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Cutting short an engrossing piece of My old friend, Alexandre Grimaux, in- work, I traveled a long way uncomfortavited me to visit him. It was a flattering bly in order to throw myself on his hands proposal. Grimaux, besides being a fa- before he had time to change his mind. mous, if somewhat spectacular, archæolo- For I had not known Alexandre Grimaux gist, is a notorious recluse. I doubt if he at school and in the university without receives so intimately a friend a year, discovering that he could be the master either in the house near Paris, which he pattern for eccentrics. occupies in winter, or in the charming Recently, in fact, it had been whispered nest on the hillside above Florence, where about among those who came nearest to he was summering when I got his letter. knowing him that his eccentricity was inHis marvelous collection of antique ob- creasing in a way to cause uneasiness. jects, his books on dead arts and customs, It was at about the time of his marriage his manuscripts and printer's proofs, form that people began to mark this change in his whole interest. Or, rather, formerly him.

For lately Alexandre Grimaux I arrived at Florence toward evening, had taken a wife.

took carriage in the direction of Fiesole, This wife was a sort of mystery. No and, just as the sun was setting, alighted, one seemed to know who she was or even in a narrow road lined with cypresses, bewhat race had produced her. She was fore his red-washed garden wall. No one described as beautiful, silent, strange. She had met me. The servant who opened the spoke her husband's language with diffi- gate seemed surprised to see my luggage. culty, Italian with an extraordinary syntax I had difficulty in persuading him to disof her own, English, German, and Russian turb his master on my account. When not at all. She cared nothing for society. finally Alexandre appeared, I knew he She gave the impression of a stranger from had forgotten all about inviting me. But afar, who in her new abode would always at once he became cordial enough to dispel remain an alien. But everybody agreed my misgivings. that she seemed devoted to her husband. Sapristi! It is thou! How I am con

Copyright, 1913, by THE CENTURY CO. All rights reserved.

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a museum.

tent!" He let his big hands fall on my Ægean masks, four-thousand-year-old toys arms in a hard grip.

of children, a bewildering litter of preAlexandre Grimaux was a tall, burly cious rubbish. In fact, the big room was fellow whose taurine formidability re

Amphoræ, gladiators' helminded one of the images, bearded and mets, torsos of marble and terra-cotta covered with knotted muscles, on Assyrian filled the corners. On the walls, between palaces. He had a nose like a beak; his shelves crammed with books, or bristling black eyes gleamed beneath bushy brows; with bronzes and Mycenæan faience, aphis beard, inky and curly, rippled down peared plaster fragments, decorated with over his waistcoat.

the dim mural painting of the Romans. At first glance, he seemed to irradiate Even the floors were littered, with heaps all his old strength and intellectual power, of personal ornaments, with baskets of the splendid energy, combined with the broken shards, with tesseræ of porcelain vivid manner, of the peasant stock of mosaic from Crete, arranged on the rug southern France infected with genius. But like half-completed picture-puzzles. Over almost immediately I perceived that some- a chair hung lengths of mummy-linen, thing had happened to him. Whether gummed and stained by spices, from the from emotion or his labors, he was ex- shriveled brown object, stiff and straight hausted, nervously on edge, overwrought on the table by the windows, which once

. The inner man was disorganized.

on a time had been the fair favorite of "Quite well?" I asked.

Ptolemy Soter. “Never better,” he retorted, as it In the midst of this disorder Alexandre seemed to me, defiantly. And he led the Grimaux sat beaming at me, cigaretteway through a hall of white stucco set smoke drifting through his inky, curly with mutilated statues to his workroom. beard, in his hand a glass of brandy and

“Tea, coffee, or something else? If you soda, already nearly empty. For cognac, want a wash, the wash-room is there, after working hours, was Alexandre's rather untidy, I fear, from mummy-dust. weakness—a weakness from which more Best to put some corrosive sublimate in than one professional rival had profited in the bowl. I have been dissecting the lady the past, when garrulity had disclosed in the corner, a favorite of Ptolemy Soter, some secret work or new discovery. and as neat an example as I have ever seen “But how I am content,” he repeated, of the Egyptian embalmer's subcutaneous "to have thee here! I have been lonely." padding. For half an hour after I un- He glanced sidewise at the door. “For a wrapped her she was the most shapely man friend, well understood; for one who thing imaginable. Before she began to knows me well, whom I can trust and go, I got all my measurements, and took talk to freely.” He fell into a reverie. this cast of her head-a beauty, hein? But Presently he added: “For I can talk to of course that sort of thing is merely rec- you. To be sure, your ignorance of the reation. You must see my work, my final ancient world is pitiable. Even Nero classification of the pre-Hyksos pottery. knew more of the Homeric Age than you And my new arrangement, the proper one know of so simple an epoch as his. But this time-of the 'weak' and 'strong' Egyp- if you have no special erudition, at least tian verbs. And a monograph on their you are sympathetic to me.

You are a pseudo-participle, which is not the perfect Sagittarius person, I an Aries, so.” of the Semitic conjugation. Then there are He regarded me sharply, then remarked some fragments—weapons and trinkets with a sort of jovial ferocity: and so on which I found in a very un

"My wife, also, is a Sagittarius person, likely place. That reminds me. Ma- with Venus, Mercury, and the moon in dame is in her boudoir; she may join us

the ascendant. Take care not to look at and she may not. Meanwhile repose." her too warmly, or I shall be apt to smash

He pushed me into a deep leather chair. your head with this iron statuette of

The immense desk before me was cov- Aphrodite Mechanitis." ered with folio-sheets and palimpsests, “Madame Grimaux is warned, I hope, coins and chiseled gems, figurines and that you 've been so revolutionary as to ushebti images from temples of Cnossus and invite me?" Egyptian tombs, bottles of iridescent glass, “Why should I tell her that an Amer

ern races.


ican of the twentieth century is to be our miliarity and strangeness. Something guest ? She is like me: except for each within me struggled, as it were, to rememother, we live in the past."

ber. “You ought to be very happy now- Mon amie,Alexandre was saying to adays."

her, “this is the one of my old companions He looked away, as if secretly agitated. whom I have not left behind.”

“My friend, I have found a happiness She replied, somewhat haltingly, but so strange that I sometimes wonder in a voice like music: whether I am

not dreaming, or, per- “You are lucky enough to have saved haps--"

one old companion." Abruptly he stood up, and offered to In the yellow light that issued from the show me the garden. And the cause of windows Alexandre's face displayed a these emotions did not appear till dinner Alush. was announced.

“Ah, my dear!" We awaited her in the pergola outside “It is nothing," she answered gently, the dining-room. The heavens were full and led the way to dinner. of mellow stars, the rose-garden below At table, in the glow of the candles, her us was thick with purple shadows. Far- full beauty was revealed. I saw one of ther down the hillside, amid vague masses those amber-skinned blondes, with large of foliage that blotted the distant sheen brown irises and eyebrows darker than the of Florence, nightingales were warbling. tresses, who appear occasionally in SouthAnd the odor of innumerable Aowers

All her lovely features comascended to us with the concentrated bined to give an effect intensely peculiar, sweetness that Italian nights bring forth. exotic. Her forehead was low and broad;

"You are a sentimentalist, after all,” her eyes stood wide apart; her mouth, I said; "for you never wander from this with its full lips, was of a perfect yet exland for long."

traordinary contour. She looked warm“Less now than formerly," Alexandre blooded, intense, capable both of deep replied, “because my wife prefers places thought and of quick wit; but all the that do not remind her too sharply of the while she seemed to be covering her qualipast. That prevent her from suffering ties with a profound reserve. It was only too much of a very curious home-sickness, when her gaze met Alexandre's that she the most curious sort, I believe, that mor- at all revealed herself. Evidently she tal has ever known.” He added, laying

He added, laying cared for her husband deeply. The imhis hand on my shoulder: "I seem to be pression came to me that he was the only telling you things I never discussed before." person who might understand her, and

A suspicion began to invade me. I sug- whom she cared to understand. gested:

There was much about her, all the "These slight fancies are amenable to same, from which, I felt, I ought to be the simplest treatment, to recreation out able to divine her race, her proper enof doors, to taking the waters here and vironment, her social antecedents. She there, to certain kinds of literature—" was vaguely suggestive of things which I Alexandre laughed shortly.

had known, or known of. I thought that “My wife is quite sane, my old one.

presently she would place herself for me inShe is merely the victim of peculiar cir- voluntarily. But she did nothing of the sort. cumstances that I am helping her to re- Alexandre talked; she, for the most gard with resignation."

part, listened. She appeared neither shy At this moment Mme. Grimaux ap- nor bored. Once or twice she said enough peared in the French window of the din- to give the impression of amiable hospitaling-room-against the light a tall silhou- ity. No one could more clearly have ette of elegant contours, in a smoky-red shown herself, even in her gracious sigown of unusual, yet nobly simple, fash- lences, a woman of the world. One saw, ion. Her glinting hair, however, was in- at least, that wherever she had come from, tricately arranged in a coiffure such as I her previous surroundings had been rich had never seen before. Advancing slowly and cultivated. into the pergola, she brought with her an The dinner, as a dinner, was a success. indescribable atmosphere of mingled fa

atmosphere of mingled fa- Alexandre, for all his seclusion, and ardu

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