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"I hear, through Evans, you have lost your voice, Jeanne, and really you might have had a little more consideration, as I had agreed to your attempting a leading part! A radical change of characters will be the only measure open to us. Now, do you mean to tell me you can not speak at all?"
Faintly Jeanne tries to answer that she supposes, if she take very good care of herself, that she may get her voice back by to-morrow, growing exceedingly hot and red as she makes the effort.
meaning. "That is what I came here to tell you. The theatricals are fixed for Saturday, tomorrow. Will you be well enough to take your part, or will you not?"
Jeanne whispers to Ange, who repeats aloud, for Vivian's benefit, that she hopes to take her part if she gets her voice back sufficiently.
"Oh, but 'ifs' and 'hopes' don't do in emergencies of this kind," interrupts Vivian coolly. 'You must decide positively, and at once, whether you will have voice enough to act or not. Mr. Wolfgang comes over to a dress rehearsal this
Vivian recedes hastily in the direction of the evening." Jeanne feels the pale eyes rest on her
"To me you appear feverish, disagreeably feverish; the same kind of red, swollen look round the eyes that you had last night when you were dancing. I do hope I am running no risk in coming here, the medical men all declare that I have such an exquisitely sympathetic organization; sensitive as iodine to light,' the great Sir Leo Smith has been known to say of me! Are you sure you have had the common childish complaints-measles, nettle-rash, whooping-cough?"
"I have never had small-pox," gasps Jeanne, hoarsely; and yet with sufficient malicious distinctness to make the color fade from Beauty's cheek.
"Small-pox! Horrors!" she ejaculates, gathering her skirts around her with a gesture of affright.
"Small - pox! Fiddlesticks!" cries Ange, crossing over to the girl's pillow. "Jeanne was vaccinated when she first came under my care as a baby, and again at fourteen. Not that revaccination is much of a protection from the disease. I recollect a laundry-maid of my dear mother's dying of it, who had been vaccinated regularly (or who said she had, for sad things were found out afterward as to her character, and we knew her to be unreliable about the starch) every seven years. If you are frightened at these things, Miss Vivash, you go the straightest road toward catching them. Every one remembers about the prisoners and the cholera-beds, though I call it murder! Cause of science or no, such an experiment should never have been made in a Christian country; and, as to Jeanne's illness, why, her temperature is normal; feel her hand, if you want to convince yourself how much fever the child has about her."
Miss Vivash does not avail herself of this offer. She continues on the extreme edge of her chair, ready if need be for instant flight. She watches the patient's face in silence. Something in Jeanne's expression would seem, after a time, to reassure her.
"Of course, we shall have to arrive at a decision one way or the other," she observes, with
with cruel significance at mention of the master's name. "If Laura does not choose to put in an appearance, I as stage-manager must decide what shall be done in Laura's absence."
"I think it would be generous-I think you might fairly give me four-and-twenty hours' grace," utters Jeanne, with an effort. (Ange, just at this moment, has been called out of the room by Elspeth on kitchen-business, leaving the poor child to confront her enemy alone.) "I got hoarse last winter, I remember, after the New-Year's Philharmonic Concert, and it went off after twenty-four hours, and—”
"And if it' does not go off? If it' turns, as I more than suspect will be the case, to something horrible and dangerous, what then? Do you suppose that a substitute can be found, programmes changed, dresses made up, at the last moment? Remember the hundred and fifty guests, and the twenty pairs of chickens," says Vivian, playfully; "remember the salmon from Geneva, and the pies from Strasburg, and the thunder in the air! With all the dramatic ability in the world you can not act two parts at once, my dear, the interesting invalid and the Maid of Honor, as well. It is for you to decide which you prefer !"
"I am not an invalid," gasps Jeanne, growing hoarser and hoarser; "I am not interesting, to myself or anybody else, and I do not mean to break up the theatricals. I mean to get back my voice, and act, and—”
"Well, as far as breaking up the theatricals goes," interrupts Beauty-"you don't mind my speaking quite plainly? I thought not-as far as breaking up the theatricals goes, nothing would conduce more to our success than for Lady Pamela, as I said from the first, to take the Maid of Honor. Your dress could be made to fit her-I presume you meant to wear the costume you put on one night for our edification ?—and Sir Christopher would take the part of Laura, alias the Count Cesario."
"Sir Christopher would take the part of Laura!" repeats little Jeanne, raising herself up on her elbows in her amazement.
"Yes. Capital proposal, is it not? Sir Christopher is quite too irresistible dressed as a girlfemale characters are his forte. He would bring the house down with every word, and mock flirtation between him and Lady Pamela, when Laura has disguised herself in male attire, would have a piquancy. I more than half regret, positively, that I did not keep Giulia for myself. This would only leave the part of the Grand Chamberlain vacant. Very likely Mr.-Mr.what is the Freiburg teaching-man's name?Wolfgang might find some one among his pupils to take it?"
At this mention of Wolfgang, at the intentionally impertinent hesitation with which his name is drawled forth, Jeanne's cheeks flame. She starts up in her bed, she looks at Miss Vivash fixedly.
"It is a thousand pities for himself that the Freiburg teaching-man ever had anything to do with us or our theatricals!" so she breaks forth, indignation, for the moment, lending her voice a certain husky strength.
"Oh, come, come, this will never do; you are working yourself into a fever," interrupts Vivian, rising languidly, and with a manner implying that the argument remains with her. "Drink plenty of water-gruel, my dear, or whatever paraphrase of water-gruel exists in Teuton land, keep yourself cool and collected, and be quite sure we will arrange everything for the best. Remember the adage of the nursery: 'Master Jacky can not eat the cake and have it." (This is discharged as a parting shot ere she quits the room.) "You would run about the wet gardens, yesterday, rehearsing ingénue scenes with Sir Christopher (burning your fingers, as your master sagely forewarned you). You would overdance yourself with Byronic saber-scarred German nobles, and to-day comes retribution. So are our pleasant sins ever paid for. Champagne may triumph over night. Repentance and soda-water prevail in the morning."
The Beauty's tone betrays more undisguised active rancor than usual; at which, in her ignorance, Jeanne marvels. Can it be that Vivian holds her last night's triumph incomplete? that Wolfgang, although vanquished, did not yield the full measure of incense which her slakeless thirst for conquest craves after? Does the acrimony of tongue betray some lurking sense of failure failure whereof, rightly or wrongly, she holds Jeanne's insignificant self to be the cause?
Ample leisure has Jeanne Dempster for meditation ere this weary July day be done. Sick and impatient at heart, she watches the sun creep inch by inch along her chamber-wall; she hears the lagging hours strike drowsily on St. Ulrich's
clock; she listens to the trickling of the troutstream, the wail of the wood-doves, the soughing of the forests. Alas! and for the first time since she was born, sunshine palls upon her; the sounds of stream and forest have lost their tune. For the first time she realizes the meaning of life, as the old, the sick, the sorry-the whole army of martyrs, in countless thousands-are obliged to know and to bear it! Is this one day's forced inaction a fitting prelude to the long list of days to come? Does this sudden distaste of sweet, familiar joys accurately strike the key-note of the future that lies before her?
She will not become as Mamselle Ange is! The blood of a keener-strung race, the moral fiber of a more restless generation, are in her. She will not tone down to a cheerful, garrulous state of vegetation-the flavor of raspberry vinegar, or the clearness of calves'-feet jelly for a high-water mark of duty; a game of six-andsixty, a gossip "behind the stove" with the Frau Pastor for pleasure.
Neither will she be as one of the Fräuleins Katzenellenbogen! Pinched spinsters, who, after sighing through a sentimental youth, console themselves as they go down the gray slopes of middle age with the remembrance of their father's sixteen quarterings of nobility; with the halfyearly attendance at Residenz levées; with torturing an unhappy white slave, their dame de compagnie; with lapdogs; Viennese sugarplums; provincial scandal, and French novels.
As she has sown, or rather, as the iron hand of circumstances has sown for her, so shall she reap. Seventeen years of a child's automatic contentment, a few summer weeks of awakening, a little reading of Heine's verse, a few brief passionate hopes, some poignant hours or days of pain, and then-all over! To satisfy a coquette's caprice, happiness torn roughly out of her grasp; fifty or sixty loveless years—centuries, to the hot, onward-looking spirit of youth—to be existed through!
Jeanne exists through the prelude, through the interminable stretch of July hours, as best she can. Evening brings her a faintly brightening prospect of release. Her hoarseness abates; her voice begins to strengthen. Not Ange's threats of the Herr Gregorius, not Miss Vivash, not fate itself, shall hinder her from taking her part in the theatricals, if this improvement last. Her heart may be broken; she will wear her brocaded silk, her Valencia lace above the fragments; will cover the traces of tears with rouge and rice-powder, will show a brave front before Wolfgang, before Vivian, before the whole world, to the last.
So Jeanne tells herself: reckoning without an influence more potent than the Herr Doctor's
prescription, mightier far than the sneers of forego promised pleasure; but life altogether Beauty, or than the irony of Fate!
"Mr. Wolfgang thinks that we have recast the piece to admiration," cries Lady Pamela, bursting unceremoniously into the girl's room, a little after sunset. "We have been running it all over without you, Jeanne, and we are just going to light the foot-lights, if they will light, and begin the dress rehearsal, now. You don't hear our voices, I hope? That is right. It would be such a sin to disturb you. My dear child, I wish you could see us! Sir Christopher as Laura, alias Cesario, is inimitable. I give up my Hessians to him without a sigh, the more readily, perhaps, when I remember that sweet little poudré dress of yours! You will let me run away with it now, won't you? Too short in the skirts?" (This, as poor Jeanne attempts to put in a feeble protest.) 'Oh, ankles will not matter for rehearsal, and Evans can add a flounce tomorrow, if strictly necessary. I suppose I shall find it all in the wardrobe, yonder?"
And ere Jeanne can collect herself sufficiently for resistance, the costume of the village Marchioness, carefully laid ready, with every adjunct of lace and furbelow and ribbon, is in Lady Pamela's hands.
"Pink and azure! Not quite the colors for an ingénue of nine-and-twenty. However, I must trust to bistre for my downcast eyelids, and to carmine for my modesty. It seems a shame, I must say, child" (testing a knot of ribbon against her complexion), "a crying shame that you should have none of the fun. But one must think of the guests, and the supper, and the programmes. There will be only just time, if we send to Baden to-night, to get the names altered. As Mr. Wolfgang says, it is one of those things that can not be left an open question."
"As Mr. Wolfgang says?" repeats Jeanne, feeling her powers of utterance growing stronger and stronger. 'Mr. Wolfgang is extremely good to interest himself in my concerns, and I have no doubt his recasting of the piece is admirable. But I mean to act my part. I mean to wear my dress. I mean my name to remain where it stands in the programme."
With the close of each firm, staccatoed sentence, Lady Pamela's face falls lower and lower. She is as generous, as little selfish, as the blood that runs in her veins will allow. But the blood runs there. Grapes must no man ask from thistles, nor pretty feeling more durable than powder on the wing of a butterfly from Lord Vauxhall's granddaughter. Would not poor Lady Pamela, with her half-cynical, half-pathetic outspokenness, be herself the first to tell you so? Hard, doubtless, for a child of Jeanne's age to
(who knows it better than Lady Pamela Lawless?) has a trick of being hard on most of us, and, if none piped while others wept, where were a good two thirds or more of the world's cheeriest piping?
"You think, really and truly, that there is a chance of your being well enough to act by tomorrow? I understood from Miss Vivash-" she is beginning—
"There is every chance of my being well by to-morrow," interrupts Jeanne; "the more so as I am just as well as I ever was—my hoarseness, even, gone-at this moment. As to Miss Vivash," she continues hotly, "Schloss Egmont, as yet, is not under Miss Vivash's rule. Neither am I!"
Lady Pamela tosses down Jeanne's brocades and laces on the nearest chair that comes to her hand.
"Then the theatricals, to my mind, had best be given up," she exclaims, with considerable ill humor; "just as we had every prospect, too, of assured success- The scenes between Sir Christopher and myself would be perfect, naturally! Kit Marlowe and I have been acting together all our lives-and, as Mr. Wolfgang says, the play, as art, is a vast deal better with the Grand Chamberlain struck out. But, of course, if people are determined, they are determined.”
Jeanne does not contradict this profound aphorism. A feeling deeper than balked vanity, sharper than regret over a few hours' frustrated pleasure, holds her dumb.
Taking the girl's silence as a hopeful earnest of coming surrender, Lady Pamela runs on volubly:
"I am quite as disappointed for you as you can be for yourself. You would make a delightful little Maid of Honor, in your patches and powder-although a trifle grave, perhaps ! a character in one of the Tyrolese Passion plays might suit your coloring better-and if you like to wear your dress for the dances afterward, I don't mind giving it up to you a bit. (Indeed, I more than suspect I look better in my own crimson and silver.) A heavenly notion, is it not, of utilizing Evans? Oh, I forgot, you were not present at the conclave. Mr. Wolfgang deserves the whole credit of the idea. The Grand Chamberlain is to be effaced bodily, my dear, and Evans introduced, as a dumb crambo page, to bow us all in and off the scene. We thought you would not care for a page's dress-doublet, and hose, etc. No, Mamselle Ange was sure you would not. So Mr. Wolfgang suggested Evans-Evans, amid whose manifold faults that of ultra-prudishness can not be reckoned."
"I-I think I begin to see how matters stand,"
remarks Jeanne, after a minute's reflection, a minute during which months, years of pain seem, prospectively, to cast their shadows across her heart. "It was Mr. Wolfgang's idea, you say, that the Grand Chamberlain's part should be struck out. From Mr. Wolfgang, also, came the suggestion, no doubt, that my name should be effaced from the programme?"
Mamselle Ange's faculties, like those of a general in battle, seem to quicken, her perceptions to clear, under the pressure of immediate action. She remembers her own orders for at least five minutes at a time; keeps her keys in her basket, keeps her cap on her head; and, ably seconded by the Frau Pastor Meyer, contrives ubiquitously to render miserable the life of every
Lady Pamela draws forth a folded slip of pa- serving person, male and female, throughout the per from her waist-belt.
"A tender billet-doux, of which Mr. Wolfgang asked me to be the bearer-nay, never turn so red, child, I can be discreet on occasion-let alone that the billet is written in an unknown tongue! Mr. Wolfgang feels sure, he says, that the missive will put an end to all our difficulties." And this is what the missive contains; two lines written, in German, in the rapid, firm hand Jeanne knows so well:
“MY LITTLE PUPIL: Do me a favor-the second favor I have asked of you-give up your part in the theatricals.
"And I may really take possession of your dress?" cries Lady Pamela with tardy compunction, but suiting the action to the word. "I vow this is all too bad. If it were not for my sense of honesty toward the public, I should be tempted to scratch my own name too. Brocaded petticoat, bodice, fan! Yes" (examining her borrowed plumes critically), "all the materials are here, and the only item wanting will be a face of seventeen to set them off. A pity you could not lend me that as well, Jeanne! A face of seventeen, and the heart that belongs to it.”
"You would pretty soon find that you had the worst of the bargain," answers Jeanne Dempster sorrowfully.
SATURDAY comes, and Schloss Egmont, from morn till dusk, is astir with feverish prep
The London visitors, a hasty one o'clock meal swallowed, appear no more; so intent is each member of the Bernstein Incapables upon wigs, rouge, patches, false eyebrows, paste diamonds, and sentiments to correspond! Mistress Evans haunts the staircases in picturesque disarray— Mistress Evans, amid whose manifold faults that of ultra-prudishness can not be reckoned-with pinching-irons, perukes, plumes, Hessians, and other theatrical properties in her hand. Incessant hammering resounds from the saal, where the village carpenters, tardy to the last, bestow final touches on footlights, slips, and drop-scenes. A rich dramatic flavor of oil and sawdust, inten
sified by culinary whiffs from kitchen and larder, fills the atmosphere.
As evening approaches, the avenue leading to the Schloss begins to fill with working-people; the women in their Sonntagschleife, holiday petticoats, smart kerchiefs, full white sleeves and silver jewelry; the men in gayly buttoned jackets, slouched felt hats, and long plush waistcoats, à la Grandison. Grave are they all of demeanor, silent, dignified, as the guests of a court concert. 'A stone-mason's bill can make poor amends for a broken heart."
The Black Forest peasant is by nature stolid, a human creature chary of speechsave at rare vinous intervals-reticent of memory. And the story of Wendolin's Malva has long been a household word throughout the district. Paul von Egmont will receive welcome to his father's house, among his own people. The sunshine of a dozen Julys has not effaced from men's memories the winter morning when Paul von Egmont's sweetheart was laid to rest among new-fallen snows-not whiter than the maiden's own fair name-in St. Ulrich's churchyard.
And Jeanne-how fares it with her?
Alone, among the festive preparations, is Jeanne Dempster, dull, unexpectant, a spectator, not an actor in the play. She helps, with mechanical show of interest, as long as her help is wanted; assists the Frau Pastor in garnishing the supper-table with flowers; writes out the tickets for the cloak-room; is called upon, more than once, to aid Mistress Evans in her greenroom labors. A tuck must be run here; some plaits are wanted there. As she, Jeanne, is not
going to act, surely she would find it an amusement to take in hand the crimping of Beauty's wig, to play prompter while Kit Marlowe and Lady Pamela run over one or two of their most telling love-scenes? And then there are the programmes. As the Ugly Duckling has no part to rehearse, no details of dress upon her conscience, would she kindly affix pencils to one hundred and fifty pink programmes, with ribbon -and neatly?
Only when the sun has begun to sink is Jeanne free to steal out to the Wald, sharer of her childish joys, confidant, during the past summer weeks, of sweetest, most golden, most fallacious dreams. Alas! and the Wald comforts her not. We receive from Nature as much as we bring to her; ounce for ounce. Nature gives back faithfully; she does not modify our moods. Jeanne Dempster has, hitherto, been content to live without horizons. The environment of pinegirt mountains, the bounded vistas of closely columned forest have brought to her, as they bring to every true child of the Wald, a sense of liberty rather than imprisonment. In this hour, her feverish heart yearns for a wider outlook, a freer breathing-space. Taught by the same instinct that informed Doctor Johnson's "Rasselas," she feels that she needs more than the Schwarzwald can yield; would fain overstep the Blauen tops and enter upon a world alien to Schloss Egmont, uncolored by her personal hopes and disappointments.
The village Kirchhof, with its pair of giant yews, its crowd of low black crosses, stands on a sandy mound among the fir-woods. From the steps of the little Chapel of the Dead you may see the blue Vosges Mountains above the Rhine plain, may even, in fair weather, catch a glimpse of white-gleaming Strasburg Cathedral spires. Thither Jeanne makes her way; her face downbent, her step slow and unelastic. Late summer though it be, the Wald orchestra is not dumb. Although their second broods are on the wing, the ousel and goldhammer pipe a blithe duet; the woodpecker taps his castanet accompaniment on the branches; at intervals the crake calls softly from a neighboring patch of yellowing
Jeanne bethinks her of the July evenings, years ago, when she and blind Lottchen held it a kind of holiday pleasure to visit the churchyard, their small arms laden with flowers for the grave of Wendolin's Malva. Lottchen's sympathy, she remembers, would on these occasions flow forth without let or hindrance. In her own mind, there lurked, ever, a certain tinge of pitying contempt for the fate of Paul von Egmont's sweetheart. With a child's healthy skepticism she used to doubt the wisdom of dying (merely
because one lover proved recreant) in a world so full of potential lovers as this! The philosophy of the grave, the excellence of lying at rest, untouched by praise or blame, by truth or infidelity, come home to her to-day.
Whoever smells a churchyard flower," so runs a legend of the Schwarzwald, "shall die within the year.”
Jeanne has stood long beside the sleepingplace of Malva and of Lottchen-the echoless solitude, the golden white sky, the faint cold odor from the grave-gardens seeming to bring to her a kind of peace-when suddenly the words of the legend run through her heart.
A spray of rosemary is still in blossom above poor Malva's head. She stretches forth her hand to pluck it-her fingers touch the stem—she hesitates, shivers.
“Jeanne!" A man's voice at a little distance calls to her—a voice, low though it be, which arrests her arm, which hurries back the blood-hue to her cheek.
She turns languidly; with faint limbs moves a dozen paces away from Malva's grave, and finds herself face to face with Wolfgang.
The air grows chill here," says the master, taking her reluctant hand in his. The cross above the chapel's roof has in truth at this moment gone from amber to gray. "On the heights among the Zauberfelsen we shall find ourselves in sunshine for another half hour at least, and half an hour's sunshine is something worth adding to one's life. Come."
He keeps possession of Jeanne's hand; he leads her as one would lead a child forth from the graveyard. A few minutes' climbing brings them to the Zauberfelsen-three or four huge granite bowlders bedded among bracken and mosses in the hillside, and upon which, through an oblique clearing in the forests, the crimson level sun streams full.
"I came up to you just in time," the master whispers, after a silence. "Have you lived all these years in the Schwarzwald without learning the fate in store for those who pluck a graveyard flower?"
"Not half a bad fate," answers Jeanne, hurriedly, "if the legend were but true! Unfortunately, my faith is lukewarm. I do not believe that death can be wooed and our troubles ended by so easy a means as breaking a sprig of rosemary."
"And what reason have you for talking of trouble for spending the goldenest hour of the twenty-four among the dead? At my age," says the master, "every day is an anniversary, a fitting occasion for sad remembrance-a day of forced rejoicing like this most of all. But you, little Jeanne, what made you choose the evening of