Puslapio vaizdai

Bellegram of Twelve Chimneys, Devonshire, England.

Despite his rumpled jacket and his tousled hair, he had managed to appear distinguished. His speech and behavior had evidently been acquired in excellent society. Moreover, he seemed a person who would be at ease in a far finer place. One may find certain men sheltered by a modest roof, yet feel sure that they have in their pockets the keys of palaces. Even to Aglaia, Cyril Bellegram suggested the traditional young prince who has disguised himself to seek adventures through four hundred pages of a romantic novel. She would not have been surprised to learn that he was related to the English nobility. Perhaps there was a copy of Burke's "Peerage" in the pension.

Next morning, fully dressed before her sisters had sat up in bed, she descended to the main hall, and explored the bookshelves.

Her search was fruitless.

She wandered into the reading-room, through the glass doors of which she could observe the hall. In the last number of a Paris newspaper for Americans she read that a certain lady's Pomeranian was dead, that an aviation meet was to be held at Rome a few weeks hence, that the minaret-skirt was out of fashion, that Mme. Bertha Linkow had at last recovered from her broken leg. Was this the reason why the prima donna had not returned to them in Paris? "We may have misjudged her," Aglaia reflected, and determined to send off that very day a letter of condolence.

Suddenly cheerful, she went into the parlor, sat down at the piano, and began to play softly the "Vissi d'arte." All at once an Irish terrier tried to scramble into her lap, and Cyril Bellegram entered, wearing knickerbockers and a salmoncolored cravat, his damp hair dangling over one eye, his thin nose high, his teeth glistening.

"Don't stop."

"Such a weak attempt at imitation was n't meant for you to hear. What a nice dog!"

"Not bad. Shake hands with the lady, Bristles."

Bristles, raising his long face, which was ornamented with mustaches and a little beard like tufts of hemp, laid his paw in Aglaia's rosy palm. Stooping gracefully, she embraced his wriggling body, and his sharp bark was smothered by the perfumed ruffles at her breast. When he managed to lick her chin, she did not object.

"He does n't care for strangers as a rule," said Cyril Bellegram, looking at her approvingly, and putting his brier pipe back into his pocket.

She learned that he was bound for a tramp in the country. The hills round Florence were "not bad," but one gathered from his tone that there were finer hills in Devonshire. He would be gone till dusk, lunching at whatever village inn he found when he was hungry.

"How splendid to be able to walk all day like that!"

She gave him a frank, measuring glance. which seemed to add, "You must be very strong!"

"Really? At home even the girls think nothing of it."

She shook her head wistfully.

"I could never do it. Five miles would probably finish me.'

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Evidently, he did not think less of her on that account; rather, her confession made her different from the girls at home, more interesting than before.

He maintained, however, that a mile. of picture-galleries was more exhausting than a dozen on the road. They discussed the city's treasures, all of which he seemed to know by heart. It appeared that he understood Italian; he offered to lend her his copy of Dante in the original. She demurred:

"Before I could read it intelligently you 'd surely be gone from Florence."

"There's no telling. I may stop anywhere a week, a month, or more. What old chap was it who said he 'd write 'Whim' above his hearth, or something to that effect? I knock about and suit myself."

"It must be wonderful. And you never get lonely?"

"When I do, I toddle home for a while. Drop it, Bristles! Come here, sir!"

The dog stopped mumbling Aglaia's fingers, crept to his master, allowed a leather muzzle to be strapped around his nose. Then he scampered off into the hall, made the marble vestibule resound with yelps, clawed the front door, reappeared in the parlor, fawned round. Aglaia. Catching him by the collar, she kissed the terrier between his gleaming, tawny eyes.

"Good-by, Bristles!"

Thoughtfully she returned to her bed


The others were already dressed in expectation of a visitor, the painting-teacher. M. Alphonse Zolande was a Parisian in exile, once on a time a promising young artist resident in Rome, since then sunk gradually into obscurity. Lean, hollowcheeked, leathery, dapper in a threadbare sort of way, he was just finishing half a century in which chagrin had far exceeded satisfaction. His gray mustaches, imperial, and pompadour suggested photographs of the painter Gérôme. His restless fingers were stained by nicotine; his vaguely effeminate costume exhaled a strong scent of cigarettes and chypre; in the silver ring on his right thumb the stone was replaced with a daub of sealing-wax.

He had a studio in Via de' Bardi, across the river Arno. There he received "more pupils in winter than at this time of year." One of his patronesses was Princess Tchernitza, now unfortunately away at some seaside resort.

It was

Princess Tchernitza-since one had mentioned her-that had sent him a young Bulgarian to whom, after a year of instruction, he had been forced to say, "I can teach you nothing more!" That extraordinary youth was now in Durazzo, executing a portrait of the new King of Albania.

Mr. Goodchild ventured an inquiry concerning the style of painting favored by M. Zolande.

"But all styles, Monsieur! It is for the intelligent master to permit one's individuality to flourish. No two real artists can be made out of the same mold. One must see for himself, one must choose for himself, one must be himself. It is my affair to show mademoiselle how this one and that one did so and so through the whole history of art; but what method mademoiselle herself will follow is for her to say."

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All were sufficiently impressed except Aglaia. When the Goodchild family found themselves alone, she said: "In my opinion, your M. Zolande is a big bluff."

"Since I'm satisfied with him," retorted Thallie, "it's all that 's necessary."

"How is he going to teach you anything, not speaking English better than that?"

"I shall soon understand his French." "Even so, suppose you find out at last you 've wasted your money and your time?"

"Then I'll come to you and say again I'd rather have studied in Paris."

That day Thallie bought a brand-new painting-outfit, and next morning, escorted by Mr. Goodchild, she presented herself at the studio up four flights of stairs in Via de' Bardi, across the Arno.

In a large room, with plaster walls and a tiled floor, half a dozen kitchen-chairs, and as many battered easels, were set in a semicircle round a model's platform. A Japanese screen stood in the corner beside a divan, and through a half-open door one discerned a coffee-pot on a metal wash-stand. But one's gaze was arrested by a mammoth canvas portraying, in a smooth and gloomy manner, "The Defeat of Cyrus by Tamyris, Queen of the Massagetæ." It was a relic of the paintingteacher's optimistic youth.

M. Zolande, a bunch of pansies in his buttonhole, managed to explain that the last of his summer pupils had just departed for the country.

Aurelius persuaded himself that this was fortunate; the master could now give

all the more attention to Thalia. And after he had admired the "Defeat of Cyrus," peeped out through the north light, inhaled to the full the studio odors that he loved, he embraced his daughter, with a moist eye, and departed. He was much moved by the thought that Thallie's journey toward celebrity had begun at last in earnest. He was unaware that a European father, for reasons not related to the arts, would have disapproved of his immediate confidence in the Parisian.

M. Zolande, however, was most businesslike. Lighting a fresh cigarette, he examined Thallie's English paints, pearwood palette, and formidable sheaf of brushes. Then firmly he thrust everything underneath the divan. He found a wine-flask, stripped off its straw casing, laid it against an album, demanded that she draw it.

What a humiliating anticlimax to her expectations!


It was all the worse because even at this trivial task she did not suit him. She drew the flask first instead of the spaces visible about it; she paid attention to the outlines rather than to the masses. last he sat down to sketch the objects in the proper way, and Thallie realized that she did not know how to draw a wineflask and an album!

Her long labors in Zenasville, despite her father's guidance, had been futile. All that while she had gone on daubing in the uncritical enthusiasm, the blind self-complacency, of those whose work seems good because it is their own. Now her ignorance was revealed, as in a flash of lightning, by the comparison of these two simple studies; and suddenly the precious future seemed so far removed that she was no longer confident of attaining it.

Her pose relaxed; she stared down at her clasped hands; tears trembled in the corners of her eyes. M. Zolande, looking somewhat alarmed, exclaimed:

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enthusiastic. It appeared that such quick receptiveness as Thallie's was unique in his experience. And he prophesied that in a fortnight she would be painting in full color from a model. Taking heart, she gave him a shy smile of gratitude.

Six days a week, Mr. Goodchild brought her to the studio at nine, and called for her at noon.

As the days passed, Thallie began to droop, but less from the July weather than because of an increasing sense of loss. In this summer Italy of heat and vivid hues and sensuous echoes, one could not, even by oil-paint, efface the images of love. "Where is he now?" she wondered, the palette sunk upon her knee, her eyes staring blankly at the canvas, and seeing there the face of the young man of the boat-deck.

A knock sounded on the door. The model slipped behind the screen. Aurelius entered, beaming. Walking home, Thalia scarcely heard her father's chatter.

Every day Mr. Goodchild, wandering through the city, found more delightful things to talk about. Besides, he was busy with his tragic poem of Fiammetta and Rodolfo.

It began as follows:

Where runs the Arno through the heart of Florence-town,

And out of palace windows beauty still looks down,

In Fourteen ninety-four, or somewhere thereabouts,

A damsel from her casement gazed with anguished doubts:

Along the Ponte Vecchio she could not espy The object of her maidenly esteem draw nigh!

"Just Heav'n," she faintly cried. "If that foul Medici band

Has laid Rodolfo low with an assassin's hand!"

Aurelius now wrote his verses at a table of the Café Hirsch, in the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. It was a resort of painters, sculptors, journalists, where every known artistic periodical seemed to be on file, and

where a demi-tasse of coffee cost four cents.

An awning shaded the tables on the sidewalk, but did not darken the interior. Here one might sit in comfort by the hour, gazing out through the plate-glass windows at the square, or watching the patrons come and go, their heads reflected in mirrors that ran round the walls. Aurelius soon learned to covet a particular corner. His waiter was a German-Swiss named Otto.

Short, fat, with glistening bald head and ruddy jowls, Otto made one wonder

cents each, to patrons of the Café Hirsch. Nevertheless, he felt he had been cheated of his proper destiny. Off duty, he passed the doors of fine hostelries with the sensations of a man who watches interlopers flourishing in a mansion which he should have inherited.

Mr. Goodchild cast about for words of comfort.

"My dear friend, all your troubles seem to come from wanting something you are not sure would make you happy. As Epictetus said, 'It is not poverty that causes sorrow, but covetous desires; nor

how a man with features all designed for, do riches deliver from fear, but reasoning.

jollity could look so woebegone. At first glance, one took the perspiration on his cheeks for tears.

He spoke English.

"Black coffee, Otto, if you please." "Black coffee," moaned Otto, and dragged his heels across the floor to the buffet. Returning, he laid down the tin tray, with its cup and saucer, battered pot and sugar-holder, like one who relinquishes his last poor treasure at the order of a cruel conqueror.

"What a day, Otto!"

"Ah!" A groan of despair.

"The sun of Italy on Italy's monuments!"

"Ugh! Italy und her monuments, Mr. Gootschild! I can vish I have never seen them. Yes, I can vish I have never been alive." And finally he told his tale.

He had begun as omnibus in a hotelpension at Vitznau, had spent two years as waiter in a London chop-house, had fallen heir to three thousand francs, regained Switzerland, married, opened a tea-room on the road to Arth. His pas

sion had been to own, on Lake Lucerne, such a hotel as is honored with a star by Baedeker, motor-cars before the terrace, a string-band playing in the winter-garden, soirées de gala every Thursday night. But luck had been against him. His wife dying, he had gone bankrupt. Long service in neighboring countries had failed to yield sufficient capital to start again. Following his will-o'-the-wisp to Italy, now he was carrying pots of coffee, at four

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If, therefore, you acquire a habit of reasoning, you will neither desire riches nor complain of poverty.'


"Ha! All very nice, Mr. Gootschild, for them who has no ambitions! me!" Otto thumped the coffee-stained plastron of his uniform. "Me, who feels in here so sure, if I had got a chance already, I vould be great in my profession! Alvays it eats me up, that feeling. I might have turned avay millionaires in the high season; yet all I must do is to get penny tips from artists!"

Aurelius could not help sympathizing with fine dreams in whatever form.

"It's true," he responded gently, "that fate seems to have been cruel to your aspirations. But have faith! Here or hereafter, we shall all rise to our ideal. Besides, the sky is often darkest just before the sun breaks through. Take my own case."

He described the coming of the legacy which had so changed his life and the lives of his three daughters.

When he pronounced the words, "a hundred thousand dollars," the other stared as if seeing him then for the first time. That day the waiter's farewell bow was more profound than previously. From the threshold of the café, Otto watched the tall figure in the rusty cutaway clear across the square. Four cabhorses stood in line before the arcade. Mr. Goodchild fed to each a lump of sugar the four pieces which had been. served him with his coffee.

He arrived at the pension toward dinner-time. Frossie and Thallie had not yet returned from the churches and the lace-shops; but Aglaia, as fresh as a flower in her evening gown, sat under the palmetto palm, deciphering Dante in the original, and, without seeming to do so, watching the glass corridor.

Cyril Bellegram usually regained the pension at this hour.

In the moonlit garden, where fireflies twinkled through the foliage, and blossoms spread a stronger perfume than by day, he and Aglaia had come to consider the bench beneath the palmetto as theirs alone, by right of nightly use. Here it was that she, with the shadows lending to her visage an ambiguous loveliness, drew from him confessions never made before -of youthful dreams which he had forgotten till now, of fancies that come to one in solitude, of the inclinations, lying deep in the heart, that direct the whole seemingly erratic progress of a life. What he did not disclose she managed to guess. His father was a baronet; he had been to Oxford; he was now an idler. Still, he felt at times a strong desire to do something that might bring him fame, yet not be unseemly in an English gentleman.

He could write Latin poetry, draw horses and dogs, play the piano, speak Italian, French, and German, ride, shoot, fence, dance, mix a punch, name the popes and the kings of Europe backward. In his opinion, these accomplishments fitted. him for nothing but the diplomatic service.

"Why don't you!" exclaimed Aglaia.

She saw the staircases of royal palaces, lined with lackeys, giving upon vast halls, where the wives of attachés, themselves attired like queens, made deep courtesies before a throne. She saw ball-rooms full of epaulets and jewels, a monarch halting to pay compliments that would thenceforth distinguish one from all the rest. She saw a shaded lamp above a desk inlaid with tortoise-shell, a despatch-box opened by a confiding husband, papers embellished with broad seals-the secret treaty, the cipher code, the ultimatum. For there

were women who attained such moments, who held at their tongues' ends the secrets of a nation.

But the wife of a diplomatist would hardly be permitted a career in opera? Nevertheless, she said softly:

"What you need is an incentive, an inspiration."

Life in the pension had already been reduced to a peaceful monotone. Every morning, in answer to their ring, the maid, Giannina, wearing the same smile, brought into Aglaia's bedroom the same tray of rolls and coffee. She was a stocky, stronglooking woman, prematurely past her youth, with sallow skin, large, mischievous black eyes, and the mouth of a comedian. Her husband was Federico, the middleaged waiter whose long, smooth-shaven face would have looked more at home beneath the Jolly Roger than in a diningroom. It was Federico who served their formal meals, arrayed in a dress-suit of antiquated pattern, and white cotton gloves.

Even the foods, over which one had exclaimed at first, began to lose their tang. The minestrone, the polenta, the risotto, the zuppa Inglese, were just like other dishes now. The Goodchilds asked one another if the table was n't failing.

But now they would have missed intensely the roses of the garden, the bizarre chair-covers in their rooms, the amiable greetings of the servants, even the calls of the vegetable-hucksters, that woke them every morning. Sometimes they said, "It's a disgrace that we have n't run down for a few days to Rome or Perugia or Siena!" Yet they kept putting off even the least arduous of those excursions, so well were they imbued already with inertia of Italy in summer, and with the feeling, still half unconscious, that the Pension Schwandorf was every day more like a home.

Toward mid-afternoon, the doorway of the Nobles' Club on Via Tornabuoni was usually graced by half a dozen spickand-span young men. Among them one often saw some army officers. The latter wore tight blue-black jackets, with magenta

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