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Title: Jean-Christophe Journey's End
Author: Rolland, Romain
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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JEAN-CHRISTOPHE
JOURNEY'S END

LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP
THE BURNING BUSH
THE NEW DAWN

BY
ROMAIN ROLLAND

Translated by
GILBERT CANNAN

WITH PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR



CONTENTS


LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

THE BURNING BUSH

THE NEW DAWN



LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

I


In spite of the success which was beginning to materialize outside
France, the two friends found their financial position very slow in
mending. Every now and then there recurred moments of penury when they
were obliged to go without food. They made up for it by eating twice as
much as they needed when they had money. But, on the whole, it was a
trying existence.

For the time being they were in the period of the lean kine. Christophe
had stayed up half the night to finish a dull piece of musical
transcription for Hecht: he did not get to bed until dawn, and slept
like a log to make up for lost time. Olivier had gone out early: he had
a lecture to give at the other end of Paris. About eight o'clock the
porter came with the letters, and rang the bell. As a rule he did not
wait for them to come, but just slipped the letters under the door. This
morning he went on knocking. Only half awake, Christophe went to the
door growling: he paid no attention to what the smiling, loquacious
porter was saying about an article in the paper, but just took the
letters without looking at them, pushed the door to without closing it,
went to bed, and was soon fast asleep once more.

An hour later he woke up with a start on hearing some one in his room:
and he was amazed to see a strange face at the foot of his bed, a
complete stranger bowing gravely to him. It was a journalist, who,
finding the door open, had entered without ceremony. Christophe was
furious, and jumped out of bed:

"What the devil are you doing here?" he shouted.

He grabbed his pillow to hurl it at the intruder, who skipped back. He
explained himself. A reporter of the Nation wished to interview M.
Krafft about the article which had appeared in the _Grand Journal_.

"What article?"

"Haven't you read it?"

The reporter began to tell him what it was about.

Christophe went to bed again. If he had not been so sleepy he would have
kicked the fellow out: but it was less trouble to let him talk. He
curled himself up in the bed, closed his eyes, and pretended to be
asleep. And very soon he would really have been off, but the reporter
stuck to his guns, and in a loud voice read the beginning of the
article. At the very first words Christophe pricked up his ears. M.
Krafft was referred to as the greatest musical genius of the age.
Christophe forgot that he was pretending to be asleep, swore in
astonishment, sat up in bed, and said:

"They are mad! Who has been pulling their legs?"

The reporter seized the opportunity, and stopped reading to ply
Christophe with a series of questions, which he answered unthinkingly.
He had picked up the paper, and was gazing in utter amazement at his own
portrait, which was printed as large as life on the front page: but he
had no time to read the article, for another journalist entered the
room. This time Christophe was really angry. He told them to get out:
but they did not comply until they had made hurried notes of the
furniture in the room, and the photographs on the wall, and the features
of the strange being who, between laughter and anger, thrust them out of
the room, and, in his nightgown, took them to the door and bolted it
after them.

But it was ordained that he should not be left in peace that day. He had
not finished dressing when there came another knock at the door, a
prearranged knock which was only known to a few of their friends.
Christophe opened the door, and found himself face to face with yet
another stranger, whom he was just about to dismiss in a summary
fashion, when the man protested that he was the author of the
article.... How are you to get rid of a man who regards you as a genius!
Christophe had grumpily to submit to his admirer's effusions. He was
amazed at the sudden notoriety which had come like a bolt from the blue,
and he wondered if, without knowing it, he had had a masterpiece
produced the evening before. But he had no time to find out. The
journalist had come to drag him, whether he liked it or not, there and
then, to the offices of the paper where the editor, the great Arsène
Gamache himself, wished to see him: the car was waiting downstairs.
Christophe tried to get out of it: but, in spite of himself, he was so
naïvely responsive to the journalist's friendly protestations that in
the end he gave way.

Ten minutes later he was introduced to a potentate in whose presence all
men trembled. He was a sturdy little man, about fifty, short and stout,
with a big round head, gray hair brushed up, a red face, a masterful way
of speaking, a thick, affected accent, and every now and then he would
break out into a choppy sort of volubility. He had forced himself on
Paris by his enormous self-confidence. A business man, with a knowledge
of men, naïve and deep, passionate, full of himself, he identified his
business with the business of France, and even with the affairs of
humanity. His own interests, the prosperity of his paper, and the
_salus publica_, all seemed to him to be of equal importance and to
be narrowly associated. He had no doubt that any man who wronged him,
wronged France also: and to crush an adversary, he would in perfectly
good faith have overthrown the Government. However, he was by no means
incapable of generosity. He was an idealist of the after-dinner order,
and loved to be a sort of God Almighty, and to lift some poor devil or
other out of the mire, by way of demonstrating the greatness of his
power, whereby he could make something out of nothing, make and unmake
Ministers, and, if he had cared to, make and unmake Kings. His sphere
was the universe. He would make men of genius, too, if it so pleased
him.

That day he had just "made" Christophe.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was Olivier who in all innocence had belled the cat.

Olivier, who could do nothing to advance his own interests, and had a
horror of notoriety, and avoided journalists like the plague, took quite
another view of these things where his friend was in question. He was
like those loving mothers, the right-living women of the middle-class,
those irreproachable wives, who would sell themselves to procure any
advantage for their rascally young sons.

Writing for the reviews, and finding himself in touch with a number of
critics and dilettanti, Olivier never let slip an opportunity of talking
about Christophe: and for some time past he had been surprised to find
that they listened to him. He could feel a sort of current of curiosity,
a mysterious rumor flying about literary and polite circles. What was
its origin? Were there echoes of newspaper opinion, following on the
recent performances of Christophe's work in England and Germany? It
seemed impossible to trace it to any definite source. It was one of
those frequent phenomena of those men who sniff the air of Paris, and
can tell the day before, more exactly than the meteorological
observatory of the tower of Saint-Jacques, what wind is blowing up for
the morrow, and what it will bring with it. In that great city of
nerves, through which electric vibrations pass, there are invisible
currents of fame, a latent celebrity which precedes the actuality, the
vague gossip of the drawing-rooms, the _nescio quid majus nascitur
Iliade_, which, at a given moment, bursts out in a puffing article,
the blare of the trumpet which drives the name of the new idol into the
thickest heads. Sometimes that trumpet-blast alienates the first and
best friends of the man whose glory it proclaims. And yet they are
responsible for it.

So Olivier had a share in the article in the _Grand Journal_. He
had taken advantage of the interest displayed in Christophe, and had
carefully stoked it up with adroitly worded information. He had been
careful not to bring Christophe directly into touch with the
journalists, for he was afraid of an outburst. But at the request of the
_Grand Journal_ he had slyly introduced Christophe to a reporter in
a café without his having any suspicion. All these precautions only
pricked curiosity, and made Christophe more interesting. Olivier had
never had anything to do with publicity before: he had not stopped to
consider that he was setting in motion a machine which, once it got
going, it was impossible to direct or control.

He was in despair when, on his way to his lecture, he read the article
in the _Grand Journal_. He had not foreseen such a calamity. Above
all, he had not expected it to come so soon. He had reckoned on the
paper waiting to make sure and verify its facts before it published
anything. He was too naïve. If a newspaper takes the trouble to discover
a new celebrity, it is, of course, for its own sake, so that its rivals
may not have the honor of the discovery. It must lose no time, even if
it means knowing nothing whatever about the person in question. But an
author very rarely complains: if he is admired, he has quite as much
understanding as he wants.

The _Grand Journal_, after setting out a few ridiculous stories
about Christophe's struggles, representing him as a victim of German
despotism, an apostle of liberty, forced to fly from Imperial Germany
and take refuge in France, the home and shelter of free men,--(a fine
pretext for a Chauvinesque tirade!)--plunged into lumbering praise of
his genius, of which it knew nothing,--nothing except a few tame
melodies, dating from Christophe's early days in Germany, which
Christophe, who was ashamed of them, would have liked to have seen
destroyed. But if the author of the article knew nothing at all about
Christophe's work, he made up for it in his knowledge of his plans--or
rather such plans as he invented for him. A few words let fall by
Christophe or Olivier, or even by Goujart, who pretended to be
well-informed, had been enough for him to construct a fanciful
Jean-Christophe, "a Republican genius,--the great musician of
democracy." He seized the opportunity to decry various contemporary
French musicians, especially the most original and independent among
them, who set very little store by democracy. He only excepted one or
two composers, whose electoral opinions were excellent in his eyes. It
was annoying that their music was not better. But that was a detail. And
besides, his eulogy of these men, and even his praise of Christophe, was
of not nearly so much account as his criticism of the rest. In Paris,
when you read an article eulogizing a man's work, it is always as well
to ask yourself:

"Whom is he decrying?"

Olivier went hot with shame as he read the paper, and said to himself:

"A fine thing I've done!"

He could hardly get through his lecture. As soon as he had finished he
hurried home. What was his consternation to find that Christophe had
already gone out with the journalists! He delayed lunch for him.
Christophe did not return. Hours passed, and Olivier grew more and more
anxious and thought:

"What a lot of foolish things they will make him say!"

About three o'clock Christophe came home quite lively. He had had lunch
with Arsène Gamache, and his head was a little muzzy with the champagne
he had drunk. He could not understand Olivier's anxiety, who asked him
in fear and trembling what he had said and done.

"What have I been doing? I've had a splendid lunch. I haven't had such a
good feed for a long time."

He began to recount the menu.

"And wine.... I had wine of every color."

Olivier interrupted him to ask who was there.

"Who was there?... I don't know. There was Gamache, a little round man,
true as gold: Clodomir, the writer of the article, a charming fellow:
three or four journalists whom I didn't know, very jolly, all very nice
and charming to me--the cream of good fellows."

Olivier did not seem to be convinced. Christophe was astonished at his
small enthusiasm.

"Haven't you read the article?"

"Yes. I have. Have you read it?"

"Yes.... That is to say, I just glanced at it. I haven't had time."

"Well: read it."

Christophe took it up. At the first words he spluttered.

"Oh! The idiot!" he said.

He roared with laughter.

"Bah!" he went on. "These critics are all alike. They know nothing at
all about it."

But as he read farther he began to lose his temper: it was too stupid,
it made him look ridiculous. What did they mean by calling him "a
Republican musician"; it did not mean anything.... Well, let the fib
pass.... But when they set his "Republican" art against the "sacristy
art" of the masters who had preceded him,--(he whose soul was nourished
by the souls of those great men),--it was too much....

"The swine! They're trying to make me out an idiot!..."

And then, what was the sense of using him as a cudgel to thwack talented
French musicians, whom he loved more or less,--(though rather less than
more),--though they knew their trade, and honored it? And--worst of
all--with an incredible want of tact he was credited with odious
sentiments about his country!... No, that, that was beyond
endurance....

"I shall write and tell them so," said Christophe.

Olivier intervened.

"No, no," he said, "not now! You are too excited. Tomorrow, when you are
cooler...."

Christophe stuck to it. When he had anything to say he could not wait
until the morrow. He promised Olivier to show him his letter. The
precaution was useful. The letter was duly revised, so as to be confined
practically to the rectification of the opinions about Germany with
which he had been credited, and then Christophe ran and posted it.

"Well," he said, when he returned, "that will save half the harm being
done: the letter will appear to-morrow."

Olivier shook his head doubtfully. He was still thoughtful, and he
looked Christophe straight in the face, and said:

"Christophe, did you say anything imprudent at lunch?"

"Oh no," said Christophe with a laugh.

"Sure?"

"Yes, you coward."

Olivier was somewhat reassured. But Christophe was not. He had just
remembered that he had talked volubly and unguardedly. He had been quite
at his ease at once. It had never for a moment occurred to him to
distrust any of them: they seemed so cordial, so well-disposed towards
him! As, in fact, they were. We are always well-disposed to people when
we have done them a good turn, and Christophe was so frankly delighted
with it all that his joy infected them. His affectionate easy manners,
his jovial sallies, his enormous appetite, and the celerity with which
the various liquors vanished down his throat without making him turn a
hair, were by no means displeasing to Arsène Gamache, who was himself a
sturdy trencherman, coarse, boorish, and sanguine, and very contemptuous
of people who had ill-health, and those who dared not eat and drink, and
all the sickly Parisians. He judged a man by his prowess at table. He
appreciated Christophe. There and then he proposed to produce his
_Gargantua_ as an opera at the Opéra.--(The very summit of art was reached
for these bourgeois French people in the production on the stage
of the _Damnation of Faust_, or the _Nine Symphonies_.)--Christophe, who
burst out laughing at the grotesqueness of the idea, had great difficulty
in preventing him from telephoning his orders to the directors of the
Opéra, or the Minister of Fine Arts.--(If Gamache were to be believed, all
these important people were apparently at his beck and call.)--And, the
proposal reminding him of the strange transmutation which had taken place
in his symphonic poem, _David_, he went so far as to tell the story of the
performance organized by Deputy Roussin to introduce his mistress to the
public. Gamache, who did not like Roussin, was delighted: and Christophe,
spurred on by the generous wines and the sympathy of his hearers, plunged
into other stories, more or less indiscreet, the point of which was not
lost on those present. Christophe was the only one to forget them when the
party broke up. And now, on Olivier's question, they rushed back to his
memory. He felt a little shiver run down his spine. For he did not deceive
himself: he had enough experience to know what would happen: now that he
was sober again he saw it as clearly as though it had actually happened:
his indiscretions would be twisted and distorted, and scattered broadcast
as malicious blabbing, his artistic sallies would be turned into weapons
of war. As for his letter correcting the article, he knew as well as
Olivier how much that would avail him: it is a waste of ink to answer a
journalist, for he always has the last word.

Everything happened exactly to the letter as Christophe had foreseen it
would. His indiscretions were published, his letter was not. Gamache
only went so far as to write to him that he recognized the generosity of
his feelings, and that his scruples were an honor to him: but he kept
his scruples dark: and the falsified opinions attributed to Christophe
went on being circulated, provoking biting criticism in the Parisian
papers, and later in Germany, where much indignation was felt that a
German artist should express himself with so little dignity about his
country.

Christophe thought he would be clever, and take advantage of an
interview by the reporter of another paper to protest his love for the
_Deutsches Reich_, where, he said, people were at least as free as
in the French Republic.--He was speaking to the representative of a
Conservative paper, who at once credited him with anti-Republican views.

"Better and better!" said Christophe. "But what on earth has my music to
do with politics?"

"It is usual with us," said Olivier. "Look at the battles that have
taken place over Beethoven. Some people will have it that he was a
Jacobin, others a mountebank, others still a Père Duchesne, and others a
prince's lackey."

"He'd knock their heads together."

"Well, do the same."

Christophe only wished he could. But he was too amiable with people who
were friendly towards him. Olivier never felt happy when he left him
alone. For they were always coming to interview him: and it was no use
Christophe promising to be guarded: he could not help being confidential
and unreserved. He said everything that came into his head. Women
journalists would come and make a fuss of him, and get him to talk about
his sentimental adventures. Others would make use of him to speak ill of
such-an-one, or so-and-so. When Olivier came in he would find Christophe
utterly downcast.

"Another howler?" he would ask.

"Of course," Christophe would reply in despair.

"You are incorrigible!"

"I ought to be locked up.... But I swear that it is the last time."

"Yes, I know. Until the next...."

"No. This really is the last."

Next day Christophe said triumphantly to Olivier:

"Another one came to-day. I shut the door in his face."

"Don't go too far," said Olivier. "Be careful with them. 'This animal is
dangerous.' He will attack you if you defend yourself.... It is so easy
for them to avenge themselves! They can twist the least little thing you
may have said to their uses."

Christophe drew his hand across his forehead:

"Oh! Good Lord!"

"What's the matter?"

"When I shut the door in his face I told...."

"What?"

"The Emperor's joke."

"The Emperor's?"

"Yes. His or one of his people's...."

"How awful! You'll see it to-morrow on the front page!"

Christophe shuddered. But, next day, what he saw was a description of
his room, which the journalist had not seen, and a report of a
conversation which he had not had with him.

The facts were more and more embellished the farther they spread. In the
foreign papers they were garnished out of all recognition. Certain
French articles having told how in his poverty he had transposed music
for the guitar, Christophe learned from an English newspaper that he had
played the guitar in the streets. He did not only read eulogies. Far
from it. It was enough for Christophe to have been taken up by the
_Grand Journal_, for him to be taken to task by the other papers.
They could not as a matter of dignity allow the possibility of a rival's
discovering a genius whom they had ignored. Some of them were rabid
about it. Others commiserated Christophe on his ill-luck. Goujart,
annoyed at having the ground cut away from under his feet, wrote an
article, as he said, to set people right on certain points. He wrote
familiarly of his old friend Christophe, to whom, when he first came to
Paris, he had been guide and comforter: he was certainly a highly gifted
musician, but--(he was at liberty to say so, since they were
friends)--very deficient in many ways, ill-educated, unoriginal, and
inordinately vain; so absurdly to flatter his vanity, as had been done,
was to serve him but ill at a time when he stood in need of a mentor who
should be wise, learned, judicious, benevolent, and severe, etc.--(a
fancy portrait of Goujart).--The musicians made bitter fun of it all.
They affected a lofty contempt for an artist who had the newspapers at
his back: and, pretending to be disgusted with the _vulgum pecus_,
they refused the presents of Artaxerxes, which were not offered them.
Some of them abused Christophe: others overwhelmed him with their
commiseration. Some of them--(his colleagues)--laid the blame on
Olivier.--They were only too glad to pay him out for his intolerance and
his way of holding aloof from them,--rather, if the truth were known,
from a desire for solitude than from scorn of any of them. But men are
least apt to pardon those who show that they can do without them.--Some
of them almost went so far as to hint that he had made money by the
articles in the _Grand Journal_. There were others who took upon
themselves to defend Christophe against him: they appeared to be
broken-hearted at Olivier's callousness in dragging a sensitive artist,
a dreamer, ill-equipped for the battle of life,--Christophe,--into the
turmoil of the market-place, where he could not but be ruined: for they
regarded Christophe as a little boy not strong enough in the head to be
allowed to go out alone. The future of this man, they said, was being
ruined, for, even if he were not a genius, such good intentions and such
tremendous industry deserved a better fate, and he was being intoxicated
with incense of an inferior brand. It was a great pity. Why could they
not leave him in his obscurity to go on working patiently for years?

Olivier might have had the answer pat:

"A man must eat to work. Who will give him his bread?"

But that would not have abashed them. They would have replied with their
magnificent serenity:

"That is a detail. An artist must suffer. And what does a little
suffering matter?"

Of course, they were men of the world, quite well off, who professed
these Stoic theories. As the millionaire once said to the simple person
who came and asked him to help a poverty-stricken artist:

"But, sir, Mozart died of poverty."

They would have thought it very bad taste on Olivier's part if he had
told them that Mozart would have asked nothing better than to go on
living, and that Christophe was determined to do so.

       *       *       *       *       *

Christophe was getting heartily sick of the vulgar tittle-tattle. He
began to wonder if it were going on forever.--But it was all over in a
fortnight. The newspapers gave up talking about him. However, he had
become known. When his name was mentioned, people said, not:

"The author of _David_ or _Gargantua_," but:

"Oh yes! The _Grand Journal_ man!..."

He was famous.

Olivier knew it by the number of letters that came for Christophe, and
even for himself, in his reflected glory: offers from librettists,
proposals from concert-agents, declarations of friendship from men who
had formerly been his enemies, invitations from women. His opinion was
asked, for newspaper inquiries, about anything and everything: the
depopulation of France, idealist art, women's corsets, the nude on the
stage,--and did he believe that Germany was decadent, or that music had
reached its end, etc., etc. They used to laugh at them all. But, though
he laughed, lo and behold! Christophe, that Huron, steadily accepted the
invitations to dinner! Olivier could not believe his eyes.

"You?" he said.

"I! Certainly," replied Christophe jeeringly. "You thought you were the
only man who could go and see the beautiful ladies? Not at all, my boy!
It's my turn now. I want to amuse myself!"

"You? Amuse yourself? My dear old man!"

The truth was that Christophe had for so long lived shut up in his own
room that he felt a sudden longing to get away from it. Besides, he took
a naïve delight in tasting his new fame. He was terribly bored at
parties, and thought the people idiotic. But when he came home he used
to take a malicious pleasure in telling Olivier how much he had enjoyed
himself. He would go to people's houses once, but never again: he would
invent the wildest excuses, with a frightful want of tact, to get out of
their renewed invitations. Olivier would be scandalized, and Christophe
would shout with laughter. He did not go to their houses to spread his
fame, but to replenish his store of life, his collection of expressions
and tones of voice--all the material of form, and sound, and color, with
which an artist has periodically to enrich his palette. A musician does
not feed only on music. An inflection of the human voice, the rhythm of
a gesture, the harmony of a smile, contain more suggestion of music for
him that another man's symphony. But it must be said that the music of
faces and human souls is as stale and lacking in variety in polite
society as the music of polite musicians. Each has a manner and becomes
set in it. The smile of a pretty woman is as stereotyped in its studied
grace as a Parisian melody. The men are even more insipid than the
women. Under the debilitating influence of society, their energy is
blunted, their original characters rot away and finally disappear with a
frightful rapidity. Christophe was struck by the number of dead and
dying men he met among the artists: there was one young musician, full
of life and genius, whom success had dulled, stupefied, and wiped out of
existence: he thought of nothing but swallowing down the flattery in
which he was smothered, enjoying himself, and sleeping. What he would be
like twenty years later was shown in another corner of the room, in the
person of an old pomaded _maestro_, who was rich, famous, a member
of all the Academies, at the very height of his career, and, though
apparently he had nothing to fear and no more wires to pull, groveled
before everything and everybody, and was fearful of opinion, power, and
the Press, dared not say what he thought, and thought nothing at all--a
man who had ceased to exist, showing himself off, an ass saddled with
the relics of his own past life.

Behind all these artists and men of intellect who had been great, or
might have been great, there was certain to be some woman preying upon
them. They were all dangerous, both the fools and those who were by no
means fools: both those who loved and those who loved themselves: the
best of them were the worst: for they were all the more certain to snuff
out the artist with their immoderate affection, which made them in all
good faith try to domesticate genius, turn it to their own uses, drag it
down, prune it, pare it down, scent it, until they had brought it into
line with their sensibility, their petty vanity, their mediocrity, and
the mediocrity of the world they lived in.

Although Christophe only passed through that section of society, he saw
enough of it to feel its danger. More than one woman, of course, tried
to take possession of him for her circle, to press him into her service:
and, of course, Christophe nibbled at the hook baited with friendly
words and alluring smiles. But for his sturdy common sense and the
disquieting spectacle of the transformations already effected in the men
about them by these modern Circes, he would not have escaped
uncontaminated. But he had no mind to swell the herd of these lovely
goose-girls. The danger would have been greater for him if there had not
been so many of them angling for him. Now that everybody, men and women,
were properly convinced that they had a genius in their midst, as usual,
they set to work to stifle him. Such people, when they see a flower,
have only one idea: to put it in a pot,--a bird: to put it in a cage,--
a free man: to turn him into a smooth lackey.

Christophe was shaken for a moment, pulled himself together, and sent
them all packing.

Fate is ironical. Those who do not care slip through the meshes of the
net: but those who are suspicious, those who are prudent, and
forewarned, are never suffered to escape. It was not Christophe who was
caught in the net of Paris, but Olivier.

He had benefited by his friend's success: Christophe's fame had given
him a reflected glory. He was better known now, for having been
mentioned in a few papers as the man who had discovered Christophe, than
for anything he had written during the last six years. He was included
in many of the invitations that came for Christophe: and he went with
him, meaning carefully and discreetly to look after him. No doubt he was
too much absorbed in doing so to look after himself. Love passed by and
caught him.

She was a little fair girl, charmingly slender, with soft hair waving in
little ripples about her pure narrow forehead: she had fine eyebrows and
rather heavy eyelids, eyes of a periwinkle blue, a delicately carved
nose with sensitive nostrils; her temples were slightly hollowed: she
had a capricious chin, and a mobile, witty, and rather sensual mouth,
turning up at the corners, and the _Parmigianninesque_ smile of a
pure faun. She had a long, delicate throat, a pretty waist, a slender,
elegant figure, and a happy, pensive expression in her girlish face, in
every line of which there was the disturbing poetic mystery of the
waking spring,--_Frühlingserwachen_. Her name was Jacqueline Langeais.

She was not twenty. She came of a rich Catholic family, of great
distinction and broad-mindedness. Her father was a clever engineer, a
man of some invention, clear-headed and open to new ideas, who had made
a fortune, thanks to his own hard work, his political connections, and
his marriage. He had married both for love and money--(the proper
marriage for love for such people)--a pretty woman, very Parisian, who
was bred in the world of finance. The money had stayed: but love had
gone. However, he had managed to preserve a few sparks of it, for it had
been very ardent on both sides: but they did not stickle for any
exaggerated notion of fidelity. They went their ways and had their
pleasures: and they got on very well together, as friends, selfishly,
unscrupulously, warily.

Their daughter was a bond between them, though she was the object of an
unspoken rivalry between them: for they both loved her jealously. They
both saw themselves in her with their pet faults idealized by the grace
of childhood: and each strove cunningly to steal her from the other. And
the child had in due course become conscious of it, with the artful
candor of such little creatures, who are only too ready to believe that
the universe gravitates round themselves: and she turned it to good
account. She had them perpetually outbidding each other for her
affection. She never had a whim but she was sure that one of them would
indulge it if the other refused: and the other would be so vexed at
being outdone that she would at once be offered an even greater
indulgence than the first. She had been dreadfully spoiled: and it was
very fortunate for her that there was no evil in her nature,--outside
the egoism common to almost all children, though in children who are too
rich and too much pampered it assumes various morbid shapes, due to the
absence of difficulties and the want of any goal to aim at.

Though they adored her, neither M. nor Madame Langeais ever thought of
sacrificing their own personal convenience to her. They used to leave
the child alone, for the greater part of the day, to gratify her
thousand and one fancies. She had plenty of time for dreaming, and she
wasted none of it. She was precocious and quick to grasp at incautious
remarks let fall in her presence--(for her parents were never very
guarded in what they said),--and when she was six years old she used to
tell her dolls love-stories, the characters in which were husband, wife,
and lover. It goes without saying that she saw no harm in it. Directly
she began to perceive a shade of feeling underlying the words it was all
over for the dolls: she kept her stories to herself. There was in her a
strain of innocent sensuality, which rang out in the distance like the
sound of invisible bells, over there, over there, on the other side of
the horizon. She did not know what it was. Sometimes it would come
wafted on the wind: it came she did not know from whence, and wrapped
her round and made the blood mount to her cheeks, and she would lose her
breath in the fear and pleasure of it. She could not understand it. And
then it would disappear as strangely as it had come. There was never
another sound. Hardly more than a faint buzzing, an imperceptible
resonance, fainter and fainter, in the blue air. Only she knew that it
was yonder, on the other side of the mountain, and thither she must go,
go as soon as possible: for there lay happiness. Ah! If only she could
reach it!...

In the meanwhile, until she should reach that land of happiness, she
wove strange dreams of what she would find there. For the chief
occupation of the child's mind was guessing at its nature. She had a
friend of her own age, Simone Adam, with whom she used often to discuss
these great subjects. Each brought to bear on them the light of her
twelve years' experience, conversations overheard and stolen reading. On
tip-toe, clinging to the crannies in the stones, the two little girls
strained to peer over the old wall which hid the future from them. But
it was all in vain, and it was idle for them to pretend that they could
see through the chinks: they could see nothing at all. They were both a
mixture of innocence, poetic salaciousness, and Parisian irony. They
used to say the most outrageous things without knowing it, and they were
always making mountains out of molehills. Jacqueline, who was always
prying, without anybody to find fault with her, used to burrow in all
her father's books. Fortunately, she was protected from coming to any
harm by her very innocence and her own young, healthy instincts: an
unduly described scene or a coarse word disgusted her at once: she would
drop the book at once, and she passed through the most infamous company,
like a frightened cat through puddles of dirty water,--without so much
as a splash.

As a rule, novels did not attract her: they were too precise, too dry.
But books of poetry used to make her heart flutter with emotion and hope
of finding the key to the riddle,--love-poems, of course. They coincided
to a certain extent with her childish outlook on things. The poets did
not see things as they were, they imagined them through the prism of
desire or regret: they seemed, like herself, to be peering through the
chinks of the old wall. But they knew much more, they knew all the
things which she was longing to know, and clothed them with sweet,
mysterious words, which she had to unravel with infinite care to find
... to find ... Ah! She could find nothing, but she was always sure that
she was on the very brink of finding it....

Their curiosity was indomitable. They would thrill as they whispered
verses of Alfred de Musset and Sully Prudhomme, into which they read
abyss on abyss of perversity: they used to copy them out, and ask each
other about the hidden meanings of passages, which generally contained
none. These little women of thirteen, who knew nothing of love, used, in
their innocent effrontery, to discuss, half in jest, half in earnest,
love and the sweets of love: and, in school, under the fatherly eye of
the master--a very polite and mild old gentleman--verses like the
following, which he confiscated one day, when they made him gasp:

  "Let, oh! let me clasp you in my arms,
   And in your kisses drink insensate love
   Drop by drop in one long draught...."

They attended lectures at a fashionable and very prosperous school, the
teachers of which were Masters of Art of the University. There they
found material for their sentimental aspirations. Almost all the girls
were in love with their masters. If they were young and not too ugly,
that was quite enough for them to make havoc of their pupils'
hearts--who would work like angels to please their sultan. And they
would weep when he gave them bad marks in their examinations: though
they did not care when anybody else did the same. If he praised them,
they would blush and go pale by turns, and gaze at him coquettishly in
gratitude. And if he called them aside to give them advice or pay them a
compliment, they were in Paradise. There was no need for him to be an
eagle to win their favor. When the gymnastic instructor took Jacqueline
in his arms to lift her up to the trapeze, she would be in ecstasies.
And what furious emulation there was between them! How coaxingly and
with what humility they would make eyes at the master to attract his
attention from a presumptuous rival! At lectures, when he opened his
lips to speak, pens and pencils would be hastily produced to take down
what he said. They made no attempt to understand: the chief thing was
not to lose a syllable. And while they went on writing and writing
without ceasing, with stealthy glances to take in their idol's play of
expression and gestures, Jacqueline and Simone would whisper to each
other:

"Do you think he would look nice in a tie with blue spots?"

Then they had a chromo-lithographic ideal, based on romantic and
fashionable books of verses, and poetic fashion-plates,--they fell in
love with actors, virtuosi, authors, dead and alive--Mounet-Sully,
Samain, Debussy,--they would exchange glances with young men at concerts,
or in a drawing-room, or in the street, and at once begin to weave
fanciful and passionate love-affairs,--they could not help always
wanting to fall in love, to have their lives filled with a love-affair,
to find some excuse for being in love. Jacqueline and Simone used to
confide everything to each other: proof positive that they did not feel
anything much: it was the best sort of preventive to keep them from ever
having any deep feeling. On the other hand, it became a sort of chronic
illness with them: they were the first to laugh at it, but they used
lovingly to cultivate it. They excited each other. Simone was more
romantic and more cautious, and used to invent wilder stories. But
Jacqueline, being more sincere and more ardent, came nearer to realizing
them. She was twenty times on the brink of the most hopeless
folly.--However, she did not commit herself, as is the way with young
people. There are times when these poor little crazy creatures--(such as
we have all been)--are within an ace, some of suicide, others of
flinging themselves into the arms of the first man who comes along.
Only, thank God, almost all of them stop short at that. Jacqueline wrote
countless rough drafts of passionate letters to men whom she hardly knew
by sight: but she never sent any of them, except one enthusiastic
letter, unsigned, to an ugly, vulgar, selfish critic, who was as
cold-hearted as he was narrow-minded. She fell in love with him over a
few lines in which she had discovered a rare wealth of sensibility. She
was fired also by a great actor, who lived near her: whenever she passed
his door she used to say to herself:

"Shall I go in?"
And once she made so bold as to go up to the door of his flat. When she
found herself there, she turned and fled. What could she have talked to
him about? She had nothing, nothing at all to say to him. She did not
love him. And she knew it. In the greater part of her folly she was
deceiving herself. And for the rest it was the old, old, delicious,
stupid need of being in love. As Jacqueline was naturally intelligent,
she knew that quite well, and it kept her from making a fool of herself.
A fool who knows his folly is worth two who don't.

She went out a good deal. There were many young men who felt her charm,
and more than one of them was in love with her. She did not care what
harm she did. A pretty girl makes a cruel game of love. It seems to her
quite natural that she should be loved, and never considers that she
owes anything to those who love her: she is apt to believe that her
lover is happy enough in loving her. It must be said, by way of excuse,
that she has no idea of what love is, although she thinks of nothing
else all day long. One is inclined to think that a young girl in
society, brought up in the hot-house atmosphere of a great town, would
be more precocious than a country girl: but the opposite is the case.
Her reading and conversation have made her obsessed by love, so obsessed
that in her idle life it often borders on mania: and sometimes it
happens that she has read the play beforehand, and knows it word for
word by heart. But she never feels it. In love, as in art, it is useless
to read what others have said: we can but say what we feel: and those
who make haste to speak before they have anything to say are as likely
as not to say nothing.

Jacqueline, like most young people, lived in an atmosphere clouded by
the dust of the feelings of others, which, while it kept her in a
perpetual fever, with her hands burning, and her throat dry, and her
eyes sore, prevented her seeing anything. She thought she knew
everything. It was not that she lacked the wish to know. She read and
listened. She had picked up a deal of information, here and there, in
scraps, from conversation and books. She even tried to read what was
written in herself. She was much better than the world in which she
lived, for she was more sincere.

There was one woman who had a good influence--only too brief--over her.
This was a sister of her father's, a woman of between forty and fifty,
who had never married. Tall, with regular features, though sad and
lacking in beauty, Marthe Langeais was always dressed in black: she had
a sort of stiff distinction of feature and movement: she spoke very
little, and she had a deep voice, almost like a man's. But for the clear
light in her intelligent gray eyes and the kind smile on her sad lips
she would have passed unnoticed.

She only appeared at the Langeais' on certain days, when they were
alone. Langeais had a great respect for her, though she bored him.
Madame Langeais made no attempt to disguise from her husband how little
pleasure his sister's visits gave her. However, they faced their duty,
and had her to dinner once a week, and they did not let it appear too
glaringly that they regarded it as a duty. Langeais used to talk about
himself, which she always found interesting. Madame Langeais would think
of something else, and, as a matter of habit, smile affably when she was
spoken to. The dinner always went off very well, and she was invariably
polite. Sometimes, even, she would be effusively affectionate when her
tactful sister-in-law went away earlier than she had hoped: and Madame
Langeais's charming smile would be most radiant when she had any
particularly pleasant memories to think of. Marthe saw through it all:
very little escaped her eyes: and she saw many things in her brother's
house which shocked and distressed her. But she never let it appear:
what was the good? She loved her brother, and had been proud of his
cleverness and success, like the rest of the family, who had not thought
the triumph of the eldest son too dear a price to pay for their poverty.
She, at least, had preserved her independence of opinion. She was as
clever as he was, and of a finer moral fiber, more virile--(as the women
of France so often are; they are much superior to the men),--and she knew
him through and through: and when he asked her advice she used to give
it frankly. But for a long time he had not asked it of her! He found it
more prudent not to know, or--(for he knew the truth as much as she
did),--to shut his eyes. She was proud, and drew aside. Nobody ever
troubled to look into her inward life, and it suited the others to
ignore her. She lived alone, went out very little, and had only a few
not very intimate friends. It would have been very easy to her to turn
her brother's influence and her own talents to account: but she did not
do so. She had written a few articles for the leading reviews in Paris,
historical and literary portraits, which had attracted some attention by
their sober, just, and striking style. But she had gone no farther. She
might have formed interesting friendships with certain distinguished men
and women, who had shown a desire to know her, whom also she would,
perhaps, have been glad to know. She did not respond to their advances.
Though she had a reserved seat for a theater when the program contained
music that she loved, she did not go: and though she had the opportunity
of traveling to a place where she knew that she would find much
pleasure, she preferred to stay at home. Her nature was a curious
compound of stoicism and neurasthenia, which, however, in no wise
impaired the integrity of her ideas. Her life was impaired, but not her
mind. An old sorrow, known only to herself, had left its mark on her
heart. And even more profound, even less suspected--unknown to herself,
was the secret illness which had begun to prey upon her. However, the
Langeais saw only the clear expression of her eyes, which sometimes made
them feel embarrassed.

Jacqueline used to take hardly any notice of her aunt in the days when
she was careless and gay--which was her usual condition when she was a
child. But when she reached the age at which there occurs a mysterious
change and growth in body and soul, which bring agony, disgust, terror,
and fearful moments of depression in their train, and moments of absurd,
horrible dizziness, which, happily, do not last, though they make their
victim feel at the point of death,--the child, sinking and not daring to
cry for help, found only her Aunt Marthe standing by her side and
holding out her hand. Ah! the others were so far away! Her father and
mother were as strangers to her, with their selfish affection, too
satisfied with themselves to think of the small troubles of a doll of
fourteen! But her aunt guessed them, and comforted her. She did not say
anything. She only smiled: across the table she exchanged a kindly
glance with Jacqueline, who felt that her aunt understood her, and she
took refuge by her side. Marthe stroked Jacqueline's head and kissed
her, and spoke no word.

The little girl trusted her. When her heart was heavy she would go and
see her friend, who would know and understand as soon as she arrived;
she would be met always with the same indulgent eyes, which would infect
her with a little of their own tranquillity. She told her aunt hardly
anything about her imaginary love-affairs: she was ashamed of them, and
felt that there was no truth in them. But she confessed all the vague,
profound uneasiness that was in her, and was more real, her only real
trouble.

"Aunt," she would sigh sometimes, "I do so long to be happy!"

"Poor child!" Marthe would say, with a smile.

Jacqueline would lay her head in her aunt's lap, and kiss her hands as
they caressed her face:

"Do you think I shall be happy? Aunt, tell me; do you think I shall be
happy?"

"I don't know, my dear. It rather depends on yourself.... People can
always be happy if they want to be."

Jacqueline was incredulous.

"Are you happy?"

Marthe smiled sadly: "Yes."

"No? Really? Are you happy?"

"Don't you believe it?"

"Yes. But...."

Jacqueline stopped short.

"What is it?"

"I want to be happy, but not like you."

"Poor child! I hope so, too!" said Marthe.

"No." Jacqueline went on shaking her head decisively. "But I couldn't
be."

"I should not have thought it possible, either. Life teaches one to be
able to do many things."

"Oh! But I don't want to learn," protested Jacqueline anxiously. "I want
to be happy in the way I want."

"You would find it very hard to say how!"

"I know quite well what I want."

She wanted many things. But when it came to saying what they were, she
could only mention one, which recurred again and again, like a refrain:

"First of all, I want some one to love me."
Marthe went on sewing without a word. After a moment she said:

"What good will it be to you if you do not love?"

Jacqueline was taken aback, and exclaimed:

"But, aunt, of course I only mean some one I loved! All the rest don't
count."

"And suppose you did not love anybody?"

"The idea! One loves always, always."

Marthe shook her head doubtfully.

"No," she said. "We don't love. We want to love. Love is the greatest
gift of God. Pray to Him that He may grant it you."

"But suppose my love is not returned?"

"Even if your love is not returned, you will be all the happier."

Jacqueline's face fell: she pouted a little:

"I don't want that," she said. "It wouldn't give me any pleasure."

Marthe laughed indulgently, looked at Jacqueline, sighed, and then went
on with her work.

"Poor child!" she said once more.

"Why do you keep on saying: 'Poor child'?" asked Jacqueline uneasily. "I
don't want to be a poor child. I want--I want so much to be happy!"

"That is why I say: 'Poor child!'"

Jacqueline sulked for a little. But it did not last long. Marthe laughed
at her so kindly that she was disarmed. She kissed her, pretending to be
angry. But in their hearts children of that age are secretly flattered
by predictions of suffering in later life, which is so far away. When it
is afar off there is a halo of poetry round sorrow, and we dread nothing
so much as a dull, even life.

Jacqueline did not notice that her aunt's face was growing paler and
paler. She observed that Marthe was going out less and less, but she
attributed it to her stay-at-home disposition, about which she used
often to tease her. Once or twice, when she called, she had met the
doctor coming out. She had asked her aunt:

"Are you ill?"

Marthe replied:

"It's nothing."

But now she had even given up her weekly dinner at the Langeais'.
Jacqueline was hurt, and went and reproached her bitterly.

"My dear," said Marthe gently, "I am rather tired."

But Jacqueline would not listen to anything. That was a poor sort of
excuse!

"It can't be very exhausting for you to come to our house for a couple
of hours a week! You don't love me," she would say. "You love nothing
but your own fireside."

But when at home she proudly told them how she had scolded her aunt,
Langeais cut her short with:

"Let your aunt be! Don't you know that the poor creature is very ill!"

Jacqueline grew pale: and in a trembling voice she asked what was the
matter with her aunt. They tried not to tell her. Finally, she found out
that Marthe was dying of cancer: she had had it for some months.

For some days Jacqueline lived in a state of terror. She was comforted a
little when she saw her aunt. Marthe was mercifully not suffering any
great pain. She still had her tranquil smile, which in her thin
transparent face seemed to shine like the light of an inward lamp.
Jacqueline said to herself:

"No. It is impossible. They must be mistaken. She would not be so
calm...."

She went on with the tale of her little confidences, to which Marthe
listened with more interest than heretofore. Only, sometimes, in the
middle of a conversation, her aunt would leave the room, without giving
any sign to show that she was in pain: and she would not return until
the attack was over, and her face had regained its serenity. She did not
like anybody to refer to her condition, and tried to hide it: she had a
horror of the disease that held her in its grip, and would not think of
it: all her efforts were directed towards preserving the peace of her
last months. The end came sooner than it was expected. Very soon she saw
nobody but Jacqueline. Then Jacqueline's visits had to be curtailed.
Then came the day of parting. Marthe was lying in her bed, which she had
not left for some weeks, when she took a tender farewell of her little
friend with a few gentle, comforting words. And then she shut herself
up, to die.

Jacqueline passed through months of despair. Marthe's death came at the
same time as the very worst hours of her moral distress, against which
Marthe had been the only person who could help her. She was horribly
deserted and alone. She needed the support of a religion. There was
apparently no reason why she should have lacked that support: she had
always been made to practise the duties of religion: her mother
practised them regularly. But that was just the difficulty: her mother
practised them, but her Aunt Marthe did not. And how was she to avoid
comparison? The eyes of a child are susceptible to many untruths, to
which her elders never give a thought, and children notice many
weaknesses and contradictions. Jacqueline noticed that her mother and
those who said that they believed had as much fear of death as though
there had been no faith in them. No: religion was not a strong enough
support.... And in addition there were certain personal experiences,
feelings of revolt and disgust, a tactless confessor who had hurt
her.... She went on practising, but without faith, just as she paid
calls, because she had been well brought up. Religion, like the world,
seemed to her to be utterly empty. Her only stay was the memory of the
dead woman, in which she was wrapped up. She had many grounds for
self-reproach in her treatment of her aunt, whom in her childish
selfishness she had often neglected, while now she called to her in
vain. She idealized her image: and the great example which Marthe had
left upon her mind of a profound life of meditation helped to fill her
with distaste for the life of the world, in which there was no truth or
serious purpose. She saw nothing but its hypocrisy, and those amiable
compromises, which at any other time would have amused her, now revolted
her. She was in a condition of moral hypersensitiveness, and everything
hurt her: her conscience was raw. Her eyes were opened to certain facts
which hitherto had escaped her in her heedlessness.

One afternoon she was in the drawing-room with her mother. Madame
Langeais was receiving a caller,--a fashionable painter, a good-looking,
pompous man, who was often at the house, but not on terms of intimacy.
Jacqueline had a feeling that she was in the way, but that only made her
more determined to stay. Madame Langeais was not very well; she had a
headache, which made her a little dull, or perhaps it was one of those
headache preventives which the ladies of to-day eat like sweets, so that
they have the result of completely emptying their pretty heads, and she
was not very guarded in what she said. In the course of the conversation
she thoughtlessly called her visitor:

"My dear...."

She noticed the slip at once. He did not flinch any more than she, and
they went on talking politely. Jacqueline, who was pouring out tea, was
so amazed that she almost dropped a cup. She had a feeling that they
were exchanging a meaning smile behind her back. She turned and
intercepted their privy looks, which were immediately disguised.--The
discovery upset her completely. Though she had been brought up with the
utmost freedom, and had often heard and herself laughed and talked about
such intrigues, it hurt her so that she could hardly bear it when she
saw that her mother.... Her mother: no, it was not the same thing!...
With her habitual exaggeration she rushed from one extreme to the
other. Till then she had suspected nothing. Thereafter she suspected
everything. Implacably she read new meanings into this and that detail
of her mother's behavior in the past. And no doubt Madame Langeais's
frivolity furnished only too many grounds for her suppositions: but
Jacqueline added to them. She longed to be more intimate with her
father, who had always been nearer to her, his quality of mind having a
great attraction for her. She longed to love him more, and to pity him.
But Langeais did not seem to stand in much need of pity: and a
suspicion, more dreadful even than the first, crossed the girl's heated
imagination,--that her father knew nothing, but that it suited him to
know nothing, and that, so long as he were allowed to go his own way, he
did not care.

Then Jacqueline felt that she was lost. She dared not despise them. She
loved them. But she could not go on living in their house. Her
friendship with Simone Adam was no help at all. She judged severely the
foibles of her former boon companion. She did not spare herself:
everything that was ugly and mediocre in herself made her suffer
terribly: she clung desperately to the pure memory of Marthe. But that
memory was fading: she felt that the stream of time, one day following
another, would cover it up and wash away all trace of it. And then there
would be an end of everything: she would be like the rest, sunk deep in
the mire.... Oh! if she could only escape from, such a world, at any
cost! Save me! Save me!...

It was just when she was in this fever of despair, feeling her utter
destitution, filled with passionate disgust and mystic expectancy,
holding out her arms to an unknown saviour, that she met Olivier.

Madame Langeais, of course, invited Christophe, who, that winter, was
the musician of the hour. Christophe accepted, and, as usual, did not
take any trouble to make himself pleasant. However, Madame Langeais
thought him charming;--he could do anything he liked, as long as he was
the fashion: everybody would go on thinking him charming, while the
fashion ran its allotted course of a few months.--Jacqueline, who, for
the time being, was outside the current, was not so charmed with him:
the mere fact that Christophe was belauded by certain people was enough
to make her diffident about him. Besides, Christophe's bluntness, and
his loud way of speaking, and his noisy gaiety, offended her. In her
then state of mind the joy of living seemed a coarse thing to her: her
eyes were fixed on the twilight melancholy of the soul, and she fancied
that she loved it. There was too much sunlight in Christophe.

But when she talked to him he told her about Olivier: he always had to
bring his friend into every pleasant thing that happened to him: it
would have seemed to him a selfish use of a new friendship if he had not
set aside a part of it for Olivier. He told Jacqueline so much about
him, that she felt a secret emotion in thus catching a glimpse of a soul
so much in accordance with her ideas, and made her mother invite him
too. Olivier did not accept at first, so that Christophe and Jacqueline
were left to complete their imaginary portrait of him at their leisure,
and, of course, he was found to be very like it when at last he made up
his mind to go.

He went, but hardly spoke a word. He did not need to speak. His
intelligent eyes, his smile, his refined manners, the tranquillity that
was in and inundated by his personality, could not but attract
Jacqueline. Christophe, by contrast, stood as a foil to Olivier's
shining qualities. She did not show anything, for she was fearful of the
feeling stirring in her: she confined herself to talking to Christophe,
but it was always about Olivier. Christophe was only too happy to talk
about his friend, and did not notice Jacqueline's pleasure in the
subject of their conversation. He used to talk about himself, and she
would listen agreeably enough, though she was not in the least
interested: then, without seeming to do so, she would bring the
conversation round to those episodes in his life which included Olivier.

Jacqueline's pretty ways were dangerous for a man who was not on his
guard. Without knowing it Christophe fell in love with her: it gave him
pleasure to go to the house again: he took pains with his dress: and a
feeling, which he well knew, began to tinge all his ideas with its
tender smiling languor. Olivier was in love with her too, and had been
from their first meeting: he thought she had no regard for him, and
suffered in silence. Christophe made his state even worse by telling him
joyously, as they left the Langeais' house, what he had said to
Jacqueline and what she had said to him. The idea never occurred to
Olivier that Jacqueline should like him. Although, by dint of living
with Christophe, he had become more optimistic, he still distrusted
himself: he could not believe that any woman would ever love him, for he
saw himself too clearly, and with eyes that saw too truthfully:--what
man is there would be worthy to be loved; if it were for his merits, and
not by the magic and indulgence of love?

One evening when he had been invited to the Langeais', he felt that it
would make him too unhappy to feel Jacqueline's indifference: he said
that he was too tired and told Christophe to go without him. Christophe
suspected nothing, and went off in high delight. In his naïve egoism he
thought only of the pleasure of having Jacqueline all to himself. He was
not suffered to rejoice for long. When she heard that Olivier was not
coming, Jacqueline at once became peevish, irritable, bored, and
dispirited: she lost all desire to please: she did not listen to
Christophe, and answered him at random: and he had the humiliation of
seeing her stifle a weary yawn. She was near tears. Suddenly she went
away in the middle of the evening, and did not appear again.

Christophe went home discomfited. All the way home he tried to explain
this sudden change of front: and the truth began dimly to dawn on him.
When he reached his rooms he found Olivier waiting for him, and then,
with a would-be indifferent air, Olivier asked him about the party.
Christophe told him of his discomfiture, and he saw Olivier's face
brighten as he went on.

"Still tired?" he asked. "Why didn't you go to bed?"

"Oh! I'm much better," said Olivier. "I'm not the least tired now."

"Yes," said Christophe slyly, "I fancy it has done you a lot of good not
going."

He looked at him affectionately and roguishly, and went away into his
own room: and then, when he was alone, he began to laugh quietly, and
laughed until he cried:

"Little minx!" he thought. "She was making a game of me! And he was
deceiving me, too. What a secret they made of it!"

From that moment he plucked out every personal thought of Jacqueline
from his heart: and, like a broody hen hatching her eggs, he hatched the
romance of the young lovers. Without seeming to know their secret, and
without betraying either to the other, he helped them, though they never
knew it.

He thought it his solemn duty to study Jacqueline's character to see if
Olivier could be happy with her. And, being very tactless, he horrified
Jacqueline with the ridiculous questions he put to her about her tastes,
her morality, etc., etc.

"Idiot! What does he mean?" Jacqueline would think angrily, and refuse
to answer him, and turn her back on him.

And Olivier would be delighted to see Jacqueline paying no more
attention to Christophe. And Christophe would be overjoyed at seeing
Olivier's happiness. His joy was patent, and revealed itself much more
obstreperously than Olivier's. And as Jacqueline could not explain it,
and never dreamed that Christophe had a much clearer knowledge of their
love than she had herself, she thought him unbearable: she could not
understand how Olivier could be so infatuated with such a vulgar,
cumbersome friend. Christophe divined her thoughts, and took a malicious
delight in infuriating her: then he would step aside, and say that he
was too busy to accept the Langeais' invitations, so as to leave
Jacqueline and Olivier alone together.

However, he was not altogether without anxiety concerning the future. He
regarded himself as responsible in a large measure for the marriage that
was in the making, and he worried over it, for he had a fair insight
into Jacqueline's character, and he was afraid of many things: her
wealth first of all, her up-bringing, her surroundings, and, above all,
her weakness. He remembered his old friend Colette, though, no doubt, he
admitted that Jacqueline was truer, more frank, more passionate: there
was in the girl an ardent aspiration towards a life of courage, an
almost heroic desire for it.

"But desiring isn't everything," thought Christophe, remembering a jest
of Diderot's: "the chief thing is a straight backbone."

He would have liked to warn Olivier of the danger. But when he saw him
come back from being with Jacqueline, with his eyes lit with joy, he had
not the heart to speak, and he thought:

"The poor things are happy. I won't disturb their happiness."

Gradually his affection for Olivier made him share his friend's
confidence. He took heart of grace, and at last began to believe that
Jacqueline was just as Olivier saw her and as she wished to appear in
her own eyes. She meant so well! She loved Olivier for all the qualities
which made him different from herself and the world she lived in:
because he was poor, because he was uncompromising in his moral ideas,
because he was awkward and shy in society. Her love was so pure and so
whole that she longed to be poor too, and, sometimes, almost ... yes,
almost to be ugly, so that she might be sure that he loved her for
herself, and for the love with which her heart was so full, the love for
which her heart was so hungry.... Ah! Sometimes, when he was not with
her, she would go pale and her hands would tremble. She would seem to
scoff at her emotion, and pretend to be thinking of something else, and
to take no notice of it. She would talk mockingly of things. But
suddenly she would break off, and rush away and shut herself up in her
room: and then, with the doors locked, and the curtains drawn over the
window, she would sit there, with her knees tight together, and her
elbows close against her sides, and her arms folded across her breast,
while she tried to repress the beating of her heart: she would sit there
huddled together, never stirring, hardly breathing: she dared not move
for fear lest her happiness should escape if she so much as lifted a
finger. She would sit holding her love close, close to her body in
silence.

And now Christophe was absolutely determined that Olivier should succeed
in his wooing. He fussed round him like a mother, supervised his
dressing, presumed to give him advice as to what he should wear, and
even--(think of it!)--tied his tie for him. Olivier bore with him
patiently at the cost of having to retie his tie on the stairs when
Christophe was no longer present. He smiled inwardly, but he was touched
by such great affection. Besides, his love had made him timid, and he
was not sure of himself, and was glad of Christophe's advice. He used to
tell him everything that happened when he was with Jacqueline, and
Christophe would be just as moved by it as himself, and sometimes at
night he would lie awake for hours trying to find the means of making
the path of love smoother for his friend.

It was in the garden of the Langeais' villa, near Paris, on the
outskirts of the forest of Isle-Adam, that Olivier and Jacqueline had
the interview which was the turning-point in their lives.

Christophe had gone down with his friend, but he had found a harmonium
in the house, and sat playing so as to leave the lovers to walk about
the garden in peace.--Truth to tell, they did not wish it. They were
afraid to be left alone. Jacqueline was silent and rather hostile. On
his last visit Olivier had been conscious of a change in her manner, a
sudden coldness, an expression in her eyes which was strange, hard, and
almost inimical. It froze him. He dared not ask her for an explanation,
for he was fearful of hearing cruel words on the lips of the girl he
loved. He trembled whenever he saw Christophe leave them, for it seemed
to him that his presence was his only safeguard against the blow which
threatened to fall upon him.

It was not that Jacqueline loved Olivier less. Rather she was more in
love with him, and it was that that made her hostile. Love, with which
till then she had only played, love, to which she had so often called,
was there, before her eyes: she saw it gaping before her like an abyss,
and she flung back in terror: she could not understand it, and wondered:

"Why? Why? What does it mean?"

Then she would look at Olivier with the expression which so hurt him,
and think:

"Who is this man?"

And she could not tell. He was a stranger.

"Why do I love him?"

She could not tell.

"Do I love him?"

She could not tell.... She did not know: and yet she knew that she was
caught: she was in the toils of love: she was on the point of losing
herself in love, losing herself utterly; her will, her independence, her
egoism, her dreams of the future, all were to be swallowed up by the
monster. And she would harden herself in anger, and sometimes she would
feel that she almost hated Olivier.

They went to the very end of the garden, into the kitchen-garden, which
was cut off from the lawns by a hedge of tall trees. They sauntered down
the paths bordered on either side with gooseberry bushes, with their
clusters of red and golden fruit, and beds of strawberries, the
fragrance of which scented the air. It was June: but there had been
storms, and the weather was cold. The sky was gray and the light dim:
the low-hanging clouds moved in a heavy mass, drifting with the wind,
which blew only in the higher air, and never touched the earth; no leaf
stirred: but the air was very fresh. Everything was shrouded in
melancholy, even their hearts, swelling with the grave happiness that
was in them. And from the other end of the garden, through the open
windows of the villa, out of sight, there came the sound of the
harmonium, grinding out the Fugue in E Flat Minor of Johann Sebastian
Bach. They sat down on the coping of a well, both pale and silent. And
Olivier saw tears trickling down Jacqueline's cheeks.

"You are crying?" he murmured, with trembling lips.

And the tears came to his own eyes.

He took her hand. She laid her head on Olivier's shoulder. She gave up
the struggle: she was vanquished, and it was such sweet comfort to her!
... They wept silently as they sat listening to the music under the
moving canopy of the heavy clouds, which in their noiseless flight
seemed to skim the tops of the trees. They thought of all that they had
suffered, and perhaps--who knows?--of all that they were to suffer in
the future. There are moments when music summons forth all the sadness
woven into the woof of a human being's destiny....

After a moment or two Jacqueline dried her eyes and looked at Olivier.
And suddenly they kissed. O boundless happiness! Religious happiness!
So sweet and so profound that it is almost sorrow!

[Illustration: Musical notation]

Jacqueline asked:

"Was your sister like you?"

Olivier felt a sudden pang. He said:

"Why do you ask me about her? Did you know her?"

She replied:

"Christophe told me.... You have suffered?"

Olivier nodded: he was too much moved to speak.

"I have suffered too," she said.

She told him of the friend who had been taken from her, her beloved
Marthe and with her heart big with emotion she told him how she had
wept, wept until she thought she was going to die.

"You will help me?" she said, in a beseeching tone. "You will help me
to live, and be good, and to be a little like her? Poor Marthe, you will
love her too?"

"We will love them both, as they both love each other."

"I wish they were here."

"They are here."

They sat there locked in each other's arms: they hardly breathed, and
could feel heart beating to heart. A gentle drizzle was falling,
falling. Jacqueline shivered.

"Let us go in," she said.

Under the trees it was almost dark. Olivier kissed Jacqueline's wet
hair: she turned her face up to him, and, for the first time, he felt
loving lips against his, a girl's lips, warm and parted a little. They
were nigh swooning.

Near the house they stopped once more:

"How utterly alone we were!" he said.

He had already forgotten Christophe.

They remembered him at length. The music had stopped. They went in.
Christophe was sitting at the harmonium with his head in his hands,
dreaming, he too, of many things in the past. When he heard the door
open, he started from his dream, and turned to them affectionately with
a solemn, tender smile lighting up his face. He saw in their eyes what
had happened, pressed their hands warmly, and said:

"Sit down, and I'll play you something."

They sat down, and he played the piano, telling in music all that was in
his heart, and the great love he had for them. When he had done they all
three sat in silence. Then he got up and looked at them. He looked so
kind, and so much older, so much stronger than they! For the first time
she began to appreciate what he was. He hugged them both, and said to
Jacqueline:

"You will love him dearly, won't you? You will love him dearly?"

They were filled with gratitude towards him. But at once he turned the
conversation, laughed, went to the window, and sprang out into the
garden.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the days following he kept urging Olivier to go and propose his
suit to Jacqueline's parents. Olivier dared not, dreading the refusal
which he anticipated. Christophe also insisted on his setting about
finding work, for even supposing the Langeais accepted him, he could not
take Jacqueline's fortune unless he were himself in a position to earn
his living. Olivier was of the same opinion, though he did not share his
violent and rather comic distrust of wealthy marriages. It was a rooted
idea in Christophe's mind that riches are death to the soul. It was on
the tip of his tongue to quote the saying of a wise beggar to a rich
lady who was worried in her mind about the next life:

"What, madame, you have millions, and you want to have an immortal soul
into the bargain?"

"Beware of women," he would say to Olivier--half in jest, half in
earnest--"beware of women, but be twenty times more wary of rich women.
Women love art, perhaps, but they strangle the artist. Rich women poison
both art and artists. Wealth is a disease. And women are more
susceptible to it than men. Every rich man is an abnormal being.... You
laugh? You don't take me seriously? Look you: does a rich man know what
life is? Does he keep himself in touch with the raw realities of life?
Does he feel on his face the stinging breath of poverty, the smell of
the bread that he must earn, of the earth that he must dig? Can he
understand, does he even see people and things as they are?... When I
was a little boy I was once or twice taken for a drive in the Grand
Duke's landau. We drove through fields in which I knew every blade of
grass, through woods that I adored, where I used to run wild all by
myself. Well: I saw nothing at all. The whole country had become as
stiff and starched as the idiots with whom I was driving. Between the
fields and my heart there was not only the curtain of the souls of those
formal people. The wooden planks beneath my feet, the moving platform
being rolled over the face of Nature, were quite enough. To feel that
the earth is my mother, I must have my feet firmly planted on her womb,
like a newborn child issuing to the light. Wealth severs the tie which
binds men to the earth, and holds the sons of the earth together. And
then how can you expect to be an artist? The artist is the voice of the
earth. A rich man cannot be a great artist. He would need a thousand
times more genius to be so under such unfavorable conditions. Even if he
succeeds his art must be a hot-house fruit. The great Goethe struggled
in vain: parts of his soul were atrophied, he lacked certain of the
vital organs, which were killed by his wealth. You have nothing like the
vitality of a Goethe, and you would be destroyed by wealth, especially
by a rich woman, a fate which Goethe did at least avoid. Only the man
can withstand the scourge. He has in him such native brutality, such a
rich deposit of rude, healthy instincts binding him to the earth, that
he alone has any chance of escape. But the woman is tainted by the
poison, and she communicates the taint to others. She acquires a taste
for the reeking scent of wealth, and cannot do without it. A woman who
can be rich and yet remain sound in heart is a prodigy as rare as a
millionaire who has genius.... And I don't like monsters. Any one who
has more than enough to live on is a monster--a human cancer preying
upon the lives of the rest of humanity."

Olivier laughed:

"What do you want?" he said. "I can't stop loving Jacqueline because she
is not poor, or force her to become poor for love of me."

"Well, if you can't save her, at least save yourself. That's the best
way of saving her. Keep yourself pure. Work."

Olivier did not need to go to Christophe for scruples. He was even more
nicely sensitive than he in such matters. Not that he took Christophe's
diatribes against money seriously: he had been rich himself, and did not
loathe riches, and thought them a very good setting for Jacqueline's
pretty face. But it was intolerable to think that his love might in any
way be contaminated with an imputation of interest. He applied to have
his name restored to the University list. For the time being he could
not hope for anything better than a moderate post in a provincial
school. It was a poor wedding-present to give to Jacqueline. He told her
about it timidly. Jacqueline found it difficult at first to see his
point of view: she attributed it to an excessive pride, put into his
head by Christophe, and she thought it ridiculous: was it not more
natural between lovers to set no store by riches or poverty, and was it
not rather shabby to refuse to be indebted to her when it would give her
such great joy?... However, she threw herself in with Olivier's plans:
their austerity and discomfort were the very things that brought her
round, for she found in them an opportunity of gratifying her desire for
moral heroism. In her condition of proud revolt against her surroundings
which had been induced by the death of her aunt, and was exalted by her
love, she had gone so far as to deny every element in her nature which
was in contradiction to her mystic ardor: in all sincerity her whole
being was strained, like a bow, after an ideal of a pure and difficult
life, radiant with happiness.... The obstacles, the very smallness and
dullness of her future condition in life, were a joy to her. How good
and beautiful it would all be!...

Madame Langeais was too much taken up with herself to pay much attention
to what was going on about her. For some time past she had been thinking
of little outside her health: she spent her whole time in treating
imaginary illnesses, and trying one doctor after another: each of them
in turn was her saviour, and went on enjoying that position for a
fortnight: then it was another's turn. She would stay away from home for
months in expensive sanatoria, where she religiously carried out all
sorts of preposterous prescriptions to the letter. She had forgotten her
husband and daughter.

M. Langeais was not so indifferent, and had begun to suspect the existence
of the affair. His paternal jealousy made him feel it. He had
for Jacqueline that strange pure affection which many fathers feel for
their daughters, an elusive, indefinable feeling, a mysterious,
voluptuous, and almost sacred curiosity, in living once more in the
lives of fellow-creatures who are of their blood, who are themselves,
and are women. In such secrets of the heart there are many lights and
shadows which it is healthier to ignore. Hitherto it had amused him to
see his daughter making calfish young men fall in love with her: he
loved her so, romantic, coquettish, and discreet--(just as he was
himself).--But when he saw that this affair threatened to become more
serious, he grew anxious. He began by making fun of Olivier to
Jacqueline, and then he criticised him with a certain amount of
bitterness. Jacqueline laughed at first, and said:

"Don't say such hard things, father: you would find it awkward later on,
supposing I wanted to marry him."

M. Langeais protested loudly, and said she was mad: with the result that
she lost her head completely. He declared that he would never let her
marry Olivier. She vowed that she would marry him. The veil was rent. He
saw that he was nothing to her. In his fatherly egoism it had never
occurred to him, and he was angry. He swore that neither Olivier nor
Christophe should ever set foot inside his house again. Jacqueline lost
her temper, and one fine morning Olivier opened the door to admit a
young woman, pale and determined looking, who rushed in like a
whirlwind, and said:

"Take me away with you! My father and mother won't hear of it. I _will_
marry you. You must compromise me."

Olivier was alarmed though touched by it, and did not even try to argue
with her. Fortunately Christophe was there. Ordinarily he was the least
reasonable of men, but now he reasoned with them. He pointed out what a
scandal there would be, and how they would suffer for it. Jacqueline bit
her lip angrily, and said:

"Very well. We will kill ourselves."

So far from frightening Olivier, her threat only helped to make up his
mind to side with her. Christophe had no small difficulty in making the
crazy pair have a little patience: before taking such desperate measures
they might as well try others: let Jacqueline go home, and he would go
and see M. Langeais and plead their cause.

A queer advocate! M. Langeais nearly kicked him out on the first words
he said: but then the absurdity of the situation struck him, and it
amused him. Little by little the gravity of his visitor and his
expression of honesty and absolute sincerity began to make an
impression: however, he would not fall in with his contentions, and went
on firing ironical remarks at him. Christophe pretended not to hear:
but every now and then as a more than usually biting shaft struck home he
would stop and draw himself up in silence; then he would go on again.
Once he brought his fist down on the table with a thud, and said:

"I beg of you to believe that it has given me no pleasure to call on
you: I have to control myself to keep from retaliating on you for
certain things you have said: but I think it my duty to speak to you,
and I am doing so. Forget me, as I forget myself, and weigh well what I
am telling you."

M. Langeais listened: and when he heard of the project of suicide, he
shrugged his shoulders and pretended to laugh: but he was shaken. He was
too clever to take such a threat as a joke: he knew that he had to deal
with the insanity of a girl in love. One of his mistresses, a gay,
gentle creature, whom he had thought incapable of putting her boastful
threat into practice, had shot herself with a revolver before his eyes:
she did not kill herself at once, but the scene lived in his memory....
No, one can never be sure with women. He felt a pang at his heart....
"She wishes it? Very well: so be it, and so much the worse for her,
little fool!..." He would have granted anything rather than drive his
daughter to extremes. In truth he might have used diplomacy, and
pretended to give his consent to gain time, gently to wean Jacqueline
from Olivier. But doing so meant giving himself more trouble than he
could or would be bothered with. Besides, he was weak: and the mere fact
that he had angrily said "No!" to Jacqueline, now inclined him to say
"Yes." After all, what does one know of life? Perhaps the child was
right. The great thing was that they should love each other. M. Langeais
knew quite well that Olivier was a serious young man, and perhaps had
talent.... He gave his consent.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day before the marriage the two friends sat up together into the
small hours. They did not wish to lose the last hours of their dear life
together.--But already it was in the past. It was like those sad
farewells on the station platform when there is a long wait before the
train moves: one insists on staying, and looking and talking. But one's
heart is not in it: one's friend has already gone.... Christophe tried
to talk. He stopped in the middle of a sentence, seeing the absent look
in Olivier's eyes, and he said, with a smile:

"You are so far away!"

Olivier was confused and begged his pardon. It made him sad to realize
that his thoughts were wandering during the last intimate moments with
his friend. But Christophe pressed his hand, and said:

"Come, don't constrain yourself. I am happy. Go on dreaming, my boy."

They stayed by the window, leaning out side by side, and looking through
the darkness down into the garden. After some time Christophe said to
Olivier:

"You are running away from me. You think you can escape me? You are
thinking of your Jacqueline. But I shall catch you up. I, too, am
thinking of her."

"Poor old fellow," said Olivier, "and I was thinking of you! And
even...."

He stopped.

Christophe laughed and finished the sentence for him.

"... And even taking a lot of trouble over it!..."

       *       *       *       *       *

Christophe turned out very fine, almost smart, for the wedding. There
was no religious ceremony: neither the indifferent Olivier nor the
rebellious Jacqueline had wished it. Christophe had written a symphonic
fragment for the ceremony at the _mairie_, but at the last moment
he gave up the idea when he realized what a civil marriage is: he
thought such ceremonies absurd. People need to have lost both faith and
liberty before they can have any belief in them. When a true Catholic
takes the trouble to become a free-thinker he is not likely to endow a
functionary of the civil State with a religious character. Between God
and his own conscience there is no room for a State religion. The State
registers, it does not bind man and wife together.

The marriage of Olivier and Jacqueline was not likely to make Christophe
regret his decision. Olivier listened with a faintly ironical air of
aloofness to the Mayor ponderously fawning upon the young couple, and
the wealthy relations, and the witnesses who wore decorations.
Jacqueline did not listen: and she furtively put out her tongue at
Simone Adam, who was watching her: she had made a bet with her that
being "married" would not affect her in the least, and it looked as
though she would win it: it hardly seemed to occur to her that it was
she who was being married: the idea of it tickled her. The rest were
posing for the onlookers: and the onlookers were taking them all in. M.
Langeais was showing off: in spite of his sincere affection for his
daughter, he was chiefly occupied in taking stock of the guests to find
out whether he had left any gaps in his list of invitations. Only
Christophe was moved: not one of the rest, relations, bride, and
bridegroom, or the Mayor officiating, showed any emotion: he stood
gazing hungrily at Olivier, who did not look at him.

In the evening the young couple left for Italy. Christophe and M.
Langeais went with them to the station. They seemed happy, not at all
sorry to be going, and did not conceal their impatience for the train to
move. Olivier looked like a boy, and Jacqueline like a little girl....
What a tender, melancholy charm is in such partings! The father is a
little sad to see his child taken away by a stranger, and for what!...
and to see her go away from him forever. But they feel nothing but a new
intoxicating sense of liberty. There are no more hindrances to life:
nothing can stop them ever again: they seem to have reached the very
summit: now might they die readily, for they have everything, and
nothing to fear.... But soon they see that it was no more than a stage
in the journey. The road still lies before them, and winds round the
mountain: and there are very few who reach the second stage....

The train bore them away into the night. Christophe and M. Langeais went
home together. Christophe said with naive archness:

"Now we are both widowed!"

M. Langeais began to laugh. He liked Christophe now that he knew him
better. They said good-by, and went their ways. They were both unhappy,
with an odd mixture of sadness and sweetness. Sitting alone in his room
Christophe thought:

"The best of my soul is happy."

Nothing had been altered in Olivier's room. They had arranged that until
Olivier returned and settled in a new house his furniture and belongings
should stay with Christophe. It was as though he himself was still
present. Christophe looked at the portrait of Antoinette, placed it on
his desk, and said to it:

"My dear, are you glad?"

He wrote often--rather too often--to Olivier. He had a few vaguely
written letters, which were increasingly distant in tone. He was
disappointed, but not much affected by it. He persuaded himself that it
must be so, and he had no anxiety as to the future of their friendship.

His solitude did not trouble him. Far from it: he did not have enough of
it to suit his taste. He was beginning to suffer from the patronage of
the _Grand Journal_. Arsène Gamache had a tendency to believe that
he had proprietary rights in the famous men whom he had taken the
trouble to discover: he took it as a matter of course that their fame
should be associated with his own, much as Louis XIV. grouped Molière,
Le Brun, and Lulli about his throne. Christophe discovered that the
author of the _Hymn to Aegis_ was not more imperial or more of a
nuisance to art than his patron of the _Grand Journal_. For the
journalist, who knew no more about art than the Emperor, had opinions no
less decided about it: he could not tolerate the existence of anything
he did not like: he decreed that it was bad and pernicious: and he would
ruin it in the public interest. It is both comic and terrible to see
such coarse-grained uncultivated men of affairs presuming to control not
only politics and money, but also the mind, and offering it a kennel
with a collar and a dish of food, or, if it refuses, having the power to
let loose against it thousands of idiots whom they have trained into a
docile pack of hounds!--Christophe was not the sort of man to let
himself be schooled and disciplined. It seemed to him a very bad thing
that an ignoramus should take upon himself to tell him what he ought and
ought not to do in music: and he gave him to understand that art needed
a much more severe training than politics. Also, without any sort of
polite circumlocution, he declined a proposal that he should set to
music a libretto, which the author, a leading member of the staff of the
paper, was trying to place, while it was highly recommended by his
chief. It had the effect of cooling his relations with Gamache.

Christophe did not mind that in the least. Though he had so lately risen
from his obscurity, he was longing to return to it. He found himself
"exposed to that great light in which a man is lost among the many."
There were too many people bothering their heads about him. He pondered
these words of Goethe:

_"When a writer has attracted attention by a good piece of work, the
public tries to prevent his producing another.... The brooding talent is
dragged out into the hurly-burly of the world, in spite of itself,
because every one thinks he will be able to appropriate a part of
it."_

He shut his door upon the outside world, and began to seek the company
of some of his old friends in his own house. He revisited the Arnauds,
whom he had somewhat neglected. Madame Arnaud, who was left alone for
part of the day, had time to think of the sorrows of others. She thought
how empty Christophe's life must be now that Olivier was gone: and she
overcame her shyness so far as to invite him to dinner. If she had
dared, she would even have offered to go in from time to time and tidy
his rooms: but she was not bold enough: and no doubt it was better so:
for Christophe did not like to have people worrying about him. But he
accepted the invitation to dinner, and made a habit of going in to the
Arnauds' every evening.

He found them just as united, living in the same atmosphere of rather
sad, sorrowful tenderness, though it was even grayer than before, Arnaud
was passing through a period of depression, brought on by the wear and
tear of his life as a teacher,--a life of exhausting labor, in which one
day is like unto another, and each day's work is like that of the next,
like a wheel turning in one place, without ever stopping, or ever
advancing. Though he was very patient, the good man was passing through
a crisis of discouragement. He let certain acts of injustice prey upon
him, and was inclined to think that all his zeal was futile. Madame
Arnaud would comfort him with kind words: she seemed to be just as calm
and peaceful as in the old days: but her face was thinner. In her
presence Christophe would congratulate Arnaud on having such a sensible
wife.

"Yes," Arnaud would say, "she is a good little creature; nothing ever puts
her out. She is lucky: so am I. If she had suffered in this cursed
life, I don't see how I could have got through."

Madame Arnaud would blush and say nothing. Then in her even tones she
would talk of something else.--Christophe's visits had their usual good
effect: they brought light in their train: and he, for his part, found
it very pleasant to feel the warmth of their kind, honest hearts.

Another friend, a girl, came into his life. Or rather he sought her out:
for though she longed to know him, she could not have made the effort to
go and see him. She was a young woman of a little more than twenty-five,
a musician, and she had taken the first prize at the Conservatoire: her
name was Cécile Fleury. She was short and rather thick-set. She had
heavy eyebrows, fine, large eyes, with a soft expression, a short,
broad, turned-up nose, inclined to redness, like a duck's beak, thick
lips, kind and tender, an energetic chin, heavy and solid, and her
forehead was broad, but not high. Her hair was done up in a large bun at
the back of her neck. She had strong arms and a pianist's hands, very
long, with a splayed thumb and square finger-tips. The general
impression she gave was one of a rather sluggish vitality and of rude
rustic health. She lived with her mother, who was very dear to her: a
good, kind woman, who took not the smallest interest in music though she
used to talk about it, because she was always hearing about it, and knew
everything that happened in Musicopolis. She had a dull, even life, gave
lessons all day long, and sometimes concerts, of which nobody took any
notice. She used to go home late at night, on foot or in an omnibus,
worn out, but quite good-tempered: and she used to practise her scales
bravely and trim her own hats, talking a great deal, laughing readily,
and often singing for nothing.

She had not been spoiled by life. She knew the value of a little comfort
when she had earned it by her own efforts,--the joy of a little
pleasure, or a little scarcely perceptible advance in her position or
her work. Indeed, if one month she could only earn five francs more than
in the last, or if she could at length manage to play a certain passage
of Chopin which she had been struggling with for weeks,--she would be
quite happy. Her work, which was not excessive, exactly fitted her
aptitude for it, and gave her a healthy satisfaction. Playing, singing,
giving lessons gave her a pleasant feeling of satisfied activity, normal
and regular, and at the same time a modest competence and a comfortable
placid success. She had a healthy appetite, ate much, slept well, and
was never ill.

She was clear-headed, sensible, modest, perfectly balanced, and never
worried about anything: for she always lived in and for the present,
without bothering her head about what had happened or what was going to
happen in the future. And as she was always well, and as her life was
comparatively secure from the sudden turns of fate, she was almost
always satisfied. She took the same pleasure in practising her piano as
in keeping house, or talking about things domestic, or doing nothing.
She had the art of living, not from day to day--(she was economical and
provident)--but from minute to minute. She was not possessed of any sort
of idealism: the only ideal she had, if it could be called so, was
bourgeois, and was unostentatiously expressed in her every action, and
evenly distributed through every moment of the day: it consisted in
peacefully loving everything she was doing, whatever it might be. She
went to church on Sundays: but the feeling of religion had practically
no place in her life. She admired enthusiasts, like Christophe, who had
faith or genius: but she did not envy them: what could she have done
with their uneasiness and their genius?

How came it, then, that she could feel their music? She would have found
it hard to say. But it was very certain that she did feel it. She was
superior to other virtuosi by reason of her sturdy quality of balance,
physical and moral: in her abounding vitality, in the absence of
personal passion, the passions of others found a rich soil in which to
come to flower. She was not touched by them. She could translate in all
their energy the terrible passions which had consumed the artist without
being tainted by their poison: she only felt their force and the great
weariness that came after its expression. When it was over, she would be
all in a sweat, utterly exhausted: she would smile calmly and feel very
happy.

Christophe heard her one evening, and was struck by her playing. He went
and shook hands with her after the concert. She was grateful to him for
it: there were very few people at the concert, and she was not so used
to compliments as to take no delight in them. As she had never been
clever enough to throw in her lot with any musical coterie, or cunning
enough to surround herself with a group of worshipers, and as she never
attempted to make herself particular, either by technical mannerisms or
by a fantastic interpretation of the hallowed compositions, or by
assuming an exclusive right to play some particular master, such as
Johann Sebastian Bach, or Beethoven, and as she had no theories about
what she played, but contented herself with playing simply what she
felt--nobody paid any attention to her, and the critics ignored her: for
nobody told them that she played well, and they were not likely to find
it out for themselves.

Christophe saw a good deal of Cécile. Her strength and tranquillity
attracted him as a mystery. She was vigorous and apathetic. In his
indignation at her not being better known he proposed that he should get
his friends of the _Grand Journal_ to write about her. But although
she would have liked to be praised, she begged him not to do anything to
procure it. She did not want to have the struggle or the bother or the
jealousies it would entail: she wanted to be left in peace. She was not
talked about: so much the better! She was not envious, and she was the
first to be enthusiastic about the technique of other virtuosi. She had
no ambition, and no desire for anything. She was much too lazy in mind!
When she had not any immediate and definite work to do, she did nothing,
nothing; she did not even dream, not even at night, in bed: she either
slept or thought of nothing. She had not the morbid preoccupation with
marriage, which poisons the lives of girls who shiver at the thought of
dying old maids. When she was asked if she would not like to have a
husband, she would say:

"Why not throw in fifty thousand a year? One has to take what comes. If
any one offers, so much the better! If not, one goes without. Because
one can't have cake, I don't see why one shouldn't be glad of honest
bread. Especially when one has had to eat stale bread for so long!"

"Besides," her mother would say, "there are plenty of people who never
get any bread to eat at all!"

Cécile had good reason to fight shy of men. Her father, who had been
dead some years, was a weak, lazy creature: he had wronged his wife and
his family. She had also a brother who had turned out badly and did not
know what had become of him: every now and then he would turn up and ask
for money: she and her mother were afraid of him and ashamed of him, and
fearful of what they might hear about him any day: and yet they loved
him. Christophe met him once. He was at Cécile's house: there was a ring
at the door: and her mother answered it. He heard a conversation being
carried on in the next room, and the voices were raised every now and
then. Cécile seemed ill at ease, and went out also, leaving Christophe
alone. The discussion went on, and the stranger's voice assumed a
threatening tone: Christophe thought it time to intervene, and opened
the door. He hardly had time to do more than catch a glimpse of a young
and slightly deformed man, whose back was turned towards him, for Cécile
rushed towards him and implored him to go back. She went with him, and
they sat in silence. In the next room the visitor went on shouting for a
few minutes longer, and then took his leave and slammed the door. Then
Cécile sighed, and said to Christophe:

"Yes.... He is my brother."

Christophe understood:

"Ah!" he said.... "I know.... I have a brother, too...."

Cécile took his hand with an air of affectionate commiseration:

"You too?"

"Yes," he said.... "These are the joys of a family."

Cécile laughed, and they changed the conversation. No, the joys of a
family had no enchantment for her, nor had the idea of marriage any
fascination: men were rather a worthless lot on the whole. Her
independent life had many advantages: her mother had often sighed after
her liberty: she had no desire to lose it. The only day-dream in which
she indulged was that some day--Heaven knows when!--she would not have
to give lessons any more, and would be able to live in the county. But
she did not even take the trouble to imagine such a life in detail: she
found it too fatiguing to think of anything so uncertain: it was better
to sleep,--or do her work....

In the meanwhile, in default of her castle in Spain, she used to hire a
little house in the outskirts of Paris for the summer, and lived there
with her mother. It was twenty minutes' journey by train. The house was
some distance away from the station, standing alone in the midst of a
stretch of waste lands which were called "fields," and Cécile used often
to return late at night. But she was not afraid, and did not believe
there was any danger. She had a revolver, but she always used to leave
it at home. Besides, it was doubtful if she would have known how to use
it.

Sometimes, when he went to see her, Christophe would make her play. It
amused him to see her keen perception of the music, especially when he
had dropped a hint which put her on the track of a feeling that called
for expression. He had discovered that she had an excellent voice, but
she had no idea of it. He made her practise it, and would give her old
German _lieder_ or his own music to sing: it gave her pleasure, and
she made such progress as to surprise herself as much as him. She was
marvelously gifted. The fire of music had miraculously descended upon
this daughter of Parisian middle-class parents who were utterly devoid
of any artistic feeling. Philomela--(for so he used to call her)--used
sometimes to discuss music with Christophe, but always in a practical,
never in a sentimental, way: she seemed only to be interested in the
technique of singing and the piano. Generally, when they were together
and were not playing music, they talked of the most commonplace things,
and Christophe, who could not for a moment have tolerated such
conversations with an ordinary woman, would discuss these subjects as a
matter of course with Philomela.

They used to spend whole evenings alone together, and were genuinely
fond of each other, though their affection was perfectly calm and even
almost cold. One evening, when he had dined with her, and had stayed
talking longer than usual, a violent storm came on: she said:

"You can't go now! Stay until to-morrow morning."

He was fitted up with an improvised bed in the little sitting-room. Only
a thin partition was between it and Cécile's bedroom, and the doors were
not locked. As he lay there he could hear her bed creaking and her soft,
regular breathing. In five minutes she was asleep: and very soon he
followed her example without either of them having had the faintest
shadow of an uneasy thought.

At the same time there came into his life a number of other unknown
friends, drawn to him by reading his works. Most of them lived far away
from Paris or shut up in their homes, and never met him. Even a vulgar
success does a certain amount of good: it makes the artist known to
thousands of good people in remote corners whom he could never have
reached without the stupid articles in the papers. Christophe entered
into correspondence with some of them. There were lonely young men,
living a life of hardship, their whole being aspiring to an ideal of which
they were not sure, and they came greedily to slake their thirst
at the well of Christophe's brotherly spirit. There were humble people
in the provinces who read his _lieder_ and wrote to him, like old
Schulz, and felt themselves one with him. There were poor artists,--a
composer among others,--who had not, and could not attain, not only
success, but self-expression, and it made them glad to have their ideas
realized by Christophe. And dearest of all, perhaps,--there were those
who wrote to him without giving their names, and, being thus more free
to speak, naively laid bare their touching confidence in the elder
brother who had come to their assistance. Christophe's heart would grow
big at the thought that he would never know these charming people whom
it would have given him such joy to love: he would kiss some of these
anonymous letters as the writers of them kissed his _lieder_; and
each to himself would think:

"Dear written sheets, what a deal of good you have done me!"

So, according with the unvaried rhythm of the universe, there was formed
about him the little family of genius, grouped about him, giving him
food and taking it from him, which grows little by little, and in the
end becomes one great collective soul, of which he is the central fire,
like a gleaming world, a moral planet moving through space, mingling its
chorus of brotherhood with the harmony of the spheres.

And as these mysterious links were forged between Christophe and his
unseen friends, a revolution took place in his artistic faculty: it
became larger and more human. He lost all interest in music which was a
monologue, a soliloquy, and even more so in music which was a scientific
structure built entirely for the interest of the profession. He wished
his music to be an act of communion with other men. There is no vital
art save that which is linked with the rest of humanity. Johann Sebastian
Bach, even in his darkest hours of isolation, was linked with the rest
of humanity by his religious faith, which he expressed in his art.
Handel and Mozart, by dint of circumstances, wrote for an audience, and
not for themselves. Even Beethoven had to reckon with the multitude. It
is salutary. It is good for humanity to remind genius every now and then:

"What is there for us in your art? If there is nothing, out you go!"

In such constraint genius is the first to gain. There are, indeed, great
artists who express only themselves. But the greatest of all are those
whose hearts beat for all men. If any man would see the living God face
to face, he must seek Him, not in the empty firmament of his own brain,
but in the love of men.

The artists of that time were far removed from that love. They wrote
only for a more or less anarchical and vain group, uprooted from the
life of the country, who preened themselves on not sharing the
prejudices and passions of the rest of humanity, or else made a mock of
them. It is a fine sort of fame that is won by self-amputation from
life, so as to be unlike other men! Let all such artists perish! We will
go with the living, be suckled at the breasts of the earth, and drink in
all that is most profound and sacred in our people, and all its love
from the family and the soil. In the greatest age of liberty, among the
people with the most ardent worship of beauty, the young Prince of the
Italian Renaissance, Raphael, glorified maternity in his transteverine
Madonnas. Who is there now to give us in music a _Madonna à la
Chaise?_ Who is there to give us music meet for every hour of life?
You have nothing, you have nothing in France. When you want to give your
people songs, you are reduced to bringing up to date the German masters
of the past. In your art, from top to bottom, everything remains to be
done, or to be done again....

Christophe corresponded with Olivier, who was now settled in a provincial
town. He tried to maintain in correspondence that collaboration which had
been so fruitful during the time when they had lived together. He wanted
him to write him fine poetic words closely allied with the thoughts and
deeds of everyday life, like the poems which are the substance of the old
German _lieder_. Short fragments from the Scriptures and the Hindoo poems,
and the old Greek philosophers, short religious and moral poems, little
pictures of Nature, the emotions of love or family life, the whole poetry
of morning, evening, and night, that is in simple, healthy people. Four
lines or six are enough for a _lied_: only the simplest expressions, and
no elaborate development or subtlety of harmony. What have I to do with
your esthetic tricks? Love my life, help me to love it and to live it.
Write me the _Hours of France_, my _Great_ and _Small Hours_. And let us
together find the clearest melody. Let us avoid like the plague any
artistic language that belongs to a caste like that of so many writers,
and especially of so many French musicians of to-day. We must have the
courage to speak like men, and not like "artists." We must draw upon the
common fund of all men, and unashamedly make use of old formulae, upon
which the ages have set their seal, formulas which the ages have filled
with their spirit. Look at what our forefathers have done. It was by
returning to the musical language of all men that the art of the German
classics of the eighteenth century came into being. The melodies of Gluck
and the creators of the symphony are sometimes trivial and commonplace
compared with the subtle and erudite phrases of Johann Sebastian Bach and
Rameau. It is their raciness of the soil that gives such zest to, and has
procured such immense popularity for the German classics. They began with
the simplest musical forms, the _lied_ and the _Singspiel_, the little
flowers of everyday life which impregnated the childhood of men like
Mozart and Weber.--Do you do the same. Write songs for all and sundry.
Upon that basis you will soon build quartettes and symphonies. What is
the good of rushing ahead? The pyramids were not begun at the top. Your
symphonies at present are trunkless heads, ideas without any stuffing.
Oh, you fair spirits, become incarnate! There must be generations of
musicians patiently and joyously and piously living in brotherhood with
these people. No musical art was ever built in a day.

Christophe was not content to apply these principles in music: he urged
Olivier to set himself at the head of a similar movement in literature:

"The writers of to-day," he said, "waste their energy in describing
human rarities, or cases that are common enough in the abnormal groups
of men and women living on the fringe of the great society of active,
healthy human beings. Since they themselves have shut themselves off
from life, leave them and go where there are men. Show the life of every
day to the men and women of every day: that life is deeper and more vast
than the sea. The smallest among you bears the infinite in his soul. The
infinite is in every man who is simple enough to be a man, in the lover,
in the friend, in the woman who pays with her pangs for the radiant
glory of the day of childbirth, in every man and every woman who lives
in obscure self-sacrifice which will never be known to another soul: it
is the very river of life, flowing from one to another, from one to
another, and back again and round.... Write the simple life of one of
these simple men, write the peaceful epic of the days and nights
following, following one like to another, and yet all different, all
sons of the same mother, from the dawning of the first day in the life
of the world. Write it simply, as simple as its own unfolding. Waste no
thought upon the word, and the letter, and the subtle vain researches in
which the force of the artists of to-day is turned to nought. You are
addressing all men: use the language of all men. There are no words
noble or vulgar; there is no style chaste or impure: there are only
words and styles which say or do not say exactly what they have to say.
Be sound and thorough in all you do: think just what you think,--and
feel just what you feel. Let the rhythm of your heart prevail in your
writings! The style is the soul."

Olivier agreed with Christophe, but he replied rather ironically:

"Such a book would be fine: but it would never reach the people who
would care to read it. The critics would strangle it on the way."

"There speaks my little French bourgeois!" replied Christophe. "Worrying
his mind about what the critics will or will not think of his work!...
The critics, my boy, are only there to register victory or defeat. The
great thing is to be victor.... I have managed to get along without
them! You must learn how to disregard them, too...."

       *       *       *       *       *

But Olivier had learned how to disregard something entirely different!
He had turned aside from art, and Christophe, and everybody. At that
time he was thinking of nothing but Jacqueline, and Jacqueline was
thinking of nothing but him.

The selfishness of their love had cut them off from everything and
everybody: they were recklessly destroying all their future resources.

They were in the blind wonder of the first days, when man and woman,
joined together, have no thought save that of losing themselves in each
other.... With every part of themselves, body and soul, they touch and
taste and seek to probe into the very inmost depths. They are alone
together in a lawless universe, a very chaos of love, when the confused
elements know not as yet what distinguishes one from the other, and
strive greedily to devour each other. Each in other finds nothing save
delight: each in other finds another self. What is the world to them?
Like the antique Androgyne slumbering in his dream of voluptuous and
harmonious delights, their eyes are closed to the world, All the world
is in themselves....

O days, O nights, weaving one web of dreams, hours fleeting like the
floating white clouds in the heavens, leaving nought but a shimmering
wake in dazzled eyes, the warm wind breathing the languor of spring, the
golden warmth of the body, the sunlit arbor of love, shameless chastity,
embraces, and madness, and sighs, and happy laughter, happy tears, what
is there left of the lovers, thrice happy dust? Hardly, it seems, that
their hearts could ever remember to beat: for when they were one then
time had ceased to exist.

And all their days are one like unto another.... Sweet, sweet dawn....
Together, embracing, they issue from the abyss of sleep: they smile
and their breath is mingled, their eyes open and meet, and they kiss....
There is freshness and youth in the morning hours, a virgin air
cooling their fever.... There is a sweet languor in the endless day
still throbbing with the sweetness of the night.... Summer
afternoons, dreams in the fields, on the velvety sward, beneath the
rustling of the tall white poplars.... Dreams in the lovely evenings,
when, under the gleaming sky, they return, clasping each other, to the
house of their love. The wind whispers in the bushes. In the clear lake
of the sky hovers the fleecy light of the silver moon. A star falls and
dies,--hearts give a little throb--a world is silently snuffed out.
Swift silent shadows pass at rare intervals on the road near by. The
bells of the town ring in the morrow's holiday. They stop for a moment,
she nestles close to him, they stand so without a word.... Ah! if only
life could be so forever, as still and silent as that moment!... She
sighs and says:

"Why do I love you so much?..."

After a few weeks' traveling in Italy they had settled in a town in the
west of France, where Olivier had gained an appointment. They saw hardly
anybody. They took no interest in anything. When they were forced to pay
calls, their scandalous indifference was so open that it hurt some,
while it made others smile. Anything that was said to them simply made
no impression. They had the impertinently solemn manner common to young
married people, who seem to say:

"You people don't know anything at all...."

Jacqueline's pretty pouting face, with its absorbed expression,
Olivier's happy eyes that looked so far away, said only:

"If you knew how boring we find you!... When shall we be left alone?"

Even the presence of others could not embarrass them. It was hard not to
see their exchange of glances as they talked. They did not need to look
to see each other: and they would smile: for they knew that they were
thinking of the same things at the same time. When they were alone once
more, after having suffered the constraint of the presence of others,
they would shout for joy--indulge in a thousand childish pranks. They
would talk baby-language, and find grotesque nicknames for each other.
She used to call him Olive, Olivet, Olifant, Fanny, Mami, Mime, Minaud,
Quinaud, Kaunitz, Cosima, Cobourg, Panot, Nacot, Ponette, Naquet, and
Canot. She would behave like a little girl; but she wanted to be all
things at once to him, to give him every kind of love: mother, sister,
wife, sweetheart, mistress.

It was not enough for her to share his pleasures: as she had promised
herself, she shared his work: and that, too, was a game. At first she
brought to bear on it the amused ardor of a woman to whom work is
something new: she seemed really to take a pleasure in the most
ungrateful tasks, copying in the libraries, and translating dull books:
it was part of her plan of life, that it should be pure and serious, and
wholly consecrated to noble thoughts and work in common. And all went
well as long as the light of love was in them: for she thought only of
him, and not of what she was doing. The odd thing was that everything
she did in that way was well done. Her mind found no difficulty in
taking in abstract ideas, which at any other time of her life she would
have found it hard to follow: her whole being was, as it were, uplifted
from the earth by love; she did not know it; like a sleep-walker moving
easily over roofs, gravely and gaily, without seeing anything at all,
she lived on in her dream....

And then she began to see the roofs: but that did not give her any
qualms: only she asked what she was doing so high up, and became herself
again. Work bored her. She persuaded herself that it stood in the way of
her love: no doubt because her love had already become less ardent. But
there was no evidence of that. They could not bear to be out of each
other's sight. They shut themselves off from the world, and closed their
doors and refused all invitations. They were jealous of the affections
of other people, even of their occupations, of everything which
distracted them from their love. Olivier's correspondence with
Christophe dwindled. Jacqueline did not like it: he was a rival to her,
representing a part of Olivier's past life in which she had had no
share; and the more room he filled in Olivier's life, the more she
sought, instinctively, to rob him of it. Without any deliberate
intention, she gradually and steadily alienated Olivier from his friend:
she made sarcastic comments on Christophe's manners, his face, his way
of writing, his artistic projects: there was no malice in what she said,
nor slyness: she was too good-natured for that. Olivier was amused by
her remarks, and saw no harm in them: he thought he still loved
Christophe as much as ever, but he loved only his personality: and that
counts for very little in friendship: he did not see that little by
little he was losing his understanding of him, and his interest in his
ideas, and the heroic idealism in which they had been so united.... Love
is too sweet a joy for the heart of youth: compared with it, what other
faith can hold its ground? The body of the beloved and the soul that
breathes in it are all science and all faith. With what a pitying smile
does a lover regard the object of another's adoration and the things
which he himself once adored! Of all the might of life and its bitter
struggles the lover sees nothing but the passing flower, which he
believes must live forever.... Love absorbed Olivier. In the beginning
his happiness was not so great but it left him with the energy to
express it in graceful verse. Then even that seemed vain to him: it was
a theft of time from love. And Jacqueline also set to work to destroy
their every source of life, to kill the tree of life, without the
support of which the ivy of love must die. Thus in their happiness they
destroyed each other.

Alas! we so soon grow used to happiness! When selfish happiness is the
sole aim of life, life is soon left without an aim. It becomes a habit,
a sort of intoxication which we cannot do without. And how vitally
important it is that we should do without it.... Happiness is an instant
in the universal rhythm, one of the poles between which the pendulum of
life swings: to stop the pendulum it must be broken....

They knew the "boredom of well-being which sets the nerves on edge."
Their hours of sweetness dragged, drooped, and withered like flowers
without water. The sky was still blue for them, but there was no longer
the light morning breeze. All was still: Nature was silent. They were
alone, as they had desired.--And their hearts sank.

An indefinable feeling of emptiness, a vague weariness not without a
certain charm, came over them. They knew not what it was, and they were
darkly uneasy. They became morbidly sensitive. Their nerves, strained in
the close watching of the silence, trembled like leaves at the least
unexpected clash of life. Jacqueline was often in tears without any
cause for weeping, and although she tried hard to convince herself of
it, it was not only love that made them flow. After the ardent and
tormented years that had preceded her marriage the sudden stoppage of
her efforts as she attained--attained and passed--her end,--the sudden
futility of any new course of action--and perhaps of all that she had
done in the past,--flung her into a state of confusion, which she could
not understand, so that it appalled and crushed her. She would not allow
that it was so: she attributed it to her nerves, and pretended to laugh
it off: but her laughter was no less uneasy than her tears. She tried
bravely to take up her work again: but as soon as she began she could
not understand how she could ever have taken any interest in such stupid
things, and she flung them aside in disgust. She made an effort to pick
up the threads of her social life once more: but with no better success:
she had committed herself, and she had lost the trick of dealing with
the commonplace people and their commonplace remarks that are inevitable
in life: she thought them grotesque; and she flung back into her
isolation with her husband, and tried hard to persuade herself, as a
result of these unhappy experiences, that there was nothing good in the
world save love. And for a time she seemed really to be more in love
than ever. Olivier, being less passionate and having a greater store of
tenderness, was less susceptible to these apprehensions: only every now
and then he would feel a qualm of uneasiness. Besides, his love was
preserved in some measure by the constraint of his daily occupation, his
work, which was distasteful to him. But as he was highly strung and
sensitive, and everything that happened in the heart of the woman he
loved affected him also, Jacqueline's secret uneasiness infected him.

One fine afternoon they went for a walk together in the country. They
had looked forward to the walk eagerly and happily. All the world was
bright and gay about them. But as soon as they set out gloom and heavy
sadness descended upon them: they felt chilled to the heart. They could
find nothing to say to each other. However, they forced themselves to
speak, but every word they said rang hollowly, and made them feel the
emptiness of their lives at that moment. They finished their walk
mechanically, seeing nothing, feeling nothing. They returned home sick
at heart. It was twilight: their rooms were cold, black, and empty. They
did not light up at once, to avoid seeing each other. Jacqueline went
into her room, and, instead of taking off her hat and cloak, she sat in
silence by the window. Olivier sat, too, in the next room with his arms
resting on the table. The door was open between the two rooms; they were
so near that they could have heard each other's breathing. And in the
semi-darkness they both wept, in silence, bitterly. They held their
hands over their mouths, so that they should make no sound. At last, in
agony, Olivier said:

"Jacqueline...."

Jacqueline gulped down her sobs, and said:

"What is it?"

"Aren't you coming?"

"Yes, I'm coming."

She took off her hat and cloak, and went and bathed her eyes. He lit the
lamp. In a few minutes she came into the room. They did not look at each
other. Each knew that the other had been weeping. And they could not
console each other, for they knew not why it was.

Then came a time when they could no longer conceal their unhappiness.
And as they would not admit the true cause of it, they cast about for
another, and had no difficulty in finding it. They set it down to the
dullness of provincial life and their surroundings. They found comfort
in that. M. Langeais was informed of their plight by his daughter, and
was not greatly surprised to hear that she was beginning to weary of
heroism. He made use of his political friends, and obtained a post in
Paris for his son-in-law.

When the good news reached them, Jacqueline jumped for joy and regained
all her old happiness. Now that they were going to leave it, they found
that they were quite fond of the dull country: they had sown so many
memories of love in it! They occupied their last days in going over the
traces of their love. There was a tender melancholy in their pilgrimage.
Those calm stretches of country had seen them happy. An inward voice
murmured:

"You know what you are leaving behind you. Do you know what lies before
you?"

Jacqueline wept the day before they left. Olivier asked her why. She
would not say. They took a sheet of paper, and as they always did when
they were fearful of the sound of words, wrote:

"My dear, dear Olivier...."

"My dear, dear Jacqueline...."

"I am sorry to be going away."

"Going away from what?"

"From the place where we have been lovers."

"Going where?"

"To a place where we shall be older."

"To a place where we shall be together."

"But never so loving."

"Always more loving."

"Who can tell?"

"I know."

"I will be."

Then they drew two circles at the bottom of the paper for kisses. And
then she dried her tears, laughed, and dressed him up as a favorite of
Henri III by putting her toque on his head and her white cape with its
collar turned up like a ruff round his shoulders.

In Paris they resumed all their old friendships, but they did not find
their friends just as they had left them. When he heard of Olivier's
arrival, Christophe rushed to him delightedly. Olivier was equally
rejoiced to see him. But as soon as they met they felt an unaccountable
constraint between them. They both tried to break through it, but in
vain. Olivier was very affectionate, but there was a change in him, and
Christophe felt it. A friend who marries may do what he will: he cannot
be the friend of the old days. The woman's soul is, and must be, merged
in the man's. Christophe could detect the woman in everything that
Olivier said and did, in the imperceptible light of his expression, in
the unfamiliar turn of his lips, in the new inflections of his voice and
the trend of his ideas. Olivier was oblivious of it: but he was amazed
to find Christophe so different from the man he had left. He did not go
so far as to think that it was Christophe who had changed: he recognized
that the change was in himself, and ascribed it to normal evolution, the
inevitable result of the passing years; and he was surprised not to find
the same progress in Christophe: he thought reproachfully that he had
remained stationary in his ideas, which had once been so dear to him,
though now they seemed naïve and out of date. The truth was that they
did not sort well with the stranger soul which, unknown to himself, had
taken up its abode in him. He was most clearly conscious of it when
Jacqueline was present when they were talking: and then between
Olivier's eyes and Christophe there was a veil of irony. However, they
tried to conceal what they felt. Christophe went often to see them, and
Jacqueline innocently let fly at him her barbed and poisoned shafts. He
suffered her. But when he returned home he would feel sad and sorry.

Their first months in Paris were fairly happy for Jacqueline, and
consequently for Olivier. At first she was busy with their new house:
they had found a nice little flat looking on to a garden in an old
street at Passy. Choosing furniture and wallpapers kept her time full
for a few weeks. Jacqueline flung herself into it energetically, and
almost passionately and exaggeratedly: it was as though her eternal
happiness depended on the color of her hangings or the shape of an old
chest. Then she resumed intercourse with her father and mother and her
friends. As she had entirely forgotten them during her year of love, it
was as though she had made their acquaintance for the first time: just
as part of her soul was merged in Olivier's, so part of Olivier's soul was
merged in hers, and she saw her old friends with new eyes. They
seemed to her to have gained much. Olivier did not lose by it at first.
They were a set-off to each other. The moral reserve and the poetic
light and shade of her husband made Jacqueline find more pleasure in
those worldly people who only think of enjoying themselves, and of being
brilliant and charming: and the seductive but dangerous failings of
their world, which she knew so much better because she belonged to it,
made her appreciate the security of her lover's affection. She amused
herself with these comparisons, and loved to linger over them, the
better to justify her choice.--She lingered over them to such an extent
that sometimes she could not tell why she had made that choice. Happily,
such moments never lasted long. She would be sorry for them, and was
never so tender with Olivier as when they were past. Thereupon she would
begin again. By the time it had become a habit with her it had ceased to
amuse her: and the comparison became more aggressive: instead of
complementing each other, the two opposing worlds declared war on each
other. She began to wonder why Olivier lacked the qualities, if not some
of the failings, which she now admired in her Parisian friends. She did
not tell him so: but Olivier often felt his wife looking at him without
any indulgence in her eyes, and it hurt him and made him uneasy.

However, he had not lost the ascendancy over Jacqueline which love had
given him: and they would have gone on quite happily living their life
of tender and hard-working intimacy for long enough had it not been for
circumstances which altered their material condition and destroyed its
delicate balance.

_Quivi trovammo Pluto il gran némico...._

A sister of Madame Langeais died. She was the widow of a rich
manufacturer, and had no children. Her whole estate passed to the
Langeais. Jacqueline's fortune was more than doubled by it. When she
came in for her legacy, Olivier remembered what Christophe had said
about money, and remarked:

"We were quite well off without it: perhaps it will be a bad thing for
us."

Jacqueline laughed at him:

"Silly!" she said. "As though money could ever do any harm! We won't
make any change in our way of living just yet."

Their life remained the same to all appearances: so much the same that
after a certain time Jacqueline began to complain that they were not
well enough off: proof positive that there was a change somewhere. And,
in fact, although their income had been doubled or tripled, they spent
the whole of it without knowing how they did it. They began to wonder
how they had managed to live before. The money flew, and was swallowed
up by a thousand new expenses, which seemed at once to be habitual and
indispensable. Jacqueline had begun to patronize the great dressmakers:
she had dismissed the family sempstress who came by the day, a woman she
had known since she was a child. The days of the little fourpenny hats
made out of nothing, though they were quite pretty all the same, were
gone,--gone the days of the frocks which were not impeccably smart,
though they had much of her own grace, and were, indeed, a part of
herself! The sweet intimate charm which shone upon all about her grew
fainter every day. The poetry of her nature was lost. She was becoming
commonplace.

They changed their flat. The rooms which they had furnished with so much
trouble and pleasure seemed narrow and ugly. Instead of the cozy little
rooms, all radiant with her spirit, with a friendly tree waving its
delicate foliage against the windows, they took an enormous,
comfortable, well-arranged flat which they did not, could not, love,
where they were bored to death. Instead of their old friendly
belongings, they obtained furniture and hangings which were strangers to
them. There was no place left for memories. The first years of their
married life were swept away from their thoughts.... It is a great
misfortune for two people living together to have the ties which bind
them to their past love broken! The image of their love is a safeguard
against the disappointment and hostility which inevitably succeed the
first years of tenderness.... The power to spend largely had brought
Jacqueline, both in Paris and abroad--(for now that they were rich they
often traveled)--into touch with a class of rich and useless people,
whose society gave her a sort of contempt for the rest of mankind, all
those who had work to do. With her marvelous power of adaptation, she
very quickly caught the color of these sterile and rotten men and women.
She could not fight against it. At once she became refractory and
irritable, regarding the idea that it was possible--and right--to be
happy in her domestic duties and the _auréa mediocritus_ as mere
"vulgar manners." She had lost even the capacity to understand the
bygone days when she had so generously given herself in love.

Olivier was not strong enough to fight against it. He, too, had changed.
He had given up his work, and had no fixed and compulsory occupation. He
wrote, and the balance of his life was adjusted by it. Till then he had
suffered because he could not give his whole life to art. Now that he
could do so he felt utterly lost in the cloudy world. Art which is not also
a profession, and supported by a healthy practical life, art which
knows not the necessity of earning the daily bread, loses the best part
of its force and its reality. It is only the flower of luxury. It is
not--(what in the greatest, the only great, artists it is)--the sacred
fruit of human suffering.--Olivier felt a disinclination to work, a
desire to ask: "What is the good of it?" There was nothing to make him
write: he would let his pen run on, he dawdled about, he had lost his
bearings. He had lost touch with his own class of men and women
patiently plowing the hard furrow of their lives. He had fallen into a
different world, where he was ill at ease, though on the whole he did
not find it unpleasant. Weak, amiable, and curious, he fell complacently
to observing that world which was entirely lacking in consistency,
though it was not without charm; and he did not see that little by
little he was becoming contaminated by it: it was undermining his faith.

No doubt the transformation was not so rapid in him as it was in
Jacqueline.--Women have the terrible privilege of being able suddenly to
undergo a complete change. The way in which they suddenly die and then
as suddenly come to life again is appalling to those who love them. And
yet it is perfectly natural for a human being who is full of life
without the curb of the will not to be to-morrow what it is to-day. A
woman is like running water. The man who loves her must follow the
stream or divert it into the channel of his own life. In both cases
there must be change. But it is a dangerous experience, and no man
really knows love until he has gone through it. And its harmony is so
delicate during the first years of married life that often the very
smallest change in either husband or wife is enough to destroy their
whole relationship. How much more perilous, then, is a sudden change of
fortune or of circumstance! They must needs be very strong--or very
indifferent to each other--to withstand it.

Jacqueline and Olivier were neither indifferent nor strong. They began
to see each other in a new light: and the face of the beloved became
strange to them. When first they made the sad discovery, they hid it
from each other in loving pity: for they still loved each other. Olivier
took refuge in his work, and by applying himself to it regularly, though
with even less conviction than before, won through to tranquillity.
Jacqueline had nothing. She did nothing. She would stay in bed for
hours, or dawdle over her toilette, sitting idly, half dressed,
motionless, lost in thought: and gradually a dumb misery crept over her
like an icy mist. She could not break away from the fixed idea of
love.... Love! Of things human the most Divine when it is the gift of
self, a passionate and blind sacrifice. But when it is no more than the
pursuit of happiness, it is the most senseless and the most elusive....
It was impossible for her to conceive any other aim in life. In moments
of benevolence she had tried to take an interest in the sorrows of other
people: but she could not do it. The sufferings of others filled her
with an ungovernable feeling of repulsion: her nerves were not strong
enough to bear them. To appease her conscience she had occasionally done
something which looked like philanthropy: but the result had been tame
and disappointing.

"You see," she would say to Christophe, "when one tries to do good one
does harm. It is much better not to try. I'm not cut out for it."

Christophe would look at her: and he would think of a girl he had met, a
selfish, immoral little grisette, absolutely incapable of real
affection, though, as soon as she saw anybody suffering, she was filled
with motherly pity for him, even though she had not cared a rap for him
before, even though he were a stranger to her. She was not abashed by
the most horrible tasks, and she would even take a strange pleasure in
doing those which demanded the greatest self-denial. She never stopped
to think about it: she seemed to find in it a use for her obscure,
hereditary, and eternally unexpressed idealism: her soul was atrophied
as far as the rest of her life was concerned, but at such rare moments
it breathed again: it gave her a sense of well-being and inward joy to
be able to allay suffering: and her joy was then almost misplaced.--The
goodness of that woman, who was selfish, the selfishness of Jacqueline,
who was good in spite of it, were neither vice nor virtue, but in both
cases only a matter of health. But the first was in the better case.
Jacqueline was crushed by the mere idea of suffering. She would have
preferred death to physical illness. She would have preferred death to
the loss of either of her sources of joy: her beauty or her youth. That
she should not have all the happiness to which she thought herself
entitled,--(for she believed in happiness, it was a matter of faith with
her, wholeheartedly and absurdly, a religious belief),--and that others
should have more happiness than herself, would have seemed to her the
most horrible injustice. Happiness was not only a religion to her; it
was a virtue. To be unhappy seemed to her to be an infirmity. Her whole
life gradually came to revolve round that principle. Her real character
had broken through the veils of idealism in which in girlish bashful
modesty she had enshrouded herself. In her reaction against the idealism
of the past she began to see things in a hard, crude light. Things were
only true for her in proportion as they coincided with the opinion of
the world and the smoothness of life. She had reached her mother's state
of mind: she went to church, and practised religion punctiliously and
indifferently. She never stopped to ask herself whether there was any
real truth in it: she had other more positive mental difficulties: and
she would think of the mystical revolt of her childhood with pitying
irony.--And yet her new positivism was no more real than her old
idealism. She forced it. She was neither angel nor brute. She was just a
poor bored woman.

She was bored, bored, bored: and her boredom was all the greater in that
she could not excuse herself on the score of not being loved, or by
saying that she could not endure Olivier. Her life seemed to be stunted,
walled up, with no future prospect: she longed for a new happiness that
should be perpetually renewed; her longing was utterly childish, for it
never took into account her indifferent capacity for happiness. She was
like so many women living idle lives with idle husbands, who have every
reason to be happy, and yet never cease torturing themselves. There are
many such couples, who are rich and blessed with health and lovely
children, and clever and capable of feeling fine things, and possessed
of the power to keep themselves employed and to do good, and to enrich
their own lives and the lives of others. And they spend their time in
moaning and groaning that they do not love each other, that they love
some one else, or that they do not love somebody else--perpetually taken
up with themselves, and their sentimental or sensual relations, and
their pretended right to happiness, their conflicting egoism, and
arguing, arguing, arguing, playing with their sham grand passion, their
sham great suffering, and in the end believing in it, and--suffering....
If only some one would say to them:

"You are not in the least interesting. It is indecent to be so sorry for
yourselves when you have so many good reasons for being happy!"

If only some one would take away their money, their health, all the
marvelous gifts of which they are so unworthy! If only some one would
once more lay the yoke of poverty and real suffering on these slaves who
are incapable of being free and are driven mad by their liberty! If they
had to earn their bread in the sweat of their brows, they would be glad
enough to eat it. And if they were to come face to face with grim
suffering, they would never dare to play with the sham....

But, when all is said and done, they do suffer. They are ill. How, then,
are they not to be pitied?--Poor Jacqueline was quite innocent, as
innocent in drifting apart from Olivier as Olivier was in not holding
her. She was what Nature had made her. She did not know that marriage is
a challenge to Nature, and that, when one has thrown down the gauntlet
to Nature, it is only to be expected that she will arise and begin
valiantly to wage the combat which one has provoked. She saw that she
had been mistaken, and she was exasperated with herself; and her
disillusion turned to hostility towards the thing she had loved,
Olivier's faith, which had also been her own. An intelligent woman has,
much more than a man, moments of an intuitive perception of things
eternal: but it is more difficult for her to maintain her grip on them.
Once a man has come by the idea of the eternal, he feeds it with his
life-blood. A woman uses it to feed her own life: she absorbs it, and
does not create it. She must always be throwing fresh fuel into her
heart and mind: she cannot be self-sufficing. And if she cannot believe
and love, she must destroy--except she possess the supreme virtue of
serenity.

Jacqueline had believed passionately in a union based on a common faith,
in the happiness of struggling and suffering together in accomplishment.
But she had only believed in that endeavor, that faith, while they were
gilded by the sun of love: and as the sun died down she saw them as
barren, gloomy mountains standing out against the empty sky: and her
strength failed her, so that she could go no farther on the road: what
was the good of reaching the summit? What was there on the other side?
It was a gigantic phantom and a snare!... Jacqueline could not
understand how Olivier could go on being taken in by such fantastic
notions which consumed life: and she began to tell herself that he was
not very clever, nor very much alive. She was stifling in his
atmosphere, in which she could not breathe, and the instinct of
self-preservation drove her on to the attack, in self-defense. She
strove to scatter and bring to dust the injurious beliefs of the man she
still loved: she used every weapon of irony and seductive pleasure in
her armory: she trammeled him with the tendrils of her desires and her
petty cares: she longed to make him a reflection of herself, ...
herself who knew neither what she wanted nor what she was! She was
humiliated by Olivier's want of success: and she did not care whether it
were just or unjust; for she had come to believe that the only thing
which saves a man of talent from failure is success. Olivier was
oppressed by his consciousness of her doubts, and his strength was
sapped by it. However, he struggled on as best he could, as so many men
have struggled, and will struggle, for the most part vainly, in the
unequal conflict in which the selfish instinct of the woman upholds
itself against the man's intellectual egoism by playing upon his
weakness, his dishonesty, and his common sense, which is the name with
which he disguises the wear and tear of life and his own cowardice.--At
least, Jacqueline and Olivier were better than the majority of such
combatants. For he would never have betrayed his ideal, as thousands of
men do who drift with the demands of their laziness, their vanity, and
their loves, into renunciation of their immortal souls. And, if he had
done so, Jacqueline would have despised him. But, in her blindness, she
strove to destroy that force in Olivier, which was hers also, their common
safeguard: and by an instinctive strategical movement she undermined the
friendship by which that force was upheld.

Since the legacy Christophe had become a stranger in their household.
The affectation of snobbishness and a dull practical outlook on life
which Jacqueline used wickedly to exaggerate in her conversations with
him were more than he could bear. He would lash out sometimes, and say
hard things, which were taken in bad part. They could never have brought
about a rupture between the two friends: they were too fond of each
other. Nothing in the world would have induced Olivier to give up
Christophe. But he could not make Jacqueline feel the same about him;
and, his love making him weak, he was incapable of hurting her.
Christophe, who saw what was happening to him, and how he was suffering,
made the choice easy by a voluntary withdrawal. He saw that he could not
help Olivier in any way by staying, but rather made things worse. He was
the first to give his friend reasons for turning from him: and Olivier,
in his weakness, accepted those inadequate reasons, while he guessed
what the sacrifice must have cost Christophe, and was bitterly sorry for
it.

Christophe bore him no ill-will. He thought that there was much truth in
the saying that a man's wife is his better half. For a man married is
but the half of a man.

He tried to reconstruct his life without Olivier. But it was all in
vain, and it was idle for him to pretend that the separation would only
be for a short time: in spite of his optimism, he had many hours of
sadness. He had lost the habit of loneliness. He had been alone, it is
true, during Olivier's sojourn in the provinces: but then he had been
able to pretend and tell himself that his friend was away for a time,
and would return. Now that his friend had come back he was farther away
than ever. His affection for him, which had filled his life for a number
of years, was suddenly taken from him: it was as though he had lost his
chief reason for working. Since his friendship for Olivier he had grown
used to thinking with him and bringing him into everything he did. His
work was not enough to supply the gap: for Christophe had grown used to
weaving the image of his friend into his work. And now that his friend
no longer took any interest in him, Christophe was thrown off his
balance: he set out to find another affection to restore it.

Madame Arnaud and Philomela did not fail him. But just then such
tranquil friendship as theirs was not enough. However, the two women
seemed to divine Christophe's sorrow, and they secretly sympathized with
him. Christophe was much surprised one evening to see Madame Arnaud come
into his room. Till then she had never ventured to call on him. She
seemed to be somewhat agitated. Christophe paid no heed to it, and set
her uneasiness down to her shyness. She sat down, and for some time said
nothing. To put her at her ease, Christophe did the honors of his room.
They talked of Olivier, with memories of whom the room was filled.
Christophe spoke of him gaily and naturally, without giving so much as
a hint of what had happened. But Madame Arnaud, knowing it, could not help
looking at him pityingly and saying:

"You don't see each other now?"

He thought she had come to console him, and felt a gust of impatience,
for he did not like any meddling with his affairs. He replied:

"Whenever we like."

She blushed, and said:

"Oh! it was not an indiscreet question!"

He was sorry for his gruffness, and took her hands:

"I beg your pardon," he said. "I am always afraid of his being blamed.
Poor boy! He is suffering as much as I.... No, we don't see each other
now."

"And he doesn't write to you?"

"No," said Christophe, rather shamefacedly....

"How sad life is!" said Madame Arnaud, after a moment.

"No; life is not sad," he said. "But there are sad moments in it."

Madame Arnaud went on with veiled bitterness:

"We love, and then we love no longer. What is the good of it all?"

Christophe replied:

"It is good to have loved."

She went on:

"You have sacrificed yourself for him. If only our self-sacrifice could
be of any use to those we love! But it makes them none the happier!"

"I have not sacrificed myself," said Christophe angrily. "And if I have,
it is because it pleased me to do so. There's no room for arguing about
it. One does what one has to do. If one did not do it, one would be
unhappy, and suffer for it! There never was anything so idiotic as this
talk of sacrifice! Clergymen, in the poverty of their hearts, mix it up
with a cramped and morose idea of Protestant gloom. Apparently, if an
act of sacrifice is to be good, it must be besotted.... Good Lord! if a
sacrifice means sorrow to you, and not joy, then don't do it; you are
unworthy of it. A man doesn't sacrifice himself for the King of Prussia,
but for himself. If you don't feel the happiness that lies in the gift
of yourself, then get out! You don't deserve to live."

Madame Arnaud listened to Christophe without daring to look at him.
Suddenly she got up and said:

"Good-by."

Then he saw that she had come to confide in him, and said:

"Oh! forgive me. I'm a selfish oaf, and can only talk about myself.
Please stay. Won't you?"

She said:

"No: I cannot.... Thank you...."

And she left him.

It was some time before they met again. She gave no sign of life; and he
did not go to see either her or Philomela. He was fond of both of them:
but he was afraid of having to talk to them about things that made him
sad. And, besides, for the time being, their calm, dull existence, with
its too rarefied air, was not suited to his needs. He wanted to see new
faces; it was imperative that he should find a new interest, a new love,
to occupy his mind.

By way of being taken out of himself he began to frequent the theaters
which he had neglected for a long time. The theater seemed to him to be
an interesting school for a musician who wishes to observe and take note
of the accents of the passions.

It was not that he had any greater sympathy with French plays than when
he first came to live in Paris. Outside his small liking for their
eternal stale and brutal subjects connected with the psycho-physiology
of love, it seemed to him that the language of the French theater,
especially in poetic drama, was ultra-false. Neither their prose nor
their verse had anything in common with the living language and the
genius of the people. Their prose was an artificial language, the
language of a polite chronicle with the best, that of a vulgar
feuilletonist with the worst. Their poetry justified Goethe's gibe:

"_Poetry is all very well for those who have nothing to say_."

It was a wordy and inverted prose: the profusion of metaphors clumsily
tacked on to it in imitation of the lyricism of other nations produced
an effect of utter falsity upon any sincere person. Christophe set no
more store by these poetic dramas than he did by the Italian operas with
their shrill mellifluous airs and their ornamental vocal exercises. He
was much more interested in the actors than the plays. And the authors
had tried hard to imitate them. "_It was hopeless to think that a play
could be performed with any success unless the author had looked to it
that his characters were modeled on the vices of the actors_." The
situation was hardly at all changed since the time when Diderot wrote
those lines. The actors had become the models of the art of the theater.
As soon as any one of them reached success, he had his theater, his
compliant tailor-authors, and his plays made to measure.

Among these great mannikins of literary fashions Françoise Oudon
attracted Christophe. Paris had been infatuated with her for a couple of
years or so. She, too, of course, had her theater and her purveyors of
parts: however, she did not only act in plays written for her: her mixed
repertory ranged from Ibsen to Sardou, from Gabriele d'Annunzio to Dumas
_fils_, from Bernard Shaw to the latest Parisian playwrights. Upon
occasion she would even venture into the Versailles' avenues of the
classic hexameter, or on to the deluge of images of Shakespeare. But she
was ill at ease in that galley, and her audience was even more so.
Whatever she played, she played herself, nothing but herself, always. It
was both her weakness and her strength. Until the public had been
awakened to an interest in her personality, her acting had had no
success. As soon as that interest was roused, everything she did
appeared marvelous. And, indeed, it was well worth while in watching her
to forget the usually pitiful plays which she betrayed by endowing and
adorning them with her vitality. The mystery of the woman's body, swayed
by a stranger soul, was to Christophe far more moving than the plays in
which she acted.

She had a fine, clear-cut, rather tragic profile. She had not the marked
heavy lines of the Roman style: on the contrary, her lines were delicate
and Parisian, _à la _Jean Goujon--as much like a boy's as a
woman's. A short, finely-modeled nose. A beautiful mouth, with thin
lips, curling rather bitterly. Bright cheeks, girlishly thin, in which
there was something touching, the light of inward suffering. A strong
chin. Pale complexion. One of those habitually impassive faces which are
transparent in spite of themselves, and reveal the soul quivering behind
it, as though it were exposed in its nakedness; one of those faces in
which the soul seems to be ever, in every part of it, just beneath the
skin. She had very fine hair and eyebrows, and her changing eyes were
gray and amber-colored, passing quickly from one light to another,
greenish and golden, like the eyes of a cat. And there was something
catlike in all her nature, in her apparent torpor, her semi-somnolence,
with eyes wide open, always on the watch, always suspicious, while
suddenly she would nervously and rather cruelly relax her watchfulness.
She was not so tall as she appeared, nor so slender; she had beautiful
shoulders, lovely arms, and fine, long hands. She was very neat in her
dress, and her coiffure, always trim and tasteful, with none of the
Bohemian carelessness or the exaggerated smartness of many artists--even
in that she was catlike, instinctively aristocratic, although she had
risen from the gutter. At bottom she was incurably shy and wild.

She must have been a little less than thirty. Christophe had heard
people speak of her at Gamache's with coarse admiration, as a woman of
great freedom, intelligence, and boldness, tremendous and inflexible
energy, and burning ambition, but bitter, fantastic, perplexing, and
violent, a woman who had waded through a deal of mud before she had
reached her present pinnacle of fame, and had since avenged herself.

One day, when Christophe was going by train to see Philomela at Meudon,
as he opened the door of a compartment, he saw the actress sitting
there. She seemed to be agitated and perturbed, and Christophe's
appearance annoyed her. She turned her back on him, and looked
obstinately out of the opposite window. But Christophe was so struck by
the changed expression in her face, that he could not stop gazing at her
with a naïve and embarrassing compassion. It exasperated her, and she
flung an angry look at him which he did not understand. At the next
station she got out and went into another compartment. Then for the
first time it occurred to him--rather late in the day--that he had
driven her away: and he was greatly distressed. A few days later, at a
station on the same line, he was sitting on the only seat in the
platform, waiting for the train back to Paris. She appeared, and came
and sat by his side. He began to move, but she said:

"Stay."

They were alone. He begged her pardon for having forced her to go to
another compartment the other day, saying that if he had had any idea
that he was incommoding her he would have got out himself. She smiled
ironically, and only replied:

"You were certainly unbearable with your persistent staring."

He said:

"I begged your pardon: I could not help it.... You looked so unhappy."

"Well, what of it?" she said.

"It was too strong for me. If you saw a man drowning, wouldn't you hold
out your hand to him?"

"I? Certainly not," she said. "I would push him under water, so as to
get it over quickly."

She spoke with a mixture of bitterness and humor: and, when he looked at
her in amazement, she laughed.

The train came in. It was full up, except for the last carriage. She got
in. The porter told them to hurry up. Christophe, who had no mind to
repeat the scene of a few days before, was for finding another
compartment, but she said:

"Come in."

He got in, and she said:

"To-day I don't mind."

They began to talk. Christophe tried very seriously to prove to her that
it was not right not to take an interest in others, and that people
could do so much for each other by helping and comforting each other....

"Consolation," she said, "is not much in my line...."

And as Christophe insisted:

"Yes," she said, with her impertinent smile; "the part of comforter is
all very well for the man who plays it."

It was a moment or two before he grasped her meaning. When he
understood, when he fancied that she suspected him of seeking his own
interest, while he was only thinking of her, he got up indignantly and
opened the door, and made as though to climb out, although the train was
moving. She prevented him, though not without difficulty. He sat down
again angrily, and shut the door just as the train shot into a tunnel.

"You see," she said, "you might have been killed."

"I don't care," he said.

He refused to speak to her again.

"People are so stupid," he said. "They make each other suffer, they
suffer, and when a man goes to help another fellow-creature, he is
suspected. It is disgusting. People like that are not human."

She laughed and tried to soothe him. She laid her gloved hand on his:
she spoke to him gently, and called him by his name.

"What?" he said. "You know me?"

"As if everybody didn't know everybody in Paris! We're all in the same
boat. But it was horrid of me to speak to you as I did. You are a good
fellow. I can see that. Come; calm yourself. Shake hands! Let us make
peace!"

They shook hands, and went on talking amicably. She said:

"It is not my fault, you know. I have had so many experiences with men
that I have become suspicious."

"They have deceived me, too, many a time," said Christophe. "But I
always give them credit for something better."

"I see; you were born to be gulled."

He began to laugh:

"Yes; I've been taken in a good many times in my life; I've gulped down
a good many lies. But it does me no harm. I've a good stomach. I can put
up with worse things, hardship, poverty, and, if necessary, I can gulp
down with their lies the poor fools who attack me. It does me good, if
anything."

"You're in luck," she said. "You're something like a man."

"And you. You're something like a woman."

"That's no great thing."

"It's a fine thing," he said, "and it may be a good thing, too!"

She laughed:

"To be a woman!" she said. "But what does the world make of women?"

"You have to defend yourself."

"But goodness never lasts long."

"Then you can't have much of it."

"Possibly. And then, I don't think one ought to suffer too much. There
is a point beyond which suffering withers you up."

He was just about to tell her how he pitied her, but he remembered how
she had received it a short while before....

"You'll only talk about the advantages of the part of comforter...."

"No," she said, "I won't say it again. I feel that you are kind and
sincere. Thank you. Only, don't say anything. You cannot know.... Thank
you."

They had reached Paris. They parted without exchanging addresses or
inviting each other to call.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few months later she came of her own accord and knocked at
Christophe's door.

"I came to see you. I want to talk to you. I have been thinking of you
sometimes since our meeting."

She took a seat.

"Only for a moment. I shan't disturb you for long."

He began to talk to her. She said:

"Wait a moment, please."

They sat in silence. Then she said with a smile:

"I couldn't bear it any longer. I feel better now."

He tried to question her.

"No," she said. "Not that!"

She looked round the room, examined and appraised the things in it, and
saw the photograph of Louisa:

"Your mother?" she said.

"Yes."

She took it and looked at it sympathetically.

"What a good old woman!" she said. "You are lucky!"

"Alas! she is dead."

"That is nothing. You have had the luck to have her for your mother."

"Yes. And you?"

But she turned the subject with a frown. She would not let him question
her about herself.

"No; tell me about yourself. Tell me.... Something about your life...."

"How can it be of any interest to you?"

"Tell me, all the same...."

He would not tell her: but he could not avoid answering her questions,
for she cross-examined him very skilfully: so much so, that he told her
something of what he was suffering, the story of his friendship, and how
Olivier had left him. She listened with a pitying ironical smile....
Suddenly she asked:

"What time is it? Oh! good Heavens! I've been here two whole hours!...
Please forgive me.... Ah! what a rest it has been!..."

She added:

"Will you let me come again?... Not often.... Sometimes.... It would do
me good. But I wouldn't like to bore you or waste your time.... Only a
minute or two every now and then...."

"I'll come and see you," said Christophe.

"No, don't do that. I would much rather come to see you...."

But she did not come again for a long time. One evening he heard by
accident that she was seriously ill, and had not been acting for some
weeks. He went to see her, although she had forbidden it. She was not at
home: but when she heard who it was, she sent and had him brought back
as he was going down the stairs. She was in bed, but much better: she
had had pneumonia, and looked altered: but she still had her ironical
manner and her watchful expression, which there was no disarming.
However, she seemed to be really pleased to see Christophe. She made him
sit by her bedside, and talked about herself in a mocking, detached way,
and said that she had almost died. He was much moved, and showed it.
Then she teased him. He reproached her for not having let him know.

"Let you know? And have you coming to see me? Never!"

"I bet you never even thought of me."

"You've won," she said, with her sad little mocking smile. "I didn't
think of you for a moment while I was ill. To be precise, I never
thought of you until to-day. There's nothing to be glum about, come.
When I am ill I don't think of anybody. I only ask one thing of people;
to be left alone in peace. I turn my face to the wall and wait: I want
to be alone. I want to die alone, like a rat in a hole."

"And yet it is hard to suffer alone."

"I'm used to it. I have been unhappy for years. No one ever came to my
assistance. Now it has become a habit.... Besides, it is better so. No
one can do anything for you. A noise in the room, worrying attentions,
hypocritical jeremiads.... No; I would rather die alone."

"You are very resigned!"

"Resigned? I don't even know what the word means. No: I set my teeth and
I hate the illness which makes me suffer."

He asked her if she had no one to see her, no one to look after her. She
said that her comrades at the theater were kind enough,--idiots,--but
obliging and compassionate (in a superficial sort of way).

"But I tell you, I don't want to see them. I'm a surly sort of
customer."

"I would put up with it," he said.

She looked at him pityingly:

"You, too! You're going to talk like the rest?"

He said:

"Pardon, pardon.... Good Heavens! I'm becoming a Parisian! I am
ashamed.... I swear that I didn't even think what I was saying...."

He buried his face in the bedclothes. She laughed frankly, and gave him
a tap on the head!

"Ah! that's not Parisian! That's something like! I know you again. Come,
show your face. Don't weep all over my bed."

"Do you forgive me?"

"I forgive you. But don't do it again."

She talked to him a little more, asked him what he was doing, and was
then tired, bored, and dismissed him.

He had arranged to go and see her again the following week. But just as
he was setting out he received a telegram from her telling him not to
come: she was having a bad day.--Then, the next day but one, she sent
for him. He went, and found her convalescent, sitting by the window,
with her feet up. It was early spring, with a sunny sky and the young
buds on the trees. She was more gentle and affectionate than he had yet
seen her. She told him that she could not see anybody the other day, and
would have detested him as much as anybody else.

"And to-day?"

"To-day I feel young and fresh, and I feel fond of everything else about
me that feels young and fresh--as you do."

"And yet I am neither very young nor very fresh."

"You will be both until the day of your death."

They talked about what he had been doing since their last meeting, and
about the theater in which she was going to resume her work soon: and on
that she told him what she thought of the theater, which disgusted her,
while it held her in its grip.

She did not want him to come again, and promised to resume her visits to
his flat. He told her the times when she would be least likely to
disturb his work. They arranged a countersign. She was to knock at the
door in a certain way, and he was to open or not as he felt inclined....

She did not go beyond bounds at first. But once, when she was going to a
society At Home, where she was to recite, the idea of it bored her at
the last moment: she stopped on the way and telephoned to say that she
could not come, and she told her man to drive to Christophe's. She only
meant to say good-night to him as she passed. But, as it turned out, she
began to confide in him that night, and told him all her life from her
childhood on.

A sad childhood! An accidental father whom she had never known. A mother
who kept an ill-famed inn in a suburb of a town in the north of France:
the carters used to go and drink there, use the proprietress, and bully
her. One of them married her because she had some small savings: he used
to beat her and get drunk. Françoise had an elder sister who was a
servant in the inn: she was worked to death; the proprietor made her his
mistress in the sight and knowledge of her mother; she was consumptive,
and had died. Françoise had grown up amid scenes of violence and
shameful things. She saw her mother and sister weep, suffer, accept,
degrade themselves, and die. And desperately she made up her mind not to
submit to it, and to escape from her infamous surroundings: she was a
rebel by instinct: certain acts of injustice would set her beside
herself: she used to scratch and bite when she was thrashed. Once she
tried to hang herself. She did not succeed: she had hardly set about it
than she was afraid lest she might succeed only too well; and, even
while she was beginning to choke and desperately clutching at the rope
and trying to loosen it with stiff fumbling fingers, there was writhing
in her a furious desire to live. And since she could not escape by
death,--(Christophe smiled sadly, remembering his own experiences,)--she
swore that she would win, and be free, rich, and trample under foot all
those who oppressed her. She had made it a vow in her lair one evening,
when in the next room she could hear the oaths of the man, and the cries
of her mother as he beat her, and her sister's sobs. How utterly
wretched she felt! And yet her vow had been some solace. She clenched
her teeth and thought:

"I will crush the lot of you."

In that dark childhood there had been one ray of light:

One day, one of the little grubby boys with whom she used to lark in the
gutter, the son of the stage-door keeper of the theater, got her in to
the rehearsal, although it was strictly forbidden. They stole to the
very back of the building in the darkness. She was gripped by the
mystery of the stage, gleaming in the darkness, and by the magnificent
and incomprehensible things that the actors were saying, and by the
queenly bearing of the actress,--who was, in fact, playing a queen in a
romantic melodrama. She was chilled by emotion: and at the same time her
heart thumped.... "That--that is what I must be some day!" ... Oh! if
she could ever be like that!...--When it was over she wanted at all
costs to see the evening performance. She let her companion go out, and
pretended to follow him: and then she turned back and hid herself in the
theater: she cowered away under a seat, and stayed there for three hours
without stirring, choked by the dust: and when the performance was about
to begin and the audience was arriving, just as she was creeping out of
her hiding-place, she had the mortification of being pounced on,
ignominiously expelled amid jeers and laughter, and taken home, where
she was whipped. She would have died that night had she not known now
what she must do later on to master these people and avenge herself on
them.

Her plan was made. She took a situation as a servant in the _Hôtel et
Café du Théâtre_, where the actors put up. She could hardly read or
write: and she had read nothing, for she had nothing to read. She wanted
to learn, and applied herself to it with frantic energy. She used to
steal books from the guests' rooms, and read them at night by moonlight
or at dawn, so as not to use her candle. Thanks to the untidiness of the
actors, her larcenies passed unnoticed or else the owners put up with
cursing and swearing. She used to restore their books when she had read
them,--except one or two which had moved her too much for her to be able
to part with them;--but she did not return them intact. She used to tear
out the pages which had pleased her. When she took the books back, she
used carefully to slip them under the bed or the furniture, so as to
make the owners of them believe that they had never left the room. She
used to glue her ears to the door to listen to the actors going over
their parts. And when she was alone, sweeping the corridor, she would
mimic their intonations in a whisper and gesticulate. When she was
caught doing so she was laughed at and jeered at. She would say nothing,
and boil with rage.--That sort of education might have gone on for a
long time had she not on one occasion been imprudent enough to steal the
script of a part from the room of an actor. The actor stamped and swore.
No one had been to his room except the servant: he accused her. She
denied it boldly: he threatened to have her searched: she threw herself
at his feet and confessed everything, even to her other pilferings and
the pages she had torn out of the books: the whole boiling. He cursed
and swore frightfully: but he was not so angry as he seemed. He asked
why she had done it. When she told him that she wanted to become an
actress he roared with laughter. He questioned her, and she recited
whole pages which she had learned by heart: he was struck by it, and
said:

"Look here, would you like me to give you lessons?"

She was in the highest heaven of delight, and kissed his hands.

"Ah!" she said to Christophe, "how I should have loved him!"

But at once he added:

"Only, my dear, you know you can't have anything for nothing...."

She was chaste, and had always been scared and modest with those who had
pursued her with their overtures. Her absolute chastity, her ardent need
of purity, her disgust with things unclean and ignoble loveless
sensuality, had been with her always from her childhood on, as a result
of the despair and nausea of the sad sights which she saw about her on
all sides at home:--and they were with her still.... Ah! unhappy
creature! She had borne much punishment!... What a mockery of Fate!...

"Then," asked Christophe, "you consented?"

"Ah!" she said, "I would have gone through fire to get out of it. He
threatened to have me arrested as a thief. I had no choice.--That was
how I was initiated into art--and life."

"The blackguard!" said Christophe.

"Yes, I hated him. But I have met so many men since that he does not
seem to me to be one of the worst. He did at least keep his word. He
taught me what he knew--(not much!)--of the actor's trade. He got me
into his company. At first I was everybody's servant, I played little
scraps of parts. Then one night, when the soubrette was ill, they risked
giving me her part. I went on from that. They thought me impossible,
grotesque, uncouth. I was ugly then. I remained ugly until I was
decreed,--if not 'divine' like the other Woman,--the highest, the ideal
type of woman, ... 'Woman.' ... Idiots! As for my acting, it was thought
extravagant and incorrect. The public did not like me. The other players
used to make fun of me. I was kept on because I was useful in spite of
everything, and was not expensive. Not only was I not expensive, but I
paid! Ah! I paid for every step, every advance, rung by rung, with my
suffering, with my body. Fellow-actors, the manager, the impresario, the
impresario's friends...."

She stopped: her face was very pale, her lips were pressed together,
there was a hard stare in her eyes: no tears came, but it was plain to
see that her soul was shedding tears of blood. In a flash she was living
through the shameful past, and the consuming desire to conquer which had
upheld her--a desire that burned the more with every fresh stain and
degradation that she had had to endure. She would sometimes have been
glad to die: but it would have been too abominable to succumb in the
midst of humiliation and to go no farther. Better to take her life
before--if so it must be--or after victory. But not when she had
degraded herself and not enjoyed the price of it....

She said no more. Christophe was pacing up and down the room in anger:
he was in a mood to slay these men who had made this woman suffer and
besmirched her. Then he looked at her with the eyes of pity: and he
stood near her and took her face in his hands and pressed it fondly, and
said:

"Poor little woman!"

She made to thrust him away. He said:

"You must not be afraid of me. I love you."

Then the tears trickled down her pale cheeks. He knelt down by her and
kissed--

  "_La lunga man d'ogni bellezza piena_...."

--the long delicate hands on which two tears had fallen.

He sat down again, and she recovered herself and calmly went on with her
story:

An author had at last launched her. He had discovered in the strange
little creature a daimon, a genius,--and, even better for his purpose,
"a dramatic type, a new woman, representative of an epoch." Of course,
he made her his mistress after so many others had done the same. And she
let him take her, as she had suffered the others, without love, and even
with the opposite of love. But he had made her famous: and she had done
the same for him.

"And now," said Christophe, "the others cannot do anything to you: you
can do what you like with them."

"You think so?" she said bitterly.

Then she told him of Fate's other mockery,--her passion for a knave whom
she despised: a literary man who had exploited her, had plucked out the
most sorrowful secrets of her soul, and turned them into literature, and
then had left her.

"I despise him," she said, "as I despise the dirt on my boots: and I
tremble with rage when I think that I love him, that he has but to hold
up his finger, and I should go running to him, and humble myself before
such a cur. But what can I do? I have a heart that will never love what
my mind desires. And I am compelled alternately to sacrifice and
humiliate one or the other. I have a heart: I have a body. And they cry
out and cry out and demand their share of happiness. And I have nothing
to curb them with, for I believe in nothing. I am free.... Free? I am
the slave of my heart and my body, which often, almost always, in spite
of myself, desire and have their will. They carry me away, and I am
ashamed. But what can I do?..."

She stopped for a moment, and mechanically moved the cinders in the fire
with the tongs.

"I have read in books," she said, "that actors feel nothing. And,
indeed, those whom I meet are nearly all conceited, grown-up children
who are never troubled by anything but petty questions of vanity. I do
not know if it is they who are not true comedians, or myself. I fancy it
must be I. In any case, I pay for the others."

She stopped speaking. It was three in the morning. She got up to go.
Christophe told her to wait until the morning before she went home, and
proposed that she should go and lie down on his bed. She preferred to
stay in the arm-chair by the dead fire, and went on talking quietly
while all the house was still.

"You will be tired to-morrow."

"I am used to it. But what about you?... What are you doing to-morrow?"

"I am free. I have a lesson to give about eleven.... Besides, I am
strong."

"All the more reason why you should sleep soundly."

"Yes; I sleep like a log. Not even pain can stand out against it. I am
sometimes furious with myself for sleeping so well. So many hours
wasted!... I am delighted to be able to take my revenge on sleep for
once in a way, and to cheat it of a night."

They went on talking in low tones, with long intervals of silence. And
Christophe went to sleep. Françoise smiled and supported his head to
keep him from falling.... She sat by the window dreaming and looking
down into the darkness of the garden, which presently was lit up. About
seven o'clock she woke Christophe gently, and said good-by.

In the course of the month she came at times when Christophe was out,
and found the door shut. Christophe sent her a key to the flat, so that
she could go there when she liked. She went more than once when
Christophe was away, and she would leave a little bunch of violets on
the table, or a few words scribbled on a sheet of paper, or a sketch, or
a caricature--just to show that she had been.

And one evening, when she left the theater, she went to the flat to
resume their pleasant talk. She found him at work, and they began to
talk. But at the very outset they both felt that the friendly
comfortable mood of the last occasion was gone. She tried to go: but it
was too late. Not that Christophe did anything to prevent her. It was
her own will that failed her and would not let her go. They stayed there
with the gathering consciousness of the desire that was in them.

Following on that night she disappeared for some weeks. In him there had
been roused a sensual ardor that had lain dormant for months before, and
he could not live without her. She had forbidden him to go to her house:
he went to see her at the theater. He sat far back, and he was aflame
with love and devotion: every nerve in his body thrilled: the tragic
intensity which she brought to her acting consumed him also in its fire.
At last he wrote to her:

"My Dear,--Are you angry with me? Forgive me if I have hurt you."
When she received his humble little note she hastened to him and flung
herself into his arms.

"It would have been better to be just friends, good friends. But since
it is impossible, it is no good holding out against the inevitable. Come
what may!"

They lived together. They kept on in their separate flats, and each of
them was free. Françoise could not have submitted to living openly with
Christophe. Besides, her position would not allow it. She used to go to
Christophe's flat and spend part of the day and night with him; but she
used to return to her own place every day and also sleep there.

During the vacation, when the theater was closed, they took a house
together outside Paris, near Gif. They had many happy days there, though
there were clouds of sadness too. They were days of confidence and work.
They had a beautiful light room, high up, with a wide view over the
fields. At night through the window they could see the strange shadows
of the clouds floating across the clear, dull darkness of the sky. Half
asleep, they could hear the joyous crickets chirping and the showers
falling; the breath of the autumn earth--honeysuckle, clematis, glycine,
and new-mown hay--filled the house and soothed their senses. The silence
of the night. In the distance dogs barked. Cocks crowed. Dawn comes. The
tinkling angelus rings in the distant belfry, through the cold, gray
twilight, and they shiver in the warmth of their nest, and yet more
lovingly hold each other close. The voices of the birds awake in the
trellis on the wall. Christophe opens his eyes, holds his breath, and
his heart melts as he looks down at the dear tired face of his sleeping
beloved, pale with the paleness of love....

Their love was no selfish passion. It was a profound love in
comradeship, in which the body also demanded its share. They did not
hinder each other. They both went on with their work. Christophe's
genius and kindness and moral fiber were dear to Françoise. She felt
older than he in many ways, and she found a maternal pleasure in the
relation. She regretted her inability to understand anything he played:
music was a closed book to her, except at rare moments, when she would
be overcome by a wild emotion, which came less from the music than from
her own inner self, from the passion in which she was steeped at that
time, she and everything about her, the country, people, color, and
sound. But she was none the less conscious of Christophe's genius,
because it was expressed in a mysterious language which she did not
understand. It was like watching a great actor playing in a foreign
language. Her own genius was rekindled by it. Christophe, thanks to
love, could project his ideas and body forth his passions in the mind of
the woman and her beloved person: they seemed to him more beautiful
there than they were in himself--endowed with an antique and seemingly
eternal beauty. Intimacy with such a soul, so feminine, so weak and kind
and cruel, and genial in flashes, was a source of boundless wealth. She
taught him much about life, and men--about women, of whom he knew very
little, while she judged them with swift, unerring perception. But
especially he was indebted to her for a better understanding of the
theater; she helped him to pierce through to the spirit of that
admirable art, the most perfect of all arts, the fullest and most sober.
She revealed to him the beauty of that magic instrument of the human
dream,--and made him see that he must write for it and not for himself,
as he had a tendency to do,--(the tendency of too many artists, who,
like Beethoven, refuse to write "_for a confounded violin when the
Spirit speaks to them_").--A great dramatic poet is not ashamed to
work for a particular theater and to adapt his ideas to the actors at
his disposal: he sees no belittlement in that: but he knows that a vast
auditorium calls for different methods of expression than those
necessary for a smaller space, and that a man does not write
trumpet-blares for the flute. The theater, like the fresco, is art
fitted to its place. And therefore it is above all else the human art,
the living art.

Françoise's ideas were in accordance with Christophe's, who, at that
stage in his career, was inclined towards a collective art, in communion
with other men. Françoise's experience helped him to grasp the
mysterious collaboration which is set up between the audience and the
actor. Though Françoise was a realist, and had very few illusions, yet
she had a great perception of the power of reciprocal suggestion, the
waves of sympathy which pass between the actor and the multitude, the
great silence of thousands of men and women from which arises the single
voice of their interpreter. Naturally she could only feel it in
intermittent flashes, very, very rare, which were hardly ever reproduced
at the same passages in the same play. For the rest her work was a
soulless trade, an intelligent and coldly mechanical routine. But the
interest of it lay in the exception--the flash of light which pierced
the darkness of the abyss, the common soul of millions of men and women
whose living force was expressed in her for the space of a second of
eternity.

It was this common soul which it was the business of the great artist to
express. His ideal should be a living objectivism, in which the poet
should throw himself into those for whom he sings, and denude himself of
self, to clothe the collective passions which are blown over the world
like a mighty wind. Françoise was all the more keenly conscious of the
necessity, inasmuch as she was incapable of such disinterestedness, and
always played herself.--For the last century and a half the disordered
efflorescence of individual lyricism has been tinged with morbidity.
Moral greatness consists in feeling much and controlling much, in being
sober in words and chaste in thought, in not making a parade of it, in
making a look speak and speak profoundly, without childish exaggeration
or effeminate effusiveness, to those who can grasp the half-spoken
thought, to men. Modern music, which is so loquaciously introspective,
dragging in indiscreet confidences at every turn, is immodest and
lacking in taste. It is like those invalids who can think of nothing but
their illnesses, and never weary of discussing them with other people
and going into repulsive petty details. This travesty of art has been
growing more and more prevalent for the last century. Françoise, who was
no musician, was disposed to see a sign of decadence in the development
of music at the expense of poetry, like a polypus sucking it dry.
Christophe protested: but, upon reflection, he began to wonder whether
there might not be some truth in it. The first _lieder_ written to
poems of Goethe were sober and apt: soon Schubert came and infused his
romantic sentimentality into them and gave them a twist: Schumann
introduced his girlish languor: and, down to Hugo Wolf, the movement had
gone on towards more stress in declamation, indecent analysis, a
presumptuous endeavor to leave no smallest corner of the soul unlit.
Every veil about the mysteries of the heart was rent. Things said in all
earnestness by a man were now screamed aloud by shameless girls who
showed themselves in their nakedness.

Christophe was rather ashamed of such art, by which he was himself
conscious of being contaminated: and, without seeking to go back to the
past,--(an absurd, unnatural desire),--he steeped himself in the spirit
of those of the masters of the past who had been haughtily discreet in
their thought and had possessed the sense of a great collective art:
like Handel, who, scorning the tearful piety of his time and country,
wrote his colossal _Anthems_ and his oratorios, those heroic epics
which are songs of the nations for the nations. The difficulty was to
find inspiring subjects, which, like the Bible in Handel's time, could
arouse emotions common to all the nations of modern Europe. Modern
Europe had no common book: no poem, no prayer, no act of faith which was
the property of all. Oh! the shame that should overwhelm all the
writers, artists, thinkers, of to-day! Not one of them has written, not
one of them has thought, for all. Only Beethoven has left a few pages of
a new Gospel of consolation and brotherhood: but only musicians can read
it, and the majority of men will never hear it. Wagner, on the hill at
Bayreuth, has tried to build a religious art to bind all men together.
But his great soul had too little simplicity and too many of the
blemishes of the decadent music and thought of his time: not the fishers
of Galilee have come to the holy hill, but the Pharisees.

Christophe felt sure what he had to do: but he had no poet, and he was
forced to be self-sufficing and to confine himself to music. And music,
whatever people say, is not a universal language: the bow of words is
necessary to send the arrow of sound into the hearts of all men.

Christophe planned to write a suite of symphonies inspired by everyday
life. Among others he conceived a Domestic Symphony, in his own manner,
which was very different from that of Richard Strauss. He was not
concerned with materializing family life in a cinematograph picture, by
making use of a conventional alphabet, in which musical themes expressed
arbitrarily the various characters whom, if the auditor's eyes and ears
could stand it, were presently to be seen going through divers
evolutions together. That seemed to him a pedantic and childish game for
a great contrapuntist. He did not try to describe characters or actions,
but only to express emotions familiar to every man and woman, in which
they could find the echo of their own souls, and perhaps comfort and
relief. The first movement expressed the grave and simple happiness of a
loving young couple, with its tender sensuality, its confidence in the
future, its joy and hopes. The second movement was an elegy on the death
of a child. Christophe had avoided with horror any effort to depict
death, and realistic detail in the expression of sorrow: there was only
the utter misery of it,--yours, mine, everybody's, of being face to face
with a misfortune which falls or may fall to the lot of everybody. The
soul, prostrate in its grief, from which Christophe had banned the usual
effects of sniveling melodrama, recovered bit by bit, in a sorrowful
effort, to offer its suffering as a sacrifice to God. Once more it set
bravely out on the road, in the next movement, which was linked with the
second,--a headstrong fugue, the bold design and insistent rhythm of
which captivated, and, through struggles and tears, led on to a mighty
march, full of indomitable faith. The last movement depicted the evening
of life. The themes of the opening movement reappeared in it with their
touching confidence and their tenderness which could not grow old, but
riper, emerging from the shadow of sorrow, crowned with light, and, like
a rich blossoming, raising a religious hymn of love to life and God.

Christophe also rummaged in the books of the past for great, simple,
human subjects speaking to the best in the hearts of all men. He chose
two such stories: _Joseph_ and _Niobe_. But then Christophe
was brought up not only against his need of a poet, but against the
vexed question, which has been argued for centuries and never solved, of
the union of poetry and music. His talks with Françoise had brought him
back to his idea, sketched out long ago with Corinne, of a form of
musical drama, somewhere between recitative opera and the spoken
drama,--the art of the free word united with free music,--an art of
which hardly any artist of to-day has a glimmering, an art also which
the routine critics, imbued with the Wagnerian tradition, deny, as they
deny every really new work: for it is not a matter of following in the
footsteps of Beethoven, Weber, Schumann, Bizet, although they used the
melodramatic form with genius: it is not a matter of yoking any sort of
speaking voice to any sort of music, and producing, at all costs, with
absurd tremolos, coarse effects upon coarse audiences: it is a matter of
creating a new form, in which musical voices will be wedded to
instruments attuned to those voices, discreetly mingling with their
harmonious periods the echo of dreams and the plaintive murmur of music.
It goes without saying that such a form could only be applied to a
narrow range of subjects, to intimate and introspective moments of the
soul, so as to conjure up its poetic perfume. In no art should there be
more discretion and aristocracy of feeling. It is only natural,
therefore, that it should have little chance of coming to flower in an
age which, in spite of the pretensions of its artists, reeks of the
deep-seated vulgarity of upstarts.

Perhaps Christophe was no more suited to such an art than the rest: his
very qualities, his plebeian force, were obstacles in the way. He could
only conceive it, and with the aid of Françoise realize a few rough
sketches.

In this way he set to music passages from the Bible, almost literally
transcribed,--like the immortal scene in which Joseph makes himself
known to his brothers, and, after so many trials, can no longer contain
his emotion and tender feeling, and whispers the words which have wrung
tears from old Tolstoy, and many another:

"_Then Joseph could not refrain himself.... I am Joseph; doth my
father yet live? I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. I
am Joseph...._"

Their beautiful and free relation could not last. They had moments
splendid and full of life: but they were too different. They were both
strong-willed, and then often clashed. But their differences were never
of a vulgar character: for Christophe had won Françoise's respect. And
Françoise, who could sometimes be so cruel, was kind to those who were
kind to her; no power on earth could have made her do anything to hurt
them. And besides, both of them had a fund of gay humor. She was always
the first to laugh at herself. She was still eating her heart out: for
the old passion still had its grip on her: she still thought of the
blackguard she loved: and she could not bear to be in so humiliating a
position or, above all, to have Christophe suspecting what she was
feeling.

Christophe would sometimes find her for days together silent and
restless and given up to melancholy, and could not understand how she
could be unhappy. She had achieved her end: she was a great artist,
admired, flattered....

"Yes," she would say; "that would be all very well if I were one of
those famous actresses, with, no soul above shopkeeping, who run the
theater just as they would run any other business. They are quite happy
when they have 'realized' a good position, a commonplace, wealthy
marriage, and--the _ne plus ultra_--been decorated. I wanted more
than that. Unless one is a fool, success is even more empty than
failure. You must know that!"

"I know," said Christophe. "Ah! Dear God, that is not what I imagined
fame to be when I was a child. How I longed for it, and what a shining
thing it seemed to be! It was almost a religion to me then.... No
matter! There is one divine virtue in success: the good it gives one the
power to do."

"What good? One has conquered. But what's the good of it? Nothing is
altered. Theaters, concerts, everything is just the same. A new fashion
succeeds the old: that is all. They do not understand one, or only
superficially: and they begin to think of something else at once.... Do
you yourself understand other artists? In any case, they don't
understand you. The people you love best are so far away from you! Look
at your Tolstoy...."

Christophe had written to him: he had been filled with enthusiasm for
him, and had wept over his books: he wanted to set one of the peasant
tales to music, and had asked for his authority, and had sent him his
_lieder_. Tolstoy did not reply, any more than Goethe replied to
Schubert or Berlioz when they sent him their masterpieces. He had had
Christophe's music played to him, and it had irritated him: he could
make nothing of it. He regarded Beethoven as a decadent, and Shakespeare
as a charlatan. On the other hand, he was infatuated with various little
pretty-pretty masters, and the harpsichord music which used to charm the
_Roi-Perruque_: and he regarded _La Confession d'une Femme de
Chambre_ as a Christian book....

"Great men have no need of us," said Christophe. "We must think of the
others."

"Who? The dull public, the shadows who hide life from us? Act, write for
such people? Give your life for them? That would be bitter indeed!"

"Bah!" said Christophe. "I see them as they are just as you do: but I
don't let it make me despondent. They are not as bad as you say."

"Dear old German optimist!"

"They are men, like myself. Why should they not understand me?...--And
suppose they don't understand me, why should I despair? Among all the
thousands of people there will surely be one or two who will be with me:
that is enough for me, and gives me window enough to breathe the outer
air.... Think of all the simple playgoers, the young people, the old
honest souls, who are lifted out of their tedious everyday life by your
appearance, your voice, your revelation of tragic beauty. Think of what
you were yourself when you were a child! Isn't it a fine thing to give
to others--perhaps even only to one other--the happiness that others
gave you, and to do to them the good that others did to you?"

"Do you really believe that there is one such in the world? I have come
to doubt it.... Besides, what sort of love do we get from the best of
those who love us? How do they see us? They see so badly! They admire
you while they degrade you: they get just as much pleasure out of
watching any old stager act: they drag you down to the level of the
idiots you despise. In their eyes all successful people are exactly the
same."

"And yet, when all is told, it is the greatest of all who go down to
posterity with the greatest."

"It is only the backward movement of time. Mountains grow taller the
farther you go away from them. You see their height better: but you are
farther away from them.... And besides, who is to tell us who are the
greatest? What do you know of the men who have disappeared?"

"Nonsense!" said Christophe. "Even if nobody were to feel what I think
and what I am, I think my thoughts and I am what I am just the same. I
have my music, I love it, I believe in it: it is the truest thing in my
life."

"You are free in your art,--you can do what you like. But what can I do?
I am forced to act in the plays they give me, and go on acting until I
am sick of it. We are not yet, in France, such beasts of burden as those
American actors who play _Rip_ or _Robert Macaire_ ten thousand times, and
for twenty-five years of their lives go on grinding out and grinding out
an idiotic part. But we are on the road to it. Our theaters are so
poverty-stricken! The public will only stand genius in infinitesimal
doses, sprinkled with mannerisms and fashionable literature.... A
'fashionable genius'! Doesn't that make you laugh?... What waste of power!
Look at what they have made of a Mounet. What has he had to play the whole
of his life? Two or three parts that are worth the struggle for life: the
_Oedipus_ and _Polyeucte_. The rest has been rot! Isn't that enough to
disgust one? And just think of all the great and glorious things he might
have had to do!... Things are no better outside France? What have they
made of a Duse? What has her life been given up to? Think of the futile
parts she has played?"

"Your real task," said Christophe, "is to force great works of art on
the world."

"We should exhaust ourselves in a vain endeavor. It isn't worth it. As
soon as a great work of art is brought into the theater it loses its
great poetic quality. It becomes a hollow sham. The breath of the public
sullies it. The public consists of people living in stifling towns and
they have lost all knowledge of the open air, and Nature, and healthy
poetry: they must have their poetry theatrical, glittering, painted,
reeking.--Ah! And besides ... besides, even suppose one did succeed ...
no, that would not fill one's life, it would not fill my life...."

"You are still thinking of him."

"Who?"

"You know. That man."

"Yes."

"Even if you could have him and he loved you, confess that you would not
be happy even then: you would still find some means of tormenting
yourself."

"True.... Ah! What is the matter with me?... I think I have had too hard
a fight. I have fretted too much: I can't ever be calm again: there is
always an uneasiness in me, a sort of fever...."

"It must have been in you even before your struggles."

"Possibly. Yes. It was in me when I was a little girl, as far back as I
can remember.... It was devouring me then."

"What do you want?"

"How do I know? More than I can have."

"I know that," said Christophe. "I was like that when I was a boy."

"Yes, but you have become a man. I shall never be grown-up as long as I
live. I am an incomplete creature."

"No one is complete. Happiness lies in knowing one's limitations and
loving them."

"I can't do that. I've lost it. Life has cheated me, tricked me,
crippled me. And yet I fancy that I could never have been a normal and
healthy and beautiful woman without being like the rest of the gang."

"There's no reason why you shouldn't be all these things. I can see you
being like that!"

"Tell me how you can see me."

He described her, in conditions under which she might have developed
naturally and harmoniously, and been happy, loved, and loving. And it
did her good to hear it. But when he had done, she said:

"No. It is impossible now."

"Well," he said, "in that case you must say to yourself, like dear old
Handel when he went blind:

[Illustration: Musical notation with caption: _What ever is, is right."_]

He went to the piano and sang it for her. She kissed him and called him
her dear, crazy optimist. He did her good. But she did him harm: or at
least, she was afraid of him. She had violent fits of despair, and could
not conceal them from him: her love made her weak. At night she would
try to choke down her agony, he would guess, and beg the beloved
creature who was so near and yet so far, to share with him the burden
which lay so heavy on her: then she could not hold out any longer, and
she would turn weeping to his arms; and he would spend hours in
comforting her, kindly, without a spark of anger: but in the long-run
her perpetual restlessness was bound to tell on him. Françoise trembled
lest the fever that was in her should infect him. She loved him too much
to be able to bear the idea that he should suffer because of her. She
was offered an engagement in America, and she accepted it, so as to tear
herself away from him. She left him a little humiliated. She was as
humiliated as he, in the knowledge that they could not make each other
happy!

"My poor dear," she said to him, smiling sadly and tenderly. "Aren't we
stupid? We shall never have such a friendship again, never such a
glorious opportunity. But it can't be helped, it can't be helped. We are
too stupid!"

They looked at each other mournfully and shamefacedly. They laughed to
keep themselves from weeping, kissed, and parted with tears in their
eyes. Never had they loved so well as when they parted.

And after she was gone he returned to art, his old companion.... Oh, the
peace of the starry sky!

It was not long before Christophe received a letter from Jacqueline. It
was only the third time she had written to him, and her tone was very
different from that to which she had accustomed him. She told him how
sorry she was not to have seen him for so long, and very nicely invited
him to come and see her, unless he wished to hurt two friends who loved
him. Christophe was delighted, but not greatly surprised. He had been
inclined to think that Jacqueline's unjust disposition towards him would
not last. He was fond of quoting a jest of his old grandfather's:

"Sooner or later women have their good moments: one only needs the
patience to wait for them."

He went to see Olivier, and was welcomed with delight. Jacqueline was
most attentive to him: she avoided the ironical manner which was natural
to her, took care not to say anything that might hurt Christophe, showed
great interest in what he was doing, and talked intelligently about
serious subjects. Christophe thought her transformed. But she was only
so to please him. Jacqueline had heard of Christophe's affair with the
popular actress, the tale of which had gone the rounds of Parisian
gossip: and Christophe had appeared to her in an altogether new light:
she was filled with curiosity about him. When she met him again she
found him much more sympathetic. Even his faults seemed to her to be not
without attraction. She realized that Christophe had genius, and that it
would be worth while to make him love her.

The position between the young couple was no better, but rather worse.
Jacqueline was bored, bored, bored: she was bored to death.... How
utterly lonely a woman is! Except children, nothing can hold her: and
children are not enough to hold her forever: for when she is really a
woman, and not merely a female, when she has a rich soul and an
abounding vitality, she is made for so many things which she cannot
accomplish alone and with none to help her!... A man is much less
lonely, even when he is most alone: he can people the desert with his
own thoughts: and when he is lonely in married life he can more easily
put up with it, for he notices it less, and can always live in the
soliloquy of his own thoughts. And it never occurs to him that the sound
of his voice going on imperturbably babbling in the desert, makes the
silence more terrible and the desert more frightful for the woman by his
side, for whom all words are dead that are not kindled by love. He does
not see it: he has not, like the woman, staked his whole life on love:
his life has other occupations.... What man is there can fill the life
of a woman and satisfy her immense desire, the millions of ardent and
generous forces that, through the forty thousand years of the life of
humanity, have burned to no purpose, as a holocaust offered up to two
idols: passing love and motherhood, that sublime fraud, which is refused
to thousands of women and never fills more than a few years in the lives
of the rest?

Jacqueline was in despair. She had moments of terror that cut through
her like swords. She thought:

"Why am I alive? Why was I ever born?" And her heart would ache and
throb in agony.

"My God, I am going to die! My God, I am going to die!"

That idea haunted her, obsessed her through the night. She used to dream
that she was saying:

"It is 1889."

"No," the answer would come. "It is 1909." And the thought that she was
twenty years older than she imagined would make her wretched.

"It will all be over, and I have never lived! What have I done with
these twenty years? What have I made of my life?"

She would dream that she was _four_ little girls, all four lying in
the same room in different beds. They were all of the same figure and
the same face: but one was eight, one was fifteen, one was twenty, and
the fourth was thirty. There was an epidemic. Three of them had died.
The fourth looked at herself in the mirror, and she was filled with
terror: she saw herself with the skin drawn tight over her nose, and her
features pinched and withered... she was going to die too--and then it
would be all over....

"... What have I done with my life?..." She would wake up in tears; and
the nightmare would not vanish with the day: the nightmare was real.
What had she done with her life? Who had robbed her of it?... She would
begin to hate Olivier, the innocent accomplice--(innocent! What did it
matter if the harm done was the same!)--of the blind law which was
crushing her. She would be sorry for it at once, for she was kind of
heart: but she was suffering too much: and she could not help wreaking
her vengeance on the man who was bound to her and was stifling her life,
by making him suffer more than he was indeed suffering. Then she would
be more sorry than ever: she would loathe herself and feel that if she
did not find some way of escape she would do things even more evil. She
groped blindly about to find some way of escape: she clutched at
everything like a drowning woman: she tried to take an interest in
something, work, or another human being, that might be in some sort her
own, her work, a creature belonging to herself. She tried to take up
some intellectual work, and learned foreign languages: she began an
article, a story: she began to paint, to compose.... In vain: she grew
tired of everything, and lost heart the very first day. They were too
difficult. And then, "books, works of art! What are they? I don't know
whether I love them, I don't even know whether they
exist...."--Sometimes she would talk excitedly and laugh with Olivier,
and seem to be keenly interested in the things they talked about, or in
what he was doing: she would try to bemuse and benumb herself.... In
vain: suddenly her excitement would collapse, her heart would go icy
cold, she would hide away, with never a tear, hardly a breath, utterly
prostrate.--She had in some measure succeeded in destroying Olivier. He
was growing skeptical and worldly. She did not mind: she found him as
weak as herself. Almost every evening they used to go out: and she would
go in an agony of suffering and boredom from one fine house to another,
and no one would ever guess the feeling that lay behind the irony of her
unchanging smile. She was seeking for some one to love her and keep her
back from the edge of the abyss.... In vain, in vain, in vain. There was
nothing but silence in answer to her cry of despair.

She did not love Christophe: she could not bear his rough manner, his
painful frankness, and, above all, his indifference. She did not love
him: but she had a feeling that he at least was strong,--a rock towering
above death. And she tried to clutch hold of the rock, to cling to the
swimmer whose head rose above the waves, to cling to him or to drown
with him....

Besides, it was not enough for her to have cut her husband off from his
friends: now she was driven on to take them from him. Even the best of
women sometimes have an instinct which impels them to try and see how
far their power goes, and to go beyond it. In that abuse of their power
their weakness proves its strength. And when the woman is selfish and
vain she finds a malign pleasure in robbing her husband of the
friendship of his friends. It is easily done: she has but to use her
eyes a little. There is hardly a single man, honorable or otherwise, who
is not weak enough to nibble at the bait. Though the friend be never so
true and loyal, he may avoid the act, but he will almost always betray
his friend in thought. And if the other man sees it, there is an end of
their friendship: they no longer see each other with the same eyes.--The
woman who plays such a dangerous game generally stops at that and asks
no more: she has them both, disunited, at her mercy.

Christophe observed Jacqueline's new graces and charming treatment of
himself, but he was not surprised. When he had an affection for any one
he had a naïve way of taking it as a matter of course that the affection
should be returned without any ulterior thought. He responded gladly to
Jacqueline's advances; he thought her charming, and amused himself
thoroughly with her: and he thought so well of her that he was not far
from thinking Olivier rather a bungler not to be able to be happy with
her and to make her happy.

He went with them for a few days' tour in a motor-car: and he was their
guest at the Langeais' country house in Burgundy--an old family mansion
which was kept because of its associations, though they hardly ever went
there. It was in a lovely situation, in the midst of vineyards and
woods: it was very shabby inside, and the windows were loose in their
frames: there was a moldy smell in it, a smell of ripe fruit, of cold
shadow, and resinous trees warmed by the sun. Living constantly in
Jacqueline's company for days together, a sweet insidious feeling crept
into Christophe's veins, without in the least disturbing his peace of
mind: he took an innocent, though by no means immaterial, delight in
seeing her, hearing her, feeling the contact of her beautiful body, and
sipping the breath of her mouth. Olivier was a little anxious and
uneasy, but said nothing. He suspected nothing: but he was oppressed by
a vague uneasiness which he would have been ashamed to admit to himself:
by way of punishing himself for it he frequently left them alone
together. Jacqueline saw what he was thinking, and was touched by it:
she longed to say to him:

"Come, don't be anxious, my dear. I still love you the best."

But she did not say it: and they all three went on drifting: Christophe
entirely unconscious, Jacqueline not knowing what she really wanted, and
leaving it to chance to tell her, and Olivier alone seeing and feeling
what was in the wind, but in the delicacy of vanity and love, refusing
to think of it. When the will is silent, instinct speaks: in the absence
of the soul, the body goes its own way.

One evening, after dinner, the night seemed to them so lovely--a
moonless, starry night,--that they proposed to go for a walk in the
garden. Olivier and Christophe left the house. Jacqueline went up to her
room to fetch a shawl. She did not come down. Christophe went to look
for her, fuming at the eternal dilatoriness of woman.--(For some time
without knowing it he had slipped into playing the part of the
husband.)--He heard her coming. The shutters of her room were closed and
he could not see.

"Come along, you dilly-dallying madam," cried Christophe gaily. "You'll
wear your mirror out if you look at yourself so much."

She did not reply. She had stopped still. Christophe felt that she was
in the room: but she did not stir.

"Where are you?" he said.

She did not reply. Christophe said nothing either, and began groping in
the dark, and suddenly his heart grew big and began to thump, and he
stood still. Near him he could hear Jacqueline breathing lightly. He
moved again and stopped once more. She was near him: he knew it, but he
could not move. There was silence for a second or two. Suddenly he felt
her hands on his, her lips on his. He held her close. They stood still
and spoke no word.--Their lips parted; they wrenched away from each
other. Jacqueline left the room. Christophe followed her, trembling. His
legs shook beneath him. He stopped for a moment to lean against the wall
until the tumult in his blood died down. At last he joined them again.
Jacqueline was calmly talking to Olivier. They walked on a few yards in
front. Christophe followed them in a state of collapse. Olivier stopped
to wait for him. Christophe stopped too. Olivier, knowing his friend's
temper and the capricious silence in which he would sometimes bar
himself, did not persist, and went on walking with Jacqueline. And
Christophe followed them mechanically, lagging ten yards behind them
like a dog. When they stopped, he stopped. When they walked on, he
walked on. And so they went round the garden and back into the house.
Christophe went up to his room and shut himself in. He did not light the
lamp. He did not go to bed. He could not think. About the middle of the
night he fell asleep, sitting, with his head resting in his arms on the
table. He woke up an hour later. He lit a candle, feverishly flung
together his papers and belongings, packed his bag, and then flung
himself on the bed and slept until dawn. Then he went down with his
luggage and left the house. They waited for him all morning, and spent
the day looking for him. Jacqueline hid her furious anger beneath a mask
of indifference, and sarcastically pretended to go over her plate. It
was not until the following evening that Olivier received a letter from
Christophe:

    "_My dear Old Fellow_,

    "_Don't lie angry with me for having gone away like a madman.
    I am mad, you know. But what can I do? I am what I am. Thanks
    for your dear hospitality. I enjoyed it much. But, you know, I
    am not fit to live with other people. I'm not so sure either
    that I am fit to live. I am only fit to stay in my corner and
    love people--at a distance: it is wiser so. When I see them at
    too close quarters, I become misanthropic. And I don't want to
    be that. I want to love men and women, I want to love you all.
    Oh! How I long to help you all! If I could only help you to
    be--to be happy! How gladly would I give all the happiness I may
    have in exchange!... But that is forbidden. One can only show
    others the way. One cannot go their way in their stead. Each of
    us must save himself. Save yourself! Save yourselves! I love
    you._

    "CHRISTOPHE.

    "_My respects to Madame Jeannin_."

"Madame Jeannin" read the letter with a smile of contempt and her lips
tightly pressed together, and said dryly:

"Well. Follow his advice. Save yourself."

But when Olivier held out his hand for the letter, Jacqueline crumpled
it up and flung it down, and two great tears welled up into her eyes.
Olivier took her hands.

"What's the matter?" he asked, with some emotion.

"Let me be!" she cried angrily.

She went out. As she reached the door she cried:

"Egoists!"

Christophe had contrived to make enemies of his patrons of the _Grand
Journal_, as was only likely. Christophe had been endowed by Heaven
with the virtue extolled by Goethe: _non-gratitude_.

_"The horror of showing gratitude,"_ wrote Goethe ironically, _"is rare,
and only appears in remarkable men who have risen from the poorest class,
and at every turn have been forced to accept assistance, which is almost
invariably poisoned by the churlishness of the benefactor...."_

Christophe was never disposed to think himself obliged to abase himself
in return for service rendered, nor--what amounted to the same thing--to
surrender his liberty. He did not lend his own benefactions at so much
per cent.: he gave them. His benefactors, however, were of a very
different way of thinking. Their lofty moral feeling of the duties of
their debtors was shocked by Christophe's refusal to write the music for
a stupid hymn for an advertising festivity organized by the paper. They
made him feel the impropriety of his conduct. Christophe sent them
packing. And finally he exasperated them by the flat denial which he
gave shortly afterwards to certain statements attributed to him by the
paper.

Then they began a campaign against him. They used every possible weapon.
They dragged out once more the old pettifogging engine of war which has
always served the impotent against creative men, and, though it has
never killed anybody, yet it never fails to have an effect upon the
simple-minded and the fools: they accused him of plagiarism. They went
and picked out artfully selected and distorted passages from his
compositions and from those of various obscure musicians, and they
proved that he had stolen his inspiration from others. He was accused of
having tried to stifle various young artists. It would have been well
enough if he had only had to deal with those whose business it is to
bark, with those critics, those mannikins, who climb on the shoulders of
a great man and cry;

"I am greater than you!"

But no: men of talent must be wrangling among themselves: each man does
his best to make himself intolerable to his colleagues: and yet, as
Christophe said, the world was large enough for all of them to be able
to work in peace: and each of them in his own talent had quite enough to
struggle against.

In Germany he found artists so jealous of him that they were ready to
furnish his enemies with weapons against him, and even, if need be, to
invent them. He found the same thing in France. The nationalists of the
musical press--several of whom were foreigners,--flung his nationality
in his teeth as an insult. Christophe's success had grown widely; and as
he had a certain vogue, they pretended that his exaggeration must
irritate even those who had no definite views--much more those who had.
Among the concert-going public, and among people in society and the
writers on the young reviews, Christophe by this time had enthusiastic
partisans, who went into ecstasies over everything he did, and were wont
to declare that music did not exist before his advent. Some of them
explained his music and found philosophic meanings in it which simply
astounded him. Others would see in it a musical revolution, an assault
on the traditions which Christophe respected more than anybody. It was
useless for him to protest. They would have proved to him that he did
not know what he had written. They admired themselves by admiring him.
And so the campaign against Christophe met with great sympathy among his
colleagues, who were exasperated by the "log-rolling" to which he was no
party. They did not need to rely on such reasons for not liking his
music: most of them felt with regard to it the natural irritation of the
man who has no ideas and no difficulty in expressing them according to
parrot-like formulæ, with the man who is full of ideas and employs them
clumsily in accordance with the apparent disorder of his creative
faculty. How often he had had to face the reproach of not being able to
write hurled at him by scribes, for whom style consisted in recipes
concocted by groups or schools, kitchen molds into which thought was
cast! Christophe's best friends, those who did not try to understand
him, and were alone in understanding him, because they loved him,
simply, for the pleasure he gave them, were obscure auditors who had no
voice in the matter. The only man who could have replied vigorously in
Christophe's name--Olivier--was at that time out of friends with him,
and had apparently forgotten him. Thus Christophe was delivered into the
hands of his adversaries and admirers, who vied with each other in doing
him harm. He was too disgusted to reply. When he read the
pronunciamentos directed against him in the pages of an important
newspaper by one of those presumptuous critics who usurp the sovereignty
of art with all the insolence of ignorance and impunity, he would shrug
his shoulders and say:

"Judge me. I judge you. Let us meet in a hundred years!"

But meanwhile the outcry against him took its course: and the public, as
usual, gulped down the most fatuous and shameful accusations.

As though his position was not already difficult enough, Christophe
chose that moment to quarrel with his publisher. He had no reason at all
to complain of Hecht, who published each new work as it was written, and
was honest in business. It is true that his honesty did not prevent his
making contracts disadvantageous to Christophe: but he kept his
contracts. He kept them only too well. One day Christophe was amazed to
see a septette of his arranged as a quartette, and a suite of piano
pieces clumsily transcribed as a duet, without his having been
consulted. He rushed to Heeht's office and thrust the offending music
under his nose, and said:

"Do you know these?"

"Of course," said Hecht.

"And you dared ... you dared tamper with my work without asking my
permission!..."

"What permission?" said Hecht calmly. "Your compositions are mine."

"Mine, too, I suppose?"

"No," said Hecht quietly.

Christophe started.

"My own work does not belong to me?"

"They are not yours any longer. You sold them to me."

"You're making fun of me! I sold you the paper. Make money out of that
if you like. But what is written on it is my life-blood; it is mine."

"You sold me everything. In exchange for these particular pieces, I gave
you a sum of three hundred francs in advance of a royalty of thirty
centimes on every copy sold of the original edition. Upon that
consideration, without any restriction or reserve, you have assigned to
me all your rights in your work."

"Even the right to destroy it?"

Hecht shrugged his shoulders, rang the bell, and said to a clerk.

"Bring me M. Kraff's account."

He gravely read Christophe the terms of the contract, which he had
signed without reading--from which it appeared, in accordance with the
ordinary run of contracts signed by music publishers in those very
distant times--"that M. Hecht was the assignee of all the rights,
powers, and property of the author, and had the exclusive right to edit,
publish, engrave, print, translate, hire, sell to his own profit, in any
form he pleased, to have the said work performed at concerts,
café-concerts, balls, theaters, etc., and to publish any arrangement of
the said work for any instrument and even with words, and also to change
the title ... etc., etc."

"You see," he said, "I am really very moderate."

"Evidently," said Christophe. "I ought to thank you. You might have
turned my septette into a café-concert song."

He stopped in horror and held his head in his hands.

"I have sold my soul," he said over and over again.

"You may be sure," said Hecht sarcastically, "that I shall not abuse
it."

"And to think," said Christophe, "that your Republic authorizes such
practices! You say that man is free. And you put ideas up to public
auction."

"You have had your money," said Hecht.

"Thirty pieces of silver. Yes," said Christophe. "Take them back."

He fumbled in his pockets, meaning to give the three hundred francs back
to Hecht. But he had nothing like that sum. Hecht smiled a little
disdainfully. His smile infuriated Christophe.

"I want my work back," he said. "I will buy them back from you."

"You have no right to do so," said Hecht. "But as I have no desire to
keep a man against his will, I am quite ready to give them back to
you,--if you are in a position to pay the indemnity stated in the
contract."

"I will do it," said Christophe, "even if I have to sell myself."

He accepted without discussion the conditions which Hecht submitted to
him a fortnight later. It was an amazing act of folly, and he bought
back his published compositions at a price five times greater than the
sum they had brought him in, though it was by no means exorbitant: for
it was scrupulously calculated on the basis of the actual profits which
had accrued to Hecht. Christophe could not pay, and Hecht had counted on
it. He had no intention of squeezing Christophe, of whom he thought more
highly, both as a musician and as a man, than of any other young
musician: but he wanted to teach him a lesson: for he could not permit
his clients to revolt against what was after all within his rights. He
had not made the laws: they were those of the time, and they seemed to
him equitable. Besides, he was quite sincerely convinced that they were
to the benefit of the author as much as to the benefit of the publisher,
who knows better than the author how to circulate his work, and is not,
like the author, hindered by scruples of a sentimental, respectable
order, which are contrary to his real interests. He had made up his mind
to help Christophe to succeed, but in his own way, and on condition that
Christophe was delivered into his hands, tied hand and foot. He wanted
to make him feel that he could not so easily dispense with his services.
They made a conditional bargain: if, at the end of six months,
Christophe could not manage to pay, his work should become Hecht's
absolute property. It was perfectly obvious that Christophe would not be
able to collect a quarter of the sum requisite.

However, he stuck to it, said good-by to the rooms which were so full of
memories for him, and took a less expensive flat,--selling a number of
things, none of which, to his great surprise, were of any
value,--getting into debt, and appealing to Mooch's good nature, who,
unfortunately, was at that time very badly off and ill, being confined
to the house with rheumatism,--trying to find another publisher, and
everywhere finding conditions as grasping as Hecht's, and in some cases
a point-blank refusal.

It was just at the time when the attack on him in the musical press was
at its height. One of the leading Parisian papers was especially
implacable: he was like a red rag to a bull to one of the staff who did
not sign his name; not a week passed but there appeared in the column
headed _Échos_ a spiteful paragraph ridiculing him. The musical
critic completed the work of his anonymous colleague: the very smallest
pretext served him as an opportunity of expressing his animosity. But
that was only the preliminary skirmishing: he promised to return to the
subject and deal with it at leisure, and to proceed in due course to
execution. They were in no hurry, knowing that a definite accusation has
nothing like the same effect on the public as a succession of
insinuations repeated persistently. They played with Christophe like a
cat with a mouse. The articles were all sent to Christophe, and he
despised them, though they made him suffer for all that. However, he
said nothing: and, instead of replying--(could he have done so, even if
he had wanted to?)--he persisted in the futile and unequal fight with
his publisher, provoked by his own vanity. He wasted his time, his
strength, his money, and his only weapons, since in the lightness of his
heart he was rash enough to deprive himself of the publicity which his
music gained through Hecht.

Suddenly there was a complete change. The article announced in the paper
never appeared. The insinuations against him were dropped. The campaign
stopped short. More than that: a few weeks later, the critic of the
paper published incidentally a few eulogistic remarks which seemed to
indicate that peace was made. A great publisher at Leipzig wrote to
Christophe offering to publish his work, and the contract was signed on
terms very advantageous to him. A flattering letter, bearing the seal of
the Austrian Embassy, informed Christophe that it was desired to place
certain of his compositions on the programs of the galas given at the
Embassy. Philomela, whom Christophe was pushing forward, was asked to
sing at one of the galas: and, immediately afterwards, she was in great
demand in the best houses of the German and Italian colonies in Paris.
Christophe himself, who could not get out of going to one of the
concerts, was very well received by the Ambassador. However, a very
short conversation showed him that his host, who knew very little about
music, was absolutely ignorant of his work. How, then, did this sudden
interest come about? An invisible hand seemed to be protecting him,
removing obstacles, and making the way smooth for him. Christophe made
inquiries. The Ambassador alluded to friends of Christophe--Count and
Countess Berény, who were very fond of him. Christophe did not even know
their name: and on the night of his visit to the Embassy he had no
opportunity of being introduced to them. He did not make any effort to
meet them. He was passing through a period of disgust with men, in which
he set as little store by his friends as by his enemies: friends and
enemies were equally uncertain: they changed with the wind: he would
have to learn how to do without them, and say, like the old fellow of
the seventeenth century:

"_God gave me friends: He took them from me. They have left me. I will
leave them and say no more about it_."

Since the day when he left Olivier's house, Olivier had given no sign of
life: all seemed over between them. Christophe had no mind to form new
friendships. He imagined Count and Countess Berény to be like the rest
of the snobs who called themselves his friends: and he made no attempt
to meet them. He was more inclined to avoid them. He longed to be able
to escape from Paris. He felt an urgent desire to take refuge for a few
weeks in soothing solitude. If only he could have a few days, only a few
days, to refresh himself in his native country! Little by little that
idea became a morbid obsession. He wanted once more to see his dear
river, his own native sky, the land of his dead kinsfolk. He felt that
he must see them. He could not without endangering his freedom: he was
still subject to the warrant of arrest issued against him at the time of
his flight from Germany. But he felt that he was prepared to go to any
lengths if he could return, though it were only for one day.

As good luck would have it, he spoke of his longing to one of his new
patrons. A young attaché of the German Embassy, whom he met at an At
Home where he was playing, happened to say to him that his country was
proud of so fine a musician as himself, to which Christophe replied
bitterly:

"Our country is so proud of me that she lets me die on her doorstep
rather than open to me."

The young diplomatist asked him to explain the situation, and, a few
days later, he came to see Christophe, and said:

"People in high places are interested in you. A very great personage who
alone has the power to suspend the consequence of the sentence which is
the cause of your wretchedness has been informed of your position: and
he deigns to be touched by it. I don't know how it is that your music
can have given him any pleasure: for--(between ourselves)--his taste is
not very good: but he is intelligent, and he has a generous heart.
Though he cannot, for the moment, remove the sentence passed upon you,
the police are willing to shut their eyes, if you care to spend
forty-eight hours in your native town to see your family once more. Here
is a passport. You must have it endorsed when you arrive and when you
leave. Be wary, and do not attract attention to yourself."

Once more Christophe saw his native land. He spent the two days which
had been granted him in communion with the earth and those who were
beneath it. He visited his mother's grave. The grass was growing over
it: but flowers had lately been laid on it. His father and grandfather
slept side by side. He sat at their feet. Their grave lay beneath the
wall of the cemetery. It was shaded by a chestnut-tree growing in the
sunken road on the other side of the low wall, over which he could see
the golden crops, softly waving in the warm wind: the sun was shining in
his majesty over the drowsy earth: he could hear the cry of the quails
in the corn, and the soft murmuring of the cypress-trees above the
graves. Christophe was alone with his dreams. His heart was at peace. He
sat there with his hands clasping his knees, and his back against the
wall, gazing up at the sky. He closed his eyes for a moment. How simple
everything was! He felt at home here with his own people. He stayed
there near them, as it were hand in hand. The hours slipped by. Towards
evening he heard footsteps scrunching on the gravel paths. The custodian
passed by and looked at Christophe sitting there. Christophe asked him
who had laid the flowers on the grave. The man answered that the
farmer's wife from Buir came once or twice a year.

"Lorchen?" said Christophe.

They began to talk.

"You are her son?" said the man.

"She had three," said Christophe.

"I mean the one at Hamburg. The other two turned out badly."

Christophe sat still with his head thrown back a little, and said
nothing. The sun was setting.

"I'm going to lock up," said the custodian.

Christophe got up and walked slowly round the cemetery with him. The
custodian did the honors of the place. Christophe stopped every now and
then to read the names carved on the gravestones. How many of those he
knew were of that company! Old Euler,--his son-in-law,--and farther off,
the comrades of his childhood, little girls with whom he had played,
--and there, a name which stirred his heart: Ada.... Peace be with all of
them....

The fiery rays of the setting sun put a girdle round the calm horizon.
Christophe left the cemetery. He went for a long walk through the
fields. The stars were peeping....

Next day he came again, and once more spent the afternoon at his vigil.
But the fair silent calm of the day before was broken and thrilling with
life. His heart sang a careless, happy hymn. He sat on the curb of the
grave, and set down the song he heard in pencil in a notebook resting on
his knees. So the day passed. It seemed to him that he was working in
his old little room, and that his mother was there on the other side of
the partition. When he had finished and was ready to go--he had moved a
little away from the grave,--he changed his mind and returned, and
buried the notebook in the grass under the ivy. A few drops of rain were
beginning to fall. Christophe thought:

"It will soon be blotted out. So much the better!... For you alone. For
nobody else."

And he went to see the river once more, and the familiar streets where
so many things were changed. By the gates of the town along the
promenade of the old fortifications a little wood of acacia-trees which
he had seen planted had overrun the place, and they were stifling the
old trees. As he passed along the wall surrounding the Von Kerichs'
garden, he recognized the post on which he used to climb when he was a
little boy, to look over into the grounds: and he was surprised to see
how small the tree, the wall, and the garden had become.

He stopped for a moment before the front gateway. He was going on when a
carriage passed him. Mechanically he raised his eyes: and they met those
of a young lady, fresh, plump, happy-looking, who stared at him with a
puzzled expression. She gave an exclamation of surprise. She ordered the
carriage to stop, and said:

"Herr Krafft!"

He stopped.

She said laughingly:

"Minna...."

He ran to her almost as nervous as he had been on the day when he first
met her. [Footnote: See "Jean-Christophe: Morning."]

She was with a tall, stout, bald gentleman, with mustachios brushed up
belligerently, whom she introduced as "Herr Reichsgerichtsrat von
Brombach"--her husband. She wanted Christophe to go home with her. He
tried to excuse himself. But Minna exclaimed:

"No, no. You must come; come and dine with us."

She spoke very loud and very quickly, and, without waiting to be asked,
began to tell him her whole life. Christophe was stupefied by her
volubility and the noise she made, and only heard half what she said,
and stood looking at her. So that was his little Minna. She looked
blooming, healthy, well-fed: she had a pretty skin and pink complexion,
but her features were rather coarse, and her nose in particular was
thick and heavy. Her gestures, manners, pretty little ways, were just
the same; but her size was greatly altered.

However, she never stopped talking: she told Christophe all the stories
of her past; her whole private history, and how she had come to love her
husband and her husband her. Christophe was embarrassed. She was an
uncritical optimist, who found everything belonging to herself perfect
and superior to other people's possessions--(at least, when she was with
other people)--her town, her house, her family, her husband, her
cooking, her four children, and herself. She said of her husband in his
presence that he was "the most splendid man she had even seen," and that
there was in him "a superhuman force." "The most splendid man" pinched
Minna's cheeks laughingly, and assured Christophe that she "was a very
remarkable woman."

It seemed that _Herr Reichsgerichtsrat_ was informed of
Christophe's position, and did not exactly know whether he ought to
treat him with or without respect, having regard on the one hand to the
warrant out against him, and on the other to the august protection which
shielded him: he solved the difficulty by affecting a compromise between
the two manners. As for Minna, she went on talking. When she had talked
her fill about herself to Christophe, she began to talk about him: she
battered him with questions as intimate as her answers had been to the
supposititious questions which he had never asked. She was delighted to
see Christophe again: she knew nothing about his music: but she knew
that he was famous: it flattered her to think that she had loved
him,--(and that she had rejected him).--She reminded him of it jokingly
without much delicacy. She asked him for his autograph for her album.
She pestered him with questions about Paris. She showed a mixture of
curiosity and contempt for that city. She pretended that she knew it,
having been to the Folies-Bergère, the Opéra, Montmartre, and
Saint-Cloud. According to her, the women of Paris were all _cocottes_, bad
mothers, who had as few children as possible, and did not look after them,
and left them at home while they went to the theater or the haunts of
pleasant vice. She did not suffer contradiction. In the course of the
evening she asked Christophe to play the piano. She thought it charming.
But at bottom she admired her husband's playing just as much, for she
thought him as superior all round as she was herself.

Christophe had the pleasure of meeting Minna's mother once more, Frau
von Kerich. He still had a secret tenderness for her because she had
been kind to him. She had not lost any of her old kindness, and she was
more natural than Minna: but she still treated Christophe with that
ironical affection which used to irritate him in the old days. She had
stayed very much where he had left her: she liked the same things; and
it did not seem possible for her to admit that any one could do better
or differently: she set the Jean-Christophe of the old days against the
new Jean-Christophe, and preferred the former.

Of those about her no one had changed in mind save Christophe. The
rigidity of the little town, and its narrowness of outlook, were painful
to him. His hosts spent part of the evening in talking scandal about
people he did not know. They picked out the ridiculous points of their
neighbors, and they decreed everything ridiculous which was different
from themselves or their own way of doing things. Their malicious
curiosity, which was perpetually occupied with trifles, at last made
Christophe feel quite sick. He tried to talk about his life abroad. But
at once he became conscious of the impossibility of making them
understand French civilization which had made him suffer, and now became
dear to him when he stood for it in his own country--the free Latin
spirit, whose first law is understanding: to understand as much as possible
of life and mind, at the risk of cheapening moral codes. In his
hosts, especially in Minna, he found once more the arrogant spirit with
which he had come into such violent contact in the old days, though he
had almost forgotten it since,--the arrogance of weakness as much as of
virtue,--honesty without charity, pluming itself on its virtue, and
despising the weaknesses which it could not understand, a worship of the
conventional, and a shocked disdain of "irregular" higher things. Minna
was calmly and sententiously confident that she was always right. There
were no degrees in her judgment of others. For the rest, she never made
any attempt to understand them, and was only occupied with herself. Her
egoism was thinly coated with a blurred metaphysical tinge. She was
always talking of her "ego" and the development of her "ego." She may
have been a good woman, one capable of loving. But she loved herself too
much. And, above all, her respect for herself was too great. She seemed
to be perpetually saying a _Paternoster_ and an _Ave_ to her "ego." One
felt that she would have absolutely and forever ceased to love the man she
might have loved the best, if for a single instant he had failed--(even
though he were to regret it a thousand times when it was done)--to show a
due and proper respect for the dignity of her "ego."... Hang your "ego"!
Think a little of the second person singular!...

However, Christophe did not regard her severely. He who was ordinarily
so irritable listened to her chatter with the patience of an archangel.
He would not judge her. He surrounded her, as with a halo, with the
religious memory of his childish love, and he kept on trying to find in
her the image of his little Minna. It was not impossible to find her in
certain of her gestures: the quality of her voice had certain notes
which awoke echoes that moved him. He was absorbed in them, and said
nothing, and did not listen to what she was saying, though he seemed to
listen and always treated her with tender gentle respect. But he found
it hard to concentrate his thoughts: she made too much noise, and
prevented his hearing Minna. At last he got up, and thought a little
wearily:

"Poor little Minna! They would like me to think that you are there, in
that comely, stout woman, shouting at the top of her voice, and boring
me to death. But I know that it is not so. Come away, Minna. What have
we to do with these people?"

He went away, giving them to understand that he would return on the
morrow. If he had said that he was going away that very night, they
would not have let him go until it was time to catch the train. He had
only gone a few yards in the darkness when he recovered the feeling of
well-being which he had had before he met the carriage. The memory of
his tiresome evening was wiped out as though a wet sponge had been over
it: nothing was left of it: it was all drowned in the voice of the
Rhine. He walked along its banks by the house where he was born. He had
no difficulty in recognizing it. The shutters were closed: all were
asleep in it. Christophe stopped in the middle of the road: and it
seemed to him that if he knocked at the door, familiar phantoms would
open to him. He went into the field round the house, near the river, and
came to the place where he used to go and talk to Gottfried in the
evening. He sat down. And the old days came to life again. And the dear
little girl who had sipped with him the dream of first love was conjured
up. Together they lived through their childish tenderness again, with
its sweet tears and infinite hopes. And he thought with a simple smile:

"Life has taught me nothing. All my knowledge is vain.... All my
knowledge is vain.... I have still the same old illusions."

How good it is to love and to believe unfailingly! Everything that is
touched by love is saved from death.

"Minna, you are with me,--with me, not with _the other_,--Minna,
you will never grow old!..."

The veiled moon darted from her clouds, and made the silver scales on
the river's back gleam in her light. Christophe had a vague feeling that
the river never used to pass near the knoll where he was sitting. He
went near it. Yes. Beyond the pear-tree there used to be a tongue of
sand, a little grassy slope, where he had often played. The river had
swept them away: the river was encroaching, lapping at the roots of the
pear-tree. Christophe felt a pang at his heart: he went back towards the
station. In that direction a new colony--mean houses, sheds half-built,
tall factory chimneys--was in course of construction. Christophe thought
of the acacia-wood he had seen in the afternoon, and he thought:

"There, too, the river is encroaching...."

The old town, lying asleep in the darkness, with all that it contained
of the living and the dead, became even more dear to him: for he felt
that a menace hung over it....

_Hostis habet muros...._

Quick, let us save our women and children! Death is lying in wait for
all that we love. Let us hasten to carve the passing face upon eternal
bronze. Let us snatch the treasure of our motherland before the flames
devour the palace of Priam.

Christophe scrambled into the train as it was going, like a man fleeing
before a flood. But, like those men who saved the gods of their city
from the wreck, Christophe bore away within his soul the spark of life
which had flown upwards from his native land, and the sacred spirit of
the past.

Jacqueline and Olivier had come together again for a time. Jacqueline
had lost her father, and his death had moved her deeply. In the presence
of real misfortune she had felt the wretched folly of her other sorrows:
and the tenderness which Olivier showed towards her had revived her
affection for him. She was taken back several years to the sad days
which had followed on the death of her Aunt Marthe--days which had been
followed by the blessed days of love. She told herself that she was
ungrateful to life, and that she ought to be thankful that the little it
had given her was not taken from her. She hugged that little to herself
now that its worth had been revealed to her. A short absence from Paris,
ordered by her doctor to distract her in her grief, travel with Olivier,
a sort of pilgrimage to the places where they had loved each other
during the first year of her marriage, softened her and filled her with
tenderness. In the sadness of seeing once more at the turn of the road
the dear face of the love which they thought was gone forever, of seeing
it pass and knowing that it would vanish once more,--for how long?
perhaps forever?--they clutched at it passionately and desperately....

"Stay, stay with us!"

But they knew that they must lose it....

When Jacqueline returned to Paris she felt a little new life, kindled by
love, thrilling in her veins. But love had gone already. The burden
which lay so heavy upon her did not bring her into sympathy with Olivier
again. She did not feel the joy she expected. She probed herself
uneasily. Often when she had been so tormented before she had thought
that the coming of a child might be her salvation. The child had come,
but it brought no salvation. She felt the human plant rooted in her
flesh growing, and sucking up her blood and her life. She would stay for
days together lost in thought, listening with vacant eyes, all her being
exhausted by the unknown creature that had taken possession of her. She
was conscious of a vague buzzing, sweet, lulling, agonizing. She would
start suddenly from her torpor--dripping with sweat, shivering, with a
spasm of revolt. She fought against the meshes in which Nature had
entrapped her. She wished to live, to live freely, and it seemed to her
that Nature had tricked her. Then she was ashamed of such thoughts, and
seemed monstrous in her own eyes, and asked herself if she were more
wicked than, or made differently from, other women. And little by little
she would grow calm again, browsing like a tree over the sap, and the
dream of the living fruit ripening in her womb. What was it? What was it
going to be?...

When she heard its first cry to the light, when she saw its pitiable
touching little body, her heart melted. In one dazzling moment she knew
the glorious joy of motherhood, the mightiest in all the world: in her
suffering to have created of her own flesh a living being, a man. And
the great wave of love which moves the universe, caught her whole body,
dashed her down, rushed over her, and lifted her up to the heavens.... O
God, the woman who creates is Thy equal: and thou knowest no joy like
unto hers: for thou hast not suffered....

Then the wave rolled back, and her soul dropped back into the depths.
Olivier, trembling with emotion, stooped over the child: and, smiling at
Jacqueline, he tried to understand what bond of mysterious life there
was between themselves and the wretched little creature that was as yet
hardly human. Tenderly, with a little feeling of disgust, he just
touched its little yellow wrinkled face with his lips. Jacqueline
watched him: jealously she pushed him away: she took the child and
hugged it to her breast, and covered it with kisses. The child cried and
she gave it back, and, with her face turned to the wall, she wept.
Olivier came to her and kissed her, and drank her tears: she kissed him
too, and forced herself to smile: then she asked to be left alone to
rest with the child by her side.... Alas! what is to be done when love
is dead? The man who gives more than half of himself up to intelligence
never loses a strong feeling without preserving a trace, an idea, of it
in his brain. He cannot love any more, but he cannot forget that he has
loved. But the woman who has loved wholly and without reason, and
without reason ceases wholly to love, what can she do? Will? Take refuge
in illusions? And what if she be too weak to will, too true to take
refuge in illusions?...

Jacqueline, lying on her side with her head propped up by her hand,
looked down at the child with tender pity. What was he? Whatever he was,
he was not entirely hers. He was also something of "the other." And she
no longer loved "the other." Poor child! Dear child! She was exasperated
with the little creature who was there to bind her to the dead past: and
she bent over him and kissed and kissed him....

It is the great misfortune of the women of to-day that they are too free
without being free enough. If they were more free, they would seek to
form ties, and would find charm and security in them. If they were less
free, they would resign themselves to ties which they would not know how
to break: and they would suffer less. But the worst state of all is to
have ties which do not bind, and duties from which it is possible to
break free.

If Jacqueline had believed that her little house was to be her lot for
the whole of her life, she would not have found it so inconvenient and
cramped, and she would have devised ways of making it comfortable: she
would have ended as she began, by loving it. But she knew that it was
possible to leave, it, and it stifled her. It was possible for her to
revolt, and at last she came to think it her duty to do so.

The present-day moralists are strange creatures. All their qualities
have atrophied to the profit of their faculties of observation. They
have given up trying to see life, hardly attempt to understand it, and
never by any chance WILL it. When they have observed and noted down the
facts of human nature, they seem to think their task is at an end, and
say:

"That is a fact."

They make no attempt to change it. In their eyes, apparently, the mere
fact of existence is a moral virtue. Every sort of weakness seems to
have been inserted with a sort of Divine right. The world is growing
democratic. Formerly only the King was irresponsible. Nowadays all men,
preferably the basest, have that privilege. Admirable counselors! With
infinite pains and scrupulous care they set themselves to prove to the
weak exactly how weak they are, and that it has been decreed that they
should be so and not otherwise from all eternity. What can the weak do
but fold their arms? We may think ourselves lucky if they do not admire
themselves! By dint of hearing it said over and over again that she is a
sick child, a woman soon takes a pride in being so. It is encouraging
cowardice, and making it spread. If a man were to amuse himself by
telling children complacently that there is an age in adolescence when
the soul, not yet having found its balance, is capable of crimes, and
suicide, and the worst sort of physical and moral depravity, and were to
excuse these things--at once these offenses would spring into being. And
even with men it is quite enough to go on telling them that they are not
free to make them cease to be so and descend to the level of the beasts.
Tell a woman that she is a responsible being, and mistress of her body
and her will, and she will be so. But you moralists are cowards, and
take good care not to tell her so: for you have an interest in keeping
such knowledge from her!...

The unhappy surroundings in which Jacqueline found herself led her
astray. Since she had broken with Olivier she had returned to that
section of society which she despised when she was a girl. About her and
her friends, among married women, there gathered a little group of
wealthy young men and women, smart, idle, intelligent, and licentious.
They enjoyed absolute liberty of thought and speech, tempered only by
the seasoning of wit. They might well have taken for their motto the
device of the Rabelaisian abbey:

 _"Do what thou wilt."_

But they bragged a little: for they did not will anything much: they
were like the enervated people of Thelema. They would complacently
profess the freedom of their instincts: but their instincts were faded
and faint; and their profligacy was chiefly cerebral. They delighted in
feeling themselves sink into the great piscina of civilization, that
warm mud-bath in which human energy, the primeval and vital forces,
primitive animalism, and its blossom of faith, will, duties, and
passions, are liquefied. Jacqueline's pretty body was steeped in that
bath of gelatinous thought. Olivier could do nothing to keep her from
it. Besides, he too was touched by the disease of the time: he thought
he had no right to tamper with the liberty of another human being: he
would not ask anything of the woman he loved that he could not gain
through love. And Jacqueline did not in the least resent his
non-interference, because she regarded her liberty as her right.

The worst of it was that she went into that amphibious section of
society with a wholeness of heart which made anything equivocal
repulsive to her: when she believed she gave herself: in the generous
ardor of her soul, even in her egoism, she always burned her boats; and,
as a result of living with Olivier, she had preserved a moral inability
to compromise, which she was apt to apply even in immorality.

Her new friends were too cautious to let others see them as they were.
In theory they paraded absolute liberty with regard to the prejudices of
morality and society, though in practice they so contrived their affairs
as not to fall out with any one whose acquaintance might be useful to
them: they used morality and society, while they betrayed them like
unfaithful servants, robbing their masters. They even robbed each other
for want of anything better to do, and as a matter of habit. There was
more than one of the men who knew that his wife had lovers. The wives
were not ignorant of the fact that their husbands had mistresses. They
both put up with it. Scandal only begins when one makes a noise about
these things. These charming marriages rested on a tacit understanding
between partners--between accomplices. But Jacqueline was more frank,
and played to win or lose. The first thing was to be sincere. Again, to
be sincere. Again and always, to be sincere. Sincerity was also one of
the virtues extolled by the ideas of that time. But herein it is proved
once again that everything is sound for the sound in heart, while
everything is corrupt for the corrupt. How hideous it is sometimes to be
sincere! It is a sin for mediocre people to try to look into the depths
of themselves. They see their mediocrity: and their vanity always finds
something to feed on.

Jacqueline spent her time in looking at herself in her mirror: she saw
things in it which it were better she had never seen: for when she saw
them she could not take her eyes off them: and instead of struggling
against them she watched them grow: they became enormous and in the end
captured her eyes and her mind.

The child was not enough to fill her life. She had not been able to
nurse it: the baby pined with her. She had to procure a wet nurse. It
was a great grief to her at first.... Soon it became a solace. The child
became splendidly healthy: he grew lustily, and became a fine little
fellow, gave no trouble, spent his time in sleeping, and hardly cried at
all at night. The nurse--a strapping Nivernaise who had fostered many
children, and always had a jealous and embarrassing animal affection for
each of them in turn--was like the real mother. Whenever Jacqueline
expressed an opinion, the woman went her own way: and if Jacqueline
tried to argue, in the end she always found that she knew nothing at all
about it. She had never really recovered from the birth of the child: a
slight attack of phlebitis had dragged her down, and as she had to lie
still for several weeks she worried and worried: she was feverish, and
her mind went on and on indefinitely beating out the same monotonous
deluded complaint:

"I have not lived, I have not lived: and now my life is finished...."

For her imagination was fired: she thought herself crippled for life:
and there rose in her a dumb, harsh, and bitter rancor, which she did
not confess to herself, against the innocent cause of her illness, the
child. The feeling is not so rare as is generally believed: but a veil
is drawn over it: and even those who feel it are ashamed to submit to it
in their inmost hearts. Jacqueline condemned herself: there was a sharp
conflict between her egoism and her mother's love. When she saw the
child sleeping so happily, she was filled with tenderness: but a moment
later she would think bitterly:

"He has killed me."

And she could not suppress a feeling of irritation and revolt against
the untroubled sleep of the creature whose happiness she had bought at
the price of her suffering. Even after she had recovered, when the child
was bigger, the feeling of hostility persisted dimly and obscurely. As
she was ashamed of it, she transferred it to Olivier. She went on
fancying herself ill: and her perpetual care of her health, her
anxieties, which were bolstered up by the doctors, who encouraged the
idleness which was the prime cause of it all,--(separation from the
child, forced inactivity, absolute isolation, weeks of emptiness spent
in lying in bed and being stuffed with food, like a beast being fatted
for slaughter),--had ended by concentrating all her thoughts upon,
herself. The modern way of curing neurasthenia is very strange, being
neither more nor less than the substitution of hypertrophy of the ego
for a disease of the ego! Why not bleed their egoism, or restore the
circulation of the blood from head to heart, if they do not have too
much, by some violent, moral reagent!

Jacqueline came out of it physically stronger, plumper, and
rejuvenated,--but morally she was more ill than ever. Her months of
isolation had broken the last ties of thought which bound her to
Olivier. While she lived with him she was still under the ascendancy of
his idealism, for, in spite of all his failings, he remained constant to
his faith: she struggled in vain against the bondage in which she was
held by a mind more steadfast than her own, against the look which
pierced to her very soul, and forced her sometimes to condemn herself,
however loath she might be to do so. But as soon as chance had separated
her from her husband--as soon as she ceased to feel the weight of his
all-seeing love--as soon as she was free--the trusting friendship that
used to exist between them was supplanted by a feeling of anger at
having broken free, a sort of hatred born of the idea that she had for
so long lived beneath the yoke of an affection which she no longer
felt.--Who can tell the hidden, implacable, bitter feelings that seethe
and ferment in the heart of a creature he loves, by whom he believes
that he is loved? Between one day and the next, all is changed. She
loved the day before, she seemed to love, she thought she loved. She
loves no longer. The man she loved is struck out from her thoughts. She
sees suddenly that he is nothing to her: and he does not understand: he
has seen nothing of the long travail through which she has passed: he
has had no suspicion of the secret hostility towards himself that has
been gathering in her: he does not wish to know the reasons for her
vengeful hatred. Reasons often remote, complex, and obscure,--some
hidden deep in the mysteries of their inmost life,--others arising from
injured vanity, secrets of the heart surprised and judged,--others....
What does she know of them herself? It is some hidden offense committed
against her unwittingly, an offense which she will never forgive. It is
impossible to find out, and she herself is not very sure what it is: but
the offense is marked deep in her flesh: her flesh will never forget it.

To fight against such an appalling stream of disaffection called for a
very different type of man from Olivier--one nearer nature, a simpler
man and a more supple one not hampered with sentimental scruples, a man
of strong instincts, capable, if need be, of actions which his reason
would disavow. He lost the fight before ever it began, for he had lost
heart: his perception was too clear, and he had long since recognized in
Jacqueline a form of heredity which was stronger than her will, her
mother's soul reappearing in her: he saw her falling like a stone down
to the depths of the stock from which she sprang: and his weak and
clumsy efforts to stay her only accelerated her downfall. He forced
himself to be calm. She, from an unconsciously selfish motive, tried to
break down his defenses and make him say violent, brutal, boorish things
to her so as to have a reason for despising him. If he gave way to
anger, she despised him. If at once he were ashamed and became
apologetic, she despised him even more. And if he did not, would not,
give way to anger--then she hated him. And worst of all was the silence
which for days together would rise like a wall between them. A
suffocating, crushing, maddening silence which brings even the gentlest
creatures to fury and exasperation, and makes them have moments when
they feel a savage desire to hurt, to cry out, or make the other cry
out. The black silence in which love reaches its final stage of
disintegration, and the man and the woman, like the worlds, each
following its own orbit, pass onward into the night.... They had reached
a point at which everything they did, even an attempt to come together
again, drove them farther and farther apart. Their life became
intolerable. Events were precipitated by an accident.

During the past year Cécile Fleury had often been to the Jeannins'.
Olivier had met her at Christophe's: then Jacqueline had invited her to
the house; and Cécile went on seeing them even after Christophe had
broken with them. Jacqueline had been kind to her: although she was
hardly at all musical and thought Cécile a little common, she felt the
charm of her singing and her soothing influence. Olivier liked playing
with her, and gradually she became a friend of the family. She inspired
confidence: when she came into the Jeannins' drawing-room with her
honest eyes and her air of health and high spirits, and her rather loud
laugh which it was good to hear, it was like a ray of sunlight piercing
the mist. She brought a feeling of inexpressible relief and solace to
Olivier and Jacqueline. When she was leaving they longed to say to her:

"No. Stay, stay a little while longer, for I am cold!"

During Jacqueline's absence Olivier saw Cécile more often: he could not
help letting her see something of his troubles. He did it quite
unthinkingly, with the heedlessness of a weak and tender creature who is
stifling and has need of some one to confide in, with an absolute
surrender. Cécile was touched by it: she soothed him with motherly words
of comfort. She pitied both of them, and urged Olivier not to lose
heart. But whether it was that she was more embarrassed than he by his
confidences, or that there was some other reason, she found excuses for
going less often to the house. No doubt it seemed to her that she was
not acting loyally towards Jacqueline, for she had no right to know her
secrets. At least, that was how Olivier interpreted her estrangement:
and he agreed with her, for he was sorry that he had spoken. But the
estrangement made him feel what Cécile had become to him. He had grown
used to sharing his ideas with her, and she was the only creature who
could deliver him from the pain he was suffering. He was too much
skilled in reading his own feelings to have any doubt as to the name of
what he felt for her. He would never have said anything to Cécile. But
he could not resist the imperative desire to write down what he felt.
For some little time past he had returned to the dangerous habit of
communing with his thoughts on paper. He had cured himself of it during
the years of love: but now that he found himself alone once more, his
inherited mania took possession of him: it was a relief from his
sufferings, and it was the artist's need of self-analysis. So he
described himself, and set his troubles down in writing, as though he
were telling them to Cécile--more freely indeed; since she was never to
read it. And as luck would have it the manuscript came into Jacqueline's
hands. It happened one day when she was feeling nearer Olivier than she
had been for years. As she was clearing out her cupboard she read once
more the old love-letters he had sent her: she had been moved to tears
by them. Sitting in the shadow of the cupboard, unable to go on with her
tidying, she lived through the past once more: and then was filled with
sorrow and remorse to think that she had destroyed it. She thought of
the grief it must be to Olivier; she had never been able to face the
idea of it calmly: she could forget it: but she could not bear to think
that he had suffered through her. Her heart ached. She longed to throw
herself into his arms and say:

"Oh! Olivier, Olivier, what have we done? We are mad, we are mad! Don't
let us ever again hurt each other!"

If only he had come in at that moment!

And it was exactly at that moment that she found his letters to
Cécile.... It was the end.--Did she think that Olivier had really
deceived her? Perhaps. But what does it signify? To her the betrayal was
not so much in the act as in the thought and intention. She would have
found it easier to forgive the man she loved for taking a mistress than
for secretly giving his heart to another woman. And she was right.

"A pretty state of things!" some will say....--(They are poor creatures
who only suffer from the betrayal of love when it is consummated!...
When the heart remains faithful, the sordid offenses of the body are of
small account. When the heart turns traitor, all the rest is
nothing.)...

Jacqueline did not for a moment think of regaining Olivier's love. It
was too late! She no longer cared for him enough. Or perhaps she cared
for him too much. All her trust in him crumbled away, all that was left
in her secret heart of her faith and hope in him. She did not tell
herself that she had scorned him, and had discouraged him, and driven
him to his new love, or that his love was innocent: and that after all
we are not masters of ourselves sufficiently to choose whether we will
love or not. It never occurred to her to compare his sentimental impulse
with her flirtation with Christophe: she did not love Christophe, and so
he did not count! In her passionate exaggeration she thought that
Olivier was lying to her, and that she was nothing to him. Her last stay
had failed her at the moment when she reached out her hand to grasp
it.... It was the end.

Olivier never knew what she had suffered that day. But when he next saw
her he too felt that it was the end.

From that moment on they never spoke to each other except in the
presence of strangers. They watched each other like trapped beasts
fearfully on their guard. Jeremias Gotthelf somewhere describes, with
pitiless simplicity, the grim situation of a husband and a wife who no
longer love each other and watch each other, each carefully marking the
other's health, looking for symptoms of illness, neither actually
thinking of hastening or even wishing the death of the other, but
drifting along in the hope of some sudden accident: and each of them
living in the flattering thought of being the healthier of the two.
There were moments when both Jacqueline and Olivier almost fancied that
such thoughts were in the other's mind. And they were in the mind of
neither: but it was bad enough that they should attribute them to each
other, as Jacqueline did at night when she would lie feverishly awake
and tell herself that her husband was the stronger, and that he was
wearing her down gradually, and would soon triumph over her.... The
monstrous delirium of a crazy heart and brain!--And to think that in
their heart of hearts, with all that was best in them, they loved each
other!...

Olivier bent beneath the weight of it, and made no attempt to fight
against it; he held aloof and dropped the rudder of Jacqueline's soul.
Left to herself with no pilot to steer her, her freedom turned her
dizzy: she needed a master against whom to revolt: if she had no master
she had to make one. Then she was the prey of a fixed idea. Till then,
in spite of her suffering, she had never dreamed of leaving Olivier.
From that time on she thought herself absolved from every tie. She
wished to love, before it was too late:--(for, young as she was, she
thought herself an old woman).--She loved, she indulged in those
imaginary devouring passions, which fasten on the first object they
meet, a face seen in a crowd, a reputation, sometimes merely a name,
and, having laid hold of it cannot let go, telling the heart that it
cannot live without the object of its choice, laying it waste, and
completely emptying it of all the memories of the past that filled it;
other affections, moral ideas, memories, pride of self, and respect for
others. And when the fixed idea dies in its time for want of anything to
feed it, after it has consumed everything, who can tell what the new
nature may be that will spring from the ruins, a nature often without
kindness, without pity, without youth, without illusions, thinking of
nothing but devouring life as grass smothers and devours the ruins of
monuments!

In this case, as usual, the fixed idea fastened on a creature of the
type that most easily tricks the heart. Poor Jacqueline fell in love
with a philanderer, a Parisian writer, who was neither young nor
handsome, a man who was heavy, red-faced, dissipated, with bad teeth,
absolutely and terribly heartless, whose chief merit was that he was a man
of the world and had made a great many women unhappy. She had not
even the excuse that she did not know how selfish he was: for he paraded
it in his art. He knew perfectly what he was doing: egoism enshrined in
art is like a mirror to larks, like a candle to moths. More than one
woman in Jacqueline's circle had been caught: quite recently one of her
friends, a young, newly-married woman, whom he had had no great
difficulty in seducing, had been deserted by him. Their hearts were not
broken by it, though they found it hard to conceal their discomfiture
from the delight of the gossips. Even those who were most cruelly hurt
were much too careful of their interests and their social interests not
to keep their perturbation within the bounds of common sense. They made
no scandal. Whether they deceived their husbands or their lovers, or
whether they were themselves deceived and suffered, it was all done in
silence. They were the heroines of scandalous rumors.

But Jacqueline was mad: she was capable not only of doing what she said,
but also of saying what she did. She brought into her folly an absolute
lack of selfish motive, and an utter disinterestedness. She had the
dangerous merit of always being frank with herself and of never shirking
the consequences of her own actions. She was a better creature than the
people she lived with: and for that reason she did worse. When she
loved, when she conceived the idea of adultery, she flung herself into
it headlong with desperate frankness.

       *       *       *       *       *

Madame Arnaud was alone in her room, knitting with the feverish
tranquillity with which Penelope must have woven her famous web. Like
Penelope, she was waiting for her husband's return. M. Arnaud used to
spend whole days away from home. He had classes in the morning and
evening. As a rule he came back to lunch. Although he was a slow walker
and his school was at the other end of Paris, he forced himself to take
the long walk home, not so much from affection, as from habit, and for
the sake of economy. But sometimes he was detained by lectures, or he
would take advantage of being in the neighborhood of a library to go and
work there. Lucile Arnaud would be left alone in the empty flat. Except
for the charwoman who came from eight to ten to do the cleaning, and the
tradesmen who came to fetch and bring orders, no one ever rang the bell.
She knew nobody in the house now. Christophe had removed, and there were
newcomers in the lilac garden. Céline Chabran had married André
Elsberger. Élie Elsberger had gone away with his family to Spain, where
he had been appointed manager of a mine. Old Weil had lost his wife and
hardly ever lived in his flat in Paris. Only Christophe and his friend
Cécile had kept up their relations with Lucile Arnaud: but they lived
far away, and they were busy and hard at work all day long, so that they
often did not come to see her for weeks together. She had nothing
outside herself.

She was not bored. She needed very little to keep her interest in things
alive: the very smallest daily task was enough, or a tiny plant, whose
delicate foliage she would clean with motherly care every morning. She
had her quiet gray cat, who had lost something of his manners, as is apt
to happen with domestic animals who are loved by their masters: he used
to spend the day, like herself, sitting by the fire, or on the table
near the lamp watching her fingers as she sewed, and sometimes gazing at
her with his strange eyes, which watched her for a moment and then
closed again. Even the furniture was company to her. Every piece was
like a familiar face. She took a childlike pleasure in looking after
them, in gently wiping off the dust which settled on their sides, and in
carefully replacing them in their usual corners. She would hold silent
conversations with them. She would smile at the fine Louis XVI.
round-topped bureau, which was the only piece of old furniture she had.
Every day she would feel the same joy in seeing it. She was always
absorbed in going over her linen, and she would spend hours standing on
a chair, with her hands and arms deep in the great country cupboard,
looking and arranging, while the cat, whose curiosity was roused, would
spend hours watching her.

But her real happiness came when, after her work was done and she had
lunched alone, God knows how--(she never had much of an appetite)--and
had gone the necessary errands, and her day was at an end, she would
come in about four and sit by the window or the fire with her work and
her cat. Sometimes she would find some excuse for not going out at all;
she was glad when she could stay indoors, especially in the winter when
it was snowing. She had a horror of the cold, and the wind, and the mud,
and the rain, for she was something of a cat herself, very clean,
fastidious, and soft. She would rather not eat than go and procure her
lunch when the tradespeople forgot to bring it. In that case she would
munch a piece of chocolate or some fruit from the sideboard. She was
very careful not to let Arnaud know. These were her escapades. Then
during the days when the light was dim, and also sometimes on lovely
sunny days,--(outside the blue sky would shine, and the noise of the
street would buzz round the dark silent rooms; like a sort of mirage
enshrouding the soul),--she would sit in her favorite corner, with her
feet on her hassock, her knitting in her hands, and go off into
day-dreams while her fingers plied the needles. She would have one of
her favorite books by her side: as a rule one of those humble,
red-backed volumes, a translation of an English novel. She would read
very little, hardly more than a chapter a day; and the book would lie on
her knees open at the same page for a long time together, or sometimes
she would not even open it: she knew it already, and the story of it
would be in her dreams. So the long novels of Dickens and Thackeray
would be drawn out over weeks, and in her dreams they would become
years. They wrapped her about with their tenderness. The people of the
present day, who read quickly and carelessly, do not know the marvelous
vigor irradiated by those fine books which must be taken in slowly.
Madame Arnaud had no doubt that the lives of the characters in the
novels were not as real as her own. There were some for whom she would
have laid down her life: the tender jealous creature, Lady Castlewood,
the woman who loved in silence with her motherly virginal heart, was a
sister to her: little Dombey was her own dear little boy: she was Dora,
the child-wife, who was dying: she would hold out her arms to all those
childlike souls which pass through the world with the honest eyes of
purity: and around her there would pass a procession of friendly beggars
and harmless eccentrics, all in pursuit of their touchingly preposterous
cranks and whims,--and at their head the fond genius of dear Dickens,
laughing and crying together at his own dreams. At such times, when she
looked out of the window, she would recognize among the passers-by the
beloved or dreaded figure of this or that personage in that imaginary
world. She would fancy similar lives, the same lives, being lived behind
the walls of the houses. Her dislike for going out came from her dread
of that world with its moving mysteries. She saw around her hidden
dramas and comedies being played. It was not always an illusion. In her
isolation she had come by the gift of mystical intuition which in the
eyes of the passers-by can perceive the secrets of their lives of
yesterday and to-morrow, which are often unknown to themselves. She
mixed up what she actually saw with what she remembered of the novels
and distorted it. She felt that she must drown in that immense universe.
And she would have to go home to regain her footing.

But what need had she to read or to look at others? She had but to gaze
in upon herself. Her pale, dim existence--seeming so when seen from
without--was gloriously lit up within. There was abundance and fullness
of life in it. There were memories, and treasures, the existence of
which lay unsuspected.... Had they ever had any reality?--No doubt they
were real, since they were real to her.... Oh! the wonder of such lowly
lives transfigured by the magic wand of dreams!

Madame Arnaud would go back through the years to her childhood: each of
the little frail flowers of her vanished hopes sprang silently into life
again.... Her first childish love for a girl, whose charm had fascinated
her at first sight: she loved her with the love which is only possible
to those who are infinitely pure: she used to think she would die at the
touch of her: she used to long to kiss her feet, to be her little girl,
to marry her: the girl had married, had not been happy, had had a child
which died, and then she too had died.... Another love, when she was
about twelve years old, for a little girl of her own age, who tyrannized
over her: a fair-haired mad-cap, gay and imperious, who used to amuse
herself by making her cry, and then would devour her with kisses: she
laid a thousand romantic plans for their future together: then,
suddenly, the girl became a Carmelite nun, without anybody knowing why:
she was said to be happy.... Then there had been a great passion for a
man much older than herself. No one had ever known anything about it,
not even the object of it. She had given to it a great and ardent
devotion and untold wealth of tenderness.... Then another passion: this
time she was loved. But from a strange timidity, and mistrust of
herself, she had not dared to believe that she was loved, or to let the
man see that she loved him. And happiness passed without her grasping
it.... Then.... But what is the use of telling others what only has a
meaning for oneself? So many trivial facts which had assumed a profound
significance: a little attention at the hands of a friend: a kind word
from Olivier, spoken without his attaching any importance to it:
Christophe's kindly visits, and the enchanted world evoked by his music:
a glance from a stranger: yes, and even in that excellent woman, so
virtuous and pure, certain involuntary infidelities in thought, which
made her uneasy and feel ashamed, while she would feebly thrust them
aside, though all the same--being so innocent--they brought a little
sunshine into her heart.... She loved her husband truly, although he was
not altogether the husband of her dreams. But he was kind, and one day
when he said to her: "My darling wife, you do not know all you are to
me; you are my whole life," her heart melted: and that day she felt that
she was one with him, wholly and forever, without any possibility of
going back on it. Each year brought them closer to each other, and
tightened the bond between them. They had shared lovely dreams: of work,
traveling, children. What had become of them?... Alas!... Madame Arnaud
was still dreaming them. There was a little boy of whom she had so often
and so profoundly dreamed, that she knew him almost as well as though he
really existed. She had slowly begotten him through the years, always
adorning him with all the most beautiful things she saw, and the things
she loved most dearly.... Silence!...

That was all. It meant worlds to her. There are so many tragedies
unknown, even the most intimate, in the depths of the most tranquil and
seemingly most ordinary lives! And the greatest tragedy of all perhaps
is:--_that nothing happens_ in such lives of hope crying for what
is their right, their just due promised, and refused, by Nature--wasting
away in passionate anguish--showing nothing of it all to the outside
world! Madame Arnaud, happily for herself, was not only occupied with
herself. Her own life filled only a part of her dreams. She lived also
in the lives of those she knew, or had known, and put herself in their
place: she thought much of Christophe and his friend Cécile. She was
thinking of them now. The two women had grown fond of one another. The
strange thing was that of the two it was the sturdy Cécile who felt most
need to lean on the frail Madame Arnaud. In reality the healthy,
high-spirited young woman was not so strong as she seemed to be. She was
passing through a crisis. Even the most tranquil hearts are not immune
from being taken by surprise. Unknown to herself, a feeling of
tenderness had crept into her heart: she refused to admit it at first:
but it had grown so that she was forced to see it:--she loved Olivier.
His sweet and affectionate disposition, the rather feminine charm of his
personality, his weakness and inability to defend himself, had attracted
her at once:--(a motherly nature is attracted by the nature which has
need of her).--What she had learned subsequently of his marital troubles
had inspired her with a dangerous pity for Olivier. No doubt these
reasons would not have been enough. Who can say why one human being
falls in love with another? Neither counts for anything in the matter,
but often it merely happens that a heart which is for the moment of its
guard is taken by surprise, and is delivered up to the first affection
it may meet on the road,--As soon as she had no room left for doubt as
to her state of mind, Cécile bravely struggled to pluck out the barb of
a love which she thought wicked and absurd: she suffered for a long time
and did not recover. No one would have suspected what was happening to
her: she strove valiantly to appear happy. Only Madame Arnaud knew what
it must have cost her. Not that Cécile had told her her secret. But she
would sometimes come and lay her head on Madame Arnaud's bosom. She
would weep a little, without a word, kiss her, and then go away
laughing. She adored this friend of hers, in whom, though she seemed so
fragile, she felt a moral energy and faith superior to her own. She did
not confide in her. But Madame Arnaud could guess volumes on a hint. The
world seemed to her to be a sad misunderstanding. It is impossible to
dissolve it. One can only love, have pity, and dream.

And when the swarm of her dreams buzzed too loudly, when her thoughts
stopped, she would go to her piano and let her hands fall lightly on the
keys, at random, and play softly to wreathe the mirage of life about
with the subdued light of music....

But the good little creature would not forget to perform her everyday
duties: and when Arnaud came home he would find the lamp lit, the supper
ready, and his wife's pale, smiling face waiting for him. And he would
have no idea of the universe in which she had been living.

The great difficulty was to keep the two lives going side by side
without their clashing: her everyday life and that other, the great life
of the mind, with its far-flung horizons. It was not always easy.
Fortunately Arnaud also lived to some extent in an imaginary life, in
books, and works of art, the eternal fire of which fed the flickering
flames of his soul. But during the last few years he had become more and
more preoccupied with the petty annoyances of his profession, injustice
and favoritism, and friction with his colleagues or his pupils: he was
embittered: he began to talk politics, and to inveigh against the
Government and the Jews: and he made Dreyfus responsible for his
disappointments at the university. His mood of soreness infected Madame
Arnaud a little. She was at an age when her vital force was upset and
uneasy, groping for balance. There were great gaps in her thoughts. For
a time they both lost touch with life, and their reason for existence: for
they had nothing to which to bind their spider's web, which was left
hanging in the void. Though the support of reality be never so weak, yet
for dreams there must be one. They had no sort of support. They could
not contrive any means of propping each other up. Instead of helping
her, he clung to her. And she knew perfectly well that she was not
strong enough to hold him up, for she could not even support herself.
Only a miracle could save her. She prayed for it to come. It came from
the depths of her soul. In her solitary pious heart Madame Arnaud felt
the irony of the sublime and absurd hunger for creation in spite of
everything, the need of weaving her web in spite of everything, through
space, for the joy of weaving, leaving it to the wind, the breath of
God, to carry her whithersoever it was ordained that she should go. And
the breath of God gave her a new hold on life, and found her an
invisible support. Then the husband and wife both set patiently to work
once more to weave the magnificent and vain web of their dreams, a web
fashioned of their purest suffering and their blood.

Madame Arnaud was alone in her room.... It was near evening.

The door-bell rang. Madame Arnaud, roused from her reverie before the
usual time, started and trembled. She carefully arranged her work and
went to open the door. Christophe came in. He was in a great state of
emotion. She took his hands affectionately.

"What is it, my dear?" she asked.

"Ah!" he said. "Olivier has come back."

"Come back?"

"He came this morning and said: 'Christophe, help me!' I embraced him.
He wept. He told me: I have nothing but you now. She has gone."

Madame Arnaud gasped, and clasped her hands and said:

"Poor things!"

"She has gone," said Christophe. "Gone with her lover."

"And her child?" asked Madame Arnaud.

"Husband, child--she has left everything."

"Poor thing!" said Madame Arnaud again.

"He loved her," said Christophe. "He loved her, and her alone. He will
never recover from the blow. He keeps on saying: 'Christophe, she has
betrayed me.... My dearest friend has betrayed me.' It is no good my
saying to him, 'Since she has betrayed you, she cannot have been your
friend. She is your enemy. Forget her or kill her!'"

"Oh! Christophe, what are you saying! It is too horrible!"

'Yes, I know. You all think it barbaric and prehistoric to kill! It is
jolly to hear these Parisians protesting against the brutal instincts
which urge the male to kill the female if she deceives him, and
preaching indulgence and reason! They're splendid apostles! It is a fine
thing to see the pack of mongrel dogs waxing wrath against the return to
animalism. After outraging life, after having robbed it of its worth,
they surround it with religious worship.... What! That heartless,
dishonorable, meaningless life, the mere physical act of breathing, the
beating of the blood in a scrap of flesh, these are the things which
they hold worthy of respect! They are never done with their niceness
about the flesh: it is a crime to touch it. You may kill the soul if you
like, but the body is sacred...."

"The murderers of the soul are the worst of all: but one crime is no
excuse for another. You know that."

"I know it. Yes. You are right. I did not think what I was saying....
Who knows? I should do it, perhaps."

"No. You are unfair to yourself. You are so kind."

"If I am roused to passion, I am as cruel as the rest. You see how I had
lost control of myself!... But when you see a friend brought to tears,
how can you not hate the person who has caused them? And how can one be
too hard on a woman who leaves her child to run after her lover?"

"Don't talk like that, Christophe. You don't know."

"What! You defend her?"

"I pity her, too."

"I pity those who suffer. Not those who cause suffering."

"Well! Do you think she hasn't suffered too? Do you think she has left
her child and wrecked her life out of lightness of heart? For her life
is wrecked too. I hardly know her, Christophe. I have only seen her a
few times, and that only in passing: she never said a friendly word to
me, she was not in sympathy with me. And yet I know her better than you.
I am sure she is not a bad woman. Poor child! I can guess what she has
had to go through...."

"You.... You whose life is so worthy and so right and sensible!..."

"Yes, Christophe, I. You do not know. You are kind, but you are a man
and, like all men, you are hard, in spite of your kindness--a man hard
and set against everything which is not in and of yourself. You have no
real knowledge of the women who live with you. You love them, after your
fashion; but you never take the trouble to understand them. You are so
easily satisfied with yourselves! You are quite sure that you know
us.... Alas! If you knew how we suffer sometimes when we see, not that
you do not love us, but how you love us, and that that is all we are to
those we love the best! There are moments, Christophe, when we clench
our fists so that the nails dig into our hands to keep ourselves from
crying to you: 'Oh! Do not love us, do not love us! Anything rather than
love us like that!'... Do you know the saying of a poet: 'Even in her
home, among her children, surrounded with sham honors, a woman endures a
scorn a thousand times harder to bear than the most utter misery'? Think
of that, Christophe. They are terrible words."

"What you say has upset me. I don't rightly understand. But I am
beginning to see.... Then, you yourself...."

"I have been through all these torments."

"Is it possible?... But, even so, you will never make me believe that
you would have done the same as that woman."

"I have no child, Christophe. I do not know what I should have done in
her place."

"No. That is impossible. I believe in you. I respect you too much. I
swear that you could not."

"Swear nothing! I have been very near doing what she has done.... It
hurts me to destroy the good idea you had of me. But you must learn to
know us a little if you do not want to be unjust. Yes, I have been
within an ace of just such an act of folly. And you yourself had
something to do with my not going on with it. It was two years ago. I
was going through a period of terrible depression, that seemed to be
eating my life away. I kept on telling myself that I was no use in the
world, that nobody needed me, that even my husband could do without me,
that I had lived for nothing.... I was on the very point of running
away, to do Heaven knows what! I went up to your room.... Do you
remember?... You did not understand why I came. I came to say good-bye
to you.... And then, I don't know what happened, I can't remember
exactly ... but I know that something you said ... (though you had no
idea of it....) ... was like a flash of light to me.... Perhaps it was
not what you said.... Perhaps it was only a matter of opportunity; at
that moment the least thing was enough to make or mar me.... When I left
you I went back to my own room, locked myself in, and wept the whole day
through.... I was better after that: the crisis had passed."

"And now," asked Christophe, "you are sorry?"

"Now?" she said. "Ah! If I had been so mad as to do it I should have
been at the bottom of the Seine long ago. I could not have borne the
shame of it, and the injury I should have done to my poor husband."

"Then you are happy?"

"Yes. As happy as one can be in this life. It is so rare for two people
to understand each other, and respect each other, and know that they are
sure of each other, not merely with a simple lover's belief, which is
often an illusion, but as the result of years passed together, gray,
dull, commonplace years even--especially with the memory of the dangers
through which they have passed together. And as they grow older their
trust grows greater and finer."

She stopped and blushed suddenly.

"Oh, Heavens! How could I tell you that?... What have I done?... Forget
it, Christophe, I beg of you. No one must know."

"You need not be afraid," said Christophe, pressing her hand warmly. "It
shall be sacred to me."

Madame Arnaud was unhappy at what she had said, and turned away for a
moment.

Then she went on:

"I ought not to have told you.... But, you see, I wanted to show you
that even in the closest and best marriages, even for the women ... whom
you respect, Christophe ... there are times, not only of aberration, as
you say, but of real, intolerable suffering, which may drive them to
madness, and wreck at least one life, if not two. You must not be too
hard. Men and women make each other suffer terribly even when they love
each other dearly."

"Must they, then, live alone and apart?"

"That is even worse for us. The life of a woman who has to live alone,
and fight like men (and often against men), is a terrible thing in a
society which is not ready for the idea of it, and is, in a great
measure, hostile to it...."

She stopped again, leaning forward a little, with her eyes fixed on the
fire in the grate; then she went on softly, in a rather hushed tone,
hesitating every now and then, stopping, and then going on:

"And yet it is not our fault when a woman lives like that, she does not
do so from caprice, but because she is forced to do so; she has to earn
her living and learn how to do without a man, since men will have
nothing to do with her if she is poor. She is condemned to solitude
without having any of its advantages, for in France she cannot, like a
man, enjoy her independence, even in the most innocent way, without
provoking scandal: everything is forbidden her. I have a friend who is a
school-mistress in the provinces. If she were shut up in an airless
prison she could not be more lonely and more stifled. The middle-classes
close their doors to women who struggle to earn their living by their
work; they are suspected and contemned; their smallest actions are spied
upon and turned to evil. The masters at the boys' school shun them,
either because they are afraid of the tittle-tattle of the town, or from
a secret hostility, or from shyness, and because they are in the habit
of frequenting cafés and consorting with low women, or because they are
too tired after the day's work and have a dislike, as a result of their
work, for intellectual women. And the women themselves cannot bear each
other, especially if they are compelled to live together in the school.
The head-mistress is often a woman absolutely incapable of understanding
young creatures with a need of affection, who lose heart during the
first few years of such a barren trade and such inhuman solitude; she
leaves them with their secret agony and makes no attempt to help them;
she is inclined to think that they are only vain and haughty. There is
no one to take an interest in them. Having neither fortune nor
influence, they cannot marry. Their hours of work are so many as to
leave them no time in which to create an intellectual life which might
bind them together and give them some comfort. When such an existence is
not supported by an exceptional religious or moral feeling,--(I might
say abnormal and morbid; for such absolute self-sacrifice is not
natural),--it is a living death....--In default of intellectual work,
what resources does charity offer to women? What great disappointments
it holds out for those women who are too sincere to be satisfied with
official or polite charity, philanthropic twaddle, the odious mixture of
frivolity, beneficence, and bureaucracy, the trick of dabbling in
poverty in the intervals of flirtation! And if one of them in disgust
has the incredible audacity to venture out alone among the poor or the
wretched, whose life she only knows by hearsay, think of what she will
see! Sights almost beyond bearing! It is a very hell. What can she do to
help them? She is lost, drowned in such a sea of misfortune. However,
she struggles on, she tries hard to save a few of the poor wretches, she
wears herself out for them, and drowns with them. She is lucky if she
succeeds in saving one or two of them! But who is there to rescue her?
Who ever dreams of going to her aid? For she, too, suffers, both with
her own and the suffering of others: the more faith she gives, the less
she has for herself; all these poor wretches cling desperately to her,
and she has nothing with which to stay herself. No one holds out a hand
to her. And sometimes she is stoned.... You knew, Christophe, the
splendid woman who gave herself to the humblest and most meritorious
charitable work; she took pity on the street prostitutes who had just
been brought to child-bed, the wretched women with whom the Public Aid
would have nothing to do, or who were afraid of the Public Aid; she
tried to cure them physically and morally, to look after them and their
children, to wake in them the mother-feeling, to give them new homes and
a life of honest work. She taxed her strength to the utmost in her grim
labors, so full of disappointment and bitterness--(so few are saved, so
few wish to be saved! And think of all the babies who die! Poor innocent
little babies, condemned in the very hour of their birth!...)--That
Woman who had taken upon herself the sorrows of others, the blameless
creature who of her own free will expiated the crimes of human
selfishness--how do you think she was judged, Christophe? The
evil-minded public accused her of making money out of her work, and even
of making money out of the poor women she protected. She had to leave
the neighborhood, and go away, utterly downhearted....--You cannot
conceive the cruelty of the struggles which independent women have to
maintain against the society of to-day, a conservative, heartless
society, which is dying and expends what little energy it has left in
preventing others from living."

"My dear creature, it is not only the lot of women. We all know these
struggles. And I know the refuge."

"What is it?"

"Art,"

"All very well for you, but not for us. And even among men, how many are
there who can take advantage of it?"

"Look at your friend Cécile. She is happy."

"How do you know? Ah! You have jumped to conclusions! Because she puts a
brave face on it, because she does not stop to think of things that make
her sad, because she conceals them from others, you say that she is
happy! Yes. She is happy to be well and strong, and to be able to fight.
But you know nothing of her struggles. Do you think she was made for
that deceptive life of art? Art! Just think of the poor women who long
for the glory of being able to write or play or sing as the very summit
of happiness! Their lives must be bare indeed, and they must be so hard
pressed that they can find no affection to which to turn! Art! What have
we to do with art, if we have all the rest with it? There is only one
thing in the world which can make a woman forget everything else,
everything else: and that is the child." "And when she has a child, you
see, even that is not enough."

"Yes. Not always.... Women are not very happy. It is difficult to be a
woman. Much more difficult than to be a man. You men never realize that
enough. You can be absorbed in an intellectual passion or some outside
activity. You mutilate yourselves, but you are the happier for it. A
healthy woman cannot do that without suffering for it. It is inhuman to
stifle a part of yourself. When we women are happy in one way, we regret
that we are not happy in another. We have several souls. You men have
but one, a more vigorous soul, which is often brutal and even monstrous.
I admire you. But do not be too selfish. You are very selfish without
knowing it. You hurt us often, without knowing it."

"What are we to do? It is not our fault."

"No, it is not your fault, my dear Christophe. It is not your fault, nor
is it ours. The truth is, you know, that life is not a simple thing.
They say that there we only need to live naturally. But which of us is
natural?"

"True. Nothing is natural in our way of living. Celibacy is not natural.
Nor is marriage. And free love delivers the weak up to the rapaciousness
of the strong. Even our society is not a natural thing: we have
manufactured it. It is said that man is a sociable animal. What
nonsense! He was forced to be so to live. He has made himself sociable
for the purposes of utility, and self-defence, and pleasure, and the
rise to greatness. His necessity has led him to subscribe to certain
compacts. Nature kicks against the constraint and avenges herself.
Nature was not made for us. We try to quell her. It is a struggle, and
it is not surprising that we are often beaten. How are we to win through
it? By being strong."

"By being kind."

"Heavens! To be kind, to pluck off one's armor of selfishness, to
breathe, to love life, light, one's humble work, the little corner of
the earth in which one's roots are spread. And if one cannot have
breadth to try to make up for it in height and depth, like a tree in a
cramped space growing upward to the sun."

"Yes. And first of all to love one another. If a man would feel more
that he is the brother of a woman, and not only her prey, or that she
must be his! If both would shed their vanity and each think a little
less of themselves, and a little more of the other!... We are weak: help
us. Let us not say to those who have fallen: 'I do not know you.' But:
'Courage, friend. We'll pull through.'"

They sat there in silence by the hearth, with the cat between them, all
three still, lost in thought, gazing at the fire It was nearly out; but
a little flame flickered up, and with its wing lightly touched Madame
Arnaud's delicate face, which was suffused with the rosy light of an
inward exaltation which was strange to her. She was amazed at herself
for having been so open. She had never said so much before, and she
would never say so much again.

She laid her hand on Christophe's and said:

"What will you do with the child?"

She had been thinking of that from the outset. She talked and talked and
became another woman, excited and exalted. But she was thinking of that
and that only. With Christophe's first words she had woven a romance in
her heart. She thought of the child left by its mother, of the happiness
of bringing it up, and weaving about its little soul the web of her
dreams and her love. And she thought:

"No. It is wicked of me: I ought not to rejoice in the misfortunes of
others."

But the idea was too strong for her. She went on talking and talking,
and her silent heart was flooded with hope.

Christophe said:

"Yes, of course we have thought it over. Poor child! Both Olivier and I
are incapable of rearing it. It needs a woman's care. I thought perhaps
one of our friends would like to help us...."

Madame Arnaud could hardly breathe.

Christophe said:

"I wanted to talk to you about it. And then Cécile came in just as we
were talking about it. When she heard of our difficulty, when she saw
the child, she was so moved, she seemed so delighted, she said:
'Christophe....'"

Madame Arnaud's heart stopped; she did not hear what else he said: there
was a mist in front of her eyes. She was fain to cry out:

"No, no. Give him to me...."

Christophe went on speaking. She did not hear what he was saying. But
she controlled herself. She thought of what Cécile had told her, and she
thought:

"Her need is greater than mine. I have my dear Arnaud ... and ... and
everything ... and besides, I am older...."

And she smiled and said:

"It is well."

But the flame in the dying fire had flickered out: so too had the rosy
light in her face. And her dear tired face wore only its usual
expression of kindness and resignation.

       *       *       *       *       *

"My wife has betrayed me."

Olivier was crushed by the weight of that idea. In vain did Christophe
try affectionately to shake him out of his torpor.

"What would you?" he said. "The treachery of a friend is an everyday
evil like illness, or poverty, or fighting the fools. We have to be
armed against it. It is a poor sort of man that cannot bear up against
it."

"That's just what I am. I'm not proud of it ... a poor sort of man: yes:
a man who needs tenderness, and dies if it is taken from him."

"Your life is not finished: there are other people to love."

"I can't believe in any one. There are none who can be friends."

"Olivier!"

"I beg your pardon. I don't doubt you, although there are moments when
I doubt everybody--myself included.... But you are strong: you don't need
anybody: you can do without me."

"So can she--even better."

"You are cruel, Christophe."

"My dear fellow. I'm being brutal to you just to make you lash out. Good
Lord! It is perfectly shameful of you to sacrifice those who love you,
and your life, to a woman who doesn't care for you."

"What do I care for those who love me? I love her."

"Work. Your old interests...."

"... Don't interest me any longer. I'm sick of it all. I seem to have
passed out of life altogether. Everything seems so far away.... I see,
but I don't understand.... And to think that there are men who never
grow tired of winding up their clockwork every day, and doing their dull
work, and their newspaper discussions, and their wretched pursuit of
pleasure, men who can be violently for or against a Government, or a
book, or an actress.... Oh! I feel so old! I feel nothing, neither
hatred, nor rancor against anybody. I'm bored with everything. I feel
that there is nothing in the world.... Write? Why write? Who understands
you? I used to write only for one person: everything that I did was for
her.... There is nothing left: I'm worn out, Christophe, fagged out. I
want to sleep."

"Sleep, then, old fellow. I'll sit by you."

But sleep was the last thing that Olivier could have. Ah! if only a
sufferer could sleep for months until his sorrow is no more and has no
part in his new self; if only he could sleep until he became a new man!
But that gift can never be his: and he would not wish to have it. The
worst suffering of all were to be deprived of suffering. Olivier was
like a man in a fever, feeding on his fever: a real fever which came in
regular waves, being at its height in the evening when the light began
to fade. And the rest of the day it left him shattered, intoxicated by
love, devoured by memory, turning the same thought over and over like an
idiot chewing the same mouthful again and again without being able to
swallow it, with all the forces of his brain paralyzed, grinding slowly
on with the one fixed idea.

He could not, like Christophe, resort to cursing his injuries and
honestly blackguarding the woman who had dealt them. He was more
clear-sighted and just, and he knew that he had his share of the
responsibility, and that he was not the only one to suffer: Jacqueline
also was a victim:--she was his victim. She had trusted herself to him:
how had he dealt with his trust? If he was not strong enough to make her
happy, why had he bound her to himself? She was within her rights in
breaking the ties which chafed her.

"It is not her fault," he thought. "It is mine. I have not loved her
well. And yet I loved her truly. But I did not know how to love since I
did not know how to win her love."

So he blamed himself: and perhaps he was right. But it is not much use
to hold an inquest on the past: if it were all to do again, it would be
just the same, inquiry or no inquiry: and such probing stands in the way
of life. The strong man is he who forgets the injury that has been done
him--and also, alas! that which he has done himself, as soon as he is
sure that he cannot make it good. But no man is strong from reason, but
from passion. Love and passion are like distant relations: they rarely
go together. Olivier loved: he was only strong against himself. In the
passive state into which he had fallen he was an easy prey to every kind
of illness. Influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia, pounced on him. He was ill
for part of the summer. With Madame Arnaud's assistance, Christophe
nursed him devotedly: and they succeeded in checking his illness. But
against his moral illness they could do nothing: and little by little
they were overcome by the depression and utter weariness of his
perpetual melancholy, and were forced to run away from it.

Illness plunges a man into a strange solitude. Men have an instinctive
horror of it. It is as though they were afraid lest it should be
contagious: and at the very least it is boring, and they run away from
it. How few people there are who can forgive the sufferings of others!
It is always the old story of the friends of Job. Eliphaz the Temanite
accuses Job of impatience. Bildad the Shuhite declares that Job's
afflictions are the punishment of his sins. Sophar of Naamath charges
him with presumption. _"Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu, the son
of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath
kindled, because he justifieth himself, rather than God."_--Few men
are really sorrowful. Many are called, but few are chosen. Olivier was
one of these. As a misanthrope once observed: "He seemed to like being
maltreated. There is nothing to be gained by playing the part of the
unhappy man. You only make yourself detested."

Olivier could not tell even his most intimate friends what he felt. He
saw that it bored them. Even his friend Christophe lost patience with
such tenacious and importunate grief. He knew that he was clumsy and
awkward in remedying it. If the truth must be told, Christophe, whose
heart was generous, Christophe who had gone through much suffering on
his own account, could not feel the suffering of his friend. Such is the
infirmity of human nature. You may be kind, full of pity, understanding,
and you may have suffered a thousand deaths, but you cannot feel the
pain of your friend if he has but a toothache. If illness goes on for a
long time, there is a temptation to think that the sufferer is
exaggerating his complaint. How much more, then, must this be so when
the illness is invisible and seated in the very depths of the soul! A
man who is outside it all cannot help being irritated by seeing his
friend moaning and groaning about a feeling which does not concern him
in the very least. And in the end he says: by way of appeasing his
conscience:

"What can I do? He won't listen to reason, whatever I say."

To reason: true. One can only help by loving the sufferer, by loving him
unreasoningly, without trying to convince him, without trying to cure
him, but just by loving and pitying him. Love is the only balm for the
wounds of love. But love is not inexhaustible even with those who love
the best: they have only a limited store of it. When the sick man's
friends have once written all the words of affection they can find, when
they have done what they consider their duty, they withdraw prudently,
and avoid him like a criminal. And as they feel a certain secret shame
that they can help him so little, they help him less and less: they try
to let him forget them and to forget themselves. And if the sick man
persists in his misfortune and, indiscreetly, an echo of it penetrates
to their ears, then they judge harshly his want of courage and inability
to bear up against his trials. And if he succumbs, it is very certain
that lurking beneath their really genuine pity lies this disdainful
under-thought:

"Poor devil! I had a better opinion of him."

Amid such universal selfishness what a marvelous amount of good can be
done by a simple word of tenderness, a delicate attention, a look of
pity and love! Then the sick man feels the worth of kindness. And how
poor is all the rest compared with that!... Kindness brought Olivier
nearer to Madame Arnaud than anybody else, even his friend Christophe.
However, Christophe most meritoriously forced himself to be patient, and
in his affection for him, concealed what he really thought of him. But
Olivier, with his natural keenness of perception sharpened by suffering,
saw the conflict in his friend, and what a burden he was upon him with
his unending sorrow. It was enough, to make him turn from Christophe,
and fill him with a desire to cry:

"Go away. Go."

So unhappiness often divides loving hearts. As the winnower sorts the
grain, so sorrow sets on one side those who have the will to live, and
on the other those who wish to die. It is the terrible law of life,
which is stronger than love! The mother who sees her son dying, the
friend who sees his friend drowning,--if they cannot save them, they do
not cease their efforts to save themselves: they do not die with them.
And yet, they love them a thousand times better than their lives....

In spite of his great love, there were moments when Christophe had to
leave Olivier. He was too strong, too healthy, to be able to live and
breathe in such airless sorrow. He was mightily ashamed of himself! He
would feel cold and dead at heart to think that he could do nothing for
his friend: and as he needed to avenge himself on some one, he visited
his wrath upon Jacqueline. In spite of Madame Arnaud's words of
understanding and sympathy, he still judged her harshly, as a young,
ardent, and whole-hearted man must, until he has learned enough of life
to have pity on its weaknesses.

He would go and see Cécile and the child who had been entrusted to her.
That refreshed his soul. Cécile was transfigured by her borrowed
motherhood: she seemed to be young again, and happy, more refined and
tender. Jacqueline's departure had not given her any unavowed hope of
happiness. She knew that the memory of Jacqueline must leave her farther
away from Olivier than her presence. Besides, the little puff of wind
that had set her longing had passed: it had been a moment of crisis,
which the sight of poor Jacqueline's frenzied mistake had helped to
dissipate: she had returned to her normal tranquillity, and she could
not rightly understand what it was that had dragged her out of it. All
that was best in her need of love was satisfied by her love for the
child. With the marvelous power of illusion--of intuition--of women, she
found the man she loved in the little child: in that way she could have
him, weak and utterly dependent, utterly her own: he belonged to her:
and she could love him, love him passionately, with a love as pure as
the heart of the innocent child, and his dear blue eyes, like little
drops of light.... True, there was mingled with her tenderness a
regretful melancholy. Ah! It could never be the same thing as a child of
her own blood!... But it was good, all the same.

Christophe now regarded Cécile with very different eyes. He remembered
an ironic saying of Françoise Oudon:

"How is it that you and Philomela, who would do so well as husband and
wife, are not in love with each other?"

But Françoise knew the reason better than Christophe: it is very rarely
that a man like Christophe loves those who can do him good: rather he is
apt to love those who can do him harm. Opposites meet: his nature seeks
its own destruction, and goes to the burning and intense life rather
than to the cautious life which is sparing of itself. And a man like
Christophe is quite right, for his law is not to live as long as
possible, but as mightily as possible.

However, Christophe, having less penetration than Françoise, said to
himself that love is a blind, inhuman force, throwing those together who
cannot bear with each other. Love joins those together who are like each
other. And what love inspires is very small compared with what it
destroys. If it be happy it dissolves the will. If unhappy it breaks
hearts. What good does it ever do?

And as he thus maligned love he saw its ironic, tender smile saying to
him:

"Ingrate!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Christophe had been unable to get out of going to one of the At Homes
given at the Austrian Embassy. Philomela was to sing _lieder_ by
Schumann, Hugo Wolf, and Christophe. She was glad of her success and
that of her friend, who was now made much of by a certain set.
Christophe's name was gaining ground from day to day, even with the
great public: it had become impossible for the Lévy-Coeurs to ignore him
any longer. His works were played at concerts: and he had had an opera
accepted by the Opéra Comique. The sympathies of some person unknown
were enlisted on his behalf. The mysterious friend, who had more than
once helped him, was still forwarding his claims. More than once
Christophe had been conscious of that fondly helping hand in everything
he did: some one was watching over him and jealously concealing his or
her identity. Christophe had tried to discover it: but it seemed as
though his friend were piqued by his not having attempted sooner to find
out who he was, and he remained unapproachable. Besides, Christophe was
absorbed by other preoccupations: he was thinking of Olivier, he was
thinking of Françoise: that very morning he had just read in the paper
that she was lying seriously ill at San Francisco: he imagined her alone
in a strange city, in a hotel bedroom, refusing to see anybody, or to
write to her friends, clenching her teeth, and waiting, alone, for
death.

He was obsessed by these ideas and avoided the company present: and he
withdrew into a little room apart: he stood leaning against the wall in
a recess that was half in darkness, behind a curtain of evergreens and
flowers, listening to Philomela's lovely voice, with its elegiac warmth,
singing _The Lime-tree_ of Schubert: and the pure music called up
sad memories. Facing him on the wall was a large mirror which reflected
the lights and the life of the next room. He did not see it: he was
gazing in upon himself: and the mist of tears swam before his eyes....
Suddenly, like Schubert's rustling tree, he began to tremble for no
reason. He stood so for a few seconds, very pale, unable to move. Then
the veil fell from before his eyes, and he saw in the mirror in front of
him his "friend," gazing at him.... His "friend"? Who was she? He knew
nothing save that she was his friend and that he knew her: and he stood
leaning against the wall, his eyes meeting hers, and he trembled. She
smiled. He could not see the lines of her face or her body, nor the
expression in her eyes, nor whether she was tall or short, nor how she
was dressed. Only one thing he saw: the divine goodness of her smile of
compassion.

And suddenly her smile conjured up in Christophe an old forgotten memory
of his early childhood.... He was six or seven, at school, unhappy: he
had just been humiliated and bullied by some older, stronger boys, and
they were all jeering at him, and the master had punished him unjustly:
he was crouching in a corner, utterly forlorn, while the others were
playing: and he wept softly. There was a sad-faced little girl who was
not playing with the others,--(he could see her now, though he had never
thought of her since then; she was short, and had a big head, fair,
almost white hair and eyebrows, very pale blue eyes, broad white cheeks,
thick lips, a rather puffy face, and small red hands),--and she came
close up to him, then stopped, with her thumb in her mouth and stood
watching him cry: then she laid her little hand on Christophe's head and
said hurriedly and shyly, with just the same smile of compassion:

"Don't cry! Don't cry!"

Then Christophe could not control himself any longer, and he burst into
sobs, and buried his face in the little girl's pinafore, while, in a
quavering, tender voice, she went on saying:

"Don't cry...."

She died soon afterwards, a few weeks perhaps: the hand of death must
have been upon her at the time of that little scene.... Why should he
think of her now? There was no connection between the child who was dead
and forgotten, the humble daughter of the people in a distant German
town, and the aristocratic young lady who was gazing at him now. But
there is only one soul for all: and although millions of human beings
seem to be all different one from another, different as the worlds
moving in the heavens, it is the same flash of thought or love which
lights up the hearts of men and women though centuries divide them.
Christophe had just seen once more the light that he had seen shining
upon the pale lips of the little comforter....

It was all over in a second. A throng of people filled the door and shut
out Christophe's view of the other room. He stepped back quickly into
the shade, out of sight of the mirror: he was afraid lest his emotion
should be noticed. But when he was calm again he wanted to see her once
more. He was afraid she would be gone. He went into the room and he
found her at once in the crowd, although she did not look in the least
like what he had seen in the mirror. Now he saw her in profile sitting
in a group of finely dressed ladies: her elbow was resting on the arm of
her chair, she was leaning forward a little, with her head in her hand,
and listening to what they were saying with an intelligent absent smile:
she had the expression and features of the young St. John, listening and
looking through half-closed eyes, and smiling at his own thoughts, of
_The Dispute_ of Raphael.... Then she raised her eyes, saw him, and
showed no surprise. And he saw that her smile was for himself. He was
much moved, and bowed, and went up to her.

"You don't recognize me?" she said.

He knew her again that very moment.

"Grazia".... he said. [Footnote: See "Jean-Christophe in Paris: The
Market Place."]

At the same moment the ambassador's wife passed by, and smiled with
pleasure to see that the long-sought meeting had at last come about: and
she introduced Christophe to "Countess Berény." But Christophe was so
moved that he did not even hear her, and he did not notice, the new
name. She was still his little Grazia to him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Grazia was twenty-two. She had been married for a year to a young
attaché of the Austrian Embassy, a nobleman, a member of a great family,
related to one of the Emperor's chief ministers, a snob, a man of the
world, smart, prematurely worn out; with whom she had been genuinely in
love, while she still loved him, though she judged him. Her old father
was dead. Her husband had been appointed to the Embassy in Paris.
Through Count Berény's influence, and her own charm and intelligence,
the timid little girl, whom the smallest thing used to set in a flutter,
had become one of the best-known women in Parisian society, though she
did nothing to procure that distinction, which embarrassed her not at
all. It is a great thing to be young and pretty, and to give pleasure,
and to know it. And it is a thing no less great to have a tranquil
heart, sound and serene, which can find happiness in the harmonious
coincidence of its desires and its fate. The lonely flower of her life
had unfolded its petals: but she had lost some of the calm music of her
Latin soul, fed by the light and the mighty peace of Italy. Quite
naturally she had acquired a certain influence in Parisian society: it
did not surprise her, and she was discreet and adroit in using it to
further the artistic or charitable movements which turned to her for aid:
she left the official patronage of these movements to others: for
although she could well maintain her rank, she had preserved a secret
independence from the days of her rather wild childish days in the
lonely villa in the midst of the fields, and society wearied while it
amused her, though she always disguised her boredom by the amiable smile
of a courteous and kind heart.

She had not forgotten her great friend Christophe. No doubt there was
nothing left of the child in whom an innocent love had burned in
silence. This new Grazia was a very sensible woman, not at all given to
romance. She regarded the exaggerations of her childish tenderness with
a gentle irony. And yet she was always moved by the memory of it. The
thought of Christophe was associated with the purest hours of her life.
She could not hear his name spoken without feeling pleasure: and each of
his successes delighted her as though she had shared in it herself: for
she had felt that they must come to him. As soon as she arrived in Paris
she tried to meet him again. She had invited him to her house, and had
appended her maiden name to her letter. Christophe had paid no attention
to it, and had flung the invitation into the waste-paper basket
unanswered. She was not offended. She had gone on following his doings
and, to a certain extent, his life, without his knowing it. It was she
whose helping hand had come to his aid in the recent campaign against
him in the papers. Grazia was in all things correct and had hardly
any connection with the world of the Press: but when it came to doing a
friend a service, she was capable of a malicious cunning in wheedling
the people whom she most disliked. She invited the editor of the paper
which was leading the snarling pack, to her house: and in less than no
time she turned his head: she skilfully flattered his vanity: and she
gained such an ascendancy over him, while she overawed him, that it
needed only a few careless words of contemptuous astonishment at the
attacks on Christophe for the campaign to be stopped short. The editor
suppressed the insulting article which was to appear next day: and when
the writer asked why it was suppressed he rated him soundly. He did
more: he gave orders to one of his factotums to turn out an enthusiastic
article about Christophe within a fortnight: the article was turned out
to order; it was enthusiastic and stupid. It was Grazia, too, who
thought of organizing performances of her friend's music at the Embassy,
and, knowing that he was interested in Cécile, helped her to make her
name. And finally, through her influence among the German diplomatists,
she began gently, quietly, and adroitly to awaken the interest of the
powers that be in Christophe, who was banished from Germany: and little
by little she did create a current of opinion directed towards obtaining
from the Emperor a decree reopening the gates of his country to a great
artist who was an honor to it. And though it was too soon to expect such
an act of grace, she did at least succeed in procuring an undertaking
that the Government would close its eyes to his two days' visit to his
native town.

And Christophe, who was conscious of the presence of his invisible
friend hovering about him without being able to find out who she was, at
last recognized her in the young St. John whose eyes smiled at him in
the mirror.

       *       *       *       *       *

They talked of the past. Christophe hardly knew what they said. A man
hears the woman he loves just as little as he sees her. He loves her.
And when a man really loves he never even thinks whether he is loved or
no. Christophe never doubted it. She was there: that was enough. All the
rest had ceased to exist....

Grazia stopped speaking. A very tall young man, quite handsome,
well-dressed, clean-shaven, partly bald, with a bored, contemptuous
manner, stood appraising Christophe through his eye-glass, and then
bowed with haughty politeness.

"My husband," said she.

The clatter and chatter of the room rushed back to his ears. The inward
light died down. Christophe was frozen, said nothing, bowed, and
withdrew at once.

How ridiculous and consuming are the unreasonable demands of the souls
of artists and the childish laws which govern their passionate lives!
Hardly had he once more found the friend whom he had neglected in the
old days when she loved him, while he had not thought of her for years,
than it seemed to him that she was his, his very own, and that if
another man had taken her he had stolen her from him: and she herself
had no right to give herself to another. Christophe did not know clearly
what was happening to him. But his creative daimon knew it perfectly,
and in those days begat some of his loveliest songs of sorrowful love.

Some time passed before he saw her again. He was obsessed by thoughts of
Olivier's troubles and his health. At last one day he came upon the
address she had given him and he made up his mind to call on her.

As he went up the steps he heard the sound of workmen hammering. The
anteroom was in disorder and littered with boxes and trunks. The footman
replied that the Countess was not at home. But as Christophe was
disappointedly going away after leaving his card, the servant ran after
him and asked him to come in and begged his pardon. Christophe was shown
into a little room in which the carpets had been rolled up and taken
away. Grazia came towards him with her bright smile and her hand held
out impulsively and gladly. All his foolish rancor vanished. He took her
hand with the same happy impulsiveness and kissed it.

"Ah!" she said, "I am glad you came! I was so afraid I should have to go
away without seeing you again!"

"Go away? You are going away!"

Once more darkness descended upon him.

"You see...." she said, pointing to the litter in the room. "We are
leaving Paris at the end of the week."

"For long?"

She shrugged:

"Who knows?"

He tried to speak. But his throat was dry.

"Where are you going?"

"To the United States. My husband has been appointed first secretary to
the Embassy."

"And so, and so...." he said ... (his lips trembled) ... "it is all
over?"

"My dear friend!" she said, touched by his tone.... "No: it is not all
over."

"I have found you again only to lose you?"

There were tears in her eyes.

"My dear friend," she said again.

He held his hand over his eyes and turned away to hide his emotion.

"Do not be so sad," she said, laying her hand on his.

Once more, just then, he thought of the little girl in Germany. They
were silent.

"Why did you come so late?" she asked at last, "I tried to find you. You
never replied."

"I did not know. I did not know," he said.... "Tell me, was it you who
came to my aid so many times without my guessing who it was?... Do I owe
it to you that I was able to go back to Germany? Were you my good angel,
watching over me?"

She said:

"I was glad to be able to do something for you. I owe you so much!"

"What do you owe?" he asked. "I have done nothing for you."

"You do not know," she said, "what you have been to me."

She spoke of the days when she was a little girl and met him at the
house of her uncle, Stevens, and he had given her through his music the
revelation of all that is beautiful in the world. And little by little,
with growing animation she told him with brief allusions, that were both
veiled and transparent, of her childish feeling for him, and the way in
which she had shared Christophe's troubles, and the concert at which he
had been hissed, and she had wept, and the letter she had written and he
had never answered: for he had not received it. And as Christophe
listened to her, in all good faith, he projected his actual emotion and
the tenderness he felt for the tender face so near his own into the
past.

They talked innocently, fondly, and joyously. And, as he talked,
Christophe took Grazia's hand. And suddenly they both stopped: for
Grazia saw that Christophe loved her. And Christophe saw it too....

For some time Grazia had loved Christophe without Christophe knowing or
caring. Now Christophe loved Grazia: and Grazia had nothing for him but
calm friendship: she loved another man. As so often happens, one of the
two clocks of their lives was a little faster than the other, and it was
enough to have changed the course of both their lives....

Grazia withdrew her hand, and Christophe did not stay her. And they sat
there for a moment, mum, without a word.

And Grazia said:

"Good-bye."

Christophe said plaintively once more:

"And it is all over?"

"No doubt it is better that it should be so."

"We shall not meet again before you go."

"No," she said.

"When shall we meet again?"

She made a sad little gesture of doubt.

"Then," said Christophe, "what's the good, what's the good of our having
met again?"

Her eyes reproached him, and he said quickly:

"No. Forgive me. I am unjust."

"I shall always think of you," said she.

"Alas!" he replied, "I cannot even think of you. I know nothing of your
life."

Very quietly she described her ordinary life in a few words and told him
how her days were spent. She spoke of herself and of her husband with
her lovely affectionate smile.

"Ah!" he said jealously. "You love him?"

"Yes," she said.
He got up.

"Good-bye."

She got up too. Then only he saw that she was with child. And in his
heart there was an inexpressible feeling of disgust, and tenderness, and
jealousy, and passionate pity. She walked with him to the door of the
little room. There he turned, bent over her hands, and kissed them
fervently. She stood there with her eyes half closed and did not stir.
At last he drew himself up, turned, and hurried away without looking at
her.


    ... _E chi allora m'avesse domandalo di cosa alcuna, la mia
    risponsione sarebbe stata solamente AMORE, con viso vestito
    d'umiltà_....


All Saints' Day. Outside, a gray light and a cold wind. Christophe was
with Cécile, who was sitting near the cradle, and Madame Arnaud was
bending over it. She had dropped in. Christophe was dreaming. He was
feeling that he had missed happiness: but he never thought of
complaining: he knew that happiness existed.... Oh! sun, I have no need
to see thee to love thee! Through the long winter days, when I shiver in
the darkness, my heart is full of thee: my love keeps me warm: I know
that thou art there....

And Cécile was dreaming too. She was pondering the child, and she had
come to believe that it was indeed her own. Oh, blessed power of dreams,
the creative imagination of life! Life.... What is life? It is not as
cold reason and our eyes tell us that it is. Life is what we dream, and
the measure of life is love.

Christophe gazed at Cécile, whose peasant face with its wide-set eyes
shone with the splendor of the maternal instinct,--she was more a mother
than the real mother. And he looked at the tender weary face of Madame
Arnaud. In it, as in books that moved him, he read the hidden sweetness
and suffering of the life of a married woman which, though none ever
suspects it, is sometimes as rich in sorrow and joy as the love of
Juliet or Ysolde: though it touches a greater height of religious
feeling ....

  _Soda rei humanæ atque divinæ...._

And he thought that children or the lack of children has as much to do
with the happiness or unhappiness of those who marry and those who do
not marry as faith and the lack of faith. Happiness is the perfume of
the soul, the harmony that dwells, singing, in the depths of the heart.
And the most beautiful of all the music of the soul is kindness.

Olivier came in. He was quite calm and reposeful in his movements: a new
serenity shone in him. He smiled at the child, shook hands with Cécile
and Madame Arnaud, and began to talk quietly. He watched them with a
sort of surprised affection. He was no longer the same. In the isolation
in which he had shut himself up with his grief, like a caterpillar in
the nest of its own spinning, he had succeeded after a hard struggle in
throwing off his sorrow like an empty shell. Some day we shall tell how
he thought he had found a fine cause to which to devote his life, in
which he had no interest save that of sacrifice: and, as it is ordered,
on the very day when in his heart he had come to a definite renunciation
of life, it was kindled once more. His friends looked at him. They did
not know what had happened, and dared not ask him: but they felt that he
was free once more, and that there was in him neither regret nor
bitterness for anything or against anybody in the whole wide world.

Christophe got up and went to the piano, and said to Olivier:

"Would you like me to sing you a melody of Brahms?"

"Brahms?" said Olivier. "Do you play your old enemy's music nowadays?"

"It is All Saints' Day," said Christophe. "The day when all are
forgiven."

Softly, so as not to wake the child, he sang a few bars of the old
Schwabian folk-song:

  _"... Für die Zeit, wo du g'liebt mi hast,
  Da dank' i dir schön,
  Und i wünsch', dass dir's anders wo
  Besser mag geh'n...."_

  "... For the time when thou did'st love me,
  I do thank thee well;
  And I hope that elsewhere
  Thou may'st better fare...."

"Christophe!" said Olivier.

Christophe hugged him close.

"Come, old fellow," he said. "We have fared well."

The four of them sat near the sleeping child. They did not speak. And if
they had been asked what they were thinking,--_with the countenance of
humility, they would have replied only:_

"Love."



THE BURNING BUSH

I


Came calmness to his heart. No wind stirred. The air was still....

Christophe was at rest: peace was his. He was in a certain measure proud
of having conquered it: but secretly, in his heart of hearts, he was
sorry for it. He was amazed at the silence. His passions were
slumbering: in all good faith he thought that they would never wake
again.

The mighty, somewhat brutal force that was his was browsing listlessly
and aimlessly. In his inmost soul there was a secret void, a hidden
question: "What's the good?": perhaps a certain consciousness of the
happiness which he had failed to grasp. He had not force enough to
struggle either with himself or with others. He had come to the end of a
stage in his progress: he was reaping the fruits of all his former
efforts, cumulatively: too easily he was tapping the vein of music that
he had opened and while the public was naturally behindhand, and was
just discovering and admiring his old work, he was beginning to break
away from them without knowing as yet whether he would be able to make
any advance on them. He had now a uniform and even delight in creation.
At this period of his life art was to him no more than a fine instrument
upon which he played like a virtuoso. He was ashamedly conscious of
becoming a dilettante.

"_If_," said Ibsen, "_a man is to persevere in his art; he must
have something else, something more than his native genius: passions,
sorrows, which shall fill his life and give it a direction. Otherwise he
will not create, he will write books."_

Christophe was writing books. He was not used to it. His books were
beautiful. He would have rather had them less beautiful and more alive.
He was like an athlete resting, not knowing to what use to turn his
muscles, and, yawning in boredom like a caged wild beast, he sat looking
ahead at the years and years of peaceful work that awaited him. And as,
with his old German capacity for optimism, he had no difficulty in
persuading himself that everything was for the best, he thought that
such a future was no doubt the appointed inevitable end: he flattered
himself that he had issued from his time of trial and tribulation and
had become master of himself. That was not saying much.... Oh, well! A
man is sovereign over that which is his, he is what he is capable of
being.... He thought that he had reached his haven.

The two friends were not living together. After Jacqueline's flight,
Christophe had thought that Olivier would come back and take up his old
quarters with him. But Olivier could not. Although he felt keenly the
need of intimacy with Christophe, yet he was conscious of the
impossibility of resuming their old existence together. After the years
lived with Jacqueline, it would have seemed intolerable and even
sacrilegious to admit another human being to his most intimate
life,--even though he loved and were loved by that other a thousand
times more than Jacqueline.--There was no room for argument.

Christophe had found it hard to understand. He returned again and again
to the charge, he was surprised, saddened, hurt, and angry. Then his
instinct, which was finer and quicker than his intelligence, bade him
take heed. Suddenly he ceased, and admitted that Olivier was right.

But they saw each other every day: and they had never been so closely
united even when they were living under the same roof. Perhaps they did
not exchange their most intimate thoughts when they talked. They did not
need to do so. The exchange was made naturally, without need of words,
by grace of the love that was in their hearts.

They talked very little, for each was absorbed: one in his art, the other
in his memories. Olivier's sorrow was growing less: but he did
nothing to mitigate it, rather almost taking a pleasure in it: for a
long time it had been his only reason for living. He loved his child:
but his child--a puling baby--could occupy no great room in his life.
There are men who are more lovers than fathers, and it is useless to cry
out against them. Nature is not uniform, and it would be absurd to try
to impose identical laws upon the hearts of all men. No man has the
right to sacrifice his duty to his heart. At least the heart must be
granted the right to be unhappy where a man does his duty. What Olivier
perhaps most loved in his child was the woman of whose body it was made.

Until quite recently he had paid little attention to the sufferings of
others. He was an intellectual living too much shut up in himself. It
was not egoism so much as a morbid habit of dreaming. Jacqueline had
increased the void about him: her love had traced a magic circle about
Olivier to cut him off from other men, and the circle endured after love
had ceased to be. In addition he was a little aristocratic by temper.
From his childhood on, in spite of his soft heart, he had held aloof
from the mob for reasons rooted in the delicacy of his body and his
soul. The smell of the people and their thoughts were repulsive to him.

But everything had changed as the result of a commonplace tragedy which
he had lately witnessed.

       *       *       *       *       *

He had taken a very modest lodging at the top of the Mont-rouge quarter,
not far from Christophe and Cécile. The district was rather common, and
the house in which he lived was occupied by little gentlepeople, clerks,
and a few working-class families. At any other time he would have suffered
from such surroundings in which he moved as a stranger: but now
it mattered very little to him where he was: he felt that he was a
stranger everywhere. He hardly knew and did not want to know who his
neighbors were. When he returned from his work--(he had gone into a
publishing-house)--he withdrew into his memories, and would only go out
to see his child and Christophe. His lodging was not home to him: it was
the dark room in which the images of the past took shape and dwelling:
the darker it was the more clearly did the inward images emerge. He
scarcely noticed the faces of those he passed on the stairs. And yet
unconsciously he was aware of certain faces that were impressed upon his
mind. There is a certain order of mind which only really sees things
after they have passed. But then, nothing escapes them, the smallest
details are graven on the plate. Olivier's was such a mind: he bore
within himself multitudes of the shadowy shapes of the living. With any
emotional shock they would come mounting up in crowds: and Olivier would
be amazed to recognize those whom he had never known, and sometimes he
would hold out his hands to grasp them.... Too late.

One day as he came out of his rooms he saw a little crowd collected in
front of the house-door round the housekeeper, who was making a
harangue. He was so little interested that he was for going his way
without troubling to find out what was the matter: but the housekeeper,
anxious to gain another listener, stopped him, and asked him if he knew
what had happened to the poor Roussels. Olivier did not even know who
"the poor Roussels" were, and he listened with polite indifference. When
he heard that a working-class family, father, mother, and five children,
had committed suicide to escape from poverty in the house in which he
lived, he stopped, like the rest, and looked up at the walls of the
building, and listened to the woman's story, which she was nothing loth
to begin again from the beginning. As she went on talking, old memories
awoke in him, and he realized that he had seen the wretched family: he
asked a few questions.... Yes, he remembered them: the man--(he used to
hear him breathing noisily on the stairs)--a journeyman baker, with a
pale face, all the blood drawn out of it by the heat of the oven, hollow
cheeks always ill shaven: he had had pneumonia at the beginning of the
winter: he had gone back to work only half cured: he had had a relapse:
for the last three weeks he had had no work and no strength. The woman
had dragged from childbirth to childbirth: crippled with rheumatism, she
had worn herself out in trying to make both ends meet, and had spent her
days running hither and thither trying to obtain from the Public Charity
a meager sum which was not readily forthcoming. Meanwhile the children
came, and went on coming: eleven, seven, three--not to mention two others
who had died in between:--and, to crown all, twins who had chosen
the very dire moment to make their appearance: they had been born only
the month before.

--On the day of their birth, a neighbor said, the eldest of the five, a
little girl of eleven, Justine--poor little mite!--had begun to cry and
asked how ever she could manage to carry both of them.

Olivier at once remembered the little girl,--a large forehead, with
colorless hair pulled back, and sorrowful, gray bulging eyes. He was
always meeting her, carrying provisions or her little sister: or she
would be holding her seven-year-old brother by the hand, a little
pinch-faced, cringing boy he was, with one blind eye. When they met on
the stairs Olivier used to say, with his absent courteous manner:

"Pardon, mademoiselle."

But she never said anything: she used to go stiffly by, hardly moving
aside: but his illusory courtesy used to give her a secret pleasure.
Only the evening before, at six o'clock, as he was going downstairs, he
had met her for the last time: she was carrying up a bucket of charcoal.
He had not noticed it, except that he did remark that the burden seemed
to be very heavy. But that is merely in the order of things for the
children of the people. Olivier had bowed, as usual, without looking at
her. A few steps lower down he had mechanically looked up to see her
leaning over the balustrade of the landing, with her little pinched
face, watching him go down. She turned away at once, and resumed her
climb upstairs. Did she know whither she was climbing?--Olivier had no
doubt that she did, and he was obsessed by the thought of the child
bearing death in the load that was too heavy for her, death the
deliverer--the wretched children for whom to cease to be meant an end of
suffering! He was unable to continue his walk. He went back to his room.
But there he was conscious of the proximity of the dead.... Only a few
thin walls between him and them.... To think that he had lived so near
to such misery!

He went to see Christophe. He was sick at heart: he told himself that it
was monstrous for him to have been so absorbed as he had been in vain
regrets for love while there were so many creatures suffering
misfortunes a thousand times more cruel, and it was possible to help and
save them. His emotion was profound: there was no difficulty In
communicating it. Christophe was easily impressionable, and he in his
turn was moved. When he heard Olivier's story he tore up the page of
music he had just been writing, and called himself a selfish brute to be
amusing himself with childish games. But, directly after, he picked up
the pieces. He was too much under the spell of his music. And his
instinct told him that a work of art the less would not make one happy
man the more. The tragedy of want was no new thing to him: from his
childhood on he had been used to treading on the edge of such abysmal
depths, and contriving not to topple over. But he was apt to judge
suicide harshly, being conscious as he was of such a fullness of force,
and unable to understand how a man, under the pressure of any suffering
whatsoever, could give up the struggle. Suffering, struggling, is there
anything more normal? These things are the backbone of the universe.

Olivier also had passed through much the same sort of experience: but he
had never been able to resign himself to it, either on his own account
or for others. He had a horror of the poverty in which the life of his
beloved Antoinette had been consumed. After his marriage with
Jacqueline, when he had suffered the softening influence of riches and
love, he had made haste to thrust back the memory of the sorrowful years
when he and his sister had worn themselves out each day in the struggle
to gain the right to live through the next, never knowing whether they
would succeed or no. The memories of those days would come to him now
that he no longer had his youthful egoism to preserve. Instead of flying
before the face of suffering he set out to look for it. He did not need
to go far to find it. In the state of mind in which he was he was prone
to find it everywhere. The world was full of it, the world, that
hospital.... Oh, the agony, the sorrow! Pains of the wounded body,
quivering flesh, rotting away in life. The silent torture of hearts
under gnawing grief. Children whom no one loves, poor hopeless girls,
women seduced or betrayed, men deceived in their friends, their loves,
their faith, the pitiable herd of the unfortunates whom life has broken
and forgotten!... Not poverty and sickness were the most frightful
things to see, but the cruelty of men one to another. Hardly had Olivier
raised the cover of the hell of humanity than there rose to his ears the
plaint of all the oppressed, the exploited poor, the persecuted peoples,
massacred Armenians, Finland crushed and stifled, Poland rent in pieces,
Russia martyred, Africa flung to the rapacious pack of Europe, all the
wretched creatures of the human race. It stifled him: he heard it
everywhere, he could no longer close his ears to it, he could no longer
conceive the possibility of there being people with any other thought.
He was for ever talking about it to Christophe. Christophe grew anxious,
and said:

"Be quiet! Let me work."

And as he found it hard to recover his balance he would lose his temper
and swear.

"Damnation! My day is wasted! And you're a deal the better for it,
aren't you?"

Olivier would beg his pardon.

"My dear fellow," said Christophe, "it's no good always looking down
into the pit. It stops your living."

"One must lend a hand to those who are in the pit."

"No doubt. But how? By flinging ourselves down as well? For that is what
you want. You've got a propensity for seeing nothing but the sad side of
life. God bless you! Your pessimism is charitable, I grant you, but it
is very depressing. Do you want to create happiness? Very well, then, be
happy."

"Happy! How can one have the heart to be happy when one sees so much
suffering? There can only be happiness in trying to lessen it and
fighting the evil."

"Very good. But I don't help the unfortunate much by lashing out blindly
in all directions. It means only one bad soldier the more. But I can
bring comfort by my art and spread force and joy. Have you any idea how
many wretched beings have been sustained in their suffering by the
beauty of an idea, by a winged song? Every man to his own trade! You
French people, like the generous scatterbrains that you are, are always
the first to protest against the injustice of, say, Spain or Russia,
without knowing what it is all about. I love you for it. But do you
think you are helping things along? You rush at it and bungle it and the
result is nil,--if not worse.... And, look you, your art has never been
more weak and emaciated than now, when your artists claim to be taking
part in the activities of the world. It is the strangest thing to see so
many little writers and artists, all dilettante and rather dishonest,
daring to set themselves up as apostles! They would do much better if
they were to give the people wine to drink that was not so
adulterated.--My first duty is to do whatever I am doing well, and to
give you healthy music which shall set new blood coursing in your veins
and let the sun shine in upon you."

       *       *       *       *       *

If a man is to shed the light of the sun upon other men, he must first
of all have it within himself. Olivier had none of it. Like the best man
of to-day, he was not strong enough to radiate force by himself. But in
unison with others he might have been able to do so. But with whom could
he unite? He was free in mind and at heart religious, and he was
rejected by every party political and religious. They were all
intolerant and narrow and were continually at rivalry. Whenever they
came into power they abused it. Only the weak and the oppressed
attracted Olivier. In this at least he agreed with Christophe's opinion,
that before setting out to combat injustice in distant lands, it were as
well to fight injustice close at hand, injustice everywhere about,
injustice for which each and every man is more or less responsible.
There are only too many people who are quite satisfied with protesting
against the evil wrought by others, without ever thinking of the evil
that they do themselves.

At first he turned his attention to the relief of the poor. His friend,
Madame Arnaud, helped to administer a charity. Olivier got her to allow
him to help. But at the outset he had more than one setback: the poor
people who were given into his charge were not all worthy of interest,
or they were unresponsive to his sympathy, distrusted him, and shut
their doors against him. Besides, it is hard for a man of intellect to
be satisfied with charity pure and simple: it waters such a very small
corner of the kingdom of wretchedness! Its effects are almost always
piecemeal, fragmentary: it seems to move by chance, and to be engaged
only in dressing wounds as fast as it discovers them: generally it is
too modest and in too great a hurry to probe down to the roots of the
evil. Now it was just this probing that Olivier's mind found
indispensable.

He began to study the problem of social poverty. There was no lack of
guides to point the way. In those days the social question had become a
society question. It was discussed in drawing-rooms, in the theater, in
novels. Everybody claimed some knowledge of it. Some of the young men
were expending the best part of their powers upon it.

Every new generation needs to have some splendid mania or other. Even
the most selfish of young people are endowed with a superfluity of life,
a capital sum of energy which has been advanced to them and cannot be
left idle and unproductive: they are for ever seeking to expend it on a
course of action, or--(more prudently)--on a theory. Aviation or
Revolution, a muscular or intellectual exercise. When a man is young he
needs to be under the illusion that he is sharing in some great movement
of humanity and is renewing the life of the world. It is a lovely thing
when the senses thrill in answer to every puff of the winds of the
universe! Then a man is so free, so light! Not yet is he laden with the
ballast of a family, he has nothing, risks next to nothing. A man is
very generous when he can renounce what is not yet his. Besides, it is
so good to love and to hate, and to believe that one is transforming the
earth with dreams and shouting! Young people are like watch-dogs: they
are for ever howling and barking at the wind. An act of injustice
committed at the other end of the world will send them off their heads.

Dogs barking through the night. From one farm to another in the heart of
the forest they were yelping to one another, never ceasing. The night
was stormy. It was not easy to sleep in those days. The wind bore
through the air the echoes of so many acts of injustice!... The tale of
injustice is unnumbered: in remedying one there is danger of causing
others. What is injustice?--To one man it means a shameful peace, the
fatherland dismembered. To another it signifies war. To another it means
the destruction of the past, the banishment of princes: to another, the
spoliation of the Church: to yet another the stifling of the future to
the peril of liberty. For the people, injustice lies in inequality: for
the upper ten, in equality. There are so many different kinds of
injustice that each age chooses its own,--the injustice that it fights
against, and the injustice that it countenances.

At the present time the mightiest efforts of the world were directed
against social injustice,--and unconsciously were tending to the
production of fresh injustice.

And, in truth, such injustice had waxed great and plain to see since the
working-classes, growing in numbers and power, had become part of the
essential machinery of the State. But in spite of the declamations of
the tribunes and bards of the people, their condition was not worse, but
rather better than it had ever been in the past: and the change had come
about not because they suffered more, but because they had grown
stronger. Stronger by reason of the very power of the hostile ranks of
Capital, by the fatality of economic and industrial development which
had banded the workers together in armies ready for the fight, and, by
the use of machinery, had given weapons into their hands, and had turned
every foreman into a master with power over light, lightning, movement,
all the energy of the world. From this enormous mass of elementary
forces, which only a short time ago the leaders of men were trying to
organize, there was given out a white heat, electric waves gradually
permeating the whole body of human society.

It was not by reason of its justice, or its novelty, or the force of the
ideas bound up in it that the cause of the people was stirring the minds
of the intelligent middle-class, although they were fain to think so.
Its appeal lay in its vitality.

Its justice? Justice was everywhere and every day violated thousands of
times without the world ever giving a thought to it. Its ideas? Scraps
of truth, picked up here and there and adjusted to the interests and
requirements of one class at the expense of the other classes. Its creed
was as absurd as every other creed,--the Divine Right of Kings, the
Infallibility of the Popes, Universal Suffrage, the Equality of
Man,--all equally absurd if one only considers them by their rational
value and not in the light of the force by which they are animated. What
did their mediocrity matter? Ideas have never conquered the world as
ideas, but only by the force they represent. They do not grip men by
their intellectual contents, but by the radiant vitality which is given
off from them at certain periods in history. They give off as it were a
rich scent which overpowers even the dullest sense of smell. The
loftiest and most sublime idea remains ineffective until the day when it
becomes contagious, not by its own merits, but by the merits of the
groups of men in whom it becomes incarnate by the transfusion of their
blood. Then the withered plant, the rose of Jericho, comes suddenly to
flower, grows to its full height, and fills all the air with its
powerful aroma.--Some of the ideas which were now the flaming standard
under which the working-classes were marching on to the assault upon the
capitalistic citadel, emanated from the brains of dreamers of the
comfortable classes. While they had been left in their comfortable
books, they had lain dead: items in a museum, mummies packed away in
glass cases with no one to look at them. But as soon as the people laid
hands on them, they had become part and parcel of the people, they had
been given their feverish reality, which deformed them while it gave
them life, breathing into such abstract reason, their hallucinations,
and their hopes, like a burning wind of Hegira. They were quickly spread
from man to man. Men succumbed to them without knowing from whom they
came or how they had been brought. They were no respecters of persons.
The moral epidemic spread and spread: and it was quite possible for
limited creatures to communicate it to superior men. Every man was
unwittingly an agent in the transmission.

Such phenomena of intellectual contagion are to be observed in all times
and in all countries: they make themselves felt even in aristocratic
States where there is the endeavor to maintain castes hermetically
sealed one against the other. But nowhere are they more electric than in
democracies which preserve no sanitary barrier between the elect and the
mob. The elect are contaminated at once whatever they do to fight
against it. In spite of their pride and intelligence they cannot resist
the contagion; for the elect are much weaker than they think.
Intelligence is a little island fretted by the tides of humanity,
crumbling away and at last engulfed. It only emerges again on the ebb of
the tide.--One wonders at the self-denial of the French privileged
classes when on the night of August 4 they abdicated their rights. Most
wonderful of all, no doubt, is the fact that they could not do
otherwise. I fancy a good many of them when they returned home must have
said to themselves: "What have I done? I must have been drunk...." A
splendid drunkenness! Blessed be wine and the vine that gives it forth!
It was not the privileged classes of old France who planted the vine
whose blood brought them to drunkenness. The wine was extracted, they
had only to drink it. He who drank must lose his wits. Even those who
did not drink turned dizzy only from the smell of the vat that caught
them as they passed. The vintages of the Revolution!... Hidden away in
the family vaults there are left only a few empty bottles of the wine of
'89: but our grandchildren's children will remember that their
great-grandfathers had their heads turned by it.

It was a sourer wine but a wine no less strong that was mounting to the
heads of the comfortable young people of Olivier's generation. They were
offering up their class as a sacrifice to the new God, _Deo
ignoto_:--the people.

       *       *       *       *       *

To tell the truth, they were not all equally sincere. Many of them were
only able to see in the movement an opportunity of rising above their
class by affecting to despise it. For the majority it was an
intellectual pastime, an oratorical enthusiasm which they never took
altogether seriously. There is a certain pleasure in believing that you
believe in a cause, that you are fighting, or will fight, for it,--or
at least could fight. There is a by no means negligible satisfaction in the
thought that you are risking something. Theatrical emotions.

They are quite innocent so long as you surrender to them simply without
any admixture of interested motive.--But there were men of a more
worldly type who only played the game of set purpose: the popular
movement was to them only a road to success. Like the Norse pirates,
they made rise of the rising tide to carry their ships up into the land:
they aimed at reaching the innermost point of the great estuaries so as
to be left snugly ensconced in the conquered cities when the sea fell
back once more. The channel was narrow and the tide was capricious:
great skill was needed. But two or three generations of demagogy have
created a race of corsairs who know every trick and secret of the trade.
They rushed boldly in with never even so much as a glance back at those
who foundered on the way.

This piratical rabble is made up of all parties: thank Heaven, no party
is responsible for it. But the disgust with which such adventurers had
inspired the sincere and all men of conviction had led some of them to
despair of their class. Olivier came in contact with rich young men of
culture who felt very strongly that the comfortable classes were
moribund and that they themselves were useless. He was only too much
inclined to sympathize with them. They had begun by believing in the
reformation of the people by the elect, they had founded Popular
Universities, and taken no account of the time and money spent upon
them, and now they were forced to admit the futility of their efforts:
their hopes had been pitched too high, their discouragement sank too
low. The people had either not responded to their appeal or had run away
from it. When the people did come, they understood everything all wrong,
and only assimilated the vices and absurdities of the culture of the
superior classes. And in the end more than one scurvy knave had stolen
into the ranks of the burgess apostles, and discredited them by
exploiting both people and apostles at the same time. Then it seemed to
honest men that the middle-class was doomed, that it could only infect
the people who, at all costs, must break free and go their way alone. So
they were left cut off from all possibility of action, save to predict
and foresee a movement which would be made without and against
themselves. Some of them found in this the joy of renunciation, the joy
of deep disinterested human sympathy feeding upon itself and the
sacrifice of itself. To love, to give self! Youth is so richly endowed
that it can afford to do without repayment: youth has no fear of being
left despoiled. And it can do without everything save the art of
loving.--Others again found in it a pleasurable rational satisfaction, a
sort of imperious logic: they sacrificed themselves not to men so much
as to ideas. These were the bolder spirits. They took a proud delight in
deducing the fated end of their class from their reasoned arguments. It
would have hurt them more to see their predictions falsified than to be
crushed beneath the weight of circumstance. In their intellectual
intoxication they cried aloud to those outside: "Harder! Strike harder!
Let there be nothing left of us!"--They had become the theorists of
violence.

Of the violence of others. For, as usual, these apostles of brute force
were almost always refined and weakly people. Many of them were
officials of the State which they talked of destroying, industrious,
conscientious, and orderly officials.

Their theoretical violence was the throwback from their weakness, their
bitterness, and the suppression of their vitality. But above all it was
an indication of the storms brewing all around them. Theorists are like
meteorologists: they state in scientific terms not what the weather will
be, but what the weather is. They are weathercocks pointing to the
quarter whence the wind blows. When they turn they are never far from
believing that they are turning the wind.

The wind had turned.

Ideas are quickly used up in a democracy, and the more quickly they are
propagated, the more quickly are they worn out. There are any number of
Republicans in France who in less than fifty years have grown disgusted
with the Republic, with Universal Suffrage, with all the manifestations
of liberty won with such blind intoxication! After the fetish worship of
numbers, after the gaping optimism which had believed in the sanctity of
the majority and had looked to it for the progress of humanity, there
came the wind of brute force: the inability of the majority to govern
themselves, their venality, their corruption, their base and fearful
hatred of all superiority, their oppressive cowardice, raised the spirit
of revolt: the minorities of energy--every kind of minority--appealed
from the majority to force. A queer, yet inevitable alliance was brought
about between the royalists of the _Action Française_ and the
syndicalists of the C. G. T. Balzac speaks somewhere of the men of his
time who _"though aristocrats by inclination, yet became Republicans
in spite, of themselves, only to find many inferiors among their
equals."_--A scant sort of pleasure. Those who are inferior must be
made to accept themselves as such: and to bring that about there is
nothing to be done but to create an authority which shall impose the
supremacy of the elect--of either class, working or burgess--upon the
oppressive majority. Our young intellectuals, being proud and of the
better class, became royalists or revolutionaries out of injured vanity
and hatred of democratic equality. And the disinterested theorists, the
philosophers of brute force, like good little weathercocks, reared their
heads above them and were the oriflammes of the storm.

Last of all there was the herd of literary men in search of
inspiration--men who could write and yet knew not what to write: like
the Greeks at Aulis, they were becalmed and could make no progress, and
sat impatiently waiting for a kindly wind from any quarter to come and
belly out their sails.--There were famous men among them, men who had
been wrenched away from their stylistic labors and plunged into public
meetings by the Dreyfus affair. An example which had found only too many
followers for the liking of those who had set it. There was now a mob of
writing men all engrossed in politics, and claiming to control the
affairs of the State. On the slightest excuse they would form societies,
issue manifestoes, save the Capitol. After the intellectuals of the
advance guard came the intellectuals of the rear: they were much of a
muchness. Each of the two parties regarded the other as intellectual and
themselves as intelligent. Those who had the luck to have in their veins
a few drops of the blood of the people bragged about it: they dipped
their pens into it, wrote with it.--They were all malcontents of the
burgess class, and were striving to recapture the authority which that
class had irreparably lost through its selfishness. Only in rare
instances were these apostles known to keep up their apostolic zeal for
any length of time. In the beginning the cause meant a certain amount of
success to them, success which in all probability was in no wise due to
their oratorical gifts. It gave them a delicious flattery for their
vanity. Thereafter they went on with less success and a certain secret
fear of being rather ridiculous. In the long-run the last feeling was
apt to dominate the rest, being increased by the fatigue of playing a
difficult part for men of their distinguished tastes and innate
skepticism. But they waited upon the favor of the wind and of their
escort before they could withdraw. For they were held captive both by
wind and escort. These latter-day Voltaires and Joseph de Maistres,
beneath their boldness in speech and writing, concealed a dread
uncertainty, feeling the ground, being fearful of compromising
themselves with the young men, and striving hard to please them and to
be younger than the young. They were revolutionaries or
counter-revolutionaries merely as a matter of literature, and in the end
they resigned themselves to following the literary fashion which they
themselves had helped to create.

The oddest of all the types with which Olivier came in contact in the
small burgess advance guard of the Revolution was the revolutionary who
was so from timidity.

The specimen presented for his immediate observation was named Pierre
Canet. He was brought up in a rich, middle-class, and conservative
family, hermetically sealed against any new idea: they were magistrates
and officials who had distinguished themselves by crabbing authority or
being dismissed: thick-witted citizens of the Marais who flirted with
the Church and thought little, but thought that little well. He had
married, for want of anything better to do, a woman with an aristocratic
name, who had no great capacity for thought, but did her thinking no
less well than he. The bigoted, narrow, and retrograde society in which
he lived, a society which was perpetually chewing the cud of its own
conceit and bitterness, had finally exasperated him,--the more so as his
wife was ugly and a bore. He was fairly intelligent and open-minded, and
liberal in aspiration, without knowing at all clearly in what liberalism
consisted: there was no likelihood of his discovering the meaning of
liberty in his immediate surroundings. The only thing he knew for
certain was that liberty did not exist there: and he fancied that he had
only to leave to find it. On his first move outwards he was lucky enough
to fall in with certain old college friends, some of whom had been
smitten with syndicalistic ideas. He was even more at sea in their
company than in the society which he had just quitted: but he would not
admit it: he had to live somewhere: and he was unable to find people of
his own cast of thought (that is to say, people of no cast of thought
whatever), though, God knows, the species is by no means rare in France!
But they are ashamed of themselves: they hide themselves, or they take
on the hue of one of the fashionable political colors, if not of
several, all at once. Besides, he was under the influence of his
friends.

As always happens, he had particularly attached himself to the very man
who was most different from himself. This Frenchman, French, burgess and
provincial to his very soul, had become the _fidus Achates_ of a
young Jewish doctor named Manousse Heimann, a Russian refugee, who, like
so many of his fellow-countrymen, had the twofold gift of settling at
once among strangers and making himself at home, and of being so much at
his ease in any sort of revolution as to rouse wonder as to what it was
that most interested him in it: the game or the cause. His experiences
and the experiences of others were a source of entertainment to him. He
was a sincere revolutionary, and his scientific habit of mind made him
regard the revolutionaries and himself as a kind of madmen. His excited
dilettantism and his extreme instability of mind made him seek the
company of men the most opposite. He had acquaintances among those in
authority and even among the police: he was perpetually prying and
spying with that morbid and dangerous curiosity which makes so many
Russian revolutionaries seem to be playing a double game, and sometimes
reduces the appearance to reality. It is not treachery so much as
versatility, and it is thoroughly disinterested. There are so many men
of action to whom action is a theater into which they bring their
talents as comedians, quite honestly prepared at any moment to change
their part! Manousse was as faithful to the revolutionary part as it was
possible for him to be: it was the character which was most in accord
with his natural anarchy, and his delight in demolishing the laws of the
countries through which he passed. But yet, in spite of everything, it
was only a part. It was always impossible to know how much was true and
how much invented in what he said, and even he himself was never very
sure. He was intelligent and skeptical, endowed with the psychological
subtlety of his twofold nationality, could discern quite marvelously the
weaknesses of others, and his own, and was extremely skilful in playing
upon them, so that he had no difficulty in gaining an ascendancy over
Canet. It amused him to drag this Sancho Panza into Quixotic pranks. He
made no scruple about using him, disposing of his will, his time, his
money,--not for his own benefit, (he needed none, though no one knew how
or in what way he lived),--but in the most compromising demonstrations
of the cause. Canet submitted to it all: he tried to persuade himself
that he thought like Manousse. He knew perfectly well that this was not
the case: such ideas scared him: they were shocking to his common sense.
And he had no love for the people. And, in addition, he had no courage.
This big, bulky, corpulent young man, with his clean-shaven pinkish face,
his short breathing, his pleasant, pompous, and rather childish way of
speaking, with a chest like the Farnese Hercules, (he was a fair hand at
boxing and singlestick), was the most timid of men. If he took a certain
pride in being taken for a man of a subversive temper by his own people,
in his heart of hearts he used to tremble at the boldness of his
friends. No doubt the little thrill they gave him was by no means
disagreeable as long as it was only in fun. But their fun was becoming
dangerous. His fervent friends were growing aggressive, their hardy
pretensions were increasing: they alarmed Canet's fundamental egoism,
his deeply rooted sense of propriety, his middle-class pusillanimity. He
dared not ask: "Where are you taking me to?" But, under his breath, he
fretted and fumed at the recklessness of these young men who seemed to
love nothing so much as breaking their necks, and never to give a
thought as to whether they were not at the same time running a risk of
breaking other people's.--What was it impelled him to follow them? Was
he not free to break with them? He had not the courage. He was afraid of
being left alone, like a child who gets left behind and begins to
whimper. He was like so many men: they have no opinions, except in so
far as they disapprove of all enthusiastic opinion: but if a man is to
be independent he must stand alone, and how many men are there who are
capable of that? How many men are there, even amongst the most clear
sighted, who will dare to break free of the bondage of certain
prejudices, certain postulates which cramp and fetter all the men of the
same generation? That would mean setting up a wall between themselves
and others. On the one hand, freedom in the wilderness, on the other,
mankind. They do not hesitate: they choose mankind, the herd. The herd
is evil smelling, but it gives warmth. Then those who have chosen
pretend to think what they do not in fact think. It is not very
difficult for them: they know so little what they think!... _"Know
thyself!"_... How could they, these men who have hardly a _Me_
to know? In every collective belief, religious or social, very rare are
the men who believe, because very rare are the men who are men. Faith is
an heroic force: its fire has kindled but a very few human torches, and
even these have often flickered. The apostles, the prophets, even Jesus
have doubted. The rest are only reflections,--save at certain hours when
their souls are dry and a few sparks falling from a great torch set
light to all the surface of the plain: then the fire dies down, and
nothing gleams but the glowing embers beneath the ashes. Not more than a
few hundred Christians really believe in Christ. The rest believe that
they believe, or else they only try to believe.

Many of these revolutionaries were like that. Our friend Canet tried
hard to believe that he was a revolutionary: he did believe it. And he
was scared at his own boldness.

All these comfortable people invoked divers principles: some followed
the bidding of their hearts, others that of their reason, others again
only their interests: some associated their way of thinking with the
Gospel, others with M. Bergson, others, again, with Karl Marx, with
Proudhon, with Joseph de Maistre. with Nietzsche, or with M. Sorel.
There were men who were revolutionaries to be in the fashion, some who
were so out of snobbishness, and some from shyness: some from hatred,
others from love: some from a need of active, hot-headed heroism: and
some in sheer slavishness, from the sheeplike quality of their minds.
But all, without knowing it, were at the mercy of the wind. All were no
more than those whirling clouds of dust which are to be seen like smoke
in the far distance on the white roads in the country, clouds of dust
foretelling the coming of the storm.

Olivier and Christophe watched the wind coming. Both of them had strong
eyes. But they used them in different ways. Olivier, whose clear gaze,
in spite of himself, pierced to the very inmost thoughts of men, was
saddened by their mediocrity: but he saw the hidden force that sustained
them: he was most struck by the tragic aspect of things. Christophe was
more sensible of their comic aspect. Men interested him, ideas not at
all. He affected a contemptuous indifference towards them. He laughed at
Socialistic Utopias. In a spirit of contradiction and out of instinctive
reaction against the morbid humanitarianism which was the order of the
day, he appeared to be more selfish than he was: he was a self-made man,
a sturdy upstart, proud of his strength of body and will, and he was a
little too apt to regard all those who had not his force as shirkers. In
poverty and alone he had been able to win through: let others do the
same! Why all this talk of a social question? What question? Poverty?

"I know all about that," he would say. "My father, my mother, I myself,
we have been through it. It's only a matter of getting out of it."

"Not everybody can," Olivier would reply. "What about the sick and the
unlucky?"

"One must help them, that's all. But that is a very different thing from
setting them on a pinnacle, as people are doing nowadays. Only a short
while ago people were asserting the odious doctrine of the rights of the
strongest man. Upon my word, I'm inclined to think that the rights of
the weakest are even more detestable: they're sapping the thought of
to-day, the weakest man is tyrannizing over the strong, and exploiting
them. It really looks as though it has become a merit to be diseased,
poor, unintelligent, broken,--and a vice to be strong, upstanding, happy
in righting, and an aristocrat in brains and blood. And what is most
absurd of all is this, that the strong are the first to believe it....
It's a fine subject for a comedy, my dear Olivier!"

"I'd rather have people laugh at me than make other people weep."

"Good boy!" said Christophe. "But, good Lord, who ever said anything to
the contrary? When I see a hunchback, my back aches for him.... We're
playing the comedy, we won't write it."

He did not suffer himself to be bitten by the prevalent dreams of social
justice. His vulgar common sense told him and he believed that what had
been would be.

"But if anybody said that to you about art you'd be up in arms against
him."

"May be. Anyhow, I don't know about anything except art. Nor do you.
I've no faith in people who talk about things without knowing anything
about them."

Olivier's faith in such people was no greater. Both of them were
inclined to push their distrust a little too far: they had always held
aloof from politics. Olivier confessed, not without shame, that he could
not remember ever having used his rights as an elector: for the last ten
years he had not even entered his name at the _mairie_.

"Why," he asked, "should I take part in a comedy which I know to be
futile? Vote? For whom should I vote? I don't see any reason for
choosing between two candidates, both of whom are unknown to me, while I
have only too much reason to expect that, directly the election is over,
they will both be false to all their professions of faith. Keep an eye
on them? Remind them of their duty? It would take up the whole of my
life, with no result. I have neither time, nor strength, nor the
rhetorical weapons, nor sufficient lack of scruple, nor is my heart
steeled against all the disgust that action brings. Much better to keep
clear of it all. I am quite ready to submit to the evil. But at least I
won't subscribe to it."

But, in spite of his excessive clear-sightedness, Olivier, to whom the
ordinary routine of politics was repulsive, yet preserved a chimerical
hope in a revolution. He knew that it was chimerical: but he did not
discard it. It was a sort of racial mysticism in him. Not for nothing
does a man belong to the greatest destructive and constructive people of
the Western world, the people who destroy to construct and construct to
destroy,--the people who play with ideas and life, and are for ever
making a clean sweep so as to make a new and better beginning, and shed
their blood in pledge.

Christophe was endowed with no such hereditary Messianism. He was too
German to relish much the idea of a revolution. He thought that there
was no changing the world. Why all these theories, all these words, all
this futile uproar?

"I have no need," he would say, "to make a revolution--or long speeches
about revolution--in order to prove to my own satisfaction that I am
strong. I have no need, like these young men of yours, to overthrow the
State in order to restore a King or a Committee of Public Safety to
defend me. That's a queer way of proving your strength! I can defend
myself. I am not an anarchist: I love all necessary order and I revere
the laws which govern the universe. But I don't want an intermediary
between them and myself. My will knows how to command, and it knows also
how to submit. You've got the classics on the tip of your tongue. Why
don't you remember your Corneille: _'Myself alone, and that is
enough.'_ Your desire for a master is only a cloak for your weakness.
Force is like the light: only the blind can deny it. Be strong, calmly,
without all your theories, without any act of violence, and then, as
plants turn to the sun, so the souls of the weak will turn to you."

But even while he protested that he had no time to waste on political
discussions, he was much less detached from it all than he wished to
appear. He was suffering, as an artist, from the social unrest. In his
momentary dearth of strong passion he would sometimes pause to look
around and wonder for what people he was writing. Then he would see the
melancholy patrons of contemporary art, the weary creatures of the
upper-classes, the dilettante men and women of the burgess-class, and he
would think:

"What profits it to work for such people as these?" In truth there was
no lack of men of refinement and culture, men sensitive to skill and
craft, men even who were not incapable of appreciating the novelty
or--(it is all the same)--the archaism of fine feeling. But they were
bored, too intellectual, not sufficiently alive to believe in the
reality of art: they were only interested in tricks,--tricks of sound,
or juggling with ideas; most of them were distraught by other worldly
interests, accustomed to scattering their attention over their
multifarious occupations, none of which was "necessary." It was almost
impossible for them to pierce the outer covering of art, to feel its
heart deep down: art was not flesh and blood to them; it was literature.
Their critics built up their impotence to issue from dilettantism into a
theory, an intolerant theory. When it happened that a few here and there
were vibrant enough to respond to the voice of art, they were not strong
enough to bear it, and were left disgruntled and nerve-ridden for life.
They were sick men or dead. What could art do in such a hospital?--And
yet in modern society he was unable to do without these cripples: for
they had money, and they ruled the Press: they only could assure an
artist the means of living. So then he must submit to such humiliation:
an intimate and sorrowful art, music in which is told the secret of the
artist's inmost life, offered up as an amusement--or rather as a
palliative of boredom, or as another sort of boredom--in the theaters or
in fashionable drawing-rooms, to an audience of snobs and worn-out
intellectuals.

Christophe was seeking the real public, the public which believes in the
emotions of art as in those of life, and feels them with a virgin soul.
And he was vaguely attracted by the new promised world--the people. The
memories of his childhood, Gottfried and the poor, who had revealed to
him the living depths of art, or had shared with him the sacred bread of
music, made him inclined to believe that his real friends were to be
found among such people. Like many another young man of a generous heart
and simple faith, he cherished great plans for a popular art, concerts,
and a theater for the people, which he would have been hard put to it to
define. He thought that a revolution might make it possible to bring
about a great artistic renascence, and he pretended that he had no other
interest in the social movement. But he was hoodwinking himself: he was
much too alive not to be attracted and drawn onward by the sight of the
most living activity of the time.

In all that he saw he was least of all interested in the middle-class
theorists. The fruit borne by such trees is too often sapless: all the
juices of life are wasted in ideas. Christophe did not distinguish
between one idea and another. He had no preference even for ideas which
were his own when he came upon them congealed in systems. With
good-humored contempt he held aloof from the theorists of force as from
the theorists of weakness. In every comedy the one ungrateful part is
that of the _raisonneur_. The public prefers not only the
sympathetic characters to him, but the unsympathetic characters also.
Christophe was like the public in that. The _raisonneurs_ of the
social question seemed tiresome to him. But he amused himself by
watching the rest, the simple, the men of conviction, those who believed
and those who wanted to believe, those who were tricked and those who
wanted to be tricked, not to mention the buccaneers who plied their
predatory trade, and the sheep who were made to be fleeced. His sympathy
was indulgent towards the pathetically absurd little people like fat
Canet. Their mediocrity was not offensive to him as it was to Olivier.
He watched them all with affectionate and mocking interest: he believed
that he was outside the piece they were playing: and he did not see that
little by little he was being drawn into it. He thought only of being a
spectator watching the wind rush by. But already the wind had caught
him, and was dragging him along into its whirling cloud of dust.

       *       *       *       *       *

The social drama was twofold. The piece played by the intellectuals was
a comedy within a comedy; the people hardly heeded it. The real drama
was that of the people. It was not easy to follow it: the people
themselves did not always know where they were in it. It was all
unexpected, unforeseen.

It was not only that there was much more talk in it than action. Every
Frenchman, be he burgess or of the people, is as great an eater of speeches
as he is of bread. But all men do not eat the same sort of
bread. There is the speech of luxury for delicate palates, and the more
nourishing sort of speech for hungry gullets. If the words are the same,
they are not kneaded into the same shape: taste, smell, meaning, all are
different.

The first time Olivier attended a popular meeting and tasted of the fare
he lost his appetite: his gorge rose at it, and he could not swallow. He
was disgusted by the platitudinous quality of thought, the drab and
uncouth clumsiness of expression, the vague generalizations, the
childish logic, the ill-mixed mayonnaise of abstractions and
disconnected facts. The impropriety and looseness of the language were
not compensated by the raciness and vigor of the vulgar tongue. The
whole thing was compounded of a newspaper vocabulary, stale tags picked
up from the reach-me-downs of middle-class rhetoric. Olivier was
particularly amazed at the lack of simplicity. He forgot that literary
simplicity is not natural, but acquired: it is a thing achieved by the
people of the elect. Dwellers in towns cannot be simple: they are rather
always on the lookout for far-fetched expressions.

Olivier did not understand the effect such turgid phrases might have on
their audience. He had not the key to their meaning. We call foreign the
languages of other races, and it never occurs to us that there are
almost as many languages in our nation as there are social grades. It is
only for a limited few that words retain their traditional and age-old
meaning: for the rest they represent nothing more than their own
experience and that of the group to which they belong. Many of such
words, which are dead for the select few and despised by them, are like
an empty house, wherein, as soon as the few are gone, new energy and
quivering passion take up their abode. If you wish to know the master of
the house, go into it.

That Christophe did.

       *       *       *       *       *

He had been brought into touch with the working-classes by a neighbor of
his who was employed on the State Railways. He was a little man of
forty-five, prematurely old, with a pathetically bald head, deep-sunken
eyes, hollow cheeks, a prominent nose, fleshy and aquiline, a clever
mouth, and malformed ears with twisted lobes: the marks of degeneracy.
His name was Alcide Gautier. He was not of the people, but of the lower
middle-class.

He came of a good family who had spent all they had on the education of
their only son, but, for want of means, had been unable to let him go
through with it. As a very young man he had obtained one of those
Government posts which seem to the lower middle-class a very heaven, and
are in reality death,--living death.--Once he had gone into it, it had
been impossible for him to escape. He had committed the offense--(for it
is an offense in modern society)--of marrying for love a pretty
workgirl, whose innate vulgarity had only increased with time. She gave
him three children and he had to earn a living for them. This man, who
was intelligent and longed with all his might to finish his education,
was cramped and fettered by poverty. He was conscious of latent powers
in himself which were stifled by the difficulties of his existence: he
could not take any decisive step. He was never alone. He was a
bookkeeping clerk and had to spend his days over purely mechanical work
in a room which he had to share with several of his colleagues who were
vulgar chattering creatures: they were for ever talking of idiotic
things and avenged themselves for the absurdity of their existence by
slandering their chiefs and making fun of him and his intellectual point
of view which he had not been prudent enough to conceal from them. When
he returned home it was to find an evil-smelling charmless room, a noisy
common wife who did not understand him and regarded him as a humbug or a
fool. His children did not take after him in anything: they took after
their mother. Was it just that it should be so? Was it just? Nothing but
disappointment and suffering and perpetual poverty, and work that took
up his whole day from morning to night, and never the possibility of
snatching an hour for recreation, an hour's silence, all this had
brought him to a state of exhaustion and nervous
irritability.--Christophe, who had pursued his acquaintance with him,
was struck by the tragedy of his lot: an incomplete nature, lacking
sufficient culture and artistic taste, yet made for great things and
crushed by misfortune. Gautier clung to Christophe as a weak man
drowning grasps at the arm of a strong swimmer. He felt a mixture of
sympathy and envy for Christophe. He took him to popular meetings, and
showed him some of the leaders of the syndicalist party to which he
belonged for no other reason than his bitterness against society. For he
was an aristocrat gone wrong. It hurt him terribly to mix with the
people.

Christophe was much more democratic than he--the more so as nothing
forced him to be so--and enjoyed the meetings. The speeches amused him.
He did not share Olivier's feeling of repulsion: he was hardly at all
sensible of the absurdities of the language. In his eyes a windbag was
as good as any other man. He affected a sort of contempt for eloquence
in general. But though he took no particular pains to understand their
rhetoric, he did feel the music which came through the man who was
speaking and the men who were listening. The power of the speaker was
raised to the hundredth degree by the echo thrown back from hie hearers.
At first Christophe only took stock of the speakers, and he was
interested enough to make the acquaintance of some of them.

The man who had the most influence on the crowd was Casimir Joussier,--a
little, pale, dark man, between thirty and thirty-five, with a Mongolian
cast of countenance, thin, puny, with cold burning eyes, scant hair, and
a pointed beard. His power lay not so much in his gesture, which was
poor, stilted, and rarely in harmony with the, words,--not so much in
his speech, which was raucous and sibilant, with marked pauses for
breathing,--as in his personality and the emphatic assurance and force
of will which emanated from it. He never seemed to admit the possibility
of any one thinking differently from himself: and as what he thought was
what his audience wanted to think they had no difficulty in
understanding one another. He would go on saying thrice, four times, ten
times, the things they expected him to say: he never stopped hammering
the same nail with a tenacious fury: and his audience, following his
example, would hammer, hammer, hammer, until the nail was buried deep in
the flesh.--Added to this personal ascendancy was the confidence
inspired by his past life, the _prestige_ of many terms in prison,
largely deserved by his violent writings. He breathed out an indomitable
energy: but for the seeing eye there was revealed beneath it all an
accumulated fund of weariness, disgust with so much continual effort,
anger against fate. He was one of those men who every day spend more
than their income of vitality. From his childhood on he had been ground
down by work and poverty. He had plied all sorts of trades: journeyman
glass-blower, plumber, printer: his health was ruined: he was a prey to
consumption, which plunged him into fits of bitter discouragement and
dumb despair of the cause and of himself: at other times it would raise
him up to a pitch of excitement. He was a mixture of calculated and
morbid violence, of policy and recklessness. He was educated up to a
certain point: he had a good knowledge of many things, science,
sociology, and his various trades: he had a very poor knowledge of many
others: and he was just as cocksure with both: he had Utopian notions,
just ideas, ignorance in many directions, a practical mind, many
prejudices, experience, and suspicion and hatred of burgess society.
That did not prevent his welcoming Christophe. His pride was tickled by
being sought out by a well-known artist. He was of the race of leaders,
and, whatever he did, he was brusque with ordinary workmen. Although in
all good faith he desired perfect equality, he found it easier to
realize with those above than with those beneath him.

Christophe came across other leaders of the working-class movement.
There was no great sympathy between them. If the common fight--with
difficulty--produced unity of action, it was very far from creating
unity of feeling. It was easy to see the external and purely transitory
reality to which the distinction between the classes corresponded. The
old antagonisms were only postponed and marked: but they continued to
exist. In the movement were to be found men of the north and men of the
south with their fundamental scorn of each other. The trades were
jealous of each other's wages, and watched each other with an
undisguised feeling of superiority to all others in each. But the great
difference lay--and always will lie--in temperament. Foxes and wolves
and horned beasts, beasts with sharp teeth, and beasts with four
stomachs, beasts that are made to eat, and beasts that are made to be
eaten, all sniffed at each other as they passed in the herd that had been
drawn together by the accident of class and common interest: and
they recognized each other: and they bristled.

Christophe sometimes had his meals at a little creamery and restaurant
kept by a former colleague of Gautier's, one Simon, a railway clerk who
had been dismissed for taking part in a strike. The shop was frequented
by syndicalists. There were five or six of them who used to sit in a
room at the back, looking on to an inclosed courtyard, narrow and
ill-lit, from which there arose the never-ceasing desperate song of two
caged canaries straining after the light. Joussier used to come with
his mistress, the fair Berthe, a large coquettish young woman, with a pale
face, and a purple cap, and merry, wandering eyes. She had under her
thumb a good-looking boy, Léopold Graillot, a journeyman mechanic, who
was clever and rather a _poseur_: he was the esthete of the
company. Although he called himself an anarchist, and was one of the
most violent opponents of the burgess-class, his soul was typical of
that class at its very worst. Every morning for years he had drunk in
the erotic and decadent news of the halfpenny literary papers. His
reading had given him a strongly addled brain. His mental subtlety in
imagining the pleasures of the senses was allied in him with an absolute
lack of physical delicacy, indifference to cleanliness, and the
comparative coarseness of his life. He had acquired a taste for an
occasional glass of such adulterated wine--the intellectual alcohol of
luxury, the unwholesome stimulants of unhealthy rich men. Being unable
to take these pleasures in the flesh, he inoculated his brain with them.
That means a bad tongue in the morning and weakness in the knees. But it
puts you on an equality with the rich. And you hate them.

Christophe could not bear him. He was more in sympathy with Sebastien
Coquard, an electrician, who, with Joussier, was the speaker with the
greatest following. He did not overburden himself with theories. He did
not always know where he was going. But he did go straight ahead. He was
very French. He was heavily built, about forty, with a big red face, a
round head, red hair, a flowing beard, a bull neck, and a bellowing
voice. Like Joussier, he was an excellent workman, but he loved drinking
and laughter. The sickly Joussier regarded his superabundant health with
the eyes of envy: and, though they were friends, there was always a
simmering secret hostility between them.

Amélie, the manageress of the creamery, a kind creature of forty-five,
who must have been pretty once, and still was, in spite of the wear of
time, used to sit with them, with some sewing in her hands, listening to
their talk with a jolly smile, moving her lips in time to their words:
every now and then she would drop a remark into the discussion, and she
would emphasize her words with a nod of her head as she worked. She had
a married daughter and two children of seven and ten--a little girl and
a boy--who used to do their home lessons at the corner of a sticky
table, putting out their tongues, and picking up scraps of conversations
which were not meant for their ears.

On more than one occasion Olivier tried to go with Christophe. But he
could not feel at ease with these people. When these working-men were
not tied down by strict factory hours or the insistent scream of a
hooter, they seemed to have an incredible amount of time to waste,
either after work, or between jobs, in loafing or idleness. Christophe,
being in one of those periods when the mind has completed one piece of
work and is waiting until a new piece of work presents itself, was in no
greater hurry than they were: and he liked sitting there with his elbows
on the table, smoking, drinking, and talking. But Olivier's respectable
burgess instincts were shocked, and so were his traditional habits of
mental discipline, and regular work, and scrupulous economy of time: and
he did not relish such a waste of so many precious hours. Besides that,
he was not good at talking or drinking. Above all there was his physical
distaste for it all, the secret antipathy which raises a physical
barrier between the different types of men, the hostility of the senses,
which stands in the way of the communion of their souls, the revolt of
the flesh against the heart. When Olivier was alone with Christophe he
would talk most feelingly about the duty of fraternizing with the
people: but when he found himself face to face with the people, he was
impotent to do anything, in spite of his good will. Christophe, on the
other hand, who laughed at his ideas, could, without the least effort,
meet any workman he chanced to come across in brotherhood. It really
hurt Olivier to find himself so cut off from these men. He tried to be
like them, to think like them, to speak like them. He could not do it.
His voice was dull, husky, had not the ring that was in theirs. When he
tried to catch some of their expressions the words would stick in his
throat or sound queer and strange. He watched himself; he was
embarrassed, and embarrassed them. He knew it. He knew that to them he
was a stranger and suspect, that none of them was in sympathy with him,
and then, when he was gone, everybody would sigh with relief: "Ouf!" As
he passed among them he would notice hard, icy glances, such hostile
glances as the working-classes, embittered by poverty, cast at any
comfortable burgess. Perhaps Christophe came in for some of it too: but
he never noticed it.

Of all the people in that place the only ones who showed any inclination
to be friendly with Olivier were Amélie's children. They were much more
attracted by their superior in station than disposed to hate him. The
little boy was fascinated by the burgess mode of thought: he was clever
enough to love it, though not clever enough to understand it: the little
girl, who was very pretty, had once been taken by Olivier to see Madame
Arnaud, and she was hypnotized by the comfort and ease of it all: she
was silently delighted to sit in the fine armchairs, and to feel the
beautiful clothes, and to be with lovely ladies: like the little
simpleton she was, she longed to escape from the people and soar upwards
to the paradise of riches and solid comfort. Olivier had no desire or
taste for the cultivation of these inclinations in her: and the simple
homage she paid to his class by no means consoled him for the silent
antipathy of her companions. Their ill-disposition towards him pained
him. He had such a burning desire to understand them! And in truth he
did understand them, too well, perhaps: he watched them too closely, and
he irritated them. It was not that he was indiscreet in his curiosity,
but that he brought to bear on it his habit of analyzing the souls of
men and his need of love.

It was not long before he perceived the secret drama of Joussier's life:
the disease which was undermining his constitution, and the cruelty of
his mistress. She loved him, she was proud of him: but she had too much
vitality: he knew that she was slipping away from him, would slip away
from him: and he was aflame with jealousy. She found his jealousy
diverting: she was for ever exciting the men about her, bombarding them
with her eyes, flinging around them her sensual provocative atmosphere:
she loved to play with him like a cat. Perhaps she deceived him with
Graillot. Perhaps it pleased her to let him think so. In any case if she
were not actually doing so, she very probably would. Joussier dared not
forbid her to love whomsoever she pleased: did he not profess the woman's
right to liberty equally with the man's? She reminded him of
that slyly and insolently one day when he was upbraiding her. He was
delivered up to a terrible struggle within himself between his theories
of liberty and his violent instincts. At heart he was still a man like
the men of old, despotic and jealous: by reason he was a man of the
future, a Utopian. She was neither more nor less than the woman of
yesterday, to-morrow, and all time.--And Olivier, looking on at their
secret duel, the savagery of which was known to him by his own
experience, was full of pity for Joussier when he realized his weakness.
But Joussier guessed that Olivier was reading him: and he was very far
from liking him for it.

There was another interested witness, an indulgent spectator of this
game of love and hate. This was the manageress, Amélie. She saw
everything without seeming to do so. She knew life. She was an honest,
healthy, tranquil, easy-going woman, and in her youth had been free
enough. She had been in a florist's shop: she had had a lover of the
class above her own: she had had other lovers. Then she had married a
working-man. She had become a good wife and mother. But she understood
everything, all the foolish ways of the heart, Joussier's jealousy, as
well as the young woman's desire for amusement. She tried to help them
to understand each other with a few affectionate words:

"You must make allowances: it is not worth while creating bad blood
between you for such a trifle...."

She was not at all surprised when her words produced no result....

"That's the way of the world. We must always be torturing ourselves...."

She had that splendid carelessness of the people, from which misfortune
of every sort seems harmlessly to glide. She had had her share of
unhappiness. Three months ago she had lost a boy of fifteen whom she
dearly loved: it had been a great grief to her: but now she was once
more busy and laughing. She used to say:

"If one were to think of these things one could not live."

So she ceased to think of it. It was not selfishness. She could not do
otherwise: her vitality was too strong: she was absorbed by the present:
it was impossible for her to linger over the past. She adapted herself
to things as they were, and would adapt herself to whatever happened. If
the revolution were to come and turn everything topsy-turvy she would
soon manage to be standing firmly on her feet, and do everything that
was there to do; she would be in her place wherever she might be set
down. At heart she had only a modified belief in the revolution. She had
hardly any real faith in anything whatever. It is hardly necessary to
add that she used to consult the cards in her moments of perplexity, and
that she never failed to make the sign of the cross when she met a
funeral. She was very open-minded and very tolerant, and she had the
skepticism of the people of Paris, that healthy skepticism which doubts,
as a man breathes, joyously. Though she was the wife of a revolutionary,
nevertheless she took up a motherly and ironical attitude towards her
husband's ideas and those of his party--and those of the other
parties,--the sort of attitude she had towards the follies of youth--and
of maturity. She was never much moved by anything. But she was
interested in everything. And she was equally prepared for good and bad
luck. In fine, she was an optimist.

"It's no good getting angry.... Everything settles itself so long as
your health is good...."

That was clearly to Christophe's way of thinking. They did not need much
conversation to discover that they belonged to the same family. Every
now and then they would exchange a good-humored smile, while the others
were haranguing and shouting. But, more often, she would laugh to
herself as she looked at Christophe, and saw him being caught up by the
argument to which he would at once bring more passion than all the rest
put together.

       *       *       *       *       *

Christophe did not observe Olivier's isolation and embarrassment. He
made no attempt to probe down to the inner workings of his companions.
But he used to eat and drink with them, and laugh and lose his temper.
They were never distrustful of him, although they used to argue heatedly
enough. He did not mince his words with them. At bottom he would have
found it very hard to say whether he was with or against them. He never
stopped to think about it. No doubt if the choice had been forced upon
him he would have been a syndicalist as against Socialism and all the
doctrines of the State--that monstrous entity, that factory of
officials, human machines. His reason approved of the mighty effort of
the cooperative groups, the two-edged ax of which strikes at the same
time at the dead abstractions of the socialistic State, and at the
sterility of individualism, that corrosion of energy, that dispersion of
collective force in individual frailties,--the great source of modern
wretchedness for which the French Revolution is in part responsible.

But Nature is stronger than reason. When Christophe came in touch with
the syndicates--those formidable coalitions of the weak--his vigorous
individuality drew back. He could not help despising those men who
needed to be linked together before they could march on--to the fight;
and if he admitted that it was right for them to submit to such a law,
he declared that such a law was not for him. Besides, if the weak and
the oppressed are sympathetic, they cease altogether to be so when they
in their turn become oppressors. Christophe, who had only recently been
shouting out to the honest men living in isolation: "Unite! Unite!" had
a most unpleasant sensation when for the first time he found himself in
the midst of such unions of honest men, all mixed up with other men who
were less honest, and yet were endowed with their force, their rights,
and only too ready to abuse them. The best people, those whom Christophe
loved, the friends whom he had met in The House, on every floor, drew no
sort of profit from these fighting combinations. They were too sensitive
at heart and too timid not to be scared: they were fated to be the first
to be crushed out of existence by them. Face to face with the
working-class movement they were in the same position as Olivier and the
most warmly generous of the young men of the middle-class. Their
sympathies were with the workers organizing themselves. But they had
been brought up in the cult of liberty: now liberty was exactly what the
revolutionaries cared for least of all. Besides, who is there nowadays
that cares for liberty? A select few who have no sort of influence over
the world. Liberty is passing through dark days. The Popes of Rome
proscribe the light of reason. The Popes of Paris put out the light of
the heavens. And M. Pataud puts out the lights of the streets.
Everywhere imperialism is triumphant: the theocratic imperialism of the
Church of Rome: the military imperialism of the mercantile and mystic
monarchies: the bureaucratic imperialism of the republics of Freemasonry
and covetousness: the dictatorial imperialism of the revolutionary
committees. Poor liberty, thou art not in this world!... The abuse of
power preached and practised by the revolutionaries revolted Christophe
and Olivier. They had little regard for the blacklegs who refuse to
suffer for the common cause. But it seemed abominable to them that the
others should claim the right to use force against them.--And yet it is
necessary to take sides. Nowadays the choice in fact lies not between
imperialism and liberty, but between one imperialism and another.
Olivier said:

"Neither. I am for the oppressed."

Christophe hated the tyranny of the oppressors no less. But he was
dragged into the wake of force in the track of the army of the
working-classes in revolt.

He was hardly aware that it was so. He would tell his companions in the
restaurant that he was not with them.

"As long as you are only out for material interests," he would say, "you
don't interest me. The day when you march out for a belief then I shall
be with you. Otherwise, what have I to do with the conflict between one
man's belly and another's? I am an artist; it is my duty to defend art;
I have no right to enroll myself in the service of a party. I am
perfectly aware that recently certain ambitious writers, impelled by a
desire for an unwholesome popularity, have set a bad example. It seems
to me that they have not rendered any great service to the cause which
they defended in that way: but they have certainly betrayed art. It is
our, the artists', business to save the light of the intellect. We have
no right to obscure it with your blind struggles. Who shall hold the
light aloft if we let it fall? You will be glad enough to find it still
intact after the battle. There must always be workers busy keeping up
the fire in the engine, while there is fighting on the deck of the ship.
To understand everything is to hate nothing. The artist is the compass
which, through the raging of the storm, points steadily to the north."

They regarded him as a maker of phrases, and said that, if he were
talking of compasses, it was very clear that he had lost his: and they
gave themselves the pleasure of indulging in a little friendly contempt
at his expense. In their eyes an artist was a shirker who contrived to
work as little and as agreeably as possible.

He replied that he worked as hard as they did, harder even, and that he
was not nearly so afraid of work. Nothing disgusted him so much as
_sabotage_, the deliberate bungling of work, and skulking raised to
the level of a principle.

"All these wretched people," he would say, "afraid for their own
skins!... Good Lord! I've never stopped working since I was eight. You
people don't love your work; at heart you're just common men.... If only
you were capable of destroying the Old World! But you can't do it. You
don't even want to. No, you don't even want to. It is all very well for
you to go about shrieking menace and pretending you're going to
exterminate the human race. You have only one thought: to get the upper
hand and lie snugly in the warm beds of the middle-classes. Except for a
few hundred poor devils, navvies, who are always ready to break their
bones or other people's bones for no particular reason,--just for
fun--or for the pain, the age-old pain with which they are simply
bursting, the whole lot of you think of nothing but deserting the camp
and going over to the ranks of the middle-classes on the first
opportunity. You become Socialists, journalists, lecturers, men of
letters, deputies, Ministers.... Bah! Bah! Don't you go howling about
so-and-so! You're no better. You say he is a traitor?... Good. Whose
turn next? You'll all come to it. There is not one of you who can resist
the bait. How could you? There is not one of you who believes in the
immortality of the soul. You are just so many bellies, I tell you. Empty
bellies thinking of nothing but being filled."

Thereupon they would all lose their tempers and all talk at once. And in
the heat of the argument it would often happen that Christophe, whirled
away by his passion, would become more revolutionary than the others. In
vain did he fight against it: his intellectual pride, his complacent
conception of a purely esthetic world, made for the joy of the spirit,
would sink deep into the ground at the sight of injustice. Esthetic, a
world in which eight men out of ten live in nakedness and want, in
physical and moral wretchedness? Oh! come! A man must be an impudent
creature of privilege who would dare to claim as much. An artist like
Christophe, in his inmost conscience, could not but be on the side of
the working-classes. What man more than the spiritual worker has to
suffer from the immorality of social conditions, from the scandalously
unequal partition of wealth among men? The artist dies of hunger or
becomes a millionaire for no other reason than the caprice of fashion
and of those who speculate on fashion. A society which suffers its best
men to die or gives them extravagant rewards is a monstrous society: it
must be swept and put in order. Every man, whether he works or no, has a
right to a living minimum.

Every kind of work, good or mediocre, should be rewarded, not according
to its real value--(who can be the infallible judge of that?)--but
according to the normal legitimate needs of the worker. Society can and
should assure the artist, the scientist, and the inventor an income
sufficient to guarantee that they have the means and the time yet
further to grace and honor it. Nothing more. The _Gioconda_ is not
worth a million. There is no relation between a sum of money and a work
of art: a work of art is neither above nor below money: it is outside
it. It is not a question of payment: it is a question of allowing the
artist to live. Give him enough to feed him, and allow him to work in
peace. It is absurd and horrible to try to make him a robber of
another's property. This thing must be put bluntly: every man who has
more than is necessary for his livelihood and that of his family, and
for the normal development of his intelligence, is a thief and a robber.
If he has too much, it means that others have too little. How often have
we smiled sadly to hear tell of the inexhaustible wealth of France, and
the number of great fortunes, we workers, and toilers, and
intellectuals, and men and women who from our very birth have been given
up to the wearying task of keeping ourselves from dying of hunger, often
struggling in vain, often seeing the very best of us succumbing to the
pain of it all,--we who are the moral and intellectual treasure of the
nation! You who have more than your share of the wealth of the world are
rich at the cost of our suffering and our poverty. That troubles you not
at all: you have sophistries and to spare to reassure you: the sacred
rights of property, the fair struggle for life, the supreme interests of
that Moloch, the State and Progress, that fabulous monster, that
problematical Better to which men sacrifice the Good,--the Good of other
men.--But for all that, the fact remains, and all your sophistries will
never manage to deny it: "You have too much to live on. We have not
enough. And we are as good as you. And some of us are better than the
whole lot of you put together."

       *       *       *       *       *

So Christophe was affected by the intoxication of the passions with
which he was surrounded. Then he was astonished at his own bursts of
eloquence. But he did not attach any importance to them. He was amused
by such easily roused excitement, which he attributed to the bottle. His
only regret was that the wine was not better, and he would belaud the
wines of the Rhine. He still thought that he was detached from
revolutionary ideas. But there arose the singular phenomenon that
Christophe brought into the discussion, if not the upholding of them, a
steadily increasing passion, while that of his companions seemed in
comparison to diminish.

As a matter of fact, they had fewer illusions than he. Even the most
violent leaders, the men who were most feared by the middle-classes,
were at heart uncertain and horribly middle-class. Coquard, with his
laugh like a stallion's neigh, shouted at the top of his voice and made
terrifying gestures: but he only half believed what he was saying: it
was all for the pleasure of talking, giving orders, being active: he was
a braggart of violence. He knew the cowardice of the middle-classes
through and through, and he loved terrorizing them by showing that he
was stronger than they: he was quite ready to admit as much to
Christophe, and to laugh over it. Graillot criticized everything, and
everything anybody tried to do: he made every plan come to nothing.
Joussier was for ever affirming, for he was unwilling ever to be in the
wrong. He would be perfectly aware of the inherent weakness of his line
of argument, but that would make him only the more obstinate in sticking
to it: he would have sacrificed the victory of his cause to his pride of
principle. But he would rush from extremes of bullet-headed faith to
extremes of ironical pessimism, when he would bitterly condemn the lie
of all systems of ideas and the futility of all efforts.

The majority of the working-classes were just the same. They would
suddenly relapse from the intoxication of words into the depths of
discouragement. They had immense illusions: but they were based upon
nothing: they had not won them in pain or forged them for themselves:
they had received them ready-made, by that law of the smallest effort
which led them for their amusements to the slaughter-house and the
blatant show. They suffered from an incurable indolence of mind for
which there were only too many excuses: they were like weary beasts
asking only to be suffered to lie down and in peace to ruminate over
their end and their dreams. But once they had slept off their dreams
there was nothing left but an even greater weariness and the doleful
dumps. They were for ever flaring up to a new leader: and very soon they
became suspicious of him and spurned him. The sad part of it all was
that they were never wrong: one after another their leaders were dazzled
by the bait of wealth, success, or vanity: for one Joussier, who was
kept from temptation by the consumption under which he was wasting away,
a brave crumbling to death, how many leaders were there who betrayed the
people or grew weary of the fight! They were victims of the secret sore
which was devouring the politicians of every party in those days:
demoralization through women and money, women and money,--(the two
scourges are one and the same).--In the Government as in the ministry
there were men of first-rate talent, men who had in them the stuff of
which great statesmen are made--(they, might have been great statesmen
in the days of Richelieu, perhaps);--but they lacked faith and
character: the need, the habit, the weariness of pleasure, had sapped
them: when they were engaged upon vast schemes they fumbled into
incoherent action, or they would suddenly fling up the whole thing,
while important business was in progress, desert their country or their
cause for rest and pleasure. They were brave enough to meet death in
battle: but very few of the leaders were capable of dying in harness, at
their posts, never budging, with their hands upon the rudder and their
eyes unswervingly fixed upon the invisible goal.

The revolution was hamstrung by the consciousness of the fundamental
weakness. The leaders of the working-classes spent part of their time in
blaming each other. Their strikes always failed as a result of the
perpetual dissensions between the leaders and the trades-unions, between
the reformers and the revolutionaries--and of the profound timidity
that underlay their blustering threats--and of the inherited
sheepishness that made the rebels creep once more beneath the yoke upon
the first legal sentence,--and of the cowardly egoism and the baseness
of those who profited by the revolt of others to creep a little nearer
the masters, to curry favor and win a rich reward for their
disinterested devotion. Not to speak of the disorder inherent in all
crowds, the anarchy of the people. They tried hard to create corporate
strikes which should assume a revolutionary character: but they were not
willing to be treated as revolutionaries. They had no liking for
bayonets. They fancied that it was possible to make an omelette without
eggs. In any case, they preferred the eggs to be broken by other people.

Olivier watched, observed, and was not surprised. From the very outset
he had recognized the great inferiority of these men to the work which
they were supposed to be accomplishing: but he had also recognized the
inevitable force that swept them on: and he saw that Christophe, unknown
to himself, was being carried on by the stream. But the current would
have nothing to do with himself, who would have asked nothing better
than to let himself be carried away.

It was a strong current: it was sweeping along an enormous mass of
passions, interest, and faith, all jostling, pushing, merging into each
other, boiling and frothing and eddying this way and that. The leaders
were in the van; they were the least free of all, for they were pushed
forward, and perhaps they had the least faith of all: there had been a
time when they believed: they were like the priests against whom they
had so loudly railed, imprisoned by their vows, by the faith they once
had had, and were forced to profess to the bitter end. Behind them the
common herd was brutal, vacillating, and short-sighted. The great
majority had a sort of random faith, because the current had now set in
the direction of Utopia: but a little while, and they would cease to
believe because the current had changed. Many believed from a need of
action, a desire for adventure, from romantic folly. Others believed
from a sort of impertinent logic, which was stripped of all common
sense. Some believed from goodness of heart. The self-seeking only made
use of ideas as weapons for the fight: their eye was for the main
chance: they were fighting for a definite sum as wages for a definite
number of hours' work. The worst of all were nursing a secret hope of
wreaking a brutal revenge for the wretched lives they had led.

But the current which bore them all along was wiser than they: it knew
where it was going. What did it matter that at any moment it might dash
up against the dyke of the Old World! Olivier foresaw that a social
revolution in these days would be squashed. But he knew also that
revolution would achieve its end through defeat as well as through
victory: for the oppressors only accede to the demands of the oppressed
when the oppressed inspire them with fear. And so the violence of the
revolutionaries was of no less service to their cause than the justice
of that cause. Both violence and justice were part and parcel of the
plan of that blind and certain force which moves the herd of human
kind....

_"For consider what you are, you whom the Master has summoned. If the
body be considered there are not many among you who are wise, or strong,
or noble. But He has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound
the wise; and He has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the
strong: and He has chosen the vile things of the world and the despised
things, and the things that are not, to the destruction of those things
that are...."_

And yet, whatever may be the Master who orders all things,--(Reason or
Unreason),--and although the social organization prepared by syndicalism
might constitute a certain comparative stage in progress for the future,
Olivier did not think it worth while for Christophe and himself to
scatter the whole of their power of illusion and sacrifice in this
earthy combat which would open no new world. His mystic hopes of the
revolution were dashed to the ground. The people seemed to him no better
and hardly any more sincere than the other classes: there was not enough
difference between them and others. In the midst of the torrent of
interests and muddy passions, Olivier's gaze and heart were attracted by
the little islands of independent spirits, the little groups of true
believers who emerged here and there like flowers on the face of the
waters. In vain do the elect seek to mingle with the mob: the elect
always come together,--the elect of all classes and all parties,--the
bearers of the fire of the world. And it is their sacred duty to see to
it that the fire in their hands shall never die down.

Olivier had already made his choice.

A few houses away from that in which he lived was a cobbler's booth,
standing a little below the level of the street,--a few planks nailed
together, with dirty windows and panes of paper. It was entered by three
steps down, and you had to stoop to stand up in it. There was just room
for a shelf of old shoes, and two stools. All day long, in accordance
with the classic tradition of cobbling, the master of the place could be
heard singing. He used to whistle, drum on the soles of the boots, and
in a husky voice roar out coarse ditties and revolutionary songs, or
chaff the women of the neighborhood as they passed by. A magpie with a
broken wing, which was always hopping about on the pavement, used to
come from a porter's lodge and pay him a visit. It would stand on the
first step at the entrance to the booth and look at the cobbler. He
would stop for a moment to crack a dirty joke with the bird in a piping
voice, or he would insist on whistling the _Internationale_. The
bird would stand with its beak in the air, listening gravely: every now
and then it would bob with its beak down by way of salutation, and it
would awkwardly flap its wings in order to regain its balance: then it
would suddenly turn round, leaving the cobbler in the middle of a
sentence, and fly away with its wing and a bit on to the back of a
bench, from whence it would hurl defiance at the dogs of the quarter.
Then the cobbler would return to his leather, and the flight of his
auditor would by no means restrain him from going through with his
harangue.

He was fifty-six, with a jovial wayward manner, little merry eyes under
enormous eyebrows, with a bald top to his head rising like an egg out of
the nest of his hair, hairy ears, a black gap-toothed mouth that gaped
like a well when he roared with laughter, a very thick dirty beard, at
which he used to pluck in handfuls with his long nails that were always
filthy with wax. He was known in the district as Daddy Feuillet, or
Feuillette, or Daddy la Feuillette--and to tease him they used to call
him La Fayette: for politically the old fellow was one of the reds: as a
young man he had been mixed up in the Commune, sentenced to death, and
finally deported: he was proud of his memories, and was always
rancorously inclined to lump together Badinguet, Galliffet, and
Foutriquet. He was a regular attendant at the revolutionary meetings,
and an ardent admirer of Coquard and the vengeful idea that he was
always prophesying with much beard-wagging and a voice of thunder. He
never missed one of his speeches, drank in his words, laughed at his
jokes with head thrown back and gaping mouth, foamed at his invective,
and rejoiced in the fight and the promised paradise. Next day, in his
booth, he would read over the newspaper report of the speeches: he would
read them aloud to himself and his apprentice: and to taste their full
sweetness he would have them read aloud to him, and used to box his
apprentice's ears if he skipped a line. As a consequence he was not
always very punctual in the delivery of his work when he had promised
it: on the other hand, his work was always sound: it might wear out the
user's feet, but there was no wearing out his leather....

The old fellow had in his shop a grandson of thirteen, a hunchback, a
sickly, rickety boy, who used to run his errands, and was a sort of
apprentice. The boy's mother had left her family when she was seventeen
to elope with a worthless fellow who had sunk into hooliganism, and
before very long had been caught, sentenced, and so disappeared from the
scene. She was left alone with the child, deserted by her family, and
devoted herself to the upbringing of the boy Emmanuel. She had
transferred to him all the love and hatred she had had for her lover.
She was a woman of a violent and jealous character, morbid to a degree.
She loved her child to distraction, brutally ill-treated him, and, when
he was ill, was crazed with despair. When she was in a bad temper she
would send him to bed without any dinner, without so much as a piece of
bread. When she was dragging him along through the streets, if he grew
tired and would not go on and slipped down to the ground, she would kick
him on to his feet again. She was amazingly incoherent in her use of
words, and she used to pass swiftly from tears to a hysterical mood of
gaiety. She died. The cobbler took the boy, who was then six years old.
He loved him dearly: but he had his own way of showing it, which
consisted in bullying the boy, battering him with a large assortment of
insulting names, pulling his ears, and clouting him over the head
from morning to night by way of teaching him his job: and at the same time
he grounded him thoroughly in his own social and anti-clerical catechism.

Emmanuel knew that his grandfather was not a bad man: but he was always
prepared to raise his arm to ward off his blows: the old fellow used to
frighten him, especially on the evenings when he got drunk. For Daddy la
Feuillette had not come by his nickname for nothing: he used to get
tipsy twice or thrice a month: then he used to talk all over the place,
and laugh, and act the swell, and always in the end he used to give the
boy a good thrashing. His bark was worse than his bite. But the boy
was terrified: his ill-health made him more sensitive than other children:
he was precociously intelligent, and he had inherited a fierce and
unbalanced capacity for feeling from his mother. He was overwhelmed by
his grandfather's brutality, and also by his revolutionary
harangues,--(for the two things went together: it was particularly when
the old man was drunk that he was inclined to hold forth).--His whole
being quivered in response to outside impressions, just as the booth
shook with the passing of the heavy omnibuses. In his crazy imagination
there were mingled, like the humming vibrations of a belfry, his
day-to-day sensations, the wretchedness of his childhood, his deplorable
memories of premature experience, stories of the Commune, scraps of
evening lectures and newspaper feuilletons, speeches at meetings, and
the vague, uneasy, and violent sexual instincts which his parents had
transmitted to him. All these things together formed a monstrous grim
dream-world, from the dense night, the chaos and miasma of which there
darted dazzling rays of hope.

The cobbler used sometimes to drag his apprentice with him to Amélie's
restaurant. There it was that Olivier noticed the little hunchback with
the voice of a lark. Sitting and never talking to the workpeople, he had
had plenty of time to study the boy's sickly face, with its jutting brow
and shy, humiliated expression: he had heard the coarse jokes that had
been thrown at the boy, jokes which were met with silence and a faint
shuddering tremor. During certain revolutionary utterances he had seen
the boy's soft brown eyes light up with the chimerical ecstasy of the
future happiness,--a happiness which, even if he were ever to realize
it, would make but small difference in his stunted life. At such moments
his expression would illuminate his ugly face in such a way as to make
its ugliness forgotten. Even the fair Berthe was struck by it; one day
she told him of it, and, without a word of warning, kissed him on the
lips. The boy started back: he went pale and shuddering, and flung away
in disgust. The young woman had no time to notice him: she was already
quarreling with Joussier. Only Olivier observed Emmanuel's uneasiness:
he followed the boy with his eyes, and saw him withdraw into the shadow
with his hands trembling, head down, looking down at the floor, and
darting glances of desire and irritation at the girl. Olivier went up to
him, spoke to him gently and politely and soothed him.... Who can tell
all that gentleness can bring to a heart deprived of all consideration?
It is like a drop of water falling upon parched earth, greedily to be
sucked up. It needed only a few words, a smile, for the boy Emmanuel in
his heart of hearts to surrender to Olivier, and to determine to have
Olivier for his friend. Thereafter, when he met him in the street and
discovered that they were neighbors, it seemed to him to be a mysterious
sign from Fate that he had not been mistaken. He used to watch for
Olivier to pass the booth, and say good-day to him: and if ever Olivier
were thinking of other things and did not glance in his direction, then
Emmanuel would be hurt and sore.

It was a great day for him when Olivier came into Daddy Feuillette's
shop to leave an order. When the work was done Emmanuel took it to
Olivier's rooms; he had watched for him to come home so as to be sure of
finding him in. Olivier was lost in thought, hardly noticed him, paid
the bill, and said nothing: the boy seemed to wait, looked from right to
left, and began reluctantly to move away. Olivier, in his kindness,
guessed what was happening inside the boy: he smiled and tried to talk
to him in spite of the awkwardness he always felt in talking to any of
the people. But now he was able to find words simple and direct. An
intuitive perception of suffering made him see in the boy--(rather too
simply)--a little bird wounded by life, like himself, seeking
consolation with his head under his wing, sadly huddled up on his perch,
dreaming of wild flights into the light. A feeling that was something
akin to instinctive confidence brought the boy closer to him: he felt
the attraction of the silent soul, which made no moan and used no harsh
words, a soul wherein he could take shelter from the brutality of the
streets; and the room, thronged with books, filled with bookcases
wherein there slumbered the dreams of the ages, filled him with an
almost religious awe. He made no attempt to evade Olivier's questions:
he replied readily, with sudden gasps and starts of shyness and pride:
but he had no power of expression. Carefully, patiently, Olivier
unswathed his obscure stammering soul: little by little he was able to
read his hopes and his absurdly touching faith in the new birth of the
world. He had no desire to laugh, though he knew that the dream was
impossible, and would never change human nature. The Christians also
have dreamed of impossible things, and they have not changed human
nature. From the time of Pericles to the time of M. Fallières when has
there been any moral progress?... But all faith is beautiful: and when
the light of an old faith dies down it is meet to salute the kindling of
the new: there will never be too many. With a curious tenderness Olivier
saw the uncertain light gleaming in the boy's mind. What a strange mind
it was!... Olivier was not altogether able to follow the movement of his
thoughts, which were incapable of any sustained effort of reason,
progressing in hops and jerks, and lagging behind in conversation,
unable to follow, clutching in some strange way at an image called up by
a word spoken some time before, then suddenly catching up, rushing
ahead, weaving a commonplace thought or an ordinary cautious phrase into
an enchanted world, a crazy and heroic creed. The boy's soul, slumbering
and waking by fits and starts, had a puerile and mighty need of
optimism: to every idea in art or science thrown out to it, it would add
some complacently melodramatic tag, which would link it up with and
satisfy its own chimerical dreams.

As an experiment Olivier tried reading aloud to the boy on Sundays. He
thought that he was most likely to be interested by realistic and
familiar stories: he read him Tolstoy's _Memories of Childhood_.
They made no impression on the boy: he said:

"That's quite all right. Things are like that. One knows that."

And he could not understand why anybody should take so much trouble to
write about real things....

"He's just a boy," he would say disdainfully, "just an ordinary little
boy."

He was no more responsive to the interest of history: and science bored
him: it was to him no more than a tiresome introduction to a fairy-tale:
the invisible forces brought into the service of man were like terrible
genii laid low. What was the use of so much explanation? When a man
finds something it is no good his telling how he found it, he need
only tell what it is that he has found. The analysis of thought is a luxury
of the upper-classes. The souls of the people demand synthesis, ideas
ready-made, well or ill, or rather ill-made than well, but all tending
to action, and composed of the gross realities of life, and charged with
electricity. Of all the literature open to Emmanuel that which most
nearly touched him was the epic pathos of certain passages in Hugo and
the fuliginous rhetoric of the revolutionary orators, whom he did not
rightly understand, characters who no more understood themselves than
Hugo did. To him as to them the world was not an incoherent collection
of reasons or facts, but an infinite space, steeped in darkness and
quivering with light, while through the night there passed the beating
of mighty wings all bathed in the sunlight. Olivier tried in vain to
make him grasp his cultivated logic. The boy's rebellious and weary soul
slipped through his fingers: and it sank back with a sigh of comfort and
relief into the indeterminate haze and the chafing of its own sensation
and hallucinations, like a woman in love giving herself with eyes closed
to her lover.

Olivier was at once attracted and disconcerted by the qualities in the
child so much akin to his own:--loneliness, proud weakness, idealistic
ardor,--and so very different,--the unbalanced mind, the blind and
unbridled desires, the savage sensuality which had no idea of good and
evil, as they are defined in ordinary morality. He had only a partial
glimpse of that sensuality which would have terrified him had he known
its full extent. He never dreamed of the existence of the world of
uneasy passions stirring and seething in the heart and mind of his
little friend. Our bourgeois atavism has given us too much wisdom. We
dare not even look within ourselves. If we were to tell a hundredth part
of the dreams that come to an ordinary honest man, or of the desires
which come into being in the body of a chaste woman, there would be a
scandal and an outcry. Silence such monsters! Bolt and bar their cage!
But let us admit that they exist, and that in the souls of the young
they are insecurely fettered.--The boy had all the erotic desires and
dreams which we agree among ourselves to regard as perverse: they would
suddenly rise up unawares and take him by the throat: they would come in
gusts and squalls: and they only gained in intensity and heat through
the irritation set up by the isolation to which his ugliness condemned
him. Olivier knew nothing of all this. Emmanuel was ashamed in his
presence. He felt the contagion of such peace and purity. The example of
such a life was a taming influence upon him. The boy felt a passionate
love for Olivier. And his suppressed passions rushed headlong into
tumultuous dreams of human happiness, social brotherhood, fantastic
aviation, wild barbaric poetry--a whole heroic, erotic, childish,
splendid, vulgar world in which his intelligence and his will were
tossed hither and thither in mental loafing and fever.

He did not have much time for indulging himself in this way, especially
in his grandfather's booth, for the old man was never silent for a
minute on end, but was always whistling, hammering, and talking from
morning to night; but there is always room for dreams. How many voyages
of the mind one can make standing up with wide-open eyes in the space of
a second!--Manual labor is fairly well suited to intermittent thought.
The working-man's mind would be hard put to it without an effort of the
will to follow a closely reasoned chain of argument: if he does manage
to do so he is always certain to miss a link here and there: but in the
intervals of rhythmic movement ideas crop up and mental images come
floating to the surface: the regular movements of the body send them
flying upwards like sparks under the smith's bellows. The thought of the
people! It is just smoke and fire, a shower of glittering sparks fading
away, glowing, then fading away once more! But sometimes a spark will be
carried away by the wind to set fire to the dried forests and the fat
ricks of the upper-classes....

Olivier procured Emmanuel a place in a printing house. It was the boy's
wish, and his grandfather did not oppose it; he was glad to see his
grandson better educated than himself, and he had a great respect for
printer's ink. In his new trade the boy found his work more exhausting
than in the old: but he felt more free to think among the throng of
workers than in the little shop where he used to sit alone with his
grandfather.

The best time of day was the dinner hour. He would escape and get right
away from the horde of artisans crowding round the little tables on the
pavement and into the wineshops of the district, and limp along to the
square hard by: and there he would sit astride a bench under a spreading
chestnut-tree, near a bronze dancing faun with grapes in his hands, and
untie his brown-paper parcel of bread and meat, and munch it slowly,
surrounded by a little crowd of sparrows. Over the green turf little
fountains spread the trickling web of their soft rain. Round-eyed,
slate-blue pigeons cooed in a sunlit tree. And all about him was the
perpetual hum of Paris, the roar of the carriages, the surging sea of
footsteps, the familiar street-cries, the gay distant whistle of a
china-mender, a navvy's hammer ringing out on the cobblestones, the
noble music of a fountain--all the fevered golden trappings of the
Parisian dream.--And the little hunchback, sitting astride his bench,
with his mouth full, never troubling to swallow, would drowse off into a
delicious torpor, in which he lost all consciousness of his twisted
spine and his craven soul, and was all steeped in an indeterminate
intoxicating happiness.

"... Soft warm light, sun of justice that art to shine for us to-morrow,
art thou not shining now? It is all so good, so beautiful! We are rich,
we are strong, we are hale, we love ... I love, I love all men, all men
love me.... Ah! How splendid it all is! How splendid it will be
to-morrow!..."

       *       *       *       *       *

The factory hooters would sound: the boy would come to his senses,
swallow down his mouthful, take a long drink at the Wallace fountain
near by, slip back into his hunchbacked shell, and go limping and
hobbling back to his place in the printing works in front of the cases
of magic letters which would one day write the _Mene, Mene, Tekel,
Upharsin_, of the Revolution.

Daddy Feuillet had a crony, Trouillot, the stationer on the other side
of the street. He kept a stationery and haberdashery shop, in the
windows of which were displayed pink and green bonbons in green bottles,
and pasteboard dolls without arms or legs. Prom either side of the
street, one standing on his doorstep, the other in his shop, the two old
men used to exchange winks and nods and a whole elaborate code of
pantomimic gesture. At intervals, when the cobbler was tired of
hammering, and had, as he used to say, the cramp in his buttocks, they
would hail each other, La Feuillette in his shrill treble, Trouillot
with a muffled roar, like a husky calf; and they would go off together
and take a nip at a neighboring bar. They were never in any hurry to
return. They were both infernally loquacious. They had known each other
for half a century. The stationer also had played a little walking-on
part in the great melodrama of 1871. To see the fat placid creature with
his black cap on his head and his white blouse, and his gray,
heavy-dragoon mustache, and his dull light-blue bloodshot eyes with
heavy pouches under the lids, and his flabby shining cheeks, always in a
perspiration, slow-footed, gouty, out of breath, heavy of speech, no one
would ever have thought it. But he had lost none of the illusions of the
old days. He had spent some years as a refugee in Switzerland, where he
had met comrades of all nations, notably many Russians, who had
initiated him in the beauties of anarchic brotherhood. On that point he
disagreed with La Feuillette, who was a proper Frenchman, an adherent of
the strong line and of absolutism in freedom. For the rest, they were
equally firm in their belief in the social revolution and the
working-class _salente_ of the future. Each was devoted to a leader
in whose person he saw incarnate the ideal man that each would have
liked to be. Trouillot was for Joussier, La Feuillette for Coquard. They
used to engage in interminable arguments about the points on which they
were divided, being quite confident that the thoughts upon which they
agreed were definitely decided;--(and they were so sure of their common
ground that they were never very far from believing, in their cups, that
it was a matter of hard fact).--The cobbler was the more argumentative
of the two. He believed as a matter of reason: or at least he flattered
himself that he did, for, Heaven knows, his reason was of a very
peculiar kind, and could have fitted the foot of no other man. However,
though he was less skilled in argument than in cobbling, he was always
insisting that other minds should be shod to his own measure. The
stationer was more indolent and less combative, and never worried about
proving his faith. A man only tries to prove what he doubts himself. He
had no doubt. His unfailing optimism always made him see things as he
wanted to see them, and not see things or forget them immediately when
they were otherwise. Whether he did so wilfully or from apathy he saved
himself from trouble of any sort: experience to the contrary slipped off
his hide without leaving a mark.--The two of them were romantic babies
with no sense of reality, and the revolution, the mere sound of the name
of which was enough to make them drunk, was only a jolly story they told
themselves, and never knew whether it would ever happen, or whether it
had actually happened. And the two of them firmly believed in the God of
Humanity merely by the transposition of the habits they had inherited
from their forbears, who for centuries had bowed before the Son of
Man.--It goes without saying that both men were anti-clerical.

The amusing part of it was that the honest stationer lived with a very
pious niece who did just what she liked with him. She was a very dark
little woman, plump, with sharp eyes and a gift of volubility spiced
with a strong Marseilles accent, and she was the widow of a clerk in the
Department of Commerce. When she was left alone with no money, with a
little girl, and received a home with her uncle, the common little
creature gave herself airs, and was more than a little inclined to think
that she was doing her shop-keeping relation a great favor by serving in
his shop: she reigned there with the airs of a fallen queen, though,
fortunately for her uncle's business and his customers, her arrogance
was tempered by her natural exuberance and her need of talking. As
befitted a person of her distinction, Madame Alexandrine was royalist
and clerical, and she used to parade her feelings with a zeal that was
all the more indiscreet as she took a malicious delight in teasing the
old miscreant in whose house she had taken up her abode. She had set
herself up as mistress of the house, and regarded herself as responsible
for the conscience of the whole household: if she was unable to convert
her uncle--(she had vowed to capture him _in extremis_),--she
busied herself to her heart's content with sprinkling the devil with
holy water. She fixed pictures of Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Anthony
of Padua on the walls: she decorated the mantelpiece with little painted
images in glass cases: and in the proper season she made a little chapel
of the months of Mary with little blue candles in her daughter's
bedroom. It was impossible to tell which was the predominant factor in
her aggressive piety, real affection for the uncle she desired to
convert or a wicked joy in worrying the old man.

He put up with it apathetically and sleepily: he preferred not to run
the risk of rousing the tempestuous ire of his terrible niece: it was
impossible to fight against such a wagging tongue: he desired peace
above all things. Only once did he lose his temper, and that was when a
little Saint Joseph made a surreptitious attempt to creep into his room
and take up his stand above his bed: on this point he gained the day:
for he came very near to having an apoplectic fit, and his niece was
frightened: she did not try the experiment again. For the rest he gave
in, and pretended not to see: the odor of sanctity made him feel very
uncomfortable: but he tried not to think of it. On the other hand they
were at one in pampering the girl, little Reine, or Rainette.

She was twelve or thirteen, and was always ill. For some months past she
had been on her back with hip disease, with the whole of one side of her
body done up in plaster of Paris like a little Daphne in her shell. She
had eyes like a hurt dog's, and her skin was pallid and pale like a
plant grown out of the sun: her head was too big for her body, and her
fair hair, which was very soft and very tightly drawn back, made it
appear even bigger: but she had an expressive and sweet face, a sharp
little nose, and a childlike expression. The mother's piety had assumed
in the child, in her sickness and lack of interest, a fervid character.
She used to spend hours in telling her beads, a string of corals,
blessed by the Pope: and she would break off in her prayers to kiss it
passionately. She did next to nothing all day long: needlework made her
tired: Madame Alexandrine had not given her a taste for it. She did
little more than read a few insipid tracts, or a stupid miraculous
story, the pretentious and bald style of which seemed to her the very
flower of poetry,--or the criminal reports illustrated in color in the
Sunday papers which her stupid mother used to give her. She would
perhaps do a little crochet-work, moving her lips, and paying less
attention to her needle than to the conversation she would hold with
some favorite saint or even with God Himself. For it is useless to
pretend that it is necessary to be Joan of Are to have such visitations:
every one of us has had them. Only, as a rule, our celestial visitors
leave the talking to us as we sit by the fireside: and they say never a
word. Rainette never dreamed of taking exception to it: silence gives
consent. Besides, she had so much to tell them that she hardly gave them
time to reply: she used to answer for them. She was a silent chatterer:
she had inherited her mother's volubility: but her fluency was drawn off
in inward speeches like a stream disappearing underground.--Of course
she was a party to the conspiracy against her uncle with the object of
procuring his conversion: she rejoiced over every inch of the house
wrested by the spirit of light from the spirit of darkness: and on more
than one occasion she had sewn a holy medallion on to the inside of the
lining of the old man's coat or had slipped into one of his pockets the
bead of a rosary, which her uncle, in order to please her, had pretended
not to notice.--This seizure by the two pious women of the bitter foe of
the priests was a source of indignation and joy to the cobbler. He had
an inexhaustible store of coarse pleasantries on the subject of women
who wear breeches: and he used to jeer at his friend for letting himself
be under their thumb. As a matter of fact he had no right to scoff: for
he had himself been afflicted for twenty years with a shrewish
cross-grained wife, who had always regarded him as an old scamp and had
taken him down a peg or two. But he was always careful not to mention
her. The stationer was a little ashamed, and used to defend himself
feebly, and in a mealy voice profess a Kropotkinesque gospel of
tolerance.

Rainette and Emmanuel were friends. They had seen each other every day
ever since they were children. To be quite accurate, Emmanuel only
rarely ventured to enter the house. Madame Alexandrine used to regard
him with an unfavorable eye as the grandson of an unbeliever and a
horrid little dwarf. But Rainette used to spend the day on a sofa near
the window on the ground floor. Emmanuel used to tap at the window as he
passed, and, flattening his nose against the panes, he would make a face
by way of greeting. In summer, when the window was left open, he would
stop and lean his arms on the windowsill, which was a little high for
him;--(he fancied that this attitude was flattering to himself and that,
his shoulders being shrugged up in such a pose of intimacy, it might
serve to disguise his actual deformity);--and they would talk. Rainette
did not have too many visitors, and she never noticed that Emmanuel was
hunchbacked. Emmanuel, who was afraid and mortified in the presence of
girls, made an exception in favor of Rainette. The little invalid, who
was half petrified, was to him something intangible and far removed,
something almost outside existence. Only on the evening when the fair
Berthe kissed him on the lips, and the next day too, he avoided Rainette
with an instinctive feeling of repulsion: he passed the house without
stopping and hung his head: and he prowled about far away, fearfully and
suspiciously, like a pariah dog. Then he returned. There was so little
woman in her! As he was passing on his way home from the works, trying
to make himself as small as possible among the bookbinders in their long
working-blouses like nightgowns--busy merry young women whose hungry
eyes stripped him as he passed,--how eagerly he would scamper away to
Rainette's window! He was grateful for his little friend's infirmity:
with her he could give himself airs of superiority and even be a little
patronizing. With a little swagger he would tell her about the things
that happened in the street and always put himself in the foreground.
Sometimes in gallant mood he would bring Rainette a little present,
roast chestnuts in winter, a handful of cherries in summer. And she used
to give him some of the multi-colored sweets that filled the two glass
jars in the shop-window: and they would pore over picture postcards
together. Those were happy moments: they could both forget the pitiful
bodies in which their childish souls were held captive.

But sometimes they would begin to talk, like their elders, of politics
and religion. Then they would become as stupid as their elders. It put
an end to their sympathy and understanding. She would talk of miracles
and the nine days' devotion, or of pious images tricked out with paper
lace, and of days of indulgence. He used to tell her that it was all
folly and mummery, as he had heard his grandfather say. But when he in
turn tried to tell her about the public meetings to which the old man
had taken him, and the speeches he had heard, she would stop him
contemptuously and tell him that all such folk were drunken sots.
Bitterness would creep into their talk. They would get talking about
their relations: they would recount the insulting things that her mother
and his grandfather had said of each other respectively. Then they would
talk about themselves. They tried to say disagreeable things to each
other. They managed that without much difficulty. They indulged in
coarse gibes. But she was always the more malicious of the two. Then he
would go away: and when he returned he would tell her that he had been
with other girls, and how pretty they were, and how they had joked and
laughed, and how they were going to meet again next Sunday. She would
say nothing to that: she used to pretend to despise what he said: and
then, suddenly, she would grow angry, and throw her crochet-work at his
head, and shout at him to go, and declare that she loathed him: and she
would hide her face in her hands. He would leave her on that, not at all
proud of his victory. He longed to pull her thin little hands away from
her face and to tell her that it was not true. But his pride would not
suffer him to return.

One day Rainette had her revenge.--He was with some of the other boys at
the works. They did not like him because he used to hold as much aloof
from them as possible and never spoke, or talked too well, in a naïvely
pretentious way, like a book, or rather like a newspaper article--(he
was stuffed with newspaper articles).--That day they had begun to talk
of the revolution and the days to come. He waxed enthusiastic and made a
fool of himself. One of his comrades brought him up sharp with these
brutal words:

"To begin with, you won't be wanted, you're too ugly. In the society of
the future, there won't be any hunchbacks. They'll be drowned at birth."

That brought him toppling down from his lofty eloquence. He stopped
short, dumfounded. The others roared with laughter. All that afternoon
he went about with clenched teeth. In the evening he was going home,
hurrying back to hide away in a corner alone with his suffering. Olivier
met him: he was struck by his downcast expression: he guessed that he
was suffering.

"You are hurt. Why?"

Emmanuel refused to answer. Olivier pressed him kindly. The boy
persisted in his silence: but his jaw trembled as though he were on the
point of weeping. Olivier took his arm and led him back to his rooms.
Although he too had the cruel and instinctive feeling of repulsion from
ugliness and disease that is in all who are not born with the souls of
sisters of charity, he did not let it appear.

"Some one has hurt you?"

"Yes."

"What did they do?"

The boy laid bare his heart. He said that he was ugly. He said that his
comrades had told him that their revolution was not for him.

"It is not for them, either, my boy, nor for us. It is not a single
day's affair. It is all for those who will come after us."

The boy was taken aback by the thought that it would be so long
deferred.

"Don't you like to think that people are working to give happiness to
thousands of boys like yourself, to millions of human beings?"

Emmanuel sighed and said:

"But it would be good to have a little happiness oneself."

"My dear boy, you mustn't be ungrateful. You live in the most beautiful
city, in an age that is most rich in marvels; you are not a fool, and
you have eyes to see. Think of all the things there are to be seen and
loved all around you."

He pointed out a few things.

The boy listened, nodded his head, and said:

"Yes, but I've got to face the fact that I shall always have to live in
this body of mine!"

"Not at all. You will quit it."

"And that will be the end."

"How do you know that?"

The boy was aghast. Materialism was part and parcel of his grandfather's
creed: he thought that it was only the priest-ridden prigs who believed
in an eternal life. He knew that his friend was not such a one: and he
wondered if Olivier could be speaking seriously. But Olivier held his
hand and expounded at length his idealistic faith, and the unity of
boundless life, that has neither beginning nor end, in which all the
millions of creatures and all the million million moments of time are
but rays of the sun, the sole source of it all. But he did not put it to
him in such an abstract form. Instinctively, when he talked to the boy,
he adapted himself to his mode of thought;--ancient legends, the
material and profound fancies of old cosmogonies were called to mind:
half in fun, half in earnest, he spoke of metempsychosis and the
succession of countless forms through which the soul passes and flows,
like a spring passing from pool to pool. All this was interspersed with
reminiscences of Christianity and images taken from the summer evening,
the light of which was cast upon them both. He was sitting by the open
window, and the boy was standing by his side, and their hands were
clasped. It was a Saturday evening. The bells were ringing. The earliest
swallows, only just returned, were skimming the walls of the houses. The
dim sky was smiling above the city, which was wrapped in shadow. The boy
held his breath and listened to the fairy-tale his man friend was
telling him. And Olivier, warmed by the eagerness of his young hearer,
was caught up by the interest of his own stories.

There are decisive moments in life when, just as the electric lights
suddenly flash out in the darkness of a great city, so the eternal fires
flare up in the darkness of the soul. A spark darting from another soul
is enough to transmit the Promethean fire to the waiting soul. On that
spring evening Olivier's calm words kindled the light that never dies in
the mind hidden in the boy's deformed body, as in a battered lantern. He
understood none of Olivier's arguments: he hardly heard them. But the
legends and images which were only beautiful stories and parables to
Olivier, took living shape and form in his mind, and were most real. The
fairy-tale lived, moved, and breathed all around him. And the view
framed in the window of the room, the people passing in the street, rich
and poor, the swallows skimming the walls, the jaded horses dragging
their loads along, the stones of the houses drinking in the cool shadow
of the twilight, and the pale heavens where the light was dying--all the
outside world was softly imprinted on his mind, softly as a kiss. It was
but the flash of a moment. Then the light died down. He thought of
Rainette, and said;

"But the people who go to Mass, the people who believe in God, are all
cracked, aren't they?"

Olivier smiled.

"They believe," he said, "as we do. We all believe the same thing. Only
their belief is less than ours. They are people who have to shut all the
shutters and light the lamp before they can see the light. They see God
in the shape of a man. We have keener eyes. But the light that we love
is the same."

The boy went home through the dark streets in which the gas-lamps were
not yet lit. Olivier's words were ringing in his head. He thought that
it was as cruel to laugh at people because they had weak eyes as because
they were hunchbacked. And he thought that Rainette had very pretty
eyes: and he thought that he had brought tears into them. He could not
bear that. He turned and went across to the stationer's. The window was
still a little open: and he thrust his head inside and called in a
whisper:

"Rainette."

She did not reply.

"Rainette. I beg your pardon."

From the darkness came Rainette's voice, saying:

"Beast! I hate you."

"I'm sorry," he said.

He stopped. Then, on a sudden impulse, he said in an even softer
whisper, uneasily, rather shamefacedly:

"You know, Rainette, I believe in God just as you do."

"Really?"

"Really."

He said it only out of generosity. But, as soon as he had said it, he
began to believe it.

They stayed still and did not speak. They could not see each other.
Outside the night was so fair, so sweet!... The little cripple murmured:

"How good it will be when one is dead!"

He could hear Rainette's soft breathing.

He said:

"Good-night, little one."

Tenderly came Rainette's voice:

"Good-night."

He went away comforted. He was glad that Rainette had forgiven him. And,
in his inmost soul, the little sufferer was not sorry to think that he
had been the cause of suffering to the girl.

       *       *       *       *       *

Olivier had gone into retirement once more. It was not long before
Christophe rejoined him. It was very certain that their place was not
with the syndicalist movement: Olivier could not throw in his lot with
such people. And Christophe would not. Olivier flung away from them in
the name of the weak and the oppressed; Christophe in the name of the
strong and the independent. But though they had withdrawn, one to the
bows, the other to the stern, they were still traveling in the vessel
which was carrying the army of the working-classes and the whole of
society. Free and self-confident, Christophe watched with tingling
interest the coalition of the proletarians: he needed every now and then
to plunge into the vat of the people: it relaxed him: he always issued
from it fresher and jollier. He kept up his relation with Coquard, and
he went on taking his meals from time to time at Amélie's. When he was
there he lost all self-control, and would whole-heartedly indulge his
fantastic humor: he was not afraid of paradox: and he took a malicious
delight in pushing his companions to the extreme consequences of their
absurd and wild principles. They never knew whether he was speaking in
jest or in earnest: for he always grew warm as he talked, and always in
the end lost sight of the paradoxical point of view with which he had
begun. The artist in him was carried away by the intoxication of the rest.
In one such moment of esthetic emotion in Amélie's back-shop, he
improvised a revolutionary song, which was at once tried, repeated, and
on the very next day spread to every group of the working-classes. He
compromised himself. He was marked by the police. Manousse, who was in
touch with the innermost chambers of authority, was warned by one of his
friends, Xavier Bernard, a young official in the police department, who
dabbled in literature and expressed a violent admiration for
Christophe's music:--(for dilettantism and the spirit of anarchy had
spread even to the watchdogs of the Third Republic).

"That Krafft of yours is making himself a nuisance," said Bernard to
Manousse. "He's playing the braggart. We know what it means: but I tell
you that those in high places would be not at all sorry to catch a
foreigner--what's more, a German--in a revolutionary plot: it is the
regular method of discrediting the party and casting suspicion upon its
doings. If the idiot doesn't look out we shall be obliged to arrest him.
It's a bore. You'd better warn him."

Manousse did warn Christophe: Olivier begged him to be careful.
Christophe did not take their advice seriously.

"Bah!" he said. "Everybody knows there's no harm in me. I've a perfect
right to amuse myself. I like these people. They work as I do, and they
have faith, and so have I. As a matter of fact, it isn't the same faith;
we don't belong to the same camp.... Very well! We'll fight. Not that I
don't like fighting. What would you? I can't do as you do, and stay
curled up in my shell. I must breathe. I'm stifled by the comfortable
classes."

Olivier, whose lungs were not so exacting, was quite at his ease in his
small rooms with the tranquil society of his two women friends, though
one of them, Madame Arnaud, had flung herself into charitable work, and
the other, Cécile, was entirely taken up with looking after the baby, to
such an extent that she could talk of nothing else and to nobody else,
in that twittering, beatific tone which is an attempt to emulate the
note of a little bird, and to mold its formless song into human speech.

His excursion into working-class circles had left him with two
acquaintances. Two men of independent views, like himself. One of them,
Guérin, was an upholsterer. He worked when he felt so disposed,
capriciously, though he was very skilful. He loved his trade. He had a
natural taste for artistic things, and had developed it by observation,
work, and visits to museums. Olivier had commissioned him to repair an
old piece of furniture: it was a difficult job, and the upholsterer had
done it with great skill: he had taken a lot of time and trouble over
it: he sent in a very modest bill to Olivier because he was so delighted
with his success. Olivier became interested in him, questioned him about
his life, and tried to find out what he thought of the working-class
movement. Guérin had no thought about it: he never worried about it. At
bottom he did not belong to the working-class, or to any class. He read
very little. All his intellectual development had come about through his
senses, eyes, hands, and the taste innate in the true Parisian. He was a
happy man. The type is by no means rare among the working people of the
lower middle-class, who are one of the most intelligent classes in the
nation: for they realize a fine balance between manual labor and healthy
mental activity.

Olivier's other acquaintance was a man of a more original kind. He was a
postman, named Hurteloup. He was a tall, handsome creature, with bright
eyes, a little fair beard and mustache, and an open, merry expression.
One day he came with a registered letter, and walked into Olivier's
room. While Olivier was signing the receipt, he wandered round, looking
at the books, with his nose thrust close up to their backs:

"Ha! Ha!" he said. "You have the classics...."

He added:

"I collect books on history. Especially books about Burgundy."

"You are a Burgundian?" asked Olivier.

  _"Bourguignon salé,
  L'épée au côté,
  La barbe au menton,
  Sante Bourguignon,"_

replied the postman with a laugh. "I come from the Avallon country. I
have family papers going back to 1200 and something...."

Olivier was intrigued, and tried to find out more about him. Hurteloup
asked nothing better than to be allowed to talk. He belonged, in fact,
to one of the oldest families in Burgundy. One of his ancestors had been
on crusade with Philippe Auguste: another had been secretary of State
under Henri II. The family had begun to decay in the seventeenth
century. At the time of the Revolution, ruined and despairing, they had
taken the plunge into the ocean of the people. Now they were coming to
the surface again as the result of honest work and the physical and
moral vigor of Hurteloup the postman, and his fidelity to his race. His
greatest hobby had been collecting historical and genealogical documents
relating to his family and their native country. In off hours he used to
go to the Archives and copy out old papers. Whenever he did not
understand them he would go and ask one of the people on his beat, a
Chartist or a student at the Sorbonne, to explain. His illustrious
ancestry did not turn his head: he would speak of it laughingly, with
never a shade of embarrassment or of indignation at the hardness of
fate. His careless sturdy gaiety was a delightful thing to see. And when
Olivier looked at him he thought of the mysterious ebb and flow of the
life of human families, which for centuries flows burningly, for
centuries disappears under the ground, and then comes bubbling forth
again, having gathered fresh energy from the depths of the earth. And
the people seemed to him to be an immense reservoir into which the
rivers of the past plunge, while the rivers of the future spring forth
again, and, though they bear a new name, are sometimes the same as those
of old.

He was in sympathy with both Guérin and Hurteloup: but it is obvious
that they could not be company for him: between him and them there was
no great possibility of conversation. The boy Emmanuel took up more of
his time: he came now almost every evening. Since their magical talk
together a revolution had taken place in the boy. He had plunged into
reading with a fierce desire for knowledge. He would come back from his
books bewildered and stupefied. Sometimes he seemed even less
intelligent than before: he would hardly speak: Olivier could only get
him to answer in monosyllables: the boy would make fatuous replies to
his questions. Olivier would lose heart: he would try not to let it be
seen: but he thought he had made a mistake, and that the boy was
thoroughly stupid. He could not see the frightful fevered travail in
incubation that was going on in the inner depths of the boy's soul.
Besides, he was a bad teacher, and was more fitted to sow the good seed
at random in the fields than to weed the soil and plow the furrows.
Christophe's presence only served to increase the difficulty. Olivier
felt a certain awkwardness in showing his young protégé to his friend:
he was ashamed of Emmanuel's stupidity, which was raised to alarming
proportions when Jean-Christophe was in the room. Then the boy would
withdraw into bashful sullenness. He hated Christophe because Olivier
loved him: he could not bear any one else to have a place in his
master's heart. Neither Christophe nor Olivier had any idea of the love
and jealousy tugging at the boy's heart. And yet Christophe had been
through it himself in old days. But he was unable to see himself in the
boy who was fashioned of such different metal from that of which he
himself was made. In the strange obscure combination of inherited
taints, everything, love, hate, and latent genius, gave out an entirely
different sound.

       *       *       *       *       *

The First of May was approaching. A sinister rumor ran through Paris.
The blustering leaders of the C.G.T. were doing their best to spread it.
Their papers were announcing the coming of the great day, mobilizing the
forces of the working-classes, and directing the word of terror upon the
point in which the comfortable classes were mostly sensitive--namely,
upon the stomach.... _Feri ventrem_.... They were threatening them
with a general strike. The scared Parisians were leaving for the country
or laying in provisions as against a siege. Christophe had met Canet, in
his motor, carrying two hams and a sack of potatoes: he was beside
himself: he did not in the least know to which party he belonged: he was
in turn an old Republican, a royalist, and a revolutionary. His cult of
violence was like a compass gone wrong, with the needle darting from
north to south and from south to north. In public he still played the
part of chorus to the wild speeches of his friends: but he would have
taken _in petto_ the first dictator who came along and swept away
the red spectre.

Christophe was tickled to death by such universal cowardice. He was
convinced that nothing would come of it all. Olivier was not so sure.
His birth into the burgess-class had given him something of the
inevitable and everlasting tremulation which the comfortable classes
always feel upon the recollection or the expectation of Revolution.

"That's all right!" said Christophe. "You can sleep in peace. Your
Revolution isn't going to happen to-morrow. You're all afraid. Afraid of
being hurt. That sort of fear is everywhere. In the upper-classes, in
the people, in every nation, in all the nations of the West. There's not
enough blood in the whole lot of them: they're afraid of spilling a
little. For the last forty years all the fighting has been done in words,
in newspaper articles. Just look at your old Dreyfus Affair. You
shouted loud enough: 'Death! Blood! Slaughter!'... Oh! you Gascons!
Spittle and ink! But how many drops of blood?"

"Don't you be so sure," said Olivier. "The fear of blood is a secret
instinctive feeling that on the first shedding of it the beast in man
will see red, and the brute will appear again under the crust of
civilization: and God knows how it will ever be muzzled! Everybody
hesitates to declare war: but when the war does come it will be a
frightful thing."

Christophe shrugged his shoulders and said that it was not for nothing
that the heroes of the age were lying heroes, Cyrano the braggart and
the swaggering cock, Chantecler.

Olivier nodded. He knew that in France bragging is the beginning of
action. However, he had no more faith than Christophe in an immediate
movement: it had been too loudly proclaimed, and the Government was on
its guard. There was reason to believe that the syndicalist strategists
would postpone the fight for a more favorable opportunity.

During the latter half of April Olivier had an attack of influenza: he
used to get it every winter about the same time, and it always used to
develop into his old enemy, bronchitis. Christophe stayed with him for a
few days. The attack was only a slight one, and soon passed. But, as
usual, it left Olivier morally and physically worn out, and he was in
this condition for some time after the fever had subsided. He stayed in
bed, lying still for hours without any desire to get up or even to move:
he lay there watching Christophe, who was sitting at his desk, working,
with his back towards him.

Christophe was absorbed in his work. Sometimes, when he was tired of
writing, he would suddenly get up and walk over to the piano: he would
play, not what he had written, but just whatever came into his mind.
Then there came to pass a very strange thing. While the music he had
written was conceived in a style which recalled that of his earlier
work, what he played was like that of another man. It was music of a
world raucous and uncontrolled. There were in it a disorder and a
violence, and incoherence which had no resemblance at all to the
powerful order and logic which were everywhere present in his other
music. These unconsidered improvizations, escaping the scrutiny of his
artistic conscience, sprang, like the cry of an animal, from the flesh
rather than from the mind; and seemed to reveal a disturbance of the
balance of his soul, a storm brewing in the depths of the future.
Christophe was quite unconscious of it: but Olivier would listen, look
at Christophe, and feel vaguely uneasy. In his weak condition he had a
singular power of penetration, a far-seeing eye: he saw things that no
other man could perceive.

Christophe thumped out a final chord and stopped all in a sweat, and
looking rather haggard: he looked at Olivier, and there was still a
troubled expression in his eyes; then he began to laugh, and went back
to his desk. Olivier asked him:

"What was that, Christophe?"

"Nothing," replied Christophe. "I'm stirring the water to attract my
fish."

"Are you going to write that?"

"That? What do you mean?"

"What you've just said."

"What did I say? I don't remember."
"What were you thinking of?"

"I don't know," said Christophe, drawing his hand across his forehead.

He went on writing. Silence once mere filled the room. Olivier went on
looking at Christophe. Christophe felt that he was looking, and turned.
Olivier's eyes were upon him with such a hunger of affection!

"Lazy brute!" he said gaily.

Olivier sighed.

"What's the matter?" asked Christophe.

"Oh! Christophe! To think there are so many things in you, sitting
there, close at hand, treasures that you will give to others, and I
shall never be able to share!..."

"Are you mad? What's come to you?"

"I wonder what your life will be. I wonder what peril and sorrow you
have still to go through.... I would like to follow you. I would like to
be with you.... But I shan't see anything of it all. I shall be left
stuck stupidly by the wayside."

"Stupid? You are that. Do you think that I would leave you behind even
if you wanted to be left?"

"You will forget me," said Olivier.

Christophe got up and went and sat on the bed by Olivier's side: he took
his wrists, which were wet with a clammy sweat of weakness. His
nightshirt was open at the neck, showing his weak chest, his too
transparent skin, which was stretched and thin like a sail blown out by
a puff of wind to rending point. Christophe's strong fingers fumbled as
he buttoned the neckband of Olivier's nightshirt. Olivier suffered him.

"Dear Christophe!" he said tenderly. "Yet I have had one great happiness
in my life!"

"Oh! what on earth are you thinking of?" said Christophe. "You're as
well as I am."

"Yes," said Olivier.

"Then why talk nonsense?"

"I was wrong," said Olivier, ashamed and smiling. "Influenza is so
depressing."

"Pull yourself together, though! Get up."

"Not now. Later on."

He stayed in bed, dreaming. Next day he got up. But he was only able to
sit musing by the fireside. It was a mild and misty April. Through the
soft veil of silvery mist the little green leaves were unfolding their
cocoons, and invisible birds were singing the song of the hidden sun.
Olivier wound the skein of his memories. He saw himself once more as a
child, in the train carrying him away from his native town, through the
mist, with his mother weeping. Antoinette was sitting by herself at the
other end of the carriage.... Delicate shapes, fine landscapes, were
drawn in his mind's eye. Lovely verses came of their own accord, with
every syllable and charming rhythm in due order. He was near his desk:
he had only to reach out his hand to take his pen and write down his
poetic visions. But his will failed him: he was tired: he knew that the
perfume of his dreams would evaporate so soon as he tried to catch and
hold them. It was always so: the best of himself could never find
expression: his mind was like a little valley full of flowers: but
hardly a soul had access to it: and as soon as they were picked the
flowers faded. No more than just a few had been able languidly to
survive, a few delicate little tales, a few pieces of verse, which all
gave out a fragrant, fading scent. His artistic impotence had for a long
time been one of Olivier's greatest griefs. It was so hard to feel so
much life in himself and to be able to save none of it!...--Now he was
resigned. Flowers do not need to be seen to blossom. They are only the
more beautiful in the fields where no hand can pluck them. Happy, happy
fields with flowers dreaming in the sun!--Here in the little valley
there was hardly any sun; but Olivier's dreams flowered all the better
for it. What stories he wove for his own delight in those days, stories
sad and tender and fantastic! They came he knew not whence, sailing like
white clouds in a summer sky, melted into thin air, and others followed
them: he was full of them. Sometimes the sky was clear: in the light of
it Olivier would sit drowsily until once more, with all sail set, there
would come gliding the silent ships of dreams.

In the evening the little hunchback would come in. Olivier was so full
of stories that he told him one, smiling, eager and engrossed in the
tale. Often he would go on talking to himself, with the boy breathing
never a word. In the end he would altogether forget his presence....
Christophe arrived in the middle of the story, and was struck by its
beauty, and asked Olivier to begin all over again. Olivier refused:

"I am in the same position as yourself," he said. "I don't know anything
about it."

"That is not true," said Christophe. "You're a regular Frenchman, and
you always know exactly what you are doing and saying. You never forget
anything."

"Alas!" said Olivier.

"Begin again, then."

"I'm too tired. What's the good?"

Christophe was annoyed.

"That's all wrong," he said. "What's the good of your having ideas? You
throw away what you have. It's an utter waste." "Nothing is ever lost,"
said Olivier.

The little hunchback started from the stillness he had maintained during
Olivier's story--sitting with his face towards the window, with eyes
blankly staring, and a frown on his face and a fierce expression so that
it was impossible to tell what he was thinking. He got up and said:

"It will be fine to-morrow."

"I bet," said Christophe to Olivier, "that he didn't even listen."

"To-morrow, the First of May," Emmanuel went on, while his morose
expression lighted up.

"That is his story," said Olivier. "You shall tell it me tomorrow."
"Nonsense!" said Christophe.

Next day Christophe called for Olivier to take him for a walk in Paris.
Olivier was better: but he still had the same strange feeling of
exhaustion: he did not want to go out, he had a vague fear, he did not
like mixing with the crowd. His heart and mind were brave: but the flesh
was weak. He was afraid of a crush, an affray, brutality of all sorts:
he knew only too well that he was fated to be a victim, that he could
not, even would not, defend himself: for he had as great a horror of
giving pain as of suffering it himself. Men who are sick in body shudder
away from physical suffering more readily than others, because they are
more familiar with it, because they have less power to resist, and
because it is presented more immediately and more poignantly to their
heated imagination. Olivier was ashamed of this physical cowardice of
his which was in entire contradiction to the stoicism of his will: and
he tried hard to fight it down. But this morning the thought of human
contact of any sort was painful to him, and he would gladly have
remained indoors all day long. Christophe scolded him, rallied him,
absolutely insisted on his going out and throwing off his stupor: for
quite ten days he had not had a breath of air. Olivier pretended not to
pay any attention. Christophe said:

"Very well. I'll go without you. I want to see their First of May. If I
don't come back to-night, you will know that I have been locked up."

He went out. Olivier caught him up on the stairs. He would not leave
Christophe to go alone.

There were very few people in the streets. A few little work-girls
wearing sprays of lily-of-the-valley. Working-people in their Sunday
clothes were walking about rather listlessly. At the street corners, and
near the Métro stations were groups of policemen in plain clothes. The
gates of the Luxembourg were closed. The weather was still foggy and
damp. It was a long, long time since the sun had shown himself!... The
friends walked arm in arm. They spoke but little, but they were very
glad of each other. A few words were enough to call up all their tender
memories of the intimate past. They stopped in front of a _mairie_
to look at the barometer, which had an upward tendency.

"To-morrow," said Olivier, "I shall see the sun."

They were quite near the house where Cécile lived. They thought of going
in and giving the baby a hug.

"No. We can do it when we come back."

On the other side of the river they began to fall in with more people.
Just ordinary peaceful people taking a walk, wearing their Sunday
clothes and faces; poor people with their babies: workmen loafing. A few
here and there wore the red eglantine in their buttonholes: they looked
quite inoffensive: they were revolutionaries by dint of self-persuasion:
they were obviously quite benevolent and optimistic at heart, well
satisfied with the smallest opportunities for happiness: whether it were
fine or merely passable for their holiday, they were grateful for it ...
they did not know exactly to whom ... to everything and everybody about
them. They walked along without any hurry, expansively admiring the new
leaves of the trees and the pretty dresses of the little girls who went
by: they said proudly:

"Only in Paris can you see children so well dressed as that."

Christophe made fun of the famous upheaval that had been predicted....
Such nice people!... He was quite fond of them, although a little
contemptuous.

As they got farther along the crowd thickened. Men with pale hangdog
faces and horrible mouths slipped into the stream of people, all on the
alert, waiting for the time to pounce on their prey. The mud was stirred
up. With every inch the river grew more and more turbid. Now it flowed
slowly thick, opaque, and heavy. Like air-bubbles rising from the depths
to the greasy surface, there came up calling voices, shrill whistles,
the cries of the newsboys, piercing the dull roar of the multitude, and
made it possible to take the measure of its strata. At the end of a
street, near Amélie's restaurant, there was a noise like that of a
mill-race. The crowd was stemmed up against several ranks of police and
soldiers. In front of the obstacles a serried mass was formed, howling,
whistling, singing, laughing, and eddying this way and that.... The
laughter of the people is the only means they have of expressing a
thousand obscure and yet deep feelings which cannot find an outlet in
words!...

The multitude was not hostile. The people did not know what they wanted.
Until they did know they were content to amuse themselves--after their
own nervous, brutal fashion, still without malice--to amuse themselves
with pushing and being pushed, insulting the police and each other. But
little by little, they lost their ardor. Those who came up from behind
got tired of being able to see nothing, and were the more provocative
inasmuch as they ran little risk behind the shelter of the human
barricade in front of them. Those in front, being crushed between those
who were pushing and those who were offering resistance, grew more and
more exasperated as their position became more and more intolerable: the
force of the current pushing them on increased their own force an
hundredfold. And all of them, as they were squeezed closer and closer
together, like cattle, felt the warmth of the whole herd creeping
through their breasts and their loins: and it seemed to them then that
they formed a solid block: and each was all, each was a giant with the
arms of Briareus. Every now and then a wave of blood would surge to the
heart of the thousand-headed monster: eyes would dart hatred, murderous
cries would go up. Men cowering away in the third and fourth row began
to throw stones. Whole families were looking down from the windows of
the houses: it was like being at the play: they excited the mob and
waited with a little thrill of agonized impatience for the troops to
charge.

Christophe forced his way through the dense throng with elbows and
knees, like a wedge. Olivier followed him. The living mass parted for a
moment to let them pass and closed again at once behind them. Christophe
was in fine fettle. He had entirely forgotten that only five minutes ago
he had denied the possibility of an upheaval of the people. Hardly had
he set foot inside the stream than he was swept along: though he was a
foreigner in this crowd of Frenchmen and a stranger to their demands,
yet he was suddenly engulfed by them: little he cared what they wanted:
he wanted it too: little he cared whither they were going: he was going
too, drinking in the breath of their madness.

Olivier was dragged along after him, but it was no joy to him; he saw
clearly, he never lost his self-consciousness, and was a thousand times
more a stranger to the passions of these people who were his people than
Christophe, and yet he was carried away by them like a piece of
wreckage. His illness, which had weakened him, had also relaxed
everything that bound him to life. How far removed he felt from these
people!... Being free from the delirium that was in them and having all
his wits at liberty, his mind took in the minutest details. It gave him
pleasure to gaze at the bust of a girl standing in front of him and at
her pretty, white neck. And at the same time he was disgusted by the
sickly, thick smell that was given off from the close-packed heap of
bodies.

"Christophe!" he begged.

Christophe did not hear him.

"Christophe!"

"Eh?"

"Let's go home."

"You're afraid?" said Christophe.

He pushed on. Olivier followed him with a sad smile.

A few rows in front of them, in the danger zone where the people were so
huddled together as to form a solid barricade, he saw his friend the
little hunchback perched on the roof of a newspaper kiosk. He was
clinging with both hands, and crouching in a most uncomfortable
position, and laughing as he looked over the wall of soldiers: and then
he would turn again and look back at the crowd with an air of triumph.
He saw Olivier and beamed at him: then once more he began to peer across
the soldiers, over the square, with his eyes wide staring in hope and
expectation ... of what?--Of the thing which was to come to pass.... He
was not alone. There were many, many others all around him waiting for
the miracle! And Olivier, looking at Christophe, saw that he too was
expecting it.

He called to the boy and shouted to him to come down. Emmanuel pretended
not to hear and looked away. He had seen Christophe. He was glad to be
in a position of peril in the turmoil, partly to show his courage to
Olivier, partly to punish him for being with Christophe.

Meanwhile they had come across some of their friends in the
crowd,--Coquard, with his golden beard, who expected nothing more than a
little jostling and crushing, and with the eye of an expert was watching
for the moment when the vessel would overflow. Farther on they met the
fair Berthe, who was slanging the people about her and getting roughly
mauled. She had succeeded in wriggling through to the front row, and she
was hurling insults at the police. Coquard came up to Christophe. When
Christophe saw him he began to chaff him:

"What did I tell you? Nothing is going to happen."

"That remains to be seen!" said Coquard. "Don't you be too sure. It
won't be long before the fun begins."

"Rot!" said Christophe.

At that very moment the cuirassiers, getting tired of having stones
flung at them, marched forward to clear the entrances to the square: the
central body came forward at a double. Immediately the stampede began.
As the Gospel has it, the first were last. But they took good care not
to be last for long. By way of covering their confusion the runaways
yelled at the soldiers following them and screamed: "Assassins!" long
before a single blow had been struck. Berthe wriggled through the crowd
like an eel, shrieking at the top of her voice. She rejoined her
friends; and taking shelter behind Coquard's broad back, she recovered
her breath, pressed close up against Christophe, gripped his arm, in
fear or for some other reason, ogled Olivier, and shook her fist at the
enemy, and screeched. Coquard took Christophe's arm and said:

"Let's go to Amélie's,"

They had very little way to go. Berthe had preceded them with Graillot
and a few workmen. Christophe was on the point of entering followed by
Olivier. The street had a shelving ridge. The pavement, by the creamery,
was five or six steps higher than the roadway. Olivier stopped to take a
long breath after his escape from the crowd. He disliked the idea of
being in the poisoned air of the restaurant and the clamorous voices of
these fanatics. He said to Christopher:

"I'm going home."

"Very well, then, old fellow," said Christophe. "I'll rejoin you in an
hour from now."

"Don't run any risks, Christophe!"

"Coward!" said Christophe, laughing.

He turned into the creamery.

Olivier walked along to the corner of the shop. A few steps more and he
would be in a little by-street which would take him out of the uproar.
The thought of his little protege crossed his mind. He turned to look
for him. He saw him at the very moment when Emmanuel had slipped down
from his coign of vantage and was rolling on the ground being trampled
underfoot by the rabble: the fugitives were running over his body: the
police were just reaching the spot. Olivier did not stop to think: he
rushed down the steps and ran to his aid. A navvy saw the danger, the
soldiers with drawn sabers. Olivier holding out his hand to the boy to
help him up, the savage rush of the police knocked them both over. He
shouted out, and in his turn rushed in. Some of his comrades followed at
a run. Others rushed down from the threshold of the restaurant, and, on
their cries, came those who had already entered. The two bodies of men
hurled themselves at each other's throats like dogs. And the women,
standing at the top of the steps, screamed and yelled.--So Olivier, the
aristocrat, the essentially middle-class nature, released the spring of
the battle, which no man desired less than he.

Christophe was swept along by the workmen and plunged into the fray
without knowing who had been the cause of it. Nothing was farther from
his thoughts than that Olivier had taken part in it. He thought him far
away in safety. It was impossible to see anything of the fight. Every
man had enough to do in keeping an eye on his opponent. Olivier had
disappeared in the whirlpool like a foundered ship. He had received a
jab from a bayonet, meant for some one else, in his left breast: he
fell: the crowd trampled him underfoot. Christophe had been swept away
by an eddy to the farthest extremity of the field of battle. He did not
fight with any animosity: he jostled and was jostled with a fierce zest
as though he was in the throng at a village fair. So little did he think
of the serious nature of the affair that when he was gripped by a huge,
broad-shouldered policeman and closed with him, he saw the thing in
grotesque and said:

"My waltz, I think."

But when another policeman pounced on to his back, he shook himself like
a wild boar, and hammered away with his fists at the two of them: he had
no intention of being taken prisoner. One of his adversaries, the man
who had seized him from behind, rolled down on the ground. The other
lost his head and drew his sword. Christophe saw the point of the saber
come within a hand's breadth of his chest: he dodged, and twisted the
man's wrist and tried to wrench his weapon from him. He could not
understand it: till then it had seemed to him just a game. They went on
struggling and battering at each other's faces. He had no time to stop
to think. He saw murder in the other man's eyes: and murderous desire
awoke in him. He saw that the man would slit him up like a sheep. With a
sudden movement he turned the man's hand and sword against himself: he
plunged the sword into his breast, felt that he was killing him, and
killed him. And suddenly the whole thing was changed: he was mad,
intoxicated, and he roared aloud.

His yells produced an indescribable effect. The crowd had smelt blood.
In a moment it became a savage pack. On all sides swords were drawn. The
red flag appeared in the windows of the houses. And old memories of
Parisian revolutions prompted them to build a barricade. The stones were
torn up from the street, the gas lamps were wrenched away, trees were
pulled up, an omnibus was overturned. A trench that had been left open
for months in connection with work on the _Métropolitain_ was
turned to account. The cast-iron railings round the trees were broken up
and used as missiles. Weapons were brought out of pockets and from the
houses. In less than an hour the scuffle had grown into an insurrection:
the whole district was in a state of siege. And, on the barricade, was
Christophe, unrecognizable, shouting his revolutionary song, which was
taken up by a score of voices. Olivier had been carried to Amélie's. He
was unconscious. He had been laid on a bed in the dark back-shop. At the
foot of the bed stood the hunchback, numbed and distraught. At first
Berthe had been overcome with emotion: at a distance she had thought it
was Graillot who had been wounded, and, when she recognized Olivier, her
first exclamation had been:

"What a good thing! I thought it was Léopold."

But now she was full of pity.. And she kissed Olivier and held his head
on the pillow. With her usual calmness Amélie had undone his clothes and
dressed his wound. Manousse Heimann was there, fortunately, with his
inseparable Canet. Like Christophe they had come out of curiosity to see
the demonstration: they had been present at the affray and seen Olivier
fall. Canet was blubbering like a child: and at the same time he was
thinking:

"What on earth am I doing here?"

Manousse examined Olivier: at once he saw that it was all over. He had a
great feeling for Olivier: but he was not a man to worry about what
can't be helped: and he turned his thoughts to Christophe. He admired
Christophe though he regarded him as a pathological case. He knew his
ideas about the Revolution: and he wanted to deliver him from the
idiotic danger he was running in a cause that was not his own. The risk
of a broken head in the scuffle was not the only one: if Christophe were
taken, everything pointed to his being used as an example and getting
more than he bargained for. Manousse had long ago been warned that the
police had their eye on Christophe: they would saddle him not only with
his own follies but with those of others. Xavier Bernard, whom Manousse
had just encountered, prowling through the crowd, for his own amusement
as well as in pursuit of duty, had nodded to him as he passed and said:

"That Krafft of yours is an idiot. Would you believe that he's putting
himself up as a mark on the barricade! We shan't miss him this time.
You'd better get him out of harm's way."

That was easier said than done. If Christophe were to find out that
Olivier was dying he would become a raging madman, he would go out to
kill, he would be killed. Manousse said to Bernard:

"If he doesn't go at once, he's done for. I'll try and take him away."

"How?"

"In Canet's motor. It's over there at the corner of the street."

"Please, please...." gulped Canet.

"You must take him to Laroche," Manousse went on. "You will get there in
time to catch the Pontarlier express. You must pack him off to
Switzerland."

"He won't go."

"He will. I'll tell him that Jeannin will follow him, or has already
gone."

Without paying any attention to Canet's objections Manousse set out to
find Christophe on the barricade. He was not very courageous, he started
every time he heard a shot: and he counted the cobble-stones over which
he stepped--(odd or even), to make out his chances of being killed. He
did not stop, but went through with it. When he reached the barricade he
found Christophe, perched on a wheel of the overturned omnibus, amusing
himself by firing pistol-shots into the air. Round the barricade the
riff-raff of Paris, spewed up from the gutters, had swollen up like the
dirty water from a sewer after heavy rain. The original combatants were
drowned by it. Manousse shouted to Christophe, whose back was turned to
him. Christophe did not hear him. Manousse climbed up to him and plucked
at his sleeve. Christophe pushed him away and almost knocked him down.
Manousse stuck to it, climbed up again, and shouted:

"Jeannin...."

In the uproar the rest of the sentence was lost. Christophe stopped
short, dropped his revolver, and, slipping down from his scaffolding, he
rejoined Manousse, who started pulling him away.

"You must clear out," said Manousse.

"Where is Olivier?"

"You must clear out," repeated Manousse.

"Why?" said Christophe.

"The barricade will be captured in an hour. You will be arrested
to-night."

"What have I done?"

"Look at your hands.... Come!... There's no room for doubt, they won't
spare you. Everybody recognized you. You've not got a moment to lose."

"Where is Olivier?"

"At home."

"I'll go and join him."

"You can't do that. The police are waiting for you at the door. He sent
me to warn you. You must cut and run."

"Where do you want me to go?"

"To Switzerland. Canet will take you out of this in his car."

"And Olivier?"

"There's no time to talk...."

"I won't go without seeing him."

"You'll see him there. He'll join you to-morrow. He'll go by the first
train. Quick! I'll explain."

He caught hold of Christophe. Christophe was dazed by the noise and the
wave of madness that had rushed through him, could not understand what
he had done and what he was being asked to do, and let himself be
dragged away. Manousse took his arm, and with his other hand caught hold
of Canet, who was not at all pleased with the part allotted to him in
the affair: and he packed the two of them into the car. The worthy Canet
would have been bitterly sorry if Christophe had been caught, but he
would have much preferred some one else to help him to escape. Manousse
knew his man. And as he had some qualms about Canet's cowardice, he
changed his mind just as he was leaving them and the car was getting
into its stride and climbed up and sat with them.

Olivier did not recover consciousness. Amélie and the little hunchback
were left alone in the room. Such a sad room it was, airless and gloomy!
It was almost dark.... For one instant Olivier emerged from the abyss.
He felt Emmanuel's tears and kisses on his hand. He smiled faintly, and
painfully laid his hand on the boy's head. Such a heavy hand it was!...
Then he sank back once more....

By the dying man's head, on the pillow, Amélie had laid a First of May
nosegay, a few sprays of lily-of-the-valley. A leaky tap in the
courtyard dripped, dripped into a bucket. For a second mental images
hovered tremblingly at the back of his mind, like a light flickering and
dying down ... a house in the country with glycine on the walls: a
garden where a child was playing: a boy lying on the turf: a little
fountain plashing in its stone basin: a little girl laughing....



II


They drove out of Paris. They crossed the vast plains of France shrouded
in mist. It was an evening like that on which Christophe had arrived in
Paris ten years before. He was a fugitive then, as now. But then his
friend, the man who loved him, was alive: and Christophe was fleeing
towards him....

During the first hour Christophe was still under the excitement of the
fight: he talked volubly in a loud voice: in a breathless, jerky fashion
he kept on telling what he had seen and heard: he was proud of his
achievement and felt no remorse. Manousse and Canet talked too, by way
of making him forget. Gradually his feverish excitement subsided, and
Christophe stopped talking: his two companions went on making
conversation alone. He was a little bewildered by the afternoon's
adventures, but in no way abashed. He recollected the time when he had
come to France, a fugitive then, always a fugitive. It made him laugh.
No doubt he was fated to be so. It gave him no pain to be leaving Paris:
the world is wide: men are the same everywhere. It mattered little to
him where he might be so long as he was with his friend. He was counting
on seeing him again next day. They had promised him that.

They reached Laroche. Manousse and Canet did not leave him until they
had seen him into the train. Christophe made them say over the name of
the place where he was to get out, and the name of the hotel, and the
post-office where he would find his letters. In spite of themselves, as
they left him, they both looked utterly dejected. Christophe wrung their
hands gaily.

"Come!" he shouted, "don't look so like a funeral Good Lord, we shall
meet again! Nothing easier! We'll write to each other to-morrow."

The train started. They watched it disappear.

"Poor devil!" said Manousse.

They got back into the car. They were silent. After a short time Canet
said to Manousse:

"Bah! the dead are dead. We must help the living."

As night fell Christophe's excitement subsided altogether. He sat
huddled in a corner of the carriage, and pondered. He was sobered and
icy cold. He looked down at his hands and saw blood on them that was not
his own. He gave a shiver of disgust. The scene of the murder came
before him once more. He remembered that he had killed a man: and now he
knew not why. He began to go over the whole battle from the very
beginning; but now he saw it in a very different light. He could not
understand how he had got mixed up in it. He went back over every
incident of the day from the moment when he had left the house with
Olivier: he saw the two of them walking through Paris until the moment
when he had been caught up by the whirlwind. There he lost the thread:
the chain of his thoughts was snapped: how could he have shouted and
struck out and moved with those men with whose beliefs he disagreed? It
was not he, it was not he!... It was a total eclipse of his will!... He
was dazed by it and ashamed. He was not his own master then? Who was his
master?... He was being carried by the express through the night: and
the inward night through which he was being carried was no less dark,
nor was the unknown force less swift and dizzy.... He tried hard to
shake off his unease: but one anxiety was followed by another. The
nearer he came to his destination, the more he thought of Olivier; and
he was oppressed by an unreasoning fear.

As he arrived he looked through the window across the platform for the
familiar face of his friend.... There was no one. He got out and still
went on looking about him. Once or twice he thought he saw.... No, it
was not "he." He went to the appointed hotel. Olivier was not there.
There was no reason for Christophe to be surprised: how could Olivier
have preceded him?... But from that moment on he was in an agony of
suspense.

It was morning. Christophe went up to his room. Then he came down again,
had breakfast, sauntered through the streets. He pretended to be free of
anxiety and looked at the lake and the shop-windows, chaffed the girl in
the restaurant, and turned over the illustrated papers.... Nothing
interested him. The day dragged through, slowly and heavily. About seven
o'clock in the evening, Christophe having, for want of anything else to
do, dined early and eaten nothing, went up to his room, and asked that
as soon as the friend he was expecting arrived, he should be brought up
to him. He sat down at the desk with his back turned to the door. He had
nothing to busy himself with, no baggage, no books: only a paper that he
had just bought: he forced himself to read it: but his mind was
wandering: he was listening for footsteps in the corridor. All his
nerves were on edge with the exhaustion of a day's anxious waiting and a
sleepless night.

Suddenly he heard some one open the door. Some indefinable feeling made
him not turn around at once. He felt a hand on his shoulder. Then he
turned and saw Olivier smiling at him. He was not surprised, and said:

"Ah, here you are at last!"

The illusion vanished.

Christophe got up suddenly, knocking over chair and table. His hair
stood on end. He stood still for a moment, livid, with his teeth
chattering.

At the end of that moment--(in vain did he shut his eyes to it and tell
himself: "I know nothing")--he knew everything: he was sure of what he
was going to hear.

He could not stay in his room. He went down into the street and walked
about for an hour. When he returned the porter met him in the hall of
the hotel and gave him a letter. _The_ letter. He was quite sure it
would be there. His hand trembled as he took it. He opened it, saw that
Olivier was dead, and fainted.

The letter was from Manousse. It said that in concealing the disaster
from him the day before, and hurrying him off, they had only been
obeying Olivier's wishes, who had desired to insure his friend's
escape,--that it was useless for Christophe to stay, as it would mean
the end of him also,--that it was his duty to seek safety for the sake
of his friend's memory, and for his other friends, and for the sake of
his own fame, etc., etc.... Amélie had added three lines in her big,
scrawling handwriting, to say that she would take every care of the poor
little gentleman....

When Christophe came back to himself he was furiously angry. He wanted
to kill Manousse. He ran to the station. The hall of the hotel was
empty, the streets were deserted: in the darkness the few belated
passers-by did not notice his wildly staring eyes or his furious
breathing. His mind had fastened as firmly as a bulldog with its fangs
on to the one fixed idea: "Kill Manousse! Kill!..." He wanted to return
to Paris. The night express had gone an hour before. He had to wait
until the next morning. He could not wait. He took the first train that
went in the direction of Paris, a train which stopped at every station.
When he was left alone in the carriage Christophe cried over and over
again:

"It is not true! It is not true!"

At the second station across the French frontier the train stopped
altogether: it did not go any farther. Shaking with fury, Christophe got
out and asked for another train, battering the sleepy officials with
questions, and only knocking up against indifference. Whatever he did he
would arrive too late. Too late for Olivier. He could not even manage to
catch Manousse. He would be arrested first. What was he to do? Which way
to turn? To go on? To go back? What was the use? What was the use?... He
thought of giving himself up to a gendarme who went past him. He was
held back by an obscure instinct for life which bade him return to
Switzerland. There was no train in either direction for a few hours.
Christophe sat down in the waiting-room, could not keep still, left the
station, and blindly followed the road on through the night. He found
himself in the middle of a bare countryside--fields, broken here and
there with clumps of pines, the vanguard of a forest. He plunged into
it. He had hardly gone more than a few steps when he flung himself down
on the ground and cried:

"Olivier!"

He lay across the path and sobbed.

A long time afterwards a train whistling in the distance roused him and
made him get up. He tried to go back to the station, but took the wrong
road. He walked on all through the night. What did it matter to him
where he went? He went on walking to keep from thinking, walking,
walking, until he could not think, walking on in the hope that he might
fall dead. Ah! if only he might die!...

At dawn he found himself in a French village a long way from the
frontier. All night he had been walking away from it. He went into an
inn, ate a huge meal, set out once more, and walked on and on. During
the day he sank down in the middle of a field and lay there asleep until
the evening. When he woke up it was to face another night. His fury had
abated. He was left only with frightful grief that choked him. He
dragged himself to a farmhouse, and asked for a piece of bread and a
truss of straw for a bed. The farmer stared hard at him, cut him a slice
of bread, led him into the stable, and locked it. Christophe lay in the
straw near the thickly-smelling cows, and devoured his bread. Tears were
streaming down his face. Neither his hunger nor his sorrow could be
appeased. During the night sleep once more delivered him from his agony
for a few hours. He woke up next day on the sound of the door opening.
He lay still and did not move. He did not want to come back to life. The
farmer stopped and looked down at him for a long time: he was holding in
his hand a paper, at which he glanced from time to time. At last he
moved forward and thrust his newspaper in front of Christophe. His
portrait was on the front page.

"It is I," said Christophe. "You'd better give me up."

"Get up," said the farmer.

Christophe got up. The man motioned to him to follow. They went behind
the barn and walked along a winding path through an orchard. They came
to a cross, and then the farmer pointed along a road and said to
Christophe:

"The frontier is over there."

Christophe walked on mechanically. He did not know why he should go on.
He was so tired, so broken in body and soul, that he longed to stop with
every stride. But he felt that if he were to stop he would never be able
to go on again, never budge from the spot where he fell. He walked on
right through the day. He had not a penny to buy bread. Besides, he
avoided the villages. He had a queer feeling which entirely baffled his
reason, that, though he wished to die, he was afraid of being taken
prisoner: his body was like a hunted animal fleeing before its captors.
His physical wretchedness, exhaustion, hunger, an obscure feeling of
terror which was augmented by his worn-out condition, for the time being
smothered his moral distress. His one thought was to find a refuge where
he could in safety be alone with his distress and feed on it.

He crossed the frontier. In the distance he saw a town surmounted with
towers and steeples and factory chimneys, from which the thick smoke
streamed like black rivers, monotonously, all in the same direction
across the gray sky under the rain. He was very near a collapse. Just
then he remembered that he knew a German doctor, one Erich Braun, who
lived in the town, and had written to him the year before, after one of
his successes, to remind him of their old acquaintance. Dull though
Braun might be, little though he might enter into his life, yet, like a
wounded animal, Christophe made a supreme effort before he gave in to
reach the house of some one who was not altogether a stranger.

Under the cloud of smoke and rain, he entered the gray and red city. He
walked through it, seeing nothing, asking his way, losing himself, going
back, wandering aimlessly. He was at the end of his tether. For the last
time he screwed up his will that was so near to breaking-point to climb
up the steep alleys, and the stairs which went to the top of a stiff
little hill, closely overbuilt with houses round a gloomy church. There
were sixty red stone steps in threes and sixes. Between each little
flight of steps was a narrow platform for the door of a house. On each
platform Christophe stopped swaying to take breath. Far over his head,
above the church tower, crows were whirling.

At last he came upon the name he was looking for. He knocked.--The alley
was in darkness. In utter weariness he closed his eyes. All was dark
within him.... Ages passed.

The narrow door was opened. A woman appeared on the threshold. Her face
was in darkness: but her outline was sharply shown against the
background of a little garden which could be clearly seen at the end of
a long passage, in the light of the setting sun. She was tall, and stood
very erect, without a word, waiting for him to speak. He could not see
her eyes: but he felt them taking him in. He asked for Doctor Erich
Braun and gave his name. He had great difficulty in getting the words
out. He was worn out with fatigue, hunger, and thirst. Without a word
the woman went away, and Christophe followed her into a room with closed
shutters. In the darkness he bumped into her: his knees and body brushed
against her. She went out again and closed the door of the room and left
him in the dark. He stayed quite still, for fear of knocking something
over, leaning against the wall with his forehead against the soft
hangings: his ears buzzed: the darkness seemed alive and throbbing to
his eyes.

Overhead he heard a chair being moved, an exclamation of surprise, a
door slammed. Then came heavy footsteps down the stairs.

"Where is he?" asked a voice that he knew.

The door of the room was opened once more.

"What! You left him in the dark! Anna! Good gracious! A light!"

Christophe was so weak, he was so utterly wretched, that the sound of
the man's loud voice, cordial as it was, brought him comfort in his
misery. He gripped the hand that was held out to him. The two men looked
at each other. Braun was a little man: he had a red face with a black,
scrubby and untidy beard, kind eyes twinkling behind spectacles, a
broad, bumpy, wrinkled, worried, inexpressive brow, hair carefully
plastered down and parted right down to his neck. He was very ugly: but
Christophe was very glad to see him and to be shaking hands with him.
Braun made no effort to conceal his surprise.

"Good Heavens! How changed he is! What a state he is in!"

"I'm just come from Paris," said Christophe, "I'm a fugitive."

"I know, I know. We saw the papers. They said you were caught. Thank
God! You've been much in our thoughts, mine and Anna's."

He stopped and made Christophe known to the silent creature who had
admitted him:

"My wife."

She had stayed in the doorway of the room with a lamp in her hand. She
had a taciturn face with a firm chin. The light fell on her brown hair
with its reddish shades of color, and on her pallid cheeks. She held out
her hand to Christophe stiffly with the elbow close against her side: he
took it without looking at her. He was almost done.

"I came...." he tried to explain. "I thought you would be so kind ... if
it isn't putting you out too much ... as to put me up for a day--"

Braun did not let him finish.

"A day!... Twenty days, fifty, as long as you like. As long as you are
in this country you shall stay in our house: and I hope you will stay
for a long time. It is an honor and a great happiness for us."

Christophe was overwhelmed by his kind words. He flung himself into
Braun's arms.

"My dear Christophe, my dear Christophe!" said Braun.... "He is
weeping.... Well, well what is it?... Anna! Anna!... Quick, he has
fainted...."

Christophe had collapsed in his host's arms. He had succumbed to the
fainting fit which had been imminent for several hours.

When he opened his eyes again he was lying in a great bed. A smell of
wet earth came up through the open window. Braun was bending over him.

"Forgive me," murmured Christophe, trying to get up.

"He is dying of hunger!" cried Braun.

The woman went out and returned with a cup and gave him to drink. Braun
held his head. Christophe was restored to life: but his exhaustion was
stronger than his hunger: hardly was his head laid back on the pillow
than he went to sleep. Braun and his wife watched over him: then, seeing
that he only needed rest, they left him.

He fell into the sort of sleep that seems to last for years, a heavy
crushing sleep, dropping like a piece of lead to the bottom of a lake.
In such a sleep a man is a prey to his accumulated weariness and the
monstrous hallucinations which are forever prowling at the gates of his
will. He tried to wake up, burning, broken, lost in the impenetrable
darkness: he heard the clocks striking the half hours: he could not
breathe, or think, or move: he was bound and gagged like a man flung
into water to drown: he tried to struggle, but only sank down
again.--Dawn came at length, the tardy gray dawn of a rainy day. The
intolerable heat that consumed him grew less: but his body was pinned
under the weight of a mountain. He woke up. It was a terrible awakening.

"Why open my eyes? Why wake up? Rather stay, like my poor friend, who is
lying under the earth...."

He lay on his back and never moved, although he was cramped by his
position in the bed: his legs and arms were heavy as stone. He was in a
grave. A dim pale light. A few drops of rain dashed against the windows.
A bird in the garden was uttering a little plaintive cry. Oh! the misery
of life! The cruel futility of it all!...

The hours crept by. Braun came in. Christophe did not turn his head.
Seeing his eyes open, Braun greeted him joyfully: and as Christophe went
on grimly staring at the ceiling he tried to make him shake off his
melancholy: he sat down on the bed and chattered noisily. Christophe
could not bear the noise. He made an effort, superhuman it seemed to
him, and said:

"Please leave me alone."

The good little man changed his tone at once.

"You want to be alone? Why, of course. Keep quiet. Rest, don't talk,
we'll bring you up something to eat, and no one shall say a word."

But it was impossible for him to be brief. After endless explanations he
tiptoed from the room with his huge slippers creaking on the floor.
Christophe was left alone once more, and sank back into his mortal
weariness. His thoughts were veiled by the mist of suffering. He wore
himself out in trying to understand.... "Why had he known him? Why had
he loved him? What good had Antoinette's devotion been? What was the
meaning of all the lives and generations,--so much experience and
hope--ending in that life, dragged down with it into the void?"... Life
was meaningless. Death was meaningless. A man was blotted out, shuffled
out of existence, a whole family disappeared from the face of the earth,
leaving no trace. Impossible to tell whether it is more odious or more
grotesque. He burst into a fit of angry laughter, laughter of hatred and
despair. His impotence in the face of such sorrow, his sorrow in the
face of such impotence, were dragging him down to death. His heart was
broken....

There was not a sound in the house, save the doctor's footsteps as he
went out on his rounds. Christophe had lost all idea of the time, when
Anna appeared. She brought him some dinner on a tray. He watched her
without stirring, without even moving his lips to thank her: but in his
staring eyes, which seemed to see nothing, the image of the young woman
was graven with photographic clarity. Long afterwards, when he knew her
better, it was always thus that he saw her: later impressions were never
able to efface that first memory of her. She had thick hair done up in a
heavy knob, a bulging forehead, wide cheeks, a short, straight nose,
eyes perpetually cast down, and when they met the eyes of another, they
would turn away with an expression in which there was little frankness
and small kindness: her lips were a trifle thick, and closely pressed
together, and she had a stubborn, rather hard expression. She was tall,
apparently big and well made, but her clothes were very stiff and tight,
and she was cramped in her movements. She came silently and noiselessly
and laid the tray on the table by the bed and went out again with her
arms close to her sides and her head down. Christophe felt no surprise
at her strange and rather absurd appearance: he did not touch his food
and relapsed into his silent suffering.

The day passed. Evening came and once more Anna with more food. She
found the meal she had brought in the morning still untouched: and she
took it away without a remark. She had none of those fond observations
which all women seem instinctively to produce for the benefit of an
invalid. It was as though Christophe did not exist for her, as though
she herself hardly existed. This time Christophe felt a sort of dumb
hostility as impatiently he followed her awkward hasty movements.
However, he was grateful to her for not trying to talk.--He was even
more grateful to her when, after she had gone, he had to put up with the
doctor's protestations, when he observed that Christophe had not touched
the earlier meal. He was angry with his wife for not having forced
Christophe to eat, and now tried to compel him to do so. For the sake of
peace, Christophe had to gulp down a little milk. After that he turned
his back on him.

The next night was more tranquil. Heavy sleep once more drew Christophe
into its state of nothingness. Not a trace of hateful life was
left.--But waking up was even more suffocating than before. He went on
turning over and over all the details of the fateful day, Olivier's
reluctance to leave the house, his urgent desire to go home, and he said
to himself in despair:

"It was I who killed him...."

He could not bear to stay there any longer, shut up in that room, lying
motionless beneath the claws of the fierce-eyed sphinx that went on
battering him with its dizzy rain of questions and its deathlike breath.
He got up all in a fever: he dragged himself out of the room and went
downstairs: in his instinctive fear he was driven to cling to other
human creatures. And as soon as he heard another voice he felt a longing
to rush away.

Braun was in the dining-room. He received Christophe with his usual
demonstrations of friendship and at once began to ply him with questions
as to what had happened in Paris. Christophe seized him by the arm:

"No," he said. "Don't ask me. Later on.... You mustn't mind. I can't,
now. I'm dead tired, worn out...."

"I know, I know," said Braun kindly. "Your nerves are shaken. The
emotions of the last few days. Don't talk. Don't put yourself out in any
way. You are free, you are at home here. No one will worry about you."

He kept his word. By way of sparing his guest he went to the opposite
extreme: he dared not even talk to his wife in Christophe's presence: he
talked in whispers and walked about on tiptoe: the house became still
and silent. Exasperated by the whispering and the silence and the
affectation of it all, Christophe had to beg Braun to go on living just
as he usually did.

For some days no one paid any attention to Christophe. He would sit for
hours together in the corner of a room, or he would wander through the
house like a man in a dream. What were his thoughts? He hardly knew. He
hardly had even strength enough to suffer. He was crushed. The dryness
of his heart was a horror to him. He had only one desire: to be buried
with "him" and to make an end.--One day he found the garden-door open
and went out. But it hurt him so much to be in the light of day that he
returned hurriedly and shut himself up in his room with all the shutters
closed. Fine days were torture to him. He hated the sun. The brutal
serenity of Nature overwhelmed him. At meals he would eat in silence the
food that Braun laid before him, and he would sit with never a word
staring down at the table. One day Braun pointed to the piano in the
drawing-room: Christophe turned from it in terror. Noise of any sort was
detestable to him. Silence, silence, and the night!... There was
nothing in him save an aching void, and a need of emptiness. Gone was
his joy in life, gone the splendid bird of joy that once used to soar
blithely, ecstatically upwards, pouring out song. There were days when,
sitting in his room, he had no more feeling of life than the halting
tic-tac of the clock in the next room, that seemed to be beating in his
own brain. And yet, the wild bird of joy was still in him, it would
suddenly take flight, and flutter against the bars of its cage: and in
the depths of his soul there was a frightful tumult of sorrow--"the
bitter cry of one living in the wilderness...."

The world's misery lies in this, that a man hardly ever has a companion.
Women perhaps, and chance friendships. We are reckless in our use of the
lovely word, friend. In reality we hardly have a single friend all
through our lives. Rare, very rare, are those men who have real friends.
But the happiness of it is so great that it is impossible to live when
they are gone. The friend filled the life of his friend, unbeknown to
him, unmarked. The friend goes: and life is empty. Not only the beloved
is lost, but every reason for loving, every reason for having loved. Why
had he lived? Why had either lived?

The blow of Olivier's death was the more terrible to Christophe in that
it fell just at a time when his whole nature was in a state of upheaval.
There are in life certain ages when there takes place a silently working
organic change in a man: then body and soul are more susceptible to
attack from without; the mind is weakened, its power is sapped by a
vague sadness, a feeling of satiety, a sort of detachment from what it
is doing, an incapacity for seeing any other course of action. At such
periods of their lives when these crises occur, the majority of men are
bound by domestic ties, forming a safeguard for them, which, it is true,
deprives them of the freedom of mind necessary for self-judgment, for
discovering where they stand, and for beginning to build up a healthy
new life. For them so many sorrows, so much bitterness and disgust
remain concealed!... Onward! Onward! A man must ever be pressing on....
The common round, anxiety and care for the family for which he is
responsible, keep a man like a jaded horse, sleeping between the shafts,
and trotting on and on.--But a free man has nothing to support him in
his hours of negation, nothing to force him to go on. He goes on as a
matter of habit: he knows not whither he is going. His powers are
scattered, his consciousness is obscured. It is an awful thing for him
if, just at the moment when he is most asleep, there comes a thunderclap
to break in upon his somnambulism! Then he comes very nigh to
destruction.

A few letters from Paris, which at last reached him, plucked Christophe
for a moment out of his despairing apathy. They were from Cécile and
Madame Arnaud. They brought him messages of comfort. Cold comfort.
Futile condolence. Those who talk about suffering know it not. The
letters only brought him an echo of the voice that was gone.... He had
not the heart to reply: and the letters ceased. In his despondency he
tried to blot out his tracks. To disappear.... Suffering is unjust: all
those who had loved him dropped out of his existence. Only one creature
still existed: the man who was dead. For many weeks he strove to bring
him to life again: he used to talk to him, write to him:

"My dear, I had no letter from you to-day. Where are you? Come back,
come back, speak to me, write to me!..."

But at night, hard though he tried, he could never succeed in seeing him
in his dreams. We rarely dream of those we have lost, while their loss
is still a pain. They come back to us later on when we are beginning to
forget.

However, the outside world began gradually to penetrate to the sepulcher
of Christophe's soul. At first he became dimly conscious of the
different noises in the house and to take an unwitting interest in them.
He marked the time of day when the front door opened and shut, and how
often during the day, and the different ways in which it was opened for
the various visitors. He knew Braun's step: he used to visualize the
doctor coming back from his rounds, stopping in the hall, hanging up his
hat and cloak, always with the same meticulous fussy way. And when the
accustomed noises came up to him out of the order in which he had come
to look for them, he could not help trying to discover the reason for
the change. At meals he began mechanically to listen to the
conversation. He saw that Braun almost always talked single-handed. His
wife used only to give him a curt reply. Braun was never put out by the
want of anybody to talk to: he used to chat pleasantly and verbosely
about the houses he had visited and the gossip he had picked up. At
last, one day, Christophe looked at Braun while he was speaking: Braun
was delighted, and laid himself out to keep him interested.

Christophe tried to pick up the threads of life again.... It was utterly
exhausting! He felt old, as old as the world!... In the morning when he
got up and saw himself in the mirror he was disgusted with his body, his
gestures, his idiotic figure. Get up, dress, to what end?... He tried
desperately to work: it made him sick. What was the good of creation,
when everything ends in nothing? Music had become impossible for Mm.
Art--(and everything else)--can only be rightly judged in unhappiness.
Unhappiness is the touchstone. Only then do we know those who can stride
across the ages, those who are stronger than death. Very few bear the
test. In unhappiness we are struck by the mediocrity of certain souls
upon whom we had counted--(and of the artists we had loved, who had been
like friends to our lives).--Who survives? How hollow does the beauty of
the world ring under the touch of sorrow!

But sorrow grows weary, the force goes from its grip. Christophe's
nerves were relaxed. He slept, slept unceasingly. It seemed that he
would never succeed in satisfying his hunger for sleep.

At last one night he slept so profoundly that he did not wake up until
well on into the afternoon of the next day. The house was empty. Braun
and his wife had gone out. The window was open, and the smiling air was
quivering with light. Christophe felt that a crushing weight had been
lifted from him. He got up and went down into the garden. It was a
narrow rectangle, inclosed within high walls, like those of a convent.
There were gravel paths between grass-plots and humble flowers; and an
arbor of grape-vines and climbing roses. A tiny fountain trickled from a
grotto built of stones: an acacia against the wall hung its
sweet-scented branches over the next garden. Above stood the old tower
of the church, of red sandstone. It was four o'clock in the evening. The
garden was already in shadow. The sun was still shining on the top of
the tree and the red belfry. Christophe sat in the arbor, with his back
to the wall, and his head thrown back, looking at the limpid sky through
the interlacing tendrils of the vine and the roses. It was like waking
from a nightmare. Everywhere was stillness and silence. Above his head
nodded a cluster of roses languorously. Suddenly the most lovely rose of
all shed its petals and died: the snow of the rose-leaves was scattered
on the air. It was like the passing of a lovely innocent life. So
simply!... In Christophe's mind it took on a significance of a rending
sweetness. He choked: he hid his face in his hands, and sobbed....

The bells in the church tower rang out. From one church to another
called answering voices.... Christophe lost all consciousness of the
passage of time. When he raised his head, the bells were silent and the
sun had disappeared. Christophe was comforted by his tears: they had
washed away the stains from his mind. Within himself he heard a little
stream of music well forth and he saw the little crescent moon glide
into the evening sky. He was called to himself by the sound of footsteps
entering the house. He went up to his room, locked the door, and let the
fountain of music gush forth. Braun summoned him to dinner, knocked at
the door, and tried to open it: Christophe made no reply. Anxiously
Braun looked through the keyhole and was reassured when he saw
Christophe lying half over the table surrounded with paper which he was
blackening with ink.

A few hours later, worn out, Christophe went downstairs and found the
doctor reading, impatiently waiting for him in the drawing-room. He
embraced the little man, asked him to forgive him for his strange
conduct since his arrival, and, without waiting to be asked, he began to
tell Braun about the dramatic events of the past weeks. It was the only
time he ever talked to him about it: he was never sure that Braun had
understood him, for he talked disconnectedly, and it was very late, and,
in spite of his eager interest, Braun was nearly dead with sleep. At
last--(the clock struck two)--Christophe saw it and they said
good-night.

From that time on Christophe's existence was reconstituted. He did not
maintain his condition of transitory excitement: he came back to his
sorrow, but it was normal sorrow which did not interfere with his life.
He could not help returning to life! Though he had just lost his dearest
friend in the world, though his grief had undermined him and Death had
been his most intimate companion, there was in him such an abundant,
such a tyrannical force of life, that it burst forth even in his
elegies, shining forth from his eyes, his lips, his gestures. But a
gnawing canker had crept into the heart of his force. Christophe had
fits of despair, transports rather. He would be quite calm, trying to
read, or walking: suddenly he would see Olivier's smile, his tired,
gentle face.... It would tug at his heart.... He would falter, lay his
hand on his breast, and moan. One day he was at the piano playing a
passage from Beethoven with his old zest.... Suddenly he stopped, flung
himself on the ground, buried his face in the cushions of a chair, and
cried:

"My boy...."

Worst of all was the sensation of having "already lived" that was
constantly with him. He was continually coming across familiar gestures,
familiar words, the perpetual recurrence of the same experiences. He
knew everything, had foreseen everything. One face would remind him of a
face he had known and the lips would say--(as he was quite sure they
would)--exactly the same things as he had heard from the original:
beings similar to each other would pass through similar phases, knock up
against the same obstacles, suffer from them in exactly the same way. If
it is true that "nothing so much brings weariness of life as the new
beginning of love," how much more then the new beginning of everything!
It was elusive and delusive.--Christophe tried not to think of it, since
it was necessary to do so, if he were to live, and since he wished to
live. It is the saddest hypocrisy, such rejection of self-knowledge, in
shame or piety, it is the invincible imperative need of living hiding
away from itself! Knowing that no consolation is possible, a man invents
consolations. Being convinced that life has no reason, he forges reasons
for living. He persuades himself that he must live, even when no one
outside himself is concerned. If need be he will go so far as to pretend
that the dead man encourages him to live. And he knows that he is
putting into the dead man's mouth the words that he wishes him to say. O
misery!...

Christophe set out on the road once more: his step seemed to have
regained its old assurance: the gates of his heart were closed upon his
sorrow: he never spoke of it to others: he avoided being left alone with
it himself: outwardly he seemed calm.

"_Real sorrows_," says Balzac, "_are apparently at peace in the deep bed
that they have made for themselves, where they seem to sleep, though all
the while they never cease to fret and eat away the soul_."

Any one knowing Christophe and watching him closely, seeing him coming
and going, talking, composing, even laughing--(he could laugh
now!)--would have felt that for all his vigor and the radiance of life
in his eyes, something had been destroyed in him, in the inmost depths
of his life.

       *       *       *       *       *

As soon as he had regained his hold on life he had to look about him for
a means of living. There could be no question of his leaving the town.
Switzerland was the safest shelter for him: and where else could he have
found more devoted hospitality?--But his pride could not suffer the idea
of his being any further a burden upon his friend. In spite of Braun's
protestations, and his refusal to accept any payment, he could not rest
until he had found enough pupils to permit of his paying his hosts for
his board and lodging. It was not an easy matter. The story of his
revolutionary escapade had been widely circulated: and the worthy
families of the place were reluctant to admit a man who was regarded as
dangerous, or at any rate extraordinary, and, in consequence, not quite
"respectable," to their midst. However, his fame as a musician and
Braun's good offices gained him access to four or five of the less
timorous or more curious families, who were perhaps artistically
snobbish enough to desire to gain particularity. They were none the less
careful to keep an eye on him, and to maintain a respectable distance
between master and pupils.

The Braun household fell into a methodically ordered existence. In the
morning each member of it went about his business: the doctor on his
rounds, Christophe to his pupils, Madame Braun to the market and about
her charitable works. Christophe used to return about one, a little
before Braun, who would not allow them to wait for him; and he used to
sit down to dinner alone with the wife. He did not like that at all: for
she was not sympathetic to him, and he could never find anything to say
to her. She took no trouble to remove his impression, though it was
impossible for her not to be aware of it; she never bothered to put
herself out in dress or in mind to please him: she never spoke to
Christophe first: her notable lack of charm in movement and dress, her
awkwardness, her coldness, would have repelled any man who was as
sensitive as Christophe to the charm of women. When he remembered the
sparkling elegance of the Parisian women, he could not help thinking, as
he looked at Anna:

"How ugly she is!"

Yet that was unjust: and he was not slow to notice the beauty of her
hair, her hands, her mouth, her eyes,--on the rare occasions when he
chanced to meet her gaze, which she always averted at once. But his
opinion was never modified. As a matter of politeness he forced himself
to speak to her: he labored to find subjects of conversation: she never
gave him the smallest assistance. Several times he tried to ask her
about the town, her husband, herself: he could get nothing out of her.
She would make the most trivial answers: she would make an effort to
smile: but the effort was painfully evident; her smile was forced, her
voice was hollow: she drawled and dragged every word: her every sentence
was followed by a painful silence. At last Christophe only spoke to her
as little as possible; and she was grateful to him for it. It was a
great relief to both of them when the doctor came in. He was always in a
good humor, talkative, busy, vulgar, worthy. He ate, drank, talked,
laughed, plentifully. Anna used to talk to him a little: but they hardly
ever touched on anything but the food in front of them or the price of
things. Sometimes Braun would jokingly tease her about her pious works
and the minister's sermons. Then she would stiffen herself, and relapse
into an offended silence until the end of the meal. More often the
doctor would talk about his patients: he would delight in describing
repulsive cases, with a pleasant elaboration of detail which used to
exasperate Christophe. Then he would throw his napkin on the table and
get up, making faces of disgust which simply delighted the teller. Braun
would stop at once, and soothe his friend and laugh. At the next meal he
would begin again. His hospital pleasantries seemed to have the power to
enliven the impassive Anna. She would break her silence with a sudden
nervous laugh, which was something animal in quality. Perhaps she felt
no less disgust than Christophe at the things that made her laugh.

In the afternoon Christophe had very few pupils. Then, as a rule, he
would stay at home with Anna, while the doctor went out. They never saw
each other. They used to go about their separate business. At first
Braun had begged Christophe to give his wife a few lessons on the piano:
she was, he said, an excellent musician. Christophe asked Anna to play
him something. She did not need to be pressed, although she disliked
doing it: but she did it with her usual ungraciousness: she played
mechanically, with an incredible lack of sensibility: each note was like
another: there was no sort of rhythm or expression: when she had to turn
the page she stopped short in the middle of a bar, made no haste about
it, and went on with the next note. Christophe was so exasperated by it
that he was hard put to it to keep himself from making an insulting
remark: he could not help going out of the room before she had finished.
She was not put out, but went on imperturbably to the very last note,
and seemed to be neither hurt nor indignant at his rudeness: she hardly
seemed to have noticed it. But the matter of music was never again
mentioned between them. Sometimes in the afternoons when Christophe was
out and returned unexpectedly, he would find Anna practising the piano,
with icy, dull tenacity, going over and over one passage fifty times,
and never by any chance showing the least animation. She never played when
she knew that Christophe was at home. She devoted all the time that
was not consecrated to her religious duties to her household work. She
used to sew, and mend, and darn, and look after the servant: she had a
mania for tidiness and cleanliness. Her husband thought her a fine
woman, a little odd--"like all women," he used to say--but "like all
women," devoted. On that last point Christophe made certain reservations
_in petto_: such psychology seemed to him too simple; but he told
himself that, after all, it was Braun's affair; and he gave no further
thought to the matter.

They used to sit together after dinner in the evening. Braun and
Christophe would talk. Anna would sit working. On Braun's entreaty,
Christophe had consented to play the piano sometimes: and he would
occasionally play on to a very late hour in the big gloomy room looking
out on to the garden. Braun would go into ecstasies.... Who is there
that does not know the type that has a passionate love for things they
do not understand, or understand all wrong!--(which is why they love
them!)--Christophe did not mind: he had met so many idiots in the course
of his life! But when Braun gave vent to certain mawkish expressions of
enthusiasm, he would stop playing, and go up to his room without a word.
Braun grasped the truth at last, and put a stopper on his reflections.
Besides, his love for music was quickly sated: he could never listen
with any attention for more than a quarter of an hour on end: he would
pick up his paper, or doze off, and leave Christophe in peace. Anna
would sit back in her chair and say nothing: she would have her work in
her lap and seem to be working: but her eyes were always staring and her
hands never moved. Sometimes she would go out without a sound in the
middle of a piece, and be seen no more.

       *       *       *       *       *

So the days passed. Christophe regained his strength. Braun's heavy but
kindly attentions, the tranquillity of the household, the restful
regularity of such a domestic life, the extremely nourishing German
food, restored him to his old robustness. His physical health was
repaired: but his moral machinery was still out of gear. His new vigor
only served to accentuate the disorder of his mind, which could not
recover its balance, like a badly ballasted ship which will turn turtle
on the smallest shock.

He was profoundly lonely. He could have no intellectual intimacy with
Braun. His relations with Anna were reduced, with a few exceptions, to
saying good-morning and good-night. His dealings with his pupils were
rather hostile than otherwise: for he hardly hid from them his opinion
that the best thing for them to do was to give up music altogether. He
knew nobody. It was not only his fault, though he had hidden himself
away since his loss. People held aloof from him.

He was living in an old town, full of intelligence and vitality, but
also full of patrician pride, self-contained, and self-satisfied. There
was a bourgeois aristocracy with a taste for work and the higher
culture, but narrow and pietistic, who were calmly convinced of their
own superiority and the superiority of their city, and quite content to
live in family isolation. There were enormous families with vast
ramifications. Each family had its day for a general gathering of the
clan. They were hardly at all open to the outside world. All these great
houses, with fortunes generations old, felt no need of showing their
wealth. They knew each other, and that was enough: the opinion of others
was a thing of no consequence. There were millionaires dressed like
humble shopkeepers, talking their raucous dialect with its pungent
expressions, going conscientiously to their offices, every day of their
lives, even at an age when the most industrious of men will grant
themselves the right to rest. Their wives prided themselves on their
domestic skill. No dowry was given to the daughters. Rich men let their
sons in their turn go through the same hard apprenticeship that they
themselves had served. They practised strict economy in their daily
lives. But they made a noble use of their fortune in collecting works of
art, picture galleries, and in social work: they were forever giving
enormous sums, nearly always anonymously, to found charities and to
enrich the museums. They were a mixture of greatness and absurdity, both
of another age. This little world, for which the rest of the world
seemed not to exist--(although its members knew it thoroughly through
their business, and their distant relationships, and the long and
extended voyages which they forced their sons to take,)--this little
world, for which fame and celebrity in another land only were esteemed
from the moment when they were welcomed and recognized by
itself,--practised the severest discipline upon itself. Every member of
it kept a watch upon himself and upon the rest. The result of all this
was a collective conscience which masked all individual differences
(more marked than elsewhere among the robust personalities of the place)
under the veil of religious and moral uniformity. Everybody practised
it, everybody believed in it. Not a single soul doubted it or would
admit of doubt. It were impossible to know what took place in the depths
of souls which were the more hermetically sealed against prying eyes
inasmuch as they knew that they were surrounded by a narrow scrutiny,
and that every man took upon himself the right to examine into the
conscience of other men. It was said that even those who had left the
country and thought themselves emancipated--as soon as they set foot in
it again were dominated by the traditions, the habits, the atmosphere of
the town: even the most skeptical were at once forced to practise and to
believe. Not to believe would have seemed to them an offense against
Nature. Not to believe was the mark of an inferior caste, a sign of bad
breeding. It was never admitted that a man of their world could possibly
be absolved of his religious duties. If a man did not practise their
religion, he was at once unclassed, and all doors were closed to him.

Even the weight of such discipline was apparently not enough for them.
The men of this little world were not closely bound enough within their
caste. Within the great _Verein_ they had formed a number of smaller
_Verein_ by way of binding their fetters fast. There were several hundred
of them: and they were increasing every year. There were _Verein_ for
everything: for philanthropy, charitable work, commercial work, work that
was both charitable and commercial, for the arts, for the sciences, for
singing, music, spiritual exercises, physical exercises, merely to provide
excuses for meeting and taking their amusement collectively: there were
_Verein_ for the various districts and the various corporations: there
were _Verein_ for men of the same position in the world, the same degree
of wealth, men of the same social weight, who wore the same handle to
their names. It was even said that an attempt had been made to form a
_Verein_ for the _Vereinlosen_ (those who did not belong to any _Verein_):
though not twelve such people had been forthcoming.

Within this triple bandage of town, caste, and union, the soul was
cramped and bound. Character was suppressed by a secret constraint. The
majority were brought up to it from childhood--had been for centuries:
and they found it good: they would have thought it improper and
unhealthy to go without these bandages. Their satisfied smiles gave no
indication of the discomfort they might be feeling. But Nature always
took her revenge. Every now and then there would arise some individual
in revolt, some vigorous artist or unbridled thinker who would brutally
break his bonds and set the city fathers by the ears. They were so
clever that, if the rebel had not been stifled in the embryo, and became
the stronger, they never troubled to fight him--(a fight might have
produced all sorts of scandalous outbreaks):--they bought him up. If he
were a painter, they sent him to the museum: if he were a thinker, to
the libraries. It was quite useless for him to roar out all sorts of
outrageous things: they pretended not to hear him. It was in vain for
him to protest his independence: they incorporated him as one of
themselves. So the effect of the poison was neutralized: it was the
homeopathic treatment.--But such cases were rare, most of the rebellions
never reached the light of day. Their peaceful houses concealed
unsuspected tragedies. The master of a great house would go quietly and
throw himself into the river, and leave no explanation. Sometimes a man
would go into retirement for six months, sometimes he would send his
wife to an asylum to restore her mind. Such things were spoken of quite
openly, as though they were quite natural, with that placidity which is
one of the great features of the town, the inhabitants of which are able
to maintain it in the face of suffering and death.

These solid burgesses, who were hard upon themselves because they knew
their own worth, were much less hard on others because they esteemed
them less. They were quite liberal towards the foreigners dwelling in
the town like Christophe, German professors, and political refugees,
because they had no sort of feeling about them. And, besides, they loved
intelligence. Advanced ideas had no terrors for them: they knew that
their sons were impervious to their influence. They were coldly cordial
to their guests, and kept them at a distance.

Christophe did not need to have these things underlined. He was in a
state of raw sensitiveness which left his feelings absolutely
unprotected: he was only too ready to see egoism and indifference
everywhere, and to withdraw into himself.

To make matters worse, Braun's patients, and the very limited circle to
which his wife belonged, all moved in a little Protestant society which
was particularly strict. Christophe was ill-regarded by them both as a
Papist by origin and a heretic in fact. For his part, he found many
things which shocked him. Although he no longer believed, yet he bore
the marks of his inherited Catholicism, which was more poetic than a
matter of reason, more indulgent towards Nature, and never suffered the
self-torment of trying to explain and understand what to love and what
not to love: and also he had the habits of intellectual and moral
freedom which he had unwittingly come by in Paris. It was inevitable
that he should come into collision with the little pious groups of
people in whom all the defects of the Calvinistic spirit were marked and
exaggerated: a rationalistic religion, which clipped the wings of faith
and left it dangling over the abyss: for it started with an _a
priori_ reason which was open to discussion like all mysticism: it
was no longer poetry, nor was it prose, it was poetry translated into
prose. They had pride of intellect, an absolute, dangerous faith in
reason--in _their_ reason. They could not believe in God or in
immortality: but they believed in reason as a Catholic believes in the
Pope, or as a fetish-worshiper believes in his idol. They never even
dreamed of discussing the matter. In vain did life contradict it; they
would rather have denied life. They had no psychology, no understanding
of Nature, or of the hidden forces, the roots of humanity, the "Spirit
of the Earth." They fashioned a scheme of life and nature that were
childish, silly, arbitrary figments. Some of them were cultured and
practical people who had seen and read much. But they never saw or read
anything as it actually was: they always reduced it to an abstraction.
They were poor-blooded: they had high moral qualities: but they were not
human enough: and that is the cardinal sin. Their purity of heart, which
was often very real, noble, and naive, sometimes comic, unfortunately,
in certain cases, became tragic: it made them hard in their dealings
with others, and produced in them a tranquil inhumanity, self-confident
and free from anger, which was quite appalling. How should they
hesitate? Had they not truth, right, virtue, on their side? Did they not
receive revelation direct from their hallowed reason? Reason is a hard
sun: it gives light, but it blinds. In that withering light, without
shade or mist, human beings grow pallid, the blood is sucked up from
their hearts.

Now, if there was one thing in the world that was utterly meaningless to
Christophe at that time it was reason. To his eyes its sun only lit up
the walls of the abyss, and neither showed him the means of escape nor
even enabled him to sound its depths.

As for the artistic world, Christophe had little opportunity and less
desire to mix with it. The musicians were for the most part worthy
conservatives of the neo-Schumann period and "Brahmins" of the type
against which Christophe had formerly broken many a lance. There were
two exceptions: Krebs, the organist, who kept a famous confectioner's
shop, an honest man and a good musician, who would have been an even
better one if, to adapt the quip of one of his fellow-countrymen, "he
had not been seated on a Pegasus which he overfed with hay,"--and a
young Jewish composer of an original talent, a man full of a vigorous
and turbid sap, who had a business in the Swiss trade: wood carvings,
chalets, and Berne bears. They were more independent than the others, no
doubt because they did not make a trade of their art, and they would
have been very glad to come in touch with Christophe: and at any other
time Christophe would have been interested to know them: but at this
period of his life, all artistic and human curiosity was blunted in him:
he was more conscious of the division between himself and other men than
of the bond of union.

His only friend, the confidant of his thoughts, was the river that ran
through the city--the same mighty fatherly river that washed the walls
of his native town up north. In the river Christophe could recover the
memory of his childish dreams.... But in his sorrow they took on, like
the Rhine itself, a darkling hue. In the dying day he would lean against
the parapet of the embankment and look down at the rushing river, the
fused and fusing, heavy, opaque, and hurrying mass, which was always
like a dream of the past, wherein nothing could be clearly seen but
great moving veils, thousands of streams, currents, eddies twisting into
form, then fading away: it was like the blurred procession of mental
images in a fevered mind: forever taking shape, forever melting away.
Over this twilight dream there skimmed phantom ferry-boats, like
coffins, with never a human form in them. Darker grew the night. The
river became bronze. The lights upon its banks made its armor shine with
an inky blackness, casting dim reflections, the coppery reflections of
the gas lamps, the moon-like reflections of the electric lights, the
blood-red reflections of the candles in the windows of the houses. The
river's murmur filled the darkness with its eternal muttering that was
far more sad than the monotony of the sea....

For hours together Christophe would stand drinking in the song of death
and weariness of life. Only with difficulty could he tear himself away:
then he would climb up to the house again, up the steep alleys with
their red steps, which were worn away in the middle: broken in soul and
body he would cling to the iron hand-rail fastened to the walls, which
gleamed under the light thrown down from the empty square on the hilltop
in front of the church that was shrouded in darkness....

He could not understand why men went on living. When he remembered the
struggles he had seen, he felt a bitter admiration for the undying faith
of humanity. Ideas succeeded the ideas most directly opposed to them,
reaction followed action:--democracy, aristocracy: socialism,
individualism: romanticism, classicism: progress, tradition:--and so on
to the end of time. Each new generation, consumed in its own heat in
less than ten years, believed steadfastly that it alone had reached the
zenith, and hurled its predecessors down and stoned them: each new
generation bestirred itself, and shouted, and took to itself the power
and the glory, only to be hurled down and stoned in turn by its
successors and so to disappear. Whose turn next?...

The composition of music was no longer a refuge for Christophe: it was
intermittent, irregular, aimless. Write? For whom? For men? He was
passing through an acute phase of misanthropy. For himself? He was only
too conscious of the vanity of art with its impotence to top the void of
death. Only now and then the blind force that was in him would raise him
on its mighty beating wing and then fall back, worn out by the effort.
He was like a storm cloud rumbling in the darkness. With Olivier gone,
he had nothing left. He hurled himself against everything that had
filled his life, against the feelings that he had thought to share with
others, against the thoughts which he had in imagination had in common
with the rest of humanity. It seemed to him now that he had been the
plaything of an illusion: the whole life of society was based upon a
colossal misunderstanding originating in speech. We imagine that one
man's thought can communicate with the thought of other men. In reality
the connection lies only in words. We say and hear words: not one word
has the same meaning in the mouths of two different men. Words outrun
the reality of life. We speak of love and hatred. There is neither love
nor hatred, friends nor enemies, no faith, no passion, neither good nor
evil. There are only cold reflections of the lights falling from
vanished suns, stars that have been dead for ages.... Friends? There is
no lack of people to claim that name. But what a stale reality is
represented by their friendship! What is friendship in the sense of the
everyday world? How many minutes of his life does he who thinks himself
a friend give to the pale memory of his friend? What would he sacrifice
to him, not of the things that are necessary, but of his superfluity,
his leisure, his waste time? What had Christophe sacrificed for
Olivier?--(For he made no exception in his own case: he excepted only
Olivier from the state of nothingness into which he cast all human
beings).--Art is no more true than love. What room does it really occupy
in life? With what sort of love do they love it, they who declare their
devotion to it?... The poverty of human feeling is inconceivable.
Outside the instincts of species, the cosmic force which is the lever of
the world, nothing exists save a scattered dust of emotion. The majority
of men have not vitality enough to give themselves wholly to any
passion. They spare themselves and save their force with cowardly
prudence. They are a little of everything and nothing absolutely. A man
who gives himself without counting the cost, to everything that he does,
everything that he suffers, everything that he loves, everything that he
hates, is a prodigy, the greatest that is granted to us here on earth.
Passion is like genius: a miracle, which is as much as to say that it
does not exist.

So thought Christophe: and life was on the verge of giving him the lie
in a terrible fashion. The miracle is everywhere, like fire in stone:
friction brings it forth. We have little notion of the demons who lie
slumbering within ourselves....

  ... _Pero non mi destar, deh! parla basso!_...

One evening when he was improvising at the piano, Anna got up and went
out, as she often did when Christophe was playing. Apparently his music
bored her. Christophe had ceased to notice it: he was indifferent to
anything she might think. He went on playing: then he had an idea which
he wished to write down, and stopped short and hurried up to his room
for the necessary paper. As he opened the door into the next room and,
with head down, rushed into the darkness, he bumped violently against a
figure standing motionless just inside. Anna.... The shock and the
surprise made her cry out. Christophe was anxious to know if he had hurt
her, and took her hands in his. Her hands were frozen. She seemed to
shiver,--no doubt from the shock. She muttered a vague explanation of
her presence there:

"I was looking in the dining-room...."

He did not hear what she was looking for: and perhaps she did not say
what it was. It seemed to him odd that she should go about looking for
something without a light. But he was used to Anna's singular ways and
paid no attention to it. An hour later he returned to the little parlor
where he used to spend the evening with Braun and Anna. He sat at the
table near the lamp, writing. Anna was on his right at the table,
sewing, with her head bent over her work. Behind them, in an armchair,
near the fire, Braun was reading a magazine. They were all three silent.
At intervals they could hear the pattering of the rain on the gravel in
the garden. To get away from her Christophe sat with his back turned to
Anna. Opposite him on the wall was a mirror which reflected the table,
the lamp, the two faces bending over their work. It seemed to Christophe
that Anna was looking at him. At first he did not pay much attention to
it; then, as he could not shake off the idea, he began to feel uneasy
and he looked up at the mirror and saw.... She was looking at him. And
in such a way! He was petrified with amazement, held his breath, watched
her. She did not know that he was watching her. The light of the lamp
was cast upon her pale face, the silent solemnity of which seemed now to
be fiercely concentrated. Her eyes--those strange eyes that he had never
been able squarely to see--were fixed upon him: they were dark blue,
with large pupils, and the expression in them was burning and hard: they
were fastened upon him, searching through him with dumb insistent ardor.
Her eyes? Could they be her eyes? He saw them and could not believe it.
Did he really see them? He turned suddenly.... Her eyes were lowered. He
tried to talk to her, to force her to look up at him. Impassively she
replied without raising her eyes from her work or from their refuge
behind the impenetrable shadow of her bluish eyelids with their short
thick lashes. If Christophe had not been quite positive of what he had
seen, he would have believed that he had been the victim of an illusion.
But he knew what he had seen, and he could not explain it away.

However, as his mind was engrossed in his work and he found Anna very
uninteresting, the strange impression made on him did not occupy him for
long.

A week later Christophe was trying over a song he had just composed, on
the piano. Braun, who had a mania, due partly to marital vanity and
partly to love of teasing, for worrying his wife to sing and play, had
been particularly insistent that evening. As a rule Anna only replied
with a curt "No"; after which she would not even trouble to reply to his
requests, entreaties, and pleasantries: she would press her lips
together and seem not to hear. On this occasion, to Braun's and
Christophe's astonishment, she folded up her work, got up, and went to
the piano. She sang the song which she had never even read. It was a
sort of miracle:--_the_ miracle. The deep tones of her voice bore
not the faintest resemblance to the rather raucous and husky voice in
which she spoke. With absolute sureness from the very first note,
without a shade of difficulty, without the smallest effort, she endued
the melody with a grandeur that was both moving and pure: and she rose
to an intensity of passion which made Christophe shiver: for it seemed
to him to be the very voice of his own heart. He looked at her in
amazement while she was singing, and at last, for the first time, he saw
her as she was. He saw her dark eyes in which there was kindled a light
of wildness, he saw her wide, passionate mouth with its clear-cut lips,
the voluptuous, rather heavy and cruel smile, her strong white teeth,
her beautiful strong hands, one of which was laid on the rack of the
piano, and the sturdy frame of her body cramped by her clothes,
emaciated by a life of economy and poverty, though it was easy to divine
the youth, the vigor, and the harmony, that were concealed by her gown.

She stopped singing, and went and sat down with her hands folded in her
lap. Braun complimented her: but to his way of thinking there had been a
lack of softness in her singing. Christophe said nothing. He sat
watching her. She smiled vaguely, knowing that he was looking at her.
All the evening there was a complete silence between them. She knew
quite well that she had risen above herself, or rather, that she had
been "herself," for the first time. And she could not understand why.

       *       *       *       *       *

From that day on Christophe began to observe Anna closely. She had
relapsed into her sullenness, her cold indifference, and her mania for
work, which exasperated even her husband, while beneath it all she
lulled the obscure thoughts of her troubled nature. It was in vain that
Christophe watched her, he never found her anything but the stiff
ordinary woman of their first acquaintance. Sometimes she would sit lost
in thought, doing nothing, with her eyes staring straight in front of
her. They would leave her so, and come back a quarter of an hour later
and find her just the same: she would never stir. When her husband asked
her what she was thinking of, she would rouse herself from her torpor
and smile and say that she was thinking of nothing. And she spoke the
truth.

There was nothing capable of upsetting her equanimity. One day when she
was dressing, her spirit-lamp burst. In an instant Anna was a mass of
flames. The maid rushed away screaming for help. Braun lost his head,
flung himself about, shouted and yelled, and almost fell ill. Anna tore
away the hooks of her dressing-gown, slipped off her skirt just as it
was beginning to burn, and stamped on it. When Christophe ran in
excitedly with a water-bottle which he had blindly seized, he found Anna
standing on a chair, in her petticoat with her arms bare, calmly putting
out the burning curtains with her hands. She got burnt, said nothing
about it, and only seemed to be put out at being seen in such a costume.
She blushed, awkwardly covered her shoulders with her arms, and with an
air of offended dignity ran away into the next room. Christophe admired
her calmness: but he could not tell whether it proved her courage or her
insensibility. He was inclined to the latter explanation. Indeed, Anna
seemed to take no interest in anything, or in other people, or in
herself. Christophe doubted even whether she had a heart.

He had no doubt at all after a little scene which he happened to
witness. Anna had a little black dog, with intelligent soft eyes, which
was the spoiled darling of the household. Braun adored it. Christophe
used to take it to his room when he shut himself up to work; and often,
when the door was closed, instead of working, he would play with it.
When he went out, the dog was always waiting for him at the door,
looking out for him, to follow at his heels: for he always wanted a
companion in his walks. She would run in front of him, pattering along
with her little paws moving so fast that they seemed to fly. Every now
and then she would stop in pride at walking faster than he: and she
would look at him and draw herself up archly. She used to beg, and bark
furiously at a piece of wood: but directly she saw another dog in the
distance she would tear away as fast as she could and tremblingly take
refuge between Christophe's legs. Christophe loved her and used to laugh
at her. Since he had held aloof from men he had come nearer to the
brutes: he found them pitiful and touching. The poor beasts surrender
with such absolute confidence to those who are kind to them! Man is so
much the master of their life and death that those who are cruel to the
weak creatures delivered into their hands are guilty of an abominable
abuse of power.

Affectionate though the pretty creature was with every one, she had a
marked preference for Anna. She did nothing to attract the dog: but she
liked to stroke her and let her snuggle down in her lap, and see that
she was fed, and she seemed to love her as much as she was capable of
loving anything. One day the dog failed to get out of the way of a
motor-car. She was run over almost under the very eyes of her masters.
She was still alive and yelping pitiably. Braun ran out of the house
bareheaded: he picked up the bleeding mass and tried to relieve the
dog's suffering. Anna came up, looked down without so much as stooping,
made a face of disgust, and went away again. Braun watched the little
creature's agony with tears in his eyes. Christophe was striding up and
down the garden with clenched fists. He heard Anna quietly giving orders
to the servant. He could not help crying out:

"It doesn't affect you at all?"

She replied:

"There's nothing to be done. It is better not to think of it."

He felt that he hated her: then he was struck by the grotesqueness of
her reply: and he laughed. He thought it would be well if Anna could
give him her recipe for avoiding the thought of sad things, and that
life must be very easy for those who are lucky enough to have no heart.
He fancied that if Braun were to die, Anna would hardly be put out by
it, and he felt glad that he was not married. His solitude seemed less
sad to him than the fetters of habit that bind a man for life to a
creature to whom he may be an object of hatred, or worse still, nothing
at all. It was very certain that this woman loved no one. She hardly
existed. The atmosphere of piety had withered her.

She took Christophe by surprise one day at the end of October.--They
were at dinner. He was talking to Braun about a crime of passion which
was the sole topic in the town. In the country two Italian girls,
sisters, had fallen in love with the same man. They were both unable to
make the sacrifice with a good grace, and so they had drawn lots as to
who should yield. But when the lot was cast the girl who had lost showed
little inclination to abide by the decision. The other was enraged by
such faithlessness. From insult they came to blows, and even to fighting
with knives: then, suddenly, the wind changed: they kissed each other,
and wept, and vowed that they could not live without each other: and, as
they could not submit to sharing the lover, they made up their minds
that he should be killed. This they did. One night the two girls invited
the lover to their room, and he was congratulating himself upon such
twofold favor; and, while one girl clasped him passionately in her arms,
the other no less passionately stabbed him in the back. It chanced that
his cries were heard. People came and tore him in a pitiable condition
from the embraces of his charmers, and they were arrested. They
protested that it was no one's business, and that they alone were
interested in the matter, and that, from the moment when they had agreed
to rid themselves of their own property, it was no one else's concern.
Their victim was not a little inclined to agree with their line of
argument: but the law was unable to follow it. And Braun could not
understand it either.

"They are mad," he said. "They should be shut up in an asylum.
Beasts!... I can understand a man killing himself for love. I can even
understand a man killing the woman he loves if she deceives him.... I
don't mean that I would excuse his doing so: but I am prepared to admit
that there is a remnant of primitive savagery in us: it is barbarous,
but it is logical: you kill the person who makes you suffer. But for a
woman to kill the man she loves, without bitterness, without hatred,
simply because another woman loves him, is nothing but madness.... Can
you understand it, Christophe?"

"Peuh!" said Christophe. "I'm quite used to being unable to understand
things. Love is madness."

Anna, who had said nothing, and seemed not to be listening, said in her
calm voice:

"There is nothing irrational in it. It is quite natural. When a woman
loves, she wants to destroy the man she loves so that no one else may
have him."

Braun looked at his wife aghast, thumped on the table, folded his arms,
and said:

"Where on earth did you get that from?... What? So you must put your oar
in, must you? What the devil do you know about it?"

Anna blushed a little, and said no more. Braun went on:

"When a woman loves, she wants to destroy, does she? That's a nice sort
of thing to say! To destroy any one who is dear to you is to destroy
yourself.--On the contrary, when one loves, the natural feeling is to do
good to the person you love, to cherish him, to defend him, to be kind
to him, to be kind to everything and everybody. Love is paradise on
earth."

Anna sat staring into the darkness, and let him talk, and then shook her
head, and said coldly:

"A woman is not kind when she loves."

Christophe did not renew the experiment of hearing Anna sing. He was
afraid ... of disillusion, or what? He could not tell. Anna was just as
fearful. She would never stay in the room when he began to play.

But one evening in November, as he was reading by the fire, he saw Anna
sitting with her sewing in her lap, deep in one of her reveries. She was
looking blankly in front of her, and Christophe thought he saw in her
eyes the strangely burning light of the other evening. He closed his
book. She felt his eyes upon her, and picked up her sewing. With her
eyelids down she saw everything. He got up and said:

"Come."

She stared at him, and there was still a little uneasiness in her eyes:
she understood, and followed him.

"Where are you going?" asked Braun.

"To the piano," replied Christophe.

He played. She sang. At once he found her just as she had been on the
first occasion. She entered the heroic world of music as a matter of
course, as though it were her own. He tested her yet further, and went
on to a second song, then to a third, more passionate, which let loose
in her the whole gamut of passion, uplifting both herself and him: then,
as they reached a very paroxysm, he stopped short and asked her, staring
straight into her eyes:

"Tell me, what woman are you?"

Anna replied:

"I do not know."

He said brutally:

"What is there in you that makes you sing like that?"

She replied:

"Only what you put there to make me sing."

"Yes? Well, it is not out of place. I'm wondering whether I created it
or you. How do you come to think of such things?"

"I don't know. I think I am no longer myself when I am singing."

"I think it is only then that you are yourself."

They said no more. Her cheeks were wet with a slight perspiration. Her
bosom heaved, but she spoke no word. She stared at the lighted candles,
and mechanically scratched away the wax that had trickled down the side
of the candlestick. He drummed on the keys as he sat looking at her.
They exchanged a few awkward remarks, brusquely and roughly, and then
they tried a commonplace remark or two, and finally relapsed into
silence, being fearful of probing any farther....

Next day they hardly spoke: they stole glances at each other in a sort
of dread. But they made it a habit to play and sing together in the
evening. Before long they began in the afternoon, giving a little more
time to it each day. Always the same incomprehensible passion would take
possession of her with the very first bars, and set her flaming from
head to foot, and, while the music lasted, make of the ordinary little
woman an imperious Venus, the incarnation of all the furies of the soul.
Braun was surprised at Anna's sudden craze for singing, but did not take
the trouble to discover any explanation for a mere feminine caprice: he
was often present at their little concerts, marked time with his head,
gave his advice, and was perfectly happy, although he would have
preferred softer, sweeter music: such an expenditure of energy seemed to
him exaggerated and unnecessary. Christophe breathed freely in the
atmosphere of danger: but he was losing his head: he was weakened by the
crisis through which he had passed, and could not resist, and lost
consciousness of what was happening to him without perceiving what was
happening to Anna. One afternoon, in the middle of a song, with all the
frantic ardor of it in full blast, she suddenly stopped, and left the
room without making any explanation. Christophe waited for her: she did
not return. Half an hour later, as he was going down the passage past
Anna's room, through the half-open door he saw her absorbed in grim
prayer, with all expression frozen from her face.

However, a slight, very slight, feeling of confidence cropped up between
them. He tried to make her talk about her past: only with great
difficulty could he induce her to tell him a few commonplace details.
Thanks to Braun's easy, indiscreet good nature, he was able to gain a
glimpse into her intimate life.

She was a native of the town. Her maiden name was Anna Maria Senfl. Her
father, Martin Senfl, was a member of an old commercial house, very old
and enormously rich, in whom pride of caste and religious strictness
were ingrained. Being of an adventurous temper, like many of his
fellow-countrymen, he had spent several years abroad in the East and in
South America: he had even made bold exploring expeditions in Central
Asia, whither he had gone to advance the commercial interests of his
house, for love of science, and for his own pleasure. By dint of rolling
through the world, he had not only gathered no moss, but had also rid
himself of that which covered him, the moss of his old prejudices. When,
therefore, he returned to his own country, being of a warm temper and an
obstinate mind, he married, in face of the indignant protests of his
family, the daughter of a farmer of the surrounding country, a lady of
doubtful reputation who had originally been his mistress. Marriage had
been the only available means of keeping the beautiful girl to himself,
and he could not do without her. After having exercised its veto in
vain, his family absolutely closed its doors to its erring member who
had set aside its sacrosanct authority. The town--all those, that is,
who mattered, who, as usual, were absolutely united in any matter that
touched the moral dignity of the community--sided bodily against the
rash couple. The explorer learned to his cost that it is no less
dangerous to traverse the prejudice of the people in a country inhabited by
the sectaries of Christ, than in a country inhabited by those of the
Grand Lania. He had not been strong enough to live without public
opinion. He had more than jeopardized his patrimony: he could find no
employment: everything was closed to him. He wore himself out in futile
wrath against the affronts of the implacable town. His health,
undermined by excess and fever, could not bear up against it. He died of
a flux of blood five months after his marriage. Four months later, his
wife, a good creature, but weak and feather-brained, who had never lived
through a day since her marriage without weeping, died in childbirth,
casting the infant Anna upon the shores which she was leaving.

Martin's mother was alive. Even when they were dying she had not
forgiven her son or the woman whom she had refused to acknowledge as her
daughter-in-law. But when the woman died--and Divine vengeance was
appeased--she took the child and looked after her. She was a woman of
the narrowest piety: she was rich and mean, and kept a draper's shop in
a gloomy street in the old town. She treated her son's daughter less as
a grandchild than as an orphan taken in out of charity, and therefore
occupying more or less the position of a servant by way of payment.
However, she gave her a careful education; but she never departed from
her attitude of suspicious strictness towards her; it seemed as though
she considered the child guilty of her parents' sin, and therefore set
herself to chasten and chastise the sin in her. She never allowed her
any amusement: she punished everything that was natural in her gestures,
words, thoughts, as a crime. She killed all joy in her young life. From
a very early age Anna was accustomed to being bored in church and
disguising the fact: she was hemmed in by the terrors of hell: every
Sunday the child's heavy-lidded eyes used to see them at the door of the
old _Münster_, in the shape of the immodest and distorted statues
with a fire burning between their legs, while round their loins crawled
toads and snakes. She became accustomed to suppressing her instincts and
lying to herself. As soon as she was old enough to help her grandmother,
she was kept busy from morning to night in the dark gloomy shop. She
assimilated the habits of those around her, the spirit of order, grim
economy, futile privations, the bored indifference, the contemptuous,
ungracious conception of life, which is the natural consequence of
religious beliefs in those who are not naturally religious. She was
so wholly given up to her piety as to seem rather absurd even to the old
woman: she indulged in far too many fasts and macerations: at one period
she even went so far as to wear corsets embellished with pins, which
stuck into her flesh with every movement. She was seen to go pale, but
no one knew what was the matter. At last, when she fainted, a doctor was
called in. She refused to allow him to examine her--(she would have died
rather than undress in the presence of a man)--but she confessed: and
the doctor was so angry about it that she promised not to do it again.
To make quite sure her grandmother thereafter took to inspecting her
clothes. In such self-torture Anna did not, as might have been supposed,
find any mystic pleasure: she had little imagination, she would never
have understood the poetry of saints like Francis of Assisi or Teresa.
Her piety was sad and materialistic. When she tormented herself, it was
not in any hope of advantage to be gained in the next world, but came
only from a cruel boredom which rebounded against herself, so that she
only found in it an almost angry pleasure in hurting herself. Singularly
enough, her hard, cold spirit was, like her grandmother's, open to the
influence of music, though she never knew how profound that influence
was. She was impervious to all the other arts: probably she had never
looked at a picture in her life: she seemed to have no sense of plastic
beauty, for she was lacking in taste, owing to her proud and wilful
indifference; the idea of a beautiful body only awoke in her the idea of
nakedness, that is to say, like the peasant of whom Tolstoy speaks, a
feeling of repugnance, which was all the stronger in Anna inasmuch as
she was dimly aware, in her relations with other people whom she liked,
of the vague sting of desire far more than of the calm impression of
esthetic judgment. She had no more idea of her own beauty than of her
suppressed instincts: or rather, she refused to have any idea of it: and
with her habitual self-deception she succeeded in deluding herself.

Braun met her at a marriage feast at which she was present, quite
unusually for her: for she was hardly ever invited because of the evil
reputation which clung to her from her improper origin. She was
twenty-two. He marked her out; not that she made any attempt to attract
attention. She sat next him at dinner: she was very stiff and badly
dressed, and she hardly ever opened her mouth. But Braun never stopped
talking to her, in a monologue, all through the meal, and he went away
in raptures. With his usual penetration, he had been struck by his
neighbor's air of original simplicity: he had admired her common sense
and her coolness: also he appreciated her healthiness and the solid
domestic qualities which she seemed to him to possess. He called on her
grandmother, called again, proposed, and was accepted. She was given no
dowry: Madame Senfl had left all the wealth of her family to the town to
encourage trade abroad.

At no point in her life had the young wife had any love for her husband;
the idea of such a thing never seemed to her to play any part in the
life of an honest woman, but rather to be properly set aside as guilty.
But she knew the worth of Braun's kindness: she was grateful to him,
though she never showed it, for having married her in spite of her
doubtful origin. Besides, she had a very strong feeling of honor between
husband and wife. For the first seven years of their married life
nothing had occurred to disturb their union. They lived side by side, as
it were, did not understand each other, and never worried about it: in
the eyes of the world they were a model couple. They went out very
little. Braun had a fairly practice, but he had never succeeded in
making his friends accept his wife. No one liked her: and the stigma of
her birth was not yet quite obliterated. Anna, for her part, never put
herself out in order to gain admission to society. She was resentful on
account of the scorn which had cast a cloud on her childhood. Besides,
she was never at her ease in society, and she was not sorry to be left
out of it. She paid and received a few inevitable calls, such as her
husband's interests made necessary. Her callers were inquisitive and
scandalous women of the middle-class. Anna had not the slightest
interest in their gossip, and she never took the trouble to conceal her
indifference. That is what such people never forgive. So her callers
grew fewer and more far between, and Anna was left alone. That was what
she wanted: nothing could then come and break in upon the dreams over
which she brooded, and the obscure thrill and humming of life that was
ever in her body. Meanwhile for some weeks Anna looked very unwell. Her
face grew thin and pale. She avoided both Christophe and Braun. She
spent her days in her room, lost in thought, and she never replied when
she was spoken to. Usually Braun did not take much notice of her
feminine caprices. He would explain them to Christophe at length. Like
all men fated to be deceived by women he flattered himself that he knew
them through and through. He did know something about them, as a matter
of fact, but a little knowledge is quite useless. He knew that women
often have fits of persistent moodiness and blindly sullen antagonism:
and it was his opinion that it was necessary at such times to leave them
alone, and to make no attempt to understand or, above all, to find out
what they were doing in the dangerous unconscious world in which their
minds were steeped. Nevertheless he did begin to grow anxious about
Anna. He thought that her pining must be the result of her mode of life,
always shut up, never going outside the town, hardly ever out of the
house. He wanted her to go for walks: but he could hardly ever go with
her: the whole day on Sunday was taken up with her pious duties, and on
the other days of the week he had consultations all day long. As for
Christophe, he avoided going out with her. Once or twice they had gone
for a short walk together, as far as the gates of the town: they were
bored to death. Their conversation came to a standstill. Nature seemed
not to exist for Anna: she never saw anything: the country was to her
only grass and stones: her insensibility was chilling. Christophe tried
once to make her admire a beautiful view. She looked, smiled coldly, and
said, with an effort towards being pleasant:

"Oh! yes, it is very mystic...."

She said it just as she might have said:

"The sun is very hot."

Christophe was so irritated that he dug his nails into the palms of his
hands. After that he never asked her anything: and when she was going
out he always made some excuse and stayed in his room.

In reality it was not true that Anna was insensible to Nature. She did
not like what are conventionally called beautiful landscapes: she could
see no difference between them and other landscapes. But she loved the
country whatever it might be like--just earth and air. Only she had no
more idea of it than of her other strong feelings: and those who lived
with her had even less idea of it.

Braun so far insisted as to induce his wife to make a day's excursion
into the outskirts of the town. She was so bored with him that she
consented for the sake of peace. It was arranged that they should go on
the Sunday. At the last moment, the doctor, who had been looking forward
to it with childlike glee, was detained by an urgent case of illness.
Christophe went with Anna.

It was a fine winter day with no snow: a pure cold air, a clear sky, a
flaming sun, and an icy wind. They went out on a little local railway
which took them to one of the lines of blue hills which formed a distant
halo round the town. Their compartment was full: they were separated.
They did not speak to each other. Anna was in a gloomy mood: the day
before she had declared, to Braun's surprise, that she would not go to
church on Sunday. For the first time in her life she missed a service.
Was it revolt?... Who could tell what struggles were taking place in
her? She stared blankly at the seat in front of her, she was pale: she
was eating her heart out.

They got out of the train. The coldness and antagonism between them did
not disappear during the first part of their walk. They stepped out side
by side: she walked with a firm stride and looked at nothing: her hands
were free: she swung her arms: her heels rang out on the frozen
earth.--Gradually her face quickened into life. The swiftness of their
pace brought the color to her pale cheeks. Her lips parted to drink in
the keen air. At the turn of a zigzag path she began to climb straight
up the hillside like a goat; she scrambled along the edge of a quarry,
where she was in great danger of failing, clinging to the shrubs.
Christophe followed her. She climbed faster and faster, slipping,
stopping herself by clutching at the grass with her hands. Christophe
shouted to her to stop. She made no reply, but went on climbing on all
fours. They passed through the mists which hung above the valley like a
silvery gauze rent here and there by the bushes: and they stood in the
warm sunlight of the uplands. When she reached the summit she stopped:
her face was aglow: her mouth was open, and she was breathing heavily.
Ironically she looked down at Christophe scaling the slope, took off her
cloak, flung it at him, then without giving him time to take his breath,
she darted on. Christophe ran after her. They warmed to the game: the
air intoxicated them. She plunged down a steep slope: the stones gave
way under her feet: she did not falter, she slithered, jumped, sped down
like an arrow. Every now and then she would dart a glance behind her to
see how much she had gained on Christophe. He was close upon her. She
plunged into a wood. The dead leaves crackled under their footsteps: the
branches which she thrust aside whipped back into his face. She stumbled
over the roots of a tree. He caught her. She struggled, lunging out with
hands and feet, struck him hard, trying to knock him off: she screamed
and laughed. Her bosom heaved against him: for a moment their cheeks
touched: he tasted the sweat that lay on Anna's brow: he breathed the
scent of her moist hair. She pushed away from him and looked at him,
unmoved, with defiant eyes. He was amazed at her strength, which all
went for nothing in her ordinary life.

They went to the nearest village, joyfully trampling the dry stubble
crisping beneath their feet. In front of them whirled the crows who were
ransacking the fields. The sun was burning, the wind was biting. He held
Anna's arm. She had on a rather thin dress: through the stuff he could
feel the moisture and the tingling warmth of her body. He wanted her to
put on her cloak once more: she refused, and in bravado undid the hooks
at her neck. They lunched at an inn, the sign of which bore the figure
of a "wild man" (_Zum wilden Mann_). A little pine-tree grew in
front of the door. The dining-room was decorated with German quatrains,
and two chromolithographs, one of which was sentimental: _In the
Spring (Im Frühling)_, and the other patriotic: _The Battle of
Saint Jacques_, and a crucifix with a skull at the foot of the cross.
Anna had a voracious appetite, such as Christophe had never known her to
have. They drank freely of the ordinary white wine. After their meal
they set out once more across the fields, in a blithe spirit of
companionship. In neither was there any equivocal thought. They were
thinking only of the pleasure of their walk, the singing in their blood,
and the whipping, nipping air. Anna's tongue was loosed. She was no
longer on her guard: she said just whatever came into her mind.

She talked about her childhood, and how her grandmother used to take her
to the house of an old friend who lived near the cathedral: and while the
old ladies talked they sent her into the garden over which there
hung the shadow of the _Münster_. She used to sit in a corner and
never stir: she used to listen to the shivering of the leaves, and watch
the busy swarming insects: and she used to be both pleased and
afraid.--(She made no mention of her fear of devils: her imagination was
obsessed by it: she had been told that they prowled round churches but
never dared enter: and she used to believe that they appeared in the
shape of animals: spiders, lizards, ants, all the hideous creatures that
swarmed about her, under the leaves, over the earth, or in the crannies
of the walls).--Then she told him about the house she used to live in,
and her sunless room: she remembered it with pleasure: she used to spend
many sleepless nights there, telling herself things....

"What things?"

"Silly things."

"Tell me."

She shook her head in refusal.

"Why not?"

She blushed, then laughed, and added:

"In the daytime too, while I was at work."

She thought for a moment, laughed once more, and then said:

"They were silly things, bad things."

He said, jokingly:
"Weren't you afraid?"

"Of what?"

"Of being damned?"

The expression in her eyes froze.

"You mustn't talk of that," she said.

He turned the conversation. He marveled at the strength she had shown a
short while before in their scuffle. She resumed her confiding
expression and told him of her girlish achievements--(she said "boyish,"
for, when she was a child she had always longed to join in the games and
rights of the boys).--On one occasion when she was with a little boy who
was a head taller than herself she had suddenly struck him with her
fist, hoping that he would strike her back. But he ran away yelling that
she was beating him. Once, again, in the country she had climbed on to
the back of a black cow as she was grazing: the terrified beast flung
her against a tree, and she had narrowly escaped being killed. Once she
took it into her head to jump out of a first-floor window because she
had dared herself to do it: she was lucky enough to get off with a
sprain. She used to invent strange, dangerous gymnastics when she was
left alone in the house: she used to subject her body to all sorts of
queer experiments.

"Who would think it of you now, to see you looking so solemn?..."

"Oh!" she said, "if you were to see me sometimes when I am alone in my
room!"

"What! Even now?"

She laughed. She asked him--jumping from one subject to another--if he
were a shot.

He told her that he never shot. She said that she had once shot at a
blackbird with a gun and had wounded it. He waxed indignant.

"Oh!" she said. "What does it matter?"

"Have you no heart?"

"I don't know."

"Don't you ever think the beasts are living creatures like ourselves?"

"Yes," she said. "Certainly. I wanted to ask you: do you think the
beasts have souls?"

"Yes. I think so."

"The minister says not. But I think they have souls.... Sometimes," she
added, "I think I must have been an animal in a previous existence."

He began to laugh.

"There's nothing to laugh at," she said (she laughed too). "That is one
of the stories I used to tell myself when I was little. I used to
pretend to be a cat, a dog, a bird, a foal, a heifer. I was conscious of
all their desires. I wanted to be in their skins or their feathers for a
little while: and it used to be as though I really was. You can't
understand that?"

"You are a strange creature. But if you feel such kinship with the
beasts how can you bear to hurt them?"

"One is always hurting some one. Some people hurt me. I hurt other
people. That's the way of the world. I don't complain. We can't afford
to be squeamish in life! I often hurt myself for the pleasure of it."

"Hurt yourself?"

"Myself. One day I hammered a nail into my hand, here."

"Why?"

"There wasn't any reason."

(She did not tell him that she had been trying to crucify herself.)

"Give me your hand," she said.

"What do you want it for?"

"Give it me."

He gave her his hand. She took it and crushed it until he cried out.
They played, like peasants, at seeing how much they could hurt each
other. They were happy and had no ulterior thought. The rest of the
world, the fetters of their ordinary life, the sorrows of the past, fear
of the future, the gathering storm within themselves, all had
disappeared.

They had walked several miles, but they were not at all tired. Suddenly
she stopped, flung herself down on the ground, and lay full length on
the stubble, and said no more. She lay on her back with her hands behind
her head and looked up at the sky. Oh! the peace of it, and the
sweetness!... A few yards away a spring came bubbling up in an
intermittent stream, like an artery beating, now faintly, now more
strongly. The horizon took on a pearly hue. A mist hung over the purple
earth from which the black naked trees stood out. The late winter sun
was shining, the little pale gold sun sinking down to rest. Like
gleaming arrows the birds cleft the air. The gentle voices of the
country bells called and answered calling from village to village....
Christophe sat near Anna and looked down at her. She gave no thought to
him. She was full of a heartfelt joy. Her beautiful lips smiled
silently. He thought:

"Is that you? I do not know you."

"Nor I. Nor I. I think I must be some one else. I am no longer afraid: I
am no longer afraid of Him.... Ah! How He stifled me, how He made me
suffer! I seemed to have been nailed down in my coffin.... Now I can
breathe: this body and this heart are mine. My body. My dear body. My
heart is free and full of love. There is so much happiness in me! And I
knew it not. I never knew myself! What have you done to me?..."

So he thought he could hear her softly sighing to herself. But she was
thinking of nothing, only that she was happy, only that all was well.

The evening had begun to fall. Behind the gray and lilac veils of mist,
about four o'clock, the sun, weary of life, was setting. Christophe got
up and went to Anna. He bent down to her. She turned her face to him,
still dizzy with looking up into the vast sky over which she seemed to
have been hanging. A few seconds passed before she recognized him. Then
her eyes stared at him with an enigmatic smile that told him of the
unease that was in her. To escape the knowledge of it he closed his eyes
for a moment. When he opened them again she was still looking at him:
and it seemed to him that for many days they had so looked into each
other's eyes. It was as though they were reading each other's soul. But
they refused to admit what they had read there.

He held out his hand to her. She took it without a word. They went back
to the village, the towers of which they could see shaped like the
pope's nose in the heart of the valley: one of the towers had an empty
storks' nest on the top of its roof of mossy tiles, looking just like a
toque on a woman's head. At a cross-roads just outside the village they
passed a fountain above which stood a little Catholic saint, a wooden
Magdalene, graciously and a little mincingly holding out her arms. With
an instinctive movement Anna responded to the gesture and held out her
arms also, and she climbed on to the curb and filled the arms of the
pretty little goddess with branches of holly and mountain-ash with such
of their red berries as the birds and the frost had spared.

On the road they passed little groups of peasants and peasant women in
their Sunday clothes: women with brown skins, very red cheeks, thick
plaits coiled round their heads, light dresses, and hats with flowers.
They wore white gloves and red cuffs. They were singing simple songs
with shrill placid voices not very much in tune. In a stable a cow was
mooing. A child with whooping-cough was coughing in a house. A little
farther on there came up the nasal sound of a clarionet and a cornet.
There was dancing in the village square between the little inn and the
cemetery. Four musicians, perched on a table, were playing a tune. Anna
and Christophe sat in front of the inn and watched the dancers. The
couples were jostling and slanging each other vociferously. The girls
were screaming for the pleasure of making a noise. The men drinking were
beating time on the tables with their fists. At any other time such
ponderous coarse joy would have disgusted Anna: but now she loved it:
she had taken off her hat and was watching eagerly. Christophe poked fun
at the burlesque solemnity of the music and the musicians. He fumbled in
his pockets and produced a pencil and began to make lines and dots on
the back of a hotel bill: he was writing dance music. The paper was soon
covered: he asked for more, and these too he covered like the first with
his big scrawling writing. Anna looked over his shoulder with her face
near his and hummed over what he wrote: she tried to guess how the
phrases would end, and clapped her hands when she guessed right or when
her guesses were falsified by some unexpected sally. When he had done
Christophe took what he had written to the musicians. They were honest
Suabians who knew their business, and they made it out without much
difficulty. The melodies were sentimental, and of a burlesque humor,
with strongly accented rhythms, punctuated, as it were, with bursts of
laughter. It was impossible to resist their impetuous fun: nobody's feet
could help dancing. Anna rushed into the throng; she gripped the first
pair of hands held out to her and whirled about like a mad thing; a
tortoise-shell pin dropped out of her hair and a few locks of it fell
down and hung about her face. Christophe never took his eyes off her: he
marveled at the fine healthy animal who hitherto had been condemned to
silence and immobility by a pitiless system of discipline: he saw her as
no one had ever seen her, as she really was under her borrowed mask: a
Bacchante, drunk with life. She called to him. He ran to her and put his
arms round her waist. They danced and danced until they whirled crashing
into a wall. They stopped, dazed. Night was fully come. They rested for
a moment and then said good-by to the company. Anna, who was usually so
stiff with the common people, partly from embarrassment, partly from
contempt, held out her hand to the musicians, the host of the inn, the
village boys with whom she had been dancing.

Once more they were alone under the brilliant frozen sky retracing the
paths across the fields by which they had come in the morning. Anna was
still excited. She talked less and less, and then ceased altogether, as
though she had succumbed to fatigue or to the mysterious emotion of the
night. She leaned affectionately on Christophe. As they were going down
the slope up which they had so blithely scrambled a few hours before,
she sighed. They approached the station. As they came to the first house
he stopped and looked at her. She looked up at him and smiled sadly. The
train was just as crowded as it had been before, and they could not
talk. He sat opposite her and devoured her with his eyes. Her eyes were
lowered: she raised them and looked at him when she felt his eyes upon
her: then she glanced away and he could not make her look at him again.
She sat gazing out into the night. A vague smile hovered about her lips
which showed a little weariness at the corners. Then her smile
disappeared. Her expression became mournful. He thought her mind must be
engrossed by the rhythm of the train and he tried to speak to her. She
replied coldly, without turning her head, with a single word. He tried
to persuade himself that her fatigue was responsible for the change: but
he knew that it was for a very different reason. The nearer they came to
the town the more he saw Anna's face grow cold, and life die down in
her, and all her beautiful body with its savage grace drop back into its
casing of stone. She did not make use of the hand he held out to her as
she stepped out of the carriage. They returned home in silence.

A few days later, about four o'clock in the evening, they were alone
together. Braun had gone out. Since the day before the town had been
shrouded in a pale greenish fog. The murmuring of the invisible river
came up. The lights of the electric trams glared through the mist. The
light of day was dead, stifled: time seemed to be wiped out: it was one
of those hours when men lose all consciousness of reality, an hour which
is outside the march of the ages. After the cutting wind of the
preceding days, the moist air had suddenly grown warmer, too damp and
too soft. The sky was filled with snow, and bent under the load.

They were alone together in the drawing-room, the cold cramped taste of
which was the reflection of that of its mistress. They said nothing. He
was reading. She was sewing. He got up and went to the window: he
pressed his face against the panes, and stood so dreaming: he was
stupefied and heavy with the dull light which was cast back from the
darkling sky upon the livid earth: his thoughts were uneasy: he tried in
vain to fix them: they escaped him. He was filled with a bitter agony:
he felt that he was being engulfed: and in the depths of his being, from
the chasm of the heap of ruins came a scorching wind in slow gusts. He
turned his back on Anna: she could not see him, she was engrossed in her
work; but a faint thrill passed through her body: she pricked herself
several times with her needle, but she did not feel it. They were both
fascinated by the approaching danger.

He threw off his stupor and took a few strides across the room. The
piano attracted him and made him fearful. He looked away from it. As he
passed it his hand could not resist it, and touched a note. The sound
quivered like a human voice. Anna trembled, and let her sewing fall.
Christophe, was already seated and playing. Without seeing her, he knew
that Anna had got up, that she was coming towards him, that she was by
his side. Before he knew what he was doing, he had begun the religious
and passionate melody that she had sung the first time she had revealed
herself to him: he improvised a fugue with variations on the theme.
Without his saying a word to her, she began to sing. They lost all sense
of their surroundings. The sacred frenzy of music had them in its
clutches....

O music, that openest the abysses of the soul! Thou dost destroy the
normal balance of the mind. In ordinary life, ordinary souls are closed
rooms: within, there droop the unused forces of life, the virtues and
the vices to use which is hurtful to us: sage, practical wisdom,
cowardly common sense, are the keepers of the keys of the room. They let
us see only a few cupboards tidily and properly arranged. But music
holds the magic wand which drives back every lock. The doors are opened.
The demons of the heart appear. And, for the first time, the soul sees
itself naked.--While the siren sings, while the bewitching voice
trembles on the air, the tamer holds all the wild beasts in check with
the power of the eye. The mighty mind and reason of a great musician
fascinates all the passions that he set loose. But when the music dies
away, when the tames is no longer there, then the passions he has
summoned forth are left roaring in their tottering cage, and they seek
their prey....

The melody ended. Silence.... While she was singing she had laid her
hand on Christophe's shoulder. They dared not move: and each felt the
other trembling. Suddenly--in a flash--she bent down to him, he turned
to her: their lips met: he drank her breath....

She flung away from him and fled. He stayed, not stirring in the dark.
Braun returned. They sat down to dinner. Christophe was incapable of
thought. Anna seemed absent-minded: she was looking "elsewhere." Shortly
after dinner she went to her room. Christophe found it impossible to
stay alone with Braun, and went upstairs also.

About midnight the doctor was called from his bed to a patient.
Christophe heard him go downstairs and out. It had been snowing ever
since six o'clock. The houses and the streets were under a shroud. The
air was as though it were padded with cotton-wool. Not a step, not a
carriage could be heard outside. The town seemed dead. Christophe could
not sleep. He had a feeling of terror which grew from minute to minute.
He could not stir. He lay stiff in his bed, on his back, with his eyes
wide open. A metallic light cast up from the white earth and roofs fell
upon the walls of the room.... An imperceptible noise made him tremble.
Only a man at a feverish tension could have heard it. Came a soft
rustling on the floor of the passage. Christophe sat up in bed. The
faint noise came nearer, stopped; a board creaked. There was some one
behind the door: some one waiting.... Absolute stillness for a few
seconds, perhaps for several minutes.... Christophe could not breathe,
he broke out into a sweat. Outside flakes of snow brushed the window as
with a wing. A hand fumbled with the door and opened it. There appeared
a white form, and it came slowly forward: it halted a few yards away
from him. Christophe could see nothing clearly: but he could hear her
breathing: and he could hear his own heart thumping. She came nearer to
him; once more she halted. Their faces were so near that their breath
mingled. Their eyes sought each other vainly in the darkness.... She
fell into his arms. In silence, without a word, they hugged each other
close, frenziedly....

       *       *       *       *       *

An hour, two hours, a century later, the door of the house was opened.
Anna broke from the embrace in which they were locked, slipped away, and
left Christophe without a word, just as she had come. He heard her bare
feet moving away, just skimming the floor in her swift flight. She
regained her room, and there Braun found her in her bed, apparently
asleep. So she lay through the night, with eyes wide open, breathless,
still, in her narrow bed near the sleeping Braun. How many nights had
she passed like that!

Christophe could not sleep either. He was utterly in despair. He had
always regarded the things of love, and especially marriage, with tragic
seriousness. He hated the frivolity of those writers whose art uses
adultery as a spicy flavoring. Adultery roused in him a feeling of
repulsion which was a combination of his vulgar brutality and high
morality. He had always felt a mixture of religious respect and physical
disgust for a woman who belonged to another man. The doglike promiscuity
in which some of the rich people in Europe lived appalled him. Adultery
with the consent of the husband is a filthy thing: without the husband's
knowledge it is a base deceit only worthy of a rascally servant hiding
away to betray and befoul his master's honor. How often had he not
piteously despised those whom he had known to be guilty of such
cowardice! He had broken with some of his friends who had thus
dishonored themselves in his eyes.... And now he too was sullied with
the same shameful thing! The circumstances of the crime only made it the
more odious. He had come to the house a sick, wretched man. His friend
had welcomed him, helped him, given him comfort. His kindness had never
flagged. Nothing had been too great a demand upon it. He owed him his
very life. And in return he had robbed the man of his honor and his
happiness, his poor little domestic happiness! He had basely betrayed
him, and with whom? With a woman whom he did not know, did not
understand, did not love.... Did he not love her? His every drop of
blood rose up against him. Love is too faint a word to express the river
of fire that rushed through him when he thought of her. It was not love,
it was a thousand times a greater thing than love.... He was in a whirl
all through the night. He got up, dipped his face in the icy water,
gasped, and shuddered. The crisis came to a head in an attack of fever.

When he got up, aching all over, he thought that she, even more than he,
must be overwhelmed with shame. He went to the window. The sun was
shining down upon the dazzling snow. In the garden Anna was hanging out
the clothes on a line. She was engrossed in her work, and seemed to be
in no wise put out. She had a dignity in her carriage and her gesture
which was quite new to him, and made him, unconsciously, liken her to a
moving statue.

       *       *       *       *       *

They met again at lunch. Braun was away for the whole day. Christophe
could not have borne meeting him. He wanted to speak to Anna. But they
were not alone: the servant kept going and coming: they had to keep
guard on themselves. In vain did Christophe try to catch Anna's eye. She
did not look at him or at anything. There was no indication of inward
ferment: and always in her smallest movement there was the unaccustomed
assurance and nobility. After lunch he hoped they would have an
opportunity of speaking: but the servant dallied over clearing away; and
when they went into the next room she contrived to follow them: she
always had something to fetch or to bring: she stayed bustling in the
passage near the half-open door which Anna showed no hurry to shut: it
looked as though she were spying on them. Anna sat by the window with
her everlasting sewing. Christophe leaned back in an armchair with his
back to the light, and a book on his knee which he did not attempt to
read. Anna could only see his profile, and she noticed the torment in
his face as he looked at the wall: and she gave a cruel smile. From the
roof of the house and the tree in the garden the melting snow trickled
down into the gravel with a thin tinkling noise. Some distance away was
the laughter of children chasing each other in the street and
snowballing. Anna seemed to be half-asleep. The silence was torture to
Christophe: it hurt him so that he could have cried out.

At last the servant went downstairs and left the house. Christophe got
up, turned to Anna, and was about to say:

"Anna! Anna! what have we done?"

Anna looked at him: her eyes, which had been obstinately lowered, had
just opened: they rested on Christophe, and devoured him hotly,
hungrily. Christophe felt his own eyes burn under the impact, and he
reeled; everything that he wanted to say was brushed aside. They came
together, and once more they were locked in an embrace....

The shades of the evening were falling. Their blood was still in
turmoil. She was lying down, with her dress torn, her arms outstretched.
He had buried his face in the pillow, and was groaning aloud. She turned
towards him and raised his head, and caressed his eyes and his lips with
her fingers: she brought her face close to his, and she stared into his
eyes. Her eyes were deep, deep as a lake, and they smiled at each other
in utter indifference to pain. They lost consciousness. He was silent.
Mighty waves of feeling thrilled through them....

That night, when he was alone in his room, Christophe thought of killing
himself.

Next day, as soon as he was up, he went to Anna. Now it was he whose
eyes avoided hers. As soon as he met their gaze all that he had to say
was banished from his mind. However, he made an effort, and began to
speak of the cowardice of what they had done. Hardly had she understood
than she roughly stopped his lips with her hand. She flung away from him
with a scowl, and her lips pressed together, and an evil expression upon
her face. He went on. She flung the work she was holding down on the
ground, opened the door, and tried to go out. He caught her hands,
closed the door, and said bitterly that she was very lucky to be able to
banish from her mind all idea of the evil they had done. She struggled
like an animal caught in a trap, and cried angrily:

"Stop!... You coward, can't you see how I am suffering?... I won't let
you speak! Let me go!"

Her face was drawn, her expression was full of hate and fear, like a
beast that has been hurt: her eyes would have killed him, if they
could.--He let her go. She ran to the opposite corner of the room to
take shelter. He had no desire to pursue her. His heart was aching with
bitterness and terror. Braun came in. He looked at them, and they stood
stockishly there. Nothing existed for them outside their own suffering.

Christophe went out. Braun and Anna sat down to their meal. In the
middle of dinner Braun suddenly got up to open the window. Anna had
fainted.

Christophe left the town for a fortnight on the pretext of having been
called away. For a whole week Anna remained shut up in her room except
for meal-times. She slipped back into consciousness of herself, into her
old habits, the old life from which she had thought she had broken away,
from which we never break away. In vain did she close her eyes to what
she had done. Every day anxiety made further inroads into her heart, and
finally took possession of it. On the following Sunday she refused once
more to go to church. But the Sunday after that she went, and never
omitted it again. She was conquered, but not submissive. God was the
enemy,--an enemy from whose power she could not free herself. She went
to Him with the sullen anger of a slave who is forced into obedience.
During service her face showed nothing but cold hostility: but in the
depths of her soul the whole of her religious life was a fierce, dumbly
exasperated struggle against the Master whose reproaches persecuted her.
She pretended not to hear. She had to hear: and bitterly, savagely, with
clenched teeth, hard eyes, and a deep frowning furrow in her forehead,
she would argue with God. She thought of Christophe with hatred. She
could not forgive him for having delivered her for one moment from the
prison of her soul, only to let her fall back into it again, to be the
prey of its tormentors. She could not sleep; day and night she went over
and over the same torturing thoughts: she did not complain: she went on
obstinately doing her household work and all her other duties, and
throughout maintaining the unyielding and obstinate character of her
will in her daily life, the various tasks of which she fulfilled with
the regularity of a machine. She grew thin, and seemed to be a prey to
some internal malady. Braun questioned her fondly and anxiously: he
wanted to sound her. She repulsed him angrily. The greater her remorse
grew for what she had done to him, the more harshly she spoke to him.
Christophe had determined not to return. He wore himself out. He took
long runs and violent exercise, rowed, walked, climbed mountains.
Nothing was able to quench the fire in him.

He was more the victim of passion than an ordinary man. It is the
necessity of the nature of men of genius. Even the most chaste, like
Beethoven and Bürchner, must always be in love: every human capacity is
raised to a higher degree in them, and as, in them, every human capacity
is seized on by their imagination, their minds are a prey to a continual
succession of passions. Most often they are only transitory fires: one
destroys another, and all are absorbed by the great blaze of the
creative spirit. But if the heat of the furnace ceases to fill the soul,
then the soul is left defenseless against the passions without which it
cannot live: it must have passion, it creates passion: and the passions
will devour the soul ...--and then, besides the bitter desire that
harrows the flesh, there is the need of tenderness which drives a man
who is weary and disillusioned of life into the mothering arms of the
comforter, woman. A great man is more of a child than a lesser man: more
than any other, he needs to confide in a woman, to lay his head in the
soft hands of the beloved, in the folds of the lap of her gown.

But Christophe could not understand.... He did not believe in the
inevitability of passion--the idiotic cult of the romantics. He believed
that a man can and must fight with all the force of his will.... His
will! Where was it? Not a trace of it was left. He was possessed. He was
stung by the barbs of memory, day and night. The scent of Anna's body
was with him everywhere. He was like a dismantled hulk, rolling
rudderless, at the mercy of the winds. In vain did he try to escape, he
strove mightily, wore himself out in the attempt: he always found
himself brought back to the same place, and he shouted to the wind:

"Break me, break me, then! What do you want of me?"

Feverishly he probed into himself. Why, why this woman?... Why did he
love her? It was not for her qualities of heart or mind. There were any
number of better and more intelligent women. It was not for her body. He
had had other mistresses more acceptable to his senses. What was
it?...--"We love because we love."--Yes, but there is a reason, even if
it be beyond ordinary human reason. Madness? That means nothing. Why
this madness?

Because there is a hidden soul, blind forces, demons, which every one of
us bears imprisoned in himself. Our every effort, since the first
existence of humanity, has been directed towards the building up against
this inward sea of the dykes of our reason and our religions. But a
storm arises (and the richest souls are the most subject to storms), the
dykes are broken, the demons have free play, they find themselves in the
presence of other souls uptorn by similar powers.... They hurl
themselves at each other. Hatred or love? A frenzy of mutual
destruction?--Passion is the soul of prey.

The sea has burst its bounds. Who shall turn it back into its bed? Then
must a man appeal to a mightier than himself. To Neptune, the God of the
tides.

       *       *       *       *       *

After a fortnight of vain efforts to escape, Christophe returned to
Anna. He could not live away from her. He was stifled.

And yet he went on struggling. On the evening of his return, they found
excuses for not meeting and not dining together: at night they locked
their doors in fear and dread.--But love was stronger than they. In the
middle of the night she came creeping barefooted, and knocked at his
door. She wept silently. He felt the tears coursing down her cheeks. She
tried to control herself, but her anguish was too much for her and she
sobbed. Under the frightful burden of her grief Christophe forgot his
own: he tried to calm her and gave her tender, comfortable words. She
moaned:

"I am so unhappy. I wish I were dead...."

Her plaint pierced his heart. He tried to kiss her. She repulsed him:

"I hate you!... Why did you ever come?"

She wrenched herself away from him. She turned her back on him and shook
with rage and grief. She hated him mortally. Christophe lay still,
appalled. In the silence Anna heard his choking breathing: she turned
suddenly and flung her arms round his neck:

"Poor Christophe!" she said. "I have made you suffer...."

For the first time he heard pity in her voice.

"Forgive me," she said.

He said:

"We must forgive each other."
She raised herself as though she found it hard to breathe. She sat
there, with bowed back, overwhelmed, and said:

"I am ruined.... It is God's will, He has betrayed me.... What can I do
against Him?"

She stayed for a long time like that, then lay down again and did not
stir. A faint light proclaimed the dawn. In the half-light he saw her
sorrowful face so near his. He murmured:

"The day."

She made no movement.

He said:

"So be it. What does it matter?"

She opened her eyes and left him with an expression of utter weariness.
She sat for a moment looking down at the floor. In a dull, colorless
voice she said:

"I thought of killing him last night."

He gave a start of terror:

"Anna!" he said.

She was staring gloomily at the window.

"Anna!" he said again. "In God's name!... Not him!... He is the best of
us!..."

She echoed;

"Not him. Very well."

They looked at each other.

They had known it for a long time. They had known where the only way out
lay. They could not bear to live a lie. And they had never even
considered the possibility of eloping together. They knew perfectly well
that that would not solve the problem: for the bitterest suffering came
not from the external Obstacles that held them apart, but in themselves,
in their different souls. It was as impossible for them to live together
as to live apart. They were driven into a corner.

From that moment on they never touched each other: the shadow of death
was upon them: they were sacred to each other.

But they put off appointing a time for their decision. They kept on
saying: "To-morrow, to-morrow..." And they turned their eyes away from
their to-morrow, Christophe's mighty soul had Wild spasms Of revolt: he
would not consent to his defeat: he despised suicide, and he could not
resign himself to such a pitiful and abrupt conclusion of his splendid
life. As for Anna, how could she, unless she were forced, accept the
idea of a death which must lead to eternal death? But ruthless necessity
was at their heels, and the circle was slowly narrowing about them.

       *       *       *       *       *

That morning, for the first time since the betrayal, Christophe was left
alone with Braun. Until then he had succeeded in avoiding him. He found
it intolerable to be with him. He had to make an excuse to avoid eating
at the same table: the food stuck in his throat. To shake the man's
hand, to eat his bread, to give the kiss of Judas!... Most odious for
him to think of was not the contempt he had for himself so much as the
agony of suffering that Braun must endure if he should come to know....
The idea of it crucified him. He knew, only too well that poor Braun
would never avenge himself, that perhaps he would not even have the
strength to hate them: but what an utter wreck of all his life!... How
would he regard him! Christophe felt that he could not face the reproach
in his eyes.--And it was inevitable that sooner or later Braun would be
warned. Did he not already suspect something? Seeing him again after his
fortnight's absence Christophe was struck by the change in him: Braun
was not the same man. His gaiety had disappeared, or there was something
forced in it. At meals he would stealthily glance at Anna, who talked
not at all, ate not at all, and seemed to be burning away like the oil
in a lamp. With timid, touching kindness he tried to look after her: she
rejected his attentions harshly: then he bent his head over his plate
and relapsed into silence. Anna could bear it no longer, and flung her
napkin on the table in the middle of the meal and left the room. The two
men finished their dinner in silence, or pretended to do so, for they
ate nothing: they dared not raise their eyes. When they had finished,
Christophe was on the point of going when Braun suddenly clasped his arm
with both hands and said:

"Christophe!"

Christophe looked at him uneasily.

"Christophe," said Braun again--(his voice was shaking),--"do you know
what's the matter with her?"

Christophe stood transfixed: for a moment or two he could find nothing
to say. Braun stood looking at him timidly: very quickly he begged
his pardon:

"You see a good deal of her, she trusts you...."

Christophe was very near taking Braun's hands and kissing them and
begging his forgiveness. Braun saw Christophe's downcast expression,
and, at once, he was terrified, and refused to see: he cast him a
beseeching look and stammered hurriedly and gasped:

"No, no. You know nothing? Nothing?"

Christophe was overwhelmed and said:

"No."

Oh! the bitterness of not being able to lay bare his offense, to humble
himself, since to do so would be to break the heart of the man he had
wronged! Oh! the bitterness of being unable to tell the truth, when he
could see in the eyes of the man asking him for it, that he could not,
would not know the truth!...

"Thanks, thank you. I thank you...." said Braun.

He stayed with his hands plucking at Christophe's sleeve as though there
was something else he wished to ask, and yet dared not, avoiding his
eyes. Then he let go, sighed, and went away.

Christophe was appalled by this new lie. He hastened to Anna. Stammering
in his excitement, he told her what had happened. Anna listened gloomily
and said:

"Oh, well. He knows. What does it matter?"

"How can you talk like that?" cried Christophe. "It is horrible! I will
not have him suffer, whatever it may cost us, whatever it may cost."

Anna grew angry.

"And what if he does suffer? Don't I have to suffer? Let him suffer
too!"

They said bitter things to each other. He accused her of loving only
herself. She reproached him with thinking more of her husband than of
herself.

But a moment later, when he told her that he could not go on living like
that, and that he would go and tell the whole story to Braun, then she
cried out on him for his selfishness, declaring that she did not care a
bit about Christophe's conscience, but was quite determined that Braun
should never know.

In spite of her hard words she was thinking as much of Braun as of
Christophe. Though she had no real affection for her husband she was
fond of him. She had a religious respect for social ties and the duties
they involve. Perhaps she did not think that it was the duty of a wife
to be kind and to love her husband: but she did think that she was
compelled scrupulously to fulfil her household duties and to remain
faithful. It seemed to her ignoble to fail in that object as she herself
had done.

And even more surely than Christophe she knew that Braun must know
everything very soon. It was something to her credit that she concealed
the fact from Christophe, either because she did not wish to add to his
troubles or more probably because of her pride.

Secluded though the Braun household was, secret though the tragedy might
remain that was being enacted there, some hint of it had trickled away
to the outer world.

In that town it was impossible for any one to flatter himself that the
facts of his life were hidden. This was strangely true. No one ever
looked at anybody in the streets: the doors and shutters of the houses
were closed. But there were mirrors fastened in the corners of the
windows: and as one passed the houses one could hear the faint creaking
of the Venetian shutters being pushed open and shut again. Nobody took
any notice of anybody else: everything and everybody were apparently
ignored: but it was not long before one perceived that not a single
word, not a single gesture had been unobserved: whatever one did,
whatever one said, whatever one saw, whatever one ate was known at once:
even what one thought was known, or, at least, everybody pretended to
know. One was surrounded by a universal, mysterious watchfulness.
Servants, tradespeople, relations, friends, people who were neither
friends nor enemies, passing strangers, all by tacit agreement shared in
this instinctive espionage, the scattered elements of which were
gathered to a head no one knew how. Not only were one's actions
observed, but they probed into one's inmost heart. In that town no man
had the right to keep the secrets of his conscience, and everybody had
the right to rummage amongst his intimate thoughts, and, if they were
offensive to public opinion, to call him to account. The invisible
despotism of the collective mind dominated the individual: all his life
he remained like a child in a state of tutelage: he could call nothing
his own: he belonged to the town.

It was enough for Anna to have stayed away from church two Sundays
running to arouse suspicion. As a rule no one seemed to notice her
presence at service: she lived outside the life of the place, and the
town seemed to have forgotten her existence.--On the evening of the
first Sunday when she had stayed away her absence was known to everybody
and docketed in their memory. On the following Sunday not one of the
pious people following the blessed words in their Bibles or on the
minister's lips seemed to be distracted from their solemn attention: not
one of them had failed to notice as they entered, and to verify as they
left, the fact that Anna's place was empty. Next day Anna began to
receive visits from women she had not seen for many months: they came on
various pretexts, some fearing that she was ill, others assuming a new
interest in her affairs, her husband, her house: some of them showed a
singularly intimate knowledge of the doings of her household: not one of
them--(with clumsy ingenuity)--made any allusion to her absence from
church on two Sundays running. Anna said that she was unwell and
declared that she was very busy. Her visitors listened attentively and
applauded her: Anna knew that they did not believe a word she said.
Their eyes wandered round the room, prying, taking notes, docketing.
They did not for a moment drop their cold affability or their noisy
affected chatter: but their eyes revealed the indiscreet curiosity which
was devouring them. Two or three with exaggerated indifference inquired
after M. Krafft.

A few days later--(during Christophe's absence),--the minister came
himself. He was a handsome, good-natured creature, splendidly healthy,
affable, with that imperturbable tranquillity which comes to a man from
the consciousness of being in sole possession of the truth, the whole
truth. He inquired anxiously after the health of the members of his
flock, politely and absently listened to the excuses she gave him, which
he had not asked for, accepted a cup of tea, made a mild joke or two,
expressed his opinion on the subject of drink that the wine referred to
in the Bible was not alcoholic liquor, produced several quotations, told
a story, and, as he was leaving, made a dark allusion to the danger of
bad company, to certain excursions in the country, to the spirit of
impiety, to the impurity of dancing, and the filthy lusts of the flesh.
He seemed to be addressing his remarks to the age in general and not to
Anna. He stopped for a moment, coughed, got up, bade Anna give his
respectful compliments to M. Braun, made a joke in Latin, bowed, and
took his leave.--Anna was left frozen by his allusion. Was it an
allusion? How could he have known about her excursion with Christophe?
They had not met a soul of their acquaintance that day. But was not
everything known in the town? The musician with the remarkable face and
the young woman in black who had danced at the inn had attracted much
attention: their descriptions had been spread abroad; and, as the story
was bandied from mouth to mouth, it had reached the town where the
watchful malice of the gossips had not failed to recognize Anna. No
doubt it amounted as yet to no more than a suspicion, but it was
singularly attractive, and it was augmented by information supplied by
Anna's maid. Public curiosity had been a-tip-toe, waiting for them to
compromise each other, spying on them with a thousand invisible eyes.
The silent crafty people of the town were creeping close upon them, like
a cat lying in wait for a mouse.

In spite of the danger Anna would in all probability not have given in:
perhaps her consciousness of such cowardly hostility would have driven
her to some desperate act of provocation if she had not herself been
possessed by the Pharisaic spirit of the society which was so
antagonistic to her. Her education had subjugated her nature. It was in
vain that she condemned the tyranny and meanness of public opinion: she
respected it: she subscribed to its decrees even when they were directed
against herself: if they had come into conflict with her conscience, she
would have sacrificed her conscience. She despised the town: but she
could not have borne the town to despise herself.

Now the time was coming when the public scandal would be afforded an
opportunity of discharging itself. The carnival was coming on.

       *       *       *       *       *

In that city, the carnival had preserved up to the time of the events
narrated in this history--(it has changed since then)--a character of
archaic license and roughness. Faithfully in accordance with its origin,
by which it had been a relaxation for the profligacy of the human mind
subjugated, wilfully or involuntarily, by reason, it nowhere reached
such a pitch of audacity as in the periods and countries in which custom
and law, the guardians of reason, weighed most heavily upon the people.
The town in which Anna lived was therefore one of its most chosen
regions. The more moral stringency paralyzed action and gagged speech,
the bolder did action become and speech the more untrammeled during
those few days. Everything that was secreted away in the lower depths of
the soul, jealousy, secret hate, lewd curiosity, the malicious instincts
inherent in the social animal, would burst forth with all the vehemence
and joy of revenge. Every man had the right to go out into the streets,
and, prudently masked, to nail to the pillory, in full view of the
public gaze, the object of his detestation, to lay before all and sundry
all that he had found out by a year of patient industry, his whole hoard
of scandalous secrets gathered drop by drop. One man would display them
on the cars. Another would carry a transparent lantern on which were
pasted in writings and drawings the secret history of the town. Another
would go so far as to wear a mask in imitation of his enemy, made so
easily recognizable that the very gutter-snipes would point him out by
name. Slanderous newspapers would appear during the three days. Even the
very best people would craftily take part in the game of _Pasquino_. No
control was exercised except over political allusions,--such coarse
liberty of speech having on more than one occasion produced fierce
conflict between the authorities of the town and the representatives of
foreign countries. But there was nothing to protect the citizens against
the citizens, and this cloud of public insult, constantly hanging over
their heads, did not a little help to maintain the apparently impeccable
morality on which the town prided itself.

Anna felt the weight of that dread--which was quite unjustified. She had
very little reason to be afraid. She occupied too small a place in the
opinion of the town for any one to think of attacking her. But in the
absolute isolation in which of her own choice she lived, in her state of
exhaustion and nervous excitement brought on by several weeks of
sleepless nights and moral suffering, her imagination was apt to welcome
the most unreasoning terrors. She exaggerated the animosity of those who
did not like her. She told herself that suspicion was on her track: the
veriest trifle was enough to ruin her: and there was nothing to assure
her that it was not already an accomplished fact. It would mean insult,
pitiless exposure, her heart laid bare to the mockery of the passers-by:
dishonor so cruel that Anna was near dying of shame at the very thought
of it. She called to mind how, a few years before, a girl, who had been
the victim of such persecution, had had to fly the country with her
family.... And she could do nothing, nothing to defend herself, nothing
to prevent it, nothing even to find out if it was going to happen. The
suspense was even more maddening than the certainty. Anna looked
desperately about her like an animal at bay. In her own house she knew
that she was hemmed in.

       *       *       *       *       *

Anna's servant was a woman of over forty: her name was Bäbi: she was
tall and strong: her face was narrow and bony round her brow and
temples, wide and long in the lower part, fleshy under the jaw, roughly
pear-shaped: she had a perpetual smile and eyes that pierced like
gimlets, sunken, as though they had been sucked in, beneath red eyelids
with colorless lashes. She never put off her expression of coquettish
gaiety: she was always delighted with her superiors, always of their
opinion, worrying about their health with tender interest: smiling when
they gave her orders: smiling when they scolded her. Braun believed that
she was unshakably devoted. Her gushing manner was strongly in contrast
with Anna's coldness. However, she was like her in many things: like her
she spoke little and dressed in a severe neat style: like her she was
very pious, and went to service with her, scrupulously fulfilling all
her religious duties and nicely attending to her household tasks: she
was clean, methodical, and her morals and her kitchen were beyond
reproach. In a word she was an exemplary servant and the perfect type of
domestic foe. Anna's feminine instinct was hardly ever wrong in her
divination of the secret thoughts of women, and she had no illusions
about her. They detested each other, knew it, and never let it appear.

On the night of Christophe's return, when Anna, torn by her desire and
her emotion, went to him once more in spite of her resolve never to see
him again, she walked stealthily, groping along the wall in the
darkness: just as she reached Christophe's door, instead of the ordinary
cold smooth polished floor, she felt a warm dust softly crunching under
her bare feet. She stooped, touched it with her hands, and understood: a
thin layer of ashes had been spread for the space of a few yards across
the passage. Without knowing it Bäbi had happed on the old device
employed in the days of the old Breton songs by Frocin the dwarf to
catch Tristan on his way to Yseult: so true it is that a limited number
of types, good and bad, serve for all ages. A remarkable piece of
evidence in favor of the wise economy of the universe!--Anna did not
hesitate; she did not stop or turn, but went on in a sort of
contemptuous bravado: she went to Christophe, told him nothing, in spite
of her uneasiness: but when she returned she took the stove brush and
carefully effaced every trace of her footsteps in the ashes, after she
had crossed over them.--When Anna and Bäbi met next day it was with the
usual coldness and the accustomed smile.

Bäbi used sometimes to receive a visit from a relation who was a little
older than herself: he fulfilled the function of beadle of the church:
during _Gottesdienst_ (Divine service) he used to stand sentinel at
the church door, wearing a white armlet with black stripes and a silver
tassel, leaning on a cane with a curved handle. By trade he was an
undertaker. His name was Sami Witschi. He was very tall and thin, with a
slight stoop, and he had the clean-shaven solemn face of an old peasant.
He was very pious and knew better than any one all the tittle-tattle of
the parish. Bäbi and Sami were thinking of getting married: they
appreciated each other's serious qualities, and solid faith and malice.
But they were in no hurry to make up their minds: they prudently took
stock of each other,--Latterly Sami's visits had become more frequent.
He would come in unawares. Every time Anna went near the kitchen and
looked through the door, she would see Sami sitting near the fire, and
Bäbi a few yards away, sewing. However much they talked, it was
impossible to hear a sound. She could see Bäbi's beaming face and her
lips moving: Sami's wide hard mouth would stretch in a grin without
opening: not a sound would come up from his throat: the house seemed to
be lost in silence. Whenever Anna entered the kitchen, Sami would rise
respectfully and remain standing, without a word, until she had gone out
again. Whenever Bäbi heard the door open, she would ostentatiously break
off in the middle of a commonplace remark, and turn to Anna with an
obsequious smile and wait for her orders. Anna would think they were
talking about her: but she despised them too much to play the
eavesdropper.

The day after Anna had dodged the ingenious trap of the ashes, as she
entered the kitchen, the first thing she saw in Sami's hand was the
little broom she had used the night before to wipe out the marks of her
bare feet. She had taken it out of Christophe's room, and that very
minute, she suddenly remembered that she had forgotten to take it back
again; she had left it in her own room, where Bäbi's sharp eyes had seen
it at once. The two gossips had immediately put two and two together.
Anna did not flinch. Bäbi followed her mistress's eyes, gave an
exaggerated smile, and explained:

"The broom was broken: I gave it to Sami to mend."

Anna did not take the trouble to point out the gross falsehood of the
excuse: she did not seem even to hear it: she looked at Bäbi's work,
made a few remarks, and went out again impassively. But when the door
was closed she lost all her pride: she could not help hiding behind the
corner of the passage and listening--(she was humiliated to the very
depths of her being at having to stoop to such means: but fear mastered
her).--She heard a dry chuckle of laughter. Then whispering, so low that
she could not make out what was said. But in her desperation Anna
thought she heard: her terror breathed into her ears the words she was
afraid of hearing: she imagined that they were speaking of the coming
masquerades and a charivari. There was no doubt: they would try to
introduce the episode of the ashes. Probably she was wrong: but in her
state of morbid excitement, having for a whole fortnight been haunted by
the fixed idea of public insult, she did not stop to consider whether
the uncertain could be possible: she regarded it as certain.

From that time on her mind was made up.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the evening of the same day--(it was the Wednesday preceding the
carnival)--Braun was called away to a consultation twenty miles out of
the town: he would not return until the next morning. Anna did not come
down to dinner and stayed in her room. She had chosen that night to
carry out the tacit pledge she had made with herself. But she had
decided to carry it out alone, and to say nothing to Christophe. She
despised him. She thought:

"He promised. But he is a man, he is an egoist and a liar. He has his
art. He will soon forget."

And then perhaps there was in her passionate heart that seemed so
inaccessible to kindness, room for a feeling of pity for her companion.
But she was too harsh and too passionate to admit it to herself.

Bäbi told Christophe that her mistress had bade her to make her excuses
as she was not very well and wished to rest. Christophe dined alone
under Bäbi's supervision, and she bored him with her chatter, tried to
make him talk, and protested such an extraordinary devotion to Anna,
that, in spite of his readiness to believe in the good faith of men,
Christophe became suspicious. He was counting on having a decisive
interview with Anna that night. He could no more postpone matters than
she. He had not forgotten the pledge they had given each other at the
dawn of that sad day. He was ready to keep it if Anna demanded it of
him. But he saw the absurdity of their dying together, how it would not
solve the problem, and how the sorrow of it and the scandal must fall
upon Braun's shoulders. He was inclined to think that the best thing to
do was to tear themselves apart and for him to try once more to go right
away,--to see at least if he were strong enough to stay away from her:
he doubted it after the vain attempt he had made before: but he thought
that, in case he could not bear it, he would still have time to turn to
the last resort, alone, without anybody knowing.

He hoped that after supper he would be able to escape for a moment to go
up to Anna's room. But Bäbi dogged him. As a rule she used to finish her
work early: but that night she seemed never to have done with scrubbing
her kitchen: and when Christophe thought he was rid of her, she took it
into her head to tidy a cupboard in the passage leading to Anna's room.
Christophe found her standing on a stool, and he saw that she had no
intention of moving all evening. He felt a furious desire to knock her
over with her piles of plates: but he restrained himself and asked her
to go and see how her mistress was and if he could say good-night to
her. Bäbi went, returned, and said, as she watched him with a malicious
joy, that Madame was better and was asleep and did not want anybody to
disturb her. Christophe tried irritably and nervously to read, but could
not, and went up to his room. Bäbi watched his light until it was put
out, and then went upstairs to her room, resolving to keep watch: she
carefully left her door open so that she could hear every sound in the
house. Unfortunately for her, she could not go to bed without at once
falling asleep and sleeping so soundly that not thunder, not even her
own curiosity, could wake her up before daybreak. Her sound sleep Was no
secret. The echo of it resounded through the house even to the lower
floor.

As soon as Christophe heard the familiar noise he went to Anna's room.
It was imperative that he should speak to her. He was profoundly uneasy.
He reached her door, turned the handle: the door was locked. He knocked
lightly: no reply. He placed his lips to the keyhole and begged her in a
whisper, then more loudly, to open: not a movement, not a sound.
Although he told himself that Anna was asleep, he was in agonies. And
as, in a vain attempt to hear, he laid his cheek against the door, a
smell came to his nostrils which seemed to be issuing from the room: he
bent down and recognised it; it was the smell of gas. His blood froze.
He shook the door, never thinking that he might wake Bäbi: the door did
not give.... He understood: in her dressing-room, which led out of her
room, Anna had a little gas-stove: she had turned it on. He must break
open the door: but in his anxiety Christophe kept his senses enough to
remember that at all costs Bäbi must not hear. He leaned against one of
the leaves of the door and gave an enormous shove as quietly as he
could. The solid, well-fitting door creaked on its hinges, but did not
yield. There was another door which led from Anna's room to Braun's
dressing-room. He ran to it. That too was locked: but the lock was
outside. He started to tug it off. It was not easy. He had to remove the
four big screws which were buried deep in the wood. He had only his
knife and he could not see: for he dared not light a candle; it would
have meant blowing the whole place up. Fumblingly he managed to fit his
knife, into the head of a screw, then another, breaking the blades and
cutting himself; the screws seemed to be interminably long, and he
thought he would never be able to get them out: and, at the same time,
in the feverish haste which was making big body break out into a cold
sweat, there came to his mind a memory of his childhood: he saw himself,
a boy of ten, shut up in a dark room as a punishment: he had taken off
the lock and run out of the house.... The last screw came out. The lock
gave with a crackling noise like the sawing of wood. Christophe plunged
into the room, rushed to the window, and opened it. A flood of cold air
swept in. Christophe bumped into the furniture in the dark and came to
the bed, groped with his hands, and came on Anna's body, tremblingly
felt her legs lying still under the clothes, and moved his hands up to
her waist: Anna was sitting up in bed, trembling. She had not had time
to feel the first effects of asphyxiation: the room was high: the air
came through the chinks in the windows and the doors, Christophe caught
her in his arms. She broke away from him angrily, crying:

"Go away!... Ah! What have you done?"

She raised her hands to strike him: but she was worn out with emotion:
she fell back on her pillow and sobbed:

"Oh! Oh! We've to go through it all over again!"

Christophe took her hands in his, kissed her, scolded her, spoke to her
tenderly and roughly:

"You were going to die, to die, alone, without me!"

"Oh! You!" she said bitterly.

Her tone was as much as to say:

"You want to live."

He spoke harshly to her and tried to break down her will.

"You are mad!" he said. "You might have blown the house to pieces!"
"I wanted to," she said angrily.

He tried to play on her religious fears: that was the right note. As
soon as he touched on it she began to scream and to beg him to stop. He
went on pitilessly, thinking that it was the only means of bringing her
back to the desire to live. She said nothing more, but lay sobbing
convulsively. When he had done, she said in a tone of intense hatred:

"Are you satisfied now? You've done your work well. You've brought me to
despair. And now, what am I to do?"

"Live," he said.

"Live!" she cried. "You don't know how impossible it is! You know
nothing! You know nothing!"

He asked:

"What is it?"

She shrugged her shoulders:

"Listen."

In a few brief disconnected sentences she told him all that she had
concealed from him: Bäbi's spying on her, the ashes, the scene with
Sami, the carnival, the public insult that was before her. As she told
her story she was unable to distinguish between the figments of her fear
and what she had any reason to fear. He listened in utter consternation,
and was no more capable than she of discerning between the real and the
imaginary in her story. Nothing had ever been farther from his mind than
to suspect how they were being dogged. He tried to understand: he could
find nothing to say: against such enemies he was disarmed. Only he was
conscious of a blind fury, a desire to strike and to destroy. He said:

"Why didn't you dismiss Bäbi?"

She did not deign to reply. Bäbi dismissed would have been even more
venomous than Bäbi tolerated: and Christophe saw the idiocy of his
question. His thoughts were in a whirl: he was trying to discover a way
out, some immediate action upon which to engage. He clenched his fists
and cried:

"I'll kill them?"

"Who?" she said, despising him for his futile words.

He lost all power of thought or action. He felt that he was lost in such
a network of obscure treachery, in which it was impossible to clutch at
anything since all were parties to it. He writhed.

"Cowards!" he cried, in sheer despair.

He slipped down on to his knees and buried his face against Anna.--They
were silent for a little. She felt a mixture of contempt and pity for
the man who could defend neither himself nor her. He felt Anna's limbs
trembling with cold against his cheek. The window had been left open,
and outside it was freezing: they could see the icy stars shivering in
the sky that was smooth and gleaming as a mirror.

When she had fully tasted the bitter joy of seeing him as broken as
herself, she said in a hard, weary voice:

"Light the candle."

He did so. Anna's teeth were chattering, she was sitting huddled up,
with her arms tight folded across her chest and her knees up to her
chin. He closed the window. Then he sat on the bed. He laid his hands on
Anna's feet: they were cold as ice, and he warmed them with his hands
and lips. She was softened.

"Christophe!" she said.

Her eyes were pitiful to see.

"Anna!" said he.

"What are we going to do?"

He looked at her and replied:

"Die."

She gave a cry of joy.

"Oh! You will? You will?... I shall not be alone!"

She kissed him.

"Did you think I was going to let you?"

She replied in a whisper:

"Yes."

A few moments later he questioned her with his eyes. She understood.

"In the bureau," she said. "On the right. The bottom drawer."

He went and looked. At the back of the drawer he found a revolver. Braun
had bought it as a student. He had never made use of it. In an open box
Christophe found some cartridges. He took them to the bed. Anna looked
at them, and at once turned her eyes away to the wall.

Christophe waited, and then asked:

"You don't want to...?"

Anna turned abruptly:

"I will.... Quick!"

She thought:

"Nothing can save me now from the everlasting pit. A little more or
less, it will be just the same."

Christophe awkwardly loaded the revolver.

"Anna," he said, and his voice trembled. "One of us will see the other
die."

She wrenched the pistol out of his hands and said selfishly:

"I shall be the first."

They looked at each other once more.... Alas! At the very moment when
they were to die for each other they felt so far apart!... Each was
thinking in terror:

"What am I doing? What am I doing?"

And each was reading the other's eyes. The absurdity of the thing was
what struck Christophe most. All his life gone for nothing: vain his
struggles: vain his suffering: vain his hopes: all botched, flung to the
winds: one foolish act was to wipe all away.... In his normal state he
would have wrenched the revolver away from Anna and flung it out of the
window and cried:

"No, no! I will not."

But eight months of suffering, of doubt and torturing grief, and on top
of that the whirlwind of their crazy passion, had wasted his strength
and broken his will: he felt that he could do nothing now, that he was
no longer master of himself.... Ah! what did it matter, after all?

Anna, feeling certain that she was doomed to everlasting death,
stretched every nerve to catch and hold the last minute of her life:
Christophe's sorrowful face lit by the flickering candle, the shadows on
the wall, a footstep in the street, the cold contact of the steel in her
hand.... She clung to these sensations, as a shipwrecked man clings to
the spar that sinks beneath his weight. Afterwards all was terror. Why
not prolong the time of waiting? But she said to herself:

"I must...."

She said good-by to Christophe, with no tenderness, with the haste of a
hurried traveler fearful of losing the train: she bared her bosom, felt
for her heart, and laid the mouth of the revolver against it. Christophe
hid his face. Just as she was about to fire she laid her left hand on
Christophe's. It was the gesture of a child dreading to walk in the
darkness....

Then a few frightful seconds passed.... Anna did not fire. Christophe
wanted to raise his head, to take her in his arms: and he was afraid
that his very movement might bring her to the point of firing. He heard
nothing more: he lost consciousness.... A groan from Anna pierced his
heart. He got up. He saw Anna with her face distorted in terror. The
revolver had fallen down on to the bed. She kept on saying plaintively;

"Christophe!... It has missed fire!..."

He took the pistol: it had lain long forgotten and had grown rusty: but
the trigger was in working order. Perhaps the cartridges had gone bad
with exposure to the air.--Anna held out her hand for the revolver.

"Enough! Enough!" he implored her.

She commanded him:

"The cartridges!"

He gave them to her. She examined them, took one, loaded the pistol,
trembling, put the pistol to her breast, and fired.--Once more it missed
fire.

Anna flung the revolver out into the room.

"Oh! It is horrible, horrible!" she cried. "_He_ will not let me die!"

She writhed and sobbed: she was like a madwoman. He tried to touch her:
she beat him off, screaming. Finally she had a nervous attack.
Christophe stayed with her until morning. At last she was pacified: but
she lay still and breathless, with her eyes closed and the livid skin
stretched tight over the bones of her forehead and cheeks: she looked
like one dead.

Christophe repaired the disorder of her bed, picked up the revolver,
fastened on the lock he had wrenched away, tidied up the whole room.,
and went away: for it was seven o'clock and Bäbi might come at any
moment.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Braun returned next morning he found Anna in the same prostrate
condition. He saw that something extraordinary had happened: but he
could glean nothing either from Bäbi or Christophe. All day long Anna
did not stir: she did not open her eyes: her pulse was so weak that he
could hardly feel it: every now and then it would stop, and, for a
moment, Braun would be in a state of agony, thinking that her heart had
stopped. His affection made him doubt his own knowledge: he ran and
fetched a colleague. The two men examined Anna and could not make up
their minds whether it was the beginning of a fever, or a case of
nervous hysteria: they had to keep the patient under observation. Braun
never left Anna's bedside. He refused to eat. Towards evening Anna's
pulse gave no signs of fever, but was extremely weak. Braun tried to
force a few spoonfuls of milk between her lips: she brought it back at
once. Her body lay limp in her husband's arms like a broken doll. Braun
spent the night with her, getting up every moment to listen to her
breathing. Bäbi, who was hardly at all put out by Anna's illness, played
the devoted servant and refused to go to bed and sat up with Braun.

On the Friday Anna opened her eyes. Braun spoke to her: she took no
notice of him. She lay quite still with her eyes staring at a mark on
the wall. About midday Braun saw great tears trickling down her thin
cheeks: he dried them gently: one by one the tears went on trickling
down. Once more Braun tried to make her take some food. She took it
passively. In the evening she began to talk: loose snatches of
sentences. She talked about the Rhine: she had tried to drown herself,
but there was not enough water. In her dreams she persisted in
attempting suicide, imagining all sorts of strange forms of death;
always death was at the back of her thoughts. Sometimes she was arguing
with some one, and then her face would take on an expression of fear and
anger: she addressed herself to God, and tried obstinately to prove that
it was all His fault. Or the flame of desire would kindle in her eyes,
and she would say shameless things which it seemed impossible that she
should know. Once she saw Bäbi, and gave precise orders for the morrow's
washing. At night she dozed. Suddenly she got up: Braun ran to her. She
looked at him strangely, and babbled impatient formless words. He asked
her:

"My dear Anna, what do you want?"

She said harshly:

"Go and bring him."

"Who?" he asked.

She looked at him once more with the same expression and suddenly burst
out laughing: then she drew her hands over her forehead and moaned:

"Oh! my God! Let me forget!..."

Sleep overcame her. She was at peace until day. About dawn she moved a
little: Braun raised her head to give her to drink: she gulped down a
few mouthfuls, and, stooping to Braun's hands, she kissed them. Once more
she dozed off.

On the Saturday morning she woke up about nine o'clock. Without saying a
word, she began to slip out of bed. Braun went quickly to her and tried
to make her lie down again. She insisted. He asked her what she wanted
to do. She replied:

"Go to church."

He tried to argue with her and to remind her that it was not Sunday and
the church was closed. She relapsed into silence: but she sat in a chair
near the bed, and began to put on her clothes with trembling fingers.
Braun's doctor-friend came in. He joined Braun in his entreaties: then,
seeing that she would not give in, he examined her, and finally
consented. He took Braun aside, and told him that his wife's illness
seemed to be altogether moral, and that for the time being he must avoid
opposing her wishes, and that he could see no danger in her going out,
so long as Braun went with her. Braun told Anna that he would go with
her. She refused, and insisted on going alone. But she stumbled as soon
as she tried to walk across the room. Then, without a word, she took
Braun's arm, and they went out. She was very weak, and kept stopping.
Several times he asked her if she wanted to go home. She began to walk
on. When they reached the church, as he had told her, they found the
doors closed. Anna sat down on a bench near the door, and stayed,
shivering, until the clock struck twelve. Then she took Braun's arm
again, and they came home in silence. But in the evening she wanted to
go to church again. Braun's entreaties were useless. He had to go out
with her once more.

Christophe had spent the two days alone. Braun was too anxious to think
about him. Only once, on the Saturday morning, when he was trying to
divert Anna's mind from her fixed idea of going out, he had asked her if
she would like to see Christophe. She had looked at him with such an
expression of fear and loathing that he could not but remark it: and he
never pronounced Christophe's name again.

Christophe had shut himself up in his room. Anxiety, love, remorse, a
very chaos of sorrow was whirling in him. He blamed himself for
everything. He was overwhelmed by self-disgust. More than once he had
got up to go and confess the whole story to Braun--and each time he had
immediately been arrested by the thought of bringing wretchedness to yet
another human being by his self-accusation. At the same time he was
spared nothing of his passion. He prowled about in the passage outside
Anna's room; and when he heard footsteps inside coming to the door he
rushed away to his own room.

When Braun and Anna went out in the afternoon, he looked out for them
from behind his window-curtains. He saw Anna. She who had been so erect
and proud walked now with bowed back, lowered head, yellow complexion:
she was an old woman bending under the weight of the cloak and shawl her
husband had thrown about her: she was ugly. But Christophe did not see
her ugliness: he saw only her misery; and his heart ached with pity and
love. He longed to run to her, to prostrate himself in the mud, to kiss
her feet: her dear body so broken and destroyed by passion, and to
implore her forgiveness. And he thought as he looked after her:

"My work.... That is what I have done!"

But when he looked into the mirror and saw his own face, he was shown
the same devastation in his eyes, in all his features: he saw the marks
of death upon himself, as upon her, and he thought:

"My work? No. It is the work of the cruel Master who drives us mad and
destroys us."

The house was empty. Bäbi had gone out to tell the neighbors of the
day's events. Time was passing. The clock struck five. Christophe was
filled with terror as he thought of Anna's return and the coming of the
night. He felt that he could not bear to stay under the same roof with
her for another night. He felt his reason breaking beneath the weight of
passion. He did not know what to do, he did not know what he wanted,
except that he wanted Anna at all costs. He thought of the wretched face
he had just seen going past his window, and he said to himself:

"I must save her from myself!..."

His will stirred into life.

He gathered together the litter of papers on the table, tied them up,
took his hat and cloak, and went out. In the passage, near the door of
Anna's room, he hurried forward in a spasm of fear. Downstairs he
glanced for the last time into the empty garden. He crept away like a
thief in the night. An icy mist pricked his face and hands. Christophe
skirted the walls of the houses, dreading a meeting with any one he
knew. He went to the station, and got into a train which was just
starting for Lucerne. At the first stopping-place he wrote to Braun. He
said that he had been called away from the town on urgent business for a
few days, and that he was very sorry to have to leave him at such a
time: he begged him to send him news, and gave him an address. At
Lucerne he took the St. Gothard train. Late at night he got out at a
little station between Altorf and Goeschenen. He did not know the name,
never knew it. He went into the nearest inn by the station. The road was
filled with pools of water. It was raining in torrents: it rained all
night and all next day. The water was rushing and roaring like a
cataract from a broken gutter. Sky and earth were drowned, seemingly
dissolved and melted like his own mind. He went to bed between damp
sheets which smelt of railway smoke. He could not lie still. The idea of
the danger hanging over Anna was too much in his mind for him to feel
his own suffering as yet. Somehow he must avert public malignity from
her, somehow turn it aside upon another track. In his feverish condition
a queer idea came to him: he decided to write to one of the few
musicians with whom he had been acquainted in the little town, Krebs,
the confectioner-organist. He gave him to understand that he was off to
Italy upon an affair of the heart, that he had been possessed by the
passion when he first took up his abode with the Brauns, and that he had
tried to shake free of it, but it had been too strong for him. He put
the whole thing clearly enough for Krebs to understand, and yet so
veiled as to enable him to improve on it as he liked. Christophe
implored Krebs to keep his secret. He knew that the good little man
simply could not keep anything to himself, and--quite rightly--he
reckoned on Krebs hastening to spread the news as soon as it came into
his hands. To make sure of hoodwinking the gossips of the town
Christophe closed his letter with a few cold remarks about Braun and
about Anna's illness.

He spent the rest of the night and the next day absorbed by his fixed
Idea.... Anna.... Anna.... He lived through the last few months with
her, day by day: he did not see her as she was, but enveloped her with a
passionate atmosphere of illusion. From the very beginning he had
created her in the image of his own desire, and given her a moral
grandeur, a tragic consciousness which he needed to heighten his love
for her. These lies of passion gained in intensity of conviction now
that they were beyond the control of Anna's presence. He saw in her a
healthy free nature, oppressed, struggling to shake off its fetters,
reaching upwards to a wider life of liberty in the open air of the soul,
and then, fearful of it, struggling against her dreams, wrestling with
them, because they could not be brought into line with her destiny, and
made it only the more sorrowful and wretched. She cried to him: "Help
me." He saw once more her beautiful body, clasped it to him. His
memories tortured him: he took a savage delight in mortifying the wounds
they dealt him. As the day crept on, the feeling of all that he had lost
became so frightful that he could not breathe.

Without knowing what he was doing, he got up, went out, paid his bill,
and took the first train back to the town in which Anna lived. He
arrived in the middle of the night: he went straight to the house. There
was a wall between the alley and the garden next to Braun's. Christophe
climbed the wall, jumped down into the next-door garden, and then into
Braun's. He stood outside the house. It was in darkness save for a
night-light which cast a yellow glow upon a window--the window of Anna's
room. Anna was there. She was suffering. He had only to make one stride
to enter. He laid his hand on the handle of the door. Then he looked at
his hand, the door, the garden: suddenly he realized what he was doing:
and, breaking free of the hallucination which had been upon him for the
last seven or eight hours, he groaned, wrenched free of the inertia
which held him riveted to the ground whereon he stood, ran to the wall,
scaled it, and fled.

That same night he left the town for the second time: and next day he
went and buried himself in a mountain village, hidden from the world by
driving blizzards.--There he would bury his heart, stupefy his thoughts,
and forget, and forget!...

    --"_Éperò leva su, vinci l'ambascia
    Con l'animo che vinea ogni battaglia,
    Se col suo grave corpo non s'accascia.

    "Leva'mi allor, mostrandomi fornito
    Meglio di lena ch'io non mi sentía;
    E dissi: 'Va, ch'io son forte edardito._'"

    INF. XXIV.

Oh! God, what have I done to Thee? Why dost Thou overwhelm me? Since I
was a little child Thou hast appointed misery and conflict to be my lot.
I have struggled without complaint. I have loved my misery. I have tried
to preserve the purity of the soul Thou gavest me, to defend the fire
which Thou hast kindled in me.... Lord, it is Thou, it is Thou who art
so furious to destroy what Thou hast created. Thou hast put out the
fire, Thou hast besmirched my soul. Thou hast despoiled me of all that
gave me life. I had but two treasurable things in the world: my friend
and my soul. Now I have nothing, for Thou hast taken everything from me.
One only creature was mine in the wilderness of the world: Thou hast
taken him from me. Our hearts were one. Thou hast torn them asunder:
Thou hast made us know the sweetness of being together only to make us
know the horror of being lost to each other. Thou hast created emptiness
all about me. Thou hast created emptiness within me. I was broken and
sick, unarmed and robbed of my will. Thou hast chosen that hour to
strike me down. Thou hast come stealthily with silent feet from behind
treacherously, and Thou hast stabbed me: Thou hast let loose upon me Thy
fierce dogs of passion; I was weak, and Thou knewest it, and I could not
struggle: passion has laid me low, and thrown me into confusion, and
befouled me, and destroyed all that I had.... I am left only in
self-disgust. If I could only cry aloud my grief and my shame! or forget
them in the rushing stream of creative force! But my strength is broken,
and my creative power is withered up. I am like a dead tree.... Would I
were dead! O God, deliver me, break my body and my soul, tear me from
this earth, leave me not to struggle blindly in the pit, leave me not in
this endless agony! I cry for mercy.... Lord, make an end!

       *       *       *       *       *

So in his sorrow Christophe cried upon a God in whom his reason did not
believe.

       *       *       *       *       *

He had taken refuge in a lonely farm in the Swiss Jura Mountains. The
house was built in the woods tucked away in the folds of a high humpy
plateau. It was protected from the north winds by crags and boulders. In
front of it lay a wide stretch of fields, and long wooded slopes: the
rock suddenly came to an end in a sheer precipice: twisted pines hung on
the edge of it; behind were wide-spreading beeches. The sky was blotted
out. There was no sign of life. A wide stretch of country with all its
lines erased. The whole place lay sleeping under the snow. Only at night
in the forest foxes barked. It was the end of the winter. Slow dragging
winter. Interminable winter. When it seemed like to break up, snow would
fall once more, and it would begin again.

However, for a week now the old slumbering earth had felt its heart slow
beating to new birth. The first deceptive breath of spring crept into
the air and beneath the frozen crust. From the branches of the
beech-trees, stretched out like soaring wings, the snow melted. Already
through the white cloak of the fields there peered a few thin blades of
grass of tender green: around their sharp needles, through the gaps in
the snow, like so many little mouths, the dank black earth was
breathing. For a few hours every day the voice of the waters, sleeping
beneath their robe of ice, murmured. In the skeleton woods a few birds
piped their shrill clear song.

Christophe noticed nothing. All things were the same to him. He paced up
and down, up and down his room. Or be would walk outside. He could not
keep still. His soul was torn in pieces by inward demons. They fell upon
and rent each other. His suppressed passion never left off beating
furiously against the walls of the house of its captivity. His disgust
with passion was no less furiously in revolt: passion and disgust flew
at each other's throats, and, in their conflict, they lacerated his
heart. And at the same time he was delivered up to the memory of
Olivier, despair at his death, the hunger to create which nothing could
satisfy, and pride rearing on the edge of the abyss of nothingness. He
was a prey to all devils. He had no moment of respite. Or, if there came
a seeming calm, if the rushing waves did fall back for a moment, it was
only that he might find himself alone, and nothing in himself: thought,
love, will, all had been done to death.

To create! That was the only loophole. To abandon the wreck of his life
to the mercy of the waves! To save himself by swimming in the dreams of
art!... To create! He tried.... He could not.

Christophe had never had any method of working. When he was strong and
well he had always rather suffered from his superabundance than been
disturbed at seeing it diminish: he followed his whim: he used to work
first as the fancy took him, as circumstances chanced, with no fixed
rule. As a matter of fact, he was always working everywhere: his brain
was always busy. Often and often Olivier, who was less richly endowed
and more reflective, had warned him:

"Take care. You are trusting too much to your force. It is a mountain
torrent. Full to-day, perhaps dry to-morrow. An artist must coax his
genius: he must not let it scatter itself at random. Turn your force
into a channel. Train yourself in habits of mind and a healthy system of
daily work, at fixed hours. They are as necessary to the artist as the
practice of military movements and steps to a man who is to go into
battle. When moments of crisis come--(and they always do come)--the
bracing of steel prevents the soul from destruction. I know. It is just
that that has saved me from death."

But Christophe used to laugh and say:

"That's all right for you, my boy I There's no danger of my losing my
taste for life. My appetite's too good."

Olivier would shrug his shoulders:

"Too much ends in too little. There are no worse invalids than the men
who have always had too much health."

And now Olivier's words had come true. After the death of his friend the
source of his inward life had not all at once dried up: but it had
become strangely intermittent: it flowed in sudden gushes, then stopped,
then disappeared under the earth. Christophe had paid no heed to it:
what did it matter to him? His grief and his budding passion had
absorbed his mind.--But after the storm had passed, when once more he,
turned to the fountain to drink, he could find no trace of it. All was
barren. Not a trickle of water. His soul was dried up. In vain did he
try to dig down into the sand, and force the water up from the
subterranean wells, and create at all costs: the machine of his mind
refused to obey. He could not invoke the aid of habit, the faithful
ally, which, when we have lost every reason for living, alone, constant
and firmly loyal, stays with us, and speaks no word, and makes no sign,
but with eyes fixed, and silent lips, with its sure unwavering hand
leads us by the hand through the dangerous chasm until the light of day
and the joy of life return. Christophe was helpless: and his hand could
find no guiding hand in the darkness. He could not find his way back to
the light of day.

It was the supreme test. Then he felt that he was on the verge of
madness. Sometimes he would wage an absurd and crazy battle with his own
brain, maniacal obsessions, a nightmare of numbers: he would count the
boards on the floor, the trees in the forest: figures and chords, the
choice of which was beyond his reason. Sometimes he would lie in a state
of prostration, like one dead.

Nobody worried about him. He lived apart in one wing of the house. He
tidied his own room--or left it undone, every day. His meals were laid
for him downstairs: he never saw a human face. His host, an old peasant,
a taciturn, selfish creature, took no interest in him. Whether
Christophe ate or did not eat was his affair. He hardly ever noticed
whether Christophe came in at night. Once he was lost in the forest,
buried up to his hips in the snow: he was very near never returning. He
tried to wear himself out to keep himself from thinking. He could not
succeed. Only now and then could he snatch a few hours of troubled
sleep.

Only one living creature seemed to take any notice of his existence:
this was an old St. Bernard, who used to come and lay his big head with
its mournful eyes on Christophe's knees when Christophe was sitting on
the seat in front of the house. They would look long at each other.
Christophe would not drive him away. Unlike the sick Goethe, the dog's
eyes had no uneasiness for him. Unlike him, he had no desire to cry:

"Go away!... Thou goblin, thou shalt not catch me, whatever thou doest!"

He asked nothing better than to be engrossed by the dog's suppliant
sleepy eyes and to help the beast: he felt that there must be behind
them an imprisoned soul imploring his aid.

In those hours when he was weak with suffering, torn alive away from
life, devoid of human egoism, he saw the victims of men, the field of
battle in which man triumphed in the bloody slaughter of all other
creatures: and his heart was filled with pity and horror. Even in the
days when he had been happy he had always loved the beasts: he had never
been able to bear cruelty towards them: he had always had a detestation
of sport, which he had never dared to express for fear of ridicule:
perhaps even he had never dared to admit it to himself: but his feeling
of repulsion had been the secret cause of the apparently inexplicable
feeling of dislike he had had for certain men: he had never been able to
admit to his friendship a man who could kill an animal for pleasure. It
was not sentimentality: no one knew better than he that life is based on
suffering and infinite cruelty: no man can live without making others
suffer. It is no use closing our eyes and fobbing ourselves off with
words. It is no use either coming to the conclusion that we must
renounce life and sniveling like children. No. We must kill to live, if,
at the time, there is no other means of living. But the man who kills
for the sake of killing is a miscreant. An unconscious miscreant, I
know. But, all the same, a miscreant. The continual endeavor of man
should be to lessen the sum of suffering and cruelty: that is the first
duty of humanity.

In ordinary life those ideas remained buried in Christophe's inmost heart.
He refused to think of them. What was the good? What could he do?
He had to be Christophe, he had to accomplish his work, live at all
costs, live at the cost of the weak.... It was not he who had made the
universe.... Better not think of it, better not think of it.... But when
unhappiness had dragged him down, him, too, to the level of the
vanquished, he had to think of these things Only a little while ago he
had blamed Olivier for plunging into futile remorse and vain compassion
for all the wretchedness that men suffer and inflict. Now he went even
farther: with all the vehemence of his mighty nature he probed to the
depths of the tragedy of the universe: he suffered all the sufferings of
the world, and was left raw and bleeding. He could not think of the
animals without shuddering in anguish. He looked into the eyes of the
beasts and saw there a soul like his own, a soul which could not speak;
but the eyes cried for it:

"What have I done to you? Why do you hurt me?"

He could not bear to see the most ordinary sights that he had seen
hundreds of times--a calf crying in a wicker pen, with its big,
protruding eyes, with their bluish whites and pink lids, and white
lashes, its curly white tufts on its forehead, its purple snout, its
knock-kneed legs:--a lamb being carried by a peasant with its four legs
tied together, hanging head down, trying to hold its head up, moaning
like a child, bleating and lolling its gray tongue:--fowls huddled
together in a basket:--the distant squeals of a pig being bled to
death:--a fish being cleaned on the kitchen-table.... The nameless
tortures which men inflict on such innocent creatures made his heart
ache. Grant animals a ray of reason, imagine what a frightful nightmare
the world is to them: a dream of cold-blooded men, blind and deaf,
cutting their throats, slitting them open, gutting them, cutting them
into pieces, cooking them alive, sometimes laughing at them and their
contortions as they writhe in agony. Is there anything more atrocious
among the cannibals of Africa? To a man whose mind is free there is
something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the
sufferings of men. For with the latter it is at least admitted that
suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But
thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow
of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought
ridiculous.--And that is the unpardonable crime. That alone is the
justification of all that men may suffer. It cries vengeance upon all
the human race. If God exists and tolerates it, it cries vengeance upon
God. If there exists a good God, then even the most humble of living
things must be saved. If God is good only to the strong, if there is no
justice for the weak and lowly, for the poor creatures who are offered
up as a sacrifice to humanity, then there is no such thing as goodness,
no such thing as justice....

Alas! The slaughter accomplished by man is so small a thing of itself in
the carnage of the universe! The animals devour each other. The peaceful
plants, the silent trees, are ferocious beasts one to another. The
serenity of the forests is only a commonplace of easy rhetoric for the
literary men who only know Nature through their books!... In the forest
hard by, a few yards away from the house, there were frightful struggles
always toward. The murderous beeches flung themselves upon the pines
with their lovely pinkish stems, hemmed in their slenderness with
antique columns, and stifled them. They rushed down upon the oaks and
smashed them, and made themselves crutches of them. The beeches were
like Briareus with his hundred arms, ten trees in one tree! They dealt
death all about them. And when, failing foes, they came together, they
became entangled, piercing, cleaving, twining round each other like
antediluvian monsters. Lower down, in the forest, the acacias had left
the outskirts and plunged into the thick of it and attacked the
pinewoods, strangling and tearing up the roots of their foes, poisoning
them with their secretions. It was a struggle to the death in which the
victors at once took possession of the room and the spoils of the
vanquished. Then the smaller monsters would finish the work of the
great. Fungi, growing between the roots, would suck at the sick tree,
and gradually empty it of its vitality. Black ants would grind exceeding
small the rotting wood. Millions of invisible insects were gnawing,
boring, reducing to dust what had once been life.... And the silence of
the struggle!... Oh! the peace of Nature, the tragic mask that covers
the sorrowful and cruel face of Life! Christophe was going down and
down. But he was not the kind of man to let himself drown without a
struggle, with his arms held close to his sides. In vain did he wish to
die: he did everything in his power to remain alive. He was one of those
men of whom Mozart said: _"They must act until at last they have no
means of action."_ He felt that he was sinking, and in his fall he
cast about, striking out with his arms to right and left, for some
support to which to cling. It seemed to him that he had found it. He had
just remembered Olivier's little boy. At once he turned on him all his
desire for life: he clung to him desperately. Yes: he must go and find
him, claim him, bring him up, love him, take the place of his father,
bring Olivier to life again in his son. Why had he not thought of it in
the selfishness of his sorrow? He wrote to Cécile, who had charge of the
boy. He waited feverishly for her reply. His whole being was bent upon
the one thought. He forced himself to be calm: he still had reason for
hope. He was quite confident about it: he knew how kind Cécile was.

Her answer came. Cécile said that three months after Olivier's death, a
lady in black had come to her house and said:

"Give me back my child!"

It was Jacqueline, who had deserted her child and Olivier,--Jacqueline,
but so changed that she had hardly recognized her. Her mad love affair
had not lasted. She had wearied of her lover more quickly than her lover
had done of her. She had come back broken, disgusted, aged. The too
flagrant scandal of her adventure had closed many doors to her. The
least scrupulous had not been the least severe. Even her mother had been
so offensive and so contemptuous that Jacqueline had found it impossible
to stay with her. She had seen through and through the world's
hypocrisy. Olivier's death had been the last blow. She seemed so utterly
sorrowful that Cécile had not thought it right to refuse to let her have
her boy. It was hard for her to have to give up the little creature,
whom she had grown so used to regarding as her own. But how could she
make things even harder for a woman who had more right than herself, a
woman who was further more unhappy? She had wanted to write to
Christophe to ask his advice. But Christophe had never answered the
letters she had written him, she did not know his address, she did not
even know whether he was alive or dead.... Joy comes and goes. What
could she do? Only resign herself to the inevitable. The main thing was
for the child to be happy and to be loved....

The letter reached him in the evening. A belated gust of winter brought
back the snow. It fell all night. In the forest, where already the young
leaves had appeared, the trees cracked and split beneath the weight of
it. They went off like a battery of artillery. Alone in his room,
without a light, surrounded only by the phosphorescent darkness,
Christophe sat listening to the tragic sounds of the forest, and started
at every crack: and he was like one of the trees bending beneath its
load and snapping. He said to himself:

"Now the end has come."

Night passed. Day came. The tree was not broken. All through the new day
and the following night the tree went on bending and cracking: but it
did not break. Christophe had no reason for living left: and he went on
living. He had no motive for struggling; and he struggled, body to body,
foot to foot, with the invisible enemy who was bending his back. He was
like Jacob with the angel. He expected nothing from the fight, he
expected nothing now but the end, rest; and he went on fighting. And he
cried aloud:

"Break me and have done! Why dost thou not throw me down?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Days passed. Christophe issued from the fight, utterly lifeless. Yet he
would not lie down, and insisted on going out and walking. Happy are
those men who are sustained by the fortitude of their race in the hours
of eclipse of their lives! Though the body of the son was near
breaking-point, the strength of the father and the grandfather held him
up: the energy and impetus of his robust ancestors sustained his broken
soul, like a dead knight being carried along by his horse.

       *       *       *       *       *

Along a precipitous road he went with a ravine on either hand: he went
down the narrow path, thick with sharp stones, among which coiled the
gnarled roots of the little stunted oaks: he did not know where he was
going, and yet he was more surefooted than if he had been moving under
the lucid direction of his will. He had not slept, he had hardly eaten
anything for several days. He saw a mist in front of his eyes. He walked
down towards the valley.--It was Easter-week. A cloudy day. The last
assault of winter had been overcome. The warmth of spring was brooding.
From the villages far down the sound of bells came up: first from a
village nestling in a hollow at the foot of the mountain, with its
dappled thatched roofs, dark and light in patches, covered with thick,
velvety moss. Then from another, out of sight, on the other slope of the
hill. Then, others down on the plain beyond the river. And the distant
hum of a town seen hazily in the mist. Christophe stopped. His heart
almost stopped beating. Their voices seemed to be saying:

"Come with us. Here is peace. Here sorrow is dead. Dead, and thought is
dead too. We croon so sweetly to the soul that it sleeps in our arms,
Come, and rest, and thou shalt not wake again."

He felt so worn out! He was so fain to sleep! But he shook his head and
said:

"It is not peace that I seek, but life."

He went on his way. He walked for miles without noticing it. In his
state of weakness and hallucination the simplest sensations came to him
with unexpected resonance. Over earth and air his mind cast fantastic
lights. A shadow, with nothing to cause it that he could see, going
before him on the white and sunless road, made him tremble.

As he emerged from a wood he found himself near a village. He turned
back: the sight of men hurt him. However, he could not avoid passing by
a lonely house above the hamlet: it was built on the side of the
mountain, and looked like a sanatorium: it was surrounded by a large
garden open to the sun; a few men were wandering with faltering
footsteps along the gravel paths. Christophe did not look at it
particularly: but at a turn of the path he came face to face with a man
with pale eyes and a fat, yellow face, staring blankly, who had sunk
down on a seat at the foot of two poplar trees. Another man was sitting
by his side: they were both silent. Christophe walked past them. But, a
few yards on, he stopped: the man's eyes had seemed familiar to him. He
turned. The man had not stirred: he was still staring fixedly at
something in front of him. But his companion looked at Christophe, who
beckoned to him. He came up.

"Who is he?" asked Christophe.

"A patient in the asylum," said the man, pointing to the house.

"I think I know him," said Christophe.

"Possibly," replied the man. "He was a well-known writer in Germany."

Christophe mentioned a name.--Yes. That was the name.--He had met him
once in the days when he was writing for Mannheim's review. Then, they
were enemies: Christophe was only just beginning, and the other was
already famous. He had been a man of considerable power, very
self-confident, very contemptuous of other men's work, a novelist whose
realistic and sensual writings had stood out above the mediocrity of the
productions of his day. Christophe, who detested the man, could not help
admiring the perfection of his materialistic art, which was sincere,
though limited.

"He went mad a year ago," said the keeper. "He was treated, regarded as
cured, and sent home. Then he went mad again. One evening he threw
himself out of the window. At first, when he came here, he used to fling
himself about and shout. But now he is quite quiet. He spends his days
sitting there, as you see."

"What is he looking at?" asked Christophe.

He went up to the seat, and looked pitifully at the pale face of the
madman, with his heavy eyelids drooping over his eyes: one of them
seemed to be almost shut. The madman seemed to be unaware of
Christophe's presence. Christophe spoke to him by name and took his
hand--a soft, clammy hand, which lay limp in his like a dead thing: he
had not the courage to keep it in his: the man raised his glazing eyes
to Christophe for a moment, then went on staring straight in front of
him with his besotted smile. Christophe asked:

"What are you looking at?"

The man said, without moving, in a whisper:

"I am waiting."

"What for?"

"The Resurrection."

Christophe started back. He walked hurriedly away. The word had burnt
into his very soul.

He plunged into the forest, and climbed up the hillside in the direction
of his own house. In his confusion he missed his way, and found himself
in the middle of an immense pine-wood. Darkness and silence. A few
patches of sunlight of a pale, ruddy gold, come it was impossible to
tell whence, fell aslant the dense shadows. Christophe was hypnotized by
these patches of light. Round him everything seemed to be in darkness.
He walked along over the carpet of pine-needles, tripping over the roots
which stood out like swollen veins. At the foot of the trees were
neither plants nor moss. In the branches was never the song of a bird.
The lower branches were dead. All the life of the place had fled upwards
to meet the sun. Soon even the life overhead would be gone. Christophe
passed into a part of the wood which was visited by some mysterious
pestilence. A kind of long, delicate lichen, like spiders' webs, had
fastened upon the branches of the red pines, and wrapped them about with
its meshes, binding them from hand to foot, passing from tree to tree,
choking the life out of the forest. It was like the deep-sea alga with
its subtle tentacles. There was in the place the silence of the depths
of the ocean. High overhead hung the pale sun. Mists which had crept
insidiously through the forest encompassed Christophe. Everything
disappeared: there was nothing to be seen. For half an hour Christophe
wandered at random in the web of the white mist, which grew slowly
thicker, black, and crept down into his throat: he thought he was going
straight: but he was walking in a circle beneath the gigantic spiders'
webs hanging from the stifled pines: the mist, passing through them,
left them enriched with shivering drops of water. At last the meshes
were rent asunder, a hole was made, and Christophe managed to make his
way out of the submarine forest. He came to living woods and the silent
conflict of the pines and the beeches. But everywhere there was the same
stillness. The silence, which had been brooding for hours, was
agonizing. Christophe stopped to listen....

Suddenly, in the distance, there came a storm. A premonitory gust of
wind blew up from the depths of the forest. Like a galloping horse it
rushed over the swaying tree-tops. It was like the God of Michael Angelo
passing in a water-spout. It passed over Christophe's head. The forest
rustled, and Christophe's heart quivered. It was the Annunciation....

Silence came again. In a state of holy terror Christophe walked quickly
home, with his legs giving way beneath him. At the door of the house he
glanced fearfully behind him, like a hunted man. All Nature seemed dead.
The forests which covered the sides of the mountain were sleeping, lying
heavy beneath a weight of sadness. The still air was magically clear and
transparent. There was never a sound. Only the melancholy music of a
stream--water eating away the rock--sounded the knell of the earth,
Christophe went to bed in a fever. It the stable hard by the beasts
stirred as restlessly and uneasily as he....

Night. He had dozed off. In the silence the distant storm arose once
more. The wind returned, like a hurricane now,--the _foehn_ of the
spring, with its burning breath warming the still sleeping, chilly
earth, the _foehn_ which melts the ice and gathers fruitful rains.
It rumbled like thunder in the forests on the other side of the ravine.
It came nearer, swelled, charged up the slopes: the whole mountain
roared. In the stable a horse neighed and the cows lowed. Christophe's
hair stood on end, he sat up in bed and listened. The squall came up
screaming, set the shutters banging, the weather-cocks squeaking, made
the slates of the roof go crashing down, and the whole house shake. A
flower-pot fell and was smashed. Christophe's window was insecurely
fastened, and was burst open with a bang, and the warm wind rushed in.
Christophe received its blast full in his face and on his naked chest.
He jumped out of bed gaping, gasping, choking. It was as though the
living God were rushing into his empty soul. The Resurrection!... The
air poured down his throat, the flood of new life swelled through him
and penetrated to his very marrow. He felt like to burst, he wanted to
shout, to shout for joy and sorrow: and there would only come
inarticulate sounds from his mouth. He reeled, he beat on the walls with
his arms, while all around him were sheets of paper flying on the wind.
He fell down in the middle of the room and cried:

"O Thou, Thou! Thou art come back to me at last!"

"Thou art come back to me, Thou art come back to me! O Thou, whom I had
lost!... Why didst Thou abandon me?"

"To fulfil My task, that thou didst abandon."

"What task?"

"My fight."

"What need hast Thou to fight? Art Thou not master of all?"

"I am not the master."

"Art Thou not All that Is?"

"I am not all that is. I am Life fighting Nothingness. I am not
Nothingness, I am the Fire which burns in the Night. I am not the Night.
I am the eternal Light; I am not an eternal destiny soaring above the
fight. I am free Will which struggles eternally. Struggle and burn with
Me."

"I am conquered. I am good for nothing."

"Thou art conquered? All seems lost to thee? Others will be conquerors.
Think not of thyself, think of My army."

"I am alone. I have none but myself. I belong to no army."

"Thou art not alone, and thou dost not belong to thyself. Thou art one
of My voices, thou art one of My arms. Speak and strike for Me. But if
the arm be broken, or the voice be weary, then still I hold My ground: I
fight with other voices, other arms than thine. Though thou art
conquered, yet art thou of the army which is never vanquished. Remember
that and thou wilt fight even unto death."

"Lord, I have suffered much!"

"Thinkest thou that I do not suffer also? For ages death has hunted Me
and nothingness has lain in wait for Me. It is only by victory in the
fight that I can make My way. The river of life is red with My blood."

"Fighting, always fighting?"

"We must always fight. God is a fighter, even He Himself. God is a
conqueror. He is a devouring lion. Nothingness hems Him in and He hurls
it down. And the rhythm of the fight is the supreme harmony. Such
harmony is not for thy mortal ears. It is enough for thee to know that
it exists. Do thy duty in peace and leave the rest to the Gods."

"I have no strength left."

"Sing for those who are strong."

"My voice is gone."

"Pray."

"My heart is foul."

"Pluck it out. Take Mine."

"Lord, it is easy to forget myself, to cast away my dead soul. But how
can I cast out the dead? how can I forget those whom I have loved?"

"Abandon the dead with thy dead soul. Thou wilt find them alive with My
living soul."

"Thou hast left me once: wilt Thou leave me again?"

"I shall leave thee again. Never doubt that. It is for thee never to
leave Me more."

"But if the flame of my life dies down?"

"Then do thou kindle others."

"And if death is in me?"

"Life is otherwhere. Go, open thy gates to life. Thou insensate man, to
shut thyself up in thy ruined house! Quit thyself. There are other
mansions."

"O Life, O Life! I see ... I sought thee in myself, in my own empty
shut-in soul. My soul is broken: the sweet air pours in through the
windows of my wounds: I breathe again, I have found Thee once more, O
Life!..."

"I have found thee again.... Hold thy peace, and listen."

       *       *       *       *       *

And like the murmuring of a spring, Christophe heard the song of life
bubbling up in him. Leaning out of his window, he saw the forest, which
yesterday had been dead, seething with life under the sun and the wind,
heaving like the Ocean. Along the stems of the trees, like thrills of
joy, the waves of the wind passed: and the yielding branches held their
arms in ecstasy up to the brilliant sky. And the torrent rang out
merrily as a bell. The countryside had risen from the grave in which
yesterday it had been entombed: life had entered it at the time when
love passed into Christophe's heart. Oh! the miracle of the soul touched
by grace, awaking to new life! Then everything comes to life again all
round it. The heart begins to beat once more. The eye of the spirit is
opened. The dried-up fountains begin once more to flow.

And Christophe returned to the Divine conflict.... How his own fight,
how all the conflicts of men were lost in that gigantic battle, wherein
the suns rain down like flakes of snow tossing on the wind!... He had
laid bare his soul. And, just as in those dreams in which one hovers in
space, he felt that he was soaring above himself, he saw himself from
above, in the general plan of the world; and the meaning of his efforts,
the price of his suffering, were revealed to him at a glance. His
struggles were a part of the great fight of the worlds. His overthrow
was a momentary episode, immediately repaired. Just as he fought for
all, so all fought for him. They shared his trials, he shared their
glory.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Companions, enemies, walk over me, crush me, let me feel the cannons
which shall win victory pass over my body! I do not think of the iron
which cuts deep into my flesh, I do not think of the foot that tramples
down my head, I think of my Avenger, the Master, the Leader of the
countless army. My blood shall cement the victory of the future...."

God was not to him the impassive Creator, a Nero from his tower of brass
watching the burning of the City to which he himself has set fire. God
was fighting. God was suffering. Fighting and suffering with all who
fight and for all who suffer. For God was Life, the drop of light fallen
into the darkness, spreading out, reaching out, drinking up the night.
But the night is limitless, and the Divine struggle will never cease:
and none can know how it will end. It was a heroic symphony wherein the
very discords clashed together and mingled and grew into a serene whole!
Just as the beech-forest in silence furiously wages war, so Life carries
war into the eternal peace.

The wars and the peace rang echoing through Christophe. He was like a
shell wherein the ocean roars. Epic shouts passed, and trumpet calls,
and tempestuous sounds borne upon sovereign rhythms. For in that
sonorous soul everything took shape in sound. It sang of light. It sang
of darkness, sang of life and death. It sang for those who were
victorious in battle. It sang for himself who was conquered and laid
low. It sang. All was song. It was nothing but song.

It was so drunk with it that it could not hear its own song. Like the
spring rains, the torrents of music disappeared into the earth that was
cracked by the winter. Shame, grief, bitterness now revealed their
mysterious mission: they had decomposed the earth and they had
fertilized it. The share of sorrow, breaking the heart, had opened up
new sources of life. The waste land had once more burst into flower. But
they were not the old spring flowers. A new soul had been born.

Every moment it was springing into birth. For it was not yet shaped and
hardened, like the souls that have come to the end of their belief, the
souls which are at the point of death. It was not the finished statue.
It was molten metal. Every second made a new universe of it. Christophe
had no thought of setting bounds upon himself. He gave himself up to the
joy of a man leaving behind him the burden of his past and setting out
on a long voyage, with youth in his blood, freedom in his heart, to
breathe the sea air, and think that the voyage will never come to an
end. Now that he was caught up again by the creative force which flows
through the world, he was amazed to the point of ecstasy at the world's
wealth. He loved, he _was_, his neighbor as himself. And all things
were "neighbors" to him, from the grass beneath his feet to the man
whose hand he clasped. A fine tree, the shadow of a cloud on the
mountain, the breath of the fields borne upward on the wind, and, at
night, the hive of heaven buzzing with the swarming suns ... his blood
raced through him ... he had no desire to speak or to think, he desired
only to laugh and to cry, and to melt away into the living marvel of it
all. Write? Why should he write? Can a man write the inexpressible?...
But whether it were possible or no, he had to write. It was his law.
Ideas would come to him in flashes, wherever he might be, most often
when he was out walking. He could not wait. Then he would write with
anything, on anything that came to hand: and very often he could not
have told the meaning of the phrases which came rushing forth from him
with irresistible impetuosity: and, as he wrote, more ideas would come,
more and more: and he would write and write, on his shirt cuffs, in the
lining of his hat. Quickly though he wrote, yet his thoughts would leap
ahead, and he had to use a sort of shorthand.

They were only rough notes. The difficulty began when he tried to turn
his ideas into the ordinary musical forms: he discovered that none of
the conventional molds were in the least suitable: if he wanted to fix
his visions with any sort of fidelity, he had to begin by forgetting all
the music he had ever heard, everything he had ever written, make a
clean sweep of all the formulae he had ever learned, and the traditional
technique; fling away all such crutches of the impotent mind, the
comfortable bed made for the indolence of those who lie back on the
thoughts of other men to save themselves the trouble of thinking for
themselves. A short while ago, when he thought that he had reached
maturity in life and art--(as a matter of fact he had only been at the
end of one of his lives and one of his incarnations in art),--he had
expressed himself in a preexisting language: his feelings had submitted
without revolt to the logic of a pre-established development, which
dictated a portion of his phrases in advance, and had led him, docilely
enough, along the beaten track to the appointed spot where the public
was awaiting him. Now there was no road marked out, and his feelings had
to carve out their own path: his mind had only to follow. It was no
longer appointed to describe or to analyze passion: it had to become
part and parcel of it, and seek to wed its inward law.

At the same time he shed all the contradictions in which he had long
been involved, though he had never willingly submitted to them. For,
although he was a pure artist, he had often incorporated in his art
considerations which are foreign to art: he had endowed it with a social
mission. And he had not perceived that there were two men in him: the
creative artist who never worried himself about any moral aim, and the
man of action, the thinker, who wanted his art to be moral and social.
The two would sometimes bring each other to an awkward pass. But now
that he was subject to every creative idea, with its organic law, like a
reality superior to all reality, he had broken free of practical reason.
In truth, he shed none of his contempt for the flabby and depraved
immorality of the age: in truth, he still thought that its impure and
unwholesome art was the lowest rung of art, because it is a disease, a
fungus growing on a rotting trunk: but if art for pleasure's sake is the
prostration of art, Christophe by no means opposed to it the
short-sighted utilitarianism of art for morality's sake, that winged
Pegasus harnessed to the plow. The highest art, the only art which is
worthy of the name, is above all temporary laws: it is a comet sweeping
through the infinite. It may be that its force is useful, it may be that
it is apparently useless and dangerous in the existing order of the
workaday world: but it is force, it is movement and fire: it is the
lightning darted from heaven: and, for that very reason, it is sacred,
for that very reason it is beneficent. The good it does may be of the
practical order: but its real, its Divine benefits are, like faith, of
the supernatural order. It is like the sun whence it is sprung. The sun
is neither moral nor immoral. It is that which Is. It lightens the
darkness of space. And so does art.

And Christophe, being delivered up to art, was amazed to find unknown
and unsuspected powers teeming in himself: powers quite apart from his
passions, his sorrows, his conscious soul, a stranger soul, indifferent
to all his loves and sufferings, to all his life, a joyous, fantastic,
wild, incomprehensible soul. It rode him and dug its spurs into his
sides. And, in the rare moments when he could stop to take breath, he
wondered as he read over what he had written:

"How could such things have come out of me?"

He was a prey to that delirium of the mind which is known to every man
of genius, that will which is independent of the will, _"the ineffable
enigma of the world and life"_ which Goethe calls _"the demoniac,"_
against which he was always armed, though it always overcame him.

And Christophe wrote and wrote. For days and weeks. There are times when
the mind, being impregnated, can feed upon itself and go on producing
almost indefinitely. The faintest contact with things, the pollen of a
flower borne by the wind were enough to make the inward germs, the
myriads of germs put forth and come to blossom. Christophe had no time
to think, no time to live. His creative soul reigned sovereign over the
ruins of his life.

       *       *       *       *       *

And suddenly it stopped. Christophe came out of that state broken,
scorched, older by ten years--but saved. He had left Christophe and gone
over to God.

Streaks of white hair had suddenly appeared in his black mane, like
those autumn flowers which spring up in the fields in September nights.
There were fresh lines on his cheeks. But his eyes had regained their
calm expression, and his mouth bore the marks of resignation. He was
appeased. He understood now. He understood the vanity of his pride, the
vanity of human pride, under the terrible hand of the Force which moves
the worlds. No man is surely master of himself. A man must watch. For if
he slumbers that Force rushes into him and whirls him headlong ... into
what dread abysses? or the torrent which bears him along sinks and
leaves him on its dry bed. To fight the fight it is not enough to will.
A man must humiliate himself before the unknown God, who _fiat ubi
vult_, who blows where and when He listeth, love, death, or life.
Human will can do nothing without God's. One second is enough for Him to
obliterate the work of years of toil and effort. And, if it so please
Him, He can cause the eternal to spring forth from dust and mud. No man
more than the creative artist feels at the mercy of God: for, if he is
truly great, he will only say what the Spirit bids him.

And Christophe understood the wisdom of old Haydn who went down on his
knees each morning before he took pen in hand.... _Vigila et ora_.
Watch and pray. Pray to God that He may be with you. Keep in loving and
pious communion with the Spirit of life.

       *       *       *       *       *

Towards the end of summer a Parisian friend of Christophe's, who was
passing through Switzerland, discovered his retreat. He was a musical
critic who in old days had been an excellent judge of his compositions.
He was accompanied by a well-known painter, who was avowedly a
whole-hearted admirer of Christophe's. They told him of the very
considerable success of his work, which was being played all over
Europe. Christophe showed very little interest in the news: the past was
dead to him, and his old compositions did not count. At his visitors'
request he showed them the music he had written recently. The critic
could make nothing of it. He thought Christophe had gone mad.

"No melody, no measure, no thematic workmanship: a sort of liquid core,
molten matter which had not hardened, taking any shape, but possessing
none of its own: it is like nothing on earth: a glimmering of light in
chaos."

Christophe smiled:

"It is quite like that," he said. "The eyes of chaos shining through the
veil of order...."

But the critic did not understand Novalis' words:

("He is cleaned out," he thought.)

Christophe did not try to make him understand.

When his visitors were ready to go he walked with them a little, so as
to do the honors of his mountain. But he did not go far. Looking down at
a field, the musical critic called to mind the scenery of a Parisian
theater: and the painter criticised the colors, mercilessly remarking on
the awkwardness of their combination, and declaring that to him they had
a Swiss flavor, sour, like rhubarb, musty and dull, _à la_ Hodler;
further, he displayed an indifference to Nature which was not altogether
affectation. He pretended to ignore Nature.

"Nature! What on earth is Nature? I don't know. Light, color, very well!
But I don't care a hang for Nature!"

Christophe shook hands with them and let them go. That sort of thing had
no effect on him now. They were on the other side of the ravine. That
was well. He said to nobody in particular:

"If you wish to come up to me, you must take the same road."

The creative fire which had been burning for months had died down. But
its comfortable warmth was still in Christophe's heart. He knew that the
fire would flare up again: if not in himself, then around him. Wherever
it might be, he would love it just the same: it would always be the same
fire. On that September evening he could feel it burning throughout all
Nature.

       *       *       *       *       *

He climbed up to the house. There had been a storm. The sun had come out
again. The fields were steaming. The ripe fruit was falling from the
apple-trees into the wet grass. Spiders' webs, hanging from the branches
of the trees, still glittering with the rain, were like the ancient
wheels of Mycenaean chariots. At the edge of the dripping forest the
green woodpecker was trilling his jerky laughter; and myriads of little
wasps, dancing in the sunbeams, filled the vault of the woods with their
deep, long-drawn organ note.

Christophe came to a clearing, in the hollow of a shoulder of the
mountain, a little valley shut in at both ends, a perfect oval in shape,
which was flooded with the light of the setting sun: the earth was red:
in the midst lay a little golden field of belated crops, and
rust-colored rushes. Round about it was a girdle of the woods with their
ripe autumn tints: ruddy copper beeches, pale yellow chestnuts, rowans
with their coral berries, flaming cherry-trees with their little tongues
of fire, myrtle-bushes with their leaves of orange and lemon and brown
and burnt tinder. It was like a burning bush. And from the heart of the
flaring cup rose and soared a lark, drunk with the berries and the sun.

And Christophe's soul was like the lark. It knew that it would soon come
down to earth again, and many times. But it knew also that it would
unwearyingly ascend in the fire, singing its "tirra-lirra" which tells
of the light of the heavens to those who are on earth below.



THE NEW DAWN



HERE, AT THE END OF THIS BOOK,

I DEDICATE IT:

TO THE FREE SPIRITS--OF ALL NATIONS--

WHO SUFFER, FIGHT, AND

WILL PREVAIL.

R. R.



PREFACE TO THE LAST VOLUME

OF

JEAN-CHRISTOPHE


I have written the tragedy of a generation which is nearing its end. I
have sought to conceal neither its vices nor its virtues, its profound
sadness, its chaotic pride, its heroic efforts, its despondency beneath
the overwhelming burden of a superhuman task, the burden of the whole
world, the reconstruction of the world's morality, its esthetic
principles, its faith, the forging of a new humanity.--Such we have
been.

You young men, you men of to-day, march over us, trample us under your
feet, and press onward. Be ye greater and happier than we.
For myself, I bid the soul that was mine farewell. I cast it from me
like an empty shell. Life is a succession of deaths and resurrections.
We must die, Christophe, to be born again,

ROMAIN ROLLAND.

October, 1912.

[Illustration: Musical notation with caption: Du holde Kunst, in wie
viel grauen Stunden]


Life passes. Body and soul flow onward like a stream. The years are
written in the flesh of the ageing tree. The whole visible world of form
is forever wearing out and springing to new life. Thou only dost not
pass, immortal music. Thou art the inward sea. Thou art the profound
depths of the soul. In thy clear eyes the scowling face of life is not
mirrored. Far, far from thee, like the herded clouds, flies the
procession of days, burning, icy, feverish, driven by uneasiness,
huddling, moving on, on, never for one moment to endure. Thou only dost
not pass. Thou art beyond the world. Thou art a whole world to thyself.
Thou hast thy sun, thy laws, thy ebb and flow. Thou hast the peace of
the stars in the great spaces of the field of night, marking their
luminous track-plows of silver guided by the sure hand of the invisible
ox-herd.

Music, serene music, how sweet is thy moony light to eyes wearied of the
harsh brilliance of this world's sun! The soul that has lived and turned
away from the common horse-pond, where, as they drink, men stir up the
mud with their feet, nestles to thy bosom, and from thy breasts is
suckled with the clear running water of dreams. Music, thou virgin
mother, who in thy immaculate womb bearest the fruit of all passions,
who in the lake of thy eyes, whereof the color is as the color of
rushes, or as the pale green glacier water, enfoldest good and evil,
thou art beyond evil, thou art beyond good; he that taketh refuge with
thee is raised above the passing of time: the succession of days will be
but one day; and death that devours everything on such an one will never
close its jaws.

Music, thou who hast rocked my sorrow-laden soul; music, thou who hast
made me firm in strength, calm and joyous,--my love and my treasure,--I
kiss thy pure lips, I hide my face in thy honey-sweet hair. I lay my
burning eyelids upon the cool palms of thy hands. No word we speak, our
eyes are closed, and I see the ineffable light of thine eyes, and I
drink the smile of thy silent lips: and, pressed close to thy heart, I
listen to the throb of eternal life.



I


Christophe loses count of the fleeting years. Drop by drop life ebbs
away. But _his_ life is elsewhere. It has no history. His history
lies wholly in his creative work. The unceasing buzzing song of music
fills his soul, and makes him insensible to the outward tumult.

Christophe has conquered. His name has been forced upon the world. He is
ageing. His hair is white. That is nothing to him, his heart is ever
young: he has surrendered none of his force, none of his faith. Once
more he is calm, but not as he was before he passed by the Burning Bush.
In the depths of his soul there is still the quivering of the storm, the
memory of his glimpse into the abyss of the raging seas. He knows that
no man may boast of being master of himself without the permission of
the God of battle. In his soul there are two souls. One is a high
plateau swept by winds and shrouded with, clouds. The other, higher
still, is a snowy peak bathed in light. There it is impossible to dwell;
but, when he is frozen by the mists on the lower ground, well he knows
the path that leads to the sun. In his misty soul Christophe is not
alone. Near him he ever feels the presence of an invisible friend, the
sturdy Saint Cecilia, listening with wide, calm eyes to the heavens;
and, like the Apostle Paul,--in Raphael's picture,--silent and
dreaming, leaning on his sword, he is beyond exasperation, and has no
thought of fighting: he dreams, and forges his dreams into form.

During this period of his life he mostly wrote piano and chamber music.
In such work he was more free to dare and be bold: it necessitated fewer
intermediaries between his ideas and their realization; his ideas were
less in danger of losing force in the course of their percolation.
Frescobaldi, Couperin, Schubert, and Chopin, in their boldness of
expression and style, anticipated the revolutionaries in orchestral
music by fifty years. Out of the crude stuff shaped by Christophe's
strong hands came strange and unknown agglomerations of harmony,
bewildering combinations of chords, begotten of the remotest kinships of
sounds accessible to the senses in these days; they cast a magical and
holy spell upon the mind.--But the public must have time to grow
accustomed to the conquests and the trophies which a great artist brings
back with him from his quest in the deep waters of the ocean. Very few
would follow Christophe in the temerity of his later works. His fame was
due to his earlier compositions. The feeling of not being understood,
which is even more painful in success than in the lack of it, because
there seems to be no way out of it, had, since the death of his only
friend, aggravated in Christophe his rather morbid tendency to seek
isolation from the world.

However, the gates of Germany were open to him once more. In France the
tragic brawl had been forgotten. He was free to go whithersoever he
pleased. But he was afraid of the memories that would lie in wait for
him in Paris. And, although he had spent a few months in Germany and
returned there from time to time to conduct performances of his work, he
did not settle there. He found too many things which hurt him. They were
not particular to Germany: he found them elsewhere. But a man expects
more of his own country than any other, and he suffers more from its
foibles. It was true, too, that Germany was bearing the greatest burden
of the sins of Europe. The victor incurs the responsibility of his
victory, a debt towards the vanquished: tacitly the victor is pledged to
march in front of them to show them the way. The conquests of Louis XIV.
gave Europe the splendor of French reason. What light has the Germany of
Sedan given to the world? The glitter of bayonets? Thought without
wings, action without generosity, brutal realism, which has not even the
excuse of being the realism of healthy men; force and interest: Mars
turned bagman. Forty years ago Europe was led astray into the night, and
the terrors of the night. The sun was hidden beneath the conqueror's
helmet. If the vanquished are too weak to raise the extinguisher, and
can claim only pity mingled with contempt, what shall be given to the
victor who has done this thing?

A little while ago, day began to peep: little shafts of light shimmered
through the cracks. Being one of the first to see the rising of the sun,
Christophe had come out of the shadow of the helmet: gladly he returned
to the country in which he had been a sojourner perforce, to
Switzerland. Like so many of the spirits of that time, spirits thirsting
for liberty, choking in the narrowing circle of the hostile nations, he
sought a corner of the earth in which he could stand above Europe and
breathe freely. Formerly, in the days of Goethe, the Rome of the free
Popes was the island upon which all the winged thought of divers nations
came to rest, like birds taking shelter from the storm. Now what refuge
is there? The island has been covered by the sea. Rome is no more. The
birds have fled from the Seven Hills.--The Alps only are left for them.
There, amid the rapacity of Europe, stands (for how long?) the little
island of twenty-four cantons. In truth it has not the poetic radiance
and glamor of the Eternal City: history has not filled its air with the
breath of gods and heroes; but a mighty music rises from the naked
Earth; there is an heroic rhythm in the lines of the mountains, and
here, more than anywhere else, a man can feel himself in contact with
elemental forces. Christophe did not go there in search of romantic
pleasure. A field, a few trees, a stream, the wide sky, were enough to
make him feel alive. The calm aspect of his native country was sweeter
and more companionable to him than the gigantic grandeur of the Alps.
But he could not forget that it was here that he had renewed his
strength: here God had appeared to him in the Burning Bush; and he never
returned thither without a thrill of gratitude and faith. He was not the
only one. How many of the combatants of life, ground beneath life's
heel, have on that soil renewed their energy to turn again to the fight,
and believe once more in its purpose!

Living in that country he had come to know it well. The majority of
those who pass through it see only its excrescences: the leprosy of the
hotels which defiles the fairest features of that sturdy piece of earth,
the stranger cities, the monstrous marts whither all the fatted people
of the world come to browse, the _table d'hôte_ meals, the masses
of food flung into the trough for the nosing beasts: the casino bands
with their silly music mingling with the noise of the little horses, the
Italian scum whose disgusting uproar makes the bored wealthy idiots
wriggle with pleasure, the fatuous display of the shops--wooden bears,
chalets, silly knick-knacks, always the same, repeated time and again,
over and over again, with no freshness or invention; the worthy
booksellers with their scandalous pamphlets,--all the moral baseness of
those places whither every year the idle, joyless millions come who are
incapable of finding amusement in the smallest degree finer than that of
the multitude, or one tithe as keen.

And they know nothing of the people in whose land they stay. They have
no notion of the reserves of moral force and civic liberty which for
centuries have been hoarded up in them, coals of the fires of Calvin and
Zwingli, still glowing beneath the ashes; they have no conception of the
vigorous democratic spirit which will always ignore the Napoleonic
Republic, of the simplicity of their institutions, or the breadth of
their social undertakings, or the example given to the world by these
United States of the three great races of the West, the model of the
Europe of the future. Even less do they know of the Daphne concealed
beneath this rugged bark, the wild, flashing dreams of Boecklin, the
raucous heroism of Hodler, the serene vision and humor of Gottfried
Keller, the living tradition of the great popular festivals, and the sap
of springtime swelling the trees,--the still young art, sometimes
rasping to the palate, like the hard fruits of wild pear-trees,
sometimes with the sweetish insipidity of myrtles black and blue, but at
least something smacking of the earth, is the work of self-taught men
not cut off from the people by an archaic culture, but, with them,
reading in the same book of life.

Christophe was in sympathy with these men who strive less to seem than
to be, and, under the recent veneer of an ultramodern industrialism,
keep clearly marked the most reposeful features of the old Europe of
peasants and townsmen. Among them he had found a few good friends,
grave, serious, and faithful, who hold isolated and immured in them
regrets for the past; they were looking on at the gradual disappearance
of the old Switzerland with a sort of religious fatalism and Calvinistic
pessimism; great gray souls. Christophe seldom saw them. His old wounds
were apparently healed: but they had been too deep wholly to be cured.
He was fearful of forming new ties with men. It was something for this
reason that he liked to dwell in a country where it was easy to live
apart, a stranger amid a throng of strangers. For the rest he rarely
stayed long in any one place; often he changed his lair: he was like an
old migratory bird which needs space, and has its country in the air ...
_"Mein Reich ist in der Luft."_

An evening in summer.

He was walking in the mountains above a village. He was striding along
with his hat in his hand, up a winding road. He came to a neck where the
road took a double turn, and passed into shadow between two slopes; on
either side were nut-trees and pines. It was like a little shut-in
world. On either hand the road seemed to come to an end, cut off at the
edge of the void. Beyond were blue distance and the gleaming air. The
peace of evening came down like a gentle rain.

They came together each at the same moment turning the bend at either
end of the neck. She was dressed in black, and stood out against the
clear sky: behind her were two children, a boy and a girl, between six
and eight, who were playing and picking flowers. They recognized each
other at a distance of a few yards. Their emotion was visible in their
eyes; but neither brought it into words; each gave only an imperceptible
movement. He was deeply moved: she ... her lips trembled a little. They
stopped. Almost in a whisper:

"Grazia!"

"You here!"

They held out their hands and stood without a word. Grazia was the first
to make an effort to break the silence. She told him where she lived,
and asked him where he was staying. Question and answer were mechanical,
and they hardly listened, heard later, when their hands had parted: they
were absorbed in gazing at each other. The children came back to her.
She introduced them. He felt hostile towards them, and looked at them
with no kindness, and said nothing: he was engrossed with her, occupied
only in studying her beautiful face that bore some marks of suffering
and age. She was embarrassed by his gaze, and said:

"Will you come, this evening?"

And she gave the name of her hotel.

He asked her where her husband was. She pointed to her black dress. He
was too much moved to say more, and left her awkwardly. But when he had
taken a few strides he came back to the children, who were picking
strawberries, and took them roughly in his arms and kissed them, and
went away.

In the evening he went to the hotel, and found her on the veranda, with
the blinds drawn. They sat apart. There were very few people about, only
two or three old people. Christophe was irritated by their presence.
Grazia looked at him, and he looked at her, and murmured her name over
and over again.

"Don't you think I have changed?" she asked.

His heart grew big.

"You have suffered," he said.

"You too," she answered pityingly, scanning the deep marks of agony and
passion in his face.

They were at a loss for words.

"Please," he said, a moment later, "let us go somewhere else. Could we
not find somewhere to be alone and talk?"

"No, my dear. Let us stay here. It is good enough here. No one is
heeding us at all."

"I cannot talk freely here."

"That is all the better."

He could not understand why. Later, when in memory he went over their
conversation, he thought she had not trusted him. But she was
instinctively afraid of emotional scenes: unconsciously she was seeking
protection from any surprise of their hearts: the very awkwardness of
their intimacy in a public room, so sheltering the modesty of her secret
emotions, was dear to her.

In whispers, with long intervals of silence, they sketched their lives
in outline. Count Berény had been killed in a duel a few months ago; and
Christophe saw that she had not been very happy with him. Also, she had
lost a child, her first-born. She made no complaint, and turned the
conversation from herself to question Christophe, and, as he told her of
his tribulations, she showed the most affectionate compassion. Bells
rang. It was Sunday evening. Life stood still.

She asked him to come again next day but one. He was hurt that she
should be so little eager to see him again. In his heart happiness and
sorrow were mingled.

Next day, on some pretext, she wrote and asked him to come. He was
delighted with her little note. This time she received him in her
private room. She was with her two children. He looked at them, still a
little uneasily, but very tenderly. He thought the little girl--the
elder of the two--very like her mother: but he did not try to match the
boy's looks. They talked about the country, the times, the books lying
open on the table:--but their eyes spoke of other things. He was hoping
to be able to talk more intimately when a hotel acquaintance came in. He
marked the pleasure and politeness with which Grazia received the
stranger: she seemed to make no difference between her two visitors. He
was hurt by it, but could not be angry with her. She proposed that they
should all go for a walk and he accepted; the presence of the other woman,
though she was young and charming, paralyzed him: his day was spoiled.

He did not see Grazia again for two days. During that time he lived but
for the hours he was to spend with her.--Once more his efforts to speak
to her were doomed to failure. While she was very gentle and kind with
him, she could not throw off her reserve. All unconsciously Christophe
added to her difficulty by his outbursts of German sentimentality, which
embarrassed her and forced her instinct into reaction.

He wrote her a letter which touched her, saying that life was so short!
Their lives were already so far gone! Perhaps they would have only a
very little time in which to see each other, and it was pitiful, almost
criminal, not to employ it in frank converse.

She replied with a few affectionate words, begging him to excuse her for
her distrust, which she could not avoid, since she had been so much hurt
by life: she could not break her habitual reserve: any excessive
display, even of a genuine feeling, hurt and terrified her. But well she
knew the worth of the friendship that had come to her once more: and she
was as glad of it as he. She asked him to dine with her that evening.

His heart was brimming with gratitude. In his room, lying on his bed, he
sobbed. It was the opening of the flood-gates of ten years of solitude:
for, since Olivier's death, he had been utterly alone. Her letter gave
the word of resurrection to his heart that was so famished for
tenderness. Tenderness!... He thought he had put it from him: he had
been forced to learn how to do without it! Now he felt how sorely he
needed it, and the great stores of love that had accumulated in him....

It was a sweet and blessed evening that they spent together.... He
could only speak to her of trivial subjects, in spite of their intention
to hide nothing from each other. But what goodly things he told her
through the piano, which with her eyes she invited him to use to tell
her what he had to say! She was struck by the humility of the man whom
she had known in his violence and pride. When he went away the silent
pressure of their hands told them that they had found each other, and
would never lose what they had regained.--It was raining, and there was
not a breath of wind. His heart was singing.

She was only able to stay a few days longer, and she did not postpone
her departure for an hour. He dared not ask her to do so, nor complain.
On their last day they went for a walk with the children; there came a
moment when he was so full of love and happiness that he tried to tell
her so: but, with a very gentle gesture, she stopped him and smiled:

"Hush! I feel everything that you could say."

They sat down at the turn of the road where they had met. Still smiling
she looked down into the valley below: but it was not the valley that
she saw. He looked at the gentle face marked with the traces of bitter
suffering: a few white tresses showed in her thick black hair. He was
filled with a pitying, passionate adoration of this beloved creature who
had travailed and been impregnated with the suffering of the soul. In
every one of the marks of time upon her the soul was visible.--And, in a
low, trembling voice, he craved, as a precious favor, which she granted
him, a white hair from her head.

       *       *       *       *       *

She went away. He could not understand why she would not have him
accompany her. He had no doubt of her feeling for him, but her reserve
disconcerted him. He could not stay alone in that place, and set out in
another direction. He tried to occupy his mind with traveling and work.
He wrote to Grazia. She answered him, two or three week later, with
very brief letters, in which she showed her tranquil friendship, knowing
neither impatience nor uneasiness. They hurt him and he loved them. He
would not admit that he had any right to reproach her; their affection
was too recent, too recently renewed. He was fearful of losing it. And
yet every letter he had from her breathed a calm loyalty which should
have made him feel secure. But she was so different from him!...

They had agreed to meet in Rome, towards the end of the autumn. Without
the thought of seeing her, the journey would have had little charm for
Christophe. His long isolation had made him retiring: he had no taste
for that futile hurrying from place to place which is so dear to the
indolence of modern men and women. He was fearful of a change of habit,
which is dangerous to the regular work of the mind. Besides, Italy had
no attractions for him. He knew it only in the villainous music of the
Verists and the tenor arias to which every now and then the land of
Virgil inspires men of letters on their travels. He felt towards Italy
the hostility of an advanced artist, who has too often heard the name of
Rome invoked by the worst champions of academic routine. Finally, the
old leaven of instinctive antipathy which ever lies fermenting in the
hearts of the men of the North towards the men of the South, or at least
towards the legendary type of rhetorical braggart which, in the eyes of
the men of the North, represents the men of the South. At the mere
thought of it Christophe disdainfully curled his lip.... No, he had no
desire for the more acquaintance of the musicless people--(for, in the
music of modern Europe, what is the place of their mandolin tinkling and
melodramatic posturing declamation?).--And yet Grazia belonged to this
people. To join her again, whither and by what devious ways would
Christophe not have gone? He would win through by shutting his eyes
until he came to her.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was used to shutting his eyes. For so many years the shutters of his
soul had been closed upon his inward life. Now, in this late autumn, it
was more necessary than ever. For three weeks together it had rained
incessantly. Then a gray pall of impenetrable mists had hung over the
valleys and towns of Switzerland, dripping and wet. His eyes had
forgotten the sunlight. To rediscover in himself its concentrated energy
he had to begin by clothing himself in night, and, with his eyes closed,
to descend to the depths of the mine, the subterranean galleries of his
dreams. There in the seams of coal slept the sun of days gone by. But as
the result of spending his life crouching there, digging, he came out
burned, stiff in back and knees, with limbs deformed, half petrified,
dazed eyes, that, like a bird's, could see keenly in the night. Many a
time Christophe had brought up from the mine the fire he had so
painfully extracted to warm the chill of heart. But the dreams of the
North smack of the warmth of the fireside and the closed room. No man
notices it while he lives in it: dear is that heavy air, dear the
half-light and the soul's dreams in the drowsy head. We love the things
we have. We must be satisfied with them!...

When, as he passed the barrier of the Alps, Christophe, dozing in a
corner of the carriage, saw the stainless sky and the limpid light
falling upon the slopes of the mountains, he thought he must be
dreaming. On the other side of the wall he had left a darkened sky and a
fading day. So sudden was the change that at first he felt more surprise
than joy. It was some time before his drowsy soul awoke and began slowly
to expand and burst the crust that was upon it, and his heart could free
itself from the shadows of the past. But as the day wore on, the mellow
light took his soul into its arms, and, wholly forgetting all that had
been, he drank greedily of the delight of seeing.

Through the plains of Milan. The eye of day mirrored in the blue canals,
a network of veins through the downy rice fields. Mountains of Vinci,
snowy Alps soft in their brilliance, ruggedly encircling the horizon,
fringed with red and orange and greeny gold and pale blue. Evening
falling on the Apennines. A winding descent by little sheer hills,
snakelike curving, in a repeating, involved rhythm like a
farandole.--And suddenly, at the bottom of the slope, like a kiss, the
breath of the sea and the smell of orange-trees. The sea, the Latin sea
and its opal light, whereon, swaying, were the sails of little boats
like wings folded back....

By the sea, at a fishing-village, the train stopped for a while. It was
explained to the passengers that there had been a landslip, as a result
of the heavy rains, in a tunnel between Genoa and Pisa: all the trains
were several hours late. Christophe, who was booked through to Rome,
was delighted by the accident which provoked the loud lamentations of
his fellow-passengers. He jumped down to the platform and made use of
the stoppage to go down to the sea, which drew him on and on. The sea
charmed him so that when, a few hours later, the engine whistled as it
moved on, Christophe was in a boat, and, as the train passed, shouted:
"Good-by!" In the luminous night, on the luminous sea, he sat rocking in
the boat, as it passed along the scented coast with its promontories
fringed with tiny cypress-trees. He put up at a village and spent there
five days of unbroken joy. He was like a man issuing from a long fast,
hungrily eating. With all his famished senses he gulped down the
splendid light.... Light, the blood of the world, that flows in space
like a river of life, and through our eyes, our lips, our nostrils,
every pore of our skins, filters through to the depths of our bodies,
light, more necessary to life than bread,--he who sees thee stripped of
thy northern veils, pure, burning, naked, marvels how ever he could have
lived without knowing thee, and deeply feels that he can never live more
without possessing thee....

For five days Christophe was drunk with the sun. For five days he
forgot--for the first time--that he was a musician. The music of his
soul was merged into light. The air, the sea, the earth: the brilliant
symphony played by the sun's orchestra. And with what innate art does
Italy know how to use that orchestra! Other peoples paint from Nature:
the Italians collaborate with her: they paint with sunlight. The music
of color. All is music, everything sings. A wall by the roadside, red,
fissured with gold: above it, two cypress-trees with their tufted
crests: and all around the eager blue of the sky. A marble staircase,
white, steep, narrow, climbing between pink walls against the blue front
of a church. Any one of their many-colored houses, apricot, lemon,
cedrate, shining among the olive-trees, has the effect of a marvelous
ripe fruit among the leaves. In Italy seeing is sensual: the eyes enjoy
color, as the palate and the tongue delight in a juicy, scented fruit.
Christophe flung himself at this new repast with eager childlike greed:
he made up for the asceticism of the gray visions to which till then he
had been condemned. His abounding nature, stifled by Fate, suddenly
became conscious of powers of enjoyment which he had never used: they
pounced on the prey presented to them; scents, colors, the music of
voices, bells and the sea, the kisses of the air, the warm bath of light
in which his ageing, weary soul began to expand.... Christophe had no
thought of anything. He was in a state of beatific delight, and only
left it to share his joy with those he met: his boatman, an old
fisherman, with quick eyes all wrinkled round, who wore a red cap like
that of a Venetian senator;--his only fellow-boarder, a Milanese, who
ate macaroni and rolled his eyes like Othello: fierce black eyes filled
with a furious hatred; an apathetic, sleepy man;--the waiter in the
restaurant, who, when he carried a tray, bent his neck, and twisted his
arms and his body like an angel of Bernini;--the little Saint John, with
sly, winking eyes, who begged on the road, and offered the passers-by an
orange on a green branch. He would hail the carriage-drivers, sitting
huddled on their seats, who every now and then would, in a nasal,
droning, throaty voice, intone the thousand and one couplets. He was
amazed to find himself humming _Cavalleria Rusticana_. He had
entirely forgotten the end of his journey. Forgotten, too, was his haste
to reach the end and Grazia....

Forgotten altogether was she until the day when the beloved image rose
before him. Was it called up by a face seen on the road or a grave,
singing note in a voice? He did not know. But a time came when, from
everything about him, from the circling, olive-clad hills, from the
high, shining peaks of the Apennines, graven by the dense shadows and
the burning sun, and from the orange-groves heavy with flowers and
fruit, and the deep, heaving breath of the sea, there shone the smiling
face of the beloved. Through the countless eyes of the air, her eyes
were upon him. In that beloved earth she flowered, like a rose upon a
rose-tree.

Then he regained possession of himself. He took the train for Rome and
never stopped. He had no interest in the old memories of Italy, or the
cities of the art of past ages. He saw nothing of Rome, nor wanted to:
and what he did see at first, in passing, the styleless new districts,
the square blocks of buildings, gave him no desire to see more.

As soon as he arrived he went to see Grazia. She asked him:

"How did you come? Did you stop at Milan or Florence?"

"No," he said. "Why should I?"

She laughed.

"That's a fine thing to say! And what do you think of Rome?"

"Nothing," he said. "I haven't seen it!"

"Not yet?"

"Nothing. Not a single monument. I came straight to you from my hotel."

"You don't need to go far to see Rome.... Look at that wall opposite....
You only need to see its light."

"I only see you," he said.

"You are a barbarian. You only see your own ideas. When did you leave
Switzerland?"

"A week ago."

"What have you been doing since then?"

"I don't know. I stopped, by chance, at a place by the sea. I never
noticed its name. I slept for a week. Slept, with my eyes open. I do not
know what I have seen, or what I have dreamed. I think I was dreaming of
you. I know that it was very beautiful. But the most lovely part of it
all is that I forgot everything...."

"Thank you!" she said.

(He did not listen.)

"... Everything," he went on. "Everything that was then, everything that
had been before. I am a new man. I am beginning to live again."

"It is true," she said, looking into his laughing eyes. "You have
changed since we last met."

He looked at her, too, and found her no less different from his memory
of her. Not that she had changed in two months, but he was seeing her
with new eyes. Yonder, in Switzerland, the image of old days, the faint
shadow of the girl Grazia, had flitted between his gaze and this new
actual beloved. Now, in the sun of Italy, the dreams of the North had
melted away: in the clear light of day he saw her real soul and body.
How far removed she was from the little, wild, imprisoned girl of Paris,
how far from the woman with the smile like Saint John, whom he had met
one evening, shortly after her marriage, only to lose her again! Out of
the little Umbrian Madonna had flowered a lovely Roman lady:

_Color verus, corpus solidum et succi plenum._

Her figure had taken on an harmonious fullness: her body was bathed in a
proud languor. The very genius of tranquillity hovered in her presence.
She had that greed of sunny silence, and still contemplation, the
delightful joy in the peace of living which the people of the North will
never really know. What especially she had preserved out of the past was
her great kindness which inspired all her other feelings. But in her
luminous smile many new things were to be read: a melancholy indulgence,
a little weariness, much knowledge of the ways of men, a fine irony, and
tranquil common sense. The years had veiled her with a certain coldness,
which protected her against the illusions of the heart; rarely could she
surrender herself; and her tenderness was ever on the alert, with a
smile that seemed to know and tell everything, against the passionate
impulses that Christophe found it hard to suppress. She had her
weaknesses, moments of abandonment to the caprice of the minute, a
coquetry at which she herself mocked but never fought against. She was
never in revolt against things, nor against herself: she had come to a
gentle fatalism, and she was altogether kind, but a little weary.

       *       *       *       *       *

She entertained a great deal, and--at least, in appearance--not very
selectively: but as, for the most part, her intimates belonged to the
same world, breathed the same atmosphere, had been fashioned by the same
habits, they were homogeneous and harmonious enough, and very different
from the polite assemblages that Christophe had known in France and
Germany. The majority were of old Italian families, vivified here and
there by foreign marriages; they all had a superficial cosmopolitanism
and a comfortable mixture of the four chief languages, and the
intellectual baggage of the four great nations of the West. Each nation
brought into the pool its personal characteristic, the Jews their
restlessness and the Anglo-Saxons their phlegm, but everything was
quickly absorbed in the Italian melting-pot. When centuries of great
plundering barons have impressed on a race the haughty and rapacious
profile of a bird of prey, the metal may change, but the imprint remains
the same. Many of the faces that seemed the most pronouncedly Italian,
with a Luini smile, or the voluptuous, calm gaze of a Titian, flowers of
the Adriatic, or the plains of Lombardy, had blossomed on the shrubs of
the North transplanted to the old Latin soil. Whatever colors be spread
on the palette of Rome, the color which stands out is always Roman.

Christophe could not analyze his impressions, but he admired the perfume
of an age-old culture, an ancient civilization exhaled by these people,
who were often mediocre, and, in some cases, less than mediocre. It was
a subtle perfume, springing from the smallest trifles. A graceful
courtesy, a gentleness of manners that could be charming and
affectionate, and at the same time malicious and consciously superior,
an elegant finesse in the use of the eyes, the smile, the alert,
nonchalant, skeptical, diverse, and easy intelligence. There was nothing
either stiff or familiar. Nothing literary. Here there was no fear of
meeting the psychologues of a Parisian drawing-room, ensconced behind
their eyeglasses, or the corporalism of a German pedant. They were men,
quite simply, and very human men, such as were the friends of Terence
and Scipio the Æmilian....

_Homo sum_....

It was fine to see. It was a life more of appearance than reality.
Beneath it lay an incurable frivolity which is common to the polite
society of every country. But what made this society characteristic of
its race was its indolence. The frivolity of the French is accompanied
by a fever of the nerves--a perpetual agitation of the mind, even when
it is empty. The brain of the Italian knows how to rest. It knows it
only too well. It is sweet to sleep in the warm shadows, on the soft
pillow of a padded Epicureanism, and a very supple, fairly curious, and,
at bottom, prodigiously indifferent intelligence.

All the men of this society were entirely lacking in decided opinions.
They dabbled in politics and art in the same dilettante fashion. Among
them were charming natures, handsome, fine-featured patrician, Italian
faces, with soft, intelligent eyes, men with gentle, quiet manners, who,
with exquisite taste and affectionate hearts, loved Nature, the old
masters, flowers, women, books, good food, their country, music.... They
loved everything. They preferred nothing. Sometimes one felt that they
loved nothing. Love played so large a part in their lives, but only on
condition that it never disturbed them. Their love was indolent and
lazy, like themselves; even in their passion it was apt to take on a
domestic character. Their solid, harmonious intelligence was fitted with
an inertia in which all the opposites of thought met without collision,
were tranquilly yoked together, smiling, cushioned, and rendered
harmless. They were afraid of any thorough belief, of taking sides, and
were at their ease in semi-solutions and half-thoughts. They were
conservative-liberal in temper of mind. They needed politics and art
half-way up the hill, like those health resorts where there is no danger
of asthma or palpitations. They recognized themselves in the lazy plays
of Goldoni, or the equally diffused light of Manzoni. Their amiable
indifference was never disturbed. Never could they have said like their
great ancestors: _"Primum vivere ..."_ but rather _"Dapprima,
quieto vivere."_

To live in peace. That was the secret vow, the aim of even the most
energetic of those who controlled politics. A little Machiavelli, master
of himself and others, with a heart as cold as his head, a lucid, bored
intelligence, knowing how and daring to use all means to gain his ends,
ready to sacrifice all his friends to his ambition, would be capable of
sacrificing his ambition to one thing only: his _quieto vivere_.
They needed long periods of absolute lassitude. When they issued from
them, as from a good sleep, they were fresh and ready: these grave men,
these tranquil Madonnas would be taken with a sudden desire to talk, to
be gay, to plunge into social life; then they would break out into a
profusion of gestures and words, paradoxical sallies, burlesque humor:
they were always playing an _opera bouffe_. In that gallery of
Italian portraits rarely would you find the marks of thought, the
metallic brilliance of the eyes, faces stained with the perpetual labor
of the mind, such as are to be found in the North. And yet, here, as
elsewhere, there was no lack of souls turned in upon themselves, to feed
upon themselves, concealing their woes, and desires and cares seething
beneath the mask of indifference, and, voluptuously, drawing on a cloak
of torpor. And, in certain faces there would peep out, queerly,
disconcertingly, indications of some obscure malady of the spirit
peculiar to very ancient races--like the excavations in the Roman
Campagna.

There was great charm in the enigmatic indifference of these people, and
their calm, mocking eyes, wherein there slumbered hidden tragedy. But
Christophe was in no humor to recognize it. He was furious at seeing
Grazia surrounded by worldly people with their courteous, witty, and
empty manners. He hated them for it, and he was angry with her. He
sulked at her just as he sulked at Rome. His visits to her became less
and less frequent, and he began to make up his mind to go.

       *       *       *       *       *

He did not go. Unknown to himself, he was beginning to feel the
attraction of Italian society, though it irritated him so much.

For the time being, he isolated himself and lounged about Rome and the
environment. The Roman light, the hanging gardens, the Campagna,
encircled, as by a golden scarf, by the sunlit sea, little by little
delivered up to him the secret of the enchanted land. He had sworn not
to move a step to see the monuments of the dead, which he affected to
despise: he used grumblingly to declare that he would wait until they
came to look for him. They came; he happened on them by chance on his
rambling through the City of many hills. Without having looked for it,
he saw the Forum red under the setting sun, and the half-ruined arches
of the Palatine and behind them the deep azure vault of heaven, a gulf
of blue light. He wandered in the vast Campagna, near the ruddy Tiber,
thick with mud, like moving earth,--and along the ruined aqueducts, like
the gigantic vertebrae of antediluvian monsters. Thick masses of black
clouds rolled across the blue sky. Peasants on horseback goaded across
the desert great herds of pearly-gray cattle with long horns; and along
the ancient road, straight, dusty, and bare, goat-footed shepherds, clad
in thick skins, walked in silence. On the far horizon, the Sabine Chain,
with its Olympian lines, unfolded its hills; and on the other edge of
the cup of the sky the old walls of the city, the front of Saint John's
Church, surmounted with statues which danced in black silhouette....
Silence.... A fiery sun.... The wind passed over the plain.... On a
headless, armless statue, almost inundated by the waving grass, a
lizard, with its heart beating tranquilly, lay motionless, absorbed,
drinking in its fill of light. And Christophe, with his head buzzing
with the sunshine (sometimes also with the _Castelli_ wine), sitting on
the black earth near the broken statue, smiling, sleepy, lost
in forgetfulness, breathed in the calm, tremendous force of Rome.--Until
nightfall.--Then, with his heart full of a sudden anguish, he fled from
the gloomy solitude in which the tragic light was sinking.... O earth,
burning earth, earth passionate and dumb! Beneath thy fevered peace I
still can hear the trumpeting of the legions. What a fury of life is
shining in thy bosom! What a mighty desire for an awakening!

Christophe found men in whose souls there burned brands of the age-old
fire. Beneath the ruse of the dead they had been preserved. It might
be thought that the fire had died down with the closing of Mazzini's
eyes. It was springing to life again. It was the same. Very few
wished to see it. It troubled the quiet of those who were asleep. It
gave a clear and brutal light. Those who bore it aloft,--young men (the
eldest was not thirty-five), a little band of the elect come from every
point of the horizon, men of free intellect who were all different in
temperament, education, opinions, and faith--were all united in worship
of this flame of the new life. The etiquette of parties, systems of
thought, mattered not to them: the great thing was to "think with
courage." To be frank, to be brave, in mind and deed. Rudely they
disturbed the sleep of their race. After the political resurrection of
Italy, awakened from death by the summons of her heroes, after her
recent economic resurrection, they had set themselves to pluck Italian
thought from the grave. They suffered, as from an insult, from the
indolent and timid indifference of the elect, their cowardice of mind
and verbolatry. Their _Voices_ rang hollow in the midst of
rhetoric and the moral slavery which for centuries had been gathering
into a crust upon the soul of their country. They breathed into it their
merciless realism and their uncompromising loyalty. Though upon occasion
they were capable of sacrificing their own personal intellectual
preferences to the duty of discipline which national life imposes on the
individual, yet they reserved their highest altar and their purest ardor
for the truth. They loved truth with fiery, pious hearts. Insulted by
his adversaries, defamed, threatened, one of the leaders of these young
men replied, with grand, calm dignity:

_"Respect the truth. I speak to you now, from my heart, with no shade
of bitterness. I forget the ill I have received at your hands and the
evil that I may have done you. Be true. There is no conscience, there is
no noble life, there is no capacity for sacrifice where there is not a
religious, a rigid, and a rigorous respect for truth. Strive, then, to
fulfil this difficult duty. Untruth corrupts whoever makes use of it
before it overcomes him against whom it is used. What does it matter
that you gain an immediate success? The roots of your soul will remain
withered in the air above the soil that is crumbled away with untruth.
We are on a plane superior to our disagreements, even though on your
lips your passion brings the name of our country. There is one thing
greater than a man's country, and that is the human conscience. There
are laws which you must not violate on pain of being bad Italians. You
see before you now only a man who is a seeker after truth: you must hear
his cry. You have before you now only a man who ardently desires to see
you great and pure, and to work with you. For, whether you will or no,
we all work in common with all those who in this world work truthfully.
That which comes out of our labors (and we cannot foresee what it will
be) will bear our common mark, the mark of us all, if we have labored
with truth. The essence of man lies in this, in his marvelous faculty
for seeking truth, seeing it, loving it, and sacrificing himself to
it.--Truth, that over all who possess it spends the magic breath of its
puissant health!..."_ [Footnote: The hymn to Truth here introduced is
an abridgment of an article by Giuseppe Prezzolini (_La Voce_,
April 13, 1911).]

The first time Christophe heard these words they seemed to him like an
echo of his own voice: and he felt that these men and he were brothers.
The chances of the conflict of the nations and ideas might one day fling
them into the position of adversaries in the mêlée; but, friends or
enemies, they were, and would always be, members of the same human
family. They knew it, even as he. They knew it, before he did. They knew
him before he knew them, for they had been friends of Olivier's.
Christophe discovered that his friend's writings--(a few volumes of
verse and critical essays)--which had only been read by a very few in
Paris, had been translated by these Italians, and were as familiar to
them as to himself.

Later on he was to discover the impassable distance which divided these
men from Olivier. In their way of judging others they were entirely
Italian, incapable of the effort necessary to see beyond themselves,
rooted in the ideas of their race. At bottom, in all good faith, in
foreign literature they only sought what their national instinct was
willing to find in it; often they only took out of it what they
themselves had unconsciously read into it. Mediocre as critics, and as
psychologists contemptible, they were too single-minded, too full of
themselves and their passions, even when they were the most enamored of
truth. Italian idealism cannot forget itself: it is not interested in
the impersonal dreams of the North; it leads everything back to itself,
its desires, its pride of race, and transfigures them. Consciously or
unconsciously, it is always toiling for the _terza Roma_. It must
be said that for many centuries it has not taken much trouble to realize
it. These splendid Italians, who are cut out for action, only act
through passion, and soon weary of it: but when the breath of passion
rushes in their veins it raises them higher than all other nations; as
has been seen, for example, in their _Risorgimento_.--Some such
great wind as that had begun to pass over the young men of Italy of all
parties: nationalists, socialists, neo-Catholics, free idealists, all the
unyielding Italians, all, in hope and will, citizens of Imperial Rome,
Queen of the universe.

At first Christophe saw only their generous ardor and the common
antipathies which united him and them. They could not but join with him
in their contempt for the fashionable society, against which Christophe
raged on account of Grazia's preferences. More than he they hated the
spirit of prudence, the apathy, the compromise, and buffoonery, the
things half said, the amphibious thoughts, the subtle dawdling of the
mind between all possibilities, without deciding on any one, the fine
phrases, the sweetness of it all. They were all self-taught men who had
pieced themselves together with everything they could lay their hands
on, but had had neither means nor leisure to put the finishing touch to
their work, and they were prone to exaggerate their natural coarseness
and their rather bitter tone fitting to rough _contadini._ They
wished to provoke active hostility. Anything rather than indifference.
In order to rouse the energy of their race they would gladly have
consented to be among the first victims to it.

Meanwhile they were not liked, and they did nothing to gain liking.
Christophe met with but small success when he tried to talk to Grazia of
his new friends. They were repugnant to her order-loving, peace-loving
nature. He had to recognize when he was with her that they had a way of
upholding the best of causes which sometimes provoked a desire in the
best of people to declare themselves hostile to it. They were ironical
and aggressive, in criticism harsh to the point of insult, even with
people whom they had no desire to hurt. Having reached the sphere of
publication before they had come to maturity, they passed with equal
intolerance from one infatuation to another. Passionately sincere,
giving themselves unreservedly, without stint or thought of economy,
they were consumed by their excessive intellectuality, their precocious
and blindly obstinate endeavors. It is not well for young ideas, hardly
out of the pod, to be exposed to the raw sunlight. The soul is scorched
by it. Nothing is made fruitful save with time and silence. Time and
silence these men had not allowed themselves. It is the misfortune of
only too many Italian talents. Violent, hasty action is an intoxicant.
The mind that has once tasted it is hard put to it to break the habit;
and its normal growth is then in great peril of being forced and forever
twisted.

Christophe appreciated the acid freshness of such green frankness in
contrast with the insipidity of the people who frequented the middle
way, the _via di mezzo,_ who are in perpetual fear of being
compromised, and have a subtle talent for saying neither "Yes" nor "No."
But very soon he came to see that such people also, with their calm,
courteous minds, have their worth. The perpetual state of conflict in
which his new friends lived was very tiring. Christophe began by
thinking it his duty to go to Grazia's house to defend them. Sometimes
he went there to forget them. No doubt he was like them, too much like
them. They were now what he had been twenty years ago. And life never
goes back. At heart Christophe well knew that, for his own part, he had
forever said good-by to such violence, and that he was going towards
peace, whose secret seemed to lie for him in Grazia's eyes. Why, then,
was he in revolt against her?... Ah! In the egoism of his love he longed
to be the only one to enjoy her peace. He could not bear Grazia to
dispense its benefits without marking how to all comers she extended the
same prodigally gracious welcome.

       *       *       *       *       *

She read his thoughts, and, with her charming frankness, she said to him
one day:

"You are angry with me for being what I am? You must not idealize me, my
dear. I am a woman, and no better than another. I don't go out of my way
for society; but I admit that I like it, just as I like going sometimes
to an indifferent play, or reading foolish books, which you despise,
though I find them soothing and amusing. I cannot refuse anything."

"How can you endure these idiots?"

"Life has taught me not to be too nice. One must not ask too much. It is
a good deal, I assure you, when one finds honest people, with no harm in
them, kindly people.... (naturally, of course, supposing one expects
nothing of them; I know perfectly well that if I had need of them, I
should not find many to help me...). And yet they are fond of me, and
when I find a little real affection, I hold the rest cheap. You are
angry with me? Forgive me for being an ordinary person. I can at least
see the difference between what is best and what is not so good in
myself. And what you have is the best."

"I want everything," he said gloweringly.

However, he felt that what she said was true. He was so sure of her
affection that, after long hesitation, over many weeks, he asked her one
day:

"Will you ever...?"

"What is it?"

"Be mine."

He went on:

"... and I yours."

She smiled:

"But you are mine, my dear."

"You know what I mean."

She was a little unhappy: but she took his hands and looked at him
frankly:

"No, my dear," she said tenderly.

He could not speak. She saw that he was hurt.

"Forgive me. I have hurt you. I knew that you would say that to me. We
must speak out frankly and in all truth, like good friends."

"Friends," he said sadly. "Nothing more?"

"You are ungrateful. What more do you want? To marry me?... Do you
remember the old days when you had eyes only for my pretty cousin? I was
sad then because you would not understand what I felt for you. Our whole
lives might have been changed. Now I think it was better as it has been;
it is better that we should never expose our friendship to the test of
common life, the daily life, in which even the purest must be
debased...."

"You say that because you love me less."

"Oh no! I love you just the same."

"Ah! That is the first time you have told me."

"There must be nothing hidden from us now. You see, I have not much
faith in marriage left. Mine, I know, was not a very good example. But I
have thought and looked about me. Happy marriages are very rare. It is a
little against nature. You cannot bind together the wills of two people
without mutilating one of them, if not both, and it does not even bring
the suffering through which it is well and profitable for the soul
to pass."

"Ah!" he said. "But I can see in it a fine thing--the union of two
sacrifices, two souls merged into one."

"A fine thing, in your dreams. In reality you would suffer more than any
one."

"What! You think I could never have a wife, a family, children?... Don't
say that! I should love them so! You think it impossible for me to have
that happiness?"

"I don't know. I don't think so. Perhaps with a good woman, not very
intelligent, not very beautiful, who would be devoted to you, and would
not understand you."

"How unkind of you!... But you are wrong to make fun of it. A good woman
is a fine thing, even if she has no mind."

"I agree. Shall I find you one?"

"Please! No. You are hurting me. How can you talk like that?"

"What have I said?"

"You don't love me at all, not at all. You can't if you can think of my
marrying another woman."

"On the contrary, it is because I love you that I should be happy to do
anything which could make you happy."

"Then, if that is true...."

"No, no. Don't go back to that. I tell you, it would make you
miserable."

"Don't worry about me. I swear to you that I shall be happy! Speak the
truth: do you think that you would be unhappy with me?"

"Oh! Unhappy? No, my dear. I respect and admire you too much ever to be
unhappy with you.... But, I will tell you: I don't think anything could
make me very unhappy now. I have seen too much. I have become
philosophical.... But, frankly--(You want me to? You won't be
angry?)--well. I know my own weakness. I should, perhaps, be foolish
enough, after a few months, not to be perfectly happy with you; and I
will not have that, just because my affection for you is the most holy
thing in the world, and I will not have it tarnished."

Sadly, he said:

"Yes, you say that, to sweeten the pill. You don't like me. There are
things in me which are odious to you."

"No, no. I assure you. Don't look so hang-dog. You are the dearest,
kindest man...."

"Then I don't understand. Why couldn't we agree?"

"Because we are too different--both too decided, too individual."

"That is why I love you."

"I too. But that is why we should find ourselves conflicting."

"No." "Yes. Or, rather, as I know that you are bigger than I, I should
reproach myself with embarrassing you with my smaller personality, and
then I should be stifled. I should say nothing, and I should suffer."

Tears came to Christophe's eyes.

"Oh! I won't have that. Never! I would rather be utterly miserable than
have you suffering through my fault, for my sake."

"My dear, you mustn't feel it like that.... You know, I say all that,
but I may be flattering myself.... Perhaps I should not be so good as to
sacrifice myself for you."

"All the better."

"But, then, I should sacrifice you, and that would be misery for me....
You see, there is no solving the difficulty either way. Let us stay as
we are. Could there be anything better than our friendship?"

He nodded his head and smiled a little bitterly.

"Yes. That is all very well. But at bottom you don't love me enough."

She smiled too, gently, with a little melancholy, and said, with a sigh:

"Perhaps. You are right. I am no longer young. I am tired. Life wears
one out unless one is very strong, like you.... Oh! you, there are times
when I look at you and you seem to be a boy of eighteen."

"Alas! With my old face, my wrinkles, my dull skin!"

"I know that you have suffered as much as I--perhaps more. I can see
that. But sometimes you look at me with the eyes of a boy, and I feel
you giving out a fresh stream of life. I am worn out. When I think of my
old eagerness, then--alas! As one said, 'Those were great days. I was
very unhappy!' I hold to life only by a thread. I should never be bold
enough to try marriage again. Ah! Then! Then!... If you had only given a
sign!..."

"Well, then, well, tell me...."

"No. It is not worth the trouble."

"Then, if in the old days, if I had...."

"Yes. If you had...? I said nothing."

"I understood. You are cruel."

"Take it, then, that in the old days I was a fool."

"You are making it worse and worse."

"Poor Christophe! I can't say a word but it hurts you. I shan't say any
more."

"You must.... Tell me.... Tell me something."

"Something?"

"Something kind."

She laughed.

"Don't laugh."

"Then you must not be sad."

"How can I be anything else?"

"You have no reason to be sad, I assure you."

"Why?"

"Because you have a friend who loves you."

"Truly?"

"If I tell you so, won't you believe me?"

"Tell me, then."

"You won't be sad any longer? You won't be insatiable? You will be
content with our dear friendship?"

"I must."

"Oh! Ungrateful! And you say you love me? Really, I think I love you
better than you love me."

"Ah! If it were possible."

He said that with such an outburst of lover's egoism that she laughed.
He too. He insisted:

"Tell me!..."

For a moment she was silent, looking at him, then suddenly she brought
her face close to Christophe's and kissed him. It was so unexpected! His
heart leaped within him. He tried to take her in his arms. But she had
escaped. At the door of the little room she laid her finger on her
lips.--"Hush!"--and disappeared.

       *       *       *       *       *

From that moment on he did not again speak to her of his love, and he
was less awkward in his relation with her. Their alternations of
strained silence and ill-suppressed violence were succeeded by a simple
restful intimacy. That is the advantage of frankness in friendship. No
more hidden meanings, no more illusions, no more fears. Each knew the
other's innermost thoughts. Now when Christophe was with Grazia in the
company of strangers who irritated him and he lost patience at hearing
her exchange with them the empty remarks usual in polite society, she
would notice it and look at him and smile. It was enough to let him know
that they were together, and he would find his peace restored.

The presence of the beloved robs the imagination of its poisoned dart:
the fever of desire is cooled: the soul becomes absorbed in the chaste
possession of the loved presence.--Besides, Grazia shed on all about her
the silent charm of her harmonious nature. Any exaggeration of voice or
gesture, even if it were involuntary, wounded her, as a thing that was
not simple and beautiful. In this way she influenced Christophe little
by little. Though at first he tugged at the bridle put upon his
eagerness, he slowly gained the mastery of himself, and he was all the
stronger since his force was not wasted in useless violence.

Their souls met and mingled. Grazia, who had smilingly surrendered to
the sweetness of living, was awaked from her slumber by contact with
Christophe's moral energy. She took a more direct and less passive
interest in the things of the mind. She used to read very little,
preferring to browse indolently over the same old books, but now she
began to be curious about new ideas, and soon came to feel their
attraction. The wealth of the world of modern ideas, which was not
unknown to her though she had never cared to adventure in it alone, no
longer frightened her now that she had a companion and guide. Insensibly
she suffered herself, while she protested against it, to be drawn on to
an understanding of the young Italians, whose ardent iconoclasm had
always been distasteful to her.

But Christophe profited the more by this mutual perception. It has often
been observed in love that the weaker of the two gives the most: it is
not that the other loves less, but, being stronger, must take more. So
Christophe had already been enriched by Olivier's mind. But this new
mystic marriage was far more fruitful; for Grazia brought him for her
dowry the rarest treasure, that Olivier had never possessed--joy. The
joy of the soul and of the eyes. Light. The smile of the Latin sky, that
loves the ugliness of the humblest things, and sets the stones of the
old walls flowering, and endows even sadness with its calm radiance.

The budding spring entered into alliance with her. The dream of new life
was teeming in the warmth of the slumbering air. The young green was
wedding with the silver-gray of the olive-trees. Beneath the dark red
arches of the ruined aqueducts flowered the white almond-trees. In the
awakening Campagna waved the seas of grass and the triumphant flames of
the poppies. Down the lawns of the villas flowed streams of purple
anemones and sheets of violets. The glycine clambered up the
umbrella-shaped pines, and the wind blowing over the city brought the
scent of the roses of the Palatine.

They went for walks together. When she was able to shake off the almost
Oriental torpor, in which for hours together she would muse, she became
another creature: she loved walking; she was tall, with a fine length of
leg, and a strong, supple figure, and she looked like a Diana of
Primatice.--Most often they would go to one of the villas, left like
flotsam from the shipwreck of the Splendid Rome of the _setticento_
under the assault of the flood of the Piedmontese barbarians. They
preferred, above all, the Villa Mattei, that promontory of ancient Rome,
beneath which the last waves of the deserted Campagna sink and die. They
used to go down the avenue of oaks that, with its deep vault, frames the
blue, the pleasant chains of the Alban hills, softly swelling like a
beating heart. Along the path through the leaves they could see the
tombs of Roman husbands and wives, lying sadly there, with hands clasped
in fidelity. They used to sit down at the end of the avenue, under an
arbor of roses against a white sarcophagus. Behind them the desert.
Profound peace. The murmuring of a slow-dropping fountain, trickling
languidly, so languidly that it seemed on the point of dying. They would
talk in whispers. Grazia's eyes would trustfully gaze into the eyes of
her friend. Christophe would tell her of his life, his struggles, his
past sorrows; and there was no more sadness in them. In her presence,
with her eyes upon him, everything was simple, everything seemed
inevitable.... She, in her turn, would tell of her life. He hardly heard
what she said, but none of her thoughts were lost upon him. His soul and
hers were wedded. He saw with her eyes. Everywhere he saw her eyes, her
tranquil eyes, in the depths of which there burned an ardent fire; he
saw them in the fair, mutilated faces of the antique statues and in the
riddle of their silent gaze: he saw them in the sky of Rome, lovely
laughing around the matted crests of the cypress-trees and through the
fingers of the _lecci,_ black, shining, riddled with the sun's arrows.

Through Grazia's eyes the meaning of Latin art reached his heart. Till
then Christophe had been entirely indifferent to the work of the
Italians. The barbarian idealist, the great bear from the German
forests, had not yet learned to taste the delicious savor of the lovely
gilded marbles, golden as honey. The antiques of the Vatican were
frankly repulsive to him. He was disgusted by their stupid faces, their
effeminate or massive proportions, their banal, rounded modeling, all
the Gitons and gladiators. Hardly more than a few portrait-statues found
favor in his sight, and the originals had absolutely no interest for
him. He was no more kindly towards the pale, grimacing Florentines and
their sick Madonnas and pre-Raphaelite Venuses, anaemic, consumptive,
affected, and tormented. And the bestial stupidity of the red, sweating
bullies and athletes let loose upon the world by the example of the
Sistine Chapel made him think of cast-iron. Only for Michael Angelo did
he have a secret feeling of pious sympathy with his tragic sufferings,
his divine contempt, and the loftiness of his chaste passions. With a
pure barbaric love, like that of the master, he loved the religious
nudity of his youths, his shy, wild virgins, like wild creatures caught
in a trap, the sorrowful Aurora, the wild-eyed Madonna, with her Child
biting at her breast, and the lovely Lia, whom he would fain have had to
wife. But in the soul of the tormented hero he found nothing more than
the echo of his own.

Grazia opened the gates of a new world of art for him. He entered into
the sovereign serenity of Raphael and Titian. He saw the imperial
splendor of the classic genius, which, like a lion, reigns over the
universe of form conquered and mastered. The flashing vision of the
great Venetian which goes straight to the heart of life, and with its
lightning cleaves the hovering mists that veil it, the masterful might
of these Latin minds that cannot only conquer, but also conquer
themselves, and in victory impose upon themselves the straitest
discipline, and, on the field of battle, have the art exactly to choose
their rightful booty from among the spoils of the enemy overthrown--the
Olympian portraits and the _stanze_ of Raphael filled Christophe's
heart with music richer than Wagner's, the music of serene lives, noble
architecture, harmonious grouping, the music which shines forth from the
perfect beauty of face, hands, feet, draperies, and gestures.
Intelligence. Love. The stream of love which springs from those youthful
souls and bodies. The might of the spirit and delight. Young tenderness,
ironic wisdom, the warm obsessing odor of amorous bodies, the luminous
smile in which the shadows are blotted out and passion slumbers. The
quivering force of life rearing and reined in, like the horses of the
Sun, by the sturdy hand of the master....

And Christophe wondered:

"Is it impossible to unite, as they have done, the force and the peace
of the Romans? Nowadays the best men aspire only to force or peace, one
to the detriment of the other. Of all men the Italians seem most utterly
to have lost the sense of harmony which Poussin, Lorraine, and Goethe
understood. Must a stranger once more reveal to them its work?... And
what man shall teach it to our musicians? Music has not yet had its
Raphael. Mozart is only a child, a little German bourgeois, with
feverish hands and sentimental soul, who uses too many words, too many
gestures, and chatters and weeps and laughs over nothing. And neither
the Gothic Bach nor the Prometheus of Bonn, struggling with the vulture,
nor his offspring of Titans piling Pelion on Ossa, and hurling
imprecations at the Heavens, hare ever seen the smile of God...."

After he had seen it, Christophe was ashamed of his own music; his vain
agitation, his turgid passions, his indiscreet exclamations, his parade
of himself, his lack of moderation, seemed to him both pitiable and
shameful. A flock of sheep without a shepherd, a kingdom without a
king.--A man must be the king of his tumultuous soul....

During these months Christophe seemed to have forgotten music. He hardly
wrote at all, feeling no need for it. His mind, fertilized by Rome, was
in a period of gestation. He spent days together in a dreamy state of
semi-intoxication. Nature, like himself, was in the early spring-time,
when the languor of the awakening is mixed with a voluptuous dizziness.
Nature and he lay dreaming, locked in each other's arms, like lovers
embracing in their sleep. The feverish enigma of the Campagna was no
longer hostile and disturbing to him; he had made himself master of its
tragic beauty; in his arms he held Demeter, sleeping.

       *       *       *       *       *

During April he received an invitation from Paris to go there and
conduct a series of concerts. Without troubling to think it over, he
decided to refuse, but thought it better to mention it to Grazia. It was
very sweet to him to consult her about his life, for it gave him the
illusion that she shared it.

This time she gave him a shock of disillusion. She made him explain the
whole matter to her, and advised him to accept. He was very hurt, and
saw in her advice the proof of her indifference.

Probably Grazia was sorry to give him such advice. But why did
Christophe ask her for it? The more he turned to her and asked her to
decide for him, the more she thought herself responsible for her
friend's actions. As a result of their interchange of ideas she had
gained from Christophe a little of his will-power: he had revealed to
her duty and the beauty of action. At least she had recognized duty as
far as her friend was concerned, and she would not have him fail in it.
Better than he, she knew the power of languor given off by the Italian
soil, which, like the insidious poison of its warm _scirocco_,
creeps into the veins and sends the will to sleep. How often had she not
felt its maleficent charm, and had no power to resist it! All her
friends were more or less tainted by this malaria of the soul. Stronger
men than they had in old days fallen victim to it: it had rusted away
the brass of the Roman she-wolf. Rome breathes forth death: it is too
full of graves. It is healthier to stay there for a little time than to
live there. Too easily does one slip out of one's own time, a dangerous
taste for the still young forces that have a vast duty to accomplish.
Grazia saw clearly that the society about her had not a life-giving air
for an artist. And although she had more friendship for Christophe than
for any other ... (dared she confess it?) ... she was not, at heart,
sorry for him to go. Alas! He wearied her with the very qualities that
she most loved in him, his overflowing intelligence, his abundance of
vitality, accumulated for years, and now brimming over: her tranquillity
was disturbed by it. And he wearied her, too, perhaps, because she was
always conscious of the menace of his love, beautiful and touching, but
ever-present: so that she had always to be on her guard against it; it
was more prudent to keep him at a distance. She did not admit it to
herself, and thought she had no consideration for anything but
Christophe's interests.

There was no lack of sound reasons at hand. In Italy just then it was
difficult for a musician to live: the air was circumscribed. The musical
life of the country was suppressed and deformed. The factory of the
theater scattered its heavy ashes and its burning smoke upon the soil,
whose flowers in old days had perfumed all Europe. If a man refused to
enroll himself in the train of the brawlers, and could not, or would
not, enter the factory, he was condemned to exile or a stifled
existence. Genius was by no means dried up. But it was left to stagnate
unprofitably and to go to ruin. Christophe had met more than one young
musician in whom there lived again the soul of the melodious masters of
the race and the instinct of beauty which filled the wise and simple art
of the past. But who gave a thought to them? They could neither get
their work played nor published. No interest was taken in the symphony.
There were no ears for music except it were presented with a painted
face!... So discouraged, they sang for themselves, and soon sang no
more. What was the good of it? Sleep....--Christophe would have asked
nothing better than to help them. While they admitted that he could do
so, their umbrageous pride would not consent to it. Whatever he did, he
was a foreigner to them; and for Italians of long descent, in spite of
the warm welcome they will give him, every foreigner is really a
barbarian. They thought that the wretched condition of their art was a
question to be threshed out among themselves, and while, they extended
all kind of friendly tributes to Christophe, they could not admit him as
one of themselves.--What could he do? He could not compete with them and
dispute with them their meager place in the sun, where they were by no
means secure!...

Besides, genius cannot do without its food. The musician must have
music--music to hear, music to make heard. A temporary withdrawal is
valuable to the mind by forcing it to recuperate. But this can only be
on condition that it will return. Solitude is noble, but fatal to an
artist who has not the strength to break out of it. An artist must live
the life of his own time, even if it be clamorous and impure: he must
forever be giving and receiving, and giving, and giving, and again
receiving.--Italy, at the time of Christophe's sojourn, was no longer
the great market of the arts that once it was, and perhaps will be
again. Nowadays the meeting-place of ideas, the exchange of the thought
and spirit of the nations, are in the North. He who has the will to live
must live in the North.

Left to himself, Christophe would have shuddered away from the rout. But
Grazia felt his duty more clearly than he could see it. And she demanded
more of him than of herself: no doubt because she valued him more
highly, but also because it suited her. She delegated her energy upon
him, and so maintained her tranquillity.--He had not the heart to be
angry with her for it. Like Mary, hers was the better part. Each of us
has his part to play in life. Christophe's was action. For her it was
enough to be. He asked no more of her.

He asked nothing but to love her, if it were possible, a little less for
himself, and a little more for her. For he did not altogether like her
having so little egoism in her friendship as to think only of the
interests of her friend--who asked only to be allowed to give no thought
to them.

       *       *       *       *       *

He went away from her. And yet he did not leave her. As an old trouvère
says: "_The lover does not leave his beloved but with the sanction of
his soul._"



II


He was sick at heart as he reached Paris. It was the first time he had
been there since the death of Olivier. He had wished never to see the
city again. In the cab which took him from the station to his hotel he
hardly dared look out of the window; for the first few days he stayed in
his room and could not bring himself to go out. He was fearful of the
memories lying in wait for him outside. But what exactly did he dread?
Did he really know? Was it, as he tried to believe, the terror of seeing
the dead spring to life again exactly as they had been? Or was it--the
greater sorrow of being forced to know that they were dead?... Against
this renewal of grief all the half-unconscious ruses of instinct had
taken up arms. It was for this reason--(though perhaps he knew it
not)--that he had chosen a hotel in a district far removed from that in
which he had lived. And when for the first time he went out into the
streets, having to conduct rehearsals at the concert-hall, when once
more he came in contact with the life of Paris, he walked for a long
time with his eyes closed, refusing to see what he did see, insisting on
seeing only what he had seen in old days. He kept on saying to himself:

"I know that. I know that...."

In art as in politics there was the same intolerant anarchy. The same
Fair in the market-place. Only the actors had changed their parts. The
revolutionaries of his day had become bourgeois, and the supermen had
become men of fashion. The old independents were trying to stifle the
new independents. The young men of twenty years ago were now more
conservative than the old conservatives whom they had fought, and their
critics refused the newcomers the right to live. Apparently nothing was
different.

But everything had changed....

       *       *       *       *       *

"My dear, forgive me. It is good of you not to be angry with me for my
silence. Your letter has helped me greatly. I have been through several
weeks of terrible distress. I had nothing. I had lost you. Here I was
feeling terribly the absence of those whom I have lost. All my old
friends of whom I used to tell you have disappeared--Philomela--(you
remember the singing voice that dear, sad night when, as I wandered
through a gay crowd, I saw your eyes in a mirror gazing at
me)--Philomela has realized her very reasonable dream: she inherited a
little money, and has a farm in Normandy. M. Arnaud has retired and gone
back to the provinces with his wife, to a little town near Angers. Of
the famous men of my day many are dead or gone under; none are left save
the same old puppets who twenty years ago were playing the juvenile lead
in art and politics, and with the same false faces are still playing it.
Outside these masks there are none whom I recognize. They seem to me to
be grimacing over a grave. It is a terrible feeling.--More than this:
during the first few days after my arrival I suffered physically from
the ugliness of things, from the gray light of the North after your
golden sun: the masses of dull houses, the vulgar lines of certain domes
and monuments, which had never struck me before, hurt me cruelly. Nor
was the moral atmosphere any more to my taste.

"And yet I have no complaint to make of the Parisians. They have given
me a welcome altogether different from that which I received before. In
my absence I seem to have become a kind of celebrity. I will say nothing
of that, for I know what it is worth. I am touched by all the pleasant
things which these people say and write of me, and am obliged to them.
But what shall I say to you? I felt much nearer the people who attacked
me in old days than I do to the people who laud me now.... It is my own
fault, I know. Don't scold me. I had a moment of uneasiness. It was to
be expected. It is done now. I understand. Yes. You are right to have
sent me back among men. I was in a fair way to be buried in my solitude.
It is unhealthy to play at Zarathustra. The flood of life moves on,
moves on away from us. There comes a time when one is as a desert. Many
weary days in the burning sun are needed to dig a new channel in the
sand, to dig down to the river.--It has been done. I am no longer dizzy.
I am in the current again. I look and see.

"My dear, what a strange people are the French! Twenty years ago I
thought they were finished.... They are just beginning again. My dear
comrade, Jeannin, foretold it. But I thought he was deceiving himself.
How could one believe it then! France was, like their Paris, full of
broken houses, plaster, and holes. I said: 'They have destroyed
everything.... What a race of rodents!'--a race of beavers. Just when
you think them prostrate on their ruins, lo, they are using the ruins to
lay the foundations of a new city. I can see it now in the scaffoldings
which are springing up on all sides....

_"Wenn ein Ding geschehen Selbst die Narren es verstehen,..."_
[Footnote: "When a thing has happened, even the fools can see it."]

"In truth there is just the same French disorder. One needs to be used
to it to see in the rout seething up from all directions, the bands of
workmen, each going about his appointed task. There are also people who
can do nothing without vilifying what their neighbors are doing. All
this is calculated to upset the stoutest head. But when you have lived,
as I have, nearly ten years with them, you cannot be deceived by their
uproar. You see then that it is their way of spurring themselves on to
work. They talk, but they work, and as each builder's yard sets about
building a house, in the end you find that the city has been re-builded.
What is most remarkable is that, taken together, all these buildings are
not discordant. They may maintain opposing theses, but all their minds
are cast in the same mold. So that, beneath their anarchy, there are
common instincts, a racial logic which takes the place of discipline,
and this discipline is, when all is told, probably more solid than that
of a Prussian regiment.

"Everywhere the same enthusiasm, the same constructive fever: in
politics, where Socialists and Nationalists vie with one another in
tightening up the wheels of slackened power; in art, which some wish to
make into an old aristocratic mansion for the privileged few, and others
a vast hall open to the people, a hall where the collective soul can
sing; they are reconstructors of the past, or constructors of the
future. But whatever they do, these ingenious creatures are forever
building the same cells. They have the instincts of beavers or bees, and
through the ages are forever doing the same things, returning to the
same forms. The most revolutionary among them are perhaps those who most
closely cling, though they may not know it, to the most ancient
traditions. Among the syndicates and the most striking of the young
writers I have found purely medieval souls.

"Now that I have grown used to their tumultuous ways, I can watch them
working with pleasure. Let us be frank: I am too old a bear ever to feel
at ease in any of their houses: I need the open air. But what good
workers they are! That is their highest virtue. It laves the most
mediocre and the most corrupt: and then, in their artists, what a sense
of beauty! I remarked that much less in the old days. You taught me to
see. My eyes were opened in the light of Rome. Your Renaissance men have
helped me to understand these. A page of Debussy, a torso of Rodin, a
phrase of Suarès, these are all in the direct line from your
_cinquecestenti_.

"Not that there is not much that is distasteful to me here. I have found
my old friends of the market-place, who used to drive me to fury. They
have not changed. But, alas! I have changed. I cannot be severe. When I
feel myself wanting to judge one of them harshly I say to myself: 'You
have no right. You have done worse than these men, though you thought
yourself so strong.' Also, I have learned that nothing exists in vain,
and that even the vilest have their place in the scheme of the tragedy.
The depraved dilettantists, the foetid amoralists, have accomplished
their termitic task; the tottering ruins must be brought down before
they can be built up again. The Jews have been true to their sacred
mission, which is, in the midst of other races, to be a foreign race,
the race which, from end to end of the world, is to link up the network
of human unity. They break down the intellectual barriers between the
nations, to give Divine Reason an open field. The worst agents of
corruption, the ironic destroyers who ruin our old beliefs and kill our
well-beloved dead, toil, unwittingly, in the holy work of new life. So
the ferocious self-interest of the cosmopolitan bankers, whose labors
are attended with such and so many disasters, build, whether they will
or no, the future peace of the world, side by side with the
revolutionaries who combat them, far more surely than the idiotic
pacifists.

"You see, I am getting old. I have lost my bite. My teeth have lost
their sharpness. When I go to the theater I am now only one of those
simple spectators who apostrophize the actors and cry shame on the
traitor.

"My tranquil Grace, I am only talking about myself: and yet I think only
of you. If you knew how importunate is my ego! It is oppressive and
absorbing. It is like a millstone that God has tied round my neck. How I
should have loved to lay it at your feet! But what would you have done
with it? It is a poor kind of present.... Your feet were made to tread
the soft earth and the sand sinking beneath the tread. I see your feet
carelessly passing over the lawns dappled with anemones.... (Have you
been again to the Villa Doria?)... And you are tired! I see you now
half-reclining in your favorite retreat, in your drawing-room, propped
up on your elbow, holding a book which you do not read. You listen to me
kindly, without paying much attention to what I say; for I am tiresome,
and, for patience, you turn every now and then to your own thoughts; but
you are courteous, and, taking care not to upset me, when a chance word
brings you back from your distant journeying, your eyes, so absent
before, quickly take on an expression of interest. And I am as far from
what I am saying as you: I, too, hardly hear the sound of my words: and
while I follow their reflection in your lovely face, in my heart I
listen to other words which I do not speak to you. Those words, my
tranquil Grace, unlike the others, you hear quite clearly, but you
pretend not to hear them.

"Adieu. I think you will see me again in a little while, I shall not
languish here. What should I do now that my concerts are over?--I kiss
your children on their little cheeks. They are yours and you. I must be
content!...

"CHRISTOPHE."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Tranquil Grace" replied:

"My dear,

"I received your letter in the little corner of the drawing-room that
you remember so well, and I read it, as I am clever at reading, by
letting your letter fall every now and then and resting. Don't laugh at
me. I did that to make it last a long time. In that way we spent a whole
afternoon together. The children asked me what it was I kept on reading.
I told them it was a letter from you. Aurora looked at the paper
pityingly and said: 'How tiresome it must be to write such a long
letter!' I tried to make her understand that it was not an imposition I
had set you, but a conversation we were having together. She listened
without a word, then ran away with her brother to play in the next room,
and a little later, when Lionello began to shout, I heard Aurora say:
'You mustn't make such a noise: mamma is talking to M. Christophe.'

"What you tell me about the French interests me, but it does not
surprise me. You remember that I often used to reproach you with being
unjust towards them. It is impossible to like them. But what an
intelligent people they are! There are mediocre nations who are
preserved by their goodness of heart or their physical vigor. The French
are saved by their intelligence. It laves all their weaknesses, and
regenerates them. When you think they are down, beaten, perverted, they
find new youth in the ever-bubbling spring of their minds.

"But I must scold you. You ask my pardon for speaking only of yourself.
You are an _ingannatore_. You tell me nothing about yourself.
Nothing of what you have been doing. Nothing of what you have been
seeing. My cousin Colette--(why did not you go and see her?)--had to
send me press-cuttings about your concerts, or I should have known
nothing of your success. You only mentioned it by the way. Are you so
detached from everything?... It is not true. Tell me that it pleased
you.... It must please you, if only because it pleases me. I don't like
you to have a disillusioned air. The tone of your letter is melancholic.
That must not be.... It is good that you are more just to others. But
that is no reason why you should abase yourself, as you do, by saying
that you are worse than the worst of them. A good Christian would
applaud you. I tell you it is a bad thing. I am not a good Christian. I
am a good Italian, and I don't like you tormenting yourself with the
past. The present is quite enough. I don't know exactly what it was that
you did. You told me the story in a very few words, and I think I
guessed the rest. It was not a nice story, but you are none the less
dear to me for it. My poor, dear Christophe, a woman does not reach my
age without knowing that an honest man is often very weak. If one did
not know his weakness one would not love him so much. Don't think any
more about what you have done. Think of what you are going to do.
Repentance is quite useless. Repentance means going back. And in good as
in evil, we must always go forward. _Sempre avanti, Savoia!_... So
you think I am going to let you come back to Rome! You have nothing to
do here. Stay in Paris, work, do: play your part in its artistic life. I
will not have you throw it all up. I want you to make beautiful things,
I want them to succeed, I want you to be strong and to help the new
young Christophes who are setting out on the same struggles, and passing
through the same trials. Look for them, help them, be kinder to your
juniors than your seniors were to you.--In fine, I want you to be strong
because I know that you are strong: you have no idea of the strength
that gives me.

"Almost every day I go with the children to the Villa Borghese.
Yesterday we drove to Ponte Molle, and walked round the tower of Monte
Mario. You slander my powers of walking and my legs cry out against you:
'What did the fellow mean by saying at the Villa Doria that we get tired
in ten paces? He knows nothing about it. If we are not prone to give
ourselves trouble, it is because we are lazy, and not because we
cannot....' You forget, my dear, that I am a little peasant....

"Go and see my cousin Colette. Are you still angry with her? She is a
good creature at heart, and she swears by you! Apparently the Parisian
women are crazy about your music. (Perhaps they were in the old days.)
My Berne bear may, and he will, be the lion of Paris. Have you had
letters? And declarations? You don't mention any woman. Can you be in
love? Tell me. I am not jealous. Your friend,

"G."

       *       *       *       *       *

"... So you think I am likely to be pleased with your last sentence! I
would to God you were jealous! But don't look to me to make you so. I
have no taste for these mad Parisiennes, as you call them. Mad? They
would like to be so. But they are nothing like it. You need not hope
that they will turn my head. There would be more chance of it perhaps if
they were indifferent to my music. But it is only too true that they
love it; and how am I to keep my illusions? When any one tells you that
he understands you, you may be very sure that he will never do so....

"Don't take my joking too seriously. The feeling I have for you does not
make me unjust to other women. I have never had such true sympathy for
them as I have now since I ceased to look at them with lover's eyes. The
tremendous effort they have been making during the last thirty years to
escape from the degrading and unwholesome semi-domesticity, to which our
stupid male egoism condemned them, to their and our unhappiness, seems
to me to be one of the most splendid facts of our time. In a town like
this one learns to admire the new generation of young women, who, in
spite of so many obstacles, with so much fresh ardor rush on to the
conquest of knowledge and diplomas,--the knowledge, the diplomas which,
they think, must liberate them, open to them the arcana of the unknown
world and make them the equals of men....

"No doubt their faith is illusory and rather ridiculous. But progress is
never realized as we expect it to be: it is none the less realized
because it takes entirely different paths from those we have marked out
for it. This effort of the women will not be wasted. It will make women
completer and more human, as they were in the great ages. They will no
longer be without interest in the living questions of the world, as most
scandalously and monstrously they have been, for it is intolerable that
a woman, though she be never so careful in her domestic duties, should
think herself absolved from thinking of her civic duties in the modern
city. Their great-great-grandmothers of the time of Joan of Arc and
Catherine Sforza were not of this way of thinking. Woman has withered.
We have refused her air and sun. She is taking them from us again by
force. Ah! the brave little creatures!... Of course, many of those who
are now struggling will die and many will be led astray. It is an age of
crisis. The effort is too violent for those whose strength has too much
gone to seed. When a plant has been for a long time without water, the
first shower of rain is apt to scald it. But what would you? It is the
price of progress. Those who come after will flourish through their
sufferings. The poor little warlike virgins of our time, many of whom
will never marry, will be more fruitful for posterity than the
generations of matrons who gave birth before them; for, at the cost of
their sacrifices, there will issue from them the women of a new classic
age.

"I have not found these working bees in your cousin Colette's
drawing-room. What whim was it made you send me to her? I had to obey
you; but it is not well: you are abusing your power. I had refused three
of her invitations, left two of her letters unanswered. She came and
hunted me up at one of my rehearsals--(they were going through my sixth
symphony). I saw her, during the interval, come in with her nose in the
air, sniffing and crying: 'That smacks of love! Ah! How I love such
music!...'

"She has changed, physically; only her cat-like eyes with their bulging
pupils, and her fantastic nose, always wrinkling up and never still, are
the same. But her face is wider, big-boned, highly colored, and
coarsened. Sport has transformed her. She gives herself up to sport of
all kinds. Her husband, as you know, is one of the swells at the
Automobile Club and the Aero Club. There is not an aviation meeting, nor
a race by air, land, or water, but the Stevens-Delestrades think
themselves compelled to be present at it. They are always out on the
highways and byways. Conversation is quite impossible; they talk of
nothing but Racing, Rowing, Rugby, and the Derby. They belong to a new
race of people. The days of _Pelléas_ are forever gone for the
women. Souls are no longer in fashion. All the girls hoist a red,
swarthy complexion, tanned by driving in the open air and playing games
in the sun: they look at you with eyes like men's eyes: they laugh and
their laughter is a little coarse. In tone they have become more brutal,
more crude. Every now and then your cousin will quite calmly say the
most shocking things. She is a great eater, where she used to eat hardly
anything. She still complains about her digestion, merely out of habit,
but she never misses a mouthful for it. She reads nothing. No one reads
among these people. Only music has found favor in their sight. Music has
even profited by the neglect of literature. When these people are worn
out, music is a Turkish bath to them, a warm vapor, massage, tobacco.
They have no need to think. They pass from sport to love, and love also
is a sport. But the most popular sport among their esthetic
entertainments is dancing. Russian dancing, Greek dancing, Swiss
dancing, American dancing, everything is set to a dance in Paris:
Beethoven's symphonies, the tragedies of Æschylus, the _Clavecin bien
Tempéré_, the antiques of the Vatican, _Orpheus_, Tristan, the
Passion, and gymnastics. These people are suffering from vertigo.

"The queer thing is to see how your cousin reconciles everything, her
estheticism, her sport, and her practical sense (for she has inherited
from her mother her sense of business and her domestic despotism). All
these things ought to make an incredible mixture, but she is quite at
her ease with them all: her most foolish eccentricities leave her mind
quite clear, just as she keeps her eyes and hands sure when she goes
whirling along in her motor. She is a masterful woman: her husband, her
guests, her servants, she leads them all, with drums beating and colors
flying. She is also busy with politics: she is for 'Monseigneur'; not
that I believe her to be a royalist, but it is another excuse for
bestirring herself. And although she is incapable of reading more than
ten pages of a book, she arranges the elections to the Academies.--She
set about extending her patronage to me. You may guess that that was not
at all to my liking. What is most exasperating is that the fact of my
having visited her in obedience to you has absolutely convinced her of
her power over me. I take my revenge in thrusting home truths at her.
She only laughs, and is never at a loss for a reply. 'She is a good
creature at heart....' Yes, provided she is occupied. She admits that
herself: if the machine has nothing to grind she is capable of anything
and everything to keep it going.--I have been to her house twice. I
shall not go again. Twice is enough to prove my obedience to you. You
don't want me to die? I leave her house broken, crushed, cramped. Last
time I saw her I had a frightful nightmare after it: I dreamed I was her
husband, all my life tied to that living whirlwind.... A foolish dream,
and it need not trouble her real husband, for of all who go to the house
he is the last to be seen with her, and when they are together they only
talk of sport. They get on very well.

"How could these people make my music a success? I try not to understand.
I suppose it shocked them in a new way. They liked it for
brutalizing them. For the time being they like art with a body to it.
But they have not the faintest conception of the soul in the body: they
will pass from the infatuation of to-day to the indifference of
to-morrow, from the indifference of to-morrow to the abuse of the day
after, without ever having known it. That is the history of all artists.
I am under no illusion as to my success, and have not been for a long
time: and they will make me pay for it.--Meanwhile I see the most
curious things going on. The most enthusiastic of my admirers is ... (I
give him you among a thousand) ... our friend Lévy-Coeur. You remember
the gentleman with whom I fought a ridiculous duel? Now he instructs
those who used not to understand me. He does it very well too. He is the
most intelligent of all the men talking about me. You may judge what the
others are worth. There is nothing to be proud of, I assure you.

"I don't want to be proud of it. I am too humiliated when I hear the
work for which I am belauded. I see myself in it, and what I see is not
beautiful. What a merciless mirror is a piece of music to those who can
see into it! Happily they are blind and deaf. I have put so much of my
troubles and weaknesses into my work that sometimes it seems to me
wicked to let loose upon the world such hordes of demons. I am comforted
when I see the tranquillity of the audience: they are trebly armored:
nothing can reach them: were it not so, I should be damned.... You
reproach me with being too hard on myself. You do not know me as I know
myself. They see what we are: they do not see what we might have been,
and we are honored for what is not so much the effect of our qualities
as of the events that bear us along, and the forces which control us.
Let me tell you a story....

"The other evening I was in one of the cafés where they play fairly good
music, though in a queer way: with five or six instruments, filled out
with a piano, they play all the symphonies, the masses, the oratorios.
It is just like the stonecutters in Rome, where they sell the Medici
chapel as an ornament for the mantelpiece. Apparently this is useful to
art, which, if it is to circulate among men, must be turned into base
coin. For the rest there is no deception in these concerts. The programs
are copious, the musicians conscientious. I found a violoncellist there
and entered into conversation with him: his eyes reminded me strangely
of my father's; he told me the story of his life. He was the grandson of
a peasant, the son of a small official, a clerk in a _mairie_ in a
village in the North. They wanted to make him a gentleman, a lawyer, and
he was sent to school in the neighboring town. He was a sturdy country
boy, not at all fitted for being cooped up over the small work of a
notary's office, and he could not stay caged in: he used to jump over
the wall, and wander through the fields, and run after the girls, and
spend his strength in brawling: the rest of the time he lounged and
dreamed of things he would never do. Only one thing had any attraction
for him: music. God knows why! There was not a single musician in his
family, except a rather cracked great-uncle, one of those odd,
provincial characters, whose often remarkable intelligence and gifts are
spent, in their proud isolation, on whims, and cranks, and trivialities.
This great-uncle had invented a new system of notation--(yet
another!)--which was to revolutionize music; he even claimed to have
found a system of stenography by which words, tune, and accompaniment
could be written simultaneously; but he never managed to transcribe it
correctly himself. They just laughed at the old man in the family, but
all the same, they were proud of him. They thought: 'He is an old
madman. Who knows? Perhaps he is a genius.'--It was no doubt from him
that the grandnephew had his mania for music. What music could he hear
in the little town?... But bad music can inspire a love as pure as good
music.

"The unhappy part of it was that there seemed no possibility of
confessing to such a passion in such surroundings: and the boy had not
his great-uncle's cracked brains. He hid away to read the old lunatic's
lucubrations which formed the basis of his queer musical education. Vain
and fearful of his father and of public opinion, he would say nothing of
his ambitions until he had succeeded. He was crushed by his family, and
did as so many French people of the middle-class have to do when, out of
weakness or kindness, they dare not oppose the will of their relations:
they submit to all appearance, and live their true life in perpetual
secrecy. Instead of following his bent, he struggled on, against his
inclination, in the work they had marked out for him. He was as
incapable of succeeding in it as he was of coming to grief. Somehow or
other he managed to pass the necessary examinations. The main advantage
to him was that he escaped from the spying of his father and the
neighbors. The law crushed him: he was determined not to spend his life
in it. But while his father was alive he dared not declare his desire.
Perhaps it was not altogether distasteful to him to have to wait a
little before he took the decisive step. He was one of those men who all
their lives long dazzle themselves with what they will do later on, with
the things they could do. For the moment he did nothing. He lost his
bearings, and, intoxicated by his new life in Paris, gave himself up
with all his young peasant brutality to his two passions, woman and
music; he was crazed with the concerts he went to, no less than with
pleasure. He wasted years doing this without even turning to account the
means at hand of completing his musical education. His umbrageous pride,
his unfortunate independent and susceptible character kept him from
taking any course of lessons or asking anybody's advice.

"When his father died he sent Themis and Justinian packing. He began to
compose without having had the courage to acquire the necessary
technique. His inveterate habit of idle lounging and his taste for
pleasure had made him incapable of any serious effort. He felt keenly:
but his idea, and its form, would at once slip away: when all was told
he expressed nothing but the commonplace. The worst of all was that
there was really something great in this mediocrity. I read two of his
old compositions. Here and there were striking ideas, left in the rough
and then deformed. They were like fireflies over a bog.... And what a
strange mind he had! He tried to explain Beethoven's sonatas to me. He
saw them as absurd, childish stories. But such passion as there was in
him, such profound seriousness! Tears would come to his eyes as he
talked. He would die for the thing he loves. He is, touching and
grotesque. Just as I was on the point of laughing in his face, I wanted
to take him to my arms.... He is fundamentally honest, and has a healthy
contempt for the charlatanry of the Parisian groups and their sham
reputations,--(though at the same time he cannot help having the
bourgeois admiration for successful men)....

"He had a small legacy. In a few months it was all gone, and, finding
himself without resources, he had, like so many others of his kind, the
criminal honesty to marry a girl, also without resources, whom he had
seduced; she had a fine voice, and played music without any love for it.
He had to live on her voice and her mediocre talent until he had learned
how to play the 'cello. Naturally it was not long before they saw their
mediocrity, and could not bear each other. They had a little girl. The
father transferred his power of illusion to the child, and thought that
she would be what he had failed to be. The little girl took after her
mother: she was made to play the piano, though she had not a shadow of
talent; she adored her father, and applied herself to her work to please
him. For several years they plied the hotels in the watering-places,
picking up more insults than money. The child was ailing and overworked,
and died. The wife grew desperate, and became more shrewish every day.
So his life became one of endless misery, with no hope of escape,
brightened only by an ideal which he knew himself to be incapable of
attaining....

"And, my dear, when I saw that poor broken devil, whose life has been
nothing but a series of disappointments, I thought: 'That is what I
might have been.' There was much in common in our boyhood, and certain
adventures in our two lives are the same; I have even found a certain
kinship in some of our musical ideas: but his have stopped short. What
is it that has kept me from foundering as he has done? My will, no
doubt. But also the chances of life. And even taking my will, is that
due only to my merits? Is it not rather due to my descent, my friends,
and God who has aided me?... Such thoughts make a man humble. With such
thoughts he feels brotherly to all who love his art, and suffer for it.

"Prom lowest to highest the distance is not so great....

"On that I thought of what you said in your letter. You are right: an
artist has no right to hold aloof, so long as he can help others. So I
shall stay: I shall force myself to spend a few months in every year
here, or in Vienna, or Berlin, although it is hard for me to grow
accustomed to these cities again. But I must not abdicate. If I do not
succeed in being of any great service, as I have good reason to think I
shall not, perhaps my sojourn in these cities will be useful to me,
myself. And I shall console myself with the thought that it was your
wish. Besides ... (I will not lie)... I am beginning to find it pleasant.
Adieu, tyrant. You have triumphed. I am beginning not only to do what
you want me to do, but to love doing it.

"CHRISTOPHE."

       *       *       *       *       *

So he stayed, partly to please her, but also because his artistic
curiosity was reawakened, and was drawn on to contemplation of the
renewal of art. Everything that he saw and did he presented for Grazia's
scrutiny in his letters. He knew that he was deceiving himself as to the
interest she would take in it all; he suspected her of a certain
indifference. But he was grateful to her for not letting him see it too
clearly.

She answered him regularly once a fortnight. Affectionate, composed
letters, like her gestures. When she told him of her life she never
discarded her tender, proud reserve. She knew the violence with which
her words went resounding through Christophe's heart. She preferred that
he should think her cold, rather than to send him flying to heights
whither she did not wish to follow him. But she was too womanly not to
know the secret of not discouraging her friend's love, and of, at once,
by gentle words, soothing the dismay and disappointment caused by her
indifferent words. Christophe soon divined her tactics, and by a
counter-trick tried in his turn to control his warmth and to write more
composedly, so that Grazia's replies should not be so studiously
restrained.

The longer he stayed in Paris the greater grew his interest in the new
activity stirring in that gigantic ant-heap. He was the more interested
in it all as in the young ants he found less sympathy with himself. He
was not deceived: his success was a Pyrrhic victory. After an absence of
ten years his return had created a sensation in Parisian society. But by
an ironic turn of events, such as is by no means rare, he found himself
patronized by his old enemies the snobs, and people of fashion: the
artists were either mutely hostile or distrustful of him. He won his way
by his name, which already belonged to the past, by his considerable
accomplishment, by his tone of passionate conviction, and the violence
of his sincerity. But if people were forced to reckon with him, to
admire or respect him, they did not understand or love him. He was
outside the art of the time. A monster, a living anachronism. He had
always been that. His ten years of solitude had accentuated the
contrast. During his absence in Europe, and especially in Paris, a
great work of reconstruction had been carried through. A new order was
springing to life. A generation was arising, desirous rather of action
than of understanding, hungry rather for happiness than for truth. It
wished to live, to grasp life, even at the cost of a lie. Lies of
pride--all manner of pride: pride of race, pride of caste, pride of
religion, pride of culture and art--all were food to this generation,
provided that they were armor of steel, provided that they could be
turned to sword and buckler, and that, sheltered by them, they could
march on to victory.

So to this generation it was distasteful to hear the great voice of
torment reminding it of the existence of sorrow and doubt, those
whirlwinds that had troubled the night that was hardly gone, and, in
spite of its denials, went on menacing the universe, the whirlwinds that
it wished to forget. These young people turned away in despite, and they
shouted at the top of their voices to deafen themselves. But the voice
was heard above them all. And they were angry.

Christophe, on the other hand, regarded them with a friendly eye. He
hailed the upward movement of the world towards happiness. The
deliberate narrowness of its impulse affected him not at all. When a man
wishes to go straight to his goal, he must look straight in front of
him. For his part, sitting at the turning of the world, he was rejoiced
to see behind him the tragic splendor of the night, and, in front of
him, the smile of young hope, the uncertain beauty of the fresh, fevered
dawn. And he was at the stationary point of the axis of the pendulum
while the clock was beginning to go again. Without following its onward
march, he listened joyfully to the beating of the rhythm of life. He
joined in the hope of those who denied his past agonies. What would be,
would be, as he had dreamed. Ten years before, in night and suffering,
Olivier--the little Gallic cock--had with his frail song announced the
distant day. The singer was no more; but his song was coming to pass. In
the garden of Prance the birds were singing. And, above all the singing,
clearer, louder, happier, Christophe suddenly heard the voice of Olivier
come to life again.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was absently reading a book of poems at a bookstall. The name of the
author was unknown to him. Certain words struck him and he went on
reading. As he read on between the uncut pages he seemed to recognize a
friendly voice, the features of a friend.... He could not define his
feeling, nor could he bring himself to put the book down, and so he
bought it. When he reached his room he resumed his reading. At once the
old obsession descended on him. The impetuous rhythm of the poem evoked,
with a visionary precision, the universe and age-old souls--the gigantic
trees of which we are all the leaves and the fruit--the nations. From
the pages there arose the superhuman figure of the Mother--she who was
before us, she who will be after us. She who reigns, like the Byzantine
Madonnas, lofty as the mountains, at whose feet kneel and pray ant-like
human beings. The poet was hymning the homeric struggle of the great
goddesses, whose lances had clashed together since the beginning of the
ages: the eternal Iliad which is to that of Troy what the Alps are to
the little hills of Greece.

Such an epic of warlike pride and action was far removed from the ideas
of a European soul like Christophe's. And yet, in gleams, in the vision
of the French soul--the graceful virgin, who bears the Aegis, Athena,
with blue eyes shining through the darkness, the goddess of work, the
incomparable artist, sovereign reason, whose glittering lance hurls down
the tumultuously shouting barbarians--Christophe perceived an
expression, a smile that he knew and had loved. But just as he was on
the point of fixing it the vision died away. And while he was
exasperated by this vain pursuit, lo! as he turned a page, he came on a
story which Olivier had told him a few days before his death....

He was struck dumb. He ran to the publishers, and asked for the poet's
address. It was refused, as is the custom. He lost his temper. In vain.
Finally he remembered that he could find what he wanted in a year-book.
He did find it, and went at once to the author's house. When he wanted
anything he found it impossible to wait.

It was in the Batignolles district on the top floor. There were several
doors opening on to a common landing. Christophe knocked at the door
which had been pointed out to him. The next door opened. A young woman,
not at all pretty, very dark, with low-growing hair and a sallow
complexion--a shriveled face with very sharp eyes--asked what he wanted.
She looked suspicious. Christophe told her why he had come, and, in
answer to her next question, gave his name. She came out of her room and
opened the other door with a key which she had in her pocket. But she
did not let Christophe enter immediately. She told him to wait in the
corridor, and went in alone, shutting the door in his face. At last
Christophe reached the well-guarded sanctum. He crossed a half-empty
room which served as a dining-room and contained only a few shabby
pieces of furniture, while near the curtainless window several birds
were twittering in an aviary. In the next room, on a threadbare divan,
lay a man. He sat up to welcome Christophe. At once Christophe
recognized the emaciated face, lit up by the soul, the lovely velvety
black eyes burning with a feverish flame, the long, intelligent hands,
the misshapen body, the shrill, husky voice.... Emmanuel! The little
cripple boy who had been the innocent cause.... And Emmanuel, suddenly
rising to his feet, had also recognized Christophe.

They stood for a moment without speaking. Both of them saw Olivier....
They could not bring themselves to shake hands. Emmanuel had stepped
backward. After ten long years, an unconfessed rancor, the old jealousy
that he had had of Christophe, leaped forth from the obscure depths of
instinct. He stood still, defiant and hostile.--But when he saw
Christophe's emotion, when on his lips he read the name that was in
their thoughts: "Olivier"--it was stronger than he: he flung himself
into the arms held out towards him.

Emmanuel asked:

"I knew you were in Paris. But how did you find me?"

Christophe said: "I read your last book: through it I heard _his_
voice."

"Yes," said Emmanuel. "You recognized it? I owe everything that I am now
to him."

(He avoided pronouncing the name.)

After a moment he went on gloomily:

"He loved you more than me."

Christophe smiled:

"If a man loves truly there is neither more nor less: he gives himself
to all those whom he loves."

Emmanuel looked at Christophe: the tragic seriousness of his stubborn
eyes was suddenly lit up with a profound sweetness. He took Christophe's
hand and made him sit on the divan by his side.

Each told the story of his life. From fourteen to twenty-five Emmanuel
had practised many trades: printer, upholsterer, pedlar, bookseller's
assistant, lawyer's clerk, secretary to a politician, journalist.... In
all of them he had found the means of learning feverishly, here and
there finding the support of good people who were struck by the little
man's energy, more often falling into the hands of people who exploited
his poverty and his gifts, turning his worst experiences to profit, and
succeeding in fighting his way through without too much bitterness,
leaving behind him only the remains of his feeble health. His singular
aptitude for the dead languages (not so rare as one is inclined to
believe in a race imbued with humanistic traditions) gained him the
interest and support of an old Hellenizing priest. These studies, which
he had no time to push very far, served him as mental discipline and a
school of style. This man, who had risen from the dregs of the people,
whose whole education had been won by his own efforts, haphazard, so
that there were great gaps in it, had acquired a gift of verbal
expression, a mastery of thought over form, such as ten years of a
university education cannot give to the young bourgeois. He attributed
it all to Olivier. And yet others had helped him more effectively. But
from Olivier came the spark which in the night of this man's soul had
lighted the eternal flame. The rest had but poured oil into the lamp.

He said:

"I only began to understand him from the moment when he passed away. But
everything he ever said had become a part of me. His light never left
me."

He spoke of his work and the task which he declared had been left to him
by Olivier; the awakening of the French, the kindling of that torch of
heroic idealism of which Olivier had been the herald: he wished to make
himself the resounding voice which should hover above the battlefield
and declare the approaching victory: he sang the epic of the new-birth
of his race.

His poems were the product of that strange race that, through the ages,
has so strongly preserved its old Celtic aroma, while it has ever taken
a bizarre pride in clothing its ideas with the cast-off clothes and laws
of the Roman conqueror. There were to be found in it absolutely pure the
Gallic audacity, the spirit of heroic reason, of irony, the mixture of
braggadocio and crazy bravura, which set out to pluck the beards of the
Roman senators, and pillaged the temple of Delphi, and laughingly hurled
its javelins at the sky. But this little Parisian dwarf had had to shape
his passions, as his periwigged grandfathers had done, and as no doubt
his great-grandnephews would do, in the bodies of the heroes and gods of
Greece, two thousand years dead. It is a curious instinct in these
people which accords well with their need of the absolute: as they
impose their ideas on the remains of the ages, they seem to themselves
to be imposing them on the ages. The constraint of his classic form only
gave Emmanuel's passions a more violent impulse. Olivier's calm
confidence in the destinies of France had been transformed in his little
protégé into a burning faith, hungering for action and sure of triumph.
He willed it, he said it, he clamored for it. It was by his exalted
faith and his optimism that he had uplifted the souls of the French
public. His book had been as effective as a battle. He had made a breach
in the ranks of skepticism and fear. The whole younger generation had
thronged to follow him towards the new destiny....

He grew excited as he talked: his eyes burned, his pale face glowed pink
in patches, and his voice rose to a scream. Christophe could not help
noticing the contrast between the devouring fire and the wretched body
that was its pyre. He was only half-conscious of the irony of this
stroke of fate. The singer of energy, the poet who hymned the generation
of intrepid sport, of action, war, could hardly walk without losing his
breath, was extremely temperate, lived on a strict diet, drank water,
could not smoke, lived without women, bore every passion in his body,
and was reduced by his health to asceticism.

Christophe watched Emmanuel, and he felt a mixture of admiration and
brotherly pity. He tried not to show it: but no doubt his eyes betrayed
his feeling. Emmanuel's pride, which ever kept an open wound in his
side, made him think he read commiseration in Christophe's eyes, and
that was more odious to him than hatred. The fire in him suddenly died
down. He stopped talking. Christophe tried in vain to win back his
confidence. His soul had closed up. Christophe saw that he was wounded.

The hostile silence dragged on. Christophe got up. Emmanuel took him to
the door without a word. His step declared his infirmity: he knew it: it
was a point of pride with him to appear indifferent: but he thought
Christophe was watching him, and his rancor grew.

Just as he was coldly shaking hands with his guest, and saying good-by,
an elegant young lady rang at the door. She was escorted by a
pretentious nincompoop whom Christophe recognized as a man he had seen
at theatrical first-nights, smiling, chattering, waving his hand,
kissing the hands of the ladies, and from his stall shedding smiles all
over the theater: not knowing his name, he had called him "the
buck."--The buck and his companion, on seeing Emmanuel, flung themselves
on the _"cher maître"_ with obsequious and familiar effusiveness.
As Christophe walked away he heard Emmanuel in his dry voice saying that
he was too busy to see any one. He admired the man's gift of being
disagreeable. He did not know Emmanuel's reasons for scowling at the
rich snobs who came to gratify him with their indiscreet visits; they
were prodigal of fine phrases and eulogy; but they no more thought of
helping him in his poverty than the famous friends of César Franck ever
dreamed of releasing him from the piano-lessons which he had to give up
to the last to make a living.

Christophe went several times again to see Emmanuel. He never succeeded
in restoring the intimacy of his first visit. Emmanuel showed no
pleasure in seeing him, and maintained a suspicious reserve. Every now
and then he would be carried away by the generous need of expansion of
his genius: a remark of Christophe's would shake him to the very roots
of his being: then he would abandon himself to a fit of enthusiastic
confidence: and over his secret soul his idealism would cast the glowing
light of a flashing poetry. Then, suddenly, he would fall back: he would
shrivel up into sulky silence: and Christophe would find him hostile
once more.

They were divided by too many things. Not the least was the difference
in their ages. Christophe was on the way to full consciousness and
mastery of himself. Emmanuel was still in process of formation and more
chaotic than Christophe had ever been. The originality of his face came
from the contradictory elements that were at grips in him; a mighty
stoicism, struggling to tame a nature consumed by atavistic
desires,--(he was the son of a drunkard and a prostitute);--a frantic
imagination which tugged against the bit of a will of steel; an immense
egoism, and an immense love for others, and of the two it were
impossible to tell which would be the conqueror; an heroic idealism and
a morbid thirst for glory which made him impatient of other
superiorities. If Olivier's ideas, and his independence, and his
disinterestedness were in him, if Emmanuel was superior to his master by
his plebeian vitality which knew not disgust in the face of action, by
his poetic genius and his thicker skin, which protected him from disgust
of all kinds, yet he was very far from reaching the serenity of
Antoinette's brother: his character was vain and uneasy: and the
restlessness of other people only augmented his own.

He lived in a stormy alliance with a young woman who was his neighbor,
the woman who had received Christophe on his first visit. She loved
Emmanuel, and was jealously busy over him, looked after his house,
copied out his work, and wrote to his dictation. She was not beautiful,
and she bore the burden of a passionate soul. She came of the people,
and for a long time worked in a bookbinding workshop, then in the
post-office. Her childhood had been spent in the stifling atmosphere
common to all the poor workpeople of Paris: souls and bodies all huddled
together, harassing work, perpetual promiscuity, no air, no silence,
never any solitude, no opportunity for recuperation or of defending the
inner sanctuary of the heart. She was proud in spirit, with her mind
ever seething with a religious fervor for a confused ideal of truth. Her
eyes were worn out with copying out at night, sometimes without a lamp,
by moonlight, _Les Misérables_ of Hugo. She had met Emmanuel at a
time when he was more unhappy than she, ill and without resources; and
she had devoted herself to him. This passion was the first, the only
living love of her life. So she attached herself to him with a hungry
tenacity. Her affection was a terrible trial to Emmanuel, who rather
submitted to than shared it. He was touched by her devotion: he knew
that she was his best friend, the only creature to whom he was
everything, who could not do without him. But this very feeling
overwhelmed him. He needed liberty and isolation; her eyes always
greedily beseeching a look obsessed him: he used to speak harshly to
her, and longed to say: "Go!" He was irritated by her ugliness and her
clumsy manners. Though he had seen but little of fashionable society,
and though he heartily despised it,--(for he suffered at appearing even
uglier and more ridiculous there),--he was sensitive to elegance, and
alive to the attraction of women who felt towards him (he had no doubt
of it) exactly as he felt towards his friend. He tried to show her an
affection which he did not possess or, at least, which was continually
obscured by gusts of involuntary hatred. He could not do it: he had a
great generous heart in his bosom, hungering to do good, and also a
demon of violence, capable of much evil. This inward struggle and his
consciousness of his inability to end it to his advantage plunged him
into a state of acute irritation, which he vented on Christophe.

Emmanuel could not help feeling a double antipathy towards Christophe;
firstly because of his old jealousy (one of those childish passions
which still subsist, though we may forget the cause of them): secondly,
because of his fierce nationalism. In France he had embodied all the
dreams of justice, pity, and human brotherhood conceived by the best men
of the preceding age. He did not set France against the rest of Europe
as an enemy whose fortune is swelled by the ruin of the other nations,
but placed her at their head, as the legitimate sovereign who reigns for
the good of all--the sword of the ideal, the guide of the human race.
Rather than see her commit an injustice he would have preferred to see
her dead. But he had no doubt of her. He was exclusively French in
culture and in heart, nourished wholly by the French tradition, the
profound reasons of which he found in his own instinct. Quite sincerely
he ignored foreign thought, for which he had a sort of disdainful
condescension,--and was exasperated if a foreigner did not accept his
lowly position.

Christophe saw all that, but, being older and better versed in life, he
did not worry about it. If such pride of race could not but be
injurious, Christophe was not touched by it: he could appreciate the
illusions of filial love, and never dreamed of criticising the
exaggerations of a sacred feeling. Besides, humanity is profited by the
vain belief of the nations in their mission. Of all the reasons at hand
for feeling himself estranged from Emmanuel only one hurt him:
Emmanuel's voice, which at times rose to a shrill, piercing scream.
Christophe's ears suffered cruelly. He could not help making a face when
it happened. He tried to prevent Emmanuel's seeing it. He endeavored to
hear the music and not the instrument. There was such a beauty of
heroism shining forth from the crippled poet when he evoked the
victories of the mind, the forerunners of other victories, the conquest
of the air, the "flying God" who should upraise the peoples, and, like
the star of Bethlehem, lead them in his train, in ecstasies, towards far
distant spaces or near revenge. The splendor of these visions of energy
did not prevent Christophe's seeing their danger, and foreknowing
whither this change and the growing clamor of the new Marseillaise would
lead. He thought, with a little irony, (with no regret for past or fear
of the future), that the song would find an echo that the singer could
not foresee, and that a day would come when men would sigh for the
vanished days of the Market-Place.--How free they were then! The golden
age of liberty! Never would its like be known again. The world was
moving on to the age of strength, of health, of virile action, and
perhaps of glory, but also of harsh authority and narrow order. We shall
have called it enough with our prayers, the age of iron, the classic
age! The great classic ages--Louis XIV. or Napoleon--seem now at a
distance the peaks of humanity. And perhaps the nation therein most
victoriously realized its ideal State. But go and ask the heroes of
those times what they thought of them! Your Nicolas Poussin went to live
and die in Rome; he was stifled in your midst. Your Pascal, your Racine,
said farewell to the world. And among the greatest, how many others
lived apart in disgrace, and oppressed! Even the soul of a man like
Molière hid much bitterness.--For your Napoleon, whom you so greatly
regret, your fathers do not seem to have had any doubt as to their
happiness, and the master himself was under no illusion; he knew that
when he disappeared the world would say: "Ouf!"... What a wilderness of
thought surrounds the _Imperator!_ Over the immensity of the sands,
the African sun....

Christophe did not say all that was in his mind. A few hints were enough
to set Emmanuel in a fury, and he did not try the experiment again. But
it was in vain that he kept his thoughts to himself: Emmanuel knew what
he was thinking. More than that, he was obscurely conscious that
Christophe saw farther than he. And he was only irritated by it. Young
people never forgive their elders for forcing them to see what they will
see in twenty years' time.

Christophe read his heart, and said to himself:

"He is right. Every man his own faith. A man must believe what he
believes. God keep me from disturbing his confidence in the future!"

But his mere presence upset Emmanuel. When two personalities are
together, however hard they try to efface themselves, one always crushes
the other, and the other always feels rancor and humiliation. Emmanuel's
pride was hurt by Christophe's superiority in experience and character.
And perhaps also he was keeping back the love which he felt growing in
himself for him.

He became more and more shy. He locked his door, and did not answer
letters.--Christophe had to give up seeing him.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the first days of July Christophe reckoned up what he had gained
by his few months' stay in Paris: many new ideas, but few friends.
Brilliant and derisory successes, in which he saw his own image and the
image of his work weakened or caricatured in mediocre minds; and there
is but scant pleasure in that. And he failed to win the sympathy of
those by whom he would have loved to be understood; they had not
welcomed his advances; he could not throw in his lot with them, however
much he desired to share their hopes and to be their ally; it was as
though their uneasy vanity shunned his friendship and found more
satisfaction in having him for an enemy. In short, he had let the tide
of his own generation pass without passing with it, and the tide of the
next generation would have nothing to do with him. He was isolated, and
was not surprised, for all his life he had been accustomed to it. But
now he thought he had won the right, after this fresh attempt, to return
to his Swiss hermitage, until he had realized a project which for some
time past had been taking shape. As he grew older he was tormented with
the desire to return and settle down in his own country. He knew nobody
there, and would find even less intellectual kinship than in this
foreign city: but none the less it was his country: you do not ask those
of your blood to think your thoughts: between them and you there are a
thousand secret ties; the senses learned to read in the same book of sky
and earth, and the heart speaks the same language.

He gaily narrated his disappointments to Grazia, and told her of his
intention of returning to Switzerland: jokingly he asked her permission
to leave Paris, and assured her that he was going during the following
week. But at the end of the letter there was a postscript saying:

"I have changed my mind. My departure is postponed."

Christophe had entire confidence in Grazia: he gave into her hands the
secret of his inmost thoughts. And yet there was a room in his heart of
which he kept the key: it contained the memories which did not belong
only to himself, but to those whom he had loved. He kept back everything
concerning Olivier. His reserve was not deliberate. The words would not
come from his lips whenever he tried to talk to Grazia about Olivier.
She had never known him....

Now, on the morning when he was writing to his friend, there came a
knock on the door. He went to open it, cursing at being interrupted. A
boy of fourteen or fifteen asked for M. Krafft. Christophe gruffly bade
him come in. He was fair, with blue eyes, fine features, not very tall,
with a slender, erect figure. He stood in front of Christophe, rather
shyly, and said not a word. Quickly he pulled himself together, and
raised his limpid eyes, and looked at him with keen interest. Christophe
smiled as he scanned the boy's charming face, and the boy smiled too.

"Well?" said Christophe. "What do you want?"

"I came," said the boy....

(And once more he became confused, blushed, and was silent.)

"I can see that you have come," said Christophe, laughing. "But why have
you come? Look at me. Are you afraid of me?"

The boy smiled once more, shook his head, and said:

"No."

"Bravo! Then tell me who you are."

"I am...." said the boy.

He stopped once more. His eyes wandered curiously round the room, and
lighted on a photograph of Olivier on the mantelpiece.

"Come!" said Christophe. "Courage!"

The boy said:

"I am his son."

Christophe started: he got up from his chair, took hold of the boy's
arm, and drew him to him; he sank back into his chair and held him in a
close embrace: their faces almost touched; and he gazed and gazed at
him, saying:

"My boy.... My poor boy...."

Suddenly he took his face in his hands and kissed his brow, eyes,
cheeks, nose, hair. The boy was frightened and shocked by such a violent
demonstration, and broke away from him. Christophe let him go. He hid
his face in his hand, and leaned his brow against the wall, and sat so
for the space of a few moments. The boy had withdrawn to the other end
of the room. Christophe raised his head. His face was at rest: he looked
at the boy with an affectionate smile.

"I frightened you," he said. "Forgive me.... You see, I loved him."

The boy was still frightened, and said nothing.

"How like you are to him!" said Christophe.... "And yet I should not
have recognized you. What is it that has changed?..."

He asked:

"What is your name?"

"Georges."

"Oh! yes. I remember. Christophe Olivier Georges.... How old are you?"

"Fourteen."

"Fourteen! Is it so long ago?... It is as though it were yesterday--or
far back in the darkness of time.... How like you are to him! The same
features. It is the same, and yet another. The same colored eyes, but
not the same eyes. The same smile, the same lips, but not the same
voice. You are stronger. You hold yourself more erect: your face is
fuller, but you blush just as he used to do. Come, sit down, let us
talk. Who sent you to me?"

"No one."

"You came of your own accord? How do you know about me?"

"People have talked to me about you."

"Who?"

"My mother."

"Ah!" said Christophe. "Does she know that you came to see me?"

"No."

Christophe said nothing for a moment; then he asked:

"Where do you live?"

"Near the Parc Monçeau."

"You walked here? Yes? It is a long way. You must be tired."

"I am never tired."

"Good! Show me your arms."

(He felt them.)

"You are a strong boy.... What put it into your head to come and see
me?"

"My father loved you more than any one."

"Did she tell you so?"

(He corrected himself.)

"Did your mother tell you so?"

"Yes."

Christophe smiled pensively. He thought: "She too!... How they all loved
him! Why did they not let him see it?..."

He went on:

"Why did you wait so long before you came?"

"I wanted to come sooner. But I thought you would not want to see me."

"I!"

"I saw you several weeks ago at the Chevillard concerts: I was with my
mother, sitting a little away from you: I bowed to you: you looked
through me, and frowned, and took no notice."

"I looked at you?... My poor boy, how could you think that?... I did not
see you. My eyes are tired. That is why I frown.... You don't think me
so cruel as that?"

"I think you could be cruel too, if you wanted to be."

"Really?" said Christophe. "In that case, if you thought I did not want
to see you, how did you dare to come?"

"Because I wanted to see you."

"And if I had refused to see you?"

"I shouldn't have let you do that." He said this with a little decided
air, at once shy and provoking.

Christophe burst out laughing, and Georges laughed too.

"You would have sent me packing! Think of that! You rogue!... No,
decidedly, you are not like your father."

A shadow passed over the boy's mobile face.

"You think I am not like him? But you said, just now...? You don't think
he would have loved me? You don't love me?"

"What difference does it make to you whether I love you or not?"

"A great deal of difference."

"Because...?"

"Because I love you."

In a moment his eyes, his lips, all his features, took on a dozen
different expressions, like the shadows of the clouds on an April day
chasing over the fields before the spring winds. Christophe had the most
lovely joy in gazing at him and listening to him; it seemed to him that
all the cares of the past were washed away; his sorrowful experiences,
his trials, his sufferings and Olivier's sufferings, all were wiped out:
he was born again in this young shoot of Olivier's life.

They talked on. Georges knew nothing of Christophe's music until the
last few months, but since Christophe had been in Paris, he had never
missed a concert at which his work was played. He spoke of it with an
eager expression, his eyes shining and laughing, with the tears not far
behind: he was like a lover. He told Christophe that he adored music,
and that he wanted to be a composer. But after a question or two,
Christophe saw that the boy knew not even the elements of music. He
asked about his work. Young Jeannin was at the lycée; he said cheerfully
that he was not a good scholar.

"What are you best at? Literature or science?"

"Very much the same."

"What? What? Are you a dunce?"

The boy laughed frankly and said:

"I think so."

Then he added confidentially:

"But I know that I am not, all the same."

Christophe could not help laughing.

"Then why don't you work? Aren't you interested in anything?"

"No. I'm interested in everything."

"Well, then, why?"

"Everything is so interesting that there is no time...."

"No time? What the devil do you do?"

He made a vague gesture:

"Many things. I play music, and games, and I go to exhibitions. I
read...."

"You would do better to read your school-books."

"We never read anything interesting in school.... Besides, we travel.
Last month I went to England to see the Oxford and Cambridge match."

"That must help your work a great deal!"

"Bah! You learn much more that way than by staying at the lycée."

"And what does your mother say to that?"

"Mother is very reasonable. She does whatever I want."

"You bad boy!... You can thank your stars I am not your father...."

"You wouldn't have had a chance...."

It was impossible to resist his banter.

"Tell me, you traveler," said Christophe. "Do you know my country?"

"Yes."

"I bet you don't know a word of German."

"Yes, I do. I know it quite well."

"Let us see."

They began to talk German. The boy jabbered on quite ungrammatically
with the most droll coolness; he was very intelligent and wide awake,
and guessed more than he understood: often he guessed wrong; but he was
the first to laugh at his mistakes. He talked eagerly about his travels
and his reading. He had read a great deal, hastily, superficially,
skipping half the pages, and inventing what he had left unread, but he
was always urged on by a keen curiosity, forever seeking reasons for
enthusiasm. He jumped from one subject to another, and his face grew
animated as he talked of plays or books that had moved him. There was no
sort of order in his knowledge. It was impossible to tell how he could
read right through a tenth-rate book, and yet know nothing of the
greatest masterpieces.

"That is all very well," said Christophe. "But you will never do
anything if you do not work."

"Oh! I don't need to. We are rich."

"The devil! Then it is a very serious state of things. Do you want to be
a man who does nothing and is good for nothing?"

"No. I should like to do everything. It is stupid to shut yourself up
all your life in a profession."

"But it is the only means yet discovered of doing any good."

"So they say!"

"What do you mean? 'So they say!'... I say so. I've been working at my
profession for forty years, and I am just beginning to get a glimmer of
it."

"Forty years, to learn a profession! When can you begin to practise it?"

Christophe began to laugh.

"You little disputatious Frenchman!"

"I want to be a musician," said Georges.

"Well, it is not too early for you to begin. Shall I teach you?"

"Oh! I should be so glad!"

"Come to-morrow. I'll see what you are worth. If you are worth nothing,
I shall forbid you ever to lay hands on a piano. If you have a real
inclination for it, we'll try and make something of you.... But, I warn
you, I shall make you work."

"I will work," said Georges delightedly.

They said good-by until the morrow. As he was going, Georges remembered
that he had other engagements on the morrow, and also for the day after.
Yes, he was not free until the end of the week. They arranged day and
hour.

But when the day and hour came, Christophe waited in vain. He was
disappointed. He had been looking forward with childlike glee to seeing
Georges again. His unexpected visit had brightened his life. It had made
him so happy, and moved him so much that he had not slept the night
after it. With tender gratitude he thought of the young friend who had
sought him out for his friend's sake. His natural grace, his malicious
and ingenuous frankness had delighted him: he sank back into the mute
intoxication, the buzzing of happiness, which had filled his ears and
his heart during the first days of his friendship with Olivier. It was
allied now with a graver and almost religious feeling which, through the
living, saw the smile of the past.--He waited all the next day and the
day after. Nobody came. Not even a letter of excuse. Christophe was very
mournful, and cast about for excuses for the boy. He did not know where
to write to him, and he did not know his address. Had he had it he would
not have dared to write. When the heart of an older man is filled with
love for a young creature, he feels a certain modesty about letting him
see the need he has of him: he knows that the young man has not the same
need: they are not evenly matched: and nothing is so much dreaded as to
seem to be imposing oneself on a person who cares not a jot.

The silence dragged on. Although Christophe suffered under it, he forced
himself to take no step to hunt up the Jeannins. But every day he
expected the boy, who never came. He did not go to Switzerland, but
stayed through the summer in Paris. He thought himself absurd, but he
had no taste for traveling. Only when September came did he decide to
spend a few days at Fontainebleau.

About the end of October Georges Jeannin came and knocked at his door.
He excused himself calmly, without being in the least put out by his
long silence.

"I could not come," he said. "And then we went away to stay in
Brittany."

"You might have written to me," said Christophe.

"Yes. I did try. But I never had the time.... Besides," he said,
laughing, "I forgot all about it."

"When did you come back?"

"At the beginning of October."

"And it has taken you three weeks to come?... Listen. Tell me frankly:
Did your mother prevent you?... Does she dislike your seeing me?"

"No. Not at all. She told me to come to-day."

"What?"

"The last time I saw you before the holidays I told her everything when
I got home. She told me I had done right, and she asked about you, and
pestered me with a great many questions. When we came home from
Brittany, three weeks ago, she made me promise to go and see you again.
A week ago she reminded me again. This morning, when she found that I
had not been, she was angry with me, and wanted me to go directly after
breakfast, without more ado."

"And aren't you ashamed to tell me that? Must you be forced to come and
see me?"

"No. You mustn't think that.... Oh! I have annoyed you. Forgive me.... I
am a muddle-headed idiot.... Scold me, but don't be angry with me. I
love you. If I did not love you I should not have come. I was not forced
to come. I can't be forced to do anything but what I want to do."

"You rascal!" said Christophe, laughing in spite of himself. "And your
musical projects, what about them?"

"Oh! I am still thinking about it."

"That won't take you very far."

"I want to begin now. I couldn't begin these last few months. I have had
so much to do! But now you shall see how I will work, if you still want
to have anything to do with me...."

(He looked slyly at Christophe.)

"You are an impostor," said Christophe.

"You don't take me seriously."

"No, I don't."

"It is too dreadful. Nobody takes me seriously. I lose all heart."

"I shall take you seriously when I see you working."

"At once, then."

"I have no time now. To-morrow."

"No. To-morrow is too far off. I can't bear you to despise me for a
whole day."

"You bore me."

"Please!..."

Smiling at his weakness, Christophe made him sit at the piano, and
talked to him about music. He asked him many questions, and made him
solve several little problems of harmony. Georges did not know much
about it, but his musical instinct supplied the gaps of his ignorance;
without knowing their names, he found the chords Christophe wanted; and
even his mistakes in their awkwardness showed a curiosity of taste and a
singularly acute sensibility. He did not accept Christophe's remarks
without discussion; and the intelligent questions he asked in his turn
bore witness to the sincerity of a mind that would not accept art as a
devout formula to be repeated with the lips, but desired to live it for
its own sake.--They did not only talk of music. In reference to harmony
Georges would summon up pictures, the country, people. It was difficult
to hold him in check: it was constantly necessary to bring him back to
the middle of the road: and Christophe had not always the heart to do
so. It amused him to hear the boy's joyous chatter, so full of wit and
life. What a difference there was between his nature and Olivier's! With
the one life was a subterranean river that flowed silently; with the
other all was above ground: a capricious stream disporting itself in the
sun. And yet it was the same lovely, pure water, like their eyes. With a
smile, Christophe recognized in Georges certain instinctive antipathies,
likings and dislikings, which he well knew, and the naïve intolerance,
the generosity of heart which gives itself entirely to whatsoever it
loves.... Only Georges loved so many things that he had no time to love
any one thing for long.

He came back the next day and the days following. He was filled with a
youthful passion for Christophe, and he worked enthusiastically at his
lessons....--Then his enthusiasm palled, his visits grew less frequent.
He came less and less often. Then he came no more, and disappeared for
weeks.

He was light-hearted, forgetful, naïvely selfish, and sincerely
affectionate; he had a good heart and a quick intelligence which he
expended piecemeal day by day. People forgave him everything because
they were so glad to see him; he was happy....

Christophe refused to judge him. He did not complain. He wrote to
Jacqueline to thank her for having sent her son to him. Jacqueline
replied with a short letter filled with restrained emotion: she
expressed a hope that Christophe would be interested in Georges and help
him in his life. Through shame and pride she could not bring herself to
see him again. And Christophe thought he could not visit her without
being invited.--So they stayed apart, seeing each other at a distance at
concerts, bound together only by the boy's infrequent visits.

The winter passed. Grazia wrote but seldom. She was still faithful in
her friendship for Christophe. But, like a true Italian, she was hardly
at all sentimental, attached to reality, and needed to see people if she
were, perhaps not to think of them, but certainly to take pleasure in
talking to them. Her heart's memory needed to be supported by having her
sight's memory refreshed from time to time. Her letters became brief and
distant. She was as sure of Christophe as Christophe was of her. But
their security gave out more light than warmth.

Christophe did not feel his new disappointments very keenly. His musical
activity was enough to fill his life. When he reaches a certain age a
vigorous artist lives much more in his art than in his life; his life
has become the dream, his art the reality. His creative powers had been
reawakened by contact with Paris. There is no stronger stimulant in the
world than the sight of that city of work. The most phlegmatic natures
are touched by its fever. Christophe, being rested by years of healthy
solitude, brought to his work an enormous accumulation of force.
Enriched by the new conquests forever being made in the fields of
musical technique by the intrepid curiosity of the French, he hurled
himself in his turn along the road to discovery: being more violent and
barbarous than they, he went farther. But nothing in his new audacities
was left to the hazardous mercies of his instinct. Christophe had begun
to feel the need of clarity; all his life his genius had obeyed the
rhythm of alternate currents: it was its law to pass from one pole to
the other, and to fill everything between them. Having greedily
surrendered in his last period to _"the eyes of chaos shining through
the veil of order,"_ even to rending the veil so as to see them more
clearly, he was now striving to tear himself away from their
fascination, and once more to throw over the face of the sphinx the
magic net of the master mind. The imperial inspiration of Rome had
passed over him. Like the Parisian art of that time, by the spirit of
which he was infected, he was aspiring to order. But not--like the
reactionaries who spent what was left of their energies in protecting
their slumber--to order in Varsovia; the good people who are always
going back to Brahms--the Brahmses of all the arts, the thematics, the
insipid neo-classics, in search of solace! Might one not say that they
are enfeebled with passion! You are soon done for, my friends.... No, it
is not of your order that I speak. Mine has no kinship with yours. Mine
is the order in harmony of the free passions and the free will....
Christophe was studying how in his art to maintain the just balance
between the forces of life. These new chords, the new musical daimons
that he had summoned from the abyss of sounds, were used to build clear
symphonies, vast, sunlit buildings, like the Italian cupola'd basilicas.

These plays and battles of the mind occupied him all winter. And the
winter passed quickly, although, in the evening, as he ended his day's
work and looked behind him at the tale of days, he could not have told
whether it had been long or short, or whether he was still young or very
old.

Then a new ray of human sunshine pierced the veil of his dreams, and
once more brought in the springtime. Christophe received a letter from
Grazia, telling him that she was coming to Paris with her two children.
For a long time she had planned to do so. Her cousin Colette had often
invited her. Her dread of the effort necessary to interrupt her habits
and to tear herself away from her careless tranquillity and the home she
loved in order to plunge into the Parisian whirligig that she knew so
well, had made her postpone the journey from year to year. This spring
she was filled with melancholy, perhaps with a secret
disappointment--(how many unspoken romances there are in the heart of a
woman, unknown to others, often unconfessed to herself!)--and she longed
to go right away from Rome. A threatened epidemic gave her an excuse for
hurrying on her children's departure. She followed her letter to
Christophe in a very few days.

Christophe hastened to her as soon as he heard she was at Colette's. He
found her still absorbed and distant. He was hurt, but did not show it.
By now he was almost rid of his egoism, and that gave him the insight of
affection. He saw that she had some grief which she wished to conceal,
and he suppressed his longing to know its nature. Only he strove to keep
her amused by giving her a gay account of his misadventures and sharing
with her his work and his plans, and he wrapped her round with his
affection. Her mournful heart rested in the heart of her friend, and he
spoke to her always of things other than that which was in both their
minds. And gradually he saw the shadow of melancholy fade from her eyes,
and their expression became nearly, and ever more nearly, intimate. So
much so, that one day, as he was talking to her, he stopped suddenly,
and in silence looked at her.

"What is it?" she asked.

"To-day," he said, "you have come back to me."

She smiled, and in a low voice she replied:

"Yes."

It was not easy for them to talk quietly together. They were very rarely
alone. Colette gave them the pleasure of her presence more often than
they wished. In spite of her eccentricities she was extremely kind and
sincerely attached to Grazia and Christophe; but she never dreamed that
she could be a nuisance to them. She had, of course, noticed--(for her
eyes saw everything)--what she was pleased to call Christophe's
flirtation with Grazia; flirtation was her element, and she was
delighted, and asked nothing better than to encourage it. But that was
precisely what she was not required to do; she was only desired not to
meddle with things that did not concern her. It was enough for her to
appear or to make an (indiscreet) discreet allusion to their friendship
to one of them, to make Christophe and Grazia freeze and turn the
conversation. Colette cast about among all the possible reasons, except
one, and that the true one, for their reserve. Fortunately for them, she
could never stay long. She was always coming and going, coming in, going
out, superintending everything in her house, doing a dozen things at a
time. In the intervals between her appearances Christophe and Grazia,
left alone with the children, would resume the thread of their innocent
conversation. They never spoke of the feelings that bound them together.
Unrestrainedly they confided to each other their little daily
happenings. Grazia, with feminine interest, inquired into Christophe's
domestic affairs. They were in a very bad way: he was always having
ruptures with his housekeepers; he was continually being cheated and
robbed by his servants. She laughed heartily but very kindly, and with
motherly compassion for the great child's small practical sense. One
day, when Colette left them after a longer visitation than usual, Grazia
sighed:

"Poor Colette! I love her dearly.... But how she bores me!"

"I love her too," said Christophe, "if you mean by that that she bores
us."

Grazia laughed:

"Listen. Will you let me ... (it is quite impossible for us to talk in
peace here) ... will you let me come to your house one day?"

He could hardly speak.

"To my house! You will come?"

"If you don't mind?"

"Mind! Mercy, no!"

"Well, then, will you let me come on Tuesday?"

"Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, any day you like."

"Tuesday, at four. It is agreed?"

"How good of you! How good of you!"

"Wait. There is a condition."

"A condition? Why? Anything you like. You know that I will do it,
condition or no condition."

"I would rather make a condition."

"I promise."

"You don't know what it is."

"I don't care. I promise. Anything you like."

"But listen. You are so obstinate."

"Tell me!"

"The condition is that between now and then you make no change in your
rooms--none, you understand; everything must be left exactly as it is."

Christophe's face fell. He looked abject.

"Ah! That's not playing the game."

"You see, that's what comes of giving your word too hastily! But you
promised."

"But why do you want--?

"But I want to see you in your rooms as you are, every day, when you are
not expecting me."

"Surely you will let me--"

"Nothing at all. I shall allow nothing."

"At least--"

"No, no, no! I won't listen to you, or else I won't come, if you prefer
it--"

"You know I would agree to anything if you will only come."

"Then you promise."

"Yes."

"On your word of honor?"

"Yes, you tyrant."

"A good tyrant."

"There is no such thing as a good tyrant: there are tyrants whom one
loves and tyrants whom one detests."

"And I am both?"

"No. You are one of the first."

"It is very humiliating."

On the appointed day she came. With scrupulous loyalty Christophe had
not dared even to arrange the smallest piece of paper in his untidy
rooms: he would have felt dishonored had he done so. But he was in
torture. He was ashamed of what his friend would think. Anxiously he
awaited her arrival. She came punctually, not more than four or five
minutes after the hour. She climbed up the stairs with her light, firm
step. She rang. He was at the door and opened it. She was dressed with
easy, graceful elegance. Through her veil he could see her tranquil
eyes. They said "Good-day" in a whisper and shook hands; she was more
silent than usual: he was awkward and emotional and said nothing, to
avoid showing his feeling. He led her in without uttering the sentence
he had prepared by way of excusing the untidiness of his room. She sat
down in the best chair, and he sat near her.

"This is my work-room."

It was all he could find to say to her.

There was a silence. She looked round slowly, with a kindly smile, and
she, too, was much moved, though she would not admit it to herself.
(Later she told him that when she was a girl she had thought of coming
to him, but had been afraid as she reached the door.) She was struck by
the solitary aspect and the sadness of the place: the dark, narrow hall,
the absolute lack of comfort, the visible poverty, all went to her
heart: she was filled with affectionate pity for her old friend, who, in
spite of all his work and his sufferings and his celebrity, was unable
to shake free of material anxiety. And at the same time she was amused
at the absolute indifference revealed by the bareness of the room that
had no carpets, no pictures, no bric-a-brac, no armchair; no other
furniture than a table, three hard chairs, and a piano: and papers,
papers everywhere, mixed up with books, on the table, under the table,
on the floor, on the piano, on the chairs--(she smiled as she thought
how conscientiously he had kept his word).

After a minute or two she asked him, pointing to his place at the table:

"Is that where you work?"

"No," he said. "There."

He pointed to the darkest corner of the room, where there stood a low
chair with its back to the light. She went and sat in it quietly,
without a word. For a few minutes they were silent, for they knew not
what to say. He got up and went to the piano. He played and improvised
for half an hour; all around him he felt the presence of his beloved and
an immense happiness filled his heart; with eyes closed he played
marvelous things. Then she understood the beauty of the room, all
furnished with divine harmonies: she heard his loving, suffering heart
as though it were beating in her own bosom.

When the music had died away, he stopped for a little while, quite
still, at the piano; then he turned as he heard the breath of his
beloved and knew that she was weeping. She came to him.

"Thank you!" she murmured, and took his hand.

Her lips were trembling a little. She closed her eyes. He did the same.
For a few seconds they remained so, hand in hand; and time stopped; it
seemed to them that for ages, ages, they had been lying pressed close
together.

She opened her eyes, and to shake off her emotion, she asked:

"May I see the rest of the flat?"

Glad also to escape from his emotions, he opened the door into the next
room; but at once he was ashamed. It contained a narrow, hard iron bed.

On the wall there was a cast of the mask of Beethoven, and near the bed,
in a cheap frame, photographs of his mother and Olivier. On the
dressing-table was another photograph: Grazia herself as a child of
fifteen. He had found it in her album in Rome, and had stolen it. He
confessed it, and asked her to forgive him. She looked at the face, and
said:

"Can you recognize me in it?"

"I can recognize you, and remember you."

"Which of the two do you love best?" she asked, pointing to herself.

"You are always the same. I love you always just the same. I recognize
you everywhere. Even in the photograph of you as a tiny child. You do
not know the emotion I feel as in this chrysalis I discern your soul.
Nothing so clearly assures me that you are eternal. I loved you before
you were born, and I shall love you ever after...."

He stopped. She stood still and made no answer: she was filled with the
sweet sorrow of love. When she returned to the work-room, and he had
shown her through the window his little friendly tree, full of chattering
sparrows, she said:

"Now, do you know what we will do? We will have a feast. I brought tea
and cakes because I knew you would have nothing of the kind. And I
brought something else. Give me your overcoat."

"My overcoat?"

"Yes. Give it me."

She took needles and cotton from her bag.

"What are you going to do?"

"There were two buttons the other day which made me tremble for their
fate. Where are they now?"

"True. I never thought of sewing them on. It is so tiresome!"

"Poor boy! Give it me."

"I am ashamed."

"Go and make tea."

He brought the kettle and the spirit-lamp into the room, so as not to
miss a moment of his friend's stay. As she sewed she watched his clumsy
ways stealthily and maliciously. They drank their tea out of cracked
cups, which she thought horrible, dodging the cracks, while he
indignantly defended them, because they reminded him of his life with
Olivier.

Just as she was going, he asked:

"You are not angry with me?"

"Why should I be?"

"Because of the litter here?"

She laughed.

"I will make it tidy."

As she reached the threshold and was just going to open the door, he
knelt and kissed her feet.

"What are you doing?" she said. "You foolish, foolish dear! Good-by!"

They agreed that she should come once a week on a certain day. She had
made him promise that there should be no more outbursts, no more
kneelings, no more kissing of her feet. She breathed forth such a gentle
tranquillity, that even when Christophe was in his most violent mood, he
was influenced by it; and although when he was alone, he often thought
of her with passionate desire, when they were together they were always
like good comrades. Never did word or gesture escape him which could
disturb his friend's peace.

On Christophe's birthday she dressed her little girl as she herself had
been when they first met in the old days; and she made the child play
the piece that Christophe used to make her play.

But all her grace and tenderness and sweet friendship were mingled with
contradictory feelings. She was frivolous, and loved society, and
delighted in being courted, even by fools; she was a coquette, except
with Christophe,--even with Christophe. When he was very tender with
her, she would be deliberately cold and reserved. When he was cold and
reserved she would become tender and tease him affectionately. She was
the most honest of women. But even in the most honest and the best of
women there is always a girl. She insisted on standing well with the
world, and conformed to the conventions. She had fine musical gifts, and
understood Christophe's work; but she was not much interested in
it--(and he knew it).--To a true Latin woman, art is of worth only in
proportion as it leads back to life, to life and love.... The love which
is forever seething, slumbering, in the depths of the voluptuous
body.... What has she to do with the tragic meditations, the tormented
symphonies, the intellectual passions of the North? She must have music
in which her hidden desires can unfold, with the minimum of effort, an
opera, which is passionate life without the fatigue of the passions, a
sentimental, sensual, lazy art.

She was weak and changing: she could only apply herself intermittently
to any serious study: she must have amusement; rarely did she do on the
morrow what she had decided to do the night before. She had so many
childish ways, so many little disconcerting caprices! The restless
nature of woman, her morbid and periodically unreasonable character. She
knew it and then tried to isolate herself. She knew her weaknesses, and
blamed herself for her failure to resist them, since they distressed her
friend; sometimes, without his knowing it, she made real sacrifices for
him; but, when all was told, her nature was the stronger. For the rest,
Grazia could not bear Christophe to seem to be commanding her; and, once
or twice, by way of asserting her independence, she did the opposite of
what he asked her. At once she regretted it; at night she would be
filled with remorse that she could not make Christophe happier; she
loved him more than she would let him see; she felt that her friendship
with him was the best part of her life. As usually happens with two very
different people, they were more united when they were not together. In
truth, if they had been thrust apart by a misunderstanding, the fault
was not altogether Christophe's, as he honestly believed. Even when in
the old days Grazia most dearly loved Christophe, would she have married
him? She would perhaps have given him her life; but would she have so
given herself as to live all her life with him? She knew (though she did
not confess it to Christophe) that she had loved her husband, and, even
now, after all the harm he had done her, loved him as she had never
loved Christophe.... The secrets of the heart, the secrets of the body,
of which one is not very proud, and hides from those dear to one, as
much out of respect for them, as in complacent pity for oneself....
Christophe was too masculine to divine them: but every now and then, in
flashes, he would see how little the woman he most dearly loved, who
truly loved him, belonged to him--and that he could not wholly count on
any one, on any one, in life. His love was not quenched by this
perception. He even felt no bitterness. Grazia's peace spread over him.
He accepted everything. O life why should I reproach thee for that which
thou canst not give? Art thou not very beautiful and very blessed as
thou art? I must fain love thy smile, Gioconda....

Christophe would gaze at his beloved's beautiful face, and read in it
many things of the past and the future. During the long years when he
had lived alone, traveling, speaking little but seeing much, he had
acquired, almost unconsciously, the power of reading the human face,
that rich and complex language formed by the ages. It is a thousand
times richer and more complex than the spoken language. The spirit of
the race is expressed in it.... There are perpetual contrasts between
the lines of the face and the words that come from it. Take the profile
of a girl, clear-cut, a little hard, in the Burne-Jones style, tragic,
consumed by a secret passion, jealousy, a Shakespearian sorrow.... She
speaks: and, behold, she is a little bourgeois creature, as stupid as an
owl, a selfish, commonplace coquette, with no idea of the terrible
forces inscribed upon her body. And yet such passion, such violence are
in her. In what shape will they one day spring forth? Will it be in the
lust of gain, conjugal jealousy, or splendid energy, or morbid
wickedness? There is no knowing. It may be that she will transmit them
to another creature of her blood before the time comes for the eruption.
But it is an element with which we have to reckon as, like a fatality,
it hovers above the race.

Grazia also bore the weight of that uneasy heritage, which, of all the
patrimony of ancient families, is the least in danger of being
dissipated in transit. She, at least, was aware of it. It is a great
source of strength to know our weakness, to make ourselves, if not the
masters, the pilots of the soul of the race to which we are bound, which
bears us like a vessel upon its waters,--to make fate our instrument, to
use it as a sail which we furl or clew up according to the wind. When
Grazia closed her eyes, she could hear within herself more than one
disturbing voice, of a tone familiar to her. But in her healthy soul
even the dissonances were blended to form a profound, soft music, under
the guiding hand of her harmonious reason.

Unhappily it is not within our power to transmit the best of our blood
to the creatures of our blood.

Of Grazia's two children, the little girl, Aurora, who was eleven years
old, was like her mother; she was not so pretty, being a little coarser
in fiber; she had a slight limp; she was a good little girl,
affectionate and gay, with splendid health, abundant good nature, few
natural gifts, except idleness, a passion for doing nothing. Christophe
adored her. When he saw her with Grazia he felt the charm of a twofold
creature, seen at two ages of life, two generations together.... Two
flowers upon one stem; a Holy Family of Leonardo, the Virgin and Saint
Anne, different shades of the same smile. With one glance he could take
in the whole blossoming of a woman's soul; and it was at once fair and
sad to see: he could see whence it came and whither it was going. There
is nothing more natural than for an ardent, chaste heart to love two
sisters at one and the same time, or mother and daughter. Christophe
would have loved the woman of his love through all her descendants, just
as in her he loved the stock of which she came. Her every smile, her
every tear, every line in her face, were they not living beings, the
memories of a life which was before her eyes opened to the light, the
forerunners of a life which was to come, when he! eyes should be forever
closed?

The little boy, Lionello, was nine. He was much handsomer than his
sister, of a finer stock, too fine, worn out and bloodless, wherein he
was like his father. He was intelligent, well-endowed with bad
instincts, demonstrative, and dissembling. He had big blue eyes, long,
girlish, fair hair, a pale complexion, a delicate chest, and was
morbidly nervous, which last, being a born comedian and strangely
skilled in discovering people's weaknesses, he upon occasion turned to
good account. Grazia was inclined to favor him, with the natural
preference of a mother for her least healthy child,--and also through
the attraction which all kindly, good women feel for the sons who are
neither well nor ill (for in them a part of their life which they have
suppressed finds solace). In such attraction there is something of the
memory of the husbands who have made them suffer, whom they loved even
while they despised them, or the strange flora of the soul, which wax
strong in the dark, humid hot-house of conscience.

In spite of Grazia's care equally to bestow her tenderness upon her
children, Aurora felt the difference, and was a little hurt by it.
Christophe divined her feeling, and she divined Christophe's: they came
together instinctively; while between Christophe and Lionello there was
an antipathy which the boy covered up with exaggerated, lisping,
charming ways,--and Christophe thrust from him as a shameful feeling. He
wrestled with himself and forced himself to cherish this other man's
child as though he were the child whom it would have been ineffably
sweet for him to have had by the beloved. He would not allow himself to
see Lionello's bad nature or anything that could remind him of the
"other man": he set himself to find in him only Grazia. She, more
clear-sighted, was under no illusions about her son, and she only loved
him the more.

However, the disease which for years had been lying dormant in the boy
broke out. Consumption supervened. Grazia resolved to go and shut
herself up in a sanatorium in the Alps with Lionello, Christophe begged
to be allowed to go with her. To avoid scandal she dissuaded him. He was
hurt by the excessive importance which she attached to the conventions.
She went away and left her daughter with Colette. It was not long before
she began to feel terribly lonely among the sick people who talked of
nothing but their illness, surrounded by the pitiless mountains rising
above the rags and tatters of men. To escape from the depressing
spectacle of the invalids with their spittoons spying upon each other
and marking the progress of death over each one of them, she left the
Palace hospital, and took a chalet, where she lived aloof with her own
little invalid. Instead of improving Lionello's condition, the high
altitude aggravated it. His fever waxed greater. Grazia spent nights of
anguish. Christophe knew it by his keen intuition, although she told him
nothing: for she was growing more and more rigid in her pride; she
longed for Christophe to be with her, but she had forbidden him to
follow her, and she could not bring herself to confess: "I am too weak,
I need you...."

One evening, as she stood in the veranda of the chalet in the twilight
hour, which is so bitter for hearts in agony, she saw ... she thought she
saw coming up from the station of the funicular railway ... a man walking
hurriedly: he stopped, hesitating, with his back a little bowed. She
went indoors to avoid his seeing her: she held her hands over her heart,
and, quivering with emotion, she laughed. Although she was not at all
religious she knelt down, hid her face in her hands; she felt the need
of thanking some one.... But he did not come. She went back to the
window, and, hiding behind the curtains, looked out. He had stopped,
leaning against a fence round a field, near the gate of the chalet. He
dared not enter. And, even more perturbed than he, she smiled, and said
in a low voice:

"Come...."

At last he made up his mind and rang the bell. Already she was at the
door, and she opened it. His eyes looked at her like the eyes of a
faithful dog, who is afraid of being beaten. He said:

"I came.... Forgive me...."

She said:

"Thank you."

Then she confessed how she had expected him. Christophe helped her to
nurse the boy, whose condition was growing worse. His heart was in the
task. The boy treated him with irritable animosity: he took no pains now
to conceal it: he said many malicious things to him. Christophe put it
all down to his illness. He was extraordinarily patient. He passed many
painful days by the boy's bedside, until the critical night, on passing
through which, Lionello, whom they had given up for lost, was saved. And
they felt then such pure happiness--watching hand in hand over the
little invalid--that suddenly she got up, took her cloak and hood, and
led Christophe out of doors, along the road, in the snow, the silence
and the night, under the cold stars. Leaning on his arm, excitedly
breathing in the frozen peace of the world, they hardly spoke at all.
They made no allusion to their love. Only when they returned, on the
threshold, she said: "My dear, dear friend!..."

And her eyes were lit up by the happiness of having saved her child.
That was all. But they felt that the bond between them had become
sacred.

On her return to Paris after Lionello's long convalescence, she took a
little house at Passy, and did not worry any more about "avoiding
scandal": she felt brave enough to dare opinion for her friend's sake.
Their life henceforth was so intimately linked that it would have seemed
cowardly to her to conceal the friendship which united them at
the--inevitable--risk of having it slandered. She received Christophe at
all hours of the day, and was seen with him out walking and at the
theater: she spoke familiarly to him in company. Colette thought they
were making themselves too conspicuous. Grazia would stop her hints with
a smile, and quietly go her way.

And yet she had given Christophe no new right over her. They were
nothing more than friends: he always addressed her with the same
affectionate respect. But they hid nothing from each other: they
consulted each other about everything: and insensibly Christophe assumed
a sort of paternal authority in the house: Grazia listened to and
followed his advice. She was no longer the same woman since the winter
she had spent in the sanatorium; the anxiety and fatigue had seriously
tried her health, which, till then, had been sturdy. Her soul was
affected by it. In spite of an occasional lapse into her old caprices,
she had become mysteriously more serious, more reflective, and was more
constantly desirous of being kind, of learning and not hurting any one.
Every day saw her more softened by Christophe's affection, his
disinterestedness, and the purity of his heart: and she was thinking of
one day giving him the great happiness of which he no longer dared to
dream, that of becoming his wife.

He had never broached the subject again after her first refusal, for he
thought he had no right to do so. But regretfully he clung to his
impossible hope. Though he respected what his friend had said, he was
not convinced by her disillusioned attitude towards marriage: he
persisted in believing that the union of two people who love each other,
profoundly and devotedly, is the height of human happiness.--His regrets
were revived by coming in contact once more with the Arnauds.

Madame Arnaud was more than fifty. Her husband was sixty-five or
sixty-six. Both seemed to be older. He had grown stout: she was very
thin and rather shrunken: spare though she had been in the old days, she
was now just a wisp of a woman. After Arnaud's retirement they had gone
to live in a house in the country. They had no link with the life of the
time save the newspaper, which in the torpor of their little town and
their drowsy life brought them the tardy echo of the voice of the world.
Once they saw Christophe's name. Madame Arnaud wrote him a few
affectionate, rather ceremonious words, to tell him how glad they were
of his fame. He took the train at once without letting them know.

He found them in the garden, dozing under the round canopy of an ash, on
a warm summer afternoon. They were like Boecklin's old couple, sleeping
hand in hand, in an arbor. Sun, sleep, old age overwhelm them: they are
falling, they are already half-buried in the eternal dream. And, as the
last gleam of their life, their tenderness persists to the end. The
clasp of their hands, the dying warmth of their bodies....--They were
delighted to see Christophe, for the sake of all the memories of the
past he brought with him. They talked of the old days, which at that
distance seemed brilliant and full of light.

Arnaud loved talking, but he had lost his memory for names. Madame
Arnaud whispered them to him. She liked saying nothing and preferred
listening to talking: but the image of the old times had been kept alive
and clear in her silent heart: in glimmers they would appear sharply
before her like shining pebbles in a stream. There was one such memory
that Christophe more than once saw reflected in her eyes as she looked
at him with affectionate compassion: but Olivier's name was not
pronounced. Old Arnaud plied his wife with touching, awkward little
attentions; he was fearful lest she should catch cold, or be too hot; he
would gaze hungrily with anxious love at her dear, faded face, and with
a weary smile she would try to reassure him. Christophe watched them
tenderly, with a little envy.... To grow old together. To love in the
dear companion even the wear of time. To say: "I know those lines round
her eyes and nose. I have seen them coming. I know when they came. Her
scant gray hair has lost its color, day by day, in my company, something
because of me, alas! Her sweet face has swollen and grown red in the
fires of the weariness and sorrow that have consumed us. My soul, how
much better I love thee for that thou hast suffered and grown old with
me. Every one of thy wrinkles is to me as music from the past...." The
charm of these old people, who, after the long vigil of life, spent side
by side, go side by side to sleep in the peace of the night! To see them
was both sweet and profitable and sorrowful for Christophe. Oh! How
lovely had life and death been thus!...

When he next saw Grazia, he could not help telling her of his visit. He
did not tell her of the thoughts roused in him by his visit. But she
divined them. He was tender and wistful as he spoke. He turned his eyes
away from her and was silent every now and then. She looked at him and
smiled, and Christophe's unease infected her.

That evening, when she was alone in her room, she lay dreaming. She went
over the story Christophe had told her; but the image she saw through it
was not that of the old couple sleeping under the ash: it was the shy,
ardent dream of her friend. And her heart was filled with love for him.
She lay in the dark and thought:

"Yes. It is absurd, criminal and absurd, to waste the opportunity for
such happiness. What joy in the world can equal the joy of making the
man you love happy?... What! Do I love him?..."

She was silent, deeply moved, listening to the answer of her heart.

"I love him."

Just then a dry, hard, hasty cough came from the next room where the
children were sleeping. Grazia pricked her ears: since the boy's illness
she had always been anxious. She called out to him. He made no reply,
and went on coughing. She sprang from her bed and went to him. He was
irritated, and moaned, and said that he was not well, and broke out
coughing again.

"What is the matter?"

He did not reply, but only groaned that he was ill.

"My darling, please tell me what is the matter?"

"I don't know."

"Is it here?"

"Yes. No. I don't know. I am ill all over."

On that he had a fresh fit of coughing, violent and exaggerated. Grazia
was alarmed: she had a feeling that he was forcing himself to cough: but
she was ashamed of her thought, as she saw the boy sweating and choking
for breath. She kissed him and spoke to him tenderly: he seemed to grow
calmer; but as soon as she tried to leave him he broke out coughing
again. She had to stay shivering by his bedside, for he would not even
allow her to go away to dress herself, and insisted on her holding his
hand; and he would not let her go until he fell asleep again. Then she
went to bed, chilled, uneasy, harassed. And she found it impossible to
gather up the threads of her dreams.

The boy had a singular power of reading his mother's thoughts. This
instinctive genius is often--though seldom in such a high degree--to be
found in creatures of the same stock: they hardly need to look at each
other to know each other's thoughts: they can guess them by the
breathing, by a thousand imperceptible signs. This natural aptness,
which is fortified by living together, was in Lionello sharpened and
refined by his ever wakeful malevolence. He had the insight of the
desire to hurt. He detested Christophe. Why? Why does a child take a
dislike to a person who has never done him any harm? It is often a
matter of chance. It is enough for a child to have begun by persuading
himself that he detests some one, for it to become a habit, and the more
he is argued with the more desperately he will cling to it. But often,
again, there are deeper reasons for it, which pass the child's
understanding: he has no idea of them.... From the first moment when he
saw Christophe, the son of Count Berény had a feeling of animosity
towards the man whom his mother had loved. It was as though he had
instinctively felt the exact moment when Grazia began to think of
marrying Christophe. From that moment on he never ceased to spy upon
them. He was always between them, and refused to leave the room whenever
Christophe came; or he would manage to burst in upon them when they were
sitting together. More than that, when his mother was alone, thinking of
Christophe, he seemed to divine her thoughts. He would sit near her and
watch her. His gaze would embarrass her and almost make her blush. She
would get up to conceal her unease.--He would take a delight in saying
unkind things about Christophe in her presence. She would bid him be
silent, but he would go on. And if she tried to punish him, he would
threaten to make himself ill. That was the strategy he had always used
successfully since he was a child. When he was quite small, one day when
he had been scolded, he had, out of revenge, undressed himself and lain
naked on the floor so as to catch cold.--Once, when Christophe brought a
piece of music that he had composed for Grazia's birthday, the boy took
the manuscript and hid it. It was found in tatters in a wood-box. Grazia
lost her patience and scolded him severely. Then he wept and howled, and
stamped his feet, and rolled on the ground, and had an attack of nerves.
Grazia was terrified, and kissed and implored him, and promised to do
whatever he wanted.

From that day on he was the master: for he knew it: and very frequently
he had recourse to the weapon with which he had succeeded. There was
never any knowing how far his attacks were natural and how far
counterfeit. Soon he was not satisfied with using them vengefully when
he was opposed in any way, but took to using them out of spite whenever
his mother and Christophe planned to spend the evening together. He even
went so far as to play his dangerous game out of sheer idleness, or
theatricality, to discover the extent of his power. He was
extraordinarily ingenious in inventing strange, nervous accidents;
sometimes in the middle of dinner he would be seized with a convulsive
trembling, and upset his glass or break his plate; sometimes, as he was
going upstairs, he would clutch at the banisters with his hand: his
fingers would stiffen: he would pretend that he could not open them
again; or he would have a sharp pain in his side and roll about,
howling; or he would choke. Of course, in the end he developed a genuine
nervous illness. Christophe and Grazia were at their wits' end. Their
peaceful meetings--their quiet talks, their readings, their music, which
were as a festival to them--all their humble happiness was henceforth
disturbed.

Every now and then, however, the little imp would, give them a respite,
partly because he was tired of his play-acting, partly because his
child's nature took possession of him again, and made him think of
something else. (He was sure now that he had won the day.)

Then, quickly, quietly, they would seize their opportunity. Every hour
that they could steal in this way was the more precious to them as they
could never be sure of enjoying it to the end. How near they felt to
each other! Why could they not always be so!... One day Grazia herself
confessed to her regret. Christophe took her hand.

"Yes. Why?" he asked.

"You know why, my dear," she said, with a miserable smile.

Christophe knew. He knew that she was sacrificing their happiness to her
son: he knew that she was not deceived by Lionello's lies, that she
still adored him: he knew the blind egoism of such domestic affections
which make the best pour out their reserves of devotion to the advantage
of the bad or mediocre creatures of their blood, so that there is
nothing left for them to give to those who would be more worthy, whom
they love best, but who are not of their blood. And although he was
irritated by it, although there were times when he longed to kill the
little monster who was destroying their lives, yet he bowed his head in
silence, and understood that Grazia could not do otherwise.

So they renounced their life without vain recrimination. But if the
happiness which was their right could be snatched from them, nothing
could prevent the union of their hearts. Their very renunciation, their
common sacrifice, held them by bonds stronger than those of the flesh.
Each confided the sorrow of it all to the other, passed over the burden
of it, and took on the other's suffering: so even their sorrow became
joy. Christophe called Grazia "his confessor." He did not hide from her
the weaknesses from which his pride had to suffer: rather he accused
himself with too great contrition, and she would smilingly soothe his
boyish scruples. He even confessed to her his material poverty; but he
could only bring himself to do that after it had been agreed between
them that she should neither offer him, nor he accept from her, any
help. It was the last barrier of pride which he upheld and she
respected. In place of the well-being which she could not bring into her
friend's life, she found many ways of filling it with what was
infinitely more precious to him--namely, her tenderness. He felt the
breath of it all about him, during every hour of the day: he never
opened his eyes in the morning, never closed them at night, without a
prayer of love and adoration. And when she awoke, or at night, as often
happened, lay for hours without sleeping, she thought:

"My dear is thinking of me."

And a great peace came upon them and surrounded them.

       *       *       *       *       *

However, her health had given way. Grazia was constantly in bed, or had
to spend the day lying on a sofa. Christophe used to go every day and
read to her, and show her his new work. Then she would get up from the
chair, and limp to the piano, for her feet were swollen. She would play
the music he had brought. It was the greatest joy she could give him. Of
all his pupils she and Cécile were the most gifted. But while Cécile had
an instinctive feeling for music, with hardly any understanding of it,
to Grazia it was a lovely harmonious language full of meaning for her.
The demoniac quality in life and art escaped her altogether: she brought
to bear on it the clarity of her intelligence and heart. Christophe's
genius was saturated with her clarity. His friend's playing helped him
to understand the obscure passions he had expressed. With closed eyes he
would listen, and follow her, and hold her by the hand, as she led him
through the maze of his own thoughts. By living in his music through
Grazia's soul, he was wedded to her soul and possessed it. Prom this
mysterious conjugation sprang music which was the fruit of the mingling
of their lives. One day, as he brought her a collection of his works,
woven of his substance and hers, he said:

"Our children."

Theirs was an unbroken communion whether they were together or apart;
sweet were the evenings spent in the peace and quiet of the old house,
which was a fit setting for the image of Grazia, where the silent,
cordial servants, who were devoted to Christophe, extended to him a
little of the respectful affection they had for their mistress. Joyous
was it to listen to the song of the fleeting hours, and to see the tide
of life ebbing away.... A shadow of anxiety was thrown on their
happiness by Grazia's failing health. But, in spite of her little
infirmities, she was so serene that her hidden sufferings did but
heighten her charm. She was his _"liebe, leidende, und doch so
rührende, heitre Freundin"_ ("his dear, suffering, touching friend,
always so bright and cheerful"). And sometimes, in the evening, when he
left her with his heart big with love so that he could not wait until
the morrow, he would write:

"Liebe, liebe, liebe, liebe, liebe Grazia...."

Their tranquillity lasted for months. They thought it would last
forever. The boy seemed to have forgotten them: his attention was
distracted by other things. But after this respite he returned to them
and never left them again. The horrible little boy had determined to
part his mother and Christophe. He resumed his play-acting. He did not
set about it upon any premeditated plan, but, from day to day, followed
the whimsies of his spite. He had no idea of the harm he might be doing:
he only wanted to amuse himself by boring other people. He never relaxed
his efforts until he had made Grazia promise to leave Paris and go on a
long journey. Grazia had no strength to resist him. Besides, the doctors
advised her to pay a visit to Egypt. She had to avoid another winter in
the northern climate. Too many things had tried her health: the moral
upheaval of the last few years, the perpetual anxiety about her son's
health, the long periods of uncertainty, the struggle that had taken
place in her without her giving any sign of it, the sorrow of sorrows
that she was inflicting on her friend. To avoid adding to the trouble he
divined in her, Christophe hid his own grief at the approach of the day
of parting: he made no effort to postpone it; and they were outwardly
calm, and, though inwardly they were very far from it, yet they
succeeded in forcing it upon each other.

The day came. A September morning. They had left Paris together in the
middle of July, and spent their last weeks in Switzerland in a mountain
hotel, near the place where they had met again six years ago.

They were unable to go out the last five days: the rain came down in
unceasing torrents: they were almost alone in the hotel, for all the
other travelers had fled. The rain stopped on their last morning, but
the mountains were still covered with clouds. The children went on ahead
with the servants in another carriage. She drove off. He accompanied her
to the place where the road began to descend in steep windings to the
plain of Italy. The mist came in under the hood of the carriage. They
were very close together, and they said no word: they hardly looked at
each other. A strange light, half-day, half-night, wrapped them
round.... Grazia's breath left little drops of water on her veil. He
pressed her little hand, warm under her cold glove. Their faces came
together. Through her wet veil he kissed her dear lips.

They came to the turn of the road. He got down, and the carriage plunged
on into the mist and disappeared. For a long time he could hear the
rumbling of the wheels and the horses' hoofs. Great masses of white mist
rolled over the fields. Through the close tracery of the branches the
dripping trees dropped water. Not a breath of wind. The mist was
stifling life. Christophe stopped, choking.... There was nothing now.
Everything had gone....

He took in a long breath, filling his lungs with the mist, and walked
on. Nothing passes for him who does not pass.



III


Absence adds to the power of those we love. The heart retains only what
is dear to us in them. The echo of each word coming through space from
the distant friend, rings out in the silence, faithfully answering.

The correspondence of Christophe and Grazia took on the serious and
restrained tone of a couple who are no longer in the dangerous period of
trial of love, but, having passed it, feel sure of the road and march on
hand in hand. Each was strong to sustain and direct the other, weak and
yielding to the other's support and direction.

Christophe returned to Paris. He had vowed never to go there again. But
what are such vows worth? He knew that he would find there the shade of
Grazia. And circumstances, conspiring with his secret desires against
his will, showed him a new duty to fulfil in Paris. Colette, well
informed as to society gossip, told Christophe that his young friend
Jeannin was making a fool of himself. Jacqueline, who had always been
weak in her dealings with her son, could not hold him in check. She
herself was passing through a strange crisis, and was too much occupied
with herself to pay much heed to him.

Since the unhappy adventure which had destroyed Olivier's marriage and
life, Jacqueline had lived a very worthy life. She withdrew from
Parisian society, which, after imposing on her a hypocritical sort of
quarantine, had made fresh advances to her, which she had rejected. She
was not at all ashamed of what she had done as far as these people were
concerned: she thought she had no reason to account to them for it, for
they were more worthless than she: what she had done openly, half the
women she knew did by stealth, under cover of their homes. She suffered
only from the thought of the wrong she had done her nearest and dearest,
the only man she had loved. She could not forgive herself for having, in
so poor a world, lost an affection like his.

Her regrets, and her sorrow, grew less acute with time. There were left
only a sort of mute suffering, a humiliated contempt for herself and
others, and the love of her child. This affection, into which she poured
all her need of love, disarmed her before him; she could not resist
Georges's caprices. To excuse her weakness she persuaded herself that
she was paying for the wrong she had done Olivier. She had alternate
periods of exalted tenderness and weary indifference: sometimes she
would worry Georges with her exacting, anxious love, and sometimes she
would seem to tire of him, and she let him do as he liked. She admitted
to herself that she was bringing him up badly, and she would torment
herself with the admission; but she made no change. When, as she rarely
did, she tried to model her principles of conduct on Olivier's way of
thinking, the result was deplorable. At heart she wished to have no
authority over her son save that of her affection. And she was not
wrong: for between these two, however similar they might be, there were
no bonds save those of the heart. Georges Jeannin was sensible of his
mother's physical charm: he loved her voice, her gestures, her
movements, her grace, her love. But in mind he was conscious of
strangerhood to her. She only saw it as he began to grow into a man,
when he turned from her. Then she was amazed and indignant, and
attributed the estrangement to other feminine influences: and, as she
tried awkwardly to combat them, she only estranged him more. In reality,
they had always lived, side by side, each preoccupied with totally
different interests, deceiving themselves as to the gulf that lay
between them, with the aid of their common surface sympathies and
antipathies, which disappeared when the man began to spring forth from
the boy (that ambiguous creature, still impregnated with the perfume of
womanhood). And bitterly Jacqueline would say to her son:

"I don't know whom you take after. You are not like your father or me."

So she made him feel all that lay between them; and he took a secret
pride that was yet feverish and uneasy.

The younger generation has always a keener sense than the elder of the
things that lie between them; they need to gain assurance of the
importance of their existence, even at the cost of injustice or of lying
to themselves. But this feeling varies in its acuteness from one period
to another. In the classic ages when, for a time, the balance of the
forces of a civilization are realized,--those high plateaux ending on
all sides with steep slopes--the difference in level is not so great
from one generation to another. But in the ages of renascence or
decadence, the young men climbing or plunging down the giddy slopes,
leave their predecessors far behind.--Georges, like the other young men
of his time, was ascending the mountain.

He was superior neither in character nor in mind: he had many aptitudes,
none of which rose above the level of elegant mediocrity. And yet,
without any effort on his part, he found himself at the outset of his
career several grades higher than his father, who, in his short life,
had expended an incalculable amount of intellect and energy.

Hardly were the eyes of his mind opened upon the light of day than he
saw all round him the heaped-up darkness, pierced by luminous gleams,
the masses of knowledge and ignorance, warring truths, contradictory
errors, in which his father and the men of his father's generation had
feverishly groped their way. But at the same time he became conscious of
a weapon in his power which they had never known: his force....

Whence did he have it?... Who can tell the mystery of the resurrections
of a race, sleeping, worn out, which suddenly awakes brimming like a
mountain torrent in the spring!... What would he do with his force? Use
it in his turn to explore the inextricable thickets of modern thought?
They had no attraction for him. He was oppressed by the menacing dangers
which lurked in them. They had crushed his father. Rather than renew
that experience and enter the tragic forest he would have set fire to
it. He had only to glance at the books of wisdom or sacred folly which
had intoxicated Olivier: the Nihilist pity of Tolstoi, the somber
destructive pride of Ibsen, the frenzy of Nietzsche, the heroic, sensual
pessimism of Wagner. He had turned away from them in anger and terror.
He hated the realistic writers who, for half a century, had killed the
joy of art. He could not, however, altogether blot out the shadows of
the sorrowful dream in which he had been cradled. He would not look
behind him, but he well knew that the shadow was there. He was too
healthy to seek a counter-irritant to his uneasiness in the lazy
skepticism of the preceding epoch: he detested the dilettantism of men
like Renan and Anatole France, with their degradation of the free
intellect, their joyless mirth, their irony without greatness: a
shameful method, fit for slaves, playing with the chains which they are
impotent to break.

He was too vigorous to be satisfied with doubt, too weak to create the
conviction which, with all his soul, he desired. He asked for it, prayed
for it, demanded it. And the eternal snappers-up of popularity, the
great writers, the sham thinkers at bay, exploited this imperious and
agonized desire, by beating the drums and shouting the clap-trap of
their nostrum. From trestles, each of these Hippocrates bawled that his
was the only true elixir, and decried all the rest. Their secrets were
all equally worthless. None of these pedlars had taken the trouble to
find a new recipe. They had hunted about among their old empty bottles.
The panacea of one was the Catholic Church: another's was legitimate
monarchy: yet another's, the classic tradition. There were queer fellows
who declared that the remedy for all evils lay in the return to Latin.
Others seriously prognosticated, with an enormous word which imposed on
the herd, the domination of the Mediterranean spirit. (They would have
been just as ready at some other time to talk of the Atlantic spirit.)
Against the barbarians of the North and the East they pompously set up
the heirs of a new Roman Empire.... Words, words, all second-hand. The
refuse of the libraries scattered to the winds.--Like all his comrades,
young Jeannin went from one showman to another, listened to their
patter, was sometimes taken in by it, and entered the booth, only to
come out disappointed and rather ashamed of having spent his time and
his money in watching old clowns buffooning in shabby rags. And yet,
such is youth's power of illusion, such was his certainty of gaining
certainty, that he was always taken in by each new promise of each new
vendor of hope. He was very French, of a hypercritical temper, and an
innate lover of order. He needed a leader and could bear none; his
pitiless irony always riddled them through and through.

While he was waiting for the advent of a leader who should give him the
key to the riddle ... he had no time to wait. He was not the kind of
man, like his father, to be satisfied with the lifelong search for
truth. With or without a motive, he needed always to make up his mind,
to act, to turn to account, to use his energy. Traveling, the delight of
art, and especially of music, with which he had gorged himself, had at
first been to him an intermittent and passionate diversion. He was
handsome, ardent, precocious, beset with temptations, and he early
discovered the outwardly enchanting world of love, and plunged into it
with an unbridled, poetic, greedy joy. Then this impertinently naïve and
insatiable cherub wearied of women: he needed action, so he gave himself
up uncontrollably to sport. He tried everything, practised everything.
He was always going to fencing and boxing matches: he was the French
champion runner and high-jumper, and captain of a football team. He
competed with a number of other crazy, reckless, rich young men like
himself in ridiculous, wild motor races. Finally he threw up everything
for the latest fad, and was drawn into the popular craze for flying
machines. At the Rheims meetings he shouted and wept for joy with three
hundred thousand other men; he felt that he was one with the whole
people in a religious jubilation; the human birds flying over their
heads bore them upwards in their flight: for the first time since the
dawn of the great Revolution the vast multitude had raised their eyes to
the heavens and seen them open.--To his mother's terror young Jeannin
declared that he was going to throw in his lot with the conquerors of
the air. Jacqueline implored him to give up his perilous ambition. She
ordered him to do so. He took the bit between his teeth. Christophe, in
whom Jacqueline thought she had found an ally, only gave the boy a
little prudent advice, which he felt quite sure Georges would not follow
(for, in his place, he would not have done so). He did not deem that he
had any right,--even had he been able to do so--to fetter the healthy
and normal expansion of the boy's vitality, which, if it had been forced
into inaction, would have been perverted to his destruction.

Jacqueline could not reconcile herself to seeing her son leave her. She
had vainly thought that she had renounced love, for she could not do
without the illusion of love; all her affections, all her actions were
tinged with it. There are so many mothers who expend on their sons all
the secret ardor which they have been unable to give forth in
marriage--or out of it! And when they see how easily their sons do
without them, when suddenly they understand that they are not necessary
to them, they go through the same kind of crisis as befalls them upon
the betrayal of a lover, or the disillusion of love.--Once more
Jacqueline's whole existence crumbled away. Georges saw nothing. Young
people never have any idea of the tragedies of the heart going on around
them: they have no time to stop and see them: and they do not wish to
see: a selfish instinct bids them march straight on without looking to
right or left.

Jacqueline was left alone to gulp down this new sorrow. She only emerged
from it when her grief was worn out, worn out like her love. She still
loved her son, but with a distant, disillusioned affection, which she
knew to be futile, and she lost all interest in herself and him. So she
dragged through a wretched, miserable year, without his paying her any
heed. And then, poor creature, since her heart could neither live nor
die without love, she was forced to find something to love. She fell
victim to a strange passion, such as often takes possession of women,
and especially, it would seem, of the noblest and most inaccessible,
when maturity comes and the fair fruit of life has not been gathered.
She made the acquaintance of a woman who, from their first meeting,
gained an ascendancy over her through her mysterious power of
attraction.

This woman was about her own age, and she was a nun. She was always busy
with charitable works. A tall, fine, rather stout woman, dark, with
rather bold, handsome features, sharp eyes, a big, sensitive,
ever-smiling mouth, and a masterful chin. She was remarkably
intelligent, and not at all sentimental; she had the malice of a
peasant, a keen business sense, and a southern imagination, which saw
everything in exaggeration, though always exactly to scale when
necessary: she was a strangely enticing mixture of lofty mysticism and
lawyer's cunning. She was used to domination, and the exercise of it was
a habit with her. Jacqueline was drawn to her at once. She became
enthusiastic over her work, or, at least, believed herself to be so.
Sister Angèle knew perfectly what was the object of her passion: she was
used to provoking them; and without seeming to notice them, she used
skilfully to turn them to account for her work and the glory of God.
Jacqueline gave up her money, her will, her heart. She was charitable,
so she believed, through love.

It was not long before her infatuation was observed. She was the only
person not to realize it. Georges's guardian became anxious. Georges was
too generous and too easy to worry about money matters, though he saw
his mother's subjection, and was shocked by it. He tried, too late in
the day, to resume his old intimacy with her, and saw that a veil was
drawn between them; he blamed the occult influence for it, and, both
against his mother and the nun, whom he called an intriguer, he
conceived a feeling of irritation which he made no attempt to disguise:
he could not admit a stranger to his place in a heart that he had
regarded as his natural right. It never occurred to him that his place
was taken because he had left it. Instead of trying patiently to win it
back, he was clumsy and cruel. Quick words passed between mother and
son, both of whom were hasty and passionate, and the rupture grew
marked. Sister Angèle established her ascendancy over Jacqueline, and
Georges rushed away and kicked over the traces. He plunged into a
restless, dissipated life; gambled, lost large sums of money; he put a
certain amount of exaggeration into his extravagances, partly for his
own pleasure and partly to counterbalance his mother's
extravagances.--He knew the Stevens-Delestrades. Colette had marked down
the handsome boy, and tried the effect on him of her charms, which she
never wearied of using. She knew of all Georges's freaks, and was vastly
entertained by them. But her sound common sense and the real kindness
concealed beneath her frivolity, helped her to see the danger the young
idiot was running. And, being well aware that it was beyond her to save
him, she warned Christophe, who came at once.

Christophe was the only person who had any influence over young Jeannin.
His influence was limited and very intermittent, but all the more
remarkable in that it was difficult to explain. Christophe belonged to
the preceding generation against which Georges and his companions were
violently in reaction. He was one of the most conspicuous
representatives of that period of torment whose art and ideas rouse in
them a feeling of suspicion and hostility. He was unmoved by the new
Gospels and the charms of the minor prophets and the old cheapjacks who
were offering the young men an infallible recipe for the salvation of
the world, Rome and France. He was faithful to the free faith, free of
all religion, free of all parties, free of all countries, which was no
longer the fashion--or had never been fashionable. Finally, though he
was altogether removed from national questions, he was a foreigner in
Paris at a time when all foreigners were regarded by the natives of the
country as barbarians.

And yet, young Jeannin, joyous, easy-going, instinctively hostile to
everything that might make him sad or uneasy, ardent in pursuit of
pleasure, engrossed in violent sports, easily duped by the rhetoric of
his time, in his physical vigor and mental indolence inclined to the
brutal doctrines of French action, nationalist, royalist,
imperialist--(he did not exactly know)--in his heart reflected only one
man: Christophe. His precocious experience and the delicate tact he had
inherited from his mother made him see (without being in the least
disturbed by it) how little worth was the world that he could not live
without, and how superior to it was Christophe. From Olivier he had
inherited a vague uneasiness, which visited him in sudden fits that
never lasted very long, a need of finding and deciding on some definite
aim for what he was doing. And perhaps it was from Olivier that he had
also inherited the mysterious instinct which drew him towards the man whom
Olivier had loved.

He used to go and see Christophe. He was expansive by nature, and of a
rather chattering temper, and he loved indulging in confidences. He
never troubled to think whether Christophe had time to listen to him.
But Christophe always did listen, and never gave any sign of impatience.
Only sometimes he would be rather absent-minded when Georges had
interrupted him in his work, but never for more than a few minutes, when
his mind would be away putting the finishing touches to its work: then
it would return to Georges, who never noticed its absence. He used to
laugh at the evasion, and come back like a man tiptoeing into the room,
so as not to be heard. But once or twice Georges did notice it, and then
he said indignantly:

"But you are not listening!"

Then Christophe was ashamed: and docilely he would listen to Georges's
story, and try to win his forgiveness by redoubled attention. The
stories were often very funny: and Christophe could not help laughing at
the tale of some wild freak: for Georges kept nothing back: his
frankness was disarming.

Christophe did not always laugh. Georges's conduct sometimes pained him.
Christophe was no saint: he knew he had no right to moralize over
anybody. Georges's love affairs, and the scandalous waste of his fortune
in folly, were not what shocked him most. What he found it most hard to
forgive was the light-mindedness with which Georges regarded his sins:
they were no burden to him: he thought them very natural. His conception
of morality was very different from Christophe's. He was one of those
young men who are fain to see in the relation of the sexes nothing more
than a game that has no moral aspect whatever. A certain frankness and a
careless kindliness were all that was necessary for an honest man. He
was not troubled with Christophe's scruples. Christophe would wax wrath.
In vain did he try not to impose his way of feeling upon others: he
could not be tolerant, and his old violence was only half tamed. Every
now and then he would explode. He could not help seeing how dirty were
some of Georges's intrigues, and he used bluntly to tell him so. Georges
was no more patient than he, and they used to have angry scenes, after
which they would not see each other for weeks. Christophe would realize
that his outbursts were not likely to change Georges's conduct, and that
it was perhaps unjust to subject the morality of a period to the moral
ideas of another generation. But his feeling was too strong for him, and
on the next opportunity he would break out again. How can one renounce
the faith for which one has lived? That were to renounce life. What is
the good of laboring to think thoughts other than one's own, to be like
one's neighbor or to meddle with his affairs? That leads to
self-destruction, and no one is benefited by it. The first duty is to be
what one is, to dare to say: "This is good, that bad." One profits the
weak more by being strong than by sharing their weakness. Be indulgent,
if you like, towards weakness and past sins. But never compromise with
any weakness....

Yes: but Georges never by any chance consulted Christophe about anything
he was going to do:--(did he know himself?).--He only told him about
things when they were done.--And then?... Then, what could he do but
look in dumb reproach at the culprit, and shrug his shoulders and smile,
like an old uncle who knows that he is not heeded?

On such occasions they would sit for several minutes in silence. Georges
would look up at Christophe's grave eyes, which seemed to be gazing at
him from far away. And he would feel like a little boy in his presence.
He would see himself as he was, in that penetrating glance, which was
shot with a gleam of malice: and he was not proud of it.

Christophe hardly ever made use of Georges's confidences against him; it
was often as though he had not heard them. After the mute dialogue of
their eyes, he would shake his head mockingly, and then begin to tell a
story without any apparent bearing on the story he had just been told,
some story about his life, or some one else's life, real or fictitious.
And gradually Georges would see his double (he recognized it at once)
under a new light, grotesquely, ridiculously postured, passing through
vagaries similar to his own. Christophe never added any commentary. The
extraordinary kindliness of the story-teller would produce far more
effect than the story. He would speak of himself just as he spoke of
others, with the same detachment, the same jovial, serene humor. Georges
was impressed by his tranquillity. It was for this that he came. When he
had unburdened himself of his light-hearted confession, he was like a
man stretching out his limbs and lying at full length in the shade of a
great tree on a summer afternoon. The dazzling fever of the scorching
day would fall away from him. Above him he would feel the hovering of
protecting wings. In the presence of this man who so peacefully bore the
heavy burden of his life, he was sheltered from his own inward
restlessness. He found rest only in hearing him speak. He did not always
listen: his mind would wander, but wheresoever it went, it was
surrounded by Christophe's laughter.

However, he did not understand his old friend's ideas. He used to wonder
how Christophe could bear his soul's solitude, and dispense with being
bound to any artistic, political, or religious party, or any group of
men. He used to ask him: "Don't you ever want to take refuge in a camp
of some sort?"

"Take refuge?" Christophe would say with a laugh. "It is much too good
outside. And you, an open-air man, talk of shutting yourself up?"

"Ah!" Georges would reply. "It is not the same thing for body and soul.
The mind needs certainty: it needs to think with others, to adhere to
the principles admitted by all the men of the time. I envy the men of
old days, the men of the classic ages. My friends are right in their
desire to restore the order of the past."

"Milksop!" said Christophe. "What have I to do with such disheartened
creatures?"

"I am not disheartened," protested Georges indignantly. "None of us is
that."

"But you must be," said Christophe, "to be afraid of yourselves. What!
You need order and cannot create it for yourselves? You must always be
clinging to your great-grandmother's skirts! Dear God! You must walk
alone!"

"One must take root," said Georges, proudly echoing one of the pontiffs
of the time.

"But do you think the trees need to be shut up in a box to take root?
The earth is there for all of us. Plunge your roots into it. Find your
own laws. Look to yourself."

"I have no time," said Georges.

"You are afraid," insisted Christophe.

Georges indignantly denied it, but in the end he agreed that he had no
taste for examining his inmost soul: he could not understand what
pleasure there could be in it: there was the danger of falling over if
you looked down into the abyss.

"Give me your hand," said Christophe.

He would amuse himself by opening the trap-door of his realistic, tragic
vision of life. Georges would draw away from it, and Christophe would
shut it down again, laughing:

"How can you live like that?" Georges would ask.

"I am alive, and I am happy," Christophe would reply.

"I should die if I were forced to see things like that always."

Christophe would slap him on the shoulder:

"Fine athlete you are!... Well, don't look, if your head is not strong
enough. There is nothing to make you, after all. Go ahead, my boy. But
do you need a master to brand your shoulder, like a sheep? What is the
word of command you are waiting for? The signal was given long ago. The
signal to saddle has sounded, and the cavalry is on the march. Don't
worry about anything but your horse. Take your place! And gallop!"

"But where to?" asked Georges.

"With your regiment to the conquest of the world. Conquer the air,
master the elements, dig the last entrenchment of Nature, set back
space, drive back death....

"_Expertus vacuum Dadalus aera_...."

"... Do you know that, you champion of Latin? Can you even tell me what
it means?

"_Perrupit Acheronta_...."

"That is your lot, you happy _conquistadores_!"

So clearly did he show the duty of heroic action that had devolved upon
the new generation, that Georges was amazed, and said:

"But if you feel that, why don't you come with us?"

"Because I have a different task. Go, my boy, do your work. Surpass me,
if you can. But I stay here and watch.... Have you read the Arabian
Night in which a genii, as tall as a mountain, is imprisoned in a bottle
sealed with the seal of Solomon?... The genii is here, in the depths of
our soul, the soul into which you are afraid to look down. I and the men
of my time spent our lives in struggling with him: we did not conquer
him: he conquered us. At present we are both recovering our breath, and,
with no rancor nor fear, we are looking at each other, satisfied with
the struggles in which we have been engaged, waiting for the agreed
armistice to expire. You are profiting by the armistice to gather your
strength and cull the world's beauty. Be happy. Enjoy the lull. But
remember that one day, you or your children, on your return from your
conquests, will have to come back to the place where I stand and resume
the combat, with new forces, against the genii by whose side I watch and
wait. And the combat will endure with intervals of armistice until one
of the two (perhaps both) will be laid low. It is your duty to be
stronger and happier than we!...--Meanwhile, indulge in your sport if
you like: stiffen your muscles and strengthen your heart: and do not be
so foolish as to waste your impatient vigor upon silly trifles: you
belong to an age that, if you are patient, will find a use for it."

       *       *       *       *       *

Georges did not remember much of what Christophe said to him. He was
open-minded enough to grasp Christophe's ideas, but they escaped him at
once. He forgot everything before he reached the bottom of the stairs.
But all the same, he had a feeling of well-being, which endured when the
memory of the words that had produced it had long been wiped out. He had
a real veneration for Christophe. He believed in nothing that Christophe
believed in (at heart he laughed at everything and had no belief). But
he would have broken the head of any man who took upon himself to speak
ill of his old friend.

Fortunately, no one did speak ill of him in his presence, otherwise he
would have been kept busy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Christophe had accurately forecast the next change of the wind. The new
ideal of the new French music was very different from his own; but while
that was a reason the more for Christophe to sympathize with it, its
exponents had no sympathy with him. His vogue with the public was not
likely to reconcile the most hungry for recognition of these young men
to him; they were meagerly fed, and their teeth were long, and they bit.
Christophe was not put out by their spite.

"How thoroughly they do it!" he would say. "These boys are cutting their
teeth...."

He was inclined to prefer them to the other puppies who fawned on him
because of his success--those people of whom D'Aubigné writes, who
"_when a mastiff plunges his nose into a butter-pot, come and lick his
whiskers by way of congratulation._"

He had a piece accepted at the Opéra. Almost at once it was put into
rehearsal. Through a newspaper attack Christophe learned that a certain
young composer's piece had been postponed for it. The writer of the
article waxed indignant over such abuse of power, and made Christophe
responsible for it.

Christophe went to see the manager, and said:

"Why didn't you tell me? You must not do it. You must put on the opera
you accepted before mine."

The manager protested, began to laugh, refused, covered Christophe's
character, work, genius, with flattery, and said that the other man's
work was beneath contempt, and assured him that it was worthless and
would not make a sou.

"Why did you accept it then?"

"One can't always do as one likes. Every now and then one has to throw a
sop to public opinion. Formerly these young men could shout as much as
they pleased. And no one listened to them. But now they are able to let
loose on us the nationalist Press, which roars 'Treason' and calls you a
disloyal Frenchman because you happen to have the misfortune to be
unable to go into ecstasies over the younger school. The younger school!
Let's look at it!... Shall I tell you what I think of it? I'm sick of
it! So is the public. They bore us with their _Oremus!_... There's
no blood in their veins; they're like sacristans chanting Mass: their
love ducts are like the _De Profundis_.... If I were fool enough to
put on the pieces I am compelled to accept, I should ruin my theater. I
accept them: that is all they can ask.--Let us talk of something
serious. Your work means a full house...."

And he went on with his compliments.

Christophe cut him short, and said angrily:

"I am not taken in. Now that I am old and have 'arrived,' you are using
me to suppress the young men. When I was a young man you would have
suppressed me in just the same way. You must play this boy's piece, or I
shall withdraw my own."

The manager threw up his hands, and said:

"But don't you see that if we did what you want, it would look as if we
were giving in to these newspaper attacks?"

"What do I care?" said Christophe.

"As you please! You will be their first victim."

They put the young musician's piece into rehearsal without interrupting
the preparation of Christophe's. One was in three acts, the other in
two: it was arranged to include them both in one program. Christophe
went to see the young man, for he wanted to be the first to give him the
news. The musician was loud in his promises of eternal gratitude.

Naturally Christophe could not make the manager not devote all his
attention to his piece. The interpretation and the scenery of the other
were rather scamped. Christophe knew nothing about it. He asked to be
allowed to be present at a few rehearsals of the young man's opera: he
thought it very mediocre, as he had been told: he ventured to give a
little advice which was ill-received: he gave it up then, and did not
interfere again. On the other hand, the manager had made the young man
admit the necessity for a little cutting to have his piece produced in
time. Though the sacrifice was easily consented to at first, it was not
long before the author regretted it.

On the evening of the performance the beginner's piece had no success,
and Christophe's caused a sensation. Some of the papers attacked
Christophe: they spoke of a trick, a plot to suppress a great young
French artist: they said that his work had been mutilated to please the
German master, whom they represented to be basely jealous of the coming
fame of all the new men. Christophe shrugged his shoulders and thought:

"He will reply."

"He" did not reply. Christophe sent him one of the paragraphs with these
words:

"Have you read this?"

The other replied:

"How sorry I am! The writer of it has always been so well disposed
towards me! Really, I am very sorry. The best thing is to pay no
attention to it."

Christophe laughed and thought: "He is right! The little sneak."

And he decided to forget all about it.

But chance would have it that Georges, who seldom read the papers, and
that hastily, except for the sporting articles, should light on the most
violent attacks on Christophe. He knew the writer. He went to the café
where he knew he would meet him, found him, struck him, fought a duel
with him, and gave him a nasty scratch on the shoulder with his rapier.
Next day, at breakfast, Christophe had a letter from a friend telling
him of the affair. He was overcome. He left his breakfast and hurried to
see Georges. Georges himself opened the door. Christophe rushed in like
a whirlwind, seized him by the arms, and shook him angrily, and began to
overwhelm him with a storm of furious reproaches.

"You little wretch!" he cried. "You have fought a duel for me! Who gave
you leave! A boy, a fly-by-night, to meddle in my affairs! Do you think
I can't look after myself? What good have you done? You have done this
rascal the honor of fighting him. He asked no more. You have made him a
hero. Idiot! And if it had chanced ... (I am sure you rushed at it like
a madman as usual) ... if you had been wounded, killed perhaps!... You
wretch! I should never have forgiven you as long as you lived!..."

Georges laughed uproariously at this last threat, and was so overcome
with merriment, that he cried:

"My dear old friend, how funny you are! Ah! You're unique! Here are you
insulting me for having defended you! Next time I shall attack you.
Perhaps you'll embrace me then."

Christophe stopped and hugged Georges, and kissed him on both cheeks,
and then once more he said:

"My boy!... Forgive me. I am an old idiot.... But my blood boiled when I
heard the news. What made you think of fighting? You don't fight with
such people. Promise me at once that you will never do it again."

"I'll promise nothing of the kind," said Georges. "I shall do as I
like."

"I forbid it. Do you hear? If you do it again, I'll never see you again.
I shall publicly disown you in the newspapers I shall...."

"You will disinherit me, you mean."

"Come, Georges. Please. What's the good of it?"

"My dear old friend, you are a thousand times a better man than I am,
and you know infinitely more: but I know these people better than you
do. Make yourself easy. It will do some good. They will think a little
now before they let loose their poisonous insults upon you."

"But what can these idiots do to me? I laugh at anything they may say."

"But I don't. And you must mind your own business."

Thereafter Christophe lived on tenterhooks lest some fresh article might
rouse Georges's susceptibilities. It was quite comic to see him during
the next few days going to a café and devouring the newspapers, which he
never read as a rule, ready to go to all lengths (even to trickery) if
he found an insulting article, to prevent it reaching Georges. After a
week he recovered his equanimity. The boy was right. His action had
given the yelping curs food for a moment's reflection.--And, though
Christophe went on grumbling at the young lunatic who had made him waste
eight working days, he said to himself that, after all, he had no right
to lecture him. He remembered a certain day, not so very long ago, when
he himself had fought a duel for Olivier's sake. And he thought he heard
Olivier's voice saying:

"Let be, Christophe. I am giving you back what you lent me!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Though Christophe took the attacks on himself lightly, there was one
other man who was very far from such disinterestedness. This was
Emmanuel.

The evolution of European thought was progressing swiftly. It was as
though it had been accelerated by mechanical inventions and the new
motors. The stock of prejudices and hopes which in old days were enough
to feed humanity for twenty years was now exhausted in five years. The
generations of the mind were galloping ahead, one behind the other,
often one trampling the other down, with Time sounding the
charge.--Emmanuel had been left behind.

The singer of French energy had never denied the idealism of his master,
Olivier. Passionate as was his national feeling, he identified himself
with his worship of moral greatness. If in his poetry he loudly
proclaimed the triumph of France, it was because in her, by an act of
faith, he adored the loftiest ideas of modern Europe, the Athena Nike,
the victorious Law which takes its revenge on Force.--And now Force had
awakened in the very heart of Law, and it was springing up in all its
savage nakedness. The new generation, robust and disciplined, was
longing for combat, and, before its victory was won, had the attitude of
mind of the conqueror. This generation was proud of its strength, its
thews, its mighty chest, its vigorous senses so thirsting for delight,
its wings like the wings of a bird of prey hovering over the plains,
waiting to swoop down and try its talons. The prowess of the race, the
mad flights over the Alps and the sea, the new crusades, not much less
mystic, not much less interested than those of Philip Augustus and
Villehardouin, had turned the nation's head. The children of the nation
who had never seen war except in books had no difficulty in endowing it
with beauty. They became aggressive. Weary of peace and ideas, they
hymned the anvil of battle, on which, with bloody fists, action would
one day new-forge the power of France. In reaction against the
disgusting abuse of systems of ideas, they raised contempt of the idea
to the level of a profession of faith. Blusteringly they exalted narrow
common sense, violent realism, immodest national egoism, trampling
underfoot the rights of others and other nations, when it served the
turn of their country's greatness. They were xenophobes, anti-democrats,
and--even the most skeptical of them--set up the return to Catholicism,
in the practical necessity for "digging channels for the absolute," and
shutting up the infinite under the surveillance of order and authority.
They were not content to despise--they regarded the gentle dotards of
the preceding generation, the visionary idealists, the humanitarian
thinkers of the preceding generation, as public malefactors. Emmanuel
was among them in the eyes of the young men. He suffered cruelly and was
very angry.

The knowledge that Christophe was, like himself,--more than himself--the
victim of their injustice, made him sympathetic. His ungraciousness had
discouraged Christophe's visits. He was too proud to show his regret by
seeking him out. But he contrived to meet him, as if by chance, and
forced Christophe to make the first advances. Thereafter his umbrageous
susceptibilities were at rest, and he did not conceal the pleasure he
had in Christophe's company. Thereafter they often met in each other's
rooms.

Emmanuel confided his bitterness to Christophe. He was exasperated by
certain criticisms, and, thinking that Christophe was not sufficiently
moved by them, he made him read some of the newspaper appreciations of
himself. Christophe was accused of not knowing the grammar of his work,
of being ignorant of harmony, of having stolen from other musicians,
and, generally, of dishonoring music. He was called: "This old
toss-brain...." They said: "We have had enough of these convulsionaries.
We are order, reason, classic balance...."

Christophe was vastly entertained.

"It is the law," he said. "The young bury the old.... In my day, it is
true, we waited until a man was sixty before we called him an old man.
They are going faster, nowadays.... Wireless telegraphy, aeroplanes....
A generation is more quickly exploded.... Poor devils! They won't last
long! Let them despise us and strut about in the sun!"

But Emmanuel had not his sanity. Though he was fearless in thought, he
was a prey to his diseased nerves; with his ardent soul in his rickety
body, he was driven on to the fight and was unfitted for it. The
animosity of certain opinions of his work drew blood.

"Ah!" he would say. "If the critics knew the harm they do artists by the
unjust words they throw out so recklessly, they would be ashamed of
their trade."

"But they do know, my friend. That is the justification of their
existence. Everybody must live."

"They are butchers. One is drenched with the blood of life, worn out by
the struggle we have to wage with art. Instead of holding out their
hands to us, and compassionately telling us of our faults, and brotherly
helping us to mend them, they stand there with their hands in their
pockets and watch you dragging your burden up the slope, and say: 'You
can't do it!' And when you reach the top, some of them say: 'Yes, but
that is not the way to climb up.' While the others go on blandly saying:
'You couldn't do it!...' You're lucky if they don't send great stones
rolling down on you to send you flying!"

"Bah! There are plenty of good men among them, and think of the good
they can do! There are bad men everywhere. They're not peculiar to
criticism. Do you know anything worse than an ungenerous, vain, and
embittered artist, to whom the world is only loot, that he is furious
because he cannot grab? You must don patience for your protection. There
is no evil but it may be of good service. The worst of the critics is
useful to us; he is a trainer: he does not let us loiter by the way.
Whenever we think we have reached the goal, the pack hound us on. Get
on! Onward! Upward! They are more likely to weary of running after me
than I am of marching ahead of them. Remember the Arabian proverb:
_'It is no use flogging sterile trees. Only those are stoned whose
front is crowned with golden fruit....'_ Let us pity the artists who
are spared. They will stay half-way, lazily sitting down. When they try
to get up their legs will be so stiff that they will be unable to walk.
Long live my friend the enemy! They do me more good in my life than the
enemy, my friend!"

Emmanuel could not help smiling. Then he said:

"All the same, don't you think it hard for a veteran like you to be
taken to task by recruits who are just approaching their first battle?"

"They amuse me," said Christophe. "Such arrogance is the mark of young,
hot blood tingling to be up and doing. I was like that once. They are
like the showers of March falling on the new-born soil.... Let them take
us to task! They are right, after all. Old people must learn from the
young! They have profited by us, and are ungrateful: that is in the
order of things. But, being enriched by our efforts, they will go
farther than we, and will realize what we attempted. If we still have
some youth left, let us learn in our turn, and try to rejuvenate
ourselves. If we cannot, if we are too old, let us rejoice in them. It
is fine to see the perpetual new-flowering of the human soul that
seemed, exhausted, the vigorous optimism of these young men, their
delight in action and adventures, the races springing to new life for
the conquest of the world."

"What would they be without us? Their joy is the fruit of our tears.
Their proud force is the flower of the sufferings of a whole generation.
_Sic vos non nobis_...."

"The old saying is wrong. It is for ourselves that we worked, and our
reward lies in the creation of a race of men who shall surpass us. We
amassed their treasury, we hoarded it in a wretched hovel open to all
the winds of Heaven: we had to strain every nerve to keep the doors
closed against death. Our arms carved out the triumphal way along which
our sons shall march. Our sufferings have saved the future. We have
borne the Ark to the threshold of the Promised Land. It will reach that
Land with them, and through us."

"Will they ever remember those who crossed the wilderness, bearing the
sacred fire, the gods of our race, and them, those children, who now are
men? For our share we have had tribulation and ingratitude."

"Do you regret it?"

"No. There is a sort of intoxication in the tragic grandeur of the
sacrifice of a mighty epoch like ours to the epoch that it has brought
into being. The men of to-day would not be more capable of tasting the
sovereign joy of renunciation."

"We have been the happier. We have scaled Mount Nebo, at whose feet lie
stretched the countries that we shall never enter. But we enjoy them
more than those who will enter them. When you descend to the plain, you
lose sight of the plain's immensity and the far horizon."

       *       *       *       *       *

The soothing influence that Christophe exercised over Georges and
Emmanuel had the source of its power in Grazia's love. It was through
this love that he felt himself so near to all young things, and had an
inexhaustible fund of sympathy for every new form of life. Whatever the
forces might be that rekindled the earth, he was always with them, even
when they were against him: he had no fear for the immediate future of
the democracies, that future which caused such an outcry against the
egoism of a handful of privileged men: he did not cling desperately to
the paternosters of an old art: he felt quite sure that from the
fabulous visions, the realized dreams of science and action, a new art,
more puissant than the old, would spring forth: he hailed the new dawn
of the world, even though the beauty of the old world were to die with
it.

Grazia knew the good that her love did for Christophe: and this
consciousness of her power lifted her out of herself. Through her
letters she exercised a controlling power over her friend. She was not
so absurdly pretentious as to try to control his art: she had too much
tact, and knew her limitations. But her true, pure voice was the
diapason to which he attuned his soul. Christophe had only to hear her
voice echoing his thought to think nothing that was not just, pure, and
worthy of repetition. The sound of a beautiful instrument is to a
musician like a beautiful body in which his dream at once becomes
incarnate. Mysterious is the fusion of two loving spirits: each takes
the best from the other, but only to give it back again enriched with
love. Grazia was not afraid to tell Christophe that she loved him.
Distance gave her more freedom of speech, and also, the certain
knowledge that she would never be his. Her love, the religious fervor of
which was communicated to Christophe, was a fountain of force and peace
to him.

Grazia gave to others more of such force and peace than she had herself.
Her health was shattered, her moral balance seriously affected. Her
son's condition did not improve. For the last two years she had lived in
a perpetual state of anxiety, aggravated by Lionello's fatal skill in
playing on it. He had acquired a consummate mastery of the art of
keeping those who loved him on tenterhooks: his idle mind was most
fertile in inventing ways of rousing interest in himself and tormenting
others: it had become a mania with him. And the tragedy of it was, that,
while he aped the ravages of disease, the disease did make real inroads
upon him, and death peeped forth. Then the expected happened: Grazia,
having been tortured by her son for years with his imaginary illness,
ceased to believe in it when the illness really came. The heart has its
limitations. She had exhausted her store of pity over his lies. She
thought Lionello was still a comedian when he spoke the truth. And when
the truth was revealed to her, the rest of her life was poisoned by
remorse.

Lionello's malice had not laid aside its weapons. Having no love for any
one in the world, he could not bear any of those near him to feel love
for any one else: jealousy was his only passion. It was not enough for
him to have separated his mother and Christophe: he tried to force her
to break off the intimacy which subsisted between them. Already he had
employed his usual weapon--his illness--to make Grazia swear that she
would not marry again. He was not satisfied with her promise. He tried
to force his mother to give up writing to Christophe. On this she
rebelled; and, being delivered by such an attempted abuse of power, she
spoke harshly and severely to Lionello about his habit of lying, and,
later on, regarded herself as a criminal for having done so: for her
words flung Lionello into a fit of fury which made him really ill. His
illness grew worse as he saw that his mother did not believe in it.
Then, in his fury, he longed to die so as to avenge himself. He never
thought that his wish would be granted.

When the doctor told Grazia that there was no hope for her son, she was
dumfounded. But she had to disguise her despair in order to deceive the
boy who had so often deceived her. He had a suspicion that this time it
was serious, but he refused to believe it; and his eyes watched his
mother's eyes for the reproachful expression that had infuriated him
when he was lying. There came a time when there was no room for doubt.
Then it was terrible, both for him and his mother and sister: he did not
wish to die....

When at last Grazia saw him sinking to sleep, she gave no cry and made
no moan: she astonished those about her by her silence: she had no
strength left for suffering: she had only one desire, to sleep also.
However, she went about the business of her life with the same apparent
calm. After a few weeks her smile returned to her lips, but she was more
silent still. No one suspected her inward distress, Christophe least of
all. She had only written to tell him the news, without a word of
herself. She did not answer Christophe's anxiously affectionate letters.
He wanted to come to her: she begged him not to. At the end of two or
three months, she resumed her old grave, serene tone with him. She would
have thought it criminal to put upon him the burden of her weakness. She
knew how the echo of all her feelings reverberated in him, and how great
was his need to lean on her. She did not impose upon herself the
restraint of sorrow. This discipline was her salvation. In her weariness
of life only two things gave her life: Christophe's love, and the
fatalism, which, in sorrow as in joy, lay at the heart of her Italian
nature. There was nothing intellectual in her fatalism: it was the
animal instinct, which makes a hunted beast go on, with no consciousness
of fatigue, in a staring wide-eyed dream, forgetting the stones of the
road, forgetting its own body, until it falls. Her fatalism sustained
her body. Love sustained her heart. Now that her own life was worn out,
she lived in Christophe. And yet she was more scrupulous than ever never
in her letters to tell him of the love she had for him: no doubt because
her love was greater: but also because she was conscious of the
_veto_ of the dead boy, who had made her affection a crime. Then
she would relapse into silence, and refrain from writing for a time.

Christophe did not understand her silence. Sometimes in the composed and
tranquil tone of one of her letters he would be conscious of an
unexpected note that seemed to be quivering with passionate moaning.
That would prostrate him: but he dared not say anything: he hardly dared
to notice it: he was like a man holding his breath, afraid to breathe,
for fear of destroying an illusion. He knew almost infallibly that in
the next letter such notes as these would be atoned for by a deliberate
coldness. Then, once more, tranquillity ... _Meeresstille_....

       *       *       *       *       *

Georges and Emmanuel met at Christophe's one afternoon. Both were
preoccupied with their own troubles: Emmanuel with his literary
disappointments, and Georges with some athletic failure. Christophe
listened to them good-humoredly and teased them affectionately. There
was a ring at the door. Georges went to open it. A servant had come with
a letter from Colette. Christophe stood by the window to read it. His
friends went on with their discussion, and did not see Christophe, whose
back was turned to them. He left the room without their noticing it. And
when they realized that he had done so, they were not surprised. But as
time passed and he did not return, Georges went and knocked at the door
of the next room. There was no reply. Georges did not persist, for he
knew his old friend's queer ways. A few minutes later Christophe
returned without a word. He seemed very calm, very kind, very gentle. He
begged their pardon for leaving them, took up the conversation where he
had left it, and spoke kindly about their troubles, and said many
helpful things. The tone of his voice moved them, though they knew not
why.

They left him. Georges went straight to Colette's, and found her in
tears. As soon as she saw him she came swiftly to him and asked:

"How did our poor friend take the blow? It is terrible."

Georges did not understand. And Colette told him that she had just sent
Christophe the news of Grazia's death.

She was gone, without having had time to say farewell to anybody. For
several months past the roots of her life had been almost torn out of
the earth: a puff of wind was enough to lay it low. On the evening
before the relapse of influenza which carried her off she received a
long, kind letter from Christophe. It had filled her with tenderness,
and she longed to bid him come to her: she felt that everything else,
everything that kept them apart, was absurd and culpable. She was very
weary, and put off writing to him until the next day. On the day after
she had to stay in bed. She began a letter which she did not finish: she
had an attack of giddiness, and her head swam: besides, she was
reluctant to speak of her illness, and was afraid of troubling
Christophe. He was busy at the time with rehearsals of a choral symphony
set to a poem of Emmanuel's: the subject had roused them both to
enthusiasm, for it was something symbolical of their own destiny: _The
Promised Land_. Christophe had often mentioned it to Grazia. The
first performance was to take place the following week.... She must not
upset him. In her letter Grazia just spoke of a slight cold. Then that
seemed too much to her. She tore up the letter, and had no strength left
to begin another. She told herself that she would write in the evening.
When the evening came it was too late--too late to bid him come, too
late even to write.... How swiftly everything passes! A few hours are
enough to destroy the labor of ages.... Grazia hardly had time to give
her daughter a ring she wore and beg her to send it to her friend. Till
then she had not been very intimate with Aurora. Now that her life was
ebbing away, she gazed passionately at the face of the girl: she clung
to the hand that would pass on the pressure of her own, and, joyfully,
she thought:

"Not all of me will pass away."

_"Quid? hic, inquam, quis est qui complet aures meas tantus et tam
dulcis sonus?..."--(The Dream of Scipio.)_

When he left Colette, on an impulse of sympathy Georges went back to
Christophe's. For a long time, through Colette's indiscretions, he had
known the place that Grazia filled in his old friend's heart: he had
even--(for youth is not respectful)--made fun of it. But now generously
and keenly he felt the sorrow that Christophe must be feeling at such a
loss; and he felt that he must go to him, embrace him, pity him. Knowing
the violence of his passions,--the tranquillity that Christophe had
shown made him anxious. He rang the bell. No answer. He rang once more
and knocked, giving the signal agreed between Christophe and himself. He
heard the moving of a chair and a slow, heavy tread. Christophe opened
the door. His face was so calm that Georges stopped still, just as he
was about to fling himself into his arms: he knew not what to say.
Christophe asked him gently:

"You, my boy. Have you forgotten something?"

Georges muttered uneasily:

"Yes."

"Come in."

Christophe went and sat in the chair he had left on Georges's arrival,
near the window, with his head thrown back, looking at the roofs
opposite and the reddening evening sky. He paid no attention to Georges.
The young man pretended to look about on the table, while he stole
glances at Christophe. His face was set: the beams of the setting sun
lit up his cheek-bones and his forehead. Mechanically Georges went into
the next room--the bedroom--as though he were still looking for
something. It was in this room that Christophe had shut himself up with
the letter. It was still there on the bed, which bore the imprint of a
body. On the floor lay a book that had slipped down. It had been left
open with a page crumpled. Georges picked it up, and read the story of
the meeting of the Magdalene and the Gardener in the Gospel.

He came back into the living-room, and moved a few things here and there
to gain countenance, and once more he looked at Christophe, who had not
budged. He longed to tell him how he pitied him. But Christophe was so
radiant with light that Georges felt that it was out of place to speak.
It was rather himself who stood in need of consolation. He said timidly:

"I am going."

Without turning his head, Christophe said:

"Good-by, my boy."

Georges went away and closed the door without a sound.

For a long time Christophe sat there. Night came. He was not suffering:
he was not thinking: he saw no definite image. He was like a tired man
listening to some vague music without making any attempt to understand
it. The night was far gone when he got up, cramped and stiff. He flung
himself on his bed and slept heavily. The symphony went on buzzing all
around him....

And now he saw _her_, the well-beloved.... She held out her hands
to him, and said, smiling:

"Now you have passed through the zone of fire."

Then his heart melted. An indescribable peace filled the starry spaces,
where the music of the spheres flung out its great, still, profound
sheets of water....

When he awoke (it was day), his strange happiness still endured, with
the distant gleam of words falling upon his ears. He got up. He was
exalted with a silent, holy enthusiasm.

  "... _Or vedi, figlio,
   tra Beatrice e te è questo muro...."_

Between Beatrice and himself, the wall was broken down. For a long time
now more than half his soul had dwelt upon the other side. The more a
man lives, the more a man creates, the more a man loves and loses those
whom he loves, the more does he escape from death. With every new blow
that we have to bear, with every new work that we round and finish, we
escape from ourselves, we escape into the work we have created, the soul
we have loved, the soul that has left us. When all is told, Rome is not
in Rome: the best of a man lies outside himself. Only Grazia had
withheld him on this side of the wall. And now in her turn.... Now the
door was shut upon the world of sorrow.

He lived through a period of secret exaltation. He felt the weight of no
fetters. He expected nothing of the things of this world. He was
dependent upon nothing. He was set free. The struggle was at an end.
Issuing from the zone of combat and the circle where reigned the God of
heroic conflict, _Dominus Deus Sabaoth_, he looked down, and in the
night saw the torch of the Burning Bush put out. How far away it was!
When it had lit up his path he had thought himself almost at the summit.
And since then, how far he had had to go! And yet the topmost pinnacle
seemed no nearer. He would never reach it (he saw that now), though he
were to march on to eternity. But when a man enters the circle of light
and knows that he has not left those he loves behind him, eternity is
not too long a space to be journeying on with them.

He closed his doors. No one knocked. Georges had expended all his
compassion and sympathy in the one impulse; he was reassured by the time
he reached home, and forgot all about it by the next day. Colette had
gone to Rome. Emmanuel knew nothing, and hypersensitive as usual, he
maintained an affronted silence because Christophe had not returned his
visit. Christophe was not disturbed in his long colloquy with the woman
whom he now bore in his soul, as a pregnant woman bears her precious
burden. It was a moving intercourse, impossible to translate into words.
Even music could hardly express it. When his heart was full, almost
overflowing, Christophe would lie still with eyes closed, and listen to
its song. Or, for hours together, he would sit at his piano and let his
fingers speak. During this period he improvised more than he had done in
the whole of his life. He did not set down his thoughts. What was the
good?

When, after several weeks, he took to going out again and seeing other
men, while none of his friends, except Georges, had any suspicion of
what had happened, the daimon of improvisation pursued him still. It
would take possession of Christophe just when he was least expecting it.
One evening, at Colette's, Christophe sat down at the piano and played
for nearly an hour, absolutely surrendering himself, and forgetting that
the room was full of strangers. They had no desire to laugh. His
terrible improvisations enslaved and overwhelmed them. Even those who
did not understand their meaning were thrilled and moved: and tears came
to Colette's eyes.... When Christophe had finished he turned away
abruptly: he saw how everybody was moved, and shrugged his shoulders,
and--laughed.

He had reached the point at which sorrow also becomes a force--a
dominant force. His sorrow possessed him no more: he possessed his
sorrow: in vain it fluttered and beat upon its bars: he kept it caged.

From that period date his most poignant and his happiest works: a scene
from the Gospel which Georges recognized--

"_Mulier, quid ploras?"--"Quia tulerunt Dominium meum, et nescio ubi
posuerunt eum."

Et cum hoec dixisset, conversa est retrorsum, et vidit Jesum stantem: et
non sciebat quia Jesus est_.

--a series of tragic _lieder_ set to verses of popular Spanish
_cantares_, among others a gloomy sad love-song, like a black
flame--

  "_Quisiera ser el sepulcro
  Donde á ti te han de enterrar,
  Para tenerte en mis brazos
  Por toda la eternidad_."
("Would I were the grave, where thou art to be buried, that I might hold
thee in my arms through all eternity.")

--and two symphonies, called _The Island of Tranquillity_ and
_The Dream of Scipio_, in which, more intimately than in any other
of the works of Jean-Christophe Krafft, is realized the union of the
most beautiful of the forces of the music of his time: the affectionate
and wise thought of Germany with all its shadowy windings, the clear
passionate melody of Italy, and the quick mind of France, rich in subtle
rhythms and variegated harmonies.

This "enthusiasm begotten of despair at the time of a great loss" lasted
for a few months. Thereafter Christophe fell back into his place in life
with a stout heart and a sure foot. The wind of death had blown away the
last mists of pessimism, the gray of the Stoic soul, and the
phantasmagoria of the mystic chiaroscura. The rainbow had shone upon the
vanishing clouds. The gaze of heaven, purer, as though it had been laved
with tears, smiled through them. There was the peace of evening on the
mountains.



IV


The fire smoldering in the forest of Europe was beginning to burst into
flames. In vain did they try to put it out in one place: it only broke
out in another: with gusts of smoke and a shower of sparks it swept from
one point to another, burning the dry brushwood. Already in the East
there were skirmishes as the prelude to the great war of the nations.
All Europe, Europe that only yesterday was skeptical and apathetic, like
a dead wood, was swept by the flames. All men were possessed by the
desire for battle. War was ever on the point of breaking out. It was
stamped out, but it sprang to life again. The world felt that it was the
mercy of an accident that might let loose the dogs of war. The world lay
in wait. The feeling of inevitability weighed heavily even upon the most
pacifically minded. And ideologues, sheltered beneath the massive shadow
of the cyclops, Proudhon, hymned in war man's fairest title of
nobility....

This, then, was to be the end of the physical and moral resurrection of
the races of the West! To such butchery they were to be borne along by
the currents of action and passionate faith! Only a Napoleonic genius
could have marked out a chosen, deliberate aim for this blind, onward
rush. But nowhere in Europe was there any genius for action. It was as
though the world had chosen the most mediocre to be its governors. The
force of the human mind was in other things.--So there was nothing to be
done but to trust to the declivity down which they were moving. This
both governors and governed were doing. Europe looked like a vast armed
vigil.

Christophe remembered a similar vigil, when he had had Olivier's anxious
face by his side. But then the menace of war had been only a passing
cloud. Now all Europe lay under its shadow. And Christophe's heart also
had changed. He could not share in the hatred of the nations. His state
of mind was like that of Goethe in 1813. How could a man fight without
hatred? And how could he hate without youth? He had passed through the
zone of hatred. Which of the great rival nations was the dearest to him?
He had learned to know all their merits, and what the world owed to
them. When a man has reached a certain stage in the development of the
soul _"he knows no nation, he feels the happiness or unhappiness of
the neighboring peoples as his own."_ The storm-clouds are at his
feet. Around him is nothing but the sky--_"the whole Heavens, the
kingdom of the eagle."_

And yet Christophe was sometimes embarrassed by this ambient hostility.
In Paris he was made to feel too clearly that he was of the hostile
race: even his friend Georges could not resist the pleasure of giving
vent, in his presence, to feelings about Germany which made him sad.
Then he rushed away, on the excuse that he wanted to see Grazia's
daughter: and he went and stayed for a time in Rome. But there the
atmosphere was no more serene. The great plague of national pride had
spread there, and had transformed the Italian character. The Italians,
whom Christophe had known to be indifferent and indolent, were now
thinking of nothing but military glory, battle, conquests, Roman eagles
flying over the sands of Libya: they believed they had returned to the
time of the Emperors. The wonderful thing was that this madness was
shared, with the best faith in the world, by the opposition parties,
socialists and clericals, as well as by the monarchists, and they had
not the least idea that they were being unfaithful to their cause. So
little do politics and human reason count when the great epidemic
passions sweep over the nations. Such passions do not even trouble to
suppress individual passions; they use them; and everything converges on
the one goal. In the great periods of action it was ever thus. The
armies of Henri IV., the Councils of Louis XIV., which forged the
greatness of France, numbered as many men of faith and reason as men of
vanity, interest, and enjoyment. Jansenists and libertines, Puritans and
gallants, served the same destiny in serving their instincts. In the
forthcoming wars no doubt internationalists and pacificists will kindle
the blaze, in the conviction, like that of their ancestors of the
Convention, that they are doing it for the good of the nations and the
triumph of peace.

With a somewhat ironical smile, Christophe, from the terrace of the
Janiculum, looked down on the disparate and harmonious city, the symbol
of the universe which it dominated; crumbling ruins, "baroque" façades,
modern buildings, cypress and roses intertwined--every age, every style,
merged into a powerful and coherent unity beneath the clear light. So
the mind should shed over the struggling universe the order and light
that are in it.

Christophe did not stay long in Rome. The impression made on him by the
city was too strong: he was afraid of it. Truly to profit by its harmony
he needed to hear it at a distance: he felt that if he stayed he would
be in danger of being absorbed by it, like so many other men of his
race.--Every now and then he went and stayed in Germany. But, when all
was told, and in spite of the imminence of a Franco-German war, Paris
still had the greatest attraction for him. No doubt this was because his
adopted son, Georges, lived there. But he was not only swayed by reasons
of affection. There were other reasons of an intellectual order that
were no less powerful. For an artist accustomed to the full life of the
mind, who generously shares in all the sufferings, all the hopes, and
all the passions of the great human family, it was difficult to grow
accustomed to life in Germany. There was no lack of artists there. But
the artists lacked air. They were isolated from the rest of the nation,
which took no interest in them: other preoccupations, social or
practical, absorbed the attention of the public. The poets shut
themselves up in disdainful irritation in their disdained art; it became
a point of honor with them to sever the last ties which bound them to
the life of the people: they wrote only for a few, a little aristocracy
full of talent, refined and sterile, being itself divided into rival
groups of jaded initiates, and they were stifled in the narrow room in
which they were huddled together: they were incapable of expanding it,
and set themselves to dig down; they turned the soil over until it was
exhausted. Then they drifted away into their archaic dreams, and never
even troubled to bring their dreams into the common stock. Each man
fought for his place in the mist. They had no light in common. Each man
had to look for light within himself.

Yonder, on the other hand, on the other side of the Rhine, among their
neighbors on the West, the great winds of collective passion, of public
turbulence and tribulation, swept periodically over art. And, high above
the plain, like their Eiffel Tower above Paris, shone afar off the
never-dying light of a classic tradition, handed down from generation to
generation, which, while it never enslaved nor constrained the mind,
showed it the road followed by past ages, and established the communion
of a whole nation in its light. Many a German spirit--like birds strayed
in the night--came winging towards the distant beacon. But who is there
in France can dream of the power of the sympathy which drives so many
generous hearts from the neighboring nation towards France! So many
hands stretched out: hands that are not responsible for the aims of the
politicians!... And you see no more of us, our brothers in Germany,
though we say to you: "Here are our hands. In spite of lies and hatred,
we will not be parted. We have need of you, you have need of us, to
build the greatness of our spirits and our people. We are the two wings
of the West. If one be broken, there is an end of flight! Let the war
come! It will not break the clasp of our hands or the flight of our
genius in brotherhood."

So thought Christophe. He felt the mutual completion which the two races
could give each other, and how lame and halting were the spirit, the
art, the action of each without the help of the other. For his own part,
born in the Rhine-lands where the two civilizations mingle in one
stream, from his childhood he had instinctively felt their inevitable
union; all through his life the unconscious effort of his genius had
been to maintain the balance and equilibrium of the two mighty wings.
The greater was his wealth of Germanic dreams, the more he needed the
Latin clarity of mind and order. It was for this reason that France was
so dear to him. In France he had the joy of better knowledge and mastery
of himself. Only in France was he wholly himself.

He turned to account all the elements that were or might be noxious to
him. He assimilated foreign energy in his own. A vigorous healthy mind
absorbs every kind of force, even that which is hostile to it, and makes
it bone and flesh of its bone and flesh. There even comes a time when a
man is most attracted by what least resembles him, for therein he finds
his most plentiful nourishment.

Christophe did in fact find more pleasure in the work of artists who
were set up as his rivals than in the work of his imitators:--for he had
imitators who called themselves his disciples, to his great despair.
They were honest, laborious, estimable, and altogether virtuous people
who were full of respect and veneration for him. Christophe would have
given much if he could have liked their music; but--(it was just his
luck!)--he could not do it: he found it meaningless. He was a thousand
times more pleased with the talent of musicians who were personally
antipathetic to him, and in art represented tendencies hostile to his
own.... Well! What did it matter? These men were at least alive! Life
is, in itself, such a virtue, that, if a man be deprived of it, though
he possess all the other virtues, he will never be a really good man,
for he cannot really be a man. Christophe used jokingly to say that the
only disciples he recognized were the men who attacked him. And when a
young artist came and talked to him about his musical vocation, and
tried to win his sympathy by flattering him, Christophe would say:

"So. My music satisfies you? That is how you would express your love, or
your hatred?"

"Yes, master."

"Well. Don't. You have nothing to say."

His horror of the submissive temper of mind, of men born to obey, his
need of absorbing other ideas than his own, attracted him to circles
whose ideas were diametrically opposed to his own. He had friends among
men to whom his art, his idealistic faith, his moral conceptions, were a
dead letter: they had absolutely different ways of envisaging life,
love, marriage, the family, every social relationship:--but they were
good fellows, though they seemed to belong to another stage of moral
evolution: the anguish and the scruples that had consumed a part of
Christophe's life were incomprehensible to them. No doubt that was all
the better for them! Christophe had no desire to make them understand.
He did not ask others to confirm his ideas by thinking as he did: he was
sure of his own thoughts. He asked them to let him know their thoughts,
and to love their souls. He asked always to know and to love more, to
see and to learn how to see. He had reached the point not only of
admitting in others tendencies of mind that he had once combated, but
also of rejoicing in them, for they seemed to him to contribute to
the fecundity of the universe. He loved Georges the more because he did not
take life tragically, as he did. Humanity would be too poor and too gray
in color if it were to be uniformly clad in the moral seriousness, and
the heroic restraint with which Christophe was armed. Humanity needed
joy, carelessness, irreverent audacity in face of its idols, all its
idols, even the most holy. Long live "the Gallic salt which revives the
world"! Skepticism and faith are no less necessary. Skepticism, riddling
the faith of yesterday, prepares the way for the faith of to-morrow....
How clear everything becomes to the man who stands away from life, and,
as in a fine picture, sees the contrasting colors merge into a magical
harmony, where, when they were closely seen, they clashed.

Christophe's eyes had been opened to the infinite variety of the
material, as of the moral, world. It had been one of his greatest
conquests since his first visit to Italy. In Paris he especially sought
the company of painters and sculptors; it seemed to him that the best of
the French genius was in them. The triumphant audacity with which they
pursued and captured movement, vibrant color, and tore away the veils
that cover life, made his heart leap with delight. The inexhaustible
riches that he who has eyes to see can find in a drop of light, a second
of life! Against such sovereign delights of the mind what matters the
vain tumult of dispute and war?... But dispute and war also are a part
of the marvelous spectacle. We must embrace everything, and, valiantly,
joyously, fling into the crucible of our burning hearts both the forces
of denial and the forces of affirmation, enemies and friends, the whole
metal of life. The end of it all is the statue which takes shape in us,
the divine fruit of our minds; and all is good that helps to make it
more beautiful even at the cost of the sacrifice of ourselves. What does
the creator matter? Only that which is created is real.... You cannot
hurt us, ye enemies who seek to reach us with your hostility. We are
beyond the reach of your attacks.... You are rending the empty cloak. I
have been gone this many a day.

His music had found a more serene form. No longer did it show the storms
of spring, which gathered, burst, and disappeared in the old days, but,
instead, the white clouds of summer, mountains of snow and gold, great
birds of light, slowly soaring, and filling the sky.... Creation.
Ripening crops in the calm August sunlight....

At first a vague, mighty torpor, the obscure joy of the full grape, the
swollen ear of corn, the pregnant woman brooding over her ripe fruit. A
buzzing like the sound of an organ; the hive all alive with the hum of
the bees.... Such somber, golden music, like an autumn honeycomb, slowly
gives forth the rhythm which shall mark its path: the round of the
planets is made plain: it begins to spin....

Then the will appears. It leaps onto the back of the whinnying dream as
it passes, and grips it with its knees. The mind recognizes the laws of
the rhythm which guides it: it tames the disordered forces and fixes the
path they shall take, the goal towards which they shall move. The
symphony of reason and instinct is organized. The darkness grows bright.
On the long ribbon of the winding road, at intervals, there are
brilliant fires, which in their turn shall be in the work of creation
the nucleus of little planetary worlds linked up in the girdle of their
solar system....

The main lines of the picture are henceforth fixed. Now it looms through
the uncertain light of dawn. Everything is becoming definite: the
harmony of the colors, the outline of the figures. To bring the work to
its close all the resources of his being are brought into requisition.
The scent-box of memory is opened and exhales its perfumes. The mind
unchains the senses: it lets them wax delirious and is silent: but,
crouching there, it watches them and chooses its prey....

All is ready: the team of workmen carries out, with the materials
snatched from the senses, the work planned by the mind. A great
architect must have good journeymen who know their trade and will not
spare themselves.--The cathedral is finished.

"And God looked down on his work. And He saw that _it was not yet
good._"

The Master's eyes take in the whole of His creation, and His hand
perfects its harmony....

       *       *       *       *       *

The dream is ended. _Te Deum_....

The white clouds of summer, like great birds of light, slowly soar and
hover; and the heavens are filled with their widespread wings.

And yet his life was very far from being one with his art. A man of his
kind cannot do without love, not merely that equable love which the
spirit of an artist sheds on all things in the world, but a love that
knows _preference_: he must always be giving himself to the
creatures of his choice. They are the roots of the tree. Through them
his heart's blood is renewed.

Christophe's heart's blood was nothing like dried up. He was steeped in
a love which was the best part of his joy, a twofold love, for Grazia's
daughter and Olivier's son. He united them in thought, and was to unite
them in reality.

       *       *       *       *       *

Georges and Aurora had met at Colette's: Aurora lived in her cousin's
house. She spent part of the year in Rome and the rest in Paris. She
was eighteen: Georges five years older. She was tall, erect, elegant,
with a small head, and an open countenance, fair hair, a dark
complexion, a slight down on her lips, bright eyes with a laughing
expression behind which lay busy thoughts, a rather plump chin, brown
hands, beautiful round strong arms, and a fine bust; and she always
looked gay, proud, and worldly. She was not at all intellectual, hardly
at all sentimental, and she had inherited her mother's careless
indolence. She would sleep eleven hours on end. The rest of the time she
spent in lounging and laughing, only half awake. Christophe called her
_Dornröschen_--the Sleeping Beauty. She reminded him of his old
love, Sabine. She used to sing as she went to bed, and when she got up,
and laugh for no reason at all, with merry childish laughter, and then
gulp it down with a sort of hiccough. It were impossible to tell how she
spent the time. All Colette's efforts to equip her with the brilliant
artificiality which is so easily imposed on the mind of a young girl,
like a kind of lacquered varnish, had been wasted: the varnish would not
hold. She learned nothing: she would take months to read a book, and
would like it immensely, though in a week she would forget both its
title and its subject: without the least embarrassment she would make
mistakes in spelling, and when she spoke of learned matters she would
fall into the most comical blunders. She was refreshing in her youth,
her gaiety, her lack of intellectuality, even in her faults, her
thoughtlessness which sometimes amounted to indifference, and her naïve
egoism. She was always so spontaneous. Young as she was, and simple and
indolent, she could when she pleased play the coquette, though in all
innocence: then she would spread her net for young men and go sketching,
or play the nocturnes of Chopin, or carry books of poetry which she had
not read, and indulge in conversations and hats that were about equally
idealistic.

Christophe would watch her and laugh gently to himself. He had a
fatherly tenderness, indulgent and teasing, for Aurora. And he had also
a secret feeling of worship for the woman he had loved who had come
again with new youth for another love than his. No one knew the depth of
his affection. Only Aurora ever suspected it. From her childhood she had
almost always been used to having Christophe near her, and she used to
regard him as one of her family. In her old sorrow at being less loved
than her brother she had instinctively drawn near to Christophe. She
divined that he had a similar sorrow; he saw her grief: and though they
never exchanged confidences, they shared each other's feelings. Later,
when she discovered the feeling that united her mother and Christophe,
it seemed to her that she was in the secret, though they had never told
her. She knew the meaning of the message with which Grazia had charged
her as she lay dying, and of the ring which was now on Christophe's
hand. So there existed hidden ties between her and Christophe, ties
which she did not need to understand, to feel them in their complexity.
She was sincerely attached to her old friend, although she could never
have made the effort necessary to play or to read his work. Though she
was a fairly good musician, she had never even had the curiosity to cut
the pages of a score he had dedicated to her. She loved to come and have
an intim