss
everything, God grant, more calmly. Now in reality, I see that I was
justly given one week's time. But besides time, I feel the need of my
own den. I cannot get rid of various thoughts, immensely bitter and
even horrible. To-day they hold me by the head and it is necessary that
I should hold them by the head--and for that reason I want to have my
own den."

"You know how willing I am to please you," answered Gronski; "I
understand you, and though in advance I decided not to torment you with
any questions, nevertheless, do what is best for yourself. I must tell
you also that your mother is moving to a hotel, as she is offended with
Pani Otocka. She took umbrage because she did not tell her at once in
Jastrzeb who Miss Anney was."

"I confess that I do not understand that--"

"Nevertheless, that would have been directly contrary to what those
ladies desired. Pani Otocka's intentions were the noblest. Time will
elucidate and equalize everything. Even Marynia did not know anything,
not only because Pani Zosia was bound by her word, but also because she
did not deem it proper to acquaint her with your former behavior and
your relations with the Hanka of former days. With Hanka--Miss Anney!
That was an unheard-of turn of affairs. Do you remember our
conversation in Jastrzeb when we went hunting for woodcock? Do you
remember?"

"I remember, but I cannot speak of it."

"Yes, better not speak of it at this time. Miss Anney's letter
undoubtedly will clear up the dark sides of the affair and explain what
is now unintelligible. If you desire to read it at once, I will go and
leave you here."

"I am very curious about it and for just that reason I will take my
leave of you."

"But you will pass this night with me?"

"I have packed my things and the hotels are always open."

"In such case good-by!--and remember what I told you. Row! Row!"

After a moment Gronski remained alone. He also was agitated,
distressed, but curious to the highest degree. When after Ladislaus'
confessions in Jastrzeb, he said to him that "the mills of the gods
grind late," he spoke it in a way one utters, off-hand, any maxim to
which one does not attach any real significance. In the meantime life
verified it in a manner fabulous but nevertheless logical. For as a
fable only appeared the transformation of Hanka into Miss Anney, but
that Miss Anney desired to see the man, whom, as a child, she loved in
her first transports of love and the place which bound her with so many
memories, tender and sad, was a matter natural and intelligible. And,
of course, she could not return to Jastrzeb and stay under the Krzycki
roof-tree otherwise than under a changed name. And thus it happened;
and the later events rolled on with their own force until they reached
the moment when it was necessary to reveal the secret. Gronski knew
already from Pani Otocka everything which she could tell him and
absolved from all sin her as well as Miss Anney. Nevertheless, he
understood that an unprecedented situation was created, and such a knot
was twisted that the untangling of it was impossible to foresee. It
could only be untwined by Krzycki, and even he stood not only in the
presence of new difficulties but, as it were, in the presence of a new
person.



                                   II

The very next day after the escape from the police Pauly visited
Laskowicz and afterwards called to see him as often as she could find
leisure time, selecting, nevertheless, hours when Swidwicki was not at
home. But this did not present great difficulties as Swidwicki usually
rose about noon, after which he went away and did not return until late
at night. The girl was not induced to make these frequent visits by any
sentimentality nor exceptional benevolence for the young student. She
even felt, particularly in the first moments, that she could despise
him. But women love in general to look at close range at their good
deeds and to behold, even daily, the people for whom they have become
providential angels; and again Laskowicz, with every word, disclosed to
her worlds of whose existence she heretofore had never guessed. About
socialists thus far she knew almost nothing, except what a certain old
female cook once told her, that "they do not believe in God and do not
eat ducks"; and she only heard that they threw bombs and shot from
revolvers. After the attack upon Krzycki howsoever much she, together
with all the servants in Jastrzeb, was convinced that it was
perpetrated by Rzeslewo men, nevertheless, the supposition that it
might have been the socialists reached her ears, and then she was
inflamed against them with a temporary ungovernable hatred. But now she
was learning that they were people of an entirely different stamp. She
did not yet understand what in general they wanted, but understood in
particular that those people desired that she, Paulina Kielkowna,
should be a kind of lady like Miss Anney or Pani Otocka. And as a bee
sips juice from flowers, so she, from the words of the young fanatic,
extracted nourishment for her envy, her pain, her feelings. Her heart
began to draw her towards that "Party," which appeared to her as a
Providence and as a power; and to this was joined the purely feminine
curiosity of the awful secrets of that power. Laskowicz quickly
observed that the seed fell upon fit soil; and when once, for uttering
inadvertently a disparaging word against Krzycki, the girl almost
scratched out his eyes, he surmised her secret and determined to
exploit her, not only for the good of the cause but also for his own
personal ends.

Although Pauly was not the servant of Pani Otocka but of Miss Anney,
she nevertheless dwelt in the same house; so he could, through her,
secure news of Marynia, which he craved with all his soul; he could
quiet his fears as to Krzycki's intentions, could speak of her and hear
her name; and finally could gain information as to when and where he
could see her, though from a distance. And he questioned Panna Pauly
about all this; at first cautiously and casually, afterwards more and
more, and at last so incessantly that this began to surprise and anger
her. Prone to extremes, and more capable of hatred than affection, she
worshipped, by way of exception, Marynia, regarding her as a sort of
supernal being, and this worship in her was as violent as was her
hatred. On the other hand, on the ideal path, in the direction of
universal equality and dislike of the higher classes she made in a
brief time considerable progress. She could not however, cast off at
once her former notions, and she frequently had sudden relapses to
them. Hence at one time, when Laskowicz as usual began to hurl
questions at her about Panna Marynia, she answered him testily:

"Why are you always talking about Panna Zbyltowska?"

"Perhaps I am in love with her," retorted the student, knitting his
brow.

At this her eyes in a moment blazed with rage.

"What more yet?"

And he began to peer at her keenly and asked:

"Why does the little lady say 'what more yet'?"

"For you are as suited for her as I am--"

And she paused abruptly, but he finished:

"To Pan Krzycki, for instance."

Then she burst into a greater rage yet.

"Why do you meddle in matters that do not concern you?"

"I do not meddle in anything. I say only if the little lady fell in
love with him and if I, hearing of it, said 'What more yet?' that would
be disagreeable to the little lady? And it would be justly
disagreeable. For if the priests prate that it is permissible to love
even God, why not a human being? It is permissible for the little lady,
it is permissible for me, it is permissible for everybody, for that is
the law of nature and therefore our law."

The words seconded that which was hidden in the girl's heart too much
for her anger to remain, so she only glanced at Laskowicz, as if in
sorrow, and replied:

"Eh! Much good will come of that law!"

"It will come or not come, in time. After all, if we adjusted the world
in our own way, no dog would bark at such things. Is not the little
lady worthy of Krzycki? Why not? Is it because he is richer? That is
just what we are trying to prevent. Then what? Education? Lady, spit
upon it. That education you can teach to a monkey. It is he, if the
little lady wanted him, who ought yet to kiss the little lady's feet."

But she again became impatient and replied:

"Idle talk."

"I also want only to say that in case I should fall in love with Panna
Marynia and the little lady with Krzycki, our lot would be identical
and the wrong the same."

"Wrong in what?"

"In the vile institutions of this world; in this, that such riff-raff
as ourselves are permitted to love only to suffer, and we are not
allowed to raise our eyes even upon the bourgeoisie, even though the
hearts within should whine like dogs."

"True," answered the girl through set teeth. "But what of it?"

"This: that we ought to give to each other our hands, as brother and
sister, and not be angry at each other, but assist one another. Who
knows whether one may not be of service to the other?"

"Eh! In what way can we help each other?"

And he again began to gaze fixedly at her with his eyes set so closely
to each other and said, uttering each word slowly:

"I do not know whether Krzycki is in love with Panna Marynia or with
that Englishwoman whom the little lady serves; or perhaps with neither
of them."

In one moment Pauly's face was covered with a pallor; afterwards a
flame passed over it, which in turn gave way to pallor. In her soul
there might have been dumb fears, but up to that time she had dared not
put to herself any questions. Those ladies were entertained in Jastrzeb
as guests. Pani Otocka and Panna Marynia were Krzycki's relatives;
therefore there was nothing unusual in their relations. On the other
hand, when the "Englishwoman" in Jastrzeb drove for the doctor and
later nursed the wounded man, that was a time when the heart of the
girl raged with jealousy and uneasiness. Afterwards she was placated by
the thought that such a young nobleman would not wed a foreign
"intruder," no matter how wealthy, but, at present, jealousy pierced
her like a knife.

Laskowicz continued:

"The little lady asked in what way we can help one another, did she
not?"

"Yes."

"At least in--revenge,"

After which, he changed the conversation.

"Let the little lady come to me and, if I sometimes inquire about
anything, let her not get angry. If at times it is hard for her, it is
not easy for me. One lot, one wrong. Let the little lady come. I do not
want to live with Swidwicki any longer. He is a peculiar man. I know
that he did not take me out of the goodness of his heart, but as he
placed himself in peril on my account I must endure everything from
him. In the meantime he so maligns our party that I feel an impulse to
shoot him in the head or stab him with a knife."

"Why do you argue with that old goat?"

"Because he talks and I must listen. Often he goads me into a reply.
Somebody else for lesser things would get a knife under the ribs."

"But I will not be able to hide you a second time, for I do not know
where."

"No. I myself will find some sort of hole; I have already thought of
that. Our people will help. I now have a passport and am bleached
yellow on the head. Some of my associates could not recognize me. Even
if I am caught they will not try me as Laskowicz but as Zaranczko of
Bessarabia, unless some one should betray me, but such there is not
among us."

"Only be careful, sir, and when you know where to hide, let me know. I
will not betray."

"I know, I know; such do not betray."

After which he suddenly asked:

"Why does not the little lady want to agree that we should call each
other 'associates'? Amongst us we all speak that way."

But she rebuffed him at once.

"I told you once I cannot endure that."

"Ah, if it is so, then it is hard."

Pauly began to prepare for home. Laskowicz on the leave-taking made a
second departure from the customs governing his associates, for he
kissed her hand. Previously he had noticed that this raised her in her
own eyes; that it flattered her and brought her into a good humor.
Although not by nature over-intelligent, he observed that the
principles of the Party alone would not entirely hold her, and that he
would have in that girl an aid capable of all extremes, but only so far
as her own personality entered into the play. This lowered the opinion
which he held of her and his gratitude to her. He nevertheless
submitted to this despotism, remembering that he owed to her his life.

At present he had, besides, a favor to ask of her; so at the door he
kissed her hand a second time and said:

"Panna Pauly--the same lot, the same wrong. Let the little lady answer
yet one more question. Where can I see though from a distance--though
from a distance--"

"Whom?" she asked, knitting her brows.

"Panna Marynia."

"If from a distance, then I will tell," she replied reluctantly. "The
little lady is to play for the starving working people and at noon goes
to the rehearsals."

"Alone?"

"No, with Pani Otocka or with my mistress; but sometimes with one of us
servants."

"Thank you."

"But only from a distance--do you understand, sir,--for otherwise you
will fare badly."

And after these words, which sounded like a menace, she left him. The
next moment Laskowicz heard through the door Swidwicki's voice and
laughter, after which something resembling a scuffle, a suppressed
scream, and--the sound of hasty footsteps on the stairs; finally
Swidwicki stumbled into the room, drunk.

"What were you doing here?" he asked.

"Nothing," answered Laskowicz.

And he began to scan the room, evidently desiring to satisfy himself
whether he could not detect some signs of disorder, and repeated:

"Nothing!"

"I give you my word of honor," the student exclaimed with energy.

At this Swidwicki leered at him, fingering his disheveled beard and
said:

"Then you are a fool!"

After which he flung himself upon the sofa, for he had partaken of a
sumptuous breakfast and was sleepy.



                                  III

Laskowicz's extreme fanaticism could not in reality harmonize with the
extreme cynical scepticism of Swidwicki, who in addition took advantage
of the situation not only beyond measure, but to the point of cruelty.
He himself spoke of it and boasted about it to Gronski, when he met him
in the restaurant, to which Gronski went after Krzycki's removal.

"I have enough of my revolutionary maggot," he said, "I have enough of
him, especially since I have satisfied myself that personally he is
honest and will not pilfer any money from my pocket-book. From that
time he has bored me. As for harboring such a simpleton one might go to
Siberia. I regarded it in the beginning as a species of sport. I
thought I would have a permanent sensation of a certain anxiety and, in
the meantime, I have not experienced anything of the kind. The only
satisfaction which I have is to point out to him his own stupidity and
that of his party. By that I drive him to rabidness."

"But that he cares to argue with you--"

"He does not want to but is unable to restrain himself. His temperament
and fanaticism carry him away."

"At one time I met a similar individual," answered Gronski, "and not
very long ago--out in the country, in Jastrzeb. He was a student, a
tutor of Stas, whom Krzycki later discharged because he incited the
field hands and was an agitator among peasants of the neighborhood."

"Ah," ejaculated, with a strange smile, Swidwicki, to whom it occurred
that Pauly also was at Jastrzeb.

"What? Why do you smile?" asked Gronski.

"Oh, nothing. Speak further."

"I rode with him once to the city and on the way had quite a chat with
him."

"According to your habit."

"According to my habit. Now among empty phrases, which only dull minds
would accept as genuine coin, he said some interesting things. I
learned a little about the angle from which they view the world."

"My maggot at times says interesting things. Yesterday I led him into
the admission that socialists of the pure water regard as their
greatest enemies the peasants and the radical members of the
bourgeoisie. I began to pour oil on the fire and he unbosomed himself.
An unsophisticated peasant aspires to ownership, and that aspiration
the devil cannot eradicate, and as to the bourgeoisie he spoke thus:
'What harm,' he said, 'do these few nobles and priests who infest the
world do to us? Our enemy is the bourgeois, rich or poor. Our enemy is
the radical, who thinks that as soon as he shouts that he does not
believe in God and priests that he buys us. Our enemy is that boaster,
who speaks in the name of the common people and is ready to tickle us
under the armpits, so that we should smile on him. He is the one who
fawns on us, like a dog at a roll of butter, and preserves all the
instincts of a bourgeois.' And he chattered further until I said: 'Hold
on! Why, you are with the radicals "fratres Helenae!"' And he to this:
'That is not true! The radical, wealthy bourgeois, who from fear dyes
in red and borrows the standard and methods from us, introduces
confusion in minds and drabbles in the mud our idea; and the poor one,
if he annually saves even the smallest amount, injures us for he offers
to work at a lower price than the pure proletaire, who always is as
poor as Job. We,' he said, 'will put the knife, above all things, to
the throats of the bourgeois for latent treachery lurks in him.' Thus
he chattered and I was willing to concede justice to him, if in general
I believed in justice, but I did not concede it yet for another reason,
and that is, he is too stupid to have reasoned out such things. It was
evident that he repeated what others taught him. In fact I did not
neglect to tell him so."

Further discussion was interrupted by the arrival of Dolhanski who,
observing Gronski, approached him, although he disliked to meet
Swidwicki.

"How are you?" he said, "My ladies took a trip to Czestochowo; so I am
free. Will you permit me to be seated with you?"

"Certainly, certainly. Why, these are your last days."

"It would be worth while even for that reason to drink a little
bottle," observed Swidwicki, "particularly as it is, besides, my
birthday."

"If the calendar was a wine-cellar and the dates in it bottles, then
your birthday would occur every day," answered Gronski.

"I swear to you upon everything at which I jeer, that, contrary to my
habit and inclination, this time I speak the truth."

Saying this, he nodded to the waiter and ordered him to bring two
bottles, calculating that afterwards more would be forthcoming. In the
meantime Dolhanski said:

"I met Krzycki to-day. He looks poorly; somehow not himself, and he
told me that he does not live with you but in a hotel. Did you by
chance quarrel?"

"No. But he moved away from me and Pani Krzycki from Pani Otocka's."

"There is some kind of epidemic," exclaimed Swidwicki, "for my
cutthroat is leaving me."

"Perhaps something has passed between Krzycki and Miss Anney," said
Dolhanski. "I supposed that they were getting quite intimate. Did they
part--or what?"

"A marchpane, that Englishwoman," interrupted Swidwicki; "but her maid
has more electricity in her."

Gronski hesitated for a while; after which he said:

"No, they have not parted, but something has occurred. I do not know
why I should make a secret of that which, sooner or later, you will
find out. It has developed that Miss Anney is not the born, but
adopted, child of the rich English manufacturer, lately deceased, Mr.
Anney, and of his late wife."

"Well, if the adoption gives her all the rights, and particularly the
right of inheritance, is it not all the same to Krzycki?"

"The adoption gives her all rights; nevertheless it is not entirely the
same to Krzycki, for it appears that Miss Anney is the daughter of a
blacksmith of Rzeslewo and is named Hanka Skibianka."

"Ha!" cried Swidwicki, "Perdita has been found but not the king's
daughter. What does the pretty Florizel say to this?"

But Dolhanski began to stare at Gronski as if he saw him for the first
time in his life.

"What are you saying?"

"The actual fact."

"Sapristi! But that is a nursery tale. Sapristi! You are joking."

"I give you my word it is so. She herself told that to Krzycki."

"I like that expression of astonishment on Dolhanski's face," exclaimed
Swidwicki. "Man, come to yourself."

Dolhanski restrained himself, for he always proclaimed that a true
gentleman never should be surprised.

"I remember now," he said, "that this is the Skibianka to whom Uncle
Zarnowski bequeathed a few thousand roubles."

"The same."

"Therefore his daughter."

"Fancy to yourself otherwise. Skiba came from Galicia to Rzeslewo with
a wife and a child a few years old."

"Therefore of pure peasant blood."

"A Piast's,[10] a Piast's," cried Swidwicki.

"Absolutely pure," answered Gronski.

"And what does Laudie say?"

"He swallowed the tidings and is trying to digest them," again blurted
out Swidwicki.

"That substantially is the case. He found himself in a new situation
and locked himself up. It dumfounded him a little, and he desires to
come to himself."

"He was enamoured to the point of ludicrousness but now he will
probably break off."

"I do not admit that, but I repeat, that, in view of the changed
situation, he has fallen into a certain internal strife, which he must
first quell."

"I candidly confess that I would break off all relations
unconditionally."

"But if Kaska or Hanka had a hundred thousand pounds?" asked Swidwicki.

"In such a case--I would have fallen into a strife," answered
Dolhanski, phlegmatically.

After a while he continued:

"For it seems that it is nothing, but in life it may appear to be
something. Omitting the various cousins, 'Mats' and 'Jacks,' who
undoubtedly will be found; there also will be found dissimilar
instincts, dissimilar dispositions, and dissimilar tastes. Why, the
deuce! I would not want a wife who suddenly might be ruled by an
unexpected passion for amber rosaries, for shelling peas, for swingling
flax, for picking fruit, or for gathering mushrooms, not to say berries
and nuts, and walking barefooted."

Here he turned to Gronski.

"Shrug your shoulders, but it is so."

"That would not shock me," said Swidwicki, "only, if I were to marry
Miss Anney, I would just stipulate that she at times should go about
barefooted. When I am in the country, nothing affects me so much as the
sight of the bare feet of girls. It is true that they often have
erysipelas about the ankles, which comes from the prickle of the
stubblefields. But I assume that Miss Anney has not got erysipelas."

"One cannot talk with you in a dignified manner."

"Why?" replied Swidwicki. "Let Krzycki now clip coupons from his
dignity but not we. Did you say that he belongs to the National
Democrats?"

"No, not I. But what connection has that with Miss Anney?"

"Oh,--oh, a nobleman--a National Democrat--has found out that his flame
has peasant blood in her veins and nevertheless his belly on that
account has begun to ache; nevertheless, he is stung by that deminutio
capitis."

"Who told you that? Besides, it should be permutatio, not deminutio."

"Yes! The English wares take on the appearance of a domestic product
and fall in value. Justly, justly."

"Do you know who could with perfect independence enter into a marriage
under such conditions?" asked Dolhanski. "A truly great gentlemen."

"But not Polish," exclaimed Swidwicki.

"There you are already beginning! Why not Polish?"

"Because a Polish gentleman has not sufficient faith in his own blood;
he plainly has not sufficient pride to believe that he will elevate a
woman to himself and not lower himself to her."

Gronski began to laugh:

"I did not expect that charge from your lips," he said.

"Why? I am an individualist, and in so far as I do not regard myself as
a specimen of the basest race, so far do I regard myself as a specimen
of the best. According to me one belongs to the aristocracy only
through lucky chance; that is, when one brings into the world a
suitable profile and corresponding brain. But Dolhanski, for instance,
in so far as he has not purchased portraits of ancestors at an
auction--and our other gentlemen--judge that blood constitutes that
appurtenance. Now granting these premises, I contend that our tories do
not know how to be proud of their blood."

"At home," said Gronski, "you vent your spleen upon the socialists, and
here you wish to vent it upon the aristocracy."

"That does not diminish my merits. I have a few pretty remarks for the
National Democracy."

"I know, I know. But how will you prove that which you said about the
Polish tories?"

"How will I prove it? By the Socratic method--with the aid of
questions. Did you ever observe when a Polish gentleman abroad becomes
acquainted with a Frenchman or Englishman? I, while I had money, passed
winters in Nice or in Cairo and saw a number of them. Now, every time I
propounded to myself the question which now I put to you: why the devil
it is not the Frenchman or Englishman who tries to please the Pole, but
the Pole them? Why is it that only the Pole fawns, only the Pole
coquets? Because he is almost ashamed of his descent; and if by chance
a Frenchman tells him that from his accent he took him for a Frenchman,
or an Englishman takes him for an Englishman, then he melts with joy,
like butter in a frying-pan! Ah, I have seen such coquettes by the
score--and it is an old story. Such coquetry, for instance, Stanislaus
Augustus[11] possessed. At home, the Polish gentleman at times knows
how to hold his nose high. Before a foreigner he is on both paws. Is
not that a lack of pride in his own race, in his own blood, in his own
traditions? If you have the slightest grain of a sense of justice, even
though no larger than the grain of caviar, you must admit the justice
of my remarks. As to myself, I have been ashamed sometimes that I am a
Pole."

"That means that you committed the same sin with which you charge
others," replied Gronski. "If the tips of the wings of our eagle
reached both seas, as at one time they did, perhaps Poles might be
different. But at present--tell me--of what are they to be proud?"

"You are twisting things. I am speaking of racial pride only, not
political," answered Swidwicki. "After all, may the devils take them. I
prefer to drink."

"Say what you will," asserted Dolhanski, "but I will merely tell you
this: if internal affairs were exclusively in their hands, some
fooleries might take place, but we would not be fried in the sauce in
which we are fried to-day."

Swidwicki turned to him with eyes glistening already a little
abnormally.

"My dear sir," he said, "in order to govern a country it is necessary
to have one of three things: either the greatest number, which
the canaille has behind it--I beg pardon, I should have said the
Democracy--or the greatest sound sense, which nobody amongst us
possesses, or the most money, which the Jews have. And as I have
demonstrated that our great gentlemen do not even have any sentiment of
traditions, therefore what have they?"

"At least good manners, which you lack," retorted Dolhanski with
aversion.

"No. I will tell you what they have--if not all of them, then the
second or third one: but I will tell it to you in a whisper, so as not
to shock Gronski's virgin ears."

And leaning over to Dolhanski, he whispered a word to him, after which
he snorted, maliciously:

"I do not say that that is nothing, but it is not sufficient to govern
the country with."

But Dolhanski frowned and said:

"If that is so, then you surely belong to the highest aristocracy."

"Of course! certainly! I have a diploma certified a few years ago in
Aix-la-chapelle, the place of the coronation!"

Saying this, he again quaffed his wine and continued with a kind of
feverish gayety:

"Ah, permit me to rail, permit me to scoff at men and things! I always
do that internally but at times I must expectorate the gall. Permit me!
For after all, I am a Pole, and for a Pole there perhaps cannot be a
greater pleasure than defacing, belittling, pecking at, calumniating,
spitting on, and pulling down statues from the pedestals. Republican
tradition, is it not? In addition Providence so happily arranged it
that a Pole loves that the most, and when he himself is concerned, he
feels it most acutely. A delightful society!"

"You are mistaken," replied Gronski, "for in that respect we have
changed prodigiously and in proof of it, I will cite one instance: When
the painter Limiatycki received for his 'Golgotha' a grand medal in
Paris, all the local little brushes at once fumed at him. So meeting
him, I asked him whether he intended to retaliate, and he replied to me
with the greatest serenity: 'I am serving my fatherland and art, but
only stupidity cannot understand that, while only turpitude will not
understand it.' And he was right, for whoever has any kind of wings at
his shoulders and can raise himself a little in the air, need not pay
attention to the mud of the streets."

"Tut, tut; mud is a purely native product, the same as other symptoms
of your national culture, namely: filth, scandals, envy, folly,
indolence, big words and little deeds, cheap politics, brawling, a
relish for mass-meetings, banditism, revolvers, and bombs; if I wanted
to mention everything I would not finish until late at night."

"Then I will throw in for you a few more things," said Gronski;
"drunkenness, cynicism, a stupid pose of despair, thoughtless
hypercriticism, scoffing at misfortune, fouling one's own nest,
spitting at blood and suffering, undermining faith in the future, and
blasphemy against the nation. Have you yet enough?"

"I have not enough of wine. Order some more, order some more!"

"I will not order any more wine, but I will tell yet more, that you err
in claiming that these are native products. They are brought by a
certain wind which evidently has fanned you."

But Swidwicki, who this time had no desire to quarrel but did have a
desire to drink, evidently wishing to change the subject of the
conversation, unexpectedly exclaimed:

"Apropos of winds, what a pity that such sensible people as the
Prussians commit one gross blunder."

Gronski, who had already risen to bid him farewell, was overcome
temporarily by curiosity.

"What blunder?" he asked.

"That they assume super-villeiny to be superhumanity."

"In this you are right."

"I feel a contempt for myself as often as I am right."

"Then we will leave you with your wine and your contempt."

Saying this, Gronski nodded to Dolhanski and they departed. Swidwicki's
last words, however, caused him to reflect; so after a while he said:

"Now people's minds are haunted by the Prussians and they are reminded
of them by the slightest cause. After all, Swidwicki's description of
them was apposite."

"If you knew how little I am interested in Swidwicki's descriptions."

"Nevertheless, you vie with him and talk in a similar strain," answered
Gronski.

After which, pursuing further the train of his thoughts, he said:

"Nietzsche also did not perceive that the susceptibility and
appreciation of other people's woes becomes manifest only upon the
culmination of the creative ..."

"Good, good, but at this moment I am more interested in what Krzycki is
going to do about Miss Anney."

Dolhanski, who could not endure Swidwicki, would have been sorely
afflicted, if he had suspected that the same question occurred to the
latter's mind.

Remaining alone, Swidwicki recalled Gronski's recital and began to
laugh, as the thought of such unusual complications amused him
immensely. He imagined to himself what excitement must have prevailed
at Krzycki's and at Pani Otocka's, and how far the affair would agitate
the circles of their relatives and acquaintances. And suddenly he began
to soliloquize in the following manner:

"And if I paid Miss Anney a visit? It even behooves me to leave her a
card. That would be eminently proper. I may not find her in--that does
not matter much, but if I should find her in, I will try to see whether
her legs are not too bulky at the ankles. For culture, education, even
polish may be acquired, but delicate ligaments of the legs and hands it
is necessary to inherit through a whole series of generations. That
furious Pauly, nevertheless, has a sufficiently thin ligature. The
devil, however, knows who her father was, I will go. If I do not find
one, I shall find the other."

And he went. He was admitted not by the man-servant but by Pauly; so he
smiled at her in his most ingratiating manner and said:

"Good-day, pretty fennel-flower! Is Panna Hanka Skibianka at home?"

"What Hanka Skibianka?" she asked in surprise.

"Then, the little lady does not know the great tidings?"

"What great tidings? I do not know any."

"That the mistress of the little lady is not named Miss Anney?"

"Do not upset our heads."

"I give the little lady my word of honor. Ask Pan Gronski, or Pan
Krzycki, who is chewing off his fingers from mortification. I give you
my word of honor. I also could tell you more, but if the little lady is
not curious I will go. Here is my card for Panna Ski-bian-ka."

The eyes of the girl sparkled with curiosity. She took the card
mechanically.

"I do not say that you should go, but I do not believe," she said
hurriedly.

"And I know yet more."

"What is it?"

"I will whisper it in your ear."

It did not occur to Pauly that there was no necessity for Swidwicki
speaking in a whisper. She leaned towards him with a palpitating heart
and, though he flooded her with his breath, saturated with the odor of
wine, she did not withdraw her head.

"What is it?" she repeated.

"That Panna Skibianka is a peasant woman from Zarnow!"

"That is untrue!"

"As I love God."

And, saying this, he suddenly smacked her ear with a broad kiss.



                                   IV

Miss Anney's letter bore the impress of extraordinary simplicity. At
the beginning she said that from the moment when he proposed for her
hand she was compelled to reveal her former name; while in the
continuation it contained an equally simple account of herself and her
family from the time of their departure from Rzeslewo. This sad course
of events she related in the following words:

"My father came from Galicia and had in America relatives of whom he
heard that through labor they had amassed fortunes. Learning of this,
he decided to settle there also and seek his fortune beyond the ocean.
We left Rzeslewo at a time when you were in Warsaw. I knew how to write
as I was taught that in the manor-house, and would have informed you
about this if I had known your address. We went, not saying anything to
anybody, to Hamburg, and at that place there occurred what often
happens to peasant emigrants. The agent tricked us, defrauded us of our
money, and placed us on a vessel bound not for America but for England.
Thrown upon the pavements of London, we soon fell into dire want. For
the passage to America there now was no means. My mother died of
typhoid fever in a hospital and father, from despair and nostalgia,
declined rapidly in health. Under these circumstances we were found by
Mr. Anney, one of the best and noblest men in the world, a friend and
patron of the Poles, who gave us employment. But the succor came too
late, and my father died in the course of a year. I remained in the
factory and worked in it until the accident which changed my status
entirely. The Anney family had only one child, a daughter, whom they
loved beyond everything in the world and surrounded with a solicitude
all the greater because she was threatened by a pulmonary ailment. Once
it happened that Miss Anney, while visiting the factory, was almost
carried away by the driving-wheel of the machinery. I rushed to her
assistance, imperilling a little my own life, and from that time the
gratitude of the Anney family for me had no bounds. They took me from
the factory to themselves, and in this manner I became the companion
and afterwards the bosom friend of their daughter. A Pole, an emigrant
of the year '63, a friend of Mr. Anney and a man well educated, taught
us both, and me, separately, in Polish. I endeavored to benefit, as
much as lay in my power, from these lessons, and after two years was
able to approach a little the intellectual plane of my friend and my
environment. But Agnes--for such was the Christian name of Miss
Anney--began to fail in her health. Then Mr. Anney sold his factory and
we all, including our instructor, removed to Italy. There about three
years were passed in a search for the best climate for our dearest
patient. All efforts proved unavailing, however, as God took His angel
unto Himself. After Agnes' death, the Anneys, remembering that I loved
with my whole soul our dead one, adopted me as their own child and gave
me not only their family name, but desiring to overcome their despair,
suffering, and sorrow, even the Christian name of the deceased.
Nevertheless, the sorrow could not be overcome, and though I tried with
my whole heart to be to them some sort of comfort in life, in the
course of two years both followed their greatest love.

"And this is the end of my history. And after that came those events
which brought me nearer to you; therefore I desire to justify my
conduct in your eyes. I have a right to the name which I bear, and my
life from the time of the departure from Rzeslewo has been pure.
Conscience reproaches me with only one new error. This was that I did
not confess to the Anneys that I already was unworthy of their care.
But for such a confession I lacked strength. I loved too much my Agnes
and feared that they would separate me from her. Later I did not want
to add to their affliction. I did not have the strength. At times,
also, I think that now when they look upon me from heaven and see
everything, they forgive me for keeping that secret. Beyond this I once
more repeat and swear that my life has been pure. But in my memory I
have only coffins and coffins, and of my Rzeslewo days there remains to
me only the recollection of you. I could not forget either my sin or my
happiness. Often during the life of my adopted sister, while gazing
into her chaste eyes, I struggled with remorse, and at the same time I
wept from intense longing. After that, being left alone in the world, I
had nothing to cherish in my heart, and I began to yearn yet more.
When, after the death of the Anneys, I became acquainted and grew
intimate with Zosia Otocka in Brussels, I accidentally learned from a
conversation that she was your relative. Then I related to her my
entire life, not concealing anything, and she not only did not spurn
me, but loved me yet more. Emboldened by her goodness, I confessed to
her my longing for the old days and Rzeslewo. Perhaps it may be a new
fault on my part that I confided to Zosia my insurmountable desire of
seeing yet once more in my life, Jastrzeb, Rzeslewo, and--why should I
not state the whole truth?--and you. Then Zosia said to me: 'I
understand you; ride with me to Jastrzeb as Miss Anney, as you cannot
do otherwise. Nobody will recognize you and you will take a reckoning
with your own heart. Perhaps reality may extinguish the rainbow of
recollections. If they are assuaged forever, so much the better for
you; if he should fall in love with you, so much the worse for him; if
your former echoes reawaken, then we will assume that this was
predestination.' Such was Zosia's advice, and for that reason, when
your mother invited her and Marynia, I also accompanied them to
Jastrzeb. But I do not wish to pass for any better than I am. I confess
that on the road I always had in mind Zosia's words: 'If he falls in
love with you, so much the worse for him,' and I wished that to happen.
I was certain that you had entirely forgotten me, and I thought that if
now you fell in love with me without any requital, that it would be a
sort of condign punishment for your forgetfulness and a kind of triumph
for myself and--if not such a womanly revenge as books tell of,--at
least a great solace to my self-love. But it happened otherwise, for I
forgot to take into account that I had a heart, not of foreign books,
but of a Polish village--simple and faithful. When I saw Rzeslewo,
Jastrzeb, and you, I wanted only to weep and weep, as I wept at Pan
Zarnowski's funeral, and I discovered within me that Hanka, who years
before loved you with her first childish love and afterwards with such
affection, did not love any one else. You know, sir, what happened
further. If you do not return, I will not bear any resentment towards
you, but do not harbor any ill-will against me. I, too, merely skirted
along the rim of happiness."

The signature was "Hanka." Ladislaus' chin quivered from time to time
while he was reading the letter and his eyes grew dim. He began to
repeat the signature "Hanka, Hanka." He rose abruptly and paced over
the room with big steps. His thoughts rolled into a ball in his head
like clouds in the heavens; they collected and scattered in all
directions like a startled stud of horses on the wild steppes of the
Ukraine. He read the letter a second and third time, and under its
influence there began to glide before his eyes pictures of the past as
distinct as if all that which occurred some time ago had happened but
yesterday. He recalled those bright moonlight nights when he stole away
to the mill, and that village girl, fragrant with the hay, who, to the
question of whether she loved him, whispered in reply, "Of course," and
threw her yet half-childish arms around his neck and hugged him to her
breast with such strength that no other love could make a sincerer
avowal. He recollected that he nevertheless loved her at that time, and
when he missed her, longed for her, and even inquired of the people
about the blacksmith's family--but with reserve and faint-heartedly, as
fear closed his lips.

Subsequently that girl was erased from his memory so completely that
even the light pangs of conscience which he felt on her account
vanished; nothing remained. It was well with him in the world and he
sought new sensations, while she was seized by the whirlwind of life
and was hurled like a wretched leaf upon a foreign land, where she
suffered from sheer starvation. Nevertheless, neither at that time, nor
later, when good people took care of her, did she forget him nor did
she cease to long for him. Ladislaus was not a deep connoisseur of the
human soul; he felt, nevertheless, that what for him was simply a love
adventure, a shallow enjoyment of the senses, a transient impression
which disperses to the winds like the fragrance of flowers, for her
became a new life; a surrender of her whole being and whole soul, too
pure and too noble for her to seek a new happiness upon new paths. And
now he understood why that coveted Miss Anney of to-day, charming as a
dream, brilliant, surrounded by affluence and arousing admiration,
wrote to him that she had a heart not of foreign books but of a Polish
village--simple and faithful. He understood also why the letter was
signed "Hanka." Suddenly and irrevocably were banished all his
suspicions, and her words, "my life from the moment of the departure
from Rzeslewo has been pure," touched him to the extent that he began
to upbraid himself that he should for a moment have thought that it
could have been otherwise. At once he seemed to himself to be little,
mean, and unworthy of that noble and exalted soul. But through his
heart and head there coursed during the last moments so many thoughts,
impressions, and feelings that he was uncertain whether the final
sensibility of his own shortcomings and wretchedness would be lasting.
Nevertheless, he was seized with an ever-increasing tenderness, and
more and more became obliterated that difference between Hanka and Miss
Anney which was so irritating to him in the first moments. Now, on the
contrary, the recollection that this simple girl of old and that
fascinating lady of to-day were one and the same woman penetrated him
with a kind of thrill, resembling a thrill of joy. The memory that at
one time he possessed the other began to waken in him, as it were, a
hunger and a new passion for the present one, and the thought of her
charms intensified the play of his young blood. But he strove to stifle
within him those impressions with the consciousness of the
responsibilities which were imposed upon him. Above all things he
propounded to himself the question. What should a man of honor do who
had betrayed and therefore wronged a girl, almost a child, who was in
love with him, and later, after a few years, met her under a changed
name and fell in love with her? There was only one answer; even if he
did not fall in love, if her love continued, he ought to assume all the
consequences of his acts. If she remained a simple-minded rustic who
never could understand him, or if she had deviated from the path of
rectitude, even in such a case, it would not, for his vexed soul, be
sufficient reason for washing his hands and withdrawing from the
affair; and so much the more, since the girl had bridged the
intellectual and social chasm which separated them, and in addition
ennobled her own soul and had not ceased to love. "Yes it is so. I
would spit in my own eyes," said Ladislaus (not thinking at that moment
that in practice an act like that would be a trifle difficult to
perform), "if I hesitated any longer. There is only one thing to do and
I will do that at once." Having formed this resolution, he took a deep
breath like a man, from whose heart a heavy load has fallen--and as
much as he at first became little in his own eyes, so now he began to
gain in stature. He did not, however, propound the question, what would
happen if Miss Anney did not have such wondrous eyes, gazing with a
heavenly streak, nor such a countenance, whose color reminded him of
the petals of a white rose, nor those other charms which attracted his
eyes. He said to himself that many of his acquaintances could not
afford to form a similar resolution; he was pleased with himself; and
that it was easier for him to do so because he was impelled thereto by
his heart and senses, he deemed not as lessening the worthiness of the
act itself, but as his own good fortune. He foresaw, however, that he
would yet have to do with his mother as well as with the so called
opinion of society, which is not concerned about principles but only
about gossip, and which seeks, above all things, food for its own
stupid malice. But he expected to reconcile his mother, and as to the
malicious, smiling ironically upon the slightest provocation, his
nostrils, distended at the very thought, and his clenched teeth boded
them no good. But this anticipated knightly action was a matter of the
future; in the meantime his impetuous nature urged him to immediate
action. He determined to go to his mother at once and definitely come
to an understanding with her. Glancing, however, at his watch, he
became aware of the fact that it was almost three o'clock in the
morning. In view of this, that was impossible. Not feeling, however,
the least need of sleep, and desiring absolutely to do something, he
sat down to write letters. First, he inclosed Miss Anney's letter in an
envelope, because he wanted to send it to his mother before the
decisive interview took place; after which he started to write to Miss
Anney, but soon stopped, as it occurred to him that since he gave his
word that he would remain silent for a week, he did not have the right
to do it. Instead, after a brief deliberation, he wrote a few words to
Pani Otocka, praying that she would permit him to visit her that day.

Finally, when the dawn began to peer into the room and mingle with the
light of the lamps, he thought of repose, but though he felt great
weariness, he could not fall asleep, and mentally he conversed with his
mother and Miss Anney until sunrise. He fell into a sound slumber only
when the morning bustle in the hotel began and did not awake until
late. Dressing himself, he rang for the servant and ordered him to
deliver Miss Anney's letter to his mother, but at the last minute he
made up his mind to take it to her himself. But in the rooms engaged by
his mother he found only the younger members of the family and the
French governess, who informed him that "madame" went to church early
in the morning.



                                   V

Pani Krzycki had indeed gone to church and confession, for in the grief
which befell her, she needed consolation and advice. And her grief was
real and profound. She lived in times in which various ancient
prejudices and prepossessions clashed, and were becoming more and more
obliterated, yielding place to new democratic ideas. As she often heard
that the wave of these new ideas might bring benefit and salvation to
the country, she, notwithstanding that her habits and former
conceptions conflicted with them, not only did not struggle against
them, but quietly acquiesced in them in a passive manner. This was
easier for her as it never occurred to her that personally she would
ever have anything to do with them. For her it was the same as if
somebody had installed modern furniture in a few rooms in Jastrzeb,
which were not continually occupied. Let them stay there since fashion
requires it and since in the other rooms there are old armchairs,
heirlooms, in which one can rest comfortably. And now, suddenly she was
ordered to move to that new part of the house; suddenly she was
confronted by the fact that her son was in love with a peasant woman
from Rzeslewo and was about to marry her. Then in the first moments
everything within her was stirred up; the old instincts and customs
began to cry out. That silent and passive acquiescence in the new ideas
crumbled like a building of sand, and the whole course of events
appeared to the indignant citizeness-noblewoman as an unworthy intrigue
in which the victim to be sported with was her son and with him, the
entire Krzycki family. Amazement that the chief partner and almost
author of this intrigue could be a being whom she regarded as the
incarnation of all feminine virtues, and whom she desired her son
should marry, only aggravated her anger. In vain did Zosia explain to
her that her son was the betrayer of an innocent child and Miss Anney
was an angel, and that in bringing her to Jastrzeb, she did not have
any sinister designs and did only that which every other woman in her
place, sympathizing with a wronged and longing woman, would have done.
"If the most fervent wish of Miss Anney was to behold once more in her
life the place in which her life was undone, and the man whom she could
not forget and who was the author of her undoing, then it was due to
her; and everybody who has the slightest heart ought to understand
this. And let Aunt say," she continued, "whether I could betray her
secret and whether an impossible situation would not have been created
for her." The usually quiet and gentle Zosia became so wrought up in
defence of her friend that she plainly told Pani Krzycki that even if
Laudie fell in love with Miss Anney without any requital that it would
be only what he deserved and, besides, since "Aninka" did not accept
his proposal and gave him a week's time for consideration, he could
withdraw it; in such case, however, "Aninka" would not be the only one
whose respect he forfeited. But all this was pouring oil upon fire and
only increased the ire of Pani Krzycki who declared that, at any rate,
she and her son were victims of a plot. After which she moved to a
hotel, announcing at the time of her departure that her feet would
never again cross the threshold of that house.

Nevertheless, the bitterness and anger which accumulated in her heart
were not directed against Pani Otocka alone. Her son also had wounded
her heart deeply and awakened a whole series of painful recollections,
connected with the memory of her husband. For her husband, a man
worshipped by her during the first years of their marital life for his
manifold good qualities and extraordinary beauty, had caused her not a
little mortification through his immoral life in relation to women in
general and the female residents of Jastrzeb and its vicinity in
particular. To Pani Krzycki it was no secret, that, in the course of
long years, cows were led continually from the manor cow-houses as
gifts or rather as rewards to various Kates and Marys and that
in Jastrzeb could be found quite a number of step-brothers and
step-sisters of her children. So she shed copious tears over this state
of affairs until almost the last year of her husband's life. In her
time she suffered in her own self-love and her womanly dignity as a
wife and mother. Afterwards she forgave everything, but after the death
of her husband, as a woman deeply religious, she lived in continual
fear at the thought of the Divine Tribunal, before which the deceased
appeared. For whole years she tried to supplicate for him forgiveness
through tears, fasts, alms, and prayers. Above all she determined to
bring up her son in such a manner that he would never fall into the
errors of his father. She watched him in his boyhood days, like the eye
in her head; she shielded him from all evil influences. After sending
him to school she confided the care of him to her relative, a priest,
and to Gronski, in whose morality she justly believed. And when the son
grew up, when after finishing school, he attended the university, and
afterwards assumed the management of the Jastrzeb estate, she had that
bottomless, naïve faith, usual with women, upright and pious but
unacquainted with the depravity of the world, that up to that time
"Laudie" was as pure as a lily. And now unexpectedly the film over her
eyes dropped. The son was following in the footsteps of his father. At
this thought she was beset by despair. In her soul a protest truly
vehement poured forth against the alliance of her son with a peasant
woman, but having a very sensitive conscience she felt, after her
conversation with Zosia, that Miss Anney had some claim on Ladislaus.
Once or twice, this manner of extricating themselves from an onerous
situation suggested itself to her mind; that Ladislaus in pursuance of
a prearranged compact should propose to Miss Anney and she should
refuse him. "But do I know," she said to herself, "how many similar
Hankas may already be found in Jastrzeb?" And a horror penetrated to
the marrow of her bones at the thought that among those Hankas might be
Ladislaus' step-sisters, for it seemed to her that the crimes of the
father fatally dragged after them the yet greater crimes of the son and
with them must follow damnation. "Ah, Laudie! ah, Laudie!" she repeated
despondently, and she felt besides fear, such pain, such disappointment
of heart and such profound resentment, that however much she understood
that it was necessary to summon Ladislaus as soon as possible and
ascertain how he had received the news that Miss Anney is Hanka and
what he intended to do, nevertheless she could not persuade herself to
see him at once. After removing from Pani Otocka's, the information
that he was not at the hotel afforded her true relief. She immediately
locked herself up in her room and determined, if he called, not to
admit him.

The following morning she went to church and to confession and after
confession she begged her relative, the prelate, the same who in his
time had charge of Ladislaus, for advice. Already she was calmer. The
aged prelate received her and began with extraordinary particularity to
question her about Miss Anney, her stay at Jastrzeb, about the course
of events after the attempt on Ladislaus' life, and about the details
in Hanka's life, of which Pani Krzycki had learned from Zosia:
afterwards about the fears of Pani Krzycki herself, and finally after a
long silence he said:

"As to the sins, which Ladislaus, after this, the first sin of his
youth, might have committed, that is only a conjecture, and a fear, and
as we have no irrefutable proofs of them, we should not take them into
account at all. There only remains the former Hanka and the Miss Anney
of to-day. It is only with this one case that we have to do. So I
desire to know how you, as a mother, regard her."

Pani Krzycki replied that she knew perfectly well that all people in
the sight of God were equal, but she was concerned about the happiness
of her son. Similar marriages were not usually happy. It may be that
the reason for this is the malice of the world: it may be that the wife
met with humiliation on the part of vain and malicious persons, but the
husband must feel that also, in consequence of which irritation ensues
and the relations grow from bad to worse even without any ill-will on
either side. As to her son he is ambitious and sensitive as but few
are, and even if he loved his wife most strongly, he would suffer if
any one evinced towards her even a shade of disdain. Whoever lives in
the world must reckon with everything, even with stupidity, even with
malice, not to say with other considerations upon which marital
happiness often depends.

The aged prelate listened, folding and unfolding according to his habit
a silk handkerchief, and finally said:

"Reckoning with stupidity and malice may only mean guarding against
them, not making any concessions to them."

After which he began to look at Pani Krzycki with a penetrating gaze
and asked:

"Permit me to put one question to you: Why should your son necessarily
be happy?"

She looked at him with surprise.

"Why, I am his mother."

"Yes, but there are things more important than happiness, particularly
temporal,--is it not true?"

"True," she answered quietly.

"That which you said in respect to temporal matters may be more or less
just and may actually be the reasons which make such marriages less
happy than others, but it is necessary above all things to propound to
one's self the question. What in life is greater and what is less, what
is more important and what is less important, and to act according to
the dictates of conscience."

"Well, how am I to act?" asked Pani Krzycki.

The aged prelate looked at the crucifix hanging on the wall and
quietly, but with emphasis, answered:

"As a Christian."

A momentary silence followed.

"I am satisfied with the advice," said Pani Krzycki, "and I thank you."



                                   VI

Ladislaus, while his mother was in church and consulting the prelate,
repaired, notwithstanding the early hour, to Pani Otocka. At the very
beginning he raised to his lips both of her hands and kissed them so
long that she, from that act alone, perceived his intentions.

"I knew it would be so! I knew it!" she cried with emotion and joy.

While he replied in a soft quivering voice:

"I did not require a week to perceive that I cannot live without her."

"I knew it," Zosia once more repeated. "Have you spoken with your
mother, yet?"

"No. Yesterday, I ran about the city senselessly, after which I rushed
to Gronski's and went to the hotel very late, and this morning I was
informed that Mother was in church."

Pani Otocka again became anxious.

"Yesterday," she said, "she was very angry and God grant that she may
be reconciled, for on this all depends."

"Not all," answered Ladislaus; "not to speak of my great attachment for
Mother, I esteem her immensely; and God sees that I would be pleased
always to conform to her will. But that has its limits; when the
happiness, not only of myself, but of the being most precious to me in
the world, is concerned, then I cannot sacrifice that under any
circumstances; I have pondered over this all night. I have a hope that
Mother will consent; as I trust in her character and in that love which
she has always shown to me. If, however, contrary to my hopes, it
should appear otherwise, then I will tell her that this is a resolution
which cannot now be and will not be revoked."

"Maybe there is no necessity for that," said Pani Otocka, "for Aninka
also is concerned. Yesterday, after the letter which she wrote to you
and after Pan Gronski's departure, we talked until late at night. She
was very nervous and cried, but spoke thus: 'If he returns to me, not
joyfully and with entire good-will, but only because he did not want to
withdraw his word, then I will never consent to it. There is no pride
in me. I did not even reckon with my own self-love, and wrote to him
sincerely what was in my heart, but even if it should break I would not
wed him, if it shall seem to him that he is lowering himself for me.'"

"The dear, lovely creature!" interrupted Ladislaus.

Pani Otocka continued:

"After that she began to cry, and added that she would not consent to
be the cause of an estrangement between mother and son."

"No, I repeat once more that my resolution cannot and shall not be
revoked. Here my whole life is involved--and even if now Mother cannot
find in her heart sufficient good-will, she will find it later. In the
meantime I will do everything in order that my future wife should have
in her also a mother, affectionate and grateful for her son's
happiness."

"Can I repeat that to Miss Anney?"

"That is just what I came for. But I have yet one more prayer. She took
my word that for a week I would not return to her and she alone can
release me from it. But in view of what I came here for, this would be
downright, needless torture. Neither a week nor a year can change
anything. Nothing, absolutely! Will Cousin deign to tell her that and
beg of her from me, but beg very cordially, that she release me from my
word?"

"With the greatest pleasure, and I have a hope this will not be a too
difficult matter to adjust."

"I thank you with my whole soul and now I will hurry to Mother."

But before he left the room, Marynia rushed in and began to gaze
sharply, now at her sister, then at Ladislaus. In reality she was not
apprized of the secrets of the former relations between Ladislaus and
Hanka, but she already knew that Miss Anney is the former Hanka; she
knew everything which transpired afterwards and, loving Miss Anney very
much, she was dying from uneasiness and curiosity as to what turn the
affair would take. She was so pretty with that wistful gaze and uneasy
face and, besides, she had such an amusing mien that Ladislaus, in
spite of his emotions, at the sight of her, fell into a good humor.
Zosia remained silent, not knowing whether he wished to speak of his
affair of the heart before Marynia, while he, purposely, for sometime
did not break the silence; finally he approached his little cousin and
squeezing her hand, announced in a sepulchral voice:

"Too late!"

"How too late," she asked alarmed.

"She is going to marry some one else."

"Who?"

"Panna--Kajetana."

And he burst out into a sincere, jolly laugh. Marynia conjectured that
matters could not stand so badly since Ladislaus was jesting. Desiring,
however, to learn fully the good news, she began to stamp with her foot
and importune like a child.

"But how?--now, honestly. I could not sleep to-day! How? now, honestly.
How?"

"Honestly, that hope and joy and happiness--there!" answered Ladislaus,
pointing in the direction of Miss Anney's quarters.

After which, kissing his cousins' hands, he rushed out like a stone
whirled from a sling, for he was in a great hurry.

On the way he grew grave and even gloomy at the thought that the moment
for his decisive interview with his mother was approaching.

He found her in the hotel, where she awaited him in her own room. The
sight of his mother's face, serene and filled with an unusual kind of
sweetness, gave him, for the time being, encouragement, but at the same
time he thought that gentle persuasion, entreaties, and perhaps tears,
would be heavier to bear than anger--and he asked in an uncertain
voice:

"Did Mamma read her letter?"

"I did," she answered, "but even before that I learned almost
everything from Zosia, whom Miss Anney herself begged not to conceal
anything from me."

"Gronski told me that Mamma became angry at Zosia?"

"Yes, that is so, but that can be rectified. Now I want above all
things to talk with you sincerely."

So Ladislaus began to narrate how in the first moments he was struck as
if by a thunderbolt and how he could not reconcile himself to the
thought that Hanka and Miss Anney were one and the same person. He
confessed his vacillation, his doubts, suspicions, and the pain, which
pierced him; and the internal strife and accounting with his conscience
and everything through which he passed. But only after reading her
letter, did he perceive that this pain had its origin in his love for
her and that the struggle was a struggle with his own heart and
happiness; then he ceased to waver; he could not imagine happiness
otherwise than with that most precious being in the world, and without
her he did not desire it.

After which he said that when he became acquainted with her at
Jastrzeb, as Miss Anney, from almost the first moment he was attracted
to her by some incomprehensible force and she engrossed all his
thoughts. He, of course, esteemed Zosia Otocka highly, and Marynia he
regarded as a bright phenomenon. But admiration and love are two
different things. Besides, he did not owe anything either to Zosia or
to Marynia. They were kind while he was wounded and that was all. But
to Miss Anney he probably owed his life, and he remembered that she for
his sake placed herself in peril. With what could he repay her for
that, and how could he make reparation for the former wrong, committed
while she was still almost a child? Who was the worthier of the two?
Was it he, who forgot and lived from day to day an easy, thoughtless,
and spiritually slothful life, or she whom no new attachments could
reconcile to their separation and who ennobled her mind and heart
through suffering, yearning, and labor? "I scarcely dare to believe.
Mother," said he, "that she not only absolves my injury, but has not
ceased to love me. Perhaps it happened thus, because it was I who, for
the first time in her life opened for her the doors to the world of
happiness, but undoubtedly it was because hers is a totally exceptional
nature. Yes, Mother! She is one of those who, in a pristine state even
at the time when they are unable to realize things, possess that noble
instinct, that sort of elevation of feeling that love ennobles indeed
everything, but only when it is great, when it is for a whole lifetime;
and those who love have such strength, such a depth of affection, that
they are incapable of any other affection. But when such a one is
found, then we can only thank God on our knees, and, in plain terms, my
head is confused at the thought that for my transgression I meet with,
not punishment, but fabulously good fortune. It may be that there are
in the world more such women who can make a man happy, but I want to be
happy only with this one; maybe there are others who ennoble and
elevate everything about them, but I feel that through this one I will
be better and better. Finally, this is a question not only of my
happiness but also of my honor."

Here, folding his hands, he began to gaze into her eyes with a pleading
look; after which he continued:

"All this I intrust to Mamma's hands; my whole life, my entire future,
and the peace of my conscience, and happiness and honor."

Pani Krzycki placed both of his palms to her temples and kissed his
forehead.

"My Laudie," she said, "I am an old woman and have various prejudices:
so I will not tell you that from the first moments it was easy for me
to assent to your intentions. Do you know that yesterday I became
enraged at Zosia and until this morning, I persisted in my
determination to oppose as far as it lay in my power your marriage. Be
not surprised at this, since you admit that you were struck as if by
lightning; then think, how it must have affected me, I, as is usual
with a mother, had at the bottom of my soul the conviction that for you
even a king's daughter would not be too high a mate. But it was not
only the old mode of thought, not only a maternal vanity, and not only
prejudices which inflamed my opposition. I feared also for your
happiness. I would not have had anything against the person of Miss
Anney herself, were it not for these other circumstances. I became
acquainted with her at Jastrzeb and loved her sincerely; often I said,
God grant that all our ladies could be like her. But learning who she
is and what took place between you, I became alarmed at first at the
thought that you might have committed similar offences in Jastrzeb."

"No, Mamma," answered Krzycki; "I give my word for that."

"For you see I thought you were absolutely pure; so think what a blow
it was to me."

Ladislaus bowed to her hands, in order to hide his face, for
notwithstanding the gravity of the moment, notwithstanding his sincere
emotion and anxiety, the naïvete of his mother seemed to him something
so unheard-of that he feared he might betray himself by an expression
of astonishment, or what was worse, a smile. "Ah," he thought, "it is
lucky that I have to swear only as to Jastrzeb, for I could not tell
mother what I told Gronski, that a wise wolf never takes from that
village where he keeps his lair." But simultaneously it occurred to him
that one must be an angel to have such a delusion, and his adoration of
his mother increased yet more.

And she continued:

"Then I took into consideration the world and the people among whom you
must live. I knew that not a few would commend your conduct, but in
reality you would have to endure a thousand petty annoyances and stings
which would irritate and exasperate you until they caused a pain and
bitterness even in your feeling towards your wife. I was concerned
about your happiness which, in my blindness I craved above all things
for you. And only to-day was the film taken off my eyes. Apparently
such things we know and proclaim, but, nevertheless, with real surprise
and as if it was something new, I heard that happiness is not the most
important thing in life and that it ought not to be the greatest
concern of a mother. And before that my heart was cleansed of its pride
and I was commanded to be guided by my conscience: therefore, my
Laudie, I cannot dissuade you from this marriage."

Ladislaus, hearing this, again bowed his head to his mother's hands and
began to cover them with kisses.

"Ah, Mamma, dear," he repeated, "ah, Mamma, how happy I am!"

"And I," she answered; "for I feared that your feeling might be
superficial, founded upon a delusion and fancy; but, after this
conversation, I see that you love Aninka truly."

"Yes! That is imbedded so deeply that it could only be torn from me
with my life."

"I believe, I believe."

Thus mutually assuring each other, they both spoke with absolute
sincerity, and both at the same time deluded themselves. For Ladislaus
had an inflammable head, greedy senses, and soft heart, but he lived
principally on the exterior, and none of his feelings could spring from
great depths as, on the whole, he was not a deep man.

But his mother, believing every one of his words as she believed in the
gospel, said with great confidence:

"May God bless you, my child. Let us at present speak of what is to
come. I, of course, understand that once having agreed, it is necessary
to agree not with half but with the whole heart: it is necessary to
receive Aninka with open arms and give her to understand that it is she
who is conferring a favor upon us for which we should be grateful."

"Yes, for she does," exclaimed Ladislaus with ardor.

"Very well, very well," answered Pani Krzycki, with a smile, "now it
becomes me to go to her and thank her myself. I assume also that Aninka
will withdraw the condition that you should not call upon her for a
week."

"Zosia is to attend to that, but naturally Mamma's words will be more
effective."

"When do you want me to go?"

Ladislaus again folded his palms:

"At once, Mother dear, at once."

"Very well; will you wait for me here, or at Zosia's?"

"Here; for Zosia might be with Marynia at the rehearsal. She sometimes
accompanies her."

Pani Krzycki rose heavily from the chair, as that day, from the
morning, had been trying for her and the rheumatism held her more and
more strongly. Having, however, straightened out her limbs, she moved
briskly ahead. The thought that she was troubling herself for her boy
made it an agreeable task and exertion.

But on the way she began to think of matters of which thus far there
had been no mention between herself and her son. She belonged to that
type of women, often found among the country nobility, who know
perfectly well how to line the ideal cloak with a real lining. In her
time the entire management of the Jastrzeb estate rested on her head,
and on that account she had a multitude of worries and had habituated
herself to struggle continually with them. So at the present time her
mind turned to the material side of the affair.

"I would consent to this marriage" (she thought as if to justify
herself to herself), "even though Aninka did not have anything, but I
am curious to know how much she can have." After which she began to
fondle the hope that while Aninka might not have millions and for an
Englishwoman might not be very rich, she might have what in Poland
might be regarded as great opulence, though in England it might be
deemed a modest fortune.

And amidst such meditations she rang Miss Anney's door-bell.

The visit passed off as could be expected. Pani Krzycki was honest,
grateful, motherly and, at the moment when she surrendered the life and
happiness of her son to the hands of Miss Anney, "her dear daughter,"
she was, in a measure, pathetic. Miss Anney, too was in a measure,
pathetic, also cordial and simple, quiet and collected as well, but she
seemed to be acting with caution, though nothing whatever was said of
the past. With Pani Krzycki there even remained an impression that
there was by a hairbreadth too much of this "reserve." She understood
perfectly that it would be want of tact on Miss Anney's part if she
displayed too much enthusiasm and conceded that she acted properly, but
nevertheless she carried away at the bottom of her heart a little
disappointment as it were, for there was hidden in her the conviction
that the woman who would get "Laudie" and would bear his name, could be
excused even though she went insane from joy.

Returning to the hotel, she did not, however, confess to her son this
thought, but began to load "Aninka" with praises and speak of her so
warmly that tears stood in the eyes of both. Ladislaus, above all else,
was anxious to know whether the "taboo" was removed and the prohibition
recalled; having learned that such was the case, a quarter of an hour
later, he was at Hanka's feet.

"My beloved, my angel, my wife!" he said, embracing her knees.



                                  VII

A few days later, the old notary, Dzwonkowski, and Dr. Szremski came to
visit Gronski. The latter, to whom this was an agreeable surprise, as
he liked both, and, besides, esteemed the doctor highly, greeted them
with great cordiality and began to ask the news of the city, the
vicinity, and of themselves.

"Ha! We live, we live," answered the boisterous doctor. "In these
times, that is an art. But the police so far have not arrested us, the
bandits have not shot us, the socialists have not blown us up into the
air; so we not only live, but have come to Warsaw. I, because I must
ride farther,--as far as Volhynia, and this gentleman," pointing to the
notary, "on account of the concert and Panna Marynia's participation in
it. Having read of it in the daily newspapers he fell into such a state
that at any moment I looked for an attack of apoplexy or aneurism.
There was no help for it. I had to prescribe a stay in Warsaw as a
cure. Finally, he cannot at all endure our little town any more, and is
thinking only of giving up his office to some one and of moving here
permanently. In his heart a fire is burning, and the snow melts, and
ice melts and so forth. Ha!"

During these words, the old notary moved his jaws so furiously that his
chin almost touched his nose; finally he declared:

"The head splits! The head splits!"

"The same old quarrel?" asked Gronski, laughing.

"Quarrel?" repeated the notary. "It is not I who quarrel. He has shaken
up my brain, shattered my nerves, stupefied me, torn to pieces,
exhausted, cleaned out, sucked, and outtalked the remnants of strength
within me. From yesterday, sir, on the whole road--a continual din and
roar in the ears--and after that in the hotel; to-day, since morning,
and now here. No, I cannot stand it, no, I cannot!"

"Tut, tut. And who daily summons me? Who every day hangs out his tongue
until it reaches the first button on his vest and orders me to examine
it? Wait, sir. I will ride away and you will have to examine it
yourself before a mirror."

"Then you are really going to Volhynia? How about your patients?" asked
Gronski.

"I fear that in the meantime they may get well; but it can't be helped,
I must go!"

"And for how long?"

"I do not know, but do not think very long. I am a Volhynian Mazur,
from the minor nobility of that place, or as they say there of the
single-manor nobles. They are mostly settled there as tenants of
various petty nobles, but I have my own seat in partnership with a
brother, an ex-judge, who has charge of the estate and to whom I am now
riding."

"But, of course, not because he is sick?"

"Certainly, sir; he has become insane."

"My God! Since when?"

"Not long ago. From the time he became a 'local rights' man.'"

"Ah."

"That is so. The indigent, haughty noble took a notion to pose as a
landed proprietor, hankered after the society of gentlemen, and got
water on the brain. A month ago I sent him two thousand primers for our
impoverished shabby gentility, of whom no one thinks and who
involuntarily or rather in spite of their will, are there losing their
Polish spirit. And would you believe it, sir, that he sent back to me
the whole package, together with a letter in which he announced that he
would not distribute the primers."

"Why?" asked Gronski, whom the narrative of the doctor began to
interest.

"He wrote to me in the first place that they have decided to live and
labor only for their own province and occupy themselves only with local
or provincial affairs, and again they aim at some kind of synthesis of
all nationalities, and thirdly they will Polonize nobody."

"But you were only concerned about primers for the children of the
petty nobility, who are Polish."

"By them this is already styled Polonization, for it interferes with
their 'synthesis.' We know in what that synthesis must end. May the
devils take them, together with their diplomacy. But that is not
enough! In the end, my ingenious brother informs me that he does not
regard himself as a Pole, but only as a Volhynian with Polish culture
and that this is his political position. Ah, sir, Stanczyk was wrong
when he said that in Poland there are the most doctors. In Poland there
are the most politicians. Every average Pole is a second Talleyrand, a
second Metternich, a second Bismarck. He never participated in
political life, is unacquainted with history, never passed through any
schools, and never studied. That is nothing! He is by grace of God! He
from nature has a pastille in his brain, of which he thinks that if he
only lights it, then all the horse-flies and gnats, which suck our
blood will be so hoaxed that they will cease to molest us. And every
one is convinced that he alone sees clearly, that he alone has the
exclusive measures, and that his diplomacy, county, local, provincial,
or whatever you may call it, is a panacea. It never occurs to him, that
with such county or local polities, this fatherland, as Yan Casimir
said, would go into direptium gentium."

"Sir," said the aged notary to Gronski, pointing to the doctor, "you
have pressed in him such a button, that now he will not stop talking
until we shall not be able to move hand or limb."

"That is not a button, that is a sore," answered Gronski.

And evidently it was a sore for the doctor, as he was so absorbed that
he did not hear what was said about him, and began the following
dialogue with his absent brother.

"Ah! So you are not a Pole but only a Volhynian with Polish culture?
Very well! Then, in the first place I will tell you that you have
repudiated your father, grandfather, and great-grandfather; that you
have spat upon their graves; that you have renounced your traditions,
your right of existence, that you have grown smaller, that you have
deserted your own people and have gone to those who do not want you,
who do not invite you and who treat you with contempt; that you hang in
the air and you will look prettily under such conditions in your
Volhynia. Again, I will tell you that you are not yet a turncoat, since
that which you are doing, you do through stupid politics which in
consequence of your ignorance you regard as wise, but you have paved
the way for future turncoats. Your grandson or great-grandson will
renounce Polish culture. And finally, if you say that you are not a
Pole, but only a Volhynian, why do you not go back farther, even as far
as Darwin? You could with equal justice say that you are not a Pole,
but an orang-outang or a pithecanthrope with Polish culture? What? Bah!
But you still say that you do not want to Polonize any one? How can you
Polonize? Whether with a whip, with prison, by religious compulsion,
with school, or with a gag on the native tongue? Tell me! But, if not
denying your nationality you would shine with the example of your
public Polish virtues, if you would give someone your Polish hunger for
liberty, your Polish ability to understand the sufferings of others,
your Polish love, your Polish hope, your faith in a better future, and
through these reconcile him to Poland, then would you regard such a
Polonization as premature, and bad politics? But in such case, I ask
you, you dunce, have you anything better to offer, and why are you
staying there where you settled? You don't know? And in the end you
will not even know who you are. That I will tell you. You, Brother, are
a weak character and above all have a weak head."

Here he turned to Gronski:

"This is what I have to say to my brother and why I am riding to him.
There is to be some kind of an assembly there, so I will say this, in
other words, publicly."

"If you would only go as quickly as possible," exclaimed the notary.

And the doctor began to laugh.

"But as I have yet time, I will first attend Panna Marynia's concert."

"By all means," said Gronski, "ride, sir. Poland is not only being cut
from the outside by inimical scissors, but she is beginning to be rent
asunder internally. Ride, sir, and tell them that publicly. Perhaps
some may be found who will be frightened at their amenableness to the
future."

"I think that such will be found. For, in the main, I assume that they,
or at least a majority of them, thus far feel in the old way, and only
speak as they do in order to loosen, even though for a moment, the
noose which presses on their throats. But in this they are mistaken.
The result will be that they will be despised and trampled upon, both
from above and below."

"When are you going?"

"The assembly meets in about ten days, so I actually will stay here
about a week, for I have various matters to attend to in Warsaw. In the
meantime, I will visit my acquaintances, and among others Pani Otocka,
and the Krzyckis. How is Krzycki?"

"As well as a fish--and he is going to marry."

"Well, well. I will wager that it is with that beautiful Englishwoman?
A pure flower!"

"Yes. But it seems that this is not an English flower, only genuinely
Polish, from a village meadow."

"For the Lord's sake. What are you saying?"

"That is no longer any secret. Her name is Hanka Skibianka."

Here Gronski related the whole history of Miss Anney, omitting only
that Ladislaus knew her while she was Hanka.

And they listened with astonishment, while the doctor slapped his knees
with his palms and cried:

"Ah! If I had known that; ah, if I had known that!"

"Well, what would have happened? asked the notary testily.

"What would have happened? I would have been in love with her not only
under the ears but above. As it was, I only missed by a hair being in
love with her. Ah, lucky but undeserving Krzycki! But such is my
ill-luck. Let only one catch my fancy--lackaday! either some one takes
her, or she is in love with somebody else. But it cannot be helped! I
must see Miss Anney and tender her my best wishes. For after all
Krzycki is a good boy. Such as he will not rebuild Poland, but a good
boy, nevertheless. And such a comely rascal, that he ravishes the eye.
I would like to see them together. That will be a couple--what!"

"If you wish to see them, and have the time," said Gronski, "then it
will not be difficult, for we arranged yesterday at Pani Otocka's that
to-day we will all be present at the rehearsal for the concert. I can
take you gentlemen to-day to the rehearsal, and afterwards, the whole
party can go to breakfast."

"Exactly," exclaimed the notary, "that is just what I came to ask you
to do. I have dropped out of the old relations and I did not know to
whom to apply--well!"

Gronski glanced at his watch.

"If that is the case, all right; but we have still time. In the hall at
this moment there is some kind of meeting or lecture, and such meetings
usually drag beyond the designated time. After that, before they
ventilate the hall and replace the chairs, a half hour will elapse. I
have not omitted any rehearsal, so I know how things go."

"And I will not omit any," said the notary.

Nevertheless, he grew so impatient that they left too early. Before the
building stood about a dozen persons, evidently waiting for those in
the hall; while from within there reached them a buzzing noise, at
times shouts, applause, and the sound of the stamping of feet.

"What kind of meeting is it?" asked the doctor.

"Really, I do not know," answered Gronski. "Now we are full of that.
There are political meetings, social conferences, literary lectures,
and God knows what else."

"I envy Warsaw," exclaimed the doctor.

"There is not much to envy. At times it chances that something deserves
attention, but oftener such absurdities take place that one feels
ashamed."

"Oh, they are already leaving," observed the notary; "but why are they
shouting so?"

"Let us wait; that is some kind of a brawl," said Gronski.

In fact it evidently was a brawl, for from the roomy vestibule there
rushed out on the wide stairs between ten, and twenty men, without caps
or hats, who in the twinkling of an eye, formed a disorderly heap. In
this heap, hands, canes, and umbrellas moved violently, and these
motions were accompanied by a shrill shriek. Afterwards from the
gyrating mob, shoved by tens of arms, shot out, as if from a sling,
somebody, with bare head and tattered coat, who, leaping from the
stairs, turned a somersault at the doctor's feet in such a manner as
almost to tumble him and the notary on the ground.

"Swidwicki!" exclaimed Gronski with astonishment.

Swidwicki rose, and shaking his fist menacingly at the crowd, which,
having ejected him outdoors, was again returning to the hall, began to
say with a panting voice:

"Ah, it is you! They have warmed my hide--they have warmed my hide!
They have broken my ribs a little, and torn my coat. But that is
nothing! I also have crooked a few straight noses and have straightened
out a few crooked ones. This is the second time that this has happened
to me--ouch!"

"Come with me. You cannot stay thus, with bare head and in such a
coat."

"No, no!" answered Swidwicki. "Ouch! Let me recover my breath. Hey!
Messenger!"

And beckoning to a messenger, he said to him:

"Citizen! Here are two pieces of coin and a wardrobe check. Go to the
vestibule and fetch me my hat and topcoat."

"But for the Lord's sake what happened?"

"Directly, directly," said Swidwicki; "but let me first dress. After
that we will go to some confectioner's shop--ouch! For as soon as the
meeting closes, they will begin to go out and, finding me here, they
will be ready to administer a new drubbing to me and to you gentlemen
to boot."

"So that was a meeting?"

"A meeting, conference, discussion, lecture--whatever you wish. Panna
Sicklawer spoke on 'Imparting knowledge.' On the platform sat Pan
Citronenduft, Panna Bywalkiewicz, Panna Anserowicz, Panna Kostropacka,
the editor Czubacki, and others. The hall was packed to suffocation.
Ouch! I enjoyed myself like a king."

"We see," observed Gronski.

"You think not? But introduce me to these gentlemen. For I am the hero
of the day."

"Hero Swidwicki, gentlemen; Notary Dzwonkowski and Dr. Szremski," said
Gronski.

Swidwicki squeezed the palms of Gronski's astonished companions; after
which when the messenger brought the hat, cane, and top-coat he dressed
himself and said:

"With this cane I would be ready to wait for them here--but for to-day
I have had enough. The meeting will last twenty minutes or longer. Let
us go to some confectioner's shop, for I feel a pain in my legs and
cannot stand."

They went to a confectioner's. Swidwicki ordered for himself one and
then a second glass of cognac, after which he began to talk:

"That was an instructive meeting. Panna Sicklawer, I tell you
gentlemen, is a Cicero in petticoats. When she started to impart
knowledge to various meek creatures of the masculine gender and various
magpies of fourteen years, of whom the audience mainly consisted, even
I grew warm. The meek creatures applauded or else cried 'shame' when
there was a talk of parents, and the magpies blushed so violently and
fidgeted in their seats so much, that they seemed to sit on needles,
and everything went along smoothly. Remarks were made by Pan
Citronenduft, Panna Gotower and some maid, a native of far away Kars,
whose name as well as I could hear it, had a Grecian or Spanish
sound,--Nieodtego. The maturer portion of the auditors was also carried
away by the enthusiasm, and I, though Gronski doubts it, enjoyed myself
like a king. For you see, gentlemen, that I, from principle, have
nothing against imparting knowledge,--nothing. Quite the reverse! Only,
I am of the opinion, if an affair is to be jolly let it be really
jolly. So then, after a few addresses, I rose, asked leave to speak and
announced that I desired to recite a poem in honor of the gathering.
They agreed to it and I received applause in advance. Then I began to
declaim--indeed, not an original poem, but my own parody on the fable:
'Once wanton little Thad.' But this did not continue long; it appeared
that my Thaddy proved himself to be so wanton, that he was too wanton,
even for them. They did not like also this; that in staring at Panna
Nieodtego, I closed one eye. They began to shout 'Silence!' 'Fie!'
'Away with him! This is jeering!' And here my ideal fable began to
change into a real epic. For when in reply to the shout 'This is
jeering,' I said, 'Well what did you think it was?' there was a
universal roar of 'Put him out!' At least fifty hands grappled my
shoulders and neck; a nice rumpus followed. They struck me, I struck
back. Finally, they dumped me into the corridor: from the corridor on
to the stairs, and into the street. The rest you gentlemen know. I
repeat for the third time that I enjoyed myself like a king."

"That to me is at least courage," said the doctor; "it is necessary to
stop such things, even by a scandal; so you did well, sir; you are a
brave nationalist."

"I, a nationalist," exclaimed Swidwicki, "why, the day before yesterday
I was thrown out of a meeting of the National Democrats. Indeed, a
little more politely, but I was ejected."

Gronski began to laugh.

"So this is your new sport?"

But with this their conversation ended as their attention was attracted
by the crowd returning from the lecture. Before the window flowed a
black human stream, among which were a large number of striplings, and
young girls with cheeks covered with blushes.

When the stream finally passed by, there appeared after an interval the
bright, vernal forms of Hanka, Marynia, and Pani Otocka, in the company
of Krzycki.



                                  VIII

Upon the so called "happiest period" in Krzycki's life certain small
shadows fell, and this for various reasons. If on the one hand his love
for Hanka grew with each day, on the other there began various petty
annoyances which his mother had foreseen. They were things almost
imperceptible, about which one could not pick a quarrel, but which
nevertheless stung. Thus it happened that the ladies of Gorek came to
Pani Krzycki to invite her to the wedding of Kajetana to Pan Dolhanski,
which wedding through a special dispensation of the church was to take
place in a few days. Pani Krzycki in tendering them her good wishes
announced that they could also do the same to her, owing to the
betrothal of her son to Miss Anney. Then both, one after the other,
began to heartily embrace her, which, though apparently a sign of their
good wishes, looked more like condolence, the more so as Pani Wlocek
did not utter anything besides the words, "It is God's will," while
Kajetana raised her eyes as piously as if she wanted to supplicate the
Powers on high to comfort the heartbroken mother. Ladislaus laughed
after their departure, but in his soul he wished that both would break
their necks. When, however, a few days later it appeared that out of
the entire circle of acquaintances only Hanka did not receive an
invitation from these ladies, he wanted to start a brawl with
Dolhanski: and his mother was barely able to restrain him with the
declaration that neither she herself, nor Zosia, nor Marynia would
attend the wedding. Krzycki was even angered because some of his
acquaintances, in contrast to the ladies of Gorek, tendered to him
their good wishes with excessive ardor, as if he had performed an
heroic act. His marriage, as well as the antecedents of Hanka, became
the subject of every conversation in "society." Out in the world, great
political changes could take place, bombs could explode, strikes could
break out, but in the salons for a few days only Hanka was spoken of,
various flabby dames, with eyes half closed, in a questioning tone,
drawling through their teeth, "Anka--Skubanka[12]--n'est ce pas?" But
while the good wishes of those who tendered them to Krzycki with such
excessive ardor sprang from appreciation of the heroism with which he
dared to take as wife "Skubanka," Hanka's marriage settlement and the
hope of "plucking" the millionaire in the future played an important
rôle. This marriage settlement, which, agreeably with Pani Krzycki's
anticipations, was, for local conditions, quite considerable, but by no
means reached the millions, grew in public opinion with almost every
hour, so that it attained almost fabulous proportions, and intensified
the universal curiosity to the extent that when Hanka in the company of
her two young female friends together with Pani Krzycki and her fiancé
appeared at the races, all the lorgnettes were directed at their
carriage. The flabby dames from "high life," gazing at her radiant
countenance, sparkling with happiness and health, indeed said that they
could at once surmise that "this is something a little different," and
contended that in the present days this "high life" ought to open its
delicate bosom to a person possessing such means for "doing good." As
to her comeliness, however, the opinion prevailed that she was not
sufficiently pretty for one to lose his head and that Krzycki was
marrying for money. His defence was undertaken only by the ladies from
Gorek, who, meeting now many people, made it everywhere understood that
their young neighbor did not always seek merely money, and that only
when he was disappointed in other fancies, did he come to the
conclusion that it was better to have money than nothing.

Thus did things shape themselves externally. But on the sky of the
betrothed pair appeared tiny clouds which, as Ladislaus' love became
inflamed, appeared even with greater frequency. Hanka, habituated to
English customs, did not at all hesitate to receive her fiancé at her
home and pass with him long hours alone; to stroll with him over the
city, to drive from the city without a chaperon, and even call him by
his Christian name. She said to herself that in great and sincere love
there also should be room for friendship and that it was necessary
before one became a wife to be a sincere friend and comrade. She
thought that Ladislaus would understand this and not only would love
her all the more but also cherish her all the more. Once she had read
in an English book that one might love and not cherish, and that in
such a case love grows embittered to the degree that it may become
perpetual unhappiness. So, desiring to avoid this and place her future
life upon immovable foundations, she wished to win, besides love, the
deepest possible friendship.

But here the misunderstandings between the engaged couple began. That
golden-hair, that good friend, gazing with a heavenly light, that
rose-colored, gay comrade who dressed herself in a light dress and
spring hat, was so charming that Ladislaus cherished indeed without
limit, but at every tête-à-tête lost his head. To Hanka it appeared
that her betrothed, though he was enamoured to distraction and at the
same time was a friend, should be the kind of a man upon whose
shoulders she could at every moment press her head with perfect
confidence that he would not abuse her trust and would not take
advantage of their seclusion nor of any temporary weakness, nor of the
gray hour, nor of the fact that love disarms and weakens a woman. He,
on the contrary, perhaps because he lost his head, acted as if he
thought that friendship and the relations of a comrade only added to
the rights of betrothal. From this there was generated a mutual
vigilance; in him a watchfulness for everything of which he might take
advantage; in her a wariness of that which she ought to avoid. This
vigilance, at first silent, soon lapsed into quarrels. They were
followed by apologies, which would have intensified the love of both
were it not that Ladislaus apologized too passionately. And this
misunderstanding was in reality deeper than both thought, for when
Hanka, remembering what once had taken place between them, believed
that he should on that account be more continent, he, in moments when
blinded by desire, seemed to fancy that very past, together with the
burnt bridges, justified him in everything. From these causes, the
enchanted edifice of their happiness from time to time became defaced
and would have been defaced yet more strongly were it not for this,
that in Ladislaus there was material for everything and there came upon
him moments entirely different. Sometimes on clear nights when they sat
on the balcony leading to the garden of Hanka's residence, and when
from the neighboring balcony came the song of Marynia's violin,
and the moonlight seemed to sleep quietly on the opposite walls, it
also put to slumber Ladislaus' senses. His soul, lulled to sleep by
the sight of the beloved being, bleaching like a white angel in the
dusk,--intoxicated with the fragrance of leaves and flowers, winged by
music, was dissolved into a kind of universal but sweet and chaste
feeling, which enveloped Hanka and bore her towards the stars. The
impressionable soul of the girl at such times was susceptible of this
and was simply submerged in happiness.

But these were transitory moments of tranquillity of mind. A moment
later, while Ladislaus was bidding her good-night and when he kissed
her hands and forehead, quickly there was awakened in him the eternal
hungry desire, and he sought her lips and hugged her breast to his own;
he lost his memory, and, when she broke away from his arms, he said
that he did not promise her that he would be an English Quaker; and
they parted, if not angry, as if both were humiliated and sad.

And that sadness fraternized with love.

But it often happened that Ladislaus disarmed Hanka with his great
frankness which in reality was his chief attribute.

"You, my Hanusia," he said to her once, after serious quarrel, "would
want that I should mount a ladder and stay on the highest round, for a
time--Good!--I can! But to stay there forever I could not do any more
than I could walk on stilts all the time. Do not imagine that I am
something more than I am. I am an ordinary mortal, who only differs
from others in this, that he loves you above everything."

"No, Laudie," answered Hanka, "I do not at all desire that you should
be some great personage, for I remember that the Englishmen say that an
honest man is the noblest work of God."

"I did a little mischief once, but I think I am honest."

"Yes, but remember that not he is honest who does not do evil, but he
who does good. In that everything is contained."

"I agree to that. You will teach me that."

"And you me."

"Ha I we will keep house in Jastrzeb and will do all we can. There is
much work to be done there and of the kind for which I am fitted. To be
a good husbandman, to be good to the people, to instruct them; to
teach, love, and enlighten; to be also a good citizen of the country
and in case of necessity to die for it--for this, I give my word I am
fit. Yes, it is so. And now you have me. But taking everything
together, no evil will befall you with me, Hanusia,--I love you too
much for any evil to befall you. Only, my golden one, my love, my rosy
lady, do not command me to sit on the ladder, for that I cannot do."

His simplicity and sincerity propitiated Hanka. The thought of a joint
life in Jastrzeb, of loving the folks whose child she was, of
instructing them, of laboring over and for them, cheered and allured
her more powerfully than anything else could do. To return to Poland
and take charge of a Polish village was the plan which she formulated
immediately after the death of the Anney family. And now just such a
horizon was opened to her by this former "young lord" whom she loved
while yet a simple girl. Therefore she was grateful to him: she was
ready in her soul to exalt his good qualities, to exculpate his faults,
to love him, and to persevere faithfully at his side, but in exchange
she wanted nothing more than that he should love her not only with his
senses, but with a true and chaste love, and that he should regard her
above all things as his life companion, "for better or for worse."

And, for that reason, whenever there came to her moments in which it
seemed to her that he saw in her principally an object for his desires
and was unable to find, in himself strength to struggle with them and
elevate his feelings to noble heights, doubt seized her heart and she
could not resist the thought that he was not such as she would wish him
to be.

"But nevertheless," she consoled herself in her soul, "that is a
sincere and true nature, and where there is sincerity and truth,
everything may be brought to light."

Ladislaus on the contrary was in reality sincere to the degree that one
could see through him--through and through, as though he were made of
glass. The proof of this was the opinion which Dr. Szremski expressed
about him in a conversation with Gronski.

"To me," he said, "the present-day Hanka Skibianka is ten times more
interesting than the former Miss Anney, and I wish her happiness from
my whole soul. But if she bases that happiness upon the feeling which
Krzycki entertains for her, I fear that she will be disappointed. I do
not wish to say anything bad of him. On the contrary, to me he is a
sympathetic type, for he is immensely ours, immensely domestic. If he
had lived a hundred years ago and been a Uhlan, he would have charged
at Samo-Sierra no worse than Kozietulski and Niegolewski. Only he
belongs to that species of men for whom it is easier to die for some
idea or for some feeling than to live for them and to persevere in
them. To turn to one idea or to one feeling, as a magnetic needle turns
to the north, is not within their power nor their concern. They require
distraction, amusement. And there is nothing strange in this. Consider
only that for entire ages nobody was better off than the various
Krzyckis and Gronskis--nobody. So they sucked of the pleasures of life,
like juice of grapes. They ate, drank, played, dissipated--bah! they
even fought for the pleasure of it. They were not vicious nor terrible,
for a happy man cannot be totally vicious. They had in their hearts a
certain feeling of humanity. They were indulgent to people who were
subject to them, but above all things they were indulgent to
themselves. Hence at the bottom of the Polish soul always lies
indulgence. Then came the time of penance and that indulgence by right
of inheritance, particularly in the spheres to which Krzycki belongs,
remains. For him, neither love for woman nor for fatherland will
suffice. He will love them and, in a given case, will perish for them,
but in life he will indulge himself. And you see, sir, that it was just
for this reason that I said that such as he will not rebuild Society."

"And who will?" asked Gronski.

"The future generations--not the pot-bellied, not the easy-natured, not
the chatterboxes, not the indulgers in sensual delights and the
pleasures of life--no--apparently they are good for everything and fit
for nothing--but only the hardy, the persistent, the quiet, and the
practical. For them, misfortune and slavery have tilled the ground for
a hundred years."

"And the present day manures the ground," said Gronski, "only it is a
pity that this manure has such a rank smell."

"That is not manure; that is sand blown from abroad which renders the
soil sterile," replied the doctor with energy.

And he began to curse.



                                   IX

Dolhanski, however, completely subdued his fiancée and his future
mother-in-law, inasmuch as he prevailed upon them to call personally
upon Hanka and invite her to the wedding. They were prompted to this by
the consideration that at any rate it behooved them to preserve the
outward semblance of good relations with their future neighbors from
Jastrzeb, and they were persuaded in particular by the news, which he
brought from the high spheres, that "high life" was reconciled to the
idea of admitting Hanka into its fold, while he, on the other hand,
wanted to see her at a close range in the church. After their visit,
during which the mother and daughter, under the watchful eye of
Dolhanski, acted not only properly but quite amiably, Pani Krzycki
revoked her resolution, of not attending the nuptial rites.

These took place early in the week at the Church of the Order of
Visitation in the presence of a great concourse of dames from the
"grand world" and Dolhanski's titled colleagues from the club. In this
the desire to take a close view of the peasant-millionairess played as
important a part as the wish to see Dolhanski. Those of his
acquaintances who knew the ladies from Gorek had previously stated that
he was taking a lady of wealth, but old and ludicrous; in consequence
of which these good colleagues wanted to see what kind of mien he
would have, so that they might afterwards have a subject for their
gibes and jests. But in this respect they met with the most complete
disappointment. Dolhanski, escorted on one side by Gronski, on
the other by Count Gil, walked through the church with such
self-confidence, such sangfroid, and with such a smile on his lips, as
though he had the right and desire to jeer at his colleagues. The tall
and gaunt young lady did not, after all, look so badly in her lace
wedding dress. She had too much powder on her face; her veil was too
long, and too much did she "tremble like a leaf," which created an
impression that this leaf did that a little purposely.

There was nothing in her, however, to excite ridicule, and, when the
two knelt before the altar, the dames and beaux, looking from the depth
of the church, had to admit that in her slender white form there was
some charm. But the eyes of those present were directed principally at
Hanka who glided through the nave on Ladislaus' arm, like a light
spring cloud. To the gentlemen of the club it seemed that from the
moment of her entrance the church grew brighter. Count Gil, who found
himself near her, behind the stalls, later stated in a certain salon
that a rosy warmth radiated from her. Others at once corroborated this
and to the mot of a dame that in order to find favor in men's eyes it
was necessary that one must not only be a woman but also a radiator,
they replied that it was absolutely necessary.

In the meanwhile they envied Ladislaus Mr. Anney's millions and Hanka,
who so absorbed to herself the general attention that Pani Otocka and
Marynia passed by almost unobserved. Neither appeared to the best
advantage that day. In Pani Otocka, Dolhanski's marriage aroused a
certain disgust, which was reflected in her countenance, and Marynia
opened her lips too widely out of curiosity, and besides, her bared
arms were so thin and, as usual with immature girls, were so red that,
they could only excite compassion. The ladies of the "grand world,"
besides, did not look at one or the other for the further reason that
Ladislaus, with his stature and visage of a Uhlan of the time of the
Duchy of Warsaw, became the focus upon which the rays of their
tortoise-shell lorgnettes were converged.

With the appearance of the priest silence fell and the rites began. The
lorgnettes were now directed towards the altar. In the distance could
be seen floating under the orange blossoms the bridal veil and
Dolhanski's head, somewhat bald at the summit, over which crept the
reflexes of the candles flickering in the dusk. Krzycki, bending
towards Hanka, began to whisper: "And we will soon--" and she dropped
her eyelids in sign of assent; after which when their eyes met, she
blushed violently and raised her lace handkerchief to her lips, and
later fixed her gaze upon the altar, for she recalled to her mind how,
not long before, the candles flickered in the same manner in the Church
of the Holy Cross, when together they prayed for their future
happiness. Yes, soon they would kneel there again in order not to be
separated for life, and this thought, so full of sweetness and at the
same time of uneasiness of feeling, expanded her breast.

In the meanwhile in the silence could be heard the voice of the priest:
"Edward, do you take Kajetana, whom you see before you, for wife?" and
when Dolhanski firmly confirmed this and Kajetana mumbled that she
wanted this Edward, their hands were bound by the stole and the rites
rapidly approached an end; then the hymeneal party left the church. The
bridal couple were to leave for a tour abroad within two hours, but
before that in the dining-hall of the hotel a dinner awaited them, to
which, of the relatives of the groom, only Pani Krzycki, Ladislaus,
Hanka, as his betrothed, and the sisters were invited; of the more
distant, Gronski and Count Gil, as groomsmen attended. The dinner with
the inevitable toasts did not last long; after it the newly-married
pair repaired to their separate apartments and after a certain time
reappeared attired in their travelling clothes. Then began the usual
bustle preceding a journey; trunks, small luggage, and bright
travelling paraphernalia were hauled out. Dolhanski during the dinner
and these last moments displayed such sangfroid and such phlegm that
all the lords of England might envy him. Without the least haste he
conversed with the gentlemen; he expressed his regrets to Marynia that
he could not be at the concert; to Pani Otocka he said that he owed to
her in a great measure his happiness of that day; and afterwards
intrusted Gorek to the neighborly care of Krzycki, and bantered with
Gronski, trying to persuade him to follow in his footsteps.

This superb calmness of his contrasted strangely with the uneasiness
and distraction of the bride. For a half hour before the departure and
immediately after donning her travelling robe, she began to stare at
her mother with an inquiring look as if awaiting from her something
which was overlooked or forgotten and which under no circumstances
ought to be overlooked. This continued so long that it attracted
general attention, and when Pani Wlocek did not appear to understand
the inquiring look, Kajetana beckoned her for a confidential talk in a
room adjoining the dining-hall.

To the ears of the guests there began to reach for a quarter of an hour
some alarming though muffled cries of, "Ah!" and "Oh!" and after an
interval the bride entered with her eyes covered by her palms. But
after a while she dropped her hands alongside her dress and gazing at
Dolhanski with the look of an antelope at a lion, she asked in an
almost inaudible voice:

"Edward, perhaps it is already time?"

Gronski, Krzycki, and Count Gil bit their lips, while Dolhanski glanced
at his watch and said:

"We have yet five minutes."



                                   X

The cloudlets looming between Hanka and Ladislaus began by degrees to
be transformed into clouds. At times they ceased to mutually understand
each other. Hanka was more and more disturbed by the thought whether
Ladislaus, notwithstanding his good heart and his ability to appreciate
everything which is exalted and noble, was not a weak character, that
in a moment of sudden impulse or passionate ecstasy is unable to resist
and cannot muster within himself sufficient strength, even though his
own worth is involved, and at this thought she was oppressed by a deep
sorrow. But she was yet more painfully nettled on another side of the
matter. This was that she arrived at the conviction that his feelings
towards her were better, purer and, as it were, more shy at the time
when he thought that she was Miss Anney. She remembered various
moments, both in Jastrzeb and in Warsaw, in which she was certain that
this burning flame of love, which glowed in his heart, was at the same
time a sacrificial flame of esteem. And now when she had told him that
she is the former Hanka that pure fire has changed into an ignition of
the senses. Why? Was the cause of this their former sin; was it that
she was a peasant? In the answer to those questions lay the pain, for
Hanka felt that whatever happened was the result of these causes.

But she was mistaken in thinking that Ladislaus did not understand that
just for these two reasons he ought to act directly contrary, in order
to efface in her the memory of sin and to raise her in her own eyes and
to respect her as his future wife. He understood this quite clearly,
and often it happened that after parting from her he upbraided himself,
not mincing words, and in his soul made a solemn promise of
reformation. But as in his easy life he had not accustomed himself to
contend with anything and, above all, with himself, therefore this
lasted but a short time--as long only as he was away from her, as long
as he was not enveloped by the warmth emanating from her; only when he
was not absorbed with her eyes; did not feel her hand in his own, and
did not intoxicate himself with her feminine attractions. Then reason
blinded in him and darkened; he became the slave of blood, full of
sophisms, the agent of senses, and the recollection of the former
Hanka, instead of repressing the temptation, only increased it the
more.

Under such conditions, sooner or later, the storm had to break above
the heads of both and create desolation. Accordingly it burst sooner
than Krzycki could have foreseen.

One day, coming at the twilight hour to Hanka, he found her in a
strange and unusual condition. She was agitated, her countenance was
suffused with blushes, her eyes were red, and the hand which she
tendered to him, palpably trembled. At the beginning she did not want
to tell him what was the matter, but when they sat beside each other,
he began to beg of her that she would not make anything a secret with
him, but to tell him what occurred, not only as a fiancé, but as her
best friend.

Hanka was always conciliated by an appeal to friendship. Therefore
after a while she said, smiling sadly:

"I was not concerned about any secret but I preferred to keep to myself
an unpleasantness. Did you, sir, ever notice my servant, Pauly?"

(Hanka from a certain time addressed her fiancé as "sir," believing
that in this manner she would hold him more easily at a proper
distance.)

"Pauly?" repeated Ladislaus, and though, after all, he thus far had
done nothing with which to reproach himself, a sudden disquiet arose in
him. "Pauly? Why of course! Why, she was at Jastrzeb and I saw her here
everyday. What happened?"

"She created for me a horribly disagreeable scene and has left me."

"Why?"

"That is just what I do not know. She always was very violent and
nervous, but very honest. So I was attached to her and I thought that
she would be attached to me. But for some time I have observed in her
something like a dislike to me, with each day greater. Really, I never
was harsh to her; even the contrary. So I attributed everything to the
nerves. In the meantime, to-day, it came to an outburst and it is so
disagreeable to me! so disagreeable!"

Hanka's voice faltered, and it could be seen that she felt the whole
occurrence deeply. So Ladislaus pressed her hand to his lips and asked
with sympathy:

"What kind of outburst was it?"

"This afternoon, or rather after Marynia's return from the rehearsal,
we were to ride up town with Zosia. So, desiring to change my dress, I
ordered her to hand it to me. Pauly went after it as usual and brought
it, but suddenly she threw it upon the ground and began to trample upon
it, and in addition screamed in a loud, shrill voice that she would
serve me no longer. At first I was stupefied, for it occurred to me
that she had become insane."

"She surely is insane!" interrupted Ladislaus; "but what further?"

"She slammed the door and left. I did not see her any more. About an
hour later somebody came for her things and wages."

Here Hanka began to shake her head.

"And nevertheless when I recall her dislike and what she told me in the
last moments, I do not think that it was an attack of insanity; it was
only an outburst of hatred, which she could no longer restrain in
herself. And for me this is such a disappointment, such a
disappointment!"

"My lady--Hanus," said Ladislaus, seizing both of her hands, "is it
worth while to take to heart the deed of a foolish vixen? For she is a
foolish vixen--nothing more. It is enough to look at her. Calm
yourself, Hanus,--this is only a momentary matter which it is necessary
to forget as soon as possible. Remember who you are and who she is!
Such times have come that everything is turned topsy-turvy. Such
occurrences now take place everywhere. But they will pass away. In the
meantime we two have so many reasons for joy that in view of them such
wretched smarts ought to disappear."

And he began to press alternately her hands to his lips and to his
breast and gaze in her eyes, but this increased her grief; for Hanka
desiring to spare unnecessary disagreeableness to her betrothed and
herself did not confess everything to him. She was particularly
reticent about this, that the infuriated servant, on leaving, screamed
at her in her eyes, "You base peasant. You ought to serve me, not I
you! Your place is with cows, not in the palace!" Perhaps Hanka might
not have taken these words so much to heart were it not for the
previous friction in her relations with Ladislaus, and were it not for
the thought that he transgressed certain bounds perhaps because she was
his former sweetheart and a peasant. But just this reason caused the
thorn to be imbedded in her heart more deeply and bred in her a fear as
to future life in which similar scenes might be repeated more
frequently.

So, also, his words about the happiness awaiting them were only drops
overflowing the cup of bitterness, and his caresses affected the
aggrieved girl like a child, who the more she is consoled the more
disconsolate she becomes. There came to her a moment of weakness and
exhaustion. The usual strength deserted her, her nerves were unstrung,
and she began to sob, but feeling at the same time ashamed of her tears
she buried her face in his breast.

"Hanus, my Hanus!" repeated Ladislaus.

And he began to kiss her light hair. Afterwards clasping her temples
with his palms, he raised her tear-stained face and kissed off her
tears. She did not defend herself; so after a while he sought with his
mouth her quivering lips.

"Hanus! Hanus!" he whispered in a panting voice.

The ferment of desire more and more obscured his reason, obscured his
heart, his memory. He drank from the girl's lips while his breath held
out, he forgot himself like a drunkard and finally seized her in his
arms.

"Hanus! Hanus!"


And it happened that he offended her grievously, that to the
humiliation, which she had met that day, he added a new humiliation; to
insult, a new insult--that an abyss plainly separated them!



                                   XI

When on the morning of the following day Ladislaus awoke after a brief
feverish sleep, he was seized by grief and an insane rage at himself.
He recalled everything which had taken place. He remembered that his
parting with Hanka the day before was equivalent to being shown the
door; there returned to him as a wicked echo his own wretched and
dreadful words said in his passion at the time of separation, that if
her resistance flowed from fear that later he might break their
engagement, then let her know that it was an idle fear. And so he
imputed this resistance to miserable motives. And he, a man who prided
himself not only upon his good breeding but also upon a subtile sense
of honor and personal worthiness--he, Krzycki, could act the way he did
and say what he said. In the first moments after opening his eyes, it
seemed to him that this was a point-blank impossibility; some kind of a
continuation of the nightmare which throttled his slumber, which ought
to disappear with the light of day.

But that nightmare was a heavy reality. It was incumbent upon him to
take it into account and remedy it in some manner. He sat down to write
a letter, in which he smote himself upon the breast, complained, and
apologized. He said that no one was able to condemn him as he had
condemned himself, and if he dared to beg for forgiveness it was only
in hope that perhaps some voice, some echo of the better moments would
intercede for him in her heart and would procure for him forgiveness.
At the close he begged for an opportunity of repeating in person the
words of the letter and for an answer, even in case the sentence
pronounced against him was final.

But when the messenger who took the letter informed him upon his return
that there was no answer, he fell into genuine despair. As a really
spoiled child of life, unaccustomed to opposition and obstacles, and
one convinced that everything was due him, it began to appear to him
that this was more than he deserved; that he was the injured party. He
would not admit, however, that all was lost. He indulged in the hope
that Hanka might, before opening the letter, have announced that there
was no answer and that after reading it she would be moved, would
relent, and rescind her resolution. Sustained by this hope, he dressed
himself, strolled over the city for an hour in order to give Hanka time
to reckon with her heart, and afterwards rang the bell of her
residence.

But he was not received. Then it occurred to him to apply to Pani
Otocka. After a while, he nevertheless perceived that the causes of his
rupture with Hanka were of such a nature that it was impossible to
discuss them either with Pani Otocka or his mother. In his soul he now
began to accuse Hanka of downright cruelty, but at the same time the
greater the difficulties interposed between them the greater was his
grief. He could not, in any measure, be reconciled to the thought that
whatever he regarded as his own should be taken away from him; and as
is usual with weak persons, he began to commiserate himself.

From Pani Otocka he went to Gronski, regarding him as the only person
with whom he could speak frankly and whose mediation would be
effective. And here disappointment awaited him. Gronski had suffered
for several days with his eyes and was not allowed to read; this put
him into a bad humor, and for this reason he received Ladislaus more
indifferently than usual. Ladislaus became convinced that it was
difficult to speak of the rupture not only with Pani Otocka and his
mother, but even with a man and old friend who knew of his former
relations with Hanka. A feeling of shame plainly choked the words in
his throat, and he began to beat about the bush and palliate things,
talk in empty phrases about a misunderstanding and the necessity of a
friendly mediation, so that Gronski at last asked, with a shade of
impatience:

"Tell me plainly about what you had a falling out, and then I can tell
whether I will undertake to bring you together again."

And evidently he did not attach much importance to the matter for he
waved his hand and said:

"It would be best if you made it up between yourselves."

"No," replied Ladislaus; "this is more serious than you think, and we
ourselves cannot come to any agreement."

"Well, finally, what was it about?"

Shame, exertion, and constraint were depicted upon Ladislaus' face.

"In a moment of forgetfulness and ecstasy," he said, "I passed--that
is--I wanted to pass--certain limits--"

And he stopped abruptly.

Gronski began to look at him with amazed eyes and asked:

"And she?"

"Why, if anything had happened there would not have been any rupture
and I surely would not speak of it now. She ordered me to the door and
not to show myself there any more."

"May God bless her," exclaimed Gronski.

Silence ensued. Gronski walked with big paces over the room repeating
every little while, "It is unbelievable!" and again, "An unheard-of
thing!" and in addition his face became more and more severe and cold.

After which he sat down and, looking at Ladislaus, began to speak
deliberately:

"I have known many people even among our aristocracy, in whom beneath
the veneer of society, beneath high descent and all the pretensions of
elegant breeding were concealed the ordinary coarse, low, peasant
instincts. If this observation can be applied to you as a comfort,
accept it, for I have no other for you."

A sudden wave of anger swept over Ladislaus' heart and brain. For a
while he struggled with himself in order not to explode and answer
insult with insult; in the end he subdued himself and replied in a
hollow voice:

"I deserve it."

But Gronski, not disarmed by this confession, continued:

"No, my dear sir, I will not undertake your defence, for I should act
contrary to my convictions. To you less than to any one else was it
allowable to indulge yourself, even out of regard for the past. And
your fiancée must have so understood it, and besides she did not forget
her extraction. To you it was less permissible! She was a hundred times
right in showing you the door. The matter is really more serious than I
thought, and so serious that I do not see any help for it. You did not
respect Hanka, your future wife, and therefore yourself and your own
honor. In view of this how can she honor you and what can she think of
you?"

"I know," said Ladislaus in the same hollow voice, "and I have said all
this to myself in almost the same words. I wrote a letter to her
this morning, begging for forgiveness--there was no answer. I went to
her personally--I was not received. So I came to you as the last
refuge--for--for me there pleads only one thing--I acted badly,
brutally, and scurvily, but I have not ceased to love her. There is no
life for me without her, and though you may not believe it,
nevertheless it is so that under the frenzy which possessed me, under
that froth which blinded me and under which I to-day sink, lies the
feeling not only deep but pure--"

Gronski again began to measure with great steps the room for he was
somewhat touched by Ladislaus' words.

While the latter continued:

"If she will not read my letters and will not receive me, then I will
not be able to tell her that. Hence it is imperative that some one
should speak to her in my name. I cannot apply either to Mother or Pani
Zosia in this. I thought that you, sir--but since you decline, I now
have no one."

"Look, however, into the eyes of reality," said Gronski more gently,
"for it may be that her love for you was at once torn into shreds. In
such case from where will she take it when she no longer possesses it?"

"Let her tell me so; that at least is yet due to me."

Again silence fell.

"Listen," Gronski finally said, "I always was a friend of yours and of
your mother, but this mission which you want to intrust to me I cannot
undertake. I cannot among other reasons, because if your fiancée does
not reply to you, so likewise she may not reply to me. One look, one
word, will close my mouth and with this it would end. But try another
method. Panna Hanka comes quite often with Marynia to the rehearsals,
at which I am always present, and afterwards I escort both home. Come
with me. You may find an opportunity to speak with her. During the
return home I will take Marynia and you will remain with her. I think
that she will not repel you even though out of regard for Marynia, to
whom she would not wish to divulge what had passed between you.--Then
tell her what you have said to me and also beg her for an interview,
which, if it cannot be otherwise--will be final. It will be necessary
somehow to give to the world some plausible excuse for your rupture; so
I presume she will agree to that. If not, we will think of something
else."

Ladislaus began to wring his hands and said:

"Perhaps through Zosia we could ascertain whether this is forever."

"You understand that she may not have wished to discuss the cause of
your rupture even with Pani Zosia."

"I understand, I understand."

"But you now have a fever," said Gronski, "your hands are burning. Go,
try to cool off and calm yourself."



                                  XII

Laskowicz now beheld Marynia, indeed from a distance, but daily. Even
on rainy days, when she did not walk to the rehearsals, but rode, he
lay in wait on the stairway of the edifice, in order to see her alight
from the carriage. On fair days he usually waited near her home, and
afterwards followed after her to the hall. As among the employees in
the building were found a few "associates," these facilitated his
admittance to the rehearsals. To hide in the boxes or in the seats at
the end of the rows was easy, as during the rehearsals only the stage
was fully lit up and in the auditorium itself the dusk was illumined by
only a few lamps, which were lit in order that the handful of
privileged lovers of music, who occupied the seats behind the
orchestra, might not be plunged in complete darkness. Amidst these
privileged ones, Laskowicz often recognized acquaintances,--Gronski,
Pani Otocka, the old notary. Miss Anney, sometimes Krzycki, and two or
three times, Dr. Szremski. But notwithstanding his hatred of Ladislaus
and dislike of the doctor and Gronski, he was little occupied by them
and thought of them very little, as his eyes could not even for a
moment be torn from Marynia. He encompassed with his gaze her girlish
form, standing out on the edge of the stage, bathed in a lustre of
electricity, luminous of her own accord, and involuntarily she reminded
him of that alabaster statuette, which the venerable canon deemed his
greatest treasure. Laskowicz was not an educated man. His one-sided
study of physics had contracted his intellectual horizon and he was
incapable of rendering to himself a clear account of certain
impressions. Nevertheless, when he gazed on that maid, with violin in
hand, on her pure calm countenance, on the elongated outlines of her
figure and dress, there awakened in him a half conscious feeling that
in her there was something of poetry, and something of the church. She
seemed to him an artless supernal vision, to which one might pray.

Accordingly he deified her in his wild, fanatical soul. But there raged
within him a revolt against all divinities, therefore he fought with
his own feelings and struggled to depress and weed them out to the last
extremity. Intentionally he plucked off the wings of his own thoughts:
intentionally he imposed fetters upon his vagaries and unchained his
concupiscence. He discomfited himself, tortured himself, and suffered.

Often he stood on the brink of madness--and in such cases he was ready
to annihilate, slaughter, and set fire to the whole city in order to
seize, amidst the bloodshed and conflagration, this silvery maid and
possess her,--and afterward perish with her and all others. He imagined
that during the revolutionary storm, which the waves of the proletariat
would stir up, such an universal hour of annihilation might strike. But
when reality scattered these dreams, when moments occurred in which it
became plain that the people themselves put a muzzle upon the jaws of
the revolutionary dragon, then the gory vision evaporated into vacuous
smoke, and only exhaustion and confusion remained, for this gloomy
proletaire felt that as long as he had strength the storm would rage,
and that when it passed away he would sink into complete nothingness.

Hence, in his heart bitterness and jealousy accumulated more and more.
He loved Marynia and at the same time he hated her, for he thought that
she looked upon him as a worm which squirms at her feet, unworthy of a
glance. He was confirmed in this conviction by the fact that his
letters evidently did not make the slightest impression upon her and
did not disturb her usual tranquillity. Laskowicz had given his word to
Pauly that he would see Marynia only from a distance, and he could not
approach her, because she was never out alone. But in reality he could
not conjecture that those letters were received and burnt by Pani
Otocka and that Marynia knew nothing about them. It appeared to him
that his passionate appeals in which the words, "Beloved! beloved!"
were repeated every little while, and those fiery outbursts in which he
prostrated himself in humility at her adored feet must have represented
him to her as the ruling king-soul shoving the human wave into the
unknown future, and ought to have evoked some result. "Let it be anger,
let it be hatred," he said to himself in his soul, "but here there is
nothing! She passes by me as if I was a street cur; she does not see
me; she does not deign to recognize me."

In fact it was so. In the moments when they passed each other on the
street, Marynia did not and could not recognize Laskowicz, for after
his departure from Jastrzeb he allowed his youthful beard to grow, and
afterwards, Swidwicki, in order to disguise him in the eyes of the
police, bleached his beard, together with his mustache and the hair on
his head, a light yellow. His clothes and spectacles also changed his
appearance but he forgot about that, and he fretted with the
supposition that her eyes do not see him or do not recognize him,
firstly, because a recollection of him never comes to her mind, and
again because she belongs to some kind of social Olympus and he to the
"proletarian garbage-box."

Under such impressions his anguish changed into fury. With savage
satisfaction, he thought of this: that there might come a time when the
fate of this "sacred doll" and all her kin would be in his hands. He
persuaded himself that that moment would be a triumph for himself
personally and for the "good cause," and therefore he rejoiced at this
conjunction. He pictured to himself what would happen when Marynia came
to him to beg for a favor for herself and her relatives. Whether, at
that time, he would prostrate himself on the ground before her and tell
her to plant her foot on his head, or whether he would seize her in his
arms and afterwards pass time away shamelessly--he did not know. He
only had a feeling that he could do one or the other.

In the meantime he often said to himself that he ought not to see her
any more, and decided to seek her no more, but on the following day he
rushed to the place where he could meet her. He struggled with himself,
he was torn inwardly, and became exhausted to such an extent that he
began to fail in health. Want of such air as he breathed in Jastrzeb,
the necessity of hiding from the police, uneasiness, lack of sleep,
sudden and painful spiritual changes sapped his strength. He became
haggard, swarthy, and at times he thought that death threatened not on
the gallows but in a hospital.

In such a disposition was he found by Pauly, who after her scene with
Hanka, dashed like a whirlwind into his little garret room.

Her face was so changed, so pale, so sickly and malignant, and her eyes
glittered so feverishly that at the first glance he knew that she was
driven to him by some extraordinary accident and he asked:

"What has happened?"

"I am no longer with that low peasant."

And she remained silent for she could not catch her breath, and only
her face was twitching nervously.

Laskowicz understood only that she had abandoned her employment and
looked at her with a questioning gaze, awaiting further explanations.

"Then, sir, you do not know," she broke out after a while, "then you do
not know that he is to marry her? And that she is no Englishwoman, but
only a low peasant! And such a one I served! He is to marry her--a low
peasant!--a low peasant!--he!"

And her voice changed into a shrill nervous hiccough. Laskowicz was
frightened at her transports, but at the same time breathed easily.
Howsoever he might long since have conjectured that Krzycki's
affections were directed towards Miss Anney and not towards Marynia, he
was nevertheless pleased in his soul that reality corroborated those
conjectures.

Living, however, in a world which no echoes of the higher social sphere
reach, and knowing nothing of the transformation of Miss Anney into a
Polish peasant woman, he began to interrogate Pauly minutely because
the affair aroused his curiosity; he wished also to give time to the
excited girl to calm herself. But this last was not an easy matter, and
he long had to put questions to her to elicit the news which Swidwicki
had first told her that Miss Anney was a simple peasant woman, but
which, however, she did not at first believe, as he said it while under
the influence of intoxicants. Only from the conversations which she
overheard did she become convinced not only of the truth of the
statement but also that Krzycki was to wed Miss Anney. Afterwards she
peeped through the keyhole and saw him kneel before her and kiss her
hands. Then she could not restrain herself any longer and at the first
opportunity flung at the feet of her mistress her "linen frock," and,
reviling her as a base peasant, left her service.

Here again indignation began to seize her so that Laskowicz from fear
that she might have an attack of convulsions, said:

"We will consult together about this, but only let the lady be
pacified."

But she replied with increasing irritation:

"I did not come here for you to pacify me. You, sir, have prated about
our mutual wrongs and now you order me to be pacified. I want help and
not your chatter."

"You are anxious that he should not marry her?"

"And what else do you suppose?"

In any case Laskowicz would have sided with the girl for he was
obligated to do that by gratitude to her for saving his life, by the
similarity of their lot, and those "joint wrongs" of which he himself
had previously spoken to Pauly, and of which she now reminded him. But
the existence of Krzycki at present ceased to stand in his way and Miss
Anney's existence less so. Only one thing he could not forgive in her:

"She was a peasant woman, she was a wage-earner, and afterwards became
a female bourgeois. In this is the crime."

"In it or not in it, it is now I or she! Do you understand, sir?"

"I understand, but what is to be done?"

"When you ran away from the police, I did not ask what was to be done."

"I remember."

"And you said at Swidwicki's that your people could accomplish
everything."

"For it is so."

"So if he only does not marry her, then even let the world end."

Laskowicz began to look at her with his closely set eyes and after a
moment commenced to speak slowly and with emphasis:

"Krzycki was once already condemned and lives, thanks to you, lady, but
if he gets a bullet in his head, then he will marry no one."

But she, hearing this, turned pale as a corpse; in the same moment she
sprang at him with her finger-nails!

"What!" she cried in a hoarse voice; "what! he! Let but a hair fall
from his head, then, I will have you all--"

Laskowicz's patience, however, was exhausted. He was irritated, torn
internally and sick; hence, after her threat, a wave of bitterness and
rage flooded his brains. He started up and, glaring in her eyes,
shouted!

"Do not threaten with betrayal, for that is death!"

"Death?" she screamed. "Death! this is what life is to me!"

And shoving her palm close to his face, she blew on it so that her
breath moistened him, and repeated:

"Look! This is what life is to me."

"And to me," exclaimed Laskowicz.

For an interval they stared in each other's eyes like two odious and
despairing souls. He recovered his wits first, and clasping his head
with both hands, said:

"Oh, how unfortunate we are! oh!"

"Yes! yes!" reiterated Panna Pauly.

And she began to sob hysterically.

Then he commenced to quiet her. He promised her that nothing should
befall Krzycki and that his marriage would not under any circumstances
take place. He said that at that moment he could not indeed disclose to
her what measures would be adopted, but he assured her that neither he
nor his party would show any consideration to a mere female bourgeois,
as here was involved a higher social justice, which does not need to
take into account any particular individual. Pauly only understood that
that "low peasant" would not wed the young master of Jastrzeb, and
became appeased in some measure: and afterwards, both, from necessity,
became occupied with other matters. It was imperative that some kind of
shelter be found for the young girl: so Laskowicz placed her with "a
female associate" residing in the neighborhood, who immediately went
for her wages and belongings. He himself returned to his own rooms and
began to revolve in his mind how he could repay Panna Pauly for saving
his life.

And in this feeling of gratitude lay the first reason why he took the
matter to heart. A second reason was his own ill-luck and ill-fated
love for Marynia which made him sensitive to similar strifes; and the
third was that "social justice" which he mentioned to Pauly. As to the
third reason he felt, however, the necessity of deliberating with his
own soul in order that when the time for action arrived his hands would
be untied, and under the pressure of this necessity he began to reason
in the following fashion:

"On the background of the general concern of the proletariat, personal
affairs will appear. It might be said that the general concern is the
sum-total of them all. In this respect whoever stands in defence of the
personal affair of a proletaire by that act alone defends universal
principles. But here comes the question of ethics. Whither are we
tending? To universal justice. Ergo, our principle is moral for it is
only the sum-total of personal affairs: therefore these personal
affairs also must be moral. From this it follows that the proletaire,
who is in the wrong in a controversy with a bourgeois, nevertheless has
justice on his side simply because he is a proletaire. In this world
everything is relative. A soldier, slaying his opponent in a war,
commits manslaughter; therefore the act itself is not ethical. But as
he commits it in defense of Fatherland, therefore, from the viewpoint
of national welfare he acts ethically. If in addition thereto he has
the spur of personal hatred to an antagonist, his act would gain in
energy and would not lose its additional significance for Fatherland.
For us, the Polish proletariat is the nation and the idea of their
emancipation, the Fatherland. For this we wage war and if there is war,
then murder and injuries are inflicted upon the antagonists; and even
though the motives for them might be personal, they nevertheless are
not only justifiable but are covered a hundred-fold by the universal
welfare."

"Besides,"--he reasoned further--, "the quintessence of our existence
is unhappiness; and from unhappiness as well as, inversely, from
happiness must blossom corresponding deeds. This is a necessity flowing
from the nature of things; and with this ethics have nothing to do. I
and that rabid girl are luckless, like homeless dogs; in view of which
it is all one whether a wrong was perpetrated upon us intentionally or
unintentionally; just as it is all one to the wolf whether the forester
who shoots him in the head, hunted him purposely or whether they met by
chance. The wolf has teeth to defend himself. That is his right. The
moment has come when our fangs have grown; therefore we have the right
to mangle.

"As to that girl, she is mangled by despair which can only be assuaged
by revenge. Is it just? Will it be beneficial to the girl? That is all
one. The wage-earners without work and bread drown their woes in
alcohol; the bourgeois in case of pain injects morphine into himself,
and for her, revenge will be alcohol and morphine. Whatever may be the
consequences, she will destroy the happiness of the pampered; she will
change their joy into tears; she will break their lives and raze a
particle of that world, which lies heavily, like a nightmare, upon the
breasts of the proletariat. So it is necessary to aid that revenge, for
so does gratitude for saving life command; likewise common wrong, also
the good of the cause."

In view of this, it already seemed to Laskowicz a matter of minor
importance whether in that aid a rôle would be played by a knife, or by
a revolver, or by casting upon Hanka some ignominy, after which nothing
would remain for her to do but to fly and hide herself forever from
human eyes. Neither opportunity nor willing hands were wanting. It was
only necessary to deliberate upon the choice: and afterwards to act
promptly and decisively.

With this he went to Pauly who agreed to everything. As a compensation
he demanded that she should release him from his promise to see Marynia
only from a distance, and he secured that with ease. He evidently
wanted to have his hands untied also in that regard.



                                  XIII

"Here is the answer which I finally received," said Ladislaus, handing
a letter to Gronski; "I could not expect anything else."

"I knew that you would receive it," replied Gronski, blinking with his
ailing eyes and searching for his binocle, "I was already informed of
it by Pani Otocka, who from the beginning insisted that Miss Anney
ought to answer you, and in the end prevailed upon her."

Ladislaus reddened and asked:

"Ah! So Zosia Otocka knows everything."

"She does and does not know. Miss Anney told her only this much; 'He
did not forget that he is a young lord and I a peasant woman and we
ceased to understand each other.' For her it was yet harder to speak of
this than for you and that difficulty festers all the more the wound
which, without it, is deep enough--But I cannot find the binocle."

"Here it is," said Ladislaus.

Gronski placed it on his nose and began to read:

"You, yourself, sir, rent and trampled upon our joy, our happiness, my
trust, and that deep attachment which I had for you. To your query of
whether I can ever recover those feelings, I answer that I seek for
them in vain. If ever I recover them I will inform you with the same
sincerity with which I to-day say that I have in my heart only grief
and sadness which for a joint life will not suffice."

"Only so much!" said Ladislaus.

"My foresight," answered Gronski, "is verified only too perfectly. The
spring for the time being has dried up."

"To the bottom, to the bottom, not a drop for refreshment."

Gronski remained silent for a while; after which he said:

"I think otherwise, nevertheless. This is not entirely hopeless. There
remains sadness, grief and, as it were, the anticipation of the
recurring swell. In reality, it will not flow to-day nor to-morrow.--In
view of this, for you there remains either to persevere patiently and
win anew that which you lost, or else, if you have not sufficient
strength, to take some shears and sever the remaining threads."

"Such shears I will not find. Do you remember, sir, what she did for me
when I was wounded? I will not forget that."

At this Gronski shaded his eyes with his hand, gazed at Ladislaus
intently and asked:

"My dear sir, did you ever propound to yourself one question?"

"What one?"

"What pains you the more,--the loss of Miss Anney or your wounded
self-love?"

"I thank you, sir," answered Ladislaus, with irony. "In reality, only
self-love. Through it, I do not sleep, do not eat; through it, in the
course of a few days, I have grown lean like a shaving and were it not
for this living wound, life for me would be one perpetual round of
pleasure."

And he began to laugh bitterly, while Gronski continued to gaze at him,
not removing his hand from his ailing eyes, and thought:

"That girl has an honest heart, and let her only see him; then she will
forgive everything through compassion alone."

After which he said:

"Listen, after a quarter of an hour, I will put on those dark
spectacles and go to the rehearsal. Come with me."

"How will that help me, now?" exclaimed Ladislaus.

"I do not know. I do not even guarantee that we will meet Miss Anney,
for Marynia sometimes goes with a servant. But, in any event, you will
not lose anything by it; so come."

But further conversation was interrupted by the entrance of the doctor,
the more unexpected, as he had announced, upon leaving Warsaw, that he
would stay with his brother at least ten days.

"How is this? You have already returned!" exclaimed Gronski.

"A surprise, hey?" vociferated the doctor. "Yes! And for me it was a
surprise! One medical visit, afterwards a fee supplemented with the
amiable advice, 'Get out of here, while you are whole!' Lo, here I am.
Oh, what a delightful journey!"

"How did this happen?"

"How did it happen? I will tell you immediately. But no! I know that at
this hour you leave for that rehearsal: so I will go with you,
gentlemen, and relate it to you on the way. That is such an amusing
thing that it is worth while to hear it. Ha!"

Accordingly after a while they went and the jovial doctor began to
recite his Odyssey.

"I arrived," he said, "a little fatigued, for that is a distant
journey, and besides it is necessary to change cars, wait for trains at
the stations, and so forth--the usual order with us. I reached the
country-seat late and after greeting my brother, I went to bed at once.
But the following day I had barely unpacked the primers--you remember,
gentlemen?--those I brought with me for the petty nobility--and I had
barely reproved my 'provincial' brother, when an emergency call came
summoning me to a high official who has an estate adjoining our seat
and in summer resides with his family in the country. Ha! there was no
help for it--I ride! And what appears? Why, a thimble stuck in a
child's throat. I found the child already livid, but the moment I
pulled the thimble out, the infant went away playing and everything was
in the best order. There was nothing else to do. I saved a future
dignitary to the empire, and to the parents an only son, as the
other children were daughters. So the gratitude was immense. They
pay--certainly! I wanted to ride away and iterated that there is
nothing more to do. They would not let me go. Gratitude, breakfast,
cordiality, friendship, overflowing of Slavonic feelings, and a chat
which after a time passed into a political discussion. 'There is not,'
says the dignitary, 'harmony amidst brothers. And what a pity! Religion
and tongue divide their languages. But what is religion, if not only an
outward form? God is one. It is the same to Him whether He is glorified
in the Latin or the Slavonic language. Why, for Slavonians it is more
seemly if in the Slavonic. And as to the tongue, then the various
dialects could be limited to conversations at home. Why, however,
should not one language be adopted, not only officially, but in
literature? The convenience would be greater, the control easier.
Then you would abandon your Catholicism and your dialects and accept
ours--the one and the other,--but heartily and voluntarily. And harmony
would immediately follow. The times for you would be better. There
would be downright delight.'--"

"He mistook his man," interrupted Gronski, laughing.

"And that he should chance upon me," replied the doctor. "I, gentlemen,
am a deist, a philosopher, but a passable Catholic. Often it happens
that I assail the church just as I assail Poland whenever anything
occurs which displeases me. Only if some stranger does the same thing
in my presence then--a strange thing!--I have a desire to knock out his
teeth. Therefore I began to defend the Church as if I never in my life
crawled out of a sacristy; bah, even better, in a way as if I was a
Catholic apologist. 'If,' I said, 'religion is only an external form
tell me just why should we abandon this form of ours, which is the most
spiritualized, the most cultural, and the most beautiful. That
Catholicism, with which you advise us to take our leave, has
encompassed the entire West, organized society, produced European
civilization, preserved learning, has founded universities, reared
churches, which are masterpieces, gave us Saint Augustine, Dante,
Petrarch, Saint Francis, and Saint Thomas, created the Renaissance,
created Leonardo da Vinci's; "Lord's Supper," Michelangelo's "Tombs of
the Medici," Raphael's "School of Athens" and "Disputa," erected such
temples as Saint Peter's, not counting others scattered throughout
Italy and all over Europe. That Catholicism made us partakers of the
universal culture, united us with the West, imprinted a European stamp
upon our Polish soul, etc., etc.' And I talked in this strain until he
interrupted me and said. 'In this is the misfortune, that it has united
you with the West.' And I replied to that, 'A misfortune to whom, and
to whom not a misfortune? But now we will speak of your proposition of
renouncing the tongue and therefore the nationality. Know, sir, that
this is an empty and foolish dream. That never will take place. I
proclaim and insist in advance--never! But assuming for a moment an
impossible thing, that a pestilence will so blight us, that our hearts
will be so debilitated that we will say to ourselves "Enough!--we can
no longer be Poles!" then what? Reflect, sir, objectively, like a man
who has not lost the ability to think, what could restrain us from
becoming Germans? Our Slavonic extraction? But we are Slavonians, just
because we are Poles. You are a people who do not know how to live and
do not permit anybody else to live. So what motive would keep us with
you? Is it your peace? Your welfare? Your morality? Your
administration? Your science? Your learning? Your wealth? Your power?
Learn to look in the eyes of reality; cultivate in yourselves the
ability to reckon with it, and you will understand that by
denationalizing us you labor for some one else. But I reiterate yet
once more that this is only a foolish dream; that the moment of
renunciation will never come and if I spoke of it, it was only to
answer those things which you suggested.'

"With this our conversation ended. They, in a yet higher degree than
we, cannot endure unpleasant truths, so my dignitary changed into a
decanter of iced water, and on the leave-taking merely said to me:
'Well, you are too candid, young man, but I thank you for the child.' A
half an hour later I was at home."

"I can surmise what happened afterwards," said Gronski.

"Yes. As the thimble was removed, that same night I received an order
to leave the next day by the first train."

"Be satisfied that it ended with that."

"I am satisfied. I will stay a few days in Warsaw; I will see the
notary; I will attend Panna Zbyltowska's concert. Certainly!
Certainly!"

Here he addressed Ladislaus.

"How is your mother and your fiancée?"

"Thank you. Mother is not badly, but will soon have to leave."

And desiring to hide his confusion, he began to gaze intently into the
depths of the street, and after a while exclaimed:

"But look! I see Panna Marynia with a maid-servant, and with them some
third person is walking."

In reality about a hundred paces down the street Marynia could be seen
approaching, accompanied by a maidservant, with the violin in a case.
On the other side, though somewhat behind, walked a young man with a
yellowish beard, who, leaning towards Marynia, appeared to speak to her
in an earnest and vehement manner. She hastened her steps, turning her
head aside, evidently not desiring to listen to him, while he, keeping
pace with her, gesticulated violently.

"My God! Some one is molesting her!" said the doctor.

And all three rushed at full speed towards her.

"Who is that? Who are you, sir?"

And Marynia, seeing Gronski, seized his arm and trembling all over,
began to cry:

"Home! Take me home, sir!"

Gronski understood in a moment that nothing else could be done and that
it was necessary to hurry, as otherwise Marynia might be embroiled in a
vulgar street row. He was certain that Ladislaus in whom was
accumulated an enormous supply of spleen and irritation, with his
impulsive nature, would not permit the offence of the assailant to pass
unpunished. So taking the girl aside, he placed her as soon as possible
in a hackney-coach, which was passing by and ordered the coachman to
drive to Pani Otocka's house.

"There is nothing now. Everything is all right," he said on the way, to
pacify the affrighted Marynia. "From home we will send a message that
there will be no rehearsal to-day, and with that it will end. It is
nothing, nothing."

And he began to press her hand; after a while, he asked:

"But who was that and what did he want?"

"Pan Laskowicz," answered Marynia. "I did not recognize him at first,
but he told me who he was."

Gronski became distressed when he heard the name of the student, for it
occurred to him that if the encounter with Ladislaus ended with the
police, then the consequences for Laskowicz might prove fatal directly.
But not desiring to betray his uneasiness before Marynia, and at the
same time wishing to better quiet her, he spoke to her half jokingly:

"So that was Laskowicz? Then I already know what he wanted. Ah!
Ah!--Some one begins to play not only on the violin but on the
soul.--Only why did you allow yourself to be so frightened?"

"For he also threatened," answered Marynia. "He threatened all
terribly--"

"Such bugbears only children fear."

"True! Especially as I am to play for the hungry; they will not do any
wrong to me or any of us."

"Assuredly not," confirmed Gronski.

Conversing thus, they reached home. Gronski surrendered Marynia to Pani
Otocka's care and when, after a moment, Hanka appeared, he related to
them everything which had occurred. He likewise had to quiet Pani
Otocka, who, knowing of the letters, took the whole occurrence very
much to heart and announced that immediately after the concert they
would leave for Zalesin, and afterwards go abroad. After the lapse of a
half hour he left and on the stairs met Ladislaus.

"God be praised," he said, "I see that it did not end with the police.
Do you know that the man was Laskowicz?"

"And it seemed so to me," said Ladislaus with animation; "but this one
had light hair. How is Marynia?"

"She was frightened a little but now is well. Both ladies are at her
side and dandle her like a little chicken. They are so occupied with
her that Pani Otocka certainly will not receive you."

"And I thought so; especially, if she is there," answered Ladislaus,
with bitterness; "so I will only leave my card and will return at once.
Do you care to wait for me?"

"Very well."

Accordingly, he returned after a while, and when they were on the
street, he began to say:

"Yes! and to me it seemed that he was Laskowicz but I was puzzled by
the light tuft of hair on his head and the spectacles. After all there
was no time for thinking."

"Listen--you undoubtedly cudgelled him?" asked Gronski.

And Ladislaus answered reluctantly:

"Far too much, for he is an emaciated creature, and he evidently did
not have a revolver."

For some time they walked in silence; after which Gronski said:

"Your mother needs a cure; the ladies will depart from here immediately
after the concert and Miss Anney undoubtedly with them. I would advise
you also to think about yourself."

Ladislaus waved his hand.


At the same time in a garret in the quarters of the "female associate,"
Laskowicz said to Pauly:

"Pan Krzycki is a true gentleman. He battered me a while ago because I
dared to approach her."

And he began to laugh through his set teeth.



                                  XIV

The day of the concert arrived. On the sofa in the sisters'
dressing-room lay, ready at an early hour, Marynia's evening dress,
white as snow, light as foam, transparent as the mist, and fragrant
with violets which were to form her sole adornment. Previously, Pani
Otocka and Gronski held a long and grave consultation over that dress,
for both craved warmly that their beloved "divinity" should captivate
not only the ears but the eyes. In the meanwhile the "divinity" bustled
about all the rooms, now seizing the violin and repeating the more
difficult passages, now taking the boxes of bon-bons which Gronski had
sent to her; then joking with her sister and predicting fright at her
first public appearance. This fright also possessed Pani Otocka who
consoled herself only with the thought that Marynia indeed would
tremble upon entering on the stage, but from the moment she began to
play would forget everything. She knew also that a warm ovation awaited
the beloved violinist, likewise numerous baskets of flowers, from the
"Committee for aiding the hungry," and from acquaintances.
Notwithstanding their uneasiness both sisters felt a great joy in their
souls, as the concert, owing to the arrivals during the racing season,
promised to be highly successful, and it was already known that the
receipts would be extraordinary. Marynia besides found a cure for her
fright: "When I think," she said to her sister, "that so many eyes will
gaze at me, my heart is in my mouth, but when I recollect that I am not
concerned but only the poor, then I cease to fear. So I will save
myself in this manner: entering upon the stage, I will repeat quietly,
''Tis for the poor! 'tis for the poor!' and everything will come off in
the best possible way!" And when she spoke, her voice quivered with
honest emotion as her young heart felt deeply the woes of the
unfortunate who did not have any bread, and at the same time she felt
proud and happy at the thought that she would be instrumental in their
relief. She even experienced certain pangs of conscience on account of
the new dress and the new satin shoes, as it occurred to her that this
outlay might have been expended for bread.

About noon Hanka came and took both sisters to her apartments for
breakfast. Gronski, who was invited, did not appear, as at that time he
was to meet a few journalists. Marynia took her violin with her with
the intention of playing after the breakfast the first part of the
programme, and in the meanwhile, waiting before they were seated at
table, she began to look out from Hanka's salon through the open window
on the street.

The day was fair and clear. During the night an abundant rain had
fallen which settled the dust, washed the city's stone pavements,
refreshed the grass plots, and laved the leaves on the trees. The air
became fresh and bracing. From the two acacias, growing under the
windows of Hanka's residence, which strewed the walk near them with
petals white as snow, came a sweet scent, strong and intoxicating as if
from a censer. Marynia partly closed her eyes and, moving her delicate
nostrils, sated herself with the perfume with delight, after which she
turned to the depth of the room.

"It smells so sweet," she said.

"It does, little kitten," answered Hanka, interrupting a conversation
with Pani Otocka. "I purposely ordered the window to be opened."

And the acacias not only smelt sweet but seemed to sing, for both were
cumbered by a countless diet of sparrows so that the leaves and flowers
quivered from their chirping.

The maiden watched for some time with delighted eyes the small, nimble
birds; after which her attention was directed to something entirely
different. On the walk before the house, in the middle of the street
and on the sidewalk on the opposite side, there began to gather and
stand clusters of people who, raising their heads, gazed intently at
the windows of Hanka's residence.

Some wretchedly dressed people spoke with the doorkeeper standing at
the gate, evidently questioning him about something. The clusters each
moment became more numerous and, together with the passers-by, who
remained out of curiosity, changed into a mob of several hundred heads.
Marynia jumped back from the window.

"Look," she cried, "what is taking place on the street. Oh! oh! Perhaps
they are the poor coming to thank me in advance? What shall I do if
they come here? what shall I answer? I am not able.--Come, see!"

And saying this, she drew her sister and Hanka to the window. The three
young heads leaned out of the window on to the street, but in that
moment an incomprehensible thing happened. A ragged stripling pulled
out of his pocket a stone and hurled it with all his strength into the
open window. The stone flew over Pani Otocka's head, rebounded on the
opposite wall, and fell with noise upon the floor. Hanka, Marynia, and
Zosia drew back from the window and began to look at each other with
inquiring and startled eyes.

In the meantime on the street resounded savage outcries; the rabble
battered down the gate; on the stairs sounded the stamping of feet,
after which in the twinkling of an eye the doors leading to the room
burst open with a crash, and a mob, composed of Christians and some
Jews, filled the residence.

"Away with the kept mistress! Strike! tear! smash!" howled hoarse
voices.

"For the mercy of God! People, what do you want here?" cried Hanka.

"Away with the kept mistress! away with the kept mistress! through the
window! on to the street!"

In a moment a young man-servant, who rushed to the assistance of the
ladies, was thrown upon the ground and trampled upon. Amidst the
dreadful commotion, which the mob increased more and more, the human
beasts became unfettered. Women with disheveled hair, filthy striplings
with the marks of crime upon their degenerate features, and all manner
of ragamuffins with drunken faces, rushed at the furniture, divans, bed
curtains, and everything which fell into their hands. In the residence
an orgy of destruction prevailed. The rooms were filled with the stench
of sweat and whiskey. The mob became infuriated; it broke, smashed,
stole. On the street, under the windows piles of splintered furniture
were formed. They threw out even the piano. Finally some ruffian, with
a pock-marked visage, seized Marynia's violin and brandished it,
desiring to shatter it on the wall.

But she jumped to its aid and seized his fist with both hands.

"That is mine! that is mine!--I am to play for the poor--"

"Let go!"

"I will not let go!--that is mine!"

"Let go, carrion!"

"That is mine!"

A shot was fired, and, simultaneously, Pani Otocka's scream pierced the
air. Marynia stood for a moment with upraised hands and head inclined
backwards; afterwards she reeled and fell back into Hanka's arms.

The shot and the murder overawed the crowd. The mob became silent, and
after a moment began to scamper away, panic-stricken.



                                   XV

Pani Krzycki, Zosia, and Hanka, and with them Gronski, Ladislaus, and
Dr. Szremski surrounded the bed on which Marynia lay, after the
operation and the extraction of the bullet. A second surgeon and his
assistant sat aloof, awaiting the awakening of the patient. In the
room, filled with the odor of iodoform, a profound stillness prevailed.
Marynia had previously awoke immediately after the operation was
performed, but stupefied still by the chloroform and weakened by the
loss of blood, she soon sank again into a slumber. Her beautiful head
lay motionless upon the pillow, her eyes were closed, and her
countenance was waxen and transparent, as if she were already dead. In
Pani Otocka and in Gronski, who but now sounded within himself the
immensity of his affection for that child, despair whimpered with that
quiet, terrible whimper, which lacerates, tugs and rends the bosom but
fears to emerge on the surface. Both glanced time and again with alarm
at Dr. Szremski who from time to time examined Marynia's pulse, but
evidently he himself was uncertain whether that sleep would be final:
he only nodded his head and placed his finger to his lips in sign of
silence.

Nevertheless, their fears for the time being were vain, as after the
lapse of an hour Marynia's eyebrows commenced to rise, quiver, and
after a moment she opened her eyes. Her look, at the beginning, was
dull and unconscious. Slowly, however, the stupefaction left her and
consciousness of what had occurred as well as of the present moment
returned. On her countenance appeared an expression of amazement and
affliction, such as a child feels who has been punished cruelly and
unjustly. Finally her pupils darkened and two tears coursed down her
cheeks.

"For what?--for what?" she whispered with her pallid lips.

Pani Otocka sat at her side and placed her palm on her hand. Gronski
was seized with a desire to throw himself on the ground and beat his
head on the floor, while the patient asked further in an amazed and
mournful whisper:

"For what?--for what?"

God alone could answer that question. But in the meantime the doctor
approached and said:

"Do not speak, child, for that harms."

So she became silent, but the expression of affliction did not
disappear from her countenance, and tears continued to flow.

Her sister began to wipe them off; repeating in a subdued voice:

"Marynia, Marynia, calm yourself--you will be well--you are not
dangerously wounded--no, no--the doctor guarantees that--"

Marynia raised her eyes at her as if she desired to divine whether she
was telling the truth. It appeared, however, that she listened to her
sister's words with a certain hope.

After which, she said:

"It is sultry.--"

The doctor opened the window of the room. Out in the open air the night
was fair and starry. Waves of fresh air brought the scent of the
acacias.

The patient lay for some time calm, but suddenly she began again to
seek somebody with her eyes and asked:

"Is Pan Gronski here?"

"I am, dear, I am--"

"You, sir--will not--let me?--Truly--"

To Gronski it seemed at that moment that he was enveloped by a deep
night and that amidst that impenetrable darkness he answered in a
strange voice:

"No, no!"

And she spoke with terror, her countenance growing more and more
pallid:

"I do not want to die--I am afraid--"

And again tears began to trickle from her eyes--tears inconsolable,
tears of a wronged child.

The entrance of a priest relieved the harrowing moment. It was the same
old prelate, a relative of the Krzyckis and the Zbyltowskis, who
previously shrived Pani Krzycki. Drawing nearer, he sat beside
Marynia's bed and bending over her with a cheering smile, full of hope,
said:

"How are you, dear child? Ah, the wretches!--But God is more powerful
than they and everything will end well. I only came to ask about your
health. God be praised the bullet is already extracted.--Now only
patience is necessary and you will be patient--will you not?"

Marynia winked her eyes as a token of acquiescence.

The amiable old man continued in a more genial and as if jubilant
voice:

"Ah! I knew that you would. Now I will tell you that there is something
which often is more efficacious than all the medicines and bandages. Do
you know what it is? The Sacrament! Ho! how often in life have I seen
that people, who were separated from death by a hair, became at once
better after confession, communion, and anointment, and after that
recovered their health entirely. You, my dove, are surely far from
death, but since it is a Christian duty, which helps the soul and body,
it is necessary to perform it. Well, child?"

Marynia again winked her eyes in sign of assent.

Those present retired from the room and returned only upon the sound of
the little bell to be witnesses to the Communion. The patient, after
receiving it, lay for some time with closed eyelids and a quiet
brightness in her countenance, after which the moment of extreme
unction arrived.

In the room assembled, besides those previously present, the servants
of the house; suppressing their sobs, they heard the customary prayers
before the rite.

"Lord, Jesus Christ, who hast said through Thy apostle Saint James, 'Is
any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church and
let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the
Lord.' We implore Thee, Lord God, our Redeemer, for the grace of The
Holy Ghost: have mercy upon this sick one, heal her wounds, pardon her
sins, and banish from her all pains of soul and body and in Thy mercy
return health completely to her, in order that, restored to life, she
may again give herself up to good deeds. Oh Thou, who being God, livest
and reignest with the Father and Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen."

The priest appeared to hurry. Quickly he took the vessel standing
between two candles under the crucifix and approaching the patient he
whispered the second, brief prayer required by the ritual, and at the
same time began to administer extreme unction. He first touched the
girl's eyelids, saying, "Through this holy unction and His own most
tender mercy, may the Lord pardon thee whatever sins or faults thou
hast committed by sight"; after that he anointed her ears to purge the
sins which she might have committed through the sense of hearing; after
that the lips; after that the hands, resembling two white lilies, which
that day were to have played for the poor; and finally he blessed her
whole body from head to feet--already purified of all blemish and
already as truly angelic and immaculate as a lily in the field.

A half hour passed. To those present it seemed that the patient again
succumbed to slumber. But unexpectedly she opened her eyes wide, and
cried in a stronger, as if joyful, voice:

"How much bread!--How much bread!--"

And she expired calmly.


During the depth of the night, a young man came to the gate and asked
the doorkeeper whether the little lady was still alive and, hearing
that she had died, he left in silence.

An hour later in the garret of one of the houses near the Vistula a
shot from a revolver was fired, and, filled with consternation, the
inmates suddenly awakened from their sleep. The people in the
neighboring rooms flocked to the place of the accident. The locked
doors of the room were battered down but all aid was futile. On the bed
lay the dead body of the student with his breast perforated by a shot.

The gloomy, tragic soul had already flown into darkness.



                                  XVI

The room in which Marynia died was changed into a funeral chamber. The
coffin stood in the middle, high, amidst burning candles and a whole
forest of plants and flowers, of which such a number were amassed that
they filled not only the chamber but even the anteroom and the
stairway. The coffin was still open and in the brightness of the day,
blended with the light of the wax-candles, Marynia could be seen
dressed in that same dress in which she was to have appeared at the
concert. The little metal cross which she held in her folded hands
glittered like a sparkling spot on a dark background of plants. Her
face was pensive, but without the slightest trace of suffering,--and at
the same time as if she was absorbed in listening to voices, sounds,
and tones, which were inaudible and incomprehensible to mortals.

Though the open windows there blew in from time to time a breeze,
extinguishing here and there the unsteady flames of the candles and
causing the leaves of the plants to rustle. On the acacias in front of
the house the sparrows chirped boisterously; one would think that they
were relating to each other feverishly what had happened; while at the
side of the catafalque a human stream flowed. There came with wreaths,
workingmen, for whose benefit the concert was to have been given, and
at the sight of the barbarously slain little lady, they left with fire
in their eyes and clenched fists. The intelligence of the monstrous and
reckless crime attracted whole throngs of students, who determined to
carry the coffin on their shoulders. In the meantime they moved slowly
and quietly about the catafalque, gazing with bosoms swelling with
sympathy and grief at the silvery profile of the girl, turned towards
heaven, and unconsciously they recalled the words of the poet:


                 "And now in pale satin enshrouded,
                  In silence, hands folded, she lies."


Horror, indignation, and at the same time curiosity aroused the city
from centre to circumference. Even the streets in front of the house
were thronged by great crowds--uneasy, being unable to explain to
themselves how such a thing happened--and, as if, alarmed by the
thought of what the future might bring forth, what other crimes might
be committed and what other victims the uncertain morrow might devour.

The remains of Marynia were to be conveyed to the railway and from
there to Zalesin where the tombs of the Otockis were located.
Immediately after noon the coffin was taken off the stretchers and
then, before its sealing, came for Pani Otocka and for Gronski the
dreadful moment of viewing for the last time in life that beloved being
who was for them a light and sun. If she had died of some sickness
their despair might not have been less, but it would have been more
intelligible to them. But she was murdered! They murdered this sweet
and innocent child, just at a time when she wanted to aid people and
when she rejoiced at the thought of that aid. Murdered was that
incarnate song, that fragrant flower, sent by God for the joy of
mankind! And in just this there was something which could not be
confined within the limits of despair, but reached into the borders of
madness. For lo, this is the last moment for beholding that love, that
youth, that maidenly charm, that white victim of crime and mistake; and
after that nothingness, darkness,--solitude.

But overstrained pain kills itself like a scorpion, it covers the
intellect with darkness, and commands the blood to congeal in the
veins. That happened with the sister of the slain. For a long time Dr.
Szremski was uncertain whether he would be able to restore her to life.
In the consternation and confusion it was hardly observed that into the
chamber there rushed an insane woman and, whining mournfully, she flung
herself upon the ground. Swidwicki led her away with the aid of the
students and intrusted her to their care.

In the meantime the coffin was sealed; the youths placed it on their
shoulders and the funeral party moved towards the railway. After them
marched a long procession, at the end of which empty carriages jogged
along. The ever-increasing swarm flowed along the middle of the streets
and sidewalks; and not until they reached the bridge did those who
joined the procession only through curiosity begin to return home.

Swidwicki approached Dr. Szremski, and for some time both walked in
silence, not perceiving that they were remaining more and more behind
the procession.

"You knew the deceased?" asked the doctor.

"Otocki was my relative."

"Ah, what a horrible mistake it was?"

But Swidwicki blurted out:

"That was no mistake. That is the logical result of the times, and in
those that are coming such accidents will become a customary, every-day
occurrence."

"How do you understand that?"

"The way it should be understood. That coffin has greater meaning than
it seems. That is an announcement! A mistake? No! That was only an
incident. Lo, to-day we are burying a harp, which wanted to play for
the people, but which the rabble trampled upon with their filthy
feet.--Wait, sir! Let things continue to proceed thus, and who knows
whether, after ten or twenty years, we will not thus bury learning,
art, culture, bah! even the entire civilization. And that not only here
but everywhere. There will be an endless series of such events.--To me,
after all, it is all one, but absolutely it is possible."

The doctor ruminated for some time in silence over Swidwicki's words;
finally he exclaimed:

"Ah, knowledge, knowledge, knowledge."

Swidwicki stood still, seized the doctor by the flap of his coat and
shaking his goat-like beard, said:

"Hear, sir, an atheist, or at least, a man who has nothing to do with
any religion: knowledge without religion breeds only thieves and
bandits."

The procession paused for a while on account of an obstruction on the
road; so conversing, they drew nearer to the coffin; nevertheless,
Swidwicki, though lowering his voice, did not cease to talk:

"Ay, sir--a great many people think the same as I do; only they
have not the courage to say it aloud. After all, I reiterate it is all
one to me,--we are lost past all help. With us there are only
whirlpools.--And these, not whirlpools upon a watery gulf, beneath
which is a calm depth, but whirlpools of sand. Now the whirlwind blows
from the East and the sterile sand buries our traditions, our
civilization, our culture--our whole Poland--and transforms her into a
wilderness upon which flowers perish and only jackals can live."

Here he pointed to Marynia's coffin:

"Lo, there is a flower which has withered. Do you know, sir, why I,
though a relative, seldom visited them? Because I felt ashamed before
her eyes."

They reached the station and went upon the roadway, from which could be
seen the coach, decorated with flowers and fir-tree boughs.

"Are you riding to Zalesin?" asked the doctor.

"I am. I want to gaze at Pani Otocka. God knows what now will become of
her. And see, sir, how Gronski looks. An old man--what? Now his Latin
and books will not help him."

"Who would not have felt this," answered the doctor. "Krzycki also
looks as if he were taken off the cross."

"Krzycki? But perhaps it is because his matrimonial plans are broken."

Further conversation was interrupted by the orchestra which began to
play Chopin's "Funeral March."



                                  XVII

Dr. Szremski upon his return to the hotel began to ponder over
Swidwicki's words, which were imbedded deeply in his memory. Before his
eyes there glided a picture of the funeral procession and that coffin,
with the victim, murdered by those to whom she wanted to do good. "Yes,
yes!" he said to himself, "that apparently was a mistake, but similar
mistakes are the logical consequences of the unbridled, blind, animal
instincts. We must admit that we are flying at break-neck speed into
some bottomless abyss. And not only we. But is it allowable to conclude
from this, that, as to-day we conducted song, murdered by the rabble,
so after ten, twenty, or fifty years we will witness the burial of
learning, culture, and civilization? Apparently--yes. It is high time
that God, Who rules the world, should give new proofs that He in
reality rules. It ought to thunder so that the earth would tremble--or
what? Mankind are entering upon a road which is directly opposite to
entire nature. For the whole endeavor of nature is to create as perfect
beings as possible and through them to ennoble the species; and
humanity perversely kills them as it did that angelic child, or else
seizes them by the hair to drag them from the heights to the general
level. And nevertheless this is but a specious appearance. If the
engineers determined to excavate all the mountains and make the earth
as smooth and even as a billiard ball, some convulsions would take
place, some eruptions of volcanoes would occur, which would create new
abysses and new heights. Of the Aryan spirit can be said that which the
Grecians, enamoured with the soothing architectonical lines, said of
the Roman arches: 'The arch will never fall asleep.' Likewise the Aryan
spirit. The humanity, which possesses it, is incapable of drifting into
infinity on one wave, thinking one thought and living in one idea. That
which is to-day--will pass away. On the summits of reason, feeling, and
will, new whirlwinds will generate and they will raise new waves."

Here the doctor's thoughts were apparently directed nearer to matters
lying more on his heart, for he began to clench his fist and pace with
big, uneasy steps about the room.

"Will we," he said to himself, "however, remain amidst these
convulsions, waves, and whirlwinds? Whirlpools? Whirlpools!--and of
sand! Sand is burying the whole of Poland and transforming her into a
wilderness, on which jackals live. If this is so, then it would be best
to put a bullet in the head.--I am curious as to what Gronski would say
to this--but lightning has struck his head and it is of no use to speak
to him.--We are lost past all help? That is untrue! Beneath these
whirlpools which are whirling upon the surface of our life is something
which Swidwicki did not perceive. There is more than elsewhere, for
there is a bottomless depth of suffering. There plainly is not in the
world greater misfortune than ours. With us the people awake in the
morning and follow the plough in the field, go to the factory, to the
offices, behind the benches in the shops, and all manner of labor--in
pain. They go to sleep in pain. That suffering is as boundless as the
expanse of the sea while the whirlpools are but ripples upon that
expanse. And why do we suffer thus? Of course, we might, at once,
to-morrow, breathe more freely and be happier. It would be sufficient
for every one to say to Her, that Poland, of whom Swidwicki says that
she is perishing, 'Too much dost Thou pain me, too much dost Thou
vex me; therefore I renounce Thee and from this day wish to forget
Thee.'--And nevertheless nobody says that; not even such a Swidwicki,
who prevaricated when he said it is all one to him; not even they who
throw bombs, and murder sisters and brothers!--And if it is so that we
prefer to suffer than renounce Her, then where are the jackals and
where is Her destruction? Jackals seek carrion, not suffering! So She
lives in every one of us, in all of us together, and will survive all
the whirlpools in the world. And we will set our teeth and will
continue to suffer for Thee, Mother, and we--and if God so wills
it,--and our children and grandchildren will not renounce neither Thee
nor hope."

Here Szremski was touched by his own thoughts, but dawn brightened his
countenance. He found an answer to the question which Swidwicki thrust
into his soul. Walking, he began to repeat: "For nothing, nobody would
consent to suffer thus." After which it occurred to his mind that to
suffer for Her was not yet sufficient, for he began to rub his hands
and turn up his rumpled sleeves, as if he wanted at once to do some
important and urgent work. But, after a while, he observed that he was
in the hotel, so he smiled, with his sincere, peculiar smile, and said
aloud:

"Ha! It cannot be helped. To-morrow I must return to my hole and push
the wheelbarrow along."

And suddenly he sighed:

"To my solitary hole."

After which, he, himself, not knowing why, recollected what Swidwicki
had told him about the breaking of Krzycki's matrimonial engagement,
and his thoughts, like winged birds, began to fly to Zalesin.



                               FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: "Even bird's milk is not lacking," a Polish proverbial
expression signifying "abundance," "living in clover."]

[Footnote 2: "On the thief's head the cap burns:" a Polish
proverb meaning that persons, conscious of guilt, always fear
detection.--Translator.]

[Footnote 3: "Sprinkled his eyes with poppy:" proverbial expression
denoting "lulled to sleep."--Translator.]

[Footnote 4: Kilinski was one of the bravest and most popular
heroes who fought under Kosciuszko. He was a shoe-maker by
trade.--Translator.]

[Footnote 5: Bigos: a Polish dish of hashed meat and
cabbage.--Translator.]

[Footnote 6: Peter Skarga was the most famous pulpit orator in the
history of Poland.--Translator.]

[Footnote 7: "Poland is not yet lost."]

[Footnote 8: Referring to the Sacred Fire of pagan Lithuanians.]

[Footnote 9: Mamalyga, a kind of porridge in Bessarabia, made
principally of corn.]

[Footnote 10: Piast; the name of the first King of Poland, who was a
peasant.]

[Footnote 11: Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski, the last king of
Poland.]

[Footnote 12: "Skubanka," a pun upon the word, "skubac," to pluck.]

[]

THE END



                         _THE ZAGLOBA ROMANCES_
                _by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Translated from
                    the Polish by Jeremiah Curtin_.

                          WITH FIRE AND SWORD
An Historical Novel of Poland and Russia. Illustrated. Crown 8vo. $1.50
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The first of the famous trilogy of historical romances of Poland,
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_A capital story_.  The only modern romance with which it can be
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and absorbing interest is "The Three Musketeers" of Dumas.--_New York
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                               QUO VADIS

A Narrative of the Time of Nero. By Henryk Sienkiewicz. Translated from
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One of the greatest books of our day.--_The Bookman_.

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Of intense interest to the whole Christian civilization--_Chicago
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                      _OTHER NOVELS AND ROMANCES_
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                    _the Polish by Jeremiah Curtin_.


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