Puslapio vaizdai

all these reasons I believe that you are the man to lead in this.

I am making this appeal on behalf of a profession which is dear to me for more reasons than that it is my own--the art of interpreting man to himself by means of the divine power that lies hidden in the word. I am making it on behalf of men and women who are striving against tremendous odds to give this nation a poetry equaling in worth and glory that of any other nation in the world. But I trust that you at least will perceive that, first

and last and most of all, I am making this appeal on behalf of the nation itself.

Without the literature that radiates truth as well as beauty, that soul must wither. The time has come, I feel, when this nation, for the saving of its own soul, must give serious and loving thought to its poets and men of letters. Some one whom the people trust must take the first step in the new direction: there is to-day probably no one whom they trust to a greater extent than you, and I can think of no other fitter for the task I suggest.



THIS poem, which was put into type at the same time as the volume "Jocoseria" (1883), was not eventually published, but came to light, in its form as a rough-printed proof of what is known as galley-slip, among the poet's papers offered at the sale of the Browning collections in May, 1913. It shows many of the grotesque abridg.ments of Browning not at his best, and bears a certain relation to the last two stanzas of his well-known poem "Popularity," though it seems as applicable to modern tendencies as to those of the poet's own time. It seems almost as if the great poet were keenly appraising from beyond the grave our modern minor men.—THE EDITOR.

DREAMED there was once held a feast:
That lords assembled, most and least,
And set them down to dine;

Till, eating ended, high of heart,
Each guest, the butler did his part,-
Poured out their proper wine.

Good tipple and of various growth
(You may believe without an oath)
Glorified every glass:

All drank in honor of the host,
Then, high of heart, rose least and most,
And left the room, alas!

For in rushed straightway loon and lout,
Mere serving-men who skulked without:
"Our masters turn their backs,
And now's the time to taste and try
What meat lords munch, and by and by
What wine they swill-best smacks."

So said, so dine: first, hunger spends
Its rage on victual, odds and ends;

But seeing that rage appeased,
"Now for the lords' wine," all agree,
"Kept from the like of you and me!

Wet whistles, chins once greased!

"How! not content with loading crop,
These lords have scarcely left a

In every glass deep-drained!
The niggards mean our feast to prove
A horse-regale! But one remove
From wine is water stained.

"Fill up each glass with water! Get
Such flavor as may stick fast yet;
Fancy shall do the rest!
Besides, we boast our private flasks,
Good, stiffmundungus, home-brewed casks,
Beating their bottled best!

'So here 's your health to watered port!
Thanks; mine is sherry of a sort.

Claret, though thinnish, clear.
My Burgundy 's the genuine stuff,
Bettered and bittered just enough
By mixing it with beer."

O England (I awoke and laughed),
True wine thy lordly poets quaffed,

Yet left-for what cared they!-
Each glass its heel-tap, flavoring sup
For flunkeys when, to liquor up,

In swarmed-who, need I say!




Author of "At Bethlehem," etc.


ME. DE VANNOZ closed her lorgnon with a snap, and her eyelids drooped with an obvious ballast of disapproval. To the uninitiated observer, Mme. de Vannoz might have seemed rash in assuming the seat of the scornful. At certain hours of the day she was accustomed to surrender her person to the hands of her maid with an unfeigned indifference as to the result. Nise, conventionally Parisian to the finger-tips, reproduced in this delightfully plastic material her ideal of a lady of the great world. To a Puritan eye, the result at first glance savored somewhat more of the half-world. Only at first glance, however; there was an austere quality about the woman herself, an almost disembodied impersonality, that nullified all the elaborate armor of coquetry. She was a writer of international reputation, a mind honored by the most brilliant minds of her acquaintance; not all the labors of Nise could make her a woman to be regarded by other women with suspicion and a touch of envy, by men with a smirk and a furtive interchange of glances. The girl at whom the lorgnon had been leveled was as natural of coloring as a flower, and would have felt it as reprehensible to show a powdery nose as a shiny one. Nevertheless, Mme. de Vannoz, gazing at her, settled herself in the Siege Perilous with a judicial composure. She lifted her brows, puffing out a sharp breath like a reversed sniff-the kind of sound that challenges an answer. The answer came from the young man beside her. He, too, was looking at the girl, but with eyes very different from those of his companion.

"Please don't!" he remonstrated involuntarily. "You don't understand. That 's only thoughtlessness."

Mme. de Vannoz looked at him, but not through the lorgnon; her eye in a state of nature had a whimsical twinkle.

"Why do you not ascribe it to the American manner, my child?" she inquired pleasantly, thereby checking an incipient mumble to that effect. She shook her head and smiled at his confusion, and he felt, as usual, much younger than he did in any other circumstances—younger even than before his mirror.

It seemed to Seymour that one could call it by no harsher name than thoughtlessness, the thing that the older woman disparaged. The girl was pretty, and more than pretty; her guileless intensity radiated life and love and joy. It seemed to him that her spontaneous little caresses. of hand and voice were as innocent in their exuberance as were the clinging tendrils of a vine. She sent them out freely, heedless of where they clung; it was the lavishness of her own nature spending itself in endearments upon the world at large. She walked now along the terrace, with her arm about the waist of another girl. One could see the ingenuous little squeeze with which she occasionally emphasized a word of her chatter. At the end of the terrace, toward the lake, a young man was kneeling, teaching a dog to shake hands. He held up a lump of sugar as an inducement to obedience. He called over his shoulder a laughing greeting to the two girls, the taller of whom was his bride. They stopped beside him. and, still enlaced, stooped to encourage the pupil; the little girl whom they were watching bent the closer of the two, her hand outstretched to fondle the dog's curly head. That brought the soft curve of her bosom very near the young man's shoulder; a strand of her wind-ruffled hair might have brushed his cheek. He dropped the sugar, and the dog eagerly appropriated it. It was at this point that Mme. de Vannoz closed her lorgnon.

"The dog had not given his paw," she said. "Do you know why he got the

sugar? Ah, yes, you know." Seymour bit his lip, aware with keen resentment of a rich suffusion about the ears. "It was last night, was it not?" she went on. "From my little garden one sees much. You were on the terrace-" She took his arm and drew him toward the nook by the lake; the other party had gone on into the hotel garden, the dog leaping and barking about them. Mme. de Vannoz paused at the stone balcony overhanging the water.

"Here," she said. Seymour flushed again.

"You must n't blame her for that," he protested. "It was all my fault. She

had no idea-” "Thoughtless, in a word-your own, word," returned Mme. de Vannoz. "It may be. She is still very young, like yourself, and at first one does not think; one only feels. But one thing I tell you, my child: it is not well to be thoughtless with the husband of a friend."

Seymour winced as if she had struck him; she drew away a little, and her hand fell from his arm.

"Do you think you love her?" she asked, and there was a hoarse tenderness in her voice like the lower notes of a cello. Behind her, far up the lake, the Dent du Midi rose inconceivably white against the darkening blue; despite the cynicism from which he had shrunk, despite the painted mask and the clinging draperies that betrayed an all-too-perfect corseting, she seemed to Seymour as aloof from human weakness and even from human feeling as those pinnacles of snow. Had she been always the unmoved analyst, he wondered; and for the first time in their acquaintance he thought of M. de Vannoz, and wondered what he had been like.

"Do you think that you love her?" she repeated.

"I don't know-what else can it be?" he blurted boyishly.

"No, you would not know," said Mme. de Vannoz, slowly. "There is a sort of sacred imbecility that goes with innocence; because your head swims at a woman's touch, you think she is your mate, soul and body." Her shoulders contracted in a shrug that was half a shiver. "If you only knew! And yet I would not have you like some of my own kindred, who are imbeciles without the innocence.'

A sudden fierceness flamed through the careful art of her face. "Is your mother alive? No? And if she were, she could give you no help in this; she would be as innocent as you. See, my child, I understand that girl-me; she is what we call a flammeuse. She is the type that drives our boys to absinthe and cocottes; she lights the fire, but she never means to be burned in it. And seldom is; it is the others who suffer. The worst of it is, that if you ask her to marry you, she will do it, that one. I know. And not for love; do not cheat yourself. The flammeuse does not love; she drives a shrewd bargain; and she is always cold-cold at the heart." "You are

"Stop!" cried Seymour.

cruel, and-you don't understand."

The savage earnestness went out of her eyes, leaving the twinkle somewhat sadder, but more whimsical than ever.

"And I am only a clumsy old woman who treads upon the toes of your illusions,' she said. "Forgive me; je vous aime-d' amitié, bien entendu, and I spoke as I would have spoken to a son of my own. Butone cannot save others from pain. I know that so well in my mind; but, see, I have not yet learned it with my heart. One can help only when the harm has been done. I have told that in so many stories -besides my own." She flung back her head with a short laugh. "And you are thinking only that I do not understand!" She turned away abruptly, and went toward the cottage, trailing her delicate embroideries along the path with a superb negligence. The shrubs of the miniature garden hid her from him, and she had not looked back.

Seymour stood where she had left him, bewildered and disturbed. All day he had been obsessed by vague and whirling memories of the evening before; somehow the girl had been so near, so unconsciously alluring, that before he had known what was coming he had caught her in his arms, and his lips had found hers. It did not occur to him that the finding had been easy. Then she had freed herself, and run into the house, but not in anger, evidently, for all day her glances had been graciously forgiving and-he flung the door of his mind violently shut in the face of the thought that there had been an invitation in her eyes. As he did so, he felt

a childish hatred for Mme. de Vannoz, without whom that thought would never have intruded. She had caught the but terfly of his romance in her strong, ruthless hand, and now that she had released it, its frail wings fluttered only feebly, and showed the disfiguring prints of her fingers. He resented it like a sacrilege, for to him this experience was holy. Younger lads than he might have laughed at his unsophistication. The lovely ladies of the classics had engrossed his attention to the exclusion of their flesh-and-blood prototypes; and since men are not wont to desire a woman who has ceased to beckon to that desire, his devotion to Mme. de Vannoz from the moment of his arrival had marked no deviation from his custom. Often and deeply as he looked into her eyes unshielded by the lorgnon, it was as a young seer might study the crystal; and she knew, with a deep gladness in the knowledge, that the touch of her hand or even of her lips would no more perturb him than the touch of a page of Dante.

Now his calm world was convulsed by a sudden invasion of reality; for the first time he found himself made aware of his youth and his manhood by a woman's presence. He repeated as in a dream:

"I thrilled to feel her influence near;
I struck my flag at sight.
Her starry silence smote my ear
Like sudden guns at night."

The fact that the girl was not greatly addicted to silence did not impress him; he whispered the words to himself now, as he stood on the terrace, and the memory of the evening before quickened to a foreshadowing of the evening that was to come, which was at that moment flushing the white peaks with its rosy beginning. Unsuspected pulses hammered tumultuously in his temples. If this sweet tempest of body and spirit was not love, of what had all the poets sung?

The evening came; but not the moment he hoped for, and yet feared in some remote corner of his subconsciousness. She stayed so near the others that they were never alone together; and yet, somehow, they were always side by side, their hands continually chancing to meet, the warmth and fragrance of her so shaking him that he held his teeth set for fear of their chat

tering. It was like an hour of delirium, wildly painful and as wildly delicious, wholly unreal. She bade him good night with the rest; it was his habit to stay alone on the terrace till late. Musing happily on her swift, backward smile, he saw neither the hand she laid carelessly on the shoulder of her friend's husband, nor the white scarf she had left lying near his own hand. He turned toward the lake, as the door closed on the gay company, without a glance toward the bench whence they had risen; and presently he realized that he was staring at the serene inaccessibility of the Dent du Midi. Eager pity took him by the throat at the thought of Mme. de Vannoz. How cruelly life must have dealt with her to make her see its lovely miracles with such darkened eyes! He felt sure that her husband had been unworthy; only a broken heart, he thought, could speak so bitterly, and he, her friend, had given her nothing better than blind anger! He turned quickly toward her cottage; the windows were still glowing warmly, and a glance at his watch told him it was not yet eleven. She had not dined at the hotel; perhaps she had been dining out, perhaps—perhaps she had been hurt by his resentment, for, after all, she had meant to be kind. Spurred by penitent tenderness, he entered the little garden.

Mme. de Vannoz had not dined out, nor had the memory of Seymour's resentment remained with her long enough to hurt. As she left him, a new idea suddenly unfolded before her in a dazzling completeness; and when she swept into the cottage, her head high, her eyes wide and shining, Nise immediately savored the pleasures of a free evening. Swiftly, expertly, she undid her elaborate work, with only one remark from her mistress: "My warm dressing-gown; I shall work late." It was quite another Mme. de Vannoz about whom the robe of crimson velvet was wrapped; but Nise did not object to that. Different standards of beauty were permissible for the day and for the night. As she sat now at her writing-table, her flushed cheeks and parted lips glowing in the warm light, her white throat softened by the veil of her unbound hair, her shadowy eyes searching far depths, she seemed a girl about to write her first love-letter, thought Nise, not a widow who lived like

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