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flower. But how shall I get violets late in May? They must be all gone, every one."
She was scarcely suffering now; her mind was numb. Nature often provides for the victim of a great mental shock such an anesthetic as was stupefying Frossie.
A breeze stole in through the window. She seemed to float, half-disembodied, in the perfume of the garden. At least, that afternoon in the Cascine he had pressed one kiss upon her lips.
But as the sun declined, this lethargy wore off; her senses awoke to the nightmare of reality. He was there, on the point of leaving her forever, perhaps already gone, and she not with him! How could they have been so cruel as to trick her into this desertion! Struggling to her feet, she perceived that she was not alone: Mr. Goodchild and Thallie rose quickly from the chairs covered with butterflies and monkeys.
She pushed past him. There was nothing for the others to do but follow. In the cab Thallie drew a scarf around her sister's bare head-the same scarf that Frossie had once used to see what sort of bridal-veil best suited her. Mr. Goodchild, on the folding-seat, still clutched in his hand the tumbler half full of potassium bromide.
They regained the hospital.
This time they were ushered into an anteroom boasting an uncomfortable-looking leather couch, on which the surgeon in charge advised Frossie to lie down. It would be impossible, he said, to see Camillo at present. The patient was still unconscious; to disturb him might be immediately fatal.
Aurelius pleaded that
Frossie only wanted to sit beside the bed in silence. But the surgeon, after glancing at her again, clicked his tongue by way of polite refusal.
"Later," he promised, "when the signorina is in a calmer state of mind."
Somehow Aurelius had got hold of a time-table. Running his finger along the lines of type, he murmured:
"The telegram must have been delivered hours ago. If they caught the three o'clock train-"
But the time-table shook in his hand so that he could no longer read it.
Shadows crept into the anteroom: dusk was falling on this day that had been longer than a century. The old doorporter brought in a lighted lamp, and, carefully lifting up his feet, withdrew with a sigh. Out of doors, young men passed, singing, from their work, gay, brisk, assured of many years of vigor.
Those in the anteroom became aware that the surgeon was standing before them. "He is conscious. I see no reason to hope that his parents can arrive in time. Signorina, I am not going to keep you from him any longer. You would like to see him alone for a few moments, perhaps? Then for the present I will ask you, Signore, and the other young lady, to wait here. Give yourself the trouble to come with me, Signorina."
Again she passed through the long corridor. She reëntered the sick-room.
Camillo was stretched on his back, the coverlet pulled up to his chin, his head turned toward the door. In his countenance, unscarred, but curiously emaciated, and whiter than the pillow, his large, dark eyes, wide-open, burned with a desperate anxiety. But when he perceived that it was Frossie who had come to him, his look changed; the lines across his brow relaxed, on his ashen lips appeared the vague likeness of a smile.
Now her face leaned close to his; his eyes expressed something more awesome than an earthly ardor; their breath mingled as the almost inaudible utterance was exchanged:
And she pressed on his half-open mouth the second kiss, which evoked, in the midst. of their dolor, a thousand whirling scenes of bliss that they were never to attain.
"My Camillo! My Camillo!"
She wrapped her hands around his head; she kissed him again and again, with a frantic greediness that strove to wrest from Death enough sweet agony to last a lifetime. Her breath entered his throat she wanted to inform his shattered body with all that was vital in her, so that he might live and she die, or, at least, so that he, in passing on, might take something of her with him. Then she fastened her mouth to his as if in that way she could keep his spirit from escaping. But soon, raising her head, she cast upward a glare of wild defiance, ready to match her love against those great invisible forces that were loosening his mortal bonds. She encountered the eyes of another.
Beyond the bed a nun was sitting, coiffed in white linen, a prayer-book in her hands. The restricted oval of that face divulged a puerile beauty wherein worldly experience had left no mark; one saw the features of a congenital devotee, who had made contact with the violent passions only in such hours as this. Now, however, one surprised in her a look more complex than pitying, more subtle than remonstrative-a look of rapt, frightened speculation, as who should dare to say, "This that I see is terrible, yet is it nothing more?" But the pale young nun was no sooner aware of Frossie's gaze than she averted her eyes dilated with that forbidden wonderment. And before the other could have read her thoughts, her lips, which trembled slightly, were once more forming the Latin phrases of the prayerbook.
Smoothing from Camillo's brow the crisp, black curls, Frossie whispered:
"I want you to know that there will never be another! I swear to you that these kisses are the last!"
His voice, as if coming, by a miracle, from far away, responded:
"No, you are young."
"I have always been yours. I shall be yours forever. There are not two loves like this in life."
"You are young. I make you free. I want you to be happy."
"I shall never be happy again."
All his remaining strength seemed to permeate his voice as he replied, louder than before:
"How can I go with that thought? I have brought you so much misery when I meant only happiness! I must think that some time it may be repaired. A little home, an honest man, good children-you were made for that. I am not jealous. I am past such things. There is nothing left in me now but love and anxiety for you."
As a result of this speech his forehead was beaded with sweat. The light in his eyes seemed to flicker and grow dim, till she cried in breaking accents:
"I shall come to you as I am!"
"Yes," he panted, "let us hope for that meeting. But, after all, who knows what lies over there? Perhaps I can believe, if you will hold my hand. Ah, I forgot—”
And he cast a blind glance downward toward his body, inert, seemingly diminished beneath the coverlet, shrouded to the shoulders.
"Poor Campoformio! Do not blame him!" Presently, lifting his eyelids, he went on more rapidly, in staccato tones: "I telephoned to the railroad station: they said it had not arrived. But mama will bring it. She must hurry, though, for I'm going to confer with the king. Hark! Is that he already? Turn out, the whole platoon! Plotone, presentat' arm! Trumpeters, the royal fanfare! His Majesty is coming with my brevet!"
The nun rose to her feet. Camillo's roving stare was arrested by her white coif. He said gently:
"What are you doing here, Sister? You ought to be back in the field ambulance. Here the bullets are as thick as bees. Aim lower, ragazzi! A carbine is n't a telescope; there are no Arabs in the moon! Ha! There it goes at last: saddles and
lances! Now, then! Stirrup to stirrup! Avanti! Savoia!"
The nun went quickly to the door and called the surgeon. Frossie turned Camillo's head between her hands, so that his wandering gaze might rest on her. His glistening visage softened at her touch. He murmured:
"As late as that? We have been happy enough for one time, is it not so? Now, dear, let us go to sleep."
His eyes closed. His breathing was almost imperceptible.
The physician remained aloof, leaning against the door-post. The nun, kneeling down on the stone pavement, repeated the prayers for the dying. There entered through a window, from the darkness, the faint hubbub of the city. Near at hand, a confused, pervasive rustling swelled forth, the sound of many branches swaying in the evening breeze, like the rumor of innumerable softly moving wings. After a while, from the artillery-barracks to the west, came faintly a bugle-call, the ritirata. But even at this sound Camillo did not stir.
So finally Frossie gave the last kiss of all, a kiss so long, so clinging, so full of the agony of loneliness, that Camillo, wherever he had gone, must certainly have felt it.
All that night and all the next day she lived in a daze. Faces appeared and disappeared before her; voices whispered, "If only she would cry!" They brought her food, which she refused, and visitingcards. She read the names, "Tenente Benevenuto Fava, Cavalleria di Magenta; Tenente Ruggero Azeglio, Cavalleria di Magenta; Colonnello delle Bande Rosse, Cavalleria di Magenta," and so on. But when she saw the card marked with a baron's coronet and inscribed, "Di Campoformio," she slowly tore up the bristol and let the fragments flutter to the floor. The old Count and Countess Olivuzzi had arrived in Florence. Aurelius asked Frossie if she could bear to meet Camillo's mother.
"Is it necessary?" she asked. "Can't I see her at the funeral?"
Aurelius told her that there was to be a military service in the duomo, and afterward a cortège through the city to the cemetery; but among the Italian nobility it was not the custom for ladies to attend such obsequies.
Frossie pondered this information for a while.
"So they want to shut us out from that? But the man who killed him will be present, I suppose?" Soon she asked, "Is his mother with him now?"
"Yes, poor woman!"
"Then I won't disturb her. I had him living; I ought to let her have him dead. Besides, he is not there."
The second night, also, Frossie scarcely slept. The dawn found her at the window, listening for the duomo bells. There she suffered a collapse; for Thallie, waking, found her huddled in her night-dress on the red tiles. Reviving, she asked for her slippers and a kimono, so that she could go to him at once. They put her to bed and sent for a physician. When the latter had gone, she asked:
"Did you send the flowers?"
But when Mr. Goodchild had been absent for an hour, all at once she sat up in bed, alert, staring at Thallie. "Hark!"
She had heard the faint tolling of the bells.
"Come, help me to dress. I am going to the church."
"Oh, Frossie! You heard what dad said!"
"What are rules of etiquette to me?" Ten minutes later she was on her way to the duomo in a cab.
The bells were still tolling when the cab reached the center of the city. But suddenly the coachman reined in his horse. Down the street, from the direction of the duomo, was wafted a muffled blare, the sound of a military band.
The cortège had already left the church. There came scuffling along the roadway a herd of shabby men and children in advance of the procession. Behind them followed the band of the Magenta Cav
alry, afoot, playing the funeral march. The notes of the horns rose high, then sank to a profound vibration through which one heard the pathos of flutes and the despondent thud of drums. Again the brass instruments emitted their melodious wail, as if expressing an irremediable sadness. And that measured rhythm was. emphasized by the tread of many feet in unison, as ranks of dismounted troopers, swaying from side to side, passed slowly by.
Now the music was mingled with a gabble of voices: brown monks came dragging their sandaled feet and voicing responsive prayers. Each held in his hand a wax torch; the inky smoke, caught up from the fat flames, was swiftly dispelled. On high a silver crucifix flashed in a shredding cloud of incense.
The Florentines, packed on the footpaths, began to doff their hats; the catafalque appeared, its tall canopy of black velvet oscillating, the silver fringes quivering. In front paced an elderly, smoothshaven man in a black three-cornered hat, a short black apron, and black kneebreeches and stockings. He was the regimental chaplain.
The catafalque was passing. At the four corners, where slender pillars, wound with silver, ascended to the canopy, the curtains of velvet were gathered in, so
that the interior might be revealed. There, rising from a mass of fading flowers, an oblong, rectangular bulk showed its outline through a velvet pall, on the top of which lay a long, straight sword and a lancer's brass helmet, high-crested, bearing across its front the cross of Savoy.
Behind the catafalque, in advance of still more troops, came walking at random many men in uniform and mufti: Toto Fava, Azeglio, and others of the Lancers of Magenta, Campoformio in a black coat, his thin hair tousled. But in the place of honor two went arm-in-arm, their uncovered heads bowed forward-Aurelius and a thick-set gentleman with white mustaches brushed straight up from his lips, who stared into space like an old lion that has received his death-blow.
But Frossie, leaning from the cab, still peered after the departing catafalque, in which the brass helmet glimmered amid the smoke of incense. A low cry burst from her:
"I can't even see my flowers! I left my glasses at home!"
And at last she began to weep. And she continued to weep when the cortège had passed into a haze of dust, and all the while that the cab was bearing her back through the city to the Pension Schwandorf.
(To be continued)
The New Motherhood
By RUTH COMFORT MITCHELL
F she had lived a little while ago
She would be wearing tranquil caps of lace, Withdrawing gently to her quiet place, Sighing remotely at the world's drab woe. To-day she fronts it squarely as her foe,
Not from the ingle-nook, but face to face,
The world in terms of home. Set free to flower-
In broader, all-embracing motherhood,
Calm with the years and ardent with the hour,
America's Golden Age in Poetry
HERE is no more hopeful sign of
the advancement of a new age of artistic appreciation in this country than the recent genuine renaissance of native and vigorous poetry, blazing new trails for itself in realism, fantasy, form, and method.
The best of this work is based upon the craftsman's knowledge of his craft and his clear-sighted study of the poetic "old masters," though the modern poet shows his individuality in two distinct ways. He is either a merciless and challenging realist or weaves new and gorgeous patterns upon the loom of fancy, rejecting old poetic phrase, the age-long-pigeonholed "fit expression" for a given theme, shaping out of the flexible, slang-accreted language of the day a new poetic diction full of pith and "brimmed with nimbler meanings up." Thus, mixed metaphorically, some idea may be given of his enthusiastic and hearty modern method. The question of form I shall soon touch upon.
The modern poet is not in the least afraid of seeming absurd or extravagant. He welcomes the rapier of the humorist, the bludgeon of the dogmatist. He demands of his poetry that it have his own life in its veins, not the galvanization of Cheops dead or a thin essence from the veins of the ghost of Keats. It must vibrate, for better or for worse, with a living personality. So form is less to the modern American poet than it was to most of his forefathers. Not that breaking
through forms is anything new. Why, it was Marlowe's "Tamburlaine" that began a reaction against the "jigging vein of rhyming mother wits" in Elizabethan England! And already in America the new vigor of its poets has produced four books at least successful in experiment, intense in individuality, and a nucleus for further enterprising poetry of the future: these are "Sword Blades and Poppy Seed" by Amy Lowell, "North of Boston" by Robert Frost, "The Congo" by Vachel Lindsay, and "The Spoon River Anthology" by Edgar Lee Masters. The writer believes sincerely that work as daring and distinctive as this is more a product of the modern spirit in America-far morethan a mere imitation of modern English or European forms and methods, though something be owing to the latter. There is an intoxication about the way our contemporary poets fling themselves into a dauntless quest for self-expression. One sees it in the intensely modern work of James Oppenheim, Louis Untermeyer, Conrad Aiken, and Carl Sandburg; and, on the other hand, in the quite classic work of Thomas Walsh, whose recently published "Pilgrim Kings" contains those tapestried narratives of the Spanish painters El Greco, Goya, Velasquez, several of which first appeared in this magazine, narratives revealing the psychology and humanity of the subject with deft touches that make the reader recognize another ardent and subtle individuality mounted in the lists.
For, after all, the only thing necessary to make a book of poetry enthralling is that the true, particular flavor of an unusually keen observer's personality inhabit its pages.
Then we can choose as we choose dishes at the table. But what I insist upon is that the modern American poet is far more than ever before a student of his own particular possibilities. He will do anything rather than conform to any