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The Genius
by Margaret Horton Potter
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This act of courtesy accomplished, Ivan mechanically held out his hand. "You are leaving now?"

"Yes."

"I shall wait here for—him. Do you know when he will come?"

"By seven, probably. We usually dine at that hour."

"Thank you.—Good-bye."

"Ivan!"—The word was a strange whisper. Ivan started. When his eyes met hers, she was looking at him almost steadily. The next instant she had uttered a hoarse: "Good-bye!" and—was gone.

He returned to his seat, wondering a little about her destination: surmising, indeed, the costly equipage that awaited her in the street, with its two men on the box, and its eager occupant.—Faugh! The reverie was broken by the appearance of a man who came to take away the trunk. Her plans had been well laid. But—suppose, as she had imagined when he entered, he had been Joseph, returned early? Well, she had doubtless carried things off high-handedly more than once. Why should she hesitate this time?

Heart-sick, Ivan returned to his seat in the lamp-light. Odd that he should have come hither on this day of crisis! Was it well, or ill, that this was so? Would Joseph, overwhelmed by his loss, prove pliable?—Would his weakness be guided by another's reason?—Who could tell? If strength is always consistent, weakness should be as often incalculable.

The silent minutes crept along. Ivan, who, in the face of Nicholas' tale, had eaten little luncheon, began to grow faint for food. Seven o'clock had already been rung by the myriad bells of Moscow. Joseph did not come.—The half-hour.—Eight.—Still no Joseph. Well, since he was here Ivan would wait the night through, if necessary. Another hour. The watcher's eyelids grew leaden; a great emptiness, a lonely dread, crept through him. He shivered in the growing chill of the room. At last, a little before ten, there came the sound of shuffling steps in the hall, followed by a fumbling at the door, which presently swung back as Joseph appeared on the threshold and paused, blinking at the light.

It was at this moment that Ivan caught his most memorable glimpse of the young man, white-faced, unshorn, ill-clothed, his eyes bloodshot, his whole person shambling and loose-jointed: his long fingers working, tremulously. After a moment's anxious gaze he said, in a muffled voice:

"Irina!—Here, Irina!—I forgot about supper! I forgot I promised, this time. But you should have seen! Eleven times during the hour, seven came up!—I was playing your number.—How could any one have dreamed—Irina!"

"She is not here," said Ivan, quietly, as he rose.

"What!—Th—Thou!" Joseph straightened, but his jaw fell.

Ivan made no reply. Presently the other shut the door and came forward, peering, eagerly. "Thou!" he muttered again, as if to himself. And then: "Ivan!—I saw him!"—Finally, aloud: "But Irina!—I want Irina, you know."

For answer, Ivan took the broken man by the arm and put him into a chair. Then he said, very gently: "When did you eat last, Joseph?"

"Eat!" The upturned face, with its varnished eyes, gleamed ghostlike in the yellow light. "This morning I—"

"You've been at the 'Masque' all day?"

"Oh, you see, I—you know she needs a great deal.—Sometimes I—I have hardly enough.—Perhaps, now, Ivan Mikhailovitch, you—would lend—"

"You must have some food, at once," broke in Ivan, harshly.

To his surprise, Joseph suddenly sprang to his feet, crying, angrily: "See here, what the devil are you doing here?—And where is Irina?—I want her! She knows me.—Where has she gone?"

"I don't know."

"Don't—Rot! She's at a restaurant. I'm late.—Well, I'll wait." He stumbled backward into the chair, again; but Ivan stood close before him, his face now as white as Joseph's own.

"Irina is not at a restaurant. She left these rooms early this afternoon, and took her things with her." And, as he spoke, Ivan stiffened his every muscle, and instinctively clinched his hands.

For the moment, Joseph stared, stupidly. Then, all at once, he was up and at Ivan, lurching forward upon him, clutching, impotently, at his throat, breathing gutturally, while he uttered inarticulate syllables in the tongue of a serf.

Ivan, even in his disgust at this revelation of the man's lowest self, his unquestionable bad blood, held him off, easily. In a moment or two, indeed, he had the half-drunken, wholly exhausted creature back in his chair, panting and helpless.

Even now, it seemed, Joseph could meet his eyes. A long look passed between them, and Ivan perceived that the painter had come enough to himself to try to analyze his position. He was, however, wholly unprepared when the fellow sprang at him again, this time with a wild shriek:

"Ah! You devil!—You devil!—It was you, you who have taken her from me!—My God!—You!"

"Kashkarin, listen!—Be silent.—You can't hurt me.—Listen!"

There was too much quiet mastery in that voice for disobedience. Joseph became suddenly quiet.

"I came here this afternoon to see what was to be done for you. When I arrived, Mademoiselle Patrovna was on the point of departure. She was well aware that you were being ruined through her; and so she left you. She told me she should be cared for.—There is some one else. I let her go, gladly, knowing it to be well for you. And now—"

The interruption this time was a burst of furious laughter, so loud, so fierce, that Ivan was appalled. Joseph, it seemed, had become a demon. When at last he spoke, it was only to repeat some of Ivan's words: "Aware she was ruining me!—Was!—Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!—And you believed it 'well' for me!—'Well!'—Ah-ha-ha-ha!—Thou hast wit, Ivan!"

Ivan's eyes, piercing the hideous mask that hid an agony, softened. He went impulsively forward, clasping Joseph's frail body in his own, strong arms. "Joseph, I do not mock you. I helped you once. You know that. Trust me again, then. You are not ruined. I have enough to pay your debts, ten times over. Leave the matter to me. Come to my house. There you shall rest, and wait for the strength that seems gone. With me it shall come back to you, the old beauty, the old power of art—"

Again was Joseph seized in the grasp of his haunting devils. Extricating himself violently from the kindly clasp, he turned away from Ivan and stood for a moment mute. When he again faced round, his face was all but irrecognizable. And through the tirade that followed, this demoniac look grew more and more horrible, till Ivan felt himself overwhelmed: as much by Joseph's appearance as by his words. For the moment, the man was beyond sanity. And from the depths of his bemired soul poured fragments of that understanding that still remained to him:

"Art!—Art.—You once preached it to me, starving. Art; purity; earnestness; sincerity:—the artist-angel you described for me! And now to me you say 'rest,' and 'wait!' Rest, for me, the accursed? Wait, to me, devil-ridden? I have descended, of my own free will, into hell. For five months I have wallowed there. Art and my soul I sold for the dirt they would buy. They are gone. Can you buy them back? or the decency, honesty, cleanliness, youth, I pawned, for filth and more filth? I am saturated with it. I reek with it. It embraces me with octopus arms. Every kopeck, every rouble, has gone to tighten that embrace. It is not to be loosened. I am hell-bound for eternity. And you speak to me of art!

"Leave me, Ivan Gregoriev, to my own. You can never know me. I hate you now. Irina has gone away. Having brought me to this, I disgust her!—Go thou, then, clean body, clean hands, clean heart!—Ach! I hate—hate—hate!

"And there sits my devil—clothed in the scarlet.—Look on her! Look! Look, for the last time, before I pay her her wage of destruction!—So!—There!—And there!—And there!"

It was the canvas containing his first portrait of Irina. Seizing a palette-knife from a neighboring tray of brushes and paints, he stabbed thrice into the canvas, ripping the picture, wickedly, from top to bottom, from side to side.

"Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha! You see her?—I damn her there as she has damned me!—Now you have heard my love, Ivan Mikhailovitch! Now you know!—Go, then, out at that door, carrying your knowledge of me into the wide world.—Take care!—Take care!—It is not only pictures I can kill!—You don't know me yet, I tell you.—Go, I command you! Go!—Go!"

Seizing Ivan's coat and cap from the chair on which they lay, Joseph flung them into their owner's arms. Then for the last time the two faced each other, the sane man gazing earnestly into the other's blazing eyes. Evidently Ivan reached his decision in that look; for, without more ado, he donned his fur garments, and then, without a word, left the room.

* * * * *

It was barely half-past eight o'clock next morning when Ivan remounted the stairs leading to Joseph's rooms, expecting to find the madman sunk in the sleep of exhaustion. He found the door unlocked, and the room—empty. Joseph was gone:—out into Moscow, into the cruelty of the frozen city, penniless, friendless, perhaps still mad! Nor did he ever reappear, in any of his old haunts. Search proved fruitless. Irina had done her work thoroughly. Every effort failed to bring the wanderer up out of the dark unknown. Ivan, bitterly rebelling, tried, in his heart, to hope that that distant Polish hut of his youth knew him again: sheltered, in peaceful dissolution, one of the great talents of the age.



CHAPTER XX

MADAME FEODOREFF

It may be said that it was not until after the ending of Joseph's weak tragedy that Ivan passed into his third, and final, mental stage. As a boy, he had known very intimately the inner buoyancy of youth, hope, and faith in the joy of life. After the marriage of Nathalie, and his subsequent precipitation, had come those wild rebellions of the soul, the violent protestations, the young and petted cynicisms, that are the inevitable accompaniment of the inevitable hour of disenchantment. This phase, however great its length, must, nevertheless, resolve itself at last into one of two others: the quiet complacency of a renewed but gentler optimism; or a cynicism tried, real, deep-rooted, unhappy but irresistible. Be this state a sign of weakness or of strength, it was the one to which Ivan felt himself driven, willy-nilly, by all the force of his experience. From that doubt of complete disillusion, that confusion of thought and loss of all happy confidence which is one of the results of the long-continued bread-struggle wherein disinterested philosophy can have no part, Ivan had moved, by insensible stages, far into the kingdom of the unredeemable pessimist.

To him, looking ruefully back along the years of his man-struggle, it seemed as if each trial, each disappointment, had been built on a variation of a single theme. Of the several friendships that had been his, all, after running an uncertain course, had come to violent or unhappy ends. And in the grave of each was buried a little and a little more of his natural faith and optimism. And yet—not all! One friendship, the first, had lapsed naturally, through separation. Indeed, Ivan still sometimes heard from the companion of his first Petersburg days—Vladimir de Windt. Had there, however, been no letters, he could still always have followed his comrade's track; for de Windt—having left the army many years since, to enter on a diplomatic career, had been climbing, steadily, and was already, at thirty-five, on the threshold of the Council chamber. Over this fact Ivan could unfeignedly rejoice; for already Russia, high and low, was discussing the merits and the probable future of this young man.

But of the others,—that group of men, the two women, who had sat at the door of his soul's sanctuary—what of them? Nathalie, first: then Zaremba, Anton Rubinstein, Laroche his comrade of the Conservatoire, Ostrovsky his collaborator, Balakirev, Merelli, Joseph, finally, Irina,—her soul still flaunting its rags before the gaze of the world, while her brother and those student companions of her honest days and Ivan's first success, labored in distant prison-mines, self-victims of unsuccessful treason: what of these? Which one remained to him?—Ah! there were two: old Nicholas, the unswerving, the devoted; and Kashkine, who owed him nothing, who had given—was to give—so much! Why was it that they counted so lightly in the scales against these others? Who can say? who explain that perverseness of human nature which will not value what it has, but must drop it by the way to stretch out unavailing hands for the fleeting ungraspable? This, certainly, was what Ivan did; and his face came in time so to show the bitterness of his heart, that Joseph, rising stealthily from his unknown depth, dreaming of finding help from his once benefactor, twice beheld the depth of Ivan's habitual frown, and stole away without making appeal to the heart-hungry man who now, year by year, labored alone in his desolate palace.

The years of 1873, 1874, and 1875 passed slowly, bringing rich harvest of Ivan's great gift to the music-world of Europe. Russia only would have none of him; wherefore he, deeply resentful, held every individual of his race at bay, until, at length, an incident, dreamed of long ago but also long since despaired of, broke successfully into a solitude that was becoming dangerous.

On Wednesday October 15th, in the last-named year, Ivan, book in hand, sat idling over his dejeuner, when gray-headed Piotr entered, quivering with excitement, to announce that a great lady waited in the drawing-room and would not be denied a sight of His Excellency. So, three minutes later, Ivan found himself face to face with the secret lady of his heart.

"Nathalie!—Princess!"

"'Nathalie,' please, dear cousin.—Ivan, I am in great trouble, and I have come to you for help."

"Help!—Trouble!" Ivan's low voice faltered. "Ah!—Can I make it right for you?"

The woman before him shook her head, sadly. "No one can ever make it right, Ivan."

"What is it, Nathalie?" In his secret mind, he was just murmuring her name, over and over again, and blessing the woe that had brought her to him.

"For the present I am here, in Moscow; and my children are with me.—I might have sent for you sooner, by note, Ivan. I ought, I suppose. But I waited too long, and so came myself!" And she looked at him, her lips smiling, her troubled eyes full of anxiety.

Even after all the years, Ivan read her well enough not to answer that smile. Instead, he led her, scarcely protesting, into the dining-room; despatched the amazed but delighted Piotr for fresh tea and something to eat; and, when they were alone, sat for a moment lost in contemplation of her, while she waited, wearily, for him to pick up the thread of their talk.

Her appearance, charming to any other man, startled and momentarily saddened Ivan. He marvelled, indeed, at the emotion roused in him by her face: the face that he had pictured as forever changeless, but which, he now perceived, time had dealt with more cruelly than with his own. Madame Feodoreff was, indeed, a woman sufficiently beautiful, sufficiently distinguished, to be looked at thrice in any assemblage. Yet her every feature, the exquisite, pearly skin, most of all the once sparkling, now deeply-seeing eyes, spoke of a long and difficult drama of life.

These things passed through his mind as he gave his order and Piotr left the room. For some moments more he was silent. Then, rousing himself, almost unwillingly, from his contemplation, he spoke.

"You should be able to guess, Nathalie, how much your coming means: how deeply it touches me. To think that you should still have confidence!—How many years is it since the winter of your debut?"

Though he asked it lightly, he saw the shiver that ran over the woman at his side. "We must not count years," she said, softly. "Indeed, Ivan, now that I am here, I find it hard to explain my idea in coming.—I am alone in Moscow—virtually hiding. And I can tell you very little of my reason.—Still, you can guess, at least, that my marriage—has been—unsuccessful.—I have my children. I adore them; yet I have left their father, and so injured them forever.—That is about all I can tell you.—Up—"

"Princess, I beg of you!—"

"No, let me finish, Ivan! Up to the time of my mother's death, I never wholly realized the truth of affairs.—She managed, somehow, to shield me.—During her last years, Ivan, she regretted my marriage more than any act of her life.—Indeed, I think it was the one thoroughly cruel thing she ever did.—Since she went, I have been forced to understand: to face black truth. And so, when the time came that even my babies were beginning to ask me questions about—incidents—and—and persons who frequented my house, I had to come away. I know how the world regards a runaway wife; yet I believe that I am not universally blamed. I hope not. But, just now, it is impossible for me to face the world. I have been alone for some weeks. I came to you to-day just for—just for companionship, I suppose."

As she paused, Ivan leaned forward and impetuously took her delicately gloved hand into his firm clasp. But the light that glowed in his eyes, he wisely managed to conceal. "'Companionship,' Nathalie?—Let us give it a better term: 'Friendship!' Surely that is permissible now, between us. Believe me, anything that a man can do, I will do for you. You have told me far more than I should have asked.—I can never take the place of—of Madame Dravikine. But I can make you feel, perhaps, that the world is not utterly lonely for you: that there is some one who is made happier and better by your mere living presence."

Towards the end, his tone had become slightly uncertain; and Madame Feodoreff, who was prepared for an emergency, and whose schooling in the world had been thorough, hastily interposed. Moreover, as she began to speak, old Piotr entered with an extemporaneous luncheon that did credit to a purely bachelor establishment. As he set the things down before the unexpected visitor, she, looking her host squarely in the eye, and with a manner friendly but quite without sentiment, observed: "You understand very nicely, Ivan! That, without knowing it, was precisely what I came to say. Friendship!—It is something that has never yet entered my life: very probably through my own fault."

Ivan's answer was a smile; for he had no special wish to take advantage of this opening for banalities. While the Princess ate, therefore, he played with his knife and fork, and they bandied the necessary phrases of conventionality while the thoughts of both were busy with intimate matters. Already Ivan, high-hearted, knew that the long-worshipped image of the young Nathalie was gone, forever, from the chapel of his mind; and that, already, in the empty niche, stood the shadow of another form: one less fairy-like, less bewitching; but more suited to the reverence of reason, and worthier of the homage he found himself still so ready to outpour.

Indeed that first visit, self-restrained, brief, uneventful as it was, proved more momentous to both man and woman than either, beforehand, would have dreamed possible. Their early passion for each other both believed to lie buried deep beneath the weight of years of separation and difference of occupation and environment. Vanity! The first hour of real reunion showed them both that the old feeling had been far from dead: was, in truth, sleeping so lightly that a touch must rouse it again. Four hours after Nathalie's departure, Ivan found himself at the piano, pouring out his heart in such a burden of passionate melody as had rarely rushed from him, even in his moments of inspiration. And the long hours of the sleepless night served absolutely to loosen the fetters of his self-repression; for in the growing glory of the dawn, he watched also the glorious resurrection of the one great love of his life. Again, after many years, she lived in him: in every thought and hope and dream; not now as a child, potent, through ignorance, to wound him past endurance; but as a woman, beautiful through time and sorrow, magnificent in the wreck of her woman's life. Still he knew well that if love was to be his, it must remain for a long time under the guise of friendship. What he did not acknowledge to himself, was the fact that all the world was to share something of this great and painful joy. He was still ruthless in the service of his single god. And this love, like every other factor of his life, must serve as food for his genius. It was Nathalie who had unconsciously turned him, protesting, to his work. It was to be through her also that he reached the height of his career: his perfection of maturity. For she was the inspiration of the "Tosca Symphony."

If Ivan had suddenly risen from the depths to the heights, the cause of his change was also to know powerful emotion on his behalf. In the days of her far-away youth, Nathalie Dravikine's affection for her cousin had been as strong as any her school-girl nature was capable of. But when, after her hurried and loveless marriage, she was forced into, a revulsion of exquisite misery to a breadth of pain and repression that forced her naturally light nature into incredible development, the comparatively petty grief of Ivan's loss was forgotten. News of his disgrace reached her months after the fact, and but a few weeks before the birth of her first child,—now long since dead. And in her then morbid and unnatural condition, she had peevishly brushed all thought of her cousin aside, accounting his unhappiness as small beside her own.

Many years later, when the long period of her bitter schooling had moulded her into something far finer than her youth had promised; when, also, she had brought the art of concealment to its height of perfection; the memory of her lost cousin's gallant and loyal devotion recurred to her, together with the surmise that she had been the cause of his dismissal from the army, and the still more amazing fact that he was now beginning to be recognized as an incalculable power in the world of music. An interview with Vladimir de Windt confirmed her first belief; a symphony concert at the Conservatoire hall, fixed the second. And then, suddenly, she discovered that the man who had sought ruin because of her loss, and who had risen, pedestalled, from that ruin to another and a greater personality, had won a place in her heart from which he was not to be driven.

For many years, now, his spoken name had never failed to stir her secretly. Though, in the ordinary sense of the word, she was hardly musical, her emotional nature had been too fully developed for her not to recognize the power that breathed through Ivan's tempestuous or fairy-like compositions. She began to make his work her peculiar study; and never a phrase of it but touched her deeply, strangely; in spite of which, mondaine that she must always be, it was not till she heard that he had inherited the title and wealth of his father, that she began sentimentally to exalt her undefined feeling for him.

Certainly, had it not been for his present social status, Nathalie Feodoreff, even in the desolation that had followed the tragic climax of her years of married martyrdom, would never have sought that first meeting with her cousin. Yet she was not to be judged upon that fact alone. She was a devoted mother. She had been a faithful wife to a man who had lowered his manhood to a level beneath that of the very beasts. She had borne with him through degradation, insult, once or twice physical violence; and this not only because Russian orthodoxy gives no quarter to a rebellious wife, whatever the provocation. But when that time arrived when her duty to her children and her duty to her wretched husband could no longer be compatible; when the two little girls remaining to her out of five children, began to question the relationship between their governess and their father, Nathalie hesitated no longer. Seizing upon one of her husband's frequent absences, she completely dissolved her establishment, told the furious, vile-tongued Frenchwoman quite calmly that her services were no longer necessary; and, that evening, with her children, two servants, and her personal effects, disappeared, absolutely, beyond the ken of Prince or police.

In Moscow she took a small apartment, in a quiet quarter of the city; and there, masking her unhappiness behind an habitual languor, strove heroically to readjust herself to life. Finally, as the result of a momentary, rebellious impulse, the period of her friendship with Ivan began. Neither of the two had been quite prepared for the after-effects of their first quiet and commonplace meeting. Nevertheless when, on the following Sunday, Ivan's card was brought to her in her little salon, he was not refused. His cousin greeted him placidly, and he made speedy friends with the two quaint children whom he found with her, and who served thenceforward to keep the facts of her existence always in evidence; but who could not, unfortunately, prevent the existence of secret emotions, either in their mother or in the beloved new "uncle" who proved such a mine of sweetmeats and toys.

After Ivan's first call, Nathalie found herself grappling with the question as to whether he must be absolutely dismissed, or merely held at arm's-length. Into this discussion pride entered so largely that she presently determined to do neither thing; but to conceal her own impotence beneath an armor of cousinliness. Thenceforth Ivan found himself, at first to his delight, later to his baffled chagrin, treated with an informal friendliness, a guileless intimacy, that perfectly answered its designer's purpose, though the helpless recipient chafed, rebelled, stayed away, suffered agonies of jealous rage, and finally, one blustery day, presented himself again in the Gagarinesky, wrapped in a manner impenetrably suave and bland. He had read her at last; and was satisfied. Thus, their companionship entered upon its best period. Intellectually it was perfect. Sentimentally, though decorum was never transgressed, there came for each certain minutes of unavoidable revelation that were eminently satisfactory to the other. And in time their intimacy reached a point where Ivan began actually to confide musically in her:—a woman!

The twilight hours which he spent at the piano in her salon, while she listened dreamily to his interpretations or improvisation, were the finest they knew; and wrought a beautiful pediment for their temple to Amicitia. The difference in their natures served for each as a stimulant. To Ivan, her sympathetic comments, frequent praise, rare criticism, lacked absolutely nothing. Nathalie early perceived that she was beholding a genius at work: a giant engaged upon labor too stupendous for irreverent contemplation. And from him and his music she gained the medicine her bruised heart and broken nerves most needed. For Ivan, in the growth of his great love for her, unconsciously brewed an elixir of power from which each drank, daily. So, by unavoidable degrees, both were led unconsciously into a land from which few can emerge still solitary. Yet that was what the gods eventually decreed for this hapless twain.

The semi-religious festival of Christmas passed; and New Year's, the real holiday of Europe, had arrived. Ivan, who had spent a week and sums incredible, over gifts for the small Sophia and Katrisha, determined also, at the last moment, on his present for Nathalie, and then passed New Year's eve alone in his own palace, in sleepless cogitation.

Long before this time he realized that all the passion of his youth had been renewed and increased a hundredfold: that he loved the Princess Feodoreff as he had never loved Nathalie Dravikine. He was ready, nay, mad, to lay himself at her feet. He dreamed, by day and by night, of the only feasible release for her: civil divorce; to be followed, as speedily as might be, by a marriage of the same type with him. Alexis Feodoreff, he was convinced, would readily consent to this release; and would offer no opposition to her plea. So far, all was easy enough. But Nathalie: what of her? Had she considered the subject? How devoutly orthodox was she? Had she divined his heart? Was her kindness directed towards this possible end? Finally, dared he speak, on the morrow, when so excellent an opening would be made by his gift to her: a diamond heart containing one priceless ruby in its centre?—Should he, by daring, win to heaven? or should he be considered a libertine, and so thrust back to the dull purgatory whence he had so lately risen to her? Better risk nothing than lose all!—Whereby it may be seen that Ivan's blood had cooled a little in the past fifteen years.

Throughout the night he fluctuated; and morning found him still in haggard doubt, hardly lessened when, at a most informal hour, he presented himself at the house in the Gagarinesky, where, from the concierge, he gained the first hint of trouble. The old woman informed him that, in the night, a message had arrived for madame up-stairs. Madame's maid had finally taken it in; and Yekaterina learned, at the delivery of the morning milk, that the news had been very serious; and that madame must shortly leave Moscow.—Whereupon the beginning of lamentations and curiosities—and Ivan out of earshot, flying up the two flights of stairs which led to the lady of his desire.

Ivan Veliki had sounded the first stroke of the tenth hour when Prince Gregoriev knocked upon his cousin's door; and the tenth vibration had not yet died upon the air when he paused in the doorway of the drawing-room.

Nathalie sat in the jut of the room, her back to the row of windows. The heavy coronal of dark braids was piled above her white face with all its usual, exquisite care. The transparent delicacy of her complexion was accentuated by her gown, which was of black, unrelieved save by a little line of white at the throat. In her lap lay two or three envelopes, an open telegram, and some legal-looking, red-sealed papers.

Ivan gazed at the picture she made without speaking: his heart trembling in his throat. In a moment or two, however, she lifted her eyes to his, and, without rising, motioned him to come closer. He went, at once, lifted her cold hand and kissed it, his holiday greetings long since forgotten. After a moment's gaze into her set face, he said, gently:

"You are in trouble, Nathalie mia?"

"Yes, Ivan.—No, Ivan!—I do not know. I cannot think at all, yet.—Alexei Alexandrovitch is dead," she replied, rapidly, and without expression.

At the last words, Ivan felt himself struck as by an inward blow. He started, violently, and echoed: "Dead!—Alexis dead!—Then, Nathalie, you—"

"I am widowed."

"You are free!"

Their words were uttered almost simultaneously. Then followed a silence, pregnant, surcharged; on Ivan's part almost unpermissible. The Princess Feodoreff lifted one hand to her brow and let it fall again. Ivan turned and began rapidly to pace the room. The thing was so utterly unexpected, so entirely the one event that he had felt could never come about, that he was as one dumb. The woman, watching him, dulled though her mind was by the shock, divined, instinctively, something of his state of thought. Woman though she was, however, she was unprepared for his first action, which, as it were, threw a search-light upon the sole idea into which the confusion eventually resolved itself.

Ceasing his walk he went swiftly to her, took her two hands, drew them protectively to his breast, and said, huskily: "You are in great trouble, Nathalie.—You are unhappy.—Is it—tell me!—is it grief for him?"

Before the clearness of his look, her own went down. A faint color crept into her cheeks. For one moment she hesitated; but finally rose to his own height of honesty.

"No, Ivan, I cannot grieve for the man who deliberately wrecked my youth, debased my thoughts, lowered me for years in my own eyes.—Do you expect it?—It seems to me that, just now, I am feeling nothing. But I know already that I am going to suffer.—I shall suffer remorse! I, who have been so proud of my long forbearance, shall suffer for these last weeks as if I had left him years ago, without provocation!—He is dead; and I was not with him at the end.—He died in his bed.—They tell me it was his heart. He had had trouble with it before, and they had warned him against dissipation; for he was an old man.—But he heeded no one.—And he asked for me, at the end, and I was not there!—That is what I shall suffer for. After all those long years of enduring, I left him to die alone.—Alone: my husband!"

"Nathalie!"

The Princess started at the note of agony in Ivan's voice.

"Nathalie! You are not to suffer for that brute:—that brute who drove you here—drove you to me!" Still retaining the two hands, which she had not tried to make him relinquish, he suddenly sank upon one knee before her, so bringing his head nearly on a level with her own. Then, oblivious of all things else, he began to pour out his heart to her: "Nathalie, that first time, years ago, that you came to Moscow—the time of my mother's death, I forgot my heart-break over her, in you. Even then I loved you, utterly. You were the angel of all my wretched cadet days. Then, years later, when I came to know you a little, my love became the passion of a young man, and it finally swept me into a gulf of desolation. But no wrong could really come through you; and what then seemed ruin, showed itself, in the end, the opportunity of my life. It drove me to what I could not have done alone. Through you I found my work.

"That is long ago, Nathalie; and I am not a young man now. But in all my life there has been only one woman.—That fact came to me forcibly in that first hour of your first visit to me here: the beginning of our thrice-blessed companionship.

"That beautiful dream is ended, now. No doubt, for a time, you must leave this place. But it is insulting neither you nor the dishonored dead whose wife you have not been for years, to tell you what you know: that you carry away with you my soul!—Nathalie, Princess of all my life, will you not set forth leaving behind you the promise to come back?—You shall wait as long as you will: two years, if it must be. I have endured far longer than that, and without hope.—Only let there be between us the dear knowledge that, in time, you are to accept for a husband the man whose life shall thenceforward be at your least command!"

His speech had been too rapid for interruption; and yet both voice and manner were quiet and restrained. His every word was spoken with the simplicity of unconscious ardor. And only from his eyes, which burned her, and the almost painful clasping of her hands, could the Princess surmise his emotion.

Perhaps, had it been feasible, she would have stopped his speech. But, somehow, he had compelled a hearing. And nothing he had said either shocked or repelled her. Yet she was enough affected by the death of the man who had done her every despite, but who had, nevertheless, taught her the mystery of life and given her her children, to be distressed at this proposal in the first hours of her widowhood.

Gently she put Ivan from her, and rose, moving towards the window, before which she stood, gazing down into the white street, while Ivan waited, trembling with emotion. When she turned to him again, she had replaced the chains upon her feelings.

"This afternoon I am leaving for Petersburg," she said. "I must carry your words away with me.—My impulse is to reject, instantly, every suggestion of such a thing.—But your companionship in these last weeks has meant for me more than I can tell you now; and, in my empty home in Petersburg, I shall carefully consider the honor you have done me.—Yes, dear Ivan, it is an honor from any man; and from you a very great one. The woman whom you married would be fortunate, I know. But—I can only promise to write you, soon. Believe me, you shall not wait longer than I can help. This is fair, I think.

"And now, I can give you no more time to-day.—No, you can do nothing, thank you. Leonie for me, old Kasha for the children—they do everything.—We leave the Petersburg station at five. Come then, if you will, to say good-bye to the little girls. Our au revoir must be here."

"Au revoir!" echoed Ivan, his voice gleaming.

Madame Feodoreff smiled, rather sadly. "Ah, Ivan, whatever my answer to you, tell me that I shall have your friendship still! It is the most precious thing that is left me, excepting my children. I cannot afford to lose you as my friend.—Promise!" and she held out her hand.

He took it, quietly. "I promise, dear lady of my life."

"Then, again—au revoir!"

"But soon.—Soon!"

He was gone; but, though she yielded to her impulse and ran to the window to look after him, he walked away without once turning his head.

* * * * *

That night, when he returned alone to his empty house, after bidding his world good-bye at the Petersburg station, he perceived at once that the Moscow around him was but a wilderness, and his great palace a prison. Thenceforward he was to exist only in the consciousness of waiting: his faith in her promise that she would torture him not a moment longer than she must. But, as the days passed, logic, calm, even reason, forsook him, till no lover of twenty-one was ever in sorer plight than he. Truly Nathalie herself could hardly have guessed the depths to which she had plunged this quiet and self-centred man. She had, nevertheless, the consideration to keep her word. It was but eleven days after her departure, nine after the funeral of her husband, before Ivan found himself shut alone into that room where she had first greeted him, holding her answer in his visibly trembling hands.—A moment.—A long sigh.—It was open.

"78 KERZONSKAIA, ST. PETERSBURG,

"Tuesday, January 9th, 11 P.M.

"DEAR COUSIN:—Since our last talk together in far-away Moscow, the consciousness of you and of your question have been always with me. To-night I have been sitting here, alone in my boudoir, for two hours, trying, desperately, to think. I have wished to give myself fair opportunity for finding out my real mind; but, miserable thing that I am! the real I will not respond.

"Ivan, my husband has been buried a week and a day! True, for years my tie to him was bondage. I have, to-night, a far tenderer feeling for you than I can remember ever having felt for him. Yet, in spite of this, I cannot bid you hope. I am widowed; and the first numbness of the unexpected shock has not left me yet. I can say to you truly, cousin, that I love you: that the comradeship we have known is something which I shall try to continue while we both live: though we are far beyond our twenties now, Ivan. But more than this, more than pure friendship, seems to me impossible. Marriage—even though it be with the love of my girlhood—is still half-terrible to me. I think that certain memories of my existence with Alexis can never be wiped away.

"Am I cruel, dear Ivan? Oh, I so want not to be! But, indeed, I think I am not yet wholly myself. So I bid you remember that I have suffered very cruelly from the 'love' of a man; and I pray you, for that reason, to try to forgive me when I tell you that friendship is all I can ever want now: that as a friend I shall write you; and as a friend you must know,

"Your affectionate, sorrowful,

"NATHALIE D. F."

There are men, perhaps, who would have read hope into this letter and have clung to it, willy-nilly. Ivan was not of these. Self-deception was never a vice of his; and, from this hour, the soul of Nathalie Feodoreff stood revealed to him more clearly than to herself.

Once through the letter he sat motionless, the black-bordered sheet crushed tightly in his right hand. He had forgotten the paper on which her words to him were traced. Perhaps he had forgotten the words themselves. But the throbbing of his heart continued: the veins in his temples still stood out, like purple whip-cords. It was late in the night before there appeared, in the dark room, the vision of his mother's angel-face gazing at him, her clear eyes filled with mingled love and understanding; and midnight had long struck before that which he instinctively expected was finally given: when, like a diapason, crashing, fortissimo, through the dark, rolled the magnificent, despairing chords of the final theme of the great "Tosca Symphony"—the motif, the epitome, of his own, dark life.



CHAPTER XXI

TOSCA REGNANT

During the weeks immediately succeeding this last repulse, Ivan suffered as he had suffered in the early days of Nathalie's marriage. It was not easy for him to comprehend why Madame Feodoreff's letter should affect him so bitterly. He made all the familiar efforts: tried every resource known to him of old. They failed. Not only had his tranquillity departed; not only had his work been turned from joy to drudgery; not only was the pleasant savor of his quiet existence gone; nay: physically, mentally, he felt himself sick, and in want. His brain played him false. His sleep deserted him. His carefully guarded existence turned upon him, mocking.

Ivan at last began fully to realize what the past three months had done: how, in them, all the old love-bitterness, all the accumulated loneliness and hardship of his solitary years, piled together, had been transmuted into a mighty hope, the destruction of which swept away his carefully-reared edifice of artificial content. Out of all the women in the world, he had wanted, had asked for, in all his life, none but Nathalie. But her he had needed, terribly; and she was gone: gone out of his yearning heart, and arms, and soul—for good!

It was now a long time since he had begun his reign in the house of his fathers: that dreary house of evil name in which pure women had been overcome as by some poison, some miasma of foul living, and, generation after generation, had died there, down to his mother's day. This, for more than two centuries had been the tradition of that grewsome palace, till it was famed throughout the city for the sinister line of men who had dwelt therein, and had finally died out with the last Prince. Ivan, when he took up his residence there so suddenly, had put behind him his memories of the old-wife's tales, and his own boyhood experience. This, as he progressed farther and farther along the road of power, had become easier daily until—a woman stepped in, and the power of Prince Ivan faded and died. In the early days of his disappointment, he was beset by all the ghosts of his fathers. Himself once more a prey to that black Tosca that is the heritage of every thinking Russian, he yielded without resistance to thoughts and memories as morbid and as dreary as those on which his mother, years ago, had fed her dread disease. So, after a few midwinter weeks of brooding, lassitude, and sleepless fasting, his personal servants, there being no friend at hand to replace them, ventured to remonstrate with their master. Piotr was now as much his devoted slave as was old Sosha, who had recently retired from active duty to the kitchen-corner, where his reminiscences and his pipe-smoke together flavored that cheery room. Sosha had no hesitation in taking Piotr's lead, and begging the master either to bring home company to amuse him, or to change his abode to some more fashionable quarter of the city, whither all his dependants would happily follow him.

To these simple appeals Ivan listened, certainly; but, bound down by that cruel lassitude which is the direst symptom of chronic melancholy, he refused every suggestion, and left his servants to return to their quarters, dismally shaking their gray heads over his mental state.

So through the winter. But the flowing of spring-tide rouses the dullest to contemplate some possible change of routine. And when that blessed season once more breathed upon White Russia, Ivan woke to the memory of old desire. From his mother, who, as a girl, had run wild over the huge Blashkov estates, Ivan inherited that intense love of nature without which an artist must be always maimed. This year, especially, he found himself daily dreaming of the perfumed nights and sweet-aired days of the country of his boyhood: his mother's favorite resort, at Klin, whither she had been wont to convey him in May, and whence she departed, tearfully, under heavy pressure, in October; though twice in her life she had managed to spend the greater part of the winter there, in the white wilderness hateful to her lord. "Maidonovo" was a moderate-sized house, set in the midst of twenty acres of land situated a half-mile from the extremity of the village of Klin. A year after his wife's death Michael Gregoriev had sold the place, which he had always detested. Of it Ivan now dreamed, incessantly; till, late in April, he entered into negotiations that were presently to electrify his household and that part of Moscow's population with whom he figured as something of a personage.

It was the twenty-eighth of the month when Piotr, after a two-hour closeting with his master, flew to his fellows with astounding news.

The great Gregoriev palace was, in less than a month, to pass out of the hands of the last of the family, and into the possession of the government, by whom it was to be turned over to the Department of Police. Moreover—and Piotr's emphasis on the word brought a sharp stillness in place of the rising buzz of comment—instead of a place in Moscow, Monsieur le Prince had bought his mother's former country-house at Klin, whither he intended to remove immediately, there to pass at least the summer, retaining as many of his present household as cared to remain with him. (Here a smile, at the idea of any of the twenty's leaving the service of a bachelor, a lover of solitude and simplicity, who would sooner have struck himself than one of his servants!)—Finally, the whole change was to be completed in two or three days; and a week, at the outside, would see the new existence well begun.—Whereupon Piotr, all his news given, descended from his imaginary rostrum, as eager as his fellows to have a voice in the impending discussion.

* * * * *

It is no very rare thing for the Russian May-day to wear an aspect of January. But May snow is, at least, a transient thing; and there are years when the first day of the gentle month is such as no country would repudiate. Nature did honor to her disciple; for the world was a glory of young green and gold, as Ivan, bowed with memories, made his progress out of the present, along the white, country road to the house of the long ago.

Winter had ended ten days before; and Russia, with that marvellous rapidity with which she accomplishes all change, had already risen from snow-sheet and mud-bed, and stood negligeed in a robe of gauzy-green, all flower-sprigged and sun-flecked. Three days more, and the fruit trees, for which Klin is famous, would be bowers of pink and white. And behind the flying droschky, there actually arose a fine, white film of dust! House doors stood open to the milky air; and Staroste and lonely Village Priest alike were at work in their respective gardens.

Ivan, now emerged from his black, winter mood, was tremulous with emotion; and, as his vehicle left the village behind, his eyes ranged over the broad country-side, reading, as in a familiar book, each old, beloved character printed on the open page of the landscape seen last during the summer he had spent here alone, after his mother's death.

When Ivan alighted at his own gate, Sosha stood there to welcome him and take upon himself the customary haggle with the driver. Nor did the old man, noting his master's face, so much as address a word to him whose expression he read with the sagacity of one trained to the task. Hence Ivan, his heart overflowing, went at his own, lingering gait towards that open doorway wherein, it seemed, Sophia's slender form must presently appear.

He entered the house alone, turning at once into the little morning-room, where he looked vaguely about for his mother's tambour-frame which was not in its place beside the window. Hither, an instant later, came Piotr, announcing, respectfully:

"The large room above has been prepared for your Excellency. The trunks are all unpacked.—At what hour shall I serve the tea—and where?"

Ivan started, looked about him dazedly, and realized that he had not eaten since early morning, though the hour was now past four. Then he said, rather wearily: "Tea here, Piotr, in an hour. After that I will see you and Sosha. Meantime, let me be left absolutely alone. I want to go over the whole house. See that I meet no one."

"Your Excellency is obeyed." And Piotr had bowed and was gone.

Ivan flung hat, gloves and stick upon the table, and then looked slowly round once more.—Twenty-one years since his mother had gazed on these familiar walls?—Impossible! Two decades of other lives intervening between him and the summer in which sad-eyed Sophia had secretly watched the coming of her hideous Octopus of disease? Nay! He would not let that thought endure. But every trace of intrusion must be put away: if, indeed, it had left a trace. At least the belongings of his mother, now removed, must come back. He should dwell here with her beside him, in his heart, always!—But certainly this room, save for the tambour and scattered wools, was quite unchanged: roughly-tinted buff walls, polished floor, with its delicately faded Persian rug, heavy chairs and sofa, ay, the very spindle-legged table near the bay, were all here, forming the old ensemble. It was almost incredible.—But Ivan had discounted the penetration of those servants who, in the long ago, had loved their lady as now they loved her son.

With a heart violently throbbing, a throat painfully knotted under the strain of associations long cherished in the inner sanctum of his memory, Ivan passed slowly through the long, cold drawing-room towards the staircase at its farthest end, and so, slowly, upward. As of old, the slippery stairs were uncarpeted; and his heart jumped anew as his eyes met the thing they sought: a small, round knot-hole, in a corner of the seventh step, which had been filled in with a piece of wood rather darker than the rest, and which, as a boy, he had been possessed to cut out with his knife, only to be inevitably caught at and punished after each attempt.

At the head of the stairs still stood the great, oaken chest, the bottom drawer of which had been dedicated to the use of his most precious toys. That was empty, now. He must not break the spell by opening it. So, with a smile that was an inaudible sigh, he passed on to his mother's bedroom: that room in which, on a New Year's night now thirty-eight years gone by, a lonely wife had prayed God for the boon of motherhood.

The very shrine before which Sophia had knelt, bracket, ikon, and brass candlestick, still hung on the far wall, beside the bed. Ivan's eyes paused at it, and he was seized by the impulse to speak to his mother from that spot. Repressing himself, however, he sat down beside a table on which he leaned an elbow, supporting his head upon his hand. Presently his eyes drooped shut. The unwonted sweetness of the air, the long, twining sun-shadows of late afternoon, the intense, country stillness, all of them helped the oppression of memory, till gradually he began to feel himself enwrapped in a shimmering, elusive mist of half-real dreams.

He perceived that the windows were fast-shut, double-paned, their cracks stuffed with the customary winter moss. Still the raving wind came through: a freezing breath. Daylight was gone. In its place—was this some pale moonbeam straying through the uncurtained window, to mingle its ghostly light with the flaring yellow flame of the guttering candle?—And that figure that crouched, dumbly, on the floor, beneath the protective ikon? Who was she?—And who the other two who now resolved themselves out of the creeping mist and glided towards the sleeping woman?—a tall and radiant personage, leading by the hand a little child?—It seemed not strange:—neither new nor amazing. Ivan knew the gentle lady who had prayed: knew also the Majestic One who brought the answer to that piteous prayer. But the child—the shadow-shape whose tiny hand was clasped in that of the Divine Woman?—Ah, that

Ivan shuddered, started, and, by a violent effort, flung off the clinging vision. Old Sosha, standing in the doorway, was saying, in his gentle, plaintive voice:

"The tea, your Excellency!—It is as you commanded.—You have journeyed far and waited long!"

"Waited!—I commanded tea in an hour. It can't be five."

"Pardon, your Excellency, the bells have rung six."

Ivan sprang to his feet with an exclamation. Then, suddenly, he swayed, caught himself, by means of the table, and sank back in his chair with a suppressed groan. The old servitor ran forward, fear in his face; but Ivan, smiling at him, waved him away:

"It is quite well with me, Sosha.—Go bring the samovar up here:—here, to my mother's room."

* * * * *

So, with less thought of Nathalie in his heart than he had known for many a long day, Ivan began his life at Klin: an existence which, barring one restless interval of travelling, was to continue till the end of material things came for him. He was not yet old in years. The experiences that had been given him were scarcely of a theatrical kind. Those which had gone deepest, and upon which his soul had fed itself, had been scarce visible to the world, could not have been surmised by his closest friends. His scars were the scars of temperament: the result of an abnormal capacity for feeling. The vividness of his imagination heightened petty trials to a semblance of wanton cruelty. Impersonal matters he unconsciously made his own. Echoes of the great Weldschmerz, coming to him from the void, vibrated their way through his nature till they emerged again, imprisoned in harmonies of his creating.

This summer, for example, the first that he spent at Klin, brought him scarce one outward incident worthy of note; yet it was to him a time overflowing with events—of mind, and memory. To an outsider or a mondaine, the Maidonovo routine would have seemed monotonous to a verge of imbecility. Ivan, ghost-haunted, found each minute of each day pregnant with its own suggestion: saw his life as a tapestry, the design of which was woven upon a background of surpassing natural beauty—the climax and gradual decrescendo of the year. He had emerged from that long period of semi-idleness in which he had been able to do no more than refine a mass of half-finished work; and was now feeling a fresh joy in a renewed and strong-flowing power; an excitement in the evolving of new ideas. September found ready for the printer five new works; the first of them and the biggest, his "Fifth Symphony," the andante of which must remain forever unrivalled, while the work as a whole can only be surpassed by its successor in the same form, Ivan's last and greatest creation: the "Tosca Symphony." Beside this he had written the "D-minor Violin Concerto" for Brodsky; the "Liturgy of Joseph of Arimathea," for four voices with organ accompaniment; half a dozen of the melodious songs that were his special delight: and, lastly, the little, one-act opera "Iris," for which he had written both libretto and score, and which created a furore on its performance in Petersburg, the winter after his death.

The months that produced this large amount of work were spent in a depth of solitude such as only Ivan would have dared to undergo. Nathalie's letters, which grew more frequent as the days went by, and to which he faithfully replied; two visits from Kashkine, one from Mily Balakirev, and half a dozen from Nicholas, who was to be daunted by no amount of taciturnity, were the only incidents of the period. Balakirev, indeed, had brought with him a young protege, one Rimsky-Korsakow, (since heard from,) to worship at the shrine of Russia's Gregoriev; whereupon that hero, highly disgusted, behaved so boorishly that the chagrined Balakirev refused Nicholas' next plea, and would not go again. Ivan's one, regular recreation were his long, solitary walks through the country-side, disturbed only by the clamorings of children, whom he had spoiled with kopecks, and whose chatterings interrupted his thoughts no more than did the voices of squirrels and birds—from which latter, indeed, he got many an idea.

These five-mile walks, with four hours in the morning and two in the evening at the piano, an hour or so spent in skimming over some of the scores in his vast musical library, considerable reading, especially at meal-times, of Russian, French and English novelists and the German philosophers, whom he approached worshipfully, formed the occupations of his quiet life during many years. And, as the first months passed, he began to realize that his painfully acquired philosophy of living was demonstrating its practicability in the many volumes of his daily journal.

No artist, nor, indeed, any scholar or original thinker of temperament, can progress far in his chosen work without acquiring a certain philosophic attitude of his own that makes for religion; though it be no more than the result of orderly habits of thought: its premise gleaned merely from a continual subconscious synthesis of the sum of personal existence. The type of the synthesis matters no more than the form of its result: mockery and atheism of Schopenhauer or von Hartmann; poetic illogicalities of Hegel; dizzy flights of Schelling; materialism of Locke; idealism of Berkeley; magnificent transcendentalism of the imperial Kant;—they become one at last. Truth is one and indivisible; therefore it is the sincerity of thought, not its fashion, that matters. True, Ivan Gregoriev, musician by necessity, philosopher by instinct only, left in the end little record of his answer to the riddle. But this was rather well than ill. For, from the very beginning, Ivan's "glimpse behind the veil" was distorted, clouded, smirched, by an unconquerable cynicism: a personal resentment and rebellion against the God who stood forth as the acknowledged creator of the miserably unhappy race of men. The eternal question:—if God be only Omnipotent Good, why the existence of evil?—he asked in ever-growing bitterness, till so-called altruism became to him a mockery; and he took a painful delight in twisting his wisdom into the most fantastic forms, which he also made the sport and butt of formal logic; knowing always, in his own heart, the evil that was wrought in him by those bitter reflections that formed the refuge of his idle hours. Ah! Had Nathalie but cared!

September was gone ere Ivan wrote the dedications of his five newly-finished works. And then, thinking of the men so remembered, he realized that they all happened, for the moment, to be in Moscow. Thereupon he suddenly decided to invite them to Maidonovo for forty-eight hours, and, during that time, to hold a manuscript festival, in which his and their unpublished works should be played each by its composer, and criticised by the listeners.

An invitation from Ivan was not now a thing to be refused. Therefore the evening of October 10th found six men assembled round the samovar in the transformed living-room of Ivan's home. For the time, the host had thrown off his habitual air of grave reserve, and, responding to the friendly and congenial atmosphere around him, expanded to a gayety, a magnetic boyishness, that fascinated as much as it amazed the four who knew him as no others could; and sent Avelallement, a wealthy German dilettante, whose acquaintance with the famous Russian consisted of a long correspondence and a fanatical admiration of his work, back to his native Hamburg determined on bringing Ivan to Germany, in order that the most sentimental, hospitable and musical race in the world might come to know, as he did, the great-hearted Russian, whose only possible fault was that he had not been born on the other side of the frontier.

That evening, and the day that followed, were more delightful than Ivan had dared hope. Surrounded by those who were big enough to understand him, (and, though he did not realize this, he was now generally recognized as too great a genius to be longer victimized by jealousy) he himself shone out with a kind of radiant optimism quite foreign to his general humor. The new works were gone over, and praise, with thanks for the dedications, given with a sincerity that was unmistakable. Finally, his piece de resistance, the symphony, was played again and yet again; first by one musician and then by another, the rest hanging upon each note and chord and progression with the delighted appreciation of men who understood that they were hearing a masterpiece which was to be reverenced by generations to come, and which was to bring honor to all Russian music. By the second evening Rubinstein, his kindly face beaming with pleasure, was arranging the program of an extra concert in his Vienna series to be devoted entirely to Ivan's works. Ivan promised him the symphony for its first performance there; and Brodsky agreed at once to play the new concerto, the study of which he intended to begin, from the manuscript, on the following Monday.

It was perhaps the sharp and painful contrast of the incident that closed this holiday, which made it afterwards shine so brightly in Ivan's memory: a memory to which, in later days, he was to turn again and again, as to the happiest hours of his professional life. His success might not have been really very great.—And yet, the pressure of Kashkine's hand upon his shoulder; the friendly light in Rubinstein's faded eyes, the painful hand-clasp of muscular Balakirev—surely these things showed that the old cabal against him had at last come to a natural end? Moreover the attitude of open admiration adopted both by Brodsky and Avelallement, both of whom lived entirely abroad, plainly betrayed the esteem in which he was held in other lands. Yes; for one hour—perhaps the only one of his life—Ivan felt to the full the exaltation of success, of applause, of the intimate knowledge that, however great his praises, they were no more than his work deserved. He was a successful artist: his feet on one of the last steps of that great, golden stairway, around the foot of which thronged such struggling crowds; the serene heights of which were so little trod.—Ay, it had been given him, his bright day! How could he complain when, at eleven o'clock on the second night, old Sosha entered the room and handed a telegram to his master?

Brodsky and Balakirev were in the middle of a haunting melody of the Steppes, arranged by Mily himself, when the sharp exclamation of Ivan brought a quick silence, and turned every eye towards him:

"I have a message here, my friends.—It is bad news.—I—I must—" he passed his hand across his brow, and thought for a moment: "I must get to Moscow to-night, somehow.—A friend—a man, is dying there, in the Cheremetiev Hospital.—You understand? You forgive me?—It is urgent I should reach him before the end."

There was the natural chorus of sympathy, regrets, assurances of understanding. Only Brodsky betrayed a touch of the curiosity which all felt; for, even to those who knew him best, Ivan's life and connections had always had about them a suggestion of mystery which made his every affair an object of unwonted interest to those who knew him. But to none—not even to Nicholas—did Ivan disclose the identity of the man, or the exact nature of the agitation that spoke of hidden grief.

He made his preparations quietly; bade good-bye to the friends who, though they were to sleep at Maidonovo, would be gone before he could return; and, taking the bag prepared for him by Sosha, hurried out to the sleigh that awaited him. Seventy minutes after the arrival of the message, the Petersburg mail thundered into Klin on its way to Moscow. Ivan, solitary midnight passenger, was put on board, together with the mail-bags and registered express.

During the two-hour ride through the roaring blackness, Ivan did not sleep, and scarcely moved. His mind was occupied in going over and over two scenes of the days before his succession: one, the afternoon on which a certain starving youth, fed and warmed by him, had told the story of his struggle for an artistic education; the other, his final interview, two years later, with that same youth, soiled, then, in mind and body; sodden with vice; mentally rotten with the knowledge thereof: the fair god of his ideal dragged from its altar and sold, with all the rest of his great heritage, for less than a mess of pottage.—Again, as he neared the city, these memories were augmented by an anticipation: the imagined picture of the third and last interview he was destined to have with the tragic boy. Ivan was to get his last glimpse into that soul to-night. He was going to one who, dying, had called to him from the depths: Joseph Kashkarin, the Pole.

* * * * *

Dawn had not yet risen. Moscow, wind-swept, dripping with wild bursts of rain, its desolation augmented by the mournful shrieking of wind through the narrow streets, was shrouded in the intense darkness of the last hour of the night, when Ivan at last dismounted from his droschky at the door of the great hospital given to the city by Count Cheremetiev. He found no difficulty in entering; for there is no moment of the day or night when some wretched soul may not find a refuge there.

At the same time, the "Prince" Gregoriev, together with a piece of gold, did serve to cut many yards from the red tape that impedes all progress in Russia. A brief explanation, two minutes' wait, the appearance of a young man garbed in spotless white, a walk up two flights of stairs and along a chilly corridor, and Ivan found himself at last halting before a closed door. Here the nurse turned to him saying, softly:

"We were obliged to remove him from the ward at noon to-day. We prefer not to allow deaths in the general rooms if we can avoid it.—Then too, early this evening, the man was suddenly paid for."

"Paid for!—By whom?"

"A lady. We do not know the name. She refused to give it, and did not ask to see the patient; but she left a considerable sum for him."

"Why did you not send for me sooner?"

"He never mentioned your Excellency's name till this afternoon. And of course we did not dream that you—you knew him. He has been conscious only at intervals since the hemorrhage yesterday; and he is also under the influence of opiates."

"He is dying of—what?"

"Galloping consumption; and—" The man hesitated.

"What?"

"Well, it is a complicated case. We think there must have been a touch of delirium tremens just before he was brought in—a week ago. Alcohol, you see, is the best thing we know for consumption. If the case hadn't been aggravated by privation—hunger, exposure, want,—we might possibly have saved him, at least for the time. But I assure your Excellency that everything has been done—"

"You think it absolutely impossible to save him now—if no expense is spared? I give you carte-blanche—"

"The man is dying, Prince Gregoriev. Only a miracle could help him now."

There was a moment's silence before Ivan said, very softly: "Let us go in."

The room was small, rather bare, but clean and well-warmed by the huge stove built into the wall, with half of it extending into the room beyond. A second nurse was sitting in a chair beside a small table which held medicines and the night-lamp. This man rose as his successor entered, and, at the door, a word or two was spoken between them. Ivan caught the phrase: "No change." Then he halted beside the iron bed and stood looking down on the motionless form of Joseph.

Joseph!—Joseph Kashkarin, this bearded, hollow-eyed, gray-lipped man, with the spots of scarlet flaming from his projecting cheekbones, and throwing the death-hue of the rest of the face into still more dreadful prominence? Joseph's, that clawlike hand, with the broken, stained and shapeless nails, which once had wielded a brush that created the laughing face of Irina Petrovna—the woman who had brought him down to death? A great shudder seized upon Ivan; and, for an instant, he was forced to turn away. Then the nurse brought him a chair; and he removed his coat and hat and seated himself beside the cot, his face resolutely straightened into an expressionless gravity. As he watched, the nurse administered a hypodermic of strychnia, and then bathed the burning face and hands with cool water. The task completed, the man turned to Ivan, saying, nonchalantly:

"The stimulant may pull him up, sir, for fifteen minutes, if you wish to speak to him. But he's failing. He'll hardly linger to see the sun."

In spite of himself Ivan betrayed something of the thrill that shot through him at these words. Till now he had scarcely realized that he was actually to watch a man start upon that dread passage which leads—none knoweth whither. He sat wrapped in solemn thought until, presently, the form beneath the blankets stirred, and Joseph began to cough:—a cough that shook and racked his emaciated frame as if it would tear flesh from bone. The nurse hurried to his side. But it was five minutes before the fit had ceased and the sick man, raised high upon his pillows, regained his breath and the strength to open his glittering eyes, which fell at once upon Ivan. For a moment they stared, dazedly. Then a distorted smile softened the line of the pallid lips:

"You!—Then they did send—and you came! I'm not dreaming?" He spoke in a whisper, as if to himself; but the words were distinct.

"No, Joseph, I am here.—Joseph, why did you wait?—Why did you not come to me, years ago?—I hunted so long! I never dreamed of leaving you longer than for that one night. I have prayed that—" He broke off, suddenly, remembering that excitement might bring on the cough again. And indeed Joseph's eyes were already closed once more.

Ivan waited, patiently, one, two, five minutes. Then the whisper came again: "That is a long time ago. But I remember why I didn't go to you: why I concealed myself. It was because I was ashamed.—We all wish to hide our dirty souls from every one—even from God, I suppose. Well, you had been really good to me; and you were my ideal: the ideal of my best self, and of my art. How could I go to you, when you must see the depths I had got to."

"But you are letting me see you now, and there is nothing dreadful in it," put in Ivan, gently.

"Ah, now I know I am dying. You cannot despise a man who is facing eternity."

"I should not have despised you then, if—you had cared.—You see, Joseph, after all, we're brothers. Your God is also mine. We both wanted to serve Him in the same fashion; for all the arts are kin. And I knew how great your talent was: how fine would be the expression of the best in you."

"Ah! That is it!" Joseph sat forward, eagerly, and his faint voice wavered. "'The expression of the best,'—that, Ivan Mikhailovitch, is what you tried to give me the chance for: what you always have done yourself. You were moving steadily upward. I was always plunging farther down.—And it was my wilful choice. I think I know the truth now. My service of God was never freely given. It was not the best I could do: the finest work I was capable of, just for the sake of the work, and the high thoughts it brought, to me and to others. There were more sordid motives. I wanted—first, fame: adulation from people; secondly, no, perhaps most of all, money. For of that I had never had enough for common necessities in all my life. So, even if there had been no—woman" (that word almost inaudibly,) "I should not have done what you believed I could do.

"Art!—the great sun-goddess, that shines afar! She it is that gives us the gift: the chance to work. But she knows all our hearts; and she judges our deeds honestly. That which she accepts of us, she lays at the feet of the Most High.—Is it well?—Thou art Abel. Thine offering of the lamb is more pleasing than the first-fruits of the harvest. On me,—Cain, God frowns, and the devil grins.—He is grinning through the wine. I hear his laugh amid the clink of the coin.—He is in red; and I flaunt my mistress in his colors. Then we dance: first for sheer delight, with the music. Then the whips come down on our shoulders, and we go on.—Faster!—Higher!—Leap and prance, and watch the grin expand.—Ah-h-h-h!—Are the shadows there deep enough, rich enough, do you think? And are the lips too much a 'thread of scarlet'?—Oh the opalline lights in that cloud!—How to blend such colors on a palette?—Nature? She is mocking, too.

"But oh, Irina, I see it now, at last! The dawn—the dawn is here. The night is gone. I have dreamed, I suppose: ugly dreams.—But they, too, are done with.—Look, my beloved, it is morning! The first sunbeam shines there—and is reflected in your dear eyes!" And, lifting his thin body, arms wide-stretched, eyes a-glitter, Joseph made his last reach up, after the great sun-shaft he had sought so long:—reached, and so, with a faint, far cry of satisfaction, had it, and was gone.

Ivan, feeling his way to the window, opened the curtains and looked out through blurred eyes upon the holy city. The dying man had, indeed, beheld the day. Yet no sunlight glittered upon the Kremlin domes; only the velvet blackness of the dark hour had melted, and given place to a twilight of sullen gray. Then, through the mind of Ivan, exhausted by the emotions of a sleepless day and night, there shot a pang—not of sorrow, but of deep, irresistible envy, for the man who had passed away, out of the Russian autumn, into the glory of the everlasting sun-land.



CHAPTER XXII

THE LION

Before Ivan left the hospital that morning, he had made all arrangements and provided a generous check for Joseph's funeral. Then, utterly exhausted, he drove to a quiet hotel, sent a telegram bidding Piotr join him with necessary clothes, and finally retired. He remained in the city for four days:—until the interment was over. During that time there occurred two incidents of which he never afterwards was heard to speak, but of which the remembrance never left him; for they eventually proved to be the end of his long and dramatic acquaintance with Irina Petrovna Lihnoff.

For all the unspeakable heartlessness of her later career, this many-sided woman showed deep emotion over the tragic end of the man whose youth and career she had ruined. Ivan recognized the fact that, even had he not appeared, Joseph would have received every attention, every aid, while he lived; every honor after his death. And her first visit to Ivan was to beg that he would allow her to reimburse him, at least for the funeral just ended. Ivan's refusal was unalterable. Nor was his feeling of repugnance towards her softened, either by this incident, or by her later well-acted but over-theatrical appeal to his pity, his former affection for her, for the possible restoration of his consideration, even though entire forgiveness for the irrevocable past should be impossible. Ivan unfortunately read her too well. Did he do her an injustice when he said to himself, bitterly, that Prince Gregoriev was worth an attempt which would not have been wasted on Ivan the composer?

It was noon on the fourteenth day of the month when Ivan re-entered the lonely house at Klin, whence he was practically not to emerge for five long years.

In the years between the October of 1879 and that of 1884, he performed the hardest labor of his career. His life was one of Spartan simplicity; nor, though about him Russia fainted beneath the terrible blows of nihilist knouts, did he once lift his head to catch so much as an echo of the furore. Unlike the majority of his fellow-countrymen, he took little interest in the tempestuous history of the period. Still, the event of March 13, 1881, did affect him powerfully enough to produce the most beautiful of all requiem masses: one worthy of the martyrdom it commemorated. For the Liberator met the base reward of his long and arduous struggle to help his people as nobly as had his great American predecessor, who, sixteen years before, had also fallen by a traitor's hand. Yet it is said that none who had known him doubted, as they laid the shattered form of Alexander down, for the last time, on the iron cot of his soldier's room in the great Winter Palace, that the sigh of the dying Czar was no confession of pain, but rather one of relief at this swift solution of his unsolvable problem.

It was two years before the third of that royal name dared don his heavy crown; and when that was done, it was Loris Melikov who became Czar. But, though the secret societies might shriek and rave of the necessary doom of the double tyrant to be downed, the people themselves had tired a little of the everlasting howls of bomb-thrower and assassin; and quieter years succeeded those of Russia's greatest shame.

Ivan, from his hermitage, took some part in the coronation festival; for from his hand came the Triumphal March, and the great "Victory" overture, played in the Kremlin Square by an orchestra of one hundred and seventy pieces, augmented by bells and cannon.

This was, however, one of the works that Ivan never heard. At the time of its first performance he refused the invitation to conduct it, and did not so much as think of going to Moscow to hear it played. He was in a very different mood from one of triumph; for there had come upon him the bitter grief of Nicholas Rubinstein's death. For two years the old man had faded, visibly. During the summer of 1881, he had spent much time at Maidonovo, where he helped Ivan with the final polishing of his last opera, the famous "Boris Telekin." That autumn, all the old circle conspired together to keep him in the country, where Ivan longed to tend him as a son. But the old man, dominant to the last, insisted on returning to town and resuming his work at the Conservatoire. In the February of 1883 he actually went to Paris, to help Anton and Davidoff prepare for their great festival there. The journey, however, fulfilled Kashkine's bitter prophecy. Nicholas died in the French capital on the evening of March 11th; and Ivan, struck to the heart, crept yet closer into the solitude and isolation of Klin, where, for three months, he yielded himself to Tosca and opium, till a second catastrophe in the Russian musical world was averted only by Kashkine, who routed out his friend and forcibly insisted on beginning rehearsals for "Boris Telekin"; which opera saw its premiere in November; and became the sensation of the season.

This one was the last of Gregoriev's operas. He had already expended too much time on a form unsuited to his talent; and when "Boris" left his hands perfected, he completely lost interest in it, and began at once to devote himself to his unnumbered symphony, the "AEneid"; one of the greatest of musical epics, and well worthy of the poem whence it had risen. The fruit of the winter of 1883 and 1884, included also the too-popular "Nathalie" dances, (where, for once, Ivan over-melodized); the "Cinderella" ballet; and his symphonic poem "Dream of Italy." These completed, he sank into a state of torpor from which nothing seemed to rouse him. Overwork had shorn him alike of vitality and of the imagination which had become as the breath of life to him. And the brief tone-poem "Hypatia," forced after a fortnight's visit in October from Madame Feodoreff and her daughters, is the driest, most hopelessly academic, of his works.

Nathalie's departure, however, seemed to break the spell of his dreariness. During the following six weeks he was frequently seen in Moscow and seemed to cling to the companionship of Kashkine; who, in a measure, began to replace Rubinstein with him. In December came Avelallement, acknowledged envoy from the five greatest German orchestras, begging Monsieur Gregoriev to consent to a tour of the orchestra cities of Germany, where he should conduct programs of his own works. To the amazement of the Moscow circle, Ivan received this proposition with something like enthusiasm. Before Christmas he bade good-bye to Russia for an indefinite period; for, the German tour over, he was determined to spend a summer in Switzerland, and follow the autumn down into that Italy of his dreams which he had never seen.

"I have spent too many years in this gray land, Constantine. I am beginning to feel the grayness. My whole soul is yearning for the sun.—I have grown narrow, and stern, and stiff, mentally and bodily. I must expand: must seek out men once more: and countries and peoples that are not ours.—I long for the contrasts of Africa, of Egypt; of the burning desert, with skies of fiery blue.—I bid good-bye to Russia. Time shall lead me whither it will!"

Kashkine, gazing at him thoughtfully, felt a sudden chill of doubt creep into his heart. The time for his biography was drawing near.

* * * * *

In mid-December, "Prince" Gregoriev, (the title being the finest of advertisements,) escorted by Monsieur Avelallement, and attended by a stately retinue of servants, arrived in Hamburg, where his tour began. His amazement at the ovations constantly given him, was naive; for it seemed that Ivan was never to realize the extent of his reputation. But fanatical adulation, following in the streets, constant cranings of the neck from the populace every time he appeared in public, presently began to make him miserable. He was finding fame rather an unwieldy burden. Indeed, he had begun seriously to regret his contract, when he learned that, on a certain evening, both Edvard Grieg and Johannes Brahms, who had travelled from their respective Norway and Austria to meet him, were to sup with him and his host after occupying a box at the last of his Hamburg concerts.

That supper-party gave a bad quarter of an hour to Madame Avelallement, the hostess: a woman of supreme tact, but whom three great artists bade fair to overwhelm. As they seated themselves at table Brahms, who had been in a brown study, suddenly proffered the company an extemporaneous criticism of Ivan's music, which he tore into miscroscopic bits, and flung upon the winds of sarcasm; after which he perorated elaborately upon his own power and the perfect academic accuracy of his style.

When he had reached his final period, the silence was awe-inspiring. Avelallement, his wife, even Grieg, who was an enthusiastic admirer of Ivan's work, sat dumb with apprehension, quite oblivious of the fact that Ivan, appreciating the solemnity of the occasion, was silent only because he was struggling with hardly repressible laughter. He had diminished this to a smile, however, before he helped himself bountifully to wiener-schnitzel, and remarked, with an air of anxious deference:

"It is a privilege to have heard your views, Herr Professor. In my youth I, too, was a worshipper of the mathematical cult. I should doubtless have compressed myself into that mould had it been possible. But alas! My stubborn inner self would not permit.—After all, each to his own. To me, imagination: the great, melancholy harmonies of the infinite Steppes. To you, your counterpoint, your fugue, the infallible, unquestionable sequence of one-two-three. Let us not quarrel, then, over the inevitable."

Brahms frowned. But alas! for the moment, his mouth was full. And Madame Avelallement, breathing a prayer of thanks and relief to Ivan, had seized her instant and turned the conversation to safer paths. Some hours later the two masters parted, in perfect amicability. But it is to be noted that they never met again.

The dour criticism of the rigid classicist was almost the only adverse word spoken of Ivan throughout his triumphal tour. To be sure, it was frequently said that his conducting was by no means equal to his composing: but that was a truth which could have hurt only had it been turned round. Ivan laughed many a time over his unconquerable terror of dais and baton; and had not the orchestras he conducted been perfectly drilled in his programs before his coming, he might more than once have come to grief. But it was noticeable that wherever Ivan came into personal contact with the journalists, no praise was afterwards too high for him. For the magnetism of his personality had increased with the years; and, added to the absence of any conceit in his manner, it made him an object of adulation that drove him into frequent fits of contrary taciturnity.

However, the long years of loneliness and unremitting labor proved an excellent foundation for this little period of relaxation. Also, as his tour continued, he was kept in a constant state of surprise at the number of celebrated musicians who came from flattering distances to hear his concerts and shake his hand. Grieg and Brahms were the vanguard of a distinguished throng: men representing every school, and of every type of ability; from the veteran Carl Goldmark, idol of his following, to a very young man, by name Richard Strauss, concerning whose immature but highly individual compositions, Herr Brahms had already worked himself into many a classical fury in the pages of his favorite musical journal; though more than one great artist—among them Ivan,—believed that wondrous messages were to come from the pen of this youth who already dallied, in such magnificent unconcern, with certain awe-inspiring transgressions of classical laws, augmented and diminished to a breathless degree!

It was nearing March, and the German tour was verging on its close, when Kashkine came from Petersburg, at Ivan's earnest request, to make one of the party invited, by Frau Cosima, to spend a week at the home of Wagner in Bayreuth. It was with a little reluctance that Gregoriev entered this sanctum of the great magician's world. None who knew intimately Ivan's work and that of the creator of the music-drama, could easily comprehend the lack of sympathy between these two men whose music was of so much the same type. Perhaps the similarity rose from very different sources. Certainly the effects produced, however much alike in power and in distinction, had originated in minds bearing so little resemblance to each other, that neither could see himself reflected in his contemporary. Indeed, as Wagner adored, and yearned to imitate, Beethoven, his diametrical opposite, so Ivan, tempestuous iconoclast, pored, year after year, over Mozart, deeply deploring his inability to imitate the simple, wearisome, weakly-flowing syrup of obviousness, which constitutes the secret of that master's popularity. So the two great men, each of whom must be reverenced by all the members of the other's following, found in each other, through the insistence of human nature, ficklest of contrary jades, none of the greatness but all of the faults.

Happily, however, there proved to be no reason for Ivan's hesitancy over the invitation of Wagner's remarkable wife. His visit, of which many hours were spent in the opera-house, where rehearsals for the summer's festival were going busily forward, proved far too interesting to require any polite pretence. Ivan took his leave of the widow, (who has done so much to augment the fame of her husband), with expressions of sincere regard and regret, adding, involuntarily, his satisfaction that this stay was to form his final impression of musical Germany.—For, three days later, Monsieur Gregoriev and his suite arrived in Paris: home of a very different musical cult.

Here a new group—one no less distinguished than that of their German brethren,—awaited the Russian star. Aged Gounod, Messrs. Saint-Saens, Massenet, and Bizet, with Bemberg, Vidal and Duparc the song-writers, together with a little group of the younger school, d'Indy, Charpentier and their set, were gathered together to prepare a festival for Prince Gregoriev, showering on him attentions of every kind; and laboring tirelessly to convince him of their admiration and their "sympathetic appreciation." No blunt comment or criticism here! All was smoothly, exquisitely polished: urbanely, beautifully French. But within a week or two Kashkine noted that Ivan was turning inward again towards himself and his habitual solitude. And he knew that presently these complacent fellows would be sticking themselves on the spikes of a chestnut-burr of moroseness, brusquerie, and blunt refusals to have anything to do with music and musicians.

What to do? As the days went on and his fears were fulfilled, Kashkine brought himself a dozen times to the verge of remonstrance, of pleading, of explanation; but, each time he opened his lips to speak on that subject, his courage failed, and he retreated hurriedly to safer topics. It was odd that this gentle-natured man, so easily assailable in general, should prove so unapproachable on the subject of personal expediency. Even Kashkine, already Ivan's Boswell, a man unselfishly eager that his friend should leave behind him a trail of golden admiration, dared not make the suggestion that it were better to move on, merely because he so dreaded the inevitable quiet glance and the direct, unequivocal: "Why?"

Happily, however, Constantine's secret anxiety was soon ended. One afternoon, as the two friends sat together in the salon of Ivan's suite, the Prince called Piotr to him, ordered him to arrange a farewell dinner for his friends on the following evening, and to be ready to leave, on the succeeding morning, for Nice, where they would spend the carnival: Lent falling very late this year.

The events of the ensuing months contain no musical history of any note. Italy, still arrogant over her florid successes of the fifties, had nothing but ridicule for the robust northern style which, to the ears accustomed to simple melody, accompanied by the tum-ti-tum of guitar-notes, that lightest dessert of the musical feast, was as the howling of demons drowning the songs of an angel-choir. Ivan, progressing slowly southward towards the Eternal City, found his name everywhere unknown; so that he was obliged to depend for comfortable rooms and ready service solely on his title. In Rome, to be sure, the score of "Boris Teleken" was to be seen in a window or two, side by side with those of "Lohengrin" or "Tannhaeuser." And there the society of which Leoncavallo was president, gave him a dinner, at which the conversation turned principally on the beauties of the Italian climate and the glories of her historic past.

These things did not, however, wound that professional vanity of which Ivan possessed so infinitesimal an amount. Never was man more thoroughly inoculated by amor Italiae than Gregoriev. During the first weeks of his stay in Rome, guide-books and histories of the city were never out of his hands; and he took up his pen only to write the promised weekly letter to his cousin. Nor, as the spring advanced, and the tides of the Roman populace, driven before the hot blast of the sirocco, began to roll towards Frascati and the hills, would Ivan follow them. On the contrary, he seemed to glory in the increasing heat of the unclouded sun; and, when he had sent from him, one by one, every member of his party save Piotr and Piotr's son, young Ivan, he began to prepare for a more reckless journey, southward. While his anxious but obedient retinue proceeded to Florence to prepare for him a winter abode, this madman, attended by a courier and his two servants, whom neither expostulation nor threat could drive from his side, set out for Naples, en route—horror incredibilis, for Sicily!

During July and August Kashkine, staying, in a condition of enraged resignation, in Berne, daily awaited a telegram announcing Ivan's mortal illness or death. Instead, however, he merely received frequent epistles from the subject of his fears, written in increasing ecstasy; till finally, in the first week of September, came the climax. In a note dated from Heaven (a place called, by the vulgar, Taormina), there came, at the end of the exclamation points, one or two rational sentences of information. It seemed that, upon the completion of his "Sicilian Fantasia," Ivan intended returning, by degrees, to the north, reaching Florence about November 1st. But he did not forget to add that it would be a voluntary plunge from the skies to purgatory.—For well indeed was Sicily named the "Smile of God!" And as for Russia—Moscow—Petersburg—well! popular mistake had incredibly conceived the infernal regions hot instead of cold; for who on the beautiful earth could ever be unhappy while the sun, visible presentment of the Deity, moved unobstructed through the turquoise vault of Italy?—Italy!—melody embodied: harmony made visible: Mozart paraphrased: Kingdom into which all artists must seek entrance; fairy-land come true!

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