Puslapio vaizdai

Then he began to walk back and forth by heroic effort holding back their on the soft, splendid rug across the ash-cans." hearthstone, his well-molded hands "If they were," replied the bishop, clasped behind him, his well-molded not turning his face and with quick head dropped slightly forward. Some fervor of conviction, “it was a great times he walked thus when alone and night. They did have a great time most thoughtful.

together.” The doctor had gone to the many- The bishop continued to walk minded shelves and was taking down slowly to and fro; the doctor began to book after book, glancing at the title stride erect and expectant back and page, at the author's name, not at the forth across the middle distance of the contents, and putting page and name immense library, his manner at times and contents back where they had when some hospital matter of life or been. He turned from the shelves, death awaited his skill on the other and as with an air of curiosity picked side of a door.

a up rare little objects strewn over a Suddenly he paused, turned, and lavishly inwrought table under the with fresh vigor addressed the bishop: chandelier, gifts to the bishop with “There is the other side of this whole grateful associations or bought by him matter, of course. Do you remember in foreign travel. He looked at the the chap in college we called Sahara?little treasures and laid them down "I have often wondered whether he where they had been and did not know is Sahara still," replied the bishop, what he had done. Once while thus with a note of bitter pleasantry. engaged he remarked as one who notes "Not a path from him leading in any the passage through his mind of an direction, no footprints. His body idea, flying alone and a little behind

cast a natural shadow, but his mind the flock:

refused to shed its natural memories. "That visit of Tennyson to Carlyle The sand of life all round him, and not one night when they sat alone, gazing the solitary bush of an incident on the into the fire, smoking, saying not a horizon for the eye to travel to and the word! At the end of the evening mind to feed upon. Sahara declined Alfred, you remember, started home, to feed us, and we rebelled at not being and Thomas, as they shook hands, fed; we moved away from the desert." broke the silence: ‘Alfred,' he said, The bishop turned squarely toward 'we have had a great time together.' the doctor. He stood with feet stoutly I have always had my doubts about planted on the common ground of comthat visit. It struck me as humanly mon human things, and he spoke hollow, a pose. If there ever was a reproachfully: man who cultivated pose, it was "I have never warmed toward the Scotch Thomas; if there ever was man who would tell nothing. I have another, it was English Alfred. I had found him in the church; he has always my belief they were posing to each chilled me.' other that silent evening in great style. “Never!" said the doctor with inBut they may have been sincere, in stant harshness. “I have had to work dead earnest, terrible earnest; they with him in the medical profession; I may have sat there all that evening, have n't liked him."

[ocr errors]

Silence followed, a silence unaccus- corner and brought back a small silver tomed and foreboding. Crises occur salver on which stood a decanter and in life when two who have been friends a wine-glass, exquisite. discover themselves at the final test of El Greco enjoyed an after-dinner their friendship, at the welding or the glass of wine, a glass, hardly more, and parting: by what follows they will be the bishop always had a glass brought friends the more or friends the less, if in and placed there when he knew El friends at all.

Greco was coming for an evening. El The doctor finally spoke in the tone Greco was enamoured of his glass of drawing into the discussion an partly because he was enamoured of omitted truth:

the idea of the glass. He liked be"It all goes back, of course, to the holding himself in the world winewisdom of old Greece: not too much of picture as in a scene very old, rude, or anything. Least of all, not too much gorgeous, warm, robust, open, fallible, of virtue. A virtue, positive or nega- in human life. Just as he indulged a tive, overdone—that is trouble for us fancy for another picture: gentlemen in its purest form. We may fight spun into ancient priceless tapestries. ever so little of a vice and be splendid, Consummate art, he said, but great but we may not attack ever so much of nature also, the method of great nature a virtue without being shabby. I know, many threads and many colors you know, every one knows, a single woven into each of us. He, holding a positive virtue in excess to render wine-glass, became a gentleman of the a house uninhabitable by those over ages, enjoying the liberty of golden, whom it stretches its power, tyranny. cloud-capped, gracious things, manOn the other hand, not to tell anything ners, ceremonies, pageants, which one

-a negative virtue overdone. I do by one were dropping from the human not care to explore a man skulking or scene. Some day, he said, the tapessecreted behind it."

tries also will go, ruled out by "rightThe bishop stood solid and four- eousness," and bare bagging be de square on his hearthstone.

manded in the name of God. “I should not care to call him as my The bishop now filled the glass and comforter if I were sick and needed handed it to El Greco and stood, comfort."

decanter in hand, absent-mindedly

before him. $ 6

El Greco, lifting and looking through Suddenly El Greco, continuing his the ruby splendor, repeated the great, walk and without looking at the sad, singing, undying lines: bishop, called out:

“Lawrence, may I have a glass of wine?" It was the voice, the com

"Oh for a draught of vintage that hath

been radery, of old-time student years.

Cooled a long age in the deep-delved The bishop uttered a regret.

earth, "How did I happen to forget?

Tasting of Flora and the country What was it to-night that caused me

green, to forget?''

Dance, and Provençal song, and sunHe hurried to a table in a distant

burned mirth!”

He broke off and paused an instant. the opener and the emptier of the Then with the glass on the level of his world's ash-can. Truth rolled outeyes he began, in an old-time student ward on wine! Secrets of human lives, way, repeating the spirit of some half- insoluble to every other agent, become remembered night at some student solvent in the torrent of the grape." banquet in some student hall:

El Greco drank his glass deeply as a "Wine-cup! Earth and sky are in memory, and with a curious gesture at it, and the sun and naught else save life went back to his chair. Care, rosy-fingered handmaiden of the The bishop, with a sudden shadow vineyard, and Age, which trains the on his clear face, returned to his chair. ripened cluster's youthful choir. The Silence, overmastering silence! freshet of it, rushing through the body, All at once the doctor turned to the dislodges the jest lying somewhere an bishop and said something to himundiscovered jewel on its banks; rolls the hush, the privacy, the thing

; outward at the bottom of the channel confided to one. the golden sands of wit; drowns the Dragon Doubt which lives in water;

87 brings floating along on its surface the The doctor had been speaking a long careless flowers of the mind's and time. At moments he struck violently body's commingled joy_"

with his fist upon the arm of his chair. "Oh, here," cried the bishop, laugh- He beat violently upon the rug with his ing with remonstrance, and putting his foot. Once he thrust out both hands, fingers into his ears, “drink your wine, those long, lean, powerful, kind, effi

, man; do not praise it! I may minister cient surgeon's hands, reached over and to the sick, but I must not listen to caught at, grabbed at, something bacchanalian oratory. Drinking is a which might have been a throat, and man's sensation. The sensation con- shook it with a grinding of the teeth cerns him only; but all praise is in the jaws, a growl of fury in the opinion, and all opinion is for others. throat, that meant-meant a man's A citizen of the United States, native satisfaction at last. born, of reputable habits and connec- Ghastly pantomime of baffled power, tions, of sound mind, a leader in his strength that could not be put forth as profession, praising a glass of wine strength; picture of action that should in the library of a bishop! Why- be action but could not be action; the why—"

foul thing in life that attacks the thing El Greco interrupted with a mocking which is fair; something low that gets flourish of his free hand.

the upper hand of what is above it; “I had not spoken what most was in something crooked that treads down my mind. That must not go unsaid; in the road of life what walks straight. it is the reason I asked for the wine. He did not withhold, he did not cease, It rounds out and ends our theme of the till he was disburdened, emptied. night. If we are going to abolish the The bishop had not stirred or taken ash-can in human society, we shall eyes off the spectacle and the dishave to look well to the earth's autumn closure: how this had never been flood of the vineyard. More than known to him, this that now he would any other single influence it has been forget only with death; this fearless,

towering figure of knowledge and use- some little wave of trouble, the beat, fulness in the world of men—to the un- beat, beat, of the wave, day and night, fortunate, the suffering, the dying- day and night; till ear and trouble are able to keep on with his work year still! after year with that in him, making no The doctor, leaning forward, listensign.

ing, in all he was as if the bishop conThe bishop started up, crossed over, fided to him the ravages of some maland put one hand on the doctor's ady which had escaped his knowledge shoulder and reached down for one of and which would always remain the doctor's hands and said in a voice beyond his or any human help or skill, that might have pulled a man back rose, no word uttered, passed across, from the pit of hell:

and slowly, quietly, folded about the "Why did you not tell me this long bishop's head his hands—that laying ago?

on of hands which is so much older

than the church. $ 8

It was late. The doctor stood in

the hall near the front doors, roughly The bishop had been speaking; drawing on his weather gloves. The minutes had passed. How many? bishop reached over and buttoned the Enough to span years.

top button of his overcoat protectingly Along the earth's fretting ocean- about his throat. edge this takes place somewhere all the He opened the door, and the doctor time: at a small incurve of the coast, stepped out and stood on the top step, which no one sees, which no one hears, looking at the snow, which fell which no one knows of, a wave beats steadily, heavily, over the great city. incessantly against a rock. The rock "This is going to be bad for some of stands; the wave comes and goes, my patients," he said, taking their comes and goes, comes and goes. weakness and their suffering upon his Some day the wave will come, the rock shoulders. will be gone.

“It will be sad for many of my The wonderful bay of the human poor,” said the bishop, laying their ear, with its far-moving ocean; in it burdens and sorrows upon his back.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

HE went by,

T Pelo musied himself with his daily house

, and he going over the great


affairs, keeping track of the galleasses intricate ledgers the clerks do be postwith merchandise to strange far-awaying carefully with quills of the gray ports, buying presents for refractory goose, so that he would be saying: “I governors who did n't care for foreign wonder where this is and that is. Sure trade in their domains, getting wisdom I had my finger on it only a moment from the old clerks, and knowledge ago, Golden Bells.” And when the from the mariners; in the main, acting dusk was falling, and the bats came as the son of a great house.

out, and the quiet of Christ was over You would think that he would have everything, and the swallows flew low forgotten what the sea-captain of on the great canals, she would be beside China told him about Golden Bells, him, and never a word would he say what with work and sport and other to her, so near to him would she be. women near him. You would think And she wrought strangeness bethat would drop out of his memory tween him and the women he knew, like an old rime. But it stuck there, the great grave lady with the large, as an old rime sometimes sticks, and pale mouth, her that was of his mind, by dint of thinking he had her fast and the little black cloak-maker with now in his mind—so fast, so clear, so the eager, red mouth, her that was full of life, that she might be some one closer than mind or heart to him. The he had seen an hour ago or was going first found fault with his poetry. to see an hour from now. He would “I don't know what 's come over think of the now merry, now sad eyes you, Marco Polo,”—and there was a of her, and the soft, sweet voice of her touch of temper in her voice,-"but by reason of which they called her these poems of yours show me you Golden Bells, and the dusky little face, have n't your mind on your subject. and the hair like black silk, and the Would you mind telling me when I splotch of the red flower in it. She was had bound black hair?" she says. as distinct to him as the five fingers “And you say my bosom is like two on his hand. It was n't only she was little russet apples. Now, a regular clear in his mind's eye, but she was poet once compared it to two great inside of him, closer than his heart. silver cups, and that was a good comShe was there when the sun rose, so parison, though in truth,” she says, he would be saying, “It 's a grand “he knew as little about it as you. day is in it surely, Golden Bells." And my hands are not like soft Eastern

« AnkstesnisTęsti »