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Title: Charles Auchester, Volume 1 of 2
Author: Sheppard, Elizabeth
Language: English
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  CHARLES AUCHESTER

  VOLUME I.

  [Illustration: MENDELSSOHN
   FROM AN ORIGINAL PORTRAIT--1821.]



  CHARLES AUCHESTER

  BY
  ELIZABETH SHEPPARD

  _WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES_
  BY GEORGE P. UPTON

  AUTHOR OF "THE STANDARD OPERAS," "STANDARD ORATORIOS," "STANDARD
  CANTATAS," "STANDARD SYMPHONIES," "WOMAN IN MUSIC," ETC.

  In Two Volumes

  VOLUME I.

  CHICAGO
  A. C. McCLURG AND COMPANY
  1891



  COPYRIGHT,
  BY A. C. MCCLURG AND CO.
  A.D. 1891.



INTRODUCTION.


The romance of "Charles Auchester," which is really a memorial to
Mendelssohn, the composer, was first published in England in 1853. The
titlepage bore the name of "E. Berger," a French pseudonym, which for
some time served to conceal the identity of the author. Its motto was
a sentence from one of Disraeli's novels: "Were it not for Music, we
might in these days say, The Beautiful is dead." The dedication was
also to the same distinguished writer, and ran thus: "To the author of
'Contarini Fleming,' whose perfect genius suggested this imperfect
history." To this flattering dedication, Mr. Disraeli replied in a
note to the author: "No greater book will ever be written upon music,
and it will one day be recognized as the imaginative classic of that
divine art."

Rarely has a book had a more propitious introduction to the public;
but it was destined to encounter the proverbial fickleness of that
public. The author was not without honor save in her own country. It
was reserved for America first to recognize her genius. Thence her
fame travelled back to her own home; but an early death prevented her
from enjoying the fruits of her enthusiastic toil. Other works
followed from her busy pen, among them "Counterparts,"--a
musico-philosophical romance, dedicated to Mrs. Disraeli, which had a
certain success; "Rumor," of which Beethoven, under the name of
Rodomant, is supposed to have been the hero; "Beatrice Reynolds,"
"The Double Coronet," and "Almost a Heroine:" but none of them
achieved the popularity which "Charles Auchester" enjoyed. They shone
only by the reflected light of this wonderful girl's first book. The
republication of this romance will recall to its readers of an earlier
generation an old enthusiasm which may not be altogether lost, though
they may smile as they read and remember. It should arouse a new
enthusiasm in the younger generation of music-lovers.

Elizabeth Sheppard, the author of "Charles Auchester," was born at
Blackheath, near London, in 1837. Her father was a clergyman of the
Established Church, and her mother a Jewess by descent,--which serves
to account for the daughter's strong Jewish sympathies in this
remarkable display of hero-worship. Left an orphan at a tender age,
she was thrown upon her own resources, and chose school-teaching for
her profession. She was evidently a good linguist and musician, for
she taught music and the languages before she was sixteen. She had
decided literary ambition also, and wrote plays, poems, and short
stories at an age when other children are usually engaged in pastimes.
Notwithstanding the arduous nature of her work and her exceedingly
delicate health, she devoted her leisure hours to literary
composition. How this frail girl must have toiled is evidenced by the
completion of "Charles Auchester" in her sixteenth year. In her
seventeenth she had finished "Counterparts,"--a work based upon a
scheme even more ambitious than that of her first story. When it is
considered that these two romances were written at odd moments of
leisure intervening between hours of wearing toil in the school-room,
and that she was a mere child and very frail, it will be admitted that
the history of literary effort hardly records a parallel case. Nature
however always exacts the penalty for such mental excesses. This
little creature of "spirit, fire, and dew" died on March 13, 1862, at
the early age of twenty-five.

Apart from its intrinsic merits as a musical romance, there are some
features of "Charles Auchester" of more than ordinary interest. It is
well known that Seraphael, its leading character, is the author's
ideal of Mendelssohn, and that the romance was intended to be a
memorial of him. More thoroughly to appreciate the work, and not set
it down as mere rhapsody, it must be remembered that Miss Sheppard
wrote it in a period of Mendelssohn worship in England as ardent and
wellnigh as universal as the Handel worship of the previous century
had been. It was written in 1853. Mendelssohn had been dead but six
years, and his name was still a household word in every English
family. He was adored, not only for his musical genius, but also for
his singular purity of character. He was personally as well known in
England as any native composer. His Scotch Symphony and Hebrides
Overture attested his love of Scotch scenery. He had conducted
concerts in the provinces; he appeared at concerts in London in 1829
and in subsequent years, and was the idol of the drawing-rooms of that
day. Some of his best works were written on commissions from the
London Philharmonic Society. He conducted his "Lobgesang" at
Birmingham in 1840, and he produced his immortal "Elijah" in the same
town in 1846,--only a year before his death. There were numerous ties
of regard, and even of affection, binding him to the English people.
From a passing remark in the course of the romance, we learn that it
opens about the year 1833, when Mendelssohn was in his prime; and as
it closes with his death, it thus covers a period of fourteen
years,--the most brilliant and productive part of his life.

Curious critics of "Charles Auchester" have found close resemblances
between its characters and other musicians. There is good reason to
believe that Starwood Burney was intended for Sterndale Bennett, not
only from the resemblance of the names in sound and meaning, but also
from many other events common to each. It requires, however, some
stretch of the imagination to believe that Charles Auchester was
intended as a portrait of Joachim the violinist; that Aronach, the
teacher at the St. Cecilia School, was meant for Zelter; Clara Benette
for Jenny Lind; and Laura Lemark for Taglioni. It is altogether likely
that the author in drawing these characters had the types in mind, and
without intending to produce a parallel or to preserve anything like
synchronism, invested them with some of the characteristics of the
real persons, all of whom, it may be added, except Taglioni, were
intimately associated with Mendelssohn.

All this lends the charm of human interest to the book; but, after
all, it is the author's personality that invests it with its rare
fascination. It would not bear searching literary criticism;
fortunately, no one has been so ungracious as to apply it. It is more
to the purpose to remember that here is a young girl of exquisite
refinement, rare intellectuality, and the most overwhelming
enthusiasm, who has written herself into her work with all her girlish
fancies, her great love for the art, her glowing imagination, and that
rapturous devotion for the hero of her exalted world which is
characteristic of her sex at sixteen. And in doing this she has
pictured her dreams with most glowing colors, and told them with
delicate _naïveté_ and exuberant passion. In a word, she has expressed
the very spirit of music in language, and in a language so pure and
adoring as to amount to worship. In Disraeli's words, it is "the
imaginative classic of the divine art." To those who have not lost
their early enthusiasms, this little book will come like the perfume
of a flower, or some tone of a well-remembered voice, recalling the
old days and reviving an old pleasure. To those who have lost such
emotions, what is left but Lethe?

In preparing the work for publication, I have added some brief notes,
indicating the connection between the real and the ideal, and making
the meaning of the text clearer to the general reader of to-day.
Anything which will throw light upon this charming romance should be
welcome, and the more so that the gifted author has been strangely
neglected both in musical and general biographical dictionaries. It is
to be hoped that an adequate sketch of her life may some day appear.

     GEORGE P. UPTON.

     _Chicago, 1891._



CHARLES AUCHESTER.



CHAPTER I.


I never wrote a long letter in my life. It is the manual part I
dislike,--arranging the paper, holding the pen in my fingers, and
finding my arm exhausted with carrying it to and from the inkstand. It
does not signify, though; for I have made arrangements with my
free-will to write more than a letter,--a life, or rather the life of
a life. Let none pause to consider what this means,--neither quite
Germanly mysterious, nor quite Saxonly simple, like my origin.

There are many literal presentations of ordinary personages in books
which, I am informed, and I suppose I am to assure myself, are
introduced expressly to intensify and illustrate the chief and
peculiar interest where an interest is, or to allure the attention of
the implicit, where it is not. But how does it happen that the
delineations of the gods among men, the heroic, gifted few, the beings
of imaginative might or genius, are so infinitely more literal?
Who--worshipping, if not strong enough to serve, the Ideal--can endure
the graceless ignorance of his subject betrayed by many a biographer,
accepted and accomplished in his style? Who, so worshipping, can do
anything but shudder at the meagre, crude, mistakable portraits of
Shakspeare, of Verulam, of Beethoven? Heaven send my own may not make
me shudder first, and that in my attempt to recall, through a kind of
artistic interlight, a few remembered lineaments, I be not
self-condemned to blush for the spiritual craft whose first law only I
had learned.

I know how many notions grown persons entertain of their childhood as
real, which are factitious, and founded upon elder experience, until
they become confounded with it; but I also feel that in great part we
neglect our earliest impressions, as vague, which were the truest and
best we ever had. I believe none can recall their childish estimate or
essence without identifying within their present intimate selves. In
my own case the analogy is perfect between my conceptions then and my
positive existence now. So every one must feel who is at all
acquainted with the liabilities of those who follow art.

The man of power may manage to merge his individuality in his
expansive association with the individuality of others; the man of
science quenches self-consciousness in abstraction; and not a few who
follow with hot energy some worldly calling, become, in its exercise,
as itself, nor for a solitary moment are left alone with their
personality to remember even that as separate and distinctly real.

But all artists, whether acknowledged or amateur, must have proved
that, for themselves, the gauge of immortality, in life as in art,
consists in their self-acquaintance, their self-reliance, their exact
self-appreciation with reference to their masters, their models, their
one supreme ideal.

I was born in a city of England farthest from the sea, within whose
liberties my grandfather and father had resided, acquiring at once a
steady profit and an honorable commercial fame. Never mind what they
were, or in which street or square their stocked warehouses were
planted, alluring the eyes and hearts of the pupils of Adam Smith. I
remember the buildings well; but my elder brother, the eldest of our
family, was established there when I first recall them, and he was
always there, residing on the premises. He was indeed very many years
my senior, and I little knew him; but he was a steady, excellent
person, with a tolerable tenor voice and punctilious filial
observances towards our admirable mother. My father was born in
England; but though his ancestors were generally Saxon, an infusion of
Norman blood had taken place in his family a generation or two behind
him, and I always suspected that we owed to the old breeding of Claire
Renée de Fontenelle some of our peculiarities and refinements; though
my father always maintained that they flowed directly from our mother.
He was travelling for the house upon the Continent when he first found
her out, embedded like a gem by a little German river; and she left
with him, unrepiningly, her still but romantic home, not again to
revisit it.

My mother must have been in her girlhood, as she was in her maturest
years, a domestic presence of purity, kindliness, and home-heartedness;
she had been accustomed to every kind of household manoeuvre, and her
needlework was something exquisite. From her German mother she
inherited the quietness of which grace is born, the prudence with
which wisdom dwells, and many an attribute of virtue; but from her
father she inherited the right to name herself of Hebrew origin.
Herein my chief glory lies; and whatever enlightenment my destiny has
boasted, streams from that radiant point. I know that there are many
who would as genuinely rejoice in descent from Mahomet, from Attila,
or from Robin Hood, as from any of Israel's children; but I claim the
golden link in my genealogy as that which connects it with eternity
and with all that in my faith is glorious.[1]

My mother had lived in a certain seclusion for some years before I
first began to realize; for my father died before my first year's
close. We still resided near the house of business,--not in it, for
that was my brother's now, and Fred had lately brought home a wife.
But we were quite settled and at home in the house I first remember,
when it breaks, picture-like, on my dawning memory. I had three
sisters: Clotilda was the oldest, and only a year younger than Fred.
She was an extraordinarily clever person, though totally destitute of
art or artistic yearnings. She had been educated unwontedly, and at
least understood all that she had learned. Her favorite pursuits were
reading, and comparing lexicons and analyses of different languages,
and endeavoring to find common roots for all; but she could and did
work perfectly, write a fine, close hand, and very vigorously
superintend the household in my mother's absence or indisposition. She
had rather a queer face, like one of the Puritan visages in antique
portraits; but a very cheerful smile, and perfect composure of
manner,--a great charm in mine eyes, O ye nymphs and graces! Millicent,
three years younger, was a spirit of gentleness,--imperceptibly
instructing me, she must be treated with a sort of awe. Her melancholy
oval face and her pale eyelids showed more of the Hebrew than any of
us excepting myself; only I was plain, and she remarkably pleasing.
Lydia, my youngest sister, was rather showy than brilliant, and rather
bright than keen,--but not much of either; and yet she was always kind
to me, and I should have grieved to miss her round brown eyes at our
breakfast-table, or her loud, ringing laugh upstairs from the kitchen;
for she had the pantry key.

Both Millicent and Lydia played and sang, if not very powerfully, yet
with superior taste. Millicent's notes, not many in number, were as
the notes of a cooing dove. Before I was five years old I used to sit
upon the old grand piano and watch their faces while they sang on
Sunday evenings,--my mother in a tremulous soprano, with Fred's tenor,
and the bass of a friend of his. This did not please me; and here let
me say that musical temperament as surely asserts itself in aversion
to discordant, or not pure, as in desire for sweet and true sounds. I
am certain this is true. I was always happy when Millicent sang alone,
or even when she and Lydia mixed their notes; for both had an ear as
accurate for tune and for time as can be found in England, or indeed
in Germany. But oh! I have writhed beneath the dronings of
Hatchardson's bass, on quartet or chorale an audible blemish, and in a
rare composition now and then, the distorting and distracting point on
which I was morbidly obliged to fasten my attention. We had no other
music, except a little of the same kind, not quite so good, from
various members of families in the neighborhood professing to play or
sing. But I will not dwell on those, for they are displaced by images
more significant.

I can never recollect a time when I did not sing. I believe I sang
before I spoke. Not that I possessed a voice of miraculous power, but
that everything resolved itself into a species of inward rhythm, not
responsive to by words, but which passed into sound, tone, and
measure before I knew it was formed. Every sight as well as all that
touched my ears produced this effect. I could not watch the smoke
ascending, nor the motions of the clouds, nor, subtler yet, the stars
peeping through the vaulted twilight, without the framing and
outpouring of exuberant emotion in strains so expressive to my own
intelligence that it was entranced by them completely. I was a very
ailing child for several years, and only the cares I received
preserved me then; but now I feel as if all healthfulness had been
engendered by the mere vocal abstraction into which I was plunged a
great part of every day. I had been used to hear music discussed,
slightly, it is true, but always reverently, and I early learned there
were those who followed that--the supreme of art--in the very town we
inhabited,--indeed, my sisters had taken lessons of a lady a pupil of
Clementi; but she had left for London before I knew my notes.

Our piano had been a noble instrument,--one of the first and best that
displaced the harpsichords of Kirkman.[2] Well worn, it had also been
well used, and when deftly handled, had still some delights
extricable. It stood in our drawing-room, a chamber of the red-brick
house that held us,--rather the envy of our neighbors, for it had a
beautiful ceiling, carved at the centre and in the corners with
bunches and knots of lilies. It was a high and rather a large room. It
was filled with old furniture, rather handsome and exquisitely kept,
and was a temple of awe to me, because I was not allowed to play
there, and only sometimes to enter it,--as, for example, on Sundays,
or when we had tea-parties, or when morning callers came and asked to
see me; and whenever I did enter, I was not suffered to touch the rug
with my feet, nor to approach the sparkling steel of the fire-irons
and fender nearer than its moss-like edge. Our drawing-room was, in
fact, a curious confusion of German stiffness and English comfort; but
I did not know this then.

We generally sat in the parlor looking towards the street and the
square tower of an ancient church. The windows were draped with
dark-blue moreen, and between them stood my mother's dark-blue velvet
chair, always covered with dark-blue cloth, except on Sundays and on
New Year's day and at the feast of Christmas.

The dark-blue drugget covered a polished floor, whose slippery,
uncovered margin beneath the wainscot has occasioned me many a tumble,
though it always tempted me to slide when I found myself alone in the
room. There were plenty of chairs in the parlor, and a few little
tables, besides a large one in the centre, over which hung a dark-blue
cover, with a border of glowing orange. I was fond of the high
mantelshelf, whose ornaments were a German model of a bad Haus, and
two delicate wax nuns, to say nothing of the china candlesticks, the
black Berlin screens, and the bronze pastille-box.

Of all things I gloried in the oak closets--one filled with books, the
other with glass and china--on either side of the fireplace; nor did I
despise the blue cloth stools, beautifully embroidered by Clo, just
after her sampler days, in wool oak-wreaths rich with acorns. I used
to sit upon these alternately at my mother's feet, for she would not
permit one to be used more than the other; and I was a very obedient
infant.

My greatest trial was going to church, because the singing was so
wretchedly bad that it made my ears ache. Often I complained to my
mother; but she always said we could not help it if ignorant persons
were employed to praise God, that it ought to make us more ready to
stand up and sing, and answer our very best, and that none of us could
praise him really as the angels do. This was not anything of an
answer, but I persisted in questioning her, that I might see whether
she ever caught a new idea upon the subject. But no; and thus I
learned to lean upon my own opinion before I was eight years old, for
I never went to church till I was seven. Clo thought that there should
be no singing in church,--she had a dash of the Puritan in her creed;
but Lydia horrified my mother oftentimes by saying she should write to
the organist about revising the choir. But here my childish wisdom
crept in, and whispered to me that nothing could be done with such a
battered, used-up, asthmatic machine as our decrepit organ, and I gave
up the subject in despair.

Still, Millicent charmed me one night by silencing Fred and Mr.
Hatchardson when they were prosing of Sternhold and Hopkins, and Tate
and Brady,[3] and singing-galleries and charity-children, by saying,--

"You all forget that music is the highest gift that God bestows, and
its faculty the greatest blessing. It must be the only form of worship
for those who are musically endowed,--that is, if they employ it
aright."

Millicent had a meek manner of administering a wholesome truth which
another would have pelted at the hearer; but then Millicent spoke
seldom, and never unless it was necessary. She read, she practised,
she made up mantles and caps _à ravir_, and she visited poor sick
people; but still I knew she was not happy, though I could not
conceive nor conjecture why. She did not teach me anything, and Lydia
would have dreamed first of scaling Parnassus. But Clo's honorable
ambition had always been to educate me; and as she was really
competent, my mother made no objection. I verily owe a great deal to
her. She taught me to read English, French, and German between my
eighth and tenth years; but then we all knew German in our cradles, as
my mother had for us a nurse from her own land. Clo made me also spell
by a clever system of her own, and she got me somehow into
subtraction; but I was a great concern to her in one respect,--I never
got on with my writing. I believe she and my mother entertained some
indefinite notion of my becoming, in due time, the junior partner of
the firm. This prescience of theirs appalled me not, for I never
intended to fulfil it, and I thought, justly enough, that there was
plenty of time before me to undo their arrangements. I always went to
my lessons in the parlor from nine till twelve, and again in the
afternoon for an hour, so that I was not overworked; but even when I
was sitting by Clo,--she, glorious creature! deep in Leyden or
Gesenius--I used to chant my geography or my Telemachus to my secret
springs of song, without knowing how or why, but still chanting as my
existence glided.

I had tolerable walks in the town and about through the dusty lanes
with my sisters or my nurse, for I was curious; and, to a child,
freshness is inspiration, and old sights seen afresh seem new.

I liked of all things to go to the chemist's when my mother
replenished her little medicine-chest. There was unction in the smell
of the packeted, ticketed drugs, in the rosy cinnamon, the golden
manna, the pungent vinegar, and the aromatic myrrh. How I delighted in
the copper weights, the spirit-lamp, the ivory scales, the vast
magazines of lozenges, and the delicate lip-salve cases, to say
nothing of the glittering toilet bagatelles, and perfumes and soaps! I
mention all this just because the only taste that has ever become
necessary to me in its cultivation, besides music, is chemistry, and I
could almost say I know not which I adhere to most; but Memory
comes,--

      "And with her flying finger sweeps my lip."

I forbear.

I loved the factories, to some of which I had access. I used to think
those wheels and whirring works so wonderful that they were like the
inside of a man's brain. My notion was nothing pathetic of the pale
boys and lank girls about, for they seemed merely stirring or moveless
parts of the mechanism. I am afraid I shall be thought very unfeeling;
I am not aware that I was, nevertheless.

I sometimes went out to tea in the town; I did not like it, but I did
it to please my mother. At one or two houses I was accustomed to a
great impression of muffins, cake, and marmalade, with coffee and
cream; and the children I met there did nothing adequately but eat. At
a few houses, again, I fared better, for they only gave us little
loaves of bread and little cups of tea, and we romped the evening
long, and dramatized our elders and betters until the servants came
for us. But I, at least, was always ready to go home, and glad to see
my short, wide bed beside my mother's vast one, and my spotless dimity
curtains with the lucid muslin frills; and how often I sang the best
tunes in my head to the nameless effect of rosemary and lavender that
haunted my large white pillow!

We always went to bed, and breakfasted, very early, and I usually had
an hour before nine wherein to disport myself as I chose. It was in
these hours Millicent taught me to sing from notes and to discern the
aspect of the key-board. Of the crowding associations, the teeming
remembrances, just at infancy and early childhood, I reject all,
except such as it becomes positively necessary I should recall;
therefore I dwell not upon this phase of my life, delightful as it
was, and stamped with perfect purity,--the reflex of an unperverted
temperament and of kindly tenderness.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] The character of Charles Auchester is supposed to have been
intended for a sketch of the violinist Joachim, whose talent was first
recognized by Mendelssohn, and who studied for many years at Leipsic
under that composer's influence, though his own writings betray a
strong leaning towards Schumann.

[2] A family of eminent harpsichord-makers. Jacob, the founder of the
business, went to London from Germany early in the last century, and
died in 1778. The business has been continued through five
generations, and is now conducted by Joseph Kirkman in the same city.

[3] Compilers of English psalmody in the last century.



CHAPTER II.


We had a town-hall,--a very imposing building of its class, and it was
not five minutes' walk from the square-towered church I mentioned. It
was, I well knew, a focus of some excitement at election times and
during the assizes, also in the spring, when religious meetings were
held there; yet I had never been in it, and seldom near it,--my mother
preferring us to keep as clear of the town proper as possible. Yet I
knew well where it stood, and I had an inkling now and then that music
was to be heard there; furthermore, within my remembrance, Millicent
and Lydia had been taken by Fred to hear Paganini within its
precincts. I was too young to know anything of the triennial festival
that distinguished our city as one of the most musical in England, at
that time almost the only one, indeed, so honored and glorified. I
said, what I must again repeat, that I knew nothing of such a
prospective or past event until the end of the summer in which I
entered my eleventh year.

I was too slight for my health to be complete, but very strong for one
so slight. Neither was I tall, but I had an innate love of grace and
freedom, which governed my motions; for I was extremely active, could
leap, spring, and run with the best, though I always hated walking. I
believe I should have died under any other care than that expanded
over me, for my mother abhorred the forcing system. Had I belonged to
those who advocate excessive early culture, my brain would, I
believe, have burst, so continually was it teeming. But from my
lengthy idleness alternating with moderate action, I had no strain
upon my faculties.

How perfectly I recollect the morning, early in autumn, on which the
festival was first especially suggested to me! It was a very bright
day, but so chilly that we had a fire in the parlor grate, for we were
all disposed to be very comfortable as part of our duty. I had said
all my lessons, and was now sitting at the table writing a small text
copy in a ruled book, with an outside marbled fantastically brown and
blue, which book lay, not upon the cloth, of course, but upon an
inclined plane formed of a great leather case containing about a quire
of open blotting-paper.

My sister Clotilda was over against me at the table, with the light
shaded from her eyes by a green fan screen, studying, as usual, in the
morning hours, a Greek Testament full of very neat little black notes.
I remember her lead-colored gown, her rich washing silk, and her clear
white apron, her crimson muffetees and short, close black mittens, her
glossy hair rolled round her handsome tortoise-shell comb, and the
bunch of rare though quaint ornaments--seals, keys, rings, and
lockets,--that balanced her beautiful English watch. What a treasure
they would have been for a modern châtelaine! my father having
presented her with the newest, and an antique aunt having willed her
the rest. She was very much like an old picture of a young person
sitting there.

For my part, I was usually industrious enough, because I was never
persecuted with long tasks; my attention was never stretched, as it
were, upon a last, so that it was no meritorious achievement if I
could bend it towards all that I undertook, with a species of
elasticity peculiar to the nervous temperament. My mother was also
busy. She sat in her tall chair at the window, her eyes constantly
drawn towards the street, but she never left off working, being deep
in the knitting of an enormous black silk purse for Lydia to carry
when she went to market. Millicent was somewhere out of the room, and
Lydia, having given orders for dinner, had gone out to walk.

I had written about six lines in great trepidation--for writing
usually fevered me a little, it was such an effort--when my great
goose-quill slipped through my fingers, thin as they were, and I made
a desperate plunge into an O. I exclaimed aloud, "Oh, what a blot!"
and my lady Mentor arose and came behind me.

"Worse than a blot, Charles," she said, or something to that effect.
"A blot might not have been your fault, but the page is very badly
written; I shall cut it out, and you had better begin another."

"I shall only blot that, Clo," I answered; and Clo appealed to my
mother.

"It is very strange, is it not, that Charles, who is very attentive
generally, should be so little careful of his writing? He will never
suit the post of all others the most important he _should_ suit."

"What is that?" I inquired so sharply that my mother grew dignified,
and responded gravely,--

"My dear Clotilda, it will displease me very much if Charles does not
take pains in every point, as you are so kind as to instruct him. It
is but little such a young brother can do to show his gratitude."

"Mother!" I cried, and sliding out of my chair, I ran to hers. "I
shall never be able to write,--I mean neatly; Clo may look over me if
she likes, and she will know how hard I try."

"But do you never mean to write, Charles?"

"I shall get to write somehow, I suppose, but I shall never write what
you call a beautiful hand."

My mother took my fingers and laid them along her own, which were
scarcely larger.

"But your hands are very little less than mine; surely they can hold a
pen?"

"Oh, yes, I can hold anything!" And then I laughed and said, "I could
do something with my hands too." I was going to finish, "I could
play;" but Lydia had just turned the corner of the street, and my
mother's eyes were watching her up to the door. So I stood before her
without finishing my explanation. She at length said, kindly, "Well,
now go and write one charming copy, and then we will walk."

I ran back to my table and climbed my chair, Clo having faithfully
fulfilled her word and cut out the offending leaf.

But I had scarcely traced once, "Do not contradict your elders,"
before Lydia came in, flushed and glowing, with a basket upon her arm.
She exhibited the contents to my mother,--who, I suppose, approved
thereof, as she said they might be disposed of in the kitchen,--and
then, with a sort of sigh, began, before she left the room, to remove
her walking dress.

"Oh! it is hopeless; the present price is a guinea."

"I was fearful it would be so, my dear girl," replied my mother, in a
tone of mingled condolence and authority she was fond of assuming. "It
would be neither expedient nor fitting that I should allow you to go,
though I very much wish it; but should we suffer ourselves such an
indulgence, we should have to deprive ourselves of comforts that are
necessary to health, and thus to well being. I should not like dear
Millicent and yourself, young as you are, to go alone to the crowded
seats in the town-hall; and if I went with you, we should be three
guineas out of pocket for a month."

This was true; my mother's jointure was small, and though we lived in
ease, it was by the exercise of an economy rigidly enforced and
minutely developed. It was in my own place, indeed, I learned how
truly happy does comfort render home, and how strictly comfort may be
expressed by love from prudence, by charity from frugality, and by wit
from very slender competence.

"I do not complain, dear mother," Lydia resumed, in a livelier vein;
"I ventured to ask at the office because you gave me leave, and Fred
thought there would be back seats lowered in price, or perhaps a
standing gallery, as there was at the last festival. But it seems the
people in the gallery made so much uproar last time that the committee
have resolved to give it up."

This was getting away from the point, so I put in, "Is the festival to
be soon, then, Lydia?"

"Yes, dear; it is only three weeks to-day to the first performance."

"Will it be very grand?"

"Oh, yes; the finest and most complete we have ever had."

Then Lydia, having quite recovered her cheerfulness, went to the door,
and speedily was no more seen. No one spoke, and I went on with my
copy; but it was hard work for me to do so, for I was in a pricking
pulsation from head to foot. It must have been a physical prescience
of mental excitement, for I had scarcely ever felt so much before. I
was longing, nay, crazy, to finish my page, that I might run out and
find Millicent, who, child as I was, I knew could tell me what I
wanted to hear better than any one of them. My eagerness impeded me,
and I did not conclude it to Clo's genuine satisfaction after all. She
dotted all my i's and crossed my t's, though with a condescending
confession that I had taken pains,--and then I was suffered to go; but
it was walking time, and my mother dressed me herself in her room, so
I could not catch Millicent till we were fairly in the street.



CHAPTER III.


I do not pretend to remember all the conversations verbatim which I
have heard during my life, or in which I have taken a part; still,
there are many which I do remember word by word, and every word. My
conversation that morning with Millicent I do not remember,--its
results blotted it out forever; still, I am conscious it was an
exposition of energy and enthusiasm, for hers kindled as she replied
to my ardent inquiries, and, unknowingly, she inflamed my own. She
gave me a tale of the orchestra, its fulness and its potency; of the
five hundred voices, of the conductor, and of the assembly; she
assured me that nothing could be at all like it, that we had no idea
of its resources or its effects.

She was melancholy, evidently, at first, but quite lost in her
picturesque and passionate delineation, I all the while wondering how
she could endure to exist and not be going. I felt in myself that it
was not only a sorrow, but a shame, to live in the very place and not
press into the courts of music. I adored music even then,--ay! not
less than now, when I write with the strong heart and brain of
manhood. I thought how easily Millicent might do without a new hat, a
new cloak, or live on bread and water for a year. But I was man enough
even then, I am thankful to say, to recall almost on the instant that
Millicent was a woman, a very delicate girl, too, and that it would
never do for her to be crushed among hundreds of moving men and
women, nor for Fred to undertake the charge of more than one--he had
bought a ticket for his wife. Then I returned to myself.

From the first instant the slightest idea of the festival had been
presented to me, I had seized upon it personally with the most perfect
confidence. I had even determined how to go,--for go I felt I must;
and I knew if I could manage to procure a ticket, Fred would take me
in his hand, and my mother would allow me to be disposed of in the
shadow of his coat-tails, he was always so careful of us all. As I
walked homewards I fell silent, and with myself discussed my
arrangements; they were charming. The town-hall was not distant from
our house more than a quarter of a mile. I was often permitted to run
little errands for my sisters: to match a silk or to post a letter. My
pecuniary plan was unique: I was allowed twopence a week, to spend as
I would, though Clo protested I should keep an account-book as soon as
I had lived a dozen years. From my hatred of copper money I used to
change it into silver as fast as possible, and at present I had five
sixpences, and should have another by the end of another week. I was
to take this treasure to the ticket office, and request whatever
gentleman presided to let me have a ticket for my present deposit, and
trust--I felt a certain assurance that no one would refuse me, I know
not why, who had to do with the management of musical affairs. I was
to leave my sixpences with my name and address, and to call with
future allowances until I had refunded all. It struck me that not many
months must pass before this desirable end might accomplish itself.

I have often marvelled why I was not alarmed, nervous as I was, to
venture alone into such a place, with such a purpose; but I imagine I
was just too ignorant, too infantine in my notions of business. At all
events, I was more eager than anxious for the morrow, and only
restless from excited hope. I never manoeuvred before, I have often
manoeuvred since, but never quite so innocently, as I did to be sent
on an errand the next morning. It was very difficult, no one _would_
want anything, and at last in despair I dexterously carried away a
skein, or half a skein, of brown sewing silk, with which Lydia was
hemming two elegant gauze veils for herself and for Millicent. The
veils were to be worn that day I knew, for my mother had set her heart
upon their excluding a "thought" of east in the autumnal wind, and
there was no other silk; I managed to twist it into my shoe, and Lydia
looked everywhere for it, even into the pages of Clo's book,--greatly
to her discomfiture. But in vain, and at last said Lydia, "Here,
Charles, you must buy me another," handing me a penny. Poor Lydia! she
did not know how long it would be before I brought the silk; but
imagining I should be back _not_ directly, I had the decency to
transfer my pilfered skein to the under surface of the rug, for I knew
that they would turn it up as usual in a search. And then, without
having been observed to stoop, I fetched my beaver broad brimmer and
scampered out.

I scampered the whole way to the hall. It was a chilly day, but the
sun had acquired some power, and it was all summer in my veins. I
believe I had never been in such a state of ecstasy. I was quite
lightheaded, and madly expected to possess myself of a ticket
immediately, and dance home in triumph. The hall! how well I remember
it, looking very still, very cold, very blank; the windows all
shuttered, the doors all closed. But never mind; the walls were
glorious! They glittered with yellow placards, the black letters
about a yard long announcing the day, the hour, the force,--the
six-foot long list of wonders and worthies. I was something
disappointed not to find the ticket-office a Spanish castle suddenly
sprung from the stonework of the hall itself, but it was some comfort
that it was in St. Giles' Street, which was not far.

I scampered off again,--I tumbled down, having lost my breath, but I
sprang again to my feet; I saw a perfect encampment of placards, and I
rushed towards it. How like it was to a modern railway terminus, that
ticket-office!--in more senses than one, too. The door was not closed
here, but wide open to the street: within were green-baize doors
besides, but the outer entrance was crowded, and those were shut,--not
for a minute together, though, for I could not complain of quiet here.
Constantly some one hurrying past nearly upset me, bustling out or
pushing in. They were all men, it is true; but was I a girl? Besides,
I had seen a boy or two who had surveyed me impertinently, and whom I
took leave to stare down. A little while I stood in the entry,
bewildered, to collect my thoughts,--not my courage,--and then,
endeavoring to be all calmness and self-possession, I staggered in. I
then saw two enclosed niches, counter-like: the one had a huge
opening, and was crammed with people on this side; the other was
smaller, an air of eclecticism pervaded it; and behind each stood a
man. There was a staircase in front, and painted on the wall to its
left I read: "Committee-room upstairs; Balloted places,"--but then I
returned to my counters, and discovered, by reading also, that I must
present myself at the larger for unreserved central seats. It was
occupied so densely in front just now that it was hopeless to dream of
an approach or appeal; I could never scale that human wall. I
retreated again to the neighborhood of the smaller compartment, and
was fascinated to watch the swarming faces. Now a stream poured down
the staircase, all gentlemen, and most of them passed out, nodding and
laughing among themselves. Not all passed out. One or two strolled to
the inner doors and peeped through their glass halves, while others
gossiped in the entry. But one man came, and as I watched him, planted
himself against the counter I leaned upon,--the mart of the reserved
tickets. He did not buy any though, and I wondered why he did not, he
looked so easy, so at home there. Not that I saw his face, which was
turned from me; it struck me he was examining a clock there was up on
the staircase wall. I only noticed his boots, how bright they were,
and his speckled trousers, and that his hand, which hung down, was
very nicely covered with a doeskin glove.

Before he had made out the time, a number of the stones in the human
partition gave way at once,--in other words, I saw several chinks
between the loungers at the larger counter. I closer clasped my
sixpences, neatly folded in paper, and sped across the office. Now was
my hour. I was not quite so tall as to be able to look over and see
whom I addressed; nevertheless, I still spoke up.

I said, "If you please, sir, I wish to speak to you very particularly
about a ticket."

"Certainly," was the reply instantly thrown down upon me. "One guinea,
if you please."

"Sir, I wish to _speak_ about one, not to buy it just this minute; and
if you allow me to speak,"--I could not continue with the chance of
being heard, for two more stones had just thrust themselves in and hid
my chink; they nearly stifled me as it was, but I managed to escape,
and stood out clear behind. I stood out not to go, but to wait,
determined to apply again far more vigorously.

I listened to the rattling sovereigns as they dropped; and dearly I
longed for some of that money, though I never longed for money before
or since. Then suddenly reminded, I turned, to see whether that
noticeable personage had left the smaller counter. He was there. I
insensibly moved nearer to him,--so attractive was his presence. And
as I believe in various occult agencies and physical influences, I
hold myself to have been actually drawn towards him. He had a face
upon which it was life to look, so vivid was the intelligence it
radiated, so interesting was it in expression, and if not perfect, so
pure in outline. He was gazing at me too, and this, no doubt, called
out of me a glance all imploring, as so I felt, yea, even towards him,
for a spark of kindliest beam seemed to dart from under his strong
dark lashes, and his eyes woke up,--he even smiled just at the corners
of his small, but not thin lips. It was too much for me. I ran across,
and again took my stand beside him. I thought, and I still think, he
would have spoken to me instantly; but another man stepped up and
spoke to him. He replied in a voice I have always especially
affected,--calm, and very clear, but below tone in uttering remarks
not intended for the public. I did not hear a word. As soon as he
finished speaking, he turned and looked down upon me; and then he
said, "Can I do anything for you?"

I was so charmed with his frank address, I quite gasped for joy: "Sir,
I am waiting to speak to the man inside over there about my ticket."

"Shall I go across and get it?"

"Why, no, sir. I must speak to him--or if you would tell me about it."

"I will tell you anything; say on."

"Sir, I am very poor, and have not a guinea, but I shall have enough
in time, if you will let me buy one with the money I have brought, and
pay the rest by degrees."

I shall never forget the way he laid his hand on my shoulder and
turned me to the light,--to scrutinize my developments, I suspect; for
he stayed a moment or two before he answered, "I do think you look as
if you really wanted one, but I am afraid they will not understand
such an arrangement here."

"I _must_ go to the festival," I returned, looking into his eyes, "I
am so resolved to go; I will knock the door down if I cannot get a
ticket. Oh! I will sell my clothes, I will do anything. If you will
get me a ticket, sir, I will promise to pay you, and you can come and
ask my mother whether I ever break my word."

"I am sure you always keep it, or you would not love music so
earnestly; for you are very young to be so earnest," he responded,
still holding me by the arm, that thrilled beneath his kindly
pressure. "Will you go a little walk with me, and then I can better
understand you or what you want to do?"

"I won't go till I have got my ticket."

"You _cannot_ get a ticket, my poor boy; they are not so easily
disposed of. Why not ask your mother?"

"My sister as good as did; but my mother said it was too expensive."

"Did your mamma know how very much you wished it?"

"We do not say mamma, she does not like it; she likes 'liebe
Mutter.'"

"Ah! she is German. Perhaps she would allow you to go, if you told her
your great desire."

"No, sir; she told Lydia that it would put her out of pocket."

My new friend smiled at this.

"Now, just come outside; we are in the way of many people here, and I
have done my business since I saw that gentleman I was talking to when
you crept so near me."

"Did you know I wanted to come close to you, sir?"

"Oh, yes! and that you wanted to speak. I know the little violin
face."

These words transported me. "Oh! do you think I am like a violin? I
wish I were one going to the festival."

"Alas! in that sense you are not one, I fear."

I burst into tears; but I was very angry with myself, and noiselessly
put my whole face into my handkerchief as we moved to the door. Once
out in the street, the wind speedily dried these dews of my youth, and
I ventured to take my companion's hand. He glanced down at mine as it
passed itself into his, and I could see that he was examining it. I
had very pretty hands and nails,--they were my only handsome point; my
mother was very vain of them. I have found this out since I have grown
up.

"My dear little boy, I am going to do a very daring thing."

"What is that, sir?"

"I am going to run away with you; I am going to take you to my little
house, for I have thought of something I can only say to you in a
room. But if you will tell me your name, I will carry you safe home
afterwards, and explain everything to the 'liebe Mutter.'"

"Sir, I am so thankful to you that I cannot do enough to make you
believe it. I am Charles Auchester, and we live at No. 14 Herne
Street, at a red house with little windows and a great many steps up
to the door."

"I know the house, and have seen a beautiful Jewess at the window."

"Everybody says Millicent is like a Jewess. Sir, do you mind telling
me your name? I don't want to know it unless you like to tell it me."

"My name is not a very pretty one,--Lenhart Davy."[4]

"From David, I suppose?" I said, quickly. My friend looked at me very
keenly.

"You seem to think so at least."

"Yes, I thought you came from a Jew, like us,--partly, I mean.
Millicent says we ought to be very proud of it; and I think so too,
because it is so very ancient, and does not alter."

I perfectly well remember making this speech. Lenhart Davy laughed
quietly, but so heartily it was delightful to hear him.

"You are quite right about that. Come! will you trust me?"

"Oh! sir, I should like to go above all things, if it is not very
far,--I mean I must get back soon, or they will be frightened about
me."

"You _shall_ get back soon. I am afraid they are frightened now,--do
you think so? But my little house is on the way to yours, though you
would never find it out."

He paused, and we walked briskly forwards.

FOOTNOTE:

[4] Lenhart Davy is supposed by some to have been intended for
Ferdinand David, who was Mendelssohn's concert-meister at the
Gewandhaus in Leipsic and the teacher of Joachim and Wilhelmj. David
never was in England, however, and the resemblance is too remote to be
entertained.



CHAPTER IV.


Turning out of the market-place, a narrow street presented itself:
here were factories and the backs of houses. Again we threaded a
narrow turning: here was an outskirt of the town. It fronted a vast
green space; all building-ground enclosed this quiet corner, for only
a few small houses stood about. Here were no shops and no traffic. We
went on in all haste, and soon my guide arrested himself at a little
green gate. He unlatched it; we passed through into a tiny garden,
trim as tiny, pretty as trim, and enchantingly after my own way of
thinking. Never shall I forget its aspect,--the round bed in the
centre, edged with box as green as moss; the big rose-tree in the
middle of the bed, and lesser rose-trees round; the narrow gravel
walk, quite golden in the sun; the outer edge of box, and outer bed of
heaths and carnations and glowing purple stocks. But above all, the
giant hollyhocks, one on each side of a little brown door, whose
little latticed porch was arched with clematis, silvery as if
moonlight "Minatrost" were ever brooding upon that threshold.

I must not loiter here; it would have been difficult to loiter in
going about the garden, it was so unusually small, and the house, if
possible, was more diminutive. It had above the door two tiny casement
windows, only two; and as my guide opened the little door with a key
he brought out of his pocket, there was nothing to delay our entrance.
The passage was very narrow, but lightsome, for a door was open at
the end, peeping into a lawny kind of yard. No children were tumbling
about, nor was there any kitchen smell, but the rarest of all
essences, a just perceptible cleanliness,--not moisture, but
freshness.

We advanced to a staircase about three feet in width, uncarpeted, but
of a rich brown color, like chestnut skins; so also were the
balusters. About a dozen steps brought us to a proportionate
landing-place, and here I beheld two other little brown doors at
angles with one another. Lenhart Davy opened one of these, and led me
into a tiny room. Oh, what a tiny room! It was so tiny, so rare, so
curiously perfect that I could not help looking into it as I should
have done into a cabinet collection. The casements were uncurtained,
but a green silk shade, gathered at the top and bottom, was drawn
half-way along each. The walls were entirely books,--in fact, the
first thing I thought of was the book-houses I used to build of all
the odd volumes in our parlor closet during my quite incipient years.
But such books as adorned the sides of the little sanctum were more
suitable for walls than mine, in respect of size, being as they were,
or as far as I could see, all music-books, except in a stand between
the casements, where a few others rested one against another. There
was a soft gray drugget upon the floor; and though, of course, the
book-walls took up as much as half the room (a complete inner coat
they made for the outside shell), yet it did not strike me as poking,
because there was no heavy furniture, only a table, rather oval than
round, and four chairs; both chairs and table of the hue I had admired
upon the staircase,--a rich vegetable brown. On the table stood a
square inkstand of the same wood, and a little tray filled with such
odds as rubber, a penknife, sealing-wax, and a pencil. The wood of the
mantelshelf was the same tone, and so was that of a plain piano that
stood to the left of the fireplace, in the only nook that was not
books from floor to ceiling; but the books began again over the piano.
All this wood, so darkly striking the eye, had an indescribably
soothing effect (upon me I mean), and right glad was I to see Mr. Davy
seat himself upon a little brown bench before the piano and open it
carefully.

"Will you take off your hat for a minute or two, my dear boy?" he
asked, before he did anything else.

I laid the beaver upon the oval table.

"Now, tell me, can you sing at all?"

"Yes sir."

"From notes, or by ear?"

"A great deal by ear, but pretty well by notes."

"_From_ notes," he said, correctingly, and I laughed.

He then handed me a little book of chorales, which he fetched from
some out-of-the-way hole beneath the instrument. They were all German:
I knew some of them well enough.

"Oh, yes, I can sing these, I think."

"Try 'Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott.'[5] Can you sing alto?"

"I always do. Millicent says it is proper for boys."

He just played the opening chord _slentando_, and I began. I was
perfectly comfortable, because I knew what I was about, and my voice,
as a child's, was perfect. I saw by his face that he was very much
surprised, as well as pleased. Then he left me alone to sing another,
and then a third; but at last he struck in with a bass,--the purest,
mellowest, and most unshaken I have ever heard, though not strong;
neither did he derange me by a florid accompaniment he made as we went
along. When I concluded the fourth, he turned, and took my hand in
his.

"I knew you could do something for music, but I had no idea it would
be so very sweetly. I believe you will go to the festival, after all.
You perceive I am very poor, or perhaps you do not perceive it, for
children see fairies in flies. But look round my little room. I have
nothing valuable except my books and my piano, and those I bought with
all the money I had several years ago. I dare say you think my house
is pretty. Well, it was just as bare as a barn when I came here six
months ago. I made the shelves (the houses for my precious books) of
deal, and I made that table, and the chairs, and this bench, of deal,
and stained each afterwards; I stained my shelves too, and my piano. I
only tell you this that you may understand how poor I am. I cannot
afford to give you one of these tickets, they are too dear, neither
have I one myself; but if your mother approves, and you like it, I
believe I can take you with me to sing in the chorus."

This was too much for me to bear without some strong expression or
other. I took my hat, hid my face in it, and then threw my arms round
Lenhart Davy's neck. He kissed me as a young father might have done,
with a sort of pride, and I was able to perceive he had taken an
instant fancy to me. I did not ask him whether he led the chorus, nor
what he had to do with it, nor what I should have to do; but I begged
him joyously to take me home directly. He tied on my hat himself, and
I scampered all the way downstairs and round the garden before he
came out of his shell. He soon followed after me, smiling; and though
he asked me no curious question as we went along, I could tell he was
nervous about something. We walked very fast, and in little less than
an hour from the time I left home, I stood again upon the threshold.

FOOTNOTE:

[5] Martin Luther's chorale, "A mighty fortress is our God."



CHAPTER V.


Of all the events of that market-day, none moved me more enjoyably
than the sight of the countenances, quite petrified with amazement, of
my friends in the parlor. They were my three sisters. Clo came forward
in her bonnet, all but ready for a sortie; and though she bowed
demurely enough, she began at me very gravely,--

"Charles, I was just about to set out and search for you. My mother
has already sent a servant. She herself is quite alarmed, and has gone
upstairs."

Before I could manage a reply, or introduce Lenhart Davy, he had drawn
out his card. He gave it to the "beautiful Jewess." Millicent took it
calmly, though she blushed, as she always did when face to face with
strangers, and she motioned him to the sofa. At this very instant my
mother opened the door.

It would not be possible for me to recover that conversation, but I
remember how very refined was the manner, and how amiably deferential
the explanation of my guide, as he brought out everything smooth and
apparent even to my mother's ken. Lydia almost laughed in his
presence, she was so pleased with him, and Millicent examined him
steadfastly with her usually shrinking gray eyes. My mother, I knew,
was displeased with me, but she even forgave me before he had done
speaking. His voice had in it a quality (if I may so name it) of
brightness,--a metallic purity when raised; and the heroic particles
in his blood seemed to start up and animate every gesture as he spoke.
To be more explicit as to my possibilities, he told us that he was in
fact a musical professor, though with little patronage in our town,
where he had only a few months settled; that for the most part he
taught, and preferred to teach, in classes, though he had but just
succeeded in organizing the first. That his residence and connection
in our town were authorized by his desire to discover the maximum
moral influence of music upon so many selected from the operative
ranks as should enable him by inference to judge of its moral power
over those same ranks in the aggregate. I learned this afterwards, of
course, as I could not apprehend it then; but I well recall that his
language, even at that time, bound me as by a spell of conviction, and
I even appreciated his philanthropy in exact proportion to his
personal gifts.

He said a great deal more, and considerably enlarged upon several
points of stirring musical interest, before he returned to the article
of the festival. Then he told us that his class would not form any
section of the chorus, being a private affair of his own, but that he
himself should sing among the basses, and that it being chiefly
amateur, any accumulation of the choral force was of consequence. He
glanced expressly at my mother when he said,--

"I think your little boy's voice and training would render him a very
valuable vote for the altos, and if you will permit me to take charge
of him at the rehearsals, and to exercise him once or twice alone, I
am certain Mr. St. Michel will receive him gladly."

"Is Mr. St. Michel the conductor, Mr. Davy, then?" replied my mother
with kindness. "I remember seeing him in Germany when a little
theatre was opened in our village. I was a girl then, and he very
young."

"Yes, madam. Application was made to the wonderful Milans-André, who
has been delighting Europe with his own compositions interpreted by
himself; but he could not visit England at present, so St. Michel will
be with us, as on former occasions. And he is a good conductor, very
steady, and understands rehearsal."

Let me here anticipate and obviate a question. Was not my mother
afraid to trust me in such a mixed multitude, with men and women her
inferiors in culture and position? My mother had never trusted me
before with a stranger, but I am certain, at this distance of time,
she could not resist the pure truthfulness and perfect breeding of
Lenhart Davy, and was forced into desiring such an acquaintance for
me. Perhaps, too, she was a little foolish over her last-born, for she
certainly did indulge me in a quiet way, and with a great show of
strictness.

As Lenhart Davy paused, she first thanked him, then rang the bell, was
silent until she had ordered refreshments, sat still even then a few
minutes, and presently uttered a deliberate consent. I could not bear
it. I stood on one foot for an instant behind Clo's chair, and then
flung myself into the passage. Once upstairs, I capered and danced
about my mother's bed-room until fairly exhausted, and then I lay down
on my own bed, positively in my coat and boots, and kicked the clothes
into a heap, until I cried. This brought me to, and I remembered with
awe the premises I had invaded. I darted to my feet, and was occupied
in restoring calm as far as possible to the tumbled coverlid, when I
was horrified at hearing a step. It was only Millicent, with tears in
her good eyes.

"I am so glad for you, Charles," she said; "I hope you will do
everything in your power to show how grateful you are."

"I will be grateful to everybody," I answered. "But do tell me, is he
gone?"

"Dear Charles, do not say '_he_' of such a man as Mr. Davy."

Now, Millicent was but seventeen; still, she had her ideas, girlishly
chaste and charming, of what men ought to be.

"I think he is lovely," I replied, dancing round and round her, till
she seized my hands.

"Yes, Mr. Davy is gone; but he is kindly coming to fetch you
to-morrow, to drink tea with him, and mother has asked him to dine
here on Sunday. He showed her a letter he has from the great John
Andernach, because mother said she knew him, and she says Mr. Davy
must be very good, as well as very clever, from what Mr. Andernach has
written."

"I know he is good! Think of his noticing _me_! I knew I should go! I
said I would go!" and I pulled my hands away to leap again.

The old windows rattled, the walls shook, and in came Clo.

"Charles, my mother says if you do not keep yourself still, she will
send a note after Mr. Davy. My dear boy, you must come and be put to
rights. How rough your head is! What have you been doing to make it
so?" and she marched me off. I was quelled directly, and it was indeed
very kind of them to scold me, or I should have ecstasized myself ill.

It was hard work to get through that day, I was so impatient for the
next; but Millicent took me to sing a little in the evening, and I
believe it sent me to sleep. I must mention that the festival was to
last three days. There were to be three grand morning performances and
three evening concerts; but my mother informed me she had said she did
not like my being out at night, and that Lenhart Davy had answered,
the evening concerts were not free of entrance to him, as there was to
be no chorus, so he could not take me. I did not care; for now a new
excitement, child of the first and very like its parent, sprang within
my breast. To sing myself,--it was something too grand; the veins
glowed in my temples as I thought of my voice, so small and thin,
swelling in the cloud of song to heaven: my side throbbed and
fluttered. To go was more than I dared to expect; but to be necessary
to go was more than I deserved,--it was glory.

I gathered a few very nice flowers to give Lenhart Davy, for we had a
pretty garden behind the house, and also a bit of a greenhouse, in
which Millicent kept our geraniums all the winter. She was tying up
the flowers for me with green silk when he knocked at the door, and
would not come in, but waited for me outside. Amiable readers,
everybody was old-fashioned twenty years ago,[6] and many somebodies
took tea at five o'clock. Admirable economy of social life, to eat
when you hunger, and to drink when you thirst! But it is polite to
invent an appetite for made-dishes, so we complain not that we dine at
eight nowadays; and it is politic too, for complexions are not what
they used to be, and maiden heiresses, with all their thousands,
cannot purchase Beauty Sleep! Pardon my digression while Davy is
waiting at the door. I did not keep him so long, be certain. We set
out. He was very much pleased with my flowers, and as it was rather a
chilly afternoon, he challenged me to a race. We ran together, he
striding after me like a child himself in play, and snapping at my
coat; I screamed all the while with exquisite sensation of pleasurable
fun. Then I sped away like a hound, and still again he caught me and
lifted me high into the air. Such buoyancy of spirits I never met
with, such fluency of attitude; I cannot call them or their effect
animal. It was rather as if the bright wit pervaded the bilious
temperament, almost misleading the physiologist to name it nervous. I
have never described Lenhart Davy, nor can I; but to use the keener
words of my friend Dumas, he was one of the men the most "significant"
I ever knew.

FOOTNOTE:

[6] This would make the romance open in the year 1833.



CHAPTER VI.


Arrived at his house,--that house, just what a house should be, to the
purpose in every respect,--I flew in as if quite at home. I was rather
amazed that I saw no woman-creature about, nor any kind of servant.
The door at the end of the passage was still open; I still saw out
into the little lawny yard, but nobody was stirring. "The house was
haunted!"

I believe it,--by a choir of glorious ghosts!

"Dear alto, you will not be alarmed to be locked in with me, I hope,
will you?"

"Frightened, sir? Oh, no, it is delicious." I most truly felt it
delicious. I preceded him up the staircase,--he remaining behind to
lock the little door. I most truly felt it delicious. Allow me again
to allude to the appetite. I was very hungry, and when I entered the
parlor I beheld such preparation upon the table as reminded me it is
at times satisfactory as well as necessary to eat and drink. The brown
inkstand and company were removed, and in their stead I saw a little
tray, of an oval form, upon which tray stood the most exquisite
porcelain service for two I have ever seen. The china was small and
very old,--I knew that, for we were rather curious in china at home;
and I saw how very valuable these cups, that cream-jug, those plates
must be. They were of pearly clearness, and the crimson and purple
butterfly on each rested over a sprig of honeysuckle entwined with
violets.

"Oh, what beautiful china!" I exclaimed; I could not help it, and
Lenhart Davy smiled.

"It was a present to me from my class in Germany."

"Did you have a class, sir, in Germany?"

"Only little boys, Charlie, like myself."

"Sir, did you teach when you were a little boy?"

"I began to teach before I was a great boy, but I taught only little
boys then."

He placed me in a chair while he left the room for an instant. I
suppose he entered the next, for I heard him close at hand. Coming
back quickly, he placed a little spirit-lamp upon the table, and a
little bright kettle over it; it boiled very soon. He made such
tea!--I shall never forget it; and when I told him I very seldom had
tea at home, he answered, "I seldom drink more than one cup myself;
but I think one cannot hurt even such a nervous person as you
are,--and besides, tea improves the voice,--did you know that?"

I laughed, and drew my chair close to his. Nor shall I ever forget the
tiny loaves, white and brown, nor the tiny pat of butter, nor the
thin, transparent biscuits, crisp as hoar-frost, and delicate as if
made of Israelitish manna. Davy ate not much himself, but he seemed
delighted to see me eat, nor would he allow me to talk.

"One never should," said he, "while eating."

Frugal as he was, he never for an instant lost his cheery smile and
companionable manner, and I observed he watched me very closely. As
soon as I had gathered up and put away my last crumb, I slipped out of
my chair, and pretended to pull him from his seat.

"Ah! you are right, we have much to do."

He went out again, and returned laden with a wooden tray, on which he
piled all the things and carried them downstairs. Returning, he
laughed and said,--

"I must be a little put out to-night, as I have a visitor, so I shall
not clear up until I have taken you home."

"My mother is going to send for me, sir; but I wish I might help you
now."

"I shall not need help,--I want it at least in another way. Will you
now come here?"

We removed to the piano. He took down from the shelves that
overshadowed it three or four volumes in succession. At length,
selecting one, he laid it upon the desk and opened it. I gazed in
admiration. It was a splendid edition, in score, of Pergolesi's
"Stabat Mater." He gathered from within its pages a separate
sheet--the alto part, beautifully copied--and handed it to me, saying,
"I know you will take care of it." So I did. We worked very hard, but
I think I never enjoyed any exercise so much. He premised, with a
cunning smile, that he should not let me run on at that rate if I had
not to be brushed up all in a hurry; but then, though I was ignorant,
I was apt and very ardent. I sang with an entire attention to his
hints; and though I felt I was hurrying on too fast for my
"understanding" to keep pace with my "spirit," yet I did get on very
rapidly in the mere accession to acquaintance with the part. We
literally rushed through the "Stabat Mater," which was for the first
part of the first grand morning, and then, for the other, we began the
"Dettingen Te Deum." I thought this very easy after the "Stabat
Mater," but Davy silenced me by suggesting, "You do not know the
difficulty until you are placed in the choir." Our evening's practice
lasted about two hours and a half. He stroked my hair gently then, and
said he feared he had fatigued me. I answered by thanking him with all
my might, and begging to go on. He shook his head.

"I am afraid we have done too much now. This day week the
'Creation,'--that is for the second morning; and then, Charles, then
the 'Messiah,'--last and best."

"Oh, the 'Messiah'! I know some of the songs,--at least, I have heard
them. And are we to hear that? and am I to sing in 'Hallelujah'?" I
had known of it from my cradle; and loving it _before_ I heard it, how
did I feel for it when it was to be brought so near me? I think that
this oratorio is the most beloved of any by children and child-like
souls. How strangely in it all spirits take a part!

Margareth, our ancient nurse, came for me at half-past eight. She was
not sent away, but Davy would accompany us to our own door. Before I
left his house, and while she was waiting in the parlor, he said to
me, "Would you like to see where I sleep?" and called me into the most
wonderful little room. A shower-bath filled one corner; there was a
great closet one whole side, filled with every necessary exactly
enough for one person. The bed was perfectly plain, with no curtains
and but a head-board, a mattress, looking as hard as the ground, and a
very singular portrait, over the head, of a gentleman, in
line-engraving, which does not intellectualize the contour. This
worthy wore a flowing wig and a shirt bedecked with frills.

"That is John Sebastian Bach," said Lenhart Davy,--"at least, they
told me so in Dresden. I keep it because it _means_ to be he."

"Ah!" I replied; for I had heard the jaw-breaking name, which is
dearer to many (though they, alas! too few, are scattered) than the
sound of Lydian measures.



CHAPTER VII.


If I permit myself to pay any more visits to the nameless cottage, I
shall never take myself to the festival; but I must just say that we
entertained Davy the next Sunday at dinner. I had never seen my mother
enjoy anybody's society so much; but I observed he talked not so much
as he listened to her, and this may have been the secret. He went very
early, but on the Tuesday he fetched me again. It was not in vain that
I sang this time either,--my voice seemed to deliver itself from
something earthly; it was joy and ease to pour it forth.

When we had blended the bass and alto of the "Creation" choruses, with
a long spell at "The heavens are telling," Davy observed, "Now for the
'Messiah,' but you will only be able to look at it with me; to-morrow
night is rehearsal at the hall, and your mother must let you go."
Rehearsal at the hall! What words were those? They rang in my brain
that night, and I began to grow very feverish. Millicent was very kind
to me; but I was quite timid of adverting to my auspices, and I dared
not introduce the subject, as none of them could feel as I did. My
mother watched me somewhat anxiously,--and no wonder; for I was very
much excited. But when the morrow came, my self-importance made a man
of me, and I was calmer than I had been for days.

I remember the knock which came about seven in the evening, just as it
was growing gray. I remember rushing from our parlor to Lenhart Davy
on the doorstep. I remember our walk, when my hands were so cold and
my heart was so hot, so happy. I remember the pale, pearly shade that
was falling on street and factory, the shop-lit glare, the mail-coach
thundering down High Street. I remember how I felt entering, from the
dim evening, the chiaro-oscuro of the corridors, just uncertainly
illustrated by a swinging lamp or two; and I remember passing into the
hall. Standing upon the orchestra, giddy, almost fearful to fall
forwards into the great unlighted chaos, the windows looked like
clouds themselves, and every pillar, tier, and cornice stood dilated
in the unsubstantial space. Lenhart Davy had to drag me forwards to my
nook among the altos, beneath the organ, just against the conductor's
desk. The orchestra was a dream to me, filled with dark shapes,
flitting and hurrying, crossed by wandering sounds, whispers, and
laughter. There must have been four or five hundred of us up there,
but it seems to me like a lampless church, as full as it could be of
people struggling for room.

Davy did not lose his hold upon me, but one and another addressed him,
and flying remarks reached him from every quarter. He answered in his
hilarious voice; but his manner was decidedly more distant than to me
when alone with him. At last some one appeared at the foot of the
orchestra steps with a taper; some one or other snatched it from him,
and in a moment a couple of candles beamed brightly from the
conductor's desk. It was a strange, candle-light effect then. Such
great, awful shadows threw themselves down the hall, and so many faces
seemed darker than they had, clustered in the glooming twilight.
Again some hidden hand had touched the gas, which burst in tongues of
splendor that shook themselves immediately over us; _then_ was the
orchestra a blaze defined as day. But still dark, and darkening, like
a vast abyss, lay the hall before us; and the great chandelier was
itself a blot, like a mystery hung in circumambient nothingness.

I was lost in the light around me, and striving to pierce into that
mystery beyond, when a whisper thrilled me: "Now, Charles, I must
leave you. You are Mr. Auchester at present. Stand firm and sing on.
Look alone at the conductor, and think alone of your part. Courage!"
What did he say "courage" for? As if my heart could fail me then and
there!

I looked steadfastly on. I saw the man of many years' service in the
cause of music looking fresh as any youth in the heyday of his primal
fancy. A white-haired man, with a patriarchal staff besides, which he
struck upon the desk for silence, and then raised, in calm, to dispel
the silence.

I can only say that my head swam for a few minutes, and I was obliged
to shut my eyes before I could tell whether I was singing or not. I
was very thankful when somebody somewhere got out as a fugue came in,
and we were stopped, because it gave me a breathing instant. But then
again, breathless,--nerveless, I might say, for I could not
distinguish my sensations,--we rushed on, or I did, it was all the
same; I was not myself yet. At length, indeed, it came, that restoring
sense of self which is so precious at some times of our life. I
recalled exactly where I was. I heard myself singing, felt myself
standing; I was as if treading upon air, yet fixed as rock. I arose
and fell upon those surges of sustaining sound; but it was as with an
undulating motion itself rest. My spirit straightway soared. I could
imagine my own voice, high above all the others, to ring as a lark's
above a forest, tuneful with a thousand tones more low, more hidden;
the attendant harmonies sank as it were beneath me; I swelled above
them. It was my first idea of paradise.

And it is perhaps my last.

Let me not prose where I should, most of all, be poetical. The
rehearsal was considered very successful. St. Michel praised us. He
was a good old man, and, as Davy had remarked, very steady. There was
a want of unction about his conducting, but I did not know it,
certainly not feel it, that night. The "Messiah" was more hurried
through than it should have been, because of the late hour, and also
because, as we were reminded, "it was the most generally known."
Besides, there was to be a full rehearsal with the band before the
festival, but I was not to be present, Davy considerately deeming the
full effect would be lost for me were it in any sense to be
anticipated.

I feel I should only fail if I should attempt to delineate my
sensations on the first two days of performance, for the single reason
that the third morning of that festival annihilated the others so
effectually as to render me only master at this moment of its
unparalleled incidents. _Those_ I bear on my heart and in my life even
to this very hour, and shall take them with me, yea, as a part of my
essential immortality.



CHAPTER VIII.


The second night I had not slept so well as the first, but on the
third morning I was, nathless, extraordinarily fresh. I seemed to have
lived ages, but yet all struck me in perfect unison as new. I was only
too intensely happy as I left our house with Davy, he having
breakfasted with us.

He was very much pleased with my achievements. I was very much pleased
with everything; I was saturated with pleasure. That day has lasted
me--a light--to this. Had I been stricken blind and deaf afterwards, I
ought not to have complained,--so far would my happiness, in degree
and nature, have outweighed any other I can imagine to have fallen to
any other lot. Let those who endure, who rejoice, alike pure in
passion, bless God for the power they possess--innate, unalienable,
intransferable--of suffering all they feel.

I shall never forget that scene. The hall was already crowded when we
pressed into our places half an hour before the appointed
commencement. Every central speck was a head; the walls were pillared
with human beings; the swarm increased, floating into the reserved
places, and a stream still poured on beneath the gallery.

As if to fling glory on music not of its own, it was a most splendid
day,--the finest, warmest, and serenest we had had for weeks. Through
the multitudinous panes the sky was a positive blaze of blue; the
sunshine fell upon the orchestra from the great arched window at the
end of the vaulted building, and through that window's purple and
orange border radiated gold and amethyst upon the countenances of the
entering crowd. The hands of the clock were at the quarter now; we in
the chorus wondered that St. Michel had not come. Again they moved,
those noiseless hands, and the "tongue" of iron told eleven. We all
grew anxious. Still, as all the clocks in the town were not alike, we
might be the mistaken ones by ours. It now struck eleven, though, from
the last church within our hearing, and there was not yet St. Michel.
We were all in the chorus fitted in so nicely that it would have been
difficult for some to get out, or if out, impossible to get in. They
were all in the orchestra placed as closely as possible, amidst a
perfect grove of music-stands. The reserved seats were full, the
organist was seated, the score lay wide open upon the lofty desk; but
St. Michel did not come!

I shall never forget how we wearied and wondered, and how I, at least,
racked myself, writhed, and agonized. The door beneath the orchestra
was shut, but every instant or two a hand turned the lock outside; one
agitated face peeped in, then another, but were immediately withdrawn.
I scarcely suppose the perfect silence lasted three minutes; it was
like an electrical suspension, and as quickly snapped. The surcharging
spleen of the audience began to break in a murmuring, humming, and
buzzing, from centre to gallery. The confusion of forms and faces
became a perfect dream, it dazzled me dizzy, and I felt quite sick. A
hundred fans began to ply in the reserved seats, the gentlemen bent
over the ladies; the sound gathered strength and portentous
significance from the non-explanatory calm of the orchestra force;
but all eyes were turned, all chins lengthened, towards the orchestra
door. At precisely a quarter past eleven the door opened wide, and up
came a gentleman in a white waistcoat. He stood somewhere in front,
but he could not get his voice out at first. Oh, the hisses then! the
shouts! the execrations! But it was a musical assembly, and a few
cries of "Shame!" hushed the storm sufficiently to give our curiosity
vent.

The speaker was a member of the committee, and very woebegone he
looked. He had to say (and it was of course his painful duty) that the
unprecedented delay in the commencement of the performance was
occasioned by an inevitable and most unexpected accident. Mr. St.
Michel, in riding from his house a few miles out, had been thrown from
his horse at the corner of the market-place, and falling on his right
arm, had broken it below the elbow.

The suddenness of the event would account for the delay sufficiently;
all means at present were being employed to secure the services of an
efficient resident professor, and it was trusted he would arrive
shortly. Otherwise, should there among the enlightened audience be
present any professor able and willing to undertake the responsible
office of conductor _pro tempore_, the committee would feel--A
hurricane of noes tore up the rest of the sentence in contempt, and
flung it in the face of the gentleman in the white waistcoat. He still
stood. It was well known that not a hand could be spared from the
orchestra; but of course a fancy instantly struck me of Lenhart Davy.
I looked up wistfully at him, among the basses, and endeavored to
persuade him with my eyes to come down. He smiled upon me, and his eye
was kindled; otherwise he seemed determined to remain as he was. Davy
was very proud, though one of the most modest men I ever knew.

A fresh volley of hisses broke from the very heart of the hall. Still,
it did not circulate, though the confusion seemed increasing in the
centre; and it was at that very instant--before poor Merlington had
left his apologetic stand--that a form, gliding light, as if of air,
appeared hovering on the steps at the side of the orchestra.

It was a man at least, if not a spirit; but I had not seen where that
gliding form came from, with its light and stealthy speed.

Swift as a beam of morning he sprang up the steps, and with one hand
upon the balustrade bowed to the audience. In a moment silence seemed
to mantle upon the hall.

He stood before the score, and as he closed upon the time-stick those
pointed fingers, he raised his eyes to the chorus, and then let them
fall upon the band. Those piercing eyes recalled us. Every hand was on
the bow, every mouthpiece lifted. There was still silence, but we
"heard" no "voice." He raised his thin arm: the overture began. The
curiosity of the audience had dilated with such intensity that all who
had been standing, still stood, and not a creature stirred. The calm
was perfect upon which the "Grave" broke. It was not interpretation
alone, it was inspiration. All knew that "Grave," but few had heard it
as it had been spoken that day. It was _then_ a heard voice,--"a voice
from heaven." There seemed not a string that was not touched by fire.

The tranquil echo of the repeat enabled me to bear it sufficiently to
look up and form some notion of him on whom so much depended. He was
slight, so slight that he seemed to have grown out of the air. He was
young, so young that he could not have numbered twenty summers; but
the heights of eternity were far-shadowed in the forehead's marble
dream.

A strange transparency took the place of bloom upon that face of
youth, as if from temperament too tender, or blood too rarefied; but
the hair betrayed a wondrous strength, clustering in dark curls of
excessive richness. The pointed fingers were pale, but they grasped
the time-stick with an energy like naked nerve.

But not until the violins woke up, announcing the subject of the
allegro, did I feel fully conscious of that countenance absolved from
its repose of perfection by an excitement itself divine.

It would exhaust thought no less than words to describe the aspect of
music, thus revealed, thus presented. I was a little child then, my
brain was unused to strong sensation, and I can only say I remembered
not how he looked after all was over. The intense impression
annihilated itself, as a white, dazzling fire struck from a smith's
anvil dies without ashy sign. I have since learned to discover, to
adore, every express lineament of that matchless face; but then I was
lost in gazing, in a spiritual, ebbless excitement,--then I was
conscious of the composition that he had made one with himself, that
became one with him.

The fire with which he led, the energy, the speed, could only have
been communicated to an English orchestra by such accurate force. The
perfection with which the conductor was endued must surely have passed
electrically into every player,--there fell not a note to the ground.
Such precision was wellnigh oppressive; one felt some hand must drop.

From beginning to end of the allegro not a disturbing sound arose
throughout the hall; but on the closing chord of the overture there
burst one deep toll of wonderful applause. I can only call it a
"toll;" it was simultaneous. The conductor looked over his shoulder,
and slightly shook his head. It was enough, and silence reigned as the
heavenly sympathy of the recitative trembled from the strings
surcharged with fire. Here it was as if he whispered "Hush!" for the
sobbing staccato of the accompaniment I never heard so low,--it was
silvery, almost awful. The bâton stirred languidly, as the stem of a
wind-swept lily, in those pointed fingers.

Nor would he suffer any violence to be done to the solemn brightness
of the aria. It was not until we all arose that he raised his arm, and
impetuously, almost imperiously, fixed upon us his eyes. He glanced
not _a moment_ at the score, he never turned a leaf, but he urged the
time majestically, and his rapturous beauty brightened as the voices
firmly, safely, swelled over the sustaining chords, launched in glory
upon those waves of sound.

I almost forgot the festival. I am not certain that I remember who I
was, or where I was, but I seemed to be singing at every pore. I
seemed pouring out my life instead of my voice; but the feeling I had
of being irresistibly borne along was so transporting that I can
conceive of nothing else like it, until after death.



CHAPTER IX.


The chorus, I learned afterwards, was never recalled, so proudly true,
so perfect, so flexible; but it was not only not difficult to keep in,
it was impossible to get out. So every one said among my choral
contemporaries afterwards.

I might recall how the arias told, invested with that same charm of
subdued and softened fulness; I might name each chorus, bent to such
strength by a might scarcely mortal: but I dare not anticipate my
after acquaintance with a musician who, himself supreme, has alone
known how to interpret the works of others. I will merely advert to
the extraordinary calm that pervaded the audience during the first
part.

Tremendous in revenge, perfectly tremendous, was the uproar between
the parts, for there was a pause and clearance for a quarter of an
hour. I could not have moved for some moments if I had wished it; as
it was, I was nearly pressed to death. Everybody was talking; a clamor
filled the air. I saw Lenhart Davy afar off, but he could not get to
me. He looked quite white, and his eyes sparkled. As for me, I could
not help thinking the world was coming to an end, so thirsty I felt,
so dry, so shaken from head to foot. I could scarcely feel the ground,
and I could not lift my knees, they were so stiff.

But still with infatuation I watched the conductor, though I suffered
not my eyes to wander to his face; I dared not look at him, I felt too
awful. He was suddenly surrounded by gentlemen, the members of the
committee. I knew they were there, bustling, skurrying, and I listened
to their intrusive tones. As the chorus pressed by me I was obliged to
advance a little, and I heard, in a quiet foreign accent, delicate as
clear, these words: "Nothing, thank you, but a glass of pure water."

Trembling, hot, and dizzy, almost mad with impatience, I pushed
through the crowd; it was rather thinner now, but I had to drive my
head against many a knot, and when I could not divide the groups I
dived underneath their arms. I cannot tell how I got out, but I
literally leaped the stairs; in two or three steps I cleared the
gallery. Once in the refreshment room, I snatched a glass jug that
stood in a pail filled with lumps of ice, and a tumbler, and made away
with them before the lady who was superintending that table had turned
her head. I had never a stumbling footstep, and though I sprang back
again, I did not spill a drop. I knew the hall was half empty, so
taking a short way that led me into it, I came to the bottom of the
orchestra. I stood the tumbler upon a form, and filling it to the
brim, left the beaker behind me and rushed up the orchestra stairs.

He was still there, leaning upon the score, with his hands upon his
face, and his eyes hidden. I advanced very quietly, but he heard me,
and without raising himself from the desk, let his hands fall,
elevated his countenance, and watched me as I approached him.

I trembled so violently then, taken with a fresh shudder of
excitement, that I could not lift the tumbler to present it. I saw a
person from the other side advancing with a tray, and dreading to be
supplanted, I looked up with desperate entreaty. The unknown
stretched his arm and raised the glass, taking it from me, to his
lips. Around those lips a shadowy half-smile was playing, but they
were white with fatigue or excitement, and he drank the water
instantly, as if athirst.

Then he returned to me the glass, empty, with a gentle but absent air,
paused one moment, and now, as if restored to himself, fully regarded
me, and fully smiled.

Down-gazing, those deep-colored eyes upon me seemed distant as the
stars of heaven; but there was an almost pitying sweetness in his tone
as he addressed me. I shall never forget that tone, nor how my eyelids
quivered with the longing want to weep.

"It was very refreshing," he said. "How much more strengthening is
water than wine! Thank you for the trouble you took to fetch it. And
you, you sang also in the chorus. It was beautifully done."

"May I tell them so, sir?" I asked him, eagerly, without being able to
help speaking in _some_ reply.

"Yes, every one; but above all, the little ones;" and again he faintly
smiled.

Then he turned to the score, and drooping over the desk, seemed to
pass back into himself, alone, by himself companioned. And in an agony
of fear lest I should intrude for a moment even, I sped as fast as I
had entered from his mysterious presence.

To this hour I cannot find in my memory the tone in which he spoke
that day. Though I have heard that voice so often since, have listened
to it in a trance of life, I can never realize _it_,--it was too
unearthly, and became part of what I shall be, having distilled from
the essence of my being, as I am.

Well, I came upon Lenhart Davy in one of the passages as I was running
back. I fell, in fact, against him, and he caught me in his arms.

"Charles Auchester, where have you been? You have frightened me
sorely. I thought I had lost you, I did indeed, and have been looking
for you ever since we came out of the hall."

As soon as I could collect enough of myself to put into words, I
exclaimed ecstatically, "Oh, Mr. Davy! I have been talking to the man
in the orchestra!"

"You have, indeed, you presumptuous atomy!" and he laughed in his own
way, adding, "I did not expect you would blow into an hero quite so
soon. And is our hero up there still? My dear Charles, you must have
been mistaken, he must be in the committee-room."

"No, I was not. The idea of my mistaking! as if anybody else could be
like him! He is up there now, and he would not come down, though they
asked him; and he said he would only drink a glass of water, and I
heard him, for I waited to see, and I fetched it, and he drank
it--there!" and I flung myself round Davy again, almost exhausted with
joy.

"And he spoke to you, did he, Charles? My own little boy, be still, or
I shall have to fetch _you_ a glass of water. I am really afraid of
all this excitement, for which you seem to come in naturally."

"So I do, Mr. Davy; but do tell me who is that man?"

"I cannot tell," said Davy, himself so flushed now that I could hardly
think him the same person, "unless, by some extraordinary chance, it
may be Milans-André."

"No, no!" exclaimed one of our contemporaries, who, in returning to
the orchestra, overheard the remark. "No, no! it is not Milans-André.
Mr. Hermann, the leader, has seen Milans-André in Paris. No, it is
some nobleman, they say,--a German prince. They all know Handel in
Germany."

"Nonsense!" replied Davy, "they don't know Handel better in Germany
than we do in England;" but he spoke as if to me, having turned from
the person who addressed him.

"Don't they, Mr. Davy? But he does look like a prince."

"Not a _German_ prince, my Charles. He is more like one of your
favorite Jews,--and that is where it is, no doubt."

"Davy, Davy!" exclaimed again another, one of the professors in the
town, "can it be Milans-André?"

"They say not, Mr. Westley. I do not know myself, but I should have
thought Monsieur André must be older than this gentleman, who does not
look twenty."

"Oh! he is more than twenty."

"As you please," muttered Davy, merrily, as he turned again to me. "My
boy, we must not stand here; we shall lose our old places. Do not
forget to remain in yours, when it is over, till I come to fetch you."

When it is over! Oh, cruel Lenhart Davy! to remind me that it would
ever end. I felt it cruel then, but perhaps I felt too much,--I always
do, and I hope I always shall.

Again marshalled in our places (I having crept to mine), and again
fitted in very tightly, we all arose. I suppose it was the oppression
of so many round me standing, superadded to the strong excitement, but
the whole time the chorus lasted, "Behold the Lamb of God!" I could
not sing. I stood and sobbed; but even then I had respect to Davy's
neatly copied alto sheet, and I only shaded my eyes with that, and
wept upon the floor. Nobody near observed me; they were all singing
with all their might; I alone dared to look down, ever down, and weep
upon the floor.

Such tears I never shed before; they were as necessary as dew after a
cloudless day, and, to pursue my figure, I awoke again at the
conclusion of the chorus to a deep, rapturous serenity, pure as
twilight, and gazed upwards at the stars, whose "smile was Paradise,"
with my heart again all voice.

I believe the chorus, "Lift up your heads!" will never again be heard
in England as it was heard then, and I am quite certain of the
"Hallelujah." It was as close, as clear, and the power that bound the
band alike constrained the chorus; both seemed freed from all
responsibility, and alone to depend upon the will that swayed, that
stirred, with a spell real as supernatural, and sweet as strange.

Perhaps the most immediate consequence of such faultless
interpretation was the remarkable stillness of the audience. Doubtless
a few there were who were calm in critical pique, but I believe the
majority dared not applaud, so decided had been the negative of that
graceful sign at the commencement of the performance; besides, a
breathless curiosity brooded, as distinctly to be traced in the
countenance of the crowd as in their thrilling quietude,--for
thrilling it was indeed, though not so thrilling as the outbreak, the
tempest out-rolling of pent-up satisfaction at the end of the final
chorus. That chorus (it was well indeed it was the last) seemed alone
to have exhausted the strength of the conductor; his arm suddenly
seemed to tire, he entirely relaxed, and the delicate but burning
hectic on each cheek alone remained, the seal of his celestial
passion.

He turned as soon as the applause, instead of decreasing, persisted;
for at first he had remained with his face towards the choir. As the
shouts still reached him, and the sea of heads began to fluctuate, he
bent a little in acknowledgment, but nevertheless preserved the same
air of indifference and abstraction from all about, beneath him.
Lingering only until the way was cleared below the orchestra steps, he
retreated down them even before the applause had ceased, and before
any one could approach him, without addressing any one, he left the
hall.

And of him nothing afterwards was heard,--I mean at that time. Not a
soul in the whole town had learned his name, and the hotel at which he
had slept the night before was in vain attacked by spies on every
errand. The landlord could only say what he knew himself,--that he was
a stranger who had visited the place for the purpose of attending the
festival, and who, having fulfilled that purpose, had left the city
unknown, unnamed, as he entered it.

I believe most children of my age would have had a fit of illness
after an excitement of brain and of body so peculiar; but perhaps had
I been less excited I should have been worse off afterwards. As it
was, the storm into which I had been wrought subsided of itself, and I
was the better for it,--just as Nature is said to be after her
disturbances of a similar description. Davy took me home, and then set
off to his own house, where he always seemed to have so much to do;
and all my people were very kind to me in listening, while I, more
calmly than any one would believe, expatiated upon our grand
adventure. I was extremely amused to see how astonished Clo was to
find me so reasonable; for her only fear had been, she informed my
mother, that Charles would not settle to anything for weeks if he were
allowed to go. And Millicent was very much astonished that I spoke so
little of the performance itself. I could only defend myself by
saying, "If you had seen him you would not wonder."

"Is he handsome, Charles?" said Lydia, innocently, with her brown eyes
fixed upon her thimble (which she held upon her finger, and was
shocked to perceive a little tarnished). I was so angry that I felt
myself turn quite sick; but I was good enough only to answer, "_You_
would not think so;" for so I believe. Millicent softly watched me,
and added, "Charlie means, I think, that it was a very beautiful
face."

"I do," I said bluntly; "I shall never see a beautiful face again. You
will never see one at all, as you have not seen _that_."

"Pity us then, Charles," replied Millicent, in her gentlest voice.

I climbed upon her lap. "Oh, no, dear! It is you who must pity me,
because you do not know what it is, and I do, and I have lost it."

Lydia lifted her eyes and made them very round; but as I was put to
bed directly, nobody heard any more of me that night.



CHAPTER X.


It was very strange, or rather it was just natural, that I should feel
so singularly low next day. I was not exactly tired, and I was not
exactly miserable. I was perfectly blank, like a sunless autumn day,
with no wind about. I lay very late in bed, and as I lay there I no
more believed the events of yesterday than if they had been a dream. I
was literally obliged to touch myself, my hair, my face, and the
bed-clothes before I could persuade myself that I was not myself a
dream. The cold bath restored me, into which I daily sprang, summer
and winter alike; but I grew worse again after breakfast.

Yearning to re-excite myself in some fashion, I marched into the
parlor and requested Clo to teach me as usual. There she was, in her
gray-silk gown, peering (with her short-sightedness) into Herodotus;
but though all my books were placed upon the table by her, I could
tell very easily that she had not expected me, and was very much
pleased I should come. Her approbation overcame me, and instead of
blotting my copy with ink, I used my tears. They were tears I could no
more have helped shedding than I could have helped breathing. Clo was
very kind, she looked at me solemnly, not severely, and solemnly
administered the consolation that they were the effect of excitement.
I did not think so; I thought they were the effect of a want of
excitement, but I said nothing to her.

I overcame them, and was quiet for the rest of the day, and for
several days; but imagine what I suffered when I saw no more of
Lenhart Davy. As the world in our house went on just the same as
before the festival, and as I had no hand in keeping the house so
charmingly, nor any part in committees for dinner, nor in pickling
speculations, I was fairly left to myself with my new discovery about
myself; namely, that I must be a musician, or I should perish.

Had I only seen Lenhart Davy, I could have told him all. I believe my
attraction towards him was irresistible, or I should never have
thought of him while he stayed away, it would have hurt me too much;
for I was painfully, may be vainly, sensitive. I was not able to
appreciate his delicacy of judgment, as well as feeling, in abstaining
from any further communication with us until we ourselves reminded him
of us. I had no hope; and the four or five days I have mentioned as
passing without his apparition seemed to annihilate my future. I quite
drooped, I could not help it; and my mother was evidently anxious. She
made me bring out my tongue a dozen times a day, and she continually
sighed, as if reproaching herself with something. How long it seemed!
quite four months, as I used to reckon. I never once alluded to
Lenhart Davy, but others did,--at least not Millicent, but Lydia and
my eldest sister. Lydia made the observation that perhaps he was too
modest to come without a special invitation; but Clo hurt me far more
by saying that he had no doubt better engagements elsewhere. On the
evening of the fifth day I was sitting upon the stool in the parlor by
the window, after tea, endeavoring to gather my wandering fancies to
"Simple Susan," her simple woes, pleasures, and loves (for Clo was
there, and I did not wish to be noticed), when Millicent came into
the room and said my mother wished to speak to me upstairs. I went out
with Millicent. "What does she want--I mean mother?" I inquired, no
doubt rather peevishly.

"She wants to ask you a question you will like to answer, Charles."

"Shall I?--what is it? I don't think I shall like to answer any
question. Oh, Millicent!" and I hid my small face in the folds of her
dark-blue frock.

"Come, Charles! you know I would not deceive you. Darling, you must
not feel so much."

And she stooped to kiss me, smiling, though the tears were in her
eyes. I still persisted in hiding my head, and when we reached the
door of the dressing-room, I went in crying. My mother sat in a great
white chair beside the fire; next her stood a small table covered with
hose,--the hose of the whole household.

"How, Charles! how now! Be a man, or at least a boy, or I am sure I
had better not ask you what I sent for you to answer. Come, say, would
you like to sing in Mr. Davy's class? You must not give up your old
lessons, nor must you forget to take great pains to write, to cipher,
and to read as well; but I think you are very fond of singing since
you found your voice, and Mr. Davy, to whom I wrote, says you can be
of use to him, and that he will be so very good as to teach you what
he teaches the others,--to understand what you sing."

Dear Millicent! I knew I owed it all to her, for there had been that
in her face, her manner, and her kind eyes that told me she had felt
for me in my desolation; and now as she stood apart from my mother and
me, I ran to her and told her so--that I knew it all. I will not dwell
upon the solicitude of Clo, lest I should become unmanageable in the
midst of my satisfaction, nor upon Lydia's amazement at my mother's
allowing me to join the class; but I well recollect how Millicent kept
fast by me, her will, as it were, upon mine, and her reminding
calmness ever possessing me, lest I should by my ecstatic behavior
forfeit my right to my new privileges. I was quite good enough,
though, in the general opinion, to be permitted to go, as arranged, on
the following Tuesday evening.

Lenhart Davy dined with us on Sunday, by special invitation, written
by my mother, conveyed by my Margareth. He told me that I must not
mistake his silence if he spoke not to me nor noticed me when he was
amidst his pupils. I perfectly understood even then how much depended
upon his sagacious self-dependence.

The class assembled from six till eight in the evening, twice a week;
the room Davy convoked it in was one he hired expressly. My mother
sent me with Margareth, who was to fetch me again at the expiration of
two hours,--at least during the winter, which was fast approaching.

And thus, had it not been for the festival, I should have been at once
initiated into "choral life."

Though, indeed, but for that glorious time, and my own fantastic
courage, first-fruit of a musical temperament, I had perhaps never
been taught to give that name where I can now bestow none other, so
completely has choral worship passed into my life.

When Margareth left me at the door of a house I had never
entered,--though I knew it well, for it was let out in auction-rooms,
for committees and the like,--I felt far more wild and lost than when
I attended the grand rehearsal hand in hand with Lenhart Davy. He was
my master, though,--I remembered this, and also that he expected a
great deal of me, for he had told me so, and that he had appointed me
a high place among the altos. I had my numbered ticket in my hand, and
upon it my name, and I showed it to a man who was standing above at
the top of the steep staircase. He looked at it, nodded, and pushed me
in.

The room was tolerably large and high, and lighted by gas-burners,
which fully illustrated the bareness of wall and floor and ceiling.
Accustomed to carpets in every chamber, nay, in every passage, I was
horrified to hear my own footfall upon the boards as I traversed the
backs of those raised forms, one above the other, full of people. Boys
and men, and women and girls, seemed all mixed up together, and all
watching me; for I was late, and quite dreamy with walking through the
twilight town. Several beckoning hands were raised as I inquired for
the place of the altos, and I took my seat just where a number, nailed
to the form, answered to the number on my ticket.



CHAPTER XI.


I was too satisfied to have found my way safely in, and too glad to
feel deposited somewhere, to gaze round me just then; but a door
opened with a creaking hinge on the ground floor below, and as perfect
in my eyes as ever, stepped forth Lenhart Davy and bowed to his whole
class. He carried a little time-stick in his hands, but nothing else;
and as he placed himself in front, immediately beneath the lowest
form, I was conscious, though I believe no one else present could be,
of the powerful control he had placed as a barrier between himself and
those before him,--between his active and his passive being.

He began to address us in his fine, easy tones, in language pure
enough for the proudest intellect, sufficiently simple for the least
cultured ear; and he spoke chiefly of what he had said the time
before, recapitulating, and pausing to receive questions or to elicit
answers. But all he said, whatever it was to others, was to me a
highly spiritual analysis of what most teachers endeavor to lower and
to explain away,--the mystery and integrity of the musical art.

He touched very lightly upon theory, but expounded sounds by signs in
a manner of his own, which it is not necessary to communicate, as its
results were those of no system whatever, but was applied by wisdom,
and enforced by gradual acquaintance.

We did not begin to sing for at least half an hour; but he then
unlocked a huge closet, drew forth an enormous board, and mapped
thereon in white chalk the exercises of his own preparation for our
evening's practice. These were pure, were simple, as his introductory
address.

As I have said, the class was only just organized, but it was not a
very small one; there must have been sixty or seventy present that
night. I was in the topmost row of altos, and as soon as we began to
sing I was irresistibly attracted to those about me; and to identify
them with their voices was for me a singular fascination. I was but
the fourth from the wall on my side, and a burner was directly above
me. I took advantage of the light to criticise the countenances of my
nearer contemporaries, who were all absorbed in watching our master's
evolutions. I could not look at him until I had acquainted myself with
my locality, as far as I could without staring, or being stared at.
Next the wall, two boys (so alike that they could only have been
brothers) nestled and bawled; they were dark-hued, yet sallow, and not
inviting. I concluded they came from some factory, and so they did;
but they did not please me enough to detain my attention,--they were
beneath my own grade. So was a little girl nearest to them and next to
me, but I could not help regarding her. She had the most imperturbable
gaze I ever met,--great eyes of a yellow hazel, with no more
expression in them than water; but her cheeks were brightly colored,
and her long auburn hair was curled to her waist.

An ease pervaded her that was more than elegance. She leaned and she
lounged, singing in a flexible voice, without the slightest effort,
and as carelessly as she looked. She wore a pink gingham frock, ill
made to a degree, but her slender figure moved in and out of it like a
reed; her hands were fitted into discolored light kid gloves, and she
had on an amber necklace. This alone would have disgusted me, if she
had not looked so unconcerned, so strange, and if I had not thought
her hair so very pretty; but I did, and, as I have said, I could not
avoid regarding her. She had her bonnet in her lap (a bruised muslin
one, with tumbled satin strings); and I was surveying it rather
closely, when she turned upon me and whispered loud, not low (and then
went on singing herself, instantly), "Why don't you sing?" Scared and
shocked, I drew myself away from her as far as possible, and moved my
eyes to my other neighbor. It was a girl too; but I instantly felt the
words "young lady" to be appropriate, though I knew not wherefore,
except that she was, as it were, so perfectly self-possessed. She must
be older than I am (it occurred to me), but I could not tell how much.
She was, in fact, about fourteen.

It was some relief to look upon her, after being attacked by the quick
little being on my right hand, because she seemed as utterly
indisposed to address me as the other had been determined. She did not
seem even to see me, nor give the least glance at anybody or anything,
except Lenhart Davy and his board. Upon them she fastened her whole
expression, and she sang with assiduous calmness. So, though I sang
too, fearing my friend would observe my silence, I turned quite
towards my young lady and watched her intensely,--she noticing me no
more than she would have noticed a fly walking upon the wall, or upon
Lenhart Davy's board. I was very fastidious then, whatever I may be
now, and I seldom gazed upon a face for the pleasure of seeing it. In
this instance I experienced a feeling beyond pleasure, so exquisitely
did the countenance beside me harmonize with something in myself. Not
strictly fine, nor severely perfect in outline or of hue, this sweet
face shone in glory not its own,--the most ardent musical intention
lay upon the eyes, the lips, the brow; and the deep lashes themselves
seemed born to shade from too much brightness a beholder like myself.

I thought her a young woman, and so she was, compared with my age, at
least; but my awe and her exaltation were measured by a distant
self-possession towards me, towards all. She was not dressed with much
more costliness than my wild little rebuker; but her plain black frock
fitted her beautifully, and her dark gloves, and the dark ribbon on
her hat, and her little round muff, satisfied me as to her gentle and
her womanly pretensions.

In linking these adjectives, you will realize one of my infatuations
wherever they are substantively found. Enough. I dared not leave off
singing, and my voice was rather strong, so I could not clearly decide
upon hers, until Davy wrote up a few intervals for unisons, which very
few of us achieved on the instant. My calm companion was among those
who did. Her voice was more touching than any I had ever heard, and a
true contralto; only more soft than deep, more distilling than low.
But unknowing as I was, I was certain she had sung, and had learned to
sing, long before she had joined the class; for in her singing there
was that purified quality which reminds one (it did me) of filtered
water, and she pronounced most skilfully the varied vocables. I felt
afterwards that she must have been annoyed at my pertinacious
scrutiny, but she betrayed not the remotest cognizance of me or my
regards; and this indifference compelled me to watch her far more than
sympathetic behavior would have done. That evening seemed long to me
while we were at work, but I could not bear the breaking-up. I had
become, as it were, connected with my companions, though we had not
exchanged a word. I was rather disposed to wait and see who would join
my little girl with her wild eyes, and my serene young lady. I believe
I should have done so, but Lenhart Davy kindly came up from below and
shook hands with me; and while I was receiving and returning his
greeting, they were lost in the general crowd.

He took me himself down stairs to Margareth, who was awaiting me with
a cloak and a comforter in a little unfurnished room; and then he
himself departed, looking very tired.



CHAPTER XII.


I did not see him again until the next class-night. It was strange to
find the same faces about me; and above all, my two heroines, dressed
exactly as on the first occasion, except that the pink frock was
rather less brilliant. I listened eagerly for those pure tones to
swell, communing with my own, and I was not disappointed. We did not
sing anything that I can specify at present; but it was more than
pleasure--it was vitality--to me to fling out my own buoyant notes far
and wide, supported, as it were, by an atmosphere of commingling
sounds. I suppose, therefore, that I may have been singing very loud
when the daring little head out of the muslin bonnet put itself into
my face and chanted, in strict attention to Davy's rules all the time,
"How beautifully you do sing!" I was hushed for the moment, and should
have been vexed if I had not been frightened; for I was ridiculously
timorous as a child.

She then brought from the crown of her bonnet a paper full of bonbons,
which she opened and presented to me. I replied very sharply, in a low
voice, "I don't eat while I am singing," and should have taken no more
notice of her; but she now raised upon me her large eyes to the full,
and still pushed the bonbon paper at me,--almost in my face too. I was
too well bred to push it away, but too honest not to say, when she
still persisted in offering the saccharine conglomeration, "I don't
like curl papers." The child turned from me with a fierce gesture,
but her eyes were now swimming in tears. I was astonished, angry,
melted. I at length reproached myself; and though I could not bring
myself to touch the colored chocolates, crumbled up as they had been
in her hand, I did condescend to whisper, "Never mind!" and she took
out her handkerchief to wipe her eyes.

Now, all this while my young lady took no heed, and I felt almost sure
she must have noticed us; but she did not turn to the large-eyed
maiden, and _I_ occupied myself with both. That night again Davy
joined me, and I only managed to catch a glimpse of the muslin
bonneted, holding her bonbons still in one dirty glove, and with the
other taking the hand of a huge, high-shouldered man, going out with
the crowd.

Oh, Davy was too deep for me, and delicate as deep! The next night of
our meeting my number was moved to the other side of my serene
neighbor, who at present divided me from the hazel eyes and the
ringlets. It never occurred to me that _he_ had done it; I thought it
to be a mistake, and fully intended, like a curious manikin, to go
back another time to my old quarters. I could not help looking at the
little one to see whether I was watched. But no; with a coquetry I was
too young to appreciate, and she ought to have been too young to
exercise, she sang with all her might, never once turning her eyes
towards me. I found at length the fascinations of our choral force too
strong not to submerge her slight individuality, and soon I forgot she
was there,--though I never forgot that serene voice breathing by my
side faint prophecies I could not render to myself in any form, except
that they had to do with myself, and with music alike my very own. I
do not think any musical taste was ever fed and fostered early in an
atmosphere so pure as mine; for Lenhart Davy's class, when fully
organized and entirely submitted to him, seemed invested with his own
double peculiarity,--subdued, yet strong. We were initiated this
evening into an ancient anthem, whose effect, when it was permitted to
us to interpret, was such that I could not repress my satisfaction,
and I said aloud, though I did not confront my companion, "That is
something like!" My serene contralto answered, strangely to my
anticipations, and with the superior womanliness I have ascribed to
her, "Is it not glorious?"

It was an anthem in the severe style, that tells so powerfully in
four-voiced harmony; and the parts were copied upon gigantic tablets
in front, against the wall that was Davy's background.

"I cannot see," said the other little creature, pulling the
contralto's black-silk gown.

"I am sorry for you," replied the other, "but I believe that you can
see, Laura, as well as I can; you mean you will not trouble yourself,
or that you are idle to-night."

"And what if I do? I hate those horrid hymn sort of tunes; they will
not be of any use to me."

"Silence!" uttered the voice of Lenhart Davy. There was seldom
occasion for him to say so, but just now there had been a pause before
we repeated the first movement of the anthem.

He told me he had a little leisure that evening, and would take me
home. I was enchanted, and fully meant to ask him to come in with me;
but I actually forgot it until after he had turned away. Margareth
reproved me very seriously; "Your sisters would have asked him in,
Master Charles, to supper." But the fact was, I had been occupied with
my own world too much. I had said to him directly we were in the
street, "Dear Mr. Davy, who are those two girls whose seats are the
nearest to mine?"

"They belong to the class like yourself, as you perceive, but they are
not persons you would be likely to meet anywhere else."

"Why not, sir? I should like to be friends with all the singers."

Davy smiled. "So you may be, in singing, and, I hope, will be; but
they are not all companions for you _out_ of the class. You know that
very well."

"I suppose, sir, you mean that some are poorer than we are, some not
so well brought up, some too old, and all that?"

"I did, certainly; but not only so. You had better not make too many
friends at your time of life,--rather too few than too many. Ask your
mother if I am not correct. You see, she has a right to expect that
you should love home best at present."

"I always should love _home_ best," I answered quickly; and I remember
well how Davy sighed.

"You mean what even every boy must feel, that you should like to make
a home for yourself; but the reward is after the race,--the victory at
the end of the struggle."

It appeared to me very readily that he here addressed something in his
own soul; for his voice had fallen. I urged, "I know it, sir; but do
tell me the names of those two girls,--I won't let them know you told
me."

He laughed long and heartily. "Oh! yes, willingly; you would soon have
heard their names, though. The little one is Laura Lemark, the child
of a person who has a great deal to do with the theatres in this town,
and she is training for a dancer, besides being already a singer in
the chorus at a certain theatre. Your mother would not like you to
visit her, you may be sure; and therefore you should not try to know
her. I placed you near her because she is the most knowing of all my
pupils, except Miss Benette,[7] the young person who sat next you this
evening."

"With the lovely voice? Oh! I should never know _her_ if I wished it."

"You need not wish it; but even if you did, she would never become
troublesome in any respect. She is too calm, too modest."

"And pray, tell me, sir, is she to be a dancer too?"

"No, oh, no! She will decidedly become one of the finest singers in
England, but I believe she will not go upon the stage."

"You call the theatre the stage, sir, don't you?"

"Yes, in this instance."

"But why won't she go upon the stage? Cannot she act?"

"She does not think she is called to it by any special gift."

"Did she say those words, sir?"

"Those very words."

"I thought she would just say them, sir. Does she know you very well?"

"She is my own pupil."

"Oh! out of the class, sir, I suppose?"

"Yes, I teach her in my house."

"Sir, I wish you taught me in your house."

"I should say, too, that I wished it," answered Davy, sweetly; "but
you have a sister to teach you at home, and Clara Benette has no one."

"I should like to have no one--to teach me, I mean,--if you would
teach me. If my mother said yes, would you, sir?"

"For a little while I would with pleasure."

"Why not long, sir? I mean, why only for a little while?"

"Because there are others of whom you ought to learn, and _will_
learn, I am persuaded," he added, almost dreamingly, as he turned me
to the moonlight, now overspread about us, and surveyed me seriously.
"The little violin-face,--you know, Charles, I cannot be mistaken in
those lines."

"I would rather sing, sir."

"Ah! that is because you have not tried anything else."

"But, sir, _you_ sing."

"I suppose that I must say, as Miss Benette does, 'I have a special
gift' that way," replied Davy, laughing.

"You have a special gift all the ways, I think, sir," I cried as I ran
into our house. I told Millicent all he had said, except that Laura
was to be a dancer; and yet I cannot tell why I left this out, for
there was that about her fairly repelling me, and at the same time I
felt as if exposed to some power through her, and could not restrain
myself from a desire to see her again. Millicent told my mother all
that I had said to _her_ the next morning at breakfast. My mother, who
had as much worldliness as any of us, and that was just none, was
mightily amused at my new interests. She could not make up her mind
about the private lessons yet; she thought me too young, and that I
had plenty of time before me,--at present the class was sufficient
excitement, and gave me enough to do. Clo quite coincided here; she,
if anything, thought it rather too much already, though a very good
thing indeed.

FOOTNOTE:

[7] Clara Benette, who plays such an important part in this romance,
has been generally accepted as a sketch of Jenny Lind. The
resemblances are not very close, however. At the time of the opening
of the story she had not made her _début_, and she did not appear in
England until 1847, the year of Mendelssohn's death. It is true,
however, that she was an intimate friend of the composer and followed
his advice explicitly, and that he was largely instrumental in
introducing her to the English public. She also founded a musical
scholarship in London in his memory.



CHAPTER XIII.


Next time we met we began the anthem after our first exercise.
Laura[8]--by this time she was always Laura in my own world--nodded at
me. She had on a green silk frock to-night; and surely no color could
have so enhanced the clarified brightness of her strange eyes. Davy
was pleased with us, but not with our enunciation of certain
syllables. He requested us as a favor to practise between that meeting
and the next. There were a great many assents, and Laura was very open
in her "yes." Miss Benette whispered to herself, "Of course." And I,
unable to resist the opportunity, whispered to her, "Does he mean that
we are to practise alone, or one by one?"

"Mr. Davy will lend us our parts, and I daresay will copy them on
purpose," she replied. "It will be better to practise alone, or at
least one or two together, than a great many, or even a few. We can
more easily detect our faults."

"How well she speaks!" I thought,--"quite as prettily as Millicent;
her accent is very good, I am sure;" and I again addressed her. "I do
not think you have any faults at all,--your voice seems able to do
anything."

"I do nothing at all with it, it seems to me, and that I have very
little voice at present. I think we had better not talk, because it
seems so careless."

"Talk to me," broke in Laura from beyond Miss Benette; but I would
not,--I steadily looked in front, full of a new plan of mine. I must
explain that we proceeded slowly, because Davy's instructions were
complete,--perhaps too ideal for the majority; but for some and for me
there was an ineffaceable conviction in every novel utterance.

Just before we separated, I ventured to make my request. "Miss
Benette!" I said, and she almost stared, quite started to find I knew
her name, "Mr. Davy told me who you were,--will you let me come and
practise with you? He will tell you my name if you must know it, but I
should so like to sing with you,--I do so admire your voice." I spoke
with the most perfect innocence, at the same time quite madly wishing
to know her; I did not mean to be overheard, but on the instant Laura
looked over.

"You don't ask _me_."

"Because I don't care about your voice," I answered, bluntly. She
again gazed at me brightly, her eyes swimming.

"Oh, hush!" whispered Miss Benette; "you have hurt her, poor little
thing."

"How very good you are!" I returned, scarcely knowing what to say. "I
always speak the truth."

"Yes, I should think so; but it is not good taste to dislike Laura's
voice, for it is very pretty."

"Come, Miss Benette, do make haste and tell me whether you will let me
sing with you to-morrow."

"I do not mind if your friends will not object."

"Tell me where you live, then."

"In St. Anthony's Lane, just by the new foundation. There is a tree in
front, but no garden. You must not come, if you please, until after
one o'clock, because I have to practise for my other lessons."

"Good-night."

She ran off, having bowed a little courtesy. Laura had left while we
were talking.

"Now," thought I, "I shall have it all out, who she is and what she
does, and I will make Millicent go to see her." Davy here joined me.

"So you have made friends with Miss Benette."

"Yes, sir;" but I did not tell him I was going to practise with her,
for fear anything should prevent my going.

"She is an excellent young person, and will be a true artist.
Nevertheless, remember my injunction,--rather too few friends than too
many."

"I mean to keep friends with her, and to make my sister friends with
her."

"Your sister does not want friends, I should think."

"Oh, sir, did you ever find out who the conductor was?"

"Nobody knows. It is very singular," and he raised his voice, "that he
has never been heard of since, and had not been seen before by anybody
present, though so many foreign professors were in the hall. In London
they persist it was Milans-André, though André has himself
contradicted the assertion."

"I should like to hear Milans-André."

"You will some day, no doubt."

"Do you think I shall?"

"I feel in myself quite sure. Now, good-night to you."

"Do come in, sir, and have some supper, please."

But Davy was off in the moonlight before the door could be opened into
our house.

When I told Millicent I was going to practise with one of the class,
she thought fit to tell my mother. My mother made various inquiries;
but I satisfied her by assuring her it was one of Davy's own pupils,
and his favorite, and I contrived not to be asked whether it was a
young lady,--I let them think just at that time it was a young
gentleman about my own standing. The only direct injunction laid upon
me was that I should be home for tea at five o'clock,--and as I did
not leave our house until after our one o'clock dinner, this did not
give me very much time; but I ran the whole way.

I forgot to mention that Davy had lent each of us our parts
beautifully copied,--at least he had lent them to all who engaged to
practise, and I was one. I had rolled it up very neatly.

I soon found the house, but I was certainly astonished when I did find
it. I could not believe such a creature as Miss Benette could remain,
so bright, buried down there. It was the last house of a very dull
row, all let out in lodgings,--the meanest in the town except the very
poor.

It was no absurd notion of relative inferiority with which I surveyed
it, I was pained at the positive fact that the person to whom I had
taken such a fancy should be obliged to remain where I felt as if I
should never be able to breathe. I lingered but a moment though, and
then I touched a little heavy, distorted knocker that hung nearly at
the bottom of the door,--how unlike, I thought, to Lenhart Davy's tiny
castle under lock and key! Presently the door was opened by a person,
the like of whom I had never seen in all my small experience,--a
universal servant, required to be ubiquitous; let this description
suffice. I asked for Miss Benette. "The first door to the right,
upstairs," was the reply; and passing along a dark entry, I began to
ascend them, steep and carpetless. I seemed, however, to revive when I
perceived how lately the wooden steps had been washed; there was not a
foot-mark all the way up to the top, and they smelt of soap and water.

I found several doors to embarrass me on the landing, all painted
black; but I heard tones in one direction that decided me to knock. A
voice as soft as Millicent's responded, "Come in."

Oh, how strange I felt when I entered! to the full as strange as when
I first saw Davy's sanctum. No less a sanctum this, I remember
thinking, to the eyes that behold the pure in heart. It was so
exquisitely tidy, I felt at once that my selfish sensibilities had
nothing to fear. The room was indeed small, but no book walls darkened
gloriously the daylight; the fireplace was hideous, the carpet coarse
and glaring, the paper was crude green,--I hate crude greens more than
yellow blues,--and the chairs were rush-bottomed, every one. But she
for whom I came was seated at the window, singing; she held some piece
of work in her hand, which she laid upon the table when I entered.
Pardon my reverting to the table; I could not keep my eyes from it. It
was covered with specimens of work,--such work as I had never seen, as
I shall never see again, though all my sisters could embroider, could
stitch, could sew with the very best. She did not like me to look at
it though, I thought, for she drew me to the window by showing me a
chair she had set for me close beside her own. The only luxury amidst
the furniture was a mahogany music-stand, which was placed before our
two seats. One part lay upon the stand, but it was not in Lenhart
Davy's autography.

"Did you copy that part yourself, Miss Benette?" said I, unable to
restrain the question.

"Yes; I thought it too much that Mr. Davy should copy all the parts
himself for us."

"Does he?"

"Oh, yes; did you not know it? But we must not talk, we must work. Let
us be very careful."

"You show me how; please to sing it once alone."

She struck the tuning-fork upon the desk, and without the slightest
hesitation, flush, or effort, she began. One would not have deemed it
an incomplete fragment of score; it resounded in my very brain like
perfect harmony, so strangely did my own ear infer the intermediate
sounds.

"Oh, how lovely! how exquisite it must be to feel you can do so much!"
I exclaimed, as her unfaltering accent thrilled the last amen.

"I seem never to have done anything, as I told you before; it is
necessary to do _so_ much. Now sing it alone once all through, and I
will correct you as Mr. Davy corrects me."

I complied instantly, feeling her very presence would be instruction,
forgetting, or not conscious, how young she was. She corrected me a
great deal, though with the utmost simplicity. I was astonished at the
depth of her remarks, though too ignorant to conceive that they broke
as mere ripples from the soundless deeps of genius. Then we sang
together, and she wandered into the soprano part. I was transported; I
was eager to retain her good opinion, and took immense pains. But it
never struck me all the time that it was strange she should be
alone,--apparently alone, I mean. I was too purely happy in her
society. She sat as serenely as at the class, and criticised as
severely as our master.

"It is getting late," she said at last, "and I think you had better
go. Besides, I must go on with my work. If you are so kind as to come
and practise with me again, I must work while I sing, as I do when I
am alone."

"Oh, why did you not to-day?"

"I thought it would not be polite the first time," answered she, as
gravely as a judge; and I never felt so delighted with anything in all
my life. I looked up at her eyes, but the lashes were so long I could
not see them, for _she_ was looking down.

"Will you think me rude if I ask to look at your work?"

"You may look at what I am going to send to the shop."

"Oh, what shop?"

She got out of her chair and moved to the table. There was no smile
upon her baby-mouth. She pointed to the articles I had noticed but had
not dared to examine. They were, indeed, sights to see, one and all.
Such delicate frock-bodies and sprigged caps for infants; such
toilet-cushions rich with patterns, like ingrained pearls; such rolls
of lace, with running gossamer leaves, or edges fine as the pinked
carnations in Davy's garden. There were also collars with broad white
leaves and peeping buds, or wreathing embroidery like sea-weed, or
blanched moss, or magnified snow, or whatever you can think of as most
unlike work. Then there was a central basket, lined with white satin,
in which lay six cambric handkerchiefs, with all the folded corners
outwards, each corner of which shone as if dead-silvered with the
exquisitely wrought crest and motto of an ancient coroneted family.

"Oh, I never did see anything like them!" was all I could get out,
after peering into everything till the excelling whiteness pained my
sight. "Do tell me where you send them?"

"I used to send them to Madame Varneckel's, in High Street; but she
cheated me, and I send them now to the Quaker's, in Albemarle Square."

"You sell them, then?"

"Yes, of course; I should not work else. I do not love it."

"They ought to give you a hundred guineas for those."

"I have a hundred guineas already."

"You have!" I quite startled her by the start I gave. I very nearly
said, "Then why do you live up here?" but I felt, in time, that it
would be rude.

"Oh! I must get four hundred more, and that will take me two years, or
perhaps three, unless my voice comes out like a flower." Here her
baby-mouth burst into a smile most radiant,--a rose of light!

"Oh, Miss Benette, everything you say is like one of the German
stories,--a _Märchen_,[9] you know."

"Oh, do you talk German? I love it. I always spoke it till I came to
this city."

"What a pity you came!--at least, I should have been very sorry if you
had not come; but I mean, I should have thought you would like Germany
best."

"So I should, but I could not help coming; I was a baby when I came.
Mr. Davy brought me over in his arms, and he was just as old then as I
am now."

"How very odd! Mr. Davy never told me he had brought you here."

"Oh, no! he would not tell you all the good things he has done."

"He has done me good,--quite as much good as he can have done to you;
but I should so like to hear all about it."

"You must not stay,--you _shall_ go," she answered, with her grave
sweetness of voice and manner; "and if you are not in time to-day, we
shall never practise again. I shall be very sorry, for I like to sing
with you."

I was not in time, and I got the nearest thing to a scolding from my
mother, and a long reproof from Clo. She questioned me as to where I
had been, and I was obliged to answer. The locality did not satisfy
her; she said it was a low neighborhood, and one in which I might
catch all sorts of diseases. I persisted that it was as high and dry
as we were, and possessed an advantage over us in that it had better
air, being, as it was, all but out in the fields. My mother was rather
puzzled about the whole matter, but she declared her confidence in me,
and I was contented, as she ever contents me. I was very grateful to
her, and assured them all how superior was Miss Benette to all the
members of the class. I also supplicated Millicent to accompany me the
next time I should be allowed to go, that she might see the beautiful
work.

"I cannot go, my dear Charles," she returned. "If this young lady be
what you yourself make her out to be, it would be taking a great
liberty; and besides, she could not want me,--I do not sing in the
class."

But she looked very much as if she wished she did.

"I just wish you would ask Mr. Davy about her, that's all."

FOOTNOTES:

[8] The idea that Laura Lemark was intended as a sketch of Taglioni,
the _danseuse_, is altogether fanciful; except the fact that Taglioni
in her old age taught deportment to ladies who desired to be presented
at the English court, and that Laura did the same after she had
retired, there is no resemblance between them.

[9] A tale, or romance.



CHAPTER XIV.


When I went to the class next time I was very eager to catch Mr. Davy,
that I might explain to him where I had been, for I did not like
acting without his cognizance. However, he was already down below when
I arrived. My fair companions were both in their places, but, to my
astonishment, Miss Benette took no notice of me. Her sweet face was as
grave as it was before I caught from under those long lashes the azure
light upon my own for the first time. Certain that she did not mean to
offend me, I got on very well though, and Davy was very much pleased
with our success.

Little Laura looked very pale; her hair was out of its curl, and
altogether she had an appearance as if she had been dragged through a
river, lost and forlorn, and scarcely sensible. She sang languidly,
but Miss Benette's clinging tones would not suffer me to be aware of
any except hers and my own.

Davy taught us something about Gregorian chants, and gave us a few to
practise, besides a new but extremely simple service of his own. "He
wrote that for us, I suppose," I ventured; and Clara nodded seriously,
but made no assent in words. Afterwards she seemed to remember me
again as her ally; for as Davy wished us his adieu in his wonted free
"Good-night!" she spoke to me of her own accord.

"I think it was all the better that we practised."

"Oh, was it not? Suppose we practise again."

"I should like it, if you will come at the same time, and not stay
longer; and Laura can come too, can she not?"

I did not exactly like this idea, but I could not contradict the calm,
mellow voice.

"Oh, if she will practise."

"Of course she will practise if she comes on purpose."

"I don't care about coming!" exclaimed the child, in a low, fretful
voice. "I know I sha'n't get out, either."

"Yes, you shall; I will coax your papa. Look, Laura! there he is,
waiting for you."

The child ran off instantly, with an air of fear over all her fatigue,
and I felt sure she was not treated like a child; but I said nothing
about it then.

"Sir," said I to Mr. Davy, "pray walk a little way, for I want to tell
you something. My mother particularly requests that you will go to our
house to sup with us this evening."

"I will accept her kindness with the greatest pleasure, as I happen to
be less engaged than usual."

Davy never bent his duty to his pleasure,--rather the reverse.

"I went to practise with Miss Benette the day before yesterday."

"So she told me."

"She told you herself?"

"Yes, when she came to my house for her lesson last afternoon. I was
very glad to hear it, because such singing as hers will improve yours.
But I should like to tell your mother how she is connected with me."

"How was it, sir?"

"Oh! I shall make a long story for her; but enough for you that her
father was very good to me when I was an orphan boy and begged my way
through Germany. He taught me all that I now teach you; and when he
died, he asked me to take care of his baby and his lessons. She was
only born that he might see her, and die."

"Oh, sir, how strange! Poor man! he must have been very sorry."

"He was not sorry to go, for he loved his wife, and she went first."

"Oh, that was Miss Benette's mamma?"

"Yes, her lovely mamma."

"Of course she was lovely. If you please, sir, tell me about her too."
But Davy reserved his tale until we were at home.

My mother fully expected him, it was evident; for upon the table,
besides the plain but perfectly ordered meal we always enjoyed at
about nine o'clock, stood the supernumerary illustrations--in honor of
a guest--of boiled custards, puff pastry, and our choicest preserves.
My mother, too, was sitting by the fire in a species of state, having
her hands void of occupation and her pocket-handkerchief outspread.
Millicent and Lydia wore their dahlia-colored poplin frocks,--quite a
Sunday costume,--and Clo revealed herself in purple silk, singularly
adapted for evening wear, as it looked black by candle-light!

I never sat up to supper except on very select occasions. I knew this
would be one, without being told so, and secured the next chair to my
darling friend's.

I would that I could recall, in his own expressive language, his exact
relation of his own history as told to us that night. It struck us
that he should so earnestly acquaint us with every incident,--at
least, it surprised us then, but his after connection with ourselves
explained it in that future.

No fiction could be more fraught with fascinating personality than his
actual life. I pass over his birth in England (and in London), in a
dark room over a dull book-shop, in his father's house. That father,
from pure breeding and constitutional exclusiveness, had avoided all
intercourse with his class, and conserved his social caste by his
marriage only. I linger not upon his remembrance of his mother,
Sybilla Lenhart,--herself a Jewess, with the most exquisite musical
ability,--nor upon her death in her only son's tenth year.

His father's pining melancholy meantime deepened into an abstraction
of misery on her loss. The world and its claims lost their hold, and
he died insolvent when Lenhart was scarcely twelve.

Then came his relation of romantic wanderings in Southern France and
Germany, like a troubadour, or minnesinger, with guitar and song; of
his accidental friendships and fancy fraternities, till he became
choir-alto at a Lutheran church in the heart of the Eichen-Land. Then
came the story of his attachment to the young, sage organist of that
very church, who, in a fairy-like adventure, had married a count's
youngest daughter, and never dared to disclose his alliance; of her
secret existence with him in the topmost room of an old house, where
she never dared to look out of the window to the street for fear she
should be discovered and carried back,--the etiquette requisite to
cover such an abduction being quite alien from my comprehension, by
the way, but so Davy assured us she found it necessary to abide; of
their one beautiful infant born in the old house, and the curious
saintly carving about its wooden cradle; of the young mother, too
hastily weaned from luxurious calm to the struggling dream of poverty,
or at least uncertain thrift; of her fading, falling into a stealthy
sickness, and of the night she lay (a Sunday night) and heard the
organ strains swell up and melt into the moonlight from her husband's
hand; of Lenhart Davy's presence with her alone that night, unknowing,
until the music-peal was over, that her soul had passed to heaven, as
it were, in that cloud of music.

But I must just observe that Davy made as light as possible of his own
pure and characteristic decision, developed even in boyhood. He passed
over, almost without comment, the more than elder brotherly care he
must have bestowed on the beautiful infant, and dwelt, as if to divert
us from that point, upon the woful cares that had pressed upon his
poor friend,--upon his own trouble when the young organist himself,
displaced by weakness from his position, made his own end, even as
Lenhart's father, an end of sorrow and of love.

Davy, indeed, merely mentioned that he had brought little Clara to
England himself, and left her in London with his own mother's sister,
whose house he always reckoned his asylum, if not his home. And then
he told us of his promise to Clara's father that she should be brought
up musically, and that no one should educate her until she should be
capacitated to choose her own masters, except Davy, to whom her father
had imparted a favorite system of his own.

I remember his saying, in conclusion, to my mother: "You must think it
strange, dear madam, that I brought Miss Benette away from London, and
alone. I could not remain in London myself, and I have known for years
that her voice, in itself, would become to her more than the expected
heritage. My aunt taught her only to work. This was my stipulation;
and she now not only supports herself by working,--for she is very
independent,--but is in possession of a separate fund besides, which
is to carry her through a course of complete instruction
elsewhere,--perhaps in Italy or Germany."

I saw how much my mother felt impressed by the dignity and
self-reliance that so characterized him, but I scarcely expected she
would take so warm an interest in his _protégée_. She said she should
like to see some of Miss Benette's work; and again I descanted on its
beauties and varieties, supported by my hero, who seemed to admire it
almost as much as I did.

"Then I may go and practise with Miss Benette?" I said, in conclusion.

"Oh, certainly; and you must ask her to come and see you some evening
when Mr. Davy is kind enough to drink tea with us."

"That curious little Laura too," thought I; "they would not like _her_
so well, I fancy. But though I do dislike her myself, I wish I could
find out what they do with her."

I was going to practise the day after the next, and methought I will
then discover.



CHAPTER XV.


I took a very small pot of honey for Miss Benette; Millicent had
begged it for me of Lydia, who was queen-bee of the store-closet. I
ran all the way as usual, and was very glad to get in. The same
freshness pervaded the staircase; but when I reached the black door, I
heard two voices instead of one. I was rather put out. "Laura is
there! I shall not like singing with her; it is very tiresome!" I
stood still and listened; it was very lovely. How ineffable music must
be to the blind! yet oh, to miss that which may be embraced by sight!
I knocked, and they did not hear me; again--they both ceased singing,
and Laura ran to the door. Instead of being dressed in her old
clothes, she perfectly startled me by the change in her costume,--a
glittering change, and one from herself; for through it she appeared
unearthly, and if not spiritual, something very near it. Large gauze
pantaloons, drawn in at the ankles, looked like globes of air about
her feet; her white silk slippers were covered with spangles; so also
was her frock, and made of an illusive material like clouds; and her
white sash, knotted at her side, was edged with silver fringe. Her
amber necklace was no more there, but on her arms she had thick silver
rings, with little clinking bells attached. She wore her hair, not in
those stray ringlets, but drawn into two broad plaits, unfastened by
knot or ribbon; but a silver net covered all her head behind, though
it met not her forehead in front, over whose wide, but low expanse,
her immense eyes opened themselves like lustrous moons.

"Miss Lemark," cried I, unfeignedly, "what are you going to do in that
dress?"

"Come, Master Auchester, do not trouble her; she must be ready for her
papa when he calls, so I have dressed her in order that she might
practise with us."

"Miss Benette," I answered, "I think it is most extremely pretty,
though very queer; and I did not mean to tease her. I wish you would
tell me why you put it on, though."

"To dance in," said Laura, composedly. "I am going to dance in
'Scheradez, or the Magic Pumpkin.' It is so pretty! But Miss Benette
is so kind to me; she lets me have tea with her the nights I dance."

"But do you live in this house, then?"

"Oh, I wish I did! Oh, Clara, I wish I did live with you!" and she
burst into a fit of her tears.

Miss Benette arose and came to her, laying down a piece of muslin she
was embroidering. "Do not cry, dear; it will spoil your pretty
frock,--besides, Master Auchester has come on purpose to sing, and you
detain him."

Laura instantly sat on a chair before the music-stand; her diaphanous
skirts stood round her like the petals of a flower, and with the tears
yet undried she began to sing, in a clear little voice, as
expressionless as her eyes, but as enchanting to the full as her easy,
painless movements. It was very pleasurable work now, and Clara
corrected us both, she all the while sustaining a pure golden soprano.

"I am tired," suddenly said Laura.

"Then go into the other room and rest a little. Do not ruffle your
hair, which I have smoothed so nicely, and be sure not to lie down
upon the bed, or you will make those light skirts as flat as
pancakes."

"How am I to rest, then?"

"In the great white chair."

"But I don't want to sit still,--I only mean I am tired of singing. I
want to dance my _pas_."

"Then go into the other room all the same; there is no carpet,--it is
best."

"I don't like dancing in that room, it is so small."

"It is not smaller than this one. The fact is, you want to dance to
Master Auchester."

"Yes, so I do."

"But he came to sing, not to see you."

"I should like to see her dance, though," said I. "Do let her, Miss
Benette!"

"If you can stay. But do not begin the whole of that dance,
Laura,--only the finale, because there will not be time; and you will
besides become too warm, if you dance from the beginning, for the cold
air you must meet on your way to the theatre."

Miss Benette's solemn manner had great authority over the child, it
was certain. She waited until the elder had put aside the brown
table,--"That you may not blow my bits of work about and tread upon
them," she remarked. "Shall I sing for you, Laura?"

"Oh, please do, pray do, Miss Benette!" I cried; "it will be so
charming."

She began gravely, as in the anthem, but with the same serene and
genial perfection, to give the notes of a wild measure, in triple
time, though not a waltz.

Laura stood still and gazed upwards until the opening bars had
sounded, then she sprang, as it were, into space, and her whole aspect
altered. Her cheeks grew flushed as with a fiery impulse; her arms
were stretched, as if embracing something more ethereal than her own
presence; a suavity, that was almost languor, at the same time took
possession of her motions. The figure was full of difficulty, the time
rapid, the step absolutely twinkling. I was enraptured; I was lost in
this kind of wonder,--"How very strange that any one should call
dancing wrong when it is like that! How extraordinary that every one
does not think it lovely! How mysterious that no one should talk about
her as a very great wonder! She is almost as great a wonder as Miss
Benette. I should like to know whether Mr. Davy has seen her dance."

But though I called it dancing, as I supposed I must, it was totally
unlike all that I had considered dancing to be. She seemed now
suspended in the air, her feet flew out with the spangles like a
shower of silver sparks, her arms were flung above her, and the silver
bells, as she floated by me without even brushing my coat, clinked
with a thrilling monotone against Clara's voice. Again she whirled
backwards, and, letting her arms sink down, as if through water or
some resisting medium, fell into an attitude that restored the
undulating movement to her frame, while her feet again twinkled, and
her eyes were raised. "Oh!" I exclaimed, "how lovely you look when you
do that!" for the expression struck me suddenly. It was an
illumination as from above, beyond the clouds, giving a totally
different aspect from any other she had worn. But lost in her maze,
she did not, I believe, hear me. She quickened and quickened her
footsteps till they merely skimmed the carpet, and, with a slide upon
the very air, shook the silver bells as she once more arched her arms
and made a deep and spreading reverence. Miss Benette looked up at me
and smiled.

"Now you must go; it is your time, and I want to give Laura her tea."

"I have brought you some honey, Miss Benette. Will you eat it with
your bread? It is better than bonbons, Miss Laura."

"I did not care for the bonbons; I only thought you would like them.
They gave them to me at rehearsal."

"Do you go to rehearsal, then, as well as the singers?"

"I go to rehearsal in the ballet; and when there is no ballet I sing
in the chorus."

"But you are so little: do you always dance?"

"I am always to dance now; I did not until this season."

Her voice was dreamy and cold, the flush had already faded; she seemed
not speaking with the slightest consciousness.

"Do go, Master Auchester!" and Clara looked at me from her azure eyes
as kindly as if she smiled. "Do go, or she will have no tea, and will
be very tired. I am so much obliged to you for the sweet yellow honey;
I shall keep it in my closet, in that pretty blue jar."

I _would_ have the blue jar, though Lydia wanted me to take a white
one.

"Oh, pray eat the honey, and give me the jar to fill again! I won't
stay, don't be afraid, but good-night. Won't you let me shake hands
with you, Miss Lemark?" for she still stood apart, like a reed in a
sultry day. She looked at me directly. "Good-night, dear!" I was so
inexpressibly touched by the tone, or the manner, or the mysterious
something--that haunted her dancing--in _her_, that I added, "Shall I
bring you some flowers next class-night?"

"If you please."

"Oh, do go, Master Auchester! I prayed you ten minutes ago."

"I am gone." And so I was; and this time I was not too late for my own
tea at home.

There must be something startlingly perfect in that which returns upon
the soul with a more absolute impression after its abstraction of our
faculties has passed away. So completely had the fascination of those
steps sufficed that I forgot the voice of Miss Benette, resounding all
the time, and only associated in my recollection the silver monotone
of the clinking bells with the lulling undulation, the quivering feet.
All night long, when I dreamed, it was so; and when I awoke in the
morning (as usual), I thought the evening before, a dream.

I dared not mention Laura to any one except Millicent, but I could not
exist without some species of sympathy; and when I had finished all my
tasks, I entreated her to go out with me alone. She had some purchases
to make, and readily agreed. It was a great treat to me to walk with
her at any time. I cannot recollect how I introduced the subject, but
I managed to ask somehow, after some preamble, whether my mother
thought it wrong to dance in public.

"Of course not," she replied, directly. "Some people are obliged to do
so in order to live. They excel in that art as others excel in other
arts, and it is a rare gift to possess the faculty to excel in that,
as in all other arts."

"So, Millicent, she would not mind my knowing a dance-artist any more
than any other artist?"

"Certainly it is the greatest privilege to know true artists; but
there are few in the whole world. How few, then, there must be in our
little corner of it!"

"You call Mr. Davy an artist, I suppose?"

"I think he pursues art as a student, who, having learned its first
principles for himself, is anxious to place others in possession of
them before he himself soars into its higher mysteries. So far I call
him philanthropist and aspirant, but scarcely an artist yet."

"Was our conductor an artist?"

"Oh! I should think so, no doubt. Why did you ask me about artists,
Charles?"

"Oh, I suppose you would not call a little girl an artist if she were
as clever as possible. There is a little girl at the class who sits
very near me. She is a great favorite of Miss Benette. Such a curious
child, Millicent! I could not endure her till yesterday evening. She
was there when I went to practise, all ready dressed for the theatre.
She looked a most lovely thing,--not like a person at all, but as if
she could fly; and she wore such beautiful clothes!"

Millicent was evidently very much surprised.

"She lives with Miss Benette, then, Charles?"

"Oh, no; for I asked her, and she said she wished she did. I should
rather think somebody or other is unkind to her, for Miss Benette
seems to pity her so much. Well, I was going to tell you, Millicent,
she danced! Oh, it was beyond everything! You never saw anything so
exquisite. I could hardly watch her about the room; she quite swam,
and turned her eyes upward. She looked quite different from what she
was at the class."

"I should think so. I have always heard that stage dancing is very
fascinating, but I have never seen it, you know; and I do not think
mother would like you to see her often, for she considers you too
young to go to a theatre at all."

"Why should I be?"

"I don't know all her reasons, but the chief one I should suspect to
be, is that it does not close until very late, and that the ballet is
the last thing of all in the entertainment."

"Yes, I know the ballet. Laura does dance in the ballet, she told me
so. But she danced in the daylight when I saw her, so there could be
no harm in it."

"No harm! There is no harm in what is beautiful; but mother likes you
to be fresh for everything you do in the daytime, and that cannot be
unless you sleep early, no less than well. She asked me the other day
whether I did not think you looked very pale the mornings after the
classes."

"Oh, what did you say?"

"I said, 'He is always pale, dear mother, but he never looks so
refreshed by any sleep as when he comes down those mornings, I
think.'"

"Dear Millicent! you are so kind, I shall never forget it. Now do come
and call upon Miss Benette."

"My dear Charles, I have never been introduced to her."

"How formal, to be sure! She would be so glad if we went; she would
love you directly,--everybody does."

"I do not wish they should, Charles. You must know very well I had
better keep away. I do not belong to the class, and if she lives
alone, she of course prefers not to be intruded upon by strangers."

"Of course not, generally. I am sure she ought not to live alone. She
must be wanting somebody to speak to sometimes."

"You are determined she shall have you, at all events."

"Oh, no! I am nothing to her, I know; but I can sing, so she likes me
to go."

"I suppose she is quite a woman, Charles?"

"Oh, yes! she is fourteen."

"My dear Charles, she cannot live alone. She is but a child, then; I
thought her so much older than that."

"Oh! did not Mr. Davy say so the other night?"

"I did not notice; I do not think so."

"Oh! he told me the first time I asked him about her."

Millicent laughed again, as we went on, at the idea of her living
alone. I still persisted it was a fact.



CHAPTER XVI.


The next being _our_ night, after dinner the next day I went to my
garden. It was growing latest autumn, but still we had had no frosts.
My monthly roses were in full bloom, my fuchsias flower-laden. Then I
had a geranium or two, labelled with my name, in the little
greenhouse. I gathered as many as I could hold in both my hands, and
carried them into the parlor.

"You have some flowers there," said Clo, with condescension.

"It is a pity to gather them when there are so few out," remarked
Lydia, without lifting her eyes from her work.

I took no notice of them. Millicent beckoned me out of the parlor.

"I will give you some ribbon, Charles, if you will come to my room."

So she did, and she arranged my flowers so as to infuse into their
autumnal aspect the glow of summer, so skilfully she grouped the
crimson of the geraniums against the pale roses and purple stocks. I
set forth, holding them in my hand. For the first time, I met Davy
before I went in. He shook hands, and asked me to come to tea with him
on the morrow.

Clara was there alone. She greeted me gravely, and yet I thought she
would have smiled, had there not been something to make her grave.

"Miss Benette!" I whispered, but she would not answer.

Davy had just emerged below. We were making rapid progress. I always
made way, not only because my ear was true and my voice pure, but
because I was sustained by the purest voice and the truest ear in the
class. But now the other voices grew able to support themselves, and
nothing can be imagined more perfect in its way than the communion of
the parts as they exactly balanced each other,--the separate voices
toned down and blended into a full effect that extinguished any
sensible difference between one and another.

I am very matter of fact, I know; but that is better than to be
commonplace,--and not the same thing, though they are often
confounded. If the real be the ideal, then is the matter of fact the
true. This ghost of an aphorism stalked forth from my brain, whose
chambers are unfraught with book-lore as with worldly knowledge; and
to lay its phantomship, I am compelled to submit it to paper.

I could not make Clara attend to me until all was over. Then she said
to me of her own accord,--

"Little Laura is ill; she caught cold after she danced the other
evening, and has been in bed since."

"Will you have these flowers, then? I am afraid they are half faded,
though my hand is very cold."

"I will take them to Laura,--she has no flowers."

"I am very sorry; I hope it was not my fault,--I mean, I hope it did
not tire her to dance before me first."

"Oh, no! it was her papa's fault for letting her come into the cold
air without being well wrapped up. She had a shawl to put on, and a
cloak besides, of mine; but her papa gave them to somebody else."

"How dreadfully unkind! Is it her papa who did such a thing?"

"Her own father. But look, Master Auchester, there is Mr. Davy
beckoning to you. And I must go,--my nurse is waiting for me."

"So is mine, downstairs. Have you a nurse too?"

"I call her so; she came from Germany to find me, and now I take care
of her."

I was very anxious to see how Davy would address his adopted child,
who numbered half his years, and I still detained her, hoping that he
would join us. I was not mistaken; for Davy, smiling to himself at my
obstinate disregard of his salute, stepped up through the intervening
forms. "So you would not come down, Charles! I wanted to ask you to
come early, as I wish to try your voice with Miss Benette's. Come at
least by five o'clock."

He looked at Clara, and I looked at her. Without a smile upon her
sweet face (but in the plenitude of that infantine gravity which so
enchanted the _not_ youngest part of myself), she bowed to him and
answered, "If you please, sir. Then I am not to come in the morning?"

"Oh, yes, in the morning also, if you can spare time. You know why I
wish to hear you sing together?"

"Yes, sir,--you told me. Good night, Master Auchester, and, sir, to
you."

And she ran out, having replaced her black bonnet and long veil. Davy
spoke a few words of gratified commendation in reference to our
universal progress, and then, as the room was nearly empty, brought me
downstairs. I asked him about Laura.

"Oh! she is not dangerously ill."

"But I suppose she may be suffering," I added, in a sharp tone, for
which I had been reproved times without number at home.

"Why, as to that, we must all instruct ourselves to suffer. I am very
sorry for my little pupil. She has had an attack of inflammation, but
is only now kept still by weakness, Miss Benette tells me."

"Miss Benette is very good to her, I think."

"Miss Benette is very good to everybody," said Davy, earnestly, with a
strange, bright meaning in his accent I looked up at him, but it was
too dark to see his expressive face, for now we were in the street.

"She is good to me, but could hardly be so to you, sir. She says you
have done everything for her, and do still."

"I try to do my duty by her; but I owe to her more than I can ever
repay."

How curious, to be sure! I thought, but I did not say so, there was a
preventive hush in his tone and manner.

"I should so like to know what we shall sing to-morrow."

"So you shall, _to-morrow_; but to-night I scarcely know myself. I
will come in with you, that I may obtain your mother's permission to
run away with you again,--but not to another festival just yet; I
could almost say, 'Would that it were!'"

"I could quite, sir."

"But we must make a musical feast ourselves, you and I."

"Oh, sir! pray let me be a side-dish."

"That you shall be. But here we are."

Supper was spread in our parlor, and my sisters looked a perfect
picture of health, comfort, and interest--three beatitudes of domestic
existence. Lydia answered to the first, Clo to the second (she having
fallen asleep in her chair by the charmingly brilliant fire), and dear
Millicent, on our entrance, to the third; for she looked half up and
glowed, the firelight played upon her brow, but there was a gleam,
more like moonlight, upon her lips as she smiled to welcome us. My
mother, fresh from a doze, sympathetic with Clo, extended her hand
with all her friendliness to Davy, and forced him to sit down and
begin upon the plate she had filled, before she would suffer him to
speak. It was too tormenting, but so it was, that she thought proper
to send me to bed after I had eaten a slice of bread and marmalade,
before he had finished eating. I gave Millicent a look into her eyes,
however, which I knew she understood, and I therefore kept awake,
expecting her after Margareth had put out my candle. My fear was lest
my mother, dear creature, should come up first, for I still slept in a
corner of her room; but I knew Davy could not leave without my knowing
it, as every sound passed into my brain from below. At last I listened
for the steps, for which I was always obliged to listen, soft as her
touch and gentle eyes, and I felt Millicent enter all in the dark.

"Well, Charles!" she began, as she put aside my curtain and leaned
against my mattress, "it is another treat for you, though not so great
a one as your first glory, and you will have to sustain your own
credit rather more specially. Do you know the Priory, on the
Lawborough Road, not a great way from Mr. Hargreave's factory?"

"Yes, I know it; what of that?"

"The Redferns live there, and the young ladies are Mr. Davy's pupils."

"Not at the class, I suppose?"

"No; but Mr. Davy gives them singing lessons, and he says they are
rather clever, though perhaps not _too_ really musical. They are very
fond of anything new; and now they intend to give a large musical
party, as they have been present at one during a stay they made in
London lately. It is to be a very select party; some amateur
performers are expected, and Mr. Davy is going to sing professionally.
Not only so, the young ladies' pianoforte master will be present, and
most likely a truly great player, Charles, an artist,--the violinist
Santonio."

"Was he at the festival?"

"Oh, no! Mr. Davy says they have written to him to come from London.
But now I must explain _your_ part. Mr. Davy was requested to bring a
vocal quartet from his class, as none of the guests can sing in parts.
He is to take Miss Benette as a soprano, for he says her soprano is as
superior as her lower voice."

"So it is."

"And some tenor or other."

"Mr. Newton, I daresay; he leads all the others."

"I think it was. And you, Charles, he wishes to take, for he says your
alto voice is very beautiful. You will do your best, I know."

"I would do _anything_ to hear a great violin-player."

And full of the novel notion, I fell asleep much sooner than I did (as
a child) when no excitement was before me.



CHAPTER XVII.


My mother, besides being essentially an unworldly person, had, I
think, given up the cherished idea of my becoming a great mercantile
character, and even the expectation that I should take kindly to the
prospective partnership with Fred; for certainly she allowed me to
devote more time to my music tasks with Millicent than to any others.
I owe a great deal to that sister of mine, and particularly the early
acquaintance I made with intervals, scales, and chords. Already she
had taught me to play from figured basses a little, to read elementary
books, and to write upon a ruled slate simple studies in harmony.

Hardly conscious who helped me on, I was helped very far indeed. Other
musicians, before whom I bow, have been guided in the first toneless
symbols and effects of tone by the hand, the voice, the brain of
women; but they have generally been famous women. My sister was a
quiet girl. Never mind; she had a fame of her own at last. Davy,
considering I was in progress, said no more about teaching me himself,
and indeed it was unnecessary. I was certainly rather surprised at my
mother's permission for me to accompany him to the Redferns', first
and chiefly because I had never visited any house she did not frequent
herself, and she had never been even introduced to this family, though
we had seen them in their large pew at church, and I was rather fond
of watching them,--they being about our choicest gentry. For all the
while I conceived I should be a visitor, and that each of us would be
on the same footing.

Had I not been going to accompany Davy, I should have become nervous
at the notion of attending a great party met at a fashionable house;
but as it was, it did but conceal for me a glorious unknown, and I
exulted while I trembled a little at my secret heart.

But I went to my master as he had requested, and he let me into his
shell. I smelt again that delicious tea, and it exhilarated me as on
the first occasion. Upstairs, in the little room, was Miss Benette.
She was dressed as usual, but I thought she had never worn anything
yet so becoming as that plain black silk frock. The beautiful china
was upon the table, now placed for three; and child as I was, I could
not but feel most exquisitely the loveliness of that simplicity which
rendered so charming and so convenient the association of three ages
so incongruous.

There are few girls of fourteen who are women enough to comport
themselves with the inbred dignity that appertains to woman in her
highest development, and there are few women who retain the perfume
and essence of infancy. _These_ were flung around Clara in every
movement, at each smile or glance; and _those_ adorned her as with
regality,--a regality to which one is born, not with which one has
been invested. She did not make tea for Davy, nor did she interfere
with his little arrangements; but she sat by me and talked to me
spontaneously, while she only spoke when he questioned, or listened
while he spoke.

There was perfect serenity upon her face,--yes! just the serenity of a
cloudless heaven; and had I been older, I should have whispered to
myself that her peace of soul was all safe, so far as he was
concerned. But I did not think about it, though I might naturally have
done so, for I was romantic to intensity, even as a boy.

"How is Miss Lemark?" I suddenly inquired, while Davy was in the other
little room. I forgot to mention that my surmise was well founded,--he
_had_ no servant.

"She is much better, thank you, or I should not have come here. The
flowers look very fresh to-day, and she lies where she can see them."

"When will she get up?"

"I have persuaded her to remain in bed even longer than she needs; for
the moment she gets up they will make her dance, and she is not strong
enough for that yet."

Davy here returned, and we began to sing. We had a delicious hour. In
that small room Clara's voice was no more too powerfully perceptible
than is the sunlight in its entrance to a tiny cell,--that glory which
itself is the day of heaven. She sang with the most rarefied softness,
and I quite realized how infinitely she was my superior in art no less
than by nature.

What we chiefly worked upon were glees, single quartet pieces, and an
anthem; but last of all, Davy produced two duets for soprano and
alto,--one from Purcell, the other from a very old opera, the hundred
and something one of the Hamburg Kaiser, which our master had himself
copied from a copy.

"Shall you sing with us in all the four-parted pieces, sir?" I
ventured to ask during the symphony of this last.

"Yes, certainly; and I shall accompany you both invariably. But of all
things do not be afraid, nor trouble yourselves the least about
singing in company: nothing is so easy as to sing in a high room like
that of the Redferns', and nothing is so difficult as to sing in a
small room like this."

"I do not find it so difficult, sir," said Clara, gravely.

"That is because, Miss Benette, you have already had your voice under
perfect control for months. You have been accustomed to practise nine
hours a day without an instrument, and nothing is so self-supporting
as such necessity."

"Yes, sir, it is very good, but not so charming as to sing with your
sweet piano."

"Do you really practise nine hours a day, Miss Benette?"

"Yes, Master Auchester, always; and I find it not enough."

"But do you practise without a piano?"

"Yes, it is best for me; but when I come to my lessons and hear the
delightful keys, I feel as if music had come out of heaven to talk
with me."

"Ah, Miss Benette!" said Davy, with a kind of exultation, "what will
it be when you are singing _in_ the heart of a grand orchestra?"

"I never heard one, sir, you know; but I should think that it was like
going into heaven after music and remaining there."

"But were you not at the festival, Miss Benette?"

"Oh, no!"

"How very odd, when I was there!"

Davy looked suddenly at her; but though his quick, bright glance might
have startled away her answer, that came as calmly as all her
words,--like a breeze awakening from the south.

"I did not desire to go; Mr. Davy had the kindness to propose I
should, but I knew it would make me idle afterwards, and I cannot
afford to waste my time. I am growing old."

"Now, Miss Benette, there is our servant or your nurse," for I heard a
knock. "Will you let me come to-morrow?"

"Just for half an hour only, because I want to sit with Laura."

"I thank you; thank you!"

"How did you get home last night?" I asked, on the promised meeting.
She was sitting at the window, where the light was strongest, for her
delicate work was in her hand; and as the beams of a paler sun came in
upon her, I thought I had seen something like her somewhere before in
a picture as it were framed in a dusky corner, but itself making for
its own loveliness a shrine of light. Had I travelled among studios
and galleries, I must have been struck by her likeness to those
rich-hued but fairest ideals of the sacred schools of painting which
have consecrated the old masters as worshippers of the highest in
woman; but I had never seen anything of the kind except in cold
prints. That strange reminiscence of what we never have really seen,
in what we at present behold, appertains to a certain temperament
only,--that temperament in which the ideal notion is so definite that
all the realities the least approximating thereunto strike as its
semblances, and all that it finds beautiful it compares so as to
combine with the beautiful itself. I do not suppose I had this
consciousness that afternoon, but I perfectly remember saying, before
Clara rose to welcome me as she always did, "You look exactly like a
picture."

"Do I? But no people in pictures are made at work. Oh, it is very
unpicturesque!" and she smiled.

"I am not going to sing, Miss Benette; there is no time in just half
an hour."

"I _must_ practise, Master Auchester; I cannot afford to lose my half
hours and half hours."

"But I want to ask you some questions. Now do answer me, please."

"You shall make long questions, then, and I short answers."

She began to sing her florid exercises, a paper of which lay open upon
the desk, in Davy's hand.

"Well, first I want to know why are they unkind to Laura, and what
they do to her which is unkind."

"It would not be unkind if Laura were altogether like her father, as
she is in some respects, because then she would have no feeling; but
she has the feeling of which her mother died."

"That is a longer answer than I expected, but not half enough; I want
to know so much more. How pretty your hands are,--so pink!" I remarked
admiringly, as I watched the dimples in them, and the infantinely
rounded fingers, as they spread so softly amidst the delicate cambric.

"So are yours very pretty hands, Master Auchester, and they are very
white too. But never mind the hands now. I should like to tell you
about Laura, because if you become a great musician you will perhaps
be able to do her a kindness."

"What sort of kindness?"

"Oh, I cannot say, my thoughts do not tell me; but any kindness is
great to her. She has a clever father, but he has no more heart than
this needle, though he is as sharp and has as clear an eye. He made
his poor little wife dance even when she was ill; but that was before
I knew Laura. When I came here from London with Mr. Davy, I knew
nobody; but one evening I was singing and working while Thoné (that is
my nurse) was gone out to buy me food, when I suddenly heard a great
crying in the street. I went downstairs and opened the door, and there
I found a little girl, with no bonnet upon her head, who wore a gay
frock all covered with artificial flowers. My nurse was there too.
Thoné can't talk much English, but she said to me, 'Make her speak. I
found her sitting down in the gutter, all bathed in tears.'

"Then I said, in my English, 'Do tell me why you were in the streets,
pretty one, and why you wear these fine clothes in the mud.'

"'Oh, I cannot dance,' she cried, and sobbed; 'my feet are stiff with
standing all this morning, and if I try to begin before those lamps on
that slippery floor, I shall tumble down.'

"'You have run away from the theatre,' I said; and then I took her
upstairs in my arms (for she was very light and small), and gave her
some warm milk. Then, when she was hushed, I said, 'Were you to dance,
then? It is very pretty to dance: why were you frightened?'

"'I was so tired. Oh, I wish I could go to my mamma!'

"'I asked her where she was; and she began to shake her head and to
tell me her mamma was dead. But in the midst there was a great
knocking at the door downstairs. Laura was dreadfully alarmed, and
screamed; and while she was screaming, in came a great man, his face
all bedecked with paint. I could not speak to him, he would not hear
me, nor could we save the child then; for he snatched her up (all on
the floor as she was), and carried her downstairs in his arms. He was
very big, certainly, and had a fierce look, but did not hurt her; and
as I ran after him, and Thoné after me, we saw him put her into a
close coach and get in after her, and then they drove away. I was very
miserable that night, for I could not do anything for the poor child;
but I went the first thing the next morning to the theatre that had
been open the evening before. Thoné was with me, and took care of me
in that wild place. At last I made out who the little dancing-girl was
and where she lived, and then I went to that house. Oh, Master
Auchester! I thought my house so still, so happy after it. It was full
of noise and smells, and had a look that makes me very low,--a look of
discomfort all about. I said I wanted the manager, and half a dozen
smart, dirty people would have shown me the way; but I said, 'Only
one, if you please.'

"Then some young man conducted me upstairs into a greasy drawing-room.
Thoné did not like my staying, but I would stay, although I did not
once sit down. The carpet was gay, and there were muslin curtains; but
you, Master Auchester, could not have breathed there. I felt ready to
cry; but that would not have helped me, so I looked at the sky out of
the window till I heard some one coming in. It was the great man. He
was selfish-looking and vulgar, but very polite to me, and wanted me
to sit upon his sofa. 'No,' I said, 'I am come to speak about the
little girl who came to my house last night, and whom I was caring for
when you fetched her away. And I want to know why she was so afraid to
dance, and so afraid of you?'

"The man looked ready to eat me, but Thoné (who is a sort of gypsy,
Master Auchester) kept him down with her grand looks, and he turned
off into a laugh,--'I suppose I may do as I please with my own child!'

"'No, sir!' I said, 'not if you are an unnatural father, for in this
good land the law will protect her; and if you do not promise to
treat her well, I am going to the magistrate about it. I suppose she
has no mother; now, I have none myself, and I never see anybody
ill-treated who has no mother without trying to get them righted.'

"'You are a fine young lady to talk to me so. Why, you are a child
yourself! Who said I was unkind to my Laura? She must get her living,
and she can't do better than dance, as her mother danced before her. I
will send for her, and you shall hear what she will say for herself
this morning.'

"He shouted out upon the landing, and presently the child came down. I
was surprised to see that she looked happy, though very tired. I said,
'Are you better to-day?'

"'It was very nice,' she answered, 'and they gave me such pretty
flowers!'

"Then we talked a long time. I shall tire you, Master Auchester, if I
tell you all; but I found myself not knowing what to do, for though the
child had been made to go through a great deal of suffering--almost
all dancers must--yet she did so love the art that it was useless to
try and coax her out of her services for it. All I could do, then, was
to entreat her papa not to be severe with her, if even he was obliged
to be strict; and then (for he had told me she danced the night
before, the first time in public) I added to herself, 'You must try to
deserve the flowers they give you, and dance your very best And if you
practise well when you are learning in the mornings, it will become so
easy that you will not find it any pain at all, and very little
fatigue.'

"Her papa, I could see, was not ill-humored, but very selfish, and
would make the most of his clever little daughter; so I would not stay
any longer, lest he should forget what I had said. He was rather more
polite again before I went away, and in a day or two I sent Thoné with
a note to Laura, in which I asked her to tea--and, for a wonder, she
came. I am tiring you, Master Auchester?"

"Oh! do please, for pity's sake, go on, Miss Benette!"

"Well, when she came with Thoné, she was dressed much as she dresses
at the class, and I have not been able yet to persuade her to leave
off that ugly necklace. She talked to me a great deal. She was not
made to suffer until after her mother's death, for her mother was so
tender of her that she would allow no one to touch her but herself.
She taught her to dance, though; and little Laura told me so
innocently how she used to practise by the side of her mother's sick
bed, for she lay ill for many months. She had caught a cold--as Laura
did the other night--after a great dance, in which she grew very warm;
and at last she died of consumption. She had brought her husband a
good deal of money, and he determined to make the most of it as soon
as she was dead; for he brought Laura on very fast by teaching her all
day, and torturing her too, though I really believe he thought it was
necessary."

"Miss Benette!"

"Yes; for such persons as he have not sensations fine enough to let
them understand how some can be made to suffer delicately."

"Oh, go on!"

"Well, she was just ready to be brought out in a kind of fairy ballet,
in which children are required, the night the theatre opened this
season."

"And it was then she ran away?"

"Yes; when she got into the theatre she took fright."

"Did she dance that night, after all?"

"Oh, yes! and she liked it very much, for she is very excitable and
very fond of praise. Besides, she has a very bright soul, and she was
pleased with the sparkling scenery. As she described it, 'It was all
roses, and crystal, and beautiful music going round and round.' She is
a sweet little child when you really know her, and as innocent as the
two little daughters of the clergyman at St. Anthony's who go every
day past hand in hand, with their white foreheads and blue eyes, and
whose mamma sleeps by Laura's, in the same churchyard. Well, she came
to me several times, and at last I persuaded her papa to let her drink
tea with me, and it saves him trouble, so he is very glad she should.
It is the end of the season now, so I hope he will give her a real
holiday, and she will get quite strong."

"He fetches her, then, to go to the theatre?"

"Yes; it is not any trouble to him, for he calls on another person in
this lane, and they all go together."

"Do you know that person?"

"Oh, no! and Laura does not like her. But as Laura is obliged to see a
good deal of low people, I like her sometimes to see high people, that
her higher nature may not want food."

"I understand. Was that the reason she joined the class?"

"I persuaded her papa to allow her, by assuring him it would improve
her voice for singing in the chorus; and now he comes himself, though
I rather suspect it is because he likes to know all that is going on
in the town."

"She goes home with him, then?"

"Yes. The reason you saw Laura in her dancing-dress was that you might
like her. I bade her bring it, and put it on her myself. I did not
tell her why, but I wished you to see her too."

"But why did you wish me to like her, Miss Benette?"

"As I told you before,--that you may be kind to her; and also that she
might see some one very gentle, I wished her to be here with you."

"Am I gentle, do you consider?"

"I think you are a young gentleman," she answered, with her sweet
gravity.

"But I do not see how it could do her good exactly to see gentle
persons."

"Do not you? I do; I believe she will never become ungentle by living
with ungentle persons, as she does and must, if she once knows what
gentle persons are. I may be all wrong, but this is what I believe;
and when Laura grows up, I shall find out whether I am right. Oh! it
is good to love the beautiful; and if we once really love it, we can
surely not do harm."

"Miss Benette!" I exclaimed suddenly,--I really could not help it,--"I
think you are an angel."

She raised her blue eyes from the shadowy length of their lashes, and
fixed them upon the dim gray autumn heaven, then without a smile; but
her bright face shining even with the light of which smiles are born,
she replied in the words of Mignon, but with how apart a significance!
"I wish I were one!" then going on, "because then I shall be all
beautiful without and within me. But yet, no! I would not be an angel,
for I could not then sing in our class!"

I laughed out, with the most perfect sympathy in her sentiment; and
then she laughed, and looked at me exactly as an infant does in
mirthful play.

"Now, Miss Benette, one more question. Mr. Davy told me the other
night that you had done him good. What did he mean?"

"I do not think I can tell you what I believe he meant, because you
might mention it to him; and if he did not mean that, he would think
me silly, and I would not seem silly to him."

"Now, do pray tell me! Do you suppose I can go home unless you will?
You have made me so dreadfully curious. I should not think of telling
him you had told me. Now, what did you do for him that made him say
so?"

She replied, with an innocence the sister of which I have never seen
through all my dreams of woman,--

"Mr. Davy was so condescending as to ask me one day whether I would be
his wife,--sometime when I am grown up. And I said, No. I think that
was the good I did him."

I shall never forget the peculiar startled sensation that struck
through me. I had never entertained such a notion, or any notion of
the kind about anybody; and about her it was indeed new, and to me
almost an awe.

"The good you did him, Miss Benette!" I cried in such a scared tone
that she dropped her work into her lap. "I should have thought it
would have done him more good if you had said, Yes."

"You are very kind to think so," she replied, in a tone like a
confiding child's to a superior in age,--far from like an elder's to
one so young as myself,--"but I know better, Master Auchester. It was
the only thing I could do to show my gratitude."

"Were you sorry to say No, Miss Benette?"

"No; very glad and very pleased."

"But it is rather odd. I should have thought you would have liked to
say, Yes. You do not love him, then?"

"Oh! yes, I do, well. But I do not wish to belong to him, nor to any
one,--only to music now; and besides, I should not have had his love.
He wished to marry me that he might take care of me. But when he said
so, I answered, 'Sir, I can take care of myself.'"

"But, Miss Benette, how much should one love, and how, then, if one is
to marry? For I do not think all people marry for love!"

"You are not old enough to understand, and I am not old enough to tell
you," she said sweetly, with her eyes upon her work as usual, "nor do
I wish to know. If some people marry not for love, what is that to me?
I am not even sorry for them,--not so sorry as I am for those who know
not music, and whom music does not know."

"Oh! they are worse off!" I involuntarily exclaimed. "Do you think I
am 'known of music,' Miss Benette?"

"I daresay; for you love it, and will serve it. I cannot tell further,
I am not wise. Would you like to have your fortune told?"

"Miss Benette! what do you mean? You cannot tell fortunes!"

"But Thoné can. She is a gypsy,--a real gypsy, Master Auchester,
though she was naughty, and married out of her tribe."

"What tribe?"

"Hush!" said Clara, whisperingly; "she is in my other room at work,
and she would be wroth if she thought I was talking about her."

"But you said she cannot speak English."

"Yes; but she always has a feeling when I am speaking about her. Such
people have,--their sympathies are so strong."

Now, it happened we had often talked over gypsies and their
pretensions in our house, and various had been the utterances of our
circle. Lydia doomed them all as imposters; my mother, who had but an
ideal notion of them, considered, as many do, that they somehow
pertained to Israel. Clo presumed they were Egyptian, because of their
contour and their skill in pottery,--though, by the way, she had never
read upon the subject, as she always averred. But Millicent was
sufficient for me at once, when she had said one day, "At least they
are a distinct race, and possess in an eminent degree the faculty of
enforcing faith in the supernatural by the exercise of physical and
spiritual gifts that only act upon the marvellous."

I always understood Millicent, whatever she said, and I had often
talked with her about them. I rather suspect she believed them in her
heart to be Chaldean. I must confess, notwithstanding, that I was
rather nervous when Miss Benette announced, with such child-like
assurance, her intuitive credence in their especial ability to discern
and decipher destiny.

I said, "Do you think she can, then?"

"Perhaps it is vulgar to say 'tell fortunes,' but what I mean is, that
she could tell, by casting her eyes over you, and looking into your
eyes, and examining your brow, what kind of life you are most fit for,
and what you would make out of it."

"Oh, how I should like her to tell me!"

"She shall, then, if she may come in. But your half-hour has passed."

"Oh, do just let me stay a little!"

"You shall, of course, if you please, sir; only do not feel obliged."

She arose and walked out of the room, closing the door. I could catch
her tones through the wall, and she returned in less than a minute.
There was something startling, almost to appall, in the countenance
of the companion she ushered, coming close behind her. I can say that
that countenance was all eye,--a vivid and burning intelligence
concentred in orbs whose darkness was really light, flashing from
thence over every feature. Thoné was neither a gaunt nor a great
woman, though tall; her hands were beautifully small and slender, and
though she was as brunette as her eye was dark, she was clear as that
darkness was itself light. The white cap she wore contrasted strangely
with that rich hue, like sun-gilt bronze. She was old, but modelled
like a statue, and her lips were keen, severe, and something scornful.
It was amazing to me to see how easily Miss Benette looked and worked
before this prodigy; I was speechless. Thoné took my hand in hers, and
feeling I trembled, she said some quick words to Clara in a species of
Low German, whose accent I could not understand, and Clara replied in
the same. I would have withdrawn my hand, for I was beginning to fear
something dreadful in the way of an oracle, but Thoné led me with
irrepressible authority to the window. Once there, she fastened upon
me an almost feeling glance, and having scanned me a while, drew out
all my fingers one by one with a pressure that cracked every sinew of
my hand and arm. At last she looked into my palm, but made no
muttering, and did not appear trying to make out anything but the
streaks and texture of the skin. It could not have been ten minutes
that had passed when she let fall my hand, and addressing Clara in a
curt, still manner, without smile or comment, uttered in a voice whose
echoes haunt me still,--for the words were rare as music,--"Tonkunst
und Arzenei."[10]

I knew enough of German to interpret these, at all events, and as I
stood they passed into my being by conviction, they being indeed
truth.

Clara approached me. "Are you satisfied? Music _is_ medicine, though,
I think; do not you?"

She smiled with sweet mischief.

"Oh, Miss Benette, thank you a thousand times! for whether it is to be
true or not, I think it is a very good fortune to be told. Has she
told you yours?"

"Yes, often; at least as much as she told you about yourself, she has
revealed to me."

"Can she tell all people their fortunes?"

"I will ask her."

She turned to our bright Fate and spoke. On receiving a short, low
reply, as Thoné left the room, she again addressed me. "She says, 'I
cannot prophesy for the pure English, if there be any, because the
letters of their characters are not distinct. All I know in all, is
how much there is of ours in each.'"

"I don't know what she means."

"No more do I."

"Oh, Miss Benette, you do!" For her arch smile fluttered over her
lips.

"So I do; but, Master Auchester, it is getting very late,--you must
go, unless I may give you some tea. And your mother would like you to
be home. Therefore, go now."

I wanted to shake hands with her, but she made no show of willingness,
so I did not dare, and instantly I departed. What a wonderful spell it
was that bound me to the dull lane at the end of the town! Certainly
it is out of English life in England one must go for the mysteries and
realities of existence. I was just in time for our tea. As I walked
into the parlor the fire shone, and so did the kettle, singing to
itself; for in our English life we eschewed urns. Clo was reading,
Lydia at the board, Millicent was cutting great slices of homemade
bread. I thought to myself, "How differently we all manage here! If
Millicent did but dare, I know she would behave and talk like Miss
Benette."

"How is the young lady this afternoon, Charles? I wish you to ask her
to come and drink tea with us on Sunday after service."

"Yes, mother; is Mr. Davy coming?"

"He promised the other night."

"And Charles," added Clo, "do not forget that you must go with me
to-morrow and be measured for a jacket."

"I am to wear one at last, then?"

"Yes, for now you are really growing too tall for frocks."

I was very glad; for I abjured those braided garments, compassing
about my very heels with bondage, with utter satisfaction. Still, I
was amused. "I suppose it is for this party I am going to," thought I.

FOOTNOTE:

[10] Music and Medicine.



CHAPTER XVIII.


The next day at class, Laura's place still being empty, I watched
eagerly for Clara. The people were pouring in at the door, and I,
knowing their faces, could not but feel how unlike she was to them
all, when in the way she appeared, so bright in her dark dress, with
her cloudless forehead and air of ecstatic innocence. She spoke to me
to-day.

"How are you?"

"Quite well; and you, Miss Benette? But I want you to listen to me
presently; seriously, I have something to say."

"I'll wait," and she took her seat.

Davy extolled our anthem, and did not stop us once, which fact was
unprecedented. We all applauded _him_ when he praised _us_, at which
he laughed, but was evidently much pleased. In fact, he had already
made for himself a name and fame in the town, and the antagonistic
jealousy of the resident professors could not cope therewith, without
being worsted; they had given him up, and now let him alone,--thus his
sensitive nature was less attacked, and his energy had livelier play.
When the class divided, Miss Benette looked round at me: "I am at your
service, Master Auchester."

I gave her my mother's message. She was sweet and calm as ever, but
still grave, and she said, "I am very grateful to your mother, and to
those young ladies your sisters; but I never do go anywhere out to
tea."

"But, Miss Benette, you are going to that party at the Redferns'."

"I am going to sing there,--that is different. It is very hard to me
not to come, but I must not, because I have laid it upon myself to do
nothing but study until I come out. Because, you see, if I make
friends now, I might lose them then, for they might not like to know
me."

"Miss Benette!"--I stamped my foot--"how dare you say so? We should
always be proud to know you."

"I cannot tell that," she retorted; "it might be, or it might not.
Perhaps you will think I am right one day. I should like to have
come," she persisted bewitchingly. But I was inwardly hurt, and I
daresay she thought me outwardly sulky, for it was all I could do to
wish her good-evening like a "young gentleman," as she had called me.

I said to Millicent, when we were walking the next morning, that I had
had my fortune told. We had a long conversation. I saw she was very
anxious to disabuse me of the belief that I must necessarily be what,
in myself, I had always held myself ready to become, and I laughed her
quite to scorn.

"But, Charles," she remonstrated, "if this is to be, you must be
educated with a direct view to those purposes."

"So I shall be; but when she said medicine she did not mean I should
be an apothecary, Millicent," and I laughed the more.

"No, I rather think it is music you ought to profess. But in that case
you will require high as well as profound instruction."

"I mean to profess an instrument, and I mean to go to Germany and
learn all about it."

"My dear boy!"

"Yes, I do, and I know I shall; but as I have not chosen my instrument
yet, I shall wait."

Millicent herself laughed heartily at this. "Would you like to learn
the horn, Charles? or the flute? or perhaps that new instrument, the
ophicleide?" And so the subject dwindled into a joke for that while. I
then told her in strict confidence about Laura. I scarcely ever saw
her so much excited to interest; she evidently almost thought Clara
herself angelic, and to my delight she at length promised to call with
me upon her, if I would ascertain that it would be convenient. I shall
never forget, too, that Millicent begged for me from my mother some
baked apples, some delicate spiced jelly, and some of her privately
concocted lozenges, for Laura. I do think my mother would have liked
to dispense these last _à la largesse_ among the populace. I carried
these treasures in a small basket to Miss Benette, and saw her just
long enough to receive her assurance that she should be so pleased if
my sister would come and look at her work.

Sweet child! as indeed she was by the right of Genius (who, if Eros be
immortal youth, hath alone immortal fancy),--she had laid every piece
of her beauteous work, every scrap of net or cambric, down to that
very last handkerchief, upon the table, which she had covered with a
crimson shawl, doubtless some relic of her luxurious mother conserved
for her. And with the instinct of that ideal she certainly created in
her life, she had interspersed the lovely manufactures with little
bunches of wild-flowers and green, and a few berries of the wild
rose-tree, ripe and red.

I was enchanted. I was proud beyond measure to introduce to her my
sister; proud of them both. Millicent was astonished, amazed; I could
see she was quite puzzled with pleasure, but more than all she seemed
lost in watching Clara's calm, cloudless face.

"Which of the pieces do you like best?" asked Miss Benette at last,
after we had fully examined all.

"Oh! it is really impossible to say; but if I could prefer, I should
confess, perhaps, that this is the most exquisitely imagined;" and
Millicent pointed to a veil of thin white net, with the border worked
in the most delicate shades of green floss silk, a perfect wreath of
myrtle-leaves; and the white flowers seemed to tremble amidst that
shadowy garland. I never saw anything to approach them; they were far
more natural than any paintings.

Miss Benette took this veil up in her little pink hands, and folding
it very small, and wrapping it in silver paper, presented it to
Millicent, saying, in a child-like but most touching manner, "You must
take it, then, that you may not think I am ungrateful; and I am so
glad you chose that."

As Millicent said, it would have been impossible to have refused her
anything. I quite longed to cry, and the tears stood in my
tender-hearted sister's eyes; but Clara seemed entirely unconscious
she had done anything touching or pretty or complete.

If I go on in this way, raking the embers of reminiscence into rosy
flames, I shall never emancipate myself into the second great phase of
my existence. It is positively necessary that I should not revert to
that veil at present, or I should have to delineate astonishment and
admiration that had no end.



CHAPTER XIX.


At last the day came, and having excited myself the whole morning
about the Redferns, I left off thinking of them, and returned to
myself. Although it portends little, I may transmit to posterity the
fact that my new clothes came home at half-past three, and my mother
beheld me arrayed in them at five. Davy had all our parts and the
songs of Miss Benette, for she was to sing alone if requested to do
so, and was to be ready, when I should call, to accompany me.

I was at length pronounced at liberty to depart,--that is, everybody
had examined me from head to foot. I had a sprig of the largest myrtle
in the greenhouse quilted into the second and third button-holes, and
my white gloves were placed in my pocket by Clo, after she had wrapped
them in white paper. I privately carried a sprig of myrtle, too, for
Miss Benette: it was covered with blossom, and of a very fine species.
Thoné never answered the door in St. Anthony's Lane, but invariably
the same extraordinary figure who had startled me on my first visit.
She stared so long with the door in her hand, this time, that I rushed
past her and ran up the stairs.

Still singing! Yes, there she was, in her little bonnet, but from head
to foot enveloped in a monstrous cloak; I could not see what dress she
wore. It was November now, and getting very dusk; but we had both
expressed a wish to walk, and Davy always preferred it. How curious
his shell looked in the uncertain gleam! The tiny garden, as
immaculate as ever, wore the paler shine of asters and Michaelmas
daisies; and the casement above, being open, revealed Davy watching
for us through the twilight. He came down instantly, sweeping the
flower-shrubs with his little cloak, and having locked the door and
put the key into his pocket, he accosted us joyously, shaking hands
with us both. But he held all the music under his cloak too, nor would
I proceed until he suffered me to carry it. We called for Mr. Newton,
our companion tenor, who lived a short way in the town. He met us with
white gloves ready put on, and in the bravery of a white waistcoat,
which he exhibited through the opening of his jauntily hung
great-coat. I left him behind with Davy, and again found myself with
Miss Benette. I began to grow nervous when, having passed the shops
and factories of that district, we emerged upon the Lawborough Road,
lit by a lamp placed here and there, with dark night looming in the
distant highway. Again we passed house after house standing back in
masses of black evergreen; but about not a few there was silence, and
no light from within. At length, forewarned by rolling wheels that had
left us far behind them, we left the gate of the Priory and walked up
to the door.

It was a very large house, and one of the carriages had just driven
off as Davy announced his name. One of three footmen, lolling in the
portico, aroused and led us to a room at the side of the hall,
shutting us in. It was a handsome room, though small, furnished with a
looking-glass; here were also various coats and hats reposing upon
chairs. I looked at myself in the glass while Davy and our tenor gave
themselves the last touch, and then left it clear for them. I
perceived that Miss Benette had not come in with us, or had stayed
behind. She had taken off her bonnet elsewhere, and when we were all
ready, and the door was opened, I saw her once more, standing
underneath the lamp. I could not find out how she was dressed; her
frock was, as usual, black silk, but of the very richest. She wore
long sleeves, and drooping falls upon her wrists of the finest black
lace; no white against her delicate throat, except that in front she
had placed a small but really magnificent row of pearls. Her silky
dark hair she wore, as usual, slightly drooped on either temple, but
neither curled nor banded. I presented her with the myrtle sprig,
which she twisted into her pearls, seeming pleased with it; but
otherwise she was very unexcited, though very bright. I was not
bright, but very much excited; I quite shook as we walked up the soft
stair-carpet side by side. She looked at me in evident surprise.

"You need not be nervous, Master Auchester, I assure you!"

"It is going into the drawing-room, and being introduced, I hate; will
there be many people, do you think?"

She opened her blue eyes very wide when I asked her, and then, with a
smile quite new to me upon her face, a most enchanting but sorely
contemptuous smile, she said,--

"Oh! we are not going in there,--did you think so? There is a separate
room for us, in which we are to sip our coffee."

I was truly astonished, but I had not time to frame any expression; we
were ushered forward into the room she had suggested. It was a sort of
inner drawing-room apparently, for there were closed folding-doors in
the wall that opposed the entrance. An elegant chandelier hung over a
central rosewood table; on this table lay abundance of music,
evidently sorted with some care. Two tall wax-candles upon the
mantelshelf were reflected in a tall mirror in tall silver sticks; the
gold-colored walls were pictureless, and crimson damask was draperied
and festooned at the shuttered window. Crimson silk chairs stood
about, and so did the people in the room, whom we began, Clara and I,
to scrutinize. Standing at the table by Davy, and pointing with a
white kid finger to the music thereon arranged, was an individual with
the organs of melody and of benevolence in about equal development; he
was talking very fast. I was sure I knew his face, and so I did. It
was the very Mr. Westley who came upon us in the corridor at the
festival. He taught the younger Miss Redferns, of whom there was a
swarm; and as they grew they were passed up to the tuition of Monsieur
Mirandos, a haughtily-behaved being, in the middle of the rug, warming
his hands, gloves and all, and gazing with the self-consciousness of
pianist primo then and there present. It was Clara who initiated me
into this fact, and also that he taught the competent elders of that
exclusively feminine flock, and that he was the author of a grand
fantasia which had neither predecessor nor descendant. Miss Benette
and I had taken two chairs in the corner next the crimson curtain, and
nestling in there we laughed and we talked.

"Who is the man in a blue coat with bright buttons, now looking up at
the chandelier?" I inquired.

"That is a man who has given his name an Italian termination, but I
forget it. He has a great name for getting up concerts, and I daresay
he will be a sort of director to-night."

So it was, at least so it seemed, for he at last left the room, and
returning presented us each with a sheet of pink-satin note-paper, on
which were named and written in order the compositions awaiting
interpretation. We looked eagerly to see where our first glee came.

"Oh! not for a good while, Master Auchester. But do look, here is that
Mirandos going to play his _grande fantaisie sur des motifs
militaires_. Oh! who is that coming in?"

Here Miss Benette interrupted herself, and I, excited by her accent,
looked up simultaneously.

As for me, I knew directly who it was, for the gentleman entering at
the door so carelessly, at the same time appearing to take in the
whole room with his glance, had a violin-case in his hand. I shall not
forget his manner of being immediately at home, nodding to one and
another amiably, but with a slight sneer upon his lip, which he
probably could not help, as his mouth was very finely cut. I felt
certain it was Santonio; and while the gentleman upon the rug
addressed him very excitedly, and received a cool reply, though I
could not hear what it was, for all the men were talking, Davy came up
to us and confirmed my presentiment.

"What a handsome gentleman he is, but how he stares!" said Clara, in a
serious manner that set me laughing; and then Davy whispered "Hush!"

But it was of little use, for Santonio came up now to our corner, and
deposited his case on the next chair to Miss Benette, looking at her
all the while and at me, so that we could well see his face. It was
certainly very handsome,--a trifle too handsome, perhaps, yet full of
harmonious lines, and the features were very pure. His complexion was
glowing, yet fair, and passed well by contrast into the hue of his
eyes, which were of that musical gray more blue than slate-colored.
Had he been less handsome, the Hebrew contour might have been more
easily detected; as it was, it was clear to me, but might not have
occurred to others who did not look for it. A brilliant person, such
as I have seldom seen, he yet interested more by his gestures, his way
of scanning, and smiling to himself, his defiant self-composure,
something discomposing to those about him, than by his positive
personal attractions. Having examined us, he examined also Davy, and
said specially, "How are you?"

"Quite well, thank you," replied our master; "I had no right to expect
you would remember me, Mr. Santonio."

"Oh! I never forget anybody," was the reply; "I often wish I did, for
I have seen everybody now, and there is no one else to see."

"Oh!" thought I to myself, but I said nothing, "you have not seen
_one_." For I felt sure, I knew not why, that he had not.

"Is this your son, Davy?" questioned he, once more speaking, and
looking down upon me for an instant.

"Certainly not; my pupil and favorite alto."

"Is he for the profession, then?"

"What do you say, Charles?"

"Yes, Mr. Davy, certainly."

"If I don't mistake, it will not be alto long, though," said Santonio,
with lightness; "his arm and hand are ready made for me."

I was so transported that I believe I should have knelt before
Santonio but that, as lightly as he had spoken, he had turned again
away. It was as if he had not said those words, so unaltered was his
face, with those curved eyebrows; and I wished he had left me alone
altogether, I felt so insignificant. It was a good thing for me that
now there entered footmen very stately, with silver trays, upon which
they carried coffee, very strong and cold, and chilly green tea. We
helped ourselves, every one, and then it was I really began to enjoy
the exclusion with which we had been visited; for we all seemed shut
in and belonging to each other. The pianist primo joked with Santonio,
and Mr. Westley attacked Davy, while Newton and the man in the blue
coat with bright buttons wore the subject of the festival to a thread;
for the former had been away, and the latter had been there, and the
latter enlightened the former, and more than enlightened him, and
where his memory failed, invented, never knowing that I, who had been
present, was listening and judging,--as Clara said, "he was making up
stories;" and indeed it was a surprise for me to discover such an
imagination dwelling in a frame so adipose.

Santonio at last attracted our whole attention by pouring his coffee
into the fire, and asking a footman, who had re-entered with wafers
and tea-cakes, for some more coffee that was hot; and while we were
all laughing very loud, another footman, a shade more pompous than
this, threw back the folding-doors that divided us from the
impenetrable saloon. As those doors stood open we peeped in.

"How many people there are!" said I.

"Yes," said Clara, "but they are not very wise."

"Why do you suppose not?"

"First, because they have set the piano close up against the wall. Mr.
Davy will have it out, I know."

"I see a great many young ladies in pink frocks,--I suppose the Miss
Redferns."

"See that man, Master Auchester, who is looking down at the legs of
the piano, to find out how they are put on."

And thus we talked and laughed until Santonio had finished his coffee,
quite as if no one was either in that room or in the next.

"It was not warm, after all," said he to Mirandos; but this was in a
lower tone, and he put on an air of hauteur withal that became him
wonderfully. Then I found that we had all become very quiet, and there
had grown a hush through the next room, so that it looked like a vast
picture, of chandeliers all light, tall glasses, ruddy curtains, and
people gayly yet lightly dressed. The men in there spoiled the
picture, though,--they none of them looked comfortable: men seldom do
in England at an evening party. Our set, indeed, looked comfortable
enough, though Davy was a little pale; I very well knew why. At last
in came the footman again; he spoke to the gentleman in the blue coat
with bright buttons. _He_ bowed, looked red, and walked up to Davy.
Miss Benette's song came first, I knew; and I declare the blood quite
burned at my heart with feeling for her. How little I knew her really!
Almost before I could look for her, she was gone from my side; I
watched her into the next room. She walked across it just as she was
used to cross her own little lonely room at home, except that she just
touched Davy's arm. As she had predicted, he drew the piano several
feet from the wall,--it was a grand piano--and she took her place by
him. As serenely, as seriously, with that bright light upon her face
which was as the sunshine amidst those lamps, she seemed, and I
believe was, as serene, as serious, as when at home over her exquisite
broidery. No music was before Davy as he commenced the opening
symphony of one of Weber's most delighting airs. The public was just
fresh from the pathos of Weber's early death, and everybody rushed to
hear his music. She began with an intensity that astonished even
me,--an ease that so completely instilled the meaning that I ceased to
be alarmed or to tremble for her. Her voice even then held promise of
what it has since become, as perfectly as does the rose-bud, half
open, contain the rose. I have seen singers smile while they sang; I
have watched them sing with the tears upon their cheeks: yet I never
saw any one sing so seriously as Miss Benette, calmly, because it is
her nature, and above all, with an evident facility so peculiar that I
have ceased to reverence conquered difficulties so much as I believe I
ought to do for the sake of art. Everybody was very quiet, quieter
than at many public concerts; but this audience was half stupefied
with curiosity, as well as replete with the novelty of the style
itself. Everybody who has enthusiasm knows the effect of candle-light
upon the brain during the performance of music anywhere, and just as
we were situated there was a strange romance, I thought. Santonio
stood upon the rug; a very sweet expression sat upon his lips,--I
thought even _he_ was enchanted; and when Clara was silent and had
come back again so quietly, without any flush upon her face, I thought
he would surely come too and compliment her. But no, he was to play
himself, and had taken out his violin.

It was a little violin, and he lifted it as if it had been a flower or
an infant, and laid his head lovingly upon it while he touched the
strings. They, even those pizzicato hints, seemed to me to be sounds
borne out of another sphere, so painfully susceptible I became
instantly to the power of the instrument itself.

"It is to be the Grand Sonata, I see."

"No, sir," said Davy, who had come back with Miss Benette.

"Yes, but I shall not play with Mirandos; we settled that, Miss
Lawrence and I."

"Who is Miss Lawrence?"

"An ally of mine."

"In the room?"

"Yes, yes. Don't talk, Davy; she is coming after me. Your servant,
Miss Lawrence!"

I beheld a young lady in the doorway.

"So, Mr. Santonio, you are not ready? They are all very impatient for
a sight of you."

"I am entirely at your service."

"Come, then."

She beckoned with her hand. It was all so sudden that I could only
determine the color of her hair, black; and of her brocaded dress, a
dark blue. Her voice was in tone satirical, and she spoke like one
accustomed to be obeyed. When Santonio entered, there began a buzzing,
and various worthies in white kid gloves clustered round the piano. He
drew the desk this side of the instrument, so that not only his back
was turned to us, but he screened Miss Lawrence also; and I was
provoked that I could see nothing but the pearls that were twisted
with her braided hair. It was one of Beethoven's complete works to be
interpreted, a divine duo for violin and piano, that had then never
been heard in England, except at the Philharmonic concerts; and I did
not know the name even then of the Philharmonic. And when it began, an
indescribable sensation of awe, of bliss, of almost anguish, pervaded
me,--it was the very bitter of enjoyment; but I could not realize it
for a long time.

The perfection of Santonio's bowing never tempted him to eccentricity,
and no one could have dreamed of comparing him with Paganini, so his
fame was safe. But I knew nothing of Paganini, and merely felt from
head to foot as if I were the violin and he was playing upon me, so
completely was I drawn into the performance, body and soul,--not the
performance merely, let me say; as a violinist now, my conviction is
that the influence is as much physical as supernatural of my adopted
instrument. That time my nerves were so much affected that I trembled
in every part of me. Internally I was weeping, but my tears overflowed
not my eyes.

Santonio's _cantabile_, whatever they say of Ernst or of Sivori, is
superior to either. There is a manly passion in his playing that never
condescends to coquette with the submissive strings; it wailed enough
that night for anything, and yet never degenerated into imitation. I
knew directly I heard him draw the first quickening, shivering
chord--shivering to my heart--I knew that the violin must become my
master, or I its own.

Davy, still pale, but radiant with sympathetic pleasure, continued to
glance down upon me, and Clara's eyes were lost in drooping to the
ground. I scarcely know how it was, but I was very inadvertent of the
pianoforte part, magnificently sustained as it was and inseparable
from the other, until Clara whispered to Davy, "Does she not play
remarkably well, sir?"

"Yes," he returned; "I am surprised. She surely must be professional."
But none of us liked to inquire, at least then.

I noticed afterwards, from time to time, how well the piano met the
violin in divided passages, and how exactly they went together; but
still those strings, that bow, were all in all for me, and Santonio
was the scarcely perceptible presence of an intimate sympathy, veiled
from me as it were by a hovering mist of sound. So it was especially
in the slow movement, with its long sighs, like the voice of silence,
and its short, broken sobs of joy. The thrill of my brain, the deep
tumult of my bosom, alone prevented me from tears, just as the rain
falls not when the wind is swelling highest, but waits for the
subsiding hush. The analogy will not serve me out, nevertheless, for
at the close of the last movement, so breathless and so impetuous as
it was, there was no hush, only a great din, in the midst of which I
wept not; it was neither time nor place. Miss Benette, too, whispered
just at the conclusion, when Santonio was haughtily, and Miss Lawrence
carelessly, retiring, "Now we shall go; but please do not make me
laugh, Master Auchester."

"How can you say so, when it was your fault that we laughed the other
night?"

And truly it did seem impossible to unsettle that sweet gravity of
hers, though it often unsettled mine.



CHAPTER XX.


We went, and really I found it not so dreadful; and so was I drawn to
listen for her voice so dear to me even then, that I forgot all other
circumstances except that she was standing by me there, singing. I
sang very well,--to my shame if it be spoken, I always know when I do;
and the light color so seldom seen on Davy's cheek attested his
satisfaction. Davy himself sang alone next, and we were cleared off
every one, while he sang so beautiful a bass solo, in its delicacy and
simplicity, as I had ever heard. Clara and I mutually agreed to be
very nervous for our master. I am sure he was so, but nobody could
have told it of him who did not know him inside and out,--not even
Santonio, who, standing on the rug again, and turning down his
wristbands, which had disappeared altogether while he played, said to
Mirandos, "He seems very comfortable," meaning Davy. Then came a
quartet, and we figured again.

I was not glad to feel the intermitting tenor supplant that soprano.
Truly, it seemed that the higher Clara sang, the nearer she got to
heaven. The company applauded this quartet, mere thready tissue of
sweet sounds as it was--Rossini's--more than even Santonio's violin;
but twenty years ago there had been no universal deluge of education,
as I have lived to see since, and, at least in England in the midland
counties, people were few who could make out the signs of musical
genius so as to read them as they ran. Perhaps it was better that the
musician then only sought for sympathy among his own kind.

I knew Mirandos, and his fantasia came next, and hastily retreated,
pulling Miss Benette by her dress to bring her away too; for I had a
horror of his spreading hands. Santonio, impelled I daresay by the
small curiosity which characterizes great minds in the majority of
instances, came on the contrary forwards, and stood in the doorway to
watch Mirandos take his seat. I could see the sneer settle upon his
lips, subtle as that was; and I should have liked to stand and watch
him, for I am fond of watching the countenances of artists in their
medium moments, when I saw that Miss Benette had stolen to the fire,
and was leaning against the mantelshelf her infantine forehead. Her
attraction was strongest; I joined her.

"Now," said I, "if it were not for Santonio, would you not find this
evening very dull?"

"It is not an evening at all, Master Auchester, it is a candle-light
day; and so far from finding it dull, I find it a great deal too
bright. I could listen forever to Mr. Davy's voice."

"What can it be that makes his voice so sweet, when it is such a deep
voice?"

"I know it is because he has never sung in theatres. It does make a
deep voice rough to sing in theatres, unless a man does not begin to
sing so for a long, very long time."

"Miss Benette, is that the reason you do not mean to sing in
theatres?"

"No; but it is the reason I sing so much in my little room."

"Mr. Davy says you don't mean to act."

"No more I do mean, but perhaps it will come upon me, and Thoné says,
'Child, you must.'"

"She thinks you have a special gift, then?"

"Who said to you about the special gift, Master Auchester? Do you ever
forget anything you hear?"

"Never! I am like Mr. Santonio. But Mr. Davy told me the night I asked
him your name."

"Oh, yes, I told him I had not a special gift. I thought the words so
put together would please him, and I like to please him, he is good. I
do not think it is a special gift, you know, Master Auchester, to
act."

"What is it then, Miss Benette?"

"An inspiration."

"Mr. Davy called the conducting at the festival inspiration."

"Oh, yes; but all great composers are inspired."

"Do you consider our conductor was a great composer?"

"I daresay; but you must not ask me, I am not wise. Thoné is very
wise, and she said to me the other day, after you were gone, 'He is
one of us.'"

"But, Miss Benette, she is a gypsy, and I am not."

"We are not all alike because we are one. Can there be music without
many combinations, and they each of many single sounds?"

Mirandos was putting on the pedal, and we paused at this moment, as he
paused before the _attacca_. Santonio still remained in the doorway,
and Davy was standing in the window against the crimson curtain,
listening, and quite white with distress at the performance; for the
keys every now and then jangled furiously, and a storm of _arpeggi_
seemed to endanger the very existence of the fragile wires.

Suddenly a young lady swept past Santonio, and glanced at Davy in
passing into our retreat. Santonio, of course, did not move an inch;
certainly there was just room enough to clear him! But Davy fell back
into the folds of the curtain, frowning, not at the young lady, but at
the fantasia.

It was Miss Lawrence; and lo! before I could well recognize her, she
stepped up to me and said, without a bow or any introductory flourish,
"Are you Mr. Davy's pupil?"

"We are both, ma'am," I answered foolishly, half indicating Miss
Benette, who was bending her lashes into the firelight. Miss Lawrence
replied lightly, yet seriously,--

"Oh, I know _she_ is, but you first, because I knew you again."

I gazed upon her at this crisis. She had a peculiar face, dark yet
soft; and her eye was very fine, large, and half closed, but not at
all languid. Her forehead spread wide beneath jetty hair as smooth as
glass, and her mouth was very satirical,--capable of sweetness, as
such mouths alone are, though the case is often reversed. How
satirical are some expressions that slumber in sweetness too exquisite
to gaze on! And as for this young lady's manner, very easy was she,
yet so high as to be unapproachable, unless she first approached you.
Her accent was polished, or her address would have been somewhat
brusque; as it was, it only required, not requested, a reply. She went
on all this time, though,--

"I saw you in the chorus at the festival, and I watched you well; and
I saw you run out and return with that water-glass I envied you in
bearing. I hope you thought yourself enviable?"

"I certainly did not, because I could not think of myself at all."

"That is best! Now will you--that is, can you--tell me who the
conductor was?"

I forgot who she was, and imploringly my whole heart said, "Oh, do
pray tell us! We have tried and tried to find out, and no one knows."

"No one knows, but I _will_ know!" and she shook impatiently the rich
coral _négligée_ that hung about her throat. Again, with much
bitterness in her tones, she resumed, "I think it was cruel and unjust
besides not to tell us, that we at least might have thanked him. Even
poor St. Michel was groaning over his ignorance of such a
personage,--if indeed he be a wight, and not a sprite. I shall find a
witch next."

"Thoné!" I whispered to Clara, and her lips parted to smile, but she
looked not up.

And now a young man came in, out of the company, to look for Miss
Lawrence.

"Oh, is Miss Lawrence here?" said Santonio, carelessly turning and
looking over his shoulder to find her, though I daresay he knew she
was there well enough. However, he came up now and took his stand by
her side, and they soon began to talk. Rather relieved that the
responsibility was taken off myself, I listened eagerly.

It was fascinating in the extreme to me to see how Miss Lawrence
spurned the arm of the gentleman who had come to look for her and to
conduct her back; he was obliged to retire discomfited, and Santonio
took no heed of him at all. I could not help thinking then that Miss
Lawrence must have been everywhere and have seen everything, to be so
self-possessed, for I could quite distinguish between her
self-possession and Clara's,--the latter natural, the former acquired,
however naturally worn.

It was not long, nevertheless, before I received a shock. It was
something in this way. Miss Lawrence had reverted to the festival, and
she said to Santonio, "I had hopes of this young gentleman, because I
thought he belonged to the conductor, who spoke to him between the
parts; but he is as wise as the rest of us, and I can only say my
conviction bids fair to become my faith."

"Your conviction that you related to me in such a romantic narrative?"
asked Santonio, without appearing much interested. But he warmed as he
proceeded. "The wind was very poor at the festival, I heard."

"They always say so in London about country performances, you know,
either at least about the wind or the strings, or else one luckless
oboe is held up to ridicule, or a solitary flute, or a desolate
double-bass."

"But if the solitary flute or bass render themselves absurd, they
should be ridiculed far more in a general orchestra than in a
particular quartet or so, for the effect of the master-players thus
goes for nothing. I never yet heard a stringed force go through an
oratorio, and its violent exercises for the _tutti_, without falling
at least a tone."

"Oh, the _primi_ were very well! and in fact, had all been flat
together, it would have been unnoticeable; while the _tempi_ were
marked so clearly, no one had time to criticise and analyze. But the
organ had better have been quiet altogether; it would have looked very
well, and nobody would have known it was not sounding."

"I beg your pardon, every one would then have called out for more
noise."

"Not so, Mr. Santonio; there was quite body enough. But there sat
Erfurt, groping, as he always does, for the pedals, and punching the
keys, while the stops, all out, could very often not be got in in
time, and we had _fortissimo_ against the fiddles."

"I wonder your conductor did not give one little tap upon Erfurt's
skull. So much for his own judgment, Miss Lawrence."

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Santonio; the grand point was making all go
together, such as it was, so that no one realized a discrepancy
anywhere. Interruptions would not only have been useless, they would
have been ignorant; but in this person's strange intimacy with the
exigencies of a somewhat unsteady orchestra, his consummate triumph
was achieved."

"Well, I believe he will be found some time hence, in some
out-of-the-way hole, that shall deprive you all of enchantment."

"I do believe he is my wizard of Rothseneld."

"You are very credulous if you can so believe."

And they said much more. But what shocked me, had been the denuding
treatment of my all-glorious festival,--my romance of perfectibility,
my ideal world. How they talked--for I cannot remember the phrases
they strung into cold chains, at much greater length than I record--of
what had been for me as heaven outspread above in mystery and beauty,
and as a heaven-imaging deep beneath, beyond my fathom, yet whereon I
had exulted as on the infinite unknown! they making it instead a
reality not itself all lovely,--a revelation not itself complete. I
had not been mixed in the musical world; for there is such a world as
is not heaven, but earth, in the realm of tone, and tone-artists must
pass, as it were, through it. How few receive not from it some touch,
some taint of its clinging presence! How few, indeed, infuse into
it--while in it they are necessitated to linger--the spirit of their
heavenly home! Dimly, of a truth, had the life of music been then
opened to my ken; but it seemed at that moment again enclosed, and I
fell back into the first darkness. It was so sad to me to feel thus,
that I could not for an instant recover my faith in myself. I fancied
myself too insignificantly affected, and would, if I could, have
joined in the anti-spiritual prate of Miss Lawrence and Santonio. Let
me do them no injustice; they were both musicians, but I was not old
enough to appreciate their actual enthusiasm, as it were by mutual
consent a sealed subject between them.

I am almost tempted, after all, to say that it is best not to tamper
with our finest feelings,--best to keep silence; but let me
beware,--it is while we muse, the fire kindles, and we are then to
speak with our tongues. Let _them_ be touched too, though, with the
inward fire, or we have no right to speak.



CHAPTER XXI.


Oh, shame upon me, thus to ramble, when I should be restoring merely!

After the shock I mentioned, the best thing happened to me
possible,--we had to sing again; and Clara's voice arising, like the
souls of flowers, to the sun, became actually to me as the sun unto
those flowery souls. I revived and recovered my warmth; but now the
reaction had come, and I sang through tears. I don't know how my voice
sounded, but I felt it return upon me, and Davy grew rather nervous, I
knew, from his manner of accompanying. And I did not say that while
Miss Lawrence had stood and chatted with Santonio, a noiseless
_rentrée_ of footmen had taken place,--they bearing salvers loaded
with ices and what are called "creams" at evening parties.

A sort of interlude this formed, of which the guests availed
themselves to come and stare in upon us; and as they looked in we
peeped out, though nobody ventured on our side beyond the doorway. So
our duet had happened afterwards, and the music was to be resumed
until twelve o'clock, the supper-hour. And after our duet there was
performed this coda, that Miss Redfern requested Miss Lawrence to play
with her, and that Miss Lawrence refused, but consented, at Santonio's
suggestion, to play alone. As soon as she was seen past our
folding-door, the whole male squadron advanced to escort her to the
piano; but as she was removing her gloves leisurely, she waved them
off, and they became of no account whatever in an instant. She sat
down very still and played a brilliant prelude, a more than brilliant
fugue, short and sharp, then a popular air, with variations, few, but
finely fingered; and at last, after a few modulations, startling from
the hand of a female, something altogether new, something fresh and
mystical, that affected me painfully even at its opening notes. It was
a movement of such intense meaning that it was but one sigh of
unblended and unfaltering melody, isolated as the fragrance of a
single flower; and only the perfumes of Nature exhale a bliss as
sweet, how far more unexpressed! This short movement, that in its
oneness was complete, grew, as it were, by fragmentary harmonies
intricate, but most gradual, into another,--a _prestissimo_, so
delicately fitted, that it was like moonlight dancing upon crested
ripples; or for a better similitude, like quivering sprays in a summer
wind. And in less than fifty bars of regularly broken time--how
ravishingly sweet I say not--the first subject in refrain flowed
through the second, and they interwoven even as creepers and flowers
densely tangled, closed together simultaneously. The perfect command
Miss Lawrence possessed over the instrument did not in the least occur
to me; I was possessed but by one idea. Yet too nervous to venture
into that large room, I eagerly watched her, and endeavored to arrest
her eye, that I might beckon her among us again; so resolute was I to
ask her the name of the author. Santonio, as if really excited, had
made a sort of rush to her, and was now addressing her, but I heard
not what they said, though Davy did, for he had followed Santonio. To
my surprise, I saw that Miss Benette had taken herself into a corner,
and when I gazed upon her she was wiping her eyes. I was reminded
then that my own were running over.

Scarcely was I fit to look up again, having retreated to another
corner, when I beheld Miss Lawrence, in her blue brocade, come in and
look about her. She absolutely advanced to me.

"Did you like that little dream? That is my notion of the gentleman at
the festival, do you know."

"Did you compose it?" I asked in a maze.

"No, I believe he did."

"Then you know who he is? Tell me, oh! tell me the name."

She smiled then at me with kindness,--a beneficent sweetness. "Come,
sit down, and I will sit by you and tell you the story."

"May not Miss Benette come too?"

"Oh, certainly, if she is not more comfortable out there. I wish you
would bring her, though, for I want to see her eyes." I slipped over
the carpet. "Come, Miss Benette, and hear what Miss Lawrence is
saying." She looked a little more serious with surprise, but followed
me across the room and took the next chair beyond mine. Santonio came
up too, but Miss Lawrence said, "Go,--you have heard it before;" and
he, having to play again next, retired with careful dignity.

"You must know that once on a time,--which means about three months
ago,"--began Miss Lawrence, as if she were reading the introductory
chapter of a new novel, "I wanted some country air and some hard
practice. I cannot get either in London, where I live, and I
determined to combine the two. So I took a cottage in a lone part of
Scotland,--mountainous Scotland; but no one went with me except my
maid, and we took care together of a grand pianoforte which I hired
in Edinburgh, and carried on with me, van and all.

"It was glorious weather just then, and when I arrived at my cottage I
found it very difficult to practise, though very charming to play; and
I played a great deal,--often all the day until the evening, when I
invariably ascended my nearest hill, and inhaled the purest air in the
whole world. My maid went always with me; and at such seasons I left
my pianoforte sometimes shut, and sometimes open, as it happened, in
my parlor, which had a splendid prospect, and very wide windows
opening to the garden in front. I allowed these windows to remain open
always when I went out, and I have often found Beethoven's sonatas
strewed over the lawn when the wind blew freshly, as very frequently
it did. You may believe I often prolonged my strolls until the sun had
set and the moon arisen. So one time it happened, I had been at work
the whole day upon a crabbed copy of studies by Bach and Handel that
my music-seller had smuggled for me from an old bureau in a Parisian
warehouse,--for you must know such studies are rarely to be found."

"Why not?" asked I, rather abruptly, just as if it had been Millicent
who was speaking.

"Oh! just because they are rare practice, I suppose. But listen, or
our tale will be cut off short, as I see Santonio is about to play."

"Oh, make haste then, pray!"

And she resumed in a vein more lively.

"The whole day I had worked, and at evening I went out. The sunshine
had broken from dark, moist clouds all over those hills. The first
steep I climbed was profusely covered with honeysuckle, and the rosy
gold of the clusters, intermixed with the heather, just there a
perfect surface, pleased me so much that I gathered more than I could
well hold in both my arms. Victorine was just coming out,--that is, my
handmaid,--and I returned past her to leave my flowers at home. It
struck me first to throw them over the palings upon the little lawn,
but second thoughts determined me to carry them in-doors for a sketch,
or something. I got into my parlor by the glass door, and flung them
all, fresh as they were, and glimmering with rain-drops, upon the
music-stand of the pianoforte. I cannot tell you why I did it, but so
it was; and I had a fancy that they would be choice companions for
those quaint studies which yet lay open upon the desk.

"In that lone place, such was its beauty and its virtue, we never
feared to leave the windows open or the doors all night unlocked; and
I think it very possible I may have left the little gate of the front
garden swinging after me, for Victorine always latched it, as she came
last.

"At all events, I found her on the top of the honeysuckle height,
carrying a camp-stool and looking very tired. The camp-stool was for
her, as I always reposed on the grass, wrapped in a veritable tartan.
And this night I reposed a good deal to make a flying sunset sketch.
Then I stayed to find fault with my dry earth and wooden sky, and the
heather with neither gold nor bloom upon it; then to watch the shadows
creep up the hill, and then the moon, and then the lights in the
valley, till it was just nine o'clock. Slowly strolling home, I met
nobody except a shadow,--that is to say, as I was moving no faster
myself than a snail, I suddenly saw a long figure upon the ground flit
by me in the broad moonlight.

"'It was a gentleman in a cloak,' said Victorine. But I had seen no
person, only, as I have said, a shadow, and took no note.

"'He had a sketching-book like Mademoiselle's, and was pale,' added
Victorine. But I bade her be silent, as she was too fond of talking;
still, I replied, 'Everybody looks pale by moonlight,'--a fact to be
ascertained, if anywhere, on a moonlit moor.

"So I came home across the lawn, and got in at my window. I rang for
candles; it was not dark, certainly, but I wanted to play. I stood at
the window till the goodwife of the house, from her little kitchen,
brought them up. She placed them upon the piano, as I had always
ordered her to do, and left the room. After I had watched the
moonlight out of doors for some time, being lazy with that wild air, I
walked absently up to the instrument. What had taken place there?
Behold, the Bach and Handel, discarded, lay behind the desk, having
been removed by some careful hand, and on the desk itself, still
overhung with the honeysuckle and heather I had hastily tossed about
it, I found a sheet of music-paper. I could not believe my eyes for a
long time. It was covered with close, delicate composition, so small
as to fill a double page, and distinct as any printing. It had this
inscription, but no name, no notice else: 'Heather and Honeysuckle; a
Tone-wreath from the Northern Hills."'

"And that is what you played; oh, Miss Lawrence!" I cried, less in
ecstasy at the sum of the story than at my own consciousness of having
anticipated its conclusion.

"Yes, that is what I played, and what I very seldom do play; but I
thought you should hear it!"

"I!" I cried, much too loud under the circumstances; but I could not
have helped it. "It was very kind of you, but I don't know why you
should. But it is by _him_ then?"

"You have said!" answered Miss Lawrence, laughing,--"at least I think
so. And if you and I agree, no doubt we are right."

"No, I don't see that at all," I replied; for it was a thing I could
not allow. "I am only a little boy, and you are a great player, and
grown up. Besides, you saw his shadow."

"Do you think so? Well, I thought so myself, though it may possibly
have been the shadow of somebody else."

Miss Lawrence here stopped, that she might laugh; and as she laughed,
her deep eyes woke up and shone like fire-flies glancing, to and fro.
Very Spanish she seemed then, and very Jewish withal. I had never seen
a Spaniard I suppose then, but I conceive I had met with prints of
Murillo's "Flower-girl;" for her eyes were the only things I could
think of while Miss Lawrence laughed.

"At all events," she at last continued, "the 'Tone-wreath' is no
shadow." I was astonished here to perceive that Clara had raised her
eyes,--indeed, they looked fully into those of the speaker.

"He came from Germany, you can be sure at least."

"Why so, Miss Benette?" replied Miss Lawrence, graciously, but with a
slight deference very touching from one so self-sustained.

"Because it is only in that land they call music 'Tone.'"

"But still he may have visited Germany and listened to the
Tongedicht[11] of Beethoven; for _he_ is not so long dead." And she
sighed so deeply that I felt a deep passion indeed must have exhaled
that sigh. I got out of my chair and ran to Lenhart Davy, for I saw
him yet in the curtain. He detained me, saying, "My dear little boy,
do stay by me and sit a while, that you may grow calm; for verily,
Charles, your eyes are dancing almost out of your head. Besides, I
should like you to _see_ Mr. Santonio while he plays."

"Will he turn his face this way though, Mr. Davy? For he did not
before."

"I particularly requested him to do so, and he agreed, on purpose that
you might look at him." In fact, Santonio had taken up the gilt
music-stand, and very coolly turned it towards us, in the very centre
of the company, who shrank with awe from his immediate presence, and
left a circle round him. Then, as Mirandos, who had to play a trifling
negative accompaniment to the stringed solo, advanced to the piano,
the lord of the violin turned round and nodded at me as he himself
took his seat.

FOOTNOTE:

[11] Tone poem.



CHAPTER XXII.


We--that is, Miss Benette and Davy and I--came away from the Redferns
all in a hurry, just before supper, Santonio having informed us that
he intended to stay. He indeed, if I recollect right, took Miss
Lawrence down, and I have a dim remembrance of Mirandos poking
haughtily in the background. Also I remember our conversation on
returning home, and that Davy informed us Miss Lawrence was immensely
rich. She had lost her mother when a baby, he said; but I thought her
very far from pitiable,--she seemed to do so exactly as she pleased. I
had no idea of her age, and I did not think about it at all; but Miss
Benette said, "She is as independent as she is gifted, sir; and she
spoke to me like one who is very generous."

"Yes, I should think so," said Davy, cheerfully; "Santonio tells me
she is a pupil of Milans-André."

"Oh!" I cried, "how I wish I had known that."

"Why so, my dear boy?"

"Because I would have asked her what he is like,--I do so want to
know."

"She does not admire him so wonderfully, Santonio says, and soon tired
of his instructions. I suppose the fact is she can get on very well
alone."

"But I wish I had asked her, sir," I again said, "because we should be
quite sure about the conductor."

"But you forget Miss Lawrence was at the festival, Charles, and that
she saw you there. Come! my boy you are not vain."

"No, sir, I don't think I am. Oh! Miss Benette, you laughed!"

"Yes, Master Auchester, because you could be no more vain than I am."

"Why not, Miss Benette?"

"Because we could neither of us be vain, side by side with our
tone-master," she answered, with such a childlike single-heartedness
that I was obliged to look at Davy to see how he bore it. It was very
nearly dark, yet I could make out the lines of a smile upon his face.

"I am very proud to be called so, Miss Benette; but it is only a name
in my case, with which I am well pleased my pupils should amuse
themselves."

"Master Auchester," exclaimed Miss Benette, without reply to Davy at
all, "you can ask Miss Lawrence about Monsieur Milans-André, if you
please, for she is coming to see my work, and I think it will be
to-morrow that she will come."

"Oh, thank you, Miss Benette! I suppose Miss Lawrence said that to you
when Mr. Davy called me away to him?"

"I did not call you, Charles; you came yourself."

"But you kept me, sir,"--and it struck me on the instant that Davy's
delicate device ought not to have been touched upon; so I felt awkward
and kept silence.

I was left at home first, and promised Clara I would come, should my
mother and the weather agree to permit me. I was hurried to bed by
Clo, who had sat up to receive me. I was disappointed at not seeing
Millicent, with the unreasonableness which is exclusively fraternal;
but Clo informed me that my mother would not permit her to stay out of
bed.

"And, Charles, you must not say one word to-night, but eat this slice
of bacon and this egg directly, and let me take off your comforter."

The idea of eating eggs and bacon! I managed the egg, but it was all I
could do, and she then presented me with a cup of hot barley-water.
Oh! have you ever tasted barley-water, with a squeeze of lemon-juice,
after listening to the violin? I drank it off, and was just about to
make a rush at the door when Clo stopped me.

"My dear Charles, Margareth is gone up to bed; stay until I can light
you with my candle. And come into my room to undress, that you may not
wake my mother by throwing your brush down."

I was marched off impotent, she preceding me upstairs with a stately
step. But softly as we passed along, Millicent heard us; she just
opened a little bit of her door, and stooped to kiss me in her white
dressing-gown. "I have chosen my instrument," I said, in a whisper,
and she smiled. "Ah, Charles!"

I need not recapitulate my harangue the next morning when I came down
late and found only Millicent left to make my breakfast. I was
expected to be idle, and the rest had gone out to walk. But I
wondered, when I came to think, that I had been so careless as to omit
asking Clara the hour fixed for Miss Lawrence's visit,--though,
perhaps, was my after-thought, she did not know herself. I need not
have feared, though; for while I was lying about on the sofa after our
dinner, having been informed that I must do so, or I should not
practise in the evening, in came Margareth with a little white note
directed to "Master Charles Auchester."

"I am sure, Master Charles," said she, "you ought to show it to my
mistress, for the person that brought it was no servant in any family
hereabouts, and looks more like a gypsy than anything else."

"Well, and so it is a gypsy, Margareth. Of course I shall tell my
mother,--I know all about it."

Margareth wanted to know, I was sure, but I did not enlighten her
further; besides, I was in too great a hurry to break the seal,--a
quaint little impression of an eagle carrying in his beak an
oak-branch. The note was written in a hand full of character, yet so
orderly it made me feel ashamed. It was as follows:--

      DEAR SIR,--The young lady is here, and I said you wished to
      come. She has no objection, and will stay to see you.

        CLARA BENETTE.

"How like her!" I thought; and then, with an unpardonable impulse,--I
don't defend myself in the least,--I flew out of the house as if my
shoes had been made of satin. I left the note open upon the table (it
was in the empty breakfast-room where I had been lolling), meaning
thereby to save my credit,--like a simpleton as I was, for it
contained not one word of explanation.

A carriage was at the door of that corner house in St. Anthony's
Lane,--a dark-green carriage; very handsome, very plain, with a pair
of beautiful horses: the coachman, evidently tired of waiting, was
just going to turn their heads.

When I got into the room upstairs, or rather while yet upon the
stairs, I smelt some refined sort of foreign scent I had once before
met with in my experience; namely, when my mother had received a
present of an Indian shawl in an Indian box, from an uncle of hers who
had gone out to India and laid his bones there. When I really
entered, Miss Lawrence, in a chair by the table, was examining some
fresh specimens of Miss Benette's work outspread upon the crimson as
before. I abruptly wished Clara good-day, and immediately her visitor
held out her hand to me. This lady made me feel queer by daylight: I
could not realize, scarcely recognize, her. She looked not so
brilliant, and now I found that she was slightly sallow; her
countenance might have been called heavy, from its peculiar style.
Still, I admired her eyes, though I discerned no more fireflies in her
glance. She was dressed in a great shawl,--red, I think it was,--with
a black bonnet and feather; and her gloves were so loose, they seemed
as if they would fall off. She had an air of even more fashionable
ease than ever, and I, not knowing that it _was_ fashionable ease,
felt so abashed under its influence that I could not hold up my head.

She went on talking about the work. I found she wished to purchase
some; but Clara would not part with any of that which was upon the
table, because it was for the Quakers in Albemarle Square. But she was
very willing to work specially for Miss Lawrence. I thought I had
never seen Clara so calm,--I wondered she could be so calm; at once
she seemed to me like myself,--a child, so awfully grown-up did Miss
Lawrence appear. I beheld, too, that the latter lady glanced often
stealthily round and round the room, and I did not like her the better
for it. I thought she was curious, and very fine besides; so the idea
of asking her about Milans-André passed out of my brain completely.

She had, as I said, been discussing the work. She gave orders for
embroidered handkerchiefs, and was very particular about the flowers
to be worked upon them; and she gave orders for a muslin apron, to be
surrounded with vandykes, and to have vandyked pockets,--for a toilet
cushion and veil; and then she said: "Will you have the goodness to
send them to the Priory when they are finished? My friends live there,
and will send them on to me. I wish to pay for them now,"--and she
laid a purse upon the table.

"I think there is too much gold here, ma'am," said Clara, innocently.

"I know precisely the cost of work, Miss Benette: such work as yours
is, besides, priceless. Recollect, you find my materials. That is
sufficient, if you please." And to my astonishment, and rather dread,
she turned full upon me as I was standing at the table.

"You wish to know what Milans-André is like, Master Charles
Auchester,--for that is your name, I find. Well, thus much: he is not
like you, and he is not like Santonio, nor like the unknown conductor,
nor like your favorite, Mr. Davy. He is narrow at the shoulders, with
long arms, small white hands, and a handsome face,--rather too large
for his body. He plays wonderfully, and fills a large theatre with one
pianoforte. He is very amiable, but not kind; and very famous, but not
beloved."

"What an extraordinary description!" I thought; and I involuntarily
added: "I thought he was your master."

She seemed touched, and answered generously: "I am afraid you think me
ungrateful, but I owe nothing to him. Ah! you owe far more to your
master, Mr. Davy."

I was pleased, and replied, "Oh! I know that; but I should like to
hear Milans-André play."

"You will be sure to hear him. He will, ere long, become common, and
play everywhere. But if I had a piano here, I could show you exactly
how he plays, and could play you a piece of his music."

I thought it certainly a strange mistake in punctilio for Miss
Lawrence to refer to the want of a piano in that room; but I little
knew her. She paused, too, as she said it, and looked at Clara. Clara
did not blush, nor did her sweet face change.

"I am very sorry that I have no piano; I am to have one some day when
I grow rich. But Mr. Davy is kind enough to teach me at his house, and
I sing to his piano there. I wish I had one, though, that you might
play, Miss Lawrence."

The fire-flies all at once sparkled, almost dazzled, from the eyes of
Miss Lawrence: a sudden glow, which was less color than light, beamed
all over her face. I could tell she was enchanted about something or
other,--at least she looked so.

"Oh! Miss Benette," she answered, in a genial tone, "you are very,
very rich with such a voice as yours, and such power to make it
perfect as you possess."

Clara smiled. "Thank you for saying so." Miss Lawrence had risen to
go, yet she still detained herself, as having something left to do or
say.

"I should like to see you both again, and to hear you. You, Miss
Benette, I am sure of; but I also expect to discover something very
wonderful about Master Charles Auchester. You are to be a singer, of
course?" she quickly said to me.

"I hope I shall be a player, if I am to be anything."

"What, another Santonio, or another Milans-André?"

"Oh! neither; but I must learn the violin."

"Oh! is that it? Have you begun, and how long?"

"Not yet,--I have no violin; but I mean to begin very soon."

"Only determine, and you will. Farewell!"

She had passed out, leaving a purse upon the table, containing fifty
guineas. Miss Benette opened it, turned out the coins one by one, and,
full of trouble, said, "Oh! whatever shall I do? I shall be so unhappy
to keep it."

"But that is wrong, Miss Benette, because you deserve it. She is quite
right."

"No, but I will keep it, because she is generous, and I can see how
she loves to give."



CHAPTER XXIII.


Laura was at the next class. I had almost forgotten her until I saw
her eyes. I felt quite wicked when I perceived how thin and
transparent the child had grown,--wicked to have thought so little of
her in suffering, while I had been enjoying myself. I cannot give the
least idea how large her eyes looked,--they quite frightened me. I was
not used to see persons just out of illness. Her hair, too, was cut
much shorter, and, altogether, I did not admire her so much. I felt
myself again wicked for this very reason, and was quite unhappy about
it. She gave me a nod. Her cheeks were quite pale, and usually they
were very pink: this also affected me deeply. Clara appeared to
counter-charm me, and I saw no other immediately.

"Ah, Laura, dear! you are looking quite nice again, so pretty," said
this sweet girl as she took her seat; and then she stooped down and
kissed the little dancer.

I found myself rather in the way; for to Clara it seemed quite natural
to scatter happiness with her very looks. She turned to me, after
whispering with Laura:

"She wants to thank you for the flowers, but she does not like to
speak to you."

I was positively ashamed, and, to hide my confusion, said to Laura,
"Do you like violets?"

"Yes, but I like large flowers better. I like red roses and blue
cornflowers."

I did not care for cornflowers myself, except among the corn; and I
thought it very likely Laura took the poppies for roses; still, I did
not set her right,--it was too much trouble. But if I had known I
should never see her again,--I mean, see her as she then was,--I
should have taken more care to do her kindness. Is it not ever so?
Clara entirely engaged me; in fact, I was getting quite used _not_ to
do without her. How well I remember that evening! We sang a service.
Davy had written several very simple ones, and I longed to perform
them in public,--that is to say, in the singing gallery of our church.
But I might as well have aspired to sing them up in heaven, so utterly
would they have been spurned as innovatory.

It was this evening I felt for the first time what I suppose all boys
feel at one time or another,--that they cannot remain always just as
they are. It was no satiety, it was no disappointed hope, nor any
vague desire. It was purely a conviction that some change was awaiting
me. I suppose, in fact, it was a presentiment. The voices of our choir
seemed thin and far away; the pale cheek of Lenhart Davy seemed
stamped with unearthly lustre; the room and roof were wider, higher;
the evening colors, clustered in the shape of windows, wooed to that
distant sky. I was agitated, ecstatic. I could not sing; and when I
listened, I was bewildered in more than usual excitement. Snatches of
hymns and ancient psalms, morsels of the Bible, lullabies and bells,
speeches of no significance, uttered years and, as it seemed,
centuries ago, floated into my brain and through it, despite the
present, and made there a murmurous clamor, like the din of a mighty
city wafted to the ear of one who stands on a commanding hill. I
mention this to prove that presentiment is not a fatuity, but
something mysterious in its actuality,--like love, like joy; perhaps a
passion of memory, that anticipates its treasures and delights _to
be_.

"What beautiful words!" said Clara, in a whisper that seemed to have
more sweetness than other whispers, just as some shadows have more
symmetry than other shadows. She meant, "Unto whom I sware in my
wrath," and the rest.

"Yes," I answered, "I like those words, all of them, and the way they
are put. I always liked them when I was a little boy."

It was very hard to Miss Benette not to reply here, I could tell, she
so entirely agreed with me; but Davy was recalling our attention. When
the class was over, she resumed,--

"I know exactly what you mean; for I used to feel it at the old church
in London, where I went with Mr. Davy's aunt, and could not see above
the pew, it was so high."

"Did you like her, Miss Benette? Is she like him?"

"No, not much. She is a good deal stricter, but she is exceedingly
good; taller than he is, with much darker eyes. She taught me so much,
and was so kind to me, that I only wonder I did not love her a great
deal more."

I felt rather aghast, for, to tell the truth, I only wonder when I
love,--never when I am indifferent, as to most persons. As we were
going out, I asked leave to come and practise on the morrow,--I felt I
_must_ come. I wonder what I should have done had she refused me!
"Certainly, Master Auchester." But she was looking after Laura. "Let
me pin up that shawl, dear, and tie my veil upon your bonnet,--mind
you wear it down in the street." The child certainly seemed to have
put on her clothes in a dream, for her great shawl trailed a yard
behind her on the floor, and did not cover her shoulders at all. Her
bonnet-strings, now very disorderly indeed, were entangled in a knot,
which Clara patiently endeavored to divide. I waited as long as I
dared, but Davy was staying for me I knew, and at last he waved his
hand. I could no longer avoid seeing him, and said to Clara,
"Good-night." She smiled, but did not rise; she was kneeling before
Laura. "Good-night, Miss Lemark."

She only looked up. The large eyes seemed like the drops of rain after
a drenching shower within the chalice of some wood anemone,--too heavy
for the fragile face in which they were set, and from which they gazed
as if unconscious of gazing. I thought to myself, as I went out, she
will die, I suppose; but I did not tell Davy so, because of his reply
when I had first spoken of Laura's illness. I felt very dispirited
though, and shrank from the notion, though it still obtruded itself.
Davy was very quiet. I recollect it to have been a white foggy night,
and more keen than cold: perhaps that was the reason, as he was never
strong in health. When I came to our door--how well I remember it!--I
pulled him in upon the mat before he well knew what I was about.

"Oh! Master Charles," exclaimed Margareth, who was exclusive porteress
in our select establishment, "your brother has brought you a
parcel,--a present, no doubt."

"Oh! my goodness; where is Fred?"

"They are all in the parlor. But, sir, won't you walk in?"

"I beg your pardon," said Davy, absently. "Oh! no; I am going back.
Good-night, Charles."

"Oh, dear, Mr. Davy, do stay and see my present, please!"

Davy did not answer here, for the parlor door opened, and my mother
appeared, benign and hospitable.

"Come in, come in!" she said, extending her hand, and I at least was
in before she was out of the parlor. Fred was there, and Fred's
wife--a pretty black-haired little matron, full of trivialities and
full of sympathy with Lydia--was sitting by that respected sister at a
little table. I ran to shake hands with Mrs. Fred, and knocked over
the table. Alas! they were making bead purses, and for a few moments
there was a restoration of chaos among their elements. Clo came from a
dark corner, where she was wide awake over Dean Prideaux, and my
mother had raised her hands in some dismay, when I was caught up by
Fred and lifted high into the air.

"Well, and what do I hear," etc.

"Oh! Fred, where is my present?"

"Present, indeed! Such as it is, it lies out there. _Nobody_ left it
at the office, so Vincent tells me; but I found it there among the
packages, and was strongly inclined to consider it a mistake
altogether. Certainly 'Charles Auchester, Esq.,' was not 'known
there;' but I smelt plum-cake, and that decided me to have it opened
here."

I rushed to the chair behind the sofa, while the rest--except
Millicent and Mr. Davy, who were addressing each other in the low
voice which is the test of all human proprieties--were scolding in
various styles. The fracas was no more to me than the jingling of the
maternal keys. I found a large oblong parcel rolled in the thickest of
brown papers, and tied with the thickest of strings round and round
again so firmly that it was, or appeared to be, hopeless to open it
unless I gnawed that cord.

"Oh! Lydia, lend me your scissors."

"For shame, Charles!" pronounced Clo. "How often have I bidden you
never to waste a piece of string!"

She absolutely began upon those knots with her fingers. My own
trembled so violently that they were useless. Meanwhile, for she was
about ten minutes engaged in the neat operation,--I scanned the
address. It was, as Fred had mentioned to me, as an adult and as an
esquire, and the writing was bold, black, and backward. It seemed to
have come a long way, and smelt of travelling; also, when the paper
was at length unfolded, it smelt of tow, and something oblong was
muffled in the tow.

"A box!" observed sapient Clotilda. I tore the tow out in handfuls.
"Don't strew it upon the carpet, oh, my dearest Charles!"

Clo, I defy you! It was a box truly, but what sort of a box? It had a
lid and a handle. It was also fastened with little hooks of brass. It
was open, I don't know how. There it lay,--there lay a real violin in
the velvet lining of its varnished case!

No, I could not bear it; it was of no use to try. I did not touch it,
nor examine it. I flew away upstairs. I shut myself into the first
room I came to, which happened to be Lydia's; but I did not care. I
rushed up to the window and pressed my face against the cold glass. I
sobbed; my head beat like a heart in my brain; I wept rivers. I don't
suppose the same thing ever happened to any one else, therefore none
can sympathize. It was mystery, it was passion, it was infinitude; it
was to a soul like mine a romance so deep that it has never needed
other. My violin was mine, and I was it, and the beauty of my romance
was, in truth, an ideal charmer; for be it remembered that I knew no
more how to handle it than I should have known how to conduct at the
festival.

The first restoring fact I experienced was the thin yet rich vibration
of that very violin. I heard its voice, somebody was trying it,--Davy,
no doubt; and that marvellous quality of tone which I name a double
oneness--resulting, no doubt, from the so often treated
harmonics--reached and pierced me up the staircase and through the
closed door. I could not endure to go down, and presently when I had
begun to feel rather ghostly--for it was dead dark--I heard somebody
come up and grope first here, then there, overhead and about, to find
me. But I would not be found until all the places had been searched
where I did not happen to be hidden. Then the person came to my door.
It was Millicent; she drew me into the passage.

"Oh! I can't go down."

"Darling do, for my sake. They are all so pleased. Mr. Davy has been
playing, and he says it is a real Amati."

"But don't let Fred touch it, please, Millicent!" For I had a vague
idea it would not like to be touched by Fred.

"Why, no one _can_ touch it but Mr. Davy,--not even _you_, Charles. Do
come downstairs now and look at it."

I went. Mr. Davy was holding it yet, but the instant I entered he
advanced and placed it between my arms. I embraced it, much as young
ladies embrace their first wax dolls, but with emotions as sweet, as
deep, as mystical as those of the youth who first presses to his soul
the breathing presence of his earliest love. I saw then that this
violin was a tiny thing,--a very fairy of a fiddle; it was certainly
not new, but I did not know how very old it was, and should not have
been the least aware how valuable it was, and of what a precious
costliness, but for Davy's observation, "Take care of it, Charles, and
it will make you all you wish to be. I rather suspect Santonio will
envy you its possession when he has tried it."

"But is he to try it, then, Mr. Davy?"

"Your mother has given me leave to ask him, if I see him; but I fear
he has already returned to London." Davy glanced here at my mother
with a peculiar expression, and resumed, "I am going to write to him,
at all events, about another subject, or rather upon the same
subject."

"Oh, Mr. Davy, I will talk to my little boy myself."

"Certainly, madam; I will not anticipate you."

"Charles dear," said Clo, "you must have your supper now."

It appeared to me that I had already had it; but I restored my doll to
its cradle in silence, and ate unconsciously. Fred's presence at the
board stimulated his lady and Lydia to extreme festivity, and they
laughed the whole time; but Millicent was pale and Davy quiet, and he
departed as soon as he possibly might. But a smile of sweetness all
his own, and of significance sweeter than sweetness, brightened his
frank adieu for me into the day-spring of my decided destiny.



CHAPTER XXIV.


The next morning my mother redeemed her promise. It was directly after
breakfast when she had placed herself in the chair at the parlor
window. She made no allusion to the evening before until she completed
this arrangement of hers, and then she looked so serious, as I stood
before her, that I fully expected something I should not like.

"Charles," she said, "you are very dear to me, and perhaps you have
given me more care than all my children, though you are the youngest.
I have often wondered what you would be or become as a member of
society, and it was the last of all my thoughts for you that you must
leave me to be educated. But if you are to be a musician, you must be
taken from me soon, or you will never grow into what we should both of
us desire,--a first-rate artist. I could not wish you to be anything
less than first rate, and now you are very backward."

"Am I to go to London then, mother?" I shook in every limb.

"I believe a first-rate musical education for you in London would be
beyond my means. It is upon this subject your friend Mr. Davy is to be
so good as to write to Santonio, who can tell us all about Germany,
where higher advantages can be obtained more easily than anywhere in
England. But, Charles, you will have to give up a great deal if you
go, and learn to do everything for yourself. If you are ill, you will
have to do without nursing and petting as you would have here; and if
you are unhappy, you must not complain away from home. Also you must
work hard, or you will lose your free self-approval, and be miserable
at the end. I should be afraid to let you go if I did not know you are
musical enough to do your duty by music, and loving enough to do your
duty by your mother; also, that you are a true boy, and will not take
to false persons. But it is hard to part with you, my child; and
indeed, we need not think of that just yet."

I did though, I am ashamed to say; and I wanted to set off on the next
day. I knew this to be impossible, and the fact that consoled me was
the very one of my unstrung ignorance; for I had a vague impression
that Davy would tune me up before I left home. I could not see him
that morning. My excitement was intense; I could not even cut a caper,
for I had to do my lessons, and Clo always behaved about my lessons as
if they were to go on forever, and I was by no means to grow any
older. She was especially stationary on this morning, and I had
nothing for it but to apply very hard indeed. My copy was more crabbed
than ever; but while she commented so gravely thereupon, I thought of
what Santonio had said about my arm and hand. I was not vain,--I have
not a tincture of vanity all through me,--but I was very proud, and
also most demurely humble.

At dinner Millicent talked to me of my prospects; but I pretended not
to admit them in all their magnificence: the prophetic longing was so
painful to me that I dared not irritate it. So she rallied me in vain,
and I ate a great deal of rice pudding to simulate occupation. Dinner
over, they all retired to their rooms,--I to my violin in a corner of
the parlor. I hung over it as it lay in its case, I fed upon it in
spirit; but I did not take it out, I was afraid of any one coming in.
At last I spread my pocket-handkerchief upon the case, and sitting
down upon it, went to sleep in scarcely conscious possession. I did
not dream anything particular, though I suppose I ought to have done
so, and it had been better for these unilluminated pages; but when I
awoke it was late,--that is, late for my engagement with Miss Benette.

I ran all the way; and as I reached my resting-place, it occurred to
me that I should have to tell her I was going to Germany. How glad she
would be, and yet a little sorry; for I had an idea she liked me, or I
should never have gone near her. Vaulting into the passage, I heard
strange sounds--singing, but not only singing. More and more wonders,
I thought, and I dashed upstairs. The sounds ceased when I knocked at
the door, which Clara came to open. I gazed in first, before I even
noticed her, and beheld in the centre of the room a small polished
pianoforte. I flew in and up to it, and breathlessly surveyed it.

"Miss Benette, where did that come from? I thought you were not to
have a pianoforte for ever so long."

She came to me, and replied with her steady, sweet voice a little
agitated,--

"Oh! Master Auchester, I wish you could tell me who it came from, that
I might give that person my heart quite full of thanks. I can only
believe it comes from some one who loves music more than all
things,--some one rich, whom music has made richer than could all
money. It is such a sweet, darling, beautiful thing to come to me!
Such a precious glory to make my heart so bright!"

The tears filled her eyes, and looking at her, I perceived that she
had lately wept; the veins of harebell-blue seemed to quiver round the
lids.

"Oh, Miss Benette! I had a violin sent to me too, and I thought it was
from Mr. Davy; but now I feel quite sure it was from that lady."

Clara could scarcely speak,--I had never seen her so overcome; but she
presently answered,--

"I believe it was the young lady. I hope so, because I should like her
to be made happy by remembering we have both got through her what we
wanted more than anything in the world. She would not like to be
thanked, though; so we ought not to grieve that we cannot express our
gratitude."

"I should like to know really, though, because it seems so strange she
should recollect _me_."

"Oh, Master Auchester, no! Any one can see the music in your face who
has the music in his heart. Besides, she saw you at the festival, and
how anxious you were to serve the great gentleman."

"Now, Miss Benette, I am to tell you something."

"How good! Do go on."

I laid my arm on the piano, but scarcely knew how to begin.

"What is it to do, then?" asked Clara, winningly.

"I am going really to be a musician, Miss Benette; I am going to
Germany."

She did not reply at first; but when I looked up, it was as though she
had not wept, so bright she beamed.

"That's all right, I knew you would. Oh! if she knew how much good she
had done, how happy she would be! How happy she will be when she goes
to a concert some day, in some year to come, and sees you stand up,
and hears you praise music in the voice it loves best!"

"Do you think so? Do you think it is the best voice of music?"

"Because it is like the voice of a single soul, I do. But Mr. Davy
says we cannot know the power of an orchestra of souls."

"_I_ can."

"Oh! I beg your pardon! I forgot."

"But I don't think that I remember well; for whenever I try to think
of it, I seem only to see his face, and hear his voice speaking to me,
saying, 'Above all, the little ones!'"

"How pretty it was! You will be sure to see him in Germany, and then
you can ask him whether he wrote the 'Tone-Wreath.'"

Oh, how I laughed again!

"What sort of place shall I go to, should you think?"

"I don't know any place really, Master Auchester. I can't tell what
places they have to learn at, upon the Continent. I know no places
besides this house, and Mr. Davy's, and the class, and church, and
Miss Lenhart's house in London."

"Are you not very dull?"

Alas for the excitable nature of my own temperament! I was sure I
should be dull in her place, though I had never felt it until my
violin came upon me, stealthy and stirring as first love. She looked
at me with serene wonder.

"I don't know what 'dull' means. I do not want anything I have not
got, because I shall have everything I want,--some day, I mean; and I
would rather not have all at once."

I did not think anything could be wanting to her, indeed, in
loveliness or aspiration, for my religious belief was in both for her;
still I fancied it impossible she should not sometimes feel
impatient, and especially as those blue shadows I have mentioned had
softened the sweetness of her eyes, and the sensation of tears stole
over me as I gazed upon her.

"We shall not practise much, I am afraid, Master Auchester, for I want
to talk, and I am so silly that when I sing, I begin to cry."

"For pleasure, I suppose. I always do."

"Not all for pleasure. I am vexed, and I do not love myself for being
vexed. Laura is going to Paris, Master Auchester, to study under a
certain master there. Her papa is going too, and that woman I do not
like. She is unhappy to leave me, but they have filled her head with
pictures, and she is wild for the big theatres. She came to see me
this morning, and I talked to her a long time. It was that made me
cry."

"Why, particularly?"

"Because I told her so many things about the sort of people she will
see, and how to know what is beautiful in people who are not wise. She
promised to come and live with me when I have been to Italy, and
become a singer; but till then, I shall, perhaps, never meet her, for
our ways are not the same. She looked with her clear eyes right
through me, to see if I was grave; and if she only finds her art is
fair, I shall not be afraid for her."

"But is she not ill? I never saw anybody look so strange."

"That is because her hair is shorter. You do not like her, Master
Auchester?"

I shook my shoulders. "No; not a great deal."

"You will try, please. She will be an artist."

"But don't you consider,--of course I don't know,--but don't you
consider dancing the lowest art?"

"Oh, Master Auchester! all the arts help each other, and are all in
themselves so pure that we cannot say one is purer than the other.
Besides, was it not in the dream of that Jew, in the Bible, that the
angels descended as well as ascended?"

"You are like Martin Luther."

"Why so?"

"Clo--that is my clever sister--told me what he said about the arts
and religion."

"Oh, Mr. Davy tells that story."

"Miss Benette, you are very naughty! You seem to know everything that
everybody says."

"No; it is because I see so few people that I remember all they say."

"Are you not at _all_ fonder of music than of dancing? Oh, Miss
Benette!"

She laughed heartily, showing one or two of her twinkling teeth.

"I am fonder of music than of anything that lives or is, or rather I
am not fond of it at all; but it is my life, though I am only a young
child in that life at present. But I am rather fond of dancing, I must
confess."

"I think it is charming; and I can dance very well, particularly on
the top of a wall. But I do not care about it, you know."

"You mean, it is not enough for you to make you either glad or sorry.
But be thankful that it is enough for some people."

"All things make me glad, and sorry too, I think, going away now. When
I come back--"

"I shall be gone," said Clara.

"I shall be a man--"

"And I an old woman--"

"For shame, Miss Benette! you will never grow old, I believe."

"Oh, yes, I shall; but I do not mind, it will be like a summer to grow
old."

"I am sure it will!" I cried, with an enthusiasm that seemed to
surprise her, so unconscious was she ever of any effect she had.

"But I shall grow old too; and there is not so very much difference
between us. So then I shall seem your age; and, Miss Benette, when I
do grow up, will you be my friend?"

"Always, Master Auchester, if you still wish it. And in my heart I do
believe that friends are friends forever."

The sweet smile she gave me, the sweeter words she spoke, were
sufficient to assure me I should not be forgotten; and it was all I
wished, for then my heart was fixed upon my future.

"But you will not be going to-morrow, I suppose?"

"No, I wish I were."

"So do I."

"Thank you," said I, rather disconcerted; "I shall go very soon, I
suppose."

"It will not be long, I daresay," she answered, with another sweetest
smile; and I felt it to be her kind wish for me, and was consoled. And
when I left her she was standing quietly by her piano; nor did she
raise her eyes to follow me to the door.

By one of those curious chances that befall some people more than
others, I had a cold the next class-night. I was in an extremity of
passion to be kept at home,--that is to say, I rolled in my stifling
bed with the sulks pressing heavily on my heart, and the headache upon
my forehead. Millicent sat by me, and laughingly assured me I should
soon be quite well again; I solemnly averred I should never be well,
should never get up, should never see Davy any more, never go to
Germany. But I went to sleep after all; for Davy, with his usual
philanthropy, came all the way up to the house to inquire for me after
the class, and his voice aroused and soothed me together. I may say
that such a cold was a godsend just then, as it prevented my having to
do any lessons. The next day, being idle, I heard nothing of Davy;
neither the next. I thought it very odd; but on the third morning I
was permitted to go out, as it was very clear and bright. The smoke
looked beautiful, almost like another kind of flame, as it swelled
skywards, and I met Davy quite glowing with exercise.

"What a day for December!" said he, and cheerily held up a letter.

"Oh, Mr. Davy!" I cried; but he would not suffer me even to read the
superscription.

"First for your mother. Will you turn back and walk home with me?"

"I must not, sir; I am to walk to the turnpike and back."

"Away, then! and I am very glad to hear it."

To do myself justice, I did not even run. I could, indeed, for all my
impatient hope, scarcely help feeling there is no such blessing as
pure fresh air that fans a brow whose fever has lately faded. I came
at length to the toll-gate, and returned, braced for any adventure, to
the door of my own home. I flew into the parlor; my mother and Davy
were alone. My mother was wiping off a tear or two, and he seemed
smiling on purpose.

"Oh, mother!" I exclaimed, running up to her, "please don't cry."

"My dear Charles, you are a silly little boy. After all, what will you
do in Germany?"

She lifted me upon her lap. Davy walked up to the book-case.

"I find, Charles, that you must go immediately,--and, indeed, it will
be best if you travel with Mr. Santonio. And how could I send you
alone, with such an opportunity to be taken care of! Mr. Davy, will
you have the kindness to read that letter to my little boy?"

Davy, thus admonished, gathered up the letter now lying open upon the
table, and began to read it quite in his class voice, as if we two had
been an imposing audience.

      DEAR MADAM,--Although I have not had the pleasure of an
      introduction to you, I think the certificate of my cognizance
      by my friend Davy will be sufficient to induce you to allow
      me to take charge of your son at the end of this week, if he
      can then be ready, as I must leave England then, and return
      to Paris by the middle of February. Between this journey and
      that time I shall be in Germany to attend the examinations of
      the Cecilia School at Lorbeerstadt.[12] The Cecilia School
      now is exactly the place for your son, though he is six
      months too young to be admitted. At the same time, if he is
      to be admitted at all, he should at once be placed under
      direct training, and there are out-professors who undertake
      precisely this responsibility. My own experience proves that
      anything is better than beginning too late, or beginning too
      soon to work alone. I have made every inquiry which could be
      a proviso with you.

"Then here follows what would scarcely interest you," said Davy,
breaking off.

"Your friend is quite right, Charles. Now can you say you are sure I
may put faith in you?"

"What do you mean, mother? If you mean that I am to practise, _indeed_
I will; I never want to do anything else, and I won't have any money
to spend."

Davy came up to us and smiled: "I really think he is safe. You will
let him come to me one evening, dear madam?"

"Perhaps you can come to us. I really do not think we can spare him;
we have so much to do in the way of preparation."

It was an admirable providence that my whole time was, from morning to
night, taken up with my family. My sisters, assisted by Margareth,
made me a dozen shirts, and hemmed for me three dozen handkerchiefs. I
was being measured or fitted all day, and all the evening was running
up and down stairs with the completed items. Oh! if you had seen my
boxes you would have said that I ought to be very good to be so cared
for, and very beautiful besides; yet I was neither, and was sorely
longing to be away,--such kindness pained me more than it pleased. I
had a little jointed bed, which you would not have believed _was_ a
bed until it was set up. My mother admonished me if I found my bed
comfortable to keep that in my box; but she had some experience of
German beds, and English ones too, under certain circumstances. I had
a gridiron, and a coffee-pot, a spirit-lamp, and a case containing one
knife and fork, one plate, one spoon. I had everything I could
possibly want, and felt dreadfully bewildered. Clo was marking my
stockings one morning when Davy came in; he gave me one of his little
brown boxes, and in the box was a single cup and saucer of that
glowing, delicate china. When he pulled it out of his pocket I little
knew what it was, and when I found out, how I cried!

"I have, indeed, brought you a small remembrance, Charles; but I am a
small man, and you are a small boy, and I understand you are to have a
very small establishment."

He said this cheerily, but I could not laugh; he put his kind arm
round me, and I only wept the more. Clo was all the time quite
seriously, as I have said, tracing ineffaceably my initials in German
text, with crimson cotton,--none of your delible inks,--and Davy
pretended to be very much interested in them.

"What! all those stockings, Charles?"

"Yes, sir: you see we have provided for summer and winter," responded
Clo, as seriously as I have mentioned. "He will not want any till we
see him again, for he is to pay us a visit, if God spares him, next
Christmas."

Davy sighed, and kissed my forehead; I clung to him. "Shall I see you
again, Mr. Davy?"

"I have come to ask your mother whether I may take you to London; it
is precisely what I came for, and I have a little plan."

Davy had actually an engagement in London, or feigned to have one,--I
have never been able to discover whether it was a fact or a fiction;
and he proposed to my mother that I should sleep with him at his
aunt's house one night before I was deposited at the hotel where
Santonio rested, and to which he had advised I should be brought.

I was in fits of delight at the idea of Davy's company; yet, after
all, I did not have much of that, for he travelled to London on the
top of the coach, and I was an inside passenger at my mother's
request.

Then comes a sleep of memory, not unaccompanied by dreams,--a dream
of being hurled into a corner by a lady, and of jamming myself so that
I could not stir hand or foot between her and the window; a dream of
desperate efforts to extricate myself; a dream of sudden respite, cold
air, and high stars beyond and above the houses, a cracked horn, a
flashing lantern; a dream of dark in a hackney-coach, and of stopping
in a stilly street before a many-windowed mansion, as it seemed to me.
Then I am aware to this hour of a dense headache, and bones almost
knotted together, till there arrives the worst nightmare reality can
breed,--the smell of toast, muffins, and tea; the feeling of a knife
and fork you cannot manage for sleepfulness; and the utter depression
of your quicksilver.

I could not even look at Miss Lenhart; but I heard that her voice was
going on all the time, and felt that she looked at me now and then. I
was conveyed into bed by Davy without any exercise on my own part, and
I slumbered in that sleep which absorbs all time, till very bright
day. Then I awoke and found myself alone, though Davy had left a neat
impression in the great soft bed. Presently I heard his steps, and his
fingers on the lock. He brought my breakfast in his own hand, and
while I forced myself to partake of it, he told me he should carry me
to Santonio at two o'clock, the steamboat leaving London Bridge at six
the same evening. And at two o'clock we arrived at the hotel. In a
lofty apartment sat Santonio near a table laid for dinner.

I beheld my boxes in one corner, and my violin-case strapped to the
largest; but all Santonio's luggage consisted of that case of his
which had been wrapped up warm in baize, and one portmanteau. He arose
and welcomed us with a smile most amiable; and having shaken hands
with Davy, took hold of both mine and held them, while still rallying
in a few words about our punctuality. Then he rang for dinner, and I
made stupendous efforts not to be a baby, which I should not have been
sorry to find myself at that instant. The two masters talked together
without noticing me, and presently I recovered; but only to be put
upon the sofa, which was soft as a powder-puff, and told to go to
sleep. I made magnificent determinations to keep awake, but in vain;
and it was just as well I could not, though I did not think so when I
awoke. For just then starting and sitting up, I beheld a lamp upon the
table, and heard Santonio's voice in the entry, haranguing a waiter
about a coach. But looking round and round into every corner I saw no
Davy, and I cannot describe how I felt when I found he had kissed me
asleep, and gone away altogether. As Santonio re-entered, the sweet
cordiality with which he tempered his address to me was more painful
than the roughest demeanor would have been just then, thrilling as I
was with the sympathy I had never drawn except from Davy's heart, and
which I had never lost since I had known him. It was as if my soul
were suddenly unclad, and left to writhe naked in a sunless
atmosphere; still I am glad to say I was grateful to Santonio. It was
about five o'clock when we entered a hackney-coach, and were conveyed
to the city from the wide West End. The great river lay as a leaden
dream while we ran across the bridge; but how dreamily, drowsily, I
can never describe, was conveyed to me that arched darkness spanning
the lesser gloom as we turned down dank sweeping steps, and alighted
amidst the heavy splash of that rolling tide. There was a confusion
and hurry here that mazed my faculties; and most dreadfully alarmed I
became at the thought of passing into that vessel set so deep into the
water, and looking so large and helpless. I was on board, however,
before I could calculate the possibilities of running away, and so
getting home again. Santonio put his arm around me as I crossed to the
deck, and I could not but feel how careful the great violin was of the
little human instrument committed to his care. Fairly on deck, the
whirling and booming, the crowd not too great, but so busy and
anxious, the head-hung lamp, and the cheery peeps into cabins lighter
still through glittering wires, all gave motion to my spirit. I was
soon more excited than ever, and glorified myself so much that I very
nearly fell over the side of the vessel into the Thames, while I was
watching the wheel that every now and then gave a sleepy start from
the oily, dark water. Santonio was looking after our effects for a
while, but it was he who rescued me in this instance, by pulling my
great-coat (exactly like Fred's) that had been made expressly, for me
in the festival-town, and which, feeling very new, made me think about
it a great deal more than it was worth. Then laughing heartily, but
still not speaking, he led me downstairs. How magnificent I found all
there! I was quite overpowered, never having been in any kind of
vessel; but what most charmed me was a glimpse of a second wonderful
region within the long dining-room,--the feminine retreat, whose door
was a little bit ajar.

The smothered noise of gathering steam came from above, and most
strange was it to hear the many footed tramp overhead, as we sat upon
the sofa, and spread beneath the oval windows all around. And
presently I realized the long tables, and all that there was upon
them, and was especially delighted to perceive some flowers mounted
upon the epergnes.

I was cravingly hungry by this time, for the first time since I had
left my home, and everything here reminded me of eating. Santonio, I
suppose, anticipated this fact, for he asked me immediately what I
should like. I said I should like some tea and a slice of cold meat.
He seemed amused at my choice, and while he drank a glass of some wine
or other and ate a crust, I had all to myself a little round tray,
with a short, stout tea-pot and enormous breakfast cup set before me;
with butter as white as milk, and cream as thick as butter, the butter
being developed in a tiny pat, with the semblance of the steamship we
were then in stamped upon the top; also a plate covered with meat all
over, upon beginning to clear which, I discovered another cartoon in
blue of the same subject. After getting to the bottom of the cup, and
a quarter uncovering the plate, I could do no more in that line, and
Santonio asked me what I should like to do about sleeping. I was
startled, for I had not thought about the coming night at all. He led
me on the instant to a certain other door, and bade me peep in; I
could only think of a picture I had seen of some catacombs,--in fact,
I think a catacomb preferable in every respect to a sleeping cabin.
The odors that rushed out, of brandy and lamp-oil, were but visionary
terrors compared with the aspect of those supernaturally constructed
enclosed berths, in not a few of which the victims of that entombment
had already deposited themselves.

"I can't sleep in there!" I said shudderingly as I withdrew, and
withdrawing, was inexpressibly revived by the air blowing down the
staircase. "Oh, let us sit up all night! on the sea too!"

Santonio replied, with great cordiality, that he should prefer such an
arrangement to any other, and would see what could be contrived for
me.

And so he did; and I can never surpass my own sensations of mere
satisfaction as I lay upon a seat on deck by ten o'clock, with a
boat-cloak for my pillow and a tarpaulin over my feet, Santonio by my
side, with a cloak all over him like a skin, his feet on his
fiddle-case, and an exquisitely fragrant regalia in his mouth.

My feelings soon became those of careering ecstasy,--careering among
stars all clear in the darkness over us; of passionate delight, rocked
to a dream by the undulation I began to perceive in our seaward
motion. I fell asleep about midnight, and woke again at dawn; but I
experienced just enough then of existing circumstances in our position
to retreat again beneath the handkerchief I had spread upon my face,
and again I slept and dreamed.

FOOTNOTE:

[12] The Cecilia School at Lorbeerstadt is probably intended to
represent the Conservatory at Leipsic, which Mendelssohn founded in
1843.



CHAPTER XXV.


At noon, when at length I roused myself, we were no longer upon the
sea. We swept on tranquilly between banks more picturesque, more
glorious, more laden with spells for me, than any haven I had
fortified with Spanish castles. Castles there were too, or what I took
for castles,--silvery gray amidst leafless trees, and sometimes
softest pine woods with their clinging mist. Then came shining
country, where the sky met the sun-bright slopes, and then a quiet
sail at rest in the tiny harbor. But an hour or two brought me to the
idea of cities, though even they were as cities in a dream. And yet
this was not the Rhine; but I made sure it was so, having forgotten
Clo's geography lessons, and that there could be any other river in
Germany,--so that when Santonio told me its real name I was very angry
at it. After I had wearied myself with gazing, he drew me back to my
seat, and began to speak more consecutively than he had done yet.

"Now, sir," said he, "do you see that castle?" pointing to something
in the prospect which may or may not have been a castle, but which I
immediately realized as one. "You are to be shut up there. Really and
seriously, you have more faith than any one I ever had the honor of
introducing yet, under any circumstances whatever. Pray don't you feel
any curiosity about your destination?"

"Yes, sir, plenty; but I forgot what I was going for."

"And where you were going to?"

"Sir, I did not know where. I thought you would tell me when you
liked."

"I don't know myself, but I daresay we shall fall in with your
favorite 'Chevalier.'"

"My favorite who, sir?"

"The gentleman who enslaved you at the performance of the 'Messiah,'
in your part of the world."

"Oh, sir! what can I ever say to you? I cannot bear it."

"Cannot bear what? Nay, you must not expect too much of him now you
know who he is. He is merely a very clever composer."

"Oh, sir! how did you ever find out?"

"By writing to Milans-André,--another idol for you, by the way."

"Oh! I know all about Milans-André."

"Indeed! and pray what is all about him?"

"I know he plays wonderfully, and fills a large theatre with one
pianoforte. Stop! He has a handsome face and long arms,--rather too
long for his body. He is very--let me see--something, but not
something else; very famous, but not beloved."

"Who told you that? A most coherent description, as it happens."

"Miss Lawrence."

"Miss Lawrence is a blab. So you have no curiosity to learn your
fate?"

"I know _that_; but I should like to know where I am going."

"To an old gentleman in a hollow cave."

"I wish I were, and then perhaps he would teach me to make gold."

"That is like a Jew, fie! But the fiddle has made gold."

"Why like a Jew? Because they are rich,--Jews, I mean?"

"Richer generally than most folks, but not all either."

"Oh, sir! I did not mean money." But as I looked at him, I felt he
would not, could not, understand what I meant, so I returned to the
former charge.

"Does he live in a cellar, sir, or in a very old house?"

"In an old house, certainly. But you won't like him, Auchester,--at
least not at first; only he will work you rightly, and take care of
your morals and health."

"How, sir?"

"By locking you up when you are at home, and sending you to walk out
every day."

"Don't they all send the boys out to walk in Germany then?"

"I suppose so. But how shall you like being locked up?"

"In the dark, sir, do you mean?"

"No, boy; to practise in a little cave of your own."

"What _does_ make you call it a cave?"

"Because great treasures are hidden there for such as like the bore of
grubbing them up. You have no idea, by the way, how much dirty work
there is to do anything at all in music."

"I suppose you mean, to _get_ at anything. But it cannot be worse than
what people go through to get to heaven."

"If that is your notion, you are all right. I have taken some trouble
to get you into this place, for the old gentleman is a whimsical one,
and takes very few pupils now."

"Did you know him, sir, before you heard of him for me?"

"He taught me all I know, except what I taught myself, and that was
preciously little. But that was before he came to Lorbeerstadt. I knew
nothing about this place. Your favorite learned of him when he was
your age, and long afterwards."

"Who, sir,--the same?"

"The conductor."

"Oh, sir!" It was a dreadful thing to feel I had, as it were, got hold
of him and lost him again; but Santonio's manner was such that I did
not think he could mean the same person.

"Are you sure it is the same, Mr. Santonio?" I reiterated again, and
yet again, while my companion, whose laugh had passed into a yawn, was
gazing at the smoke.

"Sure? Of course I am sure. I know every conductor in Europe."

"I daresay you do, sir; but this is not a common conductor."

"No conductors are common, my friend. He is very clever, a genius too,
and will do a great deal; but he is too young at present to be talked
of without caution."

"Why, sir?"

"Because we may spoil him."

I was indignant, I was sick, but so impotent I could only say, "Sir,
has he ever heard _you_ play?"

"I cannot tell really all the people who hear me play. I don't know
who they are in public."

"Have you ever heard _him_ play?"

"No."

"Oh, sir! then how _can_ you know? What makes you call him Chevalier?
Is that his real name?"

"I tell you precisely what I was told, my boy; Milans-André calls him
'My young friend the Chevalier,'--nothing else. Most likely they gave
him the order."

Santonio was now talking Dutch to me, and yet I could not bring myself
to detain him by further questioning, for he had strolled to the
staircase. Soon afterwards the dinner-bell rang. The afternoon being a
little spent, we came up again and rested. It was twilight now, and my
heart throbbed as it ever does in that intermediate dream. Soon
Santonio retired to smoke, and I then lay all along a seat, and looked
to heaven until I fell into a doze; and all I felt was real, and I
knew less of what was passing around me than of that which stirred
within. Long it may have been, but it seemed very soon and suddenly
that I was rudely brought to myself by a sound and skurry, and a
suspension of our progress. It was dark and bleak besides, and as
foggy as I had ever seen it in England,--the lamp at our head was like
a moon; and all about me there were shapes, not sights, of houses, and
echoes, not sounds, of voices from the shore.

The shore, indeed! And my first impression of Germany was one of
simple astonishment to find it, on the whole, so much like, or so
little unlike, England. I told Santonio so much, as he stood next me,
and curbed me with his arm from going forwards. He answered that he
supposed I thought they all lived in fiddle-cases and slept upon
pianofortes. I was longing to land indefinably. I knew not where I
was, how near or how far from my appointed place of rest. I will not
say my heart was sad, it was only sore, to find Santonio, though so
handsome, not quite so beautiful a spirit as my first friend, Lenhart
Davy. We watched almost half the passengers out of the boat; the rest
were to continue their fresh-water route to a large city far away, and
we were the last to land of all who landed there.

In less than an hour, thanks to Santonio's quickening of the pulses of
existence at our first landing-place, we were safe in a hackney-coach
(very unlike any other conveyance), if indeed it could be called
"safe" to be so bestowed, as I was continually precipitated against
Santonio. His violin-case had never left his hand since we quitted the
vessel,--and this was just as well, for it might have suffered from
the jolting. Its master was all kindness now. "Cheer up," said he; "do
not let your idea of German life begin here. You will soon find plenty
to amuse you." He rubbed the reeking fog from one glass with his
handkerchief forthwith, and I, peeping out, saw something of houses
drawing near. They were dim and tall and dark, as if they had never
fronted daylight. It took us quite half an hour to reach the village,
notwithstanding, for our pace was laboriously tardy; and again and
again I wished I had stayed with Santonio at the little inn where we
took the coach, and to which he was himself to return to sleep, having
bespoken a bed there; for I felt that day would have done everything
for me in manning and spiriting me, and that there was too much
mystery in my transition state already to bear the surcharging mystery
of night with thought undaunted. Coming into that first street, I
believed we should stop every instant, for the faint few lamps, strung
here and there, gave me a notion of gabled windows and gray-black
arches, nothing more definite than any dream; so much the better.
Still we stopped not anywhere in that region, nor even when, having
passed the market-place with its little colonnade, we turned, or were
shaken, into a quiet square. It came upon me like a nook of panorama;
but I heard the splash of falling water before I beheld, starting from
the mist, its shape, as it poured into a basin of shadowy stone
beneath a skeleton tree, whose lowest sprays I could have touched as
we drove near the fountain, so close we came. And then I saw before me
a church, and could discern the stately steps and portico, even the
crosses on the graves, which bade me remember that they died also in
Germany. No organ echoes pealed, or choral song resounded, no chime
struck; but my heart beat all these tunes, and for the first time I
associated the feeling of religion with any earth-built shrine.

It was in a street beyond the square, and overlooked by the tower of
the church itself, that at length we stopped indeed, and that I found
myself bewildered at once by darkness and expectation, standing upon
the pavement before a foreign doorway, enough for any picture of the
brain.

"Now," said my escort, "I will take you upstairs first,--for you would
never find your way,--and then return and see after all these things.
The man won't run away with them, I believe,--he is too ugly to be
anything but honest. I hope you do not expect a footman to open the
door?"

"I dislike footmen, but there is no knocker. Please show me the bell,
Mr. Santonio."

"Please remember that this is a mountain which contains many caves
besides that to which we are about to commit you. And if you interfere
with anybody else's cave, the inhabitant will spring up yours with
gunpowder."

"I know that a great many people live in one house,--my mother said
so; but she never told me how you got into the houses."

"I will tell you now. You see the bells here, like organ-stops: this
is yours. Number I cannot read, but I know it from the description I
took care to procure. I will ring now, and they will let us in."

I found, after waiting in profound expectation, that the door had set
itself open, just as the gate of the London Temple Garden is wont to
do; but instead of finding access to sunshine and beds of flowers, we
were plunged, on our entrance, into darkness which might be felt.

Santonio, evidently accustomed to all conventionalities of all
countries, expressed no astonishment, and did not even grumble, as I
should have expected a person of his temperament to do. I was so
astonished that I could not speak. How soon I learned to love that
very darkness, and to leap up and down those very stairs even in the
darkness! though I now held Santonio's hand so tightly that I could
feel the lissom muscles double up and bend in. He drew me after him
gently and carefully to the first floor, and again to the second
without speaking, and then we stood still to take breath.

"That was a pull!" he observed. "Suppose the old gentleman has gone to
bed?"

"Oh, sir! then I will go back with you until to-morrow."

"No, indeed." He laid hold upon my arm. "Listen! hush!"

I stood listening from head to foot. I heard the beloved but
unfamiliar voice; creeping down another story, it came--_my_ violin,
or _the_ violin, somewhere up in the clouds. I longed to rush forward
now, and positively ran up the stairs yet remaining. There upon my one
hand was the door through whose keyhole, whose every crack, that sound
had streamed, and I knew it as I passed, and waited for Santonio upon
the haunted precinct.

"Now," said he, arriving very leisurely at the top, "we shall go in to
see the old gentleman."

"Will he have a beard, sir, as he is a Jew?"

"Who told you he has a Jew-beard? Nevertheless he has a beard; but
pray hold your tongue about the Jews,--at least till you know him a
little better."

"I do not mean," thought I diffidently, "to talk to the old gentleman.
If he is a Jew I shall know it, and it will be enough;" but I did not
say so to Santonio, who did not appear to prize his lineage as I did
the half of mine. My heart began to beat faster than from the steep
ascent, when he, without preparing me further, rapped very vigorously
upon another unseen door. I heard no voice reply, but I concluded he
did, as he deliberately turned the lock, and drew me immediately after
him as I had shrunk behind him. I need not have been afraid,--the room
was empty. It was a room full of dusky light; that is, all tones which
blended into it were dim, and its quaint nicety put every new-world
notion out of the way for the time. The candles upon the table were
brightly trimmed, but not wax,--only slender wax ones beamed in
twisted sconces from the desk of an organ that took up the whole side
of the room, opposing us as we entered, and whose pipes were to my
imagining childhood lost in the clouds, indeed, for the roof of the
room had been broken to admit them. The double key-board, open,
glittered black and white, and I was only too glad to be able to
examine it as closely as I wished. The room had no carpet, but I did
not miss it or want it, for the floor was satin bright with polish,
and its general effect was ebony, while that of the furniture was oak.
There was a curious large closet in a corner, like another little room
put away into this one; but what surprised me most was that the
chamber was left to itself.

"Where is he?" said Santonio, appealing to the silence; but then he
seemed to be reminded, and shouted very loud in German some name I
could not realize, but which I write, having since realized.
"Aronach![13] where art thou?"

In German, and very loud, a voice replied, as coming down the
organ-pipes: "I am aloft chastising an evil spirit; nor will I descend
until I have packed the devil downstairs." At this instant, more at
hand than the sound I had met upon the staircase, there was a wail as
of a violin in pain; but I could not tell whether it was a fiddle or a
child, until the wail, in continuing, shifted from semitone to
semitone.

Santonio sat down in one of the chairs and laughed; then arose, having
recovered himself, and observed, "If this is his behavior, I may as
well go and see after your boxes. Keep yourself here till I come back;
but if he come down, salute him in German, and it will be all right."

He retired and I remained; and now I resolved to have another good
look. One side of the room I had not yet examined. Next the door I
found a trio or quartet of three-legged stools, fixed one into the
other, and nearest them a harpsichord,--a very harpsichord with
crooked legs. It was covered with baize, and a pile of music-books
reposed upon the baize, besides some antique instrument-cases. Other
and larger cases were on the floor beneath the harpsichord; there
hung a talisman or two of glittering brass upon the wall, by floating
ribbons of red.

Then I fastened myself upon the pictures, and those strange wreaths of
withered leaves that waved between them, and whose searest hues
befitted well their vicinage. As I stood beneath those pictures, those
dead-brown garlands rustled as if my light breath had been the autumn
wind. I was stricken at once with melancholy and romance, but I
understood not clearly the precise charm of those relics, or my
melancholy would have lost itself in romance alone.

There was one portrait of Bach. I knew it again, though it was a
worthier hint of him than Davy's; and underneath that portrait was
something of the same kind, which vividly fascinated me by its
subject. It was a very young head, almost that of an infant, lying,
rather than bending, over an oblong book, such in shape as those
represented in pictures of literary cherubs. The face was more than
half forehead, which the clustering locks could not conceal, though
they strove to shadow; and in revenge, the hair swept back and tumbled
sideways, curling into the very swell of the tender shoulder. The
countenance was of sun-bright witchery, lustrous as an elf of summer
laughing out of a full-blown rose. Tiny hands were doubled round the
book, and the lips wore themselves a smile that seemed to stir and
dimple, and to flutter those floating ringlets. It was strange I was,
though so unutterably drawn to it, in nothing reminded of any child or
man I had ever seen, but merely thought it an ideal of the infant
music, if music could personate infancy. After a long, long gaze I
looked away, expressly to have the delight of returning to it; and
then I saw the stove and approved of it, instead of missing, as I was
told at home I should miss, the hearthrug and roseate fire-shine.
Indeed, the stove was much more in keeping here, according to my
outlandish taste.

Before I returned to the picture Santonio re-entered, and finding me
still alone, took up a broom which he discovered in some region, and,
mounted on a chair, made with it no very gentle demonstrations upon
the ceiling, which was low, and which he could thus easily reach. In
about ten minutes more, I could feel, no less than hear, a footstep I
did not know, for I am generally cognizant of footsteps. This was
cautious and slow, yet not heavy; and I was aware it could be none
other than that of my master presumptive. If I could have turned
myself into a mustard-pot, to delay my introduction, I would have done
so without the slightest hesitation; but no! I remained myself, and
he, all himself, opened the door and came in. I had expected a tall
man,--broad; here was a little gentleman no bigger than Davy, with a
firm and defiant tread, clad in a garment that wrapped about his feet,
in color brown, that passed well into the atmosphere of his cave. He
confronted Santonio as if that wonder were a little girl in
petticoats, with no more reverence and not less benevolence, for he
laid one arm upon his shoulder and embraced him, as in England only
very young and tender brothers embrace, or a son embraces his father.
There was complaisance together with condescension in his aspect; but
when he turned upon me, both complaisance and condescension were
overpast, and a lour of indifference clouded my very faculties as with
a film of worldly fear. Then he chucked me under the chin, and held me
by it a moment without my being aware whether he examined me or not,
so conveniently disposed were his black eye-lashes; and then he let
me go again, and turned his back upon me.

"Sit!" said he to Santonio; and then he threw his hand behind him, and
pointing, without turning his head, indicated the group of stools. I
nervously disentangled one and sat down upon it then and there by the
side of the very harpsichord. Santonio being also seated, and wearing,
though as cool as usual, a less dominant aspect, the brisk demon
marched to the bureau, which I had taken little heed of, under the
window, but which, upon his opening, I discovered to be full of all
sorts of drawers and pigeon-holes, where a family of young mice would
have enjoyed a game at hide-and-seek. He stood there writing, without
any apology, for some time, and only left off when a female servant,
brilliant and stolid as a Dutch doll, threw the door open again to
bring in supper.

She carried both tureens and dishes, and went into the closet after
bottles of wine and a tablecloth; and everything she did was very
orderly, and done very quietly. She spoke to Aronach, having arranged
the table; and he arose, wiped his pen, and closed the bureau. Then he
came to Santonio, and addressed him in most beautiful clear German,
such German as was my mother's mother-tongue.

"I travelled very comfortably, thank you," said Santonio, in reply to
some inquiry suggestive of the journey, "and I am glad to see you
younger than ever."

"Oh! my sort don't die; we are tough as hempen cloth. It is _that_
make which frets itself threadbare,"--he pointed obviously at me.
"What is to be done with him, eh?"

"To be left here, of course, as we agreed."

"Recollect my conditions. I turn him out if he become ill."

"Oh! he is very well indeed; they are all pale in England, they have
no sun."

"_Be_ well then!" said Aronach, threateningly, yet not terrifyingly,
"and _keep_ well!"

What a silvery stream swept over his shirt-bosom! it was soft as
whitest moonlight. "Is that a beard?" thought I--"how beautiful must
the high-priest have looked!" This thought still touched me, when in
came a boy in a blouse, and I heard no more of his practice as I now
recognized it, though the wail still came from above, fitful and
woebegone. This boy was tall and slender, and his face, though he had
an elegant head, was too formed and adult to be agreeable or very
taking for me. His only expression was that of haughty self-content;
but there was no real pride in his bearing, and no reserve. His hands
were large, but very well articulated and extremely white; there was
no spirit in them, and no spirituality in his aspect. He took no
notice of me, except to curl his upper lip--which was not short, and
which a curl did not become--as he lifted a second stool and carried
it up to the table; nor did he wait to be asked to sit down upon it,
and having done so, to smooth his hair off his forehead and lean his
elbows upon the table. Then Aronach took a chair, and admonished
Santonio to do the same. The latter made himself instantly at home,
but most charmingly so, and began to help himself from a dish
directly. The young gentleman upon the stool was just about to lift
the cover from the tureen in the same style, when Aronach roused, and
looking grandly upon him said, or rather muttered, "Where are thy
manners? Is it thy place in my house to ape my guests? See to thy
companion there, who is wearier than thou, and yet he waits. Go and
bring him up, or thou shalt give thy supper to the cat's daughter."

"So I will," responded the blouse, with assurance; and leaving his
stool abruptly, he ran into the closet aforementioned, and brought
back a kitten, which as he held it by the nape of its neck came
peaceably enough, but upon his dropping it roughly to the floor, set
up a squeak. Now the wrath of Aronach appeared too profound for
utterance. Raising his deep-set but lightsome eyes from a perfect
thicket of lashes, he gave the impertinent one look which reminded me
of Van Amburgh in the lion's den. Then, ladling three or four
spoonfuls of soup or broth into a plate, he set the plate upon the
floor and the kitten at it, so seriously, that I dared not laugh. The
kitten, meantime, unused to strong meats, for it was not a week-old
mite, mewed and whined in antiphon to the savage lamentations of
another cat in the closet, its maternal parent. The blouse never
stirred an inch, save carelessly to sneer over his shoulder at me; and
I never loved him from that moment. But Santonio nodded to me
significantly, as to say, "Come here!" and I came and planted my stool
at his side.

Aronach took no notice, but went on pouring coffee, one cup of which
he set by the kitten. Again she piteously smelled, but finding it even
worse than the broth, she crept up to the closet-door and smelled at
that.

"Go up!" said Aronach, to the blouse, "and send Burney to his supper.
He shall have the cat's supper, as thou hast given thine to the cat."

He went out sulkily, and the wail above ceased. I also heard
footsteps, but he came back again alone.

"He won't come down."

"Won't! Did he say 'won't,' Iskar? Have a care!"

"He says he wants no supper."

"That I have taken away his stomach, eh? Come hither, thou black and
white bird that art not yet a pyet."

This was to me; I was just sliding from my stool.

"Eat and drink first, and then thou shalt carry it to him. Thou
lookest better brought up. Don't grimace, Iskar, or thou shalt sleep
in the cupboard with the cat, and the rats shall dance in thy fine
curls. So now eat, Aukester, if that be thy name."

"Sir, I am Carl; will you please to call me Carl?"

He gave me a glance from behind the coffee-stand. Sparks as from steel
seemed to come out of his orbs and fly about my brain; but I was not
frightened the least, for the lips of this austerest of autocrats were
smiling like sunlight beneath the silver hair. I saw at this moment
that Aronach had a bowl of smoking milk crammed with bread by his
side, and believing it to be for the violin up in the clouds, and
concluding inferentially that the unseen was some one very small, I
entreated Aronach without fear to let me carry it to him while yet it
smoked.

He did not object, but rather stared, and observed to Santonio, "His
father makes a baby of him; to give a boy such stuff is enough to make
a girl grow up instead." Still he handed it to me with the caution,
"If thou fallest on thy nose in going up to heaven, the kitten will
lose her supper, for the milk is all used up in the town." I could
just see a very narrow set of steps, exactly like a belfry-stair, when
I opened the door, and having shut it again and found myself in
darkness, I concluded to leave the bowl on the ground till I had
explored to the top. I did so, and spun upwards, discovering another
door, to which, though also in darkness, the wail of the violin became
my light. I just unlatched it, and returned for my burden, carefully
adjusting spoon and basin on the road back. I knocked first, not to
alarm the semi-tonic inhabitant; and then, receiving no intimation,
entered of my own accord. It was a queer region, hardly so superior as
a garret, extremely low and vast, with mountains of lumber in every
corner, and in the midst a pile of boxes with a portmanteau or two,
and many items of property which for me were nondescript. It had no
furniture of its own besides, but to do it justice it was
weather-proof. I could see all this rugged imagery on the instant, but
not so easily I discerned a little figure in the very centre of the
boxes, sitting upon the least of the boxes, and solitarily regaling
the silence, without either desk or book, with what had made me suffer
below stairs. The organ-pipes came up here, and reached to the very
roof; they gave me a strange feeling as of something misplaced and
mangled, but otherwise I was charmed to discover them. I hastened
across the floor. The player was certainly not an adept,--a tiny,
lonely looking boy, who as I went up to him almost let his fiddle fall
with fright, and shrank from me as some little children do from dogs.
I was as tall again as he, and felt quite manly. "I am only come," I
said, "to bring your supper,--have it while it is hot; it is so good
then!"

Do not believe, sweet reader, that my German was more polished than my
English,--it was quite the same. He dropped his bow upon the nearest
box, and depressing his violin so that it touched the ground while he
still held it, looked up at me with such a wistful wonder, his lip
still quivering, his pretty hair all ruffled up.

"I don't want it, thank you."

"You must eat it; you have been up here ever so long."

"Yes, a good while; please take it away. Are you the new one who was
coming?"

"Who said I was coming?"

"The master. He said you would beat us both, and get first to
Cecilia."

"That is because I am older. I can't play the least in the world. I
don't know even how to hold the bow. Come, _do_ eat this good-looking
stuff."

"I don't think I can, I feel so sick."

"That is because you _do_ want something to eat."

"It is not that"--he touched my jacket. "This is what they wear in
England. I do wish you would talk English to me."

I was touched almost into tears. "You are such a little darling!" I
exclaimed; and I would have given anything to fondle him, but I was
afraid of staying, so I took a spoonful of the milk and put it to his
lips, still another and another, till he had taken it all; and then I
said, "Do not practise any more;" for he was disconsolately gathering
up his bow.

"I must until bed-time; but I am so sleepy."

"Why are you left up here? I will stay with you."

"No, no, you must not. I only came up here because the master caught
me looking out of the window this morning, and the windows here don't
show you anything but the sky."

As I went out at the door I looked after him again. He was just
finishing one of those long yawns that babies delight in. The moment I
found my way below, I marched to the master's chair. He was awful in
his dignity then, with the wine-bottle beside him and a glass held
half-way to his lips.

"Sir, he has eaten it all, but he is so very sleepy; mayn't he go to
bed?"

Santonio was so overcome with laughter at my audacity, though I was
really very much alarmed, that he leaned back in his chair and shook
again. Aronach bent upon me his flowing beard: "Dost thou know to
refrain thyself, as well as thou knowest to rebuke thine elders?" But
I could plainly see he was not angry, for he arose and tapped upon the
ceiling with a stout oak staff that he fished from the unimagined
closet. Then the little one came down and into the room, shy of
Santonio, and keeping behind his chair, as he murmured "Good-night" to
Aronach. The latter gave him a nod which would not have disgraced Jove
in full council. Santonio requested very kindly that I too might go to
bed; and in a few minutes I found myself in that little cave of my own
of which he had made mention.

Its entrance was hard by, through one of the very doors I had noticed
when the glimmer showed me the staircase, and it entirely answered my
expectations, in so far as it was very dim and haunted-looking, very
unlike my own room in England, or any of our rooms at home. It had a
stove, a looking-glass, and a press large enough to contain a bride's
trousseau complete. There was also a recess which seemed lined with
London fog, but which, on examination by the light of my candle, I
found to contain the bed in a box of which my mother had forewarned
me. I could no more have slept in it than if it had been a coffin, and
for the first time I fully appreciated her provision for my comfort in
this particular. My boxes were all there, and I uncorded them and drew
forth my keys. My excellent sister Clo had packed in one trunk the bed
and bedding, and one set of night-clothes, also a variety of
toilet necessaries in holland bags. It was quite an affair to lift out
the pieces; they were fitted into each other so beautifully that it
was natural to imagine they could never be got back again. None but an
experienced feminine hand could have accomplished such a feat, and
very carefully had I been inducted into the puzzlement of putting the
parts together. I had just unfolded the tight white mattress, so
narrow, but so exactly wide enough, when Santonio knocked at the door
to bid me good-night and farewell; and as he came in he assisted me in
the accomplishment of my plans with that assiduous deftness which
pre-eminently distinguishes the instrumental artist. He most kindly
offered to see me into bed; but that was out of the question, so I let
him go with my hearty thanks. It was not the least a melancholy
feeling with which I stretched myself, all tingling with my rapid
ablutions, beneath my home-blanket. I did not the least long after
home, nor the least experience the mother-sickness that is the very
treble-string of humility to many a hero in his inaugurative exile;
but I felt extremely old, grand, and self-reliant, especially
satisfied, in spite of my present ignorance, that by some means or
other this Aronach would make a man of me, and not a trifler. I was
just asleep when I heard a hand on the lock, and that no dream, for a
voice vociferated, roughly enough,--"Out with the light!" I sprang up
and opened the door.

"It is only my little lamp, sir, that I brought with me, and it is
very safe, as you see; but still, if you wish it, I will try to sleep
in the dark. I have never liked to do so, because it excites me."

"Bah! thou art too young to know the meaning of excitement. But for
the sake of some one else who loves the night-lamp, thou mayest keep
thine eyes open with it, and thank him too, for it is his doing. Now
get back to bed! and don't come out again,--the quick and living walk
not about in night-smocks here."

I heard him bolt me in as soon as I shut the door. I cannot say this
proceeding pleased me, but on the contrary cost me many a cold sweat
until I became accustomed to it. I lay a little while awake, now
spying out such variations from English style as had escaped me on my
first acquaintance with my quarters; then reverted to Aronach's dark
hint about the person who, like me, was excited by the darkness; and
at last recollected my contemporaries, and speculated upon their
present circumstantials. Most softly did that poor little soul present
himself to mine as he played with my buttons, and I secretly
determined to become his protector and ally. As for the imp in the
blouse, I abjured him at first sight; perhaps because he was, though
repugnant to my taste, handsome and elegant, and I was neither.

FOOTNOTE:

[13] It is generally accepted that Aronach is a portrait of Zelter,
the friend of Goethe and teacher of Mendelssohn, who was for many
years director of the Sing Akademie at Berlin. He was the first who
inspired Mendelssohn with his love for John Sebastian Bach's music.



CHAPTER XXVI.


I awoke with sonorous cries, and sounds of bells, and songs of
sellers, and the dim ringing of wheels on a frosty soil. Hard and
white the day-dews stood upon the windows; the sky was clear as light
itself, and my soul sprang as into the arms of freedom. It occurred to
me that I was perhaps late, and I dressed fast. About half-way to the
end, I heard the violins begin, both of them; but now they
outrageously contradicted each other in different directions, and I
could keep by my ear to neither.

I made the utmost haste, but, as in most cases, it was least speed. I
pulled off a button, and then a shoestring came loose; I had to begin
very nearly all over again. And when at length equipped, I recalled
the incarceration of the previous night, and wondered how long I
should stay there; but a sudden impulse sent me to the door, and
immediately it yielded to my hand. "He has been here, then," I
thought, "and has not awakened me, because I was tired last night. How
good, to be sure! Not at all what I expected." I sallied forth to the
landing; it was like a room itself, but still dark,--dark for
day-time; and I could only make out its extent by the glimmer through
the crack beneath every door. I listened at each first, not knowing at
the instant which was which; but the violins asserted themselves, and
I chose one to unlock on my own responsibility. I had made a mistake
here, and come into the untenanted organ-room where we had supped.
There the wintry light reigned full, and freshened up the old tints
till they gleamed no more dusky, but rich.

The pictures and wreaths of other years gave welcome to me, that magic
child especially; nor less the harpsichord unopened, quiet, while
those sounds of younger violins broke through and through my fancy,
and made my heart swell up till I could have fainted with emotion.

But of all that pressed upon me, the crowning sense was of that silent
organ lost in the shady roof; the sun playing upon those columned
tubes, and the black-white key-board clustering to hide its wealth of
"unheard melodies," sweeter than those "_heard_" as one has sung, who
can surely never have _heard_ them!

The chamber had been brushed and swept, but still the fine dust flew,
and caught the sunshine on its eddies like another shade of light.
There was no one in the room, and, my first flush over, I felt alone
and idle. The table was spread for breakfast, as I discovered, last of
all; and I question whether such coffee as stood upon the stove so
cosily could be surpassed even in Arabia. It was so perfect that it
stood the test of sugarlessness, which I preferred, if possible.
Standing to eat and drink in all haste, a speculation stung me,--where
was my violin? It had not even slept with me; I had missed it in my
room,--that baby of mine, that doll, that ladykin! I looked
everywhere,--at least everywhere I could; the closet-door I did not
try, justly supposing that it was not my place to do so; and at last I
concluded to attack my fellow-pupils.

I found my small friend's door very easily, and turned the key to
admit myself. The room, to my amazement, was precisely like my own,
even to that bed in the recess; and the inmate was not alarmed, for
he evidently expected me.

"Oh!" he said, after putting up his lips to mine, "Marc has your study
for this morning; the master gave it him to keep till you were ready.
But mind you lock me in again when you get out, or he will flog you
and me."

"Did he ever flog you yet?"

"No, and he does not call it 'flog;' but he did tie Marc's hands
together one day, and he said it was the same to him to do that as for
an English master to flog."

"A very mild type, I think. But who is Marc?"

"Marc Iskar; you saw him last night. He won't speak to me; he says I
am too young."

"So much the better for you. And what is your little name?"

"I am Starwood Burney;[14] but I should like you to call me Star, as
my papa does."

"That I will, my German aster!"

"Aster is Latin; I have begun Latin. But do please go, I have so much
to do, and he will be so very angry,--so very, very cross!"

"How dare you say so, when he has never even tied your hands together!
You should not be hurt nor disgraced, little Starling; if I were
there, I would be punished instead, for I have twice your strength.
But you should try to love him while you fear him."

"You speak like a great man, and I will try. But please to go now, for
I find this very hard."

I left him, having selfishly shrunk from the necessity to interrogate
Iskar.

I stole to his door. I was really electrified as I stood,--not with
envy, but with amazement! He was already a wonderful mechanist. Such
sallies of execution were to me tremendous, but his tone did not charm
me, and I imagined it might be the defect of his instrument that it
sounded thin and cold, unlike my notion altogether, and frosty as the
frost without. Clearly and crisply it saluted me as I entered. The
room was like ours,--the little one's and mine; but it was gayly
adorned with pictures of the lowest order (such as are hawked about
the streets in England), and only conspicuous from their unnaturally
vivid coloring. They were chiefly figures of ladies dancing, or of
gentlemen brandishing the sword and helmet,--theatrical subjects, as I
afterwards discovered. Iskar was sitting before his desk, and had his
face from me. As I approached, my awe was doubled at his performance,
for I beheld Corelli's solos. I had heard of those from Davy. Another
desk was also near him, and a second violin-case stood upon the floor.
I asked him very modestly whether they were mine. He replied, without
regarding me, "That sheet of paper has your exercise upon it, and if
you cannot play it, you are to look in Marenthal's Prolusion, which is
in the bureau under the desk. You are to take all these things into
your own room."

There was something in the tones of the blouse--he was yet in
blouse--that irritated me intensely. His voice was defined as that of
his violin, and to the full as frosty. I was only too happy to retire.
Then, sitting upon my own bed, I examined the exercise. It was
drearily indistinct,--a copy, and I could make nothing of it. The mere
Germanisms of the novel rests and signs appalled me. I could neither
handle the violin nor steady the bow; but I had carefully borne in
mind the methods I had observed when I had had opportunity, and I
stooped to take this child of music from its cradle. It was no more
mine own than I had expected; an awkward bulky frame it had, and I did
not feel to love it nor to bring it to my heart. Something must be
done, I felt, and I returned to the organ-room. I found the Prolusion,
as Iskar said,--an awfully Faustish tome, with rusty clasps, the
letters worn off the back. I was in doom certainly. It was close black
national type, and I pored and bored myself over it,--leaf after
leaf,--until, blissfully, I arrived at the very exercise prepared for
me. It was presented in illustration, and there were saw-like
enunciations of every step; but half the words were unknown to me, and
I grew rigid with despair. "Oh!" I cried aloud, "if some one would
only tell me! if Davy were only here! if Lenhart Davy knew!" Still I
slackened not in my most laughable labor, endeavoring to interpret
such words as I could not translate by their connection with others I
did know, by their look and make,--their euphony. I was vocalizing
them very loud, and had made out already the first position, when a
rattle of the closet lock turned me all over cold. I listened, it came
again; a tremendous "So!" followed, and the door, opening, displayed
Aronach himself in the glories of a morning-gown. How could he have
got in there, and how have come out upon me so suddenly without any
warning? and above all, how would he behave to me, finding me so
ignorant? I believe that on account of my very ignorance I found favor
in his sight,--he truly wise; for, merely alluding to my condition in
this form, "Thou hast shown thyself faithful, only keep thy faith," he
bade me bring my traps in there, and assured me--merely by his
aspect--that he would clear every stone from my path.

When I returned he was standing between the organ and the window: a
grander picture could not be perpetrated of the life-long laboring
and, for love's sake, aspiring artist. His furrowed forehead was clear
as rutted snow in the serene of sunlight as he appeared then; and
through all the sternness with which he spoke I discerned the
gentleness of art's impression. And after the most careful initiation
into the simplest mechanical process, he dismissed me to work alone,
nor did I relax from that one exercise for a week.

But a great deal chanced in that week besides. We spent each day
alike, except Sunday. On other days we breakfasted very soon after it
was light, on milk porridge, or bread and coffee. But sometimes
Aronach would breakfast alone in his cave, which was that very closet
I mentioned, and in which the day must have been developed about as
decidedly as beneath the ground. However, he had his lamp in there,
and his private escritoire, besides all kinds of books and papers,
that were seldom produced in our presence, and then only one at a
time.

The kitten's basket was there too, and there were shelves upon
shelves, containing napery and all sorts of oddities, that had their
nest there after being hatched in crannies of the old man's brain. The
first time I took a peep I discerned my own violin, carefully enough
housed, but quite above my reach. I fumed a little, of course, but did
not betray myself; and it was well I did not, as Iskar and little
Starwood both practised on common fiddles scraping could not rasp, nor
inexperience injure.

After breakfast we worked till noon under lock and key. At noon we
dined, and at two o'clock were sent to walk. I do not know whether I
put down Aronach as a tyrant. He must, at least, be so written, in
that his whims, no less than his laws, were unalterable. A whim it
certainly was that we should always walk one way, and the same
distance every day, unless he sent us on any special errand. This
promenade, though monotonous, became dear to me, and I soon learned to
appreciate the _morale_ of that _régime_. We could not go to Cecilia,
which had its village only two miles off, and whose soft blue gentle
hill was near enough to woo, and distant enough to tempt the dreamer,
nor would our guide at hand permit us to approach the precinct
consecrated to such artistic graduation as we had not yet attained.

In the mornings Aronach was either absent abroad instructing, or
writing at home. But we never got at him, and were not suffered to
apply to him until the evening. As we could not play truant unless we
had battered down the doors, so we could not associate with each other
unreservedly, except in our walks; and on those occasions, pretty
often, our master came too, calling on his friends as he passed their
houses, while we paraded up and down; but whenever he was by our side,
silent as a ruminant ox, and awful as Apis to the Egyptians for
Starwood and for me. When he came not, it would have been charming,
but for Iskar, who was either too fine to talk, or else had nothing at
his command to say, and whose deportment was so drearily sarcastic
that neither of us, his companions, ever ventured an original or a
sympathizing remark.

On my first Sunday I took Starwood to church,--that is, we preceded
Aronach, who was lecturing Iskar, and sent us on beforehand. The
little one was bright this morning, and as I looked upon his
musically built brow, and trembling color, and expressive eyes,--blue
as the air at evening, and full of that sort of light,--I could not
make clear to myself how it was that he so disliked his work, and
drooped beneath it in the effort to master his frail body by his
struggling soul. We had turned into the place of the church,--the
leafless lindens were whispering to it,--and we rested by the stone
basin, while the bells came springing through the frost-clear day
like--yet how unlike--England! I was afraid my small companion would
be cold, and I put one of his long little hands into my pocket with my
own, while I made him tuck the other into both his warm gloves, till,
by degrees,--having coaxed and comforted him to the utmost,--he told
me more about himself than I had known before. He was extremely timid
to talk, shy as a fawn, even to me. But at last I made out
satisfactorily the secret of his antipathy to his violin. I cannot
remember all his words,--besides, they were too infantine to write;
but he described himself as having spent that most forlorn of all
untended childhoods which befalls the motherless offspring of the
needy artist in England. His father had lived in London and taught
music, but had left him constantly alone; and I also discovered he had
been, and was still, an organist. The child assured me his mamma had
been a beautiful player, but that no one ever opened her grand piano,
which stood in a parlor above the street.

"I always knew I was to grow up to music," said Starwood; "for mamma
had told me so, and she taught me my notes when I was only four years
old. When she died, no one taught me; and while papa was out all day,
I played with my toys and sat upon the stairs. One day some men came
up and nearly fell over me. I ran into the parlor, and they came too.
They knocked the piano about, and began to take its legs off. I called
out to them, 'You must not touch that,--it is my mamma's!'

"They did not take any notice, but made a great noise, and at last
they carried it away--all of it--upon their shoulders. I saw it go
downstairs, and I sat there all day and cried; I was very miserable, I
know. Papa came home at last; when I was so unhappy I thought I must
die, and it was all in the dark, and very cold. He carried me in his
arms, and made me tell him why I cried. I said 'Because of the piano;'
and he told me he had sold it because it was so large, and because he
wanted the money. I know he was very poor, Charles; for a gentleman
who was very kind to him gave him some more money to send me here, or
I could not have come. But I wish he had kept me at home and taught me
himself."

"But how," I replied, "can you be sorry now? We ought to be most
gloriously happy to find ourselves here. But you fret, my dear little
boy, and mope, and that makes you thin, and takes the strength out of
you that you want for music."

"Ah! that is not it. You don't know, Charles, how I feel; I know you
don't, for you love your violin."

"I should think I did!"

"Well, I am strange to it, and don't love it,--at least, don't love to
play it."

"But why did you not tell your father so before he sent you here? You
know you will never do anything well that you don't love to do,--it is
impossible. And not to love the violin, Star, for shame!"

"It is not that,--oh, don't be angry with me!--but my music is in the
beautiful cold keys."

"Darling little Star! I beg your pardon; but then, why don't you learn
the piano?"

"But Charles, I cannot. I was sent here to learn the violin, and I
_must_ study it. Aronach does not let any one study the pianoforte
under him now."

"He did then?"

"Yes, a long time ago, when he lived in another place, about thirty
miles off. Have you heard Aronach play the organ?"

"No; have you?"

"Oh! every Sunday."

"You don't say so, Star! is it not delicious?"

"Charles, I like it best of all the days in the week, because he
plays. Such different playing from what they have at church in
England!"

"I shall go up to the organ and see him play."

"Charles, Charles, don't; please don't,--we never do!"

"Then I shall be the first, for go I must. There is precious Aronach
himself. I will run after him wherever he goes."

I did so most rudely--forsaking Starwood, who did not dare to follow
me; but I would not miss the opportunity. I spun after Aronach so
noiselessly as that he had no notion I was following, though in
general he had eyes behind; and he did not perceive me until the
service had absolutely begun. Then I made myself visible, and caught a
frown, which was accompanied by a helpless condition truly edifying;
for his arms and hands and eyes and feet were all equally on service.
I therefore remained, and made out more about the instrument than I
had made out my whole life before. His was a genuine organ-hand, that
could stretch itself indefinitely, and yet double up so crawlingly
that the fingers, as they lay, were like stems of corrugated ivory;
and I watched only less than I listened. The choir--so full and
perfect, trained to every individual--mounted its effects, as it were,
upon those of the controlling harmonies. There was a depth in these
that supported their air-waving tones, as pillars solid and polished a
vaulted roof, where shadows waver and nestle. I found a book, and sang
at intervals, but generally preferred to receive the actual
impression. I think my first mother-feeling for Germany was born that
Sunday in pleasurable pain.

None can know who has not felt--none feel who has not heard--the spell
of those haunting services in the land of Luther! The chorale so grave
and powerful, with its interpieces so light and florid, like slender
fretworks on a marble shrine,--the unisonous pause, the antiphonal
repose, the deep sense of worship stirred by the sense of sound. From
that Sunday I always went with Aronach, unbidden, but unforbidden; and
as I learned to be very expert in stopping, I substituted very
speedily the functionary who had performed the office before my
advent.

FOOTNOTE:

[14] There is no question but that Starwood Burney is intended for a
portrait of Sterndale Bennett. Mendelssohn was his friend from
boyhood, and aided him greatly with his suggestions, though it is
doubtful whether Bennett ever studied with him. It was through
Mendelssohn's influence that he brought out Bach's music in London. He
was also a pupil of the Leipsic Conservatory.



CHAPTER XXVII.


It cannot be supposed that I forgot my home, or that I failed to
institute an immediate correspondence, which was thus checked in the
bud. Aronach, finding me one night, after we had all retired, with my
little ink-bottle on the floor and myself outsprawled writing upon my
knees close into my lamp, very coolly carried my sheet, pen, and ink
away, and informed me that he never permitted his pupils to write home
at all, or to write anything except what he set them to do.

I should have revolted outright against this restriction but for a
saving discovery I made on the morrow,--that our master himself
dismissed from his own hand a bulletin of our health and record of our
progress once a month. Precious specimens, no doubt, they were, these,
of hard-hearted fact! Neither were we allowed to receive letters
ourselves from home. Only simple communications were permitted to
himself; and the effect of this rule, so autocratic, was desperately
painful upon me at first. I hungered for some sweet morsel of English,
served up in English character; I wanted to hear more than that all
were well; and as for Lenhart Davy, had not my love informed my
memory, I should have forgotten him altogether. But it was very soon I
began to realize that this judicious interdiction lent a tonic
bitterness to my life. I was completely abstracted, and upon that
passage of my inwardly eventful history I can never glance back
without a quiet tear or two; it was heavenly in its unabsolved and
absolute serenity. It was the one mood that befitted a growing heart
too apt to burn,--a busy brain too apt to vision,--if that head and
heart were ever to be raised from the valley of material life into the
mountain heights of art.

I fear my remembrances are dull just here, for the glory that touched
them was of the moment, and too subtle to be retrieved; but it is
impossible not just to remind myself of them before returning to my
adventure-maze.

For six months, that passed as swiftly as six weeks of a certain
existence, we went on together--I should have said--hand-in-hand, but
that my Starwood's diffident melancholy and Iskar's travestied hauteur
would have held me back, and I was ardent to impel myself forward. So,
though at first I had to work almost to desperation in order to join
the evening contrapuntal class, I soon left the other two behind, and
Aronach taught me alone,--which was an advantage it would be
impossible to overrate. Not that he ever commended,--it was not in
him; he was too exigent, too stern; his powers never condescended; he
was never known to qualify; he was never personally made acquaintance
with. Something of the hermit blended mystically with his acumen, so
that the primary advantage of our position was his supreme standard,
insensibly our own also,--the secondary, our undisturbed seclusion.

As I said, we walked the same distance day by day. Nothing is uniform
to a soul really set on the idealities of art. Everything, though it
changes not, suggests to the mind of the musician. Though not a
full-grown mind, I had all joy in that unchanging route; for as the
year grew and rounded, all, as it were, aspired without changing.
Meditation mellowed every circumstance till it ripened to an
unalterable charm. I always walked with Starwood, who still made me
very anxious; suddenly and increasingly so pale and frail he became
that I fully expected him to die that spring. Indeed, he hardly
cleared it; and I should have mentioned my fears to Aronach but that
he seemed fully aware of all I feared. But instead of getting rid of
the weakling, as I dreaded he might choose to do, he physicked him and
kept him in his bed-box twice or thrice a week, and taciturnly
indulged him; giving him hot possets at night, and cooling drinks by
day. The poor little fellow was very grateful, but still sad; and I
was astonished that Aronach still expected him to practise, unless he
was in bed, and to write, except his head ached. The indefinite
disorder very seldom reached that climax though, and chiefly asserted
itself in baby-yawns and occasional whimpers, constant weariness, and
entire loss of appetite. I at length discovered his age, and Iskar's
also. The latter had passed eleven, but was not so nearly twelve as I;
the first was scarcely nine, and so small he might have been only six.
It struck me he would not be much older, and I had learned to love him
too well in his infantine and affecting weakness. I ventured, one day,
to ask Aronach whether his father knew he was ill. I was answered,--

"He is not ill."

"But, sir, he is low and weak!"

"He will always be weak while thou art petting him. Who can take more
care of him than I? His father?"

"Oh, master! I know you are good; but what if he dies?"

"His work will not have killed him, nor his weakness. If people are to
die, they die; if they are to live, they live."

I was silenced, not convinced; but from that hour I did not think he
would die; nor did he.

Aronach was strict, he never departed from a rule; it was his chief
and salient characteristic. He never held what one may call
conversation with us on any subject except our studies, and then it
was in exemplification, not suggestively. It was a beneficial reserve,
perhaps, but I could not have endured it forever, and might have
become impatient but for the auspices of the season; it was the very
beginning of May. Though shut up to a great extent, as we were, the
weather made itself an entrance, blue sky swelled, and the glow of
morning woke me before dawn. The lindens near the fountain began to
blossom, and in the garden of the church the oak-leaves clustered. I
saw nothing of the country yet, and could only dream of unknown beauty
in untraversed paths. The Cecilia examinations approached. Aronach
attended almost every day at the school. I knew just so much and no
more, and as much expected to assist thereat as I should have hoped to
come of age on my twelfth birthday. My birthday was in that month of
May, in the third week; and though I was innocent of the fact, it was
a fact that it was one of Cecilia's feast-days as well as my own. It
was, however, such a delicious morning that it nearly sent me mad up
in my little room to be mewed there, when such thousands upon
thousands roamed wheresoever they would; for I never took it into
account how many of those wanderers would rejoice to be so shut up as
I was, could they only rest. And it struck me that at least one day in
the year one ought to be permitted to do exactly as one desired, even
were the desire to drown one's self the prevalent aspiration. There
are times when it is not only natural, but necessary, to rebel
against authority; so that had I not been locked in, I would have
certainly escaped and made a ramble on my own responsibility; for I
should have acted upon as pure impulse as when--usually industrious
enough as I was--I laid down my fiddle and wasted my time.

As I gazed upon the window and smelt the utter sweetness of the
atmosphere, hardly so much air as flower spirit, the voice of perfume,
I was wishful of the wings of all the flies, and envious of the
butterflies that blundered in and floated out. I am sure I had been
idle at least an hour, and had no prospect of taking heed to my ways,
so long as the sky was blue as that sky, and the breeze blew in, when
I felt, rather than heard, a soft little knock at the door. I fancied
it was the servant dashing her broomstick upon the landing; but in a
moment it was repeated, and I was very shy to take any notice, feeling
that a goblin could let itself in, and had better do so than be
admitted. Then I was roused indeed, and my own inaction scared me, for
I recognized Starwood's voice.

"Charles, I want to come in,--mayn't I a minute, please?"

"Really, Star, it is too bad of you to give me such a turn! How can I
open the door? Pray come in directly, and tell me what is the matter."

He boggled at the lock for a minute or two, but at last admitted
himself.

"Why, Star, how frightened you look! Have you been flogged at last?
and is the master home already?"

"No, no, Charles! Something most extraordinary."

I really could but laugh, the child repeated the words with such an
awe.

"A gentleman, Charles, has come. He opened my door while I was
practising. I should have been dreadfully frightened, but he was so
kind, and came in so gently. He thought you were here, Charles, and
asked for you; he says he does not know your name, but that he could
tell me whether you were here if I would describe you. I said how pale
you were, with such dark eyes, and about your playing, and he said,--

"'All right, go and fetch him, or send him to me: will you be so
kind?'"

"How could you be quite sure? It may be some one for Iskar, who is
pale, and has dark eyes."

"He said it was the violin that came at Christmas, I was to send; and
you came at Christmas. Besides, he looks very like a friend you would
have; he is not like anybody else."

"What is he like, Star?"

"His face is so very bright and clever that I could not look at it;
but I saw his beautiful curling hair. I never saw such curling hair."

"Come in with me, then, Star."

"No, he said I was not to come too, that I might go on with my music.
He calls it 'music,' but I don't think it is much like it."

Now, I knew who was there as well as if an angel had spoken to me and
said, "It is he for whom you waited." Had I not known in very
assurance, I should have forced my little friend to go back with me,
that I might not meet alone a stranger; as it was, I only longed to
fly, and to fly alone into that presence, for which I then felt I had
been waiting, though I had known it not.

I rushed from my little prison enfranchised, ecstatic; but I
misapprehended my own sensations. The magnetic power was so appalling
that as I reached the threshold of that other room a dark shock came
over my eyes, and partly from my haste, in part from that dazzling
blindness, I staggered and fell across the doorway, and could not try
to rise.

But his arm was round me,--before I fell, I felt it; and as I lay I
was crushed, abandoned in very worship. None worship as the
child-enthusiast save the enthusiast who worshipped even as a child. I
scarcely tried to rise; but he lifted me with that strong and slender
arm, and set me upon my feet. Before he spoke I spoke, but I gasped so
wildly that my words are not in my power to recall. I only remember
that I named him "our Conductor--the Conductor!" and that still, with
his light touch on my shoulder, he turned his head aside. I looked up
freely then; and the glance I then caught of that brow, those eyes
half averted, half bent upon me with the old pitying sweetness, partly
shaded by earthly sympathy, but for the most part lifted into light
beyond my knowledge,--the one glimpse forewarned me not to yield to
the emotions he raised within me, lest I should trouble him more than
needed. It was not a minute, I am sure, before I mastered myself and
stood before him firmly.

"Sir, the Herr Aronach is at the Cecilia School to-day; it is the
first day of the grand examination,--at least I believe so; I know
they are all very busy there, and have been so for some time. I don't
think the master will be home until quite the evening, for he told us
to dine alone; but if you will allow me, I will run and bring you a
coach from the Kell Platz, which will take you to Cecilia in an
hour,--I have heard the master say so."

He was looking towards the window; and while I spoke, his face, so
exquisitely pale, grew gradually warm and bright, his cheek mantled,
his eyes laughed within the lashes.

"All very good and wise and amiable, most amiable!" said he; "and such
pretty German too! But I came to see you, and not your master, here! I
have been a long time coming, but I could not get here before, because
I had not done my lessons. I have finished them now, and want a game
of play. Will you have a game with me?"

Before I could answer, he resumed, in tones of the most ravishing
gayety,--

"And you are all so pale,--so pale that I am ashamed of you! What have
you been all doing?"

"Practising, sir,--at least not I, for I have been idle all the
morning, for the very first time since I came here, I assure you. I
kept thinking and thinking, and expecting and expecting, though I
could not tell what, and now I know."

"But I am still very much ashamed of Aronach. Does he lock you up?"
with a star of mischief shining from the very middle of each eye.

"Yes, sir, always, as well as the others, of course. I like it very
much too; it is so safe."

"Not always, it seems. Well, now let us have a race to the river; and
then if you are pale still, I shall take you to Cecilia, and show
somebody that it is a question whether he can keep you at home, for
all he bolts you in. The day is so fine, so beautiful, that I think
the music itself may have a holiday."

"Sir, do you really mean it? Oh, if you do, pray let us go to Cecilia
_now_; for perhaps there is music to hear, and oh! it is so very,
_very_ long since I heard any."

"Is it so dear to you that you would rather seek it than all the
sunshine and all the heart of spring? Ah! too young to find that
anything is better than music, and more to be desired."

"Yes, sir, yes! please to take me. I won't be in the way, it will be
enough to walk by you; I don't want you to talk."

"But I do want to talk; I cannot keep quiet. I have a lady's tongue,
and yours, I fancy, is not much shorter. We will therefore go now."

"This moment, sir? Oh! I would rather go than have the festival over
again."

"The festival! the festival! It _is_ the festival! Is it not to-day a
festival, and _every_ day in May?"

He looked as he spoke so divinely happy that it is so the angels must
appear in their everlasting spring. I rushed into my room and rummaged
for my cap, also for a pair of new gloves; but I was not very long,
though I shook so violently that it was a task to pull on those skins.
Returning, I found him still at the window; he was leaning upon the
bureau, not near the harpsichord, not before the organ, but gazing,
child-like, into the bright blue morning. He was dressed in a summer
coat, short and very loose, that hung almost in folds upon his
delicate figure. The collar, falling low, revealed the throat, so
white, so regal; and through the button-hole fluttered the ribbon of
the Chevalier. He carried also a robe-like cloak upon his arm, lined
with silk and amply tasselled. I ventured to take it from him, but he
gently, and yet forcibly, drew it again to himself, saying, "It is too
heavy for thee. May I not already say 'thou'?"

"Oh, sir, if you will, but let me go first; it is so dark always upon
the stairs."

"One does not love darkness, truly; we will escape together."

He took my hand, and I tried to lead him; but after all, it was he who
led me step by step. I did not know the road to Cecilia, and I said
so.

"Oh, I suppose not; sly Aronach! But I do, and that is sufficient, is
it not? Why, the color is coming back already. And I see your eyes
begin to know me. I am so glad. Ah! they tell more now than they will
tell some day."

"Sir, you are too good, but I thank you. I like to feel well, and I
feel more than well to-day; I am too glad, I think."

"Never too well or glad, it is not possible. Never too bright and
hopeful. Never too blissfully rejoicing. Tell me your name, if you
please."

"Sir, my name is nothing."

"That is better than _Norval_." He laughed, as at himself.

"Sir, however did you get to hear that? O!"--I quite screamed as the
reminiscence shook me,--"oh, sir, did you write the 'Tone-Wreath'?"

He gave me a look which seemed to drink up my soul. "I plucked a
garland, but it was beyond the Grampian Hills."

"You _did_ write it! I knew it when I heard it, sir. I am so
delighted! I knew the instant she played it, and she thought so too;
but of course we could not be quite sure."

He made the very slightest gesture of impatience. "Never mind the
'Tone-Wreath'! There are May-bells enough on the hills that we are to
go to."

I was insensibly reminded of his race; but its bitterness was all
sheathed in beauty when I looked again. So beautiful was he that I
could not help looking at his face. So we are drawn to the evening
star, so to the morning roses; but with how different a spell! For
just where theirs is closed, did his begin its secret, still
attraction; the loveliness, the symmetry were lost as the majestic
spirit seized upon the soul through the sight, and conquered.

"You have not told me your name. Is it so difficult for me to
pronounce? I will try very hard to say it, and I wish to know it."

No "I will" was ever so irresistible.--"Charles Auchester."

"That is a tell-tale name. But I can never forget what was written for
me on your forehead the day you were so kind to me in a foreign
country. Do you like me, Charles,--well enough to wish to know me?"

I can never describe the innocent regality of his manner here,--it was
something never to be imagined, that voice in that peculiar key.

"Sir, I know how many friends you must have, and how they must admire
you. I don't think any of them love you as I do, and always did ever
since that day. I wish I could tell you, but it's of no use. I can't,
though I quite burn to tell you, and to make you know. I do love you
better than I love my life, and you are the only person I love better
than music. I would go to the other end of the world, and never see
you any more, rather than I would be in your way or tire you. Will you
believe me?"

"Come!" he answered brightly, delicately, "I know all you wish to say,
because I can feel myself; but I could not bear you at the other end
of the world just now, because I like you near me; and were you and I
to go away from each other, as we must, I should still feel you near
me, for whatever is, or has been, is forever to me."

"Sir, I can only thank you, and that means more than I can say; but I
cannot think why you like me. It is most exquisite, but I do not
understand it."

He smiled, and his eye kindled. "I shall not tell you, I see you do
not know; I do not wish for you to know. But tell me now, will you
not, do you enter the school this semester?"

"Yes, sir, I believe so,--at least, I came here on purpose; but
Aronach does not tell us much, you know, sir."

"Is that tall young gentleman to enter?"

"Yes, sir,--Marc Iskar."

"And the least,--how do you name him?"

Like a flash of lightning a conception struck me through and through.

"Sir, he is called Starwood Burney, from England. How I do wish I
might tell you something!"

"You can tell me anything; there is plenty of time and room, and no
one to hear, if it be a pretty little secret."

"It is a secret, but not a little one, nor pretty either. It is about
Starwood. I don't think I ought to trouble you about it, and yet I
must tell you, because I think you can do anything you please."

"Like a prince in the Arabian tales," he answered brightly; "I fear I
am poor in comparison with such, for I can only help in _one_ way."

"And that one way is the very way I want, sir. Starwood loves the
pianoforte. I have seen him change all over when he talked of it, as
if it were his real life. It is not a real life he lives with that
violin."

"I wish it had been thyself, whose real life it is, my child," he
replied, with a tenderness I could ill brook, could less account for;
"but still thy wish shall be mine. Would the little one go with me? He
seems terrified to be spoken to, and it would make my heart beat to
flutter him."

"Sir, that is just like you to say so; but I am very certain he would
soon love you,--not as I do, that would be impossible, but so much
that you would not be sorry you had taken him away. But oh! if I had
known that you would take and teach, I would never have taken up the
violin, but have come and thrown myself at your feet, sir, and have
held upon you till you promised to take me. I thought, sir, somehow
that you did not teach."

"Understand me, then, that what I say I say to satisfy you: you are
better as you are, better than you could be with me. I am a wanderer,
and it is not my right to teach; I am bound to another craft, and the
only one for the perfecting of which it is not my right to call myself
poor. Do you understand, Charles?"

"I think, sir, that you mean you make music, and that therefore you
have no time for the dirty work."

He broke into a burst of laughter, like joy-bells. "There is as much
dirty work, however, in what you call _making_ music. But what I meant
for you to understand was this, that I do not take money for
instructing; because that would be to take the bread from the mouths
of hundreds I love and honor. I have money enough; and you know how
sweet it is even to give money,--how much sweeter to give what cannot
be bought by money! I shall take this little friend of mine to my own
home, if he will go and I am permitted to do so; and I shall treat him
as my son, because he will, indeed, be my music-child, and no more
indebted to me than I am to music, or than we all are to Jehovah."

"Sir, you are certainly a Jew if you say 'Jehovah;' I was quite sure
of it before, and I am so pleased."

"I cannot contradict thee, but I am almost sorry thou knowest there
are even such people as Jews."

"Why so, sir? Pray tell me. I should have thought that _you_, before
all other persons, would have rejoiced over them."

"Why so, indeed! but because the mystery of their very name is enough
to break the head, and perhaps the heart. But now of this little one:
he must, indeed, be covered as a bird in the nest, and shall be. And
if I turn him not forth a strong-winged wonder, thou wilt stand up and
have to answer for him,--is it not so?"

"Sir, I am certain he will play wonderfully upon what he calls those
'beautiful cold keys.'"

"Ah!" he answered dreamily, "and so, indeed, they are, whose very
tones are but as different shadows of the same one-colored light, the
ice-blue darkness, and the snowy azure blaze. He has right, if he
thinks them cold, to find them _alone_ beautiful." He spoke as if in
sleep.

"Sir, I do not know what you mean, for I never heard even
Milans-André."

"You are to hear him, then; it is positively needful."

Again the raillery pointed every word, as if arrows "dipped in balm."

"I mean that I scarcely know what those keys are like, for I never
heard them really played, except by one young lady. I did not find the
'Tone-Wreath' cold, but I thought, when she played with Santonio, that
her playing was cold,--cold compared with his; for he was playing, as
you know, sir, the violin."

"You are right; yes. The violin is the violet!"

These words, vividly pronounced, and so mystical to the uninitiated,
were as burning wisdom to my soul. I could have claimed them as my
own, so exactly did they respond to my own unexpressed necessities.
But indeed, and in truth, the most singular trait of the presence
beside me was that nothing falling from his lips surprised me. I was
prepared for all, though everything was new. He did not talk
incessantly,--on the contrary, his remarks seemed sudden, as a breeze
up-borne and dying into the noonday. There was that in them which
cannot be conveyed, although conserved,--the tones, the manner, so
changeful, yet all cast in grace unutterable; passing from vagrant,
never wanton mirth, into pungent, but never supercilious gravity. Such
recollection only proves that the beautiful essence flows not well
into the form of words,--for I remember every word he spoke,--but
rather dies in being uttered forth, itself as music.

It was dusty in the highway, and we met no one for at least a mile
except the peasants, who passed into the landscape as part of its
picture. The intense green of May, and its quickening blossoms,
strewed every nook and plantation; but the sweetness of the country,
so exuberant just there, only seemed to frame, with fitting ornament,
the one idea I contemplated,--that he was close at hand. There had
been much sun, and one was naturally inclined to shade in the
thrilling May heats, which permeate the veins almost like love's
fever, and are as exciting to the pulses.

At last we came to a brook, a lovely freshet, broadening into a
mill-stream; for we could see far off in the clear air the flash of
that wheel, and hear its last murmuring fall. But here at hand it was
all lonely, unspanned by any bridge, and having its feathery banks
unspoiled by any clearing hand. A knot of beautiful beech-trees threw
dark kisses on the trembling water; there were wildest rushes here,
and the thick spring leaves of the yet unbloomed forget-me-not on
either hand. The blue hill of Cecilia lay yet before us, but something
in my companion's face made me conjecture that here he wished to
rest. Before he even suggested it I pulled out my cambric
handkerchief, and running on before him, laid it beneath the drooping
beech-boughs on the swelling grass. I came back to him again, and
entreated him to repose. He even flushed with satisfaction at my
request, which I made, as I ever do, rather impertinently. He ran,
too, with me, and taking out his own handkerchief, which was a
royal-purple silk, he spread it beside mine, and drew me to that
throne with his transparent fingers upon my hand. I say "transparent,"
for they were as though the roseate blood shone through, and the
wandering violet veins showed the clearness of the unfretted palm. But
it was a hand too refined for model beauty, too thin and rare for the
youth, the almost boyhood, that shone on his forehead and in his
unwearied eye. The brightness of heaven seemed to pour itself upon my
soul as I sat beside him and felt that no one in the whole world was
at that moment so near him as I. He pulled a few rushes from the
margin, and began to weave a sort of basket. So fleetly his fingers
twisted and untwisted themselves that it was as if he were accustomed
to do nothing but sit and weave green rushes the livelong day.

"Pull me some more!" he said at length imploringly; and I, who had
been absorbed in those clear fingers playing, looked up at him as I
stretched my arm. His eyes shone with the starlight of pure
abstraction, and I answered not except by gathering the rushes,
breaking them off, and laying them one by one across his knees. The
pretty work was nearly finished; it was the loveliest green casket I
could have fancied, with a plaited handle. It looked like a fairy
field-flung treasure. I wished it were for me. When it was quite
ready, and as complete and perfect as Nature's own work, he rose, and
seizing the lowest branch of the swaying beech grove, hung the
plaything upon it and said, "I wish it were filled with ripe red
strawberries."

"Why so, sir?" I ventured.

"Because one would like to imagine a little child finding a green
basket by the dusty way, filled with strawberries."

We arose, and again walked on.

"Sir, I would rather have the basket than the strawberries."

"I wish a little child may be of your mind. Were you happy, Charles,
when you were a little child?"

"Sir, I was always longing to be a man. I never considered what it was
to be a little child."

"Thou art a boy, and that is to be a man-child,--the beautiful fate!
But it is thy beautiful fate to teach others also, as only children
teach."

"I, sir,--how?"

"Charles, a man may be always longing to be an angel, and never
consider what it is to be a man."

His voice was as a sudden wind springing up amidst solitary leaves, it
was so fitful, so vaguely sweet. I looked upon him indeed for the
first time with trembling, since I had been with him that day. He had
fallen into a stiller step, for we had reached the foot of the ascent.
It never occurred to me that I was not expected at Cecilia. I thought
of nothing but that I should accompany him. He suddenly again
addressed me in English.

"Did St. Michel ever recover the use of his arm?"

I was quite embarrassed. "I never asked about him, sir; but I daresay
he did."

"I thought you would have known. You _should_ have asked, I think.
Was he a rich man or a poor man?"

"How do you mean, sir? He was well off, I should suppose, for he used
to dress a great deal, and had a horse, and taught all over the town.
Mr. Davy said he was as popular as Giardini."

"Mr. Davy was who,--your godfather?"

"My musical godfather I should say, sir. He took me to the festival,
and had I not accidentally met him I should never have gone there,
have never seen you. Oh, sir!--"

"Nothing is accidental that happens to you, to such as you. But I
should have been very sorry not to have seen you. I thought you were a
little messenger from the other world."

"It does seem very strange, sir,--at least two things especially."

"What is the first, then?"

"First, that I should serve you; and the second, that you should like
me."

"No, believe me, it is not strange,"--he still spoke in that beautiful
pure English, swift and keen, as his German was mild and slow,--"not
strange that you should serve me, because there was a secret agreement
between us that we should either serve the other. Had you been in my
place, I should have run to fetch you water; but I fear I should have
spilled a drop or two. And how could I but like you when you came
before me like something of my own in that crowd, that multitude in
nothing of me?"

"Sir," I answered, to save myself from saying what I really felt, "how
beautifully you speak English!"

He resumed in German: "That is nothing, because we can have no real
language. I make myself think in all. I dream first in this, and then
in that; so that, amidst the floating fragments, as in the strange
mixture we call an _orchestra_, some accent may be expressed from the
many voices of the language of our unknown home."

As he said these words, his tones, so clear and reverent, became
mystical and inward. I was absolved from communion with that soul. His
eye, travelling onwards, was already with the lime-trees at the summit
of the hill we had nearly reached, and he appeared to have forgotten
me. I felt how frail, how dissoluble, were the fiery links that bound
my feeble spirit to that strong immortal. But how little I knew it
yet!



CHAPTER XXVIII.


The school of Cecilia was not only at the summit of the hill, it was
the only building on the summit; it was isolated, and in its isolation
grand. There were cottages in orchards, vine-gardens, fertile lands,
an ancient church, sprinkled upon the sides, or nestling in the
slopes; but itself looked lonely and consecrated, as in verity it
might be named. A belt of glorious trees, dark and dense as a Druid
grove, surrounded with an older growth the modern superstructure; but
its basis had been a feudal ruin, whose entrance still remained; a
hall, a wide waste of room, of rugged symmetry and almost twilight
atmosphere. A court-yard in front was paved with stone, and here were
carriages and unharnessed horses feeding happily. The doorway of the
hall was free; we entered together, and my companion left me one
moment while he made some arrangements with the porter, who was quite
alone in his corner. Otherwise silence reigned, and also it seemed
with solitude; for no one peered among the strong square pillars that
upheld as rude a gallery,--the approach to which was by a sweeping
staircase of the brightest oak with noble balustrades. Two figures in
bronze looked down from the landing-place on either hand, and as we
passed between them I felt their size, if not their beauty, overawe me
as the shadow of the entrance. They were, strange to say, not
counterparts, though companion forms of the same head, the same face,
the same dun laurel crown; but the one gathered its drapery to its
breast, and stretched its hand beckoningly towards the portal,--the
other with outstretched arm pointed with an expression almost
amounting to menace down the gallery. In niched archways there, one
door after another met the eye, massive and polished, but all closed.

I implicitly trusted in my companion. I felt sure he possessed a charm
to open all those doors, and I followed him as he still lightly, as if
upon grass, stepped from entrance to entrance, not pausing until he
reached the bend of the gallery. Here was a door unlike the
others,--wider, slighter, of cloth and glass; and stealing from within
those media, with a murmur soft as incense, came a mist of choral
sounds, confusing me and captivating me at once, so that I did not
care to stir until the mist dissolved and ceased, and I was yet by my
companion's side without the door.

"We may enter now, I think," he said; for he had waited reverently as
I, and he gently pushed those folds.

They slid back, and we entered a narrow lobby, very dim and
disenchanted looking. Still softly we proceeded to another door
within, which I had not discovered, and he touched that too with an
air of subtile and still authority. I was dazzled the first instant;
but he took my hand directly, and drew me forwards with him to a seat
in some region of enchantment. As I sat by him there I soon recovered
myself to the utmost, and beheld before me a sight which I shall not
easily forget, nor ever cease to hold as it was presented to me on
that occasion.

It was a vast and vaulted room; whether of delicate or decided
architecture I could not possibly declare, such a dream it was of
wreaths and mystic floral arches. Pillars twined with gold-bloomed
lime-branches rose burdened with them to the roof, there mixing into
the long festoons of oak-leaf that hung as if they grew there from the
gray-brown rafters. Everywhere was a drooping odor that had been
oppressive, most unendurably sweet, but for the strong air wafted and
ruffling through the open windows on either hand.

We were sitting quite behind all others, on the loftiest tier of
seats, that were raised step by step so gently upwards to the back,
and beneath us were seats all full, where none turned nor seemed to
talk; for all eyes were surely allured and riveted by the scenery to
the fronting end. It was a lofty, arched recess, spanning the extreme
width of the hall; a window, half a dome, of glass poured down a
condensed light upon two galleries within, which leaned into the form
of the arch itself, and were so thickly interlaced with green that
nothing else was visible except the figures which filled them,
draperied in white, side by side in shining rows,--like angels, so I
thought. Young men and boys above, in flowing robes as choristers,
overhung the maiden forms of the gallery below; and of these last,
every one wore roses on the breast, as well as glistening raiment.
These galleries of greenery were themselves overhanging a platform
covered with dark-green cloth, exquisitely fluted at the sides, and
drawn in front over three or four steps that raised it from the
flooring of the hall. A band in two divisions graced the ground floor.
I caught the sight immediately; but upon the platform itself stood a
pianoforte alone, a table covered with dark-green velvet, and about a
dozen dark-green velvet chairs. These last were all filled except one,
and its late occupant had pushed that one chair back while he stood at
the top of the table, with something glittering in his hand, and
other somethings glittering before him upon the dark-green surface. As
we entered, indeed, he was so standing, and I took in all I have
related with one glance, it was, though green, so definite.

"Look well at that gentleman who stands," whispered my guide, most
slowly; "it is he who is dispensing the prizes. He is Monsieur
Milans-André, whom you wished to see."

I am blessed with a long sight, and I took a long survey; but lest I
should prejudice the reader, my criticisms shall remain in limbo.

"When we heard the singing it was that he had just dispensed a medal;
and it is so the fellow-competitors hail the successful student. If I
mistake not, there is another advancing; but it is too far for us to
hear his name. Do you see your master at the awful table? But soft! I
think his face is not this way."

"Oh!" I thought, and I laughed in my sleeve, "he is dreaming I am safe
at home, if he dreams about me at all, which is a question." But I was
not looking after him; I took care to watch Milans-André, feeling sure
my guide would prefer not to be stared upon in a public place like
that.

The voice that called the candidates was high in key, and not
unrefined; but what best pleased me was to see one advance,--a boy,
all blushing and bowing to receive a golden medal, which Milans-André,
his very self, with his own hands, flung round the youngling's neck by
its long blue ribbon; for then the same sweet verse in semi-chorus
sounded from the loftiest gallery, the males alone repeating it for
their brother. I could not distinguish the words, but the style was
quite _alla Tedesca_.

Then another youth approached, and received more airily a silver
token, with the same blue ribbon and songful welcome. Another and
another, and at last the girls were called.

"See!" said my guide, "they have put the ladies last! That shall not
be when I take the reins of the committee. Oh, for the Cecilian
chivalry! what a taunting remembrance I will make it."

He was smiling, but I was surprised at the eagerness of his tones.

"Does it matter, sir?" said I.

"Signify? It signifies so much the more that it is a little thing, a
little token. But it shall not grow; it shall not swell. See, see!
look, Charles! what name was that?"

I had not heard it either, but the impetuosity in his tones was so
peculiar that I was constrained to look up at him. His eye was
dilated; a singular flash of light rather than flush of color glowed
upon his face, as if glory from the noonday sun had poured itself
through the impervious roof. But his gaze forbade my gaze, it was so
fixed and piercing upon something at the end of the hall.
Imperceptibly to myself I followed it. The first maiden who had
approached the chair was now turning to re-pass into her place. She
was clad, like the galleried ones, in white; but her whole aspect was
unlike theirs, for instead of the slow step and lingering blush, her
movement was a sort of flight, as if her feet were sandalled with the
wind, back again among the crowd; and as she fled, you could only
discern some strange gleam of unusual grace in a countenance drooping,
but not bashfully, and veiled with waves, not ringlets, of hair more
dark than pine-trees at midnight; also, it was impossible not to
notice the angry putting back of one gloved hand, which crushed up the
golden medal and an end of the azure ribbon, while the other was
trailing upon the ground.

"She does not like it; she is proud, I suppose!" said I; and I laughed
almost loud. "I thought you knew them all, sir?"

"No, Charles, I was never here before; but as I am to have something
to do with what they do soon, I thought I had a right to come to-day."

"A right!" said I; "who else, if you had not the right, sir? But still
I wonder how we got in so easily,--I mean I; for if you had not
brought me, I could not, I suppose, have come."

"It is this," he answered smiling, and he touched his professor's
cloak, or robe, which was now encircling his shoulders, and waved
about him pliantly. "They all wear the same on entering these walls,
at least who sit at the green table."

The choral welcome, meantime, had pealed from the lower gallery, and
another had advanced and retired from the ranks beneath. My companion
was intently gazing, not at the maiden troop, but at the deep festoons
above us. He seemed to see nothing there though, and the very position
of his hands, resting upon each other and entirely relaxed, bore
witness to the languor of his abstraction. It occurred to me how very
cool they were, both those who distributed, and those who received the
medals; I felt there was an absence of the strict romance, if I may so
name it, I had expected when I entered; for as we sat, and whence we
saw, all was ideal to the sight, and the sense was even lost in the
spiritual appreciation of an exact proportionateness to the occasion.
Yet the silence alternating with the rising and abating voices, the
harmony of the coloring and shadowing, the dim rustle of the green
festoons, the waftures of woody and blossomy fragrance, the indoor
forest feeling, so fresh and wild,--all should have stood me in stead,
perhaps, of the needless enthusiasm I should have looked for in such a
meeting, or have witnessed without surprise. I was not wise enough at
that time to define the precise degree and kind of enthusiasm I should
have required to content me, but perhaps it would be impossible even
now for any degree to content me, or for any kind not to find favor in
my eyes, if natural and spontaneously betrayed. The want I felt,
however, was just a twilight preparation of the faculties for the
scene that followed.

The last silver medal had been carried from the table, the last
white-robed nymph had sought her seat with the ribbon streaking her
drapery, when both the choral forces rose and sang together the
welcome in more exciting fulness. And then they all sat down, and a
murmur of voices and motion began to roll on all sides, as if some new
part were to be played over.

The band arose on either side, and after a short, deferential pause,
as if calling attention to something, commenced with perfect precision
Weber's "Jubel" overture.[15] It was my companion who told me its
name, whispering it into my ear; and I listened eagerly, having heard
of its author in every key of praise.

I did not much care for the effect, though it was as cool as needed to
be after those cool proceedings. I dearly wanted to ask him whether he
loved it; but it was unnecessary, for I could see it was even nothing
to him by his face. He seemed passing judgment proudly, furtively, on
all that chanced around him, and I could not but feel that he
searched all, governed all with his eye from that obscure corner.

Immediately on the conclusion of the overture several professors left
the table and clustered round the pianoforte. One opened it, and then
Milans-André approached, and waving his creamy gloves, unclothed his
hands, and stood at the front of the platform. Some boisterous shouts
arose,--they began near his station, and were imitated from the middle
benches; but there was an undemonstrative coldness even in these; they
seemed from the head, not the heart, as one might say. The artist did
not appear distressed,--indeed, he looked too classically self-reliant
to require encouragement.

He was what might be called extremely handsome. There was a largeness
about his features that would have told well in a bust,--they were
perfectly finished; also a Phidias could not have planed another
polish on the most oval nostril, a Canova could not have pumiced
unparted lips to more appropriate curve. His eyes were too far for me
to search, but I did not long to come at their full expression. He
stood elegantly, while the plaudits made their way among the muffling
leaves, and therein went to sleep; the golden flowers of the lindens
hung down withering, smitten by the terror of his presence! My
companion--to my surprise, my bewilderment even--applauded also, but,
as it were, mechanically; he stood beside me on that topmost tier
applauding, but his eyes were still fixed upon the roof. I heard his
voice among the others, and it was just at that instant that some one,
and _that_ some one in a professor's robe, a gentleman of sage
demeanor, started from one of the lower tiers and looked back suddenly
at him; as suddenly fired, flushed, lighted, all over his face, wise
and grave as it was. _He_ saw not, still rapt, still looking upwards;
but I saw and felt,--felt certain of the impressions received. A sort
of whisper crept along the tier,--a portentous thrill; one and
another, all turned, and before I could gather with my glance who had
left them, several seats were voided beneath us.

In a few minutes I heard a long and silver thundering chord. I knew it
was the reveille of the wonderful Milans-André; but so many persons
were standing and running that I could not see, and could scarcely
hear. Soon all must have heard less. As the keys continued to flash in
unmitigated splendor, a rushing noise seemed arising also from the
floor to the ceiling; it was, indeed, an earnest of my own pent-up
enthusiasm that could not be repressed, for I found myself shouting,
hurrahing beneath my breath, as all did around me. I was not mistaken;
some one opened the door by which we had entered, gustily, violently,
and drew my companion away. Before I thought of losing him, he was
gone,--I knew not whether led or carried; I knew not whether aroused
or in the midst of his high abstraction.

I pressed downwards, climbing over the benches, driving my way among
those who stood, that I might see all as well as feel; but at length I
stood upon a seat and beheld what was worth beholding, is bright to
remember; but oh, how hopeless to record! Just so might a painter
dream to pour upon his canvas an extreme effect of sunset,--those
gorgeous effusions of golden flame and blinding roses that are dashed
into dazzling mist before our hearts have gathered them to us, have
made them, in beauty so blazingly serene, our own.

The sound of the keys, so brilliant, grew dulled as by a tempest voice
in distance; not alone the hurrahs, the vivas, but the stir, the crash
of the dividing multitude. And before almost I could believe it, I
beheld moving through the cloven crowd that slight and unembarrassed
form; but he seemed alone to move as if urged by some potent
necessity, for his head was carried loftily, and there was not the
shadow of a smile upon his face.

It was evident that the people, between pressing and thronging, were
determined to conduct him to the platform; and it struck me, from his
hasty step and slightly troubled air, that he longed to reach it, for
calm to be restored. Milans-André, meantime,--will it be
believed?--continued playing, and scarcely raised his eyes as my
conductor at length mounted the steps, and seemed to my sight to
shrink among those who now stood about him. But it was hopeless to
restore the calm. I knew that from the first. He had no sooner trodden
the elevation than a burst of joyous welcome that drowned the keys,
that drenched the very ear, forced the pianist to quit his place. No
one looked at him of young or old, except those who had confronted him
at the table. They surrounded him, some with smiles and eager
questions; some with provoking gravity. The other was left alone to
stem, as it were, that tide of deafening acclaim; he slightly
compressed his lip, made a slight motion forwards; he lifted his hand
with the slight deprecation that modesty or pride might have suggested
alike,--still hopelessly. The arrears of enthusiasm demanded to be
paid with interest; the trampings, the shower-like claps, the shouts,
only deepened, widened tenfold: the multitude became a mob, and
frantic,--but with a glorious zeal! Some tore handfuls of the green
adorning the pillars, and passing it forward, it was strewn on the
steps. From the galleries hung the excited children, girls and boys,
and dividing their bouquets, rained the roses upon his head, that
floated, crimson and pink and pearly, to the green floor beneath his
feet. With a sort of delicate desperation he shook his hair from those
dropped flowers, and for one instant hid his face; the next, flung
down his hands, and smiled a flashing smile,--so that, from lip to
brow, it was as if some sunbeam fluttered in the cage of a rosy cloud,
smiling above, below, and everywhere it seemed,--ran round the group
of professors to the piano, and without seating himself, without
prelude, began a low and hymn-like melody.

Oh! that you had heard the lull, like a dream dying, dissolving from
the awakening brain,--the deep and tremendous, yet living and
breathing stillness,--that sank upon each pulse of that enthusiasm
raised and fanned by him, and by him absorbed and hidden to brood and
be at rest!

I know not which I felt the most, the passion of that almost bursting
heart of silence, as it were, rolled together into a purple bud from
its noon-day efflorescence by the power that had alone been able to
unsheathe its glories,--or that stealing, creeping People's Song, that
in few and simple chords, beneath one slender, tender pair of hands,
held bound, as it were, and condensed in one voice the voice of
myriads. For myself, I writhed with bliss, I was petrified into
desolation by delight; but I was not singular on that occasion, for
those around me seemed alone to live, to breathe, that they might
receive and retain those few precious golden notes, and learn those
glorious lineaments, so pale, so radiant with the suddenly starting
hectic, as his hands still stirred the keys to a fiercer inward
harmony than that they veiled by touch.

It was not long, that holy People's Song; I scarcely think it lasted
five minutes,--certainly not more; but the effect may be better
conceived, and the power of the player appreciated, when I say not
one note was lost: each sounded, rang almost hollow, in the intense
pervading silence.

"It is over," I thought, as he raised those slender hands, after a
rich reverberating pause on the final chord, swelling with dim
arpeggios on the harmony as into the extreme of vaulting
distance,--"it is over; and they will make that dreadful noise unless
he plays again." Never have I been so mistaken: but how could I
anticipate aught of him? For as he moved he fixed his eyes upon the
audience, so that each individual must have felt the glance within his
soul,--so seemed to feel it; for it expressed a command sheathed in a
supplication, unearthly, irresistible, that the applause should not be
renewed.

There was perfect stillness, and he turned to Milans-André and spoke.
Every one beneath the roof must have heard his words, for they were
distinct as authoritatively serene. "Will you be so good as to resume
your seat?" And as if swayed by some angel power,--such as drove the
ass of Balaam to the wall,--the imperial pianist sat down, flushed and
rather ruffled, but with a certain pomp it was trying to me to
witness, and re-commenced the concerto which had been so opportunely
interrupted. Attention seemed restored, so far as the ear of the
multitude was concerned; but every eye wandered to him who now stood
behind the player and turned the leaves of the composition under
present interpretation. _He_ seemed attentive enough,--not the
slightest motion of his features betrayed an unsettled thought. His
eyes were bent proudly, but calmly, upon the page; the rose light had
faded from his cheek as the sunset flows from heaven into
eternity,--but how did he feel? Hopeless to record, because hopeless
to imagine. Perhaps nothing; the triumph so short but bright had no
doubt become such phantasm as an unnoticeable yesterday to one whose
future is fraught with expectation.

The concerto was long and elaborately handled. I felt I really should
have admired it, have been thereby instructed, had not _he_ been
there. But there is something grotesque in talent when genius, even in
repose, is by. It is as the splendor of a festive illumination when
the sun is rising upon the city; that brightness of the night turns
pale and sick, while the celestial darkness is passing away into day.
There was an oppression upon all that I heard, for something different
had unprepared me for anything, everything, except something else like
itself. The committee were again at the table, and when I grew weary
of the second movement, I looked for my master, and found him exactly
opposite, but certainly not conscious of me. His beard was
delightfully trimmed, and his ink-black eyebrows were just as usual;
but I had never seen such an expression as that with which he regarded
the _one_. It was as if a stone had rolled from his heart, and it had
begun to beat like a child's; it was as if his youth were renewed,
like the eagle's; it was as if he were drinking, silently but deeply,
celestial knowledge from those younger heavenly eyes. "Does he love
him so well, then?" thought I. Oh that I had known it, Aronach, for
then I should have loved you, have found you out! But of course you
don't think we are worthy to partake such feeling, and I don't know
but that you are right to keep it from us. "Would that concerto never
be over?" was my next surmise,--it was about the longest process of
exhaustion to which I had ever been subjected. As for me, I yawned
until I was dreadfully ashamed; but when I bethought myself to look
round, lo! there were five or six just out of yawns as well, and a few
who had passed that stage and closed their eyes. It never struck me as
unconscionable that we should tire, when we might gaze upon the face
of him who had shown himself ready to control us all; indeed, I do
believe that had there been nothing going on, no concerto, no
Milans-André, but that he had stood there silent, just as calm and
still,--we should never have wearied the whole day long of feeding
upon the voiceless presence, the harmony unresolved. But do you not
know, oh, reader! the depression, the protracted suffering occasioned
by the contemplation of any work of art--in music, in verse, in color,
or in form--that is presented to us as model, that we coaxed to admire
and enticed to appreciate, after we have accidentally but immediately
beforehand experienced one of those ideal sensations that, whether
awakened by Nature, by Genius, or by Passion suddenly elated, claim
and condense our enthusiasm, so that we are not aware of its existence
except on a renewal of that same sensation so suddenly dashed away
from us as our sober self returns, and our world becomes again to-day,
instead of that eternal something,--new, not vague, and hidden, but
not lost?

FOOTNOTE:

[15] The Jubilee Overture, written in 1818 for the accession day of
the King of Prussia.



CHAPTER XXIX.


So absorbed was I, either in review or revery, that I felt not when
the concerto closed, and should have remained just where I was, had
not the door swung quietly behind me. I saw who beckoned me from
beyond it, and was instantly with him. He had divested himself of his
cloak, and seemed ready rather to fly than to walk, so light was his
frame, so elastic were his motions. He said, as soon as we were on the
stairs:

"I should have come for you long ago, but I thought it was of no use
until such time as I could find something you might eat; for,
Carlomein, you must be very hungry. I have caused you to forego your
dinner, and it was very hard of me; but if you will come with me, you
shall have something good and see something pretty."

"I am not hungry, sir," I of course replied; but he put up his white
finger,--

"I am, though; please to permit me to eat! Come this way."

He led me along a passage on the ground-floor of the entrance hall and
through an official-looking apartment to a lively scene indeed. This
was a room without walls, a sort of garden-chamber leading to the
grounds of the Academy, now crowded; for the concerto had concluded,
with the whole performance, and the audience had dispersed
immediately, though not by the way we came, for we had met no one.
Pillars here and there upheld the roof, which was bare to the beams,
and also dressed with garlands. Long tables were spread below, all
down the centre, and smaller ones at the sides, each covered with
beautiful white linen, and decked with fluttering ribbons and little
knots of flowers. Here piles of plates and glasses, coffee-cups and
tureens, betokening the purport of this pavilion; but they were
nothing to the baskets trimmed with fruits, the cakes and fancy bread,
the masses of sweetmeat in all imaginable preparation. The middle of
the largest table was built up with strawberries only, and a rill of
cream poured from a silver urn into china bowls at the will of a
serene young female who seemed in charge. A great many persons found
their way hither, and were crowding to the table, and the refreshing
silence was only broken by the restless jingle of spoons and crockery.
My guide smiled with a sprightly air.

"Come! we must find means to approach as well, for the strawberry
pyramid will soon not have left one stone upon another."

I made way instantly to the table, and with no small difficulty
smuggled a plate and had it filled with strawberries. I abjured the
cream, and so did he to whom I returned; but we began to wander up and
down.

"Let me recommend you," said he, "a slice of white bread; it is so
good with strawberries; otherwise you must eat some sausage, for that
fruit will never serve alone,--you might as well starve entirely, or
drink dew-water."

"I don't see any bread," I answered, laughing; "it is all eaten."

"Oh, oh!" he returned, and with the air of Puck he tripped across the
pavilion to a certain table from which the fair superintendent had
flown. The ribbons and wreaths danced in the breeze, but the white
linen was bare of a single loaf.

"I _must_ have some bread for thee, Carlomein; and I, indeed, myself
begin to feel the want unknown to angels."

Could this be the same, it struck me, who discoursed like an angel of
that high throng? So animated was he, such a sharp brightness sparkled
in his eyes.

"Somebody has run away with the loaf on purpose," he continued, with
his dancing smile; "I saw a charming loaf as I came in, but then the
strawberries put it out of my head, and lo! it is gone."

"I _will_ get some bread!" and off I darted out of the pavilion, he
after me, and all eyes upon us.

It was a beautiful scene in the air: a lovely garden, not too trim,
but diversified with mounds and tree-crowned slopes, all furnished
with alcoves, or seats and tables. Here was a hum of voices, there a
fragment of part-song scattered by a laugh, or hushed with reverent
shyness as all arose, whether sitting or lying, to uncover the head as
my companion passed. There were groups of ten or twelve, five or six,
or two and two together; many sat upon the grass, itself so dry and
mossy; and it was upon one of these parties, arranged in half Elysian,
half gypsy style, that my companion fixed his thrilling eyes.

He darted across the grass. "I have it! I see it!" and I was
immediately upon his footsteps. These were all ladies; and as they
wore no bonnets, they could not uncover, but at the same time they
were not conscious of our approach at first. They made a circle, and
had spread a linen cloth upon the fervid floor: each had a plate, and
almost every one was eating, except a young girl in the very middle
of the ring. She was dispensing, slice by slice, our missing
bread-cake. But I did not look farther, for I was lost in observing my
guide; not understanding his expression, which was troubled and
fallen, while his light tones shook the very leaves.

"Ah, the thieves, the rogues, to steal the bread from our very mouths!
Did I not know where I should find it? You cannot want it all: give us
one slice, only one little slice! for we are starving, as you do not
know, and beggars, as you cannot see, for we look like gentlemen."

I never shall forget the effect of his words upon the little group;
all were scared and scattered in a moment,--all except the young lady
who held the loaf in her lap. I do not say she stirred not, on the
contrary, it was the impulsive grace of her gesture, as she swayed her
hand to a little mound of moss by her side, just deserted, that made
me start and turn to see her, that turned me from _his_ face a moment.
"Ah! who art thou?" involuntarily sounded in my yet unaverted ear. He
spoke as if to me, but how could I reply? I was lost as he, but in far
other feelings than his,--at least I thought so, for I was surprised
at his ejaculatory wonder.

"I will cut some bread for you, sir, if you will condescend to sit,"
said a voice, which was as that of a child at its evening prayer, so
full it was of an innocent _idlesse_, not _naïveté_, but differing
therefrom as differs the lisp of infancy from the stammer of diffident
manhood.

"I should like to sit; come also, Carlomein," replied my companion;
and in defiance of all the etiquette of social Germany, which so
defiantly breathes ice between the sexes, I obeyed. So did he his own
intention; for he not only remained, but knelt on one knee, while
gazing with two suns in his eyes, he recalled the scattered company.

"Come back! come back!" he cried; "I order you!" and his silent smile
seemed beckoning as he waved his elfin hand. One strayed forward,
blushing through the hair; another disconcerted; and they all seemed
sufficiently puzzled.

The gathering completed, my conductor took up the basket and peeped
into every corner, laughed aloud, handed it about, and stole no glance
at the maiden president. I was watching her, though for a mighty and
thrilling reason, that to describe in any measure is an expectation
most like despair. Had she been his sister, the likeness between them
had been more earthly,--less appalling. I am certain it struck no one
else present, and it probably might have suggested itself to no one
anywhere besides, as I have since thought; but _me_ it clove through
heart and brain, like a two-edged sword whose temper is light instead
of steel. So I saw and felt that she partook intimately, not alone of
his nature, but of his inspiration; not only of his beauty, but his
unearthly habit. And now, how to breathe in words the mystery that was
never explained on earth! He was pure and clear, his brow like
sun-flushed snow high lifted into light,--her own dark if soft, and
toned with hues of night from the purple under-deeps of her heavy
braiding hair. His features were of mould so rare that their study
alone as models would have superseded by a new ideal the old fresh
glories of the Greek marble world,--hers were flexibly inexpressive,
all their splendor slept in uncharacteristic outline, and diffused
themselves from her perfect eyes, as they awoke on her parted lips.

His eyes, so intense and penetrative, so wise and brilliant, with all
their crystal calm and rousing fire, were as unlike hers as the sun in
the diamond to the sun upon the lonely sea. In hers the blue-green
transparence seemed to serve alone as a mirror to reflect all hues of
heaven; in his, the heaven within as often struggled with the paler
show of paradise that Nature lent him in his exile. But if I spoke of
the rest,--of the traits that pierce only when the mere veiling
loveliness is rent asunder,--I should say it must ever bid me wonder
to have discovered the divine fraternity in such genuine and artless
symbol. It was as if the same celestial fire permeated their
veins,--the same insurgent longings lifted their very feet from the
ground. The elfin hands of which I spoke were not more rare, were not
more small and subtile, than the little grasping fingers she extended
to offer him the bread, and from which his own received it. Nor was
there wanting in her smile the strange immortal sweetness that
signalized his own,--hers broke upon her parted lips like fragrance,
the fragrance that _his_ seemed to bear from the bursting buds of
thought in the sunshine of inward fancy. But what riveted the
resemblance most was the instancy of their sympathetic communion.
While those around had quietly resumed their occupation, too busy to
talk,--though certainly they might have been forgiven for being very
hungry,--_he_, no more kneeling, but rather lying than sitting, with
his godlike head turned upwards to the sky, continued to accost her,
and I heard all they said.

"I knew you again directly, you perceive, but you do not look so
naughty now as you did in the school; you were even angry, and I
cannot conceive why."

"Cannot you, sir?" she replied, without the slightest embarrassment.
"I wonder whether _you_ would like to be rewarded for serving music."

"_It_ rewards _us_, you cannot avoid its reward; but I agree with you
about the silver and the gold. We will have no more medals."

"They like them, sir, those who have toiled for them, and who would
not toil but for the promise of something to show."

"And the blue ribbons are very pretty."

"So is the blue sky, and they can neither give it us nor take it from
us; nor can they our reward."

"And that reward?" asked he.

"Is to suffer for its sake," she answered.

He lifted his eyebrows in a wondering archness. "To suffer? To suffer,
who alone enjoy, and are satisfied, and glorify happiness above all
others, and above all other things?"

"Not all suffer, only the faithful; and to suffer is not to sorrow,
and of all joy the blossom-sorrow prepares the fruit."

"And how old are you whose blossom-sorrow I certainly cannot find in
any form upon your maiden presence?"

"You smile, and seem to say, 'Thou hast not yet _lived_ the right to
speak,--purchased by experience the freedom of speech.' I am both
young and old. I believe I am younger than any just here, and I know
more than they all do."

"Was it pride," thought I, "that curled beneath those tones so flowery
soft?" for there was a lurking bitterness I had not found in _him_.

"Not younger than this one;" he took my hand and spread it across his
knee. "These fingers are to weave the azure ribbon next."

"He is coming, I know, but is not come; his name is upon the books. I
hope he will not be an out-Cecilian, because I should like to know
him, and we cannot know very well those who do not reside within the
walls."

"He is one of my very friendly ones. Will you also be very friendly
with him?"

"I always will. Be friendly now!" and she smiled upon me an instant,
very soon letting fall her eyes, in which I then detected a Spanish
droop of the lids, though, when raised, her glance dispelled the
notion, for the brightness there shone all unshorn by the inordinate
length of the lashes, and I never saw eyes so light, with lashes so
defined and dark.

"So, sir, this azure ribbon which you admire is also to be woven for
him?" she continued, as if to prolong the conversation.

"Not if symbols are to be the order of the day, for, Carlomein, your
color is not _blue_."

"No, sir; it is violet, you said."

"We say _blue violets_."

"Yes, sir," she responded quickly. "So we say the blue sky at night;
but how different at night and by day! The violet holds the blue, but
also that deeper soul by the blue alone made visible. All sounds seem
to sleep in one, when that is the violin."

"You are speaking too well; it makes me afraid you will be
disappointed," I said in my first surprise. Then, feeling I had
blundered, "I mean in me."

"That would make no difference. Music is, and is eternal. We cannot
add one moment to its eternity, nor by our inaptitude diminish the
proper glory of our art. Is it not so, sir?" she inquired of him.

Like a little child somewhat impatient over a morning lesson, he shook
his hair back and sprang upon his feet.

"I wish you to show me the garden before I go: is this where you walk?
And where is the Raphael?"

"That is placed in the conservatory, by order of Monsieur
Milans-André."

"Monsieur myself will have it moved. Why in the conservatory, I
wonder? It should be _at home_, I think."

"It does look very well there to-day, as it is hung with its peculiar
garland,--the white roses."

"Yes, the angel-roses. Oh, come, see, let us go to the angel-roses!"
and he ran down the bank of grass, and over the lawn among the people.

I was very much surprised at his gleeful impatience, not knowing a
whit to what they alluded; and I only marvelled that no one came to
fetch him, that we were suffered so long to retain him. We followed, I
not even daring to look at the girl who had so expressed herself in my
hearing, as to make me feel there were others who also _felt_; and
turning the corner of the pavilion, we came into the shadow of a
lovely walk planted and arched with lindens. It ran from a side door
of the school house to an indefinite distance. We turned into this
grove, and there again we found him.

"How green, how ravishing!" he exclaimed, as the sunsprent shadows
danced upon the ground. "Oh! that scent of scents, and sweetest of all
sweetnesses, the linden flower! You hold with me there, I think?"

"Yes, entirely; and yet it seems just sweet enough to promise, not to
be, all sweetness."

"I do not hold with you there. All that is sweet we cherish for
itself,--or I do,--and I could not be jealous of any other sweetness
when one sweetness filled up my soul."

"Yes," I thought; but I did not express it, even to myself, as it now
occurs to me,--"_that_ is the difference between your two
temperaments." And so indeed it was: _he_ aspired so high that he
could taste all sweetness in every sweetness, even here;
_she_--younger, weaker, frailer--could only lose herself between the
earth and heaven, and dared not cherish any sweetness to the utmost,
while here unsafely wandering.

"And this conservatory,--how do you use it?"

"We do not use it generally; we may walk round it: but on state
occasions refreshments are served there to our professors and their
friends. I daresay it will be so to-day."

"There will be people in there, you mean? In that case I think I shall
remain, and sun myself on the outside. You, Carlomein, shall go in and
look at the picture for me."

"Is it a picture, sir? But I cannot see it for you; I should be
afraid. I wish you would come in, sir!"

"Ah, I know why! You are frightened lest Aronach should pounce upon
you,--is it not?"

I laughed. "A little, sir."

"Well, in that case I _will_ come in. It does look inviting,--pretty
room!"

We stopped at the conservatory door. It was rather large, and very
long; a table down the centre was dressed with flowers, and
overflowing dishes decked the board. There were no seats, but a narrow
walk ran round, and over this the foreign plants were grouped richly,
and with excelling taste. The roof was not curtained with vine-leaves,
as in England, but it was covered with the immense leaves and
ivory-yellow blossoms of the magnolia grandiflora, which made the
small arched space appear expanded to immensity by the largeness of
its type, and gave to all the exotics an air of home.

At the end of the vista, some thirty feet in length, there were
several persons all turned from us; and as we crept along, one by one,
until we reached that end, the odors of jasmine and tuberose were
heavy upon every breath. I felt as if I must faint until we attained
that point where a cool air entered; refreshing, though itself just
out of the hottest sunshine I had almost ever felt. This breeze came
through arched doors on either hand half open and met in two embracing
currents where the picture hung. All were looking at the picture, and
I instantly refrained from criticism. It was hung by invisible cords
to the framework of the conservatory, and thence depended. About it
and around it clustered the deep purple bells and exquisite tendrils
and leaves of the maurandia, while the scarlet passion-flower met it
above and mingled its mystic splendors. Other strange glories, but for
me nameless, pressing underneath, shed their glowing smiles from
fretted urns or vases; but around the frame, and so close to the
picture as to hide its other frame entirely, lay the cool white roses,
in that dazzling noon so seeming, and amidst those burning colors. The
picture itself was divine as painting can render its earthly ideal, so
strictly significant of the set rules of beauty. All know the "Saint
Cecilia" of Raphael d'Urbino; this was one of the oldest copies, and
was the greatest treasure of the committee, having been purchased for
an extravagant sum by the president from the funds of the
foundation,--a proceeding I did not clearly comprehend, but was too
ignorant to tamper with. It was the young lady who enlightened me as I
stood by her side. Of those who stood there I concluded the most part
had already refreshed themselves; they held plates or glasses, and in
a few moments first one and then another recognized our companion, and
that with a reverential impressiveness it charmed me to behold. It
may have been the result of his exquisitely bright and simple manner,
for he had wholly put aside the awful serene reserve that had
controlled the crowd in public. Milans-André happened to be there; I
beheld him now, and also saw that, taking hold upon that arm I should
not have presumed to touch, he drew on our guide as if away from us.
But this one stayed, and resting his hand upon the table, inquired
with politeness for a court,--

"Where is your wife? Is she here to-day? I want to show her to a young
gentleman."

Milans-André looked down upon him, for he was quite a head taller,
though not tall himself. "She is here, but not in here. I left her
with the Baroness Silberung. Come and see her in-doors. She will be
highly flattered."

"No, I am not coming; I have two children to take charge of. Where is
Professor Aronach?"

"In the committee-room, and in a great rage,--with you, too, it
appears, Chevalier."

"With me, is it? I am so glad!"

He stepped back to us.

"I do not believe that any one can make him so angry as I can! It is
charming, Carlomein!"

Oh, that name, that dear investment! How often it thrilled me and
troubled me with delight that day.

"I suppose, sir, I have something to do with it."

Before he could reply, Milans-André had turned back, and with scornful
complacency awaited him near a glass dish of ices dressed with
ice-plant. He looked revengeful, too, as he helped himself; and on our
coming up, he said, "Do you eat nothing, Chevalier?" while filling a
plate with the pink-frozen strawberry.

"Oh! I could eat it, if I would; for who could resist that
rose-colored snow? But I have no time to eat; I must go find Aronach,
for I dreamed I should find him here."

"My dear Chevalier, drink then with me!"

"In Rhine wine? Oh, yes, mein Herr Professor! and let us drink to all
other professors and chevaliers in ourselves represented."

The delicately caustic tones in which he spoke were, as it were,
sheathed by the unimpeachable grace of his demeanor as he snatched
first one, and then another, and the third, of three tall glasses, and
filling them from the tapering bottle to the brim, presented one to
the lovely girl who had screened herself behind me, one to myself, and
the third to himself; all the while regarding Milans-André, who was
preparing his own, with a mirthful expression, still one of the very
sweetest that could allure the gaze.

When André looked up, he turned a curious paleness, and seemed almost
stoned with surprise. I could neither understand the one nor the
other; but after our pledge, which we two heartily responded to, my
maiden companion gave me a singular beckoning nod, which the instant
reminded me of Miss Lawrence, and at the same time moved and stood
four or five steps away. I followed to the pomegranate plant.

"Come even closer," she whispered; "for I daresay you are curious
about those two."

If she had not been, as she was, most unusually beautiful to behold, I
should dearly have grudged her that expression,--"those two;" but she
constrained me by her sea-blue eyes to attentive silence.

"You see what a power has the greater one over the other. I have never
seen _him_ before, but my brother has told me about him; besides,
here he is worshipped, and no wonder. The Cecilia School was founded
by one Gratianos, a _Bachist_, about forty years ago, but not to
succeed all at once, of course; the foundations were too poor, and the
intentions too sublime. Louis Spohr's works brought us first into
notice, because our students distinguished themselves at a certain
festival four years ago. The founder died about that time, and had not
Milans-André put himself in the way to be elected president, we should
have gone to nothing; but he was rich, and wanted to be richer, so he
made of us a speculation, and his name was sufficient to fill the
classes from all parts of Europe. But we should have worse than gone
to nothing soon, for we were slowly crystallizing into the same order
as certain other musical orders that shall not be named, for perhaps
you would not know what I mean by quoting them."

"I could, if you would explain to me, and I suppose you mean the music
that is studied is not so select as it should be."

"That is quite enough to the purpose," she proceeded, with quite an
adult fluency. "About three months ago we gave a great concert. The
proceeds were for enlarging the premises, and we had a great
crowd,--not in the room we used to-day, which is new, but in the large
room we shall now keep for rehearsals. After the concert, which André
conducted, and at which all the prodigies assisted, the conductor read
us a letter. It was from one we had all heard of, and whom many of us
loved secretly, and dared not openly, for reasons sad and many,--from
the 'Young Composer,' as André satirically chose to call him, the
Chevalier Seraphael."

"Oh!" I cried, "is that his name? What a wonderful name! It is like
an angel to be called Seraphael."

"Hush! none of that now, because I shall not be able, perhaps, to tell
you what I want you to know before you come here. Seraphael had just
refused the post of Imperial pianist, which had been pressed upon him
very earnestly; and the reason he gave for refusing it certainly
stands alone in the annals of artistic policy,--that there was only
one composer living to whom the office of Imperial pianist should be
confided, and by whom it must be assumed,--Milans-André himself. Then
it went on to insinuate that by exclusive exchange only could such an
arrangement be effected; in short, that Milans-André, who must not go
out of Austria, should be prevailed upon, in that case, to resign the
humble position that detained him here, to the young composer himself.
Now Milans-André did resign, as you may suppose; but, they say, not
without a douceur, and we presented him with a gold beaker engraved
with his own arms, when he retired,--that was not the douceur, mind;
he had a benefit."

"That means a concert, with all the money it brought for himself. But
why did you not see the Chevalier until to-day?"

"Some of ours did,--the band and the chorus; but I do not belong to
either. You have no idea what it is to serve music under Milans-André;
and when he came to-day, we all knew what it meant, who were wishing
for a new life. It was a sort of electric snapping of our chains when
he played to-day."

"With that Volkslied?"

"Yes," she responded, with tremulous agitation, "with that Volkslied.
Who shall say he does not know all hearts?"

"But it is not a Burschen song,[16] nor like one; it is like nothing
else."

"No, thank God! a song for the women as well as the men. You never
heard such tones, nor I. Well it was that we could put words to them,
everybody there."

"And yet it was a song without words," said a voice so gentle that it
stole upon my imagination like a sigh.

"Oh, sir, is it you?"

I started, for he was so near to us I was afraid he might have been
vexed by hearing. But she was unchanged, unruffled as a flower of the
conservatory by the wind without. She looked at him full, and he
smiled into her very eyes.

"I only heard your very last words. Do not be afraid, for I knew you
were talking secrets, and that is a play I never stop. But, Carlomein,
when you have played your play, I must carry you to your master, whom
I might call _ours_, and beg his pardon for all my iniquities."

"Oh, sir! as if you needed," I said; but the young lady answered,--

"_I_ shall retreat, then, sir,--and indeed this is not my place."

She courtesied lowly as to a monarch, but without a shadow of
timidity, or so much as the flutter of one rose-leaf, and passed out
among the flowers, he looking after her strangely, wistfully.

"Is not that a Cecilia, Carlomein?"

"If you think so, sir."

"You do not think it? You ought to know as well as I. As she is gone,
let us go."

And lightly as she fled, he turned back to follow her. But we had lost
her when we came into the garden. As he passed along, however, also
among the flowers, he touched first one and then another of the
delicate plants abstractedly, until at length he pulled off one
blossom of an eastern jasmine,--a beautiful specimen, white as his own
forehead, and of perfume sweetest next his breath.

"Oh!" said he gayly, "I have bereaved the soft sisterhood; but," he
added earnestly, as he held the pale blossom between his fairest
fingers, "I wonder whether they are unhappy so far from home. I wonder
whether they _know_ they are away!"

"I should think not, sir, or they would not blossom so beautifully."

"That is nothing, and no reason, O Carlomein! for I have seen such a
beautiful soul that was away from home, and it was very homesick; yet
it was so fair, so very fair, that it would put out the eye of this
little flower."

I could not help saying, or quickly murmuring rather, "It must be your
soul then, sir."

"Is it mine to thee? It is to me another; but that does not spoil thy
pretty compliment."

I never heard tones so sweet, so infantine. But we had reached the
door of the glass chamber, and I then observed that he was gazing
anxiously--certainly with inquiry--at the sky. At that moment it first
struck me that since our entrance beneath the shadowy greenness the
sun had gone in. Simultaneously a shade, as from a springing cloud,
had fallen upon that brilliant countenance. We stepped out into the
linden grove, and then it came upon me, indeed, that the heavens were
dulled, and a leaden languor had seized upon the fresh young foliage.
Both leaves and yellow blossom hung wearily in the gloom, and I felt
the intense lull that precedes an electric shower. I looked at him. He
was entirely pale, and the soft lids of his eyes had dropped,--their
lights had gone in like the sun. His lips seemed to flutter, and he
spoke with apprehensive agitation.

"I think it will rain, but we cannot stay in the conservatory."

"Sir, it will be dry there," I ventured.

"No, but if it should thunder."

At the very instant the western cloudland, as it were, shook with a
quivering flash, though very far off; for the thunder was, indeed, but
a mutter several minutes afterwards. But he seemed stricken into
stillness, and moved not from the trees at the entrance of the avenue.

"Oh! sir," I cried,--I could not help it, I was in such dread for
him,--"do not stand under the trees. It is a very little way to the
house, and we can run."

"Run, then," he answered sweetly. "But I cannot; I never could stir in
a storm."

"Pray, sir, oh pray, come!" the big drops were beginning to prick the
leafy calm. "And you will take cold too, sir. Oh, come!"

But he seemed as if he could scarcely breathe. He pressed his hands on
his brow and hid his eyes. I thought he was going to faint; and under
a vague impression of fetching assistance, I rushed down the avenue.

FOOTNOTE:

[16] The Volkslied is a people's song; the Burschenlied a student's
song.



CHAPTER XXX.


I can never express my satisfaction when, two or three trees from the
end, I met the magic maiden herself, all hooded, and carrying an
immense umbrella.

"Where is this Chevalier of ours?" she asked me, with eagerness. "You
surely have not left him alone in the rain?"

"I was coming for you," I cried; for such was, in fact, the case. But
she noticed not my reply, and sped fleetly beneath the now weeping
trees. I stood still, the rain streaming upon my head, and the dim
thunder every now and then bursting and dying mournfully, yet in the
distance, when I heard them both behind me. How astonished was I! I
turned and joined them. They were talking very fast,--the strange girl
having her very eyes fixed on the threatening sky, at which she
laughed. He was not smiling, but seemed borne along by some impulse he
could not resist, and was even unconscious of; he held the umbrella
above them both, and she cried to me to come also beneath the canopy.
We had only one clap as we crossed the lawn,--now reeking and
deserted; but a whole levee was in the refreshment pavilion waiting
for the monarch,--so many professors robed, so many Cecilians with
their badges, that I was ready to shrink into a nonentity, instead of
feeling myself by my late privilege superior to all. Every person
appeared to turn as we made our way. But for all the clamor I heard
him whisper, "You have done with me what no one ever did yet; and oh!
I do thank you for being so kind to the foolish child. But come with
me, that I may thank you elsewhere."

"I would rather stay, sir. Here is my place, and I went out of my
place to do you that little service of which it is out of the question
to speak."

"You must not be proud. Is it too proud to be thanked, then?"

With the gentlest grace, he held out to her the single jasmine
blossom. "See, no tear has dropped upon it. Will you take its last
sigh?"

She drew it down into her hand, and, almost as airily as he moved,
glided in among the crowd, which soon divided us from her.

Seraphael himself sighed so very softly that none could have _heard_
it; but I saw it part his lips and heave his breast.

"She does not care for me, you see," he said, in a sweet, half pettish
manner, as we left the pavilion.

"Oh! sir, because she does not come with you? That is the very reason,
because she cares so much."

"How do you make that out?"

"I remember the day I brought you that water, sir, how I was afraid to
stay, although I would have given everything to stay and look at your
face; and I ran away so fast because of that."

"Oh, Carlomein, hush! or you must make me vain. I wonder very much why
you do like me; but, pray, let it be so."

"Like you!" I exclaimed, as we moved along the corridor, "you are
_all_ music,--you must be; for I knew it before I had heard you play."

"They do say so. I wonder whether it is true," said he, laughing a
bright, sudden laugh, as brightly sounding as his smile was bright to
gaze on. "We shall all know some time, I suppose. Now, Carlomein, what
am I to say to this master of yours about you? For here we are at the
door, and there is he inside."

"Pray, sir, say what you like, and nothing if you like, for I don't
care whether he storms or not."

"'Storms' is a very fine word; but, like our thunder, I expect it will
go off very quietly. How kind it was not to thunder and lighten much,
and to leave off so soon!"

"Oh! I am so glad. I hate thunder and lightning."

"Do you? and yet you ran for me. Thank you for another little lesson."

He turned and bowed to me, not mockingly, but with a sweet, grave
humor. He opened the door at that moment, and I went in behind him.
The very first person I saw was Aronach, sitting, as if he never
intended to move again, in a great wooden chair, writing in a long
book, while other attentive worthies looked over his shoulder. His
eyes were down, and my companion crept round the room next the wall as
noiselessly as a walking shadow. Then behind the chair, and putting up
his finger to those around, he embraced with one arm the chair's
stubborn back, and stretched the other forwards, spreading his slender
hand out wide into the shape of some pink, clear fan-shell, so as to
intercept the view Aronach had of his long book and that unknown
writing.

"Der Teufel!" growled Aronach, "dost thou suppose I don't know thy
hand among a thousand? But thy pranks won't disturb me any more now
than they did of old. Take it off, then, and thyself too."

"Oh! I daresay; but I won't go. I want to show thee a sight, Father
Aronach."

He then drew _my_ arm forwards, and held my hand by the wrist, as by
a handle, just under Aronach's nose. He looked indeed now; and so
sharply, snappishly, that I thought he would have bitten my fingers,
and felt very nervous. Seraphael broke into one of his laughter
chimes, but still dangled my member; and when Aronach really saw my
phiz, he no longer snapped nor roused up grandly, but sank back
impotent in that enormous chair. He winked indeed furiously, but his
eyes did not flash, so I grew still in my own mind, and thought to
speak to him first. I said, somehow, and never thinking a creature was
by, except that companion of mine,--

"Dear master, I would not have come without your leave. But you know
very well I could not refuse this gentleman, because he is a friend of
yours, and you said yourself we must all obey him."

"Whippersnapper and dandiprat! I never said such words to _thee_. I
regard him too much to inform such as thou with obedience. Thou hast,
I can see very clearly, made away with all his spirit by thy
frivolities, and I especially commend thee for dragging such as he up
the hill in this heat. There are no such things as coaches in the Kell
Platz, I suppose, or have the horses taken a holiday too?"

"Stop, stop, Aronach! for though I am a little boy," said the other,
"I am bigger than he, and I brought him, not he me; and I dragged him
thither too, for I don't like your coaches. And it is I who ought to
beg pardon for taking him from work he likes so much better than any
play, as he told me. But I did want to walk with him, that I might ask
him about my English friends, with whom he is better acquainted than I
am. He does know them, oh, so well! and had so many interesting
anecdotes!"

At the utterance of this small white fib I was almost in fits; but he
still went on,--

"I know I have done very wrong, and I was an idle boy to tempt him;
but you yourself could not help playing truant to-day. And, dearest
master,"--here his sweet, sweet voice was retrieved from the airy
gayety,--"do let me come back with you to-day, and have a
story-telling. You have not told me a story for a sad long time."

"If you come back, Chevalier, and if we are to get back before
bed-time, I would have you go along and rest, if you can, until I
shall be free; for I shall never empty my hands while you are by."

Aronach did not say "thou" here, I noticed, and his voice was even
courteous, though he still preserved his stateliness. Like a boy,
indeed, Seraphael laid hold of my arm and pulled me from the room
again. I cannot express the manly indignation of the worthies we left
in there at such sportiveness. They all stood firm, and in truth they
_were_ all older, both in body and soul, than we. But no sooner were
we outside than he began to laugh, and he laughed so that he had to
lean against the wall. I laughed too; it was a most contagious spell.

"Now, Carl," he said, "very Carlomein! we will make a tour of
discovery. I declare I don't know where I am, and am afraid to find
myself in the young ladies' bedrooms. But I want to see how things are
carried on here."

We turned this way and that way, he running down all the passages and
trying the very doors; but these were all locked.

"Oh!" he exclaimed, vivaciously, "they are, I suppose, too fine;" and
then we explored farther. One end of the corridor was screened by a
large oaken door from another range of rooms, and not without
difficulty we effected an entrance, for the key, although in the lock,
was rusty, and no joke to turn. Here, again, were doors, right and
left; here also all was hidden under lock and key that they might be
supposed to contain; but we did at last discover a curious hole at the
end, which we did not take for a room until we came inside,--having
opened the door, which was latched, and not especially convenient.
However, before we advanced I had ventured, "Sir, perhaps some one is
in there, as it is not fastened up."

"I shall not kill them, I suppose," he replied, with a curious
eagerness. Then with the old sweetness, "You are very right, I will
knock; but I know it will be knocking to nobody."

He had then touched the panel with his delicate knuckles; no voice had
answered, and with a mirthful look he lifted the latch and we both
entered. It was a sight that surprised me; for a most desolate
prison-cell could not have been darker. The window ought not to be so
named; for it let in no light, only shade, through its lack-lustrous
green glass. There was no furniture at all, except a very narrow
bed,--looking harder than Lenhart Davy's, but wearing none of that air
of his. There was a closet, as I managed to discover in a niche, but
no chest, no stove; in fact, there was nothing suggestive at all,
except one solitary picture, and that hung above the bed and looked
down into it, as it were, to protect and bless. I felt I know not how
when I saw it then and there; for it was--what picture do you think? A
copy of the very musical cherub I had met with upon Aronach's
wreath-hung walls. It was fresher, newer, in this instance, but it had
no gold or carven frame; it was bound at its edge with fair blue
ribbon only, beautifully stitched, and suspended by it too. Above the
graceful tie was twisted one long branch of lately-gathered linden
blossom, which looked itself sufficient to give an air of heaven to
the close little cell; it was even as flowers upon a tomb,--those
sighs and smiles of immortality where the mortal has passed forever!

"Oh, sir!" I said, and I turned to him,--for I knew his eyes were
attracted thither,--"oh, sir! do you know whose portrait that is? For
my master has it, and I never dared to ask him; and the others do not
know."

"It is a picture of the little boy who played truant and tempted
another little boy to play truant too."

And then, as he replied, I wondered I had not thought of such a
possibility; for looking from one to the other, I could not now but
trace a certain definite resemblance between _those_ floating baby
ringlets and the profuse dark curls wherein the elder's strength
almost seemed to hide,--so small and infinitely spiritual was he in
his incomparable organization.

"Now, sir, do come and rest a little while before we go."

He was standing abstractedly by that narrow bed, and looked as sad, as
troubled, as in the impending thunder-cloud; but he rallied just as
suddenly.

"Yes, yes; we had better go, or she might come."

I could not reply, for this singular prescience daunted me,--how could
he tell it was _her_ very room? But when we came into the corridor, I
beheld, by the noonday brightness, which was not banished thence, that
there was a kind of moist light in his eyes, not tears, but as the
tearful glimmer of some blue distance when rain is falling upon those
hills.

We threaded our way downstairs again,--for he seemed quite unwilling
to explore farther,--and I wondered where he would lead me next, when
we met Milans-André in the hall. The Chevalier blushed even as an
angry virgin on beholding him, but still met him cordially as before.

"Where are you staying, Chevalier? At the Fürstin Haus?"

"I am not staying here at all. I am going back to Lorbeerstadt to
sleep, and to-morrow to Altenweg, and then to many places for many
days."

"Oh! I thought you would have supped with me, and I could have a
little initiated you. But if you are really returning to Lorbeerstadt,
pray use my carriage, which is waiting in the yard."

"You are only too amiable, my dear André. We shall use it with the
greatest pleasure."

Oh! how black did André look when Seraphael laid that small, delicate
stress upon the "we;" for I knew the invitation intended his
colleague, and included no one else. But the other evidently took it
all for granted; and again thanking him with exquisite gayety, ran out
into the court-yard, and cried to me to come and see the carriage.

"I have a little coach myself," he said to me and also to André, who
was lounging behind along with us; "but it is a toy compared with
yours, and I wonder I did not put it into my pocket, it is so
small,--only large enough for thee and me, Carlomein."

"Why, Seraphael, you are dreaming. There are no such equipages in all
Vienna as your father's and mother's."

"They are not mine, you see; and if I drove such, I should look like a
sparrow in a hencoop. Oh, Carlomein, what quantities of sparrows there
are in London! Do they live upon the smuts?"

At this instant the carriage, whose driver André had beckoned to draw
up, approached; and then we both ran to fetch Aronach, who came out
very grumbling, for the entry in the long book was scarcely dry; and
he saluted nobody, but marched after us like a person suddenly wound
up, putting himself heavily into the carriage, which he did not notice
in the least. It was an open carriage, Paris-built (as I now know),
and so luxuriously lined as not to be very fit for an expedition in
any but halcyon weather. As for Seraphael, he flung himself upon the
seat as a cowslip ball upon the grass, and scarcely shook the light
springs; and as I followed him, he made a profound bow to the owner of
the equipage, who, disconsolately enough, still stood within the
porch.

"Now, I do enjoy this, Carlomein! I cannot help loving to be saucy to
André,--good, excellent, and wonderful as he is."

I looked to find whether he was in earnest. But I could not tell, for
his eyes were grave, and the lips at rest. But Aronach gave a growl,
though mildly,--as the lion might growl in the day when a little child
shall lead him.

"You have not conquered that weakness yet, and, I prophesy, never
will."

"What weakness, master?" But he faltered, even as a little child.

"To excuse fools and fondle slaves."

"Oh, my master, do not scold me!" and he covered his eyes with his
little blue-veined hands. "It is so sad to be a fool or a slave that
we should do all for such we can do, especially if we are not so
ourselves. I think myself right there."

His pleading tone here modulated into the still authority I had
noticed once or twice, and Aronach gave a smile in reply, which was
the motion of the raptured look I had noticed during the
improvisation.

"Thou teachest yet, then, out of thy vocation. But thou art no more
than thou ever hast been,--too much for thy old master. And as wrens
fly faster and creep stealthier than owls, so art thou already whole
heavens beyond me."

But with tender scornfulness, Seraphael put out his hand in
deprecation, and throwing back his hair, buried his head in the
cushion of the carriage and shut his eyes. Nor did he again open them
until we entered our little town.

I need scarcely say I watched him; and often, as in a glassy mirror, I
see that face again upturned to the light,--too beautiful to require
any shadow, or to seek it,--see again the dazzling day draw forth its
lustrous symmetry, while ever the soft wind tried to lift those deep
locks from the lucid temples, but tried in vain; what I am unable to
picture to myself in so recalling being the ever restless smile that
played and fainted over the lips, while the closed eyes were feeding
upon the splendors of the Secret. I shall never forget either, though,
how they opened; and he came, as it were, to his childlike self again
as the light carriage--light indeed for Germany--dashed round the Kell
Platz, where its ponderous contemporaneous contradictions were ranged,
and took the fountain square in an unwonted sweep. Then he sat forward
and watched with the greatest eagerness, and he sprang out almost
before we stopped.

"I think Carl and I could save you these stairs, master mine," he
exclaimed. "Let us carry you up between us!"

But what do you think was the reply? Seraphael had spoken in his
gleeful voice. But Aronach wore his gravest frown as he turned and
pounced suddenly upon the other,--whipping him up in his arms, and
hoisting him to his shoulder, then speeding up the staircase with his
guest as if the weight were no greater than a flower or a bird! I
could not stir some moments from astonishment and alarm, for I had
instantaneous impressions of Seraphael flying over the balusters; but
presently, when his laugh came ringing down,--and I realized it to be
the laugh of one almost beside himself with fun,--I flew after them,
and found them on the dark landing at the foot of our own flight.
Seraphael was now upon his feet, and I quite appreciated the delicate
policy of the old head here. He said in a moment, when his breath was
steady,--

"Now, if they offer to chair thee again at the Quartzmayne Festival,
and thou turnest giddy-pate, send for me!"

"I certainly will, if they offer such an honor; but once is quite
enough, and they will not do it again."

"Why not?"

"Because I fell into the river, and was picked up by a fisherman; and
desiring to know my character after I was dead, I made him cover me
with his nets and row me down to Carstein, quite three miles. There I
supped with him, and slept too, and the next morning heard that I was
drowned."

"Oh! one knows that history, which found its way into a certain paper
among the lies, and was published in illustration of the
eccentricities of genius."

Aronach said this very cross,--I wondered whether it was with the
Press, or his pupil; but if it were with the latter, _he_ only enjoyed
it the more.

Then Aronach bade me conduct his guest into the organ-room, while he
himself put a period to those howlings of the immured ones which yet
conscientiously asserted themselves. We waited a few moments upstairs,
and then Aronach carried off the Chevalier to his own room,--a sacred
region I had never approached, and which I could only suppose to
exist. I then rushed to mine, and was so long in collecting my senses
that Starwood came to bid me to supper. I did not detain him then,
though I had so much to say; but I observed that he had his Sunday
coat on,--a little blue frock, braided; and I remembered that I ought
to have assumed my own. Still, my wardrobe was in such perfect order
(thanks to Clo) that my own week coat was more respectable than many
other boys' Sunday ones; and though I have the instinct of personal
cleanliness very strong, I cannot say I like to look smart.

When I reached our parlor, I was quite dazzled. There was a sumptuous
banquet, as I took it, arranged upon a cloth, the fineness and
whiteness of which so far transcended our daily style that I
immediately apprehended it had proceeded from the secret hoards in
that wonderful closet of Aronach's. The tall glasses were interspersed
with silver flagons, and the usual garnishings varied by all kinds of
fruits and flowers, which appeared to have sprung from a magic touch
or two of that novel magic presence. For the rest, there were
delicious milk porridge on our accounts, and honey and butter, and I
noticed those long-necked bottles, one like which Santonio had
emptied, and which I had never seen upon that table since; for Aronach
was very frugal, and taught us to be so. I was so from taste and by
habit, but Iskar would have liked to gorge himself with dainties, I
used to think. When I saw this last seated at the table I was highly
indignant, for he had set his stool by Seraphael's chair. He had
fished from his marine store of clothes a crumpled white-silk
waistcoat, over which he had invested himself with a tarnished silver
watch-chain. But I would not, if I could, recall his audacious manner
of gazing over everything upon the table and everybody in the room,
with those legs of his stretched out for any one to stumble over, or
rather on purpose to make me stumble. I knew this very well, and
avoided him by placing my stool on the opposite edge of the board,
where I could still look into the eyes I loved if I raised my own.

This insignificant episode will prove that Iskar had not grown in my
good graces, nor had I acquainted myself better with him than on the
first night of my arrival. I knew him not, but I knew _of_ him, for
every voice in the house was against him; and he gave promise of no
small power upon his instrument, together with small promise of
musical or mental excellence, as all he did was correct to caricature
and inimitably mechanical. Vain as he was of his playing, his vanity
had small scope on that score under that quiet roof shadow, so it
spent itself upon his person, which was certainly elegant, if vulgar.
I am not clear but that one of these personal attractions always
infers the other. But why I mention Iskar is that I may be permitted
to recall the expressions with which our master's guest regarded him.
It was a grieved, yet curious glance, with that child-like scrutiny of
what is not true all abashing to the false, _unless_ the false has
lost all child-likeness. Iskar must, I suppose, have lost it, for he
was not the least abashed, and was really going to begin upon his
porridge before we had all sat down, if Aronach had not awfully, but
serenely, rebuked him. Little Starwood, by my side, looked as fair and
as pretty as ever, rather more shy than usual. Seraphael, now seated,
looked round with that exquisitely sweet politeness I have never met
with but in him, and asked us each whether we would eat some honey,
for he had the honey-pot before him. I had some, of course, for the
pleasure of being helped by him, and he dropped it into my milk in a
gold flowing stream, smiling as he did so. It was so we always ate
honey at Aronach's, and it is so I eat it to this day. Little Star put
out his bowl too. Oh! those great heavy wooden bowls! it was just too
much for him, and he let it slip. Aronach was rousing to thunder upon
him, and I felt as if the ceiling were coming down (for I knew he was
angry on account of that guest of his), when we heard that voice in
its clear authority,--"Dear Aronach, do nothing! the milk is not
spoiled." And turning all of us together, we saw that he had caught
the bowl on his outstretched hands, and that not a drop had fallen. I
mention it as illustrative of that miraculous organization in which
intent and action were simultaneous, the motions of whose will it
seemed impossible to retard or anticipate. Even Iskar looked
astonished at this feat; but he had not long to wonder, for Aronach
sternly commended us to great haste in the disposal of our supper.

I needed not urging, for it was natural to feel that the master and
his master must wish to be alone,--indeed, I should have been thankful
to escape eating, though I was very hungry, that I might not be in the
way; but directly I took pains to do away with what I had before me, I
was forbidden by Aronach to "bolt."

I lay awake many hours in a vague excitement of imaginary organ sounds
welling up to heaven from heaven's under-springs. I languished in a
romantic vision of that face, surrounded with cloud-angels, itself
their out-shining light. I waited to hear his footsteps upon the
stairs when he should at length depart; but so soft was that departing
motion that even I, listening with my whole existence, heard it not,
nor heard anything to remind my heart-silence that he had come and
gone.



CHAPTER XXXI.


I think I can relate nothing else of that softest month of summer, nor
of sultry June. It was not until the last week I was to change my
quarters; but long as it seemed in coming, it came when I was hardly
prepared for the transfer. Aronach returned to his stricter self again
after that supper, but I felt certain he had heard a great deal after
we had left the table, as an expression of softer character forsook
not his eyes and smile for many days. I could not discover whether
anything had passed concerning Starwood, who remained my chief
anxiety, as I felt if I left him there alone, he would not get on at
all. Iskar and I preserved our mutual distance, though I would fain
have been more often with him, for I wanted to make him out. He
practised harder than ever, and hardly took time to eat and drink, and
only on Sundays a great while to dress. He was always very jauntily
put together when we set out to church, and looked like a French
manikin. But for his upper lip and the shallow width of his forehead,
I thought him very handsome, while, yet so young, he was so; but his
charm consisted for me in his being unapproachable, and as I thought,
mysterious.

We saw about as little of each other as it was possible to see, living
in the same house and dining in the same room; but we never talked at
meals, we had no time.

It is but fair to allow myself an allusion to my violin, as it was
becoming a very essential feature in my history. With eight hours'
practice a day I had made some solid progress; but it did not convict
me of itself yet, as I was not allowed to play, only to acquaint
myself with the anatomy of special compositions, as exercises in
theory. Iskar played so easily, and gave such an air of playing to
practice, that it never occurred to me I was getting on, though it was
so, as I found in time. At this era I hated the violin, just as
pianoforte students hate the pianoforte during the period of
apprenticeship to mechanism. I hated the sound that saluted me
morning, noon, and night; I shrank from it ever unaccustomed, for the
penetralia of my brain could never be rendered less susceptible by
piercing and searching its recesses. I believe my musical perception
was as sensitive as ever, all through this epidemic dislike, but I
felt myself personally very musically indisposed. I could completely
dissociate my ideal impression of that I loved from my absolute
experience of what I served. I was patient, because waiting; content,
because faithful; and I pleased myself albeit with reflecting that my
violin--my own property, my very own--had a very different soul from
that thing I handled and tortured every day, from which the soul had
long since fled. For all the creators of musical forms have not power
to place in them the soul that lives for ages, and a little wear and
tear separates the soul from the body. As for my Amati, I knew its
race so pure that I feared for it no premature decay. In its dark box
I hoped it was at least not unhappy, but I dearly longed for a sight
of it, and had I dared, I would have crept into the closet, but that
whenever it was unlocked I was locked up. The days flew, though they
seemed to me so long, as ever in summer; and I felt how ravishing
must the summer be without the town. I wearied after it; and although
the features of German scenery are quite without a certain bloom I
have only found in England, they have some mystic beauty of their own
unspeakably more touching; and as I lived then, all life was a
fairy-tale book, with half the leaves uncut. I was ever dreaming, but
healthfully,--the dreams forgotten as soon as dreamed; so it chanced
that I can tell you nothing of all I learned or felt, except what was
tangibly and wakingly presented to myself. I remember, however, more
than distinctly all that happened the last evening I passed in that
secluded house, to my sojourn in which I owe all the benisons bestowed
upon my after artist life. We had supped at our usual hour, but when I
arose and advanced to salute Aronach as usual, and sighed to see how
bright the sun was still upon everything without and within, he
whispered in my ear,--an attention he had never before paid me,--"Stay
up by me until the other two are off; for I wish to speak to thee and
to give thee some advice."

Iskar saw him whisper, and looked very black because he could not
hear; but Aronach waved him out, and bade me shut the door upon him
and Starwood. I trembled then, for I was not used to be along with him
_tête-à-tête_; we usually had a third party present in the company of
Marpurg or Albrechtsberger.[17] He went into the closet first, and
rummaged a few minutes, and then returning, appeared laden with a
bottle of wine and my long hid fiddle-case. Oh, how I flew to relieve
him of it! But he bade me again sit down, while he went back into the
closet and rummaged again; this time for a couple of glasses and two
or three curious jars, rich china, and of a beautiful form. He
uncorked the bottle and poured me, as I expected, a glass of wine.

It was not the wine that agitated me, but the rarity of the attention,
so much so that I choked instead of wishing him his health, as I ought
to have done. But he was quite unmoved at my excitation, and leaned
back to pour glass after glass down his own throat. I was so unused to
wine that the sip I took exhilarated me, though it was the slightest
wine one can imbibe for such purpose. And then he uncovered the odd
gay jars, and helped me profusely to the exquisite preserves they
contained. They were so luscious and delicate that they reminded me of
Eden fruits; and almost before my wonder had shaped itself into form,
certainly before it could have betrayed itself in my countenance,
Aronach began to speak,--

"They pique thee, no doubt, and not only thy palate, for thou wast
ever curious. They come from him of whom thou hast never spoken since
thy holiday."

"Everything comes from him, I think, sir."

"No, only the good, not the evil nor the negative; and it is on this
point I would advise thee, for thou art as inconsiderate as a
fledgling turned out of the nest, and art ware of nothing."

"Pray advise me, sir," I said, "and I shall be glad that I am
inconsiderate, to be advised by you."

I looked at him, and was surprised that a deep seriousness
overshadowed the constant gravity,--which was as if one entered from
the twilight a still more sombre wood.

"I intend to advise thee because thou art ignorant, though pure;
untaught, yet not weak. I would not advise thy compeers,--one is too
young, the other too old."

"Iskar too old!" I exclaimed.

"Iskar was never a child; whatever thou couldst teach him would only
ripen his follies, already too forward. He belongs to the other
world."

"There are two worlds then in music," I thought; for it had been ever
a favorite notion of my own, but I did not say so, I was watching him.
He took from the breast pocket of his coat--that long brown coat--a
little leather book, rolled up like a parchment; this he opened, and
unfolded a paper that had lain in the curves, and yet curled round
unsubmissive to his fingers. He deliberately bent it back, and held it
a moment or two, while his eyes gathered light in their fixed gaze
upon what he clasped, then smoothed it to its old shape with his palm,
and putting on his horn-set eye-glasses, which lent him an owl-like
reverendness, he began to read to me. And as I have that little paper
still, and as, if not sweet, it is very short, I shall transcribe it
here and now:--

"When thou hearest the folks prate about art, be certain thou art
never tempted to make friends there; for if they be wise in any other
respect, they are fools in this, that they know not when to keep
silence and how. For art consists not in any of its representatives,
and is of itself alone. To interpret it aright we must let it make its
own way, and those who talk about it gainsay its true impressions,
which alone remain in the bosom that is single and serene. If thou
markest well, thou wilt find how few of those who make a subsistence
out of music realize its full significance; for they are too busy to
recall that they live for it, and not by it, even though it brings
them bread. And just as few are those who set apart their musical life
from all ambition, even honorable,--for ambition is of this earth
alone, and in a higher yearning doth musical life consist; so the
irreligious many are incapable of the fervor of the few. And the few,
those I did exclude,--the few who possess in patience this
inexhaustible desire,--are those who compose my world."

"You mean, sir," I exclaimed, so warm, so glowing at my heart, that
the summer without, brooding over the blossomed lindens, was as winter
to the summer in my veins, so suddenly penetrated I felt,--"you mean,
sir, that as good people I have heard speak of the world, and of good
people who are not worldly, apart, and seem to know them from each
other,--in religion I mean,--so it is in music. I am sure my sister
thought so,--my sister in England; but she never dared to say so."

"No, of course not; there is no right to say so anywhere now, except
in Germany, for here alone has music its priesthood, and here alone,
though little enough here, is reverentially regarded as the highest
form of life, subserving to the purposes of the soul. But thou art
right to believe entirely so, that, young as thou art, thou mayest
keep thy purity, and mighty may be thy aptness to discern what is new
to thee in the old, no less than what answers to the old in the new.

"And, first, when thou goest out of leading-strings, never accustom
thyself to look for faults or feelings differing from thine own in
those set over thee. It is certain that many a student of art has lost
ground in this indulgence; for oftentimes the student, either from
natural imagination, or from the vernal innocence of youth, will be
outstripping his instructors in his grand intentions, and giving
himself up to them will be losing the present hours in the air that
should be informing themselves, with steady progress, in the strictest
mechanical course. Never till thou hast mastered every conceivable
difficulty, dream of producing the most distant musical effect.

"But, secondly, lest thine enthusiasm should perish of starvation
under this mechanical pressure, keep thy wits awake to contemplate
every artist and token of art that come between thee and daylight. And
the more thou busiest thyself in mechanical preparation, the more
leisure thou shalt discover so to observe; the more serene and
brilliant shall thy imagination find itself,--a clear sky filled with
the sunshine of that enthusiasm which spreads itself over every object
in earth and heaven.

"Again, of music, or the tone-art, as thou hast heard me name it,
never let thy conception cease. Never believe thou hast adopted the
trammels of a pursuit bounded by progress because thine own progress
bounds thine own pursuit. In despair at thy slow induction,--be it
slow as it must be gradual,--doubt not that it is into a divine and
immeasurable realm thou shalt at length be admitted; and if the
ethereal souls of the masters gone before thee have thirsted after the
infinite, even in such immeasurable space, recall thyself, and bow
contented that thou hast this in common with those above thee,--the
insatiable presentment of futurity with which the Creator has chosen
to endow the choicest of his gifts,--the gift in its perfection
granted ever to the choicest, the rarest of the race."

"And that is why it is granted to the Hebrew nation,--why they all
possess it like a right!" I cried, almost without consciousness of
having spoken. But Aronach answered not; he only slightly, with the
least motion, leaned his head so that the silver of his beard
trembled, and a sort of tremor agitated his brow, that I observed not
in his voice as he resumed.

"Thou art young, and mayest possibly excel early, as a mechanical
performer. I need not urge thee to prune the exuberance of thy fancy
and to bind thy taste--by nature delicate--to the pure, strong models
whose names are, at present, to thee their only revelation. For the
scapegrace who figures in thy daily calendar as so magnificently thy
superior, will ever stand thee instead of a warning or ominous
repulsion, so long as thy style is forming; and when formed, that
style itself shall fence thee alike with natural and artful antipathy
against the school he serves, that confesses to no restriction, no,
not the restraint of rule, and is the servant of its own caprice.

"Thou shalt find that many who profess the art, confess not to that
which they yet endure,--a sort of shame in their profession, as if
they should ennoble _it_, and not it _them_. Such professors thou
shalt ever discover are slaves, not sons; their excellence as
performers owing to the accidental culture of their imitative
instinct; and they are the _ripieni_ of the universal orchestra, whose
chief doth appear but once in every age.

"Thou shalt be set on to study by thine instructors, and, as I before
hinted, wilt ever repose upon their direction. But in applying to the
works they select for thine edification, whether theoretic or
practical, endeavor to disabuse thyself of all thy previous
impressions and prepossessions of any author whatsoever, and to absorb
thyself in the contemplation of that alone thou busiest thyself upon.

"Thus alone shall thine intelligence explore all styles, and so
separate each from each as finally to draw the exact conclusion from
thine own temperament and taste of that to which thou dost essentially
incline.

"In treating of music specifically, remember not to confound its
elements. As in ancient mythology many religious seeds were sown, and
golden symbols scattered, so may we apply its enforcing fables where
the new wisdom denies us utterance, and the nearer towards the
expression of the actual than if we observed the literal forms of
speech. Thus ever remembering that as the 'aorasia' was a word
signifying the invisibility of the gods, and the 'avatar' their
incarnation, so is _time_ the aorasia of music the god-like, and
_tone_ its avatar.

"Then, in _time_, shalt thou realize that in which the existence of
music as infallibly consists as in its manifestation, _tone_, and
thine understanding shall become invested with the true nature of
_rhythm_, which alike doth exist between time and tone, seeming to
connect in spiritual dependence the one with the other inseparably.

"In devoting thine energies to the works of art in ages behind thine
own, thou shalt never be liable to depress thy consciousness of those
which are meritorious _with_ thee, and _yet_ to come before thee. For
thou wilt learn that to follow the supreme of art with innocence and
wisdom was ever allotted to the few whose labors yet endure; while as
to the many whose high-flown perfections in their day seduced the
admiration of the myriads to the neglect of the few, except _by_ few,
find we nothing of them at present, but the names alone of their
operas, or the mention of their having been, and being now no more.
And this is while the few are growing and expanding their fame, as the
generations succeed, ever among the few of every generation, but yet
betokening in that still, secluded renown, the immortal purpose for
which they wrote and died _not_.

"Be assured that in all works that have endured there is something of
the nature of truth; therefore acquaint thyself with all, ever
reserving the right to honor with peculiar investigation those works
in which the author by scientific hold upon forceful imagination
intimates that he wrote with the direct intention to illustrate his
art, not alone for the love of it, but in the fear of its service.
Thus apply thyself to the compositions of Palestrina, of Purcell, of
Alessandro Scarlatti, and the indefatigable Corelli; thus lend thyself
to the masterpieces of Pergolesi, of Mozart, and Handel; thus lean
with thine entire soul upon the might and majesty of John Sebastian
Bach. All others in order, but these in chief; and this last
generalissimo, until thou hast learnt to govern thyself."

He paused and stayed, and the summer evening-gold crowned him as he
sat. That same rich gleam creeping in, for all the deep shade that
filled the heavenly vault, seemed to touch me with solemn ecstasy
alike with his words. He was folding up that paper, and had nearly
settled it before I dared to thank him; but as he held it out, and I
grasped it, I also kissed the ivory of his not unwrinkled hand, and he
did not withdraw it. Then I said, "My dear master, my dear, dear Herr
Aronach, is that for me to keep?"

"It is for thee," he answered; "and perhaps, as there is little of it,
thou wilt digest it more conveniently than a more abundant lecture.
Thou art imaginative, or I should not set thee laws, and implicit, or
thou wouldst not follow them."

"I should like to know, sir, whether those are the sort of rules you
gave the Chevalier Seraphael when he was a little boy?"

"No, no; they are not such as I gave him, be certain."

"I thought not, perhaps. Oh, sir, how very surprising he must have
been when he was so young and little!"

"He did not rudely declaim, thou mayest imagine, at eight years old,
and his voice was so modest to strangers that it was hard to make him
heard at all,--this it was that made me set no laws before him."

"How then, sir, did you teach him?" was my bolder question.

"He would discourse of music in its native tongue, when his small
fingers conversed with the keys of his favorite harpsichord, so
wondrously at home there, from the first time they _felt_ themselves.
And in still obedience to the law of that inborn harmony that governed
his soul, he would bend his curly pate over the score till all the
color fell off his round cheek; and his forehead would work and frown
with thoughts strong enough to make a strong man's brain quiver. I was
severe with him to save my conscience; but he ever outwitted me, nor
could I give him enough to do, for he made play of work, and no light
work of play. It was as if I should direct the south wind to blow in
summer, or the sunbeams to make haste with the fruit. At length it
came to such a pass--his calm attainment--that I gave him up to die!
He left off growing too, and there was of him so little that you would
have thought him one the pleasant folk had changed at birth: bright
enough were his eyes for such suspicion. So I clapped upon him one day
as he was lying upon a bit of shade in my garden, his cap of velvet
tumbled off, and the feather flying as you please, while over the
score of Graun he had fallen fast asleep. When I came to him, I
thought the little heart-strings had given way, to let him free
altogether, he lay so still and heavy in his slumber, and no breath
came through his lips that I could see. So I took him up, never waking
him, and laid him away in bed, and locked up every staved sheet that
lay about, and every score and note-book, and shut the harpsichord;
and when at last he awoke, I took him upon my knee,--for it was then
he came to my house for his lessons, and I could do with him as I
pleased. 'Now,' said I, 'thou hast been asleep over thy books, and I
have carried them all away, for thou art lazy, and shalt see them
never again, unless thou art content to do as I shall bid thee.'

"Then he looked into my face with his kind child's eyes, and said,--

"'I wish that thou wert my pupil, master; for if so, I should show
thee how I should like to be taught.'

"'Well, thou art now very comfortable on my knee, and mayest pull my
watch-chain if thou wilt, and shalt also tell me the story of what
thou shouldst teach thine old, grand pupil,--we will make a play of
it.'

"'I do not care to pull thy chain now, but I should like to watch thy
face while I tell thee.'

"So then, Master Carl, this elf stood upright on my knees, and spread
out his arms, and laughed loud till the wet pearls shone; and while I
held his feet--for I thought he would fly away--says he to mock me,--

"'Now, Master Aronach, thou mayest go home and play with thy little
sister at kings and queens, and never do any more lessons till thou
art twelve years old; for that is the time to be a man and do great
things: and now thou art a poor baby, who cannot do anything but play
and go to sleep. And all the big books are put away, and nobody is to
bring them out again until thou art big and canst keep awake.'

"Then I looked at him hard, to see whether he was still mocking me;
but when I found he looked rather about to cry, I set him down, and
took my hat, and walked out of my house to the lower ramparts. On the
lower ramparts stood the fine house of his father, and I rang the bell
quite free, and went boldly up the stairs. His mother was alone in her
grand drawing-room, and I said that she might either come and fetch
him away altogether, or let him stay with me and amuse himself as he
cared for; that I would not teach him for those years to come, as he
had said. The stately lady was offended, and carried him off from me
altogether; and when he went he was very proud, and would not shed one
tear, though he clung round my collar and whispered, elf that he
was,--'I shall come back when I am twelve. Hush! master, hush!'"

"And did he come back?" I cried, no less in ecstasy at the story than
at the confidence reposed in me.

"All in good time--peace," said Aronach. "I never saw him again until
the twenty-second morning of May, in the fourth year after his mother
carried him off. I heard of the wonder-boy from every mouth,--how he
was taken here, and flourished there, to show off; and petted and
praised by the king; and I thought often how piteous was it thus to
spoil him. On that very morning I was up betimes, and was writing a
letter to an old friend of mine whose daughter was dead, when I heard
feet like a fawn that was finding quick way up my dark stairs, and I
stopped to listen. The door was burst open all in a moment, as if by
the wind, and there he stood, in his little hat and feather and his
gay new dress, bright as a birthday prince, with a huge lumbering
flower-pot in his two little arms. He set that upon the floor and
danced up to me directly, climbing upon my knees. 'Will you take me
back? For I am twelve, and nobody else can teach me! I know all
_they_ know.'

"He folded his little arms together round my collar, and held on there
tight. What a minimus he was! scarcely a half-foot taller; but with
such a noble air, and those same kind eyes of old. I pinched his fair
cheek, which was red as any rose; but it was only a blossom born of
the morning air: as he still sat upon my knees, the beauteous color
fell, faded quite away, and left him pale,--pale as you now see him,
Master Carl."

"Oh, sir! tell me a little, little more. What did he tell you? What
did he do?"

"He told me, with the pale face pressed against my coat, 'Thou seest,
sweet master, I would not take pains just at first, and mamma was very
grand; she never blessed me for a week, and I never kissed her. I did
lessons with her, though, and tried to plague her, and played very
sad, very ill, and would hardly read a bar. So mamma took it into her
head to say that _you_ had not taught me properly; and I grew very
wild, angry,--so hurt at least that I burst out, and ran downstairs,
and came no more for lessons five whole days. Then I begged her
pardon, and she sent for Herr Hümmel to teach me. I played my very
best to Herr Hümmel, master mine!'

"'I daresay he did,' thought I, 'the naughty one! the elf!' There he
lay back with his pale face, and all the mischief in his starry eyes.

"'And Herr Hümmel,' my loveling went on, pursing his lips, 'said he
could not teach me to play, but perhaps he could teach me to write. So
I wrote for him ever so many pages, and he could not read them, for I
wrote so small, so small; and Herr Hümmel has such very weak eyes!'

"Oh! how naughty he looked, lying across my knees!

"'And then,' he prattled, 'mamma set herself to look for somebody very
new and great; and she picked up Monsieur Milans-André, who is a very
young master, only nineteen years old; and mamma says he is a great
genius. Now, as for me, dear master, I don't know what a great genius
is; but if Monsieur André be one, _thou_ art not one, nor I.'

"Oh, the haughty one! still prattling on,--

"'I did take pains, and put myself back, that he might show me over
again what you, dear master, had taught me, so that I never forget,
and could not forget, if I tried; and in a year I told mamma I would
never touch the harpsichord again if she did not promise I should come
back to you again. She said she couldn't promise, and, master, I never
_did_ again touch the harpsichord, but instead, I learned what was
better, to play on Monsieur André's grand pianoforte!'

"'And how didst thou admire that, eh?' I asked, rather curious about
the matter.

"'Oh! it is very comfortable; I feel quite clear about it, and have
written for it some things. But Monsieur André is to go a tour, so he
told mamma yesterday, and this morning before he came I ran away, and
I am returned to you, and have brought my tree to keep my birthday
with you. And, master mine, I _won't_ go back again!'

"Before I could answer him, as I expected, comes a pull at the bell to
draw the house down, and up the stairs creaks Rathsherr Seraphael, the
father, a mighty good looking and very grand man. He takes a seat, and
looks queer and awful. But the little one, quitting me, dances round
and round his chair and kisses away that frown.

"'Dear and beautiful papa, thou must give me leave to stay I am thine
only son!'

"'Thou art indeed, and hast never before disobeyed me. Why didst thou
run away, my Adonais?'

"'Papa, _he_ can only teach me; I will _not_ leave him, for I must
obey music before you, and in him music calls me.'

"He ran back to my knee, and there his father left him (but very
disconcerted), and I don't know how they settled it at home. But
enough for me, there was never any more difficulty, and he and I kept
his birthday together; the little candles burned out among the
linden-flowers, and beautiful presents came for him and for me from
the great house on the ramparts.

"And he never left me," added Aronach, with a prodigious pleasure too
big to conceal either by word or look, "he never left me until he set
off for his travels all over Europe, during which travels I removed,
and came up here a long distance from the old place, where I had him
all to myself, and he was all to me."

"Thanks, dear master, if I too may so call you. I shall always feel
that you are; but I did not know how very much you had to do with
him."

"Thou mayest so name me, because thou art not wanting in veneration,
and canst also be _mastered_."

"Thanks forever. And I may keep this precious paper? In your own
writing, sir, it will be more than if you had said it, you know,
though I should have remembered every word. And the story, too, is
just as safe as if you had written it for me."

And so it was.


END OF VOL. I.

FOOTNOTE:

[17] Famous theorists and contrapuntists of the eighteenth century;
the latter was the teacher of Beethoven.



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