Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Every one who has passed a Regent Street you?" he asks, presently—“a game at six-andphotographer's window must do that,” answers sixty for your amusement in winter, three weeks Wolfgang evasively.

of mineral-water drinking for your summer dissi“ Those horrible photographers! We talked pation, and a good marital stocking on the knitjust now of the education of pain. The number ting-pins at all times—such a lot, let us say, as of times I have been forced to sit for my portrait would fall to the mistress, did she exist, of Schloss may be set, I should hope, against a few of my Egmont ?" sins."

“Schloss Egmont? I should die, I should Have been forced," repeats the master, itali- commit suicide, if I remained another six weeks cizing the words somewhat pointedly. “I can in that hideous place !” In her desire to appease imagine it coming among a fashionable Beauty's Wolfgang's prophetic jealousy, Vivian allows hersorrows to be stared at by the mob, copied by the self for once to speak as she feels, without let or milliners, interviewed by correspondents of pro- hindrance. “Those howling woods! Those povvincial newspapers. Surely there can be no law erty-stricken gardens! (The peasants are right, in England compelling her to sit, against her will, I am sure. Every kind of ghostly demon must to the photographers; and surely,” adds Wolf- inhabit them.) The suites of rooms, each more gang, “there must be a law in England to re- chill, more comfortless than the other! And the strain the photographers from making a traffic of portraits, no doubt of faded Fraus von Egmont, her likeness."

on the walls ! And the atrabilious drawing-room It would seem that Miss Vivash desires not to curtains ! And the visits from the Frau Pastor ! pursue the question.

And Ange! And Jeanne!” " I am sick of the name of Beauty as I am And in another day or two, the society of sick of the whole life it involves,” she exclaims, Count Paul von Egmont himself ?” suggests with pretty irrelevance—" mob, special corre- Wolfgang, with emphasis. Do not omit the spondents, photographers, St. James's Street, and part of Hamlet from the play." all. I am sick of being fed on sugar-candy, of Miss Vivash hesitates; she trifles, coyly irbeing sprinkled with rose-water. I want the resolute, with the bracelet on her wrist. In the solid fireside joys that come to other people nat- hand of an expert coquette, silence is to speech urally.” And as she says this there is an un- what shadow is to light. She who understands mistakable tremor in her voice. “I want to be it not is ignorant of the very chiaroscuro of her as I was in pa's quiet little Devonshire village, craft. Can a confession from the loveliest pair only with one heart to care for me, one pair of of lips extant rival in sweetness the avowal that eyes to look on me as a woman—not a London silence masks, and that the vanity of man's nasight, like the infant hippopotamus at the Zoologi- ture can construe as he wills? cal, or Madame Tussaud's latest waxwork mur- “I think,” so at last she speaks, in fluttering derer."

accents, and not trusting her eyes to meet WolfShe wants—to set her foot upon another neck! gang's, “ that for once, for this night only, as the Sated though she declares herself to be of rose- acting people say, it would refresh one to specuwater celebrity, the pastime of breaking simple late, like Maud Muller, on the pleasant mighthearts has not for certain lost its zest. She have-beens of life! London and all the people would enjoy the pain even of an obscure Ger- belonging to it, Schloss Egmont and all the peoman professor ere she dismiss him and his pas- ple belonging to it, do not, to my mind, come sion from her thoughts for ever. The greed of under the name of pleasant.” conquest has, in truth, reached a point in Vivian “The happiest hours I have known have been Vivash at which it becomes a moral disease. spent within the four hideous walls, in the povShe lives only to be admired—honestly, if pos- erty-stricken gardens that surround Schloss Egsible, but admired; and if a victim draw back, mont,” retorts the master. would overstep the limits of self-respect rather His voice reflects loyally the flood of strong than see him break, scathless, from her toils. feeling at his heart. Poor victim! Surely the

But Wolfgang's heart is tough. Surrender, end can not be far off, now. A man exchanging no doubt he will—-yes, in this very forthcoming warm sentiments with Beauty, at such an hour, “evil quarter of an hour!” But not without a in Beauty's present plastic mood, must have adstruggle. He knows most of the world's capi- vanced tolerably far along the road to executals, from the outside, at least, possibly he may tion! have learned a few of the world's ways in his The happiest hours you have known have day; have come across women of equal beauty been spent at Schloss Egmont?” she repeats, with this one, and of equal worth !

with an air of bewitching consciousness. Sure“You talk of a little Devonshire village-how ly you do not reckon any of the hours you have would the quiet of German country life suit spent there, lately?"

a

“Quite lately, Miss Vivash. Now, in fact, during this present month of July."

CHAPTER XVI. “ And alone, of course; alone, with your own

LOST LENORE. thoughts, or with those wild books of German poetry, that must so delightfully take you out of The master is moved beyond his wont; icethis dull, prosaic world! Schiller and Heine” cold are the looks of Beauty. Her lips have lost (one feels unwillingly convinced that Beauty's their smiles, her brow wears the peculiar heavisculptured lips say Heiner), “ and the rest! Oh, ness which at times prophesies what the godMr. Wolfgang,” impulsively, “ those are just the dess's face will be when the bloom of youth, the higher interests that I need! Pursuits, studies, glow of conscious power, no longer lighten it. some one of superior mind to guide me, to save

In spite of all your discouragement, I am me from myself! I'm sure I don't know how I afraid I shall continue to hope,” Wolfgang redare speak in this open way, but you seem so like marks, after a pause, and with a certain doggedan old and valued friend that I take courage. ness of tone: Tell me, you don't quite disbelieve in me-you think there may be better capabilities in me than

• Wer zum ersten Male liebt, anything my artificial life of frivolity has called

Seis auch glüdlos, ist ein Gott; forth?”

Aber wer zum zweiten Male, And as though swayed irresistibly by some

Glüdlo8 liebt, Der ist ein Narr.' current of strong feeling, she rests a white hand,

"Or, to put it in English doggerel: for a couple of seconds or more, on Wolfgang's arm.

• The man by love betrayed As a bit of acting, the impulse is excellent.

A god may be ; Jeanne has not been overmuch affected by the

Betray him a second time, stock sentiment, the carefully learned glances

A fool is he!' and attitudes of the love-struck Duchess of Carrara. At this moment, words, gestures, alike “I am at an age, Miss Vivash, when a man struck off at white heat, she feels that her rival does not willingly admit to himself that he has is an artist.

been made a fool.” Is Wolfgang acting a part too ?-a more seri- Vivian shrugs her shoulders carelessly. The ous one than Vivian's, but still a part, in which quotation may be lost upon her. She can scarcevanity rather than passion holds the master- ly be so poor a physiognomist as to misjudge the place?

expression of the master's face. Alas! Such details matter not to Jeanne. "Hope is a cheap amusement, Mr. WolfShe is nothing to him. And this picturesque gang.” (The remark, still more the tone in which situation, this sample of a reigning Beauty's it is made, savor of acrimony.) “Unfortunately, every-day sensations, is the turning-point in her there is too little of Micawber in my temperafate; just that! Standing here, metaphorically ment for me to indulge in it. I see events and and literally, in the cold, a miserable, unwilling men (women also) as they are, and never expect listener, Jeanne feels that all the best half of her- anything to “turn up' in life but the disagreeself-her girlhood, light-heartedness, hope—have able." died a sudden, violent death; that from this hour And you extend these pessimist doctrines to forth she will be about on a level, as regards en- other people ? You positively refuse to see any joyment of life, with Ange—or lower, perhaps, future good in store for me? Remember, Miss by reason of the interminable vista of days that Vivash, that, although all this may seem a farce stretch out gray and changeless before her! to you, to me it is a matter of life and death."

The principal actors—in this farce, or tragedy She laughs—the little laugh of affected scorn —which?—move, ere long, away; and advanc- Jeanne knows so well. ing a pace or two from the wet shrubs, out of "Life and death dependent upon a girl's cathe pouring rain, Jeanne resolves stoutly to hold price! A girl with no other dowry," her pain in check, to confront whatever immedi- Than youth, grace, sweetness,” Wolfgang ate ordeal lies before her. But even this respite interrupts her. “You should look upon me with is brief. Before five minutes are over, Miss Vi- pity rather than contempt, Miss Vivash. If, as vash and her companion return once more to you make me suspect, I am a fool, I shall have their former position, and once more Jeanne is to pay dearly for my folly, depend upon itforced to listen.

change, I shall not." That a climax of some kind has been reached “ You have my most sincere pity, my friend," during these five minutes, it needs but a glance answers Vivian, “as regards your past, your at the two faces to discern.

present, and your future-above all, your future.

[ocr errors]

60

“Save us from our answered prayers !' as some That Wolfgang has declared his love, and one or another wisely said."

been rejected, she accepts as a certainty, although • You do not hold to any old-fashioned doc- the actual words of his declaration were unheard trines about wedded happiness ?” he asks. by her. That, in spite of Vivian's cold worldli

“In the cooing of turtle-doves, the sweetness ness, he will continue faithful to his folly, she of barley-sugar temples? Well, yes. I dare can not, dare not doubt. “Although to you this say such things are pleasant enough-while they may seem a farce, to me it is a matter of life and last!"

death. Although I may be a fool, although I “And the love that comes when the cooing may have to pay dearly for my folly—change I of turtle-doves, when barley-sugar temples, are shall not.” Do not his own confessions shut out things of the past ? ”

the possibility of disbelief? A gesture of Vivian's white hand expresses as Well, and let him be true or false, a fool or much condensed cynicism as would spread over a wise, Jeanne Dempster must live on, must brave dozen pages, printed small, of in Rochefoucauld. a hundred human faces, now, in yonder lighted

“I am not a sentimentalist, Mr. Wolfgang, noisy Kursaal, and make no sign that the heart once and for all. I am seasoned wood; I look within her breast is dead ! at the world without blinkers. Every penniless She will not give herself time for cowardice. love-match I ever took the trouble to watch, I She stops not to consider what sensation her wet have seen end in grief-naturally. How can it clothes, her tear-stained cheeks are likely to create be otherwise? When people are married, each among the pink-and-white beauties of the ballyear they live brings heavier inevitable expenses room-nay, it seems to her that she derives a ceron their shoulders. A woman's dress is costly tain forlorn satisfaction from the sense of her own in exact proportion to her age. (I went about uncomeliness. Approaching nearer the light, she in one gown,” muses poor Beauty, “ straight sees that the clock above the entrance of the through the best balls of my first season. And Kursaal points to three quarters past ten. In all the fine ladies copied me! I know a great another fifteen minutes the ball will be over; let deal too much of human nature to go about in one her sick heart in this, at least, find a shade of gown now.) Then, unless the wife is a regular comfort. The fiddlers, even now, are tightening failure, she will look forward constantly to being their strings preparatory to the final dance. more invited out, to entertaining more, to having What are her chances of a partner? she asks better equipages, richer jewels. Love ! unless the herself, ingeniously self-torturing, after the manhusband has an ample balance at his banker's, ner of the miserable. Wolfgang, Sir Christopher, how can love exist, I should like to know, amid thin-waisted, supercilious Baden officers—which the wear and tear of daily anxieties like these?” among them all will come forward as the squire

Are you administering a wholesome bitter of the forlorn and draggled Cinderella, who is -speaking in parable -- for my good ?” says about to put in an appearance upon the scene ? Wolfgang. “Or do you, in earnest, believe that She walks boldly past the range of windows, human life contains nothing of higher worth, of makes her way in (readily enough, when people keener delight, than equipages, jewels, and in- discover the dripping condition of her raiment), vitation-cards ?"

through the crowded vestibule, and enters the “I believe,” says Vivian, with an unstifled ballroom. The first figure her eyes light upon is yawn, “ that, unless one wants to be rheumatic Miss Vivash. The Beauty is talking with an air for the rest of one's mortal days, it would be well of confidence to Lady Pamela at the farther end to go back to the ballroom. What a climate !” of the saal. Wolfgang, looking pale and dis(peeping forth, with a shudder, at the grand, dark turbed, stands apart, speaking to no one, near heavens, through whose dome, at one solitary the door. point, a star already shines). “If this is a nor- He sees his pupil in an instant, and crosses mal German July, what must December be like over to her side. -a succession of Decembers, enlivened by six- • Miss Dempster, my little Jeanne, this is a and-sixty, Frau Pastors, and the eternal stock- relief, indeed! But you are cold” (whether the ing? And to think there are thousands—for girl repulse him or not, he rests his hand on hers). aught I know, millions of sentient beings con- “You must be drenched to the skin in that light demned to drone out their days, even by courtesy frock of yours. What, in Gottes namen, have one can not say to live, in the Fatherland !"

you been doing, child ? " She turns brusquely away, the master in du- “I have been taking a lesson," answers tiful attendance; and stiff, cramped, drenched to Jeanne, with a mighty effort, keeping her voice the skin, Jeanne Dempster crawls forth out of her from quivering. “ There are a few things to place of concealment, and watches their depar- learn in the world, you know, sir, besides Euclid ture.

and Latin verbs."

[ocr errors]

Wolfgang looks at her with unsmiling lips, The sentence, unhappily for Jeanne's peace, with grave, mistrustful eyes.

remains a fragment. At this instant a suppliant “A singular kind of lesson that has kept you for her hand, a victim to her drenched and merout in such weather, at such an hour of the night maid charms, crosses the room, and with figure as this, and alone!”

bent at an acute right angle, with hands stiffly “And suppose I was not alone?" she answers glued down to his sides, stands, after the manner curtly. “Suppose, until half an hour ago, that of academy-taught cavaliers, before her. Sir Christopher Marlowe was good enough to be “ Kann ich die Ehre haben "—so in a sepulmy companion?”

chral voice he addresses her—"Kann ich die “Sir Christopher!” repeats Wolfgang, glanc- Ehre haben, Gnädiges Fräulein ?" ing across the room at the Bond Street perfec- The new-comer is an immensely tall, conspicutions of the little London dandy; "why, Sir ously ugly university student, distantly known, Christopher Marlowe would melt away bodily in by reason of his kinship with the Katzenellenone of our Black Forest thunder-showers." bogen family, to Jeanne and Ange; a Herr Graf

“When one is in pleasant society, Mr. Wolf- possessing Tittel ohne Mittel, like most of the gang, the accidents of wind and rain may be for- Schwarzwald nobles, and of lineage too high, of gotten, as you, surely, ought to know."

prejudices too stiff, to seek partners among the Jeanne believes herself to speak with a toler- rosy-cheeked bourgeois daughters of Freiburg or ably successful show of Pippancy. Something, at Mühlheim. Three or four tolerably recent duelany rate, in her tone or in her mention of Sir slashes traverse his cadaverous face; his faxen Christopher, produces an effect on Wolfgang. hair-long and parted down the center of his

“ If Sir Christopher is ready to bear the blame, head, like the hair of Ary Scheffer's heroes—is I, of course, may be silent,” he remarks, some- drawn tightly behind his ears. He affects black what coldly. "Otherwise, as I shall have to an- gloves, too long in the fingers; shows an untold swer to Mademoiselle Ange to-morrow for your length of throat; wears Lord Byron collars, a illness—"

white cravat, a cutaway riding-coat, and spurs ! “Oh, my illness !” exclaims Jeanne, turning And Jeanne turns shortly aside from Wolfaside from him impatiently. “Do I look, the gang. With her passion-strung heart just prevery least in the world, like a person who is pared to overflow and relent, she smiles upon going to be ill?”

this saber-slashed apparition as though he were “ You do not,” is Wolfgang's reply; "you a creature of light, rests her head with a little look like a person who is ill already. Your poor willing gesture on his arm, and resigns herself little pinched face is white as death, with a crim- for the remainder of the evening to his guidson spot on either cheek; your eyes are glassy, ance! your lips blue.”

Lenore's Death Galop is the music chosen for “What a seductive picture!” cries Jeanne, the final dance: wildest, eeriest strains that ever this time with a laugh 'twould go to your heart entered into the heart of German composer to to hear. “Who will offer himself as my partner, weave. The student glides an

arm around I wonder, for the next dance ? for I hope I shall Jeanne's wet waist, he shakes back his lint-white dance it! I hope a day of such wild pleasure as locks, holds his head aloft, extends his left hand this has been will wind up bravely!”

horizontally in space, and in another moment “I believe I am, or was, engaged, after a fash- they are off. One glimpse the girl catches of her ion,” Wolfgang remarks, after glancing at a pro- master's grave face as he watches them depart; gramme that hangs suspended from his button- one glimpse she has of Vivian, looking on at the hole. “ But, if you will accept me, Miss Demp- little scene with chill composure, with half-closed, ster, I am ready to forswear myself. You and I indifferent eyes ; and then until the galop is finhave never danced together, have we?” ished, during the space of a dozen or more mad

“No, we have had the good fortune hitherto minutes, she sees no more. to find other partners,” Jeanne answers bitterly. The Bohemian bandsmen play quick, even ac" It would be rather late in the day to mend now. cording to their national ideas of dancing speed. Besides, sir, why should my conscience be made The strides of the specter student outstrip their to bear the guilt of your perjuries?"

strains. Once only in Jeanne Dempster's life beA glow of telltale indignation suffuses her fore has she experienced such velocity-once, at face, her lips tremble. As Wolfgang watches the age of seven, when her nurse allowed her the her steadily, the dawning of some new, not un- supreme bliss of a whirl in a merry-go-round at welcome truth seems to break upon him. Freiburg Fair. No matter that her limbs feel

“ If I am ready to bear the guilt myself," he heavy, that her breath comes thick. Fast, faster, whispers, “will you dance with me? It is never in her wet clothes, with jealous despair, cold and too late in the day to return to one's first—" sick at her heart, she is borne:

[ocr errors]

“ Und immer weiter, hop, hop, hop !

Jeanne is emphatically not a heroine ; no, not Ging's fort, in fausenden Galopp."

even the heroine proper of this little history; and The music is of the order styled descriptive.

the sequel to her Badenweiler adventures is comTo Jeanne's overwrought vision it seems that she monplace, exceedingly. She awakes next mornis actually following the death-ride of Lost Le- ing sound as a bell, in health, not an ache in head

or limb, not an accelerated beat of the pulse, but nore. The “Rapp Rapp" of the ghostly cock

with her voice gone. crowing, the hurras of fleshless Wilhelm, the " Hu Hu" of the pursuing skeletons—she hears

Elspeth, coming into the girl's chamber, acthem all; now shiveringly low, now wildly with a “Guten Morgen” hoarse as the utterance

cording to custom, soon after sunrise, is accosted shrieked forth by the topmost notes of clarionets

of a strangled raven, and summons Mamselle and horns. Not once does the long-limbed student pause of Jeanne's frock and shoes reveals the state in

Ange, in haste, upon the scene. An inspection for breath!

which she returned home last night from her Quick ride the dead; he follows their example. The plumed and ribboned haus-mutters

day's merry-making, and the sentence pronounced who line the ballroom walls turn into charnel- upon her is brief. She shall remain in her bed, crowds before Jeanne's excited imagination. She

drink Haferschleim, and take aconite globules

until her voice returns; yes, although twenty feels faint! She glances up in vain appeal to her

private theatricals, although the home-coming of partner!

He carries no scythe and hour-glass; the twenty Counts von Egmont, were imminent. flesh as yet has not fallen from his bones, as it

"Nearly all pulmonary disorders," says Ange, fell from Wilhelm's, but his cadaverous complex

oracularly, as though she were on the rostrum of ion waxes paler and paler as they fly; the saber. a lecture-room,“ begin in the throat. If Jeanne's wounds show ghastlier :

throat be not affected, her hoarseness must arise

from the bronchia” (second only to her proficien“ Und immer weiter, hop, hop, hop !

cy in matters doctrinal does Ange rate her own Ging'8 fort, in fausenden Galopp."

knowledge of the human frame), “if not from the

bronchia, worse still, from the lungs.” In any Sick and reeling, Jeanne is kept on her legs to

case she shall remain prisoner, if refractory, be the last : when the final crash of fiddles has spent visited by the Herr Doctor Gregorius, from Freiitself, is dropped, not like hapless Lenore into a burg, and, as the Herr Doctor's first order would living grave, but among a feather-bed group of be to shut every window in the house, his second dowagers on an ottoman, and there left to come

to pile the patient high in feather-bed counterback to consciousness as she may. Through all the future nightmare of her life, ions of Lindenbluthen Thee, Jeanne obeys; not,

panes, and the third to make her swallow galwhenever her brain shall be in a condition to perhaps, without a lurking curiosity as to the shape sinister memories into evil dreams, that emotions that shall be awakened in the different Lenore galop, played by the Badenweiler band, members of the Egmont Incapables by her abdanced with her specter-student partner, must, of a surety, come to the fore.

“ It is nothing catching—you give me your assurance that it is going to be nothing catching?" So, toward mid-day, she hears Vivian holding

parley with Ange outside the door. “Of course, CHAPTER XVII.

if one had even a suspicion of fever, or diphtheEFFACED.

ria, or anything of the kind, it would be right to

have the girl removed out of the house at once. To the mind of any legitimate heroine the Nothing in the world I have such a horror of as propriety of falling ill must, at this point of Jeanne contagion. Now, I do rely on you—I may venDempster's career, present itself. A recreant ture in with safety ? " lover, a successful rival, a thunderstorm, and a And, holding a handkerchief saturated with wetting, are circumstances to which, about the essences to her nose, the Beauty enters the room, end of the second volume, no heroine with a de- seats herself gingerly at about a foot distant cent sense of the responsibilities of her position from the door, and desires that both the windows could fail to succumb. Will not the process of may be set open in order to insure a draught sickening fill a hundred pages, her convalescence above the patient's head. another hundred, her last hours, or the lover's If little Jeanne were suffering from plague, reconciliation-according to whether the roman- pestilence, and famine combined, Miss Vivash tic taste of the hour inclines toward good or bad could not show more prompt and tender soliciendings"-a third ?

tude—for her own safety!.

sence.

66

« AnkstesnisTęsti »