Puslapio vaizdai

of the grand duke. The tradition is that Marie Saltikov, their mother, had squandered her virtue for Elisabeth's cause. However this may have been, the empress was devoted to her friend and attached her two sons to the young court. Sergei was a great favorite of the grand duke and often slept with him.

The young chamberlain was a merry and irresponsible youth without ulterior ambitions. Catherine tried to make the most of her lover in her memoirs, but not a great deal could be made of him. He was a typical ne'er-do-well. Chiefly, she dwells upon his looks. He was a brunette, who said of himself once when he was attired in a silver costume that he looked "like a fly in the milk." Catherine writes: "He was beautiful as the day; no one could compare with him, even in the great court, still less in our own. He was not without spirit and possessed those charming manners which one acquires from living in the world of fashion and especially at the court. In the year 1752 he was twenty-six years old. His birth and other qualities made him an outstanding personality. He had his faults, which he knew how to conceal; his greatest faults were a tendency to intrigue and a lack of strong principles. This, however, was unknown to me at that time."

She then describes his brother Peter, in quite a different light. Peter "was a fool in the fullest sense of the word, and had the most stupid physiognomy that I have ever seen in my life: great leaden eyes, a turned-up nose, a mouth always half open. Besides, he was a terrible tattle-tale."

Evidently Peter was no credit to the Saltikov family; yet he happened to be the uncle of her son. It was afterward said of this son, when he

became Paul the First of Russia, that his physiognomy, with its turned-up nose, was considered even by himself too ugly to be imprinted on his coins; and that when the crowds of Paris gathered to look at him they cried out, "My God! how ugly he is!" His looks, we might fairly conclude, were a gift which the bad fairies of heredity had borrowed from Uncle Peter.

That her son derived so little from his mother seemed to Catherine a perversity of fortune. She reflected a great deal on the subject of heredity. She bred dogs and observed that they seemed to show the same tendency as human beings in this respect. "Witness Sir Tom Anderson," she said of her favorite hound; "all his family resembles him. The same spirit, the same taste, the same figure, the same physiognomy, the same tendency." She was puzzled and resentful. "My God," she burst out in a letter to Grimm, her favorite correspondent, "why do children so often resemble their fathers when it would be better to resemble their mothers? That is not common sense; dame Nature is often a blockhead. often a blockhead. One day I shall write a dissertation on that, which I shall dedicate to you."

The freakish characteristics of Catherine's son have set many writers and historians to work discussing his heredity. But such discussions have always assumed that his father was Peter the Third and his grandfather was Peter the Great. If this were true, his deficiencies would be easy to explain, for heredity on the Romanov side left much to be desired. But all this has nothing to do with Paul the First, who is not a Romanov, but a Saltikov, as were all the Czars of Russia who succeeded him.

The Bringer of Grist



HE conspiracy to separate Quintus Ponder from his wife Mary continued for eight years. Involved in it were about twenty-six persons, as nearly as I can recall, though seldom more than five or six at one time. At least four were always persistently, not to say perniciously, active. The others were in-and-outers. Their manoeuvers were marked by a subtlety that would have delighted Machiavelli.

Probably the most remarkable feature of this long and arduous campaign -for they went to considerable lengths -was that they never seemed to realize just what they were attempting to do. I mean to say, they never admitted the conspiracy to one another. Their plans were tacitly agreed upon without discussion. It seemed that all a man or woman had to do was to meet Quintus and Mary, and immediately he or she set to work to separate them.

Of the many persons who knew both, I am, to the best of my knowledge, the only one who believed that they were, in any sense of the word, affinities. Perhaps I had a certain measure of advantage over the many acquaintances who flocked about Quintus after he became famous; I knew him and Mary before they were married. I literally saw them fall in love with each other. Whether that phrase precisely de

scribes what took place is open to discussion; the reader, however, is entitled to a part in the debate, so I shall proceed with the story.

Genius is sometimes, though by no means always, stamped upon a man's countenance. Quintus Ponder not only was a great genius, but one knew it at first glance. He resembled very much the pictures and descriptions of Nathaniel Hawthorne; his silky, lightbrown hair would lie in careless ringlets above a white forehead of impressive dimensions. His eyes were hazel, like Hawthorne's, and the expression, though kindly, was preoccupied. He smiled at one as a benevolent god might smile from the piled-up clouds of summer towering over a distant horizon. He was never angry, but frequently impatient, and always sharply rebuked what he considered stupidity. In stature he was not above the average, but very graceful. There was a suggestion of massiveness, due to the impressive shape of his head, that made it seem a trifle large for a man of his height.

My first acquaintance with Quintus resulted from the coincidence that we both went to lunch at the same hour, daily, and ate in the same little restaurant just off Park Row. Frequently we sat at the same table. He was, at the time, a reporter, while I edited copy received by telegraph. We rec

ognized each other's faces, but had never met. The fact that we encountered each other at the same table perhaps ten times before becoming acquainted is a vital fact in this narrative, for it throws a shaft of light upon the characteristic which played a major rôle in the drama of his career. I liked Quintus at first sight, but I could n't talk to him. He was at that time about twenty-seven years of age.

One day I broke the ice by saying: “That was a remarkable story you had on the front page this morning. Well written."

He replied with a sound that might be represented thus: "Uffff." It indicated painful embarrassment; it was as though he had been complimented for skill at threading a needle. I laughed.

At that moment Hugh Pendleton came in and sat down with us. He was also a reporter and intimate with Quintus. During the ensuing conversation I learned from Pendleton that Quintus read Greek and Latin for pleasure, that he particularly liked bulky volumes of the more abstruse philosophy for light entertainment, that he could imitate the style of almost any of the great writers, and that he regarded what he called "newspaper English" as "the most abominable mess ever concocted." So he was merely imitating newspaper English when he wrote news. On a later occasion, I saw him write a Tagore poem. The verse that he literally dashed off had all of those weird, mystic, Oriental overtones that characterize Tagore's work. It seemed symbolic of something or other, and very important. But the poem merely narrated that Quintus and Pendleton had gone to the former's apartment on the preceding evening


and eaten cheese and crackers. Accepted as burlesque, it was one of the cleverest pieces of writing I have ever seen; but an admirer of Tagore might not readily accept it as burlesque.

From time to time during our meal in the little restaurant, Quintus would look at Pendleton with an expression of mingled admiration, wonder, even awe. He seemed to be clinging to Pendleton, as though he would be glad to pay all the expenses if Pendleton would do him the honor to be his guest. I could n't understand it. In fact, such a strange and almost servile attachment for a man of mediocre intellectual attainments was baffling. Not until years later did I clear that mystery.

Pendleton was the hail-fellow-wellmet type, but without the noisy exuberance that often makes men of his sort a nuisance. He addressed the waitress by her first name, and she told him something I have since forgotten about renting a room in Brooklyn, and something else about her mother, either that she had fallen ill or was recovering, I do not recall which. He also had a few words with the cashier. And it was either on that occasion, or soon thereafter, that he listened politely to a tiresome wail from the proprietor about the condition of his business. Everywhere he went people inflicted confidences upon him, usually the most inane and bothersome chatter one could imagine. And he would reply with stereotyped little phrases of the cheer-up philosophy that made these intermezzos masterpieces of the art of bromidic conversation. You will readily understand from these facts that I wondered how Quintus could endure Pendleton, much less admire him, despite the fact that

Pendleton had a spirit without guile. But Quintus, like the waitresses and cashiers in restaurants, would open his heart to Pendleton.

I happened to be standing in the managing editor's anteroom the day Quintus came in and saw Mary Weems for the first time. I don't know just what position Mary filled, but she presided in the anteroom. He stood there staring at her until it was funny. However, if she had n't stared back at him in the same manner, his behavior would have been unpardonable. Their lips were parted perhaps a quarter of an inch. According to the dramatic traditions of that day, she should have said, "My long-lost brother!" Then Quintus should have said, in a voice half choked with emotion, "Sister!" Next, the embrace. Then curtain. End of act two.

A moment later they were both talking at once; just talking. Mary showed Quintus a copy of the forthcoming Sunday magazine fiction section in which Pendleton had a story. He used to pound them out after office hours. They followed the style of that period: virtue staggered through the first three thousand words, but triumphed gloriously in the last five hundred. The villain always accidentally burned himself alive, or fell through his own trap-door upon a sharpened broomstick that, needless to add, was treacherously planted there to impale the hero. These stories, however, had one redeeming feature; namely, the dialogue. Pendleton knew how people talked. His conceptions of art could scarcely have been worse, but his plots were so simple that he found it necessary to do quite a bit of what he called "just drooling along," and the "drooling" gave his

stories all the merit they possessed. After Mary and Quintus had overexerted themselves, they settled down to more natural conversation; that first outburst was very amusing. One would have thought they had been treasuring those words through a long absence.

Finally Quintus, speaking in his normally deliberate manner, said:

"I am going to write some day. I don't know why I tell you this. But I will write."

"You want to, very much, don't you?" Mary asked, interpreting Quintus's earnest tone.

"No," he replied. "I haven't much choice in the matter. It is brewing inside me, and I shall have to write."

I recall thinking at the time that, if he ever wrote anything, it would probably be a Greek grammar for advanced students or a monograph on Chinese philosophy. However, I was mistaken.

Mary had occupied her position in the anteroom only a week or ten days. I was also looking at her with interest, for she brightened the room with about the sweetest expression I have ever

One's first impression would inevitably be that Mary was surpassingly beautiful, though I doubt if a photograph would have disclosed anything more than a comely, rather buxom girl of twenty-four. Girls in offices often wore stiff white collars, with big flowing bow-ties like hairribbons, at that time. Mary wore one. Those collars and ties are about the only obsolete style in feminine attire that I have not forgotten. She was modest, affable, and utterly charming.

Presently she rose to go. Quintus evidently forgot whatever it was he wanted to take up with the managing

editor, for he followed Mary. She has since given me a detailed account of what followed, so I shall relate it here in its chronological order.

The hour was about two o'clock, but it seems that that was Mary's afternoon off. A friend of Quintus's had sent him a piece of venison, and he asked Mary to help him broil it in his fireplace.

While they were eating the venison, Quintus walked up and down, and round and round the room, looking at Mary, evidently intending to say something, but not saying it. When she rose to go, he pushed her back into the chair and said:

"Yes, you can," was his astonishing reply. "That's what I want you to do."

Hugh Pendleton was the first person to enter the conspiracy against it. Marriage did not at once end Quintus's mysterious dependence upon his crony. On the contrary, Pendleton took an apartment across the hall from them. Usually the three had breakfast together. Mary always kissed both of them good night, and again in the afternoon when they went to work. One day Pendleton said to me: "I wish you would visit us.

"No, no, don't go away."

Mary laughingly insisted. Quintus also insisted.

I am

"But I can't stay here always," she uneasy about Quintus. If he is going pleaded, laughing. to write, and he spends his spare minutes trying, he ought to come along with me and play with the boys out in the alley. But he sticks at home all the time. I'm very fond of Mary, as you know, but Mary is just a chatterbox. She talks all the time, just chatters like a magpie. Quintus is maudlin in love with her, and sits there like a Chinaman full of hop, staring at her as if she was a beautiful dream. He'll never get anywhere on that schedule. She kills too much of his time. And Mary is n't intellectual."

I nearly laughed. I wondered if Pendleton thought he was intellectual. Nevertheless, I accepted the invitation. I liked all three of them, and Mary most of all.

Mary was delighted with his boyish manner. No one, I think could have been alarmed about Quintus.

were married that afternoon, and she did n't leave the apartment, after all.

"Not without a marriage license," she said, threatening him with her index-finger, but nearly convulsed with laughter. It would have been like Quintus to forget just what the procedure was when he desired to marry. Acting on what he doubtless considered her suggestion, he picked up the telephone and called me. It was a matter of five minutes for me to go to the office where marriage licenses were dispensed, and fifteen more minutes to his apartment. Of course, I did n't know that Mary had n't said "Yes" at the time I got the license. My manner of obtaining it was decidedly irregular and illegal. But everything turned out all right--for me. Quintus and Mary


This was the marriage frequently referred to in later years as a boyish whim that handicapped Quintus for life.

The following day we had noon breakfast together, the four of us. Quintus insisted upon my reading Pendleton's story, the one Mary had given him that day in the anteroom. Then he read a story he had just completed.

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