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The Genius
by Margaret Horton Potter
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Count Dravikine, his eyes narrowing with anger, approached the furious child, lifted her, now kicking frantically, in two powerful arms, carried her straight to his wife's boudoir, and flung her before her mother. Then, in a voice that Caroline had heard only twice before, he expressed his opinion of the up-bringing of his child, finishing with certain forceful suggestions of change for the future.

Countess Caroline listened without a word; but when her husband left her, he was well aware that his orders would be obeyed to the letter. The Countess, indeed, respected her partner and had continued to obey his rare commands simply because she was aware of the existence of that very voice and manner. And from that hour the education of her tomboy became with her a matter of considerably greater moment than the planning of the winter's campaign, or the choice of a costume for the first court ball of the season.

It followed that Mademoiselle Nathalie passed through two extremely trying years. At the end of them, however, she was a child transformed. No one now could possibly mistake her for a boy. She could read and write, spell fairly, had some knowledge of arithmetic and the conjugation of Amo: and, finally, her knowledge of intricate profanity had materially lessened. Nowadays, when she was left alone in her rage, her most forceful expressions seemed to be "Dieu de Dieu de Dieu!" or "Sapr-r-risti!" of her mild little tutor or her more vigorous French maid.

In spite of this conventional training, Nathalie, whose temperament contained a strong dash of masculinity, was quite eleven years old before she began to turn her vivid imagination to dreams of distant debutantism or still remoter officers, who, in the most brilliant of uniforms, should appear at miraculous moments in her career, bringing shame and jealousy to armies of ill-mannered rivals. After the first three months in the Catherine Institute, this style of amusement also changed, and she was overcome by a religious mania which, being encouraged on every hand, might possibly have become really dangerous. It was by finally emerging from it unscathed, and having, at the age of thirteen years and six months, resolved herself into an agreeably normal young person whose quiet manners covered a swift and keenly feminine brain, that Nathalie Dravikine proved herself worthy of her mother's steel.

This, indeed, Countess Caroline came herself to perceive. After their long winter's separation, during those few days together in the sorrowing house of Gregoriev, during the April of 1857, mother and daughter came closer together than ever before. Madame Dravikine was softened by grief; and the consolation she found in her daughter's presence was as great as it was unexpected. Nathalie's tenderness and gentleness were certainly traits of the Dravikines, rather than of the Blashkov family. But Caroline, absorbed in memories of her beloved sister, failed either to analyze these, or to pay much heed to the two or three brief scenes between her girl and Ivan, which should have been summarily checked in their infancy. As it was, Mademoiselle Nathalie gained some relief from gloom and loneliness in the open admiration of her cousin; and, after the first day of novelty, found herself taking a quivering delight in this, her first affair.

The little climax of it all, that five minutes on the platform of the Petersburg station, which ended in a most uncousinly kiss, flamed scarcely less hot in the memory of the maiden than in that of Ivan. Nathalie carried back with her into the gray Petersburg Institute such a host of flagrant dreams as kept a dozen chums about her through the long twilights of as many afternoons. For the damsel was an erratic priestess of Eros; and, at this dream-age, she and her comrades gave to the technique of forthcoming flirtation a patient analysis that promised adequate devastation among the courtier army awaiting their acknowledged young-ladyhood.

Thus comes it that we take a final glance through two childish prison-houses, in far-separate Russian cities, wherein a youth and a maiden lie nightly dreaming the same dreams: one of them a spirit already bonded to the service of mind under the whip of circumstance: destined to storm rocky heights, from which hard-won eminences he shall command great views of sweeping plains and far-off mountain ranges; the other a pretty chrysalis on the eve of her change into a butterfly of butterflies; who is, nevertheless, to attempt flights overhigh and overfar for her frail wings; venturing to unfriendly lands whence she must return with frayed and tired pinions and a bruised and bleeding little soul. And their two destinies, so divergent, are yet fated, ever and again, in the swift swinging round their orbits, to approach, touch, and bound away again in opposite directions, strive though they may to maintain for a while some parallel course.

Kinder, most surely, just to leave them there: well-guarded children, walled securely away from the black, bleak world; oblivious of all things save the white innocency of their dreams of first, most fragile, high-romantic love.



CHAPTER VII

SPRING AND THE ROSE

The summer of 1860 found Ivan Gregoriev at the end of an experience so long, so difficult, so seemingly unendurable, that, up to the last few months of its continuance, he had never indulged in any anticipations of its conclusion. Like all things, however, his four years' battle came finally to an end. One, two, three, four: despair, unhappiness, resignation, and, lastly, some sort of authority as the recognized leader in his work, at least, of the grandiloquent first form: so passed the years of his cadetship, till, in the June of 1860, he graduated, honorably, and went off to spend the summer at Klin in his own fashion, giving very little thought to that impending commission which was once again to reorder his existence. Many were the pleasures possible to him now in that quiet spot. Some part of gilded Moscow—the very best of the clubs, would have opened to him had he displayed any passion for baccarat, or the kindred games indulged by the vast majority of his class. Cared he naught for these, there was yet another, phase of mannish existence to which he might agreeably be introduced. But when aspiring sycophants, members of the great mass of impecunious people of "family," found that this eccentric son of Prince Michael failed to appreciate the charms of a single member of the opera ballet (now indulging in the delights of their summer vacation, and expending part of their savings of fifteen rubles a week upon champagne suppers or coaching-parties to the various fashionable suburbs), they left him disgustedly to his own devices: which consisted in pouring over the orchestro-harmonical works of Monsieur Berlioz; and evolving strange progressions upon his new Erard.

Meantime, behold Prince Michael, alone in his sanctum, diligently studying the hieroglyphics on his map—of which the last corner, under the heading of "Alexander II.," was gradually filling—and otherwise working most zealously towards a new end. Nor was zeal unnecessary; for it took him four months to make a certain lofty nobleman see the unavoidable consequences of the translation and publication of a certain portion of that map. It was October before a peremptory telegram brought Ivan, with all his paraphernalia (consisting principally of much-worn musical scores and a considerable pile of crude manuscript-music), back to Konnaia Square. That night the young man slept once more in his boy's room in the west wing; and nine o'clock next morning found him, for the first time in his life, in his father's innermost cabinet, facing the powerful form and the difficult eyes of Prince Michael.

The interview was a long one, but contained little repetition, and made good use of every minute of its three hours. Ivan's whole problematical future was laid before him, clearly and in detail, as it had been constructed, during years of consideration, in his father's brain. It was the one plan of Michael Gregoriev's life which was destined to prove an absolute waste of energy. Still, there were to be two years of it literally fulfilled, wherefore we touch upon its preliminaries. Moreover, as Prince Michael spoke plainly, so we; though Ivan expended little amazement on the revelation, and appreciated remarkably little of the powerful influence that had been already brought to bear on his unimportant behalf. Michael himself was keenly aware that, even in the face of his map, he dared attempt nothing more till he had accumulated at least another twenty-four months of—um—ah—inner official history. But, for the present, he was satisfied with his accomplishment. Ivan, as graduate of one of the Corps, had been entitled to an ensignship in a line regiment. Influence, however, obtained for him a first lieutenancy in the Mounted Grenadiers—the finest regiment of the imperial guard in Petersburg, and the Emperor's favorite; whose uniforms, moreover, were calculated to capture the faith and fancy of any damsel, not of blood royal, in the whole Empire. Last, and, from Michael's point of view, most important of all, such a position would give Ivan at once the entre into the best clubs, and, with them, the "smartest" society of Petersburg.

Using these facts as a preface, Prince Gregoriev proceeded to sketch out, to his silent auditor, the lines of an ideal (!) social-politico-military career, untrammelled, at last, by the traditional ostracism of his race. For his commission would do much for him; and Madame Dravikine was practically pledged to provide some sort of reputation for her nephew, being not unaware that the celebrated map of her brother-in-law contained more than one item of interest centering about her own most sacred name and title.

Through the period of explanation Ivan sat motionless, eyes down, brows knit, apparently attentive to his father's words. At the end, when the Prince had handed him his commission and half a dozen introductory letters, he bowed to his father, but uttered not one word of thanks or of understanding:—he—Sophia's son, though he had just received the gift of such a career as three-fourths of the young men in the country would have gone on their knees to obtain! Michael was half disposed to be pleased at the fellow's insolence. But he did not have the fineness of intuition to dream that his son, watching him closely through half-shut lids, had felt his blood pounding so furiously through his pulses that he dared not permit his lips to open for the fraction of a second lest he should fling some expression of his deep disgust, his anger—nay, his hatred—into his father's face, follow it with his commission, crushed into a ball, and rush forth from that ghost-haunted house, never to re-enter it again. Instead of this theatrical performance, then, Ivan chose silence and inaction. And finally, with bursting brain, he escaped to his own room, where he found Piotr—ostensibly waiting with tea.

But, unfortunately for Piotr, the young master was as uncommunicative as the old; and the door to the inner sanctum had, throughout this interview, been shut and bolted. Thus mere speculation was all that found tongue in the serf's quarters that night.

For many hours that afternoon—in fact, till darkness fell—Ivan sat over the samovar, drank glass after glass of tea, rolled cigarette after cigarette, and found himself at last still staring at a blank horizon-line, upon which not one picture consented to appear. Yet, reason with himself as he would, he knew that the heart within him was surging with joy. He was going out into the great world of Petersburg, his own master at last. He was going into the world of light, of gayety, of wealth; of the army, the court, of—of Nathalie Dravikine! Ay, it was true! That little love—that first, foolish love—lived in him still, having survived all the changes of his past changing years. Was it then to die, now, when his passion was about to be fired afresh by the presence of its living object?

Pondering thus, Ivan inhaled his cigarette-smoke, and felt the fine thrills of a subtle intoxication creeping along his nerves till, at length, his thoughts took a new turn. Standing, as he did, upon a threshold, looking through an open doorway out upon active life, he considered those things which he should force from the world for himself; and first of these, in his desire, was that knowledge which results only from experience. Kept all his life in the shadows of an unscalable wall of officialism, there had, nevertheless, reached his ears the first inarticulate rumors of that great movement of the youth of Russia towards enlightenment, towards education, towards individual understanding—a movement unique in the annals of the educational history of the world. From this period for many years all the youth of that tremendous Empire—every boy, every girl, from the highest to the lowest, was to rise up, alone, uninfluenced, demanding of age and guardianship the right to go forth into the world to work, to study—to learn, in fine, how a great country might in the future be developed. For a long time, even at Klin, within the walls of the Corps, Ivan had heard tales almost incredible in their strangeness of bitterness and rupture among the finest families between father and son, mother and daughter:—the members of the old regime against the self-constituted advocates of the new. Nor did a few months put an end to this incomprehensible movement. Sonya Kovalevsky, in the company of her chivalrously nominal young husband, had left her parental estate and was at work in Heidelberg, perfecting that mathematical genius that was to make her known throughout the scientific world. Following her brilliant example, went a small army of young, upright and earnest women and girls, by whom half the universities in Europe were presently invaded, by no means, as was soon learned, to the detriment of the collegiate standing, either in ethics or in learning. And as college after college opened its doors to these young seekers after truth, bigoted Russia stood aghast at the incalculable prospect of the future.

More knowledge of these facts, and information of and experience in half a hundred other matters, did Petersburg promise its new lieutenant; and the more he thought of it all, the more eager did he become to embark at once upon this new existence. Nor was the time of his departure far away. He was just a month past his twentieth birthday when, upon a bitter October morning, he was admitted once more to his father's sanctum, this time to say good-bye. During the brief interview, Michael exhibited a touch of feeling, perceiving which Ivan felt a brief pang that he could not match it. But when a roll of twenty-five hundred rubles was placed in his hands as the allowance for his first six months, the young man's gratitude was sincere enough and deep enough to satisfy the father, who knew more than his son of the expenses entailed by a life in one of the crack regiments of the guard, and who informed Ivan a little sarcastically that his lieutenant's pay ought not to do more than keep him properly gloved and shod.

By the time he emerged from that celebrated closet, with his commission, his passport, and three letters of recommendation, together with his money, in his uniform pockets, Ivan found that his hand-luggage had already been carried out and placed in the sleigh that was to carry him on the first brief stage of his journey into the great world. And, as he left the palace and entered the square, his officer's swagger was just a trifle overdone. For he had shot up, as it were, in a night: he was twenty and a personage at last!

The journey northward across the snowy flats was all a delight to the traveller. Those odd little first trains that ran over the famous "ruler line" between the two Russian capitals, were still sources of wonder and delight to the peasants of the scattered villages now beginning to spring up along the railway; and each stopping-point found the train surrounded by a throng of fur-clad individuals, many of whom had travelled some versts to see the train: perhaps accompanying a friend who was to travel a short distance therein; perhaps to get a load of merchandise or freight destined for a distant town; or, perhaps, just for the sake of seeing the engine, the cars, and the crowd that would assemble about them. Many of these last were country priests, idle on weekdays, desolate enough in their unique isolation, glad to seek any sort of distraction for its own sake, and even more eager than their peasant inferiors for the distinction of a single word of greeting or command from one of the lords of passage. Ivan was pleased to alight frequently; get a brief walk in the sharp air; address a word or two to some adoring native; and scatter a handful of kopecks among the occasional children of the station-masters. But these paltry happenings were all forgotten, and his heart full to bursting, when at last, on the evening of the second day, there gleamed, far ahead through the dusk, the red lights of St. Petersburg.

* * * * *

The first week of a young man's independence: his entrance into the exalted rank of high-born bachelorhood—can it ever again be brought up out of the past a distinct, coherent memory? Hardly. For Ivan and the capital spun together in the wildest of dances, during the first days of their meeting. Ivan's mind whirled in a chaos of regimental introductions and instruction, wearying hunts for suitable bachelor quarters, long afternoon hours filled with the pungent smell of tanbark and the careerings of a horse with whom he never came to be on terms of absolute equality; evenings spent in the glamour of strange restaurants, the discussion of French entrees, and the contemplation of much-dressed denizens of the high and the half worlds; and, finally, retirement in a room at the Hotel Bellevue, where a young lieutenant with only two thousand rubles in his pocket was not a person of any special importance.

This haze of memory terminated, finally, and objects appeared in a clearer atmosphere, when young Gregoriev became half-owner of a charming apartment in the irreproachable Bashkov Pereolouk, ten minutes' walk from his barracks, in partnership with a fellow-officer, one Vladimir de Windt, destined to become his friend of friends. And shortly after this momentous step, Ivan took another, by presenting his card in the Serghievskaia, numero 843, where his aunt, Madame Dravikine, vouchsafed him ten minutes of her much-besought time, it being the afternoon of one of her receptions. In her small, but admirably arranged drawing-rooms, were gathered the cream of a certain set of Petersburg society, now met for the first time this season, and making the rooms echo with their particular variety of scandalous, intensely personal news acquired during a long summer, and apparently having been held back for exploitation at this special hour. Unintelligible as it proved to Ivan's unsophisticated ears, he listened with awe to the sound of royal, and other lofty and sacred names bandied about with a familiarity that was the opposite of respect.

By some imperceptible means, Madame Dravikine saw to it that her nephew came in contact with those people who could be useful to him; and she was satisfied, if slightly surprised, to see the ease with which he talked. Ivan himself wondered that he felt so little embarrassment in entering into the mood of the hour, and, while he talked, drank a great many cups of tea, each of which contained a considerable quantity of rum. But all the time he kept an eye over his shoulder, in the hope of catching some glimpse of his cousin Nathalie. Time passed, and the young lady did not appear. Ivan longed but did not dare to inquire about her. So, at last, he walked back to his apartment, arm in arm with de Windt, who had been no less surprised than pleased at discovering him in the house of so established a leader as Madame Dravikine. De Windt, himself a celebrated dandy, began, as they left the Serghievskaia.

"You are an enigma—a deceiver, Ivan Mikhailovitch! Here it is a week since you arrived. You profess to know no one. But you managed immediately to join quarters with me; and now "—he stopped, turning from the wind to light his cigarette—"now, on the first afternoon you are left alone, you immediately appear at one of the best-known houses in the Admiralty quarter, where you seem as much at home as—I myself!"

Ivan echoed his companion's laugh. He had gauged the real depth of de Windt's conceit, and knew him to be, at bottom, both sincere and just in his estimates of men and things. "I ought to be at home there, at least," he observed, quietly. "Caroline Ivanovna—Madame Dravikine—is my aunt."

"St. Serge!—And you let us dub you 'bonhomme nouveau'!—Grand Diable, Ivan Mikhailovitch, had you had the choice of Petersburg, you could not have selected a better lanceuse than Countess Caroline! On my word, your saint favors you!"

And Ivan, who shrugged away the whole affair, found Monsieur de Windt perfectly right. Fortune had stationed herself at his shoulder, at last; and the young man did well docilely to obey her whispered directions. In a month, there were a thousand young men about town, far above the station of a Gregoriev, who would have given half their prospects for Ivan's present position. But the fickle goddess loves well to show her face to him who has never sought to lift her veil; and to Ivan, whom she had hitherto served so ill, she chose suddenly to shower with all the things that youth desires. The young man found that, many and varied as had been his dreams of the new life, reality surpassed them all. Work, consisting of regimental duties and musical study, had taken a large place in his mental picture of the present; and these things, with an occasional holiday spent in exploring the new city, or, better, alone in the company of his aunt, were to constitute all his work and recreation. Moreover, he had, perhaps, secretly pictured himself neglecting his prescribed duties for those musical studies which he had hoped at last to undertake seriously, at the recently founded Conservatoire: perhaps under its founder and chief instructor, the great Rubinstein; at least under the second professor, the worshipful Zaremba, whilom conductor of the opera.—These occupations, conceived during long, wakeful nights in the dormitory of the Corps, at Moscow, had seemed to him, at that time, details of a nearly perfect life. But Lieutenant Gregoriev of the imperial guard, man-about-town and nephew of Countess Dravikine, could afford to laugh at his childish ideas of a "manly" existence.

First of all, Ivan soon discovered that, in winter, regimental duties were practically nil. Half the privates of his regiment had been dismissed to their native villages. The rest, though nominally in barracks, and paraded once or twice a month (very badly), were wont to eke out their half-pay (supposed to be whole, but actually shared with two lofty administrators whose names were known to a certain astute Moscow official) by working in the Artels that ply their various crafts in the Russian cities throughout the winter season. The chief duty of the officers, then, was to act as escort to members of the royal family when they took formal outings, or made short journeys to Peterhof or such of the country palaces as were within driving distance of the Hermitage. Also, certain mornings of each week were spent at the riding-school; and others in the practice of fencing and shooting, or the perusal of the drill manual. The afternoons and evenings were free, in so far as a member of smart society can ever be free, considering the necessity of being seen in every private or public place of amusement considered "the thing" at the moment. And, though Ivan was far too much of a novice to perceive any iron underneath the flowers on the chains he had voluntarily donned, he soon discovered that regular study of any kind was impossible for him in that atmosphere.

Ivan's regiment had always been a popular one in the capital; and, at the end of the first six weeks of the new season, there was in it no officer more sought-after than young Prince Gregoriev—"a nephew of the Dravikines, you know." And this "young Prince"—who had himself never been known to use his title, lost no time in picking up the manners and the jargon of his small, new world. The thing that, in the beginning, amazed him most, however, was the attitude towards him of his aunt; whom he viewed with deep respect as the mother of Nathalie. He was slow to understand Madame Dravikine's habit of surrounding herself with young men; or the fact that she had had it assiduously whispered about that her sister, the mother of Ivan, had been married when she was herself a child scarce out of arms. But he wondered to find how very few of his aunt's intimates remembered the age of her daughter, now for many years convent-wrapped. His first moment of disillusion came on the day that his aunt informed him, with considerable asperity, that his pretty cousin was not a person to be mentioned in their circle—the reason given—that "she was not yet out,"—sounding rather flimsy even to his trusting ears. Still, he was given to understand that, in all probability, Nathalie would be presented next winter, at one of the court balls; on which day, Caroline admitted, wearily, to herself, her special reign must end. But to her, seasoned through fifteen years of unavoidable pretence, it was impossible to see the effect of her customary fiction of existence, upon a mind hitherto so unused to feminine subterfuge as that of Sophia's son.

Ivan, troubled at heart by these and several other details of society life, made certain cautious observations to de Windt which sent that sophisticated young man into tempests of mirth. But guileless Ivan, who had used no names, never realized that he himself was responsible, by his insensibility, for the failure of Madame Dravikine's latest attempted flirtation, which took the drawing-rooms of Petersburg by storm that December, and set men and women alike laughing cruelly over the fall of Countess Caroline's carefully constructed age, which was announced, en haute voix, by her nephew, at a ball. At the same time, it was also, in all probability, this same incident, that saved poor Nathalie another year of seclusion and prayers. For, had not the world already found her out, it is scarcely probable that the gay Countess, arrived at the actual hour of abdication, would have had the courage to bid her youth good-bye, and take up her place behind an exquisite debutante.

It was odd, perhaps, that Ivan was not at once banished from the sunshine of his aunt's favor. But, for some reason, she chose to retain him among her circle of devotees, sore as was his heart and disabused his mind, of all illusion concerning the woman whom he had hitherto looked up to as the single true companion, gay counsellor, gentle philosopher, of his unhappy mother; and whom he now saw, perhaps rather unjustly, as a mere, deceptive, heartless mondaine.

There were, however, in the society of the Russian capital into which Ivan had been so swiftly drawn, an infinite variety of other types who amused, pleased, occasionally interested, their new companion and observer. Petersburg was still under the stimulus of its changed rule. Nicholas, the Iron Czar, a man stern, unlovable and unsocial, was dead. With him had ended alike the horrors of a dreadful war and the lifeless formalities which, throughout his reign, had served as the only court functions. Just now a young Emperor, delight of his people and his court, husband, moreover, of the most charming of Princesses, was manifesting as much interest in evening gayeties as he did during the daytime in those gigantic, newly projected reforms to which his wife and his favorite minister were so ardently urging him. The six months' court mourning, now thrown back, had revealed a lining of glowing rose. St. Petersburg, from humblest serf to Czarevitch, was filled with life and joy. And the society of the capital had plunged into a fever of gayety unknown for twenty years. Amusements began at noon and ended the following dawn. The first entertainment of the day was the second breakfast:—for everybody naturally followed the French mode. Afterwards there was skating on the lakes of the Tauride; then the traditional drive down the Nevskiy Prospekt—a ceremony that shall endure till St. Petersburg is forgotten; then a round of calls at the houses of those old and noble families whose names demand that they open their doors daily to the younger of their class. Later, between eight and nine o'clock came dinner—a meal by no means neglected because of the tea, zakouski and sweets that had been consumed steadily since dejeuner. And at ten o'clock, dinner over and the theatre begun, Petersburg began to grow really wide awake and to enjoy itself. For of all nations in the world, the Russian is the latest. Your true Slav nobleman is always a night-owl. Languid at luncheon, he endures his drive, enjoys his dinner, enthuses at the opera, scintillates at supper, and is then roused to a full sense of the real business of life: dancing, gambling, or prolonged calls upon his friends; after which there is usually some sleighing-party to the ice-palace on the Neva, or, if nothing better offers, a round of the music-halls, which open only after the opera is closed. Yes, truly, after one month in this land, no one will deny that Paris has held too long the reputation that should belong to St. Petersburg: that of the gayest of all the gay cities of the world.

Thus, for some months—from October to January—Ivan lived, nor paused to reflect on the questionable usefulness of such a life. The boy had known too many wistful years to be easily inoculated by any reactive poison in his stimulant. All the quieter dreams of that secret, inner life of boyhood, were temporarily laid by. He failed to appreciate the real value of the life he had led; the gift that he had begun to develop in the finest, highest way. Had any one questioned him—though no one of his present world would have dreamed of so doing, he would doubtless have laughed at the suggestion of returning to the old ways. But whether such questions would or would not have set him, afterwards, to some furtive weighing of respective values, it is impossible to say. Still, one may be permitted to hope the best of one's hero; or how impress a languid public with his qualities?

Madame Dravikine, despite her little discomfiture, would nevertheless have declared the season from October to January perfect—save, possibly, for a single gap in the royal coterie, and that in a spot that she did not habitually frequent. As a matter of fact, it was only in January that there returned to the capital, after nearly a year's absence, possibly, the Empress excepted, the finest woman in Petersburg: sister of the Iron Czar, and aunt of the present Emperor—the Grand-Duchess Helena Pavlovna, voluntary leader of the reform party in the capital. This great lady, immediately upon her return, doffed her prolonged mourning and threw open once more the doors of her famous salon. And it was through her—sister of kings—that Ivan, flocking with the rest of his world to her famous drawing-rooms, returned after a little, back to his best self.

Her Royal Highness was a pattern of energy in all she undertook; and it had been the habit of her lifetime to receive three evenings a week. On Monday, on Wednesday, and on Friday she was at home: on each night to a different world. On Mondays, with Milutin throned on her right hand, she received the homage of the various members of the Council, each with his pet bundle of intrigues; and deftly encouraged the clamor of controversy sure to be roused among these ministers of varied persuasion. On Wednesdays she sat alone in the centre of her salon, laughing at and with the pretty world that came to flutter about her, in its richest plumage and most changeable humor. Finally, on Friday, she rewarded herself for duties done. Dressed quietly in black, with merely a scrap of old point on her high, white head, she gave her hands, her brains, and the refinement of her fine senses to—the musicians and the music of Russia. For music was her recreation and her passion; and she had created for it and for herself such a salon as is scarcely to be equalled in history. No caste save that of ability was known on these nights. Artists, uncouth and shy, who would have flown at the thought of a royal command, flocked hither, sure of a genial welcome, artistic appreciation, and absolute freedom from the dreaded fashionables of the unknown world. For the Emperor himself could hardly have got an invitation to his royal aunt's Fridays "at home."

It was Vladimir de Windt (who, upon further acquaintance, betrayed many hidden and unexpected talents,) who carried Ivan, experimentally, to one of these Fridays. For de Windt, who had in him, deeply hidden, tenderly cherished, that germ of artistic comprehension that is not to be acquired by any means, divined the same thing in his new-found companion, and took a great risk to prove his surmise true. Ivan had not an inkling of what Vladimir ventured in taking him to that exclusive little palace, where, did his protege prove a boor, he knew well he should never find a place for himself again. But Vladimir had spent many an evening at the opera with Ivan; and had studied well the expressions that Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, even Flotow, at his best, could bring out upon his companion's mobile face. And her Royal Highness was well known to reward the discoverer of any new man of talent in her special art.

On that mid-January evening of Ivan's first appearance at the palace on the quays, the scene that greeted his eyes was the same that afterwards became so familiar to and so beloved by him. In the centre of the square, well-lighted, bare salon, which, used only for these evenings, contained not one of the customary hangings, or any medley of useless toys and ornaments, stood a great Erard, its shining top raised, flanked by two long stands heaped with music of every description. At the right of the instrument, willingly accepting second place, stood the arm-chair of the Grand-Duchess; and about her, in an informal circle, each one quite at ease, sat or stood twenty or thirty men, young and old, with possibly half a dozen women. At the piano, engaged in marking a sheet of manuscript music, was a short, heavy-set person, with a leonine mane and deep, brilliant eyes: a man known all over Europe, and to be known throughout America: one Anton Rubinstein, pianist, a maker of music. At his elbow, but talking to a frail-looking woman, was his brother, Nicholas, destined always to be overshadowed by Anton, but to whom the cause of Russian music was to owe far more, in the end, than to the more showy virtuoso. In the knot about Madame Helena's chair were Zaremba, Serov, Glinka, Balakirev, Stassov, Lechetizsky—for the moment a special protege of the Grand-Duchess, and even young Rimsky-Korsakov, at this time merely a Conservatoire pupil. Finally, far away, at the end of the room, stood a long table, whereon were two unlighted samovars, flanked by golden platters of sandwiches, cakes and caviare, together with piles of untouched plates.

At the entrance of the two young men, de Windt grasping Ivan by the arm, the Grand-Duchess turned, in time to hear their names announced. And after a moment, she summoned them to her, with a slight gesture. Then, breaking off her argument with Ivan's future biographer, she held out a hand for de Windt to salute.

"Vladimir Vassilyitch, I expected you.—Have you enrolled yourself under Zaremba yet, for proper instruction?"

De Windt laughed. "Your Highness should get his Majesty and my Colonel to claim less time of me!"

"Bah, Monsieur Impertinence! The yacht club's green tables see more of you than your Colonel, as we all know.—Whom have you brought me?"

"My brother officer and good friend, Lieutenant Ivan Mikhailovitch Gregoriev, lately of Moscow."

Her Highness started and straightened. "Gregoriev!—The son of Gregoriev of Moscow, here!—Are you aware, sir—" Suddenly she stopped, her gaze meeting that of Ivan, and noting the deathly pallor of his face, the sudden fire in his eyes. With an effort, she restrained herself, and presently observed, in a different tone:

"I have heard of your father, Lieutenant.—Are you a musician?"

A shred of color crept back into Ivan's lips; but his voice was unsteady as he said, in a low, rather rough voice: "I ask the pardon of your Royal Highness, and beg leave to go.—The fault and the mistake of my presence are entirely mine!"

At these words, de Windt turned towards him, sharply; but their hostess interrupted his first syllable:

"You have made no mistake, sir. Vladimir Vassilyitch is responsible for all that he does. You are, I presume, a lover of music?"

"Indeed yes, your Highness!"

"You play?"

Ivan, glancing towards the piano, encountered the keen look of the world's master-pianist. "I have played at home, as a boy, for—my mother," he answered, the last word uttered very low.

A brief silence followed his speech. The little scene was unusual, and had by this time caught the attention of the room. Ivan felt the hostile fire of many eyes fixed on him, and perceived dimly what they had resolved:—that he was to be tried, here, as others had been before him—rather cruelly.

Finally the Duchess herself glanced towards the piano. "Anton, have you marked your expression?"

"That is finished.—But I have not as yet suggested a fingering for the cadenza."

"No matter.—Ivan Gregoriev, Monsieur Rubinstein has brought us a new manuscript—a barcarolle, you said, Anton?—finished to-day, and brought here to be played to me. He writes a clear hand. Sit down, then, and let us hear you interpret it."

"I, madame!"

"I said so."

Ivan flushed crimson, and then went white again. An instant later he smiled: smiled as on the night of his initiation at the Corps des Cadets, when his tormentors could not make him cry out. Without another word he walked to the piano and seated himself in the place vacated by Rubinstein, who, angered at the thought of having his new creation murdered by a tyro, speedily betrayed his mood to the company, who regrouped themselves near the instrument. After this, the silence became absolute.

A long, tense moment, and then,—a sound broke the stillness: a long and delicate tremolo, high in the treble. Instinctively, Helena Pavlovna closed her eyes. The vibration increased, descended an octave, continued an instant alone, and then was joined by a second tone by which the melody was begun. It was a passage simple to read and played simply, but with both delicacy and understanding, and without any of that rubato or other affectation by which young Lechetizsky was already beginning to mar his style. It was music pure, almost classical—the work not of a virtuoso, but of a composer. And Rubinstein, leaning against the wall, his eyes on Ivan's face, felt his humor change. His work, if better than he had hitherto believed it, was certainly not being spoiled as yet. Still—he must wait till the turning of the page, where began some of those elaborate pyrotechnics that cheapen so much of his work. Could this modest youth accomplish anything intricate? Probably not. And yet—the fellow was calm enough. Even Rubinstein failed to divine the extent of the strain under which he labored.

Ivan had begun the barcarolle trembling. The first page successfully accomplished, however, he lost himself a little, and began to feel the old, musical, sixth sense creeping through him, and emerging, gloriously, at his fingertips. Confidence increased. He had turned the page. Ah! Here, truly, was need of it. The ensuing passage was utterly beyond his rusty skill! One hurried glance told him that. Afterwards—he went calmly on. Rubinstein, listening more at ease, was seen to give a sudden start, stare an instant at the performer, and then, catching Nicholas' eye, lift his brows in protest, to the only man who had heard the composition before. Ivan was retaining the melody, picking it unerringly from the mass of blurring notes, and substituting for the difficulties of the accompaniment, a simple, graceful set of broken chords.

At the beginning of the second part of the development the performer, exalted, even a little intoxicated with his sense of success, essayed a bit of improvisation considerably more important than the first. This time he ceased absolutely to follow Rubinstein's harmony, and, retaining simply the melody, changed, however, to a minor key, he produced an odd, rhythmical little series of syncopations so rich, so strange, and withal so unlawful that when, omitting the conventional cadenza, he plunged into a coda of his own, Rubinstein flew furiously to the piano and would have struck the youth's hands from the keys but for a gesture from her Highness so imperious and so unmistakable that the great pianist's angry protests died upon his lips, and he joined, perforce, in the tumult of applause that ended the unparalleled performance.

Ivan found himself the centre of an intensely curious throng. Congratulation, commendation of a two-edged sort, questions and ejaculations, flew round him like hail. Then there fell a sudden silence as the Princess, leaning heavily on her cane, approached the piano through a little lane respectfully opened for her in the throng. But it was to Rubinstein, not Ivan, that she addressed herself:

"What has this young man been about, Anton?—Your style is certainly very much improved!"

"Your Highness, it was not my barcarolle you heard, but a clever bit of improvisation on my theme—my own development having proved, no doubt, too much for Monsieur Gregoriev's technique."

Helena Pavlovna cast one answering look at this man whose musical talent was surpassed only by his well-known, frantic jealousy of every possible rival. And then, taking the abashed Ivan by the hand, she turned and faced her guests:

"My friends, we have listened, to-night, to the debut of one of Russia's talented sons. I introduce to you, in Monsieur Ivan Mikhailovitch Gregoriev, a new composer; one who, a Russian of Russians, shall, I predict, carry the songs of our country beyond herself, and proclaim them over civilized Europe!"

A smile of self-forgetfulness, of an enthusiasm that betrayed the beauty of her royal soul, shone upon the lips and from the eyes of this true Princess, as Ivan, his heart beating to suffocation, fell impetuously upon one knee before her and raised her frail hand to his lips.

It was indeed his debut in the Russian world of music; and alas! it gained for him fewer friends than enemies. For, of all types of men and women upon earth, those into whom Euterpe has breathed her spirit, are certainly the most practised in envy, hatred, malice and all uncharitableness.



CHAPTER VIII

IN CAMP

It cannot be denied that, on that momentous evening, the marked interest of the Grand-Duchess in Ivan and his general success, were out of all proportion to a performance which, as a matter of fact, any one in the room could probably have duplicated. True, Princess Helena's unerring judgment had at once marked the originality, the distinctiveness, of the young man's improvisation; though she did not fail also to mark his numberless transgressions of the rigid laws of harmony. And Ivan himself, when all was over, began to feel some little mortification that he had so openly betrayed his pleasure in his accomplishment; and he presently discovered that de Windt himself could teach him points in progression and modification of which he knew nothing: whereupon, behold him once again on fire to get to work at his long-delayed, vaguely-foreshadowed profession.

His rendering of the now celebrated barcarolle, had given him an unquestioned place in the salon of the Grand-Duchess, which henceforth he frequented regularly. And there he met with both adulation and opposition. To his secret surprise, Rubinstein, together with his co-adjutor Zaremba, professed great enthusiasm concerning him, and unceasingly urged him to enter the Conservatoire. This, at length, he, in the company of de Windt, tentatively did: taking his place in one of Zaremba's classes of composition, and undertaking the study of orchestration under Serov. Here Ivan showed himself phenomenally prolific in the production of exercises; and he grasped the difficult principles of composition in a remarkably short space of time. Unfortunately, however, formal work did not content him; and one day he carried to Rubinstein two or three eccentric little pieces, on which he had expended both energy and admiration. Here, at last, the great Anton found his opportunity. He whipped Ivan's work to rags with sarcastic criticism; leaving not one measure untouched by his caustic and rather brutal wit. Next day he received his young pupil's resignation from his classes; and the gay world regained its pet. For Ivan, in a fit of childish anger, left his work behind him, and plunged into a furious round of dissipations, of which gambling now formed the chief. Dawn after dawn saw him leaving the green tables of either the "Nobility" or the Yacht clubs; and, as if to applaud his defection, fate decreed that Ivan could not lose. Baccarat, roulette, piquet, even whist,—Ivan won at them all, till one drawer in his escritoire was stuffed full of lightly won notes.

The Countess Dravikine, it seemed, was highly pleased at her nephew's return to what she considered the only proper society for a member of her family. And it was probably through some communication of hers that, during the second week in April, Ivan was astonished at the receipt of a very good-humored letter from his father, containing much specious advice upon his conduct, together with the intelligence that, henceforth, his allowance should be doubled. At this time of his life, indeed, Ivan might have thrown money into the street by handsful and still have felt no want. But, as if to add mockery to the situation, this Ivan was the least extravagant of young men. His wants were singularly few; and the chief items in his expenditure consisted in the lending of money to his brother officers; all of whom eventually paid their debts.

There was one thing, one brief but delightful incident, indirectly brought about by Madame Dravikine, which Ivan had to cherish during the long months that ensued.

During the whole of this winter of her cousin's introduction to the great world, Mademoiselle Nathalie Alexeiovna had remained shut away from any possible encounter, in the Catherine Institute. As the spring advanced, however, Mademoiselle Nathalie's mother began to receive rather disturbing reports concerning the health of the young girl. She was neither eating nor sleeping; she looked pale and worn; and she lay on her bed during all the hours of recreation. So Madame la Comtesse finally sacrificed a charming luncheon and a musical, and went, one afternoon, to see her daughter for herself. The sight did not prove reassuring. Nathalie was certainly not well. And the outcome was that, upon the advice of a doctor, the young lady obtained one month's leave from her studies and returned home to amuse herself, agreeably, under the wing of her mother, in the house in the Serghievskaia.

In spite of these things, the details of home life proved less diverting than the young lady had hoped. To her, accustomed for so many years to a regular routine of life and the continual companionship of girls of her own age, the fashionable mode of existence in her father's house was confusing and unpleasant. Her slight illness did not confine her to her room. On the contrary, the doctors had prescribed much open-air exercise, together with early hours. These things not being in the least in her mother's line of occupations, Mademoiselle Nathalie was driven to her own resources, and to arrange some sort of programme for herself. Among the many serfs of the household there was one, Ekaterina Nicolaievna, who had been her nurse in infancy, and, since the departure of her demoiselle to the Institute, had become a kind of charge d'affaires of the serfs' house. Thus the old woman was accustomed, quite on her own responsibility, to leave the house every morning, some hours before her ladyship was awake, and betake herself to the various markets to buy food for the serfs' quarters, stopping, on the way home, to say her prayers before Our Lady of Kazan, and regaining the Serghievskaia before the Countess had rung for the first time. These excursions, of which, as a matter of fact, her mother was ignorant, Nathalie now joined, and they soon became a delight to the young girl, who was still child enough to enjoy early morning rising. It was to her an excitement to find herself abroad in the quiet streets, to study the men and women hurrying to their work, to watch the quaint sights of the hour, listen to the hoarse cries of the innumerable basket-vendors, and stand by, half terrified, half ashamed, while old Ekaterina bargained and haggled and quarrelled over her regular purchases of fish, casha, buckwheat flour and kvass, which was never made in the Dravikine household, but bought by each servant for himself out of the inevitable "tea-money."

On a certain morning in April, a few days before Easter, all the street merchants were abroad unusually early, and in great numbers. Two days before there had been a thaw; but now the streets were a sheet of glittering ice, and walking was a precarious business. Nathalie and her companion, their day's buying over, had just finished their devotions: which the girl went through with a reverence quite as deep as that of the old woman. Emerging upon the Nevskiy Prospekt, they had gone but a few steps from the famous little chapel, when Nathalie felt a light touch upon her arm, and lifted her eyes to behold a slender figure, wrapped in a fur-lined military coat, bending before her. As his head was raised, the young girl gave a little cry, upon which her guardian seized her arm protectingly, glaring, the while, at the presumptuous one:

"Let me go, Katrina! It is my cousin—from Moscow—Ivan Mikhailovitch!—I knew that you were in Petersburg, Ivan. But—you are out very early!"

Ivan gave a joyous laugh. He was, as a matter of fact, just returning from a night of festivity at the Nobility Club. But this, naturally, was not to be confessed.

"No earlier than you, at least, mademoiselle," he returned. "And will you accept my escort to wherever you are going?"

Nathalie gave one, quick glance into the old woman's scowling face. Then the demon of mischief entered into her, and she accepted Ivan's offer.

That fifteen-minute walk to the Serghievskaia, with the lynx-eyed guardian tramping at his heels, wrought new havoc with Ivan. It took sixty seconds to perceive that the closely cherished ideal of his boyhood had been worthy of every moment of adulation expended on it. Two minutes more, and the intensity of past emotions was quite swallowed up in the joy of the present. In just what light the maiden regarded him, she made it difficult enough for him to guess. But the interpretation of his own feelings,—this furious throbbing of his heart, the awkward hesitancy of his speech,—was no very difficult matter. When at last he left her, at her mother's door, he made himself an inward promise that this should be the first of many such meetings. And when he reached his own quarters, it was to amaze de Windt by the radiance of his expression and his apparent lack of fatigue. Though he retired presently to his room and lay down there, he found sleep to be a thing entirely undesirable, considering the subject of his waking dreams.

Next morning, somewhat earlier than on the previous day, he entered the church of the Virgin of Kazan. But though for an hour and a half he saw every soul that entered there, his cousin did not come. That morning was a black one. In the afternoon, driven by his folly, he presented himself, at an absurd hour, at the house of his aunt. There he was received, promptly. But he was not long left in doubt about the nature of his welcome. Madame Dravikine, it appeared, had learned the whole tale of yesterday's walk from the dragoness-serf; and her nephew had to endure a short and sarcastic sermon upon the nature of etiquette for young girls which finally sent him from the house, white-faced and furious. Truly, if his aunt had vented upon him her preposterous species of jealousy, she had gained thereby no good-will from the young man, who worshipped her daughter from afar as a creature scarcely to be treated as a mortal being.

Blindly persistent, Ivan refused to be discouraged by his misadventure. For a month, at every hour of the day, he watched the door of the Dravikine residence; but failed, by any strategy, to catch a single glimpse of his pretty cousin. Nay—one exception there was! Upon a reception-day he did find her in her mother's drawing-room, seated before a samovar, prepared to answer "oui" or "non" to any remark addressed to her. But Ivan had kept his place beside her for less than ten minutes when he was superseded by a deprecating envoy from the Countess. Fifteen minutes later he left the house and went raging home, to endure, for the first time, serious pangs of jealousy. And, as he sat listening to de Windt's calm prophecies of Nathalie's success, next winter, as a debutante, he cursed volubly, under his breath, to think how soon every wretched roue in the city would be free to pollute the spotless child with glances, with words, even, in dances, with a clasp of her waist! De Windt, watching him covertly, said to himself that by that time, should this madness continue, Ivan would be fit only for an asylum.

Meantime, the season advanced. The great thaw came; and there would be no more snow for months. Russia was a sea of mud. All young things were harkening to the call of the spring: and youthful blood, like sap, flowed fast. Ivan, vindictively acknowledging that, for the present, his ideal was quite beyond him, became, to a certain extent, interested in another woman, whose future career was destined, indeed, to touch his at points many and strange.

This young person was called Irina Petrovna; and she was a recent graduate of the Government School of Singing. Her father was one of the violins in the opera orchestra. And it was a great day for him when his daughter made her debut on the boards over his head. She made her first appearance in a small role of a Mozart opera; achieving precisely the success predicted for her by her ironic master: a success of form, of face, above all, of manner. She had but a moderate voice, this remarkable young person. But she suffered no stage-fright; and though the ladies of the audience regarded her with no enthusiasm, it was to be observed that the vast majority of the men in the house, gave her brisk applause: hailing with delight this legitimate member of the troupe whom it would certainly be worth while to ask out to supper.

Ivan, rarely enough attracted by women of her type, was in a dangerously susceptible mood. And de Windt was hardly more displeased than surprised at the invariable attendance of Ivan on those evenings when Mademoiselle Petrovna was billed to appear. Ivan himself made no great effort to analyze the appeal she made to him: an appeal to the baser side of his nature. But, though he met the young woman more than once, it soon became evident, even to his friend, that he had no intention of attaching himself seriously to her following. What it was that held him back, he did not know: the memory of two sad, gray eyes, a voice raised for him in warning at the moment when it was about to die into eternal silence; or the nearer vision of a slender, dark-crowned maid, clad in whitest draperies;—who shall say? At any rate, Ivan was evidently determined to keep this latter picture unrivalled in his heart, let richly dangerous fascinations call to him as they might.

But the young singer herself, it would appear, cherished no such protective vision. Her professional career in Petersburg was a brief one. By mid-May, a fortnight before the opera season came to an end, Mademoiselle Petrovna had left the company and was no longer available for pleasant little suppers at the Bellevue or the Courteliain. The matter of her going—and more especially its manner—formed a week's subject of surmise at the three great clubs. But the retreat of the charming debutante was not discovered. And if she had taken with her a companion, the identity of that person was a matter rather of surmise than of knowledge. For which reasons, probably, the gossip about the affair gradually ceased, though the subject that replaced it was common enough, neither spiced nor salted, but found, by more people than one, to be as indigestible as it was unsavory.

To be plain, June was at hand; and every officer in that capital of officers, was preparing for his ten weeks of annual drill and roasting in the camp at Krasnoe-Selo.

In considering the peculiarity of the army regulations in Russia, it becomes necessary, first of all, to take brief survey of that greatest and most dread factor of all the life in that Empire, neglected though it has been by every commentator and critic of civilized nations: a factor which stands first in the life of every Russian, from the highest official of the cumbrous governmental machine down to the humblest descendant of the serfs; both of whom, with every member of every class between them, lives, and for ten centuries have lived, at the mercy of that grim and terrible,—climate.

It has for some years been the custom among certain foreign nations, notably the great English-speaking mother and her rebellious offspring, to set forth, in various forms of print, many individual opinions of Russia, its people, and its government. Here all the scribbling of the quasi-authoritative, statistical variety has lately focussed itself, bursting forth in a very tornado of long-winded, vilificacious ignorance. Certain subjects may be suitable vehicles for the exploiting of this species of personal vanity. But of them the most incongruous, and the most abused, has been the great, white, silent, unprotesting land. Nothing about it, from its origin to its beverages, but has had to bear the brunt of outrageous comment, for which the justification proffered is usually some six weeks' summer residence in the capital, and perhaps one or two brief "arranged" conversations (by means of an interpreter), with an official of the third or fourth grade. Such the source of many a book; though the few English-speaking foreigners who have enjoyed ten or more years of residence among the Russian people, would be slow to make a single generalization anent that remarkable race.

In this class of writings, however, and even among articles of a better type, there is, strangely enough, nowhere to be found so much as a straw's weight of stress laid upon the relentless, indestructible cause of so many of the woes of a country whose struggle for the bare means of subsistence has been Titanic. Nowhere is there any analysis of the power that has won so many victories against the one implacable enemy of Russia: nowhere any suggestion of the million strategic coups by which a handful of feeble human beings have again and again defeated this gigantic force. Above all, has no one ever given pause to the unquestionable fact that, supposing Russia to be (what she is not) five hundred years behind the rest of European civilization, she has had but one month out of the other nations' two, in which to progress. If her armies be worse drilled, less hardy, than those of her enemies, it is because they live their soldier-lives for scarcely one-third of the year. And finally, the half-brutal, half-savage, wholly ignorant condition of her one hundred and forty million peasants, is due, not in any wise to the tyranny of mere kings and overlords, but to the relentless, never-dying, never-staying cruelty of that unconquerable ruler, whose abuse of power is to be stopped by neither rebellion nor assassination; and whose heart is to be warmed to humanity by no tears, by no appeal; by the lashes of whose frozen knouts a great people has been beaten into apathy, their brains deadened through physical suffering, their children's children bearing a hopeless heritage down to generation after generation of those who wage, from birth to death, their dreary, dragging warfare with the real tyrant of Russia, monarch unlimited and unapproachable, the Winter of the North.

It is, then, in this grim fact, that there is to be found the origin of the curious custom of the Russian army to take all its lessons in the art of warfare, together with all discipline, drill, and general training, during those ten weeks of summer when the daily parade will not produce a hospitalful of frozen ears, hands and feet. During the winter, indeed, only the guard regiments, quartered in the large cities, are kept at anything like full complement, the whole army of the line dispersing to village and farm, country estate and smaller town, whence, in the first weeks in June, they come pouring into the half-dozen huge camps stationed at various points of the Empire. These camps had all of them been designed by Nicholas I., and they serve his purpose to this day. Of them all, the most important is naturally that nearest the capital and, therefore, under royal supervision: Krasnoe-Selo, distant from Petersburg between fifteen and eighteen miles, and about half a mile from the little town of that name. Thither, therefore, Ivan and Vladimir were about to proceed, with their regiment.

Naturally enough every cadet, before leaving his Corps, was made aware of many of the facts of this camp-life. But its more intimate details, those making the existence tolerable or intolerable, were to be discovered only by experience; and, moreover, depended largely upon the name and the reputation of the individual, and the standing of his regiment.

Ivan himself obtained considerable information from de Windt, to whom camp life was by no means a novelty. Certainly the work would be hard, the days long, and the quarters the opposite of luxurious. At the same time Ivan, rather weary of his idle existence, looked forward with some enthusiasm to aiding his captain in whipping their company into shape. Despite the fact that their regiment was one of the few that remained in barracks during the winter, it was in anything but "crack" condition. Indeed, as its under-officers admitted, sadly, among themselves, they were living now upon their past reputation, gained in a year when they had led the camp in marching, and won the medals for drill and the spotless nattiness of their arms and uniforms. They had fairly earned their nickname of the "Imperial Dandies." But that had been in the time of Mezentsoff. Since the day when his promotion had brought his adjutant, Brodsky, to the colonelcy, the regiment had retrograded steadily. And now, it appeared, they were about to reach their climax of disgrace. Already there were whispers in the air concerning the utter incompetency of their leader. But it was left for the first month at Krasnoe to reveal to the whole army the dire truth of the whispers.

Meantime, as the northern days lengthened till the night was a bare two hours in length, the great houses of the Admiralty quarter were closing, one by one. The city was filling with merchants, come down from Helsingfors and the various Finnish towns, for their annual holiday; and there was the usual invasion of ubiquitous tourists, whose dread of the Russian winter led them to visit the city at the dismal season when brown holland covers and fast-boarded windows shroud and coffin the corpse of the dead winter. In short, the season, Ivan's first season, was over. The imperial family were at Peterhoff. Tsarskoe-Selo was brilliant with arrivals from the cream of the court society, among whom, naturally, the Dravikines occupied a foremost place. The Grand-Duchess Helena, with both Rubinsteins in her train, had gone to Baden-Baden to drink the waters and listen to half a dozen summer concerts which the brothers were to conduct. Lastly, two young officers, Ivan and de Windt, were closing their snug apartment, and preparing kits suitable for tent accommodation. The younger of the two men, looking back over the happenings of his first winter in the great world, that first winter of his happiness, felt in his heart a pang of regret that those bright months were gone, carrying with them the great beautiful freshness which was so soon to pass out of his life forever. There might—nay, there should, be a hundred more winters, some one of which should bring with it events greater than any he had known. But never again would one of them hold for him a touch of the same unlooked-for delight, the same exquisite joy at the welcome of the world for him, that he had known this year. He wondered, vaguely, if his mother knew how all that bitterness of his birth, the sting of his father's whispered reputation, had been removed from him. And as he prayed that this might be, he yearned for one hour of her presence, of that unselfish interest in all that interested him; for but a dozen words of her gentle but unerring council, as he had scarcely yearned for her through the first days after her death. But Ivan was, at this time, little given to melancholies; and a laughing question from Vladimir in the next room, brought him back to realities and his man's work.

Thus, finally, on the second Monday in June, the regiment began its two-day march to camp; and bore the hours of unaccustomed walking badly enough to draw upon it the immediate attention of every colonel in the Corps. But its own colonel was not there to see. The senior Major led the men to their quarters; and it was not till they had encamped for four-and-twenty hours that Brodsky made his appearance in the luxurious double tent prepared for him at a little distance from the end of the officers' row.

A few days later, upon the evening of the eighteenth of the month, an erect, smartly uniformed young officer entered a tent midway down the narrow, canvas-lined street and flung himself, wearily, upon one of the two camp-beds that flanked the little room. It was several moments before he rose to remove his accoutrements, his boots and his clothes, wrap himself in a most unmilitary dressing-gown, and throw himself down once more with a sigh of relief.

It was past nine o'clock; but the sun was still above the edge of the horizon, and its beams had that soft, whitish, unnatural light of the northern summer night. A faint breeze came down from the waters of the gulf, lifting away the fetid odors of the huge camp, and bringing relief to the thousands of wet and dirty men who were half prostrated by heat and unwonted exercise. Ivan, who had lain gazing moodily through the lifted flap of the tent, had fallen into a light doze before de Windt, more than ever his companion, came quietly in, and repeated the actions of his comrade. Finally, when he was comfortably abed and puffing away at a short meerschaum, he turned to his comrade, stared at him for an instant, and then called him by name, twice.

At the second summons Ivan started, shook himself, and turned towards the other bed: "What did you say? When did you come in, Vladimir? How long since you left the mess?"

"Twenty minutes, about."

"And—?" Ivan paused, for an instant, while a frown appeared between his brows, "they are—discussing the usual theme?"

"All evening.—It seems there are developments.—But where were you for dinner?"

The frown deepened. "Potapoff of the engineers had asked me over to their mess—very civilly.—You know I've seen a good deal of him lately, because of that survey I've been working out.—I went, suspecting nothing. But I soon discovered it was only to see how much they could pump me with regard to—to this d—— situation of ours. I tell you, it's all through the camp."

De Windt sat up, with an ejaculation of deep disgust. "Well—you didn't—they didn't get anything out of you, did they?"

"Holy Virgin!—D'ye think I'm proud of the fix? D'ye think the regiment doesn't mean as much to me as to you?—I left them the minute tea came in; and I lay here thinking about it when I dozed off."

"Vladimir Vassilyitch, the thing can't go on. It can't! We'll be degraded for good. Two years hence, the report that a fellow's been in this regiment will come near ruining him.—And yet—what Brodsky's about, I simply can't fathom. He's been on parade exactly twice since we pitched tent; and both times, if the men hadn't known his general habits at manoeuvre, they'd have been stumped to obey. Zedarovsky said he could barely mumble.—Vladimir, the man's an animal.—But, I say, what are the developments you spoke of?"

De Windt was silent for an instant, studying the open expression of the clear-eyed, clean-cut young face before him. During the past winter the older man had conceived a friendship for Ivan such as he would hardly have believed himself capable of. Above all things, de Windt was proud of Ivan's scrupulous morality, and the almost incredible chivalry with which he regarded all women. Few men attempted to fathom the extent of his innocence. But it was a fact that conversations of a certain type were instinctively stopped when this young fellow entered a room—though it were the lounging-room of the notorious Yacht club itself. It was for this reason that de Windt paused for a full five minutes, and that Ivan's impatience was becoming visible, before he answered, gravely:

"Ivan Mikhailovitch, you've seen a good deal of our 'manly' existence this winter, in Petersburg. I imagine you've got your own opinion of it. We won't discuss that. But see here, when a man is seen continually neglecting his duty; when he is constantly rushing off, without a word to a soul, and is always seen in the same locality; when he's always half-drunk but refuses companionship, and threatens his servant with the knout if he examines the address on the letters he writes every few hours; when he seems to have lost any sense of duty or decency or position that he has attained to; what is the infallible explanation of that man's behavior?"

Ivan sprang to his feet. "You mean it's a woman?—Brodsky can't have married again, surely?"

De Windt smiled. In his mind he marvelled a little, even while he rejected the idea of either guile or idiocy in Ivan's simple question. "Why the secrecy, then?—and the ill-temper?—All the same it is a woman, though. We've all come to that conclusion.—As a matter of fact, Ivan, Zedarovsky swears he saw her, walking down officers' row, probably on her way to the village, two nights ago. By his watch, she had just time to catch the last train,—the eleven-twenty-five, for Petersburg. She was going rapidly, with her head down. She wore a thick white veil, too. And yet he swears also that—he recognized her."

"Recognized her! Great God, Vladimir, it's not—it can't be—any one we know?"

"Why not?"

"Oh!—Oh because—that brute!—It would be sickening to think of a woman's even dining with him!"

"That is probably precisely what she had been doing.—He's certainly getting rather reckless. But we compared notes; and nobody saw him that day after five-thirty; and Feodor, his orderly, was on guard at the tent door all evening, the officer of the watch says.—By Heavens, he'll have her—"

"But you haven't told me whom they say she is, Vladimir. Tell me!"

De Windt hesitated, and then, lifting his eyes to Ivan's, said, in a grave voice: "Why should you know, old chap?"

"Because I'm not the fool you take me for.—You've thought me effeminate, de Windt, I suppose, because I have never—cared to go in for certain things. But it's not effeminacy, believe me. It's—"

"Don't, Ivan! For Heaven's sake don't dream I want your confidence about any private matter. All I've ever thought was that you were infinitely more decent than the rest of us."

A faint flush crept over Ivan's face; but he waived the speech gravely, and renewed the question. "I do want to know, Vladimir; because I have a suspicion as to her identity. And—and if it should be the one I fear,—by Heaven—I've a plan that may help us! Tell me her name!"

"Zedarovsky says that it was—Irina Petrovna, the singer."

Ivan's face paled slightly as he said, in a low voice: "I had a presentiment it was she.—Well, Vladimir, wish me success! I'm going, to-morrow evening, when I've arranged matters a little, to Brodsky's tent to protest, in the name of the regiment, about his behavior."

"Ivan! Good God! He'll have you court-martialled and dismissed from the regiment!"

"He will do nothing of the sort. And if he does—better that, than have the old Second go to utter ruin."

"But—but—if you will be foolhardy, at least wait till you've given some one of the others an opportunity. One of the majors, or the Adjutant, might do it with less danger. Give them a chance, Ivan!"

"If all things were equal, Vladimir, I'd never dream of arrogating the interview to myself. But I have a certain power—at least, my father has, that may, perhaps, properly used, influence Brodsky.—At least, if it does not, nothing else in the world will!"

After this, though de Windt's curiosity was roused and he was eager to learn the unsuspected means the use of which had been so long delayed, he could get nothing but monosyllables out of Ivan, who soon showed plainly that he would say nothing more concerning it. And, indeed, when a young and honorable officer has come to the determination to use blackmail upon his Colonel, be the purpose never so laudable, it is not a matter that he is likely to talk of, even with his best friend.

Amazing though it may seem, and contrary to every rule of novelistic heroism, Ivan was determined to do a thing that he had been contemplating for a week: to bring the terrible, unknown, but accurately estimated power of his father's map of men to bear upon Colonel Brodsky of the Grenadier Guards; to return a sobered and battered leader to a regiment in want; and to rescue—for so Ivan put it to himself—a damsel in distress from the power of a brutal man, for whom she could not possibly have any real affection.

In the officers' mess of the Second Grenadiers, the head of the table was habitually occupied by the senior Major. From the first day of camp life, Colonel Brodsky had taken his meals in his tent—ostensibly alone. And, even when every officer and servant in the regiment could see Brodsky's orderly running back and forth from the mess-kitchen to his tent, carrying bottle after bottle of sparkling golden wine, the reason given was still the same: "The Colonel is too much occupied with regimental affairs to appear at mess."

Many a laugh had gone round the table at this excuse. But by now the joke was growing bitter; for every private in the camp spluttered in his kvass at the mere mention of the leader of that once gallant regiment. Within the month, the whole Second was suffering, keenly, under their disgrace. And for this reason the youngest lieutenant, when he entered the mess-room on the evening after his talk with de Windt, found himself the hero of the table. For Vladimir had taken pains, that day, to intimate pretty clearly to one or two comrades Ivan's expressed purpose. Throughout the meal the prospect was discussed, indirectly, or in whispers, between man and man; but even Ivan was a little startled when, supper ended, there came a sudden lifting of glasses to him, and a toast was drunk which, though silent, was unanimous. A moment or two later the young officer, with a visible straightening of his body, rose, bowed, and walked out of the tent. None followed him; for it was instinctively understood that he should return to report his failure or success, before retiring for the night.

The ranked order of the table was now broken up. The men pulled their chairs into informal groups, and sat together puffing at cigarettes, sipping tea, and talking, in a desultory fashion, while the underlying tension increased, and more than one man wondered a little at the weakness of his knees and the slight unsteadiness of the hand upholding glass or match. Vladimir de Windt, Ivan's acknowledged chum, was doubly concerned and doubly restless. He shuffled his chair from group to group, his eyes asking anxious and unanswerable questions of each comrade with whom he discussed the state of the weather. And, indeed, the great doubt in his mind was echoed in that of every man present: what would be the outcome of Ivan's audacity? If Brodsky took the remonstrance in bad part—and who doubted that he would?—what would be the fate of Gregoriev? Poor fellow! He had undertaken a quixotic task; and more than one of his fellow-officers regretted that they had not had the generosity to warn him of what he certainly should himself have realized—the strong possibility of disgrace.

In such wise there passed a quarter of an hour—twenty minutes—half an hour—finally, three-quarters. De Windt, now on his feet, was on the point of starting towards the Colonel's quarters, when—the suspense ended, and Ivan came quietly in. The young man's face was white and scowling as he seated himself at the table, poured himself a large drink of vodka and drank it off, amid the breathless attention of the whole mess. For three or four minutes they waited, patiently. But at last de Windt, who could restrain himself no longer, burst forth with:

"Ivan Mikhailovitch, for Heaven's sake tell us what has happened! What did he say to you? How did he answer your accusation?"

Ivan broke out into an unpleasant laugh. "He tried swearing me out of his presence," said he. "But that didn't quite do. My visit was—well, timely, or untimely, whichever way you regard it. It was a curious scene; but I'm afraid I can't explain it very fully. It was—well, too intimate. What good I've done, I can't tell, just yet. But, at least, Foma Vassilyitch is fully aware of our feelings in regard to his—his recent mode of existence. Now I must go, gentlemen.—Vladimir, may I speak to you, for a few minutes, on a private matter?"

With a formal bow, Ivan ended his most unsatisfactory explanation, and left the tent again, followed eagerly by de Windt.

Outside, however, Ivan's behavior was unexpected. De Windt began, at once, with a flood of eager, anxious questions; but, when they were a few hundred feet away from the mess-tent, Gregoriev turned to him, saying, in a low tone: "Wait a little, Vladimir. The thing has more in it than you suspect—thank God!—You will be able to guess all that I can't explain; but you must wait, before I tell you anything, till I've read—this!" And Ivan drew, from the breast of his uniform, a bit of crumpled paper, which, smoothing out, he paused in the white twilight to read. The note, written in a half-formed, feminine hand, ran thus:

"LIEUTENANT GREGORIEV:—You behold me in an unbearable and misleading position. I am the most unhappy woman in Petersburg; but, if you will, you can save my whole life for me. I shall get this to you in some way; and, if you have any pity, any charity, in your heart, for a woman helpless and friendless, wait up in your tent, alone, to-night. I know which it is, and I shall come there as soon as I can get away and walk through the camp, without observation. All I ask is a brief talk with you.

"With unhappiest salutations, I am

"IRINA PETROVNA."

Ivan read the note through twice. Then, without a word, he handed it to his companion, and waited till the latter's ejaculation announced that he also had grasped its significance. Then, leading the way rapidly to their own tent, Ivan seated himself opposite his companion, and said, in a low voice:

"Mademoiselle Petrovna was with Brodsky to-night, when I forced my way past the orderly. She wrote this note and threw it upon the floor at my feet while Brodsky was facing me. From what I saw, Vladimir, I'm certain the Colonel hasn't prospered in his siege. For, in spite of all appearances, I'm convinced that the woman neither belongs to him nor wishes to yield to him. But for the life of me I can't understand her continual presence here—in this camp, where—"

The sentence died away. De Windt shook his head, but forbore to utter his incredulity. Presently he said:

"You'll see her, of course.—And you'll want me to be getting out of here. I can sleep with Deroiev, easily."

"Thanks, Vladimir.—But, by the way, you'll—that is, I'd prefer, my good friend, that you should say nothing at all of this incident. I'll let you know, in the morning, the result of the interview. And I believe that, through her, we can reach Brodsky and force what we want. I had no opportunity, to-night, to say what I had planned. He is enraged with me, just now. But I have no fear of to-morrow. Before he attempts to court-martial me I shall have a little private interview with him, and—you shall see that the matter will blow over; and the Second may take its right place again in the army."

De Windt sprang to his feet, with an exclamation: "Pardieu, Ivan Mikhailovitch! I begin to think I have never known you, before! You—in your first year out of the Corps—doing what not one of us dare do! You make one ashamed—"

"Nonsense, Vladimir Vassilyitch! I tell you, I'd be in the same case as the rest of you if it were not for—my father. And now, help me to get the place here in some sort of state to receive—the lady!"

So, laughing, the two fell silently to work.

An hour and a half later the great camp was still and the brief night had fallen. Ivan, sitting alone in the unwontedly neat little tent, had ceased to smoke, and had begun, as a matter of fact, to nod, when he was roused by the hurried entrance of some one whose garments brushed his knees. He rose, hastily; stared about him in the darkness; and then, bethinking himself of the probable situation, hurriedly took a match-safe from his pocket and lighted the night-lamp which stood on the tiny table. Then he turned to greet the young woman, who had thrown an enshrouding veil back from her face, and stood before him, waiting.

She was a girl whose face and form were sufficient to excuse the infatuation of a man of Brodsky's type. Surmounting a figure built on heroic lines, her noble head seemed as if it must be drawn backward by the weight of her hair; which she wore without any of the elaborate side-curls then in fashion, but parted, and coiled low upon her neck, in unconscious harmony with her classic type. Her creamy skin, her great, blue eyes, and generously-moulded features, gave one the impression of a soul similar in size. And, indeed, at this period of her career, there was little in Irina Petrovna to suggest the sordid, selfish, degraded woman of later years. To-night she and Ivan, standing close together in the candle-light, made a noble picture of youth.

Just now, however, appearance was the last thought in either mind. And, as Ivan remained nervously silent, the girl presently began:

"First of all—let me thank you for doing—what I asked. I have very little time, now. I must catch the train at one o'clock.—It has just been put on, you know: and I believe Foma Vassilyitch got it done for—for me. He doesn't know, of course, that I am in this tent. Grigory, his orderly, is always sent to Krasnoe with me. But Grigory is my friend; and has always let me go and come alone.—I cannot endure the—the stares, the whispers of the men; and the awful scandal! But I came here, Lieutenant Gregoriev, to tell you the truth about myself."

"Sit down, mademoiselle, I beg of you! And let me take your cloak.—So. Now may I offer you anything?—A glass of claret?"

"Nothing, thank you! I must tell you—about myself, and ask your advice before I go. For I have no one in the world to help me. Listen:

"You think, of course, that I am—a dreadful woman. But I swear to you, by the Virgin, by the spirit of my mother, that I am—as yet—- absolutely innocent of the wrong I am being forced into! You do not know the struggle I have made! You don't know what I endured before I consented to receive Colonel Brodsky's help, two years ago; and again, before I would let him visit me in Petersburg; and then before I came here—here, to this place, where every man in the camp thinks me—Oh! I believe, now, that that is why my father insisted:—that, knowing what every one thought of me, I might become reckless, and—let go. But I will not—never!—for that creature!" Irina's eyes blazed and her voice grew vibrant with passionate anger.

"Pardon, Lieutenant. I will try to tell the story quietly, now. You must know that we are very poor. My mother is dead; my brother in Moscow; and I was left to keep the three rooms that my father could afford to rent with his wages from the orchestra and the few lessons he gives. Two years ago, when I was sixteen, they discovered that I had a voice. My father, delighted, first gave me lessons himself; and then took me to the Conservatoire, to Zaremba, I hoped there to get a scholarship. But somehow my voice didn't develop as they hoped; and, at the competition, I failed. I was in despair. We already owed money for my lessons; and there was no hope of my earning anything. All my work seemed wasted. It was then, of course, that Colonel Brodsky—he had just had his promotion—came to my father about me.—He had been watching me for months, he says.—At that time, I knew nothing about it:—about the horrible promises my father made him, when he proposed to finish my musical education, and secure me a debut at the opera.—They say now that my voice isn't nearly big enough for great parts. But at that time, I never knew this. I planned all sorts of splendid things that I was to do as a prima-donna; and I never dreamed that I couldn't pay everything I owed to—him!

"And now—" she gave a dreary little laugh—"now, look at me! I've not only ruined myself and my father, but even a whole regiment!—My God, Monsieur Gregoriev, what can I do? I have refused and refused and refused that hideous man. But my father owes him nearly five thousand roubles for my lessons and my theatrical wardrobe; and we cannot possibly pay him. He is willing to cancel the debt in another way:—the way you know. In fact, that is what he has intended all along. My father cares nothing for my feelings. He is as furious with me as is Brodsky. And I can't imagine how I have managed to keep away from him for so long.—Ah! If it were—if it were only easier to die!—But I'm a coward, you see."

"I do not think you are a coward, mademoiselle," replied Ivan, gravely.

"Ah, monsieur, you do not know! Months ago I understood that the world has no room for a young woman who is poor and yet—not ugly. We should be better out of it."

"If you are sure that your case is as serious as this, you will not refuse me the pleasure you can give—"

"Monsieur!" Irina sprang to her feet, her eyes brilliant with anger.

"You misunderstand me, mademoiselle, entirely!" cried Ivan, horrified at her interpretation of his words. "What I mean is this. Your father is in debt, on your account, to a man who has proved himself dishonorable. I propose to free you from persecution by transferring that debt to one who will take nothing but honorable payment—at any convenient time, in amounts of any size that you or your father find yourselves able to pay. Here, at once, Mademoiselle Irina, I will give you five thousand roubles in notes, with which you can discharge your obligations to Brodsky, and repay me at your leisure."

The ensuing five minutes proved even more distressing than Ivan, anticipating them, had feared. The young lady was of a temperament both emotional and dramatic. And her behavior, to a man to whom scenes were abhorrent, proved trying in the extreme. In the end, after the amount of protestation and rather affected timidity which she evidently thought proper, Ivan's offer was accepted; and the expression of her gratitude that followed, caused Ivan to terminate the business somewhat brusquely by calling the lady's attention to the time, and then escorting her to within a hundred yards of the station. That her relief was genuine and deep she proved, by persisting in explanations of what Ivan's act must mean to her; but he regained a certain amount of his usual unconsciousness, upon perceiving that she was really talking as much to herself as to him, as she laid out her plans of payment and magnificent schemes for her own subsequent career. It was to his own astonishment that her benefactor, finally bidding her good-bye, found himself asking for her Petersburg address—which proved to be a humble street on Vassily Island—and found himself thinking with some pleasure of seeing her again.

Upon his return to his quarters, moreover, Ivan might have gone further than he did in his little analysis of the adventures of the evening. A man more versed in feminine ways than he, might have read much in the manner of the lady's farewell to him. For her attitude was ingenuous enough to have suggested the fact that had Lieutenant Gregoriev and not Colonel Brodsky been the original holder of her debt, the damsel's attitude might have been less unyielding. But Ivan had still his boyish belief in the perfection of all woman nature. And certainly that part of Mademoiselle Petrovna's career which he knew best, was of a nature to increase the strength of his faith.

It was nearly morning before the young officer could banish the subject from his thoughts—thoughts which had now returned to the disagreeable certainty of an approaching scene with his redoubtable Colonel. But when de Windt, agog with curiosity, re-entered his own quarters, his comrade was sleeping so peacefully that he could not find it in his heart to disturb Ivan till the reveille roused the camp.

While Ivan dressed, he and de Windt held a hurried conversation. A few words sufficed to inform the other of the mission of the lady; but Ivan was as amazed as he was displeased at de Windt's frankly expressed surprise at the undeniable uprightness of the young lady's attitude. There followed a consultation as to any possible retaliation on the part of Brodsky. On this point de Windt, ignorant of the nature of Ivan's power, was not sanguine. Thus it was that as he hurried off to review, Ivan's courage was at low ebb; and for the first time he began, in his secret heart, to doubt the possible efficacy of his father's knowledge.

As it happened, that doubt proved unfounded. Once again, as a hundred times before, the powers of Prince Gregoriev were put to the test and not found wanting. Perfect knowledge of the universal corruption, the gigantic systems of graft which, then as now, ate into the very foundation of that ill-arranged bureaucracy which governed the country, was at the finger-ends of Gregoriev, himself so besmirched by that black evil by which he had risen to power. And in his notes of the deeds of possible victims, the writing below the name of Brodsky—who, though his official position was not high, was a man of large fortune and, therefore, valuable to Gregoriev's purpose—occupied a surprising amount of space.

The second interview between the Colonel and his Lieutenant took place three days after that first one, in which the unexpected presence of a lady had prevented Ivan from giving his opponent so much as a suggestion of his vantage-point. It came about thus. When Brodsky, already in a state of impotent wrath at the audacity of his officer's reproof, received from Ivan's orderly the full sum of Petrovna's debt, together with a highly imprudent letter from Mademoiselle Irina, who did not scruple to mention the name of her benefactor, the man's rage became physically dangerous to himself. It did not however prevent him from realizing the certainty of exposure of his own criminal folly which must follow any attempt of his to disgrace Ivan on a trumped-up charge. But an interview with the Lieutenant in which he could vent some of his spleen in abusive threats, would be perfectly safe, and also a source of relief. Wherefore, a half-hour after the receipt of the foolish woman's letter, Lieutenant Gregoriev and Colonel Brodsky stood face to face in the Colonel's tent.

It was an hour before Ivan emerged, his figure erect, his face calm, save for a rather bitter little smile which played round the corners of his mouth. At some yards from the closed tent, he paused to speak to Grigory, Brodsky's orderly, who stood, as usual, on guard, but at a prescribed distance.

"Grigory, I think the Colonel needs your assistance. He is indisposed; and you would do well to get him a drink of vodka."

The man, to whom the whole progress of recent events was perfectly well known, forgot his salute, and stood, open-mouthed, staring after this incomprehensible young man. It was five minutes before he entered his chief's tent with the liquor, and found there matter enough to double his perturbation. What in the world had been done to change that bawling, swearing, furious and malignant man, who had ordered a subordinate to his tent with a manner spelling disgrace to the unhappy offender, into this broken, white-faced, tremulous, sweating creature, who actually thanked his servant for service done: a thing which, during Grigory's four years of service, had never happened before?

If the Colonel's orderly asked himself this question and found no answer to it, how much more did the matter puzzle the other men and officers of the Second Grenadiers, and, gradually, as the change in Brodsky and his regiment became known, the entire camp? To the Colonel's relieved astonishment, he met with neither avoidance nor taunts from his superiors; nor yet any special disdain from his inferiors. Ivan, acting up to his own standard, had told the secret of that interview to no one, not even de Windt, who, however, brooded over his silence as an injustice. Indeed, if the truth were known, Gregoriev was strangely regretful of his behavior towards his chief. True, he had had no choice; and he had saved a woman from infamy. But his shame at the deeds of his father had marred his life for so many years, that the consciousness of having adopted his father's method, though in an unselfish cause, depressed him unaccountably. And, even had he known, at the time, how bitterly he was afterwards to rue his silence, it is probable that he would have acted again in precisely the same fashion.

From this time forth, however, his standing in the regiment rivalled that of its former commander, now General of their brigade. Not a man nor an officer there but gave him the whole credit for that change for the better which had begun in the Colonel on the day after his first, plucky interview, and which grew, steadily, throughout the summer, till, at a last dress-parade, held in the presence of the Czar, the Second actually captured the Iron Medal for drill—which gave them the third place in their army division. Brodsky, when he had nothing else on hand to occupy him, was a good officer, and strict to a point of tyranny with regard to dress and the appearance of his regiment. By the time of the grand reviews he should, had he had the least particle of generosity in his nature, have forgiven Ivan's victory in his satisfaction over his renewed standing in the army and at his clubs.

Meantime, the remaining weeks of camp life proved to be monotonously dreary. Ivan was not of the type of man to press his popularity and batten upon it. Rather, flattery, and the inevitable toadyism of weaker natures, revolted him; and he began once more to retire into himself, and to live again with dreams, which now formed themselves round any one of three topics: first and highest, his music, at which he had begun again to work; secondly, the sweetest of the three, Nathalie, of whom he thought as of some rare and lovely flower, not to be plucked by human hands; lastly, at first rarely, later far more often, round that girl whom he had come to regard in a measure as his protegee—Irina, whom he saw twice during the summer, and whose father, though he had paid two small instalments on his debt, had begun, (to Irina's secret delight, and Ivan's persistent blindness), to regard the handsome young officer ("whose father was a millionaire prince") as an excellent successor to the fallen Brodsky.

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