Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Drums of War
Author: Stacpoole, H. De Vere (Henry De Vere)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Drums of War" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



available by the Google Books Library Project (https://books.google.com)



Note: Images of the original pages are available through
      the Google Books Library Project. See
      https://books.google.com/books?id=zJgnAAAAMAAJ&hl=en



THE DRUMS OF WAR

by

H. DE VERE STACPOOLE

Author of "The Blue Lagoon," "Garryowen,"
"The Pools of Silence," etc.



[Illustration: Logo]

New York
Duffield & Company
1910

Copyright, 1910, by
Duffield & Company

The Premier Press
New York



CONTENTS


PART I

CHAPTER                                          PAGE
      I. THE ROAD TO FRANKFORT                      1

     II. VON LICHTENBERG                            6

    III. "I HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE"                 14

     IV. ELOISE                                    18

      V. I SEE MYSELF, NOT KNOWING                 24

     VI. LITTLE CARL                               31

    VII. THE MAN IN ARMOUR                         37

   VIII. THE HUNTING-SONG                          41

     IX. THE FAIRY TALE                            46

      X. THE DEATH OF VOGEL                        57

     XI. THE DUEL IN THE WOODS                     60

    XII. WE RETURN HOME                            69

   XIII. I FALL INTO DISGRACE                      73

    XIV. THE RUINED ONES                           82

     XV. THE PAVILION OF SALUCE                    89

    XVI. THE VICOMTE                               96


PART II

   XVII. A DÉJEÛNER AT THE CAFÉ DE PARIS          103

  XVIII. MY FIRST NIGHT IN PARIS                  113

    XIX. MY FIRST NIGHT IN PARIS (_Continued_)    121

     XX. WHEN IT IS MAY      133

    XXI. "O YOUTH, WHAT A STAR THOU ART!"         138

   XXII. A POLITICAL RECEPTION                    144

  XXIII. FÊTE CHAMPÊTRE                           154

   XXIV. LA PEROUSE                               159

    XXV. FRANZIUS MEETS ELOISE                    165

   XXVI. THE TURRET ROOM                          173

  XXVII. REMORSE                                  179

 XXVIII. THE OLD COAT                             185

   XXIX. IN THE SUNK GARDEN                       192

    XXX. THE MARRIAGE OF ELOISE                   197


PART III

   XXXI. THE BALL                                 203

  XXXII. TRYING TO ESCAPE FROM FATE               212

 XXXIII. THE OVERTURE TO "UNDINE"                 222

  XXXIV. PREPARING FOR THE DUEL                   231

   XXXV. A LESSON WITH THE FOILS                  238

  XXXVI. THE DUEL                                 253

 XXXVII. MARGARET                                 261

XXXVIII. THE DRUMS OF WAR                         273

  XXXIX. NIGHT                                    287

     XL. THE SPIRIT OF EARTH                      293

    XLI. ENVOI                                    297



The Drums of War



CHAPTER I

THE ROAD TO FRANKFORT


We had been travelling since morning, three of us--my father, General
Count Mahon, myself, and Joubert--to say nothing of Marengo the
boarhound which followed our carriage. The great old family
travelling-carriage, packed with luggage, wine, and cigars, and drawn by
two stout horses, had been making the dust of Germany fly over the
hedgeless German fields since dawn. It was noon now, and hot. I remember
still the exact feel and smell of the blazing blue cushions as I pressed
my childish cheek against them and felt how hot they were, and the
unfailing pleasure and wonder with which the apple and plum trees
bordering the road filled my soul. Apple trees and plum trees bordering
the road, laden with fruit and unprotected, the snub-nosed German
children we passed on the wayside, seemed to my mind happier than the
inhabitants of Golconda, living in a country like that.

It was the first of September, 1860. I was only nine then, but I did not
complain of the heat or the dust, or the cramp that inhabited, like a
crab, the old-time travelling-carriage, seizing you now in the back, now
in the leg, now in the spirit. For one thing, I was to be a soldier,
like my father, and wear white moustaches and smoke cigars, and carry a
sword; for another thing, we had been travelling a month, and I was
inured to the business, and, for another thing, I was a Mahon.

The man beside me, buttoned in a blue frock-coat, adorned with the
ribbon of the Legion of Honour, stout, rubicund of face, opulent, and
magnificent-looking, was, with the exception of my small self, the last
representative of the Mahons of Tullaghmore.

Napoleon had drawn the Mahons from Ireland to France just as a magnet
attracts steel-filings. My grandfather had seen the burning of Moscow,
and had ridden in the charge of Millhaud's cuirassiers on that fatal
Sunday men call Waterloo Day; and my father, the man beside me in the
blue frock-coat, had adorned the French army with the help of his
splendid personality, his sword, and a few francs a day, till his
marriage with Marie Marquise de Saluce, a woman of marvellous beauty,
great wealth, and the inheritor of the Château de Saluce, which is near
Etiolles, but a few miles from Paris.

It was a love-match pure and simple--one of those fairyland marriages
arranged by love--and she died when I was born.

My father would have shot himself only for Joubert--Joubert, corporal in
the 121st of the Line, a personage with an angry, withered, sunburnt
face, eyes and moustache like the eyes and moustache of a wrathful cat,
the heart of a child, and the figure and perfume of a ramrod.

The sense of smell plays a large part in the lives of children, and
conjures up visions with a tremendous potency, lost as the child
deteriorates into a man.

Joubert smelt of gunpowder. Probably it was only the Caporal which he
smoked, but to my mind it was the true smell of the Grand Army.

Sitting on Joubert's knee and listening to tales of battle, and sniffing
him at the same time, I could see the Mamelukes charging, backgrounded
by the Pyramids; I could hear the thunder of Marengo, the roar of the
cannons, and the drums of war leading the Grand Army over the highways
of Europe.

Echoes from the time before I was born.

What a splendid nurse for a child an old soldier makes if he is of the
right sort! Joubert was my nurse and my picture-book.

A drummer of fifteen, he had beaten the charge for the "Growlers" at
Waterloo, when the 121st of the Line, shoal upon shoal of bayonets, had
stormed La Haye Sainte. He had received a bullet in the shoulder during
that same charge; he had killed an Englishman; but all that seemed
little compared with the fact that--HE HAD SEEN NAPOLEON!

Joubert was driving us.

We were bound for the Schloss Lichtenberg, not far from Homburg, on a
visit to Baron Carl Lichtenberg, a relation of my mother. Of course, we
could have travelled by more rapid means of transport, but it suited the
humour of my father to travel just as he did in his own carriage, driven
by his own man, with all his luggage about him, after the fashion of a
nobleman of the year 1810.

We had stopped at Carlsruhe, we had stopped at Mayence, we had stopped
here and there. How that journey lies like a living and lovely picture
in my mind! Time has blown away the dust. I do not feel the fatigue now.
The vast blue sky of a continental summer, the poplar trees, the fields,
the storks' nests, the old-time inns, Carlsruhe and its military bands,
Mayence and its drums and marching soldiers, the vivid blue of the
Rhine, and the courtyards and pleasaunces of the lordly houses we
stopped at, lie before me, a picture made poetical by distance, a
picture which stands as the beginning of my life and the beginning of
this story of war and love.

Joubert was driving us.

"Joubert," cried my father, "we are near Frankfort now. Remember, the
Hôtel des Hollandaise."

Joubert, who had been speechless for miles, flung up his elbows just as
a duck flings up her wings, he gave the horses a cut with the whip, and
then he burst out:

"Frankfort. Ah, yes! Frankfort. Do you think I can't smell it? I can
smell a German town a league away, just as I can see a German woman a
league away, by the size of her feet. Ah, mon Dieu! Come up, Cæsare;
come up, Polastron. My God! Frankfort!"

At a hotel, before strangers, in any public place, it was always "Oui,
mon Général," "Oui, monsieur"; but alone, with no one to listen, Joubert
talked to the General just as the General talked to Joubert. An
extraordinary and solid friendship cemented the relationship of master
and man ever since that terrible day in the library of the Château de
Saluce, when Joubert had torn the pistol from the hand of his master,
flung it through the glass of the great window, and, turning from a paid
servant into a man tremendous and heroic, had wrestled with him as the
angel wrestled with Jacob.

We passed through the suburbs of the town, and then through the Ghetto.
You never can imagine how much colour is in dirt till you see the Jews'
quarter of Frankfort--how much poetry, and also, how much perfume!

Joubert, who could not speak a word of the Hogs' language--as he was
pleased to style the language of Germany--drove on, piercing the narrow
streets to the heart of the town, and in the Kaisserstrasse he drew up.
The General inquired the way of a policeman, and in five minutes or less
we were before the doors of the Hôtel des Hollandaise.



CHAPTER II

VON LICHTENBERG


The Hôtel des Hollandaise was situated, I believe, in the
Wilhelmstrasse, an old-fashioned inn with a courtyard. It has long
vanished, giving place to a more modern building.

Nowadays, when the Continent is inundated with travellers, when you are
received at a great hotel with about as much consideration as a pauper
is received at a workhouse, it is hard to imagine the old conditions of
travel.

Weigand, the proprietor of the Hôtel des Hollandaise, received us in
person, backed by half a dozen waiters, all happy and smiling. They had
the art of seeming to have known us for years; the luggage was removed
as tenderly as though it were packed with Sèvres, and, led by the host,
we were conducted to our rooms, a suite on the first floor.

When Marie Antoinette came to France, at the first halting-place beyond
the frontier she slept in a room whose tapestry represented the Massacre
of the Innocents.

Our sitting-room in the Hôtel des Hollandaise, a large room, had upon
its walls the Siege of Troy, not in tapestry, but wall-paper. On this
day, when the seeds of my future life were sown, it was a coincidence,
strange enough, this villainous wall-decoration, with its tale of war,
ruin, and love.

Whilst my father was writing letters, I, active and inquisitive as a
terrier, explored the suite, examined the town from the balcony of the
sitting-room, and, finding the prospect unexciting, proceeded to the
examination of the hotel.

A balcony surrounded the large central courtyard, where people were
seated at tables, some smoking, some drinking beer from tall mugs with
lids to them. Waiters passed to and fro; it was delightful to watch,
delightful to speculate and weave romances about the unromantical
drinkers--Jews, travellers, and traders; foreign to my eyes as the
denizens of a bazaar in Samarcand.

Now casting my eyes up, and led by the spirit that makes children see
what is not intended for them, I saw, at a door in the gallery opposite
to me, Joubert, who had just been superintending the stabling of the
horses. He was coming on to the gallery from the staircase. A fat, ugly,
German maidservant was passing him, and he--just as another person would
say "Good-day!"--slipped his arm round her waist and kissed her, made a
grimace, and passed on round the gallery towards me.

"Why do you kiss them if you say their feet are so large, Joubert?" I
asked, recalling his strictures on German females.

"Ma foi!" replied Joubert--"one does not kiss their feet."

He leaned with me over the balcony watching the scene below.

The hatred of Germans which filled the breast of Joubert was a hatred
based on the firm foundation of Blücher. Joubert did not hate the
English. This "cur of a Blücher," who turned up on Waterloo Day to reap
the harvest of other men's work, gave him all the food for hatred he
required.

"Joubert," said I, "do you see that man with the big stomach and
watchchain sitting there--the one with a cigar?"

"Mais, oui!" replied Joubert. "I know him well."

"What is he, Joubert?"

"He? His name is Bambabouff; he lives just beyond there, in a street to
the right as you go out, and he sells sausages. And see you, beside
him--yes, he, that German rat--with the ring on his first finger. His
name is Squintz, he sells Bambabouff the dogs and cats of which he makes
his sausages. Ah, yes; if German sausages could bark and mew, you could
not hear yourself speak in Frankfort. And he--look you over
there!--sitting at the table behind Bambabouff, with the mug of beer to
his lips, he is Monsieur Saurkraut."

"And what does he do, Joubert?"

Before Joubert could answer, a man entered the hall, a dark man, just
off the road, to judge by his travelling costume, and with a face the
picture of which is stamped on my mind, an impression never to be
removed.

"Ah, ha!" said Joubert. "Here comes the Marquis de Carabas. Hats
off--hats off, gentlemen, to the Marquis de Carabas!"

Now, Bambabouff did look exactly like a person who might have made a
fortune out of sausages, for Joubert had the art of hitting a person
off, caricaturing him in a few words. Squintz's personality was
humorously in keeping with his supposed business in life. And the
new-comer--well, "the Marquis de Carabas" was his portrait in four
words. Tall, stately, a nobleman a league off; handsome enough, with a
dark, saturnine face, and a piercing eye that seemed at times to
contemplate things far beyond the world we live in. The face of a
mystic.

Weigand, washing his hands with invisible soap, accompanied this
gentleman, half walking beside him, half leading the way. They had
reached the centre of the hall when the stranger looked up and saw my
small face and Joubert's cat-like physiognomy regarding him over the
balustrade of the gallery.

He started, stopped dead, and stared at me. Had he seen a ghost he could
not have come to a sharper pause, or have expressed more astonishment
without speech.

Then, with a word to the landlord, who also looked up, he passed on, and
we lost sight of him under the gallery.

"Ma foi!" said Joubert. "The Marquis de Carabas seems to know us, then."

"Joubert," said I, "that man knows me, and I'm-m-m----" "Afraid" was the
word, but I did not say it, for I was a Mahon, with the family
traditions to keep up.

"Know you?" cried Joubert, becoming serious. "Why, where did you ever
see him before?"

"Nowhere."

Before Joubert could speak again Weigand appeared on the gallery.

"His Excellency the Baron Carl von Lichtenberg, to see his Excellency
Count Mahon!" cried Weigand. "The Baron, hearing of his Excellency's
arrival, has driven over from the Schloss Lichtenberg to present his
respects in person. The Baron waits in the salon his Excellency's
convenience."

Joubert took the card which Weigand presented, went to our sitting-room
door, knocked, and entered.

I heard my father's voice. "Aha, the Baron! He must have got my letter
from Mayence. Show him up."

Then I knew that the Marquis de Carabas was our relation Baron Carl von
Lichtenberg, the man at whose house we were to stop. A momentary and
inexplicable terror filled my soul, and was banished, giving place to a
deep curiosity.

Then I heard steps on the gallery, and the Baron, led by the innkeeper,
made his appearance, and, without looking in my direction, entered the
sitting-room where my father was.

I heard their greeting, then the door was shut.

Waiters came up with wine. I leaned on the railing, wondering what my
father and the stranger were conversing about, and watching the people
in the courtyard below. Bambabouff and his supposed partner had entered
into an argument that seemed to threaten blows, and I had almost
forgotten the Baron and my fear of him, watching the proceedings below,
when the sitting-room door opened and my father cried: "Patrick!"

He beckoned me into the room. A haze of cigar-smoke hung in the air, and
by the table, on which stood glasses and decanters, sat Baron Carl von
Lichtenberg, leaning sideways in his chair, his legs crossed, his arms
folded, his dark countenance somewhat drooped, as though he were in
meditation.

"This is Patrick," said my father. "Patrick, this is our relation and
friend the Baron Carl von Lichtenberg."

I had been taught to salute my elders and superiors in the military
style; my dress was the uniform of the French school-boy. I brought my
feet together, and, stiff as a ramrod, made the salute. The Baron, with
a half-laugh, returned it, sitting straight up in his chair to do so.

Having returned my salute, and spoken a few words, the Baron resumed his
conversation with my father; and I, with the apparent heedlessness of
childhood, played with Marengo, our boarhound, on the hearthrug before
the big fireplace.

I say the apparent heedlessness of childhood. There are few things so
deep as the subterfuge of a child. Whilst playing with the dog and
pulling his ears, I was listening intently; not a word of the
conversation was missed by me. They were talking mostly about the
Emperor of the French, a close friend of my father's. He was just then
at Biarritz, with the Empress; and the conversation, which included the
names of De Morny and half a dozen others, would have been interesting,
no doubt, to a diplomat. As I listened, I could tell that the Baron was
sustaining the conversation, despite the fact that his thoughts were
fixed elsewhere. I could tell that his thoughts were fixed on me; that
he was watching me intently, yet furtively, and I knew in some
mysterious manner that this man feared me.

Feared me, a child of nine!

I read it partly in his expression, partly in his furtive manner. He had
seemed to dismiss me from his mind after our introduction; yet no man
ever watched another with more furtive and brooding attention than the
Baron Carl von Lichtenberg as he sat watching me.

"Well," said the Baron, rising to go, "to-morrow, we will expect you in
the afternoon. Till then, farewell."

He saluted me as he left the room in the same forced, half-jocular
manner with which he had returned my salute when I entered.

Then he was gone, and I was playing again with Marengo on the hearthrug,
and my father, cigar in mouth, had returned to the letters he had been
engaged on when the Baron was announced.

"Joubert," said I, as he tucked me up in my bed that night, "I wish we
were home again. Joubert, I don't like the Marquis de Carabas."

Joubert grunted. His opinion of the Marquis was the same as mine,
evidently, but be was too much of a nursery despot to admit the fact.
"Attention!" cried he, holding the candle-stick in one hand, and the
finger and thumb of the other ready to extinguish the light.
"Attention!" cried Joubert, as though he were addressing a company of
the "Growlers." "One!" I nestled down in bed. "Two!" I shut my eyes.
"Three!" he snuffed out the candle.

That was the formula every night ere I marched off for dreamland with my
knapsack on my back, a soldier to the last buttons on my gaiters.



CHAPTER III

"I HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE."


I was awakened by the sound of a band, and the tramp, tramp, tramp of a
regiment of soldiers--solid, rhythmical and earthshaking as the
footsteps of the Statue of the Commander.

A regiment of infantry was passing in the street below.

At Carlsruhe, at Mayence, I had heard the same sounds, and even my
childish mind could recognise the perfect drill, the perfect discipline,
the solidarity of these legions of the German army.

The sun was shining in through the window which Joubert had just flung
open; the band was playing, the soldiers marching, life was gay.

"Attention!" cried Joubert, turning from the window. "One!" up I sat.
"Two!" out went a leg. "Three!" I was standing on the floor saluting.

I declare, if anyone had put his ear to the door of my bedroom when I
was dressing, or rather, being dressed, in the morning, they might have
sworn that a company of soldiers were drilling.

Mixed with the slashing of water and the gasps of a child being bathed
came Joubert's military commands; the putting on of my small trousers
was accompanied by shrill directions taken from the drill-book, and the
full-dress inspection would have satisfied the fastidious soul of
Maréchal Niel.

After breakfast the carriage was brought to the door, the baggage
stowed, and, Joubert, taking the directions from my father, we started
for the Schloss Lichtenberg as the clocks of Frankfort were striking
eleven.

No warmer or more beautiful autumn morning ever cast its light on
Germany. By permission of the German Foreign Office, we had a complete
set of road-maps, with our route laid down in red ink, each numbered,
and each to be returned to the German Embassy in Paris on the conclusion
of our tour.

We did not hurry--time was our own; we stopped sometimes at posthouses,
with porches vine-overgrown, where I had plums, Joubert had beer, and my
father chatted to the country people, who crowded round our carriage,
and the stout innkeepers who served us.

The Taunus Mountains, blue in the warm haze of distance, beautiful with
the magic of their pine forests, lay before us. At two o'clock we passed
up the steep, cobble-paved main street of Homburg--a smaller Homburg
then--and at three we had left the tiny village of Emsdorff and its
schloss behind us.

We were in a different country here, the mountains were very close, and
the road threaded the edges of the great forest. I knew the Forest of
Sênart, which lies quite close to the Château de Saluce, but the Forest
of Sênart was tame as a flower-garden compared with this. The air was
filled with the perfume and the singing and sighing of the great pine
trees, the carriage went almost without sound over the carpet of
pine-needles, and once, in the deepest part, where all was green gloom
and dancing points of light, my father called a halt and we sat for a
moment to listen.

You could hear the leagues of silence, and then, like the rustling of a
lady's skirt, came the wind sighing across the tree-tops and loudening
to the patter of falling fir-cones, and dying away again and leaving the
silence to herself. The bark of a fox, the far-off cry of a jay,
instantly peopled the place for my childish mind with the people of
Grimm and Hoffmann, Father Barbel, the beasts that talked, and the
robbers of the forest, more mysterious and fascinating than gnomes.

"Listen!" said my father. Mournful, faint, and far away came the notes
of a horn.

"They are hunting in the forest," said my father; and, at the words, I
could see in the gloom of the tree-caverns the phantom of the flying
game pursued by the phantom of the ghostly huntsman, bugle to lips and
cheeks puffed out, a picture in the fantastic tapestry that children
weave from the colours and the sounds of life.

Then we drove on.

It was long past four, and I was drowsy with the fresh air, half drugged
with the odour of the pine trees, when we reached the gates of the park
surrounding the schloss.

They were opened for us by a jäger, an old man in a green uniform, who
saluted as we passed. Joubert whipping up the horses, we passed along
the great avenue of elm trees. The park, under the late afternoon sun,
lay swathed in light, beautiful and so spacious that the far-off deer
browsing in the sunshine seemed the denizens of their natural home.

I was not drowsy now, I was sitting erect by my father, my heart was
filled with the wildest exaltation--mystery and enchantment surrounded
me. I could have cried aloud with the wonder of it all; for I had been
here before.



CHAPTER IV

ELOISE


"You have been here before?" Who does not know that mysterious greeting
with which, when we turn the corner of some road, the prospect meets us?

Only a few years ago Charcot assured me that this strange sensation of
the mind is a result of inequality in the rhythm of thought, a
mechanical accident affecting one side of the brain. I accepted his
explanation with a smile.

Seated now by my father as we dashed along the broad avenue, my heart
was on fire. I knew that at the turning just before us, the turning
where the avenue bent upon itself, the house would burst upon us in full
view. Unable to contain myself, scarce knowing what I did, I jumped on
the front seat, and, standing, holding on to Joubert's coat, I waited.

The carriage turned the corner of the drive, the house broke into view,
and my dream vanished.

It was like being recalled to consciousness from some happy vision by a
blow in the face.

I could not in the least tell what sort of house it was that I expected
to see, but I could tell that the house before me was not--it.

Vast and grey and formal, the Schloss Lichtenberg stood back-grounded by
waving pine-trees; above it, coiling to the wind, the flag of Prussia,
proclaiming that the king was a guest, floated in the evening sunshine.
Before the huge porch, trampling the gravel, the horses of a hunting
party were reined in; the hunters were dismounting. They had been
hawking; and on the gloved wrists of the green-coated jägers the hooded
falcons shook their little bells.

"The King is here!" said my father, when he saw the flag.

The horses of the hunters were being led away, and most of the party had
disappeared into the house when we drew up before the door.

Only two people stood to greet us on the steps, Baron Carl von
Lichtenberg and a man--a great man, with a dominating face, and hooded
eyes that never wavered, never lowered, eyes direct, far-seeing, and
fearless as the eyes of an eagle.

I was in a terrible fright. Those words, "The King is here," had thrown
me in consternation. Though my father was a close friend of Napoleon, I
had never been brought into contact, as yet, with that enigmatical
person. I knew nothing of courts; and the idea that I was to sleep under
the same roof as the King of Prussia, and be spoken to by him, perhaps,
filled my imaginative mind with such a panic that I quite forgot my
ghostly dread of Baron von Lichtenberg.

I thought the big man with the strange eyes was the King. He was not the
King. He was Bismarck.

Bismarck! Good heavens! How little we know of a man till we have seen
him in his everyday mood! Bismarck slapped my father on the back--he had
all the good-humour and boisterous manner of a great schoolboy--as he
accompanied us up the steps. He had met my father several times before,
and liked him, as everyone liked him. And in the vast hall of the
schloss, hung with trophies of the battle and the chase, I stood by,
forgotten, whilst my father, in the midst of a group of gentlemen, stood
talking to the boisterous great man, whose hard voice and tremendous
personality dominated the scene.

I have said that Bismarck's voice was hard. It was, but it was not a
mean or commonplace voice; it was as full of force as the man, and you
never forgot it, once you heard it.

A large party of guests were at the schloss; and I, standing alone, felt
very much alone indeed--shy, and filled with fear of the King. I was
standing like this, when from the door of a great room opening upon the
hall came a little figure skipping.

Gay as a beam of sunshine, she came into the vast and gloomy hall. She
wore a blue scarf, white dress, frilled pantalettes, and shoes with
crossed straps over her tiny insteps.

She glanced at me as she passed, making straight for Bismarck, whose
coat she plucked at.

"Another time--another time!" growled he, letting drop a hand for the
sunbeam to play with whilst he continued his conversation with the
others. But I noticed that, despite his hardness and seeming
indifference, the big hand, with the seal-ring on the little finger,
caressed the child's hand; but she wanted more than this. Swinging
around, still clasping his hand, but pouting, and with a finger to her
lips, her eyes rested on me.

I had forgotten the King now; a flood of bashfulness overwhelmed me,
and, as I stood there holding my képi in one hand, I, mesmerised by the
figure in pantalettes before me, made a stiff little bow. Dropping
Bismarck's hand, she made a little curtsey, and came skipping to me
across the shining floor.

"And you, too, are a soldier?" said she, speaking in French. "Bon jour,
M. l'Officier!"

"Bon jour, mademoiselle!"

"My name is Eloise," said the apparition of light. "Do you like my
dress?"

"Oui, mademoiselle!"

She pursed her lips. "Oui, mademoiselle? Oh, how dull you are! Now, if I
wert thou, and thou wert I, know you what I would have said?"

"Non, mademoiselle."

"Non, mademoiselle! Oh, how droll you are. I would have said:
'Mademoiselle, your toilet is ravishing!' Now say it."

"Mademoiselle, your toilet is ravishing."

She laughed with pleasure at having made me repeat the words. Despite
her conversation, she had no touch of the old-fashioned, or the pert, or
the objectionable about her. Brimming over with life, pure from its
source, fresh as a daisy, sparkling as a dewdrop, sweetness was written
upon her brow, across that ineffable mark of purity with which God
stamps His future angels.

"And your name?" said she.

"Patrick," I replied.

"Pawthrick," said she, trying to put her small mouth round the word. "I
cannot say it. I will call you Toto. Come with me," leading me by the
sleeve, "and I will introduce you to my mother. She is here"--drawing
towards the door of the room from whence she had come--"in here. Do you
know why I call you Toto?"

"Non, mademoiselle."

"He was my rabbit, and he died," said Eloise, as we entered a great
salon where several ladies were seated conversing.

Toward one of these ladies, more beautiful in my eyes than the dawn,
Eloise led me.

"Maman," said she, "this is Toto."

The Countess Feliciani, for that was the name of the mother of Eloise,
smiled upon us. I dare say we made a quaint and pretty enough pair. She
was perhaps, thirty--the Countess Feliciana, a woman of Genoa, blue-eyed
and golden-haired, and beautiful--Ah! when a blonde is beautiful, her
beauty transcends the beauty of all brunettes.

I bowed, she spoke to me, I stammered. She put my awkwardness down to
bashfulness, no doubt, but it was not bashfulness. I was in love with
the Countess Feliciani, stricken to the heart at first sight.

The love of a child of nine for a beautiful woman of thirty! How absurd
it seems, but how real, and what a mystery! I swear that the love I had
for that woman, love that haunted me for a long, long time, was equal in
strength to the love of a full-grown man, with this difference: that it
was immaterial, and, as far as my conscience tells me, utterly divorced
from earthly passion.

"Now go and play," said the Countess. And Eloise led me away, I knew not
whither.



CHAPTER V

I SEE MYSELF, NOT KNOWING


But to the mind of a child the moment is everything. Had I been a man,
my inamorata would have driven me to solitude and cigars. Being what I
was, supper pushed her image to one side for the moment. Such a supper!
Served specially for the pair of us in a little room, once, I suppose,
some lady's boudoir, for the walls were hung with blue silk, and the
ceiling was painted with flowers and cupids.

"Where is Carl?" asked Eloise of the German woman who served us.

"Carl has been naughty," replied she. "Carl must remain in his room till
the Baron forgives him."

This woman, by name Gretel, was tall, angular, and hard of face. I did
not care for her; and I noticed that she watched me from the corners of
her eyes, somewhat in the same manner that the Baron had watched me as I
played on the hearthrug with Marengo in the hotel at Frankfort.

"Who is Carl?" said I.

"Carl von Lichtenberg?" replied Eloise. "Why, he is the Baron's son. He
is eight, and he tore my frock this morning right up here." She shifted
in her chair, and plucked up the hem of her tiny skirt to show me the
place. "But it was not for that Carl has been put in prison, for I never
told, did I, Gretel?"

Gretel grunted.

"Come," said she, "if you have finished supper you can have half an
hour's play before bed."

She took the lamp in her hand, and led us from the room down a corridor;
then, opening one side of a tall, double door, she led us into an
immense picture-gallery.

Portraits of dead-and-gone Lichtenbergs stared at us from the walls. Men
in armour, knights dressed for the chase, ladies whose beauty or
ugliness wore the veil of the centuries.

"Why, this is the picture-gallery!" cried Eloise.

"It is the shortest way to the playroom," grimly replied Gretel, as she
stalked before us with the light.

We followed her, walking hand-in-hand, as the babes in the wood walked
in that grim story, to which the pity of the robins is the sequel.

Suddenly Gretel halted. She stood lamp in hand before a picture.

"Ah, Toto!" cried Eloise.

I had seized her arm, I suppose roughly in my agitation, for the picture
before which Gretel had halted filled me with a sensation I can scarcely
describe. Terror!--yes, it was terror, but something else as well. The
feeling I had experienced in the carriage, the feeling--"I have been
here before"--held my heart.

It was the picture of a girl in the garb of many, oh, many years ago;
yet I knew her; and out of the past, far out of the past, came that
mysterious terror that filled my soul.

But for a moment this lasted, and then faded away, and things became
commonplace once more; and Gretel was Gretel, the picture a picture, and
in my hand lay the warm and charming hand of Eloise, which I had taken
again.

"That is the picture of Margaret von Lichtenberg," said Gretel, looking
at me as she spoke.

"How like she is to little Carl!" murmured Eloise. "Gretel, how like she
is to little Carl!"

"And this," said Gretel, holding the lamp to a small canvas under the
large one, "is a picture of an ancestor of yours, little boy, Philippe
de Saluce. He loved her, but it was many years ago. Eloise, come closer;
see, who is this little picture like?"

"Why, it is Toto!" cried Eloise, clapping her hands. "Toto, look!"

I looked. It was the picture of a boy, a picture of the Marquis Philippe
de Saluce, taken when he was quite young.

I looked, but the thing made little impression upon me. Few people can
recognise their likeness in another.

"Come," said Gretel, and she led us on to the playroom.

Now, here let me give you the dark and gloomy fact that Philippe de
Saluce had cruelly killed Margaret von Lichtenberg in a fit of madness
and rage. He had drowned her in the lake which lies in the woods of
Schloss Lichtenberg, one dark and sad day of December, in the year of
our Lord 1611. He had slain himself, too, "body and soul," said the old
chronicles. 'Alas, what man can slay his soul or save it from the
punishment of its crimes!

The playroom was full of toys, evidently Carl's, and we played till
bedtime, Eloise and I. Then I was marched off to the door of my bedroom,
where Joubert was waiting for me.

A pretty chambermaid scuttled away at my approach. I will say for
Joubert that, judging from my childish recollections, this cat-whiskered
old fire-eater had an attraction for ladies of his own class quite
incommensurate with his age and personal charms.

My bedroom was a little room opening off my father's.

When Joubert had tucked me up I fell asleep, and must have slept several
hours, when I was awakened by the sound of voices.

Joubert was assisting my father to undress. They were talking.

No man, I think, ever saw Count Mahon drunk. I have seen him myself
consume two bottles of port without turning a hair. They built men
differently in those days. But he was the soul of good-fellowship; and
how much he and Bismarck had consumed together that night the butler of
Schloss Lichtenberg alone knew.

"Joubert," said my father, "this relation of mine, Baron Lichtenberg, of
the Schloss Lichtenberg, in the province of What-do-you-call-it--put my
coat on that chair--strikes me as being a German, and, more than
that--mark you, Joubert, madness lies in the eyes of a man. I say
nothing, but I am glad the blood of the Lichtenbergs does not run in the
veins of the Mahons." Then, just before he fell asleep, and I could hear
Joubert giving the bedclothes a tuck at his back: "Ireland for ever!"
said my father. Yet he was a Frenchman, a Commander of the Legion of
Honour, a soldier of the Emperor. IN VINO VERITAS!

Then I fell asleep, and scarcely had sleep touched me than I entered
dreamland. I was in the pine forest, standing just where the carriage
had stopped and where the sound of the distant horn had come to us from
the depths of the trees. I was lost, and someone was calling to me. It
was very dark.

In this tragic dream, the terror and mystery of which even still haunts
me, I could see nothing save the outlines of the trees dimly visible;
and I followed the voice through the increasing gloom till at last the
darkness complete and absolute ringed me round like an iron band, and I
knew that the trees had ceased to be, and before me lay water.

A gasping and bubbling sound came from the invisible water, and I knew
that it was the sound of a person drowning.

Drowning in the dark.

Then I awoke, and there were people in the room.

The room was lit by a nightlight dimly burning in a little dish. I,
still possessed by the terror of the dream, lay very quiet. From the
next room came the deep and stertorous breathing of my father. The
people in my room, as though knowing him to be under the influence of
drugs or wine, seemed quite oblivious of his presence so close to them.
Baron Lichtenberg was standing by the foot of my bed; beside him stood
the woman Gretel. They were gazing upon me and talking about me, and I
was chill with terror.

Peeping under my lids, I could see them, but in the dim light they could
not tell that I was awake as they gazed at me and talked in a
half-whisper.

"It is horrible," said the man, "but it was prophesied. Look at him. Can
you doubt?"

"Yes," said the woman; "it is he, as surely as she is Margaret."

"And you say he recognised her picture?"

"Surely," replied the woman, "by his face, which I watched narrowly."

Now, the face of the man seen in the dim light was the face of Baron
Carl von Lichtenberg with the veil removed, the veil which every man
wears whilst playing his part in the social comedy. The face that was
looking down at me was both merciless and mad. Child though I was, I
dimly felt that this man was at enmity with me, and that he not only
feared me, but hated me.

"And now," said the woman in the same half-whisper, "what is to do? Will
you bring them together?"

"To-morrow," said the Baron.

During this conversation, which had lasted some minutes, the Baron had
never once taken his eyes from my face. I could support it no longer. I
opened my eyes, tossed my arms, and, like a pair of evil spectres, my
visitors vanished from the room.

Now that I was free of their presence, my terror became tinged with
curiosity. Who was Margaret? Who was the person they referred to as
being me? _The other person?_

In those questions lay the mystery and tragedy of my life. I was to have
the answer to them terribly soon.

I listened to the turret clock striking the hours. This clock was of
very antique make. The figure of a man in armour, larger than life,
struck a ponderous bell with a mallet. You could see him in the turret,
and my father had pointed him out to me as we drove up to the house.

As I listened, I pictured him standing there alone. A figure from
another age and a far-distant time.



CHAPTER VI

LITTLE CARL


I was awakened by the note of a horn blown by some ranger in the forest.
The sun was shining in through the window, night had vanished with all
its dreams and fears, and Joubert was at the door.

Joubert, unsuccessful, perhaps, in one of his multifarious love-affairs,
was grumpy; and when I tried to explain about the nocturnal visitors he
wouldn't listen. He knew my imaginative powers, and put my story down to
them; and, as for me, attracted by the events of the moment as all
children are, I had nearly forgotten the whole matter by breakfast-time.

I was led down by Joubert and given into the charge of Gretel. Breakfast
was laid for Eloise and me in the same boudoir where we had supped the
night before, but lo, and behold! when we reached the room another child
was there as well as Eloise.

A boy of my own age. A charming little figure dressed in the uniform of
a Pomeranian grenadier.

"This is Carl!" cried Eloise, pulling the little grenadier forward by
the hand. "This is Toto, Carl. I forgot his other name. No matter. I am
hungry. Gretel, I pray you let us have breakfast."

Carl was dark; and he met me without smiling, and took my hand without
grasping it properly, and looked at me, not directly, but in a veiled
manner curious in a child so young.

Carl repelled me, and yet attracted me. When I contrast his face with
the portrait in the picture-gallery of the schloss, I can see now, with
the eye of memory, the awful likeness between him and the dead and gone
Margaret von Lichtenberg, just as I can see the likeness between myself
and Philippe de Saluce.

The "family likeness"--that mysterious fact in life before which science
is dumb--never was more manifest; but what made the thing more curious,
more deeply involved in mystery, was the fact that under the same roof,
hundreds of years after the old tragedy of long ago, the facsimiles of
the two actors should meet as children fresh to the world.

As for me this morning, I saw nothing in Carl von Lichtenberg but a
little boy of my own age, somewhat fantastically dressed. The
half-terror, the extraordinary sensation that the picture of Margaret
von Lichtenberg had called up in my mind the night before, had expended
itself and vanished, leaving me incapable of further psychic perception.
Everything was commonplace again as the bread-and-butter that Gretel was
cutting for us at the side-table.

The schloss was so vast, so solidly constructed, that no sound came to
us from the other guests.

After breakfast, when we were running down a corridor making for the
garden, and led by Eloise, a gentleman stopped us, and spoke a few words
of greeting, and passed on.

"That was the King," said Eloise. "He is leaving to-morrow--he and Graf
von Bismarck. We, too, are leaving the day after."

"You, too?" I cried, my childish heart recalling the lovely Countess
Feliciani, who had been clean forgotten for twelve hours or more.

"Yes," said Eloise. "And there's mamma. Come along. See, she is with
those ladies by the fountain."

We had broken into the garden, a wonderful and beautiful garden, with
shaven lawns and clipped yew-trees, terraces, dim vistas cypress-roofed,
and, far away down one of these alleys a sight to fascinate the heart of
any child, the figure of a great stone man running. He was dressed in
green lichen, lent him by the years; he held a spear in his hand, and he
seemed in the act of hurling it at the game he was pursuing there beyond
the cypress-trees at the edge of the singing pines.

For the garden became the forest without wall or barrier, except the
shadow cast by the trees; and you could walk from the sunlight and the
sound of the fountains into the dryad-haunted twilight and the old
quaint world of the woods.

The Countess kissed Eloise; then she bent to kiss me, and I--I turned my
face away--a crimson face--and felt like a fool.

Someone laughed--a gentleman who was standing by. The Countess laughed;
and then, to my extreme relief, someone came to my rescue.

It was little Carl. He had run into the house for his drum, and now he
was coming along the path solemnly beating it, with Eloise for a
faithful camp follower. I joined her; and away down the garden we went,
hand in hand, marching in time to the rattle of the little drum.

Eloise snatched flowers from the flower-beds as we passed them, and
pelted the drummer with them as he marched before us; and so we went, a
gallant company, through the garden, past the running man, and under the
forest trees, the echoes and the bluejays answering to the drum.

My father, the Countess Feliciani, our host, and a number of ladies and
gentlemen were in the garden. They laughed as we marched away; and when
the shadow of the trees took us they forgot us, I suppose, and the
pretty picture we must have made.

       *       *       *       *       *

Scarcely twenty minutes could have elapsed when screams from the wood
drew their startled attention, and out from the trees came Carl,
dripping with water, without his drum, running, and screaming as he ran.

After him ran Eloise and I.

"He tried to drown me in the lake in the wood!" screamed Carl, clasping
the knees of his father, who had run to meet him, and looking back at
me. "He tried to drown me; he did it before--he did it before! Save me
from him, father, father! Father! Father!"

Baron Lichtenberg's face, as he clasped the child, was turned on me. He
was white as little Carl, and I shall never forget his expression.

"Did you try to drown my child?" he said. And he spoke as though he were
speaking to a man.

Before I could reply Eloise struck in:

"Oh, Carl, how can you say such things? I saw it all. No, monsieur.
They had a little quarrel as to who should play with the drum, and Toto
pushed him, and he fell into the water. Was it not so, Carl?"

But Carl was incapable of answering. Screaming like a girl in hysterics
he clung to the Baron, who had taken him in his arms.

"Now, then," said my father, who had come up. "What is this? What is the
meaning of this, sir? Come, speak! Did you dare to----"

"Father," I said, "I pushed him, but I did not mean to hurt him--truly I
did not."

"Do not blame him," said Von Lichtenberg, turning to the house with Carl
in his arms. "It is Fate. Children do these things without knowing it.
Do not punish him."

The hypocrisy of those last four words! Lost to my father, whose simple
mind could not read the tones of a man's voice or guess what hatred can
be hidden in honey.

"All the same," said my father, as the Baron departed, "the child is
half drowned. You have disgraced yourself. Off with you to Joubert, and
place yourself under arrest."

I saluted.

"Bread and water," said my father; "and for three days."

I saluted again, and marched off to the house dejectedly enough.

As I went, little footsteps sounded behind me, and Eloise ran up. "You
must not mind Carl, Toto," said she. "He cannot help crying. Listen,
and I will tell you a secret. I heard mamma telling it to father; they
thought I was asleep. Little Carl is a girl! Monsieur le Baron has
brought her up as a boy to avoid something evil that has been
prophesied--so mother said. What is 'prophesied,' Toto?"

"I don't know," I replied, my head too full of the dismal prospect of
arrest and bread and water to trouble much about anything else. Then
religiously I went to Joubert who formally placed me under arrest.



CHAPTER VII

THE MAN IN ARMOUR


Next day happened a thing which even still recurs to me in nightmare.

When I came down to breakfast, released from arrest by special
intervention of the Baron, Carl was not there. Gretel said he had caught
a cold from his wetting, and was confined to his room.

Late in the afternoon Eloise and I were in the great library. We had
watched the King depart, the Graf von Bismarck, cigar in mouth,
accompanying him. Carriage after carriage, containing guests, had driven
away; and Eloise and I were pressing our noses against the panes of the
window looking at the park, and speculating on Carl and the condition of
his cold, when the door opened, and Gretel looked in.

"Oh, there you are, children!" cried Gretel. "Well, and what are you
doing with yourselves?"

"Nothing," yawned Eloise, turning from the window. "We have played all
our games, haven't we, Toto?"

"Well you are sure to be getting into mischief if you are left to
yourselves," said the woman. "Come with me, and I will show you a fine
game. It is now a quarter to five. We will go up to the turret and see
the Man in Armour strike the hour."

"Hurrah!" cried I, and Eloise skipped. It was the desire of both our
hearts to see the mysterious Man in Armour close, and watch him strike
the bell.

"Fetch your hats, then, for it is windy in the tower," said Gretel. And
off we went to fetch them.

She led us through a door off the corridor, and up circular stone stairs
that seemed to have no end, till we reached the room where the machinery
was placed that drove the clock and struck the bell.

A ladder from here led us to the topmost chamber, where the iron man
with the iron hammer stood before the iron bell.

This chamber was open to the four winds, and gave a splendid view of the
mountains and the forest, and the lands lying towards Friedrichsdorff
and beyond.

But little cared I for the scenery. I was examining the Man in Armour.
He was taller than a real man, and his head was one huge mass of iron
cast in the form of a morion. Clauss of Innsbruck had made him, and he
struck me with a creepy sensation that was half fear. He stood with his
huge hammer half raised; and the knowledge that at the hour he would
wheel on his pivot and hit the bell vested him with an uncanny
suggestion of life, even though one knew he was dead and made of iron.

"He will not strike for ten minutes," said Gretel. "Gott! how cold it is
here, and how windy! Come, let us play a game of blind-man's buff to
keep ourselves warm."

My small handkerchief was brought into requisition, and Gretel blinded
me, pinning the handkerchief to my képi. "And now," said Gretel, "I will
bind Eloise, and you can try to catch me."

Then we played.

If you had been standing below you might have heard our laughter. I had
just missed Eloise, when I was myself seized from behind by the waist,
and Gretel's voice cried: "Now I've caught you!"

Even as she spoke a deep rumbling came from the machinery-room below.
"Now I've caught you. Now I've caught you!" cried Gretel's voice, that
seemed choking with laughter.

Something like a mighty bird swept past my forehead, tearing the képi
from my head and the handkerchief from my eyes, and flinging me on the
floor with the wind of its passage.

BOOM!

The great hammer of the Man in Armour had struck its first stroke, and
with a thunderous, heart-shattering sound. The great hammer had passed
my head so close that another half inch would have meant death.

BOOM!

I lay paralysed, looking up at the iron figure swinging to its work. He
had nearly killed me, and I knew it. Again the hammer flew towards the
bell.

BOOM!

The tower rocked, and the sound roared through the openings, and the
joints of the iron figure groaned and the arms upflew once more.

BOOM!

And once again, urged by the might of the hammer-man, tremendous,
apocalyptic, and sinister the voice of the great bell burst over the
woods.

BOOM!

The woodmen in the forests of the Taunus corded their bundles and
prepared for home, for five o'clock had struck from the Schloss
Lichtenberg.

At the first stroke, Eloise had sat down on the floor, screaming with
fright at the noise. She was sitting there still, with her eyes
bandaged, when the sound died away.

"What an escape!" cried Gretel, who was white and shaking. "Little boy,
had I not plucked you away, the hammer would have killed you! It would
have killed you had it not been for me!"

But in my heart I knew better than that.

       *       *       *       *       *

That night I told Joubert of the thing. He said Gretel was a fool.

"Joubert," I said, "I am afraid of this house, and I am afraid of
Gretel; and I want to say my prayers again, please, for I was not
thinking when I said them just now."

I said them again; and Heaven knows I needed them more than any prince
trapped in the ogre's castle of a fairy tale.



CHAPTER VIII

THE HUNTING-SONG


Scarcely had Joubert left me than a faint sound, stealing from below,
made me sit up in bed.

The sound of violins tuning up.

Ever since I could perceive the difference between musical sounds, music
has fascinated me, thrilled me, filled me with hauntings. Music can make
me drunk, music can make me everything but bad; but it is not in the
province of music to do that.

A band of wandering musicians had come to the schloss, and were
preparing to entertain the guests in the great hall.

Our rooms were quite close to the gallery surrounding the hall. I could
hear the complaint of the violin-strings protesting their readiness, and
the deep, gasping grunts of the 'cello saying as plainly as a 'cello
could speak, "Begin."

Then the music struck up.

A gay, dashing tune, vivid as a spring landscape with the daffodils
dancing in the wind; the high tremulous notes of a piccolo hovering over
the music of the strings as a skylark hovers in the air.

It was more than mortal child could stand, to hear all that and not to
be there.

I hopped out of bed, and made for the door. I had opened it, when the
thought came to me that Joubert might come back to the room, as he
sometimes did, to see if I were asleep; so I ran to the bed and propped
the pillow under the bedclothes. I often slept with the clothes over my
head, and the room was so dark that the protuberance of the pillow gave
quite a striking representation of a small boy curled up in slumber.

Then I came down the passage to the gallery overlooking the hall. Down
below the place was brilliantly lit.

The musicians--four men in long coats, with long hair, and two of them
bearded--were opposite to me.

Seated about were the guests: my father, the Countess Feliciani, Count
Feliciani, Major von der Goltz, General Hahn, and another gentleman
whose name I did not know. Baron von Lichtenberg was not there.

A servant was handing coffee, and the guests were chatting in two little
groups, and seemed quite oblivious of the music that was ravishing my
simple heart.

The spring song ceased, the daffodils danced no longer in the wind, the
skylark dropped from the sky, and the musicians fell chatting one to the
other in an undertone whilst they tuned up again. The one most directly
facing me--a man quite young, with oh, such a good, kind, sweet
face!--glanced up as he was raising his violin and caught sight of me in
my little nightshirt away up in the gallery peeping down at him and his
brethren. He evidently knew at once that I was one of the children of
the schloss, a truant from bed, and that my portion would be smacks if I
were discovered; for, though a momentary smile lit his face, he made no
sign or attempt to point me out to his fellows.

They broke into a hunting tune. I could tell, from the lilt of the
music, it was the chase that was speaking in the inarticulate language
of the strings. The piccolo had discarded his instrument for a horn; I
could hear the yapping of the dogs, and the pack bursting into full cry;
the horn, and the echoes of the horn from the rocks and woods, the
halalli. Gay, ghostly, beautiful, the music swept me along with it, the
very guests below forgot their chatter; I could see them keeping time
with their feet. Enchantment had seized upon the old schloss, the
green-coated jägers crowded, as if by permission, to the passage
entrance, and their harsh voices took up the song which now broke from
the lips of the magicians in the long coats to the accompaniment of the
violins and the hunting-horn, a song the words of which were not
translated for me till long, long afterwards:


     Hound and horn give voice and tongue,
       Fill the woods with echoes gay;
     Let your music sweet be flung
       To the Brocken far away.

     Jägers with the horns ye wind,
       Hounds whose tongues the chase shall bay;
     Let your voice the echoes find
       Of the Brocken old and grey.

     Hark! amidst the bracken green
       Bells the buck whose vigil keeps
     Danger from the hind unseen,
       Danger from the fawn that sleeps.

     Hears he us, yet heeds us not,
       Dreams he that we are the wind;
     Phantoms we of hounds forgot,
       Ghosts of huntmen long since blind.

     Dreams we are the forest's breath
       Waking to the touch of day;
     Recks not 'tis the horn of Death
       Dying in the distance grey.
     Hound and horn give voice and tongue----


And through it all the horn, now clear and ringing, now caught and dying
in the echoes of the forest, now lost in the echoes of the Brocken, the
wild notes flying before the phantom of the flying stag; ever the horn
threading the gushing music of the violins, the voices of the musicians,
and the chorus of the jägers.

More music came after this, but nothing so beautiful; and as the
musicians put their instruments away, and prepared to go, I nodded to
the happy-faced one who had spied me. He smiled, and I trotted back to
bed. I had been there listening in the gallery for a full hour, and I
was cold as ice, but no one had seen me, or only the violin-player who
had the face of a good angel.

I shut the door cautiously, and crept back to bed. But there was
something on the bed, something on the protuberance caused by my pillow.
It was the handle of a knife. The blade of the knife was plunged into
the mound of the bedclothes just where my head would have been.

It was Joubert's knife--his "couteau de chasse," a thing he was
immensely proud of, a thing as keen as a razor.

That was just like one of Joubert's tricks. He had come in, found my
device, and left this, as much as to say, "You'll see what you'll get in
the morning."

I plucked the knife out and put it on the floor. Then I crawled into
bed.

As I lay thinking of the music, my restless fingers kept digging into
holes in the sheet. Half a dozen holes, or rather slits, there were. One
might have thought that the hunting-knife of Joubert had been furiously
plunged again and again into the heap of bedclothes before being left
sticking there. But I did not think of this: the knife was Joubert's.
Besides, my head was alive with those dreams that stand at the door of
sleep to welcome the innocent in.

The forms of the weather-beaten musicians, sent like good angels from
God to charm me and hold me with their music; the happy, innocent, and
friendly face of the one who had smiled at me, and the hunting-song:


     Hark! amidst the bracken green
       Bells the buck whose vigil keeps
     Danger from the hind unseen,
       Danger from the fawn that sleeps.


Then I, like a fawn, fell asleep, ignorant of Fate as the fawn, and of
the extreme wickedness of the heart of man.



CHAPTER IX

THE FAIRY TALE


"Levez-vous! Levez-vous! Levez-vous! Ta-ra-ra! Pom, pom! Hi! God's
teeth, my knife! What does it here?"

Joubert could sound the réveille with his mouth almost as well as a
trumpeter, and he was grand at imitating the big drum.

Up I shot in bed, rubbing my eyes.

"Your what?"

"My knife. Ha! I've caught you. Cutting your sticks and carving your
name with my couteau de chasse! You have been to my bedroom. Don't
answer me! You have been to my bedroom, and taken it from the pocket of
my coat. A pretty thing!"

Joubert's temper all yesterday had been savage; his infernal amours were
not prospering, it seems. In fact, as I afterwards learned from his own
lips, a scullion, resenting his addresses, had called him an old French
dog without teeth.

"It was sticking in my pillow when I came to bed!" cried I, indignant at
the accusation.

"Your pillow, when you came to bed!" Joubert seized me, ran me across
the room by my shoulders to a large mirror, pointed to the reflection of
my shrinking form, and yelled:

"Do you see that?"

"Mais, oui."

"Then you see a liar."

"But, Joubert----"

"Not a word!"

"But I want to _tell_ you----"

"Not a word!"

That was always Joubert's way--"Not a word."

"But I want to _tell_ you!"

"Not a word!" And he jabbed the sponge in my mouth, for I was standing
by this time in the bath.

I never could tell whether Joubert was joking or in earnest, so I said
no more; but it was none the less irritating to be called a liar by
Joubert, whose lies about battle, murder, and sudden death were
palpable, and sometimes cynically self-confessed.

Little Carl did not appear at breakfast, and Eloise was very despondent,
not about Carl, but about going away. She would not touch jam, and she
made use sometimes, in a secretive manner, of a handkerchief, small
enough, goodness knows, yet chiefly composed of lace.

"It is not the going away," said Eloise; "it is the parting from friends
that makes going away so sad."

She was a terribly sentimental child by fits and starts, falling into
sentiment and falling out of it again with the facility of a newly
dislocated limb from its socket.

Next moment I was chasing her down the corridor, both of us making the
corridor echoes ring with our laughter. At the end, just by the glass
door leading to the garden, down she plumped in a corner and put her
little pinafore over her head.

I believe she wanted, or expected, me to pull the pinafore away and kiss
her, but I didn't. I just pulled her up by the arm, and we both bundled
out into the garden, and in a moment she had forgotten kissing amidst
the flowers, plucking the asters and the Michaelmas daisies, and chasing
the butterflies that were still plentiful in the late summer of that
year.

We passed the fountains, and stopped to admire the running man. His
face, worn away by time and weather, still had a ferocious expression.
One wondered what he was chasing with the spear that seemed for ever on
the point of leaving his hand.

"Toto," said Eloise, "yesterday when we took the drum with us, we forgot
to bring little Carl's sticks: we left them by the pond."

"So we did," said I.

"Let's go and fetch them," said Eloise.

"Come on," I replied.

We took the forest path leading to the lake.

It was like plunging into a well of twilight.

These trees that surrounded us were no tame trees of a pleasaunce: they
were the outposts of the immortal forest, a thing as living and
mysterious as the sea. Their twilight was but the fringe of a robe,
extending for hundreds and hundreds of square leagues.

I am a lover of the forest. The forest, and the sea, and the blue sky of
God are all that are left to remind us of the youth of the world and the
poetry of it, and the old German forests retain most of that lost charm.

They are haunted. The forests of the volcanic Eiffel, the Hartz, the
Taunus, still hold the ghost of Pan. I have been afraid in them.

By the lake fringed with ferns, Eloise fell into another sentimental and
despairing fit. We were sitting on the lake edge, and I was playing with
the recovered drumsticks.

"Ay di mi!" wept Eloise. "When you are gone! I mean when I am gone--when
we are departed----"

"Courage!" said I.

"It is the going away," sniffed Eloise, carefully arranging her little
skirt around her.

"I know," I said, rattling the sticks; "but it will be soon over."

Unhappy child! I believe she had fallen really in love with me,
unconscious of the fact that if I cared for any woman in the world it
was for the lovely Countess Feliciani, her mother, and that I had no
eyes at all for a thing of my own age in frilled pantalettes, no matter
how pretty she might be.

Before Eloise could reply to my unintentionally brutal remark, a figure
came out from amidst the trees and towards us. It was one of the jägers.
A man past middle age, bent and warped like a tree that has stood the
tempest for years.

This man's name was Vogel, and good cause I have to remember that name.

"Aha!" said he. "The children! Fräulein Eloise, Gretel is seeking for
you in the house."

We rose.

"Come," said Eloise. And I was turning to go with her, but Vogel, who
held a stick in one hand and a small penknife in the other, said to me
as he whittled at the stick:

"See you, have you ever made a whistle?"

"No," I replied, interested, despite the man's German accent and his
face, which was not attractive, for his cheeks were sucked in as though
he were perpetually drawing at a pipe, and his nose, too small for his
face, was hooked. I have never seen a nose so exactly like the beak of a
screech-owl.

Vogel, without a word, sat down and began cutting away at the whistle.

"Are you not coming?" said little Eloise.

"In a minute," I replied, looking over Vogel's shoulder at his
handiwork.

"Then stay," she pouted. And away she ran.

I looked on at Vogel and his work, one foot preparing to go, the other
foot holding me.

"There is an old woman who lives in the wood," said Vogel, as he cut at
the stick, "and she makes whistles."

"Does she?" I replied.

"She does," said Vogel. "She makes them of silver, and of glass, and of
gold, and when you blow on them they go----"

A strange warbling sound filled the wood. It was Vogel showing how the
whistles of the old woman sounded when you blew into them.

He had put a bird-call--the thing foresters use for snaring
birds--between his lips. He removed it again with a laugh, and went on
with his work.

"She lives in a house made of gingerbread," went on the fowler. "And
know you what the panes of her windows are made of?"

"No."

"Sugar, clear as your eye. And guess you what the door is made of?"

"No."

"Marzipan. Ah! that is a good house to live in," said Vogel. And I
mentally concurred.

"She keeps white mice, and rabbits with green eyes."

"Green eyes?"

"Yes; and she gave little Carl a rabbit for himself last time I took him
to see her. There." He handed the whistle, which was finished, up to me
over his shoulder, and I blew on it and found it good.

"Would you like to have a rabbit like that?" asked Vogel, filling his
pipe and lighting it.

"I would."

"Well, you can have one. I will get one for you to-morrow, or to-day, if
you like to come with me to see the old woman who makes the whistles.
Will you come?"

"What time?" said I, hesitating.

"Now," said Vogel.

My answer was cut short by a sound from behind--the clinking of a
bucket--and Joubert and a stout servant-maid appeared from the path
leading to the lake. They were coming to gather water-plants for some
household decoration.

Joubert was gallantly carrying the bucket.

Vogel sprang to his feet.

"I must go," said he. "It was my joke. I am the old woman who makes the
whistles."

Off he went.

I have often thought since that much weariness, much sorrow to me, and
much plotting and planning to the Great Writer of love-stories. Who
lives above, might have been saved if I had gone that day with Vogel to
see "the old woman who makes the whistles."

"What was Skull-face saying to you?" asked Joubert.

"He made me this," said I, showing him the pithed stick.

The Felicianis departed at three o'clock. Eloise, with her cheeks
flushed, was laughing with excitement: she seemed quite to have
forgotten her grief. Four horses drew their carriage. They were bound
for Homburg, where they would pass the night before going on to
Frankfort.

I remember, as the carriage drove off. Countess Feliciani looked back
and smiled at us--at my father, myself, Von Lichtenberg, Major von der
Goltz, and General Hahn, all grouped on the steps. God! had she known
the happenings to follow, how that smile would have withered on her
lips!

Carl was still invisible, and the great schloss, now that Eloise was
gone, seemed strangely empty to me. It is wonderful how much space a
child can fill with its presence. Eloise's happy little form had
diffused itself, spreading happiness and innocence far and wide, and
dispelling I know not what evil things. If a rose can fill a room with
its perfume, who knows how far may reach the perfume of an innocent and
beautiful soul!

At six o'clock I was in the library; a box of tin soldiers, which my
father had bought for me at Carlsruhe, stood open on the table, and the
armies were opposed.

I was not too old to play with soldiers like these, for there were
shoals of them: officers, and drummers, and gunners, cannon,
flags--everything. As a matter of fact, Major von der Goltz had been
playing with me, too, and I'll swear he took just as much interest in
them as I.

He had gone now, and I was tired of the soldiers. I turned my attention
to the books. I was walking along by the shelves, examining the backs of
the volumes and trying to imagine what the German titles could mean,
when suddenly, from amidst the books, I heard a child's voice.

The child seemed singing and talking to itself, and the sound seemed to
come from the volumes on the shelves. It was strange to hear it coming
from amidst the books like that, as though some volume of fairy tales
had suddenly become vocal, and Hänsel, playing by the witch-woman's
door, had found a voice.

Then I noticed that the books before me were not real books, but
imitation.

In the centre of one of these imitation book-racks there was a little
brass knob. I pressed it, and the wall gave, disclosing a passage. The
book-backs were but the covering of a narrow door.

This passage, suddenly disclosed, fascinated me.

It was dimly lit from above, and ended in a door of muffed glass. About
half way down on the floor stood a toy horse--a dappled-grey horse with
a broom-like tail and a well-worn saddle--evidently left there by some
child, and forgotten.

I could hear the child's voice now distinctly. He or she was singing,
singing in a monotonous fashion, just as a child sings when quite alone.

I came down the passage to the door. The muffing of the door had been
scratched. There was a spyhole, evidently made by a child, for it was
just on a level with my own eye, and there was a word scratched on the
paint of the muffing which, though I had to read it backwards, I made
out to be--

     CARL.

I peeped through the hole. It disclosed a room, evidently a nursery,
plainly but pleasantly furnished. On the window-seat, looking out and
drumming an accompaniment on the glass to the tune he was singing, knelt
Carl.

I looked for the handle of the door, found it, turned it, opened the
door, without knocking, and entered the room.

The child at the window turned, and, when he saw me, flung up his arms
with a gesture of terror and glanced round wildly, as if for somewhere
to hide. It cut me to the heart; it frightened me, too--this terror of
the child for me. I remembered Eloise's words: "Little Carl is a girl."

"Gretel! Gretel! Gretel!" cried the child as I ran forward, took him in
my arms, and kissed him on the forehead.

Whether he had expected me to hit him or not I don't know; but at this
treatment he ceased his cries, and, pushing me away from him, looked at
me dubiously.

"I won't hurt you, little Carl!" And at the words a whole ocean of
tenderness welled up in my heart for the trembling and lonely little
figure in the soldier's dress, this Pomeranian grenadier, timorous as a
rabbit. I must, in this heart of mine, have some good; for, boy as I
was, with all the fighting instincts of the Mahons in my blood, I felt
no boyish ridicule for this creature that a blow would make cry, but all
the tenderness of a nurse, or a person who holds a live and trembling
bird in his hand.

"I won't hurt you. I didn't _mean_ to knock you in the pond."

"But you did," said Carl, still dubious.

"I know, and I'm sorry. See here, Carl, I'll give you my dog."

"Your big dog?" asked Carl, for he had seen Marengo bounding about the
lawn.

"Yes," said I, knowing full well that the promise was about equivalent
to the promise of the moon.

The little hand fell into mine.

"Gretel," said Carl, now in a confidential tone, "told me you would kill
me if I played with you, or went near you, or if I looked at you."

"Oh, how wicked!" I cried. "_I_ kill you!" And I clasped the little form
more tightly.

"I know," said Carl.

He was a personage of few words, and those two words told me quite
plainly that he believed me and had confidence in me.

"It's not you," he said, after a pause. "She said you didn't want to do
it, but you'd have to do it; for you were a bad man once, and you'd have
to do it over again," said Carl. "What you'd done before, for someone
had said so. I don't know who they were." He had got the tale so mixed
up that I could scarcely follow his meaning. "When will you give me the
dog?" he finished, irrelevantly enough.

"I'll give you him--I'll give you him to-morrow," I said, "if father
will let me. But he's sure to, if I ask him."

Scarcely had I finished speaking than the door opened and Gretel
appeared.

She stood for a moment when she saw us together, as though the sight had
turned her into stone.

Then she came towards us.

"How did you get here?" said she to me.

"Through that door," I answered her.

She took me by the hand and led me away. As she did so, something closed
round my neck, and something touched me on the cheek.

It was Carl, who had put his arms round my neck and kissed me.

Ah, little Carl, little Carl! Little we knew how next we should meet, or
the manner of that meeting!



CHAPTER X

THE DEATH OF VOGEL


"Joubert, what is father doing?"

"He is playing cards down below with the gentlemen."

I was undressing to go to bed that same night, and Joubert was
expediting my movements, anxious, most likely, to go downstairs and
drink with the house-steward.

"Joubert, I wish he were here."

"Why?"

"I don't know; but I am frightened."

"Of what?"

"I don't know."

Joubert blew out the light and left the room, and I lay looking at the
shadows the furniture made on the wall by the dim glimmer of the
nightlight.

The door leading to my father's room was open. This did not give me any
comfort--rather the reverse; for the next room was in darkness, and I
could not help imagining faces peeping at me from the darkness.

When frightened at night like this, I generally told myself fairy tales
to keep away the terrors.

I tried this to-night with a bad result, for the attempt instantly
brought up Vogel and the old woman who lived in the wood.

Now, there was something in this fairy tale that my heart knew to be
evil and malign. What this something was I could not tell, but it was
there, and the story did not bring me any peace.

The clock in the turret struck ten, and I saw vividly the Man in Armour
up there alone in the dark, wheeling to his work.

There was something terrific in this iron man. A live tiger was a thing
to me less fearful. Not for worlds would I have gone up alone to watch
him at his work, even at a safe distance. The fact that the hammer had
nearly killed me did not contribute much to this fear. I knew that was
not his fault. I was terrified by Him.

Then I fell thinking of my promise to little Carl to give him Marengo,
and, thinking of this, I fell asleep.

At least, I closed my eyes and entered a world of vague shapes. And then
I entered a wood. The cottage of the old woman who made the whistles was
before me. It had a window on either side of the door, and in one window
there were jars of sugar-sticks.

I knocked at the door. It flew open, and there stood Vogel, the jäger
with the hooked nose. He smilingly beckoned me in. I entered, and, hey
presto! his smile vanished with the closing of the door, and I was on a
bed, and he was smothering me with a pillow. And then I awoke, and I was
in bed and I was being smothered by a pillow.

Oh, horror! Oh, the horror of that waking! Someone was lying upon me; a
pillow was over my face, crushing it! I shrieked, and my shriek did not
go an inch beyond my mouth. My nose was crushed flat; my mouth, opening
to scream, could not close again. The pillow bulged in, and then, flung
away like a feather by the wind, went the form that was crushing me and
the pillow that was smothering me; and shriek upon shriek--the most
horrid, the most unearthly, the most soul-sickening--shriek after shriek
tore the air; and, jumping upon my feet, standing on the bed with arms
outspread, I gazed on the sight before me, adding my thin voice to the
outcries that were piercing the schloss from cellar to turret.

On the floor, lit for my view by the halfpenny nightlight calmly burning
in its little dish, Marengo and a man were at war--and the victory was
with Marengo. The great dog had got the man by the back of the neck. The
man, face down, was drumming on the floor with his fists and feet, just
as you see an angry child in a fit of passion.

The dog was dumb, and making mighty efforts to turn the man on his face.
He lifted him, he shifted him, he dragged him hither and thither. The
man, screaming, knew what the dog wanted, and clung to the floor.

Suddenly the dog sprang away, and, like a flash of lightning, sprang
back. He had got the throat-hold, and a deep gobbling, worrying sound
was the end of the man and his hunting for ever.

For the man was Vogel. I saw that, and then I saw nothing more.



CHAPTER XI

THE DUEL IN THE WOOD


When I regained consciousness I was in my father's room, lying on the
bed. Joubert was sitting on the bed beside me.

"Joubert," said I, "where is he?"

"Who?"

"Vogel."

"God knows!" said Joubert. "Here, drink this."

It was brandy, and it nearly took my breath away, but it gave me life.

"Now," said Joubert, putting the glass on the table by the bed and
taking my small trousers in his hand, "put these on."

"Why am I to dress, Joubert?"

"We are going away. Ah, fine doings there have been! And who knows the
end of it all?"

As he helped me to dress, he told me of what had occurred. The gentlemen
below had been playing cards when the shrieks of Vogel had sundered the
cardplayers like the sword of death.

Rushing upstairs, they had found Marengo guarding the dead body of
Vogel, and me standing on the bed screaming. When my father caught me in
his arms, I told all. Of Vogel's attempt to smother me, of the knife I
had found in my pillow, and of the occurrence in the bell-tower. It
must have been my subconscious intelligence speaking, for I remember
nothing of it; but it was enough.

"Then," said Joubert, "the General, with you tucked under his left arm,
turned on the Baron. 'What is this?' said he. 'Assassination in the
Schloss Lichtenberg!'"

"'Liar!' cried the Baron. And before the word was well from his mouth,
crack! the General had hit him open-fisted in the face, and the mark
sprang up as if the General had hit him red-handed. Mordieu! I never saw
a neater blow given, or one so taken, for the Baron never blinked. He
just nodded his head, as if to say, 'Yes.' Then he put his arm in Count
Hahn's, and the General turned to Major von der Goltz, and, taking him
by the arm, followed the others. Then word came to pack up and have you
ready, for we are leaving the schloss this night. Now then, vite!"

"But, Joubert, I remember nothing of all that."

"All what?"

"Telling my father of Vogel and the bell."

"Well, whether you remember it or not, there it is."

"And the knife---- Joubert, did you not, you yourself, stick the knife
in the pillow?"

"I!" said Joubert. "When would you catch me playing such fool's tricks
as that?"

"Joubert."

"Yes?"

"I think I know why they wanted to kill me."

"Why?"

"Because they thought I would kill little Carl."

Joubert grunted.

"Here," said he, "hold up your foot till I lace that boot."

Scarcely had he done so before General Hahn appeared at the door.

"Dress the child, pack, and be ready to leave the schloss at once!" he
cried to Joubert. "The horses are being got ready."

"I have my orders," replied Joubert.

He grumbled and talked to himself, and swore, as he got the rest of my
clothes on, for I was quite unable to help myself. And then, when I was
ready, he gave me a great, smacking kiss that nearly took my breath
away, and his hand was shaky, and I had never seen it shake before, and
he had never kissed me before in his life. Then he left me sitting on
the bed, and I heard him in the next room, where the dead man was,
packing my things.

In the midst of all this, the castle clock struck eleven.

And now from below came the trampling of horses, and the crash of wheels
on gravel, and the harsh German voices of the servants. Doors banged,
and a man came up, flung our door open, and cried: "Ready!" And Joubert,
with a portmanteau on his shoulder, led me along by the hand down the
corridor, the servant following with the rest of our luggage.

Down in the hall, which was brilliantly lit, Major von der Goltz and my
father stood talking together in one corner, and Von Lichtenberg and
General Hahn stood by the great fireplace, their hands behind them,
neither of them speaking, and both with their eyes on the floor as if in
profound thought. And I noticed that the great red mark on the Baron's
cheek was still there, just as if a blood-stained hand had struck him.

When they saw us coming, with Marengo following us, Von Lichtenberg and
the General took their hats from a table close by and walked towards the
door, which was opened for them by a servant.

General Hahn held under his arm a bundle done up in a cloak, and from it
protruded two sword-hilts.

My father, taking my hand and followed by Major von der Goltz, came
after the Baron.

It was a clear and windy night; flying clouds were passing over the
moon. Two carriages were drawn up at the door, and a dozen men with
torches blazing and blowing in the wind gave light whilst our luggage
was put in.

The first carriage was our own, the second a carriage belonging to the
schloss.

Joubert put our luggage in and mounted on the box; then my father,
bowing to Major von der Goltz, held the door open; the Major, with a
slight bow to my father, got in; we followed, the carriage started,
running torchmen leading us and following behind.

"Are we truly going away, father?" I asked nestling close to him and
holding his hand.

"Yes, my child; we are going away."

"Why are those men with torches running with us?"

"You will see--you will see. Major von der Goltz, I hope those words I
have just said to you will not be forgotten in the event----"

"They shall be remembered," said the Major.

Up to this all the company at the schloss had been hail-fellow-well-met
one with the other. My father had addressed Von der Goltz as Franz, and
the Major had been just as familiar in his manner, but all this was now
changed. The two men were as stiff and formal as though they had never
met before, one facing the other, bolt upright, and with heads somewhat
averted, as I could see by the dancing torchlight; and in my childish
heart I wondered at this.

As we slowed up to pass the great gates of the avenue, I heard the
wheels of the other carriage coming behind, and as we made the turning,
I saw it, with the light of the torches glinting on the headpieces of
the horses, and behind the carriage the plumes of the pine-trees showed
against the moon, and they looked like the plumes of a hearse.

The estate of Von Lichtenberg stretched for a mile and more beyond the
gates; and it seems that it is not etiquette to kill a man on his own
estate, no more than it is etiquette to strike a man in his own house.

We took the forest road. Mixed with the sound of hoofs and wheels, I
could hear the footsteps of the running torchmen: the flickering light
shot in between the tree-boles, disturbing the wood creatures, and, as
we went, all of a sudden, the jägers running with us broke out in a
chorus of what seemed lamentation mixed with curses.

Von der Goltz sprang up on the seat and looked ahead.

"A white hare is running before us," said he. "That is bad for Count
Carl von Lichtenberg."

My father bowed slightly, as if to a half-heard remark.

A white hare, it seems, was the sign of death in the house of
Lichtenberg.

Turning a bend in the road, the carriage drew up.

We waited for a moment till the sound behind told us that the second
carriage had also stopped. Then we alighted.

"Joubert," said my father, handing him a packet, "you will stay here
with the dog. Open this packet should anything befall me. Patrick, you
will come with me."

"Dieu vous garde!" said Joubert. And, following the others, we entered
the forest.

I felt sick and faint with fear, and the light of the dancing
torch-flames made me reel. I held tight to my father's hand, and I
remember thinking how big and strong and warm it was. What was about to
happen I could not guess, but I knew that the shadow of death was with
us, and the chill of him in my heart.

We had not gone more than two hundred yards when we came to a clearing
amidst the trees--a breezy, open space, that the moon lit over the
waving pine-tops. Here the jägers divided themselves into two lines,
five yards or so apart, and stood motionless as soldiers on parade.
Baron von Lichtenberg with his arms folded, stood with his back to us,
looking at the clouds running across the face of the moon; and the two
army officers, drawing aside, began to undo the swords from the bundle.

"Patrick," said my father, leading me under the shade of the trees, "I
struck my kinsman in his own house to-night. The only excuse I can make
for that action is to kill him, so let this be a lesson to you the
length of your life." He stopped, stooped, hugged me in his arms, and
then strode out into the torchlight, and took his sword from Von der
Goltz.

It was a curious little speech, or would have been from anyone but an
Irishman. But I was not thinking of it. I was mesmerised by the sight
before me.

When the two men took their swords they returned them to the seconds.
The swords were then bent to prove the steel, and measured, and then
returned to the principals.

Then the jägers moved together almost shoulder to shoulder, and in the
space between the two lines of torches the duellists took their stand.
There was dead silence for a moment.

I could hear the wind in the pines, and the guttering and slobbering of
the flambeaux, and a fox barking, away somewhere in the forest.

Then came General Hahn's voice, and, instant upon it, the quarrelling of
the rapiers.

The antagonists were perfect swordsmen; the rapiers were now invisible,
now like jets of light as the torchlight shot along them. Over the music
of the steel, the wind in the pine-trees said "Hush!" and the barking of
the fox still came from the far distance.

At first you might have thought these two gentlemen were at play, till
the fury subdued by science broke loose at last, and the rings and
flashes of light and the clash of the steel spoke the language of the
thing and the meaning of it.

It was a duel to the death; and I, looking on, my soul on fire, agony in
my heart, my hands thrust deep in the pockets of my caped overcoat,
counted the bits of biscuit-crumbs in those same pockets, and made tiny
balls from the fluff, and noted with deep and particular attention the
extent of a hole in one of the linings. The interior of my
overcoat-pockets marked itself upon my memory as sharply and insistently
as the scene before me--such a strange thing is mind.

Yet I knew that, if Von Lichtenberg was the conqueror, my father would
die, and I would be left to the mercy of Von Lichtenberg.

Yet, despite all my fears, oh, that heroic moment! The concentrated fury
of the fight beneath the singing pines, lit by the blazing torches!
Then, in a flash, it was over. Von Lichtenberg's sword flew from his
hand; his arms flung out as though he were crucified on the air; and
then, just as though he were a man of wax before a fiery furnace, he
fell together horribly, and became a heap on the ground.

The hammer of Thor could not have felled him more effectually than the
rapier that had passed through his armpit like a ribbon of light.

I ran to my father, and clung to him.

General Hahn, on one knee, was supporting Von Lichtenberg in his arms.
The Baron's face was clay-coloured, his head drooped forward, and his
jaw hung loose.

Hahn, with his knee in the armpit to suppress the terrible bleeding,
called for a knife to rip the sleeve; and as they were doing it the
stricken man came to and yawned.

He yawned just as a man yawns who is deadly tired and half roused from
sleep, and he tossed his arms just in the same way. He seemed to care
about nothing, his weariness was so great.

And then, just as a man speaks who is half roused and wants to drop
asleep again:

"Hahn."

"I am here."

"Ah, yes! I leave the child to your care and Gretel----"

"Yes"

"She is to be brought up just as I have done. Should she love him, the
old tragedy will come again. She must never know love----" Then he
yawned, and yawned, rousing slightly as they cut his sleeve to pieces in
an attempt to reach the wound. He didn't seem to care. He spoke only
once again: "Hahn!"

"I am listening."

The wind in the pine-trees, and the fox in the wood and the slobbering
of the torches filled the silence.

"I am listening."

"He is dead," said Von der Goltz.



CHAPTER XII

WE RETURN HOME


We left the forest, my father leaning on the arm of his second. One man
with a torch preceded us, and lit us as we got into the carriage.

"A strange end to our visit. Major von der Goltz," said my father.

The Major bowed.

"I shall remain at the Hôtel des Hollandaise in Frankfort for three
days."

The Major bowed.

"Joubert!" said my father. And the carriage drove off; and, looking
back, I saw Major von der Goltz and the jäger with the torch vanishing
amidst the trees.

We passed through Homburg at four o'clock, and at six of a seraphic
morning spired Frankfort rose before us like a city in a fairy tale, so
beautiful, so vague, so ethereal one could not believe it a city of this
sordid earth.

We stayed three days at the Hôtel des Hollandaise. Major von der Goltz
called, and General Hahn. A paper was drawn up, I believe, signed by the
seconds and my father, and by the chief jäger. It was done as a matter
of formality, for the duel was perfectly in order.

Then we started on our return home; and one evening, towards the end of
September, we entered Paris and drew up at our house in the Avenue
Champs Elysées.

Though the Emperor and Empress were still away on their southern tour,
the streets were gay--at least to my eyes. Oh, that Paris of the Second
Empire--that lost city whose gaiety surrounds the beginning of my life,
jewelled with gas-lamps or glittering in the sunlight! Whatever may have
been its faults, its wickedness, its falsity, it knew at least the
vitality and the charm of youth. Men knew how to laugh in those days,
when the echoes of the Boulevard de Gand still were heard in the
Boulevard des Italiens, when Carvalho was Director of the Opéra Comique,
and Moray President of the Council.

"At last!" said my father, as we turned in at the gates and drew up at
the doorway.

He had been depressed on the return journey--a depression caused, I
believe, not in the least by the fact that he had slain his kinsman. The
trouble at his heart was the blow. For a guest to strike his host in his
own house was a breach of etiquette and good manners unpardonable in his
eyes. Yet he had committed that crime.

However, with our entry into Paris this depression seemed to lift.

The major-domo came down the steps, and with his own august hands opened
the door for us, and let down the steps, and gave us welcome with a real
and human smile on his magnificent white, fat, stolid face--the face of
a perfect servant, expressionless as a cheese, which would doubtless
remain just the same were he, constrained by stress of circumstances, to
open the door of the drawing-room and announce: "The Last Trumpet has
sounded, sir."

In the great hall, softly lit and flower-scented, the footmen in their
green-and-white livery stood in two gorgeous rows to give us welcome;
and Jacko, the macaw, four foot from the crest of his wicked head to the
tip of his tail-feathers, dressed also in the green-and-white livery of
the house, screamed his sentiments on the matter. My father had a word
for everyone. It was always just so. This grand seigneur, who had made
his way to fortune less with his sword than with his brilliant
personality, would speak to the meanest servant familiarly, jocularly,
yet never would he meet with disrespect. There was that about him which
inspired fear as well as love, and he was served as few other men are
served. Witness our return that night to a house as well in order as
though we had come back from a trip to Compiègne instead of a two
months' journey to a foreign country.

He dismissed the servants with a word, and, with his hat on the back of
his head, stood at the table where his letters were set out, tearing
them open and flinging the unimportant ones on the floor.

Whilst he was so engaged, a ring came to the door, and the footman who
answered it brought him a letter sealed with a great red seal, which he
tore open and read.

"Aha!" muttered he. "De Morny wants to see me to-morrow. Wonder how he
knew that I was back? But De Moray knows everything. Is the servant
waiting, François?"

"No, sir; the servant has gone."

"Very well," said my father. Then to me: "Come now; get your supper, and
off to bed. François!"

I was led off grumbling.

Joubert tucked me into bed; and as I lay listening to the
carriage-wheels from the Champs Elysées bearing people home from
supper-party and theatre, the journey, the Schloss Lichtenberg, the
mysterious pine-forest, the drums and tramping soldiers of Carlsruhe and
Mayence, the blue Rhine--all rose before me as a picture. It was the
First Act of my life, an Act tragic enough; and, as the curtain of sleep
fell upon it, the glimmer of the jägers' torches still struggled through
that veil, with the sound of the swords, the murmur of the wind in the
pine-trees, and the far-off barking of the fox in the wood.



CHAPTER XIII

I FALL INTO DISGRACE


I was dreaming of the Countess Feliciani. She had changed all of a
sudden, by the alchemy of dreamland, into little Carl. We were running
together down the forest path in the woods of Lichtenberg, and the Stone
Man was pursuing us, when a violent pull on my right leg awakened me,
and Joubert and a burst of sunshine replaced dreamland and its shadows.

It was one of Joubert's pleasant ways of awakening a child from his
sleep, to catch him by the foot and nearly haul him out of bed.

Oh, the agony of having to get up, straight, without any preliminary
stretching and yawning; to get up with that dead, blank tiredness of
childhood hanging on one like a cloak--and get into a cold bath!

It was martial law with a vengeance. But there was no use in grumbling.

"Come, lazybones," said Joubert; "rouse yourself. Gone eight; and you
are to go with the General at ten."

"Where to?" said I, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.

"Ma foi! where to? Why, on a visit to M. le Duc de Morny."

"Oui."

I was in the bath now, and soapsuds checked my questions. Joubert used
to wash me just as if I were a dog on the mornings that soapsuds were
the order of the day--that is to say, only twice a week, every Wednesday
and Saturday; for this old soldier was as full of fixed opinions as any
nurse, and he believed that too much soap took the oil out of the skin
and made children weak. You may be sure I did not combat his theory.

"Your best coat," said Joubert, as he took the article from the drawer,
"and your best manners, if you please; for M. le Duc de Morny is the
first gentleman in Paris, now that the Emperor is away. Now you are
dressed, and--remember!"

You may be sure I was in a flutter, for the Duc de Morny was a personage
I had never seen, and he loomed large even on my small horizon. From my
childhood's recollections I believe that the Duc had far more dominance
and power than poor old Louis Napoleon, whose craft lay chiefly in his
face.

At a quarter to ten my father, in full general's uniform, very gorgeous,
wearing his medals and the cross, appeared in the hall, where I was
waiting for him. A closed carriage was at the door. We got in and
started.

The Hôtel de Morny was situated on the Quai d'Orsay. It was a huge
building, with gardens running right down to the river. It was next to
the Spanish Embassy, and had two entrances, one by the river, the other
opening from the Rue de Lille.

We passed down the Rue de Lille, and then turned in at the gates, and
by a short roadway to the great courtyard.

Other carriages were there--quite a number of them. Our carriage drew up
at the steps, and we alighted.

As we left the chilly morning, and passed through the swing-glass doors
held open for us by a powdered footman, it was like entering a
greenhouse, so warm was the air, and so perfumed with flowers.

The Duc was far too astute a man to merge his personality in Government
apartments. The Hôtel de Morny was his palace. There he held his court,
receiving people in his bed-chamber after the fashion of a king.

The salon was filled with people--all men, with one exception.

We were expected, it seems; for the usher led us straight through the
throng towards the tall double oak door that gave entrance to the Duc's
room.

"Stay here, Patrick," said my father, and he indicated a chair close to
the door. Then he vanished into the sanctum of the Minister, and I was
left alone to contemplate the people around me.

They were arranged in little groups, talking together; fat men and thin
men, several priests, stout gentlemen with the red rosette of the Legion
of Honour in their buttonholes, sun-dried gentlemen from Provence with
fiery eyes and enormous moustaches, all talking, most of them
gesticulating, and each awaiting his audience with the Minister.

Suddenly, through this crowd, which divided before her as the Red Sea
divided before Pharaoh, straight towards me came the only female
occupant of the room, an old lady at least seventy years of age, yet
dressed like a girl of sixteen. She was so evidently making for me that
I rose to meet her; and, before I could resent the outrage, a lace frill
tickled my chin, a perfume of stephanotis half smothered me, and a pair
of thin lips smacked against my cheek.

She had kissed me. Scarlet to the eyes, conscious that I was observed by
all, not knowing exactly what I did, I did a very unmannerly
thing--wiped my cheek with the back of my hand as if to wipe the kiss
away.

"I knew you at once," said the old lady, who was none other than the
Countess Wagner de Pons, reader to the Empress. "You are the dear
General's little boy, of whom I have heard so much--le petit Patrique.
And you have bean away, and you have just returned. Mon Dieu! the
likeness is most speaking. Now, look you, Patrique, over there on that
fauteuil. That is the little Comte de Coigny, whom I have brought this
morning to make his bow to M. le Duc de Morny. Come with me, and I will
introduce you to him. He is of the haute noblesse, a child of the
highest understanding, trè propre."

I glanced at the little Comte de Coigny. He was a tallow-faced,
heavy-looking individual, bigger than me, and older. He might have been
eleven. He was dressed like a little man, kid gloves and all; and he was
looking at me with a dull and sinister expression that spoke neither of
a high understanding nor a good heart.

Before I could move towards him, led by the Countess Wagner de Pons,
the door of De Morny's room opened, and my father's voice said:
"Patrick."

Leaving the old lady, I came.

I found myself in a huge room, with long windows giving a view of the
garden and the river. It was, in fact, a salon set out with fauteuils
and couches. A bed in one corner, raised on a low platform, struck me by
its incongruity. How anyone could choose to sleep in such a vast and
gorgeous salon astonished my childish mind. But I had little time to
think of these things, for the man standing with his back to the
fireplace absorbed all my attention.

He was above the middle height, with a bald, dome-like forehead, a
strong face, and wearing a moustache and imperial. He was dressed like
any other gentleman, but there was that about him--a self-contained
vigour, a calmness of manner, and a grace--that stamped him at once on
the memory as a person never to be forgotten.

"This is my little son," said my father. I saluted, and the great man
bowed.

Then I was questioned about the affair at Lichtenberg, for it seems the
matter had made more than a stir at the Prussian Court. Questions were
being asked; and there was that eruption of evil talk, that dicrotic
rebound of excitement, which, after every social tragedy, is sure to
follow the first wave.

"And now," said my father, when I had finished my evidence, "run off and
play till I am ready for you."

Play! With whom did he expect me to play? With the fat Deputies, the
opulent bankers, the sun-dried gentlemen from the south who thronged the
ante-chamber?

The Countess Wagner de Pons answered the question. This old lady, whose
eccentricity and love of gossip had made her wait with her charge in the
ante-room, instead of having her name announced to the Duchess de Morny,
as any other lady of rank would have done, was deep in conversation with
a tall, dignified gentleman, deep in scandal, no doubt; for, when she
saw me she got rid of me at once by introducing me to the little Comte
de Coigny. "And now," said she, as if echoing my father's words, "run
off and play, both of you, in the garden."

A footman in the blue-and-gold livery of the Duke led us down an iron
staircase to the gravelled walk upon which the lower windows opened, and
left us there.

Play! There was less play in the stiff and starched little Comte de
Coigny, that child of the haute noblesse, très propre, than in the
elephant of the Jardin des Plantes, or any of the fat Deputies in M. de
Morny's ante-room. But there was much more dignity, of a heavy sort.

We took the path towards the river.

"And you," said he, breaking the silence as we walked along. "Where have
you come from?"

"Germany," I replied.

"I thought so," said he.

He was a schoolboy of the Bourdaloue College, but all the planing and
polishing of the Jesuit fathers had not improved his manners, it seems.
The tone of his reply was an insult in itself, and I took it as such,
and held my tongue and waited.

We walked right down to the balustrade overlooking the Seine. De Coigny
mounted, sat on the balustrade, whistled, and as he sat kicking his
heels he cast his eyes up and down me from crown to toe.

I stood before him with the seeming humility of the younger child; but
my blood was boiling, and my knuckles itched at the sight of his flabby,
pasty face.

Some trees sheltered us from the house, and my gentleman from the
Bourdaloue College took a box of Spanish cigaritos from his pocket and a
matchbox adorned with the picture of a ballet-girl.

He put a cigarito between his thick lips, lit it, blew a puff of smoke,
and held out the box to me to have one. Fired with the manliness of the
affair I put out my hand, and received, instead of a cigarito, a rap on
the knuckles with his cane.

"That's to teach you not to smoke," said Mentor. "How old are you?"

"Nine," replied I. The blow hurt; but I put my hand in my pockets, and I
think neither my voice nor my face betrayed my feelings.

"Nine. And what part of Germany do you come from?"

"I was last staying at the Castle of Lichtenberg."

"Aha!" said the gentleman on the balustrade. "And who, may I ask, did we
entertain at our Castle of Lichtenberg?"

"King William of Prussia," I replied out of my childish vanity, "the
Count Feliciani, the great banker and----"

"Mr. What's-your-name," said my tormentor, "you are a liar. The Count
Feliciani, the great banker as you call him, is in prison----"

"How! What?" I cried.

"Oh," said he, with the air of an old Boulevardier, "it is all over
Paris. Caught embezzling State funds; arrested at the railway station. A
nice acquaintance, truly, to boast of!"

"Oh, Eloise!" I cried, my whole heart going out to the unhappy family;
for, though I did not know what embezzling funds meant, prison was plain
enough to my understanding.

"Oh, Eloise!" mimicked the other, throwing his cigarette-end away,
slipping down from the balustrade, and adjusting his waistcoat
preparatory to returning to the house. "Oh, Eloise! Come on, cochon. I
have an appointment with M. le Duc de Morny."

"Allons!" And again he hit me with the cane, this time over the right
shoulder.

I struck him first in the wind, a foul blow, which I have never yet
regretted; and, as he doubled up, I struck him again, by good fortune,
just at the root of the nose.

The effect was magical, and I stood in consternation looking at my
handiwork, for instantly his two eyes became black and his nose streamed
gore.

He lay for a moment where he had fallen; then he scrambled on all fours,
got on his feet, and running, streaming blood, and bellowing at the same
time, without his dandy cane, without his cigarette-box, which he had
left on the balustrade, he made for the house, this enfant très propre,
and of the highest intelligence; a nice figure, indeed, for presentation
to the Duc de Morny!

It was a veritable débâcle. He knew how to run, that child of the haute
noblesse; and, when I arrived in the ante-room, he was already roaring
his tale out into the Countess Wagner de Pons' brocaded skirts, for he
was clinging to her like a child of five, whilst the fat Deputies, the
Jew bankers, and other illuminati stood round in a circle, excited as
schoolboys. A nice scene, truly, to take place in a Minister of State's
salon.

"He struck me in the stomach, he struck me on the head, he kicked me!"
roared the little Comte de Coigny. "Keep him away! Keep him away! Here
he is! Here he is!"

The Countess de Pons screamed. A row of long-drawn faces turned on me,
and the bankers and Deputies, the priests, and the Southern delegates
made a hedge to protect the stricken one, and cooshed at me as if I were
a cat. Cries of "Ah! polisson! Mauvais enfant! Regardez! Regardez!"
filled the room, till the hubbub suddenly ceased at a stern voice that
said "Patrick!"

It was my father, whose interview with De Morny was over. He stood at
the open door, and I saw the Duke, who had peeped out, and whose quick
intelligence had taken in the whole affair in a flash, vanishing with a
smile on his face.



CHAPTER XIV

THE RUINED ONES


"Go home!" said my father, putting me into the carriage. "I will return
on foot. You have disgraced yourself; you have disgraced me. Hand
yourself over to Joubert. You are to be a prisoner under lock and key
until I devise some punishment to meet your case." Then, to the
coachman: "Home, Lubin!" He clapped the door on me, and I was driven
off, with his speech ringing in my ears, a speech which I believe was
meant as much for the gallery as for me. This was my first encounter
with the Comte de Coigny, and I believe I had the worst of it. But I was
not thinking of De Coigny--I was thinking of little Eloise, of the
Countess whose beauty haunted me, and of the Count, that noble-looking
gentleman, now in prison.

Eloise had told me that their house in Paris was situated in the
Faubourg St. Germain, and, as we turned out of the Rue de Lille, an
inspiration came to me. I pulled the check-string, the carriage stopped,
and I put my head out of the window.

"Lubin!"

"Well?"

"Drive me to the Faubourg St. Germain."

"Likely, indeed! and lose my place. Ma foi!--Faubourg St. Germain!"

"Lubin! I have a napoleon in my pocket, and I'll give it you if----"

But the carriage drove on.

I sank back on the cushions, but I was not defeated yet. There was a
block of traffic in the Rue de Trône. I put my hand out, opened the door
on the left side, and the next moment I was standing upon the pavement,
and the heavy old carriage was driving on, with the door swinging open.

Then I ran, ran till I was out of breath, and in a broad street full of
shops.

A barrel-organ was playing in the sunshine; a herd of she-asses were
trotting along, followed by an Auvergnat in sabots, and a cabriolet
plying for hire was approaching on the opposite side of the way.

I hailed the driver, and told him to take me to the Faubourg St.
Germain.

"Where to in the Faubourg St. Germain?" asked the man.

"I want to go to the Count Feliciani's," I replied.

"The Hôtel Feliciani?"

"Yes"

"Get in." He drove off. He knew the Hôtel Feliciani, did this driver.
All Paris was ringing with the disgrace of the man who, from his throne
in the kingdom of finance, had fallen to the gutter, involving a
thousand others in his ruin. But I knew nothing of this; and from the
man's unconcerned manner I began to hope that De Coigny had told me a
lie.

The cabriolet drove in through the gates of a huge hôtel in the
Faubourg St. Germain. The courtyard was crowded with people--and such
people! Jews, porters, female furniture dealers with heavy earrings,
silken skirts, and ungloved, unwashed hands--all the sharks that ruin
attracts; and in the portico, on the steps, on the very gravel of the
drive, furniture, crystal chandeliers, tables, mirrors, lying like the
débris left by the wave of misfortune.

It was as if one were looking at a lee shore the morning after the wreck
of some palatial ship: cabin-furniture, stores, the sailor's sea-chest
and the passengers' baggage, tossed up on the sands in horrible
incongruity, and speaking louder than a thousand trumpets of the fury of
the storm.

There was a sale in progress at the Hôtel Feliciani. I knew nothing of
sales, I knew nothing of finance, speculation, or commercial ruin, but I
knew that what I saw was disaster.

Getting out of the cabriolet, and telling the driver to wait for me, I
went up the steps and mixed with the throng in the hall. I wanted to
find the Felicianis, and some instinct told me they were not here; also,
that it was useless to ask any of these people their whereabouts. I
looked about me for someone in authority; and, as I looked, a voice from
the large salon adjoining the hall came:

"Thirty thousand francs! Thirty thousand francs! Any advance on thirty
thousand francs? Gone!" Then followed the blow of a little hammer.

They were selling the pictures. I turned to the doorway of the great
salon and squeezed my way in. The place was filled with people--all
Paris was there. Men who had shaken the Count Feliciani by the hand,
women who had kissed the Countess on the cheek, men and women of the
highest nobility, of the greatest intelligence--très propre, to use the
words of the old fool in De Morny's ante-chamber--were here, battening
on the sight, and trying to snatch bargains from the ruin of their
one-time friends. The Felicianis, as I afterwards learned, all but
beggared, had been cast adrift, mother and daughter, by society; cast
out like lepers from the pure precincts of the Court circle and the
buckramed salons of the Royalist clique.

M. Hamard, the auctioneer, on his estrade, before his desk, a man in
steel spectacles, the living image of the late unlamented Procurator of
the Holy Synod, was clearing his throat before offering the next lot, a
Gerard Dow, eighteen inches by twelve.

As the bidding leaped up by a thousand francs at a time, I edged my way
through the throng closer and closer to the auctioneer, treading on
dainty toes, wedging myself in between whispering acquaintances,
regardless of grumbles and muttered imprecations, till I was right
beside the estrade and within plucking distance of the auctioneer's
coat.

"Sixty-five thousand francs!" cried M. Hamard. "This priceless Gerard
Dow--sixty-five thousand francs. Any advance on sixty-five thousand
francs? Gone! Well, what is it, little boy?"

"Please," said I, "can you tell me where I can find the Countess
Feliciani?"

A dead silence took the room, for my nervousness had made me speak
louder than I intended. People looked at one another; an awkward silence
it must have been following the voice of the enfant terrible flinging
the name of the woman they had cast out and deserted into the face of
these worldlings who had come to examine her effects and snatch bargains
from her ruin.

M. Hamard, aghast, stared down at me through his spectacles.

"You---- Who are you?" said he.

"I am her friend. My name is Patrick Mahon. My father is General Count
Mahon, and I wish to see the Countess Feliciani."

M. Hamard seized a pen from the desk, scribbled some words on a piece of
paper, and handed it to me.

"Go," he said. "That is the address. You are interrupting the sale."

Then, with the paper in my hand, I came back through the crush without
difficulty, for the crowd made a lane for me down which I walked, paper
in hand, a child of nine, the last and only friend of the once great and
powerful Felicianis.

I read the address on the piece of paper to the driver of the cabriolet.

"Ma foi!" said he, "but that is a long way from here."

"Drive me there," said I.

"Yes; that is all very well, but how about my fare?"

I showed him my napoleon, got into the vehicle, and we drove off.

It was indeed a long way from there. We retook the route by which we
had come, we drove through the broad streets, through the great
boulevards, and then we plunged into a quarter of the city where the
streets were shrunken and mean, where the people were in keeping with
the streets, and the light of the bright September day seemed dull as
the light of December.

At the Hôtel de Mayence in the Rue Ancelot we drew up. It was a
respectable, third-rate hotel. A black cat was crouched in the doorway,
watching the street with imperturbable yellow eyes, and a waiter with a
stained serviette in his hand made his appearance at the sound of the
vehicle drawing up.

Yes; Madame Feliciani was in: he would go up and see whether she could
receive visitors. I waited, trying to make friends with the sphinx-like
cat; then I was shown upstairs, and into a shabby sitting-room
overlooking the street.

By the window, stitching at a child's small garment, sat an old lady
with snow-white hair. It was the Countess Feliciani.

It was as if I had seen by some horrible enchantment a woman of
thirty-five, happy and beautiful, surrounded by the wealth and luxury of
life, suddenly withered, touched by the wand of some malevolent fairy
and transformed into a woman old and poor.

It was my first lesson in the realities of life, this fairy tale, which,
for hidden terror, put Vogel's story of the old woman who made the
whistles completely in the shade.

Next moment I was at her knee, blubbering, with my nose rubbing the
bombazine of her black skirt--for she was in mourning--and next moment
little Eloise was in her room, looking just the same as ever, and I was
being comforted as if all the misfortune were mine; and Madame
Feliciani, for so she chose to be styled, was smiling for the first
time, I am sure, since the disaster. A late déjeûner was brought in, and
I was given a place at the table. It is all misty and strange in my
mind. A few things of absolute unimportance stand out--the coat of the
waiter, shiny at the elbows; the hotel dog that came in for scraps; the
knives and forks, worn and second-rate--but of what we said to each
other I remember nothing.

"And you will come and see us?" said I as I took my departure.

"Some day," replied the Countess, with a smile, the significance of
which I now understand, as I understand the horrible mockery of my
innocent invitation.

Eloise ran down to see me off; and the last I saw of her was a small
figure standing at the door of the hotel, and holding in its arms the
black cat with the imperturbable yellow eyes.

When we arrived at the Champs Elysées I was so frightened with my doings
that I gave the driver the whole napoleon without waiting for change,
and then I went to meet my doom like a man, and confessed the whole
business to my father.

The sentence was expulsion from Paris to the pavilion in the grounds of
the Château de Saluce, whither, accordingly, I was transported next day
with Joubert for a gaoler.



CHAPTER XV

THE PAVILION OF SALUCE


Since my mother's death, my father had not lived in the château. He was
too grand to let it, so it was placed in the hands of a caretaker. It
was a gloomy house, dating from 1572, but the pavilion was the
pleasantest place in the world. It was situated in the woods of the
château, woods adjoining the forest of Sénart. It had six rooms, and was
surrounded by a deep moat. A drawbridge gave access to it; and by
touching a lever the drawbridge would rise; and you were as completely
isolated from the world as though you were surrounded by a wall of iron.

The water in the moat, fed by some unknown source, was very dark and
still and deep, reflecting with photographic perfection the treetops of
the wood and the fern-fronds of the bank. The water never varied in
height, and, a strange thing, was rarely, even in the severest weather,
covered with ice. It had a gloomy and secret look.

"Joubert," I remember saying once, as I looked over the rail of the
drawbridge at the reflections on the oily surface below, "has it ever
drowned a man?"

"Which?" asked Joubert.

"The water."

That was the feeling with which it inspired me, and I never lingered on
the bridge when I was alone. And I was often alone now, for Joubert,
having extracted my parole d'honneur to be of good behaviour and not get
into mischief or bolt back to Paris, spent most of his time at the
château, where the caretaker had a pretty daughter, or at the cabaret at
Etiolles, Lisette, the old woman who did our cooking and made our beds,
being deputed deputy-gaoler.

The weather had the feeling of early spring, though in the forest, half
stricken by autumn, the leaves were falling--falling to every touch of
the wind. Where the forest of Sénart began, and the woods of the château
ended, the frontier was marked by a thin line of wire easy for a child
to slip under. Then one felt free, free as the cock pheasant whose
corkscrew-sounding voice echoed from the liquid twilight of the drives,
free as the wind in the tree tops. The great pine forest of Lichtenberg
had a voice. You would hear the wind rising and passing over its leagues
of perfumed branches, and dying away, and rising and dying away--ever
the same voice filling and deserting the same vast silence. But here, in
the forest of Sénart, the tongue of the beech spoke a different language
to that of the fir and the larch. There were open spaces, swathes of
sunshine, forest pools like lost sapphires, where the bulrushes painted
their forms on the water-surface, blue with the reflection of the autumn
sky.

These woods, whose echoes had once answered to the hunting-horn of Le
Roi Soleil, were haunted, but not by the ghost of Pan. Rousseau had once
botanised in them, and M. de Jussien, in his coat of ribbed Indian
satin, his lilac silk vest, and white silk stockings of extraordinary
fineness, had here filled his herbal with the vicris hieracioides and
the cerastium aquaticum so dear to his herboristic heart. Pompadour had
wandered where the rabbits played now; and the glades, shot through with
sunlight and draped in the muslin of the morning mist, were the
backgrounds beloved of Fragonnard for his wreaths of flying drapery, his
fêtes champêtres, and his sylvan scenes.

The forest keepers all wore a state uniform. Fanchard, the one who lived
nearest to us, an old soldier and a crony of Joubert's, would take me
with him whilst he set his traps; and there were gypsies that haunted
the clearings, real children of Egypt these, lineal descendants of
Hennequin Dandèche and Clopin Trouillefou.

On the evening of our sixth day at the pavilion, a visitor arrived. It
was my father. He had left his carriage in the road at the gates of the
château, and had come to the pavilion on foot.

I was at supper when he arrived. He ordered another plate, and a bottle
of wine; he was gay, excited, his eyes were brilliant, and he seemed
quite to have forgotten my escapades in Paris, for he never referred to
them. He had only come for an hour, to see how I was getting on, so he
said; but he stayed three, for after supper he called Joubert, and they
both went out into the night.

These two old soldiers must have had something very important to say to
one another, for they were gone an hour or more. When they returned, my
father beckoned me to him and kissed me, and bade me good-night; then,
as if something had suddenly occurred to him, he said to Joubert:
"Patrick can come down to the road and see me off. Come, both of you,
and bring a lantern."

Joubert lit a lantern. The night was black as black velvet, and the
lantern only showed Joubert's legging-clad legs as he marched before us
down the gravel of the drive.

The carriage was standing in the road. My father kissed me, got in, and
drove away.

Just as the vehicle moved off, he looked out of the window, and the
light of the lantern which Joubert was holding up struck his face. What
a reckless, daring, jolly face it was, that face I was destined never to
see again!

"What did father want to say to you, Joubert?" I asked as we returned to
the pavilion.

"What did he want to say?" cried Joubert, whose temper seemed sharper
than usual. "Why, that the price of cabbages has gone up. What else
would he have to say to me at this hour of the night? Mordieu! If I
could be there!"

"Where, Joubert?"

But Joubert did not reply.

Next morning the fine weather still held, and I was up at dawn. It was
no trouble to get up early when one lived in the pavilion. The birds
wakened one; and, then, the forest!

In the very early morning, the forest, like the sea, is full of tender
lights. Shadows and trees are equally unsubstantial, the rides are
wreathed in vague mists, the last star has not quite faded from the sky,
and the voice of the thrush comes from the glens as in the story of
Vitigab, crying: "Deep--down deep--there somewhere in the darkness I see
a ray of light." The hollow tapping of the woodpecker comes from the
beech glades, whilst the rabbits shake the dew from their fur, and the
rustle of the stoat comes from the ferns; a nut falls, and, looking up,
you see against the sky, where the treetops are waving in the palest
sapphire air, the squirrel, the sweetest of all wood things.

You observe one another and he is gone, and the wind draws up from
leagues away like the rustling of a silken skirt, till, suddenly, the
whole forest draws breath. You can hear it waking from its slumber just
as at dusk you can hear it falling to sleep; for the forest is a living
thing, a thing that breathes and speaks and has its dreams.

I was out early this morning, for I was going to breakfast with
Fauchard. I passed the glades where the rabbits were sporting, chasing
each other in circles smoothly and for all the world like toy rabbits on
wheels and driven by clockwork. I passed the pools where the bulrushes
stood up out of the mist, and nothing spoke of water save the splash of
the frog, or the ripple of the water-rat swimming.

Fauchard was waiting for me. We had breakfast--a simple enough repast,
consisting of coffee, biscuits, and cheese--and then we started off to
visit the traps and see what they had caught.

When Fauchard had collected his harvest of stoats and moles, killed two
snakes, and shot a marauding cat, it was late morning; the sun was well
over the treetops, and it was time for me to return home.

"Take that path," said the ranger. "Turn neither to the right nor left,
and it will lead you straight as an omnibus to the pavilion."

I bade him good morning, and, taking the path indicated, I set off. It
was not a drive; in fact, it was so narrow in parts that the hawthorn
bushes growing in this part of the wood nearly met; the fern in places
nearly blocked the way. It was warm, and very silent.

When I paused now and then to listen, I could hear nothing except the
buzzing of wasps and flies. The ground in places was boggy, the path, it
seemed to me, had not been used for years. Stories of murderers and
goblins occurred to my mind and made me press on all the faster.

I had turned past a clump of alders when before me I caught a glimpse of
someone going in the same direction as myself--a boy of my own age, to
judge from his height, but I could not see what he was dressed in, or
whether he was a gypsy or a woodranger's child, for he was always just
ahead of my sight at the turnings, glimpsed for a moment and then gone.
I halloed to him to stop, for his company would have been very
acceptable in that lonely place, but he made no reply. I ran, and
pausing out of breath, I heard his footsteps running, too; then they
ceased, as though he were waiting for me. It was like a game of
hide-and-seek, and I laughed.

I walked softly and as quickly as I could, hoping to surprise him.
Then, at the next turning, I saw him. He was amidst the bushes on the
right; his head just peeped over the tops of them, and--he was a child
of about my own age, and extraordinarily like little Carl.

Filled with astonishment, not thinking what I did, I ran through the
bushes towards him, calling his name.

Then I remember nothing more.



CHAPTER XVI

THE VICOMTE


I had fallen into a disused gravel-pit, treacherously hidden by the
bushes, so they told me afterwards. When I recovered from my stunned
condition, my cries for help had attracted the attention of Fauchard's
eldest son, who, fortunately, had been passing. I do not remember
calling for help; I remember nothing distinctly till I found myself on
my bed, and old Dr. Perichaud of Etiolles bending over me. Then I became
keenly alive to my position, for my right thigh was broken in two
places, and the doctor was setting it. When the thing was over, the
doctor retired with Joubert to the next room, and there they talked.
When will people learn that the sick have ears to hear with, and a sense
of hearing doubly acute?

This conversation came to my ears. The speakers spoke in a muted voice,
it is true, but this only made the matter worse.

"You have sent for the General, you say?"

"Oui, monsieur. A man on horseback has started to fetch him. He will be
here in an hour, unless----"

"Unless?"

"Monsieur does not know. The General has an affair of honour on hand.
This morning, in the Bois de Boulogne, he was to meet Baron Imhoff."

"Aha!" said Perichaud, with appreciation. He was an old army surgeon,
who had tasted smoke, and seen men carved with other things than
scalpels. He was also a gossip, as most old army men are. "Aha! And what
was the cause of the affair? Do you know?"

"Oh, mon Dieu!" said Joubert, "it was all that cursed business at the
Schloss Lichtenberg, of which everyone is speaking. Baron Imhoff was
cousin"--mark the "was"--"of the Baron von Lichtenberg, Baron Imhoff
picked a quarrel at the Grand Club yesterday with the General. That's
all. It is a bad affair."

"And the Lichtenberg affair--the cause of all this?" said Perichaud.

"Ah, that beats the Moscow campaign," said Joubert, "for blackness and
treachery. Mark you: this is between ourselves. You will never breathe a
word of it to anyone?"

"No, no; not a word!"

"Well, the Baron Carl von Lichtenberg was mad."

"Mad?"

"Mad. What else can you call a man who brings his little daughter up as
a boy?"

"A boy?"

"It is true. He fancied she was some old dead-and-gone Lichtenberg
returned, and that she was doomed to be killed by the child in there
with the broken leg, whom he thought was some old dead-and-gone Saluce
returned. Then-- Listen to me; and I trust monsieur's honour never to
let these words go further. He, or at least one of his damned jägers,
tried to smother the child. The night before, they tried to stab
him--as he lay asleep in bed--with my couteau de chasse, and would have
done it only the Blessed Virgin interposed."

"Great Heaven!" said the old doctor.

"Oh, yes," said Joubert; "that's the story. I saw it all with my own
eyes, or I wouldn't believe my own tongue with my own ears. And now
monsieur, what do you think of him?"

"Of him?" said Perichaud.

"Of the child. Is there danger?"

"Not a bit; but he'll be lame for life."

"Lame for life!"

"The femur is broken in two places, and splintered. The right leg will
be two inches shorter than the left. All the surgeons in Paris could not
do him any good."

"Then he will be useless for the army!" said Joubert. And I could hear
the catching of his breath.

"He will never see service," replied Perichaud.

A loud smash of crockery came as a reply to the doctor's pronouncement.
It was Joubert kicking a great Japanese jar on to the floor.

As for me, I had heard the death-sentence of my hopes. I would never
wear a sword or lead a company into action. I would be a thing with a
lame leg--a cripple. Fortunately, an opiate which the doctor had given
me began to take effect. It did not make me sleepy, but it dulled my
thoughts--some of them; others it made more bright. I lay listening to
the doctor departing, and watching the red sunset which was dyeing
Etiolles, and the woods, and the walls of my bedroom.

Then Joubert's words came into my head about Lichtenberg, and the duel
the General had fought that morning with Baron Imhoff. I did not feel in
the least uneasy about my father, and I was picturing the duel in the
woods of Lichtenberg, when a sound through the open window came to my
ears.

It was a carriage rapidly driving up the distant avenue to the château.

It was my father, I felt sure. A long time passed, and then I heard
steps on the drawbridge; voices sounded from below. Then came a step on
the stairs; my door opened, and a gentleman stood framed in the doorway.

I shall never forget my first sight of the Vicomte Armand de Chatellan,
my father's cousin on the Saluces' side, and my future guardian.

I had never seen him before. He was not, indeed, a sight to come often
in a child's way, this flower of the boulevards, seventy if a day,
scented, exquisite, with a large impassive, evenly coloured red face,
the face of a Roman consul, in which were set the blue eyes of a
good-tempered child.

This great gentleman, who left the pavements of Paris only once a year
for a three weeks' visit to his estates in Auvergne, had travelled
express from Paris to tell a child that its father was lying dead, shot
through the heart by the Baron Imhoff. And this is how he did it: He
made a kindly little bow to me, and indicated Joubert to place a chair
by the bedside.

"And how are we this evening?" asked he, taking my wrist as a physician
might have done to feel my pulse.

I did not know who he was. I had vague suspicions that he was another
doctor. Never for a moment did I dream he was the bearer of evil
tidings. I said I was better--that old reply of the sick child--and he
talked on various subjects: the airiness of the room, the beauty of the
woods, and so forth. Then, to Joubert: "Distinctly feverish. Must not be
disturbed to-night. Ah, yes, in the morning; that will be different. And
no more tumbling into gravel pits," finished this astute old gentleman
as he glanced back at me before leaving the room.

Then the opiate closed its lid on me, and I did not even hear the
departure of the Vicomte Armand de Chatellan, my future guardian, who
shuffled out of the unpleasant business of grieving my heart on the same
evening that he shuffled into my life, he and his grand, queer, quaint,
and sometimes despicable personality, perfumed with vervain and the
cigars of the Café de Paris.



PART II



CHAPTER XVII

A DÉJEÛNER AT THE CAFÉ DE PARIS


The death of my father cast me into an entirely new life. Anyone less
fitting than the Vicomte Armand de Chatellan to be the guardian of a
child of nine it would be hard to imagine at first sight. But my father
was no fool.

This gorgeous old night-moth of the Second Empire, this frequenter of
Tortoni's and the Café de Paris--always hard up, with an income of two
hundred thousand francs a year--was a man of rigid honour in his way.

Left sole and irresponsible guardian of me and my money, he shuffled out
of his difficulties and bothers by placing the latter in the funds and
the former in the Bourdaloue College--that same college of the Jesuit
fathers where the Comte de Coigny was receiving his education.

Here nine years of my life were spent--nine dull but not unhappy years.
Lame and unfit for the army, completely cut off from the only profession
fit for a gentleman--to use the Vicomte's expression--I saw the others
go off to join the Military College, and I would not have felt it so
bitterly had not De Coigny been amongst them. He was my natural enemy.
All the time we spent together at the Bourdaloue, we scarcely spoke a
word one to the other. Speechless enmity: there can scarcely be a worse
condition between boys or men.

Once a month or so the Vicomte came to see me. Joubert came often. He
was installed as caretaker in the Château de Saluce, and he would bring
me presents of game and plovers' eggs, huge Jaronel pears from the
orchard, and cakes baked by Fauchard's wife.

During the first few months at the college, I had got leave from the
Father Superior to visit the Felicianis. A young priest accompanied me.
But the Felicianis were not at the Hôtel de Mayence; no one knew
anything about them; the hotel itself had changed hands after the
fashion of these small hotels, the short chapters of whose histories
have for heading "Bankruptcy."

Then I forgot.

Little by little the beautiful Countess and the sprightly Eloise faded
from my mind. Never entirely, but they passed to the region of ghosts,
the limbo of things half remembered.

I was not a diligent student. Good for nothing much except drawing. I
was an artist born, I believe, and had the artistic temperament, which
takes a delight in all things brilliant and beautiful, and tuneful and
grand, and holds in abhorrence all things dull and most things useful.
Smuggled novels and the poems of De Musset were the literature of my
heart. D'Artagnan and Bussey were my heroes, and Esmeralda, that
brilliant and gemlike creation, was my mistress.

Life is a love-story, a story that Nature alone can teach you to read.
And what are the poets and the great writers of prose but Nature's
priests, who repeat her litanies? Yet love-stories were banned at the
Bourdaloue, and Dumas was accounted a child of Satan. Which statement is
a preface to the comedy of my eighteenth birthday, or, in other words,
the twelfth of May, 1869.

I was to leave school on that day. The Vicomte de Chatellan was to
entertain me at déjeûner. I was to have rooms at his house in the Place
Vendôme; I was, in fact, to burst my sheath and become a dragon-fly. I
was to have an allowance of four hundred a year, to teach me, as the
Vicomte said, the value of money. Joubert was to be unearthed from the
Château de Saluce, and constituted my valet. Blacquerie, the Viscount's
tailor, and Champardy, his bootmaker, had already called and taken the
measurements for my new wardrobe. I can tell you I was elated; and no
debutante ever looked forward more eagerly to the day of her debut than
I to the twelfth of May.

At ten o'clock the Vicomte called for me. He was received in the salon
by the Principal and two of the Fathers. They liked me, these men, and I
liked them; and though I had imbibed Jesuitism as little as a rock
imbibes the sea-water in which it is immersed, I respected Père
Hyacinthe, and I loved, without any reserve, Father Ambrose, a
bull-necked Arlesian, who, incapable of hurting a fly in practice, burnt
heretics in theory, for ever, and for ever, and for ever in hell.

As we got into the Vicomte's carriage, this same Father Ambrose came
running out, and, just as we drove off, popped into my hand a little
green-covered book on the seven deadly sins.

"What's that?" asked the Vicomte, as I turned the leaves.

I showed it to him. "Pshaw!" said he, and flung it out of the window.

"All that stuff you have learned," said this worthy man, "is excellent
for children; but when we become men we put away childish things, as M.
de Voltaire or some other scoundrel of a philosopher, I think it was,
once remarked. Mark you, I say nothing against religion. Religion is a
most excellent institution; but in the world, my dear Patrique, we are
brought face to face with men. Religion is a fixed institution; and the
nones, or complines, whatever you call it that they say to-day, were
what they said two hundred years ago. But men are very shifty, and, as a
matter of fact, damned rogues. It is very easy to be a saint in the
College Bourdaloue; but it is very difficult to be a gentleman in the
Boulevard des Italiens, especially in this bourgeois age" (he was a
Royalist, with one foot in the Tuileries and the other in the Faubourg
St. Germain), "when we have a what-do-you-call-it as President of the
Council and a thingumbob on the throne of France."

So he went on as he sat, erect as a man of thirty, gazing at the passing
streets with those blue tranquil eyes of a child, out of which youth
still looked; and turning to me the pro-consular profile of which he was
secretly so proud, and which was the thing, I believe, up to which this
strange old gentleman lived.

To live up to your profile is not a bad rule of life, if you have a
face like that possessed by the Vicomte Armand de Chatellan.

When we drew up at the Place Vendôme, I put my hand to open the door,
and received my first lesson in the convenances from the Vicomte, who
laid his gloved hand on my arm without a word. The footman opened the
door, and the grand old gentleman descended. M. le Vicomte did not get
out of a carriage--he descended. And with what a grace! He waited
courteously for me on the pavement; and then, with a little wave of his
clouded cane, shepherded me into the house.

At the door, Beril, the Vicomte's personal servant, a man older than his
master, received us; and Joubert was in the hall with my luggage.

"And now," said the Vicomte, when I had been shown my suite of rooms,
and very sumptuous they were, "déjeûner."

We got into the carriage which was waiting, the footman closed the door,
and we started for the Café de Paris.

Fourteen people were invited to the repast, besides myself. It took
place in the Amber Room overlooking the Boulevard; and six of the guests
were ladies. Very great ladies--duchesses, in my simple eyes. Had I
known more of breakfast-parties and the world, I might have wondered at
the disposition of the guests; for the Duc d'Harmonville, an old
gentleman with a white imperial and the exact expression of a
billy-goat, sat between two of the duchesses; and the rest of the female
illuminati sat, three of them altogether in one cluster, and the sixth
at the right of my guardian.

There was Pélisson of the "Moniteur," the only Press man present;
Carvalho of the Opéra Comique; the Duc de Cadore; Prince Metternich,
with his long Dundreary whiskers now lightly streaked with grey; and, as
for the rest, I did not catch their names, and I have all but forgotten
their faces.

One thing especially struck me in the male guests. With the exception of
Pélisson and Prince Metternich, their manner and their voices recalled
something or somebody to my mind, yet what thing or person I could not
remember, till Memory suddenly chalked on the vacant space before her:

De Morny.

The languid air, the half-lisp, the attentive inattention of manner, all
were here, the very voice.

What a triumph! De Morny had been dead and buried nearly four years, yet
his reflection still lingered on the faces of these apes; his voice had
been silent since the orations and muffled drums of that dramatic
funeral, which outvied in splendour the funeral of Germanicus, and which
I had witnessed in company with Père Hyacinthe and the pupils of the
Bourdaloue; yet his voice still was heard in the supper-rooms of Paris,
discussing the length of ballet-girls' skirts and the scandals of
Plon-Plon.

With the fish the conversation became more general, and with the iced
champagne--served from jeroboams that took two waiters to lift--decency
and the ghost of De Morny rose to take their departure.

It was strange to me, a water-drinker, and therefore an observer of the
others, to see these men forgetting themselves, to see languid faces
become flushed, to hear soft voices become harsh, tongues become ribald;
to watch brutal lines asserting themselves in countenances unveiled by
alcohol. And it was surpassingly funny to see the evanescence of the De
Morny air.

At the head of the table, a tint more ruddy than usual, sat my guardian,
enjoying it all.

We had all, like the lunatic guests at the dinner-party of Dr. Tar and
Professor Feather, sat down to table apparently staid and respectable
people, and by degrees, just as lunacy set off the Doctor's guests
crowing like cocks and braying like asses, the spirit of the Second
Empire in its last and rottenest stages invaded the Amber Room of the
Café de Paris. Furious discussions, fumes of spilt wines, wreaths of
cigar and cigarette smoke, the cracked and cruel laughter of women,
filled the air.

       *       *       *       *       *

And in the midst of it all sat my guardian, in his element, enjoying the
enjoyment of his guests, paternal, and with those childish blue eyes
through which youth looked so frankly, and that voice, so courtly and
well modulated, infecting the others with I know not what. I only know
that from him seemed to emanate the diablerie of the party. Sober as
myself, self-contained and courtly, he seemed like the negative pole of
some diabolical battery, of which the others were the positive.

In the midst of the smoke and chatter he rose, and with a glass of
champagne between two fingers, as a lady holds a lily, he proposed my
health and my success in the world of Paris; and I rose and said
something--foolish, no doubt, but it did not matter, for Amy Féraud, of
the Théâtre Montparnasse, whilst she pelted Prince Metternich with
bonbons, lost her balance, fell smash on her back, pulling the
tablecloth with her, and in the confusion I sat down.

Half an hour later, arm-in-arm with my guardian, I was taking a
digestion walk down the Boulevard des Italiens. The old gentleman was
pleased, very pleased, for it seems I had conducted myself in a modest
and becoming manner, and the few words I had said had been well said;
and you might have thought that he was discussing a children's party as
he strolled by my side, saluting every person of distinction that he
met, and being saluted in return.

I really believe that this man was as innocent at heart as any child,
yet he was an old roué, a duellist, a gambler, all that a bad man could
be. Yet, though always hard up, he had jealously guarded my patrimony,
which he could have plundered if he had chosen with impunity. His
charity was boundless if you tapped it; and though he spoke of women in
a light way, _I never heard him speak a bad word of any man_. And he
loved animals, stopping to stroke a cat in the Rue de Rivoli, and
pausing, as he led me across to the Tuileries, to admire the sparrows
taking their dust-baths in the Royal precincts.

"Where are we going?" I asked, with a sudden apprehension.

"It is your eighteenth birthday," replied the Vicomte. And, still with
his arm in mine, he led me past the Cent-Gardes, up the steps, and into
the hall of the Palace.

One might have thought that the Palace of the Tuileries belonged to the
Vicomte de Chatellan, so perfectly at home did he seem. That he was a
well-known and respected visitor was evident from the manner of the
ushers. I was left in an anteroom, whilst the old gentleman, led by the
usher, disappeared for a moment; then he came back, and, motioning me to
follow him, he led the way into a room, where, at a desk-table, with a
cigarette between his lips and a pen in his hand, sat Napoleon.

He threw the pen down and rose to greet us.

How wrinkled he looked! And how different, seen close and familiarly,
from what he appeared in his carriage, amidst a cloud of dust, a glitter
of sabres, and surrounded by his guards and gentlemen!

Quite an unfearful person; old, and rather shuffling, easy-going, and
putting you at your ease, rather dreamy, and speaking with a slightly
nasal voice, rolling an armchair for you to sit in with his own august
hands, offering cigarettes with a little shake of the box to loosen them
and make your acceptance of one more easy, searching for a matchbox
amidst the papers on the desk: a true gentleman, though an unfortunate
Emperor.

Though I was eighteen, I was still very much of a child, and that is
perhaps why I felt an affection for the old gentleman at almost first
sight. He remembered my father perfectly well; and, with a shade of
sadness and wreathed in his cigarette smoke, he fell into a little
reverie. We talked--he, my guardian, and I. My lameness was explained
and commiserated, and, when our audience was ended and M. Ollivier was
announced as waiting, he pushed us out of his cabinet, holding our hands
affectionately, patting my shoulder, and all with such a grace and
goodness of heart as to make me for ever his admirer and friend.

Ah, that was a good man lost in an Emperor!



CHAPTER XVIII

MY FIRST NIGHT IN PARIS


"I am due to dine at the Duc de Bassano's," said my guardian as I parted
with him outside the Tuileries. "So, if we do not see one another till
to-morrow morning, au revoir. You have plenty of money in your pocket,
Paris is before you, you are young: amuse yourself."

Then the old gentleman marched off, and left me standing on the
pavement.

I could not help recalling my father's words in the room of the Duc de
Morny, years ago, when he dismissed me:

"Go and play."

I had five hundred francs in my pocket, I possessed rooms in the Place
Vendôme, a princely fortune lay at my back, I had a guardian, everything
that a guardian ought to be from a young man's point of view, I had just
shaken hands with the Emperor, I had the entrée of the very best of
society in France, yet I doubt if you could have found a more forlorn
creature than myself if you had searched the whole of Paris.

I did not know where to go or what to do, so I went back to the Place
Vendôme, superintended the unpacking of my things, looked at my new
clothes, and at seven o'clock, called by the lovely evening, I went out
again, proposing to myself to dine somewhere and see life.

Over the western sky, brilliant and liquid as a topaz, hung the evening
star. Paris was preparing for the festival of the night, wrapping
herself in the dark gauze of shadows and spangling herself with lights.
I hung on the Pont des Arts, looking at the dark lilac of the Seine,
looking at the drifting barges, listening to the sounds of the city.

Then I walked on.

Oh, there is no doubt that we are led in this world when we seem to
lead, and that when we take a direction that brings us to fate it is not
by our own volition. This I was soon to prove.

I walked on--walked in the blindness of reverie--and opened my eyes to
find myself in a new world.

A broad boulevard, a blaze of lights, cafés thronged to the pavement,
the music of barrel-organs, laughter, and a crowd.

Such a crowd! Men with long hair, gentlemen in pegtop trousers, wearing
smoking-caps with tassels, smoking long pipes; men in rags, hawkers
yelling their wares, blind men tapping their way with their sticks, deaf
men blowing penny whistles, grisettes, gamins, poets, painters, gnomes
from the Rue du Truand, goblins from Montmartre, Thénard and Claquesons,
Fleur de Marie and Mimi Pinson, Bouchardy and Bruyon; skull-like faces,
ghost-like faces, faces like roses, paint, satin, squalor, beauty; and
all drifting as if blown by the wind of the summer night, drifting under
the stars, here in shadow, here in the blaze of the roaring cafés,
drifting, drifting, in a double current from and towards the voiceless
and gas-spangled Seine.

Not in the bazaars of Bagdad, or on the Bardo of Tunis, could you see so
fantastic a sight as the Boulevard St. Michel in the year 1869.

It fascinated me, and, mixing with the crowd, I drifted half the length
of the boulevard, till suddenly I was brought up as if by the blast of a
trumpet in my face. By the pavement a man had placed a little carpet,
six inches square; on this carpet, lit by the light of a bullseye
lantern, two tiny dolls, manipulated by an invisible thread, were
wrestling and tumbling, to the edification of a small crowd of
interested onlookers. One of these--a man with a violin under his arm, a
man with a round, fresh-coloured childish face--I knew at sight. He had
not altered in nine years. He was the good angel, the violinist of that
troupe of wandering musicians, whose music had held me in the gallery of
the Schloss Lichtenberg.

I laughed to myself with pleasure as I watched him watching the dolls,
all his simple soul absorbed in the sight, his violin under his arm, and
a hand in the pocket of his shabby coat, feeling for a coin to pay for
the entertainment.

He did not know me in the least. How could he connect the child in its
nightgown, looking down from the gallery of the castle, with the young
dandy who was raising his hat to him in the Boulevard St. Michel?

"Excuse me, monsieur," said I, "but I believe I have the pleasure of
your acquaintance, though we have never spoken one word to each other."

He smiled dubiously and plucked nervously at a violin-string, evidently
ransacking memories of beer-gardens and café-chantants to find my face.

"You will not remember me," I went on, "but I remember you. Over nine
years ago, it was, in Germany, in the Schloss Lichtenberg. You remember
the Hunting-Song, the horn----"

"Ach Gott!" he cried, slapping himself on the forehead. "The child in
the gallery, the one in white----"

"Yes," said I; "that was me. You see, I don't forget my friends."

He was too astounded to say anything for a moment; the wretched
difference our clothes made in us confused his simple mind.

Then he wiped his hand with fingers outspread across his broad face. It
was just as if he had wiped away his amazement like a veil, exposing the
beneficent smile that was his true expression.

"Wunderschön!" said he.

"Wunderschön indeed," replied I, laughing. "But I have much more to tell
you. Come, let us walk down the Boulevard together, if you have a moment
to spare. You saved my life that night--you and those friends of
yours--and I must tell you about it."

I knew this man quite well, though I had never spoken to him before. A
really good man is the friend of all the world; you speak to him, and
you know him as though you had known him all your life, for the soul and
essence of his goodness is simplicity, and instinct tells you he has no
dark corners in his soul. In his greatness he does not dream of dark
corners in yours, and so at a word you become friends.

I told him my story, and then he told me his.

He had belonged to a band of wandering musicians, long since dispersed;
and on that eventful day in September, nine years ago, he and the rest
of the band had been playing at Homburg. They had done badly; and, after
a long day's tramp, making for Friedrichsdorff, they saw before them,
just at sunset, the towers of Lichtenberg in the distance.

He, Franzius, pointed them out to the others, and proposed that they
should try their luck there, but Marx, the leader of the band, demurred.
A coin was tossed, and the answer of Fate was "Go," so they went.

"Ah, yes," said Franzius, as he finished. "And well it was we did so.
And the child who was with you in the gallery--the little boy--how is
he?"

"What child?" said I.

"He in the gallery standing beside you, dressed as a soldier, with
cross-belt like the grenadiers of Pomerania."

A cold hand seemed laid on my heart, for no child had been with me in
the gallery on that night; and the description given by Franzius was the
description of little Carl.

"Franzius," said I, stopping and facing him, "there was no one in the
gallery but myself. Of that I am positive."

There we stood facing each other in the glare of a café, with the roar
of the Boul' Miche around us, each equally astonished.

Then Franzius laughed at the absurdity of the notion that he was wrong.

"With these two eyes I saw him," said he. "And, more: once, when you
made a movement as if to go, he plucked you by the sleeve of your little
nightshirt--so--"--and he plucked my coat--"as if to hold you back, to
keep you there listening to the music."

"He did that?"

"Mais oui."

"Ah, well," I said, with a laugh that was rather forced, "I suppose I
was so taken up with the music that I did not see him. Let us walk on."

We walked on. I was perturbed. This, and the occurrence that day when I
had seen little Carl in the forest of Sénart, my father's death and all
that had gone before, made me feel that there was something working in
my life that I but dimly understood.

For the first time, fully, Von Lichtenberg's mad attempt at my
destruction rose before me, and demanded an explanation on another basis
than that of madness. He had brought up his daughter as a boy, for it
had been prophesied that she would be slain as a girl--slain by a
Saluce; and I was the last descendant of that family. Then the picture
of Margaret von Lichtenberg rose before me, and its likeness to little
Carl, and the fact of my own likeness to Philippe de Saluce, who had
murdered Margaret so many years ago; and it was just then, walking down
the Boulevard St. Michel, amidst the crush and turmoil, jostled by
students and grisettes, beggars and thieves, that the question came
before me: "Can the dead return? Has Margaret von Lichtenberg come back
to this sad old world again as little Carl? Am I Philippe de Saluce?"
And then like a pang through my heart came the recollection, the _fact_,
that I had recognised the park of Lichtenberg as a thing I had seen once
before. I had not recognised the Schloss, but even that fact was an
indirect confirmation of my fantastic idea, for the Schloss had been
rebuilt in 1703, and the murder of Margaret had occurred many years
before that.

All these questions and ideas assailing my mind at once brought terror
to my heart for a moment. Only for a moment. "Well?" said I to myself,
"suppose this is true, what then? What is the world around me, dull and
commonplace and sordid, even under its gold and glitter? I have seen the
highest pleasures that life can give men in exchange for gold to-day in
the Amber Salon of the Café de Paris. I have seen an Emperor who has
attained his ambition, and the futility and weariness of it all in his
face. I have lost and left behind the only country where dreams are real
and life worth living--childhood. I love the past; and should it come to
me and surround me with its romance, should some mysterious fate call it
up to me, should the end be tragedy even, then welcome, for one can only
die; and what care I about death if I am given one draught from the
water of romance in this arid desert of commonplace things which they
call the world?"

I walked beside Franzius intoxicated: the woods of Lichtenberg were
around me, the winds of some far-distant day were rocking the trees.
Romance had touched me with her wand. I heard the Hunting-Song, the
horn, the cries of the jägers; and now I was in the gallery of the
Schloss, the sound of the violins was in my ears, the music that was
holding me from death, the ghostly child was plucking at my sleeve. Ah,
God! whoever has tasted the waters of romance like that will never want
wine again.

And then the wand was withdrawn, and I was walking in the Boulevard St.
Michel with Franzius.



CHAPTER XIX

MY FIRST NIGHT IN PARIS (_continued_)


He was holding out his hand timidly, as if to bid me good-bye.

"Oh, but," said I, "we must not part so soon. Can you not come and have
some dinner with me? What are you doing?"

He looked at a big clock over a café on the opposite side of the way,
and sighed. It pointed to a quarter to nine. He was due at La Closerie
de Lilas at ten; he was a member of the band; there was a students'
fancy-dress ball that night, and he evidently hated the business, though
he said no word of complaint. Poor Franzius! Simple soul, poet and
peasant, child of a woodcutter in Hartz, condemned to live by the gift
that God had given him, just as one might imagine some child condemned
to live by the sale of some lovely toy, the present of an Emperor--what
a fate his was, forever surrounded by the flare of gas, the clatter of
beer-mugs, and the foetid life of music-hall and café-chantant!

"Come," I said. And, taking him by the arm, I led him into the nearest
café.

You could dine here sumptuously for 1 franc 50, wine included. We found
a vacant table; and as we waited for our soup the heart in me was
touched at the way the world and the years had treated this friend who
was part of the romance of my life; for the pitiless gaslight showed up
all--the coat so old and frayed, yet still, somehow, respectable; the
face showing lines that ought never to have been there. I hugged myself
at the thought of my money, and what I could do for him. But in this I
reckoned without Franzius.

He was hungry, and he enjoyed his dinner frankly, and like a child. He
had the whole bottle of wine to himself. He had not had such a dinner
for a long time, and he said so. Then I gave him the best cigar the café
could supply, a black affair that smelt like burning rags, and we
wandered out of the café, he, at least in outward appearance, the
happiest man in Paris.

"And the Closerie de Lilas?" said I, when we were on the pavement.

"Ah, oui!" sighed Franzius, coming back from the paradise of digestion.
"It is true that I should be getting there, and we must say good-bye."

"You said it was a fancy-dress ball?"

"Yes."

"I'd have gone with you only for that."

"But you will do as you are!" cried he, his face lighting up with
pleasure at the thought of bringing me along with him. "Ma foi! it is
not altogether fancy-dress, for Messieurs les Étudiants have not always
the money to spend on dress. People go as they like."

"Very well," I replied. "Allons!" And we started.

When we reached our destination people were arriving fast, and there
was a good deal of noise. A Japanese lantern was going in, and a cabinet
was being put out by two grave-faced gendarmes. The cabinet was
shouting, laughing, and protesting; at least, the head was that was
stuck out of the top of it, and belonged presumably to the two legs that
appeared below. It was very funny and fantastic, the gravity of the
officers of the law contrasting so quaintly with the business they were
about. Inside the big saloon all was light and colour and laughter, the
band was tuning up, and Franzius rushed to the orchestra, promising to
see me before I went.

I leaned against the wall and looked around me.

What a scene! Monkeys, goats, cabbages, pierrots, pierrettes, men in
everyday clothes, girls in dominoes--and very little else--and then,
boom, boom! the band broke into a waltz, and set the whole fantastic
scene whirling. A girl, dressed as a bonbon, danced up to me, nearly
kicked me in the face, and danced off again, seizing a carrot by the
waist and whirling around with him. Too lame to join in the revelry, I
watched, leaning against the wall and feeling horribly alone amidst all
this gaiety.

I was standing like this when a fresh eruption of guests burst into the
room--two men and three girls, all friends evidently, and linked
together arm-in-arm.

It was well I had the wall behind me to lean against, for one of the
girls, a lovely blonde, dressed as a shepherdess, was the Countess
Feliciani!

The woman I had lost my heart to as a child, the woman I had seen
touched by premature old age in the little sitting-room of the Hôtel de
Mayence, the same woman rejuvenated, and turned by some magic wand into
a girl of eighteen, laughing and joyous.

I gazed at this prodigy; and the prodigy, who had unlinked herself from
her companions, was now whirling before me in the waltz, in the arms of
a grenadier with a cock's feather stuck in his hat, and totally
unconscious of the commotion she had raised in my breast.

"You aren't dancing?"

"No," I said. "I'm lame."

She looked at me to see if I were serious or not; then she made a
grimace, and linked her arm in mine. It was the bonbon girl. The dance
was over, and the carrot had vanished to the bar, without, it seems,
offering her refreshment. She had beady, black eyes, a low forehead, and
rather thick lips.

"That's bad," said she, "to be lame. Let us take a stroll." And she led
me towards the bar.

How many times I led that damsel, or rather was led by her towards the
bar during the evening, I can't tell. After every dance she came to me
and commiserated me on my lameness. She was not in great request, it
seems, as a partner, dancing with anybody she could seize upon, and
coming to me, as to a drinking fountain, to allay her thirst. I did not
care. I scarcely heeded. All my mind was absorbed by the girl, the
marvellous girl with the golden hair, who was the Countess Feliciani
reborn.

"Do you know her name?" I asked the bonbon on one of our strolls in
search of refreshment.

"Whose? Oh, that doll with the yellow hair? Know her name? Why, the
whole quarter knows her name. Marie--what's this it is? She's a model at
Cardillac's. A brandy for me, with some ice in it. Hurry up! There's the
band beginning again."

The ball had now become infected by the element of riot. Scarcely had
the music struck up than it ceased. Shrill screams, shouts, and sounds
of scuffling came from the saloon, and, leaving the bonbon, who seemed
quite unconcerned, to finish her brandy, I ran out and nearly into the
arms of two gendarmes, who were making for the centre of the floor,
where the carrot and the grenadier with the cock's feather were engaged
in mortal combat. A ring of shouting spectators surrounded the
combatants, and amidst them stood the shepherdess, weeping.

She had been dancing with the grenadier, it seems, when they had
cannoned against the carrot and his partner. Hence the blows. Scarcely
had the gendarmes seized upon the combatants than someone struck a
chandelier. The crash and the shower of glass were like a signal.
Shouts, shrieks, the crowing of cocks, the blowing of horns seized from
the orchestra, the smash of glass, the crash of benches overthrown,
filled the air.

The lights went out; someone hit me a blow on the head that made me see
a thousand stars; and then I was in the street, with someone on my arm,
someone I had seized and rescued; and the great white moon of May was
lighting us, and the street, and the entry to the Closerie de Lilas,
that beer-garden that the police had now seized upon and bottled. We had
only just escaped in time. More and more gendarmes were hurrying up; and
speechless, like deer who scent the hunters on the tracks, we ran, our
shadows running before us, as if leading the way.

"We are safe here," I said, glad to pull up, for my lameness did not
lend grace to my running. "We are safe here. Those gendarmes are so busy
with the others, they have no time to run after us."

She had been crying when I pulled her out of the turmoil. She was
laughing now.

"Oh, mon Dieu!" said she. "That Changarnier! Never will I dance with him
again."

"Who is Changarnier?" I asked, looking at the lock of golden hair that
had fallen loose on her shoulder, and which the moonlight was silvering,
just as sorrow had silvered the hair of the once beautiful Countess
Feliciani.

"He is a beast!" replied she. "Is my dress torn?" She held out her dress
by a finger and thumb on either side, and rotated before me solemnly in
the moonlight, so that I might examine it back and front.

"No," I said; "it is not torn, but you have lost your crook."

"Yes," replied the shepherdess; "but I have found my sheep. Oh, I saw
you looking at me. You followed me with your eyes the whole evening. You
made Changarnier furious; he said you were an aristocrat. Who are you,
M. l'Aristocrat?"

"And you?"

"I am a shepherdess. And you?"

"I am an aristocrat."

She laughed, put her arm in mine, and we walked, the great moon casting
our shadows before us.

"If we go this way," said she, "we can get something to eat. This is the
Rue Petit Thouars. Are you hungry?"

"Are you?"

"Famished. Have you any money?"

"Lots."

"Good. Ah, yes; I saw you watching me. And, do you know, my friend, I
have seen you before, or someone like you--and you look so friendly.
Indeed, I would have spoken to you but for Changarnier. He is so
jealous! You are lame?"

"Yes, I am lame."

"Then," said she, "I can never have met you before, for I have never
known a lame man. But here we are."

She led the way into a small café. The place was crowded enough, but we
managed to get a seat. The people at the supper were mostly the remnants
of the fancy-dress ball that had escaped from the police.

I ordered everything that the place could supply, and I watched her as
she ate.

She was very beautiful; quite the most beautiful woman I had ever seen,
with the exception of the Countess Feliciani.

"You are not drinking. Why, you are not eating! What is the matter with
you, M. l'Aristocrat?"

"I am in love," replied I.

She laughed.

A Red Indian, who was supping at the next table with a grizzly bear who
had taken his head off to eat more conveniently, spoke to her
occasionally over his shoulder, giving details of their escape; and I
was glad enough when the bill was presented, and we wandered out again
into the street.

The supper had put her in the highest spirits. She laughed at our
fantastic shadows as we walked arm-in-arm down the silent Rue Petit
Thouars. She chatted, not noticing my silence: told me of Cardillac's
studio, and the "rapins," and the rules, and the life, and what her
dress cost. "Thirty-five francs the material alone, for I made it
myself. Do you admire it?"

"Yes."

"Oh, how dull you are! Yes! You ought to have said: 'Mademoiselle, your
toilet is charming.' Now, repeat it after me."

"Mademoiselle, your toilet is charming."

"Good heavens! If a hearse could speak, it would speak like that. You
are not gay. Never mind; you are all the nicer. Ah!" And she fell into a
sentimental and despondent fit, drawing closer to me, so that our
shadows made one.

Then, at a door in a side street, down which we had turned, she stopped,
and drew a key from her pocket.

"I must see you again," I said. "It is absolutely necessary. When can I
see you, and where?"

The door was open now. She drew me close to her, as if to whisper
something, but she whispered nothing. Our lips had met in the darkness.

Then I was in the hall; the door was closed, and, following her, I was
led up a steep staircase, past a landing, up another staircase to a
door. She opened the door, and the moonlight struck us in the face. The
great moon was framed in the lattice window, and against its face the
fronds of a plant growing on the sill in a flower pot were silhouetted.
The bare, poorly furnished room was filled with light, pure as driven
snow.

She shut the door, with a little laugh, and I took her in my arms.

"Eloise!" I said.

She pushed me away, and stared at me with the laugh withered on her
lips. Never shall I forget her face.

"Have you forgotten Toto?"

"Toto! Who--where----" Recollections were rushing upon her, but she did
not yet understand. She seemed straining to catch some distant voice.

"The Castle of Lichtenberg, the pine forests, little Carl. I tried to
find you, but you were gone--years ago. I was only a child, and I could
not find you. But I have found you now!"

She was clinging to me, sobbing wildly; and I made her sit down on the
side of the little bed. Then I sat by her, holding her whilst the sobs
seemed to tear her to pieces.

"I knew you," she said at last. "I knew you, but I did not
recollect--little Toto! How could I tell?"

Ah, yes, how could she tell? Through the miserable veils that lay
between her and that happy time, the past seemed vague to her as a dream
of earliest childhood.

Then, bit by bit, with her head on my shoulder, the miserable tale
unfolded itself. The Countess Feliciani had died when Eloise was
fifteen. They were in the greatest poverty, living in the Rue St.
Lazare. It was the old, old, wicked, weary story that makes us doubt at
times the existence of a God.

A model at Cardillac's and this wretched room. That was the story.

We had entered that room a man and woman, the woman with a laugh on her
lips. We sat on the side of the bed together--two children. Children
just as we were that day sitting by the pond in the woods of
Lichtenberg, with little Carl and his drum.

For Eloise had never grown up. The thing she was then in heart and
spirit she was now.

Then, as the moon drew away slowly, and the room grew darker, we talked:
and I can fancy how the evil ones who are for ever about us covered
their faces and cowered as they listened and watched.

"And little Carl?" asked Eloise. "Where is he?"

The question, spoken in the semi-darkness, caused a shiver to run
through me.

"Who knows?" I said. "Or what he is doing? Eloise, I am half afraid. I
met a man to-night, a musician; he saw me at the Schloss that time which
seems so long ago. He spoke about Carl, and then I came with him to the
ball. Only for him, I would not have met you, and it all seems like
fate. Let us talk of ourselves. You can't stay here in this house: you
must leave it to-morrow. I will arrange everything. I am rich. Think of
it!"

She laughed and clung closer to me. Despite her bitter experiences, she
had no more real knowledge of the world than myself. Money was a thing
to amuse oneself with--a thing very hard to obtain.

"You will leave this place and live in the country. You will never go to
Cardillac's again. Think, Eloise; it is May! You never see the country
here in Paris. The hawthorn is out, and the woods at Etiolles are more
beautiful than the forest was at Lichtenberg. Why, you are crying!"

"I am crying because I am happy," said she, whispering the words against
my shoulder.

Then I left her.

I cannot tell you my feelings. I cannot put them into words. It was as
if I had seen Moloch face to face, seen the brazen monster in the Square
of Carthage, seen the officiating priests and the little veiled children
seized by the brazen arms and plunged in the burning stomach.

I had seen that day Eloise Feliciani, the living child, and Amy Feraud,
the cinder remnants of a child consumed; and God in His mercy had given
me power to seize Eloise from the monster, scorched, indeed, but living.

I found the Boulevard St. Michel almost deserted now, and took my way
along it to the Seine.

"What are you to do with her?"

That is the question I would have asked myself had I been a man of the
world. But I knew nothing of the world or the convenances. I was not in
love with her. Had I met her for the first time that night it might have
been different; but for me she was just the child of Lichtenberg, the
little figure I had last seen standing at the door of the Hôtel de
Mayence, holding in her arms the black cat with the amber eyes.

What was I to do with her? I had already made up my mind. I would put
her to live in the Pavilion of Saluce. I had not a real friend in the
world except old Joubert, or a thing to love. I would be no longer
lonely. What good times we would have!

I leaned over the parapet of the Pont des Arts, looking at the river,
all lilac in the dawn, thinking of the woods at Saluce, and watching
myself in fancy wandering there with Eloise.

Then I returned to the Place Vendôme. It was very late, or, rather, very
early; and before our house a carriage was drawn up, and from it M. le
Vicomte Armand de Chatellan was being assisted.

He had only just returned from the Duc de Bassano's, and he was very
tipsy. He was an object lesson to vulgar tipplers. Severe and stately,
assisted by Beril on one side and the footman on the other, the grand
old aristocrat marched towards the door he could not see.

I watched the pro-consular silhouette vanish. One could almost hear the
murmur of the togaed crowd and the "Consul Romanus" of the lictors.



CHAPTER XX

WHEN IT IS MAY


The meeting with Eloise so disturbed my mind that I had quite forgotten
one thing--Franzius. I had promised to see him after the ball--an
impossible promise to fulfil considering the way the affair ended.

When I awoke at six of this bright May morning, which was the herald of
a new chapter of my life, Franzius and his old fiddle, one under the arm
of the other, entered my mind directly the door of consciousness was
opened by Joubert's knock at the door of my room.

I had told him to waken me at six. So, though I had fallen asleep
directly my head touched the pillow, I had slept only two hours when the
summons came to get up.

But I did not care. I was as fresh as a lark. Youth, good health, the
absence of any earthly trouble, and the spirit of May, which peeped with
the sun into the courtyard of the Hôtel de Chatellan, made life a thing
worth waking up to.

But it was different with Joubert. He was yawning, and as sulky as any
old servant could possibly be, as he put out my clothes and drew up the
blind.

"Joubert," said I, sitting up in bed, "do you remember, nine years ago,
when we were staying at the Schloss Lichtenberg, a little girl in a
white dress and a blue scarf, and white pantalettes with frills to
them?"

"Mordieu!" grumbled Joubert, putting out my razors. "Do I remember?
Well, what about her?"

"I met her last night."

Joubert, who, with a towel over his arm, was just on the point of going
into the bathroom adjoining, wheeled round.

"Met her! And where?"

"At a students' ball." Then I told him the whole business; told him of
the ruin of the Felicianis, of the death of the Countess, of Eloise's
forlorn position, and of the plans I had half made for her future; to
all of which he listened without enthusiasm. "But that is not all," said
I. And told him of my meeting with Franzius, the wandering musician
whose music had held me in the gallery of the Schloss, whilst the
assassin had been at work plunging his dagger into the pillow of my bed.

"You met him, and he brought you to the place where you met her," said
Joubert when I had finished. "Mark me, something evil will come of this.
Mon Dieu! the Lichtenbergs have not done with us yet. On the night
before the General fought with Baron Imhoff he came to the Pavilion--you
remember that night? He took me outside in the dark--you remember he
took me out? And what said he? Ah, he said a lot. He said: 'Joubert,
even if I fall to-morrow the Lichtenbergs will not have done with us.
Fate, like an old damned mole'--those were his words--'has been working
underground in the families of the Saluces and Lichtenbergs for three
hundred years and more. She's showing her nose, and what will be the end
of it the Virgin in heaven only can tell. If I fall, Joubert,' said he,
'I trust you to keep my boy apart from that child of Von Lichtenberg's
they call Carl. Keep him apart from anyone who has ever had anything to
do with the Lichtenbergs.' And look you," continued Joubert, "the first
night you have liberty to go and amuse yourself, what happens? You meet
two of the lot that were at the Schloss: one leads you to the other, and
now you are going to set the girl up in the Pavilion. Think you I would
mind if you filled the Pavilion with your girls, filled the chateau,
stuffed the moat with them? Not I, but there you are: wagon-loads, army
corps of girls to choose from, and you strike the one of all others----
Peste! and what's the use of my talking? You were ever the same,
self-willed, just the same as when you were a child you would have your
box of tin soldiers beside you in the carriage instead of packed safely
in the baggage--just the same!" And so forth and so on, flinging my
childish vagaries in my teeth just as a mother or an old nurse might
have done.

"All right, Joubert," said I, dressing; "there is no use in arguing with
you. I am going to offer the Pavilion as a home to Mademoiselle
Feliciani. That is settled. No evil can come to me for helping the
unfortunate."

"Yes; that's what those sort of people call themselves," grumbled
Joubert. "Good name, too, for her."

"So," I finished, "order a carriage to the door as quick as it can be
got, and come with me to Etiolles, for I want to get the Pavilion in
order."

"Monsieur's orders as to the carriage shall be attended to," said the
old man with fine sarcasm, considering that he had turned "Monsieur"
over his knee and spanked him with a slipper often enough in the past.
"But as for me, I will not go; no, I will not go!"

He vanished into the bathroom to prepare my bath.

When I was dressed I ordered Potirin, the concierge, to send a man to
the Closerie de Lilas, and, if the place was still standing after the
riots of last night, to obtain Franzius' address. Then, when the front
door was opened for me, I found the carriage waiting, and on the box,
beside the coachman--Joubert!

I smiled as I got in, and we started.

It was an open carriage; and in the superb May morning Paris lay white
and almost silent; the Rue St. Honoré was deserted, and a weak wind,
warm and lilac perfumed, blew from the west under a sky of palest
sapphire. We passed Bercy, we passed through Charenton and Villeneuve
St. George's, the poplars whitening to the west wind, the villages
wakening, the cocks crowing, and the sun flooding all the holiday-world
of May with tender tints. The white houses, the vineyards, the
greenswards embanking the sparkling Seine: how beautiful they were, and
how good life was! How good life was that morning in May, effaced now by
so many weary years, effaced from time but not from my recollection
where it lies vivid as then, with the Seine sparkling, and the wind
blowing the poplar-trees that have never lost a leaf!

The road took us by the skirt of the forest ringing with the laughter
and the chatter of the birds.

Old Fauchard's married daughter was in charge of the Pavilion. I
had not seen the place for a long time; it had been redecorated by
order of my guardian, and the old gentleman used it occasionally for
luncheon-parties; a charming rural retreat where the Amy Férauds and
Francine Volnays of the Théâtre Montparnasse enjoyed themselves,
plucking bulrushes from the ponds in the forest, and chasing with shrill
laughter the echoes of the Pompadour-haunted groves.

The little dining-room had a painted ceiling--a flock of doves circling
in a blue sky. The kitchen was red tiled, and clean as a Dutch dairy.
The bedrooms--bright and spotless, and simply furnished--were perfumed
with the breath of the forest coming through the always open windows;
the hangings were of chintz, flower-sprinkled, and light in tone. If May
herself had chosen to build and furnish a little house to live in, she
could not have improved on the Pavilion of Saluce, furnished as it was
by a Parisian upholsterer at the direction of a Parisian boulevardier.

I had breakfasted in the kitchen--there was nothing to be done, the
place was in perfect order--and, telling Fauchard's daughter (Madame
Ancelot) that I would return that afternoon with a lady who would take
up her abode at the Pavilion for an indefinite time, I returned to
Paris, dropping Joubert in the Rue St. Honoré, and telling the coachman
to take me to the Rue du Petit Thouars.



CHAPTER XXI

"O YOUTH, WHAT A STAR THOU ART!"


In the Rue du Petit Thouars I sent the carriage home. The horses had
done over forty miles. I would take Eloise down to Etiolles by rail, or
we would hire a carriage. It did not matter in the least; it was only
twelve o'clock, and we had the whole day before us.

It would be hard for the worldly minded to understand my happiness as I
walked down the Rue du Petit Thouars towards the street where she lived.
I had found something to love and cherish, but I was not in the least in
love with Eloise after the fashion of what men call love. You must
remember that ever since my earliest childhood I had been very much
alone in the world. Drilled and dragooned by old Joubert, and treated
kindly enough by my father, I had missed, without knowing it, the love
of a mother or a sister. Little Eloise had been the only girl-child with
whom I had ever played; and, though our acquaintance had been short
enough, that fact had made her influence upon me doubly potent. I had
found her again. She was now a woman, but, for me, she was still the
child of the gardens of Lichtenberg. And the strange psychological fact
remains that, though I had loved the beautiful Countess Feliciani with
my childish heart, loved her almost as a man loves a woman, not a bit
of that sort of love had I for Eloise, who was the Countess's facsimile.
The very fact of the extraordinary likeness would have been sufficient
to annul passion.

Perhaps it was because I had seen the Countess suddenly turned old and
grey, sitting in that wretched room in the Hôtel de Mayence, the ruin of
herself, a parable on the vanity of beauty and earthly things.

I do not know. I only can say that my love for Eloise was as pure as the
love of a brother for a sister; and that my heart as I came along the
sunlit Rue du Petit Thouars, rejoiced exceedingly and was glad.

I turned down the dingy little Rue Soufflot, and there, at the door,
going into the dingy old house where she lived, poised like a white
butterfly on the step, was Eloise.

"Eloise!" I cried, and she turned.

My hat flew off to salute her, as she stood there in the full afternoon
sunshine like a little bit of the vanished May morning trapped and held
in some wizard's filmy net.

"Toto!" cried Eloise, in a voice of glad surprise. And, as our hands
met, I heard from one of the lower windows of the house a metallic
laugh.

Glancing at the window, I saw the face of the grenadier of the night
before, the one who had worn a cock's feather in his hat--Changarnier
the student--who, according to the bonbon girl, was so jealous of my
new-found friend.

He had a cap with a tassel on his head, a long pipe between his lips,
his linen was not over-clean. A typical student of the Latin Quarter,
confrère of Schaunard and Gustave Colline, he laughed again, showing his
yellow teeth. I looked at him, and he did not laugh thrice.

"Come," I said, taking the hand of Eloise, whose brightness had suddenly
dimmed, as though the sound from the house had cast a spell upon it.
"Come." And I led her towards the Rue du Petit Thouars.

She came hesitatingly, downcast, as if fearful of being followed; and I
felt like a knight leading some lady of old-time from the den of the
wizard who had held her long years in bondage.

In the Rue du Petit Thouars she seemed to breathe more freely.

"I had forgotten Changarnier," said she, in a broken voice. "How
horrible of him to laugh at us!"

"Beast!" said I, fury rising up in my heart at the fate that had
compelled her to such a life and such surroundings.

"Ah, but," sighed Eloise, "he can be kind, too--it is his way."

"Well, let us forget him," I replied. "Eloise, you are mine now. You
will be just the same as you were long ago. Do you remember, when we
were all together at Lichtenberg, and the King that morning put his hand
on your head? You remember when we met him in the corridor, and the Graf
von Bismarck? You were holding his hand when I saw you first, and he was
talking to my father and General Hahn and Major von der Goltz. Then you
saw me----"

"Ah, yes!" cried Eloise, her dismal fit vanishing; "and you made such a
funny little bow. And--do you remember my dress?"

"Oui, mademoiselle."

"Oui, mademoiselle! Oh, how stupid you are!" cried she, catching up the
old refrain from years ago. She laughed deliciously. Childhood had
caught us back, or, rather, had flung back the world from around us, for
we were still children in heart and soul.

"And now," said I, "what are you to do for clothes?"

"For clothes?"

"You are not going back to that place; you are never going near it
again. You must buy everything you want. I have plenty of money, and it
is yours. See!" And I pulled out a handful of gold.

"O ciel!" sighed Eloise. "How delightful! But, Toto----"

"No 'buts.' What is the use of money if you do not spend it? I have a
little house for you, all prepared, in the country. Oh, wait till you
see it--wait till you see it. We will take the train, but you must buy
yourself what you want first, and I can only give you an hour. Will an
hour be enough?"

She would have kissed me, I believe, there and then, only that we were
now in the Boul' Miche. Her butterfly mind was entirely fascinated by
the idea of new clothes and the country. The dress she was in, of some
white material, though old enough perhaps, was new-washed and speckless,
and graceful as a woman's dress of that day could be. Her hat, in my
eyes, was daintier far than any hat I had seen in my life. Women, no
doubt, could have picked holes in her poor attire, but no man. Just as
she was that day I always see her now, beyond the fashions and the
years, a figure garbed in the old, old fashion of spring, sweet as the
perfume of lilac-branches and the songs of birds. At the Maison Dorée,
152 Boulevard St. Michel, within the space of an hour, and for the
modest sum of a hundred francs or so, she bought--I do not know what;
but the purchases filled four huge cardboard boxes covered with golden
bees--the true luggage of a butterfly. When they were packed in and
about a cabriolet I proposed food.

"I am too happy to eat," said Eloise; so, at the fruiterer's a little
way down, I bought oranges and a great bunch of Bordighera violets, and
we started.

It was late afternoon when we reached the little station at Evry. Ah,
what a delightful journey that was, and what an extraordinary one! Happy
as lovers, yet without a thought of love; good comrades, irresponsible
as birds, laughing at everything and nothing; eating our oranges, and
criticising the folk at the stations we passed.

"Listen!" said Eloise, as we stood on the platform of Evry and the train
drew off into the sunlit distance. I listened. The wind was blowing in
the trees by the station; from some field beyond the poplar trees came
the faint and far-off bleating of lambs; behind and beyond these sweet
yet trivial sounds lay the great silence of the country; the silence
that encompasses the leagues of growing wheat, the pasture lands all
gemmed with buttercups and cowslips, the blue, song-less rivers and the
green, whispering rushes; the silence of spring, which is made up of a
million voices unheard but guessed, and presided over by the skylark
hanging in the sparkling blue, a star of song.

Men, I think, never knew the true beauty of the country till the
railway, like a grimy magician, enabled them to stand at some little
wayside station and, with the sounds of the city still ringing in their
ears, to listen to the voices of the trees and the birds.

I sent a porter to the inn for a fly; and when it arrived, and the
luggage was packed on and about it, we started.



CHAPTER XXII

A POLITICAL RECEPTION


"It is like a cage," said Eloise, "with all the birds outside."

We were sitting in the little room of the Pavilion that served as
dining-room and drawing-room combined; the windows were open, the sun
had set, and the birds in the wood were going to bed. Liquid calls from
the depths of the trees, chatterings in the near branches, and
occasional sounds like the flirting of a fan came with the warm breeze
that stirred the chintz curtains and the curls of Eloise's golden hair
as she sat on the broad window-seat, her busy hands in her lap, like
white butterflies come to rest, listening, listening, with eyes fixed on
the gently waving branches, listening, and entranced by the voices of
the birds.

Through the conversation of the blackbird and the thrush came what the
sparrows had to say, and the "tweet-tweet" of the swallows under the
eaves.

All a summer's day, if you listened at the Pavilion, you could hear the
wood-dove's mournful recitative, "Don't _cry_ so, Susie--don't _cry_ so,
Susie--don't _cry_ so, Susie--_don't_," at intervals, now near, now far.

The wood-doves had ceased their monotonous advice, and now the swallows
took flight for the pyramids of dreamland, and Silence took the little,
chattering sparrows in her apron, and then the greater birds. Branch by
branch she robbed, reaching here, reaching there, till at last one alone
was left, a thrush on some topmost bough, where the light of day still
lingered. Then she found him, too; and you could hear the wind drawing
over the forest, and the trees folding their hands in sleep.

Then, from away where the dark pools were, came the "jug-jug-jug" of a
nightingale asking the time of her mate, and the liquid, thrilling
reply: "Too early." Then silence, and the whisper of ten thousand trees
saying "Hush!--let us sleep."

"Would monsieur like the lamp?"

It was Fauchard's daughter, lamp in hand, at the door. Her rough-hewn
peasant's face lit by the upcast light, was turned towards us with a
pleasant expression. I suppose we were both so young and so innocent in
appearance that she could not look sourly upon us, though our
proceedings must have seemed irregular enough to her honest mind. She
looked upon us, doubtless, as lovers. We were good to look upon, though
I say it, who am now old. We were young; and everything, it seems to me
in these later days, is forgivable to youth.

"Oh, youth, what a star thou art!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Then I rose and took my hat from the table near by.

"But you are not going?" said Eloise, one white hand seizing my
coat-sleeve, and a tremble of surprise in her voice.

"But I must," replied I. "I must get back to Paris. I will come
to-morrow morning. Madame Ancelot here will look after you. There are
books. You will be happy, and I will come back in the morning, and we
will have a long day in the forest. We will take our luncheon in a
basket, and have a picnic."

"Ah, well!" sighed Eloise, looking timidly from me to Madame Ancelot,
who, having placed the lamp on the table, stood, with all a peasant's
horror of fresh air in the house, waiting to shut the windows, "if you
_must_ go---- But you will come back?"

"To-morrow; and you will look after her, Madame Ancelot, will you not?"

"Mais oui," said the good woman with a smile and as if she were talking
to two children. "Mademoiselle need not be afraid; there are no robbers
here; nothing more dangerous than the rabbits and the birds; and if
there were, why, Ancelot has his gun."

Eloise tripped over to the woman and gave her a kiss; then, glancing
back at me, she laughed and ran out into the tiny hall to get her hat.

"I will go with you as far as--a little way," she said, as she tied the
strings of her hat, craning up on her toe-tips to see herself in a high
mirror on the wall.

On the drawbridge she hung for a moment, peeping over at the still water
of the moat, in which the stars were beginning to cast reflections.

"How dark, and still, and secret it looks!" murmured she. "Toto, has it
ever drowned anyone?"

"Why do you ask?" replied I to the question that I myself had put to
Joubert years ago.

"I don't know," said Eloise, "but it looks as if it had."

Ah, the evil moat! The water lilies blossomed there in summer; all the
length of a summer's day the darting dragon-flies cast their blue-gauze
reflections upon the water; Amy Féraud and Francine Volnay might cast
their laughter and cigarette-ends for ever on its surface, leaning over
the bridge-rail and seeing nothing. It was left for the heart of a child
to question its secret and divine its treason.

The path from the Pavilion cut through the trees and opened on the
carriage-drive to the château. When we reached the drive, Eloise,
terrified by the dark and the unaccustomed trees, was afraid to return
alone. So I had to go back with her to the drawbridge.

"To-morrow!" said she.

"To-morrow!" replied I.

She gave me a moist kiss--just as children give; then, as if that was
not enough, she flung her arms around my neck, squeezed me, and then ran
across the drawbridge, laughing.

"Good-night!" I cried; and "Good-night!" followed me through the trees
as I ran, for, even running most of the way, I had scarcely time to
catch the last train at Evry.

It was late when I reached Paris; and as I drove through the blazing
streets I felt as though I had taken a deep breath of some intoxicating
air. The vision of Eloise in her new home pursued me. I felt as though I
had taken a child from the jaws of a dragon. I had done a good act, and
God repaid me, for Eloise had brought me a gift far better than pearls.
She had brought me all that old freshness of long ago; she had brought
me fresh in her hands the flowers of childhood; she had given me back
the warmth of heart, the clearness of sight, the joy in little things,
the joy without cause, which the war of sex and the world robs from a
man.

A breath from my earliest youth--that was Eloise.

At the Place Vendôme, the servant whom I had commissioned to find out
Franzius' address handed me a paper on which he had written it. It was
in the Rue Dijon, Boulevard Montparnasse.

I put the paper in my pocket, ran upstairs, and, hearing voices and
laughter through the partly opened door of the great salon on the first
floor, I burst into the room.

Great Heavens!

The child who gets into a shower bath, and, not knowing, pulls the
string, could not receive a greater shock than I.

The room was filled with gentlemen in correct evening attire. It was, in
fact, one of what my guardian was pleased to call his "political
receptions."

I was dressed in a morning frock-coat, the dust of Etiolles was on my
boots, my hair was in disorder, my face flushed. If I had entered
rolling-drunk, in evening clothes, I would not have committed so great a
crime against the convenances.

And it was too late to back out, simply because my impetuosity had
carried me into the room too far.

My guardian gazed at the spectacle before him, but not by as much as
the lifting of an eyebrow did that fine old gentleman betray his
discomfiture.

He turned from the Spanish ambassador, to whom he was talking, came
forward and took my hand; inquired, in a voice raised slightly so as to
be distinct, about my _journey_; apologised for not having informed me
that it was one of his political evenings, and introduced me to the Duc
de Cadore.

Then--and this was his punishment--he totally ignored me for the
remainder of the evening.

I cannot remember what the Duc de Cadore said to me, or I to him; but we
talked, and I ate ices which I could not taste. I would have frankly
beaten a retreat, now that I had made my entry and faced the fire, but
for a young man who, engaged in a conversation with two of the attachés
of the Austrian Embassy, looked in my direction every now and then. It
was my evil genius, the Comte de Coigny.

The same who, as a boy in the garden of the Hôtel de Moray, had told me
of the ruin of the Felicianis. I had not come across him since he left
the Bourdaloue College. He was now, it seems, an attaché of the
Emperor's, and he was just the same as of old, though bigger. A stout
young man, with a stolid, insolent face; and I guessed, by his
side-glances, that his conversation with the Austrians was about me, and
that I was being discussed critically and sarcastically.

God! how I hated that young man at that moment; and how I longed to
cross the room, and, flinging the convenances to the winds, smack him
in the face! But that pleasure was to be reserved for another hand than
mine.

When the unhappy political reception was over, and the last of the
guests departed, I sought my guardian in the smoking-room, to make my
apologies.

"My dear sir," said my guardian, with a little, kindly laugh that took
the stiffness from the formality of his address and turned it into a
little joke, "on my heart, I did not perceive what you were attired in.
A host is oblivious of all things but the face and the hand of his
guest. Were the Duc de Bassano or M. le Duc de Cadore to turn up at a
reception of mine attired as a rag-picker, I would only be conscious
that I was receiving the Duc de Cadore or the Duc de Bassano. They would
be for me themselves, _however their fellow-guests might sneer_!

"And how have we enjoyed ourselves in Paris?" asked the kindly old
gentleman, turning from the subject of dress, and lighting a fresh
cigar.

"Oh, very well," I said. "And, by the way, I have met an old
acquaintance."

"Ah!"

"Mademoiselle Feliciani, a daughter of Count Feliciani."

"Count Feliciani, the--er--defaulter?"

"I don't know what he may have done," said I, "but I met them years ago,
at the Schloss Lichtenberg. Then they were entirely ruined. I met
Mademoiselle Feliciani last night in a most curious way; and she has
been living in great poverty. In fact, I"--and here I blushed, I
believe--"I have taken her under my protection."

Protection! Oh, hideous word, uttered in the simplicity of youth!
Beautiful word, that men have debased--men who would debase the angels,
could they with their foul hands touch those immaculate wings.

"I hope, sir, you don't object?"

"Object!"

"I have given her the Pavilion to live in," continued I, encouraged by
my guardian's smile of frank approval. "The only thing that grieves me
is," I went on, "that her mother is dead, and that I cannot offer her my
protection, too."

My guardian opened his eyes at this; and I blundering along, blushing,
surprised into one of those charming confidences of youth which youth so
rarely betrays, told him of the beauty of the Countess Feliciani, and of
how much I had admired her as a child, and how I had visited her and
seen her, prematurely aged, ruined, the gold of her beautiful hair
turned to snow, her face lined with the wrinkles of age; and then it
was, I think, that M. le Vicomte began to perceive that my relationship
with Eloise was other than what he had imagined.

"A pure love!" I can imagine him saying to himself. "Why, mon Dieu! that
might lead to marriage--marriage with a Feliciani--an outcast, a beggar!
We must arrange all this; it is a question of diplomacy."

But by no sign did he betray these thoughts. He listened to the woes of
the Felicianis, the picture of sympathetic benevolence; and, when I had
finished, he said: "Ah, poor things!" And then, after a moment's
reverie, as though he were recalling the love affairs of his own youth:
"It is sad. Tell me, are you very much enamoured of this Mademoiselle
Feliciani?"

"Good heavens!" I said. "No. I care for her only--only--that is to say,
I only care for herself."

A confused statement apparently, yet an unconscious and profound
criticism on Love.

The Vicomte raised his eyebrows. He was I think, frankly puzzled. He saw
my meaning--that I cared for Eloise as a child or a sister. His profound
experience of life had never, perhaps, brought a similar case to the bar
of his reason; his profound knowledge of men and women told him of the
danger of the thing.

"How has Mademoiselle Feliciani been living since the death of her
mother?" asked he.

"She has been a model at Cardillac's studio," I replied.

"Indeed? Poor girl! And now, may I ask, what do you propose to do with
this protégée of yours?"

"I? Just give her a home and what money she requires."

"In fact," said the Vicomte, "you, a young man of nineteen, are going to
adopt a beautiful young girl of the same age, or younger, out of pure
charity, give her a house to live in, pay her expenses----"

"Yes," I replied. "God has given me money; and I thank God that He has
given me the means of rescuing the sweetest and the purest woman living
from a life that could lead her nowhere but to the morgue. Monsieur,
what is the matter?"

The Vicomte was crimson, and making movements with his hands as though
to wave away a gauzy veil. At least, that was the impression the
outspread fingers gave me.

Then he laughed out aloud, the first time I had ever heard him laugh so.

"Forgive me," he said. "I am not, indeed, laughing at you. I am amused
at no thing or person: it is the imbroglio. What you have told me is
interesting, and I take it as a profound secret. Say nothing of it to
anyone; for if it were known----"

"Yes?"

"Why, the whole of Paris would be laughing!"

I arose, very much affronted and huffed. And I was a fool, for what my
guardian said was perfectly correct. The situation to a French mind was
as amusing as a Palais Royal farce. But I knew little of the world, and,
as I say, I arose very much affronted and huffed.

"Good-night, sir."

My guardian rose up and bowed kindly and courteously, but with the
faintest film of ice veiling his manner.

"Good-night."



CHAPTER XXIII

FÊTE CHAMPÊTRE


"Good-morning."

"Ah! there you are. Toto--see!"

Eloise, without a hat, working in the little garden of the Pavilion,
held up a huge spade for my inspection. The moat divided us, and I had
my foot on the drawbridge, preparing to cross.

Up at six, I had come to Evry by an early train, and walked from the
station. It was now after ten, and great was the beauty of the morning.

"I have dug up quite a lot," said Eloise. "Look!--all that. Madame
Ancelot says I will make a gardener by and by--by and by--by and by,"
she sang, tossing the spade amidst some weeds; and then, hanging on my
arm, she drew me into the house.

A perfume of violets filled the sitting-room. The place was changed. The
subtle hand of a woman had rearranged the chairs, looped back the
curtains and arranged them in folds of grace, peopled with violets empty
bowls, wrought wonders with a touch.

On the sofa lay a heap of white material, which she swept away.

"That will be a dress to-morrow or the next day," said Eloise. "You will
laugh when you see it, it will be so beautiful. And I have packed a
basket for our picnic. Wait!" She ran from the room, and I waited.

Looking back, now, one of my pleasantest recollections is how she took
my money, took the new life I had given her, thanking me indeed, full of
gratitude, but as a thing quite natural and between friends. If we had
wandered out of the gardens of Lichtenberg together, children, hand in
hand, and passed straight through the years as one passes through a
moment of time, to find ourselves at Etiolles still hand in hand, our
relationship--as regards money affairs--could not have been less
unstrained. I had bonbons; she had none; I shared with her. Nothing
could be more natural.

She returned with the basket packed, and her hat, which she put on
before the mirror. Then we started on our picnic in the woods, I
carrying the basket.

"What part of the woods are you going to?" inquired Madame Ancelot as we
crossed the drawbridge.

"The grand pool," replied I, "if it is still there, and I can find it."

Then, a footstep, and the world of the woods surrounded us, its silence
and its music.

The place was full of leaping lights and liquid shadows. Here, where the
trees were not so dense, the sunlight came through the waving branches
in dazzling, quivering shafts; twilit alleys led the eye to open spaces,
golden glimmers, and the misty white of the hawthorn trees.

The place was a treasure-house of beauty, and we trampled the violets
under foot.

"Run!" cried Eloise.

I chased her, lost her, found her again. I forgot my lameness, I forgot
my guardian, the convenances, and the fact that I was come to man's
estate and carrying a heavy basket. The trees echoed with our laughter,
till, tired out, panting, flushed, with her hat flung back and held to
her neck only by the ribbon, Eloise sat down on a little carpet of
violets and folded her hands in her lap.

"Listen!" said she, casting her eyes up to the trembling leaves above.

A squirrel, clinging to the bark of a tree near by, watched us with his
bright eyes.

"Chuck, chuck." A bird on a branch overhead broke the silence, and, with
a flutter of his wings, was gone. And now from far away, like the voice
of Summer herself, filled with unutterable drowsiness and laziness and
content, came the wood-dove's song to the mysterious Susie:

"Don't _cry_ so, Susie--don't _cry_ so, Susie--don't _cry_ so, Susie.
_Don't!_"

"And listen!" said Eloise, when the wood-dove's song had been wiped away
by silence and replaced by a "tap, tap, tap," far off, reiterated and
decided, curiously contrasting with the less businesslike sounds of the
wood.

"That's a woodpecker," I said. "Isn't he going it? And listen! That's a
jay."

Then the whole wood sang to the breeze that had suddenly freshened, the
light flashed and danced through the dancing leaves, the trees for a
moment seemed to shake off the indolence of summer, and the forest of
Sénart spoke--spoke from its cavernous bosom, where the pine-trees
spread the hollow ground, from the pools where the bulrushes whispered,
from the beech-glades and the nut-groves. The oaks, old as the time of
Charles IX., the willows of yesterday, the elms all a-drone with bees,
and the poplars paling to the trumpet-call of the wind, all joined their
voices in one divine chorus:

"I am the forest of Sénart, old as the history of France, yet young as
the last green leaf that April has pinned to my robe. Rejoice with me,
for the skies are blue again, the hawthorn blooms, the birds have found
their nests, the old, old world is young once more. For it is May."

"It is May; it is May!" came the carol of the birds, freshening to life
with the dying wind.

Then we went on our road, Eloise with her hands filled with freshly
gathered violets.

I thought I knew the forest and the direction to take for the great
pool; but we had not gone far when our path branched, and for my life I
could not tell which to take.

The path to the left being the most alluring, we took it; and lo! before
we had gone very far, recollection woke up. This narrow path, twisting,
turning, sometimes half obscured by the luxuriance of the undergrowth,
was the path I had taken years ago--the path leading by the
old-forgotten gravel-pit into which I had fallen, maiming myself for
life; the path along which I had followed the mysterious child so like
little Carl.

Perhaps it was the old recollection, but the path for me had a sinister
appearance; something that was not good hung about it. Unconsciously I
quickened my steps. I was walking in front; and as we passed the spot
where I had seen the child standing and looking back at me from amidst
the bushes, Eloise laid her hand on my arm, as if for closer
companionship.

"I do not like it here," said she. "And I saw something--something
moving in those bushes."

"Never mind," I replied; "we will soon reach the open."

When we did, and when we found ourselves in a broad drive which I
remembered, and which led to the place I wanted, the sweat was thick on
my brow; and I determined that, go back how we might, I would never
enter that path again. It had for me the charm and yet the horror that
we only find associated in dreamland.

"There was a child amidst the bushes," said Eloise. "I just saw its
head; and--I don't know why--it frightened me, and----"

"Don't," said I. "I believe that place is haunted. Let us forget it."

The grand pool at last broke before us through the trees--a great space
of sapphire-coloured water, where the herons had their home, and the
dragon-flies.

It was past noon. We were hungry, so we sat down on a grassy bank by the
water, opened the basket, and, spreading the food on the grass between
us, fell to.



CHAPTER XXIV

LA PEROUSE


We had finished our meal--simple enough, goodness knows. Our drink had
been milk carried in one of those clear glass bottles used for vin de
Grave, and the bottle lay on the grass beside us, an innocent witness of
our temperance. We had finished, I say, and we were watching a moorhen
with her convoy of chicks paddling on the deep-blue surface of the pond,
when voices from amidst the trees drew our attention; and two stout men
in undress livery, bearing a basket between them, came from beneath the
shade of the elms, and straight towards us. After the men, and led by
Madame Ancelot's little boy, came a party of ladies and gentlemen,
amidst whom I recognised my guardian. The old gentleman, as though May
had touched him with her magic wand, had discarded his ordinary sober
attire, and was dressed in a suit of some light-coloured material, very
elegant, and harmonising strangely well with the exquisite toilets of
his companions. He wore a flower in his buttonhole, and he was walking
beside a girl whom I recognised at once as Amy Féraud. The two other
women I did not then know; but one of them, dark and beautiful, I
afterwards discovered to be the famous model La Perouse. The two men who
made up the party were peers of France; and if Beelzebub himself had
suddenly broken from the trees I could not have been more disturbed than
by this eruption of Paris into our innocent paradise.

In a flash I saw the whole thing. This was some move of my guardian's. I
had told Madame Ancelot that we would be by the grand pool, and Madame
Ancelot's boy had led them.

But M. le Vicomte was much too astute an old gentleman for subterfuge,
whatever his plan might be.

"Welcome!" he cried, when we were within speaking distance. "I have been
searching for you. Ah, what a day! We have just come down from Paris on
M. le Comte de ----'s drag. My ward, M. Patrique Mahon; M. le Comte de
----."

I bowed stiffly as he introduced me to the men.

"And mademoiselle?" asked the old gentleman, raising his hat and
standing uncovered before Eloise.

But I had no need to introduce my companion. La Perouse (oh, what a
voice she had! Hard, metallic, shallow, low)--La Perouse, with a little
shriek of recognition, cried out: "Marie! Why, it is Marie!"

Then she kissed her, and I could have struck her on the beautiful mouth,
whose voice was a voice of brass, for innocence told me she was bad, and
part of Eloise's wretched past.

Ah, me! If an eclipse had come over the sun, the beauty of the day could
not have been more spoilt, the loveliness of spring more ruined.

The stout servant-men, with the dexterity of conjurers, unpacked the
great basket, spread a wide cloth, and, in a trice, a luncheon was
spread out to which the Emperor himself might have sat down.

There was no resisting M. le Vicomte. We had to sit down with the rest,
and make a pretence to eat.

But Eloise refused wine, as did I.

"Ma foi!" said La Perouse. "What airs! Good champagne, too. Come,
taste."

"Mademoiselle prefers water," I put in; and then, unwisely: "She is not
accustomed to wine."

La Perouse stared at me, champagne-glass in hand, and then broke out
laughing. She was about to say something, but checked herself, and
turned to the chicken on her plate.

But La Perouse, as the champagne worked in her wits, returned to the
subject of Eloise's abstinence.

In that dull brain was moving a resentment which the vulgar mind had not
the power to repress.

"What! not drink champagne?" said the fool for the twentieth time. "Ah,
well! It was different in the days of Changarnier. How is he, by the
way, the brave Changarnier?"

I rose to my feet; and Eloise, as if moved by the same impulse, rose
also.

"Mademoiselle," said I, as I offered Eloise my arm, "does not drink
champagne. It is a matter of taste with her. Did she do so, however, I
am very well assured that the evil spirit in it would never prompt her
to talk and act like a fool!"

There was dead silence, as, with Eloise on my arm, I walked towards the
trees. Then I heard the shrill laughter of the women; but I did not
heed, for Eloise was weeping.

"Come," I said; "forget them."

"It is not they," replied Eloise. "I do not care about _them_."

I knew quite well what she meant. It was the Past.

Do not for a moment confuse that word "past" with conscience. Whatever
sin might have been committed by the world against Eloise Feliciani,
she, at heart, was sinless. No; it was just the Past, a blur of miasma
from Paris, a breath of winter.

"Come," I said; "forget it! All that is a bad dream that you have
dreamt; all those people, those women, those men, are not real: they are
things in a nightmare; they have no souls, and when they die they go
nowhere--they are just ugly pictures that God wipes off a slate. This is
the real thing: these trees, these birds; and they are yours for ever. I
give you them; they are the best gift that money can buy."

I wiped her eyes with my handkerchief. She smiled through her tears; and
we pursued our way to the Pavilion, followed by the rustle of the wind
in the leaves, and the song of the wood-doves--lazy, languorous,
soothing--filled with the warmth and the softness of summer.

When I returned to Paris that night I sought for my guardian, and found
him in the smoking-room.

Angry though I was with the trick he had played me, his manner was so
bland and kind that I was at a loss how to begin.

He it was, indeed, who began by complimenting the beauty of Eloise, her
grace and her modesty.

In fact, he had so much to say for her that I could not get in a word.

"All the same," finished he, "I do not quite see the future of this
business. You offer Mademoiselle Feliciani a home, you provide for her,
your intentions are absolutely honourable, yet you do not love her. That
is all very well, mind you. It is somewhat strange in the eyes of the
world, but I understand the position. You are a man of heart and honour,
and she is, so to speak, an old friend; but what is to be the end of
it?"

"I don't know," replied I.

"Just so. She is not a child. It is the nature of a woman to love, to
enter into life. Picking daisies in the woods of Sénart may fill a
summer morning, but not a woman's life. I am not entirely destitute of
the gift of appreciation, the poetry of things is not yet dead for me,
and I can see, my dear Patrique, the poetry of two young people, each
half a child, playing at childhood. But the garment of a child,
beautiful in itself, becomes ridiculous when you dress a man in it.
Impossible, in fact. In fact," finished the old gentleman, suddenly
dropping metaphor and using his stabbing spear, "you are getting
yourself into a position that you cannot escape from with honour; for
even if you wish you cannot marry this girl, for the simple reason that
Paris would not receive her as your wife."

"I do not wish to marry Mademoiselle Feliciani," replied I, "nor does
she dream of marrying me. I found her in wretchedness; I rescued her. I
loved her as a friend. Have men and women no hearts but that they must
sneer at what is natural and good? What is the barrier that divides a
man from a woman so that comradeship seems impossible between them,
simplicity, and all good feeling, including Christian charity?"

"Sex," replied M. le Vicomte de Chatellan.



CHAPTER XXV

FRANZIUS MEETS ELOISE


Next day, when I returned to the Pavilion of Saluce, I took a companion
with me--Franzius.

I called early at his wretched lodging in the Rue Dijon; the sound of
his violin led me upstairs, and I found him, seated on the side of his
bed, playing, his soul in Germany or dreamland.

A day in the country, away from Paris, the houses, the streets! If I had
offered him a day in paradise the simple soul could not have expressed
more delight.

"Well," I said, "it is nine o'clock. We will just have time to catch the
train at Evry. Get ready and come on."

He took his hat from a shelf, placed it on his head, put his violin
under his arm, and declared himself ready.

"But surely you are not taking your violin?"

"My violin--but why not?"

"Going into the country!"

"But why not? Ah, my friend, it never leaves me; without it I am not I.
It is myself, my soul, my heart. Ach!"

"Come on--come on!" I said, laughing and pushing him and his violin
before me. "Take anything you like, so long as you are happy. That's
right--mind the stairs. Don't you lock your door when you go out?"

"There is nothing to steal," replied Franzius simply.

In the street I hailed a fiacre and bundled the violinist in,
protesting. The mad extravagance of the business shocked him. He had
never been in a fiacre before; even omnibuses were luxuries to this son
of St. Cecilia, who had tramped the continent of Europe on foot. Yet he
wanted to pay when we reached the station; and the return ticket I
bought for him pained his sense of independence so much that I took the
fare from him. Then he was happy--happy as a child; and I do not know
what the other passengers thought of the young beau, elegantly dressed,
seated beside the shabby violinist, both happy, laughing, and in the
highest of spirits; the violinist, unconsciously, now and then plucking
pizzicato notes from the strings of his instrument, caressing it as a
man caresses the woman he loves.

We walked from Evry to Etiolles under the bright May morning, under the
sparkling blue, along the delightful white dusty roads, the larks
singing lustily, and the wind blowing the vanishing hawthorn-blossoms
upon the dust like snow.

Then, at the drawbridge over the moat, Eloise was waiting for us, and we
followed her into the Pavilion, Franzius with his hat crushed to his
heart, bowing, the violin under his arm forgotten, his whole simple soul
worshipping, very evidently, the beautiful and gracious goddess who had
received us.

Ah, that was the day of Franzius's life! We had déjeûner in the little
garden, under the chestnut-tree alight with a thousand clusters of pink
blossom. He forgot his shyness completely, and told us stories of his
wanderings, unconsciously dominating the conversation and leading us
hundreds of miles away from Etiolles to the forests of the Roth Alps and
the Hartz. The great forests of the Vosges, so soon to resound to the
drums of war and the tramping of armies, spread their perfumed shade
around us as we listened. Castle Nidek, whose ruined walls still echo to
the ghostly hunting-horn of Sebalt Kraft; the Rhine and its storeyed
hills; the white roads of Germany; Pirmasens and the Swan Inn, with its
rose-decked porch; mountain rivers, leaping waterfalls, skies
turquoise-blue against the black-green armies of the high mountain
pines--all spread before us, lay around us, domed us in as he talked the
morning into afternoon, and the afternoon half away.

What a gift of description was his; and how we listened as children may
have listened to the story of the wanderings of Ulysses! Then, to forge
his simple chains more completely--to give the last touch to his
magic--he played to us.

Gipsy dances! And you could hear, as the smoke of the camp-fires blew
across the figures of the dancers, the feet of the women and the men who
had wandered all day keeping time on the turf to the tune--a tune wild
as the cry of the mountain kestrel, filled with all sorts of wandering
undertones, heart-snatching subtleties.

Czardas and folk-airs he played, and the wonderful spinning-song of
Oberthal, in which you can hear, through the drone of the wheel and the
flying flax, the history of the poor. Just a thread of song told by the
thread of flax--the flax that forms the swaddling-clothes, the bridal
linen, and the shroud of man. And lastly a tune of his own, more
beautiful than any of the others.

"But why don't you write music?" I said, when we were seated in the
railway-train on our way back to Paris. "You are a greater musician than
any of those men who are famous and rich."

"My friend," said Franzius, "I am the second violin at La Closerie de
Lilas."

It was the first time I had heard him speak at all bitterly, and I said
no more. I did not approach the subject again, but that did not prevent
me from making plans.

I would rescue this nightingale from its cage in a beer-garden and put
it back in the woods; but the thing would require great tact and
infinite discretion.

"Have you any music written out--you know what I mean, written out on
paper--that I could show to a friend?" I asked him, as we parted at the
station.

"I have several 'Lieder,'" replied Franzius. "Very small--just, as you
might say, snatches."

"If I send a man for them to-morrow morning, will you give them to him?
I will take the greatest care of them."

"But they are so small!"

"Never mind--never mind! I have influence, and may get them published."

He promised. And I saw the light of a new hope in his face as he
departed through the gaslit streets on foot--this child of the forest
and the dawn, to whom God had given wings, and to whom the world had
given a cage!

I went to the Opera that night. It was "Don Giovanni"; and as I sat with
all the splendour of the Second Empire around me, tier upon tier of
beauty and magnificence drawn like gorgeous summer night-moths around
the flame of Mozart's genius, the vision of Franzius wandering through
the gaslit streets, with his violin under his arm, passed and repassed
before me.

He seemed so far from this; his music, before this triumphant burst of
song, so like the voice of a cicala, faint and thin, and of no account.

Yet, when I went to bed, the tune that pursued me from the day was the
haunting spinning-song of Oberthal--the song so simple and full of fate,
the song of the flax, caught and interpreted by the humming strings,
telling the story of the cradle, the marriage-bed, and the grave!

I did not go to Etiolles next day, for I had business that detained me
in Paris; but I went the day following, and Eloise received me, pouting.

"Ah well, wait!" said I, as I followed her into the Pavilion. "Wait till
I tell you what I have been doing, and then you won't scold me for
leaving you alone."

"Tell, then!" said Eloise, putting a bunch of violets in my coat, and
pressing them flat with her little hand.

"I will tell you," said I, kissing the little violet-perfumed hand. And
sitting down, I told her of how I had asked Franzius to let me have his
music.

"He sent me the three songs yesterday morning," I went on. "I cannot
read music, though I love it; but that did not matter. I had my plan. I
ordered the Vicomte's best carriage to the door, and drove to the Opera
House, where I inquired of the doorkeeper the address of the best
music-publisher in Paris. Flandrin, of the Rue St. Honoré, it seems, is
the best, so I drove there.

"It was a big shop. Flandrin sells pianos as well as songs. He is a big
man, with a big, white, fat face with an expression like this." I puffed
out my cheeks and opened my eyes wide to show Eloise what Flandrin was
like. She laughed; and I went on: "He was very civil. He had seen me
drive up to his door in a carriage and pair, and I suppose he thought I
had come to buy a piano. When he heard my real business his manner
changed. He said he was sick of musical geniuses; he would not even look
at poor Franzius's 'Lieder.' 'Take them to Barthelmy,' he said. 'He
lives in the Passage de l'Opera; he publishes for those sort of people,
and he is going bankrupt next week, so another genius won't do him any
harm.' 'I haven't time to go to Barthelmy,' I replied. 'Besides, I don't
want you to buy these things. I want to buy them.'

"'Well, my dear sir,' said Flandrin, 'if you want to buy them, why don't
you buy them?'

"'Just for this reason,' I replied. 'M. Franzius, who wrote these
things, is not a shopman who sells pianos; he is a poet. He would be
offended if I offered him money for his productions, for he would know
that I did it for charity's sake. I want you to buy these things from
him. I will give you the money to do so, and, by way of commission, I
will buy a piano from you. My only condition is that you come with me
now in my carriage and see M. Franzius, and pay him the money yourself.
Of course, you will have to publish the things, too; but I will give you
the money to do that as well. Here are a thousand francs, which you are
to give M. Franzius. Send one of your pianos round to No. 14, Place
Vendôme, M. le Vicomte de Chatellan's. And now, if you are ready, we
will start.'

"He came like a lamb. The purchase of the piano had put him into a very
good humour. He seemed to look upon the thing as a practical joke; and
the idea of paying an unknown musician a thousand francs for three
pieces of music seemed to tickle him immensely, for he kept repeating
the sum over and chuckling to himself the whole way to the Rue Dijon.

"Franzius was in bed and asleep when we got there. I led Flandrin right
up to the attic; and you may imagine Franzius's feelings when he woke up
and found us in his room--the best music-publisher in Paris standing at
the foot of his bed waiting to offer him a thousand francs for his
'Lieder'! A thousand francs down! Oh, there is nothing like money! It
was just as if I had opened a window in his life and let in spring. I
saw him grow younger under my eyes as he sat up in bed unconscious of
everything but the great idea that luck had come at last and some hand
had opened the door of his cage. Even old Flandrin was a bit moved, I
think. Ah, well! I bundled Flandrin off when the business was done, and
then I made Franzius write a note to the Closerie de Lilas people,
telling them that at the end of the week he was leaving there, and then
I told him my plan. You know old Fauchard, the forest-keeper's cottage?
It's only half a mile from here; it's right in the forest. Well, he has
a room to spare, and he will put Franzius up for twelve francs a week.
He will be free to write his music----"

"Ah, Toto," cried Eloise, who had been trying to in a word for the last
two minutes, "how good of you!"

"Good of me! Why, I have only done what pleased myself! It's a debt. The
man saved my life--but no matter about that. Get your hat and come with
me, and we will go to Fauchard's and make arrangements about the room."



CHAPTER XXVI

THE TURRET ROOM


Fauchard, the ranger's, cottage lay at the meeting of two drives; all
the trees here were pines, and the air was filled with their balsam.

It was, even in 1869, an old-fashioned cottage, set back in a clearing
amidst the trees. The tall pines seemed to have stepped back to give it
room, and were eternally blowing their compliments to it. Ah, they were
fine fellows to live amongst, those pine-trees, true noblemen of the
forest, erect as grenadiers, spruce, perfumed; and the blue sky looked
never so beautiful as when seen over their tops.

The cottage had an old wooden gallery under the upper windows, and an
outside staircase gone to decay; the porch was covered with rambler
roses; on the apex of the red-tiled roof pigeons white as pearls sat in
strings, fluttering now to the ground, and now circling in the blue
above the trees like a ring of smoke.

It was a place wherein to taste the beauty of summer to the very dregs.
Dawn, coming down the pine-set drive, touching the branches with her
fingers and setting the woods a-shiver, peeped into Fauchard's cottage
as she never peeped into the Tuileries. Noon sat with folded hands
before the rose-strewn porch, singing to herself a song which mortals
heard in the croonings of the pigeons. Dusk set glow-worms, like little
lamps, amidst the roses of the porch.

When we arrived, Fauchard was out, but his wife was in and received us.
Madame Fauchard was over seventy; a woman as clean and bright as a new
pin, active as a cat; a woman who had brought twelve children into the
world, yet had worked all her life as hard as a man.

Oh, yes! she would be very glad to take a lodger, if he would be
satisfied with their simple place. She showed us over the little house.
It smelt sweet as lavender, and the spare room was so close to the trees
that the pine-branches almost brushed the window.

"It will be lovely for him," said Eloise, when, having settled about
terms with Fauchard's wife, we were taking our way back to the Pavilion.
"But will he find it dull when he is not writing his music?"

"If he does," said I, "he can come over to the Pavilion and see you.
Then he will love Etiolles, where he will, no doubt, find friends; and
he has the woods, and Fauchard will take him out with him. Oh, no; he
will not find it dull."

"Toto," said Eloise, as though suddenly remembering something, just as
we reached the drawbridge.

"Yes."

"You remember the day before yesterday you said you would show me over
the château the next time you came. Let us go over it now."

"Very well," I replied. "Wait for me here, and I will get the key."

The Château de Saluce had not been lived in for years--ever since my
mother's death, in fact. But it had been well cared for. Fires had been
lit every fortnight or so to air the rooms during the autumn and winter;
every room had been left in exactly the same state it was in at my
mother's death, and the gardens had been tended and looked after as
though the family were in residence.

"When you marry," said my guardian, "it will make a very nice present
for your wife. Let it! Good God, Patrique, are we shopkeepers?"

"Here's the key," said I, coming back to Eloise, who had waited for me
at the angle of the drawbridge. She was standing with her elbow on the
drawbridge rail, and her eyes fixed on the water. She seemed paler than
when I had left her; and when I touched her arm she drew her gaze away
from the water lingeringly, as if fascinated by something she had seen
there.

"Toto," said Eloise, "are there fish in the moat?"

"I never hear of any. Why?"

"I saw something white and flat," said Eloise, "deep down. I first
thought it was a flat-fish, then it looked like a ball of mist in the
water deep down, and then it looked like a--a face."

"A face!" said I, laughing, and looking over the bridge-rail and down
into the water.

"I know it was only fancy," said Eloise. "Perhaps I went asleep for a
second and dreamed it. It felt like a dream, and I felt just as a person
feels wakened up from sleep when you touched me on the arm just now. It
was a man's face, pale, and--and---- Ah, well, it was perhaps only my
imagination!"

She shivered, and took my arm; and I led her along a by-path that took
us to the carriage drive and the front door of the château.

The great hall, with its oak gallery and ceiling painted by Boucher,
echoed our footsteps and our voices.

This echo was the defect of the hall, as I have often heard my father
say. The builder of the place had, by some mischance, imprisoned an
echo. She was there, and nothing would dislodge her--everything had been
tried. Architects from Paris had been consulted--even the great Violette
Le Duc himself--without avail. She was there like a ghost, and nothing
would drive her out. Whether she was hiding in the gallery or the coigns
of the ceiling, who can say? But one thing was certain: her voice
changed. It was sometimes louder, sometimes lower, sometimes harsher,
sometimes sweeter; a change caused, I believe, by atmospheric influence.
But superstition takes no account of atmospheric influence or natural
causes. Superstition said that the echo was the voice of Marianne de
Saluce, a girl famed for her beautiful voice, who, like Antonina in the
Violon de Cremone, had died singing, under tragic circumstances, one
winter day here in the hall of the château, in the late years of the
reign of his sun-like Majesty Louis XIV.

"The blood flowing from her mouth had mixed with her song," said the old
chronicle; and this, with the fact that she was wild, wayward, and bad,
gave superstition groundwork for a conceit not without charm.

"Marianne!" cried Eloise, when I had told her this tale; and
"Marianna--Marianne!" the ghostly voice replied.

Eloise laughed, and Marianne laughed in reply all along the gallery, as
though she were running from room to room; and, to my mind, made
fanciful by the recollection of the old legend, it seemed that there was
something sinister and sneering in the laughter of Marianne.

Then I called out myself, making my voice as deep as possible; and the
answer was so horrible as to make us both start. For it was as though a
woman, leaning over the gallery and imitating my man's voice, were
mocking me.

I have never heard anything more hobgoblin, if I may use the expression.

"Ugh!" said Eloise. "Don't speak to her any more. Speak in whispers;
don't give her the satisfaction of answering. Toto, are those men in
armour your ancestors?"

"They are the shells of old Saluces," I replied. "Eloise, do you
remember the man in armour in the tower of Lichtenberg--the one who
struck the bell?"

"Don't speak of him," said Eloise; "at least, here. The place is ghostly
enough. Shall we go upstairs?"

We went up the broad staircase, peeped into the sitting-rooms and
boudoirs of the first floor, and then up another flight of stairs to the
floor of the bedrooms.

"See the funny little staircase?" said Eloise, when we had looked into
the bedrooms, ghostly and deserted. She was pointing to a narrow
staircase leading from the corridor we were in.

"Let's see where it goes," said I, for it was years since I had
explored this part of the château. "It looks ugly and wicked enough to
lead to a Bluebeard's chamber."

But it did not. It led to a turret room, with four windows looking
north, south, east, and west. A charming little room, with a painted
ceiling, on which cupids disported themselves with doves.

Faded rose-coloured couches were placed at each window; on a table in
the centre lay some old books, dust on their covers. The view was
superb.

One window showed the forest, another the Seine winding blue through the
country of spring, another the country of fields and gardens, vineyards,
and far white roads.

The smoke of Etiolles made a wreath above the poplar-trees.

We sat down on a couch by the window overlooking Etiolles. We were so
close together that I could feel the warmth of her arm against mine, and
her hand hanging loose beside her was so close to mine that I took it
without thinking. The picture outside, the picture of Nature and the
wind-blown trees over which the larks were carolling and the small white
clouds drifting, contrasted strangely with the room we were in and the
silence of the great empty house. The little hand lying in mine suddenly
curled its little finger around my thumb.

"Eloise!" I said.

She turned her head, her breath, sweet and warm, met my face. Then I
kissed her, not as a brother but as a lover.



CHAPTER XXVII

REMORSE


And I did not love her at all. Nor did she love me. It was just as
though the great tide of Nature had seized us, innocently floating, and
flung us together, drifted us together for a little while, and then let
us part; for we never referred to the matter again after that day.

But a cloud had arisen on my horizon, a cloud no larger than Eloise's
hand.

I installed Franzius at Fauchard's cottage.

He brought his luggage with him, done up in a brown-paper parcel, under
his right arm; under his left he carried his violin. I will never forget
him that afternoon as he stepped from the train at Evry station, where
Eloise and I were waiting to receive him. Such a Bohemian, bringing the
very pavement of Paris with him, the music of Mirlitons, the gaslight of
the Rue Coquenard, and the sawdust of La Closerie de Lilas.

Unhappy man! Paris had marked him for her own. Heaven itself could never
entirely remove from his exterior the stains and the scorching, the
lines around his eyes drawn during the early hours in dancing hall and
café, the bruised look that poverty, hunger, and cold impress upon the
servants who wait upon the Muses--the lower servants, whose place is
the courtyard! But the stains and the scorching had not reached his
soul; like Shadrach he had passed through the burning fiery furnace and
come out a living man.

Besides his luggage and his violin he was carrying some rolls of
music-paper.

We walked to the Pavilion, and from there through the woods to
Fauchard's cottage. The bees were working in the little garden, and the
pearl-white pigeons were drawn up in parade order on the roof as if to
receive us. Never seemed so loud the shouting and laughter of the birds,
never so beautiful the rambler roses round the porch! The humble things
of Nature seemed to have put themselves en fête to welcome back their
own.

I did not go to Etiolles for some days after this. A new era of my life
had begun.

And now it was that the truth of the Vicomte's philosophy was borne in
upon me:

"You are getting yourself into a position from which you cannot escape
with honour. You cannot marry Mademoiselle Feliciani, for Paris would
not receive her as your wife."

What was I to do with her? Of course, a man of the world would have
answered the question promptly; but I was not a man of the world. And
the summer went on; and I was taken about to balls and fêtes by my
guardian, and as I was young, not bad-looking, and wealthy, I was well
received.

The summer went on, the cuckoos hoarsened in the forest of Sénart, the
splendour of Nature deepened, the corn in the fields at Evry was tall
and yellow, the grapes in the vineyards full-globed, and the
dragon-flies had attained the zenith of their magnificence, and all day
mirrored themselves in the moat of the Pavilion. Franzius, lost in his
music and in the paradise in which he found himself, had got back years
of his youth. His genius, clipped and held back, had suddenly burst into
bloom. He was projecting and carrying out a great work--an opera founded
on an old German legend. Carvalho had inspected some of the scores, and
had become enthusiastic. All was well with Franzius, but not with
Eloise. As the summer went on she seemed to droop.

At first I thought it was only my fancy, but by the end of July I was
certain.

Franzius was a frequent visitor at the Pavilion. When he was there with
us she seemed bright and gay, but when we found ourselves alone she grew
abstracted and sad. Her cheeks had lost colour, and Madame Ancelot
declared that she did not eat. The meaning of all this was plain--at
least, I thought so. She cared for me.

This thought, which would have given a lover joy, filled me with deep
sadness. I had offered and given the girl my protection, Heaven knows,
from the highest motives. And now behold the imbroglio! If she cared for
me, it was my duty to marry her and give her a future. If I married her,
society would not receive her as my wife. I had, in fact, in trying to
make her future happy, gone a long way towards ruining my own. Heaven
knows, if I had loved her, little I would have cared for society; but
the mischief and the misery of the thing was just that--I did not love
her.

I felt a repulsion towards her whenever the idea of love came into my
mind, with her image. It was as if a man, who, tasting a fruit in a
sudden fit of hunger and finding it nauseous and insipid, were suddenly
condemned to eat of that fruit for ever after, and none other.

And I had the whole of life before me, and I would be tied to a woman
all through life--to a woman I did not love! And the worst part of the
whole business was the fact that I could get out of the whole thing as
easily as a man steps out of a cab--as easily as a man crushes a flower.
And that was what bound me.

To stay in the affair, to be made party to my own social ruin, was the
most difficult business on earth.

Days of argument I spent with myself. The two terrible logicians that
live in every man's brain fought it out; there was no escaping from the
conclusion: "If you have made this girl love you, you must ask her to be
your wife, for under the guise of a brother's friendship you have
treated her just as any of these Boulevard sots and fools would have
treated her. Oh, don't talk of Nature and sudden impulse--that is just
the argument they would use! You did this thing unpremeditatedly, we
will admit. Well, you have your whole life to meditate over the
reparation and to make it. Faults of this description are ugly toys made
by the devil, and they have to be paid for with either your happiness
or your soul. Of course, you can treat her as your mistress; and she,
poor child, tossed already about and bruised by the waves of chance,
would be content. But would you? Would you be content to thrust still
deeper in the mud of life this creature that fate has thrown on your
hands? The powers of darkness have surely conspired against this
unfortunate being. She, a daughter of the Felicianis, has been dragged
in the mire of Paris. Would you be on the side of darkness too?"

That was what my heart said against all the arguments of my head. And so
it remained.

"To-morrow," said I, "I will go to Etiolles, and I will ask Eloise to be
my wife."

That afternoon, walking in the Rue de Rivoli, I saw Franzius--Franzius,
whom I imagined to be at Fauchard's cottage, green leagues away from
Paris! He was walking rapidly. I had to run to catch him up; and when he
turned his face I saw that he was in trouble. He was without his violin.

"Why, Franzius," I cried, "what are you doing here, and what ails you?
Have you lost your violin?"

"Oh, my friend!" said Franzius. "What ails me? I am in trouble. No, I
have not lost my violin, I have forgotten it--it has ceased to be, for
me. Ah, yes, there is no more music in life! The birds have ceased
singing, the blue sky has gone--Germany calls me back."

"Good heavens!" I said. "What's the matter? You haven't left Etiolles
for good, have you?"

"Oh, no! I am going back for a few days. I came to Paris to-day to seek
relief--to hear the streets--to forget----"

"To forget what? Come, tell me what has happened."

"Not now," said Franzius. "I cannot tell you now. To-morrow I will call
on you at your house in the Place Vendôme. Then I will tell you."

That was all I could get from him; and off he went, having first wrung
both my hands, the tears running down his face so that the passers-by
turned to look and wonder at him.

"Come early to-morrow," I called out after him as he went. Then I
pursued my way home to the Place Vendôme, wondering at the meaning of
what I had seen and troubled at heart.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE OLD COAT


Next morning I sent Joubert to my guardian's apartments with a message
craving an interview.

It was nine o'clock, and the old gentleman received me in his
dressing-room and in his dressing-gown. Beril had just shaved him, and
he was examining his rubicund, jovial face in a hand-mirror. The place
smelt of Parma violets and shaving-soap. It was like the dressing-room
of a duchess, so elaborate were the fittings and so complex the manicure
instruments and toilet arrangements set out on the dressing-table.

"Leave me, Beril," said the old gentleman, when he had made a little bow
to my reflection in the big mirror facing him. Then, taking up a tooth
instrument--for, like M. Chateaubriand, he kept on his toilet-table a
set of dental instruments with which he doctored his own pearly
teeth--he motioned me to take a seat and proceed.

"I have come this morning, monsieur, to place my position before you and
to tell you of a serious step in life which I have decided to take."

"Yes?" replied the Vicomte, tenderly tapping with the little steel
instrument on a front tooth, as though he were questioning it as to its
health.

"You told me once that I was getting myself into a difficult position.
Well, as a matter of fact----"

"You have?"

"Yes, monsieur."

Then I told him everything.

When I had finished, the old gentleman put away the tooth instrument,
folded his dressing-gown more closely round him, and examined
contemplatively his hands, of which he was very proud.

"The only thing that would have surprised me," said he at last, "would
have been if all this had not occurred. Well, now, let us make the best
of it. We will assure her future, and she will forget."

"Monsieur, I am this morning about to offer Mademoiselle Feliciani my
hand in marriage."

My guardian, who had been attending to his left-hand little finger with
an ivory polisher, turned in his chair and looked at me. He saw I was in
earnest. The blow was severe, yet his power of restraint was so great
that his face did not alter.

Only the hand which held the ivory manicure instrument trembled
slightly.

"You have decided on this step?"

"Absolutely, monsieur."

"You know, of course, it will mean your social ruin, and, as you do not
love the girl, the ruin of your happiness?"

"I am aware of all that, monsieur--bitterly."

My guardian sighed, rubbed his chin softly, and, for a moment, seemed
plunged in a profound reverie.

"I am growing old," said he. "I have no children. I looked upon you
almost as a child of mine. I made plans for your future, a magnificent
future; I took pleasure to introduce you to my friends, in seeing you
well dressed. With the Emperor at your right hand you would have made a
very great figure in society, monsieur. Ah, yes, you might have been
what you would! And now, in a moment, this has all vanished. Excuse me
if I complain. Of course, as you are not of full age I could compel you
not to take this step. I could, as a matter of fact, sequestrate you;
but I know your spirit, and I am not a believer in brute force. Well,
well, what can I say? You come and tell me this thing--your suicide
would sadden me less than this marriage which will be your social death.
You are a man, and it is not for me to treat you as though you were a
child. Think once again on the matter, and then---- Why, then act as
your will directs."

He rang the bell for Beril to complete his toilet, and I left the room
smitten to the heart. His unaffected sadness, his kindness, his
straightforwardness would have moved me from my course if anything
mortal could have done so.

Yet I left the room with my determination unshaken.

I was coming down the stairs when a footman accosted me on the first
landing.

"A person has called to see you, monsieur, and I have shown him into the
library."

I turned to the library, opened the door, and found myself engulfed in
the arms of Franzius.

"Mind the violin, mind the violin!" I cried, for he was carrying it, and
I felt the bridge snapping against my chest. Then I held him at arm's
length.

He was radiant, laughing like a boy. He had come from Etiolles, all the
way on foot, and all the joy that had been bottled up in him during the
twenty-four miles' tramp had burst loose.

"And now," I said, laughing, too, from the infection of his gaiety,
"what is it?"

"Oh, my friend," said Franzius, "she loves me!"

"Good heavens! Who?"

But you might just as well have questioned the Sud Express going full
speed.

"Yesterday you saw me--I was in despair. I had not understood aright.
She had not understood me. She thought I cared for nothing but my music;
she did not know that my music was herself--that her soul had entered
into me, that she was me----"

"But stay!" I cried, recalling to mind all the women at Etiolles, from
Madame Fauchard to Elise, the station-master's pretty daughter;
recalling to my mind all but the right one. "But, stay!"

"That she was me, that my music was her--that every strand of her golden
hair, every motion of her lips, every----"

Ah, then it began to dawn on me!

"Franzius," I cried, suddenly seizing him by the shoulders, "Franzius,
is it Mademoiselle Eloise?"

"They call her that," replied the stricken one, "but for me she is my
soul."

Then I embraced Franzius. It was the first time in my life that I had
"embraced" a man French fashion. He and his old violin I took in my
arms, nearly crushing them. Fool! fool! Double fool that I was not to
have seen it before! Her sadness when I was with her, the way she
lighted up when he was near! And I had fancied that she was in love with
me!

There was a grain of cynical bitterness in that recollection, but so
small a grain that it was swallowed up, perished for ever, in the honest
joy that filled my heart.

I had done the right thing, I had prepared to sacrifice myself, and this
was my reward.

Then the recollection of the old man upstairs came to me, and, bidding
Franzius to wait for me, I ran from the room. I saw a servant on the
stairs and called to him to bring wine and cigars to the gentleman in
the library; then, two steps at a time, up I went to the dressing-room.

I knocked and opened the door without waiting for a reply. Beril was
tying my guardian's cravat. I took him by the shoulders and marched him
out of the room.

"Saved!" cried I to the astonished Vicomte as I stood with my back to
the door and he stood opposite me, his striped satin cravat hanging
loose and his hand half reaching for the bell.

Then I told him all, and he saw that I was not mad.

"Is he downstairs, this Monsieur Franzius?" asked my guardian when I had
finished my tale and he had finished congratulating me.

"Yes."

"I would like to see him. Ask him to déjeûner."

"He's rather---- I mean, you know, he's a Bohemian; does not bother much
about dress and that sort of thing--so you must not expect to see a
Boulevardier."

"My dear sir," said the old man with delightful gaiety, "if one is in a
burning building, does one trouble about the colour of the fire escape
that saves one from destruction, or if it has been new painted? Ask him
to déjeûner though he came dressed as a red Indian!"

Franzius, when I found him in the library, would not touch the wine or
cigars I had ordered up; he was in a frame of mind far above such
earthly things. I made him sit down, and, taking a seat opposite to him,
listened while he told me the whole affair.

He declared that the idea of love for Eloise had never come to him of
itself; he was far too humble to worship her, except as one worships the
sun. It was his music that said to him: "She loves you, and you love
her. Listen to me: Am I not beautiful? I am the child of your soul and
hers; divine love has brought you together so that you might create me.
I will exist for ever, for I am the child of two immortal souls."

"Then, my friend," said Franzius, "I knew what love was--it is the birth
of music in the heart, it is the music itself, the little birds try to
tell us this. I had loved her without knowing from the first day; and
when knowledge came to me I was still dumb; dumb as a miser who speaks
not of his gold; till yesterday, when I told her all. She cried out and
ran from me, and hid herself in the house, and I thought she was
offended. I thought she did not love me, I thought the music had lied to
me, and that there was no God, that the flowers were fiends in disguise,
the sun a goblin. I came to Paris, I walked here and there, I met you,
my distress was great. Then I returned to Etiolles. It was evening,
towards sunset, and, coming through the wood near the Pavilion, I saw
her.

"She had taken her seat on the root of an old tree; her basket of
needlework was by her side, and in her lap was an old coat; she had made
me bring it to the Pavilion some days before, saying she would mend it.
I thought she had forgotten it, but now it was in her lap; her needle
was in her hand, and she had just finished mending a rent in the sleeve.
Then she held it up as if to see were there any more to be done;
then--she kissed it."

"So that----"

"Ah, my friend, all is right with me now. I have come home to the home
that has been waiting for me all these weary years. Often when I have
looked back at my wanderings I have said to myself, Why? It all seemed
so useless and leading nowhere--such a zig-zag road here and there
across Europe on foot, poor as ever when the year was done. _But now I
see that every footstep of that journey was a footstep nearer to her_,
and I praise God."

He ceased, and I bowed my head. The holy spirit of Love seemed present
in that room, and I dared not break the sacred silence with words.

It was broken by the opening of the door, and the cheery voice of M. le
Vicomte bidding me introduce him to my friend.



CHAPTER XXIX

IN THE SUNK GARDEN


I shall never forget that déjeûner, and the kindness of my guardian to
poor Franzius. The tall footmen who served us may have wondered at this
very unaccustomed guest; but had the Emperor been sitting in Franzius'
place M. le Vicomte could not have laid himself out more to please. And
from no hidden motive. Franzius was his guest, he had invited him to
déjeûner, he saw the Bohemian was ill at ease in his strange
surroundings, and with exquisite delicacy only attainable by a man of
good birth, trained in all the subtleties of life, he set himself the
task of setting his guest at ease.

When the meal was over we went into the smoking-room; and then, and only
then, did M. le Vicomte refer to the question of Eloise in a few
well-chosen words.

Then he dismissed us as though we were schoolboys; and I took the
musician off to see my apartments.

Now, I am Irish, or at least three parts Irish, and I suppose that
accounts for some eccentricities in my conduct of affairs. I am sure
that it accounts for the fact that my joy up to this had carried me
along so irresistibly and so pleasantly that I had not once looked back.

It was when I opened the door of my sitting-room that memory, or
perhaps conscience, woke up to deal my happiness a blow.

The man beside me knew nothing of Eloise's past. Or did he?

Never, I thought, as I looked at him. His happiness is new-born, it has
been stained by no cloud. She has told him nothing.

I sat down and watched him as he roamed about the room, examining the
works of art, the pictures, and the hundred-and-one things, pretty or
quaint; costly toys for the grown-up.

I sat and watched him.

An overmastering impulse came upon me to go at once to Etiolles, see
Eloise, and speak to her alone, if possible.

"Come," I said, "let us go down to the Pavilion. I want a breath of
country air. Paris is smothering me. Shall we start?"

He went to the library to fetch his violin, and we left the house.

We took the train. It was a glorious September day; they were carting
the corn at Evry; and the country, warm and mellow from the long, hot
summer, was covered by the faintest haze, a gauze of heat that paled the
horizon, making a diaphanous film from which the sky rose in a dome of
perfect blue.

The little gardens by the way were filled with autumn flowers--stocks
and hollyhocks and Michaelmas daisies--simple and old-fashioned flowers,
great bouquets with which God fills the hands of the poor, more
beautiful than all the treasures of Parma and Bordighera.

A child of six, a son of one of the railway porters, bound also for
Etiolles on a message, tramped with us. Franzius carried him on his
shoulder part of the way, and bought him sweets at the village shop.

Eloise was not at the Pavilion. Madame Ancelot said she had taken her
sewing and was in the sun-garden of the Château, and there we sought for
her. This garden, small and protected from the east wind by a palisaded
screen, was the prettiest place imaginable. It was at the back of the
Château, and steps from it led up to the rose-garden. It had in its
centre a square marble pond from which a Triton blew thin jets of water
for ever at the sky.

Eloise was seated on a small grassy bank; her workbasket was beside her;
and she was engaged in some needlework which she held in her lap.

She made a pretty picture against the hollyhocks which lined the bank;
and prettier still she looked when, hearing our footsteps, she cast her
work aside and ran to meet us.

With a swift glance at Franzius, she ran straight to me and took both my
hands in hers.

"He has told you?" said she, looking up full and straight into my face,
full and straight with perfect candour and firm eyes more liquid and
beautiful than the blue of heaven washed by the early dawn.

"He has told me," I replied, holding her hands in mine.

All the sadness and pain that my past relationship with her had caused
me was now banished, for I could read in her eyes, or, blind that I was,
I thought I could read in her eyes, that the past was for her not in the
new world in which she found herself.

We sat down on the little grassy bank, and talked things over, the three
of us. Three people who had found a treasure could not have been more
happily jubilant as we talked of the future.

"And you know," said I, "you will never want money. Franzius will be
rich with his music; and even should he never care to write again, I
have a large sum of money in trust for you. Oh, don't ask who gave it in
trust for you both! It is there."

We talked till the dusk fell and star after star came out.

So dark was it when I left that a tiny point of light in Eloise's hair
made me hold her head close to look. It was a glow-worm that had fallen
from the bending hollyhocks.

It seemed to me like a little star that God had placed there as a
portent of fortune and happiness.

When I got back to Paris my guardian was out.

I went to my rooms to think things over. My thoughts had received a new
orientation. I remembered my delight that morning on finding myself
free--free of all that heaven!

Ah, if I could only have loved her as Franzius did!

What, then, was this thing called Love, which I had never known, the
thing which I had never guessed till to-day, till this evening, there in
the sunk garden of Saluce, in the dusk so filled with the sound of
unseen wings and the music of an unknown tongue?

Some drawing things were on the table.

I have always been a fair artist, and sketching has been one of my few
amusements.

Almost mechanically I took a pencil, and tried to sketch the face of
Eloise Feliciani.

But it was not the face of Eloise Feliciani that appeared on the paper.
I gazed on it, when it was finished, in troubled amazement. It was the
face of a woman--yet it was also the portrait of a child. Ah, yes;
beyond any doubt of memory it was the face of Margaret von Lichtenberg,
the old portrait in the gallery of Schloss Lichtenberg! Yet it was the
face, also, of little Carl!



CHAPTER XXX

THE MARRIAGE OF ELOISE


"We will give them a good send-off," said my guardian, as, some days
later, we discussed the matter of Eloise's wedding. "Let them be married
at Etiolles; have the village en fête. I will settle for it all."

The proposition seemed good; nowhere could one find a more suitable spot
for such a wedding than the little church of Etiolles; yet it met with
opposition.

Franzius was not a man to forget his friends. He had many in the Latin
Quarter, and he was a peasant born, with a peasant's instincts. Birth,
marriage, and death, those three supreme events in the life of man, are
more insistent in their ceremonial amidst the poor than the rich. To
Franzius it would have been a strange thing to marry without inviting to
the ceremony the people who were his friends; and the journey to
Etiolles would be too far for some of these.

Then, it was impossible for the marriage to be solemnised in a church,
for the simple reason that he was a Lutheran and Eloise had been born a
Catholic. So it was arranged to take place on the 1st of October at the
Mairie of the quarter which includes the Rue Dijon.

It was to be quite a simple affair, a wedding such as takes place every
day amongst the bourgeoisie, with the additional lustre that the
presence of the Vicomte Armand de Chatellan would lend to the
proceedings.

It was a lovely day. It had rained during the night, but the morning
broke nearly cloudless, and there was that feeling of spring in the air,
that freshness which comes sometimes in autumn like the reminiscence of
May.

Franzius had slept the night at the Place Vendôme; and I must say,
dressed in a brand-new suit of clothes and with a flower in his
buttonhole, he never looked worse in his life. Dressed in his old
clothes, with his violin under his arm, he was picturesque, but now he
looked like a tailor out for a holiday, and I told him so, to keep up
his spirits, as we breakfasted hurriedly and without appetite, but with
a good deal of gaiety.

Eloise was to come from Saluce in one of the Vicomte's carriages, and he
was to accompany her to the Mairie, where we were to wait for them. Noon
was the hour of the ceremony; and when we arrived at the Mairie the
place was crowded: four other couples, it seemed, were to be united that
day, and we were third on the list.

The people whom Franzius had invited were there already: not many,
scarcely a dozen, and mostly men, musicians with long hair and German
accents; his landlady of the Rue Dijon and her daughter, a cripple
dressed for the occasion in a newly starched white frock and blue sash;
and a young lady of the sempstress type, pale-faced and modest, and
seeming dazed with the grandeur of the officials in their chains and all
the paraphernalia of the law.

For a moment a pang went to my heart to think that a daughter of the
Felicianis was to be married here amidst these folks like one of them.
But it soon passed. The Archbishop of Paris, the choir of Notre Dame,
the congregated aristocracy of France, could not have added one whit to
the beauty of the marriage or to its sanctity.

I had dreaded that in the fulness of his heart and his simplicity
Franzius might have invited undesirable guests. The vision of
Changarnier appearing like an evil beast had horrified me. But my fears
were set at rest. Leave the simple-hearted alone, and they rarely make
mistakes. Franzius' guests, humble though they might be, were of the
aristocracy of the poor, good, kind-hearted, and honest people.

At ten minutes to noon the Vicomte arrived, with Eloise on his arm. How
charming she looked, in that simple, old-fashioned wedding-gown which
she had made for herself! And how charming the Vicomte was, insisting on
being introduced to everyone, chatting, laughing, immeasurably above
everyone else, yet suffusing the wedding-party with his own grace and
greatness so that everyone felt elevated instead of dwarfed!

And I never have been able to determine in my mind whether it was
natural goodness, or just gentility polished to its keenest edge, that
made this old libertine so lovable.

After the ceremony carriages conveyed the wedding-party to the Café
Royale in the Boulevard St. Michel.

The Vicomte had, through Beril, made all arrangements; and in a room
flower-decked, and filled with the sunlight and sounds of the boulevard,
we sat down to déjeûner.

Scarcely had we begun than the waiters announced two gentlemen, at the
same time handing the Vicomte de Chatellan two cards. "Show them up,"
said my guardian, "and lay two more covers."

It was the great Carvalho, who, hearing indirectly from my guardian of
the marriage, had come, bringing with him the director of the Opera.

You may be sure we made room for them. And what a good omen it
seemed--better than a flight of white doves--these two well-fed,
prosperous, commonplace individuals, who held the music of France in
their hands, and the laurel-wreaths!

They did not stay long, just long enough to pay their compliments and
drink success to the bride and bridegroom.

Just before departing, Carvalho whispered to me: "His opera is accepted.
He will hear officially to-morrow. It will be produced in April, or, at
latest, May."



PART III



CHAPTER XXXI

THE BALL


"By the way," said my guardian, "how are you off for money?"

We were driving back from the station, having seen the newly married
couple off on their honeymoon.

"Oh, pretty well," I replied. "Why do you ask?"

He did not seem to hear my reply, but sat gazing out of the
carriage-window at the streets we were passing through, and the people,
gazing at them contemplatively and from Olympian heights, after the
fashion of a god gazing upon beetles.

When we reached the Place Vendôme, he drew me into the library.

"I have been on the point of speaking to you several times lately about
money," said he. "Not about personal expenses, but about the bulk of
your fortune. It is invested in French securities. Clement, our lawyer,
has the number and names of them. They are all good securities, paying
good dividends; they are the securities in which I myself have invested
my money. Well, I am selling out----"

"I beg your pardon, sir?"

"Selling out--realising. I am collecting my money, marshalling my
francs, and marching them out of France into England. I propose to do
the same with yours."

"But," said I, "is that safe, to have all our money in a foreign
country? Suppose that there should be war?"

The Vicomte laughed.

"You have said the words. Suppose there should be war? France would be
smashed like a ball of glass--ouf. Do you think I am blind? At the
Tuileries, at the Quai d'Orsay, they speak of M. le Vicomte de Chatellan
as a very nice man, perhaps, but out of date--out of date; at the War
Minister's it is the same--out of date. Meanwhile, I know the machine. I
have counted the batteries of artillery and the regiments of the line on
paper, and I have counted them in the field, and contrasted the
difference. Not that I care a halfpenny for the things in themselves,
but they are the protectors of my money; and as such I look after them.
I have reviewed the personality of the people at the Tuileries--not that
I care a halfpenny for their psychological details, but they are the
stewards of my money; and I examine their physiognomies and their lives
to see if they are worthy of trust. I look at society--not that I care a
halfpenny for the morals of society, but because the health of society
is essential to the health of the State. Now, what do I see? I speak not
from any moral standpoint, but just as a man speaks who is anxious about
the safety of his money. What do I see? Widespread corruption;
peculators hiding peculators--from the man who hides the rotten army
contract at the Ministry of War to the man who hides the rottenness of
the fodder in the barrack-stable. Widespread corruption; Ministers the
servants of vice, each duller than Jocrisse; marshals as wooden and as
useless as their bâtons; skeleton regiments, batteries without cannon,
cannon without horses; no esprit; an army of gamins with
cigarette-stained fingers and guns in their hands."

The old gentleman, who for seventeen years or so had been in a state of
chronic irritation with the Second Empire and its makers, paused in his
peregrinations up and down the room, and snapped his fingers. I sat
listening in astonishment, for to me, who only saw the varnish and the
glitter, France seemed triumphant amongst the nations as the Athena of
the Parthenon amongst statues; and the French Army, from the Cent Gardes
at the Tuileries to the drummer-boy of the last line regiment, the _ne
plus ultra_ of efficacy, splendour, and strength.

He went on:

"Tell me: when you see a house in disorder, bills unpaid, the servants
liars and rogues, inefficient and useless, dust swept under the beds,
and nothing clean about the place except perhaps the windows and the
door-handle: whom do you accuse but the master and the mistress? A
nation is a house, and France is a nation. I say no more. I have been a
guest at the Tuileries; and it is not for me, who have partaken of their
hospitality, to speak against the rulers of France. But I will not allow
them to play ducks and drakes with my money. In short, my friend, in my
opinion my money is no longer safe in France, and I am going to move it
to a place of safety. I have been uneasy for some time, but of late I
am not uneasy--I am frightened. _I smell disaster._"

He did.

Now, in October, 1869, from evidence in my possession, the fate of
France was already definitely fixed. Bismarck had decided on war. He had
not the slightest enmity toward France, nothing but contempt for her and
for the wretched marionettes playing at Royalty in the Tuileries. He was
assisting at the birth of the great German Empire, that giant who in a
short twelve months was to leap living and armed from the womb of Time.
The destruction of France was the surgical operation necessary for the
birth--that was all. In October, 1869, the last rivets of the giant's
armour were being welded.

My guardian knew nothing of this; yet that extraordinary man had already
scented the coming ruin, guessing from the corruption around him the
birds of prey beyond the frontier.

"Thank you!" said he, when I had given him permission to deal with my
fortunes as his judgment dictated. "And now you have just time to dress
for dinner. Remember, you are to accompany me to-night to the ball at
the Marquis d'Harmonville's."

I went off to my own rooms not overjoyed. Society functions never
appealed to me, and balls were my detestation, for then my lameness was
brought into evidence. Condemned not to dance, it was bitter to see
other young people enjoying themselves, and to have to stand by and
watch them, pretending to oneself not to care. My lameness, though I
have dwelt little upon it, was the bane of my life. I fancied that
everyone noticed it, and either pitied me or ridiculed me. It was a
bitter thing, tainting all my early manhood; it made me avoid young
people, and people of the opposite sex. I have seen girls looking at me,
and have put their regard down to ridicule or pity--fool that I was!

Joubert put out my evening clothes. Joubert of late had grown more testy
than ever, and more domineering. He spent his life in incessant warfare
with Beril, the factotum of my guardian; and the extra acidity that he
could not vent on Beril he served up to me. But it was the business of
Eloise and Franzius (that lot, as he called them) which he had now, to
use a vulgar expression, in his nose.

"Not those boots," said I, as he took a pair of patent-leather boots
from their resting-place. "Dancing shoes!"

"Dancing shoes!" said Joubert, putting the boots back. "Ah, yes; I
forgot that monsieur was a dancer."

"You forgot no such thing, for you know very well I do not dance, but
one does not go to a ball in patent-leather boots. You like to fling my
lameness in my face. You are turning into vinegar these times. I will
pension you, and send you off to the country to live, if M. le Vicomte
does not do what he has threatened to do."

"And what may that be?" asked the old fellow, with the impudent air of a
naughty child.

"He says he'll put you and Beril in a sack and drop you in the Seine,
if he has any more trouble with the pair of you--always fighting like a
couple of old cats."

"Old, indeed!" replied Joubert. "Ma foi! it well becomes a young man
like the Vicomte to think of age! And did I make you lame? More likely
it was a curse from one of that lot----"

"Here!" I said, "give me the hair-brushes, and leave 'that lot,' as you
call them alone."

I wondered to myself what Joubert would have said had he known the real
cause of my lameness, but I had never spoken to anyone of the child, so
like little Carl, the mysterious child who had lured me through the
bushes into the hidden gravel-pit. If I had, what ammunition it would
have given him against "that lot," as he was pleased to call anyone who
had been present at the Schloss Lichtenberg that September nine years
ago!

I dined tête-à-tête with my guardian, then we played a game of écarté;
and at ten o'clock, the carriage being at the door, we departed for the
Marquis d'Harmonville's in the Avenue Malakoff.

It was a very big affair; the Avenue Malakoff was lined with carriages;
and we, wedged between the carriage of the Countess de Pourtalès and
that of the Russian Ambassador, had time on our hands, during which the
Vicomte, irritated by the loss of five louis at écarté and the slowness
of the queue, continued his strictures on the social life of Paris and
the condition of France.

We passed up the stairs, between a double bank of flowers; and despite
the condition of the social life of Paris and the state of France, the
scene was very lovely.

The great ballroom--with its scheme of white and gold, its crystal
candelabra and its extraordinarily beautiful ceiling, in which, as in a
snowstorm, the ice spirits whirled in a fantastic dance--might have been
the ballroom in the palace of the Ice Queen but for the warmth, the
banks of white camellias, and the music of M. Strauss's band.

Following my usual custom, I cast round for someone whom I could bore
with my conversation, a fellow-wall-flower; and it was not long before I
lit on M. de Présensé, a friend of my guardian, one of those old
gentlemen who go everywhere, know everything, talk to everybody, and
from whom everyone tries to escape. Delighted to obtain a willing
listener, M. de Présensé, who did not dance, drew me into a corner and
pointed out the notabilities. We had mounted to a kind of balcony, and
presently, when M. de Présensé was engaged in conversation with a lady
of his acquaintance, I stood alone and looked down on the assembled
guests.

Recalling them now, and recalling the Vicomte's strictures, it seems
strange enough that amidst the guests were most of those who, fatuously
playing into Bismarck's hands, brought war and the destruction of war on
France; all, nearly, of the undertakers of the Second Empire's funeral
were there. The Duc d'Agenor de Gramont; Benedetti, who happened to be
in Paris at that time; Marshal Leboeuf, that ruinous fool the clap of
whose portfolio cast on the council table at Saint-Cloud was answered
by the mobilisation of the German Army; Vareigne, the Palace Prefect of
the Tuileries; and, to complete the collection, Baron Jérome David,
destined to be the first recipient of the news of Sedan.

I was looking on and listening, amused and interested by old M. de
Présensé's descriptions, that were not destitute of barbs and points,
when through the crowd in my direction, walking beside my old enemy the
Comte de Coigny, came a young man.

A young man, pale, very handsome, with an air of distinction which
marked him at once as a person above other people, a distinction which,
starlike, reduced the surrounding crowd to the level of wax lights and
the function of D'Harmonville to a bourgeois rout. He was dressed in
simple evening attire, without jewellery or adornment of any
description, except an order set in brilliants, a point of sparkling
light which gave the last touch to a picture worthy of the brush of
Vandyck or Velasquez.

"Quick!" I said, plucking old M. Présensé by the sleeve. "That young man
with the Comte de Coigny: who is he?"

"That!--ma foi--he is Baron Carl von Lichtenberg, the new attaché at the
Prussian Embassy. Oh, yes; he is the sensation of the moment in Paris.
The women rave about him----"

But I did not hear what more the old man may have said, for at that
moment Von Lichtenberg, as they called him, looking in my direction,
caught my eye and halted dead, with his hand on De Coigny's arm.

He seemed stricken with paralysis; the words he had just been saying to
his companion withered on his lips; we stared at each other for ten
seconds; then De Coigny, glancing in my direction, broke the spell, and,
pulling old Présensé by the arm, I retired precipitately through an
alcove which led to the cardroom.

I was terrified, shocked. Terrified as an animal which suddenly finds
itself trapped in a gin; shocked as a man who sees a ghost.

All the nameless excitement and soul-terror that had filled me for a
moment as a child when Gretel, in the gallery of the Schloss, had held
the light to the portrait of Margaret von Lichtenberg, were mine now
again, for the face I had just seen was hers. The Baron Carl von
Lichtenberg was little Carl.

I said "Good-evening," to M. Présensé, escaped through the cardroom
door, got my hat and coat from the attendants, and found myself in the
street.



CHAPTER XXXII

TRYING TO ESCAPE FROM FATE


I walked fast as one who would try to escape from his fate.

I _could_ not but see the cards being dealt by some mysterious hand; I
could not but remember that Von Lichtenberg, a nobleman, a man of
honour, the friend of his King, and presumably sane, had three times
attempted my assassination when I was a child, to shield little Carl
from some terrible evil at my hands; and look, to-night, whom had I met?

Then, Franzius, entering my life as he had done, and Eloise, like the
people on the stage who are seen in the first act of the drama, to
reappear in the last act, helping to form the tragic tableau on which
the curtain falls.

But the terror and repulsion in my mind rose not from these things; it
came like a breath from afar; it came like a breath from the unknown,
from the time remote in the past when lived Margaret von Lichtenberg,
the woman murdered by Philippe de Saluce.

I walked hurriedly, not caring whither I went; the sounds and lights of
Paris surrounded me, but my spirit was not there. It was in the gardens
of Lichtenberg, walking with Eloise and little Carl; it was in the
picture-gallery, gazing at the portrait of the dead-and-gone Margaret,
beneath which was the little portrait of Philippe de Saluce, so horribly
like myself; it was in the windy bell-tower where the Man in Armour
stood with his iron hammer before the iron bell; I saw again the duel in
the forest, and Von Lichtenberg lying in the arms of General Hahn, and I
heard again the slobbering of the torches, the wind in the pine-trees,
and the far-off barking of the fox in the wood.

Ah, yes; all that might have something to do with me, but beyond all
that I refused my fate. I refused to believe that the dead Margaret had
a hold upon me--the last of the Mahons, who was also the last of the
Saluces; the horrible whispered suggestion: "Are _you_ Philippe de
Saluce returned? Were _you_ once in that old time the murderer of
Margaret? And is she--is she little Carl?" This I refused; that I would
not listen to; this I abhorred, as a whisper from the devil, as a
blasphemy against God's goodness and against life.

"I have never done harm to any man!"

"Or woman?" queried the whisperer, whose voice seemed my own voice, just
as in that story of Edgar Poe's the voice of William Wilson found an
echo in his double.

"Or woman? Ah, yes--Eloise--a moment of passion----"

"A moment of passion murdered Margaret de Saluce."

"But God is good; He does not create to torture; He does not bring the
dead back to confront them with their crimes."

"Know you that there is a God?" replied the whisperer. "And not a Fate
working inexorably and by law?"

"Cease!" I replied, "Let there be a Fate. I am a living man with a will.
No dead fate working by law shall drag me against my will, or move me to
another purpose than my own. I will not--I will not!"

This mental dialogue had brought me a long way. I was called to my
senses by a bright light illuminating what seemed a river of blood
stretching across the pavement.

It was a red carpet, and the great house from whose door it was laid
down was the Prussian Embassy.

A carriage, flanked by a squadron of Cent Gardes, was at the pavement,
and a man was leaving the Embassy.

It was Napoleon, who had been dining privately with the Prussian
Ambassador. He was in evening dress, covered by a dark overcoat; his
hat-brim was over his eyes, and he held a cigarette between his lips.
When Napoleon wore his hat in this fashion, with the brim covering his
eyes like a penthouse, the whole figure of the man became sinister and
full of fate.

I would sooner a flock of black birds had crossed my path than that
mysterious figure in the broad-brimmed, tall hat, beneath which in the
darkness the profile showed vaguely, yet distinctly, like the profile on
some time-battered coin of Imperial Rome, some coin on which the
Imperial face alone remains asking the dweller in a new age: Who is
this?

I watched him getting into his carriage and the carriage driving away,
surrounded by the glittering sabres of the Cent Gardes; then I returned
home.

This, it will be remembered, was the night of the 1st of October.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 4th of October, three days after, I was sitting at my club,
reading a newspaper, when the Comte de Brissac proposed a game of
écarté.

I take cards seriously; the gain or loss of money is nothing to me
beside the gain or loss of the game. That is why, perhaps, I am often
successful.

There were several other players in the room, and a good many loungers
looking on at the games, several around our table, of whom I did not
take the slightest notice, so immersed was I in the play.

I lost. Never had I such bad luck. The cards declared themselves against
me; some evil influence was at work. At the end of half an hour, during
a pause in the game, and after having lost a good sum of money to De
Brissac, I looked up, and for the first time noticed the people around
us. Right opposite to me, standing behind De Brissac, and looking me
full in the face, was Baron Carl von Lichtenberg.

The surprising thing was that I was not surprised. My unconscious self
seemed to have recognised the fact that he was there all the time,
whilst the conscious self was sublimely indifferent to everything but
the cards.

Then I did just what I would have done had a cry of "Fire" been
raised--cast my cards on the table, and left the room, walking
hurriedly, but not so hurriedly as to express what the old Marquis
d'Ampreville once described as ungentlemanly alarm.

Now, Lichtenberg was not a member of the Mirlitons; and as I was a
pretty regular frequenter of the place during certain hours of the day,
and as he had taken his place at the card-table at which I was playing,
the suggestion became almost a certainty that he had come there to meet
me.

"I am a living man with a will. No dead Fate working by law shall drag
me against my will or move me to another purpose than my own." I had
said that on the night of the 1st of October. Well, there was something
more than a dead Fate here, a thing working by law. There was the will
of Von Lichtenberg; and as I walked down the Boulevard des Italiens,
away from the club, the gin seemed to have closed more tightly around
me.

It is unpleasant to feel not that you are going to meet your fate, but
that your fate is coming to meet you; to swim from a danger, yet find
the tide slowly and remorselessly driving you towards it.

Now, what was this danger I dreaded? Impossible to say; but I felt
surely in my soul that far more destructive to my happiness and my life
than Vogel, or the fantastic old woman who lived in the wood and made
whistles of glass, silver, and gold for children to play upon, was this
man Carl von Lichtenberg. That, just as Eloise had brought me the
flowers of childhood perfumed and dew-wet in her hands, Carl von
Lichtenberg was bringing me flowers from an unknown land, flowers
scentless as immortelles, sorrowful as death.

Why should I, young and happy, and rich, with all the joy of life in me,
with a clear conscience and a healthy mind: why should I be troubled by
the tragic and the fateful? As day by day men turn the pages of their
life-story, men ask of God this question, receiving only the Author's
reply: "Read on."

The next day I had the extra knowledge that not only was Von
Lichtenberg's will against me, but the tattle of fools.

The affair at the Mirlitons had been talked about. The loungers about
the card-table had seen me look up, stare at the Baron, fling my cards
down, and leave the room.

I had, it seemed, put a public affront on him.

My guardian told me of the talk.

"Paris is a whispering gallery," said the old gentleman, "filled with
fools. They put the thing down to the fact of the duel between your
father and Baron Imhoff. The whole thing is unfortunate; the relations
of the Saluces and the Lichtenbergs have always been unfortunate; yet
the two families have had an attraction for each other, to judge by the
intermarriages. Still, this young Baron Carl seems quite a nice person,
a nobleman of the old type, a man of distinction and presence----"

"You have met him?"

"I was introduced at D'Harmonville's ball. Yes; quite a nobleman of the
old school; and it seems a pity that you should bear him any grudge on
account of the unfortunate fact that Baron Imhoff----"

"I don't. I don't hold him responsible for the fact that Baron Imhoff
killed my father. I have no grudge against him."

"I am glad to hear that," said the Vicomte; and two days later he
invited Von Lichtenberg to dinner with me!

I did not come to that dinner. I was a living man with a will of my own.
(How that phrase haunts me like satiric laughter!) I would pursue my own
course; and no dead Fate would drag me against my will, or move me to
another purpose except my own.

I dined at the Café de Paris with a friend, and as I was coming away
whom should I meet but my old enemy the Comte de Coigny!

This gentleman was flushed with wine; he was descending the stairs with
two ladies, and when he saw me he started. We had not spoken for years,
yet he came forward to introduce himself.

When we had exchanged a few platitudes, he turned to the matter that was
evidently the motive-power of his civility.

"I am surprised to see you here to-night," said he, "for my friend M. le
Baron von Lichtenberg told me he was to dine with you."

"He told you wrong."

"Ah! just so. I thought there was some mistake; he would scarcely be
dining with you after the affair at the Mirlitons."

"M. de Coigny," I replied, "I know of nothing that gives you the
warrant to introduce yourself into my private affairs. I dine where I
choose, do what I please; and should anyone question my actions they do
so at their own peril."

Then I turned on my heel and left the café with my friend.

"Another man would send you his seconds in reply to that," said my
friend.

"And why not De Coigny?"

"Oh, he is a coward. But he is also a bad man. Be on your guard, for he
will try to do you an evil turn."

I laughed, and told him of the occurrence when, years ago, I had made De
Coigny's nose to bleed in the gardens of the Hôtel de Morny.

"All the same," replied he, "be on your guard."

Next day I had a very unpleasant interview with my guardian. I had not
only insulted Von Lichtenberg, it seems, but I had also hit the
convenances a foul blow. Hit them below the belt, in fact.

"Ah, yes," said the old gentleman, "I try to do the best for you, and
see your return! In my own house, too! And to receive the message that
you were dining out only an hour before he was expected, giving me no
time to make excuses!"

"What did he say?" I asked.

"Say!" burst out M. le Vicomte. "He said nothing. Ah, if I had been in
his place! But, no. He only looked sad and depressed. Had he been a girl
instead of a man, a girl in love with you, monsieur, he could not have
taken the matter with more quietness or with more sad restraint. Say!
Ah, yes, I will tell you what he said, what we said. I will give you
the dialogue:

"'I had hoped to meet someone else.' That was what he said.

"And I: 'Alas! monsieur, Fate has ordained us to a solitude à deux.'

"I did not mention your name, monsieur, for in mentioning your name I
would have mentioned a person who had disgraced me."

"Very well," said I. "I will disgrace you no longer. I will leave Paris
to-morrow, and go to Nice."

This determination I carried out next day.

Now, under the tragic cloak of the story, under all these evasions of
mine and this pursuit of Von Lichtenberg, there lay a lovely comedy, of
which I, one of the chief actors, was utterly ignorant of the motive and
the extraordinary dénouement. But this, if you have not guessed it, you
will see presently.

I went to Nice. I had never been South before; I had never seen the
white, white roads, the black shadows, the green olives, the leaping
palms; I had never seen the oranges glowing like dim golden lamps amidst
the glossy green leaves; and it seemed to me that I had never seen the
blue of sky or the blue of sea before I entered that Paradise.

It is all changed now. The Avenue de la Gare from a road in heaven has
become a street in a town; vulgarity and wealth have done their work;
and to-day you may buy a diamond necklace of M. Marx, where, in 1869,
under a plane-tree, sat the old woman who sold peeled oranges for a sou
a dozen.

I spent the winter at Nice, finding plenty of amusement and friends,
and cutting myself off completely from Paris, communicating only with my
guardian and with Franzius and his wife, who were living at the
Pavilion.

The 4th of April was the date for the production of his opera, "Undine."
It was based on De la Motte Fouquet's lovely tale; and its success, as
far as I could learn from Carvalho, was assured, for one can say of
certain artistic productions, just as one can say of sunlight or pure
gold: "This is assured. Let the tastes or the fashions alter, this will
always be reckoned at its full value, a treasure indestructible."

I had fixed to return to Paris on the 30th of March, but I came back
sooner; for on the 15th of March, driving on the Promenade des Anglais,
I passed a carriage in which were seated the Comte de Coigny and the
Baron Carl von Lichtenberg.



CHAPTER XXXIII

THE OVERTURE TO "UNDINE"


It was the morning of the day of "Undine's" production. I had ridden
over to the Pavilion from Paris to breakfast with Franzius and Eloise.

The rehearsal had almost wrecked Franzius, but he was all right now; the
ship was built; only the launching remained. As to Eloise, in six months
she had altered subtly yet marvellously. I had last seen her a girl in
her bridal dress; she was now a woman, for in six months she had aged
years, without gaining a wrinkle or losing a trace of the beauty of
youth. Love had ripened her; her every movement was marked by that
self-contained grace which comes from maturity of mind; the wild beauty
of spring had vanished, giving place to the full beauty of summer--the
grace of Demeter gazing upon the fields of immortal wheat.

It was the wish of both my guardian and myself that Franzius and Eloise
should inhabit the Pavilion as much as they chose. We had offered the
place to them, indeed, as a wedding gift, but the permission to live
there was all they would take.

This morning we breakfasted with the windows open. The swallows had not
come back, yet the wind that puffed the chintz curtains was warm as the
wind of May. Its sound amidst the trees was like the sound of April
walking in the woods.

We came out and walked to the cottage of old Fauchard, whose wife was
ill. Eloise had made her some soup, and she carried it in one of those
tins the workmen use for their food.

The birds were calling to each other from tree to tree; clumps of
violets were showing their blue amidst the brown of last autumn's fallen
leaves, and the forest, half fledged, was breathing in the delicious
breeze, sighing and shivering under the kiss of April.

It was no poetic fancy that presence which we felt around us, that call
to which every fibre of my being responded. It was very real, and
reaching far. The swallows were listening to it away at Luxor and
Carnac; it touched the sun-baked Pyramids and the reeds of the Mareotid
lakes, that call from the green fields of France; fields that in a few
short months were to be ploughed by the cannon and watered with blood
and tears.

We came to Paris in the afternoon, and, leaving Eloise with the Vicomte
at the Place Vendôme, I accompanied Franzius to the Opera House, where
he had some business to transact.

The last rehearsal had taken place the day before, and the huge building
seemed very grim, empty and deserted as it was.

"Franzius," I said, as we stood looking at the empty orchestra, "do you
remember that night in the Schloss Lichtenberg when you and Marx and the
rest of your band played in the great hall, and a child in his
nightshirt peeped at you from the gallery?"

"My friend," replied Franzius, "do I remember? Ach Gott! but for that
night I would never have met you, I would never have met Eloise, I would
be now second violin at the Closerie de Lilas, a man without love and
without a future. It is to you I owe all."

"Not a bit. It is to chance. And if it comes to that, it is to you I owe
all. But for you I would have been killed that night in my sleep. You
remember the hunting-song that held me--you gave me the words of it last
autumn. I wish some time you would write out the music for me."

Franzius smiled; then, as if speaking with an effort: "It was to have
been a surprise. I have written out the music of it for you; it is in
the score of the opera; it forms part of the overture."

I have never felt more excited than I felt that night. Despite the
assurance of Carvalho, I felt that the fate of my friend was hanging in
the balance; and I am sure I felt far more nervous than he, for he
seemed quite calm and certain of success.

We dined early, and he departed before us, for he was to conduct.

We arrived before the house was half filled, and took our places in M.
le Vicomte's box, which was situated in the first tier. Then the
flood-gates of the world where all the inhabitants are wealthy slowly
opened; box after box became a galaxy of stars; diamonds, ribbons, and
orders reflected the brilliant light which flooded the house, fans
fluttered like gorgeous butterflies, and the house, no longer half
deserted, became a scene of splendour filled with the perfume of
flowers, the intoxication of brilliancy; and my heart leapt to think of
Franzius as I had met him that night in the Boul' Miche, going along in
his old threadbare coat, with his violin under his arm, poor,
unfriended, and unknown, and to think of him now, like a magician,
compelling the wealth and beauty of Europe to his will!

Ah, yes! there is something in genius after all, something in it, if it
is not trampled to death by fools before it has time to expand its
wings.

The Empress was unable to attend, but the Emperor was there; and in the
box with him were the Duc de Gramont and the Duc de Bassano. The
Faubourg St. Germain was there, and the Chaussée d'Antin, old nobility
and new, at daggers drawn, yet brought under the same roof by Art.

There was an electrical feeling in the place, a something I could not
describe, till the Vicomte de Chatellan gave it a name.

"Success is in the air!" said he; then it seemed to me that I could hear
her wings, that glorious goddess more beautiful than the Athena of the
Parthenon.

And now from the orchestra came the complaint of the violin-strings,
proclaiming their readiness, and the deep, gasping grunts of the
'cellos, saying as plainly as 'cellos could speak: "Begin! begin!" And
there was Franzius, in correct evening attire (how different from the
long coat of the Schloss Lichtenberg!), and I was swept right back to
the gallery overlooking the hall; and it seemed to me that I was
standing once more in my nightshirt, looking down at the guests, at
General Hahn, and my father, and the Countess Feliciani; at Major von
der Goltz, at the jägers crowding to the doorway, and then--three taps
of the conductor's magic bâton; and with the first bars of the overture,
Spring, who had been walking all day in the forest of Sènart, Spring
herself entered the Opera House; the rush of the wind over leagues of
blowing trees swept Paris and the glittering ceiling away; and the
jewels and decorations, the Faubourg St. Germain and the Chaussée
d'Antin, became trash under the blue of immortal skies.

"All things bright and all things fair," sang the music, flowing and
beautiful, gemmed with star-like points of song. The skylark called from
the seventh heaven, and the wind and the rivers, the echoes of the
hills, the shepherd's song and the bells of sheep, the dim blue violets
and dancing daffodils made answer, heaven echoing earth, earth heaven,
till, deepening and changing, as a landscape stained with cloud shadows,
the music became overcast as if by the shadow of that tragic figure Man.
Man, for whom Spring is everything, and for whom Spring cares not at
all. Man, who gives a soul to Nature as her mortal lover gave a soul to
Undine; Man, who pursues a shadow for ever, even as the mysterious
hunters in the hunting-song pursued the shadow stag.


     "Hound and horn give voice and tongue,
       Fill the woods with music gay;
     Let your echoes sweet be flung
       To the Brocken far away."


Yes; there it was, the song that seemed woven in the texture of my life;
and as I sat, holding Eloise's hand and listening, it seemed to me that
the overture of "Undine" was in some way connected with the story of my
life, so gay and joyous in the opening bars, deepening now and shadowed
by Fate.

There it was, the horn and the echoes of the horn leading the shadowy
dogs and the ghostly huntsmen--where? In pursuit of a shadow. Whither?

That was the last mysterious message of the overture, in whose last
bars, sublime and peaceful, lay spread the mysterious country where all
hunting ceases, recalling from the loveliest of poems that country where
Orion, the hunter of the shadowy stag, possessed of Merope, dwells with
her in a remote and dense grove of cedars for ever and happily, whilst
the tamed shadow-stag drinks for ever at the stream.


     "The shadow of a stag stoops to the stream.
     Swift rolling toward the cataract, and drinks deeply.
     Throughout the day unceasingly it drinks,
     And when the sun hath vanished utterly,
     Arm over arm the cedars spread their shade
     Above that shadowy stag whose antlers still
     Hang o'er the stream."


When the curtain fell on the first act of "Undine," the opera was
already a success.

"Ah, yes," said M. le Vicomte, "that is music. Beside it, the drumming
and trumpeting of Wagner sound like the noise of a village fair." Then,
turning to Eloise: "My congratulations." Then he left the box, to talk
to friends and take his share in the incipient triumph.

It was really a triumph for him. He had boasted at the clubs of the new
musician he had discovered; and it was a supreme satisfaction to him
that his diamond had not turned out to be a piece of glass.

"Eloise," said I, "it's a success already; and if I had written ten
thousand operas of my own, and they had all been successful on the same
night, I would not feel the pleasure I feel now. Dear old Franzius----"

As if the name had called for an answer, a light knock came to the door
of the box. The door opened, and Baron Carl von Lichtenberg stood before
me. M. le Duc de Choiseul and the Marquis de Mérode, two well-known
boulevardiers, stood behind him.

"Monsieur," said Von Lichtenberg, advancing towards me, "I have sought
you in many places without avail since the incident which occurred at
the Mirlitons, on the 1st of October last. I sought you to pay you this
compliment." And he flicked me on the shoulder with the white glove
which he had drawn from his hand.

I bowed, and he withdrew.

That was all. A deadly insult, very nicely wrapped up, lay in "this
compliment"--and he had struck me.

Ah, well! it was to be. Although I was a living man with a will of my
own, it seemed that my will could not prevent my meeting Von
Lichtenberg; and, to point the matter, the challenge would have to come
from me. I could not escape. Heaven knows I have a sufficiency of animal
courage, yet for a moment the thought came to me of leaving Paris and
ignoring the insult, sacrificing honour and name rather than submit to
the unknown destination towards which Fate was driving me. Some instinct
told me that this duel would have consequences far beyond what I could
imagine; that it was a turning-point in my life, having passed which my
fate would be irremediably fixed.

Only for a moment came the suicidal thought of flight, to be immediately
dismissed. Let come what might, it was not my fault. I would send my
seconds to Von Lichtenberg in the morning. Then I turned to Eloise, and
found her leaning against the side of the box, pale, and seemingly in a
fainting state.

"I am all right," she murmured, "but, oh, Toto, it was his face!"

"His face?"

"His face I saw deep down in the water of the moat, drowned, and with
the weeds floating across it."

I remembered that day when, leaning on the drawbridge rail, and looking
down into the moat water, she had seen what seemed a face.

"Eloise," I said, taking her hands in mine, "come to yourself. The
second act is about to begin. Do not let other people see you pale like
this. What matters it? He and I have an account to settle: what matters
it? You have Franzius to think of. Listen to me. Do you know who he is?
He is Baron Carl von Lichtenberg--he was little Carl. Do you remember
the gardens of Lichtenberg and the drum, and how we marched away into
the forest----"

And before Eloise could answer, the Vicomte returned, and the curtain
rose on the forest of the lovely land where Undine met her lover.

The opera was a great success. Not since the marvellous first night of
"The Barber of Seville" had Paris shown such enthusiasm. But the
pleasure was dimmed for me, and I saw everything at a distance.

During the interval between the second and third acts, I sent a message
to De Brissac and another friend who were in the house, to meet me at
the Place Vendôme that night; and towards one in the morning we met in
my apartments, and I gave them their commission.

Then I went to bed and to sleep, with the music of "Undine" ringing in
my ears, and in my heart the knowledge of Franzius' triumph, and the
knowledge that I had helped him to it.

At eleven o'clock next morning De Brissac was announced.

Von Lichtenberg had accepted my challenge, with an extraordinary
proviso: the duel was not to take place till that day three months.

"He will fight you to-day if you press the point," said De Brissac, "but
he asked me to lay before you the fact that he will require three months
in which to arrange his affairs, which are partly political. He added,"
continued De Brissac grimly, "that, as you have evaded him for three
months and more, you cannot in courtesy refuse him this favour."

"I accept. So he added that--another insult!"

"He is a strange person," said De Brissac, "though in all outward
respects a perfect nobleman. He is a strange person, and I do not care
for him. In my eyes this is a forced business--une mauvaise querelle."

"There have been several duels to the death between our houses," replied
I. "Well, let it be so. On the 5th of July we shall meet."



CHAPTER XXXIV

PREPARING FOR THE DUEL


On the afternoon of the same day upon which I sent him my seconds, Baron
Carl von Lichtenberg left Paris. So quietly had the whole affair been
transacted at the Opera that not till noon the following day did my
guardian hear of it.

He was rather pleased at first. In those days a young man could not have
been said to make his début till he had proved his courage. Besides, my
supposed insult to the Baron had been much talked about; and the affair
between us, to use the Vicomte's expression, was like an abscess that
required opening.

But when he heard of the three months' condition he was less pleased.

"Why three months?" said he. "In Heaven's name, are not forty-eight
hours enough for any man in which to put his house in order! What
business can he possibly be about which requires three months to attend
to? I don't like the look of this," he finished. "The Lichtenbergs are a
mad race. But as you have accepted the condition you must abide by it."

How widely the old gentleman would have opened his eyes had he known
then the reason why Baron Carl von Lichtenberg required three months in
which to put his house in order before the duel! But he knew as little
as I of the mysterious event towards which I was being driven--I, a
living man, with a will of my own.

I had fully made up my mind that death lay before me. Swords were the
weapons chosen by Von Lichtenberg, and I was an expert swordsman, but my
sword would never pierce Carl von Lichtenberg. Of that I was determined.

The old fatality which had attended the relationship of the Lichtenbergs
and the Saluces was coming to a head. Yes; I was condemned to fight, but
Fate could not condemn me to kill.

If this Baron Carl von Lichtenberg were in reality little Carl, then Von
Lichtenberg had foreseen the duel; it was with this in view that he had
attempted my assassination. "Peace, Von Lichtenberg," said I to myself.
"No harm will come to your child through me, unless he flings himself on
my sword. Even then I would let the weapon drop from my hand." And I
said this not from special goodwill to the living or the dead, but just
because I refused to be the instrument of Fate.

I preferred to be the victim, and for this I was prepared; nay, I felt
almost certain that I should remain on the ground; and all through that
summer the thought filled me with a vague melancholy, a mist that made
the landscape of life more beautiful, its distances and its beauties
more grand, its trivialities more futile.

Only when we come near the end do we see life as it is, and things in
their just proportions. I had seen the splendour of society, the pomp of
Royalty, and that thing men call the glory of the world. Did I regret
to leave all this? It never even entered into my consideration. It was
nothing to me. Nothing beside the passionate appeal of summer, the cry
of life that came from all things bright and all things fair; from the
roses of Saluce, from the trees of the forest, and the birds I loved.

Ah! that glorious summer! Etiolles was a fire of roses, and the deep,
dark heart of the forest a furnace of life. The bees in the limes and
the wind in the beech-trees, the chirrup and buzz of a million happy
insects, filled the air with a ferment of sound, whilst in the open
spaces the pools lay blue as turquoises under the vast blue dome of
summer.

I spent most of my time with Franzius and Eloise. We would take our food
with us, and spend long days exploring the forest, which, like some
mysterious house, had ever some new room to be discovered, some passage
which was not there yesterday, some window opened by fairies during the
night, and giving upon a new and magic prospect.

They knew nothing of my impending encounter, nothing of the mystery that
surrounded me. Happy in their love, they did not guess my sadness, and
I, though their happiness filled me with pleasure, could not in the
least grasp it. Never having loved, I could not see the paradise which
surrounded them.

The blindest people on earth are the people who have never loved, the
people who have not yet lived.

But I could not see the paradise that surrounded them; and so the summer
passed on, and June drew near July.

Every few days I would go to Paris, moved by an unrest for which I
could not account.

One day--it was the 26th of June--I had just reached the Place Vendôme,
when Beril informed me that my guardian wished to see me.

I found the old gentleman in his dressing-gown, sorting and arranging
papers.

"I am leaving Paris," said M. le Vicomte, "for my estates in Auvergne,
where I have to put some things in order. From there I am starting on a
visit to England."

"To England! Why?"

"My doctor has ordered me rosbif," replied the old gentleman. Then,
rising, he opened the door of the room suddenly, and looked out.

"Beril has the habit of applying his ear to keyholes," he explained.
"No, my dear Patrique; it is not the state of my health that is moving
me to this journey, but the state of France. You know the story of the
rats and the sinking ship?"

"Yes."

"Well, call me a rat."

He went on sorting his papers.

"Now," he continued, "here is a list of the shares in which I have
invested your money. All good, solid English securities. Take it. Our
lawyer has all the bonds and scrip. I am taking them with me to England.
My address will be Long's Hotel, in Bond Street, London. What do you
propose to do? Follow me there, or remain in France?"

"First of all," I replied, "why are you going like this? Nothing is
threatening France----"

"Oho!" said my guardian. "And where have you been studying politics?
Down amongst the rabbits at Saluce?"

"I read the papers."

"Just so, and I read the times. I have been reading them for fifty-seven
years. But that is not all. Patrique, do you know that we have a
mysterious friend, who interests himself in our affairs?"

"I was unaware of the fact."

"Well, the fact remains. Now, what I am going to tell you is very
secret. I cannot even give you the name of our informant, as I am
pledged to an oath of secrecy. But the news has come to me through the
German Foreign Office. News has come to me that France is in vital
danger." He rose, trembling with excitement. "News has come to me that a
thunderbolt is going to fall on France, not from heaven, but from
there--from there! from there!" He almost shouted the words, pointing
with a shaking finger in a direction which I took to indicate Germany.

I have never seen anything more dramatic than the Vicomte's gesture--the
shaking hand, the intense expression, the fire in his old eyes, as he
stood with one hand grasping the dressing-gown about him, as a Roman
might have grasped his toga, the other pointing to the visionary enemy.

Then he sank back in his chair.

"Well," I said, "if danger is threatening France, I remain."

"That is as you please," replied he. "I go."

"But why go so soon? Surely you might wait till events are more
assured?"

"Yes," replied he, "and then they would say I had run away. As it is, I
do not run away. I simply depart before the event."

"But morally----"

"There are no morals in politics."

The terrible old man was certainly right in that.

I now see what he foresaw. Not only was France not fit for war, but
Paris was not fit to meet defeat. He foresaw it all, the Commune, houses
torn to pieces, the Column Vendôme lying on the ground, the muffled
drums, the firing-parties, the trenches filled with dead. He foresaw it
all, yet made one great mistake. He imagined the whole of France to be
as rotten as Paris. But then he was a boulevardier, and for him Paris
was France.

"Well," I said, "I am not a politician, so the morals of politics do not
affect me. France has been my mother: if she is threatened by calamity,
I will remain with her. I have eaten her bread; my father and my
grandfather fought in her wars; every penny I possess comes to me from
her; and were I to leave her now I would feel dishonoured. Besides, I
have business to attend to. You remember the appointment I have to meet
on the 5th of July."

I really believe the old gentleman had quite forgotten about the duel.

"Ah!" said he. "Lichtenberg." And he struck his knee with his fist. Then
he got up and paced the room in deep thought. Then, turning to me, he
smiled.

"Yes," he said, "I had forgotten. This affair will keep you in Paris;
but when it is over, please to remember my advice and my address in
England."

"When it is over," replied I, "I may be dead."

"Oh, no," said the Vicomte; "you will not be dead. At least"--and here
he smiled again--"not in my opinion."



CHAPTER XXXV

A LESSON WITH THE FOILS


He departed for Auvergne next day, he and Beril, and a pile of luggage.
A number of people saw him off from the station, including myself.

They did not see a rat leaving a sinking ship: they saw a jovial old
gentleman, with a cigar in his mouth, entering a first-class carriage, a
nobleman departing to visit his estates. He was to be back in a month,
so he said; and the last I saw of him was a jovial red face, and a hand
waving a copy of the "Charivari" to the little crowd of friends he had
left on the platform.

There was a touch of humour in that; and I could not help laughing, as I
turned home, at this man, so great in some ways, so little in others, so
kind, so heartless, so bad, so good; and such a perfect "shuffler." He
was by nature, above all things, an escaper from difficulties. I could
not help remembering how he had shuffled out of the painful duty of
breaking the news of my father's death to me; how he had shuffled out of
the responsibility of my education and bringing up; a hundred other
instances occurred to me, leading up to this last business of shuffling
out of France at the first scent of disaster. I am nearly sure that had
he been with the army he would have found some means of shuffling it
out of the trap at Sedan; at all events, I am perfectly certain he would
have escaped himself.

What perplexed me was the problem as to how he had obtained his news
from the German Foreign Office. Little as I knew of the methods of the
Chancelleries of Europe, a fool would understand that such vital, such
awful information could not escape from the innermost sanctum of the
Berlin Chancellerie--that is to say, if it were real. I was thrown back
on the hypothesis that it was false--a canard let escape purposefully,
one of Bismarck's wild ducks that were always stringing in flight across
Europe, set free by that marvellous man, the only man of his age, or any
other, perhaps, who could bring his country in touch with war for some
political reason, and then fend her off unhurt.

I returned to the Place Vendôme, where I found Joubert in a despondent
mood. The departure of Beril had taken from him one of his interests in
life. He had come to look upon his daily fight with Beril as an
accompaniment to the digestion of his daily bread. The two old fellows
had grown almost like man and wife, as far as nagging goes; they had
hurled boots at each other, squabbled perpetually, vilified each other,
and once had come to blows. Now that the separation had occurred, the
great blank caused by it appeared in Joubert's face.

Joubert had many good qualities; among others, he was a born and perfect
swordsman. When quite young, and stationed in Paris, he had put in a
good deal of his spare time at Carduso's School of Arms, then situated
near the Chinese Baths. He made a little money this way, instructing
young bloods in the art of self-defence; and he had learnt many tricks
from Carduso, that magician of whom it has been said that he was born
with a rapier in his hand. I owed a good deal of my own proficiency with
the sword to Joubert, who, even when I was a child, had shown me the
difference of carte and tierce with my little cane.

To-day an idea struck me.

"Joubert," said I.

"Monsieur!" replied Joubert.

"Attention."

"Ah, oui, attention," grumbled Joubert, going on with his business,
which happened to be the brushing of a coat. "I'm attending to the moths
that have got in your overcoat."

"Leave them alone, and see here." I took a pair of foils from the wall,
and presented one of them by the hilt.

"Catch hold. I want a lesson."

"There you go, there you go!" said Joubert, putting the foil under his
arm, and finishing the coat. "Always when I am busy, and monsieur's
clothes----"

"Never mind monsieur's clothes," I replied. "I want a lesson. See here:
do you remember telling me a trick of Carduso's----"

"A hundred. Which one?"

"A trick of pinking a man in a certain place in the arm, where the big
nerve runs, so that his arm is paralysed, and he can't go on fighting."

"Mais oui," said the old fellow, bending the rapier with the button on
the tip of his boot.

"Well, show me it."

"Aha!" said Joubert, his eyes lighting up, "la monsieur going to fight?"

"Yes; it has come to that, Joubert. It seems that a man cannot live
quietly in this Paris of yours without fighting for his life like some
beast in an African forest. But I don't want to kill my man--only to put
him out of action."

"And why not kill him?" asked Joubert. "Mordieu, what is the use of
fighting, else? Why take a sword in your hand if you only want to pay
him compliments?"

"Never mind. I don't want to kill him."

"And who is the gentleman whom you desire to scratch?"

"I will tell you that the morning of the affair, the 5th of July. We
meet in the Bois de Boulogne. I will let you drive me, and you will see
the business."

"Good!" said Joubert. "If one cannot watch lions fighting, let us then
watch cats. Attention!"

Joubert was a bit over seventy, but he had the dexterity and almost the
quickness of a young man. The spot to be reached is just over the bone
half way down the arm. A nerve--I think they call it the musculo
spiral--winds round the bone here. If you can pierce it, you entirely
demoralise your opponent. Just as a bullet-wound in the hand reduces a
strong man into the condition of a hysterical woman, so does a touch
here.

The button of Joubert's foil sent a tingle down my arm, proclaiming that
the spot had been reached.

Then I returned the compliment.

We practised for half an hour, and again on the next day.

And day followed day, till the 4th of July broke over Paris, cloudless
and perfect.

I was up early, and at ten o'clock I called upon De Brissac at his
rooms, the Rue Helder.

"Ah!" said he, "I'm glad to see you."

"How so?" replied I, for his manner indicated something more than an
ordinary greeting.

"Well, as a matter of fact," replied he, "I heard last night--in fact,
it was generally spoken of on the Boulevards--that you had arranged the
matter amicably with the Baron von Lichtenberg."

"That I had arranged the matter?"

"People say you have apologised to him."

"I apologise? Why, my dear sir, it was he who insulted me! He struck me
on the shoulder with his glove. How, then, could I apologise?"

"Not for that, but for the occurrence at the Mirlitons. So it is a
canard?"

"The wildest."

"Ah, I thought so. And I think I know who set it flying--De Coigny."

"I would not be surprised; he is an old enemy of mine."

"I am certain of it," said De Brissac, "For M. de Champfleury, who is
acting with me also as your second, told me that the report came to a
friend of his from the mouth of M. de Coigny."

"De Brissac," I said, "bring with you another friend--someone not
indisposed to De Coigny--to-morrow."

"Why?"

"M. de Coigny----" Then I stopped, for the determination I had come to
was of such a nature that I thought it best to leave the declaration of
it till we were on the ground.

"Why?" asked again De Brissac.

"Oh, just as a spectator. It will be worth his while, for, if I mistake
not, there will be something worth seeing to-morrow morning at seven
o'clock in the Avenue of the Minimes, just by the pond, for that is, I
believe, our place of meeting."

De Brissac bowed.

"I will bring a friend," said he.

Little did I think of the surprising thing that friend would see; and
little did De Brissac dream that the duel in which he was to take part
would be noticeable above all other duels in the history of duelling
even unto this day.

"Till to-morrow, at seven, then," said I.

"Till to-morrow," replied De Brissac.

Then I took my departure.

The Vicomte, before starting on his visit to Auvergne, had cleared his
money and his property out of Paris as far as possible, but he had left
the hotel in the Place Vendôme "all standing," as the sailors say. To
have removed his furniture, his horses, and his equipages would have
been to declare his hand; and if by any chance the storm had not burst
and France had emerged from her difficulties, the man who had taken
shelter, or, in plainer words, taken flight, would have found a very
curious welcome on his return to the beloved Boulevards. He had foresees
everything, even the chance of success, and he had prepared for
everything, always with his mind's eye on failure.

So I had a stable full of horses at my disposal, and a house full of
servants; all the bills were paid; there was unlimited credit, and I had
ten thousand francs in my pocketbook, which he had left with me in case
of eventualities.

I returned from De Brissac's to the Place Vendôme, ordered out a britzka
and a pair of swift horses, and told the coachman to take me to
Etiolles.

I wished to shake hands with Franzius and kiss Eloise again. I had also
determined to tell them of what was to happen on the morrow.

We passed through Bercy, and retook the same road I had taken that
morning in May when I had gone down to make arrangements for Eloise's
reception at the Pavilion. It was the same road, but dressed now in the
glory of summer.

Heavens! when I think of that road, so peaceful, the houses wearing such
a contented look, the flowers in the garden, the little children playing
on the doorsteps; that road so soon to resound to the tramp of the
German hordes, and the drums of war, the rolling of artillery and
baggage-wagons--when I think of that scene of peace and what followed!

And now it is all so far away, so many summers have re-dressed that road
again; and what of it all remains? Only an old story with which Father
Maboeuf bores the drinkers at the Grape Inn, of Champrosay; a tale
which old men in Germany tell the grandchildren; a song or two. Scarcely
that.

When I reached the Pavilion, Franzius and Eloise were not there. Madame
Ancelot said they had taken money and food with them, and "gone off."
They often did this, sometimes for a couple of days: the gipsy that was
in Franzius' feet required a change. This strange pair, who were now
more than ever like lovers, would "go off," spend days in the open, and
stop at village inns at night. Franzius had infected his companion with
the love of freedom. He was now famous. Another man in his position
would have been at Biarritz or Trouville, basking in the social sun, but
the only sun desired by Franzius was the sun of heaven. He refused to be
lionised. A Bohemian to the ends of his fingers, a gipsy to the soles of
his boots, brown as a berry with the sun and open air, carrying his
violin under his arm: had you met him on a country road, you would never
have suspected him to be Franzius, the composer of "Undine," who, had he
chosen, could, with a few sweeps of his bow on a concert platform, have
gained two thousand francs on a summer's afternoon.

"They did not say when they would be back?"

"No," replied Madame Ancelot; "but they won't be back to-day, or maybe
to-morrow: they took a ham with them."

"Ah!"

"And a chicken. It was in a basket that madame carried. They went a way
through the woods, but that leads everywhere; and one can't say whether
they passed last night at Champrosay or at some cottage. For myself, I
believe they sometimes sleep in the woods, and don't trouble about
houses at all."

To sleep in God's open air seemed the last act of madness to Madame
Ancelot, who, a peasant born and bred, was accustomed, by experience and
from tradition, to sleep in a bedroom almost hermetically sealed.

I had myself suspected the Franzius' of sleeping on occasion in barns
and hayricks, but I said nothing.

I was depressed at not finding the two people I loved most on earth, for
it was now quite beyond chance that I would meet them before to-morrow
morning; and after to-morrow morning---- Ah, well--after to-morrow
morning----

I left the Pavilion and walked into the château gardens. These gardens,
beloved by Eloise, kept our house in the Place Vendôme supplied with
flowers. They were very old. M. de Sartines and M. de Maupeon had walked
here amidst the roses, discussing State intrigues; the full skirts of
the Duchesse de Gramont had swept that lawn; and on that stone seat,
under the great fig-trees' cave-like shelter, the Princesse de Guemenée
had sat amidst brocaded cushions, and there had received the news of the
Duc de Choiseul's disgrace; and far beyond that went the history of
these walks, these lawns, these fountains playing in the sun; these old,
old walls, warmed by the suns of two hundred summers; rich red walls,
moss-lined, to which the peach-trees still clung as they had clung when
La Vallière was still a girl, when La Fontaine was still a man, and
Monsieur Fouquet held his court at Vaux.

No poet has written such lovely things as Time had written here in
those three lovely books--the rose garden, the sunk garden, and the
Dutch garden of Saluce; books whose leaves in summer were ever being
turned over by the idle fingers of the wind. Years of desolation had
completed their charm, just as years of death the charm of some vanished
poet's works.

Peopled with ghosts and flowers, voices of fountains and voices of
birds, walking there alone on a summer's day one would scarcely have
dared to call out, lest some silvery voice made answer, or some white
hand from amidst the rose-bushes, some hand once whiter than the white
rose, some voice once sweeter than the voices of the birds.

"And Marianne de l'Orme, how is she--the Austrian, and she whom they
call the Flower of Light? Diane de Christeuil, Colombe de
Gaillefontaine, Aloise de Gondalaurier, sweet-named ghosts: where are
ye?"

"Who knows?" would reply the breeze in the rose-bushes. "They are here,
they are here," the birds in the trees.

Here had walked, in times long past, the ladies of the house of Saluce.
This family, from which I drew half my being, had for me a charm and
mystery beyond expression. I was a Mahon, all my traditions were Irish;
yet I was linked with this family, of whom all were dead, this family
whose stately history went back into the remote past.

I had never seen my mother; I had never seen a living Saluce; they were
all vanished. Nothing remained but their pictures and their names, yet
I had come from them in part. They were my ancestors, and my likeness
had walked the earth, in the form of Philippe de Saluce, over two
hundred years before I was born; and my likeness in the form of Philippe
de Saluce had---- We know what he had done.

The doors of the château were open, and some workmen were busy in the
hall, repairing the oakwork. They were talking and laughing, and their
voices had set the echo chattering in the gallery above.

Marianne seemed mocking them; and as I gave them good-day and examined
their work her voice seemed mocking mine.

Then I left the men, and came upstairs to look at the place once again.
I passed from corridor to corridor, and at last found the turret-room
whither I had come that day with Eloise.

It was just the same, everything in exactly the same place, even to the
books on the table. I examined them: some were quite modern, drawings by
Gavarni and De Musset's poems; some were more antique.

Amongst them was a work in gilded boards, the history of the Saluce
family, written by one Armand de Saluce, in the year 1820, and dedicated
rather fulsomely to the then head of the house.

He was some poor relation evidently, Armand, and his language was very
flowery; and from his little book one might have imagined the Saluces a
family of saints and lambs.

I turned the pages this way and that, till I found what he had to say
about Philippe.

Philippe de Saluce, according to Armand, had died in consequence of an
unfortunate love-affair.

It did not say he had drowned his fiancée--that he was a murderer.

With the book in my hand I fell asleep, lulled by the drowsy warmth of
the room, and the softness of the cushions of the window-seat.

When I awoke the light had changed, and, looking at my watch, I found it
to be nearly six o'clock.

I rose, put the book on the table, and came downstairs.

The workmen had gone, and they had locked the door!

Not for a few moments did my position realise itself to me.

Every door I knew to be barred and locked; every window was also barred
on the ground floor, except those that were too narrow for a man's entry
or exit. No one would come till the morning. Madame Ancelot would think
I had returned to Paris by train, and send the carriage back. I was
trapped in the château of Saluce; and at seven o'clock to-morrow I had
to meet Von Lichtenberg, or be dishonoured for life!

A nice situation, truly!

I laughed out loud from pure rage and vexation, and the echo above
returned my laughter mockingly.

In my despair I tried all the doors, uselessly; they were solid as the
doors of the Bastille.

Then I remembered a window that was not barred--the stained-glass window
of the banqueting-room. It was fifteen feet from the ground, but had it
been more I would have risked it.

I went to the banqueting-room, and stood before the window, my only way
to freedom and honour. It was a lovely creation of stained glass. The
arms of the Saluces and the arms of the noble families with whom they
were connected stood there, the Lichtenbergs amidst the rest. The
evening light, shining through the stained glass, repeated the colours
vaguely upon the polished parquet of the floor. The light, shining
through the tender colours of the glass, brought with it an indefinable
sadness. To break this thing would be like striking the dead,
dishonouring the past. An act of vandalism beyond name.

This window was more than a window: it was a barrier between me and my
fate. The arms of the Lichtenbergs, the Saluces, the Montmorencies, had
drawn themselves up before me; it was as if they would stand between me
and the encounter of the morrow, but only as a menace. They could offer
no real opposition to my physical acts; they could only say, "Take
warning!"

Then, with the brutality of your kind-hearted man, who, condemned to
kill an animal, and loathing the business, strikes fiercely and blindly,
causing more destruction than necessary, I seized a heavy bronze bar
from the fireplace and attacked the window. The blows echoed from the
roof--smash! smash!--and the chattering of falling glass came from the
garden-walk outside; the leadwork which had held the glass fragments
together bulged out, and had to be broken out by incessant blows, which
brought down shower after shower of glass fragments from that part of
the window which lay above the line of my attack; and lo! when I had
once entered on the business, all remorse fled, and a fury for
destruction rose in my heart that I had never felt before, nor had I
even suspected my own capacity for the feeling. So, perhaps, Philippe de
Saluce felt when he destroyed his lover in a sudden accession of fury. I
do not know, but I know that from behind some veil in my mind a new man
stepped out, as Monsieur Hyde stepped from the soul of Monsieur Jekyll,
and that I smashed and smashed for the pure pleasure, and from the
vicious lust of destruction.

Condemned to act by Fate, I revenged myself after the fashion of a
tiger. Then, tearing a brocaded curtain down from its attachments, I
spread it over the glass-splintered edge of the sill, crawled over it,
lowered myself, dropped, and was free.

As I stood on the garden-path, looking up at the ruin I had
accomplished, I heard footsteps.

The workmen were returning.

"Ah, mon Dieu, monsieur!" cried the chief ouvrier, "we had forgotten
you. Not till five minutes ago did Jacques remember that monsieur had
not left the house when we bolted the door and came away; so we
returned, running all the way from Etiolles."

So my destruction of the window had been in vain, it would seem! Not so;
for, just as at a first debauch the demon of drunkenness enters a man's
heart, so at this orgie of destruction did the demon of destruction
enter mine.

"Joubert," said I that night, as I went to bed, "you have everything
ready for to-morrow?"

"All is ready," replied Joubert.

"You will call me at half-past five."

"Yes, monsieur. And your promise?"

"My promise?"

"To tell me with whom you are going to fight?"

"Ah, yes! Well, I have two affairs on to-morrow morning. I am going to
scratch Baron Carl von Lichtenberg on the arm, and I am going to drive
my sword through M. de Coigny's heart."

"Von Lichtenberg!" cried Joubert. "You are going to fight with a
Lichtenberg, one of that accursed lot!"

"I am going to fight with M. de Coigny. We have been enemies for years;
he has mixed himself in this affair; he has offered himself up as a
sacrifice----"

"Mon Dieu!" cried the old fellow, drawing back, "is it you that are
speaking, or the devil?"

I was sitting up in bed; and in a mirror across the room I saw the wan
reflection of my own face, and started at the expression of wrath and
black hatred portrayed there.

I had hated De Coigny for years, but not till now did I know my own
capacity for hate. Thus we go through life for years not knowing, till
some day some hand draws the curtain back, holds up the mirror, reveals
the other man, the Monsieur Hyde who has hidden himself at birth in the
heart of Monsieur Jekyll.



CHAPTER XXXVI

THE DUEL


"Half-past five!"

Joubert was standing by the window, my bath-towels over his arm. He had
drawn up the blind, and the light of early morning filled the room. I
could have cursed Joubert, for he had awakened me from a most lovely
dream.

In a full blaze of sunlight I had been walking in the gardens of
Lichtenberg with Eloise; we were children again, and little Carl was
marching before us, beating his drum. Past the fountains, past the
Running Man carved in stone, we went, then into the shade of the forest,
led by little Carl towards some great but indefinable happiness.

"Where are they?" I murmured, half unconscious that I was speaking, and
rubbing my eyes as if to bring back the happy vision.

"Who?" asked Joubert.

I did not answer him. Who, indeed? Those children for ever vanished.

I dressed rapidly, and breakfasted. I felt both nervous and excited,
exactly as I had felt on the night of the production of "Undine."

Then I sat down to write a line to Franzius and Eloise.

I had divided my property, in case of my death, leaving half to my
guardian and half to Eloise. The will was with our lawyer, and I said so
in a postscript to my note. When I had finished, Joubert appeared.

"The carriage is at the door."

I sealed the letter, and handed it to him.

"In case of accidents," said I, "post this."

Joubert saluted, and put it in his pocket without glancing at the
superscription.

Joubert was grave. He had never saluted me before, except in a spirit of
half mockery--the way one would salute a child.

I had been a child in his eyes until now, but now I was evidently a man,
his master; and nothing seemed, up to this, to have divided me so
sharply from my childhood and my past as this suddenly begotten change
in Joubert's manner; and as I stepped from the hall-door on to the
pavement I felt that I was stepping for the first time into the world of
manhood; that all had been play with me till now, and that now, this
morning, the grim business of life had begun.

Joubert got on the box beside the coachman, and we started.

The early sun was bright on the trees and houses of the Champs Elysées;
the trees of the Bois de Boulogne were waving in the early morning
breeze; all was bright and all was fair; and it seemed a pity--a
thousand pities--to have to die a morning like this, to shut one's eyes
for ever, and never more see the sun.

As we drew near our destination, I felt exactly as I often had felt in
childhood when at the door of the dentist's: a strong desire to return
home, coupled with a strong repugnance to face what had to be done.

The avenue of the Minimes has vanished. It was a lovely place,
tree-sheltered and leading by a pond where the green rushes whispered
beneath silvery willows, making a picture after the heart of Puvis de
Chavannes. It opened out of a broad drive, and was a favourite spot for
the settlement of affairs of honour.

"We are first," cried Joubert, turning his head.

I stood up. Yes; there was no other carriage; in fact, we were ten
minutes before our time--a great mistake, for a ten minutes' wait in an
affair of this description is one of the most unsettling things possible
for the nerves of a man. We drew up near the entrance to the Avenue des
Minimes, and, getting out, I paced up and down, for the early morning
was chilly, though it gave promise of a glorious day.

Ah! here they came--at least, some of them. A carriage rapidly driven
was coming along the drive. There were three gentlemen in it, my
seconds, De Brissac and M. de Champfleury, and a tall personage who
turned out to be Colonel Savernac, the extra friend whom I had asked De
Brissac to bring.

We had scarcely exchanged greetings when another carriage arrived,
containing De Coigny and Baron Struve--who were the seconds of the Baron
Carl von Lichtenberg--and Dr. Pons, the surgeon.

The seconds of either party bowed one to the other.

De Brissac took out his watch.

"What time do you make it, M. de Coigny?"

"Five minutes to the hour," replied De Coigny.

"Ah! I make it the hour. My watch is set by the Observatory clock.
Still, perhaps it may have gone wrong. Make it, then, five minutes to
the hour. And hi! there! Move on those carriages. We are as noticeable
as the front of the Opera House; and should a mounted gendarme come this
way there will be trouble."

"Monsieur," said Joubert, jumping down as the carriages moved off, "you
promised."

"Yes," said I, half to Joubert, half to De Brissac. "I promised. You may
remain as a spectator--at a distance."

"A servant!" said De Coigny.

"No, Monsieur de Coigny," I replied; "a faithful friend, and a soldier
of Napoleon."

De Coigny turned on his heel, and began talking to Dr. Pons, who stood
with a mahogany case under his arm.

"Notice," I said to De Brissac. "De Coigny has turned his back upon me;
but within an hour's time, if I do not fall by the sword of Von
Lichtenberg, I will require him to turn his face to me."

"You are going to----"

"Kill him," I replied.

De Brissac shrugged his shoulders, and looked again at his watch.

"I make it five minutes past the hour, M. de Coigny."

De Coigny looked at his watch and nodded.

"By the way," I heard Champfleury say to one of my adversary's seconds,
"has anyone seen anything of M. le Baron Carl von Lichtenberg during the
last three months?"

"I have not," replied the gentleman addressed, "nor have I met anyone
who has. The Prussian Embassy people do not know anything of his
whereabouts: he has had leave of absence."

"Rest assured," said De Coigny, "he will arrive. He is not a coward."

"All the same, he is late," said De Brissac.

I looked at my watch. It was now ten minutes past seven, an inexcusable
delay on Von Lichtenberg's part, unless, indeed, some accident had
occurred.

Five more minutes slowly passed; the sun had now completely freed
himself from the mists of the Bois; the light struck down the path; it
struck the mahogany instrument-case under the arm of Dr. Pons, and the
hilts of the rapiers which De Brissac was carrying concealed in the
folds of a long, fawn-coloured overcoat.

"At twenty minutes past," said De Brissac, "I shall declare the duel
postponed. I shall take my principal home and I shall demand an
explanation, M. de Coigny."

Scarcely had he spoken than Dr. Pons, who had been looking along the
drive in the direction of the Champs Elysées, cried: "Here he comes."

A closed carriage, drawn by two magnificent Orloff horses, had entered
the broad drive and was advancing at full speed. I do not know how the
weird impression came to me, but the closed carriage drawn by the black
Russian horses suggested to me a funeral-carriage; and before it, as it
came, the sunlight seemed to wither from the drive.

A few paces from us the coachman literally brought the horses on their
haunches, the door of the carriage opened, and a lady stepped out.

A girl of about eighteen, an apparition so exquisite, so full of grace,
so bright, so unexpected, that the men around me, used to beauty,
world-worn and cynical as they were, said no word, and remained
motionless as statues, whilst I clung to the arm of De Brissac.

For the girl was Margaret von Lichtenberg--Margaret von Lichtenberg,
little Carl, Baron Carl, all these apotheosised! And as I looked, a
voice--Eloise's childish voice, heard long years ago--again murmured in
my ear:

"Little Carl is a girl."

Then I knew that it was she--the woman so mysteriously bound up in my
life; and as a man drowning remembers his whole past, in a flash of
thought I remembered all: Von Lichtenberg's mad attempt to assassinate
me, his dying words; the apparition of little Carl that had lured me
into the gravelpit and lamed me for life; Baron Carl von Lichtenberg and
his pursuit of me; my fight against Fate; my own words: "I will not--I
will not! I am a living man with a will of my own; no dead Fate shall
lead me or drive me." But I had never thought of this. I had played
against Fate, and now I felt dimly that I had lost. I had not suspected
this card which the dealer had slipped up his sleeve, and which now
appeared to confound me, this lovely being, whose voice I now heard
addressing De Coigny:

"I have come on behalf of Baron Carl von Lichtenberg. There is no longer
a Baron Carl von Lichtenberg. He is dead."

"Listen," whispered De Brissac, clutching my arm. "This is very strange!
I would swear it was the Baron Carl himself speaking. And she is like
him. It must, then, be his sister."

"On his behalf," she went on, "I apologise to M. Patrick Mahon; and I am
commissioned by him, M. de Coigny, in return for all the lies and evil
words you have spoken about M. Mahon, to give you this." And she struck
De Coigny on the face lightly with her gloved hand.

Then I woke up, and I felt the blood surge to my face as I stepped
forward. She turned to me, with her lips half parted in a glad smile;
our eyes met. God! in that moment how my whole being leapt alive!
Bursting and rending its husk, my imprisoned spirit broke free, as a
dragon-fly breaks free touched by the sun's magic wand. I heard myself
speak; I was speaking coldly and distinctly, addressing De Coigny, and
yet all my soul was addressing her in delirious unspoken words.

"M. de Coigny," said the voice which came from my lips, "we are, I
believe, old enemies. I have forgotten all that, but the Baron Carl von
Lichtenberg's quarrels are now mine; and if your craven heart will allow
you to hold a sword, I beg to take his place."

What then followed is like a dream in my mind. I heard the seconds
consulting. I heard Dr. Pons' voice speaking in a tone of relief: "So
then we are to have some music after all!" I held two warm hands in
mine, and I heard myself saying: "Yes, yes, you will stay here. I shall
not be long. Oh, no; I shall not be killed! I will return. To be killed
would be too absurd _now_. Wait for me."

Then, leaning on De Brissac's arm, I was walking down the Avenue des
Minimes, and now, sword in hand, I was fronting De Coigny.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was backgrounded by the willows, all silvering to the breeze, and his
hateful face filled me with a fury that rose in my throat and which I
had to gulp down. He was the only thing that stood between me and the
heaven that had just been revealed to me; he was there with a sword in
his hand, as if to bar me out and cut me off for ever from it. He was
everything I hated, and the power of hate had suddenly risen gigantic in
my breast, shouting for his blood.

Then we fought, and I found myself commanding myself, just as a drunken
man commands himself to stand straight and be cool. Sometimes I saw his
face, and sometimes I saw it not, yet ever I knew that I held him with
my eye as a fowler holds a bird in his hand.

Had anyone been wandering by the pool of the Minimes, he might have
fancied that he heard the cry of a seagull--a single, melancholy cry;
for it is crying thus that a man's soul escapes when he is stricken
through the heart.



CHAPTER XXXVII

MARGARET


"He is dead," said Dr. Pons.

I looked at the rapier in my hand. There were a few contracting spots on
it.

Then De Brissac held my coat for me.

"His foot slipped, or you would not have got him like that," I heard him
say.

"Oh, it is unpleasant enough, but the thing is perfectly in order. You
need have no fear. Yes, yes; I will lead you to her. You will be at the
Place Vendôme, I suppose? There will be an inquiry, and all that."

And then I found myself holding again the two warm hands. I was not
thinking of De Coigny. I was in a dream. I stepped into a carriage that
was before me. I heard De Brissac close the door, and say to the
coachman "Paris." Then I felt a girl's arm round my neck.

"Toto," said a voice, "do you remember the white rabbit with the green
eyes?"

The killing of De Coigny had blinded me, maddened me, and drawn from
some distant past into full birth all sorts of strange and hitherto
unknown attributes of myself.

It was as though Philippe de Saluce, slowly struggling into new birth
during the last forty-eight hours, had, with the slaying of my
adversary, suddenly become full born.

It was necessary for me to kill, it seems, before he could find speech
and thought, and stand fully reincarnated.

"Oh, far beyond that--far beyond that!" I murmured, not knowing fully
what I said or what I meant, knowing only that mysterious doors had been
flung open, and that through them a spirit had rushed, filling me and
embracing through me the woman at my side.

"I know," she said. And for a moment spoke no more.

In those two words she told all. It was as though she had said: "I know
all. You are Philippe and I am Margaret. All is forgiven between us. Let
us forget. What matters that old crime of long ago? We are reborn, we
are young again, and the world is fair."

"Let us forget," I murmured, as if in answer to these words which,
though unspoken by her lips, were heard by my spirit.

"I have forgotten," she replied. "I never remembered--or only in part.
Let us talk of that time----"

"When we were children?"

"Yes. Do you remember----"

"Do I remember! Where is Gretel?"

"She is dead. I must tell you all; but we are nearing Paris. Cannot we
go anywhere--some place where we can talk and be alone?"

"Yes." I remembered that Franzius and Eloise were away, and that we
could go to the Pavilion. I drew the check-string, and told the driver
to take the road to Etiolles.

As I drew back into the carriage her hand slipped over my shoulder, and
her arm round my neck again.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You know," she said, "that time when you left I nearly forgot you. I
would have forgotten you entirely but for Gretel, who always kept making
me remember, telling me to beware of you, till you became my nightmare.
After the death of my father, Gretel took entire charge of me. I did not
know that I was a girl: I never thought of the thing. I was dressed as a
boy, I had tutors, the jägers took me hunting. Yes; you were my
nightmare. I used to dream that you were running after me through the
woods to kill me. All that was at night; but once--one afternoon, I fell
asleep, and you nearly did kill me. It was only a dream, you know."

"Tell me about it."

"I was walking through a wood, and you were following to kill me, and I
hid behind some bushes. But you saw me, and came after me, and I heard
you falling into a pit. I looked into the pit, and you were lying there.
Then I awoke."

"Go on--go on! Tell me about yourself. Don't say any more about that."

"Ah, yes, myself! Well, I grew up. Gretel died three years ago; and when
she was dying she told me I was a girl. She told me all, and gave me the
choice of going through life as what I am now, or as a man."

"And you?"

"Chose to be a man." She laughed deliciously, and under her breath.
"These things"--and she plucked at her dress--"feel strange on me even
now. Oh, yes, I chose to be a man. Who would not, if the choice were
given them? And no one knew. The Baron Carl von Lichtenberg was quite a
great person. He was admired by all the ladies. He was so ornamental
that he was sent as attaché to the Embassy at Paris. Yes; and he went to
the ball at the Marquis d'Harmonville's----"

"Ah, that night!" I muttered. "It was the beginning----"

"Of your tribulations," she laughed softly, and went on: "When I saw you
I was nearly as startled as you were yourself. I had all my life
determined that I would avoid you; but that night--ah! that night----"

"Well?"

"I don't know. I could not sleep. I cursed my man's clothes; and I would
have given all I possessed to speak to you dressed as I am now. Then I
sought you, and you avoided me. You insulted me, monsieur, at the
Mirlitons."

"Ah! why--why did you not declare yourself then?" I muttered, speaking
into the warmth of her delicious neck. "Think what we have lost--a whole
year nearly of life and love!"

"Why, indeed! Just, I suppose, because I was a woman, filled with a
woman's caprice; and the masquerade amused me, and I had my duties to
perform--and how you evaded me! I was invited to meet you at
dinner----"

"And I dined at the Café de Paris with a fool."

"Just so. And you ran away to Nice. Then the idea came to me--ah, yes,
it was a fine idea!--I will _make_ him meet me. And I slapped you on the
shoulder with a glove."

"Yes; when I was seated in the box at the opera with a lady."

"Yes. Who was the lady? I was too excited to see anyone but you."

"She was----" Then I paused. And then I said--why, I can never
tell--"She was a friend of my guardian."

"Next morning I received your challenge. How I laughed to myself!"

"But tell me one thing. Why did you stipulate for a delay of three
months before the duel?"

She laughed again.

"Shall I tell you?"

"Yes."

"Because I wanted time--to--to----"

"Yes?"

"To let my hair grow. Do you like it?" She drew a long pin from her hat,
removed her hat, and showed her perfect head and the coils of
night-black hair.

"Oh! Do I like it?"

"Well--kiss it."

       *       *       *       *       *

"We must never part again."

"We need never," said she. "I am yours. I am not existent in the world.
The Baron Carl von Lichtenberg is dead: he died when I put on these
things. There is no one to trouble us!"

"Look!" I said. "This is Etiolles."

       *       *       *       *       *

I had as completely forgotten Franzius and Eloise as though they had
never existed. Madame Ancelot seemed strange; and the Pavilion a place
which I recognised, but which had no part in my new life.

Sitting opposite to my companion at table--for we had a déjeûner under
the big chestnut-tree--I could contemplate her at my leisure. Surely God
had never created a more lovely and perfect woman. Eyelashes long and
black, up curved, and tipped with brown; violet-grey eyes. Ah, yes; I do
not care to think of them now. I only care to remember that voice and
smile, that ineffable expression, all that told of the existence of the
beautiful spirit that Time might never touch nor Death destroy.

From the forest came the wood-doves' song to the immortal and
ever-weeping Susie. We could hear the birds in the château gardens, and
a bell from some village church ringing the Angelus--faint, far away,
robbed of its harshness by the vast and sunlit silence. She seemed the
soul of all that music, all that silence, all that sweetness; and she
was mine, entirely and for ever. We were beyond convention and law, as
were Adam and Eve.

"And you know," said she, as if reading my thoughts, "I am nobody--I
have not even a name. Yesterday I was Baron Carl von Lichtenberg, with
great estates. Now, who am I? And my great estates----" She opened a
purse, in which lay a few louis. "Here they are."

I laughed, and put the little purse into my pocket.

"Tell me," I said; "where were you when you were coming out of your
chrysalis? When you were changing--all these three months?"

"I--I was at Tours. The Baron von Lichtenberg received three months'
foreign leave, and went to Tours. Oh, the complications! And the
dressmakers! I did not even know at first how to wear these things. Do
they fit me?"

"Do they fit you!"

I rose, and we crossed the drawbridge. As she passed over it, she paused
and gazed at the water.

"How cool it looks! How dark and deep! Do you remember the pool at
Lichtenberg?"

"And how I pushed you in. Do you remember the little drum?"

"And the child with the golden hair--Eloise. She called you Toto. I have
always called you Toto since, M. Patrick Mahon."

"Call me it still," I said. "I love anything that reminds me of my
past--of our past. Come, let us go into the woods, as we went that day."

She laughed at the recollection of the little Pomeranian grenadier.

"We were children then," said she.

I looked at her. In the shadow of the trees, in the broad drive where we
stood, she might have been a ghost from that time when La Vallière was
a girl, when La Fontaine was a man, and Monsieur Fouquet held his court
at Vaux.

Though of the fashion of the day, her dress had that grace which the
wearer alone can give; and, as I looked at her, the forest sighed deeply
from its cool, green heart, the boughs tossed, showering lights upon us,
and the laughter of the birds followed the wind.

"We were children then," said I, "but we are not children now." I took
both her hands, and held her soul to mine for a moment in a kiss that
has not ended yet.

       *       *       *       *       *

Where the beech-glades give place to the tall pines--the fragrant pines,
whose song sounds for ever like the sea on a distant strand--we sat down
on a bank, which in spring would be mist-blue with violets.

"I have never kissed anyone before. Have you?" she asked.

"No one."

"Never loved anyone?" She rested her hands on my shoulders, and looked
into my eyes.

"Never."

"For," said she, "if you had----"

"Yes?"

"I don't know. Sometimes I do not know my own thoughts. Sometimes I act
and do things that seem strange to me afterwards. I made you meet me
this morning out of caprice. I teased you, following you as I did to
Nice, dressed as I was, from caprice. That is not me. There is something
wicked and wayward in me that I cannot understand. Had it not been for
me you would not have killed that man this morning."

I had not thought of De Coigny till now; and the remembrance of him
lying there dead in the arms of Dr. Pons came like a gloomy stain across
my mind. But it soon passed.

"We would have fought in any case," said I, "inevitably."

She sighed, as if relieved.

"He was a bad man," she said. "He deserved to die for the things he said
about you to me. It was partly on that account that I arranged all that
this morning, so that I might insult him before those men; but I never
thought it would end as it did."

"Do you know," said I, "when I killed him it was as if the blood which I
shed had baptised me into a new life! My full love for you only awoke
then. It was as if some spirit out of the past that had loved you for
ages had suddenly been born completely."

"Don't!" she said. "I hate to think of that. Let the past be gone for
ever. You are yourself, alive and warm. You are my sun, my life, the air
I breathe. You have been kept for me untouched. Oh, how I love you!

"Listen!" she said, freeing her lips from mine, and casting her
beautiful eyes upwards. "No; it is not the wind. Ah! listen! listen!"

From the trees came a sound that was not the voice of the birds. Far
away it seemed now, and now near. It was the spinning-song of Oberthal,
that tune, thin as a thread of flax, rising, falling, poignant as Fate,
and filled with the story of man--his swaddling-clothes, his
marriage-bed, and his shroud.

There, amidst the trees, coming from nowhere, diffused by the echoes of
the wood--for a wood is a living echo--heard just then, the song of
Oberthal seemed the voice of Fate herself.

I knew quite well what had happened. Franzius had returned. Madame
Ancelot had told him that I was in the wood. Wishing, no doubt, to find
me, he had sent the tune to look for me--the old tune that he knew I
liked so well.

It was then only that my past relationship with Eloise rose before me.

I had said nothing about it; I had even refrained from mentioning her
name. I had done this from no ulterior motive. I was not ashamed that
the woman I loved should know about Eloise. Had I not brought her to the
Pavilion when it was quite possible that Eloise might have returned? Up
to this my mind had been so filled with new things, so filled with
happiness and extraordinary love, that all things earthly were for me
not.

"It is a friend of mine, I think," said I. "A violinist. He stays at the
Pavilion. And now I want to tell you something."

"Yes?"

It had seemed so easy, yet now it seemed very difficult.

"I told you I had never cared for another woman."

"Yes."

"Listen! The tune has ceased. Well, there has been only one woman in my
life till I met you. You remember little Eloise at Lichtenberg, she who
called me Toto?"

"Yes." She had placed her hand to her heart, as though she felt a pain
there.

"Well, I met her again in Paris. She had grown up. She was very poor,
and I gave her the Pavilion to live in. She is living there now."

"Now!"

"Yes," said I, laughing. "And, see, there she is. Wait for me."

Franzius and Eloise had just appeared from the wood away down the drive.
It was fortunate that Franzius was with her, for now I could bring them
both up and introduce them. Their love for one another and their
happiness was so evident that it would be an explanation in itself.

I ran towards them.

Eloise was radiant; Franzius as brown as a berry.

"Eloise!" I cried, as I kissed her and wrung both her hands, "do you
remember little Carl? Do you remember saying to me: 'Toto, little Carl
is a girl'? She is here; she is waiting to meet you. Come."

"Where?" asked Eloise.

I turned, laughing, to point out the figure of my companion. The drive
was empty. The songs of the birds, the shadows of the trees, the golden
swathes of light, were there, but of Margaret von Lichtenberg there was
no trace.

"She has hidden herself amidst the trees," I cried. "Come."

But there was no trace of her amidst the trees.

"Margaret!"

I was frightened at my own voice, at its ghostliness, and the echo of
the sweet name that came back from the wood.

A wreath of morning mist could not have vanished more completely.

I am sure that just then the Franzius' must have thought me mad.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

THE DRUMS OF WAR


Oh, caprice of a woman! To leave me like that in a moment of anger and
jealousy, never to wait an explanation; to let fall what might be the
curtain of eternal separation with a touch of her hand; to step away
from me and vanish into that vast, vague, cruel land we call the world!

And I had held her so close to me! She was so entirely mine, the
happiest dream that ever mortal dreamt, the most mysterious and
beautiful.

She had taken the carriage which we left at the inn at Etiolles, and
returned to Paris. That we discovered; but beyond that there was no word
or sign to lead me.

I only knew that she was in Paris. Even of that I was not quite sure,
for she may have used Paris only as a stage on her journey into the
unknown.

But to Paris I came. I could not stay at Etiolles, even on the chance of
her returning. I must go where she had gone. And I swore in my madness
to find her, even though I searched Paris from the heights of Montmartre
to the depths of the Seine.

And then, when I got to Paris, I found my hands idle and useless. I did
not know, even, what name she had gone under during her metamorphosis.
She who had no name--this ghost from the past!

At times I found myself wondering whether it was all a dream, an
illusion of the brain. Whether I was mad. But actuality brought me to
reason on this point. I had to answer the inquiries following the death
of De Coigny. I had to appear before an examining magistrate, I and my
seconds.

Felix Rebouton was the magistrate in question, the same who, if my
memory serves me, conducted the inquiry on the death of Victor Noir.

He was a thin, tall man, in spectacles, a lawyer, not a man; a
procès-verbal in a tightly buttoned frock-coat.

And I had to face this individual, who seemed less an individual than a
roll of parchment, and, with my heart breaking and my thoughts
elsewhere, answer questions relative to my relations with De Coigny.

"We have always hated each other, since boyhood. He lied about me, and I
killed him," was my answer.

"This lady who arrived on the scene of the duel, and with whom you
departed; where is she?"

"Ah, if you could tell me that," I replied, "I would give you every
penny of my fortune."

"Her name?"

"She has no name."

"No name!"

"She is a ghost."

The man of parchment scratched his head and made a note, looked sideways
through his spectacles at his clerk and at De Brissac and the other
seconds who were in the room.

He thought I was mad. And he was not far wrong.

The inquiry was suspended for three weeks, and I was free to return to
my misery and the streets of Paris.

I lived now in the streets. They were my only hope. From early morning
till night I haunted the boulevards. Franzius had orders to telegraph to
my club and to the Place Vendôme should any news reach the Pavilion, and
the club porter grew weary of the inquiry: "Any telegram for me?"

Men began to avoid me as they do the stricken, the leprous, and the mad.
I must have seemed mad, indeed, for ever wandering hither and thither,
searching the crowded streets with eager eyes, scarcely answering if
spoken to, careless and untidy in my dress, a phantom of myself. Like
Poe's man of the crowd, I drifted about Paris, ever in the thick of the
throng, seeking the most populous streets.

Impossible to tell in what quarter of the city caprice might have cast
her, I sought her in all. Montmartre and La Villette, the Quartier Latin
and the great boulevards: I dreaded only one thing--night.

Night, when my search must cease; night and the pitiless gas-lamps, the
terrible gas-lamps. Then it was that light, the angel that all day had
helped my search, became a devil, contracting itself, and spreading into
a million heartless points to show me the darkness. Then it was that the
stars burning in the clear sky above the city became part of my sorrow.

All things bright and all things fair were leagued against me, in that
they fed the flame of my suffering; and the happiness and gaiety of
others became the last insult of the world.

Then it was that Joubert showed himself in his true form. Not one word
did he ever say to me, though my conduct, my manners, my disordered
dress, must have given him food for the deepest speculation and
disquiet. He would put out my clothes and attend to my wants, speak to
me about ordinary topics, never heed my silence or my harsh replies. You
see, he was an old soldier; he had seen men stricken so often that he
knew the language and the signs of real grief and real suffering.

I lost count of the days, and from opium alone could I get any sleep.
Absorbed in my grief, I took no heed of the events around me. I remember
distinctly in cafés and at my club hearing men talking of the
Hohenzollerns and the succession to the Spanish throne. Men talking
vehemently about a subject which was to me as uninteresting and as
unintelligible as algebra to a child. But I could feel the ferment and
unrest around me.

On the 15th of July, at ten o'clock in the morning, I was passing across
the Place de la Concorde, when a roar like the sound of a great and
distant sea broke on the summer air. It came from the direction of the
Rue St. Honoré. People were running across the Place de la Concorde, and
pouring from the Rue de Rivoli and from the bridges. The Champs Elysées
behind me had become alive with people; cabmen were standing up on the
driving-seats of their carriages, waving their hats and shouting;
windows of houses were alive and white with fluttering handkerchiefs;
and now, again and again, came the storm of sound, unlike anything I had
ever heard before, unlike anything I will ever hear again; wave after
wave, storm after storm, and through it all the drums of a marching
regiment.

The Ninety-first Regiment of the Line were marching down the Rue St.
Honoré, bayonets fixed, haversacks filled, drums beating, and colours
fluttering. Paris was marching with them. And then through the storm
came the cry uttered by a thousand throats: "À Berlin! À Berlin!"

"What is it?" I asked of a passer-by.

"War has been declared with Prussia!"

"With Prussia?"

"Bismarck----" I did not hear what else he had to say, deafened and
dazed by the roar that now surrounded me.

"À Berlin! À Berlin!"

War had been declared with Prussia. Oh, fatality!

Bismarck! At the name the gardens of Lichtenberg unrolled before me. I
saw them stretching to the edges of the pine forests. I heard the rattle
of little Carl's drum as he marched before us, the sound that had echoed
through the years, to be amplified and converted into this.

War! Red war! And then, curiously, as I stood gazing and listening to
the storm that was gathering to wreck the last of my hope, I saw
something which I had forgotten for years, and which now came before me
as a vivid picture: a great hand with a seal ring on the little finger,
holding and half caressing the tiny hand of a child. The hand of
Bismarck holding the hand of Eloise, as I saw it that day long ago in
the hall of Schloss Lichtenberg. The iron hand which was to crush the
armies of France and fling Napoleon from his throne.

I elbowed my way through the crush towards the Place Vendôme. My own
affairs were dwarfed, for the moment, by the magnitude of the event and
the furnace roar of the rejoicing city. Jubilant and ferocious, lustful
and bloodthirsty, triumphant as the blare of a trumpet, terrible as the
voice of a tiger, the gusts of sound swept the heavens. It was the voice
of the Second Empire, not the voice of a people; it was cruelty, lust,
and organised vice crying aloud to God for blood.

God heard it, and made swift answer.

I arrived at the Place Vendôme to find a surprise awaiting me.

Franzius and Eloise were there. They had brought luggage with them,
which was in the hall. The servant who opened the door for me told me
they were in the library, and I ran there to meet them.

"Toto," cried Eloise; then, holding me at a little distance and staring
at me as though I were a ghost: "What has happened to you?"

I caught a reflection of myself in the mirror above the fireplace, and
for the first time I recognised the change in myself. Haggard, white,
and drawn, my face was no longer the face of a young man.

"Never mind me," I replied. "Why have you left Etiolles? Have you any
news?"

"My friend," said Franzius, answering for her, "there is no news--only
news of war."

"Ah, yes," I said. "War. But tell me why you have left Etiolles?"

"I am a Prussian," replied Franzius; "and we are returning."

"Returning?"

"To my own country."

"You are leaving me?"

There was silence for a moment, and Eloise began to weep.

"Toto, can't you see?"

"Ah, yes," I said; "I can see--everything is going from me. Don't cry,
Eloise; I can see. Franzius, forgive me. I forgot. I did not know what
war meant till now."

Up to this I had seen war through the stories told in books. I had seen
war on the canvases in the Luxembourg and the Louvre. But up till now,
standing there in the library before Franzius, with his overcoat on his
arm, and Eloise weeping, I had not seen war.

Oh, yes; it is very grand: the long lines of infantry going into action,
the clouds of cavalry, the roar of the cannon, and the drums beating the
charge!

But that is not war. War is voiceless.

Yesterday we were at peace. To-day we are at war. Something has entered
into every heart and into every home; a million tiny fingers are busy
snapping a million bonds of union. Blow trumpets and beat drums how you
please, you cannot chase away the silence which has entered into the
hearts of men, or the foreboding that tells us the great curse has come
again.

"It is not even that we must go," said Franzius, "but that we must go at
once. We are not going; we are driven forth. My friend, we will meet
again, when it is over."

"When it is over," I said mechanically.

They had received their passports, and they told me of their plans.
Franzius was beyond the age of military service. They would go to
Frankfort, where he had some relations. He had plenty of money with
which to live quietly till "it was over" and the world could hear music
again.

I ordered a carriage to the door, and accompanied them to the station,
through streets packed and crowded as if by some fête.

The station was thronged, and the train for the frontier was on the
point of starting when we arrived. I have never seen such a crowd
before. Families and their belongings, small tradesmen, Germans who had
been prospering yesterday and who to-day, ruined and hopeless, were
being driven forth back to their own country to starve. The buffet had
been stripped of food; and when I thought of the long journey before my
friends and the chances of the road, my heart misgave me, till Eloise
showed me a basket that had been packed for them by Madame Ancelot.

Just as the train was starting, I jostled against a vendor of oranges
who still had a few unsold. I bought them and gave them to Eloise.

I could not help remembering the day we had gone down first to Evry, she
and I, and the oranges I had bought for her in the Boulevard St. Michel.
That day, in spring!

"Good-bye! Good-bye!"

Eloise had squeezed herself through the window beside Franzius; the
train moved away; the people who were leaving said a last good-bye to
the people they had left, to friends who had cared for them till war
came as a separation, to brother Germans who were bound to depart by the
next train. I never heard so mournful a sound as that when the great
train drew away for its journey into for ever, leaving me alone on the
platform.

I came back on foot. It was a long way; and as I passed the crowded
cafés, the crowds of excited and fever-stricken people, it seemed to me
that I was in a city whose inhabitants had at one stroke gone mad.

I found myself, for the first time in many days, able to note the things
around me, and to take some interest in them. The great upheaval had
shaken me in part away from my own especial preoccupation, the grief of
the parting with Eloise and Franzius had obscured in part that other
grief which had pursued me.

The great city had been stirred to its uttermost depths, as the great
sea is sometimes stirred by a submarine explosion. Dregs came to the
surface and floated as scum; and I saw people that day in the streets
that I had never seen before: terrible people, cast up from the purlieus
and the slums, dog-men and beast-women, such as insulted the light of
heaven during the Terror; faces that might have served Retzsch for his
picture of the fiend, or Calot for his fantastic devil-drawings.
Collette la Charonne, Mathurine Giroron, Elizabeth Trouvain, the capon
and the franc-mitou from the past, elbowed the bully of the barrier and
the fishwife from the Halles of the present.

At the word "War" Mathias Hungadi Spiculi rose from his long sleep, just
as he had risen at the word "Revolution." All the elements of the
Commune were there that day, shouting France to war, and ready to dance
on her ruins.

Even the bourgeoisie, the placid people, the café loungers, were
changed. The tiger-cat which lies at the heart of the Latin races, the
animal that spits, and snarls, and howls, was unchained at last; and the
joyful ferocity of the women was a thing to see and to remember. It was
the uprising of the pampered beast, the beast that had sunned itself for
years in prosperity. Long ages of insult might have condoned what I saw
that day, but the circumstances never.

Bands of women arm-in-arm, students, waving the tricolour, cabs and
carriages crowded with people driving nowhere, anywhere, so that they
could find a new place to shout in, girls with men's hats on their
heads, men with women's bonnets--it was Mabille, into which the beasts
of the Jardin des Plantes had broken; La Closerie des Lilas on an
infinite scale, roofed with sky.

And, beyond the Vosges, at his desk, quite unmoved, with a cigar in his
mouth and a folio in his hand, was sitting Bismarck, secure in
everything, possessed of everything, from the Erbswurst for the Prussian
cooking-pot to the guns that were to batter down Paris.

I have said little about my social life in Paris, but I have indicated,
I think, that my guardian and I were friends of the Emperor's; and I
mention it as a strange fact, and a fact that casts volumes of light on
his character, that now, in my desolation, deserted by my guardian,
deserted by Franzius and Eloise, deserted by everyone I loved, the image
of Napoleon arose before me as a person I would like to speak to. You
know just what I mean. There is generally amongst one's friends some
person, some homely individual, some good man or good woman, to whom we
go when in affliction for a word of consolation, or even just to feel
their presence. We look in and see them, even though we may say nothing
of our troubles. Moved by this instinct, I resolved to look in and see
the Emperor. To get near the Tuileries was a difficult business, and
even to pass the Cent Gardes at the gate, but once inside, things were
easier.

The Emperor had come to Paris from the Council at Saint Cloud, held the
night before. I do not know whether the Empress accompanied him or not,
but he was in the palace, and the great hall was thronged.

The excitement of the streets was here, too, though in a more subdued
form. Men were talking and laughing; everyone felt, or seemed to feel,
that some great good fortune was impending. As a matter of fact, the
war seemed to promise a "move up" all round. Honour to France, showers
of gold and decorations from those painted skies which Hope rears so
pleasantly above fools, and, above all, change.

Most of these men were money-changers at heart; corrupt, vicious, ready
to devour, true children of the Second Empire, descendants of the clique
of rogues which manipulated the coup d'état, sent Hugo to exile, and
flung France into the net spread by parasites, financiers, and corrupt
politicians. France with her foot on the neck of Germany seemed to
promise fabulous things to these. They had much, and they wanted more.
They craved for change--and they got it.

Amidst the crowd, which included some of the greatest names in France,
it seemed hopeless for me to seek an audience. But I knew the place. I
saw the Palace Prefect, Baron Vareigne. He had just shaken himself free
from half a dozen men, and was making off down a corridor when I tacked
myself on to him.

"See him? Impossible! For a moment?--just to pay your respects? Oh,
well, only for a moment, then. You will be a change from the others. He
just said to me: 'For Heaven's sake, let in no more generals!'"

And, with a click of a door-handle, there he was before me, seated in
full uniform, which did not seem to fit him, the eternal cigarette
smouldering between his lips, just the same old gentleman who had
received my guardian and me so courteously that day; just the same
useless, shuffling manner, the nasal voice, the half-closed eyes,
crafty yet kindly--rising to meet me with a little, subdued laugh, half
cynical, as though thanking God I were not another general. He bade me
be seated, and told me he was not in a hurry, but being hurried, and
looked over some papers that Vareigne handed him, and said: "Yes, yes,"
and flicked some cigarette-ash off his trousers. He talked to me for a
few minutes, asking after the Vicomte de Chatellan, and then dismissed
me, pushing me out of the cabinet with a kindly hand on my shoulder, and
a kindly wish to see me again--après.

This was the true Napoleon, the man kind to all, the injudicious man who
made those unfortunate children half drunk at the children's party at
Biarritz, the man who loved his little son so well, the man who would
put a fistful of gold in a poor man's pocket, just because it was a poor
man's pocket: I say, this was the true Napoleon. For what shall you
measure a man by, when all is said and done, if not by his heart? Ah!
how I would have loved that man if he had been my father!

When I left the Tuileries I remembered the fact that I had not eaten
since morning. I went to a café and dined after a fashion. I returned
home late; and as I entered the hall the servant who took my hat, said:
"A lady called an hour ago to see monsieur."

"A lady to see me?"

"Yes, monsieur. I told her that you had gone to Etiolles, to the
Pavilion of Saluce, and she ordered her coachman to drive there."

I remember, now, that when I started to see Franzius and Eloise off at
the station I had said to the servant that I might go to Saluce, and if
I did not return I would be there.

"What was she like?"

"Madame was quite young, tall, dark, and--very beautiful."

"Good God!" I said. "_Why_ did I not return an hour sooner! Quick! Send
me Joubert!"



CHAPTER XXXIX

NIGHT


Joubert found me in the dining-room.

"Joubert," I shouted, "the swiftest horses--quick!--and a carriage to
take me to Etiolles! You will drive me."

Joubert glanced at me and left the room like a flash.

I walked up and down. She had been here an hour ago--here an hour
ago--and I had been walking the streets unconscious of the fact! The war
which had threatened to destroy my last hope had brought her, perhaps,
to my door, and I had been dining at a café! I had come slowly home
through the streets, and she was here waiting for me! Was she leaving
France? Was Etiolles but a stage on the journey? And if she found that I
was not there, what would she do? Would she return, or--go on?

I sprang to the bell and rang it violently.

"The horses! The horses!" I cried. "God in heaven! are they never
coming?"

"The horses are at the door, monsieur."

I rushed out, seized my hat, which the man handed me; he opened the
door, and there stood a closed carriage; two powerful greys were
harnessed to it, and Joubert was on the box.

"Joubert," I said, "drive as you never have driven before. My life is in
your hands!" Then we started.

And now, as if called up by nightmare, the crowd in the streets, which
I had forgotten, impeded our progress. The Rue St. Honoré was like a
fair. As, sitting in the carriage, that was compelled to go at a walking
pace, I looked out of the window at the senseless illuminations, the
brutal or foolish faces, I could have welcomed at once a German army
that would have swept a clear path for me.

We passed the gates of Paris without hindrance, and then down a long
street lined with houses. It was after ten o'clock now, but these
houses, in which dwelt poor folk, were ablaze from basement to garret.

The good news of the war had spread itself here; the great national
rejoicing had found an echo even in this street, where men slept sound
as a rule, as men sleep who have passed the day labouring in a factory.

The horses had now settled into a swinging trot. Half a dozen times I
lowered the window to urge Joubert, but I refrained. There was still
twenty miles before us. If one of our horses broke down, it was highly
improbable that we could get another.

The houses broke up, and became replaced by trees; market-gardens lay on
either side of the way. Looking back, I could see Paris. Not the city,
but the furnace glare that its gas-lit streets and cafés cast on the
sky. We passed forts, huge black shadows marked in the darkness by the
glitter of a sentry's bayonet or the swinging lantern of a patrol. We
passed down the long street of Charenton, and then the wheels of the
carriage rumbled on the bridge that crosses the river, and we were in
the true country, with great spaces of gloom marking the fields, and
marked here and there with the dim, patient light of a farmhouse window
or the firefly dance of a shepherd's lantern.

Up till now I had watched intently the passing objects: the houses,
stray people, and lights; but now there was nothing to watch but dim
shapes and vague shadows. Up to this I had controlled thought, forcing
myself to wait without thinking for the event, but now, alone in the
midst of night, with nothing to tell of the surrounding world but the
rumble of the carriage wheels and the beat of the horse-hoofs on the
road, thought assumed dominance, and would not be driven away. Nay, it
returned with a suggestion that froze my heart.

"If she has gone to the Pavilion, she will leave her carriage in the
Avenue and go there on foot--she will cross the drawbridge. Ah, yes; the
drawbridge! Well, suppose that the drawbridge is up! God in heaven! will
she see it?"

It froze my heart.

What time would Madame Ancelot retire, and would she raise the
drawbridge?

I knew very well that the drawbridge was always raised, last thing at
night: the tramp-infested forest made this necessary. And I knew very
well that Madame Ancelot was in the habit of retiring at nine o'clock.
Still, to-night was a night in a thousand. Old Fauchard had, without
doubt, dropped into the Pavilion to talk about the great news of the
war.

I put my head out of the window.

"Quicker, Joubert!"

"Oui, oui," came his voice, followed by the sound of the whip. The night
air struck me in the face like a cold hand; and, looking back, I could
still see the light of Paris reflected from the sky, paler now and more
contracted in the vast and gloomy circle of night.

It was cloudy over Paris, but the clouds were breaking, and the piercing
light of a star, here and there, shone through the rents. The moon was
rising, too, and her light touched the clouds.

Ah! this must be Villeneuve St. Georges, this long street to which the
trees and hedgerows have given place.

I know the road to Etiolles well, but to-night it all seemed changed.

We passed hamlets and villages, and now at last we were nearing
Etiolles. I could tell it by the big houses on either side of the road,
houses with walled-in gardens and grass lawns, where young ladies played
croquet in the long summer afternoons, so that a person on the road
could hear the click of the balls and the laughter of the players. The
moon had fully risen now, casting her light on the houses, the walls,
the vineyards rolling towards the river, the trees and shrubs.

Suddenly, as though an adamantine door had been flung across the road
barring our way the carriage stopped; one of the horses had fallen as if
felled by an axe. The pole was broken. Joubert was on his knees by the
head of the fallen horse, dark blood was streaming from its nostrils in
the vague moonlight that was now touching the white road.

Inexorable Fate.

We were two miles from the château gates, but across the fields and
through the forest of Senart there away straight as the crow dies to the
Pavilion.

I do not remember leaving Joubert; suddenly the fields were around me
and I was running. My mind driven to madness had matched itself against
fate. "I will conquer you," it cried. "No dead fate shall oppose my
living will. Let the past be gone. I have sinned, but I have suffered.
If she is dead I will fling myself after her and seize her soul in my
arms forever."

"You are mine--living or dead, you are mine."

I must have shouted the words as I ran for I heard the words ringing in
my ears. Then fell on me as I ran Delirium, or was it the past.

I was in the forest now, the vague light was filled with shapes. A form
sprang at me, it was Von Lichtenberg. I struck at it and passed on.

The iron man of the bell tower struck at me with his hammer, I seized
him and he turned to mist.

And now a form was running beside me trying to hold me back, it was
Gretel, she tripped me up with her foot. I fell, she vanished and her
foot turned to the root of a tree. And the tree turned to Vogel.

He passed me as I ran outstripping him, and from the darkness before me
now broke a form, it was little Carl.

We were in the forest of Lichtenberg, the lake before us. I cried to him
to stop. For only answer came the splash of the water, the cry of a
child--the gasping of a person drowning in the dark.

Death lay in the water. I plunged to meet him and seized a struggling
form.

But the form was not the form of Death, but the form of a woman living
and sweet.

A moment later and I would have missed by all eternity the love that had
been waiting for me since the beginning of Time.

Fate is strong, but the will of man is stronger.



CHAPTER XL

THE SPIRIT OF EARTH


All that winter from the passing of the investing army to the time when
the siege guns began to shake earth and sky with their ceaseless roar
and from then to the spring, we remained at the Pavilion, Joubert and I,
unhindered, almost unvisited by the enemy. The Château drew them off. We
had left the doors open to prevent them from being broken in; perhaps it
was for this reason that so little mischief was done by the troops that
quartered themselves there.

The coincidence of Winter and War, the leafless trees, the eternal
roaring of Paris like a tiger at bay, the darkness and death in my
heart, all these are in my life away back there, forming a picture or
rather a dark mirror, reflecting the forms of Despair, Apathy and Ruin,
just as the dark water of the moat reflects the fern fronds of the bank
and the dark green plumage of those pine-trees.

Nothing could ever come right in the world again. The gloomy skies,
shaken winter long by the cannon said that, and the woods, leafless and
sad and sombre, where the squirrels and the hundred other wood creatures
seemed banished for ever with the birds. So the winter passed, till one
day--I had not been in the woods for a week--one day, following a path
near the round pond I came across a troop of ghosts; violets growing
right before me on the path side; and to the left amidst the trees,
gem-like blue, and dim amidst the brown last autumn leaves--violets. Led
by a few days' warmth a million violets had invaded the old forest,
grouped themselves amidst the trees and along the paths, heedless of
Death or the Prussians.

Even as I looked a breath of wind bent the tree branches like a warm
hand, showing a patch of blue sky above and casting a ray of sunshine on
the blue flowers below. The Drums of War, the trampling of armies at
grip with one another, proclamations, treaties, the pageantry of
victory, the sorrows of defeat, all in a moment were banished before
that touch of spring and the vision of these lovely and immortal
flowers.

Since then I have seen them growing amidst the ruins of Mycenae, in
Vallombrosa, at the tomb of Virgil; poets, lovers, warriors, and kings,
wherever sun may light or spring may touch their tombs, call to us again
through the blue violets of spring, but never have these flowers of God
brought the past to man so freshly, so strangely or with such poignancy
as they brought it to me there, growing absolutely in the footsteps of
Ruin, yet unruined and with not a dewdrop brushed from their leaves.

Ah, yes, there are times when the commonest man becomes a poet, as on
that day when dreaming of the death of a woman and the dragon of war, I
found spring hiding in the forest of Sénart just like some enchanting
ghost of long ago, half-child, half-woman, and answering to my unspoken
question, "War, Death, I have not seen them--I do not know whom you
mean; they passed, mayhap, when I was asleep. Monsieur, do you not
admire my violets?"

The sublime and heavenly cynicism of that artless question, the question
itself, these combined to form the germs of a philosophy which has clung
to me since then, a philosophy which, combined with love, has slain in
me the remains of what was once Philippe de Saluce.

Then day by day and week by week the forest, the fields, the hills,
became slowly overspread with the quiet, assured and triumphant beauty
of spring. Just as long ago, I fancied that I could hear the forest
awakening from sleep, so now I fancied I could hear the world awakening
from war and night. Communards might fight in Paris, kings and captains
assemble at Versailles, Alsace might go or Alsace might remain, what was
all that toy and trumpery business to the great business of Life, to the
preparation of the blossom, the building of the butterflies in the
aerial shipyards, the letting slip of the dragon-fly on his dazzling
voyage? What a hubbub they were making in the Courts of Europe as Von
der Tann's army, the King of Saxony's army, all those other triumphant
armies turned from Paris with bugles blowing, drums beating, and colours
flying, laden with tumbrils of gold and the spoils of war!

"France will never arise again!" said the drums and the bugles, "never
again," echoed Europe. "Ah, wait," said spring.

Behind the veils of sunshine and April rain, heedless of Von der Tann's
drums or the Saxon bugles, or the vanquished men or the vanquished
treasure; viewless and unvanquished, the Spirit of Earth was preparing
the future for a new and more beautiful France. Each bee passing from
blossom to blossom that spring was labouring for the greater France of
the future, each acorn forming in its cup, each wheat grain sprouting in
the dark, each grape globing in the vineyards of the Côte d'Or; each and
all were labouring for the motherland, to fill again her granaries and
her treasure house. Folly had brought her under the knee of Force;
drained of blood, half dying, wholly vanquished; in tears, in madness,
in despair, she lay forsaken by all the Olympians but Demeter.

Had I but known, those first violets in the forest of Sénart held in
their beauty all the future splendour and beauty of the New France.

In my life I have seen many a wonderful thing, but my memory carries
with it nothing more miraculous than those flowers of promise seen as I
saw them in the forest of Despair.



ENVOI


I am writing these lines in the rose garden of Saluce, ghostly, even on
this warm June day, with the memories and the pictures and the perfumes
of the past. How good summer is to the old! And how much kinder even
than summer is love.

Down the garden path towards me is coming the form of a woman. Once long
ago with the romantic extravagance of youth I pictured this garden,
haunted by the forms of lovely women long dead; but not one of those
forms was as romantic as this living woman, coming towards me between
the bushes of the amber and crimson roses.

How slowly she walks, and, see, she stops now and hesitates--ah, now,
she has seen me, and she smiles. Age has not touched her sight, yet she
is blind--for she is the only person in the world who cannot see that my
hands are tremulous and that my hair is grey.



+-------------------------------------------------+
|Transcriber's note:                              |
|                                                 |
|Obvious typographic errors have been corrected.  |
|                                                 |
+-------------------------------------------------+





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Drums of War" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home