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Title: Charles Auchester, Volume 2 (of 2)
Author: Sheppard, Elizabeth
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note:

  Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
  been preserved.  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  The following possible typographical errors were left uncorrected:
  Page 173:  "musical electicism" should possibly be "musical
    eclecticism"
  Page 228: "eflish mood" should possibly be "elfish mood"
  Page 295: "Dunisnane" should possibly be "Dunsinane"



  CHARLES AUCHESTER

  VOLUME II.

  [Illustration: MENDELSSOHN
    FROM A SKETCH MADE IN HIS YOUTH.]



  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 II.
  A. C. McCLURG AND COMPANY
  CHICAGO
  1891



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



CHARLES AUCHESTER.



CHAPTER I.


Well, as if but yesterday, do I remember the morning I set out from
Lorbeerstadt for Cecilia. I had no friends yet with whom to
reconnoitre novel ground; I was quite solitary in my intentions, and
rather troubled with a vague melancholy, the sun being under cloud,
and I not having wished Aronach good-day. He was out in the town
fulfilling the duties of his scholastic pre-eminence, and I had vainly
sought him for an audience. He had surrendered me my violin when he
gave me the paper in his writing, and I also carried my certificate in
my hand. Of all my personal effects I took these only,--my bed and
bedding, my clothes and books having preceded me; or, at least, having
taken another form of flight. Iskar was to come also that time, but
did not intend to present himself until the evening. Aronach had also
forewarned me to take a coach, but I rather chose to walk, having
divine reminiscences upon that earthly road.

With Starwood I had a grievous parting, not unallayed by hope on my
part, and I left him wiping his eyes,--an attention which deeply
affected me, though I did not cry myself.

I shall never forget the singularly material aspect of things when I
arrived. Conventionalism is not so rampant in Germany as in England,
and courtesy is taught another creed. I think it would be impossible
to be anywhere more free, and yet this sudden liberty (like a sudden
light) did but at first serve to dazzle and distress me. Only half the
students had returned, and they, all knowing each other, or seeming to
do so, were standing in self-interested fraternities, broken by groups
and greeters, in one immense hall, or what appeared to me immense, and
therefore desolate. I came in through the open gates to the open
court; through the open court into the open entry and from that region
was drawn to the door of that very hall by the hollow multitudinous
echo that crept upon the stony solitude. It was as real to me a
solitude to enter that noble space; and I was more abashed than ever,
when, on looking round, I perceived none but males in all the company.
There was not even a picture of the patron saintess; but there _was_ a
picture, a dark empannelled portrait, high over the long
dining-tables. I concluded from the style that it was a representation
of one Gratianos, the Bachist, of whom I had once heard speak.

The gentlemen in the hall were none of them full grown, and none
wonderfully handsome at first sight. But the manner of their
entertainment was truly edifying to me, who had not long been "out" in
any sense. They every one either had been smoking, were smoking, or
were about to smoke,--that is, most of them had pipes in their mouths,
or those who had them not in their mouths had just plucked them
therefrom, and were holding them in their hands, or those who had not
yet begun were preparing the apparatus.

In a corner of the hall, which looked dismally devoid of furniture to
an English eye, there was a great exhibition of benches. There were
some upright, others kicking their feet in the air, but all packed so
as to take little space, and these were over and above the benches
that ran all round the hall. In this corner a cluster of individuals
had collected after a fashion that took my fancy in an instant, for
they had established themselves without reference to the primary use
and endowment of benches at all. Some sat on the legs thereof,
upturned, with their own feet at the reversed bottoms, and more than a
few were lying inside those reversed bottoms, with distended veins and
excited complexions, suggesting the notion that they were in the
enjoyment of plethoric slumber. To make a still further variation, one
bench was set on end and supported by the leaning figures of two
contemporaneous medalists; and on the summit of this bench, which also
rested against the wall, a third medalist was sitting, like an ape
upon the ledge of Gibraltar,--unlike an ape in this respect, that he
was talking with great solemnity, and also that he wore gloves, which
had once on a time been white. The rest were bareheaded, but all were
fitted out with mustachios, either real or fictitious, for I had my
doubts of the soft, dark tassels of the Stylites, as his own pate was
covered with hemp,--it cannot have been hair. Despite its
grotesqueness, this group, as I have said, attracted me, for there was
something in every one of the faces that set me at my ease, because
they appeared in earnest at their fun.

I came up to them as I made out their composition, and they one and
all regarded me with calm, not malicious, indifference. They were very
boyish for young men, and very manly for young boys, certainly; and
remained, as to their respective ages, a mystery. The gentleman on the
pedestal did not even pause until he came to a proper climax,--for he
was delivering an oration,--and I arrived in time to hear the
sentence so significant: "So that all who in verity apply themselves
to science will find themselves as much at a loss without a body as
without a soul, for the animal property nourisheth and illustrateth
the spiritual, and the spiritual would be of no service without the
animal, any more than should the flame that eateth the wood burn in an
empty stove, or than the soup we have eaten for dinner should be soup
without the water that dissolved the component nutritives."

Here he came to a full stop, and gazed upon me through sharp-shaped
orbs. Meantime I had drawn out my certificate and handed it up to him.
He took it between those streaky gloves, and having fixed a horn-set
glass into his one eye, shut up the other and perused the paper. I
don't know why I gave it to him in particular, except that he was very
high up, and had been speaking. But I had not done wrong, for he
finished by bowing to me with exceeding patronage.

"One of us, I presume?"

"Credentials!" groaned one who was, as I had supposed, asleep. But my
patron handed me very politely my envelope, and gravely returned to
the treatment of his theme,--whatever that might have been. Nobody
appeared to listen except his twain supporters, and they only seemed
attentive because they were thoroughly fumigated, and had their senses
under a spell. The rest began to yawn, to sneer, and to lift their
eyes, or rather the lids of them. I need scarcely say I felt very
absurd, and at last, on the utterance of an exceedingly ridiculous
peroration from the orator, I yielded at once to the impulse of
timidity, and began to laugh. The effect was of sympathetic magnetism.
Everybody whose lips were disengaged began to laugh too; and finally,
those very somnolent machines, that the benches propped, began to
stir, to open misty glances, and to grin like purgatorial saints. This
laugh grew a murmur, the murmur a roar, and finally the supporters
themselves, fairly shaking, became exhausted, staggered, and let the
pedestal glide slowly forwards. The theorist must certainly have
anticipated such a crisis, for he spread his arms and took a flying
jump from that summit, descending elegantly and conveniently as a cat
from a wall upon the boarded floor.

"Schurke!"[1] said he to me, and held me up a threatening hand; but,
seized with a gleeful intention, I caught at it, and with one pull
dragged off his glove. The member thus exposed was evidently petted by
its head, for it was dainty and sleek, and also garnished with a
blazing ring; and he solemnly held it up to contemplate it, concluding
such performance by giving one fixed stare to each nail in particular.
Then he flew at me in a paroxysm of feigned fierceness; but I had
already flung the glove to the other end of the hall. The whole set
broke into a fresh laugh, and one said, "Thou mightest have sent it up
to the beard there, if thou hadst only thought of it."

"Never too late, Mareschal!" cried another, as he made a stride to
fetch the glove, which, however, lay three or four strides off. He
gathered it up at last, crumpled it in his hand, and threw it high
against the wall. It just missed the picture though, and fell at the
feet of two perambulators arm-in-arm, one of whom stood upon the glove
till the other pushed him off, and gave the forlorn kidling a
tremendous kick that sent it farther than ever from the extempore
target. There was now a gathering and rush of a dozen towards it.
They tore it one from the other again; and, once more flinging it
high,--this time successfully,--it hit that panelled portrait just
upon the nose. A shout, half revengeful, half triumphant, echoed
through the hall; but the game was not at its height.

"Gloves out, everybody!" cried several; and from all the pockets
present, as it seemed, issued a miscellaneous supply. Very innocently,
I gave up a pair of old wool ones that I happened to have with me; and
soon, very soon, a regular systematized pelting commenced of that
reverend representation in its recess.

I am very sure I thought it all fun at first; and as there is nothing
I like so well as fun after music, I lent myself quite freely to the
sport. About fifty pairs of gloves were knotted and crumpled, pair by
pair, into balls, and whoever scrambled fastest secured the most. As
the unsuccessful shots fell back, they were caught by uplifted hands
and banged upwards with tenfold ardor, and no one was so ardent and
risibly dignified as the worthy of the pedestal. He behaved as if some
valuable stake were upon his every throw; and further, I observed that
after the game once began, nobody, except myself, laughed. It was, at
least, for half an hour that the banging, accompanied by a tremulous
hissing, continued. I myself laughed so much that I could not throw,
but I stood to watch the others. So high was the picture placed that
very few were the missiles to reach it; and such as touched the
time-seared canvas elicited an excitement I could neither realize nor
respond to. All at once it struck me as very singular they should pelt
that particular spot on the wall, and I instantly conjectured them to
be inimical to the subject of the delineation. I was just making up my
mind to inquire, when the great door hoarsely creaked, and a voice
was heard, quite in another key from the murmurous shout, to penetrate
my ear at that distance, so that I immediately responded,--"Has Carl
Auchester arrived?"

There was no reply, nor any suspension of the performance on hand,
except on my part. But for me I turned, gladly, yet timorously, and
joined the speaker in a moment. He greeted me with what appeared to me
an overawing polish, though, in fact, it was but the result of
temperament not easily aroused. He was very slim and fair, and though
not tall, gave me the impression of one very much more my senior than
he really was. He held his arm as a kind of barrier between me and the
door until I was safely out of the hall; then said to me, in a tone of
chill but still remonstrance,--

"Why did you go in there? That was not a good beginning."

"Sir," I replied, not stammered, for I felt my cause was good, "how
was I to know I ought not to go in there? It seemed quite the proper
place, with all those Cecilians about; and, besides, no one told me
where else to go. But if I did wrong, I won't go in there again, and I
certainly have not been harmed yet."

"You must go there at times; it is there you will have to eat. But a
few who are really students hold aloof from the rest, who idle
whenever they are not strictly employed, as you have had reason to
notice. I was induced to come and look for you, of whom I should
otherwise have no knowledge, in obedience to the Chevalier Seraphael's
request that I should do so."

"Did he really remember me in that manner? How good, how angelic!" I
cried. And yet I did not quite find my new companion charming; his
irresistible quiescence piqued me too much, though he was anything
but haughty.

"Yes, he is good, and was certainly very good to bear in mind one so
young as you are; I hope you will reward his kindness. He gives us
great hopes of you."

"Are you a professor, sir?" I asked, half afraid of my own impulse.

"I am _your_ professor," he announced, with that same distance. "I am
first violin."

I did not know whether I was pleased or sorry at that instant, for I
could detect no magnetic power that he possessed, and rather shrank
from contact with him at present. He led me up many stairs,--a side
staircase, quite new, built steeper and narrower than the principal
flight. He led me along thwart passages, and I beheld many doors and
windows too; for light and air both reigned in these regions, which
were fresh, and smelled of health. He led me into a chamber so
lengthened that it was almost a gallery, for it was very high besides.
Here he paused to exhibit a suite of prophets' chambers, one after the
other completely to the end; for in every division was a little bed, a
bench, and washing-table, with a closet closed by hasps of wood. The
uniform arrangement struck me as monotonous, but academical. My guide,
for the first time, smiled, but very slightly, and explained,--

"This is my division,--_les petits violons_, you know, Auchester; you
may see the numbers on every alcove. And here you practise, except
when met in class or at lecture. Your number is 13, and you are very
nearly in the middle. See, you have a curtain to draw before your bed,
and in this closet there is a box for books, as well as a niche for
your instrument, and abundant room for clothes, unless you bring more
than you can possibly want. The portmanteau and chest, which were
brought this morning, you may keep here, if you please, as well."

I did not thank him, for I was pre-occupied with an infernal
suggestion to my brain, which I revealed in my utter terror.

"Oh, sir, do we all practise together, then? What a horrible noise!
and how impossible to do anything so! I can't, I know!"

Another half-smile curled the slender brown moustache.

"It was indeed so in the times I can still remember. But see how much
more than you can own you are indebted to this Chevalier Seraphael!"

He walked to the wall opposite the alcove, and laying hold of a brass
ring I had not noticed, drew out a long slide of wood, very thick and
strong, which shut one in from side to side.

"There is such a one to every bed," continued he; "and if you draw
them on either hand, you will hear nothing, at least nothing to
disturb you. Come away now; I have not much time to spare, and must
leave you elsewhere."

He led me from the chambers, and down the stairs again, and here and
there, so that I heard an organ playing in one region, and voices that
blended again to another idea; and then all was stillness, except the
rustle of his gown. But before I could make up my mind to approve or
criticise the arrangements which struck me on every hand, I found
myself in another room,--this vaulted, and inspiring as nothing I had
met with in that place. How exquisite was the radiant gloom that here
pervaded within, as within a temple; for the sunshine pierced through
little windows of brown and amber, and came down in wavering dusky
brightness on parchment hues and vellum, morocco, and ruddy gold. Here
a thick matting returned no footfall; and although the space was
small, and very crowded too, yet it had an air of vastness, from the
elevated concave of the roof. Benches were before each bookcase, that
presented its treasury of dread tomes and gigantic scores; also
reading-desks; and besides such furniture, there were the quaintest
little stalls between each set of shelves,--shrine-like niches one
could just sit in, or even at pleasure lie along; for seats were in
them of darkest polished wood. Some were already occupied, and their
occupants were profoundly quiet,--perhaps studying, perhaps asleep.

"Here," observed my guide, "you are only allowed to come and remain in
silence. If one word be spoken in the library, expulsion of the
speaker follows. The book-keeper sits out there," pointing to an
erection like a watch-box, "and hears, and is to observe all. You may
use any book in this place, but never carry it away; and if required
for quotation as well as for reference, you may here make your
extracts, but never elsewhere. There are ink-bottles in every desk.
And if you take my advice, you will remain here until the supper-bell;
for while here, you will at least be out of mischief. We are not
to-day in full routine; but that makes it the more dangerous to be at
large."

"Will you set me some task, then, sir? I do want something to be at."

He seemed only to sneer at such a desire. "Nonsense! there is enough
for to-day in mastering all those names;" and he took down a catalogue
and handed it to me.

I ran into one of those dear, dark recesses, and there he left me.

When he had gone, I did not open my book for a time. I was in a highly
wrought mood, which was induced by that sombre-tinted, struggling
sunshine, whose beams played high in the ceiling, like fireflies in a
cedar shade, so fretted and so far. It was delicious as a dream to be
safe and solitary in that dim palace of futurity, whose vistas
stretched before me into everlasting lengths of light. I read not for
a long, long hour; and when I did open my book (itself no mean volume
as to size), I was bewildered and bedimmed by a swarm of names, both
of works and authors, I had never heard of,--Huygens, Martini, Euler,
Pfeiffer, and Marpurg alone meeting me as distant acquaintances, and
Cherubini as a dear old friend.

This was, in fact, a _catalogue raisonné_, and I was not in a very
rational mood. I therefore shut the book, and began to pace the
library. It is extraordinary how intense is the power of application
in the case of those who are apprenticed to a master they can worship
as well as serve. I thought so then. Nothing could divert the
attention of those supine students in the recesses, nor of the scribes
at the desks. I went quite close to many of them, and could have
looked into their eyes, but that they were, for the most part, closed;
and I should have accused them of being asleep but that their lips
were moving, and I knew they were learning by heart. Great
black-letter was the characteristic of one huge volume I stayed to
examine as it lay upon a desk, and he who sat before it had a face
sweeter than any present, sensible as interesting; and I did not fear
him, though his eyes were wide open and alert. He was making copious
extracts, and as I peeped between the pages he held by his thumb and
a slight forefinger, he observed me and gave me a smile, at the same
time turning back the title-page for my inspection. That was encircled
by a wreath of cherubs' faces for flowers, and musical instruments for
leaves, old and droll as the title, "Caspar Bartholin, his Treatise on
the Wind Music of the Ancients."

I smiled then, and nodded, to express my thanks; but a moment
afterwards he wrote for me, on a sheet in his blotting-case, which he
carried with him,--

"We may write, though we may not speak. Are you just arrived?"

He handed me the pen to answer, and I wrote: "Only an hour or two ago;
and I got into a scrape directly. I am Carl Auchester, from England;
but I am not English. What is your name?"

He smiled warmly as he read, and thus our correspondence proceeded:
"Franz Delemann. What was your scrape? I wonder you had one, now I
know your name."

"Why?" I replied. "There is no reason why I should keep clear any more
than another; but I went into the great hall, where so many of them
were about, and they made a great noise, for they were pelting the
picture that is on the wall; and while I was helping them, just for
fun, the gentleman who brought me in here fetched me out, and said it
was a bad beginning."

"That was his way of putting it," resumed my new associate. "He is
very matter-of-fact, that Anastase, but I know what he meant. We are a
very small party, and the rest persecute us. They would have been glad
to get you over to their side, because it would have been such a
triumph for them,--coming first, as you did come."

Oh! how I did scribble in response. "I have not an idea what you mean.
Pray tell me quickly."

"The Chevalier Seraphael took the place here of somebody very unlike
him. I thought the Cerinthias had told you."

"The what?"

"The Fräulein who came in with you the day of the concert, who came to
the pavilion with Seraphael and yourself, was one of the Cerinthias. I
thought, of course, you knew all; for her words are better than any
one's, and you had been together,--so she told me afterwards."

"Is she Cerinthia? What a queer name!"

"They are a queer set, though I don't suppose there ever was such a
set. The brother and the two sisters appear to possess every natural
gift among them. The father was a great singer and celebrated master,
but not a German. He came here to secure their education in a certain
style, and just as he got here, he died. Then the brother, though they
had not a penny among them all, made way by his extraordinary talent;
and as he could play on any instrument, he was admitted to the second
place in the band, and his sister was taken upon the foundation.
Milans-André made a great deal of their being here, though it was
perfectly natural, _I_ think. The youngest had been put out to nurse,
and kept in some province of France until old enough to be admitted
also; but then something happened which changed that notion. For when
Seraphael took the place of Milans-André, he had every arrangement
investigated, that he might improve to the utmost; and it was
discovered--after this fashion--that this Maria Cerinthia had been
allowed to occupy a room which was inferior to all the others. I think
the rain came in, but I am not sure of that,--I only know it was out
of the way and wretched. Seraphael was exceedingly vexed, almost in a
passion, but turned it into amusement, as he does so often before
others when he is serious at heart. He had the room turned into what
it was just fit for,--a closet for fagots.

"Then this proud Cerinthia--the brother, I mean, whose name, by the
way, is Joseph--took offence himself; and declaring no arrangement
should be altered on account of his sister, took her away, and had a
lodging in the village instead. She comes here every day at the same
time, and is what we call an out-Cecilian,--never staying to meals or
to sleep, that is. Seraphael took no notice; and I was rather
surprised to discover that he has been to see them several
times,--because, you see, I thought _he_ was proud in his way to have
his generosity rejected."

"Does he like them so very much, then?"

"He ought."

Now, I wanted to be very angry at the intimation, but my informant had
too expressive a face; so I merely added, "They are then very
wonderful?"

"They are all wonderful, and the little one, who is not quite eight
years old (for she has come to live with them since they lived alone),
is a prodigy, but not beautiful, like the one you saw."

"_She_ is, I suppose, the cleverest in all the house?"

"She must be so; but is so very quiet one does not hear about her,
except at the close of the semester, when she carries off the
medals,--for everything of the best belongs to her. She is a vocalist,
and studies, of course, in the other wing; we never meet the ladies,
you know, except in public."

"Oh! of course not. Now, do tell me what you mean about the two
parties."

"I mean that when Milans-André went away no one knew how much mischief
he had done. His whole system was against Bach, and this is properly a
school for Bach. He could not eradicate the foundation, and he could
not confess his dislike against our master in so many words. The only
thing was to introduce quite a new style, or I am sure it might be
called 'school,' for he has written such an immense deal. It was an
opera of his, performed in this town, that at once did for him as far
as those were concerned whom he had deceived, and that determined us
not to submit ourselves any longer. He was becoming so unpopular that
he was too happy to resign. Still, he left a number for himself behind
him greater than those who had risen against him."

"Tell me about that opera, pray. You write interesting letters, sir."

"I have interesting matter, truly. The opera was called 'Emancipation;
or, the Modern Orpheus.' The overture took in almost all of us, it was
so well put together; but I fancy you would not have approved of it,
somehow. The theatre here is very small, and was quite filled by our
own selves and a few artists,--not one amateur, for it was produced in
rehearsal. The scenery was very good, the story rambling and fiendish;
but we thought it fairy-like. There was a perfect hit in the hero, who
was a monstrous fiddle-player, to represent whom he had Paganini, as
he had not to speak a word. The heroines, who were three in number,
were a sort of musical nuns, young ladies dedicated to the art; but
they, first one, then another, fell in with the fiddler, and finding
him, became enamoured of him. He condescends to listen to the first
while she sings, or rather he comes upon her as she is singing the
coolest of all Bach's solos in the coolest possible style. He waits
till the end with commendable patience, and then, amidst infernal
gesticulations, places before her a cantata of his own, which is
something tremendous when accompanied by the orchestra. The contrasted
style, with the artful florid instrumentation, produces rapture, and
is really an _effect_, though I do not say of what kind. The next
heroine he treats to a grand scena, in which the violin is absolutely
made to speak; and as it was carried through by Paganini, you may
conjecture it was rather bewitching. The last lady he bears off
fairly, and they converse in an outlandish duet between the voice of
the lady and the violin. I can give you no outline of the plan, for
there is no plot that I could find afterwards, but merely the heads of
each part. Next comes a tumble-down church, dusty, dark, repelling to
the idea from the beginning; and you are aware of the Lutheran service
which is being droned through as we are not very likely to hear it, in
fact. By magic the scene dissolves; colored lights break from tapering
windows; arches rise and glitter like rainbows; altar-candles blaze
and tremble; crimson velvet and rustling satin fill the Gothic stalls
on either side; and while you are trying to gather in the picture, the
Stabat Mater bursts out in strains about as much like weeping as all
the mummery is like music.

"The last scene of all is a kind of temple where priests and
priestesses glide in spangled draperies, while the hierarch is hidden
behind a curtain. Busts and statues, that I suppose are intended for
certain masters, but whom it is not very easy to identify, as they are
ill fashioned and ill grouped, are placed in surrounding shrines. At
strains for signs from that curtained chief, the old heads and figures
are prostrated from the pedestals, the ruins are swept aside by some
utilitarian angel, and the finale consists in a great rush of
individuals masked, who crown the newly inaugurated statue of the
elevated Orpheus, and then dance around him to the ballet music, which
is accompanied by the chorus also, who sing his praise.

"It was very exciting while it went on,--as exciting to see as it is
absurd to remember; and there was nothing for it but applause upon the
spot. When the curtain fell, and we were crushing and pressing to get
out, having been hardly able to wake ourselves up, and yet feeling the
want that succeeds enjoyment or excitement that goes no further,--you
know how,--one chord sounded behind the curtain from one instrument
within the orchestra. It arrested us most curiously; it was mystical,
as we call it, though so simple: enough to say that under those
circumstances it seemed a sound from another sphere. It continued and
spread,--it was the People's Song you heard the day you first came to
us. It was once played through without vocal illustration, but we all
knew the words, and began to sing them.

"We were singing still in a strange sort of roar I can't describe to
you, when the music failed, and the curtain was raised on one side.
He--Seraphael, whom we knew not then--stood before us for the first
time. You know how small he is: as he stood there he looked like a
child of royal blood, his head quite turned me, it was so beautiful;
and we all stood with open mouths to see him, hoping to hear him
speak. He spread out those peculiar hands of his, and said, in his
sweet, clear voice: 'That song, oh ladies and gentlemen, which you
have shown you love so well, is very old, and you do not seem to be
aware that it is so, nor of its author. Who wrote it, made it for us,
think you?'

"His beauty and his soft, commanding voice had just the effect you
will imagine,--everybody obeyed him. One and another exclaimed,
'Hasse!' 'Vogler!' 'Hegel!' 'Storace!' 'Weber!' But it was clear the
point had not been contested. Then he folded his arms together and
laid them on his breast, with a very low bow that brought all the hair
into his eyes. Then he shook back the curls and laughed.

"'It is _Bach_, my dear and revered Sebastian Bach,--of all the Bachs
alone _the_ Bach; though indeed to any one Bach, one of us present is
not fit to hold a candle. You do not love Bach,--I do. You do not
reverence him,--he is in my religion. You do not understand him,--I am
very intimate with him. If you knew him, you too would love and
worship and desire of him to know more and more. Ladies and gentlemen,
you are all just. He has no one to take his part, as has your
nondescript modern Orpheus. I shall give a lecture on Bach in this
theatre to-morrow evening. Everybody comes in free. Only come!'

"Who could refuse him? Who could have refused him as he stood there,
and flying behind the curtain, peeped again between the folds of it
and bowed? Besides, there was a strong curiosity at work,--a curiosity
of which many were ashamed. Do I tire you?"

"More likely yourself. Do finish about the lecture."

"The supper-bell will be soon ringing, and will shake the story out of
me, so I must make haste. I can tell it you properly some time. The
next evening there was such a crowd at the door that they kicked it
in, and stood listening outside. The curtain was done away with, and
we never could make out how that organ came there which towered
behind; but there it stood, and a pianoforte in front. The Chevalier
appeared dressed in black, with nothing in his arms but a heap of
programmes, written in his own hand, which he distributed himself, for
he had no assistant. You know that Forkel has written a life of Bach?
Well, I have since read this, and have been puzzled to find how such a
poem as we listened to could have sprung from the prose of those dry
memoirs. The voice was enough, if it had not said what it did say,--so
delicious a voice to hear that no one stirred for fear of losing it.

"I cannot give you the slightest outline; but I have never read any
romance so brilliant, nor any philosophy that I could so take into
myself. The illustrations were fugue upon fugue. Oh, to hear that
organ with its grand interpretations, and the silver voice between!
and study upon study for the harpsichord that from the new pianoforte
seemed to breathe its old excitement--chorale upon chorale--until,
with that song restored to its own proper form, it ended,--I mean, the
lecture. I cannot say, though, about the ending, for I was obliged to
leave before it was over; the clear intellect was too much for me, and
the genius knocked me down. Many others left upon my very heels; but
those who stayed seemed hardly to recall a word that had been said.
All were so impressed, for that night, at least, that I can remember
nothing to compare with it, except the descriptions in your English
divinity books of the revivals in religion of your country. The next
day, however, the scoffers found their tongues again, and only we to
whom the whole affair had appeared on the occasion itself a dream,
awoke to a reality that has never left us. We have not been the same
since, and that is one reason we were so anxious you should be one
with the students of Bach even before you knew what you must
profess."

"Oh! I come from a good school, for Aronach is full of Bach. But do
tell me about the others."

"The Andréites, as they call themselves, are not precisely inimical to
Seraphael,--that would be impossible, he is so companionable, so free
and truly great; but they, one and all, slight Bach, and as some of
them are professors, and we all study under the professor of our voice
or instrument in particular, it is a pity for the fresh comers to fall
into the wrong set."

"But I am safe, at least, for I am certain that Anastase is of the
right school."

"The very best; he is a Seraphaelite. They call us Seraphaelites, and
we like it; but Seraphael does not like it, so we only use the word
now for parole,--Bruderschaft."[2]

"Why, I wonder, does he not like it?"

"Because he is too well bred."

Oh, how I enjoyed that expression! It reminded me of Lenhart Davy and
his sayings. I was just going to intrude another question when my
intention was snapped by the ringing of the bell, which made a most
imposing noise. The sound caused a sudden rush and rustle through the
library; gowned and ungowned figures forsook the nooks and benches,
and they each and all put by their books as deftly, dexterously as
Millicent used to lay her thimble into her work-box when she was a wee
maiden. They did not stare at me at all, which was very satisfactory;
and I found occasion to admire all their faces. I told my companion
so, and he laughed, rubbing his eyes and stretching; then he put his
arm about my neck in strict fraternal fashion, which gratified me
exceedingly, and not the less because he was evidently by several
years my elder. We left the library together, and right rejoiced was
I to hear myself speak again; the first thing that occurred to me to
say, I said: "Oh! I wanted so much to know what is your instrument."

"I don't think I shall tell you," he replied, in a guileless voice,
interesting as his behavior and language.

"Why not? I must know it at last, must I not?"

"Perhaps you will not think so well of me, when you know what I exist
for."

"That would make no difference, for every instrument is as great with
reference to others as some are in themselves."

"Seraphael could not have put it better. I play the trombone. It is a
great sacrifice at present."

"But," I returned, "I have not heard the instrument,--is it not a
splendid sort of trumpet? You mean it is not good for solos?"

"It is quite to itself,--a mere abstraction considered by itself; but
to the orchestra what red is to the rainbow."

"I know who said that. He puts brass last, I see."

"Oh, you are a thief! You know everything already. Yes, he does put
the violet first."

"The violin? Yes, so he called it to me; but I did not know he was
fond of calling it so."

"It is one of his theories. It was, however, one day after he had been
expounding it to a few of us who were fortunate enough to be present,
when he was glancing through the class-rooms, that he put up his
hands, and in his bright way, you know, scattering your reasoning
faculties like a burst of sunshine, said, 'Oh, you must not entertain
a word I have said to you,--it is only to be dreamed.'"

"What did he say? What had he said? Do, pray, out with it, or I cannot
eat, I am sure."

We were just outside the hall doorway now; within were light and a
hundred voices mingled. Into the dusk he gave his own, and I took it
safely home in silence.

"His theory,--oh, it was in this way! Strings first, of course,
violet, indigo, blue,--violin, violoncello, double-bass,--upon these
you repose; the vault is quite perfect. Green, the many-sounded kinds
of wood, spring-hued flutes, deeper, yet softer, clarinetti, bassoons
the darkest tone, not to be surpassed in its shade,--another vault.
The brass, of course, is yellow; and if the horns suggest the paler
dazzle, the trumpets take the golden orange, and the red is left for
the trombones,--vivid, or dun and dusk."[3]

"Oh, my goodness! I don't wonder he said it was a dream!"

"It certainly would be dangerous to think of it in any other light!"

"And you a German!" I cried. "Did you think I meant it?"

"You would mean it," he retorted, "if you knew what lip-distorting
and ear-distracting work it is practising this same trombone."

"But what is your reason, then, for choosing it, when you might choose
_mine_?"

"Do you not know that Seraphael has written as no one else for the
trombone? And he was heard to sigh, and to say, 'I shall never find
any one to play these passages!'"

"Oh, Delemann! and that was the reason you took it up? How I love you
for it!"

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Wretch.

[2] Brotherhood.

[3] The theory of the correspondence of tones and colors is an old
one. Gardner, in his "Music of Nature," traces it in the following
manner, which will be interesting as contrasted with the above:--

WIND INSTRUMENTS.

      Trombone--deep red.
      Trumpet--scarlet.
      Clarinet--orange.
      Oboe--yellow.
      Bassoon--deep yellow.
      Flute--sky blue.
      Diapason--deeper blue.
      Double diapason--purple.
      Horn--violet.

STRINGED INSTRUMENTS.

      Violin--pink.
      Viola--rose.
      Violoncello--red.
      Double-bass--crimson.

Laura Bridgman, the blind and deaf mute, it will be remembered,
likened the tone of the trumpet to scarlet.



CHAPTER II.


All lives have their prose translation as well as their ideal meaning;
how seldom _this_ escapes in language worthy, while _that_ tells best
in words. I was a good deal exhausted for several days after I entered
the school, and saw very little except my own stuntedness and
deficiency in the mirror of contemplation. For Anastase took me to
himself awfully the first morning, all alone; examined me, tortured
me, made me blush and hesitate and groan; bade me be humble and
industrious; told me I was not so forward as I might be; drenched me
with medicinal advices that lowered my mental system; and, finally,
left me in possession of a minikin edition of what I had conceived
myself the day before, but which he deprived me of at present, if not
annihilated forever.

It was doubtless a very good thing to go back to the beginning, if he
intended to re-create me; but it happened that such transmutation
could not take place twice, and it had already occurred once. Still, I
was absolved from obvious discomfiture to the regenerator by my silent
adaptations to his behavior.

That which would assuredly become a penance to the physique in dark or
wintry weather, remained still a charming matutinal romance; namely,
that we all rose at four o'clock, except any one who might be
delicate, and that we practised a couple of hours before we got
anything to eat,--I mean formally, for, in fact, we almost all
smuggled into our compartments wherewithal to keep off the natural,
which might not amalgamate with the spiritual, constraining appetite.
Those early mornings were ineffaceably effective for me; I advanced
more according to my desires than I had ever advanced before, and I
laid up a significant store of cool, sequestered memories. I could,
however, scarcely realize my own existence under these circumstances,
until the questioner within me was subdued to "contemplation" by my
first "adventure."

I had been a week in durance, if not vile, very void, for I had seen
nothing of the Cerinthias nor of their interesting young advocate,
except at table,--though certainly on these latter occasions we
surfeited ourselves with talk that whetted my curiosity to a double
edge. On the first Sunday, however, I laid hold of him coming out of
church, when we had fulfilled our darling duties in the choir,--for
the choir of our little perfect temple, oak-shaded and sunlit, was
composed entirely of Cecilians, and I have not time in this place to
dilate upon its force and fulness. Delemann responded joyously to my
welcome; and when I asked him what was to be our task on Sunday, he
answered that the rest of the day was our own, and that if I pleased
we would go together and call upon that Maria and her little sister,
of whom I knew all that could be gained out of personal intercourse.

"Just what I wished," said I; "how exactly you guessed it!"

"Oh, but I wanted to go myself!" answered Franz, laughing, "for I have
an errand thither;" and together we quitted the church garden, with
its sheltering lime shadow, for the sultry pavement.

It cannot have been five minutes that we walked, before we came in
front of one of those narrowest and tallest of the droll abodes I was
pretty well used to now, since I had lived with Aronach. We went
upstairs, too, in like style to that of the old apprentice home, and
even as there, did not rest until nearly at the top. Delemann knocked
at a door, and, as if perfectly accustomed to do so, walked in without
delay. The room we entered was slightly furnished, but singularly in
keeping with each other were the few ornaments, unsurpassably
effective. Also a light clearness threw up and out each decoration
from the delicate hue of the walls and the mild fresco of their
borders, unlike anything I had yet seen, and startling, in spite of
the simplicity of the actual accommodations, from their excelling
taste. Upon brackets stood busts, three or four, and a single vase of
such form that it could only have been purchased in Italy. At the
window were a couch and reading-desk, also a table ready prepared with
some kind of noonday meal; and at the opposite end of the apartment
rose from the polished floor the stove itself, entirely concealed
under lime-branches and oak-leaves. The room, too, was not untenanted,
for upon the couch, though making no use whatever of the desk, lay a
gentleman, who was reading, nevertheless, a French newspaper. He was
very fine,--grand-looking, I thought; his dress appeared courtly, so
courtly was his greeting. "You have not come for me, I know," he
observed to Delemann, having seated us; "but the girls, having dined,
are gone to rest: we don't find it easy to dispense with our siesta.
You will surely eat first, for you must be hungry, and I am but just
come in." He was, in fact, waiting for the soup, which swiftly
followed us; and so we sat down together. Franz then produced a little
basket, which I had noticed him to carry very carefully as we came
along; but he did not open it, he placed it by his side upon the
table. It was covered, and the cover was tied down with green ribbon.
I was instantly smitten curious; but a great stay to my curiosity was
the deportment of our host. I had seen a good many musicians by this
time, and found them every one the alone civilized and polished of the
human race; but there were evidences of supremacy in a few that I
detected not even in the superior many. Some had enthralled me more
than this young Cerinthia for I now know he was young, though at that
time he appeared extremely my elder, and I could have believed him
even aged; but there was about him an unassuming nobility that bespoke
the highest of all educations,--that according to the preparations and
purposes of nature. He seemed to live rationally, and I believe he
did, though he was not to the immediate perception large-hearted. He
ate, himself, with the frugality of Ausonia, but pressed us with
cordial attention; and for me, I enjoyed my dinner immensely, though I
had not come there to eat. Franz did not talk to him about his
sisters, as I should have perhaps wished, and I dared not mention
them, for there was that in Cerinthia's hazy, lustrous eyes that made
me afraid to be as audacious as my disposition permitted. Presently,
while we were drinking to each other, I heard little steps in the
passage; and as I expected an apparition, I was not surprised when
there entered upon those light feet a little girl, who, the first
moment reminded me of Laura, but not the next, for her face was unlike
as my own. She was very young, indeed, but had a countenance unusually
formed, though the head was infantine,--like enough to our entertainer
to belong to him, like as to delicacy of extremities and emerald
darkness of eye. She wore a short white frock and two beautiful plaits
of thick bright hair kept and dressed like that of a princess. She
took no notice of me, but courtesyed to Delemann with an alien air
most strange to me, and then ran past him to her brother, whom she
freely caressed, at the same time, as it were, to hide her face. "Look
up! my shy Josephine," said he, "and make another courtesy to that
young gentleman, who is a great friend and connoisseur of the
Chevalier Seraphael." Josephine looked back at me from beneath her
heavy eyelashes, but still did not approach. Then I said, "How is your
sister, Miss Josephine? I am only a little friend of the
Chevalier,--she is the great one."

"I know," replied she, in a sage child's voice, then looking up at her
brother, "Maria is tired, and will not come in here, Joseph."

"She is lying down, then?"

"No, she is brushing her hair." We all laughed at this.

"But run to tell her that Franz Delemann is here, and Carl Auchester
with him; or if you cannot remember this name, Delemann's alone will
do."

"But she knows, for we heard them come in, and she said she should
stay in her room; but that if Mr. Delemann had a letter for her I
might carry it there."

"I don't know whether there is a letter in here, Josephine, but this
basket came for her."

"How pretty!" said Josephine; and she stretched her tiny hand, a smile
just shining over her face that reminded me of her beautiful sister. I
saw she was anxious to possess herself of it, but I could not resist
my own desire to be the bearer.

"Let me take it to her!" I exclaimed impulsively. Cerinthia looked up,
and Franz, too, surprised enough; but I did not care, I rose. "She can
send me back again, if she is angry," I pleaded; and Cerinthia fairly
laughed.

"Oh, you may go! She will not send you back, though I should certainly
be sent back if _I_ took such a liberty."

"Neither would she admit me," said Delemann.

"Why, you came last Sunday," put in little Josephine and then she
looked at me, with one little finger to her lip.

"Come too!"

So we went, she springing before me to a door which she left ajar as
she entered, while I discreetly remained outside.

"May he come, Maria?" I heard her say; and then I heard that other
voice.

"Who, dear little Josephine,--which of them?"

"The little boy."

"The little boy!" she gave a kind of bright cry, and herself came to
the door. She opened it, and standing yet there, said, with the
loveliest manner, "You will not quarrel with this little thing! But
forgive her, and pray come in. It was kind to come all the way up
those stairs, which are steep as the road to fame."

"Is that steep?" I asked, for her style instantly excited me to a
rallying mood.

"Some say so," she replied,--"those who seek it. But come and rest."
And she led me by her flower-soft finger-tips to a sofa, also in the
light, as in the room I had quitted, and bathed in airs that floated
above the gardens, and downwards from the heavens into that window
also open. A curtain was drawn across the alcove at the end, and
between us and its folds of green, standing out most gracefully, was a
beautiful harp; there were also more books than I had seen in a
sitting-room since I left my Davy, and I concluded they had been
retrieved from her lost father's library. But upon the whole room
there was an atmosphere thrown neither from the gleaming harp nor
illustrating volumes; and as my eyes rested upon her, after roving
everywhere else, I could only wonder I had ever looked away. Her very
dress was such as would have become no other, and was that which she
herself invested with its charm. She wore a dark-blue muslin, darker
than the summer heaven, but of the self-same hue; this robe was worn
loosely, was laced in front over a white bodice. Upon those folds was
flung a shawl of some dense rose-color and an oriental texture, and
again over that shady brilliance fell the long hair, velvet-soft, and
darker than the pine-trees in the twilight. The same unearthly hue
slept in the azure-emerald of her divinely moulded eyes, mild and
liquid as orbed stars, and just as superhuman. The hair, thus
loosened, swept over her shoulder into her lap. There was not upon its
stream the merest ripple,--it was straight as long; and had it not
been so fine, must have wearied with its weight a head so small as
hers.

"What magnificent hair you have!" said I.

"It seems I was determined to make of it a spectacle. If I had known
you were coming, I should have put it out of the way; but whenever I
am lazy or tired, I like to play with it. The Chevalier calls it my
rosary."

I was at home directly.

"The Chevalier! Oh! have you seen him since that day?"

"Four, five, six times."

"And I have not seen him once."

"You shall see him eight, nine, ten times. Never mind! He comes to see
me, you know, out of that kindness whose prettiest name is charity."

"Where is he now?" I inquired, impatient of that remark of hers.

"Now? I do not know. He has been away a fortnight, conducting
everywhere. Have you not heard?"

"No,--what?"

"Of the Mer de Glace overture and accompaniments?"

"I have not heard a word."

She took hold of her hair and stroked it impatiently; still, there was
such sweetness in her accent as made me doubt she was angry.

"I told Florimond to tell you. He always forgets those things!"

I looked up inquiringly; there was that in her eye which might be the
light of an unfallen tear.

"But I don't know who you mean."

"I am glad not. How silly I am! Oh, _madre mia_! this hot weather
softens the brain, I do believe,--I should never have done it in the
winter. And all this time I have been wondering what is that basket
upon which Josephine seems to have set her whole soul."

"It is for you," said Josephine.

"Oh," I exclaimed, "how careless I am! Yes, but I do not know who it
comes from. Franz brought it."

"Young Delemann? Oh, thank him, please! I know very well. Here, then,
_piccola, carina_! you shall have to open it. Where are the ivory
scissors?"

"Oh, how exquisite!" I cried; for I knew she meant those tiny fingers.

"Exquisite, is it? It is again from the Chevalier."

"Did he say so? I thought it like him; but you are so like him."

"I well, I believe you are right,--there is a kind of likeness."

She raised her eyes, so full of lustre, that I even longed for the
lids to fall. The brilliant smile, like the most ardent sunlight, had
spread over her whole face. I forgot her strange words in her
unimaginable expression, until she spoke again. All this while the
little one was untwisting the green bands which were passed over and
under the basket. At length the cover was lifted: there were seven or
eight immense peaches. I had thought there must be fruit within, from
the exhaling scent, but still I was surprised. There was no letter.
This disappointed me; but there were fresh leaves at the very bottom.
My chief companion took out these, and laid each peach upon a leaf:
her fingers shone against the downy blush. She presented me with one
after another. "Pray eat them, or as many as you can; I do not eat
fruit to-day, for it is too hot weather, and _she_ must not eat so
many." I instantly began to eat, and made efforts to do even more than
I ought. Josephine carried off her share on a doll's plate. Then her
sister rose and took in a birdcage from outside the window, where it
had hung, but I had not seen it. There was within it a small bird, and
dull enough it looked until she opened the door, when it fluttered to
the bars, hopped out, stood upon a peach, and then, espying me, flew
straight into her bosom. It lay there hidden for some minutes, and she
covered and quite concealed it with her lovely little hand. I said,--

"Is it afraid of me? Shall I go?"

"Oh dear no!" she replied; "it does like you, and is only shy. Do you
never wish to be hidden when you see those you like?"

"I never have yet, but I daresay I shall, now I come to think about
it."

"You certainly will. This silly little creature is not yet quite sure
of us; that is it."

"Where did it come from?"

"It came from under the rye-stacks. He--that is always the Chevalier,
you know--was walking through the rye-fields when the moon was up; the
reapers had all gone home. He heard a small cry withering under the
wheat, and stayed to listen. Most men would not have heard such a weak
cry; no man would have stayed to listen, except one, perhaps, besides.
He put aside all the loose ears, and he found under them--for it could
not move--this wretched lark, with its foot broken,--broken by the
sickle."

There was no quiver of voice or lip as she spoke. I mention this
merely because I am not fond of the mere sentiment almost all women
infuse into the sufferings of inferior creatures, while those with
loftier claims and pains are overlooked. She went on,--

"How do you think he took it up? He spread his handkerchief over the
stubble, and shelled a grain or two, which he placed within reach of
the lark upon the white table-cloth. The lark tried very hard, and
hopped with its best foot to reach the grains, then he drew the four
corners together, and brought it here to me. I thought it would die,
but it has not died; and now it knows me, and has no mind to go away."

"Does it know him?"

"Not only so, but for him alone will it sing. I let it fly one day
when its foot was well; but the next morning I found it outside the
window pecking at its cage-wires, and it said, 'Take me back again, if
you please.'"

"That is like the Chevalier too. But you _are_ like him; I suppose it
is being so much with him."

"And yet I never saw him till the first day I saw you, and you had
seen him long before. I think it must be dead, it is so still."

Hereupon she uncovered the lark's head; it peeped up, and slowly, with
sly scrutiny, hopped back to the peach and began to feed, driving in
its little bill. I wanted to know something now, and my curiosity in
those days had not so much as received a wholesome check, much less a
quietus; and therefore presumptuously demanded,--

"Who was the somebody, Fräulein Cerinthia, that might stop to listen
to a bird's cry besides the Chevalier. You stopped."

"And that is why you wished to know. I had better have said it in the
right place. Did anybody ever tell you you are audacious? It was
Florimond Anastase."

"My master!" and I clapped my hands.

"Mine, sir, if you please."

"But he teaches me the violin."

"And he does not teach me the violin, but is yet my master."

"How, why?"

"I belong to him, or shall."

"Do you mean that you are married to Anastase?"

"Not yet, or I should not be here."

"But you will be?"

"Yes,--that is, if nothing should happen to prevent our being
married."

"You like to be so, I suppose?"

She gazed up and smiled. Her eyes grew liquid as standing dew. "I will
not say you are again audacious, because you are so very innocent. I
do wish it."

"I said _like_, Fräulein Cerinthia."

"You can make a distinction too. Suppose I said, No."

"I should not believe you while you look so."

"And if I said, Yes, I daresay you would not believe me either. Dear
little Carl,--for I must call you little, you are so much less than
I,--do you really think I would marry, loving music as I do, unless I
really loved that which I was to marry more than music?"

So thrilling were her tones in these simple words, of such intensity
her deep glance, with its fringe all quivering now, that I was
alienated at once from her,--the child from the woman; yet could like
a child have wept too, when she bent her head and sobbed. "Could
anything be more beautiful?" I thought; and now, in pausing, my very
memory sobs, heavy laden with pathetic passion. For it was not exactly
sorrow, albeit a very woful bliss. She covered her eyes and gave way a
moment; then sweeping off the tears with one hand, she broke into a
smile. The shower ceased amidst the sunlight, but still the sunlight
served to fling a more peculiar meaning upon the rain-drops,--an iris
lustre beamed around her eyes. I can but recall that ineffable
expression, the April playing over the oriental mould.

"I might have known you would have spoken so, Fräulein Cerinthia," I
responded, at last roused to preternatural comprehension by her words;
"but so few people think in that way about those things."

"You are right, and agree with me, or at least you will one day. But
for that, all would be music here; we should have it all _our own
way_."

"You and the Chevalier. Do you know I had forgotten all about your
music till this very minute?"

"I am very happy to hear that, because it shows we are to be friends."

"We have the best authority to be so," I replied; "and it only seems
too good to be true. I am really, though, mad to hear you sing.
Delemann says there never was in Europe a voice like yours, and that
its only fault is it is so heavenly that it makes one discontented."

"That is one of the divinest mistakes ever made, Carlino."

"The Chevalier calls me Carlomein. I like you to say 'Carlino,' it is
so coaxing."

"You have served me with another of your high authorities, Maestrino.
The Chevalier says I have scarcely a voice at all; it is the way I
sing he likes."

"I did not think it possible. And yet, now I come to consider, I don't
think you look so much like a singer as another sort of musician."

She smiled a little, and looked into her lap, but did not reply. It
struck me that she was too intuitively modest to talk about herself.
But I could not help endeavoring to extort some comment, and I went
on.

"I think you look too much like a composer to be a singer also."

"Perhaps," she whispered.

I took courage. "Don't you mean to be a composer, Fräulein Cerinthia?"

"Carlino, yes. The Chevalier says that to act well is to compose."

"But then," I proceeded hastily, "my sister--at least Mr. Davy--at
least--you don't know who I mean, but it does not matter,--a gentleman
who is very musical told me and my sister that the original purpose of
the drama is defeated in England, and that instead of bringing the
good out of the beautiful, it produces the artificial out of the
false,--those were his very words; he was speaking of the _music_ of
operas, though, I do remember, and perhaps I made some mistake."

"I should think not."

"In England it is very strange, is it not, that good people, really
good people, think the opera a dreadful place to be seen in, and the
theatres worse? My sister used to say it was so very unnatural, and it
seems so."

"I have heard it is so in England,--and really, after all, I don't so
much wonder; and perhaps it is better for those good people you spoke
of to keep away. It is not so necessary for them to go as for us. And
this is it, as I have heard, and you will know how, when I have said
it to you. Music is the soul of the drama, for the highest drama is
the opera,--the highest possible is the soul, of course; and so the
music should be above the other forms, and they the ministers. But
most people put the music at the bottom, and think of it last in this
drama. If the music be high, all rise to it; and the higher it is, the
higher will all rise. So, the dramatic personification passes
naturally into that spiritual height, as the forms of those we love,
and their fleeting actions fraught with grace, dissolve into our
strong perception of the soul we in them love and long for. The lights
and shades of scenery cease to have any meaning in themselves, but
again are drawn upwards into the concentrated performing souls, and so
again pass upwards into the compass of that tonal paradise. But let
the music be degraded or weak, and down it will pull performers,
performance, and intention, crush the ideal, as persons without music
crush _our_ ideal,--have you not felt? All dramatic music is not thus
weak and bad, but much that they use most is vague as well as void. I
am repeating to you, Carlino, the very words of the Chevalier: do not
think they were my own."

"I did, then, think them very like his words, but I see your thoughts
too, for you would say the same. Is there no music to which you would
act, then?"

"Oh, yes! I would act to any music, not because I am vain, but because
I think I could help it upwards a little. Then there is a great deal
for us: we cannot quarrel over Mozart and Cimarosa, neither Gluck nor
Spohr; and there is one, but I need hardly name him, who wrote
'Fidelio.' And the Chevalier says if there needed a proof that the
highest acting is worthy of the highest music, the highest music of
the highest form or outward guise of love in its utmost loveliness,
that opera stands as such. And, further, that all the worst operas,
and ill-repute of them in the world, will not weigh against the
majesty and purity of Beethoven's own character in the opposing
scale."

"Oh! thank you for having such a memory."

"I have a memory in my memory for those things."

"Yes, I know. Does the Chevalier know you are to marry Anastase?"

"No."

I was surprised at this, though she said it so very simply; she looked
serene as that noonday sky, and very soon she went on to say:
"Florimond, my friend, is very young, though I look up to him as no
one else could believe. I am but fifteen, you know, and have yet been
nearly three years betrothed."

"Gracious! you were only a little girl."

"Not much less than now. I don't think you would ever have called me a
little girl, and Florimond says I shall never be a woman. I wished to
tell the Chevalier, thinking he would be so good as to congratulate
me, and hoping for such a blessing; but I have never found myself able
to bring it out of my lips. I always felt it withdraw, as if I had no
reason, and certainly I had no right, to confide my personal affairs
to him. Our intercourse is so different."

"Yes, I should think so. I wonder what you generally talk about."

"Never yet of anything but music."

"That is strange, because the Chevalier does not usually talk so,--but
of little things, common things he makes so bright; and Franz tells
me, and so did another of our boys, that he only talks of such small
affairs generally, and avoids music."

"So I hear from my brother. He talks to Josephine about her doll. He
did tell me once that with me alone he 'communed music.'"

"Again his words!"

She assented by her flying smile.

"He never plays to you, then?"

"Never to myself; but then, you see, I should never ask him."

"And he would not do it unless he were asked. I understand that. You
feel as I should about asking _you_."

"Me to sing?" she inquired in a tone beguiling, lingering, an echo of
_his_ voice ever sleepless in my brain, or that if sleeping, ever
awoke to music. I nodded.

"No," said she again, with quickness, "I will not wait to be asked."

As she spoke she arose, and those dark streams of hair fell off her
like some shadow from her spirit; she shone upon me in rising,--so
seemed her smile. "Oh!" I cried eagerly, and I caught, by some
impulse, the hem of her garment, "you are going to be so good!"

"If you let me be so," she replied, and drew away those folds, passing
to her harp. Her hand, suddenly thrown upon the wires, whose
resistance to embrace so sweet made all their music, caught the ear
of little Josephine, who had been playing very innocently, for a
prodigy, in the corner; and now she came slowly forwards, her doll in
her arms, and stood about a yard from the harp, again putting up one
finger to her lip, and giving me a glance across the intervening
space. She looked, as she so peered, both singular and interesting in
the blended curiosity and shyness that appertain to certain
childhoods; but it seemed to me at that moment as if she were a
strayed earthling into some picture of a scene in that unknown which
men call heaven. For the harp and the form which appeared now to have
grown to it--so inseparable are the elements of harmony, so
intuitively they blend in meeting--were not a sight to suggest
anything this side of death. All beauty is the gauge of immortality;
and as I wondered at her utter loveliness, I became calm as
immortality only permits and sanctions when on it our thoughts repose,
for it our affections languish. Her arms still rested behind and
before the strings as she tuned them; still her hair swept that cloud
upon the softness of her cheek, toned the melancholy arch of her brow:
but the deep rose-hues of her now drooping mantle, and the Italian
azure of her robe, did not retrieve the fancy to any earthly
apparition. They seemed but transparent and veil-like media through
which the whiteness of light found way in colors that sheathed an
unendurable naked lustre. I thought not in such words, but such
thoughts were indeed mine; and while I was yet gazing,--dreaming, I
should say, for I ever dream on beauty,--she played some long, low
chords, attenuated golden thwarting threads of sound, and began
forthwith to sing. She sang in German, and her song was a prayer for
rest,--a Sunday song, as little Josephine said afterwards to me. But
it might have been a lay of revenge, of war, or of woe, for all I
heard that the words conveyed, as I could not exist except in the
voice itself, or the spirit of which the voice was formed. I felt then
that it is not in voice, it is not in cunning instrument, that the
thing called music hides; it is the uncreate intelligence of tone that
genius breathes into the created elements of sound. This girl's or
angel's voice was not so sweet as intelligible, not so boundless as
intense. It went straight into the brain, it stirred the soul without
disturbing; the ear was unconscious as it entered that dim gallery,
and rushed through it to the inward sympathetic spirit. The quality of
the voice, too, as much pertained to that peculiar organization as
certain scents pertain to particular flowers. It was as in the open
air, not in the hothouse, that this foreign flower expanded, and
breathed to the sun and wind its secrets. It was what dilettanti call
a contralto voice, but such a contralto, too, that either Nature or
culture permitted the loftiest flights; the soprano touches were vivid
and vibrating as the topmost tones of my violin. While the fragrance
yet fanned my soul, the flower shut up. She ceased singing and came to
me.

"Do you like that little song? It is the Chevalier's."

"A Sunday song," observed Josephine, as I mentioned.

"A Sunday song!" I cried, and started. "I have not heard a word!"

"Oh!" she said, not regretfully, but with excitement, "you must then
hear it again; and Josephine shall sing it, that you may not think of
my voice instead of the song."

I had not time to remonstrate, nor had I the right. The child began
quite composedly, still holding her doll. She had a wonderful voice.
But what have I to do with voices? I mean style. Josephine's voice was
crude as a green whortleberry; its sadness was sour, its strength
harsh; though a voice shrill and small as the cricket's chirp, with
scarcely more music. But she sang divinely; she sang like a cherub
before the Great White Throne.

The manner was her sister's; the fragrance another, a peculiar
wood-like odor, as from moss and evanescent wild-flowers, if I may so
compare, as then it struck me. I listened to the words this while, to
the melody,--the rush of melodies; for in that composer's slightest
effect each part is a separate soul, the counterpoint a subtle, fiery
chain imprisoning the soul in bliss. Ineffable as was that
air,--ineffable as is every air of his,--I longed to be convinced it
had been put together by a _man_. I could not, and I cannot to this
hour, associate anything material with strains of his. When Josephine
concluded, I was about to beg for more; but the other left her harp,
and kissing her little care, brought her with herself to the couch
where she had quitted me. How strange was the sweetness, how sweet the
change in her manner now!

"How pale you look!" said she; "I shall give you some wine. I can feel
for you, if you are delicate in health, for I am so myself; and it is
so sad sometimes."

"No wine, please; I have had wine, and am never the better for it. I
believe I was born pale, and shall never look anything else."

"I like you pale, if it is not that you are delicate."

"I think I am pretty strong; I can work hard, and do."

"Do not!" she said, putting her loveliest hand on my hair, and
turning my face to hers, "do not, _lieber_, work hard,--not too hard."

"And why not? for I am sure you do."

"That is the very reason I would have you not do so. I _must_ work
hard."

"But if you are delicate, Fräulein Cerinthia?"

"God will take care of me; I try to serve him. None have to answer for
themselves as musicians." She suddenly ceased, passed one hand over
her face. She did not stir, but I heard her sigh; she arose, and
looked from the window; she sat down again, as if undecided.

"Can I do anything for you?" I asked.

"No, I want nothing; I am only thinking that it is very troublesome
the person who sent those fruits could not come instead of them. I
ought to have kept it from you, child as you are."

"Child, indeed! why, what are you yourself?"

"Young, very young," she replied, with some passion in her voice; "but
so much older than you are in every sense. I never remember when I did
not feel I had lived a long time."

I was struck by these words, for they often returned upon me
afterwards, and I rose to go, feeling something disturbed at having
wearied her; for she had not the same fresh bloom and unfatigued
brightness as when I entered. She did not detain me, though she said,
"Call me Maria, please; I should like it best,--we are both so young,
you know! We might have been brother and sister." And in this graceful
mood my memory carried her away.



CHAPTER III.


I need not say I looked upon Anastase with very different eyes next
time I crossed his path. He had never so much interested me; he had
never attracted me before,--he attracted me violently now, but not for
his own sake. I watched every movement and gesture,--every intimation
of his being, separable from his musical nature and dissociated from
his playing. He seemed to think me very inattentive on the Monday
morning, though, in fact, I had never been so attentive to him before;
but I did not get on very well with my work. At last he fairly stopped
me, and touched my chin with his bow.

"What are you thinking about this morning, sir?" he inquired, in that
easy voice of his, with that cool air.

I never told a lie in my life, white or black. "Of you, sir," I
replied. With his large eyes on mine, I felt rather scorched, but
still I kept faith with myself. "Of the Fräulein Cerinthia."

"I thought as much. The next Sunday you will remain at home."

"Yes, sir; but that won't prevent my thinking about you and her."

"Exactly; you shall therefore have sufficient time to think about us.
As you have not control enough to fasten your mind on your own
affairs, we must indulge your weakness by giving it plenty of room."

Then he pointed to my page with his bow, and we went on quietly. I
need not say we were alone. After my lesson, just before he proceeded
to the next violin, he spoke again.

"You do not know, perhaps, what test you are about to endure. We shall
have a concert next month, and you will play a first violin with me."

"Sir!" I gasped, "I cannot--I never will!"

"Perhaps you will change your note when you are aware who appointed
you. It is no affair of mine."

"If you mean, sir, that it is the Chevalier who appointed me, I don't
believe it, unless you gave your sanction."

He turned upon me with a short smile,--just the end of one,--and
raised his delicate eyebrows. "Be that as it may, to-night we rehearse
first, in the lesser hall; there will be nobody present but the band.
The Chevalier will hold his own rehearsal the week after next, for
there is a work of his on this occasion,--therefore we shall prepare,
and, I trust, successfully; so that the polishing only will remain for
him."

"Bravo, sir!"

"I hope it will be bravo; but it is no bravo at present," said he, in
dismissing me.

I had never heard Anastase play yet, and was very curious,--I mean, I
had never heard him play consecutively; his exhibitions to us being
confined to short passages we could not surmount,--bar upon bar,
phrase upon phrase, here a little, and there a very little. But now he
must needs bring himself before me, to play out his own inner nature.

I found Delemann in his own place presently,--a round box, like a
diminutive observatory, at the very top of the building, and
communicating only with similar boxes occupied by the brass in
general. I let myself in, for it would have been absurd to knock
amidst the demonstrations of the alto trombone. He was so ardent over
that metallic wonder of his that I had to pluck his sleeve. Even then
he would not leave off, at the risk of splitting that short upper lip
of his by his involuntary smile, until he had finished what lay before
him. It was one great sheet, and I espied at the top the words: "Mer
de Glace,--Ouverture; Seraphael." Madder than ever for a conclusion, I
stopped my ears till he laid down that shining monster and took
occasion to say, "That is what we are to have to-night."

"I know. But how abominable is Anastase not to let me have my part to
practise!"

"Very likely it is not ready. The brass came this morning, and the
strings were to follow. Mine was quite damp when I had it."

We went into rehearsal together, Franz and I. What a different
rehearsal from my first in England! Here we were all instruments.
Franz was obliged to leave me on entering, and soon I beheld him afar
off, at the top of the wooden platform, on whose raised steps we
stood, taking his place by the tenor trombone,--a gentleman of adult
appearance who had a large mouth. I have my own doubts, private and
peculiar, about the superior utility of large mouths, because Franz,
of the two, played best; but that is no matter here.

Our _saal_ was a simple room enough, guiltless of ornament; our
orchestra deal, clear of paint or varnish; our desks the same, but
light as ladies' hand-screens,--this was well, as Anastase, who was
not without his crochet, made us continually change places with each
other, and we had to carry them about. There were wooden benches all
down the _saal_, but nobody sat in them; there was not the glimmer of
a countenance, nor the shine of two eyes. The door-bolts were drawn
inside; there was a great and prevalent awe. The lamps hung over us,
but not lighted; the sun was a long way from bed yet, and so were we.
Anastase kept us at "L'Amour Fugitif" and "Euryanthe,"--I mean, their
respective overtures,--a good while, and was very quiet all the time,
until our emancipation in the "Mer de Glace." His _face_ did not
change even then; but there was a fixity and straightening of the arm,
as if an iron nerve had passed down it suddenly, and he mustered us
still more closely to him and to each other. My stand was next his
own; and, looking here and there, I perceived Iskar among the second
violins, and was stirred up,--for I had not met with him except at
table since I came there.

It is not in my power to describe my own sensations on my first
introduction to Seraphael's orchestral definite creation. Enough to
say that I felt all music besides, albeit precious, albeit
inestimable, to have been but affecting the best and highest portion
of myself, but as exciting to loftier aspirations my constant soul;
but that _his_ creation did indeed not only first affect me beyond all
analysis of feeling, but cause upon me, and through me, a change to
pass,--did first recreate, expurge of all earthly; and then inspire,
surcharged with heavenly hope and holiest ecstasy. That qualitative
heavenly, and this superlative holiest, are alone those which disabuse
of the dread to call what we love best and worship truest by name. No
other words are expressive of that music which alone realizes the
desire of faith,--faith supernal alike with the universal faith of
love.

As first awoke the strange, smooth wind-notes of the opening _adagio_,
the fetterless chains of ice seemed to close around my heart. The
movement had no blandness in its solemnity, and so still and
shiftless was the grouping of the harmonies that a frigidity actual,
as well as ideal, passed over my pores and hushed my pulses. After a
hundred such tense, yet clinging chords, the sustaining calm was
illustrated, not broken, by a serpentine phrase of one lone oboe,
_pianissimo_ over the _piano_ surface, which it crisped not, but on
and above which it breathed like the track of a sunbeam aslant from a
parted cloud. The slightest possible retardation at its close brought
us to the refrain of the simple _adagio_, interrupted again by a rush
of violoncello notes, rapid and low, like some sudden under-current
striving to burst through the frozen sweetness. Then spread wide the
subject as plains upon plains of _water-land_, though the time was
gradually increased. Amplifications of the same harmonies introduced a
fresh accession of violoncelli, and oboi contrasted artfully in
syncopation, till at length the strides of the _accelerando_ gave a
glittering precipitation to the entrance of the second and longest
movement.

Then Anastase turned upon me, and with the first bar we fell into a
tumultuous _presto_. Far beyond all power to analyze as it was just
then, the complete idea embraced me as instantaneously as had the
picturesque chilliness of the first. I have called it tumultuous, but
merely in respect of rhythm; the harmonies were as clear and evolved
as the modulation itself was sharp, keen, unanticipated,
unapproachable. Through every bar reigned that vividly enunciated
ideal, whose expression pertains to the one will alone in any
age,--the ideal that, binding together in suggestive imagery every
form of beauty, symbolizes and represents something beyond them all.

Here over the surge-like, but fast-bound _motivo_--only like those
tossed ice-waves, dead still in their heaped-up crests--were certain
swelling _crescendos_ of a second subject, so unutterably, if vaguely,
sweet that the souls of all deep blue Alp-flowers, the clarity of all
high blue skies, had surely passed into them, and was passing from
them again.

Scarcely is it legitimate to describe what so speaks for itself as
music; yet there are assuredly effects produced by music which may be
treated of to the satisfaction of the initiated.

It was not until the very submerging climax that the playing of
Anastase was recalled to me. Then, amidst long, ringing notes of the
wild horns, and intermittent sighs of the milder wood, swept from the
violins a torrent of coruscant _arpeggi_, and above them all I heard
his tone, keen but solvent, as his bow seemed to divide the very
strings with fire; and I felt as if some spark had fallen upon my
fingers to kindle mine. As soon as it was over, I looked up and
laughed in his face with sheer pleasure; but he made no sign, nor was
there the slightest evidence of the strenuous emotion to which he had
been abandoned,--no flush of cheek nor flash of eye, only the least
possible closer contraction of the slight lips. He did nothing but
find fault, and his authority appeared absolute; for when he
reprimanded Iskar in particular, and called him to account for the
insertion extraordinary of a queer _appogiatura_, which I did not know
he had heard, that evil one came down without a smirk, and minced
forth some apology, instead of setting up his crest, as usual. I was
very thankful at last when the room was cleared, as it was infernally
hot, and I had made up my mind to ask Anastase whether my violin were
really such a good one; for I had not used it before this night.

When no one was left except he and I, I ventured to ask him whether I
could carry anything anywhere for him, to attract his attention.

"Yes," said he, "you may gather up all the parts and lay them together
in that closet," pointing to a wooden box behind the platform; "but do
not put your own away, because you are going to look over it with me."

I did as he directed, and then brought myself back to him. But before
I could begin, he took my fiddle from my arms, and turning it round
and round, demanded, "Where did you get this?" I told him in a few
words its history, or what I imagined to be its history. He looked
rather astonished, but made no comment, and then he began to play to
me. I do not suppose another ever played like him; I may, perhaps,
myself a very little, but I never heard anybody else. The peculiar
strength of his tone I believe never to have been surpassed; the
firmness of his _cantabile_ never equalled; his expression in no case
approached. Santonio's playing dwindled in my mind, for Anastase,
though so young, performed with a pointedness altogether mature; it
was that on which to repose unshifting security for the most ardent
musical interest; yet, with all its solidity, it was not severe even
in the strictest passages. Of all playing I ever heard on my adopted
instrument, and I have heard every first-rate and every medium
performer in Europe, it was the most forceful,--let this term suffice
just here. I said to him when he had finished with me, "How much
fuller your playing is than Santonio's! I thought his wonderful until
I heard yours." But with more gentleness than I had given him credit
for, he responded, laying down my little treasure, "I consider his
playing myself far more wonderful than mine. Mine is not wonderful;
it is a wrong word to use. It is full, because I have studied to make
it the playing of a leader, which must not follow its own vagaries.
Neither does Santonio, who is also a leader, but a finer player than
I,--finer in the sense of delicacy, experience, finish. Now go and eat
your supper, Auchester."

"Sir, I don't want any supper."

"But I do, and I cannot have you here."

I knew he meant he was going to practise,--it was always his supper, I
found; but he had become again unapproachable. I had not gained an
inch nearer ground to him, really, yet. So I retired, and slipped into
the refectory, where Franz was keeping a seat for me.

I was positively afraid to go out the next Sunday, and the next it
rained,--we all stayed in. On the following Wednesday would come our
concert, and by this time I knew that the Chevalier would be
accompanied by certain of his high-born relations. But do not imagine
that we covered for them galleries with cloth and yellow fringe. It
was altogether to me one of my romance days; and, as such, I partook
in the spirit of festivity that stirred abroad. The day before was
even something beyond romance. After dinner we all met in the
garden-house, as we called the pillared alcove, to arrange the
decorations for our hall, which were left entirely to ourselves, at
our united request. About fifty of us were of one mind, and, somehow
or other, I got command of the whole troop,--I am sure I did not mean
to put myself so. I sent out several in different directions to gather
oak-branches and lime-boughs, vine-leaves and evergreens, and then sat
down to weave garlands for the arches among a number more. Having seen
them fairly at work, I went forth myself, and found Maria Cerinthia
at home; she came with me directly, and we made another pilgrimage in
search of roses and myrtles. Josephine went too, and we all three
returned laden from the garden of a sincere patroness down in the
valley beneath the hill, of whom we had asked such alms.

Entering Cecilia, after climbing the slope leisurely, we saw a coach
at the porter's door,--the door where letters and messages were
received, not the grand door of the school, which all day stood open
for the benefit of bustling Cecilians. I thought nothing of this
coach, however, as one often might have seen one there; but while
Maria took back Josephine, I obtained possession of all the flowers
which she had placed in my arms, promising to be with us anon in the
garden-house. Past the professors' rooms I walked; and I have not yet
mentioned the name of Thauch, our nominal superintendent, the
appointed of the Chevalier, who always laughingly declared he had
selected him because he knew nothing about music, to care for us _out_
of music. Thauch sat at the head of the middle table, and we scarcely
saw him otherwise or spoke to him; thus I was astonished, and rather
appalled, to be called upon by him when I reached his room, which was
enclosed, and where he was writing accounts. I was not aware he even
knew my name; but by it he called upon me. "Sir," I said, "what do you
want?" as I did not desire to halt, for fear of crushing up my sweet
fresh roses. He had risen, and was in the doorway, waiting, with true
German deliberation, until I was quite recovered from my
breathlessness; and then he did not answer, but took my shoulders and
pushed me into his parlor, himself leaving the room, and shutting
himself out into the passage.

Shall I ever forget it? For, gasping still, though I had thrown all my
flowers out of my arms, I confronted the bright, old-fashioned,
distinct, yet dream-like faces of two who sat together upon the chairs
behind the door. You will not expect me to say how I felt when I found
they were my own sister Millicent, my own Lenhart Davy, and that they
did not melt away. I suppose I did something,--put out my hands,
perhaps, or turned some strange color which made Davy think I should
faint; for he rose, and coming to me, with his hilarious laugh put his
arms about me and took me to my sister. When once she had kissed me,
and I had felt her soft face and the shape of her lips, and smelled
the scent of an Indian box at home that clung to her silk handkerchief
yet, I cried, and she cried too; but we were both quiet enough about
it,--she I only knew was crying by her cheek pressing wet against
mine. After a few moments so unutterable, I put myself away from her,
and began distinctly to perceive the strangeness of our position.
Millicent, as I examined her, seemed to have grown more a woman than I
remembered; but that may have pertained to her dress, so different
from the style with which I associated her,--the white ribbons and
plain caps under the quaint straw bonnet, and the black-silk spencer.
Now, she wore a mantle of very graceful cut, and the loveliest pink
lining to her delicate fancy hat; this gave to her oval countenance a
blushful clearness that made her look lovely in my eyes. And when I
did speak, what do you think I said? "Oh, Millicent, how odd it is!
Oh, Mr. Davy, how odd you look!"

"Now, Charles," said he, in answer,--and how the English accents
thrilled the tears into my eyes,--"now, Charles, tell me what you mean
by growing so tall and being so self-possessed. You are above my
shoulder, and you have lost all your impudence."

"No, Mr. Davy, I haven't--kiss me!" said I; and I threw my arms about
him, and clung on there till curiosity swelled unconquerable.

"Oh, Mr. Davy, how extraordinary it is of you to come so suddenly,
without telling me! And mother never said the least word about it. Oh,
Millicent, how did you get her to let you come? And, oh," suddenly it
struck me very forcibly, "how very strange you should come with Mr.
Davy! Is anybody ill? No, you would have told me directly, and you
would not be dressed so."

Millicent looked up at Davy with an unwonted expression, a new light
in her eyes, that had ever slept in shade; and he laughed again.

"No, nobody is ill, and she would _not_ be dressed so if I had not
given her that bonnet, for which she scolded me instead of thanking
me,--for it came from Paris."

"Oh!" I exclaimed, and I felt all over bathed in delight. I ran to
Millicent, and whispered into that same bonnet, "Oh, Millicent! are
you married to Mr. Davy?"

She pulled off one of her pale-colored gloves and showed me the left
hand. I saw the ring--oh, how strange I felt,--hot and cold; glad and
sorry; excited, and yet staid! I flew to my first friend and kissed
his hand: "Dear Mr. Davy, I am so glad!"

"I thought you would be, Charles. If I had anticipated any objection
on your part, I should have written to you first!"

"Oh, Mr. Davy!" I cried, laughing, "but why did they not write and
tell me?"

"My dear brother, it was that we wished to spare you all
disappointment."

"You mean I could not have come home. No, I don't think I could, even
for your wedding, Millicent, and yours, Mr. Davy; we have been so busy
lately."

Davy laughed. "Oh, I see what an important person you have become! We
knew it; and it was I who persuaded your mother not to unsettle you. I
did it for the best."

"It was for the best, dearest Charles," said Millicent, looking into
Davy's face as if perfectly at home with it. She had never used to
look into his face at all.

"Oh!" I again exclaimed, suddenly reminded, "what did you wear,
Millicent, to be married in?"

"A white muslin pelisse, Charles, and Miss Benette's beautiful veil."

"Yes; and, Charles," continued Davy, "Millicent gratified us both by
asking Miss Benette to be her bridesmaid."

"And did she come?" I asked, rather eagerly.

"No, Charles; she did not."

"I knew she would not," I thought, though I scarcely knew why.

"But she came, Charles, the night before, and helped them to dress the
table; and so beautiful she made it look that everybody was
astonished,--yet she had only a few garden flowers, and a _very_ few
rare ones."

"But how long have you been married, Mr. Davy? and are you going to
live _here_? What will the class do? Oh, the dear class! Who sits by
Miss Benette now, Mr. Davy?"

He laughed.

"Oh, Charles, if you please, one question at a time! We have been
married one week,--is it not, Millicent?"

She smiled and blushed.

"And I am not going to leave my class,--it is larger now than you
remember it. And I have not left my little house, but I have made one
more room, and we find it quite wide enough to contain us."

"Oh, sir, then you came here for a trip! How delicious! Oh, Millicent,
do you like Germany? Oh, you will see the Chevalier."

"Well, Charles, it is only fair, for we have heard so much about him.
Nothing in your letters but the Chevalier, and the Chevalier, and we
do not even know his name from _you_. Clo says whenever your letters
come, 'I wish he would tell us how he sleeps;' and my mother hopes
that Seraphael is 'a good man,' as you are so fond of him."

"But, Charles," added Davy, with his old earnestness and with a
sparkling eye, "how, then, shall we see him, and where? For I would
walk barefoot through Germany for that end."

"Without any trouble, Mr. Davy, because to-morrow will be our concert,
and he is coming to conduct his new overture,--only his new overture,
mind! He will sit in the hall most part, and you will see him
perfectly."

"My dear, dear Charles," observed Millicent, "it is something strange
to hear you say 'our concert.' How entirely you have fulfilled your
destiny! And shall we hear you play?"

"Yes," I replied, with mock modesty, but in such a state of glowing
pride that it was quite as much as I could do to answer with becoming
indifference. "Yes, I am to play a first violin."

"A first violin, Charles?" said Davy, evidently surprised. "What!
already? Oh, I did not predict wrong! What if I had kept you in my
class? But, Millicent, we must not stay," he added, turning to her;
"we only came to carry Charles away, as we are here on forbidden
ground."

"Not at all, Mr. Davy," I cried, eager to do the honors of Cecilia. "A
great many of them go out to see their friends and have their friends
come to see them; but I had no one until now, you see."

"Yes, but, Charles," replied my sister, "we understand that no
visitors are permitted entrance the day before a concert, and thought
it a wise regulation too. They made an exception in our case because
we came so far, and also because we came to take you away."

"Where are we going, then? Going away?"

"Only to the inn, where we have a bed for you engaged, that we may see
something of you out of study. You must go with us now, for we have
obtained permission."

"Whatever shall I do?"

"What now, Charles?"

"Well, Mr. Davy, you may laugh, but we are to decorate our
concert-hall, and they are waiting for me, I daresay. All those
flowers, too, that you made me throw down, were for garlands. If I
might only go and tell them how it is--"

"See, Charles, there is some one wanting to speak to _you_. I heard a
knock."

I turned, and let in Franz. He could not help glancing at the pink
lining, while he breathlessly whispered, "Do not mind us. Fräulein
Cerinthia is gone to fetch her brother; and while they are at supper,
we shall dress the hall under her directions, and she says you are to
go with your friends."

"That is my sister, Delemann," said I; and then I introduced them,
quite forgetting that Millicent had changed her name, which amused
them immensely after Franz was gone, having gathered up my roses and
taken them off. Then Davy begged me to come directly, and I hurried to
my room and took him with me. How vain I felt to show him my press, my
screen, my portmanteau full of books, and my private bed, my violin,
asleep in its case; and last, not least, his china cup and saucer, in
the little brown box! While I was combing my hair, he stood and
watched me with delight in his charming countenance, not a cloud upon
it.

"Oh, dear Mr. Davy, how exquisite it is that you should be my brother!
I shall never be able to call you anything but Mr. Davy, though."

"You shall call me whatever you please. I shall always like it."

"And, sir, please to tell me, am I tidy,--fit to walk with a bride and
bridegroom?"

"Not half smart enough! Your sister has brought your part of the
wedding ceremony in her only box,--and, let me tell you, Charles, you
are highly favored; for the muslin dresses and laces will suffer in
consequence!"

"I don't believe that, sir," said I, laughing.

"And why not, sir?"

"Because, sir, my sisters would none of them travel about with muslin
dresses if they had only one box."

"They would travel about, as Mrs. Davy does, in black silk," answered
Davy, pursuing me as I ran; but I escaped him, and rejoined Millicent
first, who was waiting for us with all possible patience.

There are a few times of our life--not the glorious eternal days, that
stand alone, but, thank God! many hours which are nothing for us but
pure and passive enjoyment, in which we exist. How exquisitely happy
was I on this evening, for example! The prospect of the morrow so
intensely bright, the present of such tender sweetness! How divine is
Love in all its modifications! How inseparable is it from repose, from
rapture!

As we went along the village and passed the shops, in the freshening
sunbeams, low-shining from the bare blue heaven, I fetched a present
for my brother and sister in the shape of two concert-tickets, which,
contrary to Tedescan custom, were issued for the advantage of any
interested strangers. I put them into Millicent's hand, saying, "You
know I gave you no wedding-gift."

"Yes, Charles, you gave me this," and she looked up at Davy; "I should
never have known him but for you."

"Which means, my love, that I am also to thank Charles for introducing
me to you;" and Davy took off his hat with mock reverence.

"Oh! that won't do, Mr. Davy; for you said you had seen a beautiful
Jewess at our window before you knew who lived in our house; and of
course you would have got in there somehow, at last."

"_Never!_" said Davy, in a manner that convinced me he never would.

"Then I _am_ very glad," said I,--"glad that I ran away one morning.
The Chevalier says that nothing happens accidentally to such as I."

They laughed till they saw how serious I had grown again, and then
smiled at each other. Arrived at our inn, we rested. Will it be
believed that Davy had brought some of his own tea, besides several
other small comforts? This much amused me. After our tea--a real home
tea, which quite choked my unaccustomed faculties at first--Davy put
his wife on the sofa, and with a bright authority there was no
resisting, bade her be still while he fetched my part of the ceremony.
This consisted of half a dozen pairs of beautiful white kid
gloves,--treasures these indeed to a fiddler!--a white silk waistcoat,
a small case of Spanish chocolate, and a large cake, iced and
almonded.

"That was made at home, Charles," said Millicent, "and is exactly like
that we sent to our friends."

In those days it was not old fashion, gentle reader, to send out
bride-cake to one's friends. I need only mention a white favor or two,
and a frosted silver flower, because I reserved the same for Josephine
Cerinthia.



CHAPTER IV.


In my box-bed at that flower-baptized inn, I certainly did not sleep
so well as in my own nest at school. Here it was in a box, as ever in
that country of creation; and in the middle of the night I sat up to
wonder whether my sister and new-found brother thought the _locale_ as
stifling as I did. I was up before the sun, and dressed together with
his arrangement of his beams. We had--in spite of the difficulty to
get served in rational fashion--a right merry breakfast, thanks to the
company and the tea. I had not tasted such, as it appeared to me,
since my infancy.

How Davy did rail against the toilet short-comings,--the meagre,
shallow depths of his basin! And he was not happy until I took him to
my portion (as we called our sleeping-places at Cecilia), and let him
do as he pleased with my own water-magazine. This was an artificial
lake of red ware, which was properly a baking-dish, and which I had
purchased under that name for my private need. If it had not been for
the little river which flowed not half a mile from our school, and
which our Cecilians haunted as a bath through summer, I could not
answer, in my memory's conscience, for their morality if, as I of
course believe, cleanliness be next to godliness.

After breakfast, and after I had taken Davy back, I returned myself
alone to seek Maria and escort her. Davy and Millicent seemed so
utterly indisposed to stir out until it was necessary, and so unfit
for any society but each other's, that I did not hesitate to abscond.
I left them together,--Davy lazier than I had ever seen him, and _she_
more like brilliant evening than unexcited morning. What am I writing?
Is morning ever unexcited to the enthusiast? I think his only repose
is in the magical supervention of the mystery night brings to his
heart.

I was sorry to find that neither Maria, Josephine, nor Joseph was at
home. The way was clear upstairs, but all the doors were locked, as
usual, when they were out; and I went on to Cecilia in a pet. It was
nine when I arrived,--quite restored. Our concert was to be at ten.

What different hours are kept in Germany; what different hearts cull
the honey of the hours! Our dining-hall was full; there was a great
din. Our garden-house was swept and garnished as I remembered it the
day I came with one, but not quite so enticing in its provisions,--that
is to say, there were no strawberries, which had been so interesting
to me on the first occasion. I retreated to the library. No one was
there. I might not go among the girls, whose establishment was apart,
but I knew I should meet them before we had to take our places; and
off I scampered to Franz's observatory. Will it be believed?--he was
still at work, those brass lips embracing his, already dressed, his
white gloves lying on his monster's cradle.

"My dear Delemann," I exclaimed, "for pity's sake, put that down now!"

"My dear Carl, how shall I feel when that moment comes?" pointing to
the up-beat of bar 109, where he first came in upon the field of the
score.

"I don't think you will feel different if you practise half an hour
more, any how."

"Yes, I shall; I want rubbing up. Besides, I have been here since
six."

"Oh, Delemann, you are a good boy! But I don't feel nervous at all."

"You, Carl! No, I should think not. You will have no more
responsibility than the hand of a watch, with that Anastase for the
spring,--works, too, that never want winding up, and that were bought
ready made by our patroness."

"Dear Franz, do come; I am dying to see the hall."

"I don't think it is done. Fräulein Cerinthia went out to get some
white roses for a purpose she held secret. The boughs are all up,
though."

"My dear Franz, you are very matter of fact."

"No, I am not, Carl; the tears ran down my face at rehearsal."

"That was because I made a mouth at you, which you wanted to laugh at,
and dared not."

"Well," said Franz, mock mournfully, "I can do nothing with you here,
so come."

He rolled up his monster and took up his gloves. I had a pair of
Millicent's in my pocket.

"We must not forget to call at the garden-house for a rose to put
here," said Franz, running his slight forefinger into his button-hole.
We accordingly went in there. A good many had preceded us, and rifled
the baskets of roses, pinks, and jasmine, that stood about. While we
were turning over those still left, up came somebody, and whispered
that Anastase was bringing in the Cerinthias. I eagerly gazed,
endeavoring, with my might, to look innocent of so gazing. But I only
beheld, between the pillars, the clear brow and waving robes of my
younger master as he bent so lowly before a maiden raimented in white,
and only as he left her; for he entered not within the alcove. As he
retreated, Maria advanced. She was dressed in white, as I have said;
but so dazzling was her beauty that all eyes were bent upon her. All
the chorus-singers were in white; but who looked the least like her?
With the deep azure of our order folded around her breast, and on that
breast a single full white rose, with that dark hair bound from the
arch of her delicate forehead, she approached and presented us each
also with a single rose, exquisite as her own, from the very little
basket I had carried to her that Sunday, now quite filled with the few
flowers it contained. "They are so fresh," said she, "that they will
not die the whole morning!" And I thought, as I saw her, that nothing
in the whole realm of flowers was so beautiful, or just then so fresh,
as herself!

A very little while now, and our conductor, Zittermayer, the superior
in age of Anastase, but his admirer and sworn ally, came in and
ordered the chorus forwards. They having dispersed, he returned for
ourselves,--the gentry of the band. As soon as I aspired through the
narrow orchestra door, I beheld the same sight in front as from the
other end at the day of my initiation into those sceneries, or very
much the same,--the morning sun, which gleamed amidst the leafy
arches, and in the foreground on many a rosy garland. For over the
seats reserved for the Chevalier and his party, the loveliest flowers,
relieved with myrtle only, hung in rich festoons; and as a keystone to
the curtained entrance below the orchestra, the Cecilia
picture--framed in virgin roses by Maria's hand--showed only less
fair than she. At once did this flower-work form a blooming barrier
between him and the general audience, and illustrate his exclusiveness
by a fair, if fading, symbol.

The hall had begun to fill; and I was getting rather nervous about my
English brother and sister, who could not sit together, however near,
when they entered, and found just the seats I could have chosen for
them. Millicent, at the side of the chamber, was just clear of the
flowery division; for I gesticulated violently at her to take such
place.

I felt so excited then, seeing them down there,--of all persons those
I should have most desired in those very spots,--that I think I should
have burst into tears but for a sudden and fresh diversion. While I
had been watching my sister and brother, a murmur had begun to roll
amidst the gathered throng, and just as the conductor came to the
orchestra steps, at the bottom he arrested himself. The first stroke
of ten had sounded from our little church, and simultaneously with
that stroke the steward, bearing on his wand the blue rosette and
bunch of oak-leaves, threw open the curtain of the archway under us
and ushered into the appropriated space the party for whose arrival we
auspiciously waited. I said Zittermayer arrested himself,--he waited
respectfully until they were seated, and then bowed, but did not
advance to salute them further. They also bowed, and he mounted the
steps.

I was enchanted at the decorum which prevailed at that moment; for, as
it happened, it was a more satisfactory idea of homage than the most
unmitigated applause on the occasion. The perfect stillness also
reigned through Cherubini's overture, not one note of which I heard,
though I played as well as any somnambule, for I need scarcely say I
was looking at that party; and being blessed with a long sight, I saw
as well as it was possible to see all that I required to behold.

First in the line sat a lady, at once so stately and so young looking,
that I could only conjecture she was, as she was, _his_ mother. A
woman was she like, in the outlines of her beauty, to the Medicis and
Colonnas, those queens of historic poesy; unlike in that beauty's
aspect which was beneficent as powerful, though I traced no trait of
semblance between her and her super-terrestrial son. She sat like an
empress, dressed in black, with a superb eye-glass, one star of
diamonds at its rim, in her hand; but still and stately, and unsmiling
as she was, she was ever turned slightly towards him, who, placed by
her side, almost nestled into the sable satin of her raiment. He was
also dressed in black, this day, and held in those exquisite hands a
tiny pair of gloves, which he now swung backwards and forwards in time
to the movement of our orchestra, and then let fall upon the floor;
when that stately mother would stoop and gather them up, and he would
receive them with a flashing smile, to drop them again with
inadvertence, or perhaps to slide into them his slender fingers.
Hardly had I seen and known him before I saw and recognized another
close beside him. If _he_ were small and sylphid, seated by his
majestic mother, how tiny was that delicate satellite of his, who was
nestled as close to his side as he to hers. It was my own, my little
Starwood, so happily attired in a dove-colored dress, half frock, half
coat, trimmed with silver buttons, and holding a huge nosegay in his
morsels of hands. I had scarcely time to notice him after the first
flush of my surprise; but it was impossible to help seeing that my pet
was as happy as he could well be, and that he was quite at home.

Next Starwood was a brilliant little girl with long hair, much less
than he, nursing a great doll exquisitely dressed; and again, nearest
the doll and the doll's mamma, I perceived a lady and a pair of
gentlemen, each of whom, as to size, would have made two Seraphaels.
They were all very attentive, apparently, except the Chevalier; and
though he was still by fits, I knew he was not attending, from the
wandering, wistful gaze, now in the roof, now out at the windows, now
downcast, shadowy, and anon flinging its own brightness over my soul,
like a sunbeam astray from the heavens of Paradise. When at length the
point in the programme, so dearly longed for, was close at hand, he
slid beneath the flowery balustrade, and as noiselessly as in our
English music-hall, he took the stairs, and leaned against the desk
until the moment for taking possession. Then when he entered, still so
inadvertent, the applause broke out, gathering, rolling, prolonging
itself, and dissolving like thunder in the mountains.

I especially enjoyed the fervent shouts of Anastase; his eye as clear
as fire, his strict frame relaxed. Almost before it was over, and as
if to elude further demonstrations, though he bowed with courteous
calmness, Seraphael signed to us to begin. Then, midst the delicious,
yet heart-wringing ice tones, shone out those beaming lineaments; the
same peculiar and almost painful keenness turned upon the sight the
very edge of beauty. Fleeting from cheek to brow, the rosy lightnings,
his very heart's flushes, were as the mantling of a sudden glory.

But of his restless and radiant eyes I could not bear the stressful
brightness, it dimmed my sight; whether dazzled or dissolved, I know
not. And yet,--will it be believed?--affectionate, earnest, and
devoted as was the demeanor of those about me, no countenance
glistened except my own in that atmosphere of bliss. Perhaps I
misjudge; but it appears to me that pure Genius is as unrecognizable
in human form as was pure Divinity. I encroach upon such a subject no
further. To feel, to feel exquisitely, is the lot of very many,--it is
the charm that lends a superstitious joy to fear; but to appreciate
belongs to the few, to the one or two alone here and there,--the
blended passion and understanding that constitute, in its essence,
worship.

I did not wonder half so much at the strong delight of the audience in
the composition. How many there are who _perceive_ art as they
perceive beauty,--perceive the fair in Nature, the pure in
science,--but receive not what these intimate and symbolize; how much
more fail in realizing the Divine ideal, the soul beyond the sight,
the ear!

Here, besides, there were plenty of persons weary with mediocre
impressions, and the effect upon them was as the fresh sea-breeze to
the weakling, or the sight of green fields after trackless deserts. I
never, never can have enough,--is _my_ feeling when that exalted music
overbrims my heart; sensation is trebled; the soul sees double; it is
as if, brooding on the waste of harmony, the spirit met its shadow,
like the swan, and embraced it as itself. I do not know how the
composition went, I was so lost in the author's brightness face to
face; but I never knew anything go ill under his direction. The
sublimity of the last movement, so sudden yet complete in its
conclusion, left the audience in a trance; the spell was not broken
for a minute and a half, and then burst out a tremendous call for a
repeat. But woe to those fools! thought I. It was already too late;
with the mystical modesty of his nature, Seraphael had flown
downstairs, forgetting the time-stick, which he held in his hand
still, and which he carried with him through the archway. As soon as
it was really felt he had departed, a great cry for him was set
up,--all in vain; and a deputation from the orchestra was instructed
to depart and persuade him to return: such things were done in Germany
in those days! Anastase was at the head of this select few, but
returned together with them discomfited; no Seraphael being, as they
asserted, to be found. Anastase announced this fact, in his rare
German, to the impatient audience, not a few of whom were standing
upright on the benches, to the end that they might make more clatter
with their feet than on the firmer floor. As soon as all heard, there
was a great groan, and some stray hisses sounded like the erection of
a rattlesnake or two; but upon second thoughts the people seemed to
think they should be more likely to find him if they dispersed,--though
what they meant to do with him when they came upon him I could not
conjecture, so vulgar did any homage appear as an offering to that
fragrant soul. My dear Millicent and her spouse waited patiently,
though they looked about them with some curiosity, till the crowd grew
thin; and then, as the stately party underneath me made a move and
disappeared through the same curtain that had closed over Seraphael, I
darted downwards past the barrier and climbed the intervening forms to
my sister and brother. Great was my satisfaction to stand there and
chatter with them; but presently Davy suggested our final departure,
and I recollected to have left my fiddle in the orchestra, not even
sheltered by its cradle, but where every dust could insult its face.

"Stay here," I begged them, "and I will run and put it by; I will not
keep you waiting five minutes."

"Fly, my dear boy," cried Davy, "and we will wait until you return,
however long you stay."

I did not _mean_ to stay more than five minutes, nor should I have
delayed, but for my next adventure. When I came to my door, which I
reached in breathless haste, lo! it was fastened within, or at least
would not be pulled open. I was cross, for I was in a hurry, and very
curious too; so I set down my violin, to bang and push against the
door. I had given it a good kick, almost enough to fracture the panel,
when a voice came creeping through that darkness, "Only wait one
little moment, and don't knock me down, please!" I knew that voice,
and stood stoned with delight to the spot, while the bolt slid softly
back in some velvet touch, and the door was opened.

"Oh, sir!" I cried, as I saw the Chevalier, looking at that instant
more like some darling child caught at its pretty mischief than the
commanding soul of myriads, "oh, sir! I beg your pardon. I did not
know you were here."

"I did not suppose so," he answered, laughing brightly. "I came here
because I knew the way, and because I wanted to be out of the way. It
is I who ought to beg _thy_ pardon, Carlomein."

"Oh, sir! to think of your coming into my room,--I shall always like
to think you came. But if I had only known you were here, I would not
have interrupted you."

"And I, had I known thou wouldst come, should not have bolted thy
door. But I was afraid of Anastase, Carlomein."

"Afraid of Anastase, sir,--of _Anastase_?" I could find no other
words.

"Yes, I am of Anastase even a little afraid."

"Oh, sir! don't you like him?" I exclaimed; for I remembered Maria's
secret.

"My child," said the Chevalier, "he is as near an angel as artist can
be,--a ministering spirit; but yet I tell thee, I fear before him. He
is so still, severe, and perfect."

"Perfect! perfect before _you_!"

I could have cried; but a restraining spell was on my soul,--a spell I
could not resist nor appreciate, but in whose after revelation the
reason shone clear of that strange, unwonted expression in Seraphael's
words. Thus, instead, I went on, "Sir, I understand why you came here,
that they might not persecute you,--and I don't wonder, for they are
dreadfully noisy; but, sir, they did not mean to be rude."

"It is I who have been rude, if it were such a thing at all; but it is
not. And now let me ask after what I have not forgotten,--thy health."

"Sir, I am very well, I thank you. And you, sir?"

"I never was so well, thank God! And yet, Carlomein, thy cheek is
thinner."

"Oh! that is only because I grow so tall. My sister, who is just come
from England--" Here I suddenly arrested myself, for my unaddress
stared me in the face. He just laid his little hand on my hair, and
smiled inquiringly, "Oh! tell me about thy sister."

"Sir, she said I looked so very well."

"That's good. But about her,--is she young and pretty?"

"Sir, she is a very darling sister to me, but not pretty at all,--only
very interesting; and she is very young to be married."

"She is married, then?" He smiled still more inquiringly.

"Yes, sir, she is married to Mr. Davy, my musical godfather."

"I remember; and this Mr. Davy, is he here too?" He left off speaking,
and sat upon the side of my bed, tucking up one foot like a little
boy.

"Yes, sir."

"And now, I shall ask thee a favor."

"What is that, sir?"

"That thou wilt let me see her and speak to her; I want to tell her
what a brother she has. Not only so, to invite her--do not be shy,
Carlomein--to my birthday feast."

"Oh, sir!" I exclaimed; and regardless of his presence, I threw myself
into the very length of my bed and covered my face.

"Now, if _thou_ wilt come to my feast, is another question. I have not
reached that yet."

"But please to reach it, sir!" I cried, rendered doubly audacious by
joy.

"But thou wilt have some trouble in coming,--shalt thou be afraid? Not
only to dance and eat sugar-plums."

"It is all the better, sir, if I have something to do; I am never so
well as then."

"But thy sister must come to see thee. She must not meddle, nor the
godpapa either."

"Oh! sir, Mr. Davy could not meddle, and he would rather stay with
Millicent,--but he does sing so beautifully."

He made no answer, but with wayward grace he started up.

"I think they are all gone. Cannot we now go? I am afraid of losing my
_queen_."

"Sir, who is she?"

"Cannot it be imagined by thee?"

"Well, sir, I only know of _one_."

"Thou art right. A queen is only _one_, just like any other lady.
Come, say thou the name; it is a virgin name, and stills the heart
like solitude."

"I don't think that does still."

"Ah! thou hast found that too!"

"Sir, you said you wished to go."

He opened the door, the lock of which he had played with as he stood,
and I ran out first.

The pavilion was crowded. "Oh, dear!" said Seraphael, a little piqued,
"it's exceedingly hot. Canst thou contrive to find thy friends in all
this fuss? I cannot find _mine_."

"Sir, my brother and sister were to wait for me in the concert-hall;
they cannot come here, you know, sir. If I knew your friends, I think
I could find them, even in this crowd."

"No," answered the Chevalier, decisively, as he cast his brilliant
eyes once round the room, "I know they are not here. I do not _feel_
them. Carlomein, I am assured they are in the garden. For one thing,
they could not breathe here."

"Let us go to them to the garden."

He made way instantly, gliding through the assembly, so that they
scarcely turned a head. We were soon on the grass,--so fresh after the
autumn rains. Crossing that green, we entered the lime-walk. The first
person I saw was Anastase. He was walking lonely, and looking down, as
he rarely appeared. So abstracted, indeed, was he that we might have
walked over him if Seraphael had not forced me by a touch to pause,
and waited until he should approach to our hand.

"See," said the Chevalier gleefully, "how solemn he is! No strange
thing, Carlomein, that I should be afraid of him. I wonder what he is
thinking of! He has quite a countenance for a picture."

But Anastase had reached us before I had time to say, as I intended,
"I know of what he is thinking."

He arrested himself suddenly, with a grace that charmed from his cool
demeanor, and swept off his cap involuntarily. Holding it in his hand,
and raising his serious gaze, he seemed waiting for the voice of the
Chevalier. But, to my surprise, he had to wait several moments, during
which they both regarded each other. At last Seraphael fairly laughed.

"Do you know, I had forgotten what I had to say, in contemplating you?
It is what I call a musical phiz, yours."

Anastase smiled slightly, and then shut up his lips; but a sort of
flush tinged his cheeks, I thought.

"Perhaps, Auchester, you can remind the Chevalier Seraphael."

I was so irritated at this observation that I kicked the gravel and
dust, but did not trust myself to speak.

"Oh!" exclaimed Seraphael, quickly, "it was to request of you a
favor,--a favor I should not dare to ask you unless I had heard what I
heard to-day, and seen what I saw."

It might have been my fancy, but it struck me that the tones were
singularly at variance with the words here. A suppressed disdain
breathed underneath his accent.

"Sir," returned Anastase, with scarcely more warmth, "it is impossible
but that I shall be ready to grant any favor in my power. I rejoice to
learn that such a thing is so. I shall be much indebted if you can
explain it to me at once, as I have to carry a message from Spoda to
the Fräulein Cerinthia."

Spoda was Maria's master for the voice.

"Let us turn back, then," exclaimed Seraphael, adroitly. "I will walk
with you wherever you may be going, and tell you on the way."
Seraphael's "I will" was irresistible, even to Anastase.

I suddenly remembered my relations, who would imagine I had gone to a
star on speculation. It was too bad of me to have left them all that
time. My impression that Seraphael had to treat at some length with my
master, induced me to say, "Sir, I have left my brother and sister
ever so long; I must run to them, I think."

"Run, then," said the Chevalier; "thou certainly shouldst, and tell
them what detained thee. But return to me, and bring them with thee."

I conceived this could not be done, and said so.

"I will come to thee, then, in perhaps half an hour. But if thou canst
not wait so long, go home with thy dear friends, and I will write thee
a letter."

I would have given something for a letter, it is true; but I secretly
resolved to wait all day rather than not see him instead, and rather
than _they_ should not see him.

I ran off at full speed; and it was not until I reached the sunny lawn
beyond the leafy shade that I looked back. They were both in the
distance, and beneath the flickering limes showed bright and dark as
sunlight crossed the shadow. I watched them to the end of the avenue,
and then raced on. It was well I did so, or I should have missed Davy
and my sister, who, astonished at my prolonged absence, were just
about to institute a search.

"Oh, Millicent!" I cried, as I breathlessly attained a seat in front
of both their faces, "I am so sorry, but I was obliged to go with the
Chevalier." And then I related how I had found him in my room.

They were much edified; and then I got into one of my agonies to know
what they both thought about him. Davy, with his bright smile at
noonday, said in reply to my impassioned queries, "He certainly is,
Charles, the very handsomest person I have ever seen."

"Mr. Davy! Handsome! I am quite sure you are laughing, or you would
never call him handsome."

"Well, I have just given offence to my wife in the same way. It is
very well for me that Millicent does not especially care for what is
handsome."

"But she likes beauty, Mr. Davy; she likes whatever I like; and I know
just exactly how she feels when she looks at your eyes. What very
beautiful eyes yours are, Mr. Davy! Don't you think so, Millicent?"

Davy laughed so very loud that the echoes called back to him again,
and Millicent said,--

"He knows what I think, Charles."

"But you never told me so much, did you, my love?"

"I like to hear you say 'my love' to Millicent, Mr. Davy."

"And I like to say it, Charles."

"And she likes to hear it. Now, Mr. Davy, about 'handsome.' You should
not call him so,--why do you? You did not at the festival."

"Well, Charles, when I saw this wonderful being at the festival, there
was a melancholy in his expression which was, though touching, almost
painful; and I do not see it any longer, but, on the contrary, an
exquisite sprightliness instead. He was also thinner then, and
paler,--no one can wish to see him so pale; but his colour now looks
like the brightest health. He certainly _is_ handsome, Charles."

"Oh, Mr. Davy, I am sorry you think so! But he does look well. I know
what you mean, and I should think that he must be very happy. But
besides that, Mr. Davy, you cannot tell how often his face changes. I
have seen it change and change till I wondered what was coming next. I
suppose, Mr. Davy, it is his forehead you call handsome?"

"It is the brow of genius, and as such requires no crown. Otherwise, I
should say his air is quite royal. Does he teach here, Charles? Surely
not."

"No, Mr. Davy, but he appoints our professors. I suppose you know he
chose my master, Anastase, though he is so young, to be at the head of
all the violins?"

"No, Charles, it is not easy to find out what is done here, without
the walls."

"No, Mr. Davy, nor within them either. I don't know much about the
Chevalier's private life, but I know he is very rich, and has no
Christian name. He has done an immense deal for Cecilia. No one knows
exactly how much, for he won't let it be told; but it is because he is
so rich, I suppose, that he does not give lessons. But he is to
superintend our grand examination next year."

"You told us so in your last letter, Charles," observed Millicent; and
then I was entreated to relate the whole story of my first
introduction to Cecilia, and of the Volkslied, to which I had only
alluded,--for indeed it was not a thing to write about, though of it I
have sadly written!

I was in the heart of my narration, in the middle of the benches, and,
no doubt, making a great noise, when Davy, who was in front, where he
could see the door, motioned me to silence; I very well knew why, and
obeyed him with the best possible grace.

As soon as I decently could, I turned and ran to meet the Chevalier,
who was advancing almost timidly, holding little Starwood in his hand.
The instant Starwood saw me coming, he left his hold and flew into my
arms; in spite of my whispered remonstrances, he _would_ cling to my
neck so fast that I had to present the Chevalier while his arms were
entwined about me. But no circumstance could interfere with even the
slightest effect _he_ was destined to produce. Standing before Davy,
with his little hands folded and his whole face grave, though his eyes
sparkled, he said, "Will you come to my birthday-feast, kind friends?
For we cannot be strangers with this Carl between us. My birthday is
next week, and as I am growing a man, I wish to make the most of it."

"How old, sir, shall you be on your birthday?" I asked, I fear rather
impertinently, but because I could not help it.

"Ten, Carlomein."

"Oh, sir!" we all laughed, Millicent most of all. He looked at her.

"You are a bride, madam, and can readily understand my feelings when I
say it is rather discomposing to step into a new state. Having been a
child so long, I feel it soon becoming a man; but in your case the
trial is even more obvious."

Millicent now blushed with all her might, as well as laughed, Davy, to
relieve her embarrassment taking up the parable.

"And when, sir, and where, will it be our happiness to attend you?"

"At the Glückhaus, not four miles off. It is a queer place which I
bought, because it suited me better than many a new one, for it is
very old; but I have dressed it in new clothes. I shall hope to make
Charles at home some time or other before we welcome you, that he may
make you, too, feel at home."

"It would be difficult, sir, to feel otherwise in your society," said
Davy, with all his countenance on flame.

"I hope we shall find it so together, and that this is only the
beginning of our friendship."

He held out his hand to Millicent, and then to Davy, with the most
perfect adaptation to an English custom considered uncouth in Germany;
Millicent looking as excited as if she were doing her part of the
nuptial ceremony over again. Meantime, for I knew we must part, I
whispered to Starwood,--"So you are happy enough, Star, I should
suppose?"

"Oh, Charles! too happy. My master was very angry, at first, that the
Chevalier carried me away."

"He carried you away, then? I thought as much. And so Aronach was
angry?"

"Only for a little bit, but it didn't matter; for the Chevalier took
me away in his carriage, and said to master, 'I'll send you a rainbow
when the storm is over.' And oh! Charles, I practise four hours at a
time now, and it never tires me in the least. I shall never play like
_him_, but I mean to be his shadow."

I loved my little friend for this.

"Oh, Charles! I am so glad you are coming to his birthday. Oh,
Charles! I wish I could tell you everything all in a minute, but I
can't."

"Never mind about that, for if you are happy, it is all clear to me.
Only one thing, Star. Tell me what I have got to do on this birthday."

"Charles, it's the silver wedding, don't you know?"

"What, is he going to be married?"

"Who, Carlomein? Starwood won't tell!" said the Chevalier, turning
sharply upon me and bending his eyes till he seemed to peep through
the lashes. "He knows all about it, but he won't tell. Wilt thou, my
shadow? By the by, there is a better word in English,--'chum;' but we
must not talk slang, at least not till we grow up. As for thee,
Carlomein, Anastase will enlighten thee, and thou shalt not be blinded
in that operation, I promise thee. 'Tis nothing very tremendous."

"Charles, I think we detain the Chevalier," observed Davy, ever
anxious; and this time I thought so too.

"That would be impossible, after my detaining _you_; but I think I
must find my mother,--she will certainly think I have taken a walk to
the moon. Come, Stern! Or wilt thou leave me in the lurch for that
Carl of thine?"

"Oh! I beg pardon, sir; please let me come too." And I dearly longed
to "come too," when I saw them leave the hall hand in hand.

"Now, Charles, we will carry you off and give you some dinner."

"I don't want any dinner, Mr. Davy; I must go to Anastase."

"I knew he was going to say so!" said Millicent. "But, Charles, duty
calls first; and if you don't dine we shall have you ill."

"I don't know whether I may go to the inn."

"Oh, yes! Lenhart obtained leave of absence at meals for you as long
as we are here."

"Oh! by the by, Millicent, you said you had only come for one week."

"But, Charles, we may never have such another opportunity."

"Yes," added Davy, "I would willingly _starve_ a month or two for the
sake of this feast."

"Bravo, Mr. Davy. But then, Millicent?"

"Oh, Millicent! she shall starve along with me." We all laughed, and
as we walked out of the courtyard into the bright country, he
continued,--

"You know, Charles, I suppose, what is to be done, musically, at this
birthday?"

"No, Mr. Davy, not in the least; and it is because I did not that I
refused my dinner. After dinner, though, I shall go and call on Maria
Cerinthia, and make her tell me."

"A beautiful name, Charles,--is she a favorite of yours?"

"She is the most wonderful person I ever saw or dreamt of, Millicent;
she does treat me very kindly, but she is above all of us except the
Chevalier."

"Is she such a celebrated singer, then?"

"She is only fifteen; but then she seems older than you are, she is so
lofty, and yet so full of lightness."

"A very good description of the Chevalier himself, Charles."

"Yes, Mr. Davy, and the Chevalier, too, treats her in a very high
manner,--I mean as if he held her to be very high."

"Is she at the school too?"

"She only attends for her lessons; she lives in the town with her
brother, who teaches her himself and her little sister. They are
orphans, and so fond of one another."

I was just about to say, "She is to marry Anastase;" but as I had not
received general permission to open out upon the subject, I forbore.
We dined at our little inn, and then, after depositing Davy by the
side of Millicent, who was reposing,--for he tended her like some
choice cutting from the Garden of Eden,--I set out on my special
errand. On mounting the stairs to Maria's room, I took the precaution
to listen; there were no voices to be heard just then, and I knocked,
was admitted, and entered. In the bright chamber I found my dread
young master certainly in the very best company; for Josephine was
half lost in leaning out of the window, and side by side sat Anastase
and Maria. I did not expect to see him in the least, and felt inclined
to effect a retreat, when she, without turning her eyes, which were
shining full upon his face, stretched out both her lovely hands to me:
and Anastase even said. "Do not go, Auchester, for we had, perhaps,
better consult together."

"Yes, oh, yes, there is room here, Carlino; sit by me."

But having spoken thus, she opened not her lips again, and seemed to
wait upon his silence. I took the seat beside her,--she was between
us; and I felt as one feels when one stands in a flower garden in the
dusk of night, for her spiritual presence as fragrance spelled me, and
the mystery of her passion made its outward form as darkness. Her
white dress was still folded round me, and her hair was still
unruffled; but she was leaning back, and I perceived, for the first
time, that his arm was round her. The slender fingers of his listless
hand rested upon the shoulder near me, and they seemed far too much at
ease to trifle even with the glorious hair, silk-drooping its braids
within his reach. _He_ leaned forwards, and looked from one to the
other of us, his blue eyes all tearless and unperturbed; but there was
a stirring blush upon his cheeks, especially the one at her side, and
so deep it burned that I could but fancy her lips had lately left
their seal upon it,--a rose-leaf kiss. Such a whirl of excitement this
fancy raised around me (I hope I was not preternatural either) that I
could scarcely attend to what was going on.

"The Chevalier Seraphael," said Anastase, in his stilly voice, "has
been writing a two-act piece to perform at his birth-night feast,[4]
which is in honor, not so much of his own nativity, as of his parents
arriving just that day at the twenty-fifth anniversary of their
nuptials. He was born in the fifth year of their marriage, and upon
their marriage-day. We have not too much time to work (but a week), as
I made bold to tell him; but it appears this little work suggested
itself to him suddenly,--in his sleep, as he says. It is a fairy
libretto, and I should imagine of first-rate attraction. This is the
score; and as it is only in manuscript, I need not say all our care is
required to preserve it just as it now is. Your part, Auchester, will
be sufficiently obvious when you look it over with the Fräulein
Cerinthia, as she is good enough to permit you to do so; but you had
better not look at it at all until that time."

"But, sir, she can't undertake to perfect me in the fiddle part, can
she?"

"She could, I have no doubt, were it necessary," said Anastase, not
satirically, but seriously; "but it just happens you are not to play."

"Not to play! Then what on earth am I to do? Sing?"

"Just so,--sing."

"Oh, how exquisite! but I have not sung for ever so long. In a chorus,
I suppose, sir?"

"By no means. You see, Auchester, _I_ don't know your vocal powers,
and may not do you justice; but the Chevalier is pleased to prefer
them to all others for this special part."

"But I never sang to him."

"He has a prepossession, I suppose. At all events, it will be rather a
ticklish position for you, as you are to exhibit yourself and your
voice in counterpart to the person who takes the precedence of all
others in songful and personal gifts."

"Sir,"--I was astonished, for his still voice thrilled with the
slightest tremble, and I knew he meant Maria,--"I am not fit to sing
with her, or to stand by her, I know; but I think perhaps I could
manage better than most other people, for most persons would be
thinking of their own voices, and how to set them off against _hers_;
now I shall only think how to keep my voice down, so that hers may
sound above it, and everybody may listen to it, rather than to mine."

Maria looked continually in her lap, but her lips moved. "Will you not
love him, Florimond?" she whispered, and something more; but I only
heard this.

"I could well, Maria, if I had any love left to bestow; but you know
how it is. I am not surprised at Charles's worship."

It was the first time he had called me Charles, and I liked it very
well,--him better than ever.

"I suppose, sir, I _may_ have a look at the score, though?"

"No, you may not," said Maria, "for I don't mean we should use this
copy. I shall write it all out first."

"But that will be useless," answered Anastase; "he made that copy for
us."

"I beg your pardon; I took care to ask him, and he has only written
out the parts for the instruments. He thinks nothing of throwing about
his writing; but it shall be preserved, for all that."

"And how do you mean to achieve this copy?" demanded Anastase. "When
will it be written?"

"It will be ready to-morrow morning."

"Fräulein Cerinthia!" I cried, aghast, "you are not going to sit up
all night?"

"No, she is not," returned Anastase, coolly; and he left the sofa and
walked to the table in the window where it lay,--a green-bound oblong
volume of no slight thickness. "I take this home with me, Maria; and
you will not see it until to-morrow at recreation time, when I will
arrange for Auchester to join you, and you shall do what you can
together."

"Thanks, sir! but surely you won't sit up all night?"

"No, I shall not, nor will a copy be made. In the first place, it will
not be proper to make a copy. Leave has not been given, and it cannot
be thought of without leave,--did you not know that, Maria? No, I
shall not sit up; I am too well off, and far too selfish, too
considerate perhaps, besides, to wish to be ill."

Maria bore this as if she were thinking of something else,--namely,
Florimond's forehead, on which she had fixed her eyes; and truly, as
he stood in the full light which so few contours pass into without
detriment, it looked like lambent pearl beneath the golden shadow of
his calm brown hair.

My hand was on the back of the sofa; she caught it suddenly in her own
and pressed it, as if stirred to commotion by agony of bliss; and at
the same moment, yet looking on him, she said, "I wonder whether the
Chevalier had so many fine reasons when he chose somebody to
administer the leadership, or whether he did it simply because there
was no better to be had?"

He smiled, still looking at the book, which he had safely imprisoned
between his two arms. "Most likely, in all simplicity. But a leader,
even of an orchestra, under _his_ direction is not a fairy queen."

"Is Herr Anastase to lead the violins, then? How glorious!" I said to
Maria.

"I knew you would say so. What then can go wrong?"

"And now I know what the Chevalier meant when he said, 'I must go find
my queen.' You are to be Titania."

"They say so. You shall hear all to-morrow,--I have not thought about
it, for when Florimond brought me home, I was thinking of something
else."

"He brought you home, then?"

"And told me on the way. But he had to tell me all over again when we
came upstairs."

"But about the rehearsals?"

"We shall rehearse here, in this very room, and also with the
orchestra at a room in the village where the Chevalier will meet us;
for he has his parents staying with him, and they are to know nothing
that is to happen."

"I wish I could begin to study it to-night; I am so dreadfully out of
voice since I had my violin,--I have never sung at all, indeed, except
on Sundays, and then one does not hear one's self sing at all."

"It is of no consequence, for the Chevalier told us your master,
Aronach, told him that your voice was like your violin, but that it
would not do to tell you so, because you might lose it, and your
violin, once gained, you could never lose."

"That is true; but how very kind of him to say so! He need not have
been afraid, though, for all I am so fond of singing. Perhaps he was
afraid of making me vain."

Anastase caught me up quickly. "Carl, do not speak nonsense. No
musicians are vain; no true artists, ever so young: they could no
more be vain than the angels of the Most High!"

"Well said, Florimond!" cried Maria, in a moment. "But it strikes me
that many a false artist, fallen-angel like, indulges in that
propensity; so that it is best to guard against the possibility of
being suspected, by announcing, with free tongues, the pride we have
in our art."

"That is better to be announced by free fingers, or a voice like
thine, than by tongues, however free; for even the false prophet can
prate of truth."

I perceived now the turn they were taking; so I said, "And do miracles
in the name of music too, sir, can't they?--like Marc Iskar, who, I
know, is not a true artist, for all that."

Anastase raised his brows. "True artists avoid personalities: that is
the reason why we should use our hands instead of our tongues. Play a
false artist down by the interpretation of true music; but never
cavil, out of music, about what is false and true."

"Florimond, that is worthy to be your creed! You have mastery; we are
only children."

"And children always chatter,--I remember that; but it is, perhaps,
scarcely fair to blame those who own the power of expression for using
it, when we feel our own tongue cleave to the roof of our mouth."

"So generous, too!" I thought; and the thought fastened on me. I felt
more than ever satisfied that all should remain as it was between
them.

FOOTNOTE:

[4] Mendelssohn wrote the "Son and Stranger" in 1829 for the silver
wedding of his parents.



CHAPTER V.[5]


The day had come, the evening,--an early evening; for entertainments
are early in Germany, or were so in my German days. The band had
preceded us, and we four drove alone,--Maria, shrouded in her
mantilla, which she had never abandoned, little Josephine, Anastase,
and myself. Lumberingly enough under any other circumstances; on this
occasion as if in an aërial car. Dark glitter fell from pine-groves,
the sun called out the green fields, the wild flowers looked
enchanted; but for quite two hours we met no one, and saw nothing that
reminded us of our destination. At length, issuing from a valley
haunted by the oldest trees, and opening upon the freest upland, we
beheld an ancient house all gabled, pine-darkened also from behind,
but with torrents of flowers in front sweeping its windows and
trailing heavily upon the stone of the illustrated gateway. A new-made
lawn, itself more moss than grass, was also islanded with flowers in a
thick mosaic: almost English in taste and keeping was this
garden-land. I had expected something of the kind from the allusion of
the Chevalier; but it was evident much had been done,--more than any
could have done but himself to mask in such loveliness that gray
seclusion. The gateway was already studded with bright-hued lamps
unlighted, hung among the swinging garlands; and as we entered we were
smitten through and through with the festal fragrance. In the
entrance-hall I grew bewildered, and only desired to keep as near to
Anastase and Maria as possible. Here we were left a few minutes, as it
were, alone; and while I was expecting a special retainer to lead us
again thence, as in England, the curtain of a somewhat obscure
gateway, at the end of the space, was thrust aside, and a little hand
beckoned us instantaneously forward. Forward we all flew, and I was
the first to sunder the folded damask and stand clear of the mystery.
As I passed beneath it, and felt who stood so near me, I was subdued,
and not the less when I discovered where I stood. It was in a little
theatre, real and sound, but of design rare as if raised within an
Oriental dream. We entered at the side of the stage; before us, tier
above tier, stretched tiny boxes with a single chair in each, and over
each, festooned, a curtain of softest rose-color met another of
softest blue. The central chandelier, as yet unlighted, hung like a
gigantic dewdrop from a grove of oak-branches, and the workmen were
yet nailing long green wreaths from front to front of the nest-like
boxes. Seraphael had been directing, and he led us onward to the
centre of the house.

"How exquisite!"--"How dream-like!"--"How fairy!" broke from one and
another; but I was quite in a maze at present, and in mortal fear of
forgetting my part. The Chevalier, in complete undress, was pale and
restless; still to us all he seemed to cling, passing amidst us
confidingly, as a fearful and shy-smitten child. I thought I
understood this mood, but was not prepared for its sudden alteration;
for he called to some one behind the curtain, and the curtain
rose,--rose upon the empty theatre, with the scenery complete for the
first act. And then the soul of all that scenery, the light of the
fairy life, flashed back into his eyes; elfin-like in his jubilance,
he clapped those little hands. Our satisfaction charmed him. But I
must not anticipate. Letting the curtain again fall, he preceded us to
the back of the scenery; and I will not, because I cannot in
conscience, reveal what took place in that seclusion for artists great
and small,--sacred itself to art, and upon which no one dwells who is
pressing onward to the demonstration, ever so reduced and
concentrated, of art in its highest form.

At seven o'clock the curtain finally rose. It rose upon that tiny
theatre crowded now with clustering faces, upon the chandelier, all
glittering, like a sphere of water with a soul of fire, the lingering
day-beams shut out and shaded by a leaf-like screen. Out of all
precedent the curtain rose, not even on the overture; for as yet not a
note had sounded, since the orchestra was tuned, before the theatre
filled. It rose upon a hedge of mingled green and silver, densely
tangled leafage, and a burst of moon-colorless flowers, veiling every
player from view, and hiding every instrument of the silent throng,
who, with arm and bow uplifted, awaited the magic summons. But by all
the names of magic, how arose that flower-tower in the midst? For
raised above the screen of sylvan symbol was a turret of roots,
entwisted as one sees in old oaks that interlace their gnarled arms,
facing the audience, and also in sight of the orchestra; and this wild
nest was clad with silver lilies twice the size of life, whose
drooping buds made a coronal of the margin where the turret edged into
the air. And in the turret, azure-robed, glitter-winged,--those wings
sweeping the folded lilies as with the lustrous shadow of their
light,--stood our Ariel, the Ariel of our imaginations, the Ariel of
that haunted music, yet unspelled from the silent strings and pipes!

We behind, among the rocks,--those gently painted rocks that faded
into a heavenly distance,--could only glimpse that delicate form,
hovering amidst up-climbing lilies, those silver-shadowy plumes; that
glorious face was shining into the light of the theatre itself, and we
waited for his voice to reassure us. We need not have feared, even
Maria and I. I was quivering and shuddering; but yet she did not sigh,
her confidence was too unshaken, albeit in such a trying position, so
minutely critical to maintain, did author perhaps never appear. In an
instant, as the first soft blaze had broken on the world in front, did
our Ariel raise his wand, no longer _like_ the stem of a lily, but a
lily-stem itself, all set with silver leaves, and whose crowning
blossom sparkled with silver frostwork. He raised it, but not yet
again let it sweep,--descending downwards, on the contrary, he clasped
it in his roseate lilied fingers; and all amidst the great white buds,
that made him shrink to elfin clearness, he began, in a voice that
might have been the soul of that charmed orchestra, to recite the
little prologue, which may thus be rendered into English:

      "A while ago, a long bright while, I dwelt
      In that old Island with my Prospero.
      He gave, not lent, me Freedom, which I fed
      Sometimes on spicy airs that heavenward roll
      From flowers that wing their spirits to the stars,
      And scented shade that droppeth fruit or balm.
      But soon a change smote through me, and I fell
      Weary of stillness in the wide blue day,
      Weary of breathless beauty, where the rose
      Of sunset flushes with no fragrant sigh,
      For that my soul was native with the spheres
      Where music makes an everlasting morn.
      All music in that ancient isle was mine
      That pulsed the air or floated on the calm,--
      Old music veiled in the bemoaning breeze,
      Or whispering kisses to the yearning sea,
      Where foam upblown sprayed with its liquid stars
      My plumes for all their dim cerulean grain.
      From age to age the lonely tones I stored
      In crystal deeps of unheard memory;
      Froze them with virgin cold fast to the cups
      Of wavering lilies; bade the roses bind
      The orbed harmonies in burning rest;
      Thrilled with that dread elixir, dreaming song,
      The veins of violets; made the green gloom
      Of myrtle-leaves hush the sounds intricate;
      Charged the deep cedars with all mourning chords.
      And having wide and far diffused my wealth,--
      Safe garnered, spelled, unknown of reasoning men,--
      I long to summon it, to disenchant
      My most melodious treasure breathless hid
      In bell and blade, in blossom-blush and buds
      And mystic verdure, the soft shade of rest.
      Methinks in this wild wood, this home of flowers,
      My harmonies are clustered; yea, I feel
      The voiceless silence stir with voiceful awe;
      I feel the fanning of a thousand airs
      That will not be repressed, that crave to wake
      In resurrection of tone infinite
      From the tranced beauty, her divinest death.
      Arise, my spirits! wake, my slumbering spells!
      Dawn on the dreamland of these alien dells!"

As the last words died away, pronounced alike with the rest in accents
so peculiar, yet so pure, so soft, yet so unshaken,--he swept the stem
of lilies around his brow. The frosted flower flashed shudderingly
against the lamplight, and with its motion without a pause opened the
overture, as by those words themselves invoked and magically won from
the abyss of sylvan silence. Three long, longing sighs from the unseen
wind instruments, in withering notes, prepared the brain for the rush
of fairy melody that was as the subtlest essences of thought and
fragrance enfranchised. The elfin progression, _prestissimo_, of the
subject, was scarcely realized as the full suggestion dawned of the
leafy shivering it portrayed. The violins, their splendors
concentrated like the rainbows of the dewdrops, seemed but the veiling
voices for that ideal strain to filter through; and yet, when the
horns spoke out, a blaze of golden notes, one felt the deeper glory of
the strings to be more than ever quenchless as they returned to that
ever-pulsing flow. Accumulating in orchestral richness, as if flower
after flower of music were unsheathing to the sun, no words, no
expression self-agonized to caricature, can describe that fairy
overture. I am only reverting to the feeling, the passion it
suggested; not to its existent art and actual interpretation.

Its dissolution not immediate, but at its fullest stream subsiding,
ebbing, seemed, instead of breaking up and scattering the ideal
impression received, to retain it and expand it in itself through
another transition of ecstasy into a musical state beyond. During the
ethereal modulations, by a sudden illumination of the stage, the
scenery behind uncurtained all along, started into light. Still
beneath the leafy cloud, by mystic management, the hidden band
reposed; but before the audience a sylvan dream had spread. The time
was sunset, and upon those hills I spoke of it seemed to blush and
burn, still leaving the foreground distinct in a sort of pearly
shadow. That foreground was masked in verdure, itself precipitous with
descending sides clothed thick with shrubs that lifted their red bells
clear to the crimson beams behind, and shelving into a bed of enormous
leaves of black-green growth such as one sometimes comes upon in the
very core of the forest. Beneath those leaves we nestled, Maria and I.
I can only speak of what I felt and others saw; not of that which any
of us heard. For simultaneously with the blissful modulation into the
keynote of the primeval strain, we began our part side by side unseen.
It was a duet for Titania and Oberon, the alto being mine, the
mezzo-soprano hers; and it was to be treated with the most distant
softness. The excitement had overpassed its crisis with me, and no
calm could have been more trance-like than that of both our voices, so
far fulfilling his aspiration, which conceived for that effect all the
passionless serenity of a nature devoid of pain,--the prerogative of a
fairy life alone.

      "Ariel, we hear thee!
      Slumbering, dreaming, near thee,
      Bursting from control
      As from death the soul,
      From the bud the flower,
      From the will the power;
      Risen, by the spell
      Thou alone canst quell,
      Hear we, Ariel,
      Ariel, we feel thee!
      Music, to reveal thee,
      Drowns, as dawn the night,
      Us in thy delight.
      We, immortal, own
      Thee supreme alone.
      Strongest, in the spell
      Thou canst raise or quell,
      Feel we, Ariel!"

And Maria shook the leaves above her spreading, and waving aside the
broad-green fans, stood out to the audience as a freshly blossomed
idea from the shadows of a poet's dream. For here had music and poetry
met together, here even as righteousness and peace had embraced,
heaven-sent and spiritual; nor was there aught of earth in that fancy
hour. I was nearest her, and supported her with my arm; her floating
scarf, transparent, spangled, fell upon my own rose-hued mantle, which
blushed through its lucid mist. Her hair, trembling with water-like
gems, clothed her to the very knees; her cheek was white as her
streaming robe, but her eye was as a midnight moon, bright yet
lambent; and while she sang she looked at Anastase, as he stood a
little above the others in the band, and appeared to have eyes for his
violin alone. The next movement was a fairy march _pianissimo_,--a
rustling, gathering accompaniment that muffled a measure delicate as
precise: it was as for the marshalling of troops of fairies, who by
the shifting of the scenery appeared clustering to the stems of the
red foxgloves that bent not beneath that fragile weight. And as the
march waned ravishingly, another verse arose for the duet we sang,--

      "Ariel, behold us!
      In thy strains enfold us,
      Minding but that we
      Ministrant may be.
      On thy freak or sport
      Waits our fairy court:
      Mortals cannot tell
      How to cross thy spell,
      Nor we, Ariel!"

And Ariel lifted the lily wand, and silence awaited his reply. Still,
while he spoke in that recitative so singularly contrasting with the
voice of any song, might be heard weird snatches from the veiled
orchestra, as if music fainted from delight of him,--strange sounds,
indeed, now sigh, now sob, that broke against his unfaltering accents,
yet disturbed them not.

      "Friends, royal darlings of mine ancient age,
      Welcome, right welcome, in the realm of sound
      To majesty and honor! Sooth to say
      Long time I languished for your presences
      That nothing save our Music seeks and finds;
      Though Poesy seeks to find and has not met,
      As we, through might of Music, face to face.
      Your potence is my boon; I bid it work
      With mine own spells, in soul-like, eager flame
      To flash about my spirit and make day,
      Till, as in times of old, we shine as one.
      Far in those undulating vales apart
      A castle lifts its glittering ghostly hue,
      In whose calm walls, that years spare tenderly,
      Dwelleth the rival soul of Faërie
      And Music,--one whose very name is spell
      Immutable,--for that fixed name is Love.
      And Love holds yonder his best festal rite
      This evening, when the moontime draweth nigh.
      Twain souls love there, and meet; but not as cleft
      By late long parting--they have met and loved
      Years upon years, since youth; none ever loved
      So long as they unparted, unappalled,
      Save my Titania and her Oberon!
      For twenty-five their one-like summers count
      Since the dim rapture of the bridal dream.
      Such among mortals jubilant they call
      The Silver Wedding,--rare and purer crown
      Than the wreathed myrtle of the marriage morn.
      All that is rare and pure is of our own;
      Our elements mix gladly into joy:
      But chiefly Love is our own atmosphere,
      And chiefly those who love our pensioners
      Remain,--for where unsullied Love remains,
      Doth Faërie consecrate its festal strains."

The curtain fell on the first act as Ariel finished speaking. Again
rising, the scene indeed had changed. The gray castle immediately
fronted the audience, its buttresses glistening in the perfect
moonlight, the full languid orb itself divided by the dark edge of a
tower. The many windows shone ruby with the gleam inside that seemed
ready to pour through the stonework; and on the ground-floor
especially, the radiance was as if sun-lamps blazed within. And midst
the blaze, scarcely softened by the outer silver shine, rose the
exciting, exhilarating burden of an exquisite dance-measure,
brilliant, almost delirious; albeit distance-clouded, as it issued
from another band behind the stage. The long, straight alleys of
moon-bathed lindens to which the waltz-whirlwind floated, parted on
either hand and left a smooth expanse of lawn, now white, heaving like
a moon-kissed sea; and as soon as the measure had passed into its
glad refrain, two little Loves struck from the lime avenues to the
lawn, directly before the ball-room. I call them Loves; but they were
anything but Cupids, for they were mystical little creatures enough,
and in the prevailing moonlight showed like bright birds of blushing
plumage as they each carried a roseate torch of tinted flame that made
their small bodies look much like flame themselves. They were no
others than Josephine and my own Starwood; but it would have been
impossible to recognize them unprepared. As they stood they paused an
instant, and then flung the torches high into the air against the side
of the castle; and as the rose-flame kissed the moonbeams upon the
walls, it was extinguished, but the whole building burst into an
illumination entirely of silver lamps,--calm, not coruscant;
translucent, streaming; itself like concentrated moonshine, or the
light of the very lilies. And with the light that drank up into itself
the rose-radiance, our Ariel with the silvered hedge, the lilies, the
shine, the shimmer, swelled upon the vision in softest swiftness; and
Ariel, leaning upon his nest, seemed listening to the dance symphonies
afar.

Soon a great shout arose,--no elfin call, but a cry of wonder-stricken
earthlings. And then the hall front opened,--a massy portal that
rolled back; and out of the ball-room, amidst the diminishing
dance-song, poured the dancers upon the lawn in ranks, their
fluttering airy dresses passing into the silver light like clouds. And
as they streamed forth, there broke a delicate peal of laughter in
response to the wondering shout, accompanied by the top-notes of the
violins, vividly _piano_; then Ariel arose, and himself addressed the
multitude. Sharp, sweet notes in unison, intermitted this time with
his words, but ceased when he turned to his fairy troop and incited
them to do homage to the name of love. Nor do I even essay to describe
our feats subsequently, which might in their relation tend to
deteriorate from the conviction that the illustrated music was all in
all, not their companion, but their element and creator.

Except that in the last scene, after exhibiting every kind of charm
that can co-exist with scenic transition, the portraits of the father
and mother in whose honor the fairydom had united, appeared framed in
an archway of lilies with their leaves of silver, painted with such
skill that the imagery almost issued from the canvas; and while
Titania and Oberon supported the lustrous framework on either
hand,--themselves all shivering with the silver radiance,--on either
hand, to form a vista from which the gazers caught the picture, rose
trees of giant harebells, all silver,--white as if veined with
moonshine; and the attendant fairies, springing winged from their
roots, shook them until the tremulous silver shudder was, as it were,
itself a sound,--for as they quivered, or seemed to quiver, did the
final chorus in praise of wedded love rise chime upon chime from the
fairy voices and the rapt Elysian orchestra.

"All that's bright must fade." This passionate proverb is trite and
travestied enough, but neither in its interpretation of necessity
irrelevant or grotesque. I do not envy those who would strangle
melancholy as it is born into the soul; and again to quote, though
from a source far higher and less investigated, "There are woes ill
bartered for the garishness of joy." Such troubles we may not christen
in the name of sorrow, for sorrow concerns our personality; and in
these we agonize for others, not a thought of self intrudes,--we only
feel and know that we can do nothing, and are silent.

At this distance of time, with the mists of boyish inexperience upon
my memory of myself, I can only advert to the issues of that evening
as they appeared. As they are, they can only be read where all things
tell, where nothing that has happened shall be in vain, where mystery
is eternal light. How strangely I recall the smothered sound, the
long-repressed shout of rapture, that soared and pierced through the
fallen and folded curtain,--the eminent oblivion of everything but him
for whom it was uttered, or rather kept back. For the music bewitched
them still, and they could no more realize their position in front,
even among the garlanded tiers, than we behind, stumbling into regions
of lampless chaos.

I felt I must faint if I could not retreat, and as instinctively I had
sought for Maria's hand. I found it, and it saved me; for though I
could not hear her speak, I knew she was leading me away. I had closed
my eyes, and when I opened them we were together again in the little
dressing-room that had been devoted to us alone, and in which we had
robed and waited.

"Oh, Carlino!" said Maria, "I hope no one is coming, for I feel I must
cry."

"Do not, pray!" I cried, for her paleness frightened me; "but let me
help you to undress. I can do that, though I could not dress you, as
the Chevalier seemed to think."

For the Chevalier had slyly entered beforehand and had himself
invested her with the glittering costume. I was still in a dream of
those elfin hands as they had sleeked the plumes and soothed the
spangled undulations of the scarf, and I could not bear her to be
denuded of them, they had become so natural now. I had stripped off my
own roseate mantle and all the rest in a moment, and had my own coat
on before she had moved from the chair into which she had flung
herself, or I had considered what was to be done next. I was running
my fingers through my hair, somewhat distraught in fancy, when some
one knocked at the door. I went to it, and beheld, as I expected, our
Ariel,--_unarielized_ yet, except that he had doffed his wings.

"Is she tired?" he whispered softly; "is she very tired?" And without
even looking at me, he passed in and stood before her.

"Thank you for all your goodness!" said he, in the tenderest of all
his voices, no longer cold, but as if fanned by the same fire that had
scorched his delicate cheek to a hectic like the rose fresh open to
the sun.

"And you, sir, oh you!" Maria exclaimed with enthusiasm, lifting her
eyes from all that cloud of hair, as twin sunbeams from the dark of
night. "Oh, your music! your music! it is of all that is the most
divine, and nothing ever has been or shall be to excel it. It breaks
the heart with beauty; it is for the soul that seeks and comprehends
it, all in all. And will you not, as you even promised, reform the
drama?"

"If it yet remains to me, after all is known; that I cannot yet
discern. Infant germ of all my art's dread children, inspiration
demands thee only!" He checked himself; but as naturally as if no
deep, insufferable sentiment had imbued his words, his caressing calm
returned. "I did not come for a compliment, I came to help you; also
to bring you some pretty ice, made in a mould like a little bird in a
little nest. But I will not give it you now, because you are too
warm." He was smiling now, as he glanced downwards at the crystal
plate he held.

"I am not warm," she answered, very indifferently, still with
grateful intention, "and I should like some ice better than anything,
if you are so kind as to give it me."

"Let me feed you, then," was his sweet reply; and she made no
resistance. And he fed her, spoonful by spoonful, presenting her with
morsels so fairy that I felt he prolonged the opportunity vaguely, and
almost wondered why. Before it was over, another knock came,--very
impatient for so cool a hand, as it was that of Anastase himself.
However, there was no exhilaration of manner on his part; one would
not have thought he had just been playing the violin.

"They are all inquiring for you, sir," he said, very respectfully, to
Seraphael; "your name is calling through and through the theatre."

"I daresay," replied the Chevalier lightly, daringly; but he made no
show of moving, though Maria had finished the ice-bird and last straw
of the nest. Then Anastase approached. "That weight of hair will tire
you; let me fasten it up for you, Maria, and then we need detain no
one, for Carl, I see, is ready." A change came upon the Chevalier; as
if ice had passed upon his cheek, he paled, he turned proud to the
very topmost steep of his shadeless brow, he laughed coldly but
airily. "Oh, if that is it, and you want to get rid of us, Carl and I
will go. Come, Carlomein, for we are both of us in the way; but I will
say it is the first time any one ever dared to interfere between the
queen and her chosen consort."

"It would be impossible," said Anastase, with still politeness, "that
you should be in the way,--that is our case, indeed; but Maria, as
_Maria_, would certainly not detain you."

"Maria, as Maria, would have said you are too good, sir, to notice
the least of your servants,--too good to have come and stayed; but,"
she added, looking at Anastase with her most enchanting sweetness, a
smile like love itself, "_he_ will always have it that I am content he
should do everything for me." I was astonished, for nothing, except
the seasonable excitement, could have drawn forth such demonstration
from her before the Chevalier. He was not looking at her, he looked at
me vividly; I could not bear his eyes simultaneously with Maria's
words, he had so allured my own, though I longed to gaze away.

"Come!" he continued, holding his hand to me, "come, Carlomein." I
took his hand. He grasped me as if those elfin fingers were charged
with lightning. I shook and trembled, even outwardly, but he drew me
on with that convulsive pressure never heeding, and holding his head
so high that the curls fell backwards from the forehead. We passed to
the stage. He led me behind the stage--deserted, dim--to another door
behind that, opened by waving drapery, to the garden-land. He led me
in the air, round the outside of the temporary theatre, to the main
front of the house, to the entrance through the hall, swiftly,
silently, up the stairs into the corridor, and so to a chamber I had
never known nor entered. I saw nothing that was in the room, and
generally I see everything. I believe there were books; I felt there
was an organ, and I heard it a long time afterwards. But I was only
conscious this night that then I was with him,--shut up and closed
together with his awful presence, in the travail of presentiment.

He had placed me on a seat, and he sat by me, still holding my hand;
but his own was now relaxed and soft, the fingers cold, as if
benumbed.

"Carlomein," he said, "I have always loved you, as you know; but I
little thought it would be for this."

"How, sir? Why? I am frightened; for you look so strange and speak so
strangely, and I feel as if I were going to die."

"I wish we both were! But do not be frightened. Ah! that is only
excitement, my darling. You will let me call you so to-night?"

"Let you, dear, dearest sir! You have always been my darling. But I am
too weak and young to be of any use to you; and that is why I wish to
die."

"My child, if thou wert strong and manly, how could I confide in thee?
Yet God forgive me if I show this little one too much too early!"

His eyes wore here an expression so divine, so little earthly that I
turned away, still holding his hand, which I bathed in tears that fell
shiveringly from my dull heart like rain from a sultry sky. It was the
tone that pierced me; for I knew not what he meant, or only had a
dream of perceiving _how much_.

"Sir, you could not tell me too much. You have taught me all I know
already, and I don't intend ever to learn of anybody else."

"My child, it is God who taught thee. It is something thou hast to
teach _me_ now."

"Sir, is it anything about myself?" I chose to say so, but did not
think it.

"No; about some one those eyes of thine do love to watch and wait on,
so that sometimes I am almost jealous of thine eyes! But it cannot be
a hardened jealousy while they are so baby-kind."

"It is Maria, then, sir, of course. But they are not babies,--my eyes,
I mean; for they know all about her, and so do I. I know why sometimes
she seems looking through us instead of at us. It is because she is
seeing other eyes in her soul, and our eyes are only just eyes to her,
and nothing else,--you know what I mean, sir?"

I said all this because I had an instinctive dread of his
self-betrayal beyond what was needed. Alas! I had not even curiosity
left. But I was mistaken in him, so far. He leaned forwards, stroked
my hair, and kissed it.

"Whose eyes, then, Carlomein?"

"My master, Anastase, is that person whose eyes I mean."

"Impossible! But I was wrong to ask thee. Assuredly, thou art an
infant, and couldst even make me smile. That is a fancy only. Not
Anastase, my child! Any one but Anastase."

What anguish curled beneath those coaxing tones!

"Sir, I know nothing about it, except that it is true. But that it is
true I _do_ know, for Maria told me so herself; and they will be
married as soon as she is educated." I trembled as I spoke in sore
dismay; for the truth was borne to me that moment in a flash of
misery, and all I could feel was what I was fool enough to say, "Oh
that I were Maria!" He turned to me in an instant; made a sort of
motion with both his arms, like wings, having released the hand I
held. I looked up now, and saw that a more awful paleness--a virgin
shadow appalling as that of death--had fixed his features. I threw
myself into his arms; he was very still, mute, all gentleness. I
kissed the glistening dress, the spangled sleeves. He moved not,
murmured not. At last my tears would flow. They rushed, they scalded;
I called out of the midst of them, and heard that my own voice, child
as I was, fell hollow through my hot lips.

"Oh, let my heart burst! Do let me break my heart!" I sobbed, and a
shiver seemed to spread from my frame to his. He brought me closer to
his breast, and bowed his soft curls till they were wet with my wild
weeping through and through. It heaved not. No passion swelled the
pulses of that heart; still he shivered as if his breath were passing.
In many, many minutes I heard his voice; it was a voice all tremble,
like a harp-string jarred and breaking. "Carlomein, you will ever be
dearer to me than I can say from this night; for you have seen sorrow
no man should have seen, and no woman could have suffered. You know
what I wished; yet perhaps not yet,--how should you? Carlomein, when
you become a man I hope you will love me as you do now when you know
what I do feel, what I do wish. May you never despise suffering for my
sake! May you never suffer as I do! You _only_ could; I know no one
else, poor child! God take you first, before you suffer _so_. You see
the worst of it is, Carlomein, that we need not have suffered at all,
if I had only known it from the beginning. But it is very strange, is
it not?" He spoke as if inviting me to question him.

"What, dearest sir?"

"That she should not love me. How could she help it?"

Of all his words, few as they were indeed, these touched me most. I
felt, indeed, how could she help it? But I was, child as I was, too
wise to say so.

"You see, sir, she could not help loving Anastase!"

"Nor could I help loving her, nor can I; but the sorrow is, Carlomein,
that neither on earth nor in heaven will she wish to be mine."

"Sir, in heaven it won't matter whether she married Anastase or not;
for if she were perfect here, she could but love you, and _there_ she
will be perfect and will understand you, sir."

"Sweet religion, if true. Sweet philosophy,--false as pleasant."

"But, sir, you will not be unhappy, because it is of no use; and
besides, she will find it out, and you would not like that. And you
will not break your heart, sir, because of music."

"I should never break my heart, Carlchen, under any earthly
circumstances." He smiled upon me indifferently; a pure disdain
chiselled every feature in that attitude. "There is now no more to be
said. I need scarcely say, my child, never speak of this. But I _will_
command you to forget it--as I forget--have already forgotten."

He rose, and passed his hand, with weary grace, over the curls that
had fallen forward; and then he took me by the hand and we went out
together, I knew not whither.

I returned that night with my brother and sister to Cecilia. I never
had taken part in a scene so brilliant as the concluding banquet,
which was in the open air, and under shade lamp-fruited; but I knew
nothing that happened to me, was cold all over, and for a time, at
least, laid aside my very consciousness. Millicent was positively
alarmed by my paleness, which she attributed, neither wrongly, to
excitement; and it was in consequence of her suspicion that we retired
very early.

We met no one,--having bowed to the king and queen of the night's
festival,--nor did I behold the Chevalier, except in the distance, as
he glided from table to table to watch that all should fare well at
them, though he never sat himself. Maria was seated by Anastase. I
noticed them, but did not gaze upon them. Their aspect sickened me.
It was well that Millicent believed me ill, for I was thus not obliged
to speak, and she and Davy had it all to themselves on the road.

That time, when she got me to bed, I became strangely affected in a
fashion of my own, and not sleeping at all, was compelled to remain
there day after day for a week, not having the most shadowy notion of
that which was my affection. It was convenient that Davy knew a great
deal about such suffering on his own account, or I might have been
severely tampered with. He would not send for a doctor, as he
understood what was the matter with me; and presently I got right. In
fact, my nerves, ever in my way, were asserting themselves furiously;
and as I needed no physic, I took none, but trusted Davy and kept
quiet.

I heard upon my resuscitation that Maria, Anastase, and Delemann had
all been to inquire after me, and, oh, strange sweetness! also the
Chevalier. It was some satisfaction when Millicent said he was looking
very well and had talked to her for half an hour. This news tended
most to my restoration of anything; and it was not ten days before I
returned to school, my people having left the village the same morning
only.

I saw as much of Anastase as before, now; but I felt as if till now I
had never known him, nor of how infinite importance a finite creature
may become under certain circumstances. In a day or two I had worked
up to the mark sufficiently to permit myself a breath of leisure; and
towards the afternoon I went after Maria, to accompany her home. This
she permitted; but I knew that Anastase would be with her in the
evening, and refused her invitation to enter, for I felt I could not
bear to see them together just then. I entreated her, therefore, to
take a walk with me instead. She hesitated, on account of her
preparation for the morrow; but when I reminded her that Anastase
desired her to walk abroad daily, she assented. "Florimond would be
pleased."

Up the green sides of the hill we wandered, and again into the valley.
It was a mild day, with no rude wind to break the silken thread of
conversation, and I was mad to talk to her. I could hardly tell how to
begin, though I knew what I wanted to find out well enough; but I need
not have been afraid. She was singularly unsuspicious.

"So, Carl," she began herself, "the Chevalier took you into his
room,--his very room where he writes, was it?"

"I don't know," I said, "whether he writes there. I should think he
would write anywhere. But it was stuffed full of books and had an
organ."

"A large organ?"

Heaven help and pardon me! I had not seen anything in the room
specifically; but I drew upon my imagination,--usually a lively spring
enough.

"Oh! yes, a very large organ, with beautiful carving about
it,--cherubs above, with their wings spread, I believe; and the books
bound exquisitely, and set in cabinets."

"What sort of furniture?"

"I don't know. Oh! I think it was dark red, and very rich looking.
Embroidered cloths, too, upon the tables and sofas,--but really I may
be mistaken, because, you see, I was not looking at them."

"No, I should think not. Carnation is his favorite color, you know; he
told me so."

"He tells you everything, I think, Maria."

"Yes, of course he does,--just as one talks to a little child that
asks for stories."

"That is not the reason,--it cannot be. Besides, he always talks about
himself to you, and one never talks about one's self to children."

"Do not you? But, Carl, he chiefly talks to me about music."

"And for that, is he not himself music? But, Maria, I can, telling you
his favorite color, talking about himself as much as if he told you he
had a headache."

"Well, Carl, he did come to me when he had scratched his finger and
ask me to tie it up."

"And did you? Was that since _the_ evening?"

"It was the day before yesterday. He was going to play somewhere. But,
Carl, we shall not hear him play again."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean not until next year. He is going to travel."

"To travel--going away--where--who with?" I was stupid.

"He told us all so the other day,--just before you returned, Carl. He
went through all the class-rooms to bid farewell. I was in the second
singing-room with Spoda and two or three others. He spoke to Spoda,
'Have you any commands for Italy,--any part of Italy? I am going
unexpectedly, or we would have had a concert first; but now we must
wait until May for our concert.' Spoda behaved very well and exhibited
no surprise, only showered forth his _confetti_ speeches about
parting. Then the Chevalier bowed to us who were there and said, 'My
heart will be half here, and I shall hope to find Cecilia upon the
self-same hill,--not a stone wanting.' And then he sighed; but
otherwise he looked exceedingly happy. And who, do you think, is going
with him?"

"His father, I should imagine."

"No; old Aronach, and your little friend,--who, Carl, I suspect, makes
a sort of chevalier of you, from what I hear."

"Yes; he is very fond of me. But, Maria, what is he going away for? Is
he going to be married?"

She smiled with her own peculiar expression,--wayward, yet warm.

"Oh, dear, no! nothing of the kind, I am sure. I cannot fancy the
Chevalier in love even. It seems most absurd."

"I do not think that; he is too lovable not to be loved."

"And that is just why he never will love--to marry, I mean--until he
has tried everything else and pleased himself in every manner."

"Maria, how do you know? And do you think he will marry one day?"

"Carl, I believe there is not anything he will not do; and yet he will
be happy, very happy,--only not as he expects. I am certain the
Chevalier thinks he should find as much in love as in music,--for
himself, I mean. Now, I believe it would be nothing to him in
comparison."

I could scarcely contain myself, I so sincerely felt that she was
mistaken. But I seriously resolved to humor her, lest I should say too
much, or she should say too little.

"Oh, of course! But I don't think he would _expect_ to find more in
love, because he knows how he is loved."

"Not _how_, Carl, only how much."

"But, Maria, I fancy he wants as much love as music; and that is
plenty."

"But, Carl, he makes the music, and we love him in it, just as we
love God in His works; and I cannot conceive of any love being
acceptable to him when it infringed his right as supreme."

"You mean that he is proud."

"So proud that if love came to him without music, I don't think he
would take any notice of it."

I felt as surely as she did, sure of that singular pride, but also
that it was not a fallen pride, and that she could read it not.

"You mean, Maria, that if you and I were not musical,--supposing such
a thing to be possible,--he would not like us nor treat us as he does
now?"

"I know he would not."

"But then it would be impossible for us to be as we are if we were
changed as to music, and we could not love as we do."

"I don't think that has anything to do with it, and indeed I am sure
not. You see, Carl, you make me speak to you openly. I have never done
so before, and I should not, but that you force me to it,--not that I
dislike to speak of it, for I think of nothing else,--but that it
might be troublesome."

Could it be that she was about, in any sense, to open her heart? Mine
felt as if it had collapsed, and would never expand again; but I was
very rejoiced, for many reasons.

"Oh, Maria! if I could hear you talk all day about your own feelings,
I should know really that you cared to be my friend; but I could not
ask you to do so, nor wish, unless you did."

"Carl, if you were not younger than I am I should hesitate, and still
more if, where I came from, we did not become grown up so fast that
our lives seem too quick, too bright! Oh! I have often thought so,
and shall think so again; but I will not now, because I intend to be
very happy. You know, Carl, you cannot understand, though you may
_feel_, what I feel when I think of Florimond. And it is possible you
think him higher than I do, for you do him justice now."

"I suppose I do,--I am very certain that I adore his playing."

"I do not care for his playing, or scarcely. And yet I am aware that
it is the playing of a master, of a musician, and I am proud to say
so. Still, I would rather be that violin than hear it, and endure the
sweet anguish he pours into it than be as I am, so far more divided
from him than it is."

"Maria!"

"But Florimond does not mind my feeling this, or I should not say
it,--on the contrary, he feels the same; and when first Heaven made
him love me, he felt it even then."

"Was that long ago, Maria?"

"It is beginning to be a long time, for it was in the summer that I
was twelve, before my father died. I was in France that summer, and
very miserable, working hard and seeming to do nothing, for my father,
rest his soul! was very severe with me, and petted Josephine,--for
which I thank and praise him, and love her all the better. We were
twenty miles from Paris, and lodged in a cottage whose roof was all
ruins; but it was a dry year, and no harm came,--besides, we had been
brought up like gypsies, and were sometimes taken for them. In the day
I practised my voice and studied Italian or German; then prepared our
dinner, which we ate under a tree in the garden, Josephine and I,
though she was almost a baby then, and slept half her time. One noon
she was asleep upon the grass, and I was playing with the flowers she
had plucked, with no sabots on, for I was very warm, when I heard a
step and peeped behind that tree. I saw a boy, or, as I thought him, a
very wonderful man, putting aside the boughs to look upon me. You have
told me, Carl, how you felt when you first saw the Chevalier; well, it
was a little as I felt when I saw that face, only instead of looking
on, as you did, I was obliged to look away and hide my eyes with my
hand. He was, to my sight, more beautiful than anything I had ever
seen or dreamed about; and therefore I could not look upon him, for I
know I was not thinking about myself. Still, I felt sure he was coming
to speak to me, and so he did; but not for a long time, for he stepped
round the tree and sat down upon the turf just near me, and played
with the sabots and the wild thyme I had played with, and presently
put out his hand to stroke Josephine's hair as it lay in my lap. I
never thought of being angry, or of wondering at him even, for the
longer I had him near me, the better, though I was rather frightened
lest my father should return; but at last he did speak, and when once
he began, there was not soon an end. We talked of all things. I can
remember nothing, but I do know this,--that we never spoke of music,
except that I told how I passed my time, and how my father taught me.
He went away before Josephine awoke, and nobody knew he had come; but
I returned the next day to the place where I had seen him, and again I
found him there. In that country one could do such things, and it was
the hour my father was absent,--for he had other pupils at the houses
of the inhabitants several miles about, and we lived frugally, in
order that he might give us all advantages when we should be old
enough. I saw Florimond every day for a week, and then for a week he
never came. That week I was taken ill,--I could not help it; I was too
young to hide it. And when he came again, I told him I should have
died if he had stayed away. And then he said that he loved me, but
that he was going a journey, and should not for a long time see me
again, but that I was never, never to forget him; and he gave me a bit
of his hair softer than any curl. I gave him, too, my mother's ring,
that I had always kept warm in my bosom; and I never even lamented
that he was departed, because I knew I should be his forever. We had a
long, long talk,--of feelings and fears and mysteries, of the flowers
of heaven and earth, of glory and bliss, of hope and ecstasy. We
poured out our hearts together, and did not even trouble ourselves to
say we loved. I think he was there three hours; but I sent him away
myself, just in time to be quite ready, and not at all in a tremble,
for my father's supper. Papa came home by sunset, much later than
usual, and I tried hard to wake up, but was as a wanderer in sleep,
until he took from his pocket a parcel and gave it me to open. He was
in great good humor to-night, for he had heard of my brother's success
at the Académie; but it was not my brother who sent the parcel, which
contained two tickets for a grand concert in Paris the next morning,
and a little anonymous billet to beg that we would go, I and my
father.

"My father was much flattered, and still more because there was a
handful of gold to pay the expenses of our journey. This settled the
matter; we did go in the diligence that night. I took my best frock
and gloves, and we slept at a grand hotel for once in our lives, and
supped there, and breakfasted the next morning before setting out for
the concert. When I walked into the streets with my father I envied
the ladies their bonnets,--for I had not even my mantilla, it was too
shabby; and I wore alone a wreath of ivy that I had gathered from
under that very tree at home, and I was thinking too seriously of one
only person to wish to see or to be seen. We went into the very best
places, but I thought as I sat down how I must have changed in a short
time; for a little while before I would have almost sold myself to go
to this same concert, and now I did not care. There was a grand vocal
trio first, and then a fantasia for the harp, and then a tenor solo.
But next in the programme came one of Fesca's solos for the violin;
and when I saw the violinist come up into the front, I fell backwards,
and should have swooned had he not begun to play. His tones sustained
me, drew me upwards; it was Florimond,--my Florimond; mine then as
now."

"I thought it would turn out so," I exclaimed, rudely enough. "But,
Maria, when you said music had nothing to do with love, I think you
were mistaken, or that you misunderstood yourself; for though I can't
express it, I am sure that our being musical makes a great difference
in the way we feel, and that though we don't allude to it, it will go
through everything, and make us what we are."

"Perhaps you are right, and, Carl, I should not like to contradict
you; but I know I should have loved Florimond if he had not been a
musician,--if he had been a shoemaker, for instance."

"Yes, because he still might have been musical; and if the music had
remained within him, it might have influenced his feelings even more
than it does now."

"Carl, but I don't love in that way all those who are musical,
therefore why must it be the music that makes me love _him_? What
will you say to me, now, when I tell you I cannot imagine wishing to
marry the Chevalier?"

"Maria!"

"Carl, I could not; it would abase the power of worship in my soul, it
would cloud my idea of heaven, it would crush all my life within me. I
should be transported into a place where the water was all light and I
could not drink, the air was all fire to wither me. I should flee from
myself in him, and in fleeing, die."

Her strange words, so unlike her youth, consumed my doubts as she
pronounced them. I shuddered inwardly, but strove to keep serene.
"Maria, that may be because you had loved when you saw him, and it
would have been impossible for you to be inconstant."

"Carlino, no. You and I are talking of droll things for a girl and a
boy; but I would rather you knew me well, because, perhaps, it will
help you when you grow up to understand some lady better than you
would if I did not speak so openly. Under no circumstances could I
have loved him so as to wish to belong to him in that sense. For,
Carl, though it might have been inconstant, it would not have been
unfaithful to myself if I had seen and loved him better than
Florimond; it might have been that I had not before found out what I
ought to submit my soul to, nor could I have helped it; such things
have happened to many, I daresay,--to many natures, but not to mine;
if I feel once, it is entirely and for always, and I cannot think how
it is that so few women, even of my own race, are so unfixed about
their feelings and have so many fancies. I sometimes believe there is
a reason for my being different, which, if it is true, will make him
sadder than the saddest,--you can guess what I mean?"

"Yes, Maria, but I know there is nothing in it; it is what my mother
would call a morbid presentiment, and I wish she could talk to you
about it. I should think there might be truth in it, but that it
always proves false. My sister had it once, so had my dear brother,
Mr. Davy. I don't believe people have it when they are really going to
die."

"It is not a morbid presentiment, for 'morbid' means 'diseased,' and I
am sure I am not diseased; but my idea is that people who form so fast
cannot live long. I am only fifteen, and I feel as if I had lived
longer than anybody I know."

"Then," said I, laughing, for I felt it was wrong to permit her much
range here, "I shall die soon, Maria."

"No, Carl. You are not formed; you are like an infant,--your heart
tells itself out, one may count its beats and sing songs to them, as
Florimond says; but your brain keeps you back, though it is itself so
forward."

I was utterly puzzled. "I don't understand, Maria."

"But you will, some time. Your brain is burning, busy, always dreaming
and working. The dreams of the brain are often those which play
through the slumbers of the heart. If your heart even awoke, your
brain would still have the upper hand, and would keep down, keep back
your heart. There is no fear for you, Carl, passionate as you are."

"Well, Maria, I must confess it frightens me a little when you talk
so,--first, because you are so young yourself; and secondly, because
if it is all true, how much you must know,--you must know almost more
than you feel; it is too much for a girl to know, or a boy either, and
I would rather know nothing than so very much."

"Carl, all that I know I get from my heart. I am really excessively
ignorant, and can teach and tell of nothing in the world but love.
That is my life and my faith; and when my heart is bathing in the love
that is my own on earth, all earth seems to sink beneath my feet, and
I tremble as if raised to heaven. I feel as if God were behind my joy,
and as if it must be more than every other knowledge to make me feel
so. And when I sing, it is the same,--the music wraps up the love; I
feel it more and more."

"But, Maria, you are so awfully musical."

"Carl, till I knew Florimond I never really sang. I practised, it is
true, and was very sick of failures; but _then_ my voice grew clear
and strong, and I found what it was meant for,--therefore I cannot be
so musical as you are. And I revere you for it, Carl, and prophesy of
you such performances that you can never excel them, however much you
excel."

"Why, Maria, how we used to talk about music together!"

"I did not know you so well then, Carl; but do you suppose that music,
in one sense, is not all to me? I sometimes think when women try to
rise too high, either in their deeds or their desires, that the spirit
which bade them so rise sinks back again beneath the weakness of their
earthly constitution and never appeals again; or else that the spirit,
being too strong, does away with the mortal altogether,--they die, or
rather they live again."

"Do you ever talk in this strange manner to Anastase, Maria,--I mean,
do you tell him you love him better than music?"

"He knows of himself, not but that I have often told him; but you may
imagine how I love him, Carl, when I tell you he loves music better
than me, and yet I would have it so, chiefly for one reason."

"What is that?"

"That if I am taken from him he will still have something to live for
until we meet again."

It is a strange truth that I was unappalled and scarcely touched by
these pathetic hints of hers; in fact, looking at her then, it was as
impossible to associate with her radiant beauty any idea of death as
for any but the most tasteless moralist to attach it to a new-blown
rose-flower with stainless petals. It was a day also of the most
perfect weather, and the suggestion to my mind was that neither the
day nor she--neither the brilliant vault above, nor those transparent
eyes--could ever "change or pass." I was occupied besides in
reflecting upon the mystery that divided the two souls I felt ought
never to have been separated, even _thought_ of, apart. I did not know
then how far she was right in her mystical assertion that the
premature fulness of the brain maintains the heart's first slumber in
its longest unbroken rest.

FOOTNOTE:

[5] The description of the fairy music contained in this chapter
evidently refers to the opera of "The Tempest," which Mendelssohn
contemplated writing in 1846-47. The composer had agreed to write an
opera on this subject for Mr. Lumley, then manager of Her Majesty's
Theatre in London, the principal _rôle_ to be given to Jenny Lind.
After considerable negotiation, M. Scribe, the eminent French adapter,
furnished a libretto, and Mr. Lumley suggested the following
distribution of parts: Prospero, Signor Lablache; Caliban, Herr
Staudigl; Fernando, Signor Gardoni; Miranda, Mademoiselle Lind; Ariel,
left unassigned. Mendelssohn, however, was dissatisfied with the
libretto, which made serious changes in the character of the story and
marred the artistic effects intended by Shakspeare; but M. Scribe
would not listen to his protests, and thus the matter fell through.
Mendelssohn then turned his attention to the legend of the Loreley as
the subject of an opera, but died shortly afterward, leaving it in a
fragmentary condition, wherefore Mr. Lumley substituted Verdi's "I
Masnadieri" for the long-promised "Tempest." It proved a failure,
however. Thus a three-fold fatality attended the "Tempest" episode in
the friendly relations of Mendelssohn and Jenny Lind. The reader who
may be curious to know the details of these interesting negotiations
will find a very complete record of them in the second volume of the
Life of Jenny Lind by Mr. Rockstro and Canon Holland, recently
published, and there for the first time given to the public from
official sources.



CHAPTER VI.


I left her at her house and returned to Cecilia, feeling very lonely,
and as if I ought to be very miserable, but I could not continue it;
for I was, instead of recalling her words, in a mood to recall those
of Clara in our parting conversation. The same age as Maria, with no
less power in her heavenly maidenhood, she came upon me as if I had
seen them together, and watched the strange calm distance of those
unclouded eyes next the transparent fervors of Maria's soul,--that
soul in its self-betrayal so wildly beautiful, so undone with its own
emotion. Clara I remembered as one not to be approached or reached but
by fathoming her crystal intellect; and even then it appeared to me
that there was more passion in her enshrining stillness than in
anything but the music that claimed and owned her. But Maria had
seemed on fire as she had spoken, and even when she spoke not, she
passed into the very heart by sympathy abounding, summer-like. I
little thought how soon, in that respect, her change would come.

There was one, too, whom I saw not again until that change. Over this
leaf of my history I can only glance, for it would be as a sheet of
light unrelieved by any shade or pencilling; suffice it to say that
day by day, in morning's golden dream, at dream-like afternoon, I
studied and soared. I was--after the Chevalier had left, and the
excitement of his possible presence had ceased--blissfully happy
again, and in much the same state as when I lived with Aronach;
certainly I did not expand, as Maria might have said. The advent of
the Chevalier, which was as a king's visit, being delayed until the
spring, I had left off hoping he might appear any fine morning, and my
initiation--"by trance"--went on apace; I was utterly undisturbed.

At Christmas we had a concert,--a concert worthy of the name; and with
all the Christmas heartedness of Germany we dressed our beloved hall
with its evergreens and streamers. Besides, that overture, the "Mer de
Glace," which, even under an inferior conductor, would make its way,
was one of our interpretations; and it appeared to have some effect
upon the whole crew that was not very material, as nothing would do in
our after sledging party, but that all the instruments should be
carried also, and an attempt made to refrigerate the ice-movement over
again, by performing it in the frosty air, upon the frost-spelled
water. I was to have gone to England this year, as arranged; but the
old-fashioned frump, a very hard winter, had laid in great stores of
snow, with great raving winds, and my mother took fright at the idea
of my crossing the water,--besides, it was agreed that as Millicent
and Davy had seen me so lately, I could get on very well as I was
until June.

It was not such a disappointment as it should have been, for I knew
that Clara had gone to London, and that I could not have seen her. She
was making mysterious progress, according to Davy; but I could not get
out all I wanted, for I did not like to ask for it. There was
something, too, in my present mode of life exiling from all
excitement; and it is difficult for me to look back and believe it
anything but the dream of fiction,--still, that is not strange, for
fiction often strikes us as more real than fact.

I had a small letter from Starwood about this time.

"Dearest Carl," he wrote, as he always spoke to me, in English, "I
wish you could see the Chevalier now, how well he looks, and how he
enjoys this beautiful country. We have been to see all the pictures
and the palaces, and all the theatres; we have heard all the cathedral
services, and climbed over all the mountains,--for, Carl, we went also
to Switzerland; and when I saw the 'Mer de Glace,' I thought it was
like that music. _Now_ we are in a villa all marble, not white, but a
soft, pale-gray color, and there are orange-trees upon the grass. All
about are green hills, and behind them hills of blue, and the sky here
is like no other sky, for it is always the same, without clouds, and
yet as dark as our sky at night; but yet at the same time it is day,
and the sun is very clear. The moon and stars are big, but there is
something in the air that makes me always want to cry. It is
melancholy, and a very quiet country,--it seems quite dead after
Germany; but then we do live away from the towns.

"The Chevalier is writing continually, except when he is out, and the
Herr Aronach is very good,--does not notice me much, which I like. His
whole thoughts are upon the Chevalier, I think, and no wonder. Carl, I
am getting on fast with my studies, am learning Italian," etc. There
was more in the little letter; but from such a babe I could not expect
the information I wanted. Maria and her suite--as I always called her
brother Joseph and the little Josephine--had left Cecilia for
Christmas Day, which they were to spend with some acquaintance a few
leagues off, and a friend, too, of Anastase, who, indeed, accompanied
them. On Christmas Eve I was quite alone; for though I had received
many invitations, I had accepted none, and I went over to the old
place where I had lived with Aronach, to see the illuminations in
every house. It was a chilly, elfin time to me; but I got through it,
and sang about the angels in the church next day.

To my miraculous astonishment Maria returned alone, long before
Josephine and her brother, and even without Anastase. He, it appeared,
had gone to Paris to hear a new opera, and also to play at several
places on the road. It was only five days after Christmas that she
came and fetched me from my own room, where I was shut in practising,
to her own home. When she appeared, rolled in furs, I was fain to
suppose her another than herself, produced by the oldest of all old
gentlemen for my edification, and I screamed aloud, for she had
entered without knocking, or I had not heard her. She would not speak
to me then and there, saving only to invite me, and on the road, which
was lightened over with snow, she scarcely spoke more; but arrived on
that floor I was so fond of, and screened by the winter hangings from
the air, while the soft warmth of the stove bade all idea of winter
make away, we sat down together upon the sofa to talk. I inquired why
she had returned so soon.

"Carl," she said, smoothing down her hair, and laying over my knees
the furry cloak, "I am altering very much, I think, or else I have
become a woman too suddenly. I don't care about these things any
longer."

"What things, Maria,--fur mantles, or hair so long that you can tread
upon it?"

"No, Carl. But I forget that I was not talking to you yesterday, nor
yet the day before, nor for many days; and I have been dreaming more
than ever since I saw you."

"What about?"

"Many unknown things,--chiefly how different everything is here from
what it ought to be. Carl, I used to love Christmas and Easter and St.
John's Day; now they are all like so many cast-off children's
pictures. I can have no imagination, I am afraid, or else it is all
drawn away somewhere else. Do you know, Carl, that I came away because
I could not bear to stay with those creatures after Florimond was
gone? Florimond is, like me, a dreamer too; and much as I used to
wonder at his melancholy, it is just now quite clear to me that
nothing else is worth while."

"Anastase melancholy? Well, so he is, except when he is playing; but
then I fancied that was because he is so abstracted, and so bound to
music hand and foot, as well as heart and soul."

"Very well, Carl, you are always right; but my melancholy, and such I
believe his to be, is exquisite pleasure,--too fine a joy to breathe
in, Carl. How people fume themselves about affairs that only last an
hour, and music and joy are forever."

"You have come back to music, Maria; if so, I am not sorry you went
away."

"I never left it, Carl, it left me; but now I know why,--it went to
heaven to bring me a gift out of its eternal treasure, and I believe I
have it. Carl, Carl! my fit of folly has served me in good stead."

"You mean what we talked about before you went, before the Chevalier
went also?"

"Yes, I meant what I said then; but I was very empty, and in an idle
frame. I thought the last spark of music had passed out of me; but
there has come a flame from it at last."

"What do you mean? And what has that to do with your coming back, and
with your being melancholy,--which I cannot believe quite, Maria?"

"Oh, Carl! I am very ignorant, and have read no books; but I am pretty
sure it is said somewhere that melancholy is but the shadow of too
much happiness, thrown by our own spirits upon the sunshine side of
life. I was in that queer mood when I went to Obertheil that if an
angel had walked out of the clouds I should not have taken the trouble
to watch him; Florimond was all and enough. So he is still. But
listen, Carl. On Christmas we were in the large room, before the
table, where the green moss glittered beneath the children's tree, and
there were children of all sizes gazing at the lights. They crowded so
together that Florimond, who was behind, and standing next me, said,
'Come, Maria, you have seen all this before: shall we go upstairs
together?' And we did go out silently, we were not even missed. We
went to the room which Florimond had hired, for it was only a friend's
house, and Florimond is as proud as some one who has not his light
hair. The little window was full of stars; we heard no sound as we
stood there except when the icicles fell from the roof. The window was
open too; but I felt no cold, for he held me in his arms, and I
sheltered him, and he me. We watched the stars so long that they began
to dance below before we spoke. Then Florimond said that the stars
often reminded him how little constancy there was in anything said or
done, for that they ever shone upon that which was forgotten. And I
replied it was well that they did so, for many things happened which
had better be forgotten, or something as unmeaning. He said, then, it
was on that account we held back from expressing, even remotely, what
we felt most. And I asked him whether it might not rather be that
music might maintain its privilege of expressing what it was forbidden
to pronounce or articulate otherwise. Then he suggested that it was
forbidden to an artist to exalt himself in his craft, as he is so fond
of saying, you know, except by means of it, when it asserts itself.
And then I demanded of him that he should make it assert itself; and
after I had tormented him a good while, he fetched out his violin and
played to me a song of the stars.

"And in that wilderness of tone I seemed to fall asleep and dream,--a
dream I have already begun to follow up, and _will_ fulfil. I have
heard it said, Carl, that sometimes great players who are no authors
have given ideas in their random moments to the greatest writers, that
these have reproduced at leisure,--I suppose much as a painter takes
notions from the colored clouds and verdant shadows; but I don't know.
Florimond, who is certainly no writer, has given me an idea for a new
musical poem, and what is more strange, I have half finished it, and
have the whole in my mind."

"Maria! have you actually been writing?" I sprang from the sofa quite
wild, though I merely foresaw some touching memento, in wordless
_Lied_ or _scherzo_ for one-voiced instrument, of a one-hearted theme.

"I have not written a note, Carl,--that remains to be done, and that
is why I came back so soon, to be undisturbed, and to learn of you;
for you know more about these things than I do,--for instance, how to
arrange a score."

"Maria, you are not going to write in score? If so, pray wait until
the Chevalier comes back."

"The Chevalier! as if I should ever plague him about my writing.
Besides, I am most particularly anxious to finish it before any one
knows it is begun."

"But, Maria, what will you do? I never heard of a woman writing in
score except for exercise; and how will you be pleased to hear it
never once?"

"Ah! we shall know about that when it is written."

"Maria, you look very evil,--evil as an elf; but you are pale enough
already. What if this work make you ill?"

"Nothing ever makes us ill that we like to do, only what we like to
have. I acknowledge, Carl, that it might make me ill if this symphony
were to be rehearsed, with a full band, before the Chevalier. But as
nothing of that kind can happen, I shall take my own way."

"A symphony, Maria? The Chevalier says that the symphony is the
highest style of music, and that none can even attempt it but the most
formed, as well as naturally framed musicians."

"I should think I knew that; but it is not in me to attempt any but
the highest effect. I would rather fail there than succeed in an
inferior. The structure of the symphony is quite clear to my
brain,--it always has been so; for I believe I understand it
naturally, though I never knew why until now. Carl, a woman has never
yet dared anything of the kind, and if I wait a few years longer I
must give it up entirely. If I am married, my thoughts will not make
themselves ready, and now they haunt me."

"Maria, do _not_ write! Wait, at least, until Anastase returns, and
ask his own advice."

"Carl, I never knew you cold before,--what is it? As if Florimond
could advise me! Could I advise him how to improve his present method?
and why should I wait? I shall not expose myself; it is for myself
alone."

"Maria, this is the reason. You do look so fixed and strange, even
while you talk about it, that I think you will do yourself some
harm,--that is all; you did not use to look so."

"Am I so frightful, then, Carl?"

"You are too beautiful, Maria; but your eyes seem to have no sleep in
them."

"They have not had, and they will not have until I have completed this
task the angel set me."

"Oh, Maria! you are thinking of the Chevalier."

"I was not; I was thinking of St. Cecilia. If the Chevalier had
ordered me to make a symphony, I should to everlasting have remained
among the dunces."

I often, often lament, most sadly, that I am obliged to form her words
into a foreign mould, almost at times to fuse them with my own
expression; but the words about the angel were exactly her own, and I
have often remembered them bitterly.

"You will find it very hard to write without any prospect of
rehearsal, Maria."

"I can condense it, and so try it over; but I am certain of hearing it
in my head, and that is enough."

"You will not think so still when it is written. How did it first
occur to you?"

"In a moment, as I tell you, Carl, while the violin tones, hot as
stars that are cold in distance, were dropping into my heart. The
subjects rose in Alps before me. I both saw and heard them; there were
vistas of sound, but no torrents; it was all glacier-like,--death
enfolding life."

"What shall you call it, Maria?"

"No name, Carl. Perhaps I shall give it a name when it shall be really
finished; but if it is to be what I expect, no one would remember its
name on hearing it."

"Is it so beautiful, then, Maria?"

"To my fancy, _most_ beautiful, Carl."

"That is like the Chevalier."

"He has written, and knows what he has written; but I do not believe
he has ever felt such satisfaction in any work as I in this."

"I think in any one else it would be dreadfully presumptuous,--in you
it is ambitious, I believe; but I have no fear about your succeeding."

"Thank you, Carl, nor I. Will you stay here with me and help me?"

"No, Maria, for you do not want help, and I should think no one could
write unless alone. But I will prevent any one else from coming."

"No one else will come; but if you care to stay here, Carl, I can
write in my room, and you, as you said you have set yourself certain
tasks, can work in this one. I am very selfish I am afraid, for I feel
pleasantly safe when you are near me. I think, Carl, you must have
been a Sunday-child."

"No, Maria; I was born upon a Friday, and my mother was in a great
fright. Shall you write this evening?"

"I must go out and buy some paper."



CHAPTER VII.


We dined together, and then walked. I cannot record Maria's
conversation, for her force now waned, and I should have had to
entertain myself but for the unutterable entertainment at all times to
me of a walk. She bought enough paper to score a whole opera had she
been so disposed; and her preparations rather scared me on her
account. For me, I returned to Cecilia to inform our powers why I
should absent myself, and where remain; and when I came back with
"books and work" of my own, she was very quietly awaiting me for
supper, certainly not making attempts, either dread or ecstatic, at
present. I was, indeed, anxious that if she accomplished her
intentions at all, it should be in the vacation, as she studied so
ardently at every other time; and it was this anxiety that induced me
to leave her alone the next day and every morning of that week. I knew
nothing of what she did meanwhile, and as I returned to Cecilia every
night for sleep, I left her ever early, and heard not a note of her
progress; whether she made any or not remaining at present a secret.

We reassembled in February. At our first meeting, which was a very
festive banquet, our nominal head and the leading professors gave us
an intimation that the examinations would extend for a month, and
would begin in May, when the results would be communicated to the
Chevalier Seraphael, who would be amongst us again at that time, and
distribute the prizes after his own device, also confer the
certificates upon those who were about to leave the school. I was not,
of course, in this number, as the usual term of probation was three
years in any specific department, and six for the academical
course,--the latter had been advised for me by Davy, and acceded to by
my mother. I gave up at present nearly my whole time to mastering the
mere mechanism of my instrument, and had no notion of trying for any
prize at all. I believe those of my contemporaries who aspired thus
were very few at all, and Marc Iskar being among them had the effect
upon me of quenching the slight fever of a desire I might have had so
to distinguish myself. It struck me that Maria should try for the
reward of successful composition; but she was so hurt, and looked so
white when I alluded to it, that it was only once I did so. As to her
proceedings, whatever they were, the most perfect calm pervaded them,
and also her. I scarcely now heard her voice in speech; though it was
spoken aloud by Spoda, and no longer whispered, that she would very
soon be fit for the next initiation into a stage career, or its
attendant and inductive mysteries. One evening I went to see her
expressly to ascertain whether she would really leave us, and I asked
her also about her intentions.

"Carl," she said, "I wish I had any. I don't really care what they do
with me, though I wish to be able to marry as soon as possible. I
believe I am to study under Mademoiselle Venelli at Berlin when I
leave Cecilia. She teaches declamation and that style."

"Maria, you are very cool about it. I suppose you don't mind a bit
about going."

"I should break my heart about it if I did not know I must go one day,
and that the sooner I go the sooner I shall return,--to all I want,
at least. But I have it not in my power to say I will do this, or will
not have that, as it is my brother who educates me, and to whom I am
indebted."

"If you go, Maria, I shall not see you for years and years."

"You will not mind that after a little time."

"Maria, I have never loved to talk to any one so well."

"If that is the only reason you are sorry, I am very glad I go."

She smiled as she spoke, but not a happy smile. I could see she was
very sad, and, as it were, at a distance from her usual self.

"Maria, you have not told me one word about the symphony."

"You did not ask me."

"Were you so proud, then? As if I was not dying to see it, to hear it;
for, Maria, don't tell me you would be contented without its being
heard."

"I am not contented at all, Carl. I am often
discontented,--particularly now."

"About Anastase? Does not Anastase approve of your writing?"

"He knows nothing of it. I would not tell him for a world; nor, Carl,
would you."

"I don't know. I would tell him if it would do you any good, even
though you disliked me to do so."

"Thanks; but it would do me no good. Florimond is poor: he could not
collect an orchestra; and proud: he would not like me to be laughed
at."

"Then what is it, Maria?"

"Carl, you know I am not vain."

I laughed, but answered nothing; it was too absurd a position.

"Well, I am dying of thirst to hear my first movement, which is
written, and which is that sight to my eyes that my ears desire it to
the full as much as they. The second still lingers,--it will not be
invoked. I could, if I could calculate the effect of the first,
produce a second equal to it, I know. But as it is yet in my brain, it
will not give place to another."

"You have tried it upon the piano,--try it for me."

"No, I cannot, Carl. It is nothing thus; and, strange to say, though I
have written it, I cannot play it."

"I can believe that."

"But no one else would, Carl; and therefore it must be folly for me to
have undertaken this writing,--for we are both children, and I suppose
must remain so, after all."

It struck me that the melancholy which poured that pale mask upon her
face was both natural and not unnecessary,--I even delighted in it;
for a thought, almost an idea, flashed straight across my brain, and
lighted up the future, that was still to remain my own, although that
dazzle was withdrawn. I knew what to do now, though I trembled lest I
should not find the way to do it.

"So, Maria, you are not going to finish it just now. Suppose you lend
it to me for a little. I should like to examine it, and it will do me
good."

"Carl, it is not sufficiently scientific to do you good, but I wish
you would take it away, for if I keep it with me, I shall destroy it;
and I shall like it to remain until some day, when God has taught me
more than in myself I know, or than I can learn of men."

"I will take the greatest care of it, Maria," I said, almost fearing
it to be a freak on her part that she suffered my possession, or that
she might withdraw it. "You will ask me for it when you want it; and,
Maria, I have heard it said that it is a good thing to let your
compositions lie by, and come to them with a fresh impression."

"That is exactly what I think. You see with me, Carl, that all which
has to do with music is not music now."

"I think that there is less of the world in music than in anything
else, even in poetry, Maria. But, of course, music must itself fall
short of our ideas of it; and I daresay you found that your beautiful
feelings would not change themselves into music exactly as beautiful
as they were. I know very little music yet, Maria, but I never found
_any_ that did not disappoint my feeling about it when I was hearing
it, except the Chevalier's."

"That is it, Carl. What am I to endeavor, after anything that he has
accomplished? But I feel that if I could not produce the very highest
musical work in the very highest style, I would not produce any, and
would rather die."

"I cannot understand that; I would rather worship than be worshipped."

"I would not. I cannot tell why, but I have a feeling, which will not
let me be content with proving what has gone before me. Dearly as I
love Florimond, he could not put this feeling out of me. I am not
content to be an actress. There have been actresses who were queens,
and some few angels. I know my heart is pure in its desires, and I
should have no objection to reign. But it must be over a new kingdom.
No woman has ever yet composed."

"Oh, yes, Maria!"

"I say no to you, Carl,--not as I mean. I mean no woman has been
supreme among men, as the Chevalier among musicians. I have often
wondered why. And I feel--at least, I did feel--that I could be so,
and do this. But I feel it no longer,--it has passed. Carl, I am very
miserable and cast down."

I could easily believe it, but I was too young to trust to my own
decision. Had Clara been speaking, I should have implicitly relied,
for she always knew herself. But Maria was so wayward, so fitful, and
of late so peculiar that I dared not entertain that confidence in her
genius which was yet the strongest presentiment that had ever taken
hold upon me. I carried away the score, which I had folded up while
she had spoken; and I shall never forget the half-forlorn,
half-wistful look with which she followed it in my arms as I left her.
But I dared not stay, for fear she should change her mind; and
although I would fain have entered into her heart to comfort her, I
could not even try. I was in a breathless state to see that score, but
not much came to my examination. The sheets were exquisitely written,
the manner of Seraphael being exactly imitated, or naturally
identical,--the very noting of a fac-simile, as well as the autograph.
It was styled, "First Symphony," and the key was F minor. But the
composition was so full and close as to swamp completely my childish
criticism. I thought it appeared all right, and very, very wonderful;
but that was all. I wrapped it in one of my best silk handkerchiefs,
to keep it from the dust, and laid it away in my box, together with my
other treasures from home, which ever reposed there; and then I
returned to my work, but certainly more melancholy than I had ever
remembered myself in life.

In March, one day, Maria stayed from school; but her brother Joseph
brought me from her a message. She was indisposed, or said to be so,
and begged me to go and see her. There was no difficulty in doing so,
but I was surprised that Anastase should not be with her, or at least
that he should appear, as he did, so unconcerned. When I expressed my
regret to Joseph Cerinthia, he added that she was only in bed for a
cold. I was both pleased and flattered that she had sent for me, but
still could not comprehend it, as she was so little ill. I ran down,
after the morning, intending to dine with her, or not, I did not care
which. But instead of her being in bed, she was in the parlor.

"I thought, Maria, you were not up."

"I was not; and now I am not dressed. Carl, I sent for you to ask for
the manuscript again."

I looked at her to see whether she meant her request, for it was by no
means easy to say. She looked very brilliant, but had an unusual
darkness round her eyes,--a wide ring of the deepest violet. She
either had wept forth that shadow, or was in a peculiar state. Neither
tears nor smiles were upon her face, and her lips burned with a living
scarlet,--no rose-soft red, as wont. Her hair, fastened under her cap
in long bands, fell here and there, and seemed to have no strength.
She had been drinking _eau sucrée_, for a glass of it was upon the
table, and a few fresh flowers, which she hastened to put away from
her as I entered. I was so much affected by her looks, though no fear
seized me, that I took her hand. It was dry and warm, but very weak
and tremulous.

"Maria, you were at that garden last night, and danced. I knew how it
would be,--it was too early in the year."

"I was not at the Spielheim, for when Florimond said none of you were
going from Cecilia, I declined. But no dancing would have made me ill
as I have been; it was nothing to care for, and is now past."

"Was it cold, then? It seems more like fever."

"It was neither, or perhaps a little of both. Let me have my score
again, Carl. I need only ask for it, you know, as it is mine."

"You need not be so proud, Maria. I shall of course return it, but not
unless you promise me to do no more to it just now."

"Not _just_ now. But I made believe to be ill on purpose that I might
have a day's leisure. I must also copy it out."

"Maria, you never made believe, for if you _could_ tell a lie, it
would not be for yourself. You _have_ been ill, and I suspect much
that I know how. If you will tell me, I will fetch the score,--that
is, if it is good for you to have it. But I would rather burn it than
that it should hurt you; and I tell you, it all depends upon that."

"I will tell you, Carl, and more, because it is over now, and cannot
happen again. I was lying in my bed, and heard the clock strike ten. I
thought also that I had heard it rain; so I got up and looked out.
There was no rain, but there were stars; and seeing them, my thoughts
grew bright,--bright as when I imagined that music; and being in the
same mood,--that is, quiet and yet excited, if you can believe in both
together,--I went to my writing. It was all there ready for me; and
Josephine, who always disturbs me, because she talks, was very fast
asleep. It may sound proud, Carlino, but I am certain the Chevalier
was with me,--that he stood behind my chair, and I could not look
round for fear of seeing him. He guided my hand; he thrust out my
ideas,--all grew clear; and I was not afraid, even of a ghost
companion."

"But the Chevalier is alive and well."

"And yet, I tell you, his ghost was with me. Well, Carl, I had written
until I could not see, for my lamp went out, and it was not yet light.
I suppose I then fell asleep, for I certainly had a vision."

"What was that, Maria?"

"Countless crowds, Carl, first, and then a most horrible whirl and
rush. Then a serene place, gray as morning before the sun, with great
golden organ-pipes, that shot up into and cut through the sky; for
although it was gray beneath, and I seemed to stand upon clouds, it
was all blue over me, and when I looked up, it seemed to return my
gaze. I heard a sound under me, like an orchestra, such as we have
often heard. But _above_, there was another music, and the golden
pipes quivered as if with its trembling; yet it was not the organ that
seemed to speak, and no instrument was there besides. This music did
not interfere with the music of the orchestra,--still playing
onwards,--but it swelled through and through it, and seemed to stretch
like a sky into the sky. Oh, Carl, that I could describe it to you! It
was like all we feel of music,--beyond all we hear, given to us in
hearing."

She paused. Now a light, quenched in thrilling tears, arose, and
glittered from her eyes. She looked overwrought, seraphic; for though
her hand, which I still held, was not changed or cold, her countenance
told unutterable wonder,--the terrors of the heavenliest enthusiasm, I
knew not how to account for.

"Maria, dear! I have had quite as strange dreams, and almost as sweet.
It was very natural, but you were very, very naughty all the same.
What did you do when you awoke?"

"I awoke I don't know how, Carl, nor when; but I resolved to give
into my symphony all that the dream had given me, and I wrote again.
This time I left off, though in a very odd manner. The clock struck
five, and all the people were in the streets. I was cold, which I had
forgotten, and my feet were quite as ice. I was about to turn a leaf
when I shivered and dropped my pen. But when I stooped down to find it
in the early twilight, which, I thought, would help me, I fell upon
the floor. My head was as if fire had burst into it, and a violent
pain came on, that drove me to my bed. I have had such a pain
before,--a little, but very much less; for I believed I could not bear
it. I did fall asleep too, for a long time, and never heard a sound;
and when I arose, I was as well as I need to be, or ever expect. But
as I don't wish to be ill again, I must finish the symphony at once."

"So you think I shall allow it? No, Maria, it is out of the question;
but I will fetch a doctor for you."

"Carl, you are a baby. I have seen a doctor in Paris for this very
pain. He can do nothing for it, and says it is constitutional, and
that I shall always be subject to it. Everybody has something they are
subject to,--Florimond has the gout."

I laughed,--glad to have anything at all to laugh at.

"I am really well now, Carl,--have had a warm bath, and leeches upon
my temples; everything. The woman here has waited upon me, and has
been very kind; and now I have sent her away, for I do hate to seem
ill and be thought ill."

"Leeches, Maria?"

"Oh, that is nothing! I put them on whenever I choose. Did you never
have them on, Carl?"

"No, never. I had a blister for the measles, because I could not bear
to think about leeches. I did not know people put them on for the
headache."

"I always do, and so does everybody for such headaches as mine. But
they have taken away the pain, and that is all I care for. They are
little cold creepers, though; and I was glad to pull them off."

"Show me the marks, Maria."

She lifted her beautiful soft hair. Those cruel little notches were
some hieroglyph to me of unknown suffering that her face expressed,
though I was too young, and far too ignorant, to imagine of what kind
and import.

"I promise you, Maria, that if you attempt to write any more, I will
tell Anastase. Or no,--I have thought of something far more clever: I
will make off with the rest at once."

I had an idea of finding her sheets in her own room; and plunging into
it,--frightening Josephine, who was nursing her doll, into a remote
corner, I gathered all the papers, and folding them together, was
about to rush downstairs without returning to Maria, when she called
upon me so that I dared not help listening. For, "You dare not do it,
Carl!" she cried; "you will kill me, and I shall die now."

Agonized by her expression, which was not even girl-like, I halted for
an instant at her open door.

"Then, Maria, if I leave them here, on your honor, will you not touch
them or attempt to write?"

"It is not your affair, Carl, and I am angry."

She showed she was angry,--very pale, with two crimson spots, and she
bit her lip almost black.

"It _is_ my affair, as you told _me_, and not your brother or
Florimond. He or Florimond would not allow it, you know as well as I
do."

"They should and would. And, pray, why is it I am not to write? I
should say you were jealous, Carl, if you were not Carl. But you have
no right to forbid it, and shall not."

"I do not know how to express my fear, but I am afraid, and, Maria, I
will not let it be done."

Lest I should commit myself, I closed the door, stumbled down the dark
staircase, tore through the street, and deposited the sheets with the
others in the box. I am conscious these details are tedious and
oppressive; but they cannot be withheld, because of what I shall have
to touch upon.

Fearful were the consequences that descended upon my devoted head. I
little expected them, and suffered from them absurdly, child as I was,
and most witless at that time. Maria returned on the following day
week, and looking quite herself, except for those violet shades yet
lingering,--still not herself to me in any sense. She scarcely looked
at me, and did not speak to me at all when I managed to meet her.
Anastase alone seemed conscious that she had been ill. He appeared
unable to rid himself of the impression; for actually during my
lesson, when his custom was to eschew a conventionalism even as a
wrong note, he asked me what had been the matter with her. I told him
I believed a very awful headache, with fever, and that I considered
she had been very ill indeed. I saw his face cloud, though he made
reply all coolness, "You are mistaken, Auchester. It was a cold, which
always produces fever, and often pain." Thus we were all alike
deluded; thus was that motherless one hurried to her Father's house!

Meantime, silent as I kept myself on the subject of the symphony, it
held me day by day more firmly. I longed almost with suffering for the
season when I should emancipate myself from all my doubts.



CHAPTER VIII.


The season came, and I shall never forget its opening. It was late in
April,--exquisite weather, halcyon, blooming; my memory expands to it
now. From Italy he returned. He came upon us suddenly,--there was no
time to organize a procession, to marshal a welcome chorus; none knew
of his arrival until he appeared.

We had been rambling in the woods, Franz and I, and were lounging
homewards, laden with wild-flowers and lily bunches. Franz was a kind
creature to me now, and in my loneliness I sought him always. We
heard, even among the moss, a noise of distant shoutings,--nobody
shouted in that spot except our own,--and we hurried homewards. I was
quite faint with expectation, and being very weary, sat down to rest
on one of those seats that everywhere invite in shady places, while
Delemann sped onwards for information.

Returning, he announced most gleefully, "The Chevalier has arrived;
they are drawing the carriage up the hill." I am ashamed of what I
did. I could not return to Cecilia; I wandered about in the village,
possessed by a vague aspiration that I should see him there, or that
he would espy me: no such thing.

I came back to supper excited, expectant; he was gone. I deserved it,
and felt I did, for my cowardice; but at the end of supper the head of
the central table, having waited until then, deliberately took from
his deep pocket and presented me with a note, a very tiny note, that
was none the fresher for having lain an hour or two amidst snuff and
"tabac." But this noteling almost set me raving. It was short indeed,
yet honey sweet.

      I am not to find thee here, my Carl, although I came on
      purpose. Art not thou still my eldest child? Come to me,
      then, to-morrow, it will be thy Sunday, and thy room shall
      be ready; also two little friends of thine,--I and he. Do
      not forget me.

      Thine,
      SERAPHAEL.

He had made every arrangement for my visit, and I never think of his
kindness in these particulars without being reminded that in
proportion to the power of his genius was it ever beneficently gentle.
I spent such an afternoon as would have been cheaply purchased by a
whole life of solitude; but I must only advert to one circumstance
that distinguished it.

We were walking upon the lovely terrace amongst bright marbles just
arranged, and dazzling flowers; he was gentle, genial, animated,--I
felt my time was come. I therefore taught myself to say: "Sir, I have
a very, most particular favor to ask of you; it is that you will
condescend to give me your opinion of a piece of music which some one
has written. I have brought it with me on purpose,--may I fetch it? It
is in my hat in the house."

"By all means, this very moment, Carlomein,--or, no, rather we will go
in-doors together and examine it quietly. It is thine own, of course?"

"Oh, no, sir! I should have said so directly. It is a young lady's,
and she knows nothing of my bringing it. I stole it from her."

"Ah! true," he replied, simply; and led me to that beautiful
music-room. I was fain to realize Maria's dream as I beheld those
radiant organ-pipes beneath their glorious arch, that deep-wooded
pianoforte, with its keys, milk-white and satin-soft, recalling me but
to that which was lovelier than her very vision,--the lustrous
presence pervading that luxury of artistic life. Seraphael was more
innocent, more brilliant in behavior at his home than anywhere; the
noble spaces and exquisitely appointed rooms seemed to affect him
merely as secluded warmth affects an exotic flower; he expanded more
fully, fragrantly, in the rich repose.

At the cedar writing-table he paused, and stood waiting silently while
I fetched the score. As I unfolded it before him I was even more
astonished than ever at the perfection of its appearance; I hesitated
not the least to place it in those most delicate of all delicate
hands. I saw his eyes, that seemed to have drawn into them the very
violet of the Italian heaven, so dark they gleamed through the
down-let lashes, fasten themselves eagerly for an instant upon the
title-sheet, where, after his own fashion, Maria had written her
ancient name, "Cerinthia," only, in the corner; but then he laid the
score, having opened the first page, upon the table, and knelt down
before it, plunging his fingers into the splendid curls of his regal
head, his very brow being buried in their shadow as he bent, bowed,
leaned into the page, and page after page until the end.

With restless rapidity his hand flashed back the leaves, his eye drank
the spirit of those signs; but he spoke not, stirred not. It seemed to
me that I must not watch him, as I was doing most decidedly, and I
disentangled myself from that revery with a shock.

I walked to the carved music-stands, the painted music-cases. I
examined the costly manuscripts and olden tomes arrayed on polished
cabinets. I blinded myself with the sunshine streaming through stained
compartments in the windows to the carnation-toned velvet of the
furniture. I peered into the pianoforte, and yearned for it to awaken;
and rested long and rapturously before a mighty marble likeness of the
self-crowned Beethoven. It was garlanded with grapes and vine-leaves
that fondled the wild locks in gracefullest fraternity; it was mounted
upon a pedestal of granite, where also the alabaster fruits and
tendrils clustered, clasping it like frozen summer, and beneath the
bust the own investment glittered,--"Tonkunst's Bacchus."[6] It was no
longer difficult to pass away the time without being troublesome to
myself or Seraphael. I was lost in a triumphant reminiscence that the
stormy brow, the eyes of lightning, the torn heart, the weary soul,
were now heaven's light, heaven's love, its calm, its gladness. For
quite an hour I stood there, so remembering and desiring ever to
remember. And then that sweet, that living voice aroused me. Without
looking up, he said,--

"Do you mean to say, Carlomein, that she has had no help here?"

"Sir, she could have had none; it was all and entirely her own. No one
knew she had written except myself."

Then in his clearest tones he answered: "It is as I expected. It is
terrible, Carlomein, to think that this work might have perished; and
I embrace thee, Carlomein, for having secured to me its possession."

"Is it so very good then, sir? Maria was very ignorant about it, and
could not even play it for herself."

"I daresay not, she has made too full a score." He smiled his sweetest
smile. "But for all that, we will not strike out one note. Why is it
not finished, Carlomein?"

I might have related the whole story from beginning to end; but his
manner was very regal just now, and I merely said: "I rather think she
was dissatisfied with the first two movements, for although she said
she could finish it, she did not, and I have kept it some time."

"You should have written to me, Carlomein, or sent it to me; it must
and shall be finished. The work is of Heaven's own. What earthly
inspiration could have taught her strains like these? They are of a
priestess and a prophetess; she has soared beyond us all."

He arose suddenly; a fixed glow was upon his face, his eyes were one
solemn glory. He came to the piano, he pushed me gently aside, he took
his seat noiselessly, as he began to play. I would not retire. I stood
where I could both see and hear. It was the second movement that first
arrested him. He gave to the white-faced keys a hundred voices. Tone
upon tone was built; the chords grew larger and larger; no other hand
could have so elicited the force, the burden, the breadth of the
orchestral medium, from those faint notes and few. His articulating
finger supplied all needs of mechanism. He doubled and redoubled his
power.

Never shall I forget it,--the measures so long and lingering, the
modulations so like his own, the very subject moulded from the chosen
key, like sculpture of the most perfect chiselling from a block of the
softest grain,--so appropriate, so masterly. But what pained me
through the loveliness of the conception was to realize the mood
suggesting it,--a plaint of spiritual suffering, a hungering and
thirsting heart, a plea of exhausted sadness.

He felt it too; for as the weary, yet unreproachful strain fell from
under his music-burdened fingers, he drooped his glorious head as a
lily in the drenching rain, his lips grew grave, the ecstatic smile
was lost, and in his eyes there was a dim expression, though they
melted not to tears. I was sure that Maria had conserved her dream,
for a strange, intermittent accompaniment streamed through the loftier
appeal, and was as a golden mist over too much piercing brightness.

The movement was very long, and he never spoke all through it, neither
when he had played as far as she had written; but turned back to the
first, as yet untried.

Again was I forcibly reminded of what I had said on my first
acquaintance with her; she had, without servile intention, caught the
very spirit of Seraphael as it wandered through his compositions, and
imprisoned it in the sympathy of her own. It was as two flowers whose
form is single and the same, but the hues were of different
distribution, and still his own supreme. I cannot describe the first
movement further. I was too young to be astonished, carried away by
the miracle of its consummation under such peculiar circumstances; but
I can remember how completely I felt I might always trust myself in
future when any one should gain such ascendency over my
convictions,--which, by the way, never happened.

I must not dwell upon that evening,--suffice it to say that I left the
score with the Chevalier; and though he did not tell me so in so many
words, I felt sure he himself would restore it to the writer.

On Monday evening I was very expectant, and not in vain, for she sent
me a note of invitation,--an attention I had not received from her
since my rebellious behavior. She was alone, and even now writing. She
arose hastily, and for some moments could not command her voice; she
said what I shall not repeat, except that she was too generous as
regarded her late distance, and then she explained what follows.

"The Chevalier came this morning, and, Carl, I could only send for you
because it is you who have done it all for me, in spite of my
ingratitude; and, alas! I never can repay you. I feel, Carl, now, that
it is better not to have all one wishes for at once; if I had not
waited, the shock would have killed me."

I looked at her, tried to make out to my sight that she did not, even
now, look as if ready to die; her lips had lost their fever rose, and
were pale as the violets that strewed her eyes. The faint blue threads
of veins on the backs of her hands, the thin polish of those temples
standing clear from her darkest hair,--these things burned upon my
brain and gave me a sickening thrill. I felt, "Can Anastase have seen
her? Can he have known this?"

I was most of all alarmed at what I myself had done; still, I was
altogether surprised at the renewal of my fears, for on the Saturday
she had not only seemed, but been herself,--her cheeks, her lips, her
brow, all wearing the old healthful radiance.

"Maria," I exclaimed, "dear Maria, will you tell me why this symphony
makes you ill, or look so ill? You were quite well on Saturday, I
thought, or you may quite believe I should never have done what I
did."

"Do I look ill, Carl? I do not feel ill, only desperately excited. I
have no headache, and, what is better, no heart-pain now. Do you know
what is to be? I tell you, because you will rejoice that you have done
it. This work is to be finished and to be heard. An orchestra will
return my dream to God."

"Ah! your dream, Maria,--I thought of that. But shall _I_ hear it,
Maria?"

"You will play for me, Carl,--and Florimond. Oh! I must not remember
that. And the Chevalier, Carl,--he even entreated, the proud soul, the
divinely missioned, entreated me to perpetuate the work. I can write
now without fear; he has made me free. I feared myself before; now I
only fear him."

"Maria, what of Anastase? Does he know, and what does he think?"

"Do not ask me, Carl, for I cannot tell you what he did. He was
foolish, and so was I; but it was for joy on both our parts."

"You cried then! There is nothing to be ashamed of."

"We ought to have restrained ourselves when the Chevalier was by. He
must love Florimond now, for he fetched him himself, and told him what
I had done, and was still to do."

It is well for us that time does not stay,--not grievous, but a
gladsome thought that all we most dread is carried beyond our reach by
its force, and that all we love and long to cherish is but taken that
it may remain, beyond us, to ripen in eternity until we too ripen to
enjoy it. Still, there is a pain, wholly untinctured with pleasure, in
recalling certain of its shocks, re-living them, returning upon them
with memory.

The most glorious of our days, however, strike us with as troubled a
reminiscence, so that we ought not to complain, nor to desire other
than that the past should rest, as it does, and as alone the dead
beside repose,--in hope. I have brought myself to the recollection of
certain passages in my youth's history simply because there is nothing
more precious than the sympathy, so rare, of circumstance with
passion; nothing so difficult to describe, yet that we so long to
win.

It is seldom that what happens as chance we would have left unchanged,
could we have passed sentence of our will upon it; but still more
unwonted is it to feel, after a lapse of eventful times, that what
_has_ happened was not only the best, but the only thing to happen,
all things considered that have intervened. This I feel now about the
saddest lesson I learned in my exuberant boyhood,--a lesson I have
never forgotten, and can never desire to discharge from my life's
remembrance.

Everything prospered with us after the arrangement our friend and lord
had made for Maria. I can only say of my impressions that they were of
the utmost perfectibility of human wishes in their accomplishment, for
she had indeed nothing left to wish for.

I would fain delineate the singular and touching gratitude she evinced
towards Seraphael, but it did not distribute itself in words; I
believe she was altogether so much affected by his goodness that she
dared not dwell upon it. I saw her constantly between his return and
the approaching examinations; but our intercourse was still and
silent. I watched her glide from room to room at Cecilia, or found her
dark hair sweeping the score at home so calmly--she herself calmer
than the calmest,--calm as Anastase himself. Indeed, to him she
appeared to have transferred the whole impetuousness of her nature; he
was changed also, his kindness to myself warmer than it ever had been;
but from his brow oppressed, his air of agitation, I deemed him verily
most anxious for the result. Maria had not more than a month to work
upon the rest of the symphony and to complete it, as Seraphael had
resolutely resolved that it should be rehearsed before our summer
separation.

Maria I believe would not have listened to such an arrangement from
any other lips; and Florimond's dissatisfaction at a premature
publicity was such that the Chevalier--autocratic even in granting a
favor, which he must ever grant in his own way--had permitted the
following order to be observed in anticipation.

After our own morning performance by the pupils only and their
respective masters, the hall would be cleared, the audience and
members should disperse, and only the strictly required players for
the orchestra remain; Seraphael himself having chosen these. Maria was
herself to conduct the rehearsal, and those alone whose assistance she
would demand had received an intimation of the secret of her
authorship. I trembled when the concluding announcement was made to
me, for I had a feeling that she could not be kept too quiet; also,
Anastase, to my manifest appreciation, shared my fear. But Seraphael
was irresistible, especially as Maria had assented, had absorbed
herself in the contemplation of her intentions, even to eagerness,
that they should be achieved.

Our orchestra was, though small, brilliant, and in such perfect
training as I seldom experienced in England. Our own rehearsals were
concluded by the week before our concert, and there remained rather
less for me to do. Those few days I was inexpressibly wretched,--a
foreboding drowned my ecstatic hopes in dread; they became a constant
effort to maintain, though even everything still smiled around us.

The Tuesday was our concert morning, and on the Sunday that week I met
Maria as we came from church. She was sitting in the sunlight, upon
one of the graves. Josephine was not near her, nor her brother, only
Florimond, who was behind me, ran and joined her before I beheld that
she beckoned to me. I did hardly like to go forward as they were both
together, but he also made me approach by a very gentle smile. The
broad lime-trees shadowed the church, and the blossoms, unopened, hung
over them in ripest bud; it was one of those oppressively sweet
seasons that remind one--at least me--of the resurrection morning.

"Sit down by me, Carl," said Maria, who had taken off her gloves, and
was already playing with Florimond's fingers, as if she were quite
alone with him, though the churchyard was yet half filled with people.

"Maria," I said, sitting down at the foot of a cross that was hung
with faded garlands, "why don't you sit in the shade? It is a very
warm day."

"So it is very warm, and that is what I like; I am never warm enough
here, and Florimond, too, loves the sun. I could not sit under a tree
this day, everything is so bright; but nothing can be as bright as I
wish it. Carl, I was going to tell Florimond, and I will tell you,
that I feel as if I were too glad to bear what is before me. I did not
think so until it came so very near. I am afraid when I stand up my
heart will fail."

"Are you frightened, Maria?" I asked in my simplicity.

"That is not it, though I am also frightened. But I feel as if it were
scarcely the thing for me to do, to stand up and control those of whom
I am not master. Is it not so, Florimond?"

"Maria, the Chevalier is the only judge; and I am certain you will
not, as a woman, allow your feelings to get the better of you. I have
a great deal more to suffer on your account than you can possibly
feel."

"I do not see that."

"It is so, and should be seen by you. If your work should in any
respect fail, imagine what that failure would cost me."

I looked up in utter indignation, but was disarmed by the expression
of his countenance; a vague sadness possessed it, a certain air of
tender resignation; his hauteur had melted, though his manner retained
its distance.

"As if it could be a failure!" I exclaimed; "why, we already know how
much it is!"

"I do not, Auchester, and I am not unwilling to confess my ignorance.
If our symphony even prove worthy of our Cecilia, I shall still be
anxious."

"Why, Florimond?" she demanded, wistfully.

"On account of your health. You know what you promised me."

"Not to write for a year. That is easy to say."

"But not so easy to do. You make every point an extreme, Maria."

"I cannot think what you mean about my health."

"You cannot?"

She blushed lightly and frowned a shade. "I have told you, Florimond,
how often I have had that pain before."

"And you told me also what they said."

His tones were now so grave that I could not bear to conjecture their
significance. He went on.

"I do not consider, Maria, that for a person of genius it is any
hardship to be discouraged from too much effort, especially when the
effect will become enhanced by a matured experience."

"You are very unkind, Florimond."

Indeed, I thought so, too.

"I only care to please you."

"No, Maria, you had not a thought of me in writing."

"And yet you yourself gave me the first idea. But you are right; I
wrote without reference to any one, and because I burned to do so."

"And you burn less now for it? Tell me that."

"I do not burn any longer, I weary for it to be over; I desire to hear
it once, and then you may take it away, and I will never see it any
more."

"That is quite as unnatural as the excessive desire,--to have fatigued
of what you loved. But, Maria, I trust this weariness of yours will
not appear before the Chevalier, after all his pains and interest."

"I hope so too, Florimond; but I do not know."

It did not. The next day the Chevalier came over to Cecilia, and slept
that night in the village. The tremendous consequence of the next
twenty-four hours might almost have erased, as a rolling sea, all
identical remembrance; and, indeed, it has sufficed to leave behind it
what is as but a picture once discerned, and then forever
darkened,--the cool, early romance of the wreaths and garlands (for we
all rose at dawn to decorate the entrance, the corridors, the hall,
the reception-room), the masses of May-bloom and lilies that arrived
with the sun; the wild beauty overhanging everything; the mysterious
freshness I have mentioned, or some effects just so conceived, before.

I myself adorned with laurels and lilies the conductor's desk, and the
whole time as much in a dream as ever when asleep,--at all events I
could even realize less. Maria was not at hand, nor could I see her,
she breakfasted alone with Anastase; and although I shall never know
what happened between them that morning, I have ever rejoiced that she
did so.

When our floral arrangements were perfected I could not even criticise
them. I flew to my bed and sat down upon it, holding my violin, my
dearest, in my arms; there I rested, perhaps slept. Strange thoughts
were mine in that short time, which seemed immeasurably
lengthening,--most like dreams, too, those very thoughts, for they
were all rushing to a crisis. I recalled my cue, however, and what
that alarming peal of a drum meant, sounding through the avenues of
Cecilia.

As we ever cast off things behind, my passion could only hold upon the
future. I was but, with all my speed, just in time to fall into
procession with the rest. The chorus first singing, the band in the
midst, behind, our professors in order, and on either side our own
dark lines the female pupils,--a double streak of white. I have not
alluded to our examinations, with which, however, I had had little
enough to do. But we all pressed forward in contemporaneous state, and
so entered the antechamber of the hall. It was the most purely
brilliant scene I ever saw, prepared under the eye of the masters in
our universal absence; I could recognize but one taste, but one eye,
one hand, in that blending of all deep with all most dazzling
flower-tints.

One double garland, a harp in a circle,--the symbol of immortal
harmony,--wrought out of snowy roses and azure ribbons, hung exactly
above the table; but the table was itself covered with snowy damask,
fold upon fluted fold, so that nothing, whatever lay beneath it, could
be given to the gaze.

Through the antechamber to the decorated hall we passed, and then a
lapse of music half restored me to myself,--only half, despite the
overture of his, with choral relief, with intersong, that I had never
heard before, and that he had written only for us: despite his
presence, his conducting charm.

In little more than an hour we returned, pell-mell now, just as we
pleased, notwithstanding calls to order and the pulses of the
measuring voices. Just then I found myself by Maria. Through that
sea-like resonance she whispered,--

"Do not be surprised, Carl, if the Chevalier presents you with a
prize."

"I have not tried for one, Maria."

"I know that, but he will nevertheless distinguish you, I am certain
of it."

"I hope not. Keep near me, Maria."

"Yes, surely, if I can; but oh, Carl, I am glad to be near you! Is
that a lyre above the table? for I can scarcely see."

She was, as I expected, pale,--not paler than ever; for it was very
long since she had been paler than any one I ever saw, except the
Chevalier. But his was as the lustre of the whitest glowing
fire,--hers was as the light of snow. She was all pale except her
eyes, and that strange halo she had never lost shone dim as the
darkliest violets, a soft yet awful hue. I had replied to her question
hurriedly, "Yes; and it must have taken all the roses in his garden."
And last of all, she said to me, in a tone which suggested more
suffering than all her air: "I wish I were one of those roses."

The table, when the rich cover was removed, presented a spectacle of
fascination scarcely to be appreciated except by those immediately
affected. Masses of magnificently bound volumes, painted and carved
instrument-cases, busts and portraits of the hierarchy of music, lay
together in according contrast. For, as I have not yet mentioned, the
Chevalier had carried out his abolition of the badges to the utmost;
there was not a medal to be seen. But these prizes were beyond the
worth of any medal, each by each. One after another left the table in
those delicate hands, wafted to its fortunate possessor by a
compliment more delicate still, and I fancied no more remained.

Maria still stood near me; and as the moments flew, a stillness more
utter than I could have imagined pervaded her, a marbled quietness
crept over every muscle; and as I met her exquisite countenance in
profile, with the eyes downward and fixed, and not an eyelash
stirring, she might have been the victim of despair, or the genius of
enraptured hope.

I saw that the Chevalier had proceeded to toss over and over the
flowers which had strewn the gifts,--as if it were all, also, over
now,--and he so long continued to trifle with them that I felt as if
he saw Maria, and desired to attract from her all other eyes, for he
talked the whole time lightly, laughingly, with an air of the most
ravishing gayety, to those about him, and to every one except
ourselves.

In a few minutes, which appeared to be a very hour, he gathered up,
with a handful of flowers that he let slip through his fingers
directly, something which he retained in his hand, and which it now
struck me that he had concealed, whatever it was, by that flower-play
of his all along; for it was even diffidently, certainly with reserve
of some kind, that he approached us last, as we stood together and did
not stir.

"These," said he to me in a voice that just trembled, though aërially
joyous, "are too small to make speeches about; but in memory of
several secrets we have between us, I hope you will sometimes wear
them."

He then looked full at Maria; but she responded not even to that
electric force that is itself the touch of light,--her eyes still
downcast, her lips unmoved. He turned to me, and softly, seriously,
yet half surprised, as it were, shook his head, placing in her hand
the first of the unknown caskets he had brought, and the other in my
own. She took it without looking up, or even murmuring her thanks;
still, immediately as he returned to the table, I forced it from her,
feeling it might and ought to occasion a revulsion of sensation,
however slight.

It succeeded so far as that she gazed, still bending downwards, upon
what I held in my own hand now, and exhibited to her. It was a
full-blown rose of beaten silver, white as snow, without a leaf, but
exquisitely set upon a silver stem, and having upon one of its broad
petals a large dewdrop of the living diamond.

I opened my own strange treasure then, having resigned to her her own.
This was a breastpin of purest gold, with the head--a great violet cut
from a single amethyst--as perfectly executed as hers. I thrust it
into my pocket, for I could not at that instant even rejoice in its
possession. And now soon, very soon, the flower-lighted space was
cleared, and we, the chosen few, alone remained.

My heart felt as if it could only break, so violent was the pulse that
shook it. I knew that I must make an effort transcending all, or I
should lose my power to handle the bow; and at least I achieved
composure of behavior. Anastase, I can remember, came to me; he
touched my hand, and as if he longed, with all loosened passion, for
something like sympathy, looked into my very eyes. I could scarcely
endure that gaze,--it was inquisitive to scrutiny, yet dim with
unutterable forecast.

The flowers in the concert-hall were already withering when, after a
short separation for refreshment, we returned there, and were shut in
safely by the closed doors from the distant festal throng.

It was a strange sight, those deserted seats in front, where now none
rested saving only the Chevalier, who, after hovering amidst the
orchestra until all the ranks were filled, had descended, as was
arranged, into the void space, that he might be prepared to criticise
the performance. He did not seem much in the mood for criticism; his
countenance was lightening with excitement, his eyes burned like stars
brought near: that hectic fire, that tremulous blaze were both for
her.

As he retreated, and folding his slender arms and raising his glorious
head, still stood, Maria entered with Anastase. Florimond led her
forward in her white dress, as he had promised himself to lead her
captive on the day of her espousals; neither hurried nor abashed, she
came in her virgin calm, her virgin paleness. But as they stood for
one moment at the foot of the orchestra, he paused, arrested her, his
hand was raised; and in a moment, with a smile whose tenderness for
that moment triumphed, he had placed the silver rose in her dark hair,
where it glistened, an angelic symbol to the recognition of every one
present. She did not smile in return, nor raise her eyes, but mounted
instantly and stood amidst us.

I had no idea, until, indeed, she stood there, a girl amidst
us,--until she appeared in that light of which she herself was
light,--how very small she was, how slightly framed; every emotion was
articulated by the fragility of her form as she stirred so calmly,
silently. The bright afternoon from many windows poured upon the
polish of her forehead, so arched, so eminent; but, alas! upon the
languors also that had woven their awful mists around her eyes. Her
softly curling lips spoke nothing now but the language of sleep in
infancy, so gently parted, but not as in inspiration. As she raised
that arm so calmly, and the first movement came upon me, I could not
yet regard her, nor until a rest occurred. Then I saw her the same
again, except that her eyes were filled with tears, and over all her
face that there was a shadow playing as from some sweeping solemn
wing, like the imagery of summer leaves that trembles upon a moonlit
grass.

Only once I heard that music, but I do not remember it, nor can call
upon myself to describe it. I only know that while in the full
thrilling tide of that first movement I was not aware of playing, or
how I played, though very conscious of the weight upon my heart and
upon every instrument. Even Anastase, next whom I stood, was not
himself in playing. I cannot tell whether the conductress were herself
unsteady, but she unnerved us all, or something too near unnerved
us,--we were noiselessly preparing for that which was at hand.

At the close of the movement a rushing cadence of ultimate rapidity
broke from the stringed force, but the wind flowed in upon the final
chords; they waned, they expanded, and at the simultaneous pause she
also paused. Then strangely, suddenly, her arm fell powerless, her
paleness quickened to crimson, her brow grew warm with a bursting
blood-red blush,--she sank to the floor upon her side silently as in
the south wind a leaf just flutters and is at rest; nor was there a
sound through the stricken orchestra as Florimond raised her and
carried her from us in his arms.

None moved beside, except the Chevalier, who, with a gaze that was as
of one suddenly blinded, followed Anastase instantaneously. We
remained as we stood, in a suspense that I, for one, could never have
broken. Poor Florimond's violin lay shattered upon the floor, the
strings shivered, and yet shuddering; the rose lay also low. None
gathered either up, none stirred, nor any brought us word. I believe I
should never have moved again if Delemann, in his living kindness, had
not sped from us at last.

He, too, was long away,--long, long to return; nor did he, in
returning, re-enter the orchestra. He beckoned to me from the screen
of the antechamber. I met him amidst the glorious garlands, but I made
way to him I know not how. That room was deserted also, and all who
had been there had gone. Whither? Oh! where might they now remain?
Franz whispered to me, and of his few, sad words--half hope, half
fear, all anguish--I cannot repeat the echo. But it is sufficient for
all to remind myself how soon the hope had faded, after few, not many
days; how the fear passed with it, but not alone. Yet, whatever
passed, whatever faded, left us love forever,--love, with its dear
regrets, its infinite expectations!

FOOTNOTE:

[6] The Bacchus of Music.



CHAPTER IX.


Twelve years of after-life cannot but weigh lighter in the balance of
recollection than half that number in very early youth. I think this
now, pondering upon the threshold of middle age with an enthusiasm
fixed and deepened by every change; but I did not think so the day to
which I shall defer my particular remembrances,--the day I had left
Germany forever,--except in dreams. There were other things I might
have left behind that now I carried to my home,--things themselves all
dreams, yet containing in their reminiscences the symbols of my every
reality. Eternity alone could contain the substance of those shadows;
that shore we deem itself to shadow, alone contains the resolution
into glory of all our longings, into peace of all our pain.

Such feelings, engendered by loneliness, took me by the very hand and
led me forwards that dreary December evening when I landed in England
last, having obtained all that was absolutely necessary to be made my
own abroad.

I have not tormented my reader or two with the most insignificant
mention of myself between this evening and a time some years before;
it would have been impracticable, or, if practicable, impertinent, as
I lived those after years entirely within and to myself. The sudden
desertion which had stricken Cecilia of her hero lord, and that
suspension of his presence which ensued, had no more power upon me
than to call out what was, indeed, demanded of me under such
circumstances,--all the persistency of my nature. And if even there
had been a complete and actual surrender of all her privileges by
professors and pupils, I should have been the last to be found there,
and I think that I should have played to the very empty halls until
ruin hungered for them and we had fallen together. As it happened,
however, my solitude was more actual than any I could have provided
for myself; my spirit retreated, and to music alone remained either
master or slave.

The very representative of music was no longer such to me; for when we
came together after that fatal midsummer no sign was left of
Anastase,--"a new king had arisen in Egypt, who knew not Joseph." To
him I ought, perhaps, to confess that I owed a good deal, but I cannot
believe it,--I am fain to think I should have done as well alone; but
there was that in the association and habitude of the place, that in
the knowledge of being still under the superintendence, however formal
and abstracted, of its head, that I could not, and would not, have
flung up the chances of its academical career.

It was, however, no effort to disengage myself from the spot, for any
notion of the presence of him I best loved was, alas! now, and had
been long, entirely dissociated from it. Not one smile from those fair
lips, not one ray from those awful eyes, had sunned the countenances
of the ever-studious throng. A monastery could not have been more
secluded from the incarnate presence of the Deity than were we in that
quiet institution from its distant director.

Let it not be imagined, at the same time, that we could have existed
in ignorance of that influence which was streaming--an "eastern
star"--through the country that contained him as a light of life,
which in the few fleeting years of my boyhood had garnered such
illustrious immortality for one scarcely past his own first youth. But
in leaving Germany I was leaving neither the name nor the fame of
Seraphael, except to meet them again where they were dearer yet and
brighter than in their cradle-land.

None could estimate--and, young as I yet was, I well knew it--the
proportion of the renown his early works had gained in this strange
country. The noblest attribute of race, the irresistible conception of
the power of race, had scarcely then received a remote encouragement,
though physiologists abounded; but, like our artists, they lacked an
ideal, or, like our politicians, "a man."

Still, whether people knew it or not, they insensibly worshipped the
perfect beauty whose development was itself music, and whose
organization, matchless and sublimated, was but the purest type of
that human nature on which the Divine One placed his signet, and which
he instituted by sharing, the nearest to his own. Those who did know
it, denied it in the face of their rational conviction, because it was
so hard to allow that to be a special privilege in which they can bear
no earthly part; for all the races of the earth cannot tread down one
step of that race, nor diminish in each millennium its spiritual
approximation to an everlasting endurance. Or, perhaps, to do them
justice, the very conviction was as dark to them as that of death,
which all must hold, and so few care to remind themselves of. At all
events, it was yet a whisper--and a whisper not so universally wafted
as whispers in general are--that Seraphael was of unperverted Hebrew
ancestry, both recognizant of the fact and auspicious in its
entertainment.

Many things affected me as changes when I landed at London Bridge,
for I had not been at home for three whole years, and was not prepared
to meet such changes, though aware of many in myself.

I cannot allude to any now, except the railway, which was the first I
had seen, and whose line to our very town, almost to our very house,
had been not six months completed. I shall never forget the effect,
nor has it ever left me when I travel; I cannot find it monotonous,
nor anything but marvel. It was certainly evening when I entered the
stupendous terminus, and nothing could have so adapted itself to the
architecture as the black-gray gloom, lamp-strung, streaming with
gas-jets.

Such gloom breathed deadly cold, presaging the white storm or the
icing wind; and it was the long drear line itself that drew my spirit
forth, as itself lonely to bask in loneliness, such weird, wild
insecurity seemed hovering upon the darkened distance, such a dream of
hopeless achievement seemed the space to be overpassed that awful
evening. As I walked along the carriage-line I felt this, although the
engine-fire glowed furiously, and it spit out sparks in bravery; but
the murmur of exhaustless power prevented my feeling in full force
what that power must really be.

It was not until we rolled away and left the lamps in their ruddy sea
behind us, had lost ourselves far out in the dark country, had begun
to rush into the very arms of night, that I could even bear to
remember how little people had told me of what steam-travelling by
land would prove in my experience. It seemed to me as if I, too, ought
to have changed, and to carry wings; the spirit pined for an
enfranchisement of its own as peculiar, and recalled all painfully
that its pinings were in vain.

A thousand chapters have been expended upon the delights of return to
home, and a thousand more will probably insure for themselves laudable
publicity. I should be an all-ungrateful wretch if I refused my single
_Ave_ at that olden shrine. I cannot quite forget, either, that none
of my wildest recollections out-dazzled its near brightness as I
approached; the poetic isolation of my late life, precious as it was
in itself, and inseparable from my choicest appreciation, seeming but
to enhance the genial sweetness of the reality in my reception.

Long before I arrived in that familiar parlor a presence awaited me
which had ever appeared to stand between my actual and my ideal
world,--it was that of my brother and earliest friend, dear Lenhart
Davy, who had walked out into the winter night expressly and entirely
to meet me, and who was so completely unaged, unchanged, and unalloyed
that I could but wonder at the freshness of the life within him, until
I remembered the fountains where it fed. He was as bright, as earnest,
as in the days of my infant faith; but there was little to be said
until we arrived at home.

Cold as was the season, and peculiarly susceptible as our family has
ever been to cold, the street-door positively stood ajar! and hiding
behind it was Margareth, oblivious of rheumatism and frost, to receive
her nursling. When she had pronounced upon my growth her enchanted
eulogy that I was taller than ever and more like myself, I was dragged
into the parlor by Davy, and found them all, the bloom of the
firelight restoring their faces exactly as I had left them. My mother,
as I told her, looked younger than myself,--which might easily be the
case, as I believe I was born grown up,--and Clo was very handsome in
her fashion, wearing the old pictorial raiment. My sister Lydia had
lately received preferment, and introduced me on the instant to her
prospects,--a gentlemanly individual upon the sofa, who had not even
concluded his college career, but was in full tilt for high
mathematical honors at that which I have heard called Oxford's rival,
but upon whose merit as a residence and Academe celestial I am not
competent to sit in judgment.

These worthies dismissed, I was at liberty to spend myself upon the
most precious of the party. They were Millicent and her baby, which
last I had never seen,--a lady of eighteen months, kept thus late out
of her cradle that she, too, might greet her uncle. She was a
delicious child,--I have never found her equal,--and had that
indescribable rarity of appearance which belongs, or we imagine it to
belong, to an only one. Carlotta--so they had christened her after
unworthy me--was already calling upon my name, to the solemn ecstasy
of Davy, and his wife's less sustained gratification.

I have never really seen such a sight as that sister and brother of
mine, with that only child of theirs. When we drew to the table,
gloriously spread for supper, and my mother, in one of her
old-fashioned agonies, implored for Carlotta to be taken upstairs,
Davy, perfectly heedless, brought her along with him to his chair,
placed on his knee and fed her, fostered her till she fell asleep and
tumbled against his shoulder, when he opened his coat-breast for her
and just let her sleep on,--calling no attention to her beauties in so
many words, certainly, but paying very little attention to anything
else; and at last, when we all retired, carrying her away with him
upstairs, where I heard him walking up and down his room, with a
hushing footstep, long after I had entered mine.

It was not until the next morning that I was made fully aware of
Davy's position. After breakfast, as soon as the sun was high enough
to prepare the frosty atmosphere for the reception of the baby, I
returned with Millicent and himself to their own home. I had been
witness to certain improvements in that little droll house, but a
great deal more had been done since my last visit.

For example, there was a room downstairs, built out, for the books,
which had accumulated too many; and over this room had Davy designed a
very sweet green-house, to be approached from the parlor itself. The
same order overlaid everything; the same perfume of cleanliness
permeated every corner; and it was just as well this was the case, so
jammed and choked up with all sorts of treasures and curiosities were
the little landing-place, the tiny drawing-room, the very bed-room and
_a half_, as Davy called my own little closet, with the little carven
bed's head. Everywhere his shadow, gliding and smiling silently,
though at the proper time she had plenty to say too, came Millicent
after him. Nor was the baby ever far behind; for at the utmost
distance might be glimpsed a nest of basket-work, lined with
blush-color, placed on a chair or two among the geraniums and myrtles,
and in that basket the baby lay; while her mamma, who only kept one
servant, made various useful and ornamental progresses through the
house.

While Davy was at home, however, Carlotta was never out of his arms,
or, at least, off his lap; she had learned to lie quite quiescently
across his knees while he wrote or read, making no more disturbance
than a dove would have done. I believe he was half-jealous because
when I took her she did not cry, but began to put her fingers into my
eyes and to carry my own fingers to her mouth. This morning we had her
between us when we began to talk, and it was with his eyes upon her
that Davy first said,--

"Well, Charles, you have told me nothing of your plans yet; I suppose
they are hardly formed."

"Oh, yes! quite formed,--at least as formed as they can be without
your sanction. You know what you wrote to me about,--your last
letter?"

"You received that extemporaneous extravaganza, then, Charles,--which
I afterwards desired I had burned?"

"I take that as especially unkind on your part, as I could not but
enter with the most eager interest into every line."

"Not unkind, though I own it was a little cowardly. I felt rather awed
in submitting my ideas to you when you were at the very midst of music
in its most perfect exposition."

"Oh! I did not quite discover that, Lenhart. There are imperfections
everywhere, and will be, in such a mixed multitude as of those who
press into the service of what is altogether perfect."

"The old story, Charlie."

"Rather the new one. I find it every day placed before me in a
stronger light; but it has not long held even with me. How very little
we can do, even at the utmost, and how very hard we must labor even to
do that little!"

"I am thankful to hear you say so, Charles, coming fresh from the
severities of study; but we are some few of us in the same mind."

"Then let us hold together; and this brings me to my purpose. I am not
going to settle in London, Lenhart,--that is a mistake of yours. I
will never leave you while I can be of any use."

"Leave me, Charlie? Ah! would that I could cherish the possibility of
your remaining here! But with your power and your promise of success,
who would not blame those who should prevent your appearance in
London?"

"I will never make my appearance anywhere, my dearest brother,--at
least not as you intend. I could have no objection to play anywhere if
I were wanted, and if any one cared to hear me; but I will never give
up the actual hold I have on this place. As much may be done here as
anywhere else, and more, I am certain, than in London. There is more
room here,--less strain and stress; and, once more, I will not leave
you."

"But how, my Charlie,--in what sense?"

"I will work along with you, and for you, while I work for myself. I
am young, very young, and, I daresay, very presumptuous in believing
myself equal to the task; but I should wish, besides being resident
professor, to devote myself especially to the organization of that
band of which you wrote, and which in your letter you gave me to
understand it is your desire to amalgamate with your class. You do not
see, Lenhart, that, young as I am, nothing could give me a position
like this, and that if I fail, I can but return to a less ambitious
course."

"There is no course, Charles, that I do not consider you equal to; but
I cannot reconcile it with my conscience to bind you to a service so
signal for my own sake,--it is a mere sketch of a Spanish castle I had
reared in an idle hour."

"We will raise a sure fame on solid foundations, Lenhart, and I do not
care about fame for its own sake. After all, you cannot, with your
musical electicism, prefer me to become mixed up in the horrible
struggle for precedence which, in London, degrades the very nature of
art, and renders its pursuit a misnomer."

"You have not given up one of your old prejudices, Charles."

"No, Davy. I feel we can do more acting together than either
separately, for the cause we love best and desire to serve. You know
me well, and that, whatever I have learned in my life abroad, no taste
is so dear to me as yours,--no judgment I should follow to the death
so gladly. Besides all the rest, which is made up of a good deal more
than one can say, I could never consent, as an instrumentalist, and as
holding that instrument to be part of myself, to infect my style with
whims and fashions which alone would render it generally acceptable. I
_must_ reserve what I musically believe as my musical expression, and
nothing can satisfy me in that respect but the development of the
orchestra."

"Poor orchestra! it is a very germ, a winter-seed at present, my
ever-sanguine Charlie."

"I am not sanguine; on the contrary, I am disposed to suspect
treachery everywhere, even in myself, and certainly in you, if you
would have me go to London, take fashionable lodgings, and starve
myself on popular precedents, among them that most magnificent one of
lionizing musical professors. No, I could not bear that, and no one
would care a whit for my playing as I _feel_. I should be starved out
and out. If you can initiate me a little yourself into your
proceedings, I think I shall be able to persuade you that I ought to
be only where my impulse directs me to remain."

Davy at this juncture deprived me of the baby, who had been munching
my finger all the time we talked; and when he had placed her in her
nest,--a portent of vast significance,--he enlightened me indeed to
the full, and we informed Millicent when she came upstairs; for
nothing could be done without asking her accord. It was greatly to my
satisfaction that she entirely agreed with me, and a great relief to
Davy, who in the plenitude of his delicate pride could hardly bear the
thought of suggesting anything to anybody, lest his suggestion should
unsteady any fixed idea of their own. Millicent cordially asserted
that she felt there was a more interesting sphere about them than she
could imagine to exist anywhere else; and perhaps she was right, for
no one could sufficiently laud the extirpation of ancient prejudices
by Davy's firm voice and ardent heart. I could not possibly calculate
at that moment the force and extent of his singular efforts, and their
still more unwonted effects in so short a time made manifest. I heard
of these from Millicent, who could talk of nothing else, to me, at
least, after Davy, ever anxious, had left us for his morning's
lessons, which occupied him in private, though not much more than
formerly, as his peculiar attention and nearly his whole time were
devoted more determinately than ever to the instruction and elevation
of the vocal institution he had organized.

"No one can tell, Charles," said Millicent, among other things, "how
heroically and patiently he has worked, rejecting all but the barest
remuneration, to bring all forward as he has succeeded in doing, and
has nobly done. You will say so when you hear, and you must hear,
to-morrow evening."

"I shall indeed feel strange, Millicent," I replied, "to sit at his
feet once more, and to feel again all that went through me in the days
when I learned of him alone. But I am very curious about another
friend of mine. I suppose you can tell me just as well as he."

"About Miss Benette, Charles?"

"Yes, and also little Laura."

"I know nothing; we know nothing of her or what she has been doing.
But you must have heard of Clara?"

"Not a word. I have been very quiet, I assure you."

"So much the better for you, Charles. But she has not lost your good
opinion?"

"She would have that wherever she went."

"I believe it. My husband has, of course, never lost sight of her; yet
it was not until the other day, and quite by accident, that we heard
of all she has become. A very old Italian stager, Stelli by name,
called on Lenhart the other day at the class, and after hearing
several of the pieces, asked him whether his pupil, Miss Benette, had
not belonged to it once on a time. He said, Yes; and finding that the
signor was acquainted with her, brought him home to dinner; and we
were told a great deal that it is very difficult to tell, even to you,
Charles. She must, however, be exactly what you always imagined."

"I should not only imagine, but expect, she will remain unaltered. I
do not believe such eyes could change, or the owner of such eyes."

"He says just so,--he says that she is an angel; he continued to call
her _angela_, _angela_, and could call her nothing else."

"Is she singing in Italy just now?"

"It is just that we asked him. You know she went to Italy for study,
and no one heard a word about her; she did not omit to write, but
never mentioned what she was doing. Only the third year she sent us
news of her _début_. This was but last May. The news was in a paper,
not in her letter. In her letter she only spoke of ourselves, and sent
us a present for baby,--such a piece of work, Charles, as you never
saw. I thought she would have quite given up work by that time. The
letter was a simple, exquisite expression of regard for her old
master; and when Lenhart answered it, she wrote again. _This_ letter
contained the most delicate intimation of her prosperous views. She
was entirely engaged at that time, but told us she trusted to come to
England an early month next year, for she says she finds, having been
to Italy, she loves England best."

"That is rather what I should have expected. She had not an Italian
touch about her; she would weary there."

"I should scarcely think so, Charles, for Stelli described her beauty
as something rose-like and healthful,--'fresher than your infant
there,' he said, pointing to baby; and from her style of singing grand
and sacred airs, she has been fancifully named, and is called
everywhere, 'La Benetta benedetta.'"[7]

"That strikes home to me very pleasantly, Millicent. She had something
blessed and infantine in her very look. I admire that sobriquet; but
those usually bestowed by the populace are most unmeaning. Her own
name, however, suits her best,--it is limpid like the light in her
eyes. There is no word so apt as 'clear' for the expression of her
soul. And what, Millicent, of her voice and style?"

"Something wonderful, no doubt, Charles, if she obtained an engagement
in the midst of such an operatic pressure as there was this year. I
hope she will do something for England too. We have not so many like
her that we can afford to lose her altogether."

"I know of not one, Millicent; and shall, if it be my good fortune to
see her, persuade her not to desert us; but Lenhart will have more
chance."

"La Benetta benedetta!" I could not forget it; it haunted me like the
words of some chosen song; I was ever singing it in my mind; it seemed
the most fitting, and the only not irreverent homage with which one
could have strewed the letters of her name,--a most successful
hieroglyph. Nor the less was I reminded of her when, on the following
evening, I accompanied my sister--who for once had allowed Clo to take
charge of her baby--to the place, now so altered since I left it,
where the vocal family united. We entered at the same door, we
approached the same room; but none could again have known it unless,
as in my case, he could have pointed out the exact spot on which he
had been accustomed to sit. The roof was raised, the rafters were
stained that favorite sylvan tint of Davy's, the windows lightly
pencilled with it upon their ground-glass arches, the walls painted
the softest shade of gray, harmonizing perfectly with the
purple-crimson tone of the cloth that covered seats and platform.
Alas! as I surveyed that platform I felt, with Davy, how much room
there was for increased and novel yet necessary organism in the
perfectibility of the system; for on that glowing void outspread,
where his slight, dark form and white face and _glancing_ hands alone
shone out, I could but dream of beholding the whole array, in
clustering companionship, of those mystic shapes that suggest to us,
in their varied yet according forms, the sounds that creep, that wind,
that pierce, that electrify, through parchment or brass or string.

In a word, they wanted a band very much. It would not have signified
whether they had one or not, had the class continued in its primitive
position, and in which its enemies would have desired it to
remain,--an unprogressive mediocrity. But as it is the nature of true
art to be progressive ever, it is just as ignorant to expect
shortcomings of a true artist as it would be vain to look for ideal
success amongst the leaders of musical taste, neither endowed with
aspiration nor volition. Now, to hear those voices rise, prolong
themselves, lean in uncorrupted tone upon the calm motet, or rest in
unagitated simplicity over a pause of Ravenscroft's old heavenly
verses, made one almost leap to reduce such a host to the service of
an appropriate band, and to institute orchestral worship there. I
could but remind myself of certain great works, paradises of musical
creation, from whose rightful interpretation we are debarred either by
the inconsistency with the chosen band of the selected chorus, or by
the inequality of the band itself. It struck me that a perfect dream
might here be realized in full perfection, should my own capabilities,
at least, keep pace with the demand upon them, were I permitted to
take my part in Davy's plan as we had treated of it to each other. I
told him, as we walked home together, a little of my mind. He was in
as bright spirits as at his earliest manhood; it was a favorable
moment, and in the keen December moonlight we made a vow to stand by
each other then and ever.

Delightful as was the task, and responsive to my inmost resolutions,
the final result I scarcely dared anticipate; it was no more easy at
first than to trace the source of such a river as the Nile. Many
difficulties darkened the way before me; and my own musical knowledge
seemed but as a light flung immediately out of my own soul, making the
narrow circle of a radiance for my feet that was unavailable for any
others. My position as Davy's brother-in-law gave me a certain hold
upon my pupils, but no one can imagine what suffering they weetlessly
imposed upon me. The number I began with, receiving each singly, not
at my own home, but in a hired room, was not more than eight, amateurs
and neophytes either,--the amateurs esteeming themselves no less than
amateurs, and something more; the neophytes chiefly connections of the
choral force, and of an individual stubbornness not altogether to be
appreciated at an early period. I could laugh to remember myself those
awful mornings when, after a breakfast at home which I could not have
touched had it been less delicately prepared, I used to repair to that
room of mine and await the advent of those gentlemen, all older than
myself except one, and he the most _presto_ in pretensions of the set.
The room was at the back and top of a house; and over the swinging
window-blind I could discern a rush now and then of a deep dark smoke,
and a wail, as of a demon sorely tried, would shrill along my nerves
as the train dashed by. The trains were my chief support during the
predominance of my ordeal,--they superinduced a sensation that was
neither of music nor of stolidity.

After a month or two, however, dating from the first week of February,
when, together with the outpeering of the first snowdrop from the
frost, I assumed my dignities, I discovered that I had gained a
certain standing, owing to the fact of my being aware what I was
about, and always attending to the matter in hand. Of my senior
pupils, one was immensely conversable, so conversable that until he
had disgorged himself of a certain quantity of chat, it was impossible
to induce him to take up his bow; another contemplative, so
contemplative that I always had to unpack his instrument for him, and
to send it after him when he was gone, in a general way; a third so
deficient in natural musicality that he did not like my playing! and
soon put up for a vacant oboe in the band of the local theatre, and
left me in the lurch. But desperately irate with them as I was, and
almost disgusted with my petty efforts, I made no show of either to
Davy, nor did they affect my intentions nor stagger my fixed
assurance. All my experiences were hoarded and husbanded by me to such
purpose on my own account that I advanced myself in exact proportion
to the calm _statu quo_ in which remained at present my orchestral
nucleus. My patience was rewarded, however, before I could have dared
to hope, by a steady increase of patronage during April and May,--in
fact, I had so much to do in the eight weeks of those two months that
my mother declared I was working too hard, and projected a trip for me
somewhere. Bless her ever benignant heart! she always held that
everybody, no matter who, and no matter what they had to do, should
recreate during three months out of every twelve! How my family, all
celebrated as they were for nerves of salient self-assertion, endured
my home-necessary practice, I cannot divine; but they one and all made
light of it, even declaring they scarcely heard that all-penetrating
sound distilled down the staircase and through closed parlor doors.
But I was obliged to keep in my own hand most vigorously, and
sustained myself by the hope that I should one day lead off my
dependants in the region now made sacred by voice and verse alone. It
was my habit to give no lessons after dinner, but to pursue my own
studies, sadly deficient as I was in too many respects, in the long
afternoons of spring, and to walk in the lengthening evenings, more
delicious in my remembrance than any of my boyish treasure-times. On
class-nights I would walk to Davy's, find him in a paroxysm of
anxiety just gone off, leaving Millicent to bemoan his want of
appetite and to devise elegant but inexpensive suppers. I would have
one good night-game with my soft-lipped niece, watch her mamma
unswathe the cambric from her rosy limbs, see the white lids drop
their lashes over her blue eyes' sleepfulness, listen to the breath
that arose like the pulses of a flower to the air, feel her sweetness
make me almost sad, and creep downstairs most noiselessly. Millicent
would follow me to fetch her work-basket from the little conservatory,
would talk a moment before she returned upstairs to work by the
cradle-side, would steal with me to the door, look up to the stars or
the moon a moment, and heave a sigh,--a sigh as from happiness too
large for heart to hold; and I, having picked my path around the
narrow gravel, smelling the fresh mould in the darkness, having
reached the gate, would just glance round to sign adieu; and not till
then would she withdraw into the warm little hall and close the door.
Then off I was to the class, to see the windows a-glow from the
street, to hear the choral glory greeting me in sounds like chastened
organ-tones, to mount, unquestioned, into the room, to find the
crimsoned seats all full, the crimson platform bare, save of that
quick, dark form and those gleaming hands. I sit down behind, and bask
luxuriously in that which, to me, is precious as "the sunshine to the
bee;" or I come down stoopingly a few steps, and taking the edge of a
bench where genial faces smile for me, I peep over the sheet of the
pale mechanic or rejoicing weaver, whose visage is drawn out of its
dread fatigue as by a celestial galvanism, and join in the psalm, or
mix my spirit in the soaring antiphon. Davy meets me afterwards; we
wait until everybody has passed out, we pack away the books, we turn
down the gas,--or at least a gentleman does, who appears to think it
an essential part of music that a supreme bustle should precede and
follow its celebrations, and who, locking the door after we attain the
street, tenders Davy the key in a perfect agony of courteous
patronage, and bows almost unto the earth. I accompany my brother
home, and Millicent and he and I sup together, the happiest trio in
the town. On other nights I sup at home, and after my walk, as I come
in earlier, and after I have given reports of Millicent and her spouse
and the baby,--also, whether it has been out this day (my mother
having a righteous prejudice against certain winds),--I sometimes play
to them such moving melodies as I fancy will touch them, but not too
deeply, and indulge in the lighter moods that music does not deny,
even to the uninitiated,--often trifling with my memory of old times as
they begin to seem to me, and, alas! have seemed many years already,
though I am young,--so young that I scarcely know yet how young I am.

FOOTNOTE:

[7] The blessed Benette.



CHAPTER X.


I was in the most contented frame of mind that can be conceived of
until the very May month of the year I speak of, when my sensations,
as usual, began to be peculiar. I don't think anybody can love summer
better than I do, can more approvedly languish out, by heavy-shaded
stream in an atmosphere all roses, the summer noons, can easier spend,
in _insomnie_ the lustrous moony nights.

But May does something to me of which I am not aware during June and
July, or at the first delicate spring-time. When the laburnums rain
their gold, and the lilacs toss broad-bloomed their grape-like
clusters, when the leaves, full swelling, are yet all veined with
light, I cannot very well work hard, and would rather slave the
livelong eleven months besides, to have that month a holiday. So it
happened now; and though I had no absolute right to leave my pupils
and desert the first stones of my musical masonry just laid and
smoothed, I was obliged to think that if I were to have a holiday at
all, I had better take it then. But I had not decided until I received
a double intimation,--one from Davy, and one from the county
newspaper, which last never chronicled events that stirred in London
unless they stirred beyond it. My joyous brother brought me the
letter, and the paper was upon our table the same morning when I came
down to breakfast.

"See here, Charles," said Clo, who, sitting in her own corner, over
her own book, was unwontedly excited; "here is a piece of news for
you, and my mother found it first!"

I read, in a castaway paragraph enough, that the Chevalier Seraphael,
the pianist and composer, was to pay a visit to England this very
summer; though to remain in strict seclusion, he would not be
inaccessible to professors. He brought with him, I learned, "the
fruits of several years' solitary travel, no doubt worthy of his
genius and peculiar industry."

Extremely to the purpose were these expressions, for they told me all
I wanted to know,--that he was alive, must be himself again, and had
been writing for those who loved him,--for men and angels. Now, for my
letter. I had held it without opening it, for I chose to do so when
alone, and waited until after breakfast. It was a choice little
supplement to that choicest of all invites for my spirit and heart,--a
note on foreign paper; the graceful, firm character of the writing
found no difficulty to stand out clear and black from that
milk-and-water hue and spongy texture. It was from Clara,--a simple
form that a child might have dictated, yet containing certain business
reports for Davy, direct as from one who could master even business.

She was coming definitely to England, not either for any purposes save
those all worthy of herself; she had accepted, after much
consideration, a London engagement for the season; and, said she,--

"I only have my fears lest I should do less than I ought for what I
love best; it is so difficult to do what is right by music in these
times, when it is fashionable to seem to like it. You will give me a
little of your advice, dear sir, if I need it, as perhaps I may; but
I hope not, because I have troubled you too much already. I trust
your little daughter is growing like you to please her mother, and
like her mother to please you. I shall be delighted to see it when I
come to London, if you can allow me to do so."

The style of this end of a letter both amused and absorbed me; it was
Clara's very idiosyncrasy. I could but think, "Is it possible that she
has not altered more than her style of expressing herself has done? I
must go and see."

Davy received my ravings with due compassion and more indulgence than
I had dared to hope. The suspension of my duties, leaving our
orchestra in limbo still longer, disconcerted him a little; but he was
the first to say I must surely go to London. The only thing to be
discovered was when to go, so as not to frustrate either one of my
designs or the other; and I declared he must, to that end, address
Clara on the very subject.

He did so, and in a fortnight there came the coolest note to say she
would be in London the next day, and that she had heard the great
musician would arrive before the end of the month. I inly marvelled
whether in all the course of his wanderings Clara and the Chevalier
had met; but still I thought and prophesied not. I was really
reluctant to leave Davy with his hands and head full, that I might
saunter with my own in kid-gloves, and swarming with May fancies; but
for once my selfishness--or something higher, whose mortal frame is
selfishness--impelled me. I found myself in the train at the end of
the next week, carrying Clara's address in my memorandum-book, and my
violin-case in the carriage along with me.

It was early afternoon, and exquisitely splendid weather when I
arrived in London. In London, however, I had little to do just then,
as the address of the house to which I was bound was rather out of
London,--above the smoke, beyond the stir, at the very first plunge
into the surrounding country that lingers yet as a dream upon her day
reality, with which dreams suit not ill, and from which they seldom
part. I love the heart of London, in whose awful deeps reflect the
mysterious unfathomable of every secret, and where the homeless are
best at home, where the home-bred fear not to wander, assured of sweet
return; but I do not love its immediate precincts,--the rude waking
stage between that profound and the conserved, untainted sylvan
vision, that, once overpast it, dawns upon us.

Dashing as abruptly as possible, and by the nearest way through all
the brick wilderness outward, I reached in no long weary time, and by
no long weary journey, though on foot, a quiet road, which by a
continuous but gentle rise carried me to the clustered houses, neither
quite hamlet nor altogether village, where Miss Benette had hidden her
heart among the leaves.

Cool and shady was the side I took, though the sunshine whitened the
highway, and every summer promise beamed from the soft sky's azure,
the green earth's bloom. The painted gates I met at intervals, or the
iron-wreathed portals, guarded dim walks, through whose perspective
villas glistened, all beautiful as they were discerned afar in their
frames of tossing creepers, with gay verandas or flashing
green-houses. But the wall I followed gave me not a transient glimpse
of gardens inwards, so thickly blazed the laburnums and the paler
flames of the rich acacia, not to speak of hedges all sweet-brier,
matted into one embrace with double-blossomed hawthorn. I passed
garden after garden and gate after gate, seeing no one; for the great
charm of those regions consists in the extreme privacy of every
habitation,--privacy which the most exclusive nobleman might envy, and
never excel in his wilderness parks or shrubberies; and when at length
I attained the summit of the elevation where two roads met and shut in
a sweep of actual country, and I came to the end of the houses, I
began to look about for some one to direct me; then, turning the
corner, I came in turning upon what I had been seeking, without having
really sought it by any effort.

The turn in the road I speak of went tapering off between hedgerows;
and meadow-lands, as yet unencroached upon, swept within them as far
as I could see. But just where I stood, a cottage, older than any of
the villas, and framed in shade more ancient than the light groves I
left behind me, peeped from the golden and purple May-trees across a
moss-green lawn,--a perfect picture in its silence, and a very
paradise of fragrance. It was built of wood, and had its roof-hung
windows and drooping eaves protected by a spreading chestnut-tree,
whose great green fans beat coolness against every lattice, and whose
blossoms had kindled their rose-white tapers at the sun. The garden
was so full of flowers that one could scarcely bear the sweetness,
except that the cool chestnut shadow dashed the breeze with freshness
as it swept the heavy foliage and sank upon the checkered grass to a
swoon. I was not long lost in contemplating the niche my saint had
chosen, for I could have expected nothing fitter; but I was at some
loss to enter, for the reminiscences of my childhood burdened me, and
I dreaded lest I should be deprived of anything I now held stored
within me, by a novel shock of being. I need not have feared.

After waiting till I was ashamed, I opened the tiny gate and walked
across the grass, still soft with the mowing of the morning, to the
front door, where I pulled a little bell-handle half smothered in the
wreaths of monthly roses that were quivering and fluttering like pink
doves about the door and lower windows. This was as it should be, the
very door-bell dressed with flowers; but more as it should be, it was
that Thoné opened the door. I was almost ready to disappear again, but
that her manner was the most reassuring to troublesome nerves. She did
not appear to have any idea who I was, nor did she even stare when I
presented my card, but like some strange bronze escaped from its
pedestal, and attired in muslin, she conducted me onwards down a
little low hall, half filled with the brightest plants, into a double
parlor, whose folding-doors were closed, and whose diamond-paned back
window looked out far, and very far, into the country.

Hearing not a voice in the next room, nor any rustle, nor even a soft
foot hastily cross the beamed ceiling overhead, I dared look about me
for a moment, hid my hat in confusion under a chair, saw that the
round table had a bowl of flowers in its centre, caught sight of my
face in the intensely polished glass-door of a small closed book-case,
and, as if detected in some act, walked away to the window.

I could not have done a better thing to prepare myself for any fresh
excitement; I was ready in an instant to weep with joy at the beauty
that flooded my spirit. Over and beyond the garden I gazed; it did not
detain my eye,--I passed its tree-tops, all apple-bloom and lilac, and
its sudden bursts of grass where the tree-tops parted. I looked out to
the country,--an undulating country, a sea of green, flushed here and
there with a bloomy level, or a breeze upon the crimson clover;
odorous bean-fields quivered, and their scent was floating
everywhere,--it drowned the very garden sweetness, and blended in with
waftures of unknown fragrance, all wild essences shed from woodbines,
from dog-roses, and the new-cut grass, or plumy meadow-sweet, by the
waters of rills flowing up into the distance, silver in the sunlight.
Soft hills against the heaven swept over visionary valleys; the
sunshine lay white and warm upon glistening summer seas and picture
cottages; over all spread the purple, melting, brooding sky,
transparent on every leaf and blossom, shining upon those tender
sloping hills with an amethyst haze of light, not shade.

As I stood, the things that seemed had never been, and the things that
had been grew dilated and indefinitely bright,--the soft thrall of the
suspense that bound me intertwining itself with mine "electric chain"
as that May-dream mixed itself with all my music, veiling it as
moonlight, the colors of the flowers, or as music itself veils
passion.

I waited quite half an hour, and had lost myself completely, feeling
as if no change could come, when, without a sound, some one entered
behind me. I knew it by the light that burst through the folding-door,
which had, however, again closed when I turned, for the tread was so
silent I might otherwise have gone dreaming on. Clara stood before me,
so little altered that I could have imagined that she had been put
away in a trance when I left her last, and but this instant was
restored to me.

She was not more womanly, nor less child-like; and for her being an
actress, it seemed a thing impossible. I could but stand and gaze; nor
did she seem surprised, nor did her eyes droop, nor her fair cheek
mantle: through the untrembling lashes I caught the crystal light as
she opposed me, still waiting for me to speak.

I was heartily ashamed at last, and resolved to make her welcome as
she maintained that strange regard. I put out my hand, and in an
instant she greeted me; the infantine smile shone suddenly that had
soothed me so long ago.

"I am very glad to see you, Miss Benette. It was very kind of you to
let me come."

"By no means," she replied, with the slightest possible Italian
softening of her accent. "I am very much obliged to you, and I am very
pleased also. Please sit down, sir, for you have been standing, I am
afraid, a long time. I was out at first, and since I returned I made
haste; but still, I fear, I have kept you waiting."

"I could have waited all day, Miss Benette, to see such a window as
this. How did you manage to put your foot into such a nest?"

"It is a very sweet little place, and the country is most beautiful. I
don't know what they mean by its being too near London. I must be near
London, and yet I could not exactly live in it, for it makes me idle."

"How very strange! It has the same effect upon me,--that is to say, I
always dream in those streets, and lose half my purpose. Still, it
must be almost a temptation to indulge a certain kind of idleness
here; in such a garden as that, for example, one could pass all one's
time."

"I do pass half my time in the garden, and yet I do not think it is
too much, for it makes me well; and I cannot work when I am not
well,--I was always unfortunate in that respect."

"How do you think I look, by the by, Miss Benette? Am I very much
changed? It is perhaps, however, not a safe question."

"Quite safe, sir. You have grown more and more like your inseparable
companion,--you always had a look of it, and now it takes the place of
all other expression."

"I don't know whether that is complimentary or not, you see, for I
never heard your opinion in old times. I was a very silly boy then,
and not quite so well aware of what I owed to you as I may be now."

"I do not feel that you owe anything to anybody, Mr. Auchester, for
you would have gone to your own desires as resolutely through peril as
through pleasure; at all events, if you are still as modest as you
were, it is a great blessing now you have become a soul which bears so
great a part. If I must speak truth, however, about your looks, you
seem as delicate as you used to be, and I do not suppose you could be
anything else. You have not altered except to have grown up."

"And you, if I may say so, have not altered in growing up."

Nor had she. She had not gained an inch in height. She could never
have worn that black silk frock those years; yet the folds, so grave
and costly, still shielded her gentle breast to meet the snow-soft
ruffle that fringed her throat: nor had she ornament upon
her,--neither bracelet nor ring upon the dimpled hands, the delicate
wrists. Though her silken hair had lengthened into wreaths upon
wreaths behind, she still preserved those baby-curls upon her temples,
nor had a shade more majesty gathered to her brow,--the regal
innocence was throned there, and looked forth from her eyes as from a
shrine; but it was evident that there was nothing about her from head
to foot on which she piqued herself,--a rare shortcoming of feminine
maturity. The only perceptible difference in the face was when she
spoke or smiled; and then the change, the deepened sweetness, can be
no more given to description than the notion of music to the destitute
ear. It was something of a reserve too inward to be approached, and
too subtile to subdue its own influence,--like perfume from unseen
flowers diffusing itself when the wind awakens, while we know neither
whence the windy fragrance comes nor whither it flows.

"Is it possible, Miss Benette," I continued,--for I forced myself
absolutely to speak; I should so infinitely have preferred to watch
her silently,--"that you can have passed through so much since I saw
you?"

"No, I have lived a very quiet life; it is you who have lived in all
the stir until you fancy there is not any calm at all."

"I should have certainly found calm here. But you, I thought, and
indeed I know, have had every kind of excitement ready made to your
hand, and only waiting for you to touch the springs."

"I have had no excitement till I came here."

"None? Why, who could have had more, and who could have borne the same
so bravely? We have heard of you here, and it must have been a
transcending tempest for the shock to echo so far."

"I do not call singing in theatres, and acting, excitement. I always
felt cool and collected in them, for I knew they were not real, and
that I should get through them soon, and very glad should I be; so I
was patient and did my best. You look at me shocked. I knew I should
shock you after all our talk."

"Oh, fie! Miss Benette, to talk so, then, and to shock yourself, as
you must, if you are faithless."

"Poor I, faithless! Well, I am not important enough for it to signify.
And yet I should like to tell you what I mean, because you were always
kind to me, and I should not wish you to despise me now. No, Mr.
Auchester, I am not faithless; I love music more and more; it is the
form of my religion; I dare to call it altogether holy,--I am sure,
indeed, it must be so, or it would have been trodden long ago into
nothing with the evil they have heaped over it to hide it, and the
mistakes they have made about it. I act and I sing, because that is
what I can do best; but my idea of music goes with yours, and
therefore I am not excited as I should be, if I were filling up a
place such as that which you fill; though I would not leave my own for
any consideration, and hope to continue in it. My excitement since I
came here, where most ladies would be dull or sick, has arisen from
the feeling that I am brought into contact with what is most like
music, as I always find solitude, and also because since I came I have
been raised higher by several spirits which are lofty in their
desires, instead of being dragged through a mass of all opinions as I
was abroad. My pleasures here are so great that I feel my soul to be
quite young again, and to grow younger; and you cannot fancy what it
is to return here after being in London, because you do not go to
London, and if you did go to London, you would not do as I do."

She turned to me here, and told me it was her dinner-hour, asking me
to remain and dine with her. It was about two o'clock, and I hesitated
not to stay,--indeed, I know not that I could have gone.

We arose together, and I led her forward. We crossed the hall to a
door beyond us, when, removing her little hand from my arm, and laying
it on the lock, she looked into my face and smiled.

"You remembered me so well that I hope you will remember an old friend
of mine who is staying here with me."

Before I could reply, or even marvel, she opened the door, and we
entered. The little dining-room was lined with warmer hues than the
airy drawing-room, but white muslin curtains made sails within the
crimson ones, and some person stood within these, lightly screened,
and looking out over the blind.

"Laura," said Miss Benette, and she turned with exquisite elegance.
Had it not been for her name, which touched my memory, I could not
have remembered her,--certainly, at least, not then.

Perhaps, when we were seated opposite at table, with nothing between
us but a vase of garden flowers, I might have made out her lineaments;
but I was called upon by my reminding chivalry to assist the hostess
in the dissection of spring chickens and roasted lamb, and there was
something besides about that very Laura I did not like to face until
she should at least speak and reveal herself, as by the voice one
cannot fail to do.

However she spoke not, nor did Clara speak to her, though we two
talked a good deal,--that is to say, _I_ talked, as so it behooved me
to behave, and as I wished to see Miss Benette eat. When, at last, all
traces of the snowy damask were swept out by a pair of careful hands,
and we were left alone with the cut decanters, the early strawberries,
and sweet summer oranges, I did determine to look, for fear Miss
Lemark should think I did not dare to do so. I was not mistaken, as it
happened, in believing her to be quite capable of this construction,
as I discovered on regarding her immediately.

Her childish nonchalance had ripened into a hauteur quite alarming;
for though she was scarcely my own age, she might have been ten years
older. Not that her form was not lithe,--lithe as it could be to be
endowed with the proper complement of muscles,--but for a certain
sharpness of outline her countenance would have been languid in
repose; her brow retained its singular breadth, but had not gained in
elevation; her eyes were large and lambent, fringed with lashes that
swept her cheek, though not darker than her hair, which waved as the
willow in slightly-turned tresses to her waist. That waist was so
extremely slight that it scarcely looked natural, and yet was entirely
so, as was evident from the way she moved in her clothes.

She afforded a curious contrast to Clara in her black silk robe, for
she was dressed in muslin of the deepest rose-color, with an immense
skirt, its trimmings lace entirely, the sleeves dropped upon her arms,
which were loaded with bracelets of all kinds, while she wore a
splendid chain upon her neck. She bore this over effect very well, and
would not have become any other, it appeared to me, though there was
something faded in her appearance even then,--a want of color in her
aspect that demanded of costume the intensest contrasts.

"You have very much grown, Miss Lemark," I ventured to say, after I
had contemplated her to my satisfaction. She had, indeed, grown; she
was taller than I.

"So have you, Mr. Auchester."

"She has grown in many respects, Mr. Auchester, which you cannot
imagine," said Clara, with a winning mischief in her glance.

"I should imagine anything you pleased, I am afraid, Miss Benette, if
you inspired me. But I have been thinking it is a very curious thing
that we should meet in this way, we three alone, after meeting as we
did the first time in our lives."

"It was rather different then," exclaimed Laura, all abruptly, "and
the difference is, not that we are grown up, but that when we met on
the first occasion, we told each other our minds, and now we don't
dare."

"I am sure I dare," I retorted.

"No, you would not, no more would Clara; perhaps I might, but it would
be of no use."

"What did I say then that I dare not say now? I am sure I don't
remember."

"You may remember," said Clara, smiling; "I think it is hardly fair to
make _her_ remind you."

"It is my desert, if I remembered it first. You thought me very
vulgar, and you told me as much, though in more polite language."

"If I thought so then, I may be allowed to have forgotten it now, Miss
Lemark, as I think your friend will grant, when I look at you."

"You do not admire my style, Mr. Auchester; I know you,--it is
precisely against your taste. Even Clara does not approve of it, and
you have not half her forbearance,--if, indeed, you have any."

"Nobody, Laura dear, would dispute that you can bear more dressing
than I can; it does not suit me to wear colors, and you look like a
flower in them. Does not that color suit her well, Mr. Auchester?"

"Indeed I think so, and especially this glorious weather, when the
most vivid hues are starting out of every old stone. But Miss Lemark
could afford to wear green,--a very unusual suitability; it is the hue
of her eyes, I think."

Laura had looked down, with that hauteur more fixed than ever now the
light of her eyes was lost; she drew in the corners of her mouth, and
turned a shade colder, if not paler, in complexion. I could not
imagine what she was thinking, till she said, without raising her
eyes,--

"You know, Clara, that is not the reason you wear black and I do not.
You know that you look well in anything, because nobody looks at
anything you happen to wear. Besides, there is a reason I could give
if I chose."

"There is no other reason that you know of, Laura," she answered, and
then she asked me a question on quite another subject.

I was rather anxious to discover whether Laura had fulfilled her
destiny as far as we had compassed ours; but I did not find it easy,
for she scarcely spoke, and had not lost a certain abstraction in her
air that alienated the observer insensibly from her. After dinner
Clara rose, and I made some demonstration of going, which she met so
that I could not refuse her invitation to remain at least an hour or
two. We all three retired into the little drawing-room; Miss Benette
placed me a chair in the open window which I had admired, and herself
sat down opposite, easily as a child, and saying, "I will not be rude
to-day, as I used to be, in taking out my work whenever you came."

"It suited you very well, however, and I perceive, by your kind
present to my little niece, that you have not forgotten that delicate
art of yours."

"I had laid it aside, except to work for babies, some time, but it was
long since I had a baby to work for; and when Mr. Davy sent me word in
such joy that his little girl was born, I was so rejoiced to be able
to make caps and frocks."

"My sister was very much obliged to you on a former occasion too, Miss
Benette."

"Yes, I suppose she was very much obliged that I did not accept Mr.
Davy's hand, or would have been, only she did not know it!"

"I did not mean so. I was remembering whose handiwork graced her on
her marriage-day."

"Oh! I forgot the veil. I have made several since that one, but not
one like that exactly, because I desired that should be unique. You
have not told me, Mr. Auchester, anything about Seraphael and his
works."

I was so used to call him, and to hear him called, the Chevalier, that
at first I started, but was soon in a deep monologue of all that had
happened to me in connection with him and his music, only suppressing
that which I was in the habit of reserving, even in my own mind, from
my conscious self. In the midst of my relation, Laura, apparently
uninterested, as she had been seated in a chair with a book in her
hands, left the room, and we stayed in our talk and looked at each
other at the same instant.

"Why do you look so, Mr. Auchester?" said Clara, half amused, but with
a touch of perturbation too.

"I was expecting to be asked what I thought of that young lady, and
you see I was agreeably disappointed, for you are too well-bred to
ask."

"No such thing. I thought you would tell me yourself if you liked, but
that you might prefer not to do so, because you are not one, sir, to
assume critical airs over a person you have only seen a very few
hours."

"You do me more than justice, Miss Benette. But though I despair of
ever curing myself of the disposition to criticise, I am not
inconvertible. I admire Miss Lemark; she is improved, she is
distinguished,--a little more, and she would be lady-like."

"I thought 'lady-like' meant less than 'distinguished.' You make it
mean more."

"Perhaps I do mean that Miss Lemark is not exactly like yourself, and
that when she has lived with you a little longer, she will be indeed
all that she can be made."

"That would be foolish to say so,--pardon!--for she has lived with me
two years now, and has most likely taken as much from me by imitation
as she ever will, or by what you perhaps would call sympathy."

"I find, or should fancy I might find, to exist a great dissympathy
between you."

"I suppose 'dissympathy' is one of those nice little German words that
are used to express what nobody ought to say. I thought you would not
go there for nothing. If your dissympathy means not to agree in
sentiment, I do not know that any two bodies could agree quite in
feeling, nor would it be so pleasant as to be alone in some moods. I
should be very sorry never to be able to retreat into the cool shade,
and know that, as I troubled nobody, so nobody could get at me. Would
not you?"

"Oh! I suppose so, in the sense you mean. But how is it I have not
heard of this grace, or muse, taking leave to furl her wings at your
nest? I should have thought that Davy would have known."

"Should I tell Mr. Davy what I pay to Thoné for keeping my house in
order,--or whether I went to church on a Sunday? Laura and I always
agreed to live together, but we could not accomplish it until
lately,--I mean, since I was in Italy. We met then, as we said we
would. I carried her from Paris, where she was alone with every one
but those who should have befriended her; her father had died, and she
was living with Mademoiselle Margondret,--that person I did not like
when I was young. If I had known where Laura was, I should have
fetched her away before."

I felt for a moment as if I wished that Laura had never been born, but
only for one moment. I then resumed,--

"Does she not dance in London? She looks just ready for it."

"She has accepted no engagement for this season at present. I cannot
tell what she may do, however. Would you like to see my garden, Mr.
Auchester?"

"Indeed, I should very particularly like to see it, above all, if you
will condescend to accompany me. There is a great deal more that I
cannot help wishing for, Miss Benette; but I scarcely like to dream of
asking about it to-night."

"For me to sing? Oh! I will sing for you any time, but I would
certainly rather talk to you,--at least until the beautiful day begins
to go; and it is all bright yet."

She walked before me without her bonnet down the winding garden-steps;
the trellised balustrade was lost in rose-wreaths. We were soon in the
rustling air, among the flowers that had not a withered petal,
bursting hour by hour.

"It would tease you to carry flowers, Mr. Auchester, or I should be
tempted to gather a nosegay for you to take back to London. I cannot
leave them alone while they are so fresh, and they quite ask to be
gathered. Look at all the buds upon this bush,--you could not count
them."

"They are Provence roses. What a quantity you have!"

"Thoné chose this cottage for me because of the number of the flowers.
I believe she thinks there is some charm in flowers which will prevent
my becoming wicked! If you had been so kind as to bring your violin, I
would have filled up the case with roses, and then you would not have
had to carry them in your hands."

"But may I not have some, although I did not bring my violin? I never
think of anything but violets, though, for strewing that sarcophagus."

"Sarcophagus means 'tomb,' does it not? It is a fine idea of
resurrection, when you take out the sleeping music and make it live. I
know what you mean about violets,--their perfume is like the tones of
your instrument, and one can separate it from all other scents in the
spring, as those tones from all other tones of the orchestra."

"I have a tender thought for violets,--a very sad one, Miss Benette;
but still sweet now that what I remember has happened a long while
ago."

"That is the best of sorrow,--all passes off with time but that which
is not bitter, though we can hardly call it sweet. I am grieved I
talked of violets, to touch upon any sorrow you may have had to bear;
still more grieved that you have had a sorrow, for you are very
young."

"I seem to feel, Miss Benette, as if you must know exactly what I have
gone through since I saw you, and I am forced to remember it is not
the case. I am not sorry you spoke about violets, or rather that I
did, because some day I must tell you the whole story of my trouble. I
know not why the violet should remind me more than does the beautiful
white flower upon that rose-bush over there, for I have in my
possession both a white rose that has lived five summers, and an
everlasting violet which will never allow me to forget."

"I know, from your look, that it is about some one dying: but why is
that so sad? We must all die, Mr. Auchester, and cannot stay after we
have been called."

"It may be so, and must indeed; but it was hard to understand, and I
cannot now read why a creature so formed to teach earth all that is
most like heaven, should go before any one had dreamed she could
possibly be taken; for she had so much to do. You would not wonder at
the regret I must ever feel, if you had also known her."

Clara had led me onwards as I spoke, and we stood before that
rose-tree; she broke off a fresh rose quietly, and placed it in my
hand.

"I am more and more unhappy. It was not because I was not sorry that I
said so. Pray tell me about her."

"She was very young, Miss Benette, only sixteen; and more beautiful
than any flower in this garden, or than any star in the sky; for it
was a beauty of spirit, of passion, of awful imagination. She was at
school with me, and I was taught by her how slightly I had learned all
things; she had learned too much, and of what men could not teach her.
I never saw such a face,--but that was nothing. I never heard such a
voice,--but neither had it any power, compared with her heavenly
genius and its sway upon the soul. She had written a symphony,--you
know what it is to do that! She wrote it in three months, and during
the slight leisure of a most laborious student life. I was alarmed at
her progress, yet there was something about it that made it seem
natural. She was ill once, but got over the attack; and the time came
when this strange girl was to stand in the light of an orchestra and
command its interpretation. It was a private performance, but I was
among the players. She did not carry it through. In the very midst she
fell to the ground, overwhelmed by illness. We thought her dead then,
but she lived four days."

"And died, sir? Oh! she did not die?"

"Yes, Miss Benette, she died; but no one then could have wished her to
live."

"She suffered so?"

"No, she was only too happy. I did not know what joy could rise to
until I beheld her face with the pain all passed, and saw her smile in
dying."

"She must have been happy, then. Perhaps she had nothing she loved
except Jehovah, and no home but heaven."

"Indeed, she must have been happy, for she left some one behind her
who had been to her so dear as to make her promise to become his own."

"I am glad she was so wise, then, as to hide from him that she broke
her heart to part with him; for she could not help it: and it was
worthy of a young girl who could write a symphony," said Clara, very
calmly, but with her eyes closed among the flowers she was holding in
her hand. "Sir, what did they do with the symphony? and, if it is not
rude, what did the rose and the violet have to do with this sad tale?"

"Oh! I should have told you first, but I wished to get the worst part
over; I do not generally tell people. It was the day our prizes were
distributed she took her death-blow, and I received from the Chevalier
Seraphael, who superintended all our affairs, and who ordered the
rewards, a breast-pin, with a violet in amethyst, in memory of certain
words he spoke to me in a rather mystical chat we had held one day, in
which he let fall, 'the violin is the violet.' And poor Maria received
a silver rose, in memory of Saint Cecilia, to whom he had once
compared her, and to whom there was a too true resemblance in her
fateful life. The rose was placed in her hair by the person I told you
she loved best, just as she was about to stand forth before the
orchestra; and when she fainted it fell to my feet. I gathered it up,
and have kept it ever since. I do not know whether I had any right to
do so, but the only person to whom I could have committed it, it was
impossible to insult by reminding of her. In fact, he would not permit
it; he left Cecilia after she was buried, and never returned."

Clara here raised her eyes, bright and liquid, and yet all-searching;
I had not seen them so.

"I feel for him all that my heart can feel. Has he never ceased to
suffer? Was she all to him?"

"He will never cease to suffer until he ceases to breathe, and then he
will, perhaps, be fit to bear the bliss that was withdrawn from him as
too great for any mortal heart; that is his feeling, I believe, for he
is still now, and uncomplaining,--ever proud, but only proud about his
sorrow. Some day you will, I trust, hear him play, and you will agree
with me how that grief must have grown into a soul so passionate."

"You mean, when you say he is proud, he will not be comforted, I
suppose? There are persons like that, I know; but I do not understand
it."

"I hope you never will, Miss Benette. You must suffer with your whole
nature to refuse comfort."

"To any one so suffering I should say, the comfort is that all those
who suffer are reserved for joy."

"Not here, though."

"But it will not be less joy because it is saved for by and by. Now
that way of talking makes me angry; I believe there is very little
faith."

"Very little, I grant. But poor Florimond Anastase does not fail
there."

She stopped beside me as we were pacing the lawn.

"Florimond Anastase! you did not say so? Do you mean the great player?
I have heard of that person."

Her face flushed vividly, as rose hues flowing into pearl, her aspect
altered, she seemed convicted of some mistaken conclusion; but,
recovering herself almost instantly, resumed,--

"Thank you for telling me that story,--it will make me better, I hope.
I do not deserve to have grown up so well and strong. May I do my duty
for it, and at least be grateful! You did not say what was done with
the symphony?"

"The person I mentioned would not allow it to be retained. And,
indeed, what else could be done? It was buried in her virgin grave,--a
maiden work. She sleeps with her music, and I know not who could have
divided them."

"You have told me a story that has turned you all over, like the
feeling before a thunder-storm. I will not hear a word more. You
cannot afford to talk of what affects you. Now, let me be very
impertinent and change the key."

"By all means; I have said quite enough, and will thank you."

"There is Laura in the arbor, just across the grass; we will go to
her, if you please, and you shall see her pretty pink frock among the
roses, instead of my black gown. On the way I will tell you that there
is some one, a lady too, so much interested in you that she was going
down to your neighborhood on purpose to find out about you; but I
prevented her from coming, by saying you would be here, and she
answered,--

"'Tell him, then, to come and call upon me.'"

"It can only have been one living lady who would have sent that
message,--Miss Lawrence. Actually I had forgotten all about her, and
she returns upon me with a strong sense of my own ingratitude. I will
certainly call upon her, and I shall be only too glad to identify my
benefactress."

"That you cannot do; she will not allow it,--at least, to this hour
she persists in perfect innocence of the fact."

"That she provided us both with exactly what we wanted at exactly the
right time? She chalked out my career, at least. I'll make her
understand how I feel. Is she not a character?"

"Not more so than yourself, but still one, certainly; and a
peculiarity of hers is, that generous--too generous almost--as she is,
she will not suffer the slightest allusion to her generosities to be
made, nor hint to be circulated that she has a heart at all."

Laura was sitting in the arbor, which was now at hand, but not, as
Clara prophesied, among the roses in any sense, for the green branches
that festooned the lattice were flowerless until the later summer, and
her face appeared fading into a mist of green. The delicate leaves
framed her as a picture of melancholy that has attired itself in
mirth, which mirth but served to fling out the shadow by contrast and
betray the source. Clara sat on one side, I on the other, and
presently we went in to tea. But I did not hear the voice I longed for
that evening, nor was the pianoforte opened that I so well remembered
standing in its "dark corner."



CHAPTER XI.


I determined not to let a day pass without calling on Miss Lawrence,
for I had obtained her address before I left the cottage, and I set
forth the following morning. It was in the midst of a desert of
West-end houses, none of which have any peculiar characteristic, or
suggest any peculiar notion. When I reached the door, I knocked, and
it being opened, gave in my card to the footman, who showed me into a
dining-room void of inhabitants, and there left me.

It seemed strange enough to my perception, after I could sit down to
breathe, that a lady should live all by herself in such an immense
place; but I corrected myself by remembering she might possibly not
live by herself, but have brothers, sisters, nay, any number of
relations or dependants. She certainly did not dine in that great
room, at that long table polished as a looking-glass, where half a
regiment might have messed for change. There were heavy curtains,
striped blue and crimson, and a noble sideboard framed in an arch of
yellow marble.

The walls were decorated with deep-toned pictures on a ground almost
gold color; and I was fastened upon one I could not mistake as a
Murillo, when the footman returned, but only to show me out, for Miss
Lawrence was engaged. I was a little crestfallen, not conceitedly so,
but simply feeling I had better not have taken her at her word, and
retreated in some confusion. Returning very leisurely to my two
apartments near the Strand, and stopping very often on the way at
music or print shops, I did not arrive there for at least an hour, and
was amazed on my entrance to find a note, directed to myself, lying
upon the parlor table-cloth.

I appealed to my landlady from the top of the kitchen stairs, and she
said a man in livery had left it, and was to call for an answer. I
read the same on the spot; it had no seal to break, but was twisted
backwards and forwards, and had this merit, that it was very difficult
to open. It was from Miss Lawrence, without any comment on my call,
but requesting my company that very evening to dinner, at the awful
hour of seven. Never having dined at seven o'clock in my existence,
nor even at six, I was lost in the prospect, and almost desired to
decline, but that I had no excuse of any kind on hand; and therefore
compelled myself to frame a polite assent, which I despatched, and
then sat down to practise.

I made out to myself that she would certainly be alone, as she was the
very person to have fashionable habits on her own account, or at least
that she would be surrounded merely by the people belonging to her in
her home. But I was still unconfessedly nervous when I drew the door
after me and issued into the streets, precisely as the quarter chimes
had struck for seven, and while the streets still streamed with
daylight, and all was defined as at noon.

When I entered the square so large and still, with its broad roads and
tranquil centre-piece of green, I was appalled to observe a carriage
or two, and flattered myself they were at another door; but they had
drawn up at the very front, alas! that I had visited in the morning. I
was compelled to advance, after having stood aside to permit a lady in
purple satin, and two younger ladies in white, to illustrate the
doorway in making their procession first. Then I came on, and was
rather surprised to find myself so well treated; for a gentleman out
of livery, in neater black clothes than a clergyman, deprived me of my
hat and showed me upstairs directly. It struck me very forcibly that
it was a very good thing my hair had the habit of staying upon my
forehead as it should do, and that I was not anxious to tie my
neck-handkerchief over again, as I was to be admitted into the
drawing-room _in statu quo_.

I ascended. It was a well-staircase, whose great height was easy of
attainment from the exceeding lowness of the steps; stone, with a
narrow crimson centre-strip soft as thick-piled velvet. On the
landing-place was a brilliant globe of humming-birds, interspersed
with gem-like spars and many a moss-wreath. The drawing-room door was
opened for me before I had done looking; I walked straight in, and by
instinct straight up to the lady of the house, who as instantly met me
with a frank familiarity that differs from all other, and supersedes
the rarest courtesy.

I had a vague idea that Miss Lawrence must have been married since I
saw her, so completely was she mistress of herself, and so easy was
her deportment,--not to speak of her dress, which was black lace, with
a single feather in her hair of the most vivid green; but unstudied as
very few costumes are, even of married women. She was still Miss
Lawrence, though, for some one addressed her by name,--a
broad-featured man behind her,--and she turned her head alone, and
answered him over her shoulder.

She dismissed him very shortly, or sent him to some one else; for she
led me--as a queen might lead one of her knights, by her finger-tips,
small as a Spaniard's, upon the tips of my gloves, while she held her
own gloves in her other hand--to a gentleman upon the rug, a real
gentleman of the old school, to whom she introduced me simply as to
her father; and then she brought me back again to a low easy-chair,
out of a group of easy-chairs close by the piano, and herself sat down
quite near me, on the extreme corner of an immense embroidered
ottoman.

"You see how it is, my dear Mr. Auchester," she began in her genial
voice,--"a dinner, which I should not have dreamed to annoy you with,
but for one party we expect. You have seen Seraphael, of course, and
the little Burney? Or perhaps not; they have been in town only two
days."

I was about to express something rather beyond surprise, when a fresh
appearance at the door carried her away, and I could only watch the
green plume in despair as it waved away from me. To stifle my
sensations, I just glanced round the room; it was very large, but so
high and so apportioned that one felt no space to spare.

The draperies, withdrawn for the sunset smile to enter, were of palest
sky-color, the walls of the palest blush, the tables in corners, the
chairs in clusters, the cabinets in niches, gilt and carven, were of
the deepest blue and crimson, upon a carpet of all imaginable hues,
like dashed flower-petals. Luxurious as was the furniture, in nothing
it offended even the calmest taste, and the choicest must have
lavished upon it a prodigal leisure.

The pianoforte was a grand one, of dark and lustrous polish; its
stools were velvet; a large lamp, unlighted, with gold tracery over
its moon-like globe, issued from a branch in the wall immediately over
it, and harmonized with a circle of those same lamps above the centre
ottoman, and with the same upon the mantelshelf guarding a beautiful
French clock, and reflected in a sheet of perfect glass sweeping to
the ceiling.

There were about five and twenty persons present, who seemed
multiplied, by their manner and their dresses, into thrice as many,
and who would have presented a formidable aspect but for the hopes
roused within me to a tremendous anticipation. Still I had time,
during the hum and peculiar rustle, to scrutinize the faces present.
There were none worth carrying away, except that shaded by the emerald
plume, and I followed it from chair to chair, fondly hoping it would
return to mine. It did not; and it was evident we were waiting for
some one.

There was a general lull; two minutes by my watch (as I ascertained,
very improperly) it lasted, and two minutes seems very long before a
set dinner. Suddenly, while I was yet gazing after our hostess, the
door flew open, and I heard a voice repeat,--

"The Chevalier Seraphael and Mr. Burney!"

They entered calmly, as I could hear,--not see, for my eyes seemed to
turn in my head, and I involuntarily looked away. The former
approached the hostess, who had advanced almost to the door to meet
him, and apologized, but very slightly, for his late appearance,
adding a few words in a lower tone which I could not catch. He was
still holding his companion by the hand, and, before they had time to
part, the dinner was announced with state.

I lost sight of him long before I obeyed the summons, leading a lady
assigned to me, a head taller than myself, who held a handkerchief in
her hand that looked like a lace veil, and shook it in my face as we
walked down the stairs. I can never sympathize with the abuse heaped
upon these dinner-parties, as I have heard, since I recall that
especial occasion, not only grateful, but with a sense of its Arabian
Night-like charm,--the long table, glistering with damask too white
for the eye to endure, the shining silver, the flashing crystal, the
blaze and mitigated brightness, the pyramid of flowers, the fragrance,
and the picture quiet.

As we passed in noiselessly and sat down one by one, I saw that the
genius, apart from these, was seated by Miss Lawrence at the top of
the table, and I was at the very bottom, though certainly opposite.
Starwood was on my own side, but far above me. I was constrained to
talk with the lady I had seated next me, and as she did not disdain to
respond at length, to listen while she answered; but I was not
constrained to look upon her, nor did I, nor anything but that face so
long removed, so suddenly and inexplicably restored.

It is impossible to describe the nameless change that had crept upon
those faultless features, nor how it touched me, clove to my heart
within. Seraphael had entirely lost the flitting healthful bloom of
his very early youth: a perfect paleness toned his face, as if with
purity out-shadowed,--such pearly clearness flinging into relief the
starry distance of his full, deep-colored eyes; the forehead more
bare, more arched, was distinctly veined, and the temples were of
chiselled keenness; the cheek was thinner, the Hebrew contour more
defined; the countenance had gained in apparent calm, but when meeting
his gaze you could peer into those orbs so evening-blue, their
starlight was passionately restless.

He was talking to Miss Lawrence; he scarcely ceased, but his
conversation was evidently not that which imported anything to
himself,--not the least shade of change thwarted the paleness I have
mentioned, which was that of watchfulness or of intense fatigue. She
to whom he spoke, on the contrary, seemed passed into another form;
she brightened more and more, she flashed, not only from her splendid
eyes, but from her glowing cheek, her brilliant smile: she was on fire
with joy that would not be extinguished; it assuredly was the time of
"all her wealth," and had her mood possessed no other charm, it would
have excited my furious taste by its interesting contrast with his
pale aspect and indrawn expression.

It was during dessert, when the converse had sprung up like a sudden
air in a calm, when politeness quickened and elegance unconsciously
thawed, that--as I watched the little hands I so loved gleaming in the
purple of the grapes which the light fingers separated one by one--I
passed insensibly to the countenance. It was smiling, and for me: a
sudden light broke through the lips, which folded themselves again
instantly, as if never to smile again; but not until I had known the
dawn of the old living expression, that, though it had slept, I felt
now was able to awaken, and with more thankfulness than I can put into
words. He was of those who stood at the door when the ladies withdrew,
and after their retreat he began to speak to me across the table,
serving me, with a skill I could not appreciate too delicately, to the
merest trivialities, and making a sign to Starwood to take the chair
now empty next me.

This was exactly what I wanted, for I had not seen him in the
least,--not that I was afraid he had altered, but that I was anxious
to encounter him the same. Although still a little one, he had grown
more than I expected; his blue eye was the same, the same shrinking
lip,--but a great power seemed called out of both. He was exceedingly
well formed, muscular, though delicate; his voice was that which I
remembered, but he had caught Seraphael's accent, and quite slightly
his style,--only not his manner, which no one could approach or
imitate. I learned from Starwood, as we sipped our single glass of
wine, that the Chevalier had been to Miss Lawrence's that very
morning.

"He told me where he was going, and left me at the hotel; when he came
back he said we were invited for to-night. Miss Lawrence had asked him
to spend one evening, and he was engaged for every one but this. She
was very sorry, she said, that her father had a party to-day. The
Chevalier, however, did not mind, he told her, and should be very
happy to come anyhow."

"But how does it happen that he is so constantly engaged? It cannot be
to concerts every evening?"

"Carl, you have no idea how much he is engaged; the rehearsals are to
be every other day, and the rest of the evenings he has been worried
into accepting invitations. I wish to goodness people would let him
alone; if they knew what I know they would."

"What, my dear boy?"

"That for every evening he spends in company, he sits up half the
night. I know it, for I have watched that light under his door, and
can hear him make the least little stir when all is so quiet,--at
least, I could at Stralenfeld, where he stayed last, for my room was
across the landing-place; and since we came to London, he told me he
has not slept."

"I should think you might entreat him to do otherwise, Starwood, or at
least request his friends to do so."

"He might have no friends, so far as any influence they have goes.
Just try yourself, Carl; and when you see his face, you will not be
inclined to do so any more."

"You spoke of rehearsals, Star,--what may these be? I have not heard
anything."

"I only know that he has brought with him two symphonies, three or
four quartets, and a great roll of organ fugues, besides the score of
his oratorio."

"I had no idea of such a thing. An oratorio?"

"It is what he wrote in Italy some time ago, and only lately went over
and prepared. It is in manuscript."

"Shall we hear it?"

"It is for the third or fourth week in June, but has been kept very
quiet."

"How did Miss Lawrence come to know him? She did not use to know him."

"She seems to know everybody, and to get her own way in everything.
You might ask her; she would tell you, and there would be no fear of
her being angry."

At last we rose. The lamps were lighted when we returned to the
drawing-room; it was nearly ten o'clock, but all was brilliant,
festive. I had scarcely found a seat when Seraphael touched my
shoulder.

"I want very much to go, Charles. Will you come home with me? I have
all sorts of favors to ask you, and that is the first."

"But, sir, Miss Lawrence is going to the piano: will not you play
first?"

"Not at all to-night; we agreed. There are many here who would rather
be excused from music; they can get it at the opera."

He laughed, and so did I. He then placed his other hand on Starwood,
still touching my shoulder, when Miss Lawrence approached,--

"Sir, you know what you said, nor can I ask you to retract it. But may
I say how sorry I am to have been so exacting this morning? It was a
demand upon your time I would not have made had I known what I now
know."

"What is that? Pray have the goodness to tell me, for I cannot
imagine."

"That you have brought with you what calls upon every one to beware
how he or she engages you with trifles, lest they suffer from that
repentance which comes too late. I hear of your great work, and shall
rely upon you to allow me to assist you, if it be at all possible I
can, in the very least and lowest degree."

She spoke earnestly, with an eager trouble in her air. He smiled
serenely.

"Oh! you quite mistake my motive, Miss Lawrence; it had not to do with
music. It was because I have had no sleep that I wished to retire
early; and you must permit me to make amends for my awkwardness. If it
will not exhaust your guests, as I see you were about to play, let me
make the opening, and oblige me by choosing what you like best."

"Sir, I cannot refuse, selfish as I am, to permit myself such
exquisite pleasure. There is another thirsty soul here who will be all
the better for a taste of heavenly things."

She turned to me elated. I looked into his face; he moved to the
piano, made no gesture either of impatience or satisfaction, but drew
the stool to him, and when seated, glanced to Miss Lawrence, who stood
beside him and whispered something. I drew, with Starwood, behind,
where I could watch his hands.

He played for perhaps twenty minutes,--an _andante_ from Beethoven, an
_allegro_ from Mozart, an _aria_ from Weber, cathedral-echoes from
Purcell, fugue-points from Bach; and mixing them like gathered
flowers, bound them together with a wild, delicious _scherzo finale_,
his own. But though that playing was indeed unto me as heaven in
forecast, and though it filled the heart up to the brim, it was
extremely cold, and I do not remember ever feeling that he was
separable from his playing before. When he arose so quietly, lifting
his awful forehead from the curls that had fallen over it as he bent
his face, he was unflushed as calm, and he instantly shook hands with
Miss Lawrence, only leaving her to leave the room. I followed him
naturally, remembering his request; but she detained me a moment to
say,--

"You must come and see me on Thursday, and must also come to
breakfast. I shall be alone, and have something to show you. You are
going along with him, I find,--so much the better; take care of him,
and good night."

Starwood had followed Seraphael implicitly; they were both below. We
got into a carriage at the door, and were driven I knew not whither;
but it was enough to be with him, even in that silent mood.

With the same absent grace he ordered another bed-room when we stayed
at his hotel. I could no more have remonstrated with him than with a
monarch when we found ourselves in the stately sitting-room.

"A pair of candles for the chamber," was his next command; and when
they were brought, he said to us: "The waiter will show you to your
rooms, dear children; you must not wait a moment."

I could not, so I felt, object, nor entreat him himself to sleep.
Starwood and I departed; and whether it was from the novelty of the
circumstances, or my own transcending happiness, or whether it was
because I put myself into one of Starwood's dresses in default of my
own, I do not conjecture, but I certainly could not sleep, and was
forced to leave it alone.

I sat upright for an hour or two, and then rolled amongst the great
hot pillows; I examined the register of the grate; I looked into the
tall glass at my own double: but all would not exhaust me, and towards
the very morning I left my bed and made a sally upon the
landing-place. I knew the number of Seraphael's door, for Starwood had
pointed it out to me as we passed along, and I felt drawn, as by
odyllic force, to that very metal lock.

There was no crack, but a key-hole, and the key-hole was bright as any
star; I peeped in also, and shall never forget my delight, yet dread,
to behold that outline of a figure, which decided me to make an
entrance into untried regions, upon inexperienced moods. Without any
hesitation, I knocked; but recalling to myself his temperament, I
spoke simultaneously,--

"Dear sir, may I come in?"

Though I waited not for his reply, and opened the door quite innocent
of the ghostly apparel I wore--and how very strange must have been my
appearance!--never shall I forget the look that came home to me as I
advanced more near him,--that indrawn, awful aspect, that sweetness
without a smile.

The table was loaded with papers, but there was no strew,--that
"spirit" ever moulded to harmony its slightest "motion;" one delicate
hand was outspread over a sheet, a pen was in the other: he did not
seem surprised, scarcely aroused. I rushed up to him precipitately.

"Dear, dearest sir, I would not have been so rude, but I could not
bear to think you might be sitting up, and I came to see. I pray you,
for God's sake, do go to bed!"

"Carl, very Carl, little Carl, great Carl!" he answered, with the
utmost gentleness, but still unsmiling, "why should I go to bed? and
why shouldest thou come out of thine?"

"Sir, if it is anything, I cannot sleep while you are not sleeping,
and while you ought to be besides."

"Is that it? How very kind, how good! I do not wake wilfully, but if I
am awake I must work,--thou knowest that. In truth, Carl, hadst thou
not been so weary, I should have asked thee this very night what I
must ask thee to-morrow morning."

"Ask me now, sir, for, if you remember, it _is_ to-morrow morning
already."

"Go get into your bed, then."

"No, sir, certainly not while you are sitting there."

A frown, like the shadow of a butterfly, floated over his forehead.

"If thou wilt have it so, I will even go to this naughty bed, but not
to sleep. The fact is, Carl, I cannot sleep in London. I think that
something in the air distresses my brain; it will _not_ shut itself
up. I was about to ask thee whether there is no country, nothing
green, no pure wind, to be had within four miles?"

"Sir, you have hit upon a prodigious providence. There is, as I can
assure you experimentally, fresh green, pure country air of Heaven's
own distilling within that distance; and there is also much
more,--there is something you would like even better."

"What is that, Carlomein?"

"I will not tell you, sir, unless you sleep to-night."

"To be sly becomes thee, precisely because thou art not a fox. I will
lie down; but sleep is God's best gift, next to love, and he has
deprived me of both."

"If I be sly, sir, you are bitter. But there is not too much sleight,
nor bitterness either, where they can be expressed from words. So,
sir, come to bed."

"Well spoken, Carlomein; I am coming,--sleep thou!"

But I would not, and I did not leave him until I had seen his head
laid low in all the bareness of its beauty, had seen his large eyelids
fall, and had drawn his curtains in their softest gloom around the
burdened pillow. Then I, too, went back to bed, and I slept delectably
and dreamless.



CHAPTER XII.


Very late I slept, and before I had finished dressing, Starwood came
for me. Seraphael had been down some time, he told me. I was very
sorry, but relieved to discover how much more of his old bright self
he wore than on the previous evening.

"Now, Carlomein," he began immediately, "we are going on a pilgrimage
directly after breakfast."

I could tell he was excited, for he ate nothing, and was every moment
at the window. To Starwood his abstinence seemed a matter of course; I
was afraid, indeed, that it was no new thing. I could not remonstrate,
however, having done quite enough in that line for the present. It was
not half-past ten when we found ourselves in an open carriage, into
which the Chevalier sprang last, and in springing said to me: "Give
your own orders, Carlomein." I was for an instant lost, but recovered
myself quite in time to direct, before we drove from the hotel, to the
exact locality of Clara's cottage, unknowing whether I did well or
ill, but determined to direct to no other place. As we passed from
London and met the breeze from fields and gardens, miles and miles of
flower-land, I could observe a clearing of Seraphael's countenance:
its wan shadow melted, he seemed actually abandoned to enjoyment;
though he was certainly in his silent mood, and only called out for my
sympathy by his impressive glances as he stood up in the carriage with
his hat off and swaying to and fro. And when we reached, after a
rapid, exhilarating drive, the winding road with its summer trees in
youngest leaf, he only began to speak,--he had not before spoken.

"How refreshing!" he exclaimed, "and what a lovely shade! I will
surely not go on a step farther, but remain here and make my bed. It
will be very unfortunate for me if all those pretty houses that I see
are full, and how can we get at them?"

"I am nearly sure, sir, that you can live here if you like, or close
upon this place; but if you will allow me, I will go on first and
announce your arrival to a friend of mine, who will be rather
surprised at our all coming together, though she would be more happy
than I could express for her to welcome you at her house."

"It is, then, _that_ I was brought to see,--a friend of thine; thou
hast not the assurance to tell me that any friend of thine will be
glad to welcome another! But go, Carlomein,"--and he opened the
carriage-door,--"go and get over thy meeting first; we will give thee
time. Oh, Carlomein! I little thought what a man thou hadst grown when
I saw thee so tall! Get out, and go quickly; I would not keep thee now
for all the cedars of Lebanon!"

I could tell his mood now very accurately, but it made no difference;
I knew what I was about, or I thought I knew, and did not remain to
answer. I ran along the road, I turned the corner; the white gate
shone upon me, and again I stopped to breathe. More roses, more
narcissus lambent as lilies, more sweetness, and still more rest! The
grass had been cut that morning, and lay in its little heaps all over
the sunny lawn. The gravel was warm to my feet as I walked to the
door, and long before the door was opened I heard a voice.

So ardent did my desire expand to identify it with its owner that I
begged the servant not to announce me, nor to disturb Miss Benette if
singing. Thoné took the cue, gave me a kind of smile, and preceded me
with a noiseless march to the very back parlor; I advanced on tiptoe
and crouching forwards. Laura, too, was there, sitting at the table.
She neither read nor worked, nor had anything in her hands; but with
more tact than I should have expected from her, only bowed, and did
not move her lips. In the morning light my angel sat, and her notes,
full orbed and star-like, descended upon my brain. Few notes I
heard,--she was just concluding,--the strain ebbed as the memory of a
kiss itself dissolving; but I heard enough to know that her voice was,
indeed, the realization of all her ideal promise. I addressed her as
she arose, and told her, in very few words, my errand. She was
perturbless as usual, and only looked enchanted, the enchantment
betraying itself in the eye, not in any tremble or the faintest flush.

"Do bring them, sir," she said; "and as you say this gentleman has
eaten nothing, I will try what I can do to make him eat. It is so
important that I wonder you could allow him to come out until he had
breakfasted,"--for I had told her of his impatience; "afterwards, if
he likes, he can go to see the houses. There are several, I do
believe, if they have not been taken since yesterday."

I went back to the carriage, and it was brought on to the gate, I
walking beside it. Thoné was waiting, and held it open,--the sweet hay
scented every breath.

"Oh, how delicious!" said Seraphael, as he alighted, standing still
and looking around.

The meadows, the hedges, the secluded ways first attracted him; and
then the garden, which I thought he would never have overpassed, then
the porch, in which he stood.

"And this is England!" he exclaimed; "it is strange how unlike it is
to that wild dream-country I went to when last I came to London. This
is more like heaven,--quiet and full of life!"

These words recalled me to Clara. He had put his head into the very
midst of those roses that showered over the porch.

"Oh! I must gather one rose of all these,--there are so many; she will
never miss it." And then he laughed. A soft, soft echo of his laugh
was heard,--it startled me by its softness, it was so like an
infant's. I looked over my shoulder, and there, in the shadow of the
hall, I beheld her, her very self. It was she, indeed, who laughed,
and her eye yet smiled. Without waiting for my introduction, she
courtesied with a profound but easy air, and while, to match this
singular greeting, Seraphael made his regal bow, she said, looking at
him,--

"You shall have all the roses, sir, and all my flowers, if you will
let my servant gather them; for I believe you might prick your
fingers, there being also thorns. But while Thoné is at that work,
perhaps you will like to walk in out of the sun, which is too hot for
you, I am sure." She led us to the parlor where she had been singing,
the piano still stood open.

"But," said Seraphael, taking the first chair as if it were his own,
"we disturb you! What were you doing, you and Carl? I ask his
pardon,--Mr. Auchester."

"We two did nothing, sir; I was only singing. But that can very well
be put off till after breakfast, which will be ready in a few
minutes."

"Breakfast?" I thought, but Clara's face told no tales,--her
loveliness was unruffled. The clear blue eye, the divine mouth, were
evidently studies for Seraphael; he sat and watched her eagerly, even
while he answered her.

"You look as if you had had breakfast."

"Indeed, I am very hungry, and so is my friend Mr. Auchester."

"He always looks so, Mademoiselle!" replied the Chevalier, mirthfully,
"but I do really think he might be elegant enough to tell me your
name: he has forgotten to do so in his embarrassment. I cannot guess
whether it be English, French, or German,--Italian, Greek, or Hebrew."

"I am called Clara Benette, sir; that is my name."

"It is not Benette,--La Benetta benedetta! Carlomein, why hast thou so
forgotten? Allow me to congratulate you, Mademoiselle, on possessing
the right to be so named. And for this do I give you joy,--that not
for your gifts it has been bestowed, nor for that genius which is
alone of the possessor, but for that goodness which I now experience,
and feel to have been truly ascribed to you."

He stood to her and held out his hand; calmly she gave hers to it, and
gravely smiled.

"Sir, I thank you the more because I _know_ your name. I hope you will
excuse me for keeping you so long without your breakfast."

He laughed again, and again sat down; but his manner, though of that
playful courtliness, was quite drawn out to her. He scarcely looked at
Laura; I did not even believe that he was aware of her presence, nor
was _I_ aware of the power of his own upon her. After ten minutes
Thoné entered and went up to Clara. She motioned to us all then, and
we arose; but as she looked at Seraphael first, he took her out and
into the dining-room. The table was snowed with damask; flowers were
heaped up in the centre,--a bowl of honeysuckles and heartsease; the
dishes here were white bread, brown bread, golden butter, new-laid
eggs in a nest of moss, the freshest cream, the earliest strawberries;
and before the chair which Clara took, stood a silver chocolate-jug
foaming, and coffee above a day-pale spirit-lamp. On the sideboard
were garnished meat, and poultry already carved, the decanters, and
still more flowers; it was a feast raised as if by magic, and
unutterably tempting at that hour of the day. Clara asked no questions
of her chief guest, but pouring out both chocolate and coffee, offered
them both; he accepted the former, nor refused the wing of a chicken
which Thoné brought, nor the bread which Clara asked me to cut. I was
perfectly astounded; she had helped herself also, and was eating so
quietly, after administering her delicious cups all round, that no one
thought of speaking. At last Starwood, by one of those unfortunate
chances that befall timid people, spoke, and instantly turned scarlet,
dropping his eyes forthwith, though he only said, "I never saw the
Chevalier eat so much." Clara answered, with her fork in her dimpled
hand, "That is because you gentlemen have had a long drive; it always
raises the appetite to come out of London into the country. You cannot
eat too much here."

"Do you think I shall find a house that will hold me and my younger
son," said Seraphael presently, pointing at Starwood his slight
finger, "and a servant or two?"

"If you like to send my servant, sir, she will find out for you."

"No, perhaps you will not dislike to drive a little way with us. I
know Carl will be so glad!"

"We shall be most pleased, sir," she answered, quite quietly, though
there was that in his expression which might easily have fluttered
her. I could not at all account for this eflish mood, though I had
been witness to freaks and fantasies in my boy days. Never had I seen
his presence affect any one so little as Clara. Had she not been of a
loveliness so peculiarly genial, I should have called her cold; as it
was, I felt he had never made himself more at home with any one in my
sight. While, having graciously deferred to her the proposal for an
instant search, he sauntered out into the little front garden, she
went for her bonnet, and came down in it,--a white straw, with a
white-satin ribbon and lining, and a little white veil of her own
work, as I could tell directly I caught her face through its wavering
and web-like tracery. Seraphael placed her in the carriage, and then
looked back.

"Oh, Laura--that is, Miss Lemark--is not coming," observed Miss
Benette; this did not strike me except as a rather agreeable
arrangement, and off we drove. Fritz, Seraphael's own man, was on the
box,--a perfect German, of very reserved deportment, who, however, one
could see, would have allowed Seraphael to walk upon him. His heavy
demonstrations about situations and suitabilities made even Clara
laugh, as they were met by Seraphael's wayward answers and skittish
sallies. We had a very long round, and then went back to dinner with
our lady; but Seraphael, by the time the moon had risen, fell into
May-evening ecstasies with a very old-fashioned tenement built of
black wood and girded by a quickset hedge, because it suddenly, in the
silver shine, reminded him of his own house in Germany, as he said. It
was so near the cottage that two persons might even whisper together
over the low and moss-greened garden-wall.

The invitation of Miss Lawrence I could not forget, even through the
intenser fascination spread about me. I returned with Seraphael to
town again, and again to the country; he having thither removed his
whole effects,--so important, though of so slight bulk, they
consisting almost entirely of scored and other compositions, which
were safely deposited in a little empty room of the rambling house he
had chosen. This room he and Starwood and I soon made fit to be seen
and inhabited, by our distribution of all odd furniture over it, and
all the conveniences of the story. Three large country scented
bed-rooms, with beds big enough for three chevaliers in each, and two
drawing-rooms, were all that we cared for besides. Seraphael was only
like a child that night that is preparing for a whole holiday: he
wandered from room to room; he shut himself into pantry, wine-cellar,
and china-closet; he danced like a day-beam through the low-ceiled
sitting-chambers, and almost threw himself into the garden when he saw
it out of the window. It was the wildest place,--the walks all sown
with grass, an orchard on a bank all moss, forests of fruit-trees and
moss-rose bushes, and the great white lilies in ranks all round the
close-fringed lawn; all old-fashioned flowers in their favorite soils,
a fountain and a grotto, and no end of weeping-ashes, arbors bent from
willows, and arcades of nut and filbert trees. The back of the house
was veiled with a spreading vine--too luxuriant--that shut out all but
fresh green light from the upper bed-rooms; but Seraphael would not
have a spray cut off, nor did he express the slightest dissatisfaction
at being overlooked by the chimneys and roof-hung windows of Clara's
little cottage, which peeped above the hedge. The late inhabitant and
present owner of the house, an eccentric gentlewoman who abjured all
innovation, had desired that no change should pass upon her tenement
during her absence for a sea-side summer; even the enormous mastiff,
chained in the yard to his own house, was to remain barking or baying
as he listed; and we were rather alarmed, Starwood and I, to discover
that Seraphael had let him loose, in spite of the warnings of the
housekeeper, who rustled her scant black-silk skirts against the
doorstep in anger and in dread. I was about to make some slight
movement in deprecation, for the dog was fiercely strong and of a
tremendous expression indeed, but he only lay down before the
Chevalier and licked the leather of his boots, afterwards following
him over the whole place until darkness came, when he howled on being
tied up again until Seraphael carried him a bone from our
supper-table. Our gentle master retired to rest, and his candle-flame
was lost in the moonlight long before I could bring myself to go to
bed. I can never describe the satisfaction, if not the calm, of lying
between two poles of such excitement as the cottage and that haunted
mansion.



CHAPTER XIII.


Seraphael had desired me to stay with him, therefore the next morning
I intended to give up my London lodgings on the road to Miss
Lawrence's square, or rather out of the road. When I came downstairs
into the sun-lit breakfast-room, I found Starwood alone and writing to
his father, but no Chevalier. Nor was he in his own room, for the sun
was streaming through the vine-shade on the tossed bed-clothes, and
the door and window were both open as I descended. Starwood said that
he had gone to walk in the garden, and that we were not to wait for
him. "What! without his breakfast?" said I. But Starwood smiled such a
meaning smile that I was astonished, and could only sit down.

We ate and drank, but neither of us spoke. I was anxious to be off,
and Star to finish his letter; though as we both arose and were still
alone, he yet looked naughty. I would not pretend to understand him,
for if he has a fault, that darling friend of mine, it is that he sees
through people rather too soon, construing their intentions before
they inform experience.

I could not make up my mind to ride, but set off on foot along the
sun-glittering road, through emerald shades, past gold-flecked
meadows, till through the mediant chaos of brick-fields and dust-heaps
I entered the dense halo surrounding London,--"smoke the tiara of
commerce," as a pearl of poets has called it. The square looked
positively lifeless when I came there. I almost shrank from my
expedition, not because of any fear I had on my own account, but
because all the inhabitants might have been asleep behind the glaze of
their many windows.

I was admitted noiselessly and as if expected, shown into the
drawing-room, so large, so light and splendid in the early sun. All
was noiseless, too, within; an air of affluent calm pervaded as an
atmosphere itself the rich-grouped furniture, the piano closed, the
stools withdrawn. I was not kept two minutes; Miss Lawrence entered,
in the act of holding out her hand. I was instantly at home with her,
though she was one of the grandest persons I ever saw. She accepted my
arm, and, not speaking, took me to a landing higher, and to a room
which appeared to form one of a suite; for a curtain extended across
one whole side,--a curtain as before an oratory in a dwelling-house.

Breakfast was outspread here; on the walls, a pale sea-green, shone
delectable pictures in dead-gold frames,--pictures even to an
inexperienced eye pure relics of art. The windows had no curtains,
only a broad gold cornice; the chairs were damask, white and green;
the carpet oak-leaves, on a lighter ground. It was evidently a retreat
of the lesser art,--it could not be called a boudoir; neither ornament
nor mirror, vase nor book-stand, broke the prevalent array. I said I
had breakfasted, but she made me sit by her and told me,--

"I have not, and I am sure you will excuse me. One must eat, and I am
not so capable to exist upon little as you are. Yet you shall not sit,
if you would rather see the pictures, because there are not too many
to tire you in walking round. Too many together is a worse mistake
than too few."

I arose immediately, but I took opportunity to examine my entertainer
in pauses as I moved from picture to picture. She wore black brocaded
silk this morning, with a Venetian chain and her watch, and a collar
all lace; her hair, the blackest I had ever seen except Maria's, was
coiled in snake-like wreaths to her head so small behind while it
arched so broadly and benevolently over her noble eyes. She was older
than I had imagined, and may have been forty at that time; the only
observation one could retain about the fact being that her gathered
years had but served to soften every crudity of an extremely decided
organization, and to crown wisdom with refinement.

She soon pushed back her cup and plate, and came to my side. She
looked suddenly, a little anxiously at me.

"You must be rather curious to know why I asked you to come to me
to-day; and were you not a gentleman, you would have been also
curious, I fancy, to know why I could not see you on Tuesday. I want
you to come this way."

I followed; she slid the curtain along its rings, and we entered the
oratory. I know not that it was so far unlike such precinct, for from
thence art reared her consecrated offerings to the presence of every
beauty. I felt this, and that the artist was pure in heart, even
before her entire character faced my own. The walls here, of the same
soft marine shade, were also lighted by pictures,--the strangest, the
wildest, the least assorted, yet all according.

A peculiar and unique style was theirs; each to each presented the
atmosphere of one imagination. Dark and sombrous woods, moon-pierced,
gleamed duskly from a chair where they were standing frameless;
resting against them, a crowd of baby faces clustered in a giant
flower-chalice; a great lotus was the hieroglyph of a third. On the
walls faces smiled or frowned,--huge profiles; dank pillars mirrored
in rushy pools; fragments of heathen temples; domes of diaphanous
distance in a violet sky; awful palms; dread oceans, with the last
ghost-shadow of a wandering wreck. I stood lost, unaccustomed either
to the freaks or the triumphs of pictorial art; I could only say in my
amaze, "Are these all yours? How wonderful!" She smiled very
carelessly.

"I did not intend you to look at those, except askance, if you were
kind enough. I keep them to advertise my own deficiencies and to
compare the present with the past. The present is very aspiring, and
_for_ the present devours my future. I hope it will dedicate itself
thereunto. I wish you to come here, to this light."

She was placed before an immense easel to the right of a large-paned
window, where the best London day streamed above the lower dimness. An
immense sheet of canvas was turned away from us upon the easel; but in
a moment she had placed it before us, and fell back in the same
moment, a little from me.

Nor shall I ever forget that moment's issue. I forgot it was a
picture, and all I could feel was a trance-like presence brought unto
me in a day-dream of immutable satisfaction. On either side, the
clouds, light golden and lucid crimson, passed into a central sphere
of the perfect blue. And reared into that, as it were the empyrean of
the azure, gleamed in full relief the head, life-sized, of Seraphael.
The bosom white-vested, the regal throat, shone as the transparent
depths of the moon, not moonlight, against the blue unshadowed. The
clouds deeper, heavier, and of a dense violet, were rolled upon the
rest of the form; the bases of those clouds as livid as the storm,
but their edges, where they flowed into the virgin raiment,
sun-fringed, glittering. The visage was raised, the head thrown back
into the ether; but the eyes were drooping, the snow-sealed lips at
rest. The mouth faint crimson, thrilling, spiritual, appalled by its
utter reminiscence; the smile so fiery-soft just touched the lips
unparted. No symbol strewed the cloudy calm below, neither lyre,
laurel-wreathed, nor flowery chaplet; but on either side, where the
clouds disparted in wavering flushes and golden pallors, two hands of
light, long, lambent, life-like, but not earthly, held over the brow a
crown.

Passing my eye among the cloud-lights,--for I cannot call them
shadows,--I could just gather with an eager vision, as one gathers the
thready moon-crescent in a mid-day sky, that on either side a visage
gleamed, veiled and drenched also in the rose-golden mist.

One countenance was dread and glorious, of sharp-toned ecstasy that
cut through the quivering medium,--a self-sheathed seraph; the other
was mild and awful, informed with steadfast beauty, a shining cherub.
They were Beethoven and Bach, as they might be known in heaven; but
who, except the musician, would have known them for themselves on
earth? It was not for me to speak their names,--I could not utter
them; my heart was dry,--I was thirsty for the realization of that
picture promise.

The crown they uplifted in those soft, shining hands was a circle of
stars gathered to each other out of that heavenly silence, and into
the azure vague arose that brow over which the conqueror's sign,
suspended, shook its silver terrors. For such awful fancies shivered
through the brain upon its contemplation that I can but call it
_transcendental_,--beyond expression; the feeling, the fear, the
mystery of starlight pressed upon the spirit and gave new pulses to
the heart. The luminous essence from the large white points seemed
rained upon that forehead and upon the deep tints of the god-like
locks; they turned all clear upon their orbed clusters, they melted
into the radiant halo which flooded, yet as with a glory one could not
penetrate, the impenetrable elevation of the lineaments.

I dared only gaze; had I spoken, I should have wept, and I would not
disturb the image by my tears. I soon perceived how awfully the
paintress had possessed herself of the inspiration, the melancholy,
and the joy. The crown, indeed, was grounded upon rest, and of
unbroken splendor; but it beamed upon the aspect of exhaustion and
longing strife, upon lips yet thirsty, and imploring patience.

I suppose my silence satisfied the artist; for before I had spoken, or
even unriveted my gaze, she said, herself--

"That I have worked upon for a year. I was allowing myself to dream
one day--just such a day as this--last spring; and insensibly my
vision framed itself into form. The faces came before I knew,--at
least those behind the clouds; and having caught them, I conceived the
rest. I could not, however, be certain of my impressions about the
chief countenance, and I waited with it unfinished enough until the
approach of the season, for I knew he was coming now, and before he
arrived I sent him a letter to his house in Germany. I had a pretty
business to find out the address, and wrote to all kinds of persons;
but at last I succeeded, and my suit was also successful. I had asked
him to sit to me."

"Then you had not known him before? You did not know him all those
years?"

"I had seen him often, but never known him. Oh, yes! I had seen his
face. You have a tolerable share of courage: could you have asked him
such a favor?"

"You see, Miss Lawrence, I have received so many favors from him
without asking for them. Had I possessed such genius as yours, I
should not only have done the same, but have felt to do it was my
duty. It is a portrait for all the ages, not only for men, but for
angels."

"Only for angels, if fit at all; for that face is something beyond
man's utmost apprehension of the beautiful. It must ever remain a
solitary idea to any one who has received it. You will be shocked if I
tell you that his beauty prevails more with _me_ than his music."

"But is it not the immediate consequence of such musical investment?"

"I believe, on the contrary, that the musical investment, as you
charmingly express it, is the direct consequence of the lofty
organization."

"That is a new notion for me; I must turn it over before I take it
home. I would rather consider the complement of his gifts to be that
heavenly heart of his which endows them each and all with what must
live forever in unaltered perfection."

"And it pleases me to feel that he is of like passions with us,
protected from the infraction of laws celestial by the image of the
Creator still conserved to his mortal nature, and stamping it with a
character beyond the age. But about his actual advent. He answered my
letter in person. I was certainly appalled to hear of his arrival, and
that he was downstairs. I was up here muddling with my brushes,
without knowing what to be at; up comes my servant--

"'Mr. Seraphael.'

"Imagine such an announcement! I descend, we meet,--for the first time
in private except, indeed, on the occasion when his shadow was
introduced to me, as you may remember. He was in the drawing-room,
pale from travelling, full of languor left by sea-sickness, looking
like a spirit escaped from prison. I was almost ashamed of my daring,
far more so than alarmed. I thought he was about to appoint a day; but
no. He said,--

"'I am at your service this morning, if it suits you; but as you did
not favor me with your address, I could not arrange beforehand. I went
to my music-sellers and asked them about you. I need not tell you that
you were known there, and that I am much obliged to them.'

"Actually it was a fact that I had not furnished him with my address;
but I was perfectly innocent of my folly. What could I do but not lose
a moment? I asked him to take refreshment; no, he had breakfasted, or
dined, or something, and we came up here directly. I never saw such
behavior. He did not even inquire what I was about, but sat, like a
god in marble, just where I had placed him,--out there. You perceive
that I have lost the eyes, or at least have rendered them up to
mystery. Well, when, having caught the outline of the forehead, and
touched the temples, I descended to those eyes, and saw they were full
upon me, I could do nothing with them. I cannot paint light, only its
ghost; nor fire, only its shade. His eyes are at once fire and
light,--I know not of which the most; or, at least, that which is the
light of fire. Even the streaming lashes scarcely tempered the
radiance there. I let them fall, and veiled what one scarcely dares to
meet,--at least I. He sat to me for hours; but though I knew not how
the time went, and may be forgiven for inconsideration, I had no idea
that he was going straight to the committee of the choir-day on the
top of that sitting. I kept him long enough for what I wanted, and as
he did not ask to see the picture, I did not show it him. He shall see
it when it is finished."

"What finish does it require? I see no change that it can need to
carry out the likeness, which is all we want."

"Oh, yes! more depth in the darkness, and more glory in the light;
less electric expression, more ideal serenity,--above all, more pain
above the forehead, more peace about the crown. Moonlight without a
moon, sunshine without the solar rays,--the day of heaven."

"I can only say, Miss Lawrence, that you deserve to be able to do as
you have done, and to feel that no one else could have done it."

"Very exclusive, that feeling, but perhaps necessary. I have it, but
my deserts will only be transcended if Seraphael himself shall
approve. And now for another question,--Will you go with me to this
choir-day?"

"I am trying to imagine what you mean. I have not heard the name until
you spoke it. Is it in the North?"

"Certainly not; though even York Minster would not be a bad
notion--that is to say, it would suit our Beethoven exactly; but this
is another hierarch. What do you think of an oratorio in Westminster
Abbey, the conductor our own, the whole affair of his? No wonder you
have heard nothing; it has been kept very snug, and was only arranged
by the interposition of various individuals whose influence is more of
mammon than of art,--the objection at first being chiefly on the part
of the profession; but that is overruled by their being pretty nearly
every one included in the orchestra. Such a thing is never likely to
occur again. Say that you will go with me. If it be anything to you, I
shall give you one of the best seats, in the very centre, where you
will see and hear better than most people. Imagine the music in that
place of tombs,--it is a melancholy but glorious project; may we
realize it!"

_I_ could not at present,--it was out of the question; nor could I
bear to stay,--there was nothing for it but to make haste out, where
the air made solitude. I bade the paintress good morning, and quitted
her. I believe she understood my frame.



CHAPTER XIV.


I walked home also, and was tolerably tired. Entering the house as one
at home there, I found nobody at home, no Starwood,--no Chevalier. I
lay upon the sofa in a day-dream or two, and when rested, went out
into the garden. I searched every corner, too, in vain; but wandering
past the dividing hedge, a voice floated articulately over the still
afternoon.

All was calm and warm. The slightest sound made way, and I hesitated
not to scale the green barrier, nowhere too high for me to leap it,
and to approach the parlor of the cottage in that unwonted fashion. I
was in for pictures this while, I suppose; for when I reached the
glass doors that swept the lawn wide open, and could peep through them
without disturbing foot on that soft soil, I saw, indeed, another, a
less impressive, not less expressive, view. Clara sat at her piano,
her side-face was in the light. His own, which I was sure to find
there, in profile also, was immediately behind her; but as he stood,
the shade had veiled him, the shade from the trembling leaves without,
through which one sunbeam shot, and upon the carpet kissed his feet.
She was singing, as I could hear, scarcely see, for her lips opened
not more than for a kiss, to sing. The strains moulded themselves
imperceptibly, or as a warble shaken in the throat of a careless
nightingale that knew no listener.

Seraphael, as he stood apart drinking in the notes with such eagerness
that his lips were also parted, had never appeared to me so borne out
of himself, so cradled in a second nature. I could scarcely have
believed that the face I knew so well had yet an expression hidden I
knew not of; but it was so: kindled at another fire than that which
his genius had stolen from above, his eye was charged, his cheek
flushed.

So exquisitely beautiful they looked together,--he in that soft
shadow, she in that tremulous light,--that at first I noticed not a
third figure, now brought before me. Behind them both, but sitting so
that she could see his face, was Laura,--or rather she half lay; some
antique figures carved in statuary have an attitude as listless, that
bend on monuments, or crouch in relievo. She had both her arms
outspread upon the little work-table, hanging over the edge, the hands
just clasped together, as reckless in repose; her face all colorless,
her eyes all clear, but with scarcely more tinting, were fixed, rapt,
upon Seraphael.

I could not tell whether she was feeding upon his eye, his cheek, or
his beauteous hair; all her life came forth from her glance, but it
spent itself without expression. Still, that deep, that feeding gaze
was enough for me; there was in it neither look of hope nor of
despair, as I could have interpreted it. I did not like to advance,
and waited till my feet were stiff; but neither could I retire.

I waited while Clara, without comment on her part or request of his,
glided from song to _scena_, from the romance of a wilderness to the
simplest troll. Her fingers just touched the keys as we touch them for
the violin solo,--supporting, but unnoticeable. At last, when afraid
to be caught,--for the face of the Chevalier in its new expression I
rather dreaded,--I went back, like a thief, the way I came, and still
more like a thief in that I carried away a treasure of remembrance
from those who knew not they had lost it.

I found Starwood yet out, and roved very impatiently all over the
house until, at perhaps five o'clock, Seraphael came in for something.
The dog in the yard barked out; but I was in no humor to let him
loose, and ran straight into the hall.

"Carlomein," said the Chevalier, "I thought you were in London. Is it
possible, my child, that you have not dined?" and he gave orders for
an instant preparation. "I am truly vexed that I did not know it, but
Stern is gone to his father, and will stay till the last coach
to-night. I thought you would be absent also."

"And so, sir, I suppose you had determined to go without your dinner?"

He smiled.

"Not at all, Carlomein. The fact is, I _have_ dined. I could not
resist La Benetta benedetta. I never knew what young potatoes were
until I tasted them over there."

"I daresay not," I thought; but I was wise enough to hold my tongue.

"Then, sir, I shall dine alone; and very much I shall enjoy it. There
is nothing I like so well as dining alone, except to dine alone with
you."

"Carl! Carl! hadst thou been in that devil when he tempted Eve!
Pardon, but I have come home for a few things, and have promised to
return."

"Sir, if you will not think it rude, I must say that for once in your
life you are enjoying what you confer upon others. I am so glad!"

"I thought it says, 'It is better to give than to receive.' I do like
receiving; but perhaps that is because I cannot give this which I now
receive. Carlomein, there is a spell upon thee; there is a charm about
thee, that makes thee lead all thou lovest to all they love! It is a
thing I cannot comprehend, but am too content to feel."

He ran into his study, and returning, just glanced into the room with
an air of _allegresse_ to bid me adieu; but what had he in his arms,
if it were not the score of his oratorio? I knew its name by this
time; I saw it in that nervous writing which I could read at any
earthly distance,--what was to be done with it, and what then? Was he
going to the rehearsal, or a rehearsal of his own?

I had not been half an hour quiet, playing to myself, having unpacked
my fiddle for the first time since I came to London, when the lady of
the scanty silk arrived at my door and aroused me. Some gentlemen had
called to see the Chevalier, and as he was supposed to be absent, must
see me. I went down into a great, dampish dining-room we had not lived
in at all, and found three or four worthies, a deputation from the
band and chorus, who had helplessly assembled two hours ago in London,
and were at present waiting for the conductor.

It was no pleasant task to infringe the fragrant privacy of the
cottage, but I had to do it. I went to the front gate this time, and
sent up a message, that I might not render myself more intrusive than
necessary. He came down as upon the wings of the wind, with his hat
half falling from his curls, and flew to the deputation without a
syllable to me; they carried him off in triumph so immediately that I
could only fancy he looked annoyed, and may have been about that
matter mistaken.

Certainly Clara was not annoyed, whom I went in-doors to see; Laura
had vanished, and she herself was alone in the room, answering my
first notes of admiration merely, "Yes, I have sung to him a good
while." I was, however, so struck with the change, not in manner, but
in her mien, that I would stay on to watch, at the risk of being in
the way more than ever in my days. Since I had entered, she had not
once looked up; but an unusual flush was upon her face, she appeared
serious, but intent,--something seemed to occupy her. At last, after
turning about the music-sheets that strewed the chamber everywhere,
and placing them by in silence,--and a very long time she took,--she
raised her eyes. Their lustre was indeed quickened; never saw I so
much excitement in them; they were still not so grave as
significant,--full of unwonted suggestions. I ventured to say then,--

"And now, Miss Benette, I may ask you what you feel about the
personality of this hero?"

I could not put it better; she replied not directly, but came and sat
beside me on the sofa, by the window. She laid her little hands in her
lap, and her glance followed after them. I could see she was
inexpressibly burdened with some inward revelation. I could not for a
moment believe she trembled, but certainly there was a quiver of her
lips; her silken curls, so calm, did not hide the pulsation,
infantinely rapid, of those temples where the harebell-azure veins
pencilled the rose-flower skin. After a few moments' pause, during
which she evidently collected herself, she addressed me, her own sweet
voice as clear as ever, but the same trouble in it that touched her
gaze.

"Sir, I am going to tell you something, and to ask your advice
besides."

"I am all attention!" indeed, I was in an agony to attend and learn.

"I have had a strange visitor this morning,--very sudden, and I was
not prepared. You will think me very foolish when you hear what is the
matter with me, that I have not written to Mr. Davy; but I prefer to
ask you. You are more enlightened, though you are so young."

"Miss Benette, I know your visitor; for on returning home next door, I
missed my master, and I knew he could be only here. What has he done
that could possibly raise a difficulty, or said that could create a
question? He is my unerring faith, and should be yours."

"I do not wonder; but I have not known him so long, you see, and
contemplate him differently. I had been telling him, as he requested
to know my plans, of the treatment I had received at the opera, and
how I had not quite settled whether to come out now or next year as an
actress. He answered,--

"'Do neither.'

"I inquired why?

"'You must not accept any engagement for the stage in England, and
pray do not hold out to them any idea that you will.'

"Now, what does he mean? Am I to give up my only chance of being able
to live in England? For I wish to live here. And am I to act
unconscientiously? For my conscience tells me that the pure-hearted
should always follow their impulses. Now, I know very few persons; but
I am born to be known of many,--at least I suppose so, or why was I
gifted with this voice, my only gift?"

"Miss Benette, you cannot suppose the Chevalier desires your voice to
be lost. Has he not been informing and interpenetrating himself with
it the whole morning? He has a higher range in view for you, be
assured, or he had not persuaded you, _I_ am certain, to annul your
present privileges. He has the right to will what he pleases."

"And are we all to obey him?"

"Certainly; and only him,--in matters musical. If you knew him as I
do, you would feel this."

"But is it like a musician to draw me away from my duty?"

"Not obviously; but there may be no duty here. You do not know how
completely, in the case of dramatic, and indeed of all other art, the
foundations are out of course."

"You mean they do not fulfil their first intentions. But then nothing
does, except, certainly, as it was first created. We have lost that
long."

"Music, Miss Benette, it appears to me, so long as it preserves its
purity, may consecrate all the forms of art by raising them into its
own atmosphere,--govern them as the soul the body. But where music is
itself degraded, its very type defaced, its worship rendered
ridiculous, its nature mere name, by its own master the rest falls. I
know not much about it, but I know how little the drama depends on
music in this country, and how completely, in the first place, one
must lend one's self to its meanest effect in order to fulfil the
purpose of the writer. All writers for the stage have become profane,
and dramatic writers whom we still confess to, are banished from the
stage in proportion to the elevation of their works. I even go so far
as to think an artist does worse who lends an incomparable organ to
such service than an unheeded player (myself, for example), who
should form one in the ranks of such an orchestra as that of our
opera-houses, where the bare notion or outline of harmony is all that
is provided for us. While the idea of the highest prevails with us,
our artist-life must harmonize, or Art will suffer,--and it suffers
enough now. I have said too long a say, and perhaps I am very
ignorant; but this is what I think."

"You cannot speak too much, sir, and you know a great deal more than I
do. My feeling was that I could perhaps have shown the world that
simplicity of life is not interfered with by a public career, and that
those who love what is beautiful must also love what is good, and
endeavor to live up to it besides. I have spoken to several musicians
abroad, who came to me on purpose; they all extolled my voice, and
entreated me to sing upon the stage. I did so then because I was poor
and had several things I wished to do; but I cannot say I felt at home
with music on the stage in Italy. The gentleman who was here to-day
was the first who disturbed my ideas and dissuaded me. I was
astonished, not because I am piqued,--for you do not know how much I
should prefer to live a quiet life,--but because everybody else had
told me a different story. I do not like to think I shall only be able
to sing in concerts, for there are very few concerts that content me,
and I do so love an orchestra. Am I to give it all up? If this
gentleman had said, 'Only sing in this opera or that,' I could have
made up my mind. But am I never to sing in any? Am I to waste my voice
that God gave me as he gives to others a free hand or a great
imagination? You cannot think so, with all your industry and all your
true enthusiasm."

"Miss Benette, you must not be shocked at what I shall now say,
because I mean it with all reverence. I could no more call in
question the decision of such genius than I could that of Providence
if it sent me death-sickness or took away my friends. I am certain
that the motive, which you cannot make clear just yet, is that you
would approve of."

"And you also, sir?"

"And I also, though it is as dark to me as to you. Let it stand over,
then; but for all our sakes do not thwart him,--he has suffered too
much to be thwarted."

"Has he suffered? I did not know that."

"Can such a one live and not suffer? A nature which is all love,--an
imagination all music?"

"I thought that he looked delicate, but very happy,--happy as a child
or an angel. I have seen your smile turn bitter, sir,--pardon,--but
never his. I am sure, if it matters to him that I should accede, I
will do so, and I cannot thank you enough for telling me."

"Miss Benette, if you are destined to do anything great for music, it
may be in one way as well as in another; that is, if you befriend the
greatest musician, it is as much as if you befriended music. Now you
cannot but befriend him if you do exactly as he requests you."

"In all instances, you recommend?"

"_I_, at least, could refuse him nothing. The nourishment such a
spirit requires is not just the same as our own, perhaps, but it must
not the less be supplied. If I could, now, clean his boots better than
any one else, or if he liked my cookery, I would give up what I am
about and take a place in his service."

"What! you would give up your violin, your career, your place among
the choir of ages?"

"I would; for in rendering a single hour of his existence on earth
unfretted,--in preserving to him one day of ease and comfort,--I
should be doing more for all people, all time, at least for the ideal,
who will be few in every age, but many in all the ages, and who I
believe leaven society better than a priesthood. I would not say so
except to a person who perfectly understands me; for as I hold laws to
be necessary, I would infringe no social or religious _régime_ by one
heterodox utterance to the ear of the uninitiated: still, having said
it, I keep to my text, that you must do exactly as he pleases. He has
not set a seal upon your throat at present, if you have been singing
all the morning."

"I have been singing from his new great work. There is a contralto
solo, 'Art Thou not from Everlasting?' which spoiled my voice; I could
not keep the tears down, it was so beautiful and entreating. He was a
little angry at me; at least he said, 'You must not do that.' There is
also a very long piece which I scarcely tried, we had been so long
over the other, which he made me sing again and again until I composed
myself. What a mercy Mr. Davy taught us to read so fast! I have found
it help me ever since. Do you mean to go to this oratorio?"

"I am to go with Miss Lawrence. How noble, how glorious she is!"

"Your eyes sparkle when you speak of her. I knew you would there find
a friend."

"I hope you, too, will hear it, Miss Benette. I shall speak to the
Chevalier about it."

"I pray you not to do so; there will not be any reason, for I find out
all about those affairs. Take care of yourself, Mr. Auchester, or
rather make Miss Lawrence take care of you; she will like to have to
do so."

"I must go home, if it is not to be just yet, and return on purpose
for the day."

"But that will fatigue you very much,--cannot you prevent it? One
ought to be quiet before a great excitement."

"Oh! you have found that. I cannot be quiet until afterwards."

"I have never had a great excitement," said Clara, innocently; "and I
hope I never may. It suits me to be still."

"May that calm remain in you and for you with which you never fail to
heal the soul within your power, Miss Benette!"

"I should indeed be proud, Mr. Auchester, to keep you quiet; but that
you will never be until it is forever."

"In that sense no one could, for who could ever desire to awaken from
that rest? And from all rest here it is but to awaken."

I felt I ought to go, or that I might even remain too long. It was
harder at that moment to leave her than it had ever been before; but I
had a prescience that for that very reason it was better to depart.
Starwood had returned, I found, and was waiting about in the evening,
before the candles came.

We both watched the golden shade that bound the sunset to its crimson
glow, and then the violet dark, as it melted downwards to embrace the
earth. We were both silent, Starwood from habit (I have never seen
such power of abstraction), I by choice. An agitated knock came
suddenly, about nine, and into the room bounced the big dog, tearing
the carpet up with his capers. Seraphael followed, silent at first as
we; he stole after us to the window, and looked softly forth. I could
tell even in the uncertain silver darkness of that thinnest shell of
a moon that his face was alight with happiness, an ineffable
gentleness,--not the dread alien air of heaven, soothing the passion
of his countenance. He laid for long his tiny hand upon my shoulder,
his arm crept round my neck, and drawing closer still, he sighed
rather than said, after a thrilling pause,--

"Carlomein, wilt thou come into my room? I have a secret for thee; it
will not take long to tell."

"The longer the better, sir."

We went out through the dark drawing-room, we came to his
writing-chamber; here the white sheets shone like ghosts in the bluish
blackness, for we were behind the sunset.

"We will have no candles, because we shall return so soon. And I love
secrets told in the dark, or between the dark and light. I have
prevented that child from taking her own way. It was very naughty, and
I want to be shriven. Shrive me, Charles."

"In all good part, sir, instantly."

"I have been quarrelling with the manager. He was very angry, and his
whiskers stood out like the bristles of a cat; for I had snatched the
mouse from under his paw, you see."

"The mouse must have been glad enough to get away, sir. And you have
drawn a line through her engagement? She has told me something of it,
and we are grateful."

"I have cancelled her engagement! Well, this one,--but I am going to
give her another. She does not know it, but she will sing for me at
another time. Art thou angry, Carl? Thou art rather a dread
confessor."

"I could not do anything but rejoice, sir. How little she expects to
bear such a part! She is alone fitted for it; an angel, if he came
into her heart, could not find one stain upon his habitation."

"The reason you take home to you, then, Carlomein?"

"Sir, I imagine that you consider her wanting in dramatic power; or
that as a dramatic songstress under the present dispensation she would
but disappoint herself, and perhaps ourselves; or that she is too
delicately organized,--which is no new notion to me."

"All of these reasons, and yet not one,--not even because, Carlomein,
in all my efforts I have not written directly for the stage, nor
because a lingering recollection ever forbids profane endeavor. There
is yet a reason, obvious to myself, but which I can scarcely make
clear to you. Though I would have you know, and learn as truth, that
there is nothing I take from this child I will not restore to her
again, nor shall she have the lesson to be taught to feel that in
heaven alone is happiness."

He made a long, long pause. I was in no mood to reply, and it was not
until I was ashamed of my own silence that I spoke; then my own
accents startled me. I told Seraphael I must return on the morrow to
my own place if I were to enjoy at length what Miss Lawrence had set
before me. He replied that I must come back to him when I came, and
that he would write to me meantime.

"If I can, Carlomein; but I cannot always write even, my child, to
thee. There is one thing more between us,--a little end of business."

He lit with a waxen match a waxen taper, which was coiled into a
brazen cup; he brought it from the mantelshelf to the table; he took a
slip of paper and a pen. The tiny flame threw out his hand, of a
brilliant ivory, while his head remained in flickering shadow,--I
could trace a shadow smile.

"Now, Carlomein, this brother of yours. His name is David, I think?"

"Lenhart Davy, sir."

"Has he many musical friends?"

"Only his wife particularly so,--the class are all neophytes."

"Well, he can do as he pleases. Here is an order."

He held out the paper in a regal attitude, and in the other hand
brought near the tremulous taper, that I so might read. It was,--

      ABBEY CHOIR, WESTMINSTER.

      Admit Mr. Lenhart Davy and party 21st June.

      SERAPHAEL.

I could say nothing, nor even essay to thank him,--indeed he would not
permit it, as I could perceive. We returned directly to the
drawing-room, and roused Starwood from a blue study, as the Chevalier
expressed it.

"I am ready, and Miss Lemark is tired of waiting for both of us," said
Miss Lawrence, as she entered that crown of days, the studio; "I have
left her in the drawing-room. And, by the way, though it is nothing to
the purpose, she has dressed herself very prettily."

"I do not think it is nothing to the purpose,--people dress to go to
church, and why not, then, to honor music? You have certainly
succeeded also, Miss Lawrence, if it is not impertinent that I say
so."

"It is not impertinent. You will draw out the colors of that bit of
canvas, if you gaze so ardently."

It was not so easy to refrain. That morning the pictured presence had
been restored to its easel, framed and ready for inspection. I had
indeed lost myself in that contemplation; it was hard to tear myself
from it even for the embrace of the reality. The border, dead gold,
of great breadth and thickness, was studded thickly with raised bright
stars, polished and glittering as points of steel. The effect thus
seemed conserved and carried out where in general it abates. I cannot
express the picture; it was finished to that high degree which
conceals its own design, and mantles mechanism with pure suggestion. I
turned at length and followed the paintress; my prospects more
immediate rushed upon me.

Our party, small and select as the most seclusive spirit could ask
for, consisted of Miss Lawrence and her father,--a quiet but genuine
amateur he,--of Miss Lemark, whom my friend had included without a
question, with Starwood and myself. We had met at Miss Lawrence's, and
went together in her carriage. She wore a deep blue muslin
dress,--blue as that summer heaven; her scarf was gossamer, the hue of
the yellow butterfly, and her bonnet was crested with feathers
drooping like golden hair. Laura was just in white; her Leghorn hat
lined with grass-green gauze; a green silk scarf waved around her.
Both ladies carried flowers. Geraniums and July's proud roses were in
Miss Lawrence's careless hand, and Laura's bouquet was of myrtle and
yellow jasmine.

We drove in that quiet mood which best prepares the heart. We passed
so street by street, until at length, and long before we reached it,
the gray Abbey towers beckoned us from beyond the houses, seeming to
grow distant as we approached, as shapes of unstable shadow, rather
than time-fast masonry.

Into the precinct we passed, we stayed at the mist-hung door. It was
the strangest feeling--mere physical sensation--to enter from that
searching heat, those hot blue heavens, into the cool, the dream of
dimness, where the shady marbles clustered, and the foot fell dead and
awfully, where hints more awful pondered, and for our coming waited.
Yea, as if from far and very far, as if beyond the grave descending,
fell wondrous unwonted echoes from the tuning choir unseen.
Involuntarily we paused to listen, and many others paused,--those of
the quick hand or melodious forehead, those of the alien aspect who
ever draw after music. Now the strings yearned fitfully,--a sea of
softest dissonances; the wind awoke and moaned; the drum detonated and
was still; past all the organ swept, a thundering calm.

Entering, still hushed and awful, the centre of the nave, we caught
sight of the transept already crowded with hungering, thirsting faces;
still they too, and all there hushed and awful. The vision of the
choir itself, as it is still preserved to me, is as a picture of
heaven to infancy. What more like one's idea of heaven than that
height, that aspiring form,--the arches whose sun-kissed summits
glowed in distance, whose vista stretched its boundaries from the
light of rainbows at one end, on the other to the organ, music's
archetype? Not less powerful, predominating, this idea of our other
home, because no earthly flowers nor withering garlands made the
thoughts recoil on death and destiny,--the only flowers there, the
rays transfused through sun-pierced windows; the blue mist strewing
aisle and wreathing arch, the only garlands. Nor less because for once
an assembly gathered of all the fraternities of music, had the unmixed
element of pure enthusiasm thrilled through the "electric chain" from
heart to heart. Below the organ stood Seraphael's desk, as yet
unhaunted; the orchestra; the chorus, as a cloud-hung company, with
starlike faces in the lofty front.

I knew not much about London orchestras, and was taking a particular
stare, when Miss Lawrence whispered in a manner that only aroused, not
disturbed me: "There is our old friend Santonio. Do look and see how
little he is altered!"

I caught his countenance instantly,--as fine, as handsome, a little
worn at its edges, but rather refined by that process than otherwise.
"I did not ask about him, because I did not know he was in London. He
is, then, settled here; and is he very popular?"

"You need not ask the question; he is too true to himself. No,
Santonio will never be rich, though he is certainly not poor."

Then she pointed to me one head and another crowned with fame; but I
could only spare for them a glance,--Santonio interested me still. He
was reminding me especially of himself as I remembered him, by laying
his head, as he had used to do, upon the only thing he ever really
loved,--his violin,--when, so quietly as to take us by surprise,
Seraphael entered, I may almost say rose upon us, as some new-sprung
star or sun.

Down the nave the welcome rolled, across the transept it overflowed
the echoes; for a few moments nothing else could be felt, but there
was, as it were, a tender shadow upon the very reverberating
jubilance,--it was subdued as only the musical subdue their proud
emotions; it was subdued for the sake of one whose beauty, lifted over
us, appeared descending, hovering from some late-left heaven, ready to
depart again, but not without a sign, for which we waited.
Immediately, and while he yet stood with his eyes of power upon the
whole front of faces, the solo-singers entered also and took their
seats all calmly.

There were others besides Clara, but besides her I saw nothing, except
that they were in colors, while she wore black, as ever; but never had
I really known her loveliness until it shone in contrast with that
which was not so lovely. More I could not perceive, for now the
entering bar of silence riveted; we held our breath for the coming of
the overture.[8]

It opened like the first dawn of lightening, yet scarce yet lightened
morning, its vast subject introduced with strings alone in that joyous
key which so often served him, yet as in the extreme of vaulting
distance; but soon the first trombone blazed out, the second and third
responding with their stupendous tones, as the amplifications of fugue
involved and spread themselves more and more, until, like glory
filling up and flooding the height of heaven from the heaven of
heavens itself, broke in the organ, and brimmed the brain with the
calm of an utter and forceful expression, realized by tone. In
sympathy with each instrument, it was alike with none, even as the
white and boundless ray of which all beams, all color-tones are born.
The perfect form, the distinct conception of this unbrothered work,
left our spirits as the sublime fulfilment confronted them. For once
had genius, upon the wings of aspiration, that alone are pure, found
all it rose to seek, and mastered without a struggle all that it
desired to embrace; for the pervading purpose of that creation was the
passioned quietude with which it wrought its way. The vibrating
harmonies, pulse-like, clung to our pulses, then drew up, drew out
each heart, deep-beating and undistracted, to adore at the throne
above from whence all beauty springs. And opening and spreading thus,
too intricately, too transcendentally for criticism, we do not essay,
even feebly, to portray that immortal work of a music-veiled immortal.

Inextricable holiness, precious as the old Hebrew psalm of all that
hath life and breath,[9] exhaled from every modulation, each dropped
celestial fragrances, the freshness of everlasting spring.
Suggestive,--our oratorio suggested nothing here, nothing that we find
or feel; all that we seek and yearn to clasp, but rest in our
restlessness to discover is beyond us! In nothing that form of music
reminded of our forms of worship,--in the day of Paradise it might
have been dreamed of, an antepast of earth's last night, and of
eternity at hand,--or it might be the dream of heaven that haunts the
loving one's last slumber.

I can no more describe the hush that hung above and seemed to
spiritualize the listeners until, like a very cloud of mingling souls,
they seemed congregated to wait for the coming of a Messiah who had
left them long, promising to return; nor how, as chorus after chorus,
built up, sustained, and self-supported, gathered to the stricken
brain, the cloud of spirits sank, as in slumber sweeter than any
dreamful stir, upon the alternating strains and songs, all
softness,--all dread soothing, as the fire that burned upon the
strings seemed suddenly quenched in tears. Faint supplications wafted
now, now deep acclaims of joy; but all, all surcharged the spirit
alike with the mysterious thrall and tenderness of that uncreate and
unpronounceable Name, whose eternal love is all we need to assure us
of eternal life.

It was with one of those alternate strains that Clara rose to sing,
amidst silence yet unbroken, and the more impressive because of the
milder symphony that stole from the violoncello, its meandering pathos
asking to support and serve her voice. Herself penetrated so deeply
with the wisdom of genius, she failed to remind us of herself; even
her soft brow and violet eyes--violet in the dense glory of the Abbey
afternoon light--were but as outward signs and vivid shadows of the
spirit that touched her voice. Deeper, stiller than the violoncello
notes, hers seemed as those articulated, surcharged with a revelation
beyond all sound.

Calm as deep, clear as still, they were yet not passionless; though
they clung and moulded themselves strictly to the passion of the
music, lent not a pulse of their own; nor disturbed it the rapt
serenity of her singing to gaze upon her angel-face. No child could
have seemed less sensitive to the surrounding throng, nor have
confided more implicitly in the father of its heart, than she leaned
upon Seraphael's power.

I made this observation afterwards, when I had time to think; at
present I could only feel, and feeling know, that the intellect is but
the servant of the soul. When at length those two hours, concentrating
such an eternity in their perfection of all sensation, had reached
their climax, or rather when, brightening into the final chorus,
unimprisoned harmonies burst down from stormy-hearted organ, from
strings all shivering alike, from blasting, rending tubes, and thus
bound fast the Alleluia,--it was as if the multitude had sunk upon
their knees, so profound was the passion-cradling calm. The
blue-golden lustre, dim and tremulous, still crowned the unwavering
arches,--tender and overwrought was laid that vast and fluctuating
mind. So many tears are not often shed as fell in that silent
while,--dew-stilly they dropped and quickened; but still not all had
wept.

Many wept then who had never wept before; many who had wept before
could not weep now,--among them I. Our party were as if lost to me; as
I hid my face my companion did not disturb me,--she was too far
herself in my own case. I do not know whether I heard, but I was aware
of a stretching and breathing; the old bones stirring underneath the
pavement would have shaken me less, but could not have been less to my
liking; the rush, however soft, the rustle, however subdued, were
agony, were torment: I could only feel, "Oh that I were in heaven!
that I might never return to earth!" But then it came upon me, to that
end we must all be changed. This was sad, but of a sadness peculiarly
soothing; for could we be content to remain forever as we are here,
even in our holiest, our strongest moments?

During the last reverberations of that unimaginable Alleluia I had not
looked up at all; now I forced myself to do so, lest I should lose my
sight of _him_,--his seal upon all that glory. As Seraphael had risen
to depart, the applause, stifled and trembling, but not the less by
heartfuls, rose for him.

He turned his face a moment,--the heavenly half-smile was there; then
at that very moment the summer sun, that, falling downwards in its
piercing glare, glowed gorgeous against the flower-leaf windows, flung
its burning bloom, its flushing gold upon that countenance. We all saw
it, we all felt it,--the seraph-strength, the mortal beauty,--and that
it was pale as the cheek of the quick and living changed in
death,--that his mien was of no earthly triumph!

FOOTNOTES:

[8] The Lobgesang, or Hymn of Praise.

[9] The majestic phrase with which the symphony opens, and which also
appears in the vocal parts ("All that has life and breath"), is the
Intonation to the second tone of the Magnificat.



CHAPTER XV.


To that last phase of an unworldly morning succeeded the usual
contrasts both of state and mood. Pushing out all among the marbles in
a graceless disorder, finding in the sacred gloom of the precinct the
flashing carriages, the crested panels; a rattle, a real noise, real
things, real people,--these were as one might expect; and yet I was
very ungrateful, for I desired especially to avoid my dear brother and
dearest sister, who had come from the country that very day, though I
yet had failed to recognize or seek for them. Davy could generally
express what he _felt_ about music, and I did not know how it might
be.

I was thankful to be with Miss Lawrence, who behaved exactly as I
wished; that is to say, when we were fairly seated she began to talk
to her father, not to me, and upon indifferent or adverse matters. Of
Laura I had not even thought until now. She was upon my side, though
not just next me; she leaned back, and was so slight that nothing
could be seen of her, except her crushed-up dress. While, as an
amusing point of idiosyncrasy, I may remark that Miss Lawrence's dress
was as superb as ever; she also carried her flowers, not one decayed.
Laura has lost hers altogether.

Poor Starwood had closed his eyes, and was pretending to be asleep; he
had one of those headaches of his that rendered silence a necessity,
although they are "only nervous," and do not signify in the least. I
had no headache; I never was better in my life, and I never felt so
forcibly how much life is beyond _living_.

We drove home soon enough; I was Miss Lawrence's guest, and I knew
that with her generous goodness she had invited Millicent and Davy. We
had scarcely entered the drawing-room, where everything was utterly
unreal to me, before Davy's little quick knock came.

Miss Lawrence then approached me, and putting her bonnet quite over my
face, said, in a knowing whisper:

"You just go along upstairs; I know you cannot bear it. I am not made
quite of your stuff, and shall be happy to entertain your people. Your
brother and sister are no such awful persons to me, I assure you."

I obeyed,--perhaps selfishly; but I should have been poor company
indeed,--and went to my large bed-room. Large and luxuriously
furnished, it even looked romantic. I liked it; I passed to the
window, and was disturbed a moment afterwards by a servant who bore a
tray of eatables, with wine, sent by Miss Lawrence, of course, whose
moments counted themselves out in deeds of kindness. I took the tray,
delivered it to the charge of the first chair next the door, and
returned to my own at the window-seat.

The blue sky, so intense and clear, so deep piercing, was all I needed
to gaze on; and I was far gone in revery when I heard a knock at the
door of my room. It was a strange, short beat, almost as weird as
"Jeffrey," but at least it startled me to rise. I arose, and opened
it. I beheld Laura. I was scarcely surprised; yet I should indeed have
been surprised but for my immediate terror, almost awe, at her
unformal aspect.

I never saw a living creature look so far like death. There was no
gleam of life in her wan face, so fallen, agonized; no mortal,
spending sickness could have so reduced her! She fixed upon me her
wild eyes, clear as tearless; but at first she could not speak. She
tried again and again, but at last she staggered, and I put her, I
know not how, exactly, into a chair at hand. She was light almost as a
child of five years old, but so listless that I was afraid of hurting
her; and immediately she sat down she fainted. It was a real,
unmitigated faint, and no mistake; I could see she had not herself
expected it. I was accustomed to this kind of thing, however, for
Lydia at home was fond of fainting away in church, or on the threshold
of the door; also Fred's wife made a point of fainting at regular
intervals. But I never saw any one faint as Laura: she turned to
marble in a moment; there was a rigid fixing of her features that
would have alarmed me had I loved her, and that rendered my very
anxiety for her a grief. I could not lift her then, for light as she
was, she leaned upon me, and I could only stretch my arm to reach the
decanter from its stand. The wine was, however, of no use at present;
I had to put the glass upon the floor after filling it with
unmentionable exertion. But after ten minutes or so, as I expected
from a relaxation of her countenance, she awoke as out of a breathless
sleep. She looked at me, up into my face; she was again the little
Laura whom I had known at Davy's class.

"I only wanted to ask you to let me lie upon your bed, for I am going
back to-night, and have not a room here; and I did not like to ask
Miss Lawrence. I hope you do not mind it. I should not have done so,
if I had not felt so very ill."

The humility of her manner here, so unlike what I had seen in the
little I had seen of her, made me ashamed, and it also touched me
seriously. I said I was sorry, very sorry, that she should be ill, but
that it was what any very delicate or feeling person might expect
after so much excitement; and as I spoke, I would have assisted her,
but she assisted herself, and lay down upon the bed directly.

"If you please, sit in the window away from me, and go on with your
thoughts. Do not trouble yourself about me, or I shall go away again."

"I will keep quiet, certainly, because you yourself should keep so."

And then I gave her the wine, and covered her with the quilt to the
throat; for although it was so warm, she had begun to shake and
tremble as she lay. I held the wine to her lips, for she could not
hold the glass; and while I did so, before she tasted, she said, with
an emphasis I am very unlikely ever to forget,--

"I wish it could be poison."

I saw there was something the matter then, and as being responsible at
that instant, I mechanically uttered the reply,--

"Will you not tell me why you wish it? I _can_ mix poison; but I
should be very sorry to give it to any one, and above all to you."

"Why to _me_? You would be doing more good than by going to hear all
that music."

I gazed at her for one moment; a suspicion (which, had it been a
certainty, would have failed to turn me from her) thwarted my simple
pity. I gazed, and it was enough; I felt there was nothing I needed
fear to know,--that child had never sinned against her soul. I
therefore said, more carelessly than just then I felt:

"Miss Lemark, because you are gifted, because you are good, because
you are innocent. It is not everybody who is either of these, and very
few indeed are all the three. I will not have you talk just now,
unless, indeed, you can tell me that I can do nothing for you. You
know how slight my resources are, but you need not fear to trust me."

"If you did let me talk, what should I say? But you have told a
lie,--or rather, I made you tell it. I am _not_ gifted,--at least, my
gifts are such as nobody really cares for. I am innocent? I am _not_
innocent; and for the other word you used, I do not think I ought to
speak it,--it no more belongs to me than beauty or than happiness."

"All that is beautiful belongs to all who love it, thank God, Miss
Lemark, or I should be very poor indeed in that respect. But why are
you so angry with yourself because, having gone through too much
happiness, you are no longer happy? It must be so for all of us, and I
do not regret, though I have felt it."

"_You_ regret it,--you to regret anything!" said Laura, haughtily, her
hauteur striking through her paleness reproachfully. "You--a man! I
would sell my soul, if I have a soul, to be a man, to be able to live
to myself, to be delivered from the torment of being and feeling what
nobody cares for."

"If we live to ourselves, we men,--if I may call myself a man,--we are
not less tormented, and not less because men are expected to bear up,
and may not give themselves relief in softer sorrow. My dear Miss
Lemark, it appears to me that if we allow ourselves to sink, either
for grief or joy, it matters not which, we are very much to blame, and
more to be pitied. There is ever a hope, even for the hopeless, as
they think themselves; how much more for those who need not and must
not despair! And those who are born with the most hopeful temper find
that they cannot exist without faith."

"That is the way the people always talk who have everything the world
can give them,--who have more than everything they wish for; who have
all their love cared for; who may express it without being mocked, and
worship without being trampled on. You are the most enviable person in
the whole world except one, and I do not envy her, but I do envy you."

"Very amiable, Miss Lemark!" and I felt my old wrath rising, yet
smiled it down. "You see all this is a conjecture on your part; you
cannot know what I feel, nor is it for you to say that because I am a
man I can have exactly what I please. Very possibly, precisely because
I am a man, I cannot. But anyhow, I shall not betray myself, nor is it
ever safe to betray ourselves, unless we cannot help it."

"I do not care about betraying myself; I am miserable, and I _will_
have comfort,--comfort is for the miserable!"

"Not the comfort a human heart can bring you, however soft it may
chance to be."

"I should hate a soft heart's comfort; I would not take it. It is
because you are not soft-hearted I want yours."

"I would willingly bestow it upon you if I knew how; but you know that
Keble says: "Whom oil and balsams kill, what salve can cure?'"

"I do not know Keble."

"Then you ought to cultivate his acquaintance, Miss Lemark, as a poet,
at least, if not as a gentleman."

I wished at once to twist the subject aside and to make her laugh; a
laugh dispels more mental trouble than any tears at times. But,
contrary to expectation on my part, my recipe failed here; she broke
into a tremendous weeping, without warning, nor did she hide her
face, as those for the most part do who must shed their tears. She
sobbed openly, aloud; and yet her sorrow did not inspire me with
contempt, for it was as unsophisticated as any child's. It was evident
she had not been accustomed to suffering, and knew not how to restrain
its expression, neither that it ought to be restrained. I moved a few
feet from her, and waited; I did right,--in the rain the storm
exhaled. She wiped away her tears, but they yet pearled the long, pale
lashes as she resumed,--

"I am much obliged to you for telling me I ought not to say these
things; but it would be better if you could prevent my feeling them."

"No one can prevent that, Miss Lemark; and perhaps it does not signify
what you feel, if you can prevent its interfering with your duty to
others and to yourself."

"You to talk of duty,--you, who possess every delight that the earth
contains, and with whom I would rather change places than with the
angels!"

"I have many delights; but if I had no duties to myself, the delights
would fail. An artist, I consider, Miss Lemark, has the especial duty
imposed upon him or her to let it be seen that art is the nearest
thing in the universe to God, after nature; and his life must be
tolerably pure for that."

"That is just it. But it is easy enough to do right when you have all
that your heart wants and your mind asks for. I have nothing."

"Miss Lemark, you are an artist."

"You know very well how you despise such art as mine, even if I did my
duty by that; but I do not, and that is what I want comfort for. You
did not think I should tell you anything else!"

"I would have you tell me nothing that you are not obliged to say; it
is dangerous,--at least, I should find it so."

"You have not suffered; or if you have, you have never offended. I
have done what would make you spurn me. But that would not matter to
me; anything is better than to seem what I am not."

"What is the matter, then? I never spurned a living creature, God
knows; and for every feeling of antipathy to some persons, I have felt
a proportionate wish for their good. There are different ranks of
spirits, Miss Lemark, and it is not because we are in one that we do
not sympathize quite as much as is necessary with the rest. Albeit,
you and I are of one creed, you know,--both artists, and both, I
believe, desirous to serve art as we best may; thus we meet on equal
grounds, and whatever you say I shall hear as if it were my sister who
spoke to me."

"If you meant that, it would be very kind, for I have no brother; I
have none of my blood, and I can expect no one else to love me. I do
not care to be loved, even; but every one must grow to something. You
know Clara? I see you do; you always felt for her as you could not
help. No one could feel for her as she deserves. I wish I could die
for Clara, and now I cannot die even for myself, for I feel, oh! I
feel that to die is not to die,--that music made me feel it; but I
have never felt it before,--I have been a heathen. I cannot say I wish
I had not heard it, for anything is better than to be so shut out as I
was. You remember how, when I was a little girl, I loved to dance. I
always liked it until I grew up; but I cannot tell you how at last,
when I came out in Paris, and after the first few nights,--which were
most beautiful to me,--I wearied. Night after night, in the same
steps, to the same music--music--Is it music? You do not look as if
you called it so. I did not know I danced,--I dreamed; I am not sure
now, sometimes, that I was ever awake those nights. I was lazy, and
grew indolent; and when Clara came to Paris, I went along with her.
Would you believe it? I have done nothing ever since." She paused a
long minute; I did not reply. "You are not shocked?"

"No. I think not."

"You don't scorn me, and point your face at me? Then you ought, for I
lived upon her and by her, and made no effort, while she took no rest,
working hard and always. But with it all she kept her health, like the
angels in heaven, and I grew ill and weak. I could not dance then. I
felt it to be impossible, though sometimes it came upon me that I
could; and then the remembrance of those nights, all alike, night
after night--I could not. Pray tell me now whether I am not worthless.
But I have no beauty; I am lost."

"Miss Lemark, if you were really lost, and had no beauty, it appears
to me that you would not complain about it; people do not, I assure
you, who are ugly or in despair. You are overdone, and you overrate
your little girlish follies; everything is touched by the color of
your thought, but is not really what it seems. Believe me,--as I
cannot but believe,--that your inaction arose from morbid feeling and
not too strong health; not from true want of energy or courage. You
are young, a great deal too young, to trust all you fancy, or even
feel; and you ought to be thankful there is nothing more for you to
regret than that weighing down your spirit. You will do everything we
expect and wish, when you become stronger,--a strong woman, I hope;
for remember, you are only a girl. Nor will you find that you are
less likely to succeed then because of this little voluntary of
_idlesse_."

"You are only speaking so because it is troublesome to you to be
addressed at all. You do not mean it; you are all music."

"There is only one who is all music, Miss Lemark."

She hid her face for many minutes; at last she looked up, and said
with more softness, a smile almost sweet:

"Mr. Auchester, I feel I am detaining you; let me beg you to sit
down."

I just got up on the side of the bed.

"That will do beautifully. And now, Miss Lemark, if I am to be your
doctor, you must go to sleep."

"Because I shall not talk? But I will not go to sleep, and I will
talk. What should you do if you were in my place, feeling as I do?"

"I do not know all."

"You may if you like."

"Then I may guess; at least, I may imagine all that I might feel if I
were in your place,--a delicate young lady who has been fainting for
the love of music."

"You are sneering; I do not mind that. I have seen such an expression
upon a face I admire more than yours. Suppose you felt you had seen--"

"What I could never forget, nor cease to love," I answered, fast and
eagerly; I _could_ not let her say it, or anything just there,--"I
should earnestly learn his nature, should fill myself to the brim with
his beauty, just as with his music. I should feel that in keeping my
heart pure, above all from envy, and my life most like his life, I
should be approaching nearer than any earthly tie could lead me,
should become worthy of his celestial communion, of his immortal, his
heavenly tendencies. Nor should I regret to suffer,--to suffer for his
sake."

I used these last words--themselves so well remembered--without
remembering who said them for me first, till I had fairly spoken; then
I, too, longed to weep: Maria's voice was trembling in my brain, a
ghostly music. As Laura answered, the ghostly music passed, even as a
wind shaken and scattered upon the sea. It was earth again, as vague,
scarcely less lonely!

"A worldly man would mock. You do not a much wiser thing, but you do
it for the best. I will try to hide it forever, for there is, indeed,
no hope."

Half imploring, this was hardly a question; yet I answered,--

"I do believe none."

"You are cold, not cruel. I would rather know the truth. Yes! I would
hide it forever; I will not even speak of it to you."

"Even from yourself hide it, if it must be hidden at all. And yet, I
always think that a hidden sorrow is the best companion we can have."

"I am very selfish. I know that if Miss Lawrence finds out I am with
you, you will not like it. You had better let me go downstairs."

"I will go myself, if you prefer to be alone; but you must not move."

"I must move,--I will not be found here; I had quite forgotten that. I
will go this moment."

I did not dream of her actually departing; but before I could
remonstrate further, she had planted herself lightly upon the carpet,
and looked as well as usual: it was nothing extraordinary to see her
pale. She smoothed her long hair at my glass, and arranged her dress;
she shook hands with me afterwards also, and then she left the room.



CHAPTER XVI.


I was really alone now, but had a variety of worrying thoughts,
hunting each other to death, but reproducing each other by thousands.
I was irate with Laura, though I felt very sad, but of all most vexed
that such an incident should have befallen my experience on that crown
of days. The awful power of a single soul struggled, in my
apprehension, with the vain weakness of a single heart. But more
overpowering than either was the sensation connecting the two. It was
a remembrance that I, too, might be called to suffer.

At last Miss Lawrence sent to know whether I chose my dinner. Her own
hour was six, and just at hand; but I felt so extremely disinclined to
eat that I thought I would refuse, and take a walk another way. Miss
Lawrence was one of those persons--gladdening souls are they!--who
mean exactly what they say, and expect you to say exactly what you
mean; thus I had no difficulty in explaining that I preferred to take
this walk, though it was not, after all, a walk _semplice_, for I was
bound to the cottage, and desired to reach it as soon as possible.

I met Miss Lawrence on the stairs, and she charged me to take care of
Laura. I could not refuse, of course, and we drove in one of those
delightful cabs that so effectually debar from connected conversation.
I was glad for once, though I need not have troubled myself to
descant, for Laura, in a great green veil, opened not her lips twice,
nor once looked towards me.

We dismissed the conveyance at the entrance of the hamlet, and walked
up together, still silent. It was about half-past seven then, and
vivid as at morning the atmosphere, if not the light. Unclouded
sunshine swept the clustered leaves of the intense June foliage,
heavy-tressed laburnum wore it instead of blossoms; but from the
secluded shade of the wayside gardens pierced the universal scent of
roses above all other fragrance except the limes, which hung their
golden bells out here and there, dropping their singular perfume all
lights alike.

I saw Seraphael's house first, and returned to it after leaving Laura
at that other white gate. All our windows were open, the breeze blew
over a desert of flowers,--all was "fairy-land forlorn." I felt
certain no one could be at home. I was right here. I could not enter.
I was drawn to that other gate,--I entered. Thoné opened the door,
looking quite as eastern in the western beams.

"Is Miss Benette at home?"

"I will see." For Thoné could spell out a little English now. She went
and saw.

"Yes, sir, to you; and she wishes to see you."

It was the first time Thoné had ever called me "sir," and I felt very
grand. A strange, subtile fancy, sweeter than the sweetest hope,
sprang daringly within me. But a crushing fear uprose, it swelled and
darkened,--my butterfly was broken upon that wheel; those rooms so
bright and festal, the air and sunshine falling upon clustered
flowers, upon evening freshness as at morning, were not, could not be,
for me! I advanced to the open piano, its glittering sheets outspread,
its smiling keys.

Hardly had I felt myself alone before one other entered. Alas, I was
still alone! Clara herself approached me, less calm than I had ever
seen her; her little hand was chilled as if by the rough kisses of an
eastern wind, though the south air fanned our summer; there was
agitation in her whole air, but more excitement. I had never seen her
excited; I had not been aware how strangely I should feel to see her
touched so deeply.

"Mr. Auchester, it must have been Heaven who sent you here to-night,
for I wanted to see you more than anybody, and was expecting some one
else. I never thought I should see you first; I wished it so very
much."

"Miss Benette, if it were in my power I would give you all you wish,
for the sake only of hearing you wish but once. I am grateful to be
able to fulfil your wishes in the very least degree. What is it
now?"--for her lip quivered like an infant's, and one tear stood in
each of her blue eyes. She wiped away those dew-drops that I would
have caught upon my heart, and answered, her voice of music all quiet
now,--

"I have had a strange letter from the gentleman you love so well. I do
not feel equal to what he asks,--that is, I am not deserving; but
still I must answer it; and after what you said to me last time you
were so kind as to talk to me, I do not think it right to overlook
it."

"I may not see the letter? I do not desire it; but suffer me to
understand clearly what it is about exactly, if you do not think me
too young, Miss Benette."

"Sir, I always feel as if you were older, and I rely upon you. I will
do as you please; I wish to do so only. This letter is to ask me to
marry him. Oh! how differently I felt when I was asked to marry Mr.
Davy!"

"Yes, I rather suppose so. You are ready to reply?"

"Not quite. I had not considered such a thing, and should have thought
first of marrying a king or an angel."

"He is above all kings, Miss Benette; and if he loves you, no angel's
happiness could be like your own. But is it so wholly unexpected?"

"I never imagined it, sir, for one single moment; nor could any woman
think he would prefer her. Of course, as he is above all others, he
has only to choose where he pleases."

I could not look at her as she spoke; I dared not trust myself,--the
most thrilling irony pointed her delicate, lovesome tones. I know not
that she knew it, but I did; it cut me far deeper than to the heart,
and through and through my spirit the wound made way. No tampering,
however, with "oil and balsams" here!

"Wherever he pleases, I should say. No one he could choose could fail
(I should imagine) in pleasing him to please herself."

She retorted, more tenderly: "I think it awful to remember that I may
not be worthy, that I may make him less happy than he now is, instead
of more so."

"Only love him!"

"But such a great difference! He will not always walk upon the earth.
I cannot be with him when he is up so high."

"I only say the same. He needs a companion for his earthly hours; then
only is it he is alone. His hours of elevation require no sympathy to
fill them; they are not solitude."

"I will do as you please, sir, for it must be right. Do you not wish
you were in my place?" She smiled softly upon me, just lifting her
lovely eyes.

"Miss Benette, I know no one but yourself who could fill those hours I
spoke of, nor any one but that beloved and glorious one who is worthy
to fill your heart _all_ hours. More I cannot say, for the whole
affair has taken me by surprise."

I had, indeed, been stricken by shock upon shock that day; but the
last remained to me when the wailings of misfortune, the echoes of my
bosom-music, alike had left my brain. I could not speak, and we both
sat silent, side by side, until the sun in setting streamed into the
room. Then, as I rose to lower the blind, and was absent from her at
the window, I heard a knock,--I had, or ought to have, expected it;
yet it turned me from head to foot, it thrilled me through and
through. I well knew the hand that had raised the echoes like a salute
of fairy cannon. I well knew the step that danced into the hall. I was
gone through the open window, not even looking back. I ran to the
bottom of the garden; I made for the Queen's highway; I walked
straight back to London.

There was a great party in Miss Lawrence's, I knew it from the corner
of the square; and I had to leave the lustrous darkness, the sleepy
stars and great suffusing moonshine, the very streets filled full and
overflowing with waftures of fragrances from the country, dim yet so
delicious, for that terrible drawing-room. I took advantage of the
excitement, however, that distressed me as it never burned before, to
plunge instantly into a duet for violin and piano; Miss Lawrence
calling me to her by the white spell of her waving hand the very
moment I entered at the drawing-room door. My duet, her noble playing,
made me myself, _as ever music saves her own_, and I conducted myself
rather less like a nightmare than I felt. The party consisted of
first-rate amateurs, the flower of the morning festival, both from
orchestra and audience,--all enchanted, all wordy, except my precious
Davy, who was very pale, and Starwood, whose eyes almost went into his
head with pain.

We all did our best, though. Starwood played most beautifully, and in
a style which made me glory over him. Davy sang, though his voice was
rather nervous. A great many people came up to me, but they got
nothing out of me. I could not descant upon my religion. When at
length they descended to supper,--a miscellaneous meal, which Miss
Lawrence always provided in great state,--I thought I might be
permitted to retire. Will it be believed that, half an hour
afterwards, hearing my sister and Davy come up leisurely to bed, and
peeping out to see them, I heard Millicent distinctly say, "I hope
baby is asleep"? I was to return with them on the morrow; but directly
after breakfast Miss Lawrence made me one of her signs, and led me
thereby, without controlling me hand or foot, out of the
breakfast-room. We were soon alone together in the studio.

"I thought you would like to be here this morning, for Seraphael has
promised to come and see it. I think myself that he will be rather
surprised."

I could not help smiling at her tone, it was so unaffectedly
satisfied.

"I should think he will, Miss Lawrence."

"I don't mean as to the merits of the picture, but because he does not
know it is--what shall I say?--historical, biographical, allegorical."

"You mean hieroglyphic?"

"Exactly."

"But he will not be likely to say anything about that part of it, will
he? Is he not too modest or too proud?"

"Why, one never can know what he can say or do. I should not wonder
the least in the world if he took the brushes up and put the eyes in
open."

I laughed. "Does he paint, though?"

"Between ourselves, Mr. Auchester, there is nothing he cannot do,--no
accomplishment in which he does not excel. He can paint, can design,
can model, can harmonize all languages into a language of his own. All
mysteries, all knowledge, all wisdom, we know too well,--too well,
indeed!--dwell with him, are of him. I am always afraid when I
consider these things. What a blessing to us and to all men if he
would only marry! We should keep him a little longer then."

"Do you think so? I am fearful it would make no real difference. There
is a point where all sympathy ceases."

Miss Lawrence shook her head, a lull came over the animation of her
manner; she hastened to arrange her scenery, now unique. She had
placed before the picture a velvet screen, deep emerald and grass-like
in its shade; this veil stood out alone, for she had cleared away all
signs of picture, sketch, or other frame besides. Nothing was in the
room but the picture on its lofty easel, and the loftier velvet shade.
I appreciated to the full the artist tact of the veil itself, and said
so.

"I think," was her reply, "it will be more likely to please him if I
keep him waiting a little bit, and his curiosity is touched a moment."

And then we went downstairs. Davy, who always had occupation on hand,
and would not have been destitute of duty on the shore of a desert
island, was absent in the city; Millicent, who had taken her work to a
window, was stitching the most delicate wristband in Europe, inside
the heavy satin curtain, as comfortably as in her tiny home. Miss
Lawrence went and stood by her, entertained her enchantingly,
eternally reminding her of her bliss by Mrs. Davying till I could but
laugh; but still my honored hostess was very impetuously excited, for
her eyes sparkled as most eyes only light by candle-shine or the
setting sun. She twisted the tassel of the blind, too, till I thought
the silk cord would have snapped; but Millicent only looked up
gratefully at her, without the slightest sign of astonishment or
mystification.

"Charles!" exclaimed my sister at length, when Miss Lawrence, fairly
exhausted with talking, was gathering up her gown into folds and
extempore plaits plaits--"Charles! you will be ready at two o'clock,
and we shall get home to tea."

I could not be angry with her for thinking of her baby, her little
house, her heaven of home; but there was a going back to winter for me
in the idea of going away. The music seemed dead, not slumbering, that
I had heard the day before. But is this strange? For there is a
slumber we call death. About half-past ten a footman fetched Miss
Lawrence. She touched my arm, apologizing to Millicent, though not
explaining, and we left the room together. She sent me onwards to the
studio, and went downstairs alone. I soon heard them coming
up,--indeed, I expected them directly; for Seraphael never waited for
anything, and never lost a moment. They were talking, and when he
entered he did not at first perceive me. His face was exquisite. A
charm softened the Hebrew keenness, that was not awful, like the
passion music stirring the hectic, or spreading its white light. He
was flushed, but more as a child that has been playing until it is
weary; his eyes, dilated, were of softer kindness than the brain gives
birth to,--his happy yet wayward smile, as if he rejoiced because
self-willing to rejoice. His clear gaze, his eager footstep, reminded
me of other days when he trembled on the verge of manhood; it was,
indeed, as a man that he shone before me that morning, and had never
shone before. They stood now before the screen, and I was astonished
at the utter self-possession of the paintress; she only watched his
face, and seemed to await his wishes.

"That screen is very beautiful velvet, and very beautifully made. Am I
never to look at anything else? Is nothing hidden behind it? I have
been very good, Miss Lawrence, and I waited very patiently; I do not
think I can wait any longer. May I pull it away?"

"Sir, most certainly. It is for you to do so at your pleasure. I am
not afraid either, though you will think me not over-modest."

Seraphael touched the screen,--it was massive, and resisted his little
hand; he became impatient. Miss Lawrence only laughed, but I rushed
out of my corner to help him. Before he looked at the picture he gave
me that little hand and a smile of his very own.

"Look, dearest sir!" I cried, "pray look now!"

And indeed he looked; and indeed, I shall not forget it. It was so
strange to turn from the living lineaments--the eye of the sun and
starlight, the brilliant paleness, the changeful glow, the look of
intense and concentrated vitality upon temple and lip and skin--to the
still, immortal visage, the aspect of glory beyond the grave, the
lustre unearthly, but not of death, that struck from those breathless
lips, those snow-sealed eyes; and, above all, to see that the light
seemed not to descend from the crown upon the forehead, but to aspire
from the forehead to the crown,--so the rays were mixed and fused
into the idea of that eternity in which there shall be a new earth
besides another heaven! That transcending picture, how would it affect
him? I little knew; for as he stood and gazed, he grew more like it.
The smile faded, the deep melancholy I had seldom seen, and never
without a shudder, swept back; as the sun goes into a cloud his face
assumed a darklier paleness, he appeared to suffer, but did not speak.
In some minutes still, he started, turned to Miss Lawrence, and
sighing gently, as gently said,--

"I wish I were more like it! I wish I were as that is! But we may not
dream dreams, though we may paint pictures. I should like to deserve
your idea, but I do not at present. Happy for us all who build upon
the future as you have done in that painting,--I mean entirely as to
the perfection of the work."

"Have I your permission to keep it, sir?"

"What else, madam, would you do with it?"

"Oh! if you had not approved, I should have slashed it into pieces
with a carving-knife or my father's razor. I shall keep it, with your
permission; it will be very valuable and precious, and I have to thank
you for the inestimable privilege of possessing it."

This cool treatment of Miss Lawrence's delighted me,--it was the only
one to restore our Chevalier. He, indeed, returned unto his rest, for
he left the house that moment. Nor could I have desired him to
remain,--there was only one presence in which I cared to imagine
him....



CHAPTER XVII


The day had come and gone when Clara, for the first time, dressed in
white. The sun-grain of August had kissed the corn, the
golden-drooping sheaves waved through the land fresh cut, and the
latest roses mixed pale amidst the lilies beneath the bounteous
harvest-moon when she left us,--but not alone. It was like dying twice
over to part with them that once, and therefore it will not be
believed how soon I could recover the farewell and feed upon Clara's
letters, which never failed me once a month. For a year they more
sustained me than anything else could have done; for they told of a
life secluded as any who loved _him_ could desire for him, and not
more free from pain than care. Of herself she never spoke, except to
breathe sweet wishes for her friends; but her whole soul seemed bent
upon his existence, and her descriptions were almost a diary. I could
not be astonished at her influence, for it had governed my best days;
but that she should be able to secure such a boon to us as a year of
unmitigated repose for him, was precisely what I had not anticipated,
nor dared to expect. Meanwhile, and during that year, our work was
harder than ever. Davy and I were quite unconscious of progressing,
yet were perfectly happy, and as ever determined,--indeed, nothing
like a slight contumacy on the part of the pupils kept Davy up to the
mark. From Starwood, who had returned to Germany, I also received
accounts; but he was no letter-writer, except when there was anything
very particular to say. He was still a student, and still under
Seraphael's roof. Strange and Arabian dreams were those I had of that
house in the heart of a country so far away, for the Chevalier had
moved nearer the Rhine, and nothing in his idiosyncrasy so betokened
the Oriental tincture of his blood as his restless fondness for making
many homes while he was actually at home in none.

We lived very happily, as I said. It was, perhaps, not extraordinary
that to my violin I grew more infinitely attached, was one with it,
and could scarcely divide myself from it. I lived at home still,--that
is, I slept at home, and usually ate there; but Davy's house was also
home,--it had grown dearer to me than ever, and was now fairer. The
summer after our friends had left us was brilliant as the last, and
now the shell was almost hidden by the clinging of the loveliest
creepers; the dahlias in the garden had given place to standard
rose-trees, and though Carlotta could not reach them, she had learned
to say, "Rose!" and to put up her pretty hand for me to pluck her one.
With a flower she would sit and play an entire morning, and we never
had any trouble with her. Millicent worked and studied as conveniently
as though she had never been born; for it was Davy's supreme wish to
educate his daughter at home, and her mamma had very elaborate ideas
of self-culture in anticipation. During that autumn we found ourselves
making some slight way. Davy took it into his head to give utterance,
for the first time, to a public concert; and I will not say I was
myself averse. We had a great deal of conversation and a great many
sessions on the subject, not exactly able to settle whether we would
undertake a selection or some entire work. Our people were rather
revived out of utter darkness concerning music; but its light was
little diffused, and seemed condensed in our class-room as a focus.
The band and chorus, of course, made great demonstrations in favor of
the "Messiah;" and my mother, who had taken an extraordinary interest
in the affair, said, innocently enough,--

"Then why, my dears, not represent the 'Messiah'? It will be at
Christmas time, and very suitable."

This was not the point, for Davy had reminded me of the fact that the
festival for the approaching year at the centre of the town would open
with that work,--unless, indeed, the committee departed from their
precedent on all former occasions. My idea would have been a
performance all Bach, Beethoven, and Seraphael, with Handel's Ode for
a commencement, on the 22d of November; but Davy shook his head at
me,--"That would be for Germany, not for England;" and I obliged
myself to believe him. At length we accepted the "Messiah,"--to the
great delight of the chorus and band.

It was a pressing time all through that autumn. I do not suppose I
ever thought of anything but fiddles, fiddles, fiddles, from morning
till night. They edged my dreams with music, and sometimes with that
which was very much the reverse of music; for we had our difficulties.
Prejudice is best destroyed by passion, which as yet we had not
kindled. Davy met with little support, and no sympathy, except from
his own,--this mattered little either, so long as his own were
concerned; but now, in prospect of our illustration, it was necessary
to secure certain instrumental assistance.

I undertook to do this. Besides my own strings, we had brass and wind,
but not sufficient. I shall not forget the difficulty of thawing the
players I visited--I will not call them artists--into anything like
genial participation. Their engagement was not sufficiently formal,
nor did they like me,--I suppose they owed a grudge against my youth;
for youth is unpardonable and inadmissible, except in the case of
genius. Neither did they thaw, any more than the weather, on Christmas
Eve,--it was on Christmas Eve we were to perform. It was an eve of
ice, not snow,--the blue sky silvery, the earth bound fast in sleep.
We had hired a ball-room at the chief hotel,--an elegant and rather
rare room; it was warmed by three wide fire-places; and the crimson
curtains closed, with the chairs instead of benches, gave a social and
unusual charm to the whole proceeding.

If our audience entered aghast, looked frozen, rolled in furs and
contempts, they could not help smiling upon the fires, the roseate
glow; though they also could not help being disconcerted to find
themselves treated all alike, for Davy would have no roseate seats,
nor any exclusiveness on this occasion. As he intended, besides, to
restore the work exactly as it was first written, we expected a little
cold and a few black looks. No modern listeners can receive an
oratorio as orthodox without an organ of Titan-build in the very
middle that takes care to sound.

The overture, beautifully played, was taken down with chill
politeness; but my own party were so pleased with themselves, and made
such ecstatic motions with their features that it was quite enough for
me. The first chorus was lightly, delicately shown up, not
extinguished by the orchestra--and, indeed, chorus after chorus found
no more favor; still, no one could help feeling the perfect training
here. I knew as well as Davy envy or pride alone kept back the free
confession. The exquisite shading in the chorus, the public's
darling, "Unto us a child is born," and the grandeur of the final
effect, subdued them a little. They cheered, and Davy gave me a glance
over his shoulder which I understood to say, "One must come in for
certain disadvantages if one is well received;" for Davy abhorred a
noise as much as I did. When we waited between the parts, some one
fetched Davy away in an immense hurry; he did not return immediately,
and I grew alarmed. I peeped into the concert-room: there sat
Millicent most composedly, and Lydia with her lord, and Clo in her
dove-colored silk and spectacles, and my mother in her black satin and
white-kid gloves, looking crowned with happiness; it was evident that
nothing was the matter at home. But having a few minutes, I went to
speak to them; and then my mother, in her surmises about Davy, whom
she loved as her own son--and Clo, whose principles were flattered,
not shocked, in her approval--took up so much time that I was at last
obliged to fly to my little band, who were assembled again, and tuning
by fits. Still, Davy was not there. But presently, and just at the
moment when it was necessary to begin, he appeared, so looking that I
was sure either something very dread or very joyous had befallen him.
His eye gazed brightly out to the whole room as he faced instead of
turning from it. He could not help smiling, and his voice quivered as
he spoke. He said in those fond accents,--

"I have the pleasure to announce that the Chevalier Seraphael, having
just arrived from Germany on a visit to myself, has consented to
conduct the second part himself."

I had been sure the Chevalier was in him before he spoke, but I little
thought how it would come about. Immediately he finished speaking,
the curtain above us divided, and that heavenly inspired one stood
before us.

There was that in his apparition which stirred the slowest and burned
upon the coldest pulses. All rose and shouted with an enthusiasm, when
elicited from English hearts perhaps more real and touching than any
other; a quickening change, like sudden summer, swept the room; the
music became infinitely at home there; we all felt as if, watching
over the dead, we had seen the dead alive again; the "old familiar
strains" untired us, and none either wearied among the listeners. I
could not, in the trances of my own playing, forbear to worship the
gentle knowledge that had led the hierarch to that humble shrine, to
consecrate and ennoble it forever. But the event told even sooner than
I expected; for lo! at the end, when the Chevalier turned his kingly
head and bowed to the reiterated applaudings, and had passed out,
those plaudits continued, and would not cease till Davy was recalled
himself; the pent-up reverence, restored to its proper channel, eddied
in streams around him.

What an evening we spent, or rather what a night we made that
night!--in that little parlor of Davy's the little green-house thrown
open, and lighted by Millicent with Carlotta's Christmas-candles; the
supper, where there was hardly room for us all at the table, and
hardly room upon the table for all the good things my mother sent for
from her pantry and larder and store-closet; the decoration of the
house with green wreaths and holly-bunches, the swept and garnished
air of the entire tiny premises standing us in such good stead to
welcome the Christmas visitant with Christmas festivity; the punch
Davy mixed in Carlotta's christening-bowl, my mother's present, she
perfectly radiant, and staring with satisfaction in the arm-chair,
where Seraphael himself had placed her as we closed around the fire;
the Christmas music never wanting, for in the midst of our joyous talk
a sudden celestial serenade, a deep-voiced carol, burst from beyond
the garden, and looking out there, we beheld, through rimed and
frost-glazed windows, a clustered throng, whose voices were not
uncultured,--the warmest-hearted members of Davy's own. They were
still singing when Carlotta awoke and cried, had to be brought down
stairs, and was hushed, listening, in Seraphael's arms.

So, after all, we did not go to bed that night, for it was quite two
o'clock when I escorted my mother and sisters home, having left the
little room I usually occupied when I slept at my brother's house for
Seraphael, whom no one would suffer to sleep at the hotel. I might
remind myself of the next day, too, and I surely may,--of our all
going to church together after a night of snow, over the sheeted white
beneath a cloudless heaven; of our all sitting together in that large
pew of ours, and the excitement prevailing among the congregation
afterwards as they assured themselves of our guest; of the chimes
swelling high from the tower as we returned, and my walk alone with
Seraphael to show him where Clara's house had stood. When we were,
indeed, alone together, I asked more especially after her, and
listened to his tender voice when it told of her that she was not then
strong enough to cross the sea, but that though he could only leave
her for a week, it was her latest request that he would come to see us
all himself, nor return without having done so. And then he spoke of
the affairs that had brought him over,--an entreaty from the committee
of our own town festival that he would direct that of the coming year,
and compose exclusively for it.

It made me very indignant at first that they should have kept Davy so
entirely in the dark as to their intentions, because he had been
forewarned on all previous occasions, before his influence was so
strong in his own circle. But when I expressed a little my
indignation, Seraphael only laughed, and said,--

"It was what every one must expect who was such a purist, unless he
would also condescend to amuse the people at times and seasons, or
unless he were not _poor_."

My obligation to accede here made me yet more indignant, until I
remembered how Seraphael had introduced himself, and so taken Davy by
the hand that it would not be likely for him ever again to be thrust
back into obscurity afterwards, were it only because Seraphael himself
was _rich_.

"And will you come to us, sir?" I asked, scarcely able to frame a wish
upon the subject.

"If I live, Carlomein. And I do hope to live--till then, at least. I
have also been rather idle lately, and must work. Indeed, I have
brought nothing with me, except a psalm or two for your brother. We
may write music to psalms, I suppose, Carlomein?"

"You may, sir, and, indeed, anybody may; for whatever is worthless
will be forgotten, and whatever is worthy will live forever."

"It is not that anything we offer can be worthy of the feet at which
we lay it, it is not that anything is sweet or sufficient for our
love's expression, but every little word of love and smile of love is
precious to us, and must be so to Love itself, I think. Only in music
now does God reveal himself as in the days of old; and I do believe,
Carlomein, that he, dwelling not in temples made with hands, yet
dwelleth there. I suppose it may be that as we make the music that
issues from the orchestra, or from the organ where all musics mingle,
so he makes the love that religion burns to utter, but that music, for
the musical, alone makes manifest. All worship is sacred, but that is
unutterably holy. How holy should the heart of the musician be!"

"Dearest sir, forgive me! If you had not spoken so, I could not have
presumed to ask you. But do you, therefore, object to write for the
stage, in its present promiscuous position among the arts?"

"Carlomein, the drama is my greatest delight. The dramatic genius I
would ever accept as a guide and standard; but from youth upwards, I
have ever abstained from writing for the stage. It does not suit me;
it is in some respects beyond me,--that is, as it ought to exist. But
my days are numbered,--I have lately known it; and to give forth opera
after opera would reduce my short span to a mere holiday task. I am
too happy, Carlomein, and to you I will say it,--too blest in that I
feel I can best express what others left to me because expression
failed them."

"Oh, dearest sir, it is so, and not alone in music, but in everything
you touch or tell us! Yet you are ours for years and years. I feel
it,--there is so much to be done, and you only can do it; so much to
learn yet of what you only can teach us. You cannot, you will not, and
are not going to leave us! I know it; I could not be so if I did not
know and feel it. You are looking better than when even first I saw
you--all those years ago."

"I am well, Carlomein,--I have never been ill. I do not know sickness,
though I have known sorrow,--thank God for that inexpressible mystery
in which his light is hidden! But, Carlomein, you speak as if it were
of all things the saddest thing to die! I know not that sensation; I
believe it to be mere sensation. Neither is this earth a
wilderness,--no weariness! There is not an air of spring that does not
make me long for death; the burdening gladness is too much for life,
and summer and winter call me. Eternity without years is ever present
with me, and the poor music they love so well, they love because it
comes to me from beyond the grave."

I could not hear him speak so; it killed me to all but a ravishment of
fear. I could not help saying, though I fear it was out of place,--

"There is one you must not leave; she cannot live without you."

"Carlomein, any one can live who is to live, and whoever is decreed
must die. There is no death for me,--I do not call it so; nor do I
believe that death could touch me. I mean I should not know it, for I
could not bear it; and I fear it not, for nothing we cannot bear is
given us to endure."

"Sir, if I did not revere too much every word you utter, I should say
that a morbid presentiment clouds your enthusiasm, and that you know
not what you say."

"Do I look morbid, Carlomein? That is an ugly word, and you deserve it
as much as I do, pale-face."

He laughed out joyously. I looked at him again. How his eyes radiated
their splendors, as an eastern starlight in a northern sky! How the
blossom-blushes rose upon his cheek! Health, joy, vitality, all the
flowers of manhood, the fairest laurels of an unsullied fame, shone
visionary about him. He seemed no earthling "born to die." I could not
but smile; still, it was at his beauty, not his mirth.

"Sir, you don't look much like a martyr now."

"Carlomein. I should rather be a martyr than a saint. The saints are
robed in glory, but the glory streams from heaven upon the martyr's
face." (Oh, he could feel no pain, with that light there; I know he
felt none.) "The saints wear lilies, or they dream so; and dream they
not the martyrs wear the roses,--have not the thorns pierced through
them? They are thornless roses there, for passion is made perfect."

"Sir, but I do think that the musician, if duteous, is meet for a
starry crown."

"And I could only think, when I saw that picture, that the crown was
not mine own; but I dreamed within myself that it should not be in
vain I desire to deserve the crown which I should wear, but not that
star-crown. Poetry may be forgiven for hiding sorrow in bliss, but it
is only music that hides bliss with sorrow. And see, Carlomein (for we
are in a tale of dreams just now, and both alone), there have been
martyrs for all faiths,--for love, for poetry, for patriotism, for
religion. Oh! for what cause, where passion strikes and stirs, have
there not been martyrs? But I think music has not many, and those were
discrowned of that glory by the other crown of Fame. Shall I die
young, and not be believed to have died for music? For that end must
the music be rapt and purified,--stolen from itself; its pleasures
must be strong to pain, its exercises sharper than agony. I know of
none other choice for myself than to press forwards to fulfil the call
I have heard since music spoke to me, and was as the voice of God.
There is so much to undo in very doing, while those who were not
called, but have only chosen music, defile her mysteries, that the few
who are called must surely witness for her. We will not speak again
so, Carlomein. I have made your young face careful, and I would rather
see scorn work upon it than such woe. I am now going to a shop. Are
there any shops here, Carlomein?"

"Plenty, sir, but they are closed; still, I am certain you can get
anything you want, no matter what."

"I have something to make to-night which is most important, and I must
have nuts, apples, and sugar-plums."

We went to a large confectioner's whose windows were but
semi-shuttered. Here the Chevalier quite lost himself in the treasures
of those glass magazines. I should scarcely have known him as he had
been. He chose very selectly, nathless, securing only the most
delicate and rare of the wonders spread about him, and which excited
his _naïveté_ to the utmost. His choice comprised all crisp white
comfits and red-rose ones, almond-eggs, the most ravishing French
bonbons, all sorts of chocolate, myriad sugar millions, like rain from
fairy rainbows, twisted green angelica, golden strips of crystallized
orange-peal, not to speak of rout-cakes like fish and frogs and mice
and birds' nests. Nor did these suffice; off we walked to the
toy-shop. Our town was of world renown for its toys. Here it was not
so easy to effect an entrance; but it _was_ effected the moment the
Chevalier showed his face. To this hour I believe they took him in
there for some extraordinary little boy,--he certainly behaved like
nothing else. He bought now beads of all colors, and spangles and
shining leaf, and of all things the most exquisite doll,
small-featured, waxen, dressed already in long white robes, and lying
in a cradle about a foot long, perfectly finished. And next, besides
this baby's baby, he snatched at a box of letters, then at a gilt
watch, and finally at a magic-lantern. We so loaded ourselves with all
these baubles that we could scarcely get along; for, with his wonted
impetuosity on the least occasions, he would not suffer anything to be
sent, lest it should not arrive in time. And then, though I reminded
him of the dinner-hour at hand, there was to be no rest yet, but I
must take him to some garden or nursery of winter-plants. Fortunately,
a great friend of Davy's in that line lived very near him; for Davy
was a great flower-fancier. This was convenient; for had it been two
miles off, Seraphael would have run there, being in his uttermost
wayward mood. He chose a gem of a fir-tree, and though both the
florist and I remonstrated with our whole hearts, would carry it
himself,--happily not very far. I was reminded of dear old Aronach's
story about his child-days as I saw him clasp it in his delicate arms
so nerved with power, and caught his brilliant face through the spires
of the foliage. Thus we approached Davy's house, and I reminded the
Chevalier that we were expected to dine at my mother's, not there. In
fact, poor Millicent, in her bonnet, looked out anxiously from the
door; the Chevalier called to her as she ran to open the gate, "See,
Mrs. Davy, see! Here's 'Birnam Wood come to Dunisnane.' Make way!"

"You are very naughty," said Davy, stepping forth. "Our beloved mamma
will be coming after us."

"It is very rude, I know; but I am going to dine with your daughter."

"My daughter is coming too. Did you think we should leave her behind?"

Millicent was about, in fact, to mount the stairs for the baby; but
Seraphael rushed past her.

"Pardon! but I don't wish to be seen at present;" and we both bore our
burdens into the parlor, and laid them on the table.

"Now, Carlomein, the moment dinner is over, we two shall come back and
lock ourselves in here."

"I should like it of all things, sir, selfish wretch that I am! but I
don't think they will."

"Oh, yes, I will make them!"

When at last we descended ready, Carlotta, in her white beaver bonnet,
my own present, looked as soft as any snowdrop,--too soft almost to be
kissed. She held out her arms to Seraphael so very pertinaciously that
he was obliged to carry her; nor would he give her up until we reached
my mother's door. It was quite the same at dinner also; she would sit
next him, would stick her tiny fork into his face, with a morsel of
turkey at the end of it, would poke crumbs into his mouth with her
finger, would put up her lips to kiss him, would say, every moment, "I
like you much-much!" with all Davy's earnestness, though with just so
much of her mother's modesty as made her turn pink and shy, and put
herself completely over her chair into Seraphael's lap, when he
laughed at her. He was in ecstasies, and every now and then a shade so
tender stole upon his air that I knew he could only be adverting to
the tenderest of all human probabilities,--the dream of his next
year's offspring.

After dinner, Miss was to retire. She was carried upstairs by
Margareth, of whom I can only say she loved Carlotta better than she
had loved Carl. Seraphael then arose, and gracefully, gleefully,
despite the solicitations on all hands exhibited, declared he must
also go, that he had to meet the Lord Chancellor, and could not keep
him waiting. There was no more prayer wasted after this announcement,
everybody laughed too much. Taking a handful of nuts from a dish, and
throwing a glance of inexpressible elfishness at my mother, he said,
"Carl and the Lord Chancellor and I are going to crack them in a
corner. Come, Carlomein! we must not keep so grand a person waiting."
I know not what blank he left behind him, but I know what a world he
carried with him. We had such an afternoon! But we had to be really
very busy; I never worked so hard in a small way. When all was
finished, the guilt fruit hung, the necklaces festooned, the glitter
ordered with that miraculous rapidity in which he surpassed all
others, and that fairy craft of his by which he was enabled to
re-create all Arabian, mystical, he placed the cradle in the shade.

"You see, Carlomein, I could not have a Christ-child up there at the
top, because your brother is rather particular, and might not choose
to approve. It will never occur to him about the manger, if we don't
tell him; but you perceive all the same that it is here, being made of
straw, and very orthodox."

"It appears to me, sir, that you have learned English customs to some
purpose, as well as German."

He replied by dancing round the tree, and twisting in the tapers red
and green.

"Now, you go, Carlomein, and fetch them all, and when I hear your
voices, I will light the candles. Begone, Carlomeinus!" and he snapped
his fingers.

They came immediately, all rather mystified, but very curious. I
carried Carlotta, who talked the whole way home about the stars. But
after clustering a few moments in the dark passage, and her little
whispered "ohs!" and wondering sighs, when the door was opened, and
the arch musician for all ages, seated at the piano, played a measure
only meet for child or fairy ears, her ecstasy became quite painful.
She shuddered and shivered, and at last screamed outright; and then,
even then, only Seraphael had power to soothe her, leading her to the
fairy earth-lights as he led us to the lights of heaven.

       *       *       *       *       *

Glorious hours that dye deep our memories in beauty, music that passes
into echo and is silent, alike are conserved forever. Often and often
in the months that passed when he had left us, after a visit so
exquisite that it might have been diffused millenniums and yet have
kept its fragrance, did my thoughts take such a form as this
enunciation bears; I was so unutterably grateful for what had happened
that it helped me to bear what was yet before me. The growing, glowing
fame, heralded from land to land, in praise of that young genius and
purest youth, had certainly reached its culmination; neither envy
withered nor scandal darkened the spell of his perfect name. All
grades of artists, all ranks of critics,--the old and calm, the
impertinent but impetuous young,--bowed as in heart before him. It was
so in every city, I believe; but in ours it was peculiar, as well as
universal. An odor of heavenly altars had swept our temple; we were
fitter to receive him than we had been. In no instance was this shown
more clearly than on the fortunate occasion when Davy was treated
with, and requested very humbly to add his vocal regiment to the
festival chorus. One day just afterwards, in early April, he came
running to me with a letter, anxious for me to open it, as he was in a
fit of fright about the parts which ought to have arrived, and had
not. It was only a line or two, addressed to me by Seraphael's hand,
to tell us that Clara had borne him twin sons.

Davy's astonishment amused me; it appeared that he had formed no idea
of their having been likely to come at all, until this moment. I was
glad, indeed, to be alone, to think of that fairest friend of mine,
now so singularly blest. I thought of her in bed with her babies, I
thought of the babies being his, and she no less his own, until I was
not fit company for any one,--and it was long before I became so. I
could hardly believe it, and more especially because they were all
four so far away; for I am not of the opinion of those fortunate
transcendentalists, who aver we can better realize that which is away
from us than that which is at hand. Time and space must remain to us
our eternity and our freedom, till freedom and eternity shall be our
own.



CHAPTER XVIII


We were extremely busy, for a little while, in preparing a box of
presents, and when it was despatched we began seriously to anticipate
our awful, glorious festival; we began to have leisure to contemplate
it. It was a delightful dream, amidst that dream, to reflect that we
should see them all then, for Seraphael sent us word, in his grateful
reply to our enclosures, that both his children and their mother would
accompany him. Meantime, I was very anxious to spread the news abroad,
and most extraordinary appointments were made by all kinds of people
to secure places. I began to think, and had I been in Germany should,
of course, have settled to my own satisfaction, that the performances
must be in the open air, after all, such crowds demanded admittance so
early as early in June. It was for the last week in July that our
triple day was fixed, and in the second week of June the long-expected
treasure, the exclusive compositions, arrived from Lilienstadt. Davy
was one of the committee called immediately, and I awaited, in
unuttered longing, his return, to hear our glorious doom.

He came back almost wild. I was quite alarmed, and told him so.

"Charles," he said, "there is almost reason; so am I, myself, in fact.
Just listen to the contents of the parcel received,--an oratorio for
the first morning (such a subject, 'Heaven and Earth'!); a cantata for
a double choir; an organ symphony, with interludes for voices only; a
sonata for the violin; a group of songs and fancies. The last are for
the evenings; but otherwise the evenings are to be filled with Bach,
Beethoven, Mozart, and Handel,--the programmes already made out. How
is it possible, Charles, that such progress can have been condensed
into a few mere months? Think of the excitement, the unmitigated
stress of such an industry! Three completed works in less than a
quarter of a year, not to speak of the lesser wonders!"

It seemed to affect Davy's brain; as for me, I felt sure the works had
stirred,--as the Spirit moving upon the face of the waters, before the
intermomentary light, long ages, as we reckon in this world's
computation, before they framed themselves into form. Nor was this
conviction lessened when I first became acquainted with the new-born
glories of an imagination on fire of heaven.

Seraphael came to England, and of course northwards, to superintend
the earliest rehearsals; it was his own wish to do so, and every one
felt it necessary to be introduced by him alone to what came alone of
him. Those were strange times,--I do not seem to have lived them,
though in fact I was bodily present in that hall, consecrated by the
passion of a child. But they were wild hours; all tempest-tossed was
my spirit amidst the rush of a manifold enthusiasm.

Seraphael was so anxious to be at his home again that the rehearsals
were conducted daily. He was to return again, having departed, for
their ultimate fulfilment. It appeared very remarkable that he should
not have taken the whole affair at once, have brought his family over
then, and there remained; but upon the subject he was unapproachable,
only saying, with relation to his arduous life just then and then to
be, that he could not be too much occupied to please himself.

He did not stay in our house this time; we could not press him to do
so, for he was evidently in that state to which the claims of
friendship may become a burden instead of a beguiling joy. He was
alone greatly at his hotel, though I can for myself say that in his
intercourse with me, his gentleness towards me was so sweet that I
dare not remind myself of it. Still, in all he said and did there was
something seeming to be that was not; an indescribable want of
interest in the charms of existence which he had ever drawn into his
bosom,--a constant endeavor to rouse from a manifest abstraction.
Notwithstanding, he still wore the air of the most perfect health, nor
did I construe those signs, except into the fact of his being absent
from his new-found, his endeared and delighted home. He left us so
suddenly that I was only just in time to see him off. He would not
permit me to accompany him to London, from whence he should instantly
embark; but it was a letter from Clara that really hastened his
departure,--his babes were ill. I could not gain from him the least
idea of their affection, nor whether there was cause for fear; his
face expressed alarm, but had an unutterable look besides,--a look
which certainly astonished me, for it might have bespoken
indifference, as it might bespeak despair. One smile I caught as he
departed, that was neither indifferent nor desolate; it wrung my heart
with happiness to reflect that smile had been for me.

The feeling I had for those unknown babies was inexplicable after he
was fairly gone. That I should have loved them, though unseen, was
scarcely strange, for they were the offspring of the two I loved best
on earth; but I longed and languished for one glimpse of their baby
faces just in proportion to the haunting certainty which clutched me
that those baby faces I should never see. Their beauty had been
Seraphael's only inspiration when, in conversation with me, he had
fully seemed himself: the one so light and clear, with eyes as the
blue of midnight,--his brow, her eyes; the other soft and roseate,
with her angel forehead and his own star-like gaze,--her smile upon
them both, and the features both of him. As one who reads of the
slaughtered darlings in the days of Herod, as one who pores on
chronicles of the cradle plague-smitten, I felt for them; they seemed
never to have been born, to me.

Oh, that they had never been born, indeed! At least, there was one
while I thought so. We had a heart-rending letter from Clara one
fortnight after her lord returned to her: the twins were both dead,
and by that time both buried in the same grave. With her pure
self-forgetfulness where another suffered, she spoke no word of her
own sorrow, but she could not conceal from us how fearfully the blow
had fallen upon him. The little she said made us all draw close
together and tremble with an emotion we could not confess. But the
letter concluded with an assurance of his supreme and undaunted
intention, undisturbed by the shocks and agonies of unexpected woe, to
undertake the conductorship of the festival. The sorrow that now
shadowed expectations which had been too bright, tempered also our
joy, too keen till then. But after a week or two, when we received no
further tidings, we began absolutely to expect him, and with a
stronger anticipation--infatuation--than ever, built upon a future
which no man may dare to call his own, either for good or evil. The
hottest summer I had ever known interfered not with the industry alike
of band and chorus. The intense beauty of the music and its
marvellous embodiments had fascinated the very country far and wide;
it was as if art stood still and waited even for him who had magnified
her above the trumpery standards of her precedented progress.

We were daily expecting a significant assurance that he was on our
very shores. I was myself beginning to tremble in the air of sorrow
that must necessarily surround them both, himself and his companion,
when, one morning,--I forget the date; may I never remember it!--I was
reflecting upon the contents of a paper which Davy took in every
week,--a chronicle of musical events, which I ransacked
conscientiously, though it was seldom much to the purpose. Strangely
enough, I had been reading of the success of another friend of
mine,--even Laura, who had not denied herself the privilege of
artist-masonry after all, for she was dancing amidst flowers and fairy
elements, and I was determining I would, at the first opportunity, go
to see her. Then I considered I should like her to come to the
festival, and was making up a letter of requests to my ever-generous
friend, Miss Lawrence, that she might bring Laura, as I knew she would
be willing, when a letter came for me, was brought by an unconscious
servant and laid between my hands. It was in Clara's writing, once
again. I was coward enough to spare myself a few moments. There was no
one in the room; I was just on the wing to my band, but I could not
help still sparing myself a little, and a very little, longer. I
believe I knew as well what was in the letter as if I had opened it
before I broke the seal. I believe terror and intense presentiment
lent me that stillness and steadiness of perception which are the very
empyrean of sorrow. Enough! I opened it at last, and found it exactly
as I had expected,--Seraphael himself was ill. The hurry and trouble
of the letter induced me to believe there was more behind her words
than in them, mournful and unsatisfactory as they were. He was, as he
believed himself to be, overwrought; and though he considered himself
in no peril, he must have quiet. This struck me most; it was all over
if he felt he must have quiet. But the stunning point was that he
deputed his friend Lenhart Davy to the conductorship of his own
works,--the concerts all being arranged by himself in preparation, and
nothing but a director being required. Clara concluded by asking me to
come to her if I could. She did not say he wished to see me, but I
knew she wished to see me herself; and even for his sake that call was
enough for me.

My duties, my intentions, all lay in the dust. I considered but how to
make way thither with the speed that one fain would change to wind, to
lightning, or yoke to them as steeds. I packed up nothing, nor did I
leave a single trace of myself behind, except Clara's letter and a
postscript, in pencil, of my own. I was in my mother's house when the
letter came upon me; and flying past Davy's on my way to the railroad,
I saw Millicent with Carlotta looking out of one of the windows, all
framed in roses. It was a sight I merely recall as we recall touches
of pathos to medicine us for deeper sorrow. Two days and nights I
travelled incessantly, without information or help, solitary as a
pilgrim who is wandering from home to heaven; it could be nothing
else, I knew. The burning, glowing summer, the tossing forests, the
corn-fields yet unravished, the glory on the crested lime-trees, the
vines smothering rock and wall and terrace with fruit of life,--all
these I saw, and many other dreams, as a dream myself I passed. I
only know I seemed taking the whole world. So wide the scattered
sensations spread themselves that I dared not call home to myself; for
they did but minister to the perfect appreciation that what I dreamed
was true, and what I yearned to clasp as truth a dream.

The city of his home was before me,--but how can I call it a city? It
was a nest itself in a nest of hills. Below the river rushed, its
music ever in a sleep, and its blue waves softened hyaline by
distance. In the last sunset smile I saw the river and the valley, the
vines at hand crawled over it, and there was not a house around that
was not veiled in flowers. When I entered the valley from below, the
purple evening had drowned the sunset as with a sea, there was no mist
nor cloud, the starlight was all pure, it brightened moment by moment.
And having hurried all along till now, at length I rested. For now I
felt that of all I had ever endured, the approaching crisis was the
consummation. Had I dared, I would have returned; for I even desired
not to advance. My own utter impotence, my unavailing presence,
weighed me down, and the might of my passion ensphered me as did that
distant starlight,--I was as nothing to itself. I had shed no tears.
Tears I have ever found the springs of gladness, and grief most dry.
But who could weep in that breathless expectation? who would not, when
he cannot, rejoice to weep? Brighter than I had ever seen them, the
stars shone on me; and brighter and brighter they seemed to burn
through the crystal clarity of my perception: my ear felt open, I
heard sounds born of silence which, indeed, were no sounds, but
_themselves_ silence. I saw the unknown which, indeed, could not be
seen; and thus I waited, suspended in the midst of time, yearning for
some heaven to open and take me in. Whatever air stirred was soft as
the pulse of sleep; whatever sigh it carried was a sigh of flowers,
late summer sweetness, first autumn sadness, poured into faint
embrace. I saw the church-tower in the valley, it reached me as a
dream. All was a dream round about,--the dark shade of the terraced
houses, the shadier trees; and I myself the dreamer, to whom those
stars above, those heights so unimaginable, were the only waking day.
At midnight I had not moved, and at midnight I dreamed another dream,
still standing there.

The midnight hour had struck, and died along the valley into the
quiet, when a sudden gathering gleam behind a distant rock rose like a
red moonlight and tinged the very sky. But there was no moon, and I
felt afraid and child-like. I was obliged to watch to ascertain. It
grew into a glare, that gleam,--the glare of fire; and slowly, stilly
as even in a dream indeed, wound about the rock and passed down along
the valley a dark procession, bearing torches, with a darker in the
midst of them than they.

Down the valley to the church they came: I knew they were for resting
there. No bell caught up the silence, I heard no tramp of feet, they
might have been spirits for all the sound they made; and when at last
they paused beneath me in the night, the torches streamed all
steadily, and rained their flaming smiles upon the imagery in the
midst.

That bier was carried proudly, as of a warrior called from deadly
strife to death's own sleep. But not as warrior's its ornaments, its
crown. The velvet folds passed beneath into the dark grass as they
paused, as storm-clouds rolling softly, as gloom itself at rest. But
above, from the face of the bier, the darkness fled away,--it was
covered with a mask of flowers. Wreath within wreath lay there, hue
within hue, from virgin white and hopeful azure to the youngest blush
of love. And in the very midst, next the pale roses and their tender
green, a garland of the deepest crimson glowed, leafless, brilliant,
vivid; the full petals, the orb-like glory, gave out such splendors to
the flame-light that the fresh first youth's blood of a dauntless
heart was alone the suggestion of its symbol. Keenly in the distance
the clear vision, the blaze of softness, reached me. I stirred not, I
rushed not forwards; I joined in the dread feast afar. I stood as
between the living and the dead,--the dead below, the living with the
stars above,--and the plague of my heart was stayed.

I waited until the bier, bare of its gentle burden, stood lonely by
the grave. I waited until the wreaths, flung in, covered the treasure
with their kisses that was a jewel for earth to hide. I saw the
torches thrown into the abyss, quenched by the kisses of the flowers,
even as the earthly joy, the beauty, had been quenched in that abyss
of light which to us is only darkness. I watched the black shadows
draw closer round the grave; one suffocating cry arose, as if all
hearts were broken in that spasm, or as if Music herself had given up
the ghost. _But Music never dies._ In reply to that sickening shout,
as if, indeed, a heaven opened to receive me, a burst, a peal, a shock
of transcendent music fell from some distant height. I saw no sign the
while I heard, nor was it a mourning strain. Triumphant, jubilant,
sublime in seraph sweetness, joy immortal, it mingled into the arms of
Night. While yet its echoes rang, another strain made way, came forth
to meet it, and melted into its embrace, as jubilant as blissful, but
farther, fainter, more ineffable. Again it yielded to the echoes; but
above those echoes swelled another, a softer, and yet another and a
softer voice, that was but the mingling of many voices, now far and
far away. Distantly, dyingly, till death drank distance up, the music
wandered. And at length, when the mystic spell was broken, and I could
hear no more, I could only believe it still went on and on, sounding
through all the earth, beyond my ear, and rising up to heaven from
shores of lands untraversed as that country beyond the grave! All
peace came there upon me; as a waveless deep it welled up and upwards
from my spirit, till I dared no longer sorrow: my love was
dispossessed of fear, and the demon Despair, exorcised, fled as one
who wept and fain would hide his weeping. And yet that hope, if hope
it could be, that cooled my heart and cheered my spirit, was not a
hope of earth. My faith had fleeted as an angel into the light, and
that hope alone stayed by me.

It was not until the next morning, and then not early, that I visited
that house and the spirit now within it whose living voice had called
me thither. No longer timidly, if most tenderly, I advanced along the
valley, past the church which guarded now the spot on all this earth
the most like heaven, and found the mansion, now untenanted, that
Heaven itself had robbed. Quiet stillness--not as of death, but most
like new-born wonder--possessed that house. The overhanging balconies,
the sunburst on the garden, the fresh carnations, the carved gateway,
the shaded window, and over all the cloudless sky, and around, all
that breathed and lived,--it was a lay beyond all poetry, and such a
melancholy may never music utter. Thoné took me in, and I believe she
had waited for me at the door. She spoke not, and I spoke not; she led
me only forwards with the air of one who feels all words are lost
between those who understand but cannot benefit each other. She led
me to a room in which she left me; but I was not to be alone. I saw
Clara instantly,--she came to meet me from the window, unchanged as
the summer-land without by the tension or the touch of trouble. I
could not possibly believe, as I saw her, and seeing her felt my
courage flow back, my life resume its current, that she had ever
really suffered. Her face so calm was not pale; her eye so clear was
tearless. Nor was there that writhing smile about her lovely lips that
is more agonizing than any tears. It was entirely in vain I tried to
speak,--had she required comfort, my words would have thronged at my
will; but if any there required comfort, it could not be herself.
Seeing my fearful agitation, which would work through all my silence,
her sweet voice startled me; I listened as to an angel, or as to an
angel I should never have listened.

"If I had known how it would be, I would never have been so rash as to
send for you. But he was so strange--for he did not suffer--that I
could not think he was going to die. I do not call it dying, nor would
you if you had seen it. I wish I could make that darling feel such
death was better than to live."

I put a constraint upon myself which no other presence could have
brought me to exhibit.

"What darling, then?" said I; for I could only think of one who was
darling as well as king.

"Poor Starwood! But you will be able to comfort him,--you are the only
person who could."

"Perhaps it would not be kind to comfort him; perhaps he would rather
suffer. But I will do my best to please you. Where is he now?"

"I will bring him;" and she left the room.

In another moment, all through the sunny light that despite the shaded
windows streamed through the very shade, she entered again with
Starwood. He flew at me and sank upon the ground. I have seen
women--many--weep, and some few men; but I have never seen, and may I
never see! such weeping as he wept. Tears--as if tropic rains should
drench our Northern gardens--seemed dissolving with his very life his
gentle temperament. I could not rouse nor raise him. His sodden hair,
his hands as damp as death, his dreadful sobs, his moans of misery,
his very crushed and helpless attitude, appealed to me not in vain;
for I felt at once it was the only thing to do for him that he should
be suffered to weep till he was satisfied, or till he could weep no
more. And yet his tears provoked not mine, but rather drove them
inwards and froze them to my heart. Nor did Clara weep; but I could
not absolutely say whether she had already wept or not,--for where
other eyes grow dim, hers grew only brighter; and weeping--had she
wept--had only cleared her heaven. We sat for hours in that room
together,--that fair but dreadful room, its brilliant furniture
unworn, its frescos delicate as any dream, its busts, its pictures,
crowding calm lights and glorious colors, all fresh as the face of
Nature, with home upon its every look; save only where the organ
towered, and muffling in dark velvet its keys and pipes, reminded us
that music had left home for heaven, and we might no more find it
there!

And again it was longed-for evening,--the twilight tarried not. It
crept, it came, it fell upon the death-struck, woful valley. O blessed
hour,--the repose alike of passion and of grief! O blessed heaven! to
have softened the mystic change from day to darkness so that we can
bear them both,--never so blessed as when the broken-hearted seek thy
twilights and find refreshment in thy shades! At that hour we two
alone stood together by the glorious grave. For the first time, as the
sun descended, Starwood had left off weeping. I had myself put him in
his bed, and rested beside him till he was asleep; then I had returned
to Clara. She was wrapped in black, waiting for me. We went together
without speaking, without signifying our intentions to each other; but
we both took the same way, and stood, where I have said, together; and
when we had kissed the ground she spoke. She had not spoken all the
day,--most grave and serious had been her air; she yet looked more as
a child that had lost its father than a widowed wife,--as if she had
never been married, she struck me: an almost virgin air possessed her,
an unserene reserve, for now her accents faltered.

"I could not say to you till we were alone," she said,--"and we could
not be alone to-day,--how much I thank you for coming; so many persons
are to be here in a day or two, and I wish to consult with you."

"I will see them all for you, I will arrange everything; but you are
not going away?"

"Going away? And you to say so, too! I will never leave this place
until I die!"

"You love him, then, thank God!"

"Love him! Shall I tell you how? You know best what it was to love
him, for you loved him best,--better than I did; and yet I loved him
with all love. Do I look older, and more like this world, or less?"

She smiled a sweet significance,--a smile she had learned from him.

"I have been thinking how young you look,--too young, almost. You are
so fresh, so child-like, and--may I say it?--so fair."

"You may say anything. I think I have grown fairer myself. Very
strange to confess, is it? But you are my friend,--to you I should
confess anything. I have been with a spirit-angel,--no wonder I am
fresh. I have been in heaven,--no wonder I am fair. I felt myself grow
better hour by hour. After I left you with him, when his arms were
round me, when he kissed me, when his tenderness oppressed me,--I felt
raised to God. No heart ever was so pure, so overflowing with the
light of heaven. I can only believe I have been in heaven, and have
fallen here,--not that he has left me, and I must follow him to find
him. I will not follow yet, my friend! I have much to do that he has
left me."

"Thank God, you will not leave us,--but more, because you love him,
and made him happy!"

"You do not, perhaps, know that he was never anything but happy. When
I think of discontent and envy and hatred and anger and care, and see
them painted upon other faces, I feel that he must have tasted heaven
to have made himself so happy here. I can fancy a single taste of
heaven, sir, lasting a whole life long."

She was his taste of heaven, as a foretaste even to me! But had she,
indeed, never learned the secret of his memory, or had she turned,
indeed, its darkness into light?

"I wish to hear about the last."

"You know nearly as much as I do, or as I can tell you. You remember
the music you heard last night? It was the last he wrote, and I found
it and saved it, and had done with it what you heard."

But I cannot descant on death-beds; it is the only theme which I dare
believe, if I were to touch, would scare me at my dying hour. I will
not tamper with those scenes, but console myself by reminding that if
the time had been, and that, too, lately, when upon that brain fell
the light in fever and the sun in fire, the time was over; and
sightless, painless, deaf to the farewells of dying music, he, indeed,
could not be said to _suffer_ death.

Nor did he _know_ to suffer it, as he had said. The crown that,
piercing with its _fiery thorns_ unfelt, had pressed into his brow the
death-sting, should also crown with its _star-flowers_ the waking unto
life.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You remember what you said, Mr. Auchester, that he needed a
'companion for his earthly hours:' I tried to be his companion,--he
allowed me to be so; and one of the last times he spoke he said:
'Thank Carl for giving you to me.'"


That echo reaches me from the summer-night of sadness and still
communion, of _passion's slumber by the dead_. It is now some years
ago; but never was any love so fresh to the spirit it enchanted, as is
the enchantment of this sorrow, still mine own. So be it ever mine,
till all shall be forever!


I am in England, and again at home. Great changes have swept the
earth; I know of none within myself. Through all convulsions the music
whispers to me _that music is_. I ought to believe in its existence,
for it is my own life and the life of the living round me. Davy is
still at work, but not alone in hope,--sometimes in the midst of
triumph. They tell me I shall never grow rich, but with my violin I
shall never be poor. I have more than enough for everything, as far
as I myself am concerned; and as for those I love, there is not one
who prospers not, even by means of music.

Starwood has been three years in London. His name, enfolded in another
name, brought the whole force of music to his feet. It is not easy to
procure lessons of the young professor, who can only afford twenty
minutes to the most exacting pupil. It is still less easy to hear him
play in public, for he has a will of his own, and will only play what
he likes, and only what he likes to the people he likes; for he is a
bit of a cynic, and does not believe, half so much as I do, that music
is making way. He married his first feminine pupil,--a girl of almost
fabulous beauty. I believe he gave her half-a-dozen lessons before the
crisis,--not any afterwards; and I know that he was seventeen and she
fifteen years of age at the time they married.[10] His whole nature is
spent upon her; but she is kind enough to like me, and thus I
sometimes receive an invitation, which I should accept did they reside
in the moon.

But I have other London friends. After two seasons, more satisfactory
than brilliant, Laura retired from the stage. During the time she
danced, her name was scarcely whispered,--I believe she was even
feared in her spiritual exaltation of her art; but no sooner had she
left the lights than all critics and contemporaries discovered her
excellences. She was wooed with the white-flower garlands of the
purest honor, with the gold so few despised, to return and resume her
career, now certain fame; but she was never won, and I have since
made clear to myself that she only danced in public until she had
raised a certain capital, for you will only find her now in her
graceful drawing-room where London is most secluded, surrounded by the
most graceful and loveliest of the children of the peerage. No one but
Mademoiselle Lauretta--her stage and professional name--prepares the
little rarities for transplantation into the court-garden, or
rehearses the quadrille for the Prince of Wales's birthnight-ball. I
believe Miss Lemark, as she is known still to me, or even Laura, might
have had many homes if she had chosen,--homes where she could not but
have felt at home. Clara was even importunate that she should live
with her in Germany; Miss Lawrence was excessively indignant at being
refused herself; and there have been worthy gentlemen, shades not to
be invoked or recognized, who would have been very thankful to be
allowed to dream of that pale brow veiled, those clear eyes downcast,
those tapering fingers twined in theirs. But Laura, like myself, will
_never_ marry.

For Miss Lawrence, too, that glorious friend of mine, I must have a
little corner. It was Miss Lawrence who carried to Laura the news of
Seraphael's death,--herself heart-broken, who bound up that bleeding
heart. It is Miss Lawrence whose secretive and peculiar generosity so
permeates the heart of music in London that no true musician is
actually ever poor. It is Miss Lawrence who, disdaining
subscription-lists, steps unseen through every embarrassment where
those languish who are too proud or too humble to complain, and leaves
that behind her which re-assures and re-establishes by the magic of
charity strewn from her artist-hand. It is Miss Lawrence who discerns
the temporality of art to be that which is as inevitable as its
spiritual necessity; who yet ministers to its uttermost spiritual
appreciation by her patronage of the highest only. It is Miss Lawrence
you see wherever music is to be heard, with her noble brow and
sublimely beneficent eyes, her careless costume, and music-beaming
lips; but you cannot know, as I do, what it is to have her for a
friend.

Miss Lawrence certainly lost caste by receiving and entertaining, as
she did, Mademoiselle Lauretta; for both when Laura was dancing before
the public and had done with so dancing, Miss Lawrence would insist
upon her appearing at every party or assembly she gave,--whether with
her father's sanction or without, nobody knew. To be introduced to a
ballet-girl, or even a dancing-lady, at the same table or upon the
same carpet with barristers and baronets, with golden-hearted bankers
and "earnest" men of letters!--she certainly lost caste by her
resolute unconventionalism, did my friend Miss Lawrence. But then, as
she said to me, "What in life does it matter about losing caste with
people who have no caste to lose?" She writes to me continually, and
her house is my home in London. I have never been able to make her
confess that she sent me my violin; but I know she did, for her
interest in me can only be explained on that ground, and there is that
look upon her face, whenever I play, which assures me of something
associated in her mind and memory with my playing that is not itself
music.

Miss Lawrence also corresponds with Clara, and Clara sees us too; but
no one, seeing her, would believe her to be childless and alone. She
is more beautiful than ever, and not less calm,--more loving and more
beloved.

We had Florimond Anastase a concert-player at our very last festival.
He was exactly like the young Anastase who taught me, and I should not
have been able to believe him older but for his companion, a young
lady, who sat below him in the audience, and at whom I could only
gaze. It was Josephine Cerinthia, no longer a child, but still a
prodigy, for she has the finest voice, it is said, in Europe. No one
will hear it, however, for Anastase, who adopted her eight years ago,
makes her life the life of a princess, or as very few princesses' can
be; he works for her, he saves for her, and has already made her rich.
They say he will marry her by and by; it may be so, but I do not
myself believe it.

Near the house in which Seraphael died, and rising as from the ashes
of his tomb, is another house which holds his name, and will ever hold
it to be immortal. Sons and daughters of his own are there,--of his
land, his race, his genius,--those whom music has "called" and
"chosen" from the children of humanity. The grandeur of the
institution, its stupendous scale, its intention, its consummation,
afford, to the imagination that enshrines him, the only monument that
would not insult his name. Nor is that temple without its priestess,
that altar without its angel. She who devoted the wealth of his wisdom
to that work gave up the treasure of her life besides, and has
consecrated herself to its superintendence. At the monumental school
she would be adored, but that she is too much loved as children
love,--too much at home there to be feared. I hold her as my passion
forever; she makes my old years young in memory, and to every new
morning of my life her name is Music. With another name--not dearer,
but as dear--she is indissolubly connected; and if I preserve my
heart's first purity, it is to them I owe it.

I write no more. Had I desired to treat of music specifically, I
should not have written at all; for that theme demands a tongue beyond
the tongues of men and angels,--a voice that is no more heard. But if
one faithful spirit find an echo in my expression, to his beating
heart for music, his inward song of praise, it is not in vain that I
write, that what I have written is written.

      CHARLES AUCHESTER.

FOOTNOTE:

[10] Sterndale Bennett married Mary Anne, daughter of Captain James
Wood, R. N.


THE END.





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