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Then he began to walk back and forth on the soft, splendid rug across the hearthstone, his well-molded hands clasped behind him, his well-molded head dropped slightly forward. Some times he walked thus when alone and most thoughtful.
The doctor had gone to the manyminded shelves and was taking down book after book, glancing at the titlepage, at the author's name, not at the contents, and putting page and name and contents back where they had been. He turned from the shelves, and as with an air of curiosity picked up rare little objects strewn over a lavishly inwrought table under the chandelier, gifts to the bishop with grateful associations or bought by him in foreign travel. He looked at the little treasures and laid them down where they had been and did not know what he had done. Once while thus engaged he remarked as one who notes the passage through his mind of an idea, flying alone and a little behind the flock:
"That visit of Tennyson to Carlyle one night when they sat alone, gazing into the fire, smoking, saying not a word! At the end of the evening Alfred, you remember, started home, and Thomas, as they shook hands, broke the silence: 'Alfred,' he said, 'we have had a great time together.' I have always had my doubts about that visit. It struck me as humanly hollow, a pose. If there ever was a man who cultivated pose, it was Scotch Thomas; if there ever was another, it was English Alfred. I had I had my belief they were posing to each other that silent evening in great style. But they may have been sincere, in dead earnest, terrible earnest; they may have sat there all that evening,
by heroic effort holding back their ash-cans."
"If they were," replied the bishop, not turning his face and with quick fervor of conviction, "it was a great night. They did have a great time together."
The bishop continued to walk slowly to and fro; the doctor began to stride erect and expectant back and forth across the middle distance of the immense library, his manner at times when some hospital matter of life or death awaited his skill on the other side of a door.
Suddenly he paused, turned, and with fresh vigor addressed the bishop:
"There is the other side of this whole matter, of course. Do you remember the chap in college we called Sahara?"
"I have often wondered whether he is Sahara still," replied the bishop, with a note of bitter pleasantry.
"Not a path from him leading in any direction, no footprints. His body cast a natural shadow, but his mind refused to shed its natural memories. The sand of life all round him, and not the solitary bush of an incident on the horizon for the eye to travel to and the mind to feed upon. Sahara declined to feed us, and we rebelled at not being fed; we moved away from the desert."
The bishop turned squarely toward the doctor. He stood with feet stoutly planted on the common ground of common human things, and he spoke reproachfully:
"I have never warmed toward the man who would tell nothing. I have found him in the church; he has always chilled me."
"Never!" said the doctor with instant harshness. stant harshness. "I have had to work with him in the medical profession; I have n't liked him."
Silence followed, a silence unaccustomed and foreboding. Crises occur in life when two who have been friends discover themselves at the final test of their friendship, at the welding or the parting: by what follows they will be friends the more or friends the less, if friends at all.
The doctor finally spoke in the tone of drawing into the discussion an omitted truth:
"It all goes back, of course, to the wisdom of old Greece: not too much of anything. Least of all, not too much of virtue. A virtue, positive or negative, overdone that is trouble for us in its purest form. We may fight ever so little of a vice and be splendid, but we may not attack ever so much of a virtue without being shabby. I know, you know, every one knows, a single positive virtue in excess to render a house uninhabitable by those over whom it stretches its power, tyranny. On the other hand, not to tell anything -a negative virtue overdone. I do not care to explore a man skulking or secreted behind it."
corner and brought back a small silver salver on which stood a decanter and a wine-glass, exquisite.
El Greco enjoyed an after-dinner glass of wine, a glass, hardly more, and the bishop always had a glass brought in and placed there when he knew El Greco was coming for an evening. El Greco was enamoured of his glass partly because he was enamoured of the idea of the glass. He liked beholding himself in the world winepicture as in a scene very old, rude, or gorgeous, warm, robust, open, fallible, in human life. Just as he indulged a fancy for another picture: gentlemen spun into ancient priceless tapestries. Consummate art, he said, but great nature also, the method of great nature
many threads and many colors woven into each of us. He, holding a wine-glass, became a gentleman of the ages, enjoying the liberty of golden, cloud-capped, gracious things, manners, ceremonies, pageants, which one by one were dropping from the human scene. Some day, he said, the tapestries also will go, ruled out by "right
The bishop stood solid and four- eousness," and bare bagging be desquare on his hearthstone. manded in the name of God.
He broke off and paused an instant. Then with the glass on the level of his eyes he began, in an old-time student way, repeating the spirit of some halfremembered night at some student banquet in some student hall:
"Wine-cup! Earth and sky are in it, and the sun and naught else save Care, rosy-fingered handmaiden of the vineyard, and Age, which trains the ripened cluster's youthful choir. The freshet of it, rushing through the body, dislodges the jest lying somewhere an undiscovered jewel on its banks; rolls outward at the bottom of the channel the golden sands of wit; drowns the Dragon Doubt which lives in water; brings floating along on its surface the careless flowers of the mind's and body's commingled joy—"
"Oh, here," cried the bishop, laughing with remonstrance, and putting his fingers into his ears, "drink your wine, man; do not praise it! I may minister to the sick, but I must not listen to bacchanalian oratory. Drinking is a man's sensation. The sensation concerns him only; but all praise is opinion, and all opinion is for others. A citizen of the United States, native born, of reputable habits and connections, of sound mind, a leader in his profession, praising a glass of wine in the library of a bishop! Why why-"
the opener and the emptier of the world's ash-can. Truth rolled outward on wine! Secrets of human lives, insoluble to every other agent, become solvent in the torrent of the grape."
El Greco drank his glass deeply as a memory, and with a curious gesture at life went back to his chair.
The bishop, with a sudden shadow on his clear face, returned to his chair. Silence, overmastering silence!
All at once the doctor turned to the bishop and said something to himthe hush, the privacy, the thing confided to one.
The doctor had been speaking a long time. At moments he struck violently with his fist upon the arm of his chair. He beat violently upon the rug with his foot. Once he thrust out both hands, those long, lean, powerful, kind, efficient surgeon's hands, reached over and caught at, grabbed at, something which might have been a throat, and shook it with a grinding of the teeth in the jaws, a growl of fury in the throat, that meant meant a man's satisfaction at last.
Ghastly pantomime of baffled power, strength that could not be put forth as strength; picture of action that should be action but could not be action; the foul thing in life that attacks the thing
El Greco interrupted with a mocking which is fair; something low that gets flourish of his free hand.
"I had not spoken what most was in my mind. That must not go unsaid; it is the reason I asked for the wine. It rounds out and ends our theme of the night. If we are going to abolish the ash-can in human society, we shall have to look well to the earth's autumn flood of the vineyard. More than any other single influence it has been
the upper hand of what is above it; something crooked that treads down in the road of life what walks straight. He did not withhold, he did not cease, till he was disburdened, emptied.
The bishop had not stirred or taken eyes off the spectacle and the disclosure: how this had never been known to him, this that now he would forget only with death; this fearless,
towering figure of knowledge and usefulness in the world of men-to the unfortunate, the suffering, the dying able to keep on with his work year after year with that in him, making no sign.
some little wave of trouble, the beat, beat, beat, of the wave, day and night, day and night; till ear and trouble are still!
The doctor, leaning forward, listening, in all he was as if the bishop confided to him the ravages of some malady which had escaped his knowledge and which would always remain beyond his or any human help or skill, rose, no word uttered, passed across, and slowly, quietly, folded about the
The bishop started up, crossed over, and put one hand on the doctor's shoulder and reached down for one of the doctor's hands and said in a voice that might have pulled a man back from the pit of hell: "Why did you not tell me this long bishop's head his hands-that laying ago?"
The bishop had been speaking; minutes had passed. How many? Enough to span years.
Along the earth's fretting oceanedge this takes place somewhere all the time: at a small incurve of the coast, which no one sees, which no one hears, which no one knows of, a wave beats incessantly against a rock. The rock stands; the wave comes and goes, comes and goes, comes and goes. Some day the wave will come, the rock will be gone.
The wonderful bay of the human ear, with its far-moving ocean; in it
on of hands which is so much older than the church.
It was late. The doctor stood in the hall near the front doors, roughly drawing on his weather gloves. The bishop reached over and buttoned the top button of his overcoat protectingly about his throat.
He opened the door, and the doctor stepped out and stood on the top step, looking at the snow, which fell steadily, heavily, over the great city.
"This is going to be bad for some of my patients," he said, taking their weakness and their suffering upon his shoulders.
"It will be sad for many of my poor," said the bishop, laying their burdens and sorrows upon his back.
Messer Marco Polo
By DONN BYRNE
HE times went by, and Marco Polo busied himself with his daily affairs, keeping track of the galleasses with merchandise to strange far-away ports, buying presents for refractory governors who did n't care for foreign trade in their domains, getting wisdom from the old clerks, and knowledge from the mariners; in the main, acting as the son of a great house.
You would think that he would have forgotten what the sea-captain of China told him about Golden Bells, what with work and sport and other women near him. You would think that would drop out of his memory like an old rime. But it stuck there, as an old rime sometimes sticks, and by dint of thinking he had her fast now in his mind-so fast, so clear, so full of life, that she might be some one he had seen an hour ago or was going to see an hour from now. He would think of the now merry, now sad eyes of her, and the soft, sweet voice of her by reason of which they called her Golden Bells, and the dusky little face, and the hair like black silk, and the splotch of the red flower in it. She was as distinct to him as the five fingers on his hand. It was n't only she was clear in his mind's eye, but she was inside of him, closer than his heart. She was there when the sun rose, so he would be saying, "It's a grand day is in it surely, Golden Bells."
She was there in the dim countinghouse, and he going over the great intricate ledgers the clerks do be posting carefully with quills of the gray goose, so that he would be saying: “I wonder where this is and that is. Sure I had my finger on it only a moment ago, Golden Bells." And when the dusk was falling, and the bats came out, and the quiet of Christ was over everything, and the swallows flew low on the great canals, she would be beside him, and never a word would he say to her, so near to him would she be.
And she wrought strangeness between him and the women he knew, the great grave lady with the large, pale mouth, her that was of his mind, and the little black cloak-maker with the eager, red mouth, her that was closer than mind or heart to him. The first found fault with his poetry.
"I don't know what 's come over you, Marco Polo,"-and there was a touch of temper in her voice,-"but these poems of yours show me you have n't your mind on your subject. Would you mind telling me when I had bound black hair?" she says. "And you say my bosom is like two little russet apples. Now, a regular poet once compared it to two great silver cups, and that was a good comparison, though in truth," she says, "he knew as little about it as you. And my hands are not like soft Eastern