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L J I A NS yy 







" Dear dead women with such faces "- 




Copyright, 1909, 1911, 

All riyhts reserved 
Published March, 1911 


I WISH to acknowledge my indebtedness 
to The Smart Set for permission to reprint 
"The Painter of Dead Women," which 
appeared in the issue of January, 1910. 

















"Polonus sum, 
Poloni nihil a me alienum puto." 

June 8, 1806. 

TVTEVER did spring come so early. In 
^ ^ April, when the country is as white as 
the coverlet on my bed, fields were dotted 
with black rings at the base of trees which 
glistened with moisture. 

Returning birds twittered under the eaves. 
Rivers awoke and became merry. In the 
distance rose the smoke of melting snow. 
Even in the North in White Russia so 
travelers tell, the ice broke. Now the 
country is wonderful. 

I have seen the foam-edged waves of the 

Baltic come rolling in by the mouth of the 

Niemen, just as spring rolls northward its 

foam of flowers to rescue us from the 



grasp of winter. In the same way, I wonder, 
will the army of France come northward 
to rescue Poland from the grasp of Russia? 
That is what every one talks about. That 
is what every one hopes. I hope it, too, but 
somehow I do not believe it. I have no 
faith in France. Yet it would be no act of 
generosity on her part. We Poles have bled 
for her on every battlefield of Europe. It 
is little that in return she should give the 
nation life. France may intend to do this. 
It is hard to tell now. No trustworthy news 
reaches us. The Prussians suppress and 
burn the mail lest we take heart and rebel. 
They say, however, that the Great Napoleon 
has conquered Italy and is now making 
plans for the North. 

June 12, 1806. The country is lovely! 
The avenue of poplars that leads to the house 
is enveloped in lustrous gauze. The birches 
and the willows and the lindens are green 

flames that shake in the light. / 




In the fields I can see the white head-ker 
chiefs of women who are working, and be 
yond, the white spire of the church. Those 
two white objects symbolize Poland hard 
work and hope the effort for something 
beyond and, perhaps, unattainable. 

I love this country with its fine distances 
and long levels where the eye is not impeded. 
Yet it has affected our natures, and not 
always advantageously. It has made us 
think that great things are too near and too 
easy to get. 

Small wonder that others have coveted 
Poland ! the Swedes among their rocks, 
where they have only fish to eat; the bar 
barous Russians, buried in winter and snow; 
Prussia for the trade facilities of the Vistula; 
and Austria because she is greedy of every 

The armies of the Continent have swept 
across Poland. It is the highway that leads 
to war. 

Here on our estate and southward to the 


is sure to punish! Then we named Yek- 
Katarina 1 "The Fury of the North." 

What will eventually become of Poland? 
Who next will be greedy of it? I have a 
presentiment which I dare not whisper to 
any one that in years to come it will be 
only a name, a great and glorious name, that 
signifies, in a world whose patriotism and 
fineness commercialism has dulled, the im 
possible dream of freedom. 

June 30, 1806. My honored mother came 
to me this morning and broached the subject 
of my marriage. Since I had heard nothing 
for several days, I hoped it had been laid 
aside for the present. 

You are past your twenty-first birthday, 
an age when girls of your rank have been 
married three years. Soon you will be an 

1 Great Catherine. In the middle of the Eight 
eenth Century the Russians called Catherine II. 
Yek-Katarina, which is equivalent in English to 




old maid. Have you no interest in the 

"I hoped you would permit me to enjoy 
myself in the country. It may be the last 
summer that I shall be at home," I ventured. 

Here my honored mother brushed away 
a tear, but soon returned valiantly to the 

:< You have read too much. You want a 
story-book life." 

"That is not it. I do not want to marry 
until - 

"Until what?" 

"It is settled." 

"What is settled?" 

"The fate of Poland." 

"What have you to do with that?" 

"Nothing; but I feel that I might do 
something. There is in me the power to 
do something - 

"And you are going to sit and waste your 
youth for that? Marry, raise up sons for 
Poland! That s the thing to do!" 




"I do not wish to offend you, my honored 
mother, but I wish you would drop the 
subject until late summer " 

"Look at your friends how well they 
are married! There is the Countess of 
Tisenhaus, who has married a Frenchman 
of birth, a peer of the realm, Count de 
Choiseul-Gouffier. Anna Tyskiewicz has be 
come Countess Potocka; Princess Czarto- 
ryska has married the Prince of Wirthem- 
berg; Anna Lapouschkine, by her marriage 
with Prince Paul Gavrilowitsch Gargarin, 
is one of the beauties of the Court of Russia. 
I should think you would want to play a 
part in the world! Do you not owe it 
to your family?" exclaimed my honored 
mother in such exasperation that she was 
unable to continue the discussion. This is 
the way these scenes end. They grieve me 
and vex her. And what good comes of them? 

July 5, 1806. My honored mother has 
submitted to me a list of names which have 


received her approval and that of my 
honored father and grandfather. This is 
merely a conciliatory formality. They will 
choose whom they please. Since I have met 
none of them and know only their families, 
it makes little difference. The thing nearest 
my heart is that the marriage be deferred. 
Therefore I considered those at a distance 
from Warsaw. I picked up the list, read it 
through with a show of interest, and checked 
Count Krasinski 1 and Prince Adam Czar- 
toryisky; the former is in Paris, and the 
latter is attached to the Court of Russia. 
The names pleased my honored mother. 
There are none nobler in Poland. Peace is 
restored for a time. 

July 10, 1806. Yesterday we attended a 
reception in Warsaw given by the Countess 
Stanilas Potocka for her new daughter, the 

1 Krasinski Count Sigismund, a Polish writer best 
known as the author of Irydion, which, under the thin 
covering of a fable, tells the tragic story of Poland. 
He was a prominent figure in the Paris of that day. 




Countess Anna. My honored mother was 
in high spirits because of my apparent ac 
quiescence to her plans, and happily pic 
tured me settled more splendidly than is 
the Countess Anna. 

The Countess Anna, while not pretty, is 
charming and girlish. She told us about 
the country place which is being built for 
her outside of Warsaw. She has named it 
Natoline. The old Count Stanilas Potocki 
- who is now in ill-health because of years of 
exposure endured in the Ukraine is helping 
with the decorative scheme. He is a great 
connoisseur of art. They say his taste is 
respected abroad. His art gallery is the 
finest in Poland, except that owned by the 
Czartoryisky the Prince General in the 
"Blue Palace." 

While he was escorting the ladies, my 
honored mother and myself among the 
number, through the hall where the pictures 
are hung, I made an unfortunate remark for 
which my honored mother reprimanded me 



severely. We came to a picture, purchased 
recently (I cannot remember the Italian 
painter s name), which has caused comment. 
It represents a band of horsemen going at 
full speed through the streets of an ancient 
city. They come to a river bridged only by 
one board. Across this foaming chasm 
beckons an impossibly beautiful sprite, half- 
hidden in whose enveloping gauzes is a 
skeleton, the symbol of death. The skeleton 
holds out a crown. 

"Ah!" I exclaimed, "above that fleeting 
phantom, whose possession is death, should 
be written Poland." 

There was a dreadful hush. Eyes looked 
into eyes. Every one knows that with his 
Cossack warriors of the Ukraine Count 
Stanilas wanted to wrest the crown from 
the Commonwealth. 

It is the talk in Warsaw, too, that negotia 
tions are going forward for my marriage 
with a Czartoryisky, who likewise coveted 
the crown of Poland. 




I wonder if I have an unfortunate tongue! 
I must remember not to say everything I 

Countess Waleweska was present. She 
wore a red velvet dress. She did not look 
so well as usual. We are called the two 
prettiest women in Warsaw. She is tall 
and blond; that is why the red did not be 
come her. I am plump and petite, with 
dark eyes, dark skin, and blond hair. 

Later I forgot my chagrin. I met Pan 
Kasimir Brodzinski. 1 He is entertaining. 
He has written some interesting things of 
late, too, about Polish literature. At once 
I asked him, "Why are there never any new 
Polish novels ? We stopped on our way at 
a book-seller s to get something to take 
back to Mioduschweski. Is no one doing 

"Unfortunately that is the case, Countess 
Tat j ana." 

1 Pan Kasimir Brodzinski, Polish critic. 


The only Polish novel I found was 
Valeria, by Baroness Kriidener." 

:< Your honored mother will object to that, 
Countess Tatjana." 

"Why, PanBrodzinski?" 

"It is a chronique scandaleuse of the writ 
er s life in Venice and Copenhagen." 

"I found the last volume of Walter Scott. 
They say Her Imperial Majesty, the Em 
press, reads nothing else. You will laugh 
when I tell you that I bought two books 
just for the interest they have aroused in 
the Great Napoleon Corinne and Werther 
which he has carried with him for months 
at a time." 

Here Pan Brodzinski leaned forward and 
his face became eloquent: 

"Let me tell you something: the writer 
of that book, Goethe, and Napoleon, and an 
Englishman whom you have not read 
Byron rule the minds of the age. The 
entire civilized world is in raptures over 
them. Do you know, a friend of mine 



lately returned from Russia told me that 
Russian soldiers stationed in the lonely 
regions of the Caucasus are learning the 
English language just to read Byron." 

Just as I was getting ready to ask Pan 
Brodzinski the latest news of the Grande 
Armee, our hostess summoned us to the 
drawing-room to hear some recitations by 
Adam Mickiewicz. 1 He is a remarkable 
child not more than seven and he declaims 
like an orator. The strange part about it 
is he will give only Polish pieces. Nor 
indeed will he answer if you address him in 
French. The Mickiewicz belong to the old 
schlachta (nobility) of Lithuania. I have 
seen their ancestral home. It is like the 
palace of a king. 

1 One of the greatest poets of Poland. His poems, 
ballads and his sonnets in which he pictures the 
Crimea and the mountain world of Southern Russia 
have been translated into the languages of the 
Continent. He is numbered among the Polish 
patriots of 1830. 




July 11, 1806. The post horn awoke us, 
blowing furiously. We jumped up and 
dressed without crossing ourselves or say 
ing a "Hail Mary." 

In the yard was a messenger from Warsaw 
to tell us that Napoleon had defeated the 
English in Italy and was striding north\vard 
like a giant in seven-league boots. I wonder 
what he is like, this world-hero who is writing 
his name in blood across the face of Europe. 
They say that he is handsome. Heroes, of 
course, are always handsome. 

July 18, 1806. My honored grandfather, 
who is eighty and an adherent of our ancient 
customs, came in this morning while I was 
reading a French book to my sister Mischa. 
He flew into a rage because I was not read 
ing Polish. 

He is worth seeing. He attracts attention 

on the streets of Warsaw. He still wears the 

zupan and the kontusch, and when he goes 

abroad, the burka fastened across his breast 




with silver clasps whereon are the arms of 
the Tschaski. 

" You are just like the rest ! " he exclaimed, 
but in so grieved a tone that my heart went 
out to him. " And I hoped better things of 
you! There are no more Poles in Poland! 
We are a French race now. We speak 
French, read French, follow French modes 
in thought and dress. When you enter the 
home of a person of rank, it is as if you 
entered a drawing-room in the Faubourg St. 
Germain. There is nothing to be seen that 
is characteristic of us. It is right that we 
should cease to be a nation when we have 
ceased to be ourselves. 

"Why do not the Germans dress like the 
Italians, or the Spaniards like the Russians? 
Would it not be just as reasonable? In the 
houses of fashion we see the same gilt furni 
ture upholstered in silk, the same mirrors 
in frames of decorated Saxon porcelain, a 
profusion of frail ornaments made of china, 

tables inlaid with marble or bordered with 


delicate plaques of Sevres, picture galleries, 
tapestries, silk-hung walls all the things 
that create effeminacy and a luxurious 

I could not answer, because I know that 
it is true. Yet why should we not love 
beautiful things! Is it our duty to live in 
huts in the wild forests of Lithuania just 
because we are Poles and belong to the 

July 26, 1806. Things are in a sad state. 
Everywhere uncertainty, indecision. Here 
no one dares do anything. Some are 
under the protection of Austria; some 
under the protection of Russia; others 
found their hope on France, and others 
vacillate in indecision. Was there ever 
such a state of things! Truly Polonia con- 
fusione regitur. 

August 6, 1806. At dinner last night, my 
honored grandfather regaled us with stories 



of his youth. He was in Paris at the time of 
the second "partition." 

One night at a soiree some one said: 
"How it will grieve the Poles to see their 
country cut up again! What will they do?" 

Quickly the answer came: "Give balls 
and masquerades in Warsaw. When I think 
of Poland, I know that they are dancing 
always dancing in Warsaw." 

I do not know why I write this, or why it 
impressed me so. If the French were the 
best dancers in Europe, would they not be 
proud of it too? They are jealous. We are 
more French than they. 

August 17, 1806. My new frocks have 
come from Paris. I am glad that my hon 
ored grandfather was not present when they 
were unpacked. There are a number of 
gauze ball dresses made with shirred over- 
skirts caught up with little flowers, and 
several robes rondes. They are the dernier 
cri of fashion. 




August 37, 1806. I have had a splendid 
day. Pan Anton Malzweski * called. It 
has rained for a week, and we have had no 
guests. I was so glad to see him I greeted 
him in the Polish manner: "Praised be 
Jesus, the Christ." 

He answered quickly in that impulsive 
way I like: "In all eternity." 

We are of an age and great friends. He 
has been everywhere and seen everything. 
He has seen Prince Adam Czartoryisky in 
Imperial Russia. He told me all sorts of 
things about him. He is one of the most 
notable figures in the court set and the 
desire of all the ladies. 

In the course of the afternoon, when we 
were quite alone, he confided to me his 
ambition. What do you suppose it is? To 
be a poet! I gravely answered: "All Poles 
are poets." 

"But I am going to be a great one in the 

1 Polish poet who wrote Maria, An Heroic Tale 
of the Ukraine. 




English manner. As soon as the wars are 
over and I have time, I am going to set to 
work. It was Lord Byron who discovered 
to me my talent. The name of the first 
book is chosen: Maria, An Heroic Tale of the 
Ukraine. In it there is to be a song partly 
written down now called The Carnival of 
Venice, which is what Byron and I thought 
of the Venetian nights." 

He talked with such fury, such discon 
nected haste, that I could only gasp: "You 
have seen Lord Byron!" 

:< Yes, and I gave him the subject for a 
poem Mazeppa which will be trans 
lated for us." 

September 5, 1806. We have just heard 
that the Grande Armee has crossed the 
borders of Prussia. Prussia tried to put 
herself on a war footing secretly. In return, 
Napoleon has seized Wesel, a fortress by 
the Rhine. Is he so near, and we did not 





September 11, 1806. The harvest is under 
way. The fields are dotted with grain stacks 
that are for all the world like round towers.y^ 
I look at them and dream of Napoleon and 
the fortress by the Rhine. Could anything 
be sillier! 

September 21, 1806. My honored grand 
father had company to-day. Count Severin 
Rzewuski, Count Stanilas Potocki, and the 
Prince General. The Prince General is 
feeble and ill, although he conceals it bravely. 
He still keeps up the elegant courtly life he 
knew in his youth, although it is evident he 
cannot last long. Every one says that he 
will die some night at the card-table, dressed 
in the stiff, formal evening dress of a century 
ago, his courtiers gathered about him. 

Little was talked of save the political 
situation. We are upon the eve of world- 
changing events. There is evident the 
ominousness that precedes the storm. The 
old gentlemen talked freely. They are of 



one political faith and have deeply at heart 
the welfare of Poland. 

It must have been a great life that was 
lived in their youth. The Prince General 
says that there will never be anything to 
equal the old aristocracy of Poland. Their 
life was the most sumptuous and luxurious 
in Europe. Mischa and I listened. It was 
like a romance. Count Rzewuski says that 
it is our own fault that we are where we are 
to-day. In the old days each was too great 
to acknowledge a greater. 

: You are right," replied Count Potocki. 
"He who will not obey his own king will be 
forced to obey the king of others. * After 
feasting follows fasting. 

Our grandparents tell only of wars and 
bloodshed. In other countries, I wonder, 
are there other memories? 

October 6, 1806. Napoleon is in Prussia. 
Terrible things are happening. We do not 
know just what, because little news reaches us. 




October 12, 1806. The excitement in War 
saw cannot be imagined. Every few hours 
a messenger arrives with a blowing of trum 
pets. Why should not we tremble when the 
Czar of Imperial Russia trembles on his 

Yet Warsaw rejoices and dances. 

October 18, 1806. My engagement to 
Prince Adam Czartoryisky has been an 
nounced. I had no word in the matter; I 
was not consulted. 

I have received a letter from Prince Adam 
and as betrothal gift a kanak an antique 
Polish necklace of wrought silver set with 
round disks of ivory upon each of which 
is carved an eagle the white eagle of 
Poland. I ought to be proud and happy. 
Prince Adam is Minister of Foreign Af 
fairs at the Court of Russia. My honored 
mother says that my position will be 
better than that of the Countess Anna 




October 25, 1806. Last night there was a 
celebration at the Prince General s in the 
" Blue Palace," in honor of my betrothal to 
his son Prince Adam. Prince Adam could 
not be present. He was represented by his 
dearest friend, M. Novosiltzow, likewise at 
tache of the Russian Court. 

He brought with him a gift from His 
Imperial Master, a miniature of the Empress 
Elizabeth surrounded with diamonds and 
strung upon blue riband. M. Novosiltzow 
attached it to my shoulder in the presence 
of the guests. I am now a dame de la portrait. 

We made merry in the good old Polish 
way. First we danced the Polonaise, going 
through nearly every room in the house and 
up and down all the stairs. Then the Prince 
General made a speech, as was the custom 
in his youth, at the end of the Polonaise. 
Next, toasts were called for. Mine was 
drunk from one of my jeweled slippers, 
which every one present declared to be 
smaller and shapelier than those worn by 


the Archduchess of Austria, Marie Louise, 
who has the prettiest foot in Europe. It was 
splendid and solemn, but some way my 
heart was not in it. My honored mother, 
however, was gay and happy enough for two. 
I kept thinking I wonder if outside through 
the night he is marching toward Warsaw, 
* the man who has the face of an antique god. 

October 12, 1806. The expected has hap 
pened. There has been a terrible battle at 
Jena. Prince Louis fell. A new sun has 
risen over Europe. Napoleon is master of 
Berlin, and Queen Louise is kneeling at the 
feet of a soldier of fortune. I wonder if he 
is greater than all other men, or if it is only 
that he knows one game better the game 
of war. He moves armies as if they were 
pawns upon a chess-board. v 

November 12, 1806. Autumn is upon us. 

The harvest has left the fields bare and 

brown. In the poplars there is a shiver 

J that tells of winter. The leaves are a faded 



yellow, which is the color of the things of 
yesterday. To-morrow we go to Warsaw 
for the winter. 

November 25, 1806. St. Catherine s day. 
This was to have been my wedding-day. 
St. Catherine is the patroness of happy mar 
riages. It is altogether impossible for Prince 
Adam to leave Russia. The only hope of 
Polish freedom is his friendship with the 
Emperor. Now is a momentous time. He 
must be at his ear to estimate his moods, 
that he may whisper at the propitious 
moment, memento Polonies! He writes: 
"We Poles who have lost the right to fight 
upon the field of battle, must, as a last 
necessity, resort to the coward s weapons 
cajolery and diplomacy." 

November 27, 1806. Napoleon is in Posen ! 

December 18, 1806. I received a letter 
from Prince Adam to-day which brings us 
nearer together than any he has written 



before. He has taken me into his confidence. 
He has a plan for saving Poland. It is this; 
to use his influence with the Emperor to 
bring about a defensive union of Russia and 
England, each of which alone is strong enough 
to check the advance of France. Then it 
will be to the advantage of each that Poland 
be independent, the future s formidable bar 
rier against continental aggression. 

"I shall make Alexander see," he writes, 
"that the partition of Poland was foolish." 

This is the object of his life. For this he 
is sacrificing his youth and his happiness at 
the Court of Russia. 

My honored mother says, in case he suc 
ceeds, a king will be chosen for Poland, and 
it is sure to be either Prince Adam or Prince 

Nothing can make me believe that n r- 
sonal motives enter into his ambition. V He 
is the most disinterested of men. All this 
time that he has been Minister of Foreign 
Affairs for Russia, he has received no salary. 


He refused to accept money, orders, or 
insignia of rank from the nation that op 
pressed his race. He said that he consid 
ered it his duty to free Poland, since it was 
his own family, the Czartoryisky, who in 
ancient days first invited the Russians into 
the country. 

( He has no faith in Napoleon. ; He hates 
him. It is his desire to be the instrument 
of his downfall. He writes: "Napoleon is 
the scourge of Europe. It is the duty of 
nations to unite and make an end of him." 

As for Poland, no time is to be lost, be 
cause the nature of Alexander is undergoing 
a change. He no longer has Utopian dreams 
of presenting nations with their freedom. 
As far as his weak nature will permit, he is 
being Russianized. Now, when the subject 
of Poland is mentioned, there must be some 
other object and that for Russia s good. 

Then he wrote of life and people in St. 
Petersburg. He went to the first night of the 
new opera, II Barbiere di Seviglia. It was 



written by Signer Paisiello, a protege of the 
Great Catherine. 

There has been a new play brought out 
by a Russian at Knipper s Theater Roslaw 
by Kniazin. Prince Adam did not care for 
it. However, as soon as it is put on sale at 
Glosunow s, he will send me a copy that I 
may judge for myself. 

December 21, 1806. Napoleon is in War 
saw! The joy of the people is beyond 
description. It must have been like this 
when our own king, Jan Sobieski, returned 
with conquering arms. We have greeted 
him as if our freedom were assured. But 
he has said nothing. He has made no 

The streets are gay with colors. Side by 
side are the gold eagle of France and the 
white eagle of Poland. The soldiers are 
banqueted everywhere. The people have 
gone mad and dance and sing without 
knowing why. 



January 5, 1807. We have not given 
Napoleon a chance to ask for soldiers. They 
are rushing to him in such numbers it is as 
if the nation threw itself at his feet and 
cried: "With the forehead! With the fore 

Prince Poniatowski has raised a legion. 
Yesterday the consecration of their arms 
took place in Zielony Plac. When I looked 
at the youths kneeling at the altar, it seemed 
to me not a Christian consecration, but a 
pagan sacrifice of blood in honor of the mod 
ern Moloch Napoleon. 

January 9, 1807. My honored grand 
father has returned from inspecting the 
French troops. He says that, in compari 
son with them, our old armies looked like a 
merrymaking at a country fair. 

January 11, 1807. I have met Napoleon! 
It was last night. I am still so excited that 
I do not know how to tell about it. The 




ladies of Warsaw have been vexed that he 
did not arrange for a presentation. Yester 
day the invitation came. At nine-thirty 
we were assembled. We waited a full hour, 
standing in nervous expectation. At last 
the door by which we knew he would en 
ter opened, and Talleyrand appeared. It 
seemed minutes before he spoke. Then he 
bowed and announced "The Emperor!" 
The word had the voice of the thunders and 
filled all space. I can hear it now. " The 

He looked like a god who in haste had 
been made a man and made too small. By 
some accident his eyes met mine. For an 
instant it was as if we two were alone, un 
conscious of the crowd that swayed between. 

As the ladies filed past and were presented, 
I felt that he was waiting for me. Then a 
terrible nervousness seized me, which ex 
pressed itself in a sort of exaltation, a wild 
and reckless daring. 

When my turn came, he stepped forward 


January 5, 1807. We have not given 
Napoleon a chance to ask for soldiers. They 
are rushing to him in such numbers it is as 
if the nation threw itself at his feet and 
cried: "With the forehead! With the fore 

Prince Poniatowski has raised a legion. 
Yesterday the consecration of their arms 
took place in Zielony Plac. When I looked 
at the youths kneeling at the altar, it seemed 
to me not a Christian consecration, but a 
pagan sacrifice of blood in honor of the mod 
ern Moloch Napoleon. 

January P, 1807. My honored grand 
father has returned from inspecting the 
French troops. He says that, in compari 
son with them, our old armies looked like a 
merrymaking at a country fair. 

January 11, 1807. I have met Napoleon! 
It was last night. I am still so excited that 
I do not know how to tell about it. The 




ladies of Warsaw have been vexed that he 
did not arrange for a presentation. Yester 
day the invitation came. At nine-thirty 
we were assembled. We waited a full hour, 
standing in nervous expectation. At last 
the door by which we knew he would en 
ter opened, and Talleyrand appeared. It 
seemed minutes before he spoke. Then he 
bowed and announced "The Emperor!" 
The word had the voice of the thunders and 
filled all space. I can hear it now. " The 

He looked like a god who in haste had 
been made a man and made too small. By 
some accident his eyes met mine. For an 
instant it was as if we two were alone, un 
conscious of the crowd that swayed between. 

As the ladies filed past and were presented, 
I felt that he was waiting for me. Then a 
terrible nervousness seized me, which ex 
pressed itself in a sort of exaltation, a w r ild 
and reckless daring. 

When my turn came, he stepped forward 




eagerly and asked my name. "The Count 
ess Tat j ana Tschaska." 

He beckoned me to him. "I am sure now 
that I shall meet in Poland the only ruler 
whom I fear." 

"And whom may that be, Sire?" 

"The Queen of Beauty, "Rowing gallantly. 

I retorted: "One of our Slav poets said 
long ago: One need not fear a Russian Czar 
so greatly as a Polish woman. Then I 
courtesied and moved on. 

As soon as the presentations were over, 
I saw him making his way toward me. On 
the instant I was the observed of all. The 
crowd fell back, seeing that it was his will, 
and left us alone. I was conscious of a sen 
sation then which I hope will never be 
repeated in the course of my life. It was as 
if upon the instant all my ideals, all my 
standards of living, had been shattered. It 
was as if I had never lived before. It is in 
such moods that we do things that we regret 
and wonder at ever after. There was some- 



thing within me that rushed to meet him, 
that swept barriers before it. Outwardly, 
however, I was calm. 

When he came near enough to speak, he 
asked jestingly: "Are there really none but 
nobles in Poland?" 

In an instant I was on my mettle, defiant 
and scornful. "Sire, it is easier to be a 
sovereign prince in France than a petty 
noble in Poland." Then I read such ad 
miration in his eyes I regretted the answer 
and hastened to make amends by inquiring, 
somewhat awkwardly: "Are you not home 
sick for Paris, here in the North?" 

"How could I be, when in Warsaw I have 
found another and a gayer Paris? "j/ / 

"Why is it that it fascinates the foreigner 

"Because here the East and the West 
meet. The streets how interesting a 
scene from an opera; turbaned Mussulmans, 
Janizaries, Hungarians, Russians in pointed 
caps, Poles, Tartars " 



"And what of the people people such as 
are here?" 

"I do not care so much for the men, but 
I never saw such pretty women. In them, 
too, the East and the West meet. They 
unite the intelligence, the fine presence of 
the West with the fire and the languor of 
the East." 

I do not know what else we said. We 
talked with merriment and unrestraint. 
Then he bowed, spoke a few words with 
some of the others, and retired. He has 
gray -blue eyes that deepen and darken when 
he talks. He is very small for a man, but 
so exquisitely proportioned that he gives 
the impression of stateliness and height. 
His voice is beautiful. It makes the heart 
vibrate. Y 

January 12, 1807. To-day the Emperor 
sent one of his aides to inquire for my 
health and to bring me a book Comte de 
Comminges. An enclosed note says that 




this is his favorite book and that every time 
he reads it he weeps. Strange man who can 
see his fellows slaughtered by thousands, 
and weep over the mimic passions of a 
book! </ 

January 14, 1807. At the Assembly last 
night, I was commanded to the Emperor s 
whist table. No sooner had I sat down 
than he turned to me with the greatest un 
restraint of manner. "What stakes shall 
we play for, my little Countess?" 

"When one plays with the King of the 
World, Sire, it should be for nothing less 
than a kingdom." 

"Well, then, what shall it be? Name 

"The freedom of Poland, Sire." 

You cannot imagine the consternation. 
Every one was so frightened that I began to 
be frightened, too. He was not in the least 
vexed. No one knows better how to value 




"Granted, my little Countess! And I will 
play for the heart of the bravest of Polish 

Then the game began. I cannot tell how 
furiously we played. It was as if the fate 
of the world hung in the balance. I never 
lived such an exciting hour. People crowded 
around to learn the result. Bets were made. 
Excitement rose to fever heat. I lost. He 
leaned across the table and grasped my 
hands. "Now you are mine. I have won 
you fairly, you little rebel!" 

Then some one cried out, Prince Murat 
I think it was: "Sire, I never thought to 
see you grasp the hand of Russia." 

"What do you mean?" was the somewhat 
startled answer. 

"The Countess Tatjana, Sire, is the affi 
anced bride of Prince Adam Czartoryisky, 
the real ruler of Imperial Russia." 

"It is my custom always to defeat my 
enemies," he answered, but I saw that his 

face clouded. 




"Wait!" I exclaimed. "Prince Adam and 
I may yet defeat you!" 

January SO, 1807. In a letter received 
from Prince Adam to-day was this sentence: 
"Do not trust the French Emperor. He 
will deceive the Poles. He will make them 
promises he has no idea of keeping, and in 
return they will shed their blood for him 
by thousands. The people of the South, 
remember, are light of tongue." 

January 26, 1807. Warsaw is still wild 
over the Emperor. He possesses a strange 
magnetisnr/ It is as if, like Prometheus, he 
had stolen the fire of the gods. He is mortal. 
It cannot last. I wonder if, like Prome 
theus, he will atone for his temerity by being 
chained to a rock in the sea that the vultures 
of envy may eat his heart! 

January 30, 1807. Again last night I was 
commanded to the Emperor s whist table. 
He had forgotten about our little unpleasant- 




ness and was unfeignedly glad to see me. As 
I entered, he was talking with the Prince 
General about Goethe, whom he met in 
Weimar. The Prince General moved away 
to make place for the players, and the Duke 
of Bassano came up. 

"I must quote for our little Countess, 
Duke, that saying of Goethe s which proves 
him to be a warrior like myself: Women 
and fortresses were made to storm and 
take. " V 

"When Goethe wrote that, Sire," I an 
swered, "two exceptions were understood 
Russian fortresses and Polish women." 

Then you should have heard the laughter, 
which he took good-naturedly, replying: 
"I like spirit in a woman. Jjxindicates 

After the game was over, we found our 
selves alone. He insisted upon driving me 
home. We managed it without the others 
knowing; otherwise I should not have dared. 
W T hen we were in the sleigh he said, as if he 



thought I would be greatly interested: "I 
am going away to-morrow or the next 
day, my little Countess." 

"Where, Sire?" 

"To White Russia." 

I started as if some terrible thing had 
been communicated to me, then replied: 
"Do not seek the wind in the open field." 1 

The answer did not please him. Some 
minutes passed before he spoke. Then the 
conversation took an intimate turn. We 
drove for two hours at a furious pace, the 
horses feet striking diamonds from the 
snow. When we reached the white levels 
of the country, silent and cold in the silver 
night, I suddenly realized that in the nature 
of the man beside me were the same great 
spaces of cold and silence like the steppe 
which nothing could reclaim. For a 
moment fear rose in my heart. 

He said a thousand fond and foolish things 
and at last asked me if I loved him. 

1 Slav proverb. 



I replied: "One worships the gods, Sire; 
one does not love them. *\ 

When we reached home and got out 
of the sleigh, he stood looking at me in 
silence. His face looked paler than usual 
and more stern. Suddenly a sort of rage 
convulsed it. He drew me to him, held me 
close, and kissed my hair again and again. 
Then he leaped into the sleigh and was oft 
without a word. For an instant the stars 
in the winter sky and the sparkling snow- 
stars upon the earth were one.*^A noise as 
of whirling waters dulled my ears. In love 
as in war he is fierce and furious. 

February 10, 1807. There has been another 
battle. We do not know much about it, 
except that it must have been in the neigh 
borhood of Eylau. I have not heard from 
Prince Adam. I wonder if he was there. 
I fancied him on one side and Napoleon on 
the other, with the black thundering cannon 




February 14, 1807. Every day comes news 
of an engagement in which the French are 
successful. To-day a messenger came to me 
from the seat of war, bringing a small box. 
In it there was an ornament of diamonds, 
with a slip of paper, upon which was written : 
"Russian fortresses may be taken!" 

February 19, 1807. The French have de 
feated the Russians at Ostrolenko. 

February 27, 1807. Despite the war and the 
sad news that reaches us daily, the carnival 
has been merry. We do always dance in 
Warsaw. There is no denying it. 

Last night being Tuesday before Ash 
Wednesday, we celebrated at the Prince 
General s in the good old-fashioned way. 
We wore the Polish costume in compliance 
with the Prince General s request. The 
ladies were resplendent in antique flowered 
court gowns of old English gilt-brocade; 
the gentlemen in gorgeous uniforms with all 



their decorations, long blue and white plumes 
tossing from their hats. 

We began by dancing the Kracoviak, each 
with a glass of wine in his hand. At the 
turns of the dance, where the ladies whirl, 
half kneeling, and their full skirts spread 
out around them like the petals of a flower, 
each gentleman made the sign of the cross 
above his partner s head with a glass of 
glowing wine. Then came a gavotte, then 
a Polonaise, and last the old-fashioned dance 
where we sing, "Oh, we love one another, 
yes, we love one another! " Thus we kept 
it up without once pausing. At midnight 
the Prince General s chaplain entered and 
made a little talk upon the necessity of keep 
ing the fast days. We followed him to the 
chapel, where mass was said. WTien he 
came to the place in the service where he 
reads, "Cum jejunatis nolite fieri sicut Pha- 
riscei," the men leaped to their feet, flashed 
their swords from jeweled scabbards, and 
set their plumed hats high upon their heads 



to signify that they would fight and die for 
the faith. It was a splendid and imposing 
sight those solemn courtly figures glitter 
ing with gems and gold, under the fretful 
light of tapers in the pale winter dawn. I 
shall not soon forget it. 

April 20, 1807. This has b^en a sad Lent, 
a veritable season of gloom. yl do not know 
why. I have heard nothing from the 



June 1,1807. Spring is here. Even spring 
is sad. Not even the birds are merry v Our 
peasants have sung their saddest songs at 
the planting. I have heard nothing from 
the Emperor. 

July 10, 1807. The Peace of Tilsit has 

been signed. Prince Adam was there. France 

won her point, made alliance with Russia 

and left England out. Prince Adam is 




broken-hearted. Had Alexander been less 
weak, Poland would be free. An attempt 
to influence the mind of Alexander is like 
writing one s name on water. There is a 
Russian proverb that says, however :^ You 
must not expect a cuckoo to be a falcon.vr 

How discouraging has this long diplomatic 
battle been to Prince Adam! To it he has 
sacrificed his youth. Alexander has made 
use of his talent for ten years by luring him 
on with the hope of a free Poland. He says 
that at the Peace of Tilsit Napoleon jested 
and made all manner of fun of the Poles. 
Since he is no longer the champion of the 
people, he has degenerated into an ambitious 
/knave, to whom the god of luck gave a touch 
of genius. * 

"Napoleon," he writes, "is not a man of 
knightly honor with the blood of kings in 
his veins. He is merely an adventurous 
usurper eager for power. He is the first 
exponent of a modern commercial world 
whose dawn is just at hand a world 



wherein everything will be negotiable, every 
thing will have its price. The chivalric 
spirit of the past will exist no longer; noth 
ing comparable will exist again after the_ 
sword of Napoleon has passed over it." 

(Here the loss of a number of leaves from 
the diary causes an interruption in the 
story. It is taken up again with the year 



June 15, 1812. I have just reached Zao- 
zaima to oversee for the summer one of our 
Lithuanian estates. My honored mother was 
unable to come. 

I received a letter from Prince Adam to 
day. He is no longer Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, but he still stays on at the Court of 
Russia because of his influence and friend 
ship with Alexander. He still hopes to effect 
the freedom of Poland. And I am waiting. 
How many women are there in Poland to-day 
whose fate, like mine, is bound up with the 

fate of the nation! 




June 27, 1812. A messenger just came 
post-haste from Prince Adam with this 
letter: "By the time this reaches you, 
Napoleon will have crossed the Niemen 
with the great army of France. Diplomatic 
relations, as you know, have been severed 
between France and Russia. Again I have 
hope of the old alliance of Russia and 

"Word has been sent to Napoleon that 
you are in Zaozaima in Lithuania, on the 
direct route to Russia. His love for you is 
well known. He will send you word. You 
can help us. While I have the ear of Alex 
ander and you the heart of Napoleon, some 
thing may yet be done for Poland. This is 
the plan not to let Napoleon see the army 
of Russia until after he has left Wilna. 
When he does see it, it will feign fear and 
retreat. In case an engagement cannot be 
avoided, it is our plan to give him the victory 
and then retreat again. In this way we can 
bring him into the heart of the country. 



With you to help, we will lure Napoleon, 
who is now drunk with success, to a ban 
quet of death in the heart of White 

July 18, 1812. A messenger came from 
the Emperor to-day and an escort of Lithu 
anian soldiers. I am commanded to go to 
Witepsk to the Convent of Our Lady of 
Good Council and there await him. I did 
not think it would come so soon. 

July 20, 1812. All night we rode through 
the great pine woods of Lithuania. The 
soldiers sang, alternately, with answering 
voices, one of the strangely modulated 
dainos of the country: 

"But when shall we go from the Russian land 
Back again to the Memel strand? 
When posts and stones to blossom are seen 
And trees in depth of the sea grow green." l 

Poor fellows! There is little probability 
that they will come back to the Memel. 

1 Author s translation. 



July 25, 1812. Witepsk is a gloomy city 
filled with cloisters. There are twenty-four 
here. They look as black and as forbidding 
as the black pines of Lithuania. 

July 27, 1812. I found the strangest 
manuscript in the convent to-day! It is 
unsigned and ancient. No one knows of 
its origin. I copy a part which mysteriously 
refers to the present: 

"For I say unto you that the balance 
must always be kept. Great things will 
be weighed and estimated by great things. 
But in the end that shall prevail that is 
fullest of joy. Joy, alone, is life. Joy, 
alone, can create. That which is effort 
is of a baser fiber. 

" Out of the gloom and the fog of the North 
the barbarians came and destroyed the land 
of joy, the cities of white marble, the gladness 
of the pagan world. They destroyed the 
altars whereon the incense smoked and the 
sacrificial doves slumbered. 



"In the ages of ages, when the time shall 
be ripe and the world shall have forgotten 
its ancient joy, retribution will fall upon the 

"Out of the South will come a Caesar and 
a god, who, like them of old, shall know not 
fear, but joy. He will be wise with the 
wisdom of the sleeping centuries. He will 
be a Bacchic god, in whose honor for incense 
cities will burn and the smoking blood of 
slaughtered nations rise. He will be a 
Titan, who believes that the only crime is 
littleness and impotence. A new age will 
begin with him." 

As I read I saw the white cameo-like face 
of the Great Emperor framed in the gold 
of a burning city. 

July 29, 1812. The Emperor came yester 
day. He brought two suits such as are worn 
by the Polish cavalry, one for me and one 
for my dame de compagnon. I had to cut my 
hair. Now it is in little yellow curls. He 


said I must look like the women who lead 
the armies of the Great Catherine. 
We are on the road to Moscow. 

July 30> 1812. What is so inspiring as the 
call of trumpets! They are the instrument 
of courage and high deeds. 

July 31, 1812. Pan Brodzinski, Pan 
Anton Malzweski, and Prince Michael Rad- 
ziwill are with the army. I have not seen 

August 1, 1812. This army is a wonderful 
sight. In it are people of all nations. The 
faith of the soldiers in Napoleon is fanatical. 
In just this way do the Moslems worship 
Allah. They think he is superior to death. 
As the days go by and I learn to estimate 
his power, I, too, can say "Allah il Allah." 

August 10, 1812. No mortal was ever 
adored like this. Surely there must be good 
in his heart. 




August 11, 181 2. It is just as Prince Adam 
wrote. The Russians feign fear and retreat. 
I cannot be a party to this murder, this 
luring him on to death. I must find some 
means of escape. I must find some means 
of saving him that will save Poland too. 

August 12, 1812. Napoleon disguised 
himself as a chasseur and we rode to 
gether all day. I made the most of the 

"Sire, before we reach the boundaries of 
Old Poland, I pray you, take this precaution 
for your safety make Poland free. Then 
you will have a safe ally behind you. Then 
you can conquer Russia." 

"Why take the trouble! Do you not see 
how they fear me, how they retreat?" 

"That is only a ruse, Sire; they are the 
subtlest of races." 

"They fear me; that is why." 

"No, Sire, I know them better. It is a 

ruse. I beg you to listen and be not angry. 



Only a man whom the too great fcwors of 
destiny had made drunk would /lead an 

army into the heart of Russia. ,/It means 


death to them to you." 

"That is for cowards. Audaces Fortuna 
juvat, timidosque repellit." 

"Sire, make Poland free!" 

"If I did, what good would it do the 
Poles? They could not remain free." 

"Why, Sire! Do you not admire my 

"I admire them, but I do not respect them. 
Your Polish aristocracy has received a 
foreign education. In art, in letters, they 
have become demi-savants, which has un 
fitted them for pracTTcaTaff airs . No people 
were ever more fitted to please. No people 
ever so loved the joy of life music and 
the tossing of plumes. But no people 
ever had so little talent for the conquest of 
life. They were not made for care, work, 
for a commonplace thing like discipline. 
That is why they are famous for their cav- 


airy. They are good only for itys: impetuous 
rush of an inspired moment." 

"Sire, make an end to this crucifixion of 
my country! It will mean safety to you on 
your return. Make Poland free!" 

"It would be useless. You Poles have no 
genius for affairs. You have always acted 
like children." 

"Sire, we are grown now. Sorrow has 
made us wise." 

"It is useless, I tell you. You do not 
belong to the present. You belong to other 
centuries. You are the last defenders of the 
bulwark of the Middle Ages, where chivalry 
ruled. Now a modern world is here that 
does not care for things that are merely 
fine; an age without ideals but with great 
practical sense; an age which money and 
success alone can rule, money and success, 
won at any price, for not even honor will 
stand in the way. Soon the old chivalric 
days when men loved one another will be 

merely a dream. 




The wars of the time to come will not 
be like these of mine. They will be bloodless 
wars fought at expense of men s souls and 
nerves, and they will be crueler and more 
deeply destructive than any that have deso 
lated Poland. 

"If I should make Poland free, it could not 
remain free. It is the age that is at fault. 
You have not grasped modern life. Another 
age has come over Europe. And because the 
Pole cannot accommodate himself to it, the 
nation will be destroyed. It will pass under 
the rule of others who have in abundance 
what he has not. Polonia delenda est" 

I can do no more. He must go on to ruin. 
I dare not show him the letter of Prince Adam. 

August 16, 1818. We are under the walls 
of Smolensk, the city which the Cossack 
Hetmans wrested from the Commonwealth. 
This is on the borders of Old Poland. 

I said to the Emperor in one last attempt : 
"There is Russia, Sire. Do you remember 




how it looks upon the map? A wilderness 
bounded by a river of blood and by blue 
and frozen seas. Those, Sire, are God s 
awful prohibition." 

He looked toward it thoughtfully for a 
time, then turned and walked silently away. 

August 18, 1812. Yesterday the French 
took Smolensk. Again I saw the policy of 
Russia. It was garrisoned by thirty thou 
sand men. They gave us the victory that 
Napoleon may push on into the heart of 
the country. There, when winter comes, 
the snow and the frost will do what arms 
can not. There he will contend with a new 
army the army of the elements. I saw 
the battle. It was terrible beyond descrip 
tion. The Emperor commanded in person. 
He was here, there, everywhere, all at once. 
He was the incarnate demon of joy. Bullets 
dared not touch him. Screaming, they fled 
past. It was frightful in that he really seemed 
to be protected by a superhuman power. 



After it was over, he rode to where I sat. 

"Was a woman ever entertained as I have 
entertained you? I do not amuse you with 
stupid balls, operas, soirees, but with the 
play of the best armies of Europe." 

His joy filled me with terror. 

August 20, 1812. The soldiers are wild 
with hope. They see themselves master of 
the East. I alone know what awaits them. 
They are uplifted by such a burning desire 
of the future that the present is annihilated. 

Along the way are the dead and dying. 
No one seems to care. 

August 22, 1812. I am becoming infected 
with the general joy. Yet I know that the 
Russians have prepared their revenge. 

August 28, 1812. The Russians are still 
retreating. Yesterday and the day before 
there were slight engagements in which the 
French were successful. 

The Russians retired to Borodino. Now 


the invincible Kutusow is in command. The 
Emperor is delighted. He is eager to meet 

September 8, 1812. Yesterday they fougnt 
by Borodino. Kutusow retired to Moscow. 

September 1%, 1812. We can see Moscow ! 

Imagine a yellow, barren plain, over it 
gold-dust haze, brightening and darkening 
as the wind sways it, through which rise a 
multitude of green and red and blue and 
silver domes, surmounted by gold, lace- 
work crosses. It floats in the air. It is the 
creation of a magician. At the same time 
it is very real, and touched with mystery 
and age the immemorial age of the East. 

September 15, 1812. We are in Moscow. 
The city is deserted. Kutusow took his 
troops and went away. It was not fear 
that made him. Something terrible is 
going to happen. Why do not the French 




It is unimaginable the effect of this 
silent, wonderful city. Who would dream 
of a city here on the barren plain that 
stretches eastward to Asia! And such a 
city! Italian palaces by the side of Tartar 
huts! Bazaars where the wonders of the 
Orient are displayed! 

The soldiers are pillaging right and left. 
Entire squadrons go about decked in gold 
and embroidered gauzes fit for the harems 
of Stamboul. 

It is like a festival in honor of a pagan god. 
This illusion is heightened by the fires which 
are burning everywhere, like incense. 

Never before did the bitter North see any 
thing like this. Like this life must have 
been in the old days in Alexandria and 
in Mitylene. 

September 17, 1812. It has come! It 

could not be put off longer. Last night the 

Emperor summoned me to him. He was in 

the Uspenski Sobore, the cathedral where 



the Russian emperors are crowned. Here he 
has set up his abode. The splendor of the 
room I entered was overpowering. It was 
magnificent, imposing, glittering with mar 
bles, with paintings, and with decorations, 
made out of barbaric gold. It was lighted 
by a thousand candles, each as tall as the 
body of a man. Yet the corners and the 
roof were black and impenetrable. 

No sooner had I entered than he drew me 
to him with that silent fury I remembered. 
Then he hastened to make fast the door. 

"Now I can unfold my plan I, who am 
master of the world. For five years I have 
loved you and asked nothing in return. Now 
is my time. You are to be my Empress 
Empress of the East. This shall be your 
capital, Russia and the Orient your crown 
lands. You shall be what Yek-Katarina 
dreamed always of being Empress of the 

" But Sire the church ! Could it bless 
a union like ours?" 




"The church? Why, I shall be the 

I saw that he was drunk with the deadliest 
wine that can be given to mortals suc 
cess, and the too great favors of destiny. 

"Sire, I have considered. I will follow 
your will on one condition." 

Here some one knocked at the door. 
"The city is on fire! Lose no time. Save 

"And what is that?" paying not the 
slightest heed to the interruption. 

"Sire, Russia s supply of powder is under 
the Kremlin. In an instant we may all be 
destroyed. Sire! Sire!" 

"And what is that?" 

The pounding on the door became deafen 
ing. The great windows were so lighted by 
the flames outside that they dimmed the 
candles. The floor, made of bricks of steel, 
was as red with the reflection as a sea of 

"The freedom of Poland, Sire," 



"I grant it." 

"Why should you not? Poland was cut 
up to make presents for the lovers of Cath 
erine. Why should it not be united for the 
one love of Napoleon? * 

"Sire! Sire! Open the door. Do not risk 
your life the fate of France. Open ! 

"Write then its freedom here," snatching 
a piece of paper and spreading it before him. 

I felt no fear. I was conscious only of 
a great exaltation, the sensation he had 
first taught me to know. Death was noth 
ing in comparison with the goal I sought. 

"Write, Sire, write!" 

We were then in such an intensity of many- 
colored light that the farthest top of the 
great dome shone red like a baker s oven. 
The knocking and the voices increased, 
grew deafening. 

"An instant, just another instant!" I 
prayed, " until that paper is in my hands ! " 

"Dictate; it shall be as you wish." 



"Write, then: que la Republique de Po- 
logne soil maintenue dans son etat de libre 
election et qu il ne soil permis a personne de 
rendre le dit royaume hereditaire dans sa 
famille ou de s y rendre absolu." 

Just as he reached the place of signature, 
the door fell and the Prince of Naples, fol 
lowed by frightened soldiers, rushed in. 

"What are you writing?" He snatched 
the paper from the table. By this time the 
room was half filled with soldiers. 

The freedom of Poland ! 

"Sire, this woman is the tool of Russia. 
See, here is the letter written to her by 
Prince Adam Czartoryisky. Listen, Sire, 
listen ! 

With you to help, we will lure Napo 
leon, who is now drunk with success, to a 
banquet of death in the heart of White 

J The look on the face of the Great Emperor 

is one of the things which the merciful God 

will never permit me to forget. Upon it 




dawned in quick succession the intelligence 
of all those baffling defeats, followed by a 
mingled look of anger, surprise, and that 
which cut me deepest grief. V^ 

"Sire," continued the Prince of Naples, 
"outside waits her escort sent by His Im 
perial Majesty, Alexander, to rescue her from 
burning Moscow." 

"Take her to her escort," was the stern 

Not one word, not one glance, did he give 
to me. 

As I drove away toward Warsaw, I saw 
him for one last instant standing on the 
pictured Kremlin wall, fearless and calm, a 
pagan god for whom a city fell in ruin. 
Behind and beside, the conflagration rolled 
its waves of flame. 

I had been faithful to my country, to my 

duty, yet I felt the greatest contempt for 


You see, I was beneath his anger. 



"1 7K 7E were lingering over one of our honey - 
^ moon breakfasts in Naples, my hus 
band dividing his attention between // Cor- 
riere di Napoli and his coffee, and I planning 
for my favorite pastime, swimming, in that 
sea which looks like a liquid sapphire. 

! No clue to the mysterious disappearance 
of the Contessa Fabriani, " he read. * After 
a month s search, the police are baffled. 

"That does not sound particularly re 
markable to you, I suppose. Women and 
men, too, for that matter have disap 
peared from other cities. But this adds 
another chapter to a mysterious story of 

" For twenty -five years not only native 

Italian women, but visiting women of other 

nations have disappeared from Naples, and 

nothing has afterward been heard of them. 




The peculiar part about it is that they have 
all been young and beautiful, and women of 
the upper class." 

I paid little heed to his words. I was 
thinking of other things. Besides, Luigi was 
a Neapolitan and interested in all the hap 
penings of his native city. On my first visit 
to Naples I did not have time to interest 
myself in a sensational story such as I could 
read any morning in the London papers. 

You have not forgotten that to-night is 
the ball?" said my husband, consulting his 
watch and jumping up. "I want you to 
look particularly lovely. All my friends 
and your old rivals will be there. Busi 
ness takes me from the city for the day, and 
in case I should not return in time to accom 
pany you, I have arranged for Cousin Lucia 
to meet you at ten at the door of the Cin- 
ascalchi Palace. I shall come later in time 
for part of the dancing. Tell Pietro to get you 
there at exactly ten," he called, after he had 
kissed me good-by. 





When I took a last look at myself in the 
glass that night, I felt that I had obeyed my 
husband s instructions. I was looking par 
ticularly lovely. I had dressed with the pur 
pose of appearing as unlike Italian women 
as possible. 

My slim six feet of stature was arrayed in 
a plain white satin princess, from which the 
shoulders rose scarcely less white and satiny. 
My hair was the color of the upland furze, 
and my cheeks glowed like the roses of an 
English garden. 

"Pietro!" I called, after we had driven 
what seemed to me a very long time. "Are 
you sure that you are going in the right direc 
tion? I did not suppose that it was outside 
the city." 

He reassured me and drove on. 

We entered the courtyard of a country 
estate. As I stepped from the carriage, I 
saw in the distance the grouped lights of 
Naples. Pietro whipped the horses and 
drove off before I had time to speak. 



There were no other carriages in the yard. 
Could I have mistaken the time? Lucia 
was not there to meet me, either. " She 
is probably within," I reflected, " since the 
palace is bright with light." 

Doors swung back softly and as if by magic- 
I entered. The blaze of light that rushed out 
all but blinded me. Words cannot express 
the horror of it nor the silence that accom 
panied it. There were no servants moving 
about. No one was in sight. I was alone. 

Imagine a sweep of majestic rooms whose 
floors were polished to the surface consistency 
of stone; straight white walls of mirrored 
marble, and, blazing from walls and ceiling, 
prisms of cut crystal. Wherever you looked 
the glitter of light flashed back at you, con 
fusing your eyes and dazing your brain. I 
did not suppose that light could hold such 

"There is surely some mistake," I whis 
pered. "This is no place for dancing or 
merriment. It is more like a white and 




shining sepulchre. I would rather trust 
myself to the night outside," and I turned 
toward the door with the purpose of leaving. 
But the space behind, where I knew that I 
had entered, presented a smooth and evenly 
paneled surface. There was no door. Nor 
was there place for lock or knob. As I stood 
confused and hesitating, I learned to the full 
the demoniac power of light. The slightest 
motion of my body, my head, my breathing, 
even, sent from polished corners and cornice 
quivering arrows into my eyes. The mirrors 
and the shining marble reflected floor and 
ceiling until it was impossible to tell where 
one left off and the other began. It seemed, 
after a time, that I was floating head down 
ward in a sea of light. 

Then something righted me sharply. It 
was not sound nor was it thought. It ap 
pealed to subtler senses. It was as if the 
material body was endowed with a thinking 
machine and each pore contained a brain. 
It aroused some consciousness which the 



hypnotism of light had dulled. I knew then 
that I was standing, slim and white and 
frozen with terror, in the focus of the light. 

I felt the cold diamonds shift their posi 
tion upon my throat and breast and tremble 
as I breathed irregularly. I heard the sibi 
lant slipping of the stiff satin as it fell into 
a changed position. 

A powerful and dominant brain had 
touched my own. For one unconscious 
moment it had ruled it and set upon it the 
seal of its thought. 

Such a passion of fear assailed me that it 
seemed as if I must choke. My fascinated 
eyes turned toward the end of the farthest 
room. From there the message came. 
There, I knew, was something compelling, 
something electric. Exactly in the center 
of that far room, and very erect, stood a 
man. He was coming toward me, too, 
slowly very slowly. Yet I heard not the 
slightest sound. Evidently he was shod 
with rubber. He moved as I have seen a 


malevolent spider move toward a prisoned 
fly, enjoying the pleasure of motion because 
he knows that there is no escape for his 
victim. Just as gracefully and easily did he 
move toward me. And as he came, I knew 
that he read my soul, measured my strength 
and my power of resistance, and at the same 
time admired the white erectness of my body. 

Fear, as with a bitter acid, etched his 
picture on my brain. He was very tall 
taller than I by a good inch and fault 
lessly attired; a patrician, but a degenerate 
patrician, the body alone having preserved 
its ancient dignity. 

Ribboned decorations brightened his coat, 
and I saw a garter on his leg. 

He was thinner than any one I ever saw 
and correspondingly supple. His move 
ments had the fascination of a serpent. 
Thus might a serpent move, if its coiled 
length were poised erect. 

His head would have been beautiful, had 
not the features been so delicately chiseled 



that strength and nobility had been refined 
away, and in their place had come effemi 
nacy and a certain cold and delicate cruelty. 

He was an old man, too, and his heavy 
hair was white. His brows, however, were 
black and youthful, and from beneath looked 
out blue eyes. The eyes were the color of 
light when it shines through thick ice. They 
were the color of the sharp edge of fine 
steel when it is bared too quickly to the sun. 
In the same hard way the light ran across 

But the strangest part was that there 
seemed to be no limit to their depth. How 
ever far you looked within, you could not 
find a person. You could not surprise a con 
sciousness. There was no soul there. In 
its stead there was merely a keen and de 
structive intelligence. 

I realized that the man coming toward me 
did not live by means of the physical acts 

of life. He had learnedr to live by his brain. 

He was a cerebral! ^^ 




I sensed his dominant personality and 
struggled against it. I sensed, too, the pres 
ence of a numbing mental fluid that crippled 
my will and dulled me as does that sweet- 
smelling death which surgeons call the 

He had stripped himself of human attri 
butes. He knew nothing of fear, pity, love. 

"I have the honor of meeting, I believe, 
the bride of the Leopardi." He bowed and 
spoke in an even, unemotional voice. 

I bowed in return. "How is it possible 
for you to know that? I do not remember 
having met you." 

"It is not necessary to have met me. No 
beautiful woman comes to Naples whom 
I do not know. I," bowing again, "am 
Count Ponteleone, painter of dead women. 
You have probably heard of me." 

"Who has not!" I exclaimed, somewhat 
reassured and wondering that this could be 
the man whose name was resounding through 

two continents. 



"This intrusion which I beg you to 
pardon is due to the coachman s mistake. 
I am expected at the Cinascalchi ball. My 
husband and cousin await me there. If you 
will send me on in your carriage, I shall be 

" Oh, no, your coachman made no mistake," 
calmly ignoring my request. " I brought him 
here and you, too, as I have brought other 
women by this," tapping his forehead. 

"You are graciously jesting to excuse my 
rudeness," I managed to stammer, sum 
moning the ghost of a smile. 

" Well, we may as well call it a jest if you 
wish. It is a jest which ought to flatter. I 
entertain only beautiful women here." 

The glance that accompanied this envel 
oped me from head to foot. It was a glance 
of admiration, and yet in it there was none of 
the desire of would-be love. It was devoid 
of warmth and emotion. Nothing could be 
more impersonal. No mark of material 
beauty had escaped it. It was the trained 



glance of a connoisseur which measures 
accurately. I might have been a picture 
or a piece of furniture. 

I felt that he knew my racial standing, my 
rank as a human animal, by the delicate 
roundness of my bones and the fine fiber of 
my flesh. I had been as glass to his intelli 
gent gaze. Somehow, then, I felt that the 
body of me belonged to him because of this 
masterly penetration which substance could 
not resist. 

"Since you are to be my guest, we might 
seek a more comfortable place to converse." 

He led the way to the center of the great 
rooms where, touching an invisible spring, 
doors flew back, disclosing a drawing-room 
draped in red. As he bowed me to a seat, he 
remarked: "Here you look like a pearl 
dropped in a cup of blood." 

I, too, thought that I had never seen so 
wicked a red nor one so suggestive of luxu 
rious crime. The comparison jarred upon 
me and prickled me with fear. 



As he sank back in an easy-chair op 
posite, I saw how the red walls touched 
with color the whiteness of his hair and 
sent occasional ruddy gleams into the depth 
of his eyes. 

"You are an Englishwoman, too," he ob 
served, with evident relish. "I knew it. 
Only the mists and rains of England can 
make color like yours. Did you notice how 
well we looked together as we walked along 
between the mirrors? Are we not as if made 
. for each other tall and regal both of 
us? What a picture we would make!" 

It occurred to me then, with unpleasant 
appropriateness, that he was the painter of 
dead women. 

"It is an English woman, too, that I lack 
for my collection," he mused meditatively. 

"Collection! Have you a collection of 
women? That is certainly unique. I have 
heard of collections of bugs, birds, but 
women, never. Perhaps you would like me 
to join it!" 



"Indeed I should! I never saw a woman 
I admired so tremendously." 

I drew back in fear, silenced by the ardor 
of his words. 

" Oh, you need not be afraid. I am not like 
other men. I do not love as they love. I 
love only with my brain. While you have 
been sitting here, I have caressed you a 
thousand times, and you have not even sus 
pected it. I do not want the bestial common 
pleasures which my coachman can have, or 
my scullion can buy with a lira. Why 
should not I be as much superior to them 
in my loves as in my life? If I am not, then 
I am not their superior in any way. My 
pleasures are those of another plane of life, 
of a brain touched to a keener fire, of nerves 
that have reached the highest point of 
pleasurable vibration. Besides, when I love, 
I love only dead women. Life reaches its 
perfection only when death comes. Life is 
never real until iken" he added. 

"Perhaps you would like to kill me for 


your amusement to-night," I replied, still 
trying to keep up the jest. "I have always 
flattered myself, however, that I was better 

No sooner were the words out than I re 
gretted them. His face grew thin and 
strained like a bird-dog s on the scent. His 
lips became expressive of a terrible desire, 
and his frail hands trembled with antici 

As I looked, his pupils disappeared, and 
his eyes became two pools of blue and blaz 
ing light. Unwittingly I had hit upon his 
object. I had surprised his purpose in a 

Who could have dreamed of this! At the 
worst, I thought, I might be detained for 
two or three days, forced to serve him for a 
model, and cause worry to my husband and 
gossiping comment. 

But whose imagination could have reached 
this! Strangely enough, the decree of death 
that I read in his face dissipated my fear. 



I became calm and collected. In an instant 
I was mistress of myself and ready to fight 
for life. The blood stopped pounding in 
my brain. I could think with normal 

"The worst of it is," I reflected, "this 
man is not mad. If he were, I might be 
able to play upon some delusion for free 
dom. He has passed the point where mad 
ness begins. He has gone just so much too 
far the other way." 

"Then you really think that you could 
love me if I were dead," I laughed, leaning 
toward him gayly. "Is it not rather a 
strange requisite for winning a woman s 
love? What would my reward be? Are 
you sure you could not endure me any other 

" Do not jest about sacred things ! Death," / 
he answered slowly and reprovingly, "is the / 
/thing most to be desired by beautiful women. J 
V It saves them from something worse old 
age. An ugly woman can afford to live; a 



beautiful woman can not. The real object 
of life is to ripen the body to its limit of 
physical perfection, and then, just as you 
/would a perfect fruit, pluck and preserve it. 
y Death sets the definite seal upon its perfec- / 
tion, that is, if death can be controlled tov 
prevent decay. And that is what I can do, * 
he added proudly, getting up in his abstrac 
tion and pacing up and down the room. 
"And what difference does it make, what 
day it comes? All days march toward 

I admired unreservedly the elegant, in- 
tellectualized figure, now that I had thrown 
fear to the winds. 

"Come," he pleaded, "let me kill you! 
It is because I love you that I ask you. It 
is because I think that your physical self is 
worth being preserved. Your future will be 
assured. You will never be less happy than 
now, less lovely, less triumphant. You 
will always be an object of admiration." 

"What a magician you are to picture 



death attractively! But tell me more about 
it first." 

Joy leaped up and sang in my heart at the 
prospect of the struggle. I felt as the race 
horse feels when, knowing the strength and 
the suppleness of his limbs, he sees the long 
white track unfold before him. 

"In ancient days my ancestors," he be 
gan, "were Roman Governors in Spain. 
At the court of one of them, Vitellius Pon- 
teleone, lived a famous Jewish physician (in 
old Spanish days the Jews were the first 
of scientists), by name Ibn Ezra. He made 
a poison (poison is not the right word, I 
regret greatly its vulgar suggestiveness) from 
a mineral which has now vanished from the 
face of the earth. This poison causes a de 
licious, pleasureful death, and at the same 
time arrests physical decay. Now, if you 
will just let me inject one drop of it into 
that white arm of yours, you will be immor 
tal superior to time and change, inde 
structibly young. You do not seem to realize 




the greatness of the offer. For this honor I 
have selected you from all the women in 

"It is an honor, of course; but, like a 
proposal of marriage, it seems to me impor 
tant and to require consideration." 

"Oh, no, it is not important. We have to 
prepare for life, but for death we are always 
ready. Besides, I am offering you a chance 
to choose your own death. How many can 
do that!" 

" Do not think that I am ungrateful, good 
Count, but " 

"One little drop of the liquid will run 
through your veins like flame, cutting off 
thought and all centers of painful sensation. 
Only a dim sweet memory of pleasant things 
will remain. Gradually, then, cells and arte 
ries and flesh will harden. In time your body 
will attain the hardness of a diamond and 
the whiteness of fine marble. But it is 
months, years, before the brain dies. I am 
not really sure that it ever dies. In it, like 


the iridescent reflections upon a soap bub 
ble, live the shadows of past pleasures. 
There is no other immortality that can 
equal this which I offer. Every day that 
you live now lessens your beauty. In a way 
every day is a vulgar death. It coarsens and 
over-colors your skin, dulls the gold of your 
hair, makes this bodily line, or this, a bit 
too full. That is why I brought you here 
to-night, at the height of your beauty, just 
as love and life have crowned you." 

"It must be a remarkable liquid. Let me 
see it. Is it with you?" 

"No, indeed! It is kept in a vault which 
it takes an hour to open. It is guarded as 
are the crown jewels of Italy," he responded 

"There is no immediate danger," I 
thought. "There is time. Now the road 
lies long before me." 

"I suppose there is an antidote for this 
liquid. I will not call it poison, since you 
dislike the word so greatly." 



"None that is known now. You see it 
destroys instantly what only patient nature 
can rebuild." 

"I am greatly interested in it. Show me 
the other women upon whom you have 
tried it. I am eager to see its effect." 

"I knew you would be. Come this way." 

We ascended a staircase, where again I 
felt the sting of light. Upon a landing, half 
way up, he paused and pointed to our re 
flected figures. 

"Are we not as if made for each other 
you and I? When I sleep the white liquid 
sleep, I shall arrange that it be beside you." 

My death evidently was firmly deter 
mined upon. 

At the top he unlocked a door, and we 
entered a room where some fifty women 
were dancing a minuet. Above them great 
crystal chandeliers swung, giving to their 
jewels and their shimmering silks and satins 
reflected life. Each one was in an attitude of 
arrested motion. It was as if they had been 



frozen in the maddest moment of a dance. 
But what a horrible sight this dance of 
dead women, this mimic merriment of death ! 

"You know my picture of this scene, do 
you not?" said he, turning on more light. 
"They were perfect models, I can assure 
you. I can paint them for hours in any light. 

"When I die I shall bequeath to Naples 
this art gallery. Will it not be a gift to be 
proud of? Nothing can surpass it in unique 
ness. Then the bodies of these women will 
have attained the hardness and the white 
ness of fine marble. They can in no way be 
distinguished from it except by their hair. 

" Of course now, if the outside world knew 
of this, I should be punished as a murderer." 

How firmly it is settled in his mind that 
the outside world is mine no more! 

"But then I shall be revered as a scientist 
who preserved for posterity the most per 
fect human specimens of the age in which I 
lived. I shall be looked upon as a God. It 
is as great to preserve life as it is to make it." 


The next room we entered was a luxurious 
boudoir. Before an exquisite French dress 
ing-table sat a woman whose bronze hair 
swept the floor. On either side peacocks 
stood with outspread tails. Their backs 
served as a rest for a variety of jeweled hair 
pins, one of which she was in the act of pick 
ing up. 

"That is the Contessa Fabriani. She is q,^ 
not dead yet. She hears every word we say, 
but she is unable to speak. I am painting her 
now. You can see the unfinished picture 
. against the wall." 

/ In an adjoining room a dark-skinned 
woman of the Orient, whose black and un- 
bound hair showed purplish tints, was re 
clining upon the back of a Bengal tiger. 
Other Eastern women lay upon couches 
and divans. 

"See, even in death, what enticing lan 

guor! See the arrested dreams in their dark 

eyes, deep as an Oriental night! These 

women I have loved very greatly. Some- 





times I have a fancy that death cannot touch 
them. In them there is an electric energy, 
the stored-up indestructible ardor of the 
sun, which, I like to fancy, death cannot 

"Now here," said the Count, opening an 
other door, "I will show you an effect I 
have tried for years to reproduce. This has 
been the desire of my life." 

He flung back a row of folding windows, 
making the room on one side open to the 

"It is the effect of the blended radiance 
flung from the water here and the moon, 
upon dull silver, upon crystal, and the flesh 
of blond women." 

He turned out the lights. The moon sent 
an eerie, shivering luster across the crystal 
and silver decorations, and touched three 
women in robes of white, who were standing 
in attitudes of dreaming indolence. 

"This thin, ethereal, surface light, this 
puissance de lumiere, is what I have tried 



in vain to prison. I have always been greedy 
of the difficult and the unattainable. If I 
could do this, I should be the prince of 
painters! It is a fact, a real thing, and yet 
it possesses the magic of dreams, the enchant 
ment of the fleeting and the illusory. 

"I wish to be the wizard of light. I wish 
to be the only one to prison its bright, de 
fiant insubstantiality. 

"Can you not see how wonderful it is? 
It is the dust of light. Reflected upon silver 
and clear crystal it is what shadow is to 
sound. Sometimes it seems to me like a 
thin, clear acid; then like some blue, sweet- 
smelling volatile liquid, eager again to join 
the air. 

" Have you noticed how it penetrates blond 
flesh? It reveals, yet transfigures it. I 
wish you could watch its effect often. Some 
times the wind churns the sea-light into 
tiansparent foam. Then I love its curd- 
like, piled-up whiteness. Sometimes when 
there is no moon, and only a wan, tremulous 



luster from the water, the light of a far star 
is focused on their satins, on their diamonds, 
struggles eeriely among their laces, or flickers 
mournfully from a pearl. The room then is 
filled with a regretful, metallic radiance. The 
stars caress them. They have become im 
personal, you see, and the eternal things 
love them. 

"When the autumn moons are high, the 
light that fills the room is resonant and yel 
low. It tingles like a crystal. It gives their 
cold white satins the yellow richness of the 
peach s heart, and to the women the enticing 
languor of life. On such nights the moonlight 
is musical and makes the crystal vibrate 

"Now, to-night, the light is more like the 
vanishing ripple of the sea. Is it not won 
derful? Look! It is the twin of silence, the 
ghost of light!" 

In his excitement and exhilaration, his eyes 
shone like the moon-swept sea. I knew that 
in them, too, slept terrors inconceivable. 

"This is the room I have in mind for you. 

icing , 

-- / 



You will queen it by a head over the other 
women. The color of your dress is right. 
Your gems, too, are white. Here, sometime, 
I promise to join you, and together we will 
be immortal. 

"Excuse me just a moment. Wait here. 
Let me get the liquid and show it to you. 
You will be fascinated by it, just as other 
women have been. I never saw one who 
could resist it." 

As he left, I heard the key turn in the 
lock. When we entered the other rooms, I 
remembered that he bolted the doors on the 
inside. This door, then, was the only one 
by which he could gain entrance. Swiftly 
I slipped the bolt. Now I was safe for a 
tjme, unless there was a secret entrance. 

It was not far from the window to the 
water. I laughed with delight. I had dived 
that distance many a time for pleasure. I 
was one of the best swimmers in England, 
and I had always longed for a plunge in this 
sapphire sea. Now was my chance and life 


as the goal to gain. I took off my satin gown 
as gayly as I had put it on. Like the Count 
of Ponteleone, I, too, admired the play of 
light on its piled-up whiteness. How mer 
rily the sea- wind came! How it counseled 

I took the plunge. Down, down, down I 
went, cleaving the clear water. The distance 
up seemed interminable. It was like being 
born again when at last I saw the white 
foam feather my arms and felt my lungs ex 
pand with air. I swam in the direction of 
Naples. I could not reach the city, but I 
could easily reach some fisher s hut and there 
gain shelter. 

Oh, the delight of that warm, bright water 
under the moon! I felt that the strength of 
my arms and my legs was inexhaustible. I 
exulted in the water as a bird exults in its 
natural element, the air. 

After I had covered what I thought to be 
a safe distance, I turned on my back and 
floated. . 2lien I caught sight of the window 




from which I had leaped. It was brilliantly 
lighted. Count Ponteleone was leaning from 
it, his white hair shining like a malevolent 
flame, y 

Despite the distance, I could feel the power 
of his wild blue eyes, which sparkled like 
the sea. Again I dived, lest they should re 
assert their power over me and draw me back. 

I came up under the shadow of the shore, 
and made my way along until I reached a 
boat where Neapolitan fisherwomen were 
spreading their nets to dry. 

They took me in, and for the doubled 
price of a good month s fishing brought me 
that night to Naples. 

"Ah, Luigi," I sobbed, as he folded me in 
his arms, "little did I think, when you spoke 
of the dance this morning, that I should 
spend the night with the dead dancing 
women of Ponteleone." 

"Nor I that you would solve Naples 
mystery of crime." 



sQue es el hombre ? Un misterio. 

4Que es la vida ? lUn misterio tambien! 


"S61o en tiempo de Felipe II, cuando el espiritu 
del Renacimiento se hacia sentir alii, fueron pintadas 
muchas hermosas damas para su galeria de retratos 
del Prado." CARLOS JusTi. 1 

(In the time of Philip the Second, when the spirit 
of the Renaissance was being felt, he had many 
beautiful women painted for his gallery of the 

ARRIVED in Toulouse on my home- 
* ward way to Spain in the midspring of 

For three years I had toured the world 
with my violin, giving concerts in its prin 
cipal cities. I had been flatteringly received. 
Men had showered their gold upon me; 
women their flowers and favors. I was ac- 

1 From "Diego Velazquez y su Siglo," by Carlos 




claimed the Spanish Paganini, the greatest 
of violinists, the premier artist upon this 
difficult instrument. I had been surfeited 
with applause. I had been feted until I 
was weary. Now I was looking forward 
to a well-merited rest in which to gratify 
my love of art, and, perhaps, try my hand 
at composing. In addition, I longed for 
the dignified ease, the cultivated leisure of 
the life of a Spanish gentleman. During the 
years of concert giving, I had earned enough 
to give myself this pleasure. I felt, too, that 
there is something ignoble in prostituting 
art to gold and the indiscriminate applause 
of the multitude. Art should be superior to 
traffic, accessible only to intelligent under 
standing and to love. 

As I mused, a messenger entered and 
handed me a telegram. It announced the 
death of my maternal great-uncle, the Conde 
de Quederos. The telegram said that before 
the burial every effort had been made to 
reach me, and that since there were no direct 



heirs, I, as nearest in blood, inherited the 

I could not grieve over my uncle s death. 
I could not be expected to. I had never seen 
him but once, and that was when I was a 
child. In addition, I knew that he was old, 
almost if not quite a centenarian, and that 
long ago life must have lost its charm. My 
heart warmed with gratitude toward that 
kindly Fate which was bestowing favors 
upon me. Only that morning I had medi 
tated as to what place in Spain, now that my 
parents were no more, I should choose for 
a residence. Here was the problem solved 
without effort on my part and in a most 
pleasing manner. 

I went directly to Cuenca, to the dead 
Conde s castillo, to the heart of that old 
Castile which the greedy Romans coveted. 
As I entered, I read upon the fluted shield 
above the door, "Adelante" (Go on). A 
brave race truly, whose motto was never to 
turn back. 




In the hall the lined-up servants met me, 
and each addressed me gravely as Conde de 
Quederos. That night I had a conference 
with the steward as to the rooms which I 
was to occupy. 

"The finest suite in the castillo, Senor 
mio, is the one the late Conde occupied. It 
is called The Suite of the Mirrors. " 

"Mirrors!" The word stirred responsive 
memory. "Is not there a magic mirror, so 
called, here in the castle? It seems to me 
I remember having heard something of the 

" Si, Senor mio. It is in the drawing-room 
from which the suite takes its name. They 
were all made by the late Conde s great 
grandfather at La Granja. Mirror-making 
was his hobby." 

Yes, yes; now I recalled the stories my 
mother had told. Aloud I said: "That is 
the suite which shall be mine. Show me up." 

"Shall I light the drawing-room?" 

"No; open the blinds and leave me while 



you have my bags unpacked and my chamber 
made ready." 

The suite consisted of a bed-chamber with 
dressing-room attached, and a sitting-room, 
which from its size and adornment was 
called "The Drawing-Room of the Mirrors." 

Here I sat down to rest and smoke my 
after-dinner cigar. The dim summer night 
filled the ancient room with frail shadows, 
making the mirrors, which reached from 
floor to ceiling, look like pale plates of tar 
nished steel. 

I remembered it all now! It came back 
in a vivifying flash of thought. The male 
members of my mother s family, excepting 
the late Conde, had been scientists enrages. 
They had preferred, too, the delusive by 
ways, the dangerous and insecure footings, 
where fact borders upon fancy, where the 
will-o -the-wisp of unrealized possibility lures 
on. They had wasted life and impaired 
their fortunes in following unattainable fan 
cies and in trying to wrest from nature secrets 


forbidden to man. They had been men of 
strange vagaries and inexplainable passions, 
who found the pleasure of existence in ways 
not understood by others. 

The great-grandfather of the late Conde 
had been devoted to mirror-making. It was 
his effort and his wealth that had brought 
to La Gran j a the first Venetian specchiai, 
and those who made verres de cristal and 
wrested from them their secret. He sent to 
England to Lord Buckingham and to France 
to Colbert to purchase the knowledge of 
their workmen in this fascinating art. And 
it was he who made the sixteen mirrors in 
the room in which I sat. 

Indeed, the age in which he lived had been 
mad over glass-making. The Council of 
Ten of the Venetian Republic went so far as 
to pass a law that its nobles might wed with 
the glass-makers of Murano without loss of 
caste. It was the only work which did not 
detract from a great noble s dignity. 

France imitated Venice and made a similar 


law. Spain, thanks to the effort of Conde 
de Quederos, was not behind in the art. 
Nor did the Conde lose standing among the 
ancient nobility of Castile for the hours spent 
at the furnace. With its introduction from 
Italy had come likewise its patent of nobility. 

After the old Conde had gratified his love 
of mirror-making for years and had made 
fifteen of the sixteen mirrors which hung in 
the room in which I sat, his mind was teased 
with the desire to make a magic mirror. 

With this object in view, he devoted him 
self to the chemistry of glass. He bought 
all the books and ancient manuscripts pro 
curable upon the subject. He thought of 
nothing else. He talked of nothing else, 
until it was commonly reported that he was 
mad. He insisted that it was possible to 
make a mirror of such exquisite purity, of 
such lustrous depth, that, like that Borgian 
glass which snapped in twain at the touch of 
poison, it should refuse to reflect material 
bodies and earthly substances and reproduce 



only the impassioned dreams of the mind, 
or the frail and insubstantial spirit forms 
which, having once been on earth, hover 
near in attempt to commune again with the 
creatures of the flesh. What wonder they 
called him mad! 

A few days before his death, however, the 
sixteenth mirror was brought from La Gran j a 
and hung in the place reserved for it. Just 
what this mirror was like I could not remem 
ber having heard. The next night, when I 
was less weary, I determined to have a look 
at the old Conde s productions. In the 
magic mirror I had no interest. The idea 
was too absurd. It was a madman s dream. 

The next evening I ordered the chande 
liers to be lighted in the great drawing-room, 
and with my violin tucked under my arm 
hastened thither. It was a noble room that 
lay revealed beneath the glitter of the swing 
ing crystals. I was glad that I had not spoiled 
the first effect by seeing it by day. It was 
lofty, and long by some forty feet. The floor 




was worked out in a curiously dim-bright 
design made of marble and ancient glass 
bricks, in whose depth glowed mille fiori. 
The ceiling was a richly resplendent canvas, 
whereon were depicted giant figures repre 
senting the loves of Hercules and Omphale. 
The walls were made up of alternate panels 
of mirrors, mural paintings continuing the 
stories of classic lovers, and spaces of myste 
riously colored and strangely wrought glass, 
evidently rare and priceless specimens of the 
ancient workmen of La Gran j a. 

At a glance the mirrors seemed as much 
alike as peas in a pod. They reached from 
floor to ceiling. They were framed uniformly 
in the heavily ornate frames with which 
fifteenth-century Italy supplied the world. 

Yet the effect was most lovely. Between 
the feverish panels wherein the passion of 
flame had prisoned restless colors and the 
perfervid scenes of classic love, the mirrors 
interposed spaces of pale neutrality and 
mysterious calm. They afforded the relief 



that water affords in the out-of-door land 
scape. Their unsoundable depths of silence 
were like a telescopic glimpse into the night 
of space. They were the mute and motion 
less keepers of secrets of another world. 
Their pale passivity was more pleasant than 
silence. Yet at times they seemed to tell of 
the possibilities of a spirit life which was 
centered in colossal calm. 

What artistry had been expended upon the 
decoration of these walls! That dead uncle 
could have been no ordinary man. My 
heart thrilled with pride. It was worth 
being called mad so to have understood the 
values of light. 

Drawing an easy-chair before the central 
mirror, I took up my violin preparatory to 
playing. Then I noticed that the frame of 
the central mirror was unlike the others. I 
looked about to make sure. Yes, it was the 
only odd one. And odd enough it was, made 
of closed flower buds, tiny eggs, and folded 
leaves. It must mean something, that 


r> -- - r - ~ -r > - - r _->~ - 

strange frame. It was not chosen with an 
eye single to decorative ends. It was an 
hieroglyph, a symbol. But what one? Each 
detail represented the sleeping germ of a life 
principle. In the egg, in the bud, life is 
folded. They pointed to the mirror edge. 
Did they mean that there too life was folded? 
I leaned forward. The cold face of the 
mirror confronted me. I started with fear. 
I was not reflected in it! Nothing was re 
flected in it! Not an article of furniture, 
not a picture, not a bead of light from the 
great chandelier above. I looked about, 
This was the only odd mirror. I made sure 
of that. All the others were a-quiver with 
light and color. I held my hand in front of 
it, I waved my violin to and fro. In vain! 
They left not a trace upon its surface. 
Prickly fear crept over me, I shivered as if 
from touch of the dead or sweep of their 
icy breath. The mirror s pallid passivity 
added to the horror. It was the silent mock 
ery of the dead. And this horror was born, 


not of midnight noises and visions, but of 
silence and the splendor of light. 

Only last night in this very room I had 
called my uncle a madman, a dreamer. 
How ashamed did I feel of my vain conceit 
of the evening, confronted with this produc 
tion of his skill! It was as if some towering 
ghost smiled down scornful pity upon me, 
who stood there dancing about like a maniac 
in the effort to wrest a responsive reflection 
from that mute surface. Never had any 
thing so undone me, so set me a-tremor with 
discomfort. I was in touch with something 
of which I knew nothing, with an unknown 
force whose extent and power I could not 

Controlling my nervousness, I sat down to 
contemplate the glass. It was like looking 
into the depths of a pellucid lake, whose 
surface had never been rumpled by wind or 
blurred with light. It was like a glance down 
infinitudes of space, clearly gray and sweetly 
translucent, but beyond the farthest rim of 


the worlds where not even star dust floated. 
It was a place where, defiant of natural law, 
light existed without object. It was a void 
over which nature had no power. It was a 
pale inanity, the antithesis of the life prin 
ciple which is motion. It was a powerful 
and repellent nothing. A sickening dizzi 
ness assailed me. I felt as if I were perched 
upon the edge of an abyss wherein material 
substances were lost. I was conscious of a 
peculiar revulsion, a sort of mental nausea 
such as is experienced when watching a ser 
pent move, throwing off electric vibrations 
at variance with the human organism. 

This, then, was the mirror of the dead! 
It was a place for spectres to disport them 
selves ! It was the gray shadow world where 
phantoms dwelled! Who could guess what 
slept within its depths! Who could guess 
what was looking out upon me now which 
my physical self could not discern! 

I closed my eyes to shut out the sight and 
lifted the violin. The bow, as if moved by 
[ 104] 


an impulse of its own, struck the slow, pro 
longed, high notes which announce the 
Saraband. An inspiration! Why should not 
I popularize the dance music of Spain as 
Chopin had that of Poland? / 

For a time I played on, repeating old airs 
and improvising new ones,Jbut ever recur 
ring to the Saraband. Nervousness vanished. 
Others had put up with this non-committal 
mirror, why should not I? Courage returned. 
Music exercised its old magic. Again I 
cared for nothing save my art. 

I do not know how long this musical rev 
erie had lasted when, opening my eyes, I 
saw in the depths of the mirror, but far, far 
away, a dim white figure. I was playing 
the Saraband. I noticed that when certain 
notes were struck the figure could be seen 
more plainly, that it grew in distinctness 
and came nearer, while others made it recede 
and fade away. 

Was it the creation of my bow? Now 

for the first time was the demon-compelling 


power of Paganini mine? Through contem 
plation of that crystal surface had I purged 
my soul of impeding impurities, as if, denuded 
of clothes, I had swept through space and 
bathed in its crystal ozone? Had not the 
tones of my violin changed too? I listened 
critically. Yes; they had a certain heart 
quality which had been lacking, a luscious, 
singing richness, colorful and sweet. The 
single tone, divorced from melody, filled me 
with delight. Ambition leaped to giant 
height. Fear vanished. I could subdue the 
world I I, Lopez Manrico ! I bent to 
my playing. Each time it was the Saraband 
that evoked the image. No other melody 
whatsoever had the power to do it. And 
there were certain phrases and turns of this 
that had especial effect upon it. Once I 
thought that I could discern the features of 
the figure, and I did glimpse it firmly enough 
to know that it was the figure of a woman. 
How I tried to prolong the notes that were 

creating beneath my eyes that evanescent 



being! How, by trained trickery, did I try 
to prolong the instrument s power of tone 
extension! It was useless. Strength failed. 
My arm grew weak and fell of its own accord, 
and the vision paled and faded. 

The old Counts of Quederos had been 
scientists, I meditated. One had devoted 
himself jtx> the relation of sound to the human 
body, v,/ Perhaps he had left a record of his 
discoveries. I would go to the library and 
see. At least the books that he had studied 
would be there. Excepting only the Imperial 
Library, the Castillo de Quederos contained 
the finest collection of rare books and 
manuscripts in Spain. 

I ran to the room and lighted all the lights. 
Ardor of investigation filled me. If the 
problem could be solved, I would do it. Was 
it not a duty, too, since in a way the power 
lay with me? " Le genie s oblige. " 

Here were the books of the old glass- 
maker, probably arranged just as he had 

left them: John Pechon s treatise on optics, 



dating from the thirteenth century; Birin- 
guccio s receipts for glass-making; Gar- 
zoni s chemistry of glass; the three books of 
Eraclius, who, in the early thirteenth cen 
tury, got together all that was then known 
of the art. I took down the third volume. 
It opened at the seventh chapter, where 
begin the receipts for compounding the sub 
stance. This was not what I wanted. Nor 
did I care more for the poets Lopez Men- 
doza, Ha Levi, nor the private letters of 
Cib-dareal, precious as they are. 

As I replaced the latter, I felt something 
behind it. Inserting my hand, I pulled out 
a gilded cylinder. Within it lay a manu 
script in an unknown tongue, and with it a 
translation made by a Spanish Jew. The 
manuscript proved to be The Resurrecting 
Powers of Science by Abu Hamid Algazali of 
Bagdad. Something told me that my search 
was rewarded. I pulled a chair beneath the 
nearest light and there, until day, perused 
the parchment. It had suffered many a 



midnight perusal. Finger marks were upon 
it, and it was frayed and soiled. I read: 

"Each body is responsive to a tone or a 
combination of tones. 

"Each body is, in a sense, a musical in 
strument whose vibrating strings are taut 
nerves and muscles. 

"The circulating blood sings a song. 

"Heart-beats describe a melody. 

"One of the energies wrapped up in the 
life principle is a musical chord. 

"It is possible for music, if the right tone 
be discovered, to arrest ebbing life force, or 
to call back those who have passed beyond." 

"To call back those who have passed 
beyond!" Here it was! Now I understood. 
I had unwittingly hit upon the chord that 
vibrated in unison with the mirror vision. 
What a possibility lay before me! I could 
read no more. Dizzy with the discovery, I 
went to bed. I did not even pause to view 
the wonder of the dawn that was bleaching 

the night pale. 


When again night came, I hastened to 
the drawing-room. I lighted every light. I 
locked and bolted the door. I would not 
permit an interruption. 

Then I took the melody of the Saraband 
and transposed it from key to key. In this 
way the tone I sought could not elude me. 
The first notes of the dance evoked the 
figure, but it was so far away, so dim, it was 
scarcely more than a breath s shadow. It 
was only with the key of F minor that a 
change came. Then the figure grew more 
distinct. Features were visible. It took on 
color, firm form. It came floating on, on, 
on, toward me, until within the glass just a 
few feet away stood a lithe, brown, Moorish 
girl. My heart choked me with its beating. 
It was all that I could do to command 
strength with which to continue the music. 

Very gracefully she swayed to the melody 

of the Saraband, but she danced it in a way 

that was new to me. On her head rested 

a tiny cap fringed with vari-colored gems. 



She wore white muslin trousers, very full, 
gathered at the ankle with bells of gold, 
whose tongues were little stones that looked 
like flame. The upper part of her body was 
covered with a tight-fitting vest of pale blue, 
picked out in silver, and a tight-fitting coat 
of yellow satin, both of which were open to 
the waist, disclosing the brown skin. From 
under the cap her hair fell in long braids, 
intertwined with coral. Her little bare feet 
were encased in slippers with gem-studded 
heels. She was evidently a Moorish dancing- 
girl, but of an age long, long gone by. 

She had the small head and the broad low 
brow of ancient races; eyes long, dark, and 
somber, accented by brows as " delicately 
arched as those of the pictured Cenci; " a 
mouth whose warm red undercurve contra 
dicted the saddened eyes. 

She was a frail and febrile copy of Da 

Vinci s St. Marguerite, who, despite her 

saintship, is a Spanish dancing-girl in a 

moment of repose. There was something 




about her that stimulated the powers of 
life, that created a passionate and imperious 
music which flooded the soul with desire. 

But it was the eyes that held my atten 
tion longest. They clung to mine with an 
unwavering glance. In them lay a mute 
appeal. They looked at me piteously, long 
ingly. They implored help of me. They 
were like eyes that look from the other side 
of the grave with the hope that by not los 
ing sight of mine they could draw themselves 
back and up again to the light. They 
begged for life. At that moment I would 
have lain down my own life to give momen 
tary reality to hers. 

Nor did she dance continuously like the 
puppet of my bow. She possessed indepen 
dent life. She paused and waved and beck 
oned with her little hands. She tried to make 
me understand her dumb sign language, 
but always in her eyes there was that look 
of piteous questioning. 

She was so frail and bright! She was like 



a butterfly made of gauzeX A breath could 
crush her. Yet she danced bravely to please 
me, to win my applause. Poor little lonely 
dancer ! Who could be more unsuited to the 
shadow world? x Never had I so realized the 
cruelty of death. Never had I so rebelled 
against it. What had her crisp muslins, her 
satins, and her frivolous graces to do with 
death! I longed to clasp her in my arms, to 
breathe my own life breath into her, to 
shield her from that awful fear. ** 

Her eyes looked into mine. Her soul 
spoke to mine and was understood, but her 
body I could not reach. It was, perhaps, 
ages away. It was not space that separated 
us; it was something crueler far. It was 
time ! + 

Suddenly a tremor passed over her. What 
was it! Ah! yes, my weary arm had fal 
tered in its playing. The little face quiv 
ered with fear. She held out her arms in 
mute appeal. I was helpless. The exhausted 
muscles refused to obey. My arm fell to 



my side. She floated away, away down the 
dim, gray, mirror vista, her little hands flut 
tering a sad farewell. 

When I put out the lights and leaned from 
the window for a moment for a whiff of fresh 
air, I found that the night had gone and that 
the dawn was streaking faintly the fields and 

That day I slept only until noon. Nervous 
tension prevented rest. The remainder of 
the day I lounged in the library or idled 
on the verandas, living over again in thought 
the incidents of the night. For months this 
was my life. Not once did I leave the castillo, 
although invitations from the neighboring 
gentry and my uncle s friends poured in 
upon me. Nor indeed, during this time, 
did I see any one but the servants. I denied 
myself to visitors. I thought only of my 
Moorish love. I dreamed only of her in the 
few day hours devoted to sleep. Several 
times I saw the servants touch their fore 
heads significantly when they passed me, 



and I heard them whisper, "The madness 
of the De Quederos!" 

My life now took on an excessive value. 
Did not another depend upon it? Without 
me my Moorish love was dead. With me 
she enjoyed a semi-being. At times I suf 
fered the most torturing fear lest accident 
to me condemn her forever to oblivion. The 
thought shook my soul. 

Each night when my playing evoked her, 
she begged more piteously for life, and I, 
who so gladly would have granted it, was 
powerless. Each night her sign language 
was more comprehensible, more eloquent of 
longing and of love. Each night my love 
for her grew greater. WTien the hour for 
parting came, I felt grjfef such as they who 
bury those they love.| How could I know 
where she went, what horrors encompassed 
her ! How could I know what difficulties she 
had conquered to come to me ! How could I 
know that she would ever come again! 

By day the burden of my mind was to 

know where, only to know where, she was! 
Not even the feverish imaginings of my 
heart could frame an answer. 
/ At night, when lights began to twinkle in 
the little houses of the village and the stars 
to show one by one, I looked out and cursed 
them, because I knew that in not one of 
them all was she. In all the broad firmament 
she was not. She alone, my Moorish love, 
had no share in the sweetness of the spring. 
I grew to hate the world that had cast her 
off. I became a solitary. How could I be 
expected to mingle with people, to leave the 
castillo ! Would it not be murder to do so 
even for the space of a night? Not all crimes 
are amenable to law. Her life depended 
upon me. Absence meant death. Could I 
condemn her I loved to one unnecessary hour 
within the grave? Did I not always see, 
sleeping or waking, the piteous eyes that t/ 
begged for life? Did I not always see the 
mouth that tried to smile, to coquette, de 
spite the death-fear that drooped it? 




But how could I explain this to the Conde s 
friends? Had I done so, they would not have 
understood. I really believe they would 
have called me mad. I persisted in silent 

What a fate was mine! I loved a woman 
who was separated from me by the centuries. 
/I loved a phantom, a vision, a self-created 
y mirage. I, alone, knew that this vision 
possessed life. Night after night we con 
versed by signs. Eyes looked into eyes, 
soul into soul, yet might we never join hands 
or lips. We saw each other plainly, yet 
might our voices never bridge the chasm of 
the ages. Within arm s reach of me she stood, 
and smiled and beckoned, yet I had not 
the power to touch her. Her red lips voiced 
messages to me, but the wind of ages rushed 
between and swept them away to bury within 
soundless silence. What torture was this! 
What inexplainable suffering! In subtle 
pun shment the curse of Tantalus was not 
its kin. 



Only to the violin could I confide my sor 
row. I threw away my music. My heart 
alone dictated. Thus I poured forth my long 
ing, my unsatisfied passion, and my grief. 
Thus I voiced my anger, my hatred of men, of 
life, my rage against that silent and invisible 
God who mocked me with his might, and 
reduced my endeavor to puny impotence. 

Sometimes, when cruel notes shivered the 
air, and sharp discords all but snapped the 
strings, I caught sight of the frightened faces 
of the servants coming one by one, a-tiptoe, 
to peer at me. Or below I saw teamsters turn 
sharply to avoid the castillo and the Roman 
bridge beneath my window. Too, there 
were fewer travelers on the road of late. 
Less often sounded the friendly mule bell. 
The simple peasants were terrified by the 
sounds of hate and rage. The servants, too, 
feared me. They believed me to be "pos 
sessed." The old steward, alone, had a 
different opinion. He attributed my pecu 
liarities to drink or infatuation for a woman. 



The more so since of late no one had been 
admitted to my rooms. One day the kind 
old fellow touched my arm in a fatherly 
manner and whispered, "Mi hijo, ninos y 
vinos son mal a guardar!" 

It was too late for the kindly offices of 
friends. I was hopelessly given over to an 
infatuation. I had lost regard for appear 
ances. I did not care. 

Swiftly the days slipped by. I paid as 
little heed as do they who live under emo 
tional strain. ^Spring deepened into summer; 
autumn came. In time its color faded be- 
/neath the mists of November. Before I 
knew it, la noche de los difuntos (the night / 
when the dead come back) was at hand. 

It pleased me to think that then I could 
celebrate my wedding with the dead. For 
the occasion I had the great drawing-room 
filled with flowers. At the last moment the 
caprice seized me to don the state costume of 
a courtier of Philip the Second. Then I drew 
a gilt couch of old brocade in front of the 

mirror and with closed eyes began to impro 
vise upon the dance. 

Suddenly a little hand touched my shoul 
der and a voice whispered: "Will you not 
look at me, now that I have come?" 

There she was beside me, and more lovely 
by half when freed from the mirror s 
gray ness. 

"But you will you not tell me who 
you are?" I whispered back in an ecstasy 
of love. 


" Zarabanda! " 

"Yes, why not?" 

"The Moorish love of Philip the Second?" 

Passion and its artistic embodiment, music, 
had made my love outlast the empire that 
gave her birth. She had survived Spain and 
its splendor. 

I was perched upon a dizzy height indeed. 
Below me the gray centuries unfolded. 

At the word "Philip" grief contracted 
her face. 



"Oh, Philip! Philip! Will you not call 
him? Will you not let me see him? I will 
never ask it of you again. You need not be 
afraid because he is a great king. Give him 
this," taking a bracelet of peculiar work 
manship from her arm and handing it toward 
me. "He will understand. He will come 
anywhere for me." 

Grief filled my heart. It was not I she 
loved I, who had recreated her, who had 
brought her back from the grave. It was 
not I she thought of, but that cruel and 
long-dead king. 

"Believe me, my little love, I would do 
anything for you but this which is im 

"Just once, please, just once! He was so 
handsome, Philip, and he loved me so. Be 
fore he married Mary of England he took me 
to Granada, to the town of the wall of a thou 
sand towers. There he would have married 
me, had it not been for Perez, the Great 




At mention of that name a shiver passed 
over her, the memory of an ancient fear, set 
ting crisply a- jingle the gems upon her cap 
and the gold bells on her trousers. 

"There I invented the Saraband. It was 
the dance he loved, and he named it for me. 
All Spain danced it then. 

"One day he was called away by a court 
messenger from Madrid. When he left, he 
swore to marry me. On a certain day I was 
to meet him, having sent word three days 
before. Then he was to marry me and make 
me queen! 

" But as soon as he went, I was seized and 
imprisoned. I could not send him word. I 
never saw him again. Oh, please let me tell 
him why. He thinks I failed him. Let me 
tell him why!" 

"I would do it if I could. I would do any 
thing for you, but how can I?" 

"Why? Philip is not " Her dark face 
blanched, fear leaped into her eyes. "Philip 
is not dead? " 




v I nodded. Not a word did she say, but 
tears came to her eyes and fell slowly, one 
by one, upon her little hands. Never before 
had I realized the word s leaden weight. It 
was a plummet line that found the heart of 
grief. / 

"Then there is nothing more to live 

The words pierced me like a dagger. I 
knew how complete was her indifference 
to me. 

"How long ago did he die?" she asked, 
with a sigh that shook her body as a ground 
swell shakes the sea. 

Could I tell her? That would mean an 
other grief. 

"Tell me when he died; how long ago." 

"In 1598." 

"And now what year is it?" 

"1898. Three hundred years." 

" Three hundred years he has slept and 
dreamed me false! And now I can never 

tell him!" 





My heart forgot its suffering in sympathy 
for her. 

"Now I can never tell him!" 

Silence fell between us. She forgot my 
presence, so complete was her absorption in 
the past. 

I The breath of the late autumn came 
through the ancient windows, slanting for 
an instant the flames of chandeliers and 
sconces until they looked like an army s 
bloody spears upraised in flight. Opposite 
the mute mirror oppressed me with its sug 
gestion of nothingness and of space. The 
flowers, too, became restless and shivered, 
as if some foreign element had disturbed 

As I thought thus gloomily, the little 
brown hand fell on mine, and the voice 
whose sound was like the veiled tone-sweet 
ness of a harp was saying: 

"Then, if it was so long ago, you did 
not know Tiziano, who painted me, did 





How pitiful was this effort to be gay! 

" Tiziano-was-a-noble-man-f rom- Venezia. 

The words were hyphenated with sighs. 

"Oh, he was a very great painter! He 
said I was the loveliest woman in Europe. 
The court ladies were wild with envy. But 
he would have none of them. It was I he 
wanted I I ! He painted me lying beside 
an open window, a Cupid holding a crown 
above my head. At my feet sat Philip 
Philip, the king, at my feet! There is a 
little cap upon his head, and he is playing 
the Saraband upon his lute. In the back 
ground I made him paint the highland coun 
try of Madrid, which I should look out upon 
when I was queen 

"Yes!" I interrupted excitedly, unable 
to stand more. "Philip might have given 
you a crown; I have given you life. Which 
is greater? Whom do you owe the most? 
Have you no thought of me? My love has 
brought you back from the grave, and now 
you think only of him!" 



The little hand on mine fluttered sensi 
tively. I grasped it. Its delicate touch 
made me recall what I had read of the fine 
skin texture of women of the dark races. I 
pressed my lips to it with delight. From it 
came a peculiar odor, as from some unknown 
exotic, which took the senses captive. 
VUntil now I had never loved a woman. I 
had loved pictures, I had loved marbles, but 
a living woman never. Acquaintance with 
the most exquisite and exacting of arts had 
perhaps made my senses superfine. The 
slightest physical imperfection was sufficient 
to spoil my pleasure. Old age that phys 
ical memory of many wearinesses filled 
me with disgust. Of love I did not ask a 
return, but the near presence of something 
faultless, something which might never pall 
upon my senses, something which I might 
love unrestrainedly.^ 

During the years of concert giving I had 
been attracted by beautiful faces, but ac 
quaintance seldom failed to dispel the glam- 
[ 126] 



our. Their possessors were self-seeking, vain, 
frivolous. Disgust took the place of admi 
ration. It was a disagreeable sensation which 
I did not like to endure for the second time, 
to find a woman of delicate and sensitive 
beauty possessed of the grasping nature of a 
miser, or caring only for detail of practical 
things. Nothing in womankind had made 
me so dislike the race as this union of external 
beauty and prosaic practicability. 

Here, for the first time, was a woman 
whom I could love. She had none of the 
traits of the modern woman. She could not 
prate of things that disgusted and bored me. 
In her eyes there was no consciousness of the 
life I detested. She was mine in a very real 
sense because I had created her. I measured 
the greatness of my love by the knowledge 
that I could love on while knowing that her 
heart was another s. If one loves, it is not 
necessary to be loved in return. Love is its 
own reward. Already I felt its ennobling 




Ah! how she enchanted my soul leaning 
there against the high gilt sofa s end! Her 
black braids swept the floor. Her brown 
feet from which the slippers had fallen were 
folded childishly, showing little pink nails 

Every gem of color on her costume was like 
the dropping of a note of liquid melody into 
my soul. She was an exquisite toy of flesh 
fashioned for love. She was a fine-wrought 
gem of palest bronze, from which the swing 
ing lights struck cream and amber gleams. 

"Zarabanda, my Moorish love! You shall 
learn to care for me and forget him. I 
swear it! What a life we will lead together, 
you and I! He could have brought Spain 
to your feet. I will bring the world. You 
shall see! You shall see! I will bring the 
world. I will show this modern age which 
loves ugliness I will show it the noble 
type of antique beauty!" Thus I raved in 
my infatuated dream. 

My fervor moved her. She sat up erect. 



The jewels on her cap danced brightly. 
She leaned toward me. I saw that my suit 
was not to be in vain. The look of piteous 
fear within her eyes which had so haunted 
me for months was gone. In its place there 
was a look which, had she possessed no other 
charm, would have bound me to her forever. 
How shall I describe it? 

It was the essence of that which I missed 
in modern pictures which represent antique 
life. It was just that which I missed in the 
women of Tadema. It was just that which 
their eyes had not. It was a look made 
up of the accumulated days of living a life 
totally dissimilar to our own, a life made up 
of dissimilar thoughts, pleasures, needs. In 
short, I saw within the eyes of Zarabanda 
the soul of a vanished age. My mind was 
filled with a thousand fancies. 

Looking at her, I sensed vividly the im 
perial love-hours of Moorish beauties who 
had wantoned by the wall of a thousand 

towers. Their purple and palpitant past 
[ 129] 



engulfed me. The penetrating color- joy of 
pagan pageants swept my senses, leaving a 
myriad burnished points of thought. The 
voluptuous phantoms of past pleasures in 
toxicated me. The life that pagan Spain 
had lived in ancient days, before Chris 
tianity had come to make bitter upon its 
lips the wine of joy, was distilled within my 
soul. Love, thought, creative fire, lifted 
life to divinest height, intensifying all its 

Before my feverish and exalted fancy there 
rose a vision of the East, the personified 
East, the seductive East, the glorious and 
sensuous East, swathed in a robe of mist 
which palpitated like the voluptuous veins 
of women when the tide of love is high. 
This vision inundated my senses in a shim 
mering wave, which rolled its long, foaming 
coils of pleasure over me. 

Bending down, I folded her in my arms. 
I felt her little brown arm slip round my 
neck, its softness rivaling the down beneath 



a sea-gull s wing. The penetrating Eastern 
perfumes struck my face, the blended sweet 
ness of aloes and ambergris. Her brown 
breasts became two moons of gold beneath 
the shadowy twilight of her throat. The 
thick hair with its trailing braids was an 
Eden of dim and amorous ways, where a 
promise dwelled. As I drew her nearer, 
her eyes became black lakes. Exquisitely 
pale her face was, like warm ivory. Nearer 
and nearer to me the red mouth came; I 
knew that upon it dwelled all the sweetness 
and all the savors of the South. My lips 
just brushed it, when, with a reverberant 
crash, the great mirror fell and shivered in 
a thousand pieces. My arms encircled the 
empty air. She was gone gone, and 

Thick dust of powdered chemicals, with 
which the glass was coated, filled the air. 
I hastened to gain the window. Something 
fell at my feet. It was her bracelet. 

I reached the window just as the sun, its 




red rays throbbing like a crown of blood, 
dipped above the horizon line. By its angry 
glare I read upon the golden band, which 
was all that remained to me now of my 
one night of joy, "Philip, To His Moorish 



TT was in the winter of 1906 that the fol- 
- lowing remarkable incidents were com 
municated to me, and truly in a most re 
markable manner. But who may say what 
shall be the intermediary link, the invisible 
tie to connect us with the facts of a van 
ished past? Who may say what vague but 
mentally potent beings dwell on the border 
line separating the real from the unreal, 
floating up perhaps from unthinkable depths 
of time and space, there to await the pro 
pitious moment for tapping some nerve of 
consciousness in us and establishing tele 
graphic communication with the soul? Over 
these spirit wires of thought and feeling 
they flash faint messages. They set the 
nerves a-tingle with the consciousness of an 
infinity of unknown lives surrounding our 
own, of invisible electric bodies that shock 



us into the recovery of forgotten memories, 
of the realization of a limitless land that 
spreads beside us and upon the verge of 
which we live precariously poised. 

On an afternoon in the winter of 1906 I 
attended a concert given by two well-known 
pianists. The piece de resistance of the con 
cert it was for this that I had come - 
was a two-piano number, the Concerto Pa- 
thetique of Liszt, that sonorous tone tragedy 
with its wildly dramatic incidents, inter 
rupted from time to time by a melody of 
more than mortal sweetness. As I listened, 
annoyed by the movements of seat compan 
ions, the bobbing black heads in front, or the 
dry winter light that filtered through a win 
dow to the right, striking sharply a corsage 
ornament or a jewel, and projecting into 
my eyes daggered light as from a crystal 
ball, suddenly my surroundings vanished, 
and I found myself alone looking out across 
a land that I had never seen. 

Before me lay a twilight desert, somber and 


lonely. Gray sand, uninterrupted by tree 
or dwelling, as undulating and as barren as 
the sea, stretched on and on. After a time 
I discovered that it was not twilight that 
caused the dimness. Upon the horizon there 
was nothing to indicate the vanishing of a 
sun or the future rising of a moon. Within 
the sky there were no stars. A Cimmerian 
twilight lay over all. I realized then that it 
was some place of purgatorial punishment, 
where sweet light did not come nor green 
earth growths, nor rain, nor the sound of 
leaves. It was a place of puzzling incom 
pleteness and fragmentary physical form. 
There were arms twisted and bony and 
unattached to bodies, whose bent-fingered 
hands thirsted for cruelty or itched for gold. 
There were legs wrinkled and withered with 
pain and curved fantastically. There were 
backs bowed by the bearing of burdens, and 
a multitude of winged and awful faces form 
ing a discordant chromatic scale of miseries, 
now flashing out leering and wanton smiles, 




and anon fading away into monotonous 
gray ness. 

It was a land of disembodied pain, where 
the shadow forms of sorrow dwelled. Re 
gret, remorse, shame, misery, and anguish 
here got themselves clothed in unearthly 
substances, and strained futilely earthward 
where repentance lay. Here evil thoughts 
and desires were at once translated into 
form, swiftly to fade back again by un 
countable disgusting gradations to the in- 
substantiality of dreams. 

Across this desert a woman fled, breathless 
with haste and terror. She was young, 
scarcely more than a child, as years count, 
and she would have been beautiful had not 
her features been disfigured by grief. Out 
behind, a long black robe floated like an em 
blem of evil, giving to her appearance a cer 
tain cloistral touch. Closer inspection proved 
it to be a nun s cloak. It was unfastened 
and thrown hastily about her where it was 
held together by one small nervous hand. 



Her hair, which was pale gold, was short- 
cropped and curly, and bore the imprint of 
a close covering. There was something 
pitiful in these little clustering curls of faded 
gold, which were down-soft like the hair on 
a baby s neck. They told of helplessness and 
youth. Now in places they were darkened 
by the perspiration of fear. Cloistral life 
and the nun s hood had bleached her face 
and given to it a marble pallor, until it 
seemed to radiate light in the general dimness. 
/Her eyes were a dark ethereal blue. In their 
depths lay a light made of blended pain, 
passion, and regret. As the hideous sand 
monsters drifted toward her, threatening to 
block her way, then vanished to reshape 
themselves into still more hideous forms, 
childishly she opened her mouth to call for 
help. But no sound issued from her lips, 
although the little chin quivered piteously. 
I knew that she was dumb and could not 

As she sped on, upborne by an unnatural 




energy, there rang out upon the desert air a 
melody of more than mortal sweetness, the 
brief and broken fragment of a phrase. As 
the music died away upon the moonless 
space, there fell across the sand the pallid 
cold radiance of a cross, but so far away, so 
etherealized by space and distance, that it 
was scarcely more than a shadow s shadow. 

At first, I thought that the music was in 
some inexplicable way related to the beauty 
of her face that perhaps they were one. 
There was a similarity between them. Both 
set to vibrating the same responsive fibers of 
the heart. Both were penetratingly sweet, 
yet touched with sorrow. 

Further consideration proved this conjec 
ture to be vain, and that the music came 
from some alien yet nearby place. I could 
see by the woman s face that it caused her 
joy and sorrow, and I felt that it always 
sang on in her heart, and that her trembling 
lips tried to frame its sounds. Yet in 
some way I could not understand it kept 



her forever outside the radiance of the 

Again and again it rang out a melody 
of more than mortal sweetness. And each 
time the woman hastened her pace. The 
face of the desert began to change, and in 
the distance there was something that lay 
like the shimmer of light. I watched it as it 
grew brighter. Colors were distinguishable. 
It was a garden! Oh, the yearning in her 
face! Oh, the effort with which she sum 
moned strength to reach it! Her eyes grew 
black with determination. Her little curls 
were spotted with moisture. Sweeter and 
more penetrating became the breath of 
melody. It winged her feet with courage. 
It put strength into her heart. Yes, yes, 
there it lay! A fresh, bright, green garden, 
where a happy multitude of tiny blue and 
white flowers grew. Over it iris-winged 
insects fluttered. The sun shone resplen- 
dently. Here was the home of the melody. 

Its sweetness was that of love and the fullness 



of life. Now the radiance of the cross no 
longer touched the sandy waste. It re 
mained high in the air, aloof and far, a wan 
gold shadow of exquisite remoteness, like 
the ghost of a vanished joy. 

As she drew nearer, more intense became 
the light that fell upon the garden. It be 
came a blue and dazzling glory, beneath 
which the tiny flowers expanded and ex 
panded until they were lilies of mammoth 
size and proportion. Oh, so lustrous, so 
satin soft, so voluptuously lovely was their 
texture! A rare fragrance filtered from 
them through the sand-thick air, a lan 
guorous, seductive, benumbing fragrance, 
like the intangible soul of pleasure. When 
again the music came, the giant lily buds 
burst open, disclosing in place of pistil and 
stamen the white glorious bodies of women, 
whose hair outfloated in bright crinkles like 
blown flame, and whose feet trod an amorous 

Now I knew whence the music came. It 



was made by the twining beauty of seduc 
tive arms, the swaying of bright torsos, the 
interlacing of lithe limbs, the argent light 
struck from bared breasts and brows. It 
was their white passion, their wanton love 
liness, their amorous longing, their electric, 
vital, and indomitable youth translated into 

Far above the desert now, the wan cross 
hung in dim remoteness, a faint frown of light, 
withdrawing coldly into the depths of space. 
The garden glory touched the woman s 
face. The sand monsters fell back, no longer 
encumbering her. Happiness and courage 
shone from her eyes. The journey was 
nearly over. A step a dozen steps and 
she would have gained the garden. She was 
all but there. She flung away the convent 
cloak. The sweet wind lifted the little curls 
upon her brow. A blue lily leaned amo 
rously to meet her, its petals ready to enfold 
her. The strange light swathed her about 
like a robe. The melody touched her heart 



to joy. She was ready to grasp a waiting 
flower; one white hand reached for it, when 
a thunder of many wings was heard. 

From across the desert, from the sky above, 
a multitude of blackish green-winged mon 
sters, darkening the air to a dun midnight, 
dashed down. Their black and sullen bodies, 
outspread wing on wing, shut out the garden 
and formed a hideous wall of crawling heads. 
The great wings surrounded and engulfed 
her, beating her back back back with 
lightning-like rapidity. Away, away, away 
they swept her, so swiftly that the desert was 
left behind. And still they swept her on and 
on, across another land a land of granite, 
bleak and sterile and black, whose darkness 
was shivered from time to time by the angry 
glare of whirling swords that formed the 
mighty gate of a realm of night. Here the 
whirring wings uplifted her. She had no 
more hold upon the earth. Below, above, 
beside, were depth on depth of overlapping 
wings. Once, for an instant, the swaying, 




fluttering band fell back. Sharp sword light 
streaked her face. I saw its white horror 
and the little curls a-dance with fear. Then 
more monsters came rushing. The earth 
and the air were a-quiver with wings. There 
was a rush and a roar. There was a noise as 
of many waters. Then the monsters swept 
away into the land of darkness beyond, where 
nothing was distinguishable, where there was 
no measurement of time or space. Again 
the granite land was lone and silent, its gray 
immovableness disturbed only by the swing 
ing gate of swords, which streaked the rocks 
with floating ribbons of light. 




T^l 7"E were sitting upon the terrace of 

* Chateau Chateauroux in the early 
evening the old Comtesse M , 
Mischna Stepanoff, and myself. It was 
the time of the first soft warmth of spring. 
Two blossoming fruit trees beside us were 
sweet ghosts in the early night. About 
them white butterflies fluttered. 

In the west there were great piled clouds 
edged with a pink as rare and as wonderful 
as that which Watteau created for his frail 
creatures of joy. And this pink was reflected 
in soft broken ribbons in the gently moving 
surface of the Loire. 

"What a night for love!" sighed Mischna 
Stepanoff, in whose life the passion had 
played no unimportant part. 

"Yes," I replied, "love and youth and 
spring; they are earth s immortal trinity." 




" That reminds me of a story a true 
story of spring and youth and love," 
sighed reminiscently the old Comtesse, who 
had been a famous beauty in her day. 

"Tell it to us," urged Mischna Stepanoff. 
"Next to being in love oneself is the pleas 
ure of listening to the stories of other people 
who have been in love." 

"But I feel that I cannot do justice to it," 
objected the old Comtesse. "It is a story for 
the pen of Maupassant, who wrote of the tress 
of hair. It might have been included among 
the pagan and Oriental dreams of Gautier, 
or such fragile and dainty reminiscences of 
youth as De Nerval occasionally indulged in. 
What could I do with a fancy like that?" 

"Tell it, anyway," we insisted. 

"Well, what I lack, your own greater 
imaginative skill must supply," smiling 
and waving deprecatingly toward us a tiny 
jeweled hand. 

"It is the strangest, the most interesting 
story in the world. And it is true. 




"Over there where the hills step aside to 
make room for the passing of the Loire, is 
the ruin of a convent which you have prob 
ably noticed. In my youth it was inhab 
ited by Les Soeurs Blanches, a well-conducted 
and aristocratic order of nuns, who edu 
cated the daughters of the old noblesse. 

"One day I paid a visit there and for the 
first time saw Sister Seraphine. She was 
about eighteen then, I should judge, al 
though she had already taken the final 
vows. I was at once attracted by her face 
and her strange beauty. The upper part of 
the face the brow, the eyes, the nose 
were those of an ascetic, a dreamer, an in 
tellectual. The brow was nobly formed 
and broad; the nose chastely chiseled and 
modeled to an artist s taste; and the eyes 
were the spiritual gray-blue of the mystic. 
The eyes were very beautiful, too mistily 
humid, like the valley of our Loire here on a 
morning of spring. 

" But the mouth ! How can I tell you what 



it was like! There will never be another in 
the world like it. In its color alone there 
were hidden all the sins of earth. Such a 
color might have been born from the con 
flagration of a world, or in the feverish 
brain of some sightless dreamer. In its 
curves there was all the resistless languor 
of a mediaeval mondaine, or a voluptuous 
Roman woman who had idled in the villas 
of Baise. Imagine, if you will, such a mouth 
beneath that ascetic brow ! It was the cause 
of her undoing, too and her ruin. 

"It contradicted the rest of her face so 
sharply that it was as if she werertwo per 
sons in one.j It threw the beholder into a 
sort of stupefaction. It made him feel as if 
he had stumbled awkwardly upon some un 
guarded secret. It was that rarest of all 
features a perfect mouth! And yet, per 
chance, I think its perfection was a trifle 
over-accented. It was, I think, a shade too 
red, too alluring, too sensuous. It was a 
veritable Cupid s bow set about with mock- 



ing dimples that changed like light on the 
mobile surface of the Loire. 

"No one could have known less of the 
world than Sister Seraphine. She had been 
placed with Les Sceurs Blanches when she 
was four years old. And she had never once 
left their sheltering care. She was of noble 
blood, too, although the bar sinister black 
ened her birth record. On her father s side, 
it was whispered, she came of that royal 
blood of old France that had never known 
the meaning of fear. And her mother was 
the gay Comtesse of Marny. 

"Now in all her young life Sister Sera 
phine had never seen a man except the village 
priests and those who sat on Sundays be 
yond the grating in the church. Think of 
it! Can you even imagine such a condition! 
Every holiday and fete day before her final 
vows were taken, plans had been made to 
give her an outing in the great world, to in 
troduce her to that society to which by 
birth she belonged. But, some way or other, 



each time the plans miscarried. Some other 
person s welfare and happiness intervened, 
had to be considered first. The result was 
that she had never left the convent walls. 

"Shortly after this first visit of mine, the 
Duchesse de St. Loisy presented to the con 
vent two long mirrors for the reception room. 
About this same time Sister Seraphine was 
put in charge of the room to receive guests 
and the relatives of the jeunes demoiselles 
on visiting days. Callers at the convent were 
not very frequent in those days. Traveling 
facilities were not what they have come to 
be since, so Sister Seraphine was left alone 
for hours in the great room. 

" Here she acquired the habit of looking at 
herself in one of the mirrors. At first eyes 
stared blankly back at eyes. She could not 
see herself. It is difficult, always, to get ac 
quainted with oneself. That to me, Mischna 
Stepanoff, has been one of the pleasures of 
living to find within me things that I did 
not dream were there. Sister Seraphine after 
[ 149] 



a while discovered her mouth. She was sur 
prised, as you may imagine. It was as if it 
were the mouth of some strange unknown 
person who dwelled within her. It was 
the other made visible ! 

"Soon she sensed, rather than reasoned, 
that it was in harmony with the fragrant 
creative spring outside; that she was part 
of an universal nature that lived and laughed. 
It seemed to her that even in repose her 
mouth laughed. It was like the pagan sun 
shine, which always laughed. She became 
interested in her mouth. She became fasci 
nated with the many things that it expressed, 
with its color, its flexibility, and its capac 
ity for joyous sensation, if by chance she 
touched it to a flower. 

"One night, just before she closed and 
left the great room for the night, she leaned 
long by the mirror s edge looking up at the 
stars through a near-by window. They were 
merry that night, the stars. It was spring, 
which is youth in the world, and they 




laughed. They laughed so gayly, so allur 
ingly, that she turned impulsively and kissed 
her own mouth in the mirror. 

"For days after this Sister Seraphine was 
meditative and beyond her habit thoughtful. 
She could not look at the mirrors. Her cheeks 
flushed with shame. She felt disgraced and 
dishonored. Every time she was obliged 
to pass by the great mirrors, she carefully 
turned her eyes away. 

" During these days it seemed as if Spring, 
like a bandit, broke through the ponderous 
convent walls. Its murmur and its mystery 
and its fragrance and its buoyant life were 
everywhere. They poured invisibly through 
the somber, painted windows. They swept 
enticingly down the long bare halls. All 
night they sang beneath the casements of 
the penitential chambers. They awoke 
with the first penetrating sweetness of the 

"Each morning, in the opening flower 
cups, Sister Seraphine found other mouths 



that looked like hers. She saw there the 
same desirous, satiny lips. The same bril 
liant color burned upon them, the same 
dewy ripeness. One night, unable to sleep, 
so many and so mighty were the voices that 
called her, she got up softly and tiptoed down 
the long bare corridors to the reception room. 
It was not ever really night anywhere that 
spring, it seems to me as I recall it. The 
frail gray shadows of summer made instead 
a sort of semi-day. 

"She knelt down on the floor in front of 
one of the mirrors. There she saw a white 
face under an aureole of short gold hair, two 
eyes that shone like stars, and a mouth that 
was red as a wound. Again she kissed it. 
When she crept back to her room, she found 
it lonelier than before. Something, she 
knew not what, was missing. The world 
was empty. Some joy had gone out of life. 

"The next day she asked for permission to 
see Father Richards, the aged priest of the 



"Father, she began, you know that I 
have never left the convent walls, do you 

Yes, my daughter. 

You know that I have known no other 

Yes, my daughter. 

: That I have read only my breviary and 
the books of the saints. And yet, Father, I 
have sinned, sinned grievously 
How, my daughter? 
I have kissed 
" Kissed? 

Yes, Father. I have kissed a mouth, 

because I wanted to; because it was red and 

sweet, like the flowers outside in the spring. 

What ! You say - Explain, my daugh 

ter! said the aged priest, greatly puzzled. 

"I kissed my own mouth, Father. I 

kissed it in the mirror, not once, Father, 

but twice. And I am not sorry. It gave me 

pleasure, Father. Were not mouths made 

to kiss? And the pleasure was not that 




which I have felt when I kissed the white 
feet of the Virgin. And I am not sorry, 

"It is your youth, my daughter; spring, 
too, in the blood. You must pray and fast 
especially fast. That will subdue evil. 

" No, Father. I think differently. I will 
not. I am going away. The great mirrors 
in the drawing-room there have shown me 
my mouth, Father. And it has told me of 
another life a life to which I belong ! Do 
you know what made it so red, so wonderful, 
so faultless, Father, this mouth of mine? It 
was the splendid, free, pleasure-loving, tem 
pestuous lives that they lived who made me. 
There is not in this mouth of mine one ser 
vile curve, one penitential or humiliating 
line, one touch of pleading or regret. /Al 
though I have not seen them, I know that 
it must have been a great race that bore me. 
They did not even leave me a name to which 
I have a just claim. But right here, on my 
mouth, Father, they set the red seal of their 




pleasures, their aristocratic arrogance, their 
fearlessness, and their power. 

"I can see the life they lived! I can see 
it all through the days and the nights and 
the years. A regal life it was, in great moat- 
encircled castles, amid clash of steel, cries of 
joy and triumph and music and the madness 
of power. 

"I can see the white glorious faces of 
the women they loved, framed in fluttering 
and triumphant banners. 

Think of the kisses given by brave men 
to the lips of beautiful women! Think of 
the banquets and the feasting in great halls, 
where a thousand candles flickered over 
satins and silks and gems and laces and 
smooth shoulders and lustrous hair! Think 
of the wine they drank in those long, long 
nights of revelry wine that had treasured 
up and kept the sweetness of a thousand 
springs; think of the songs, the laughter, 
the dance, the jests! Think of the resound 
ing hunt across fields vivid with spring; the 



inspiriting call of the horns, the tossing of 
plumes, the eyes afire with joy! 

Think of their daring and their high 
hearted days when they cheerfully placed 
life in the balance, to weigh against a kiss! 
Think of the strength that took whatsoever 
it wanted, regardless of results; that flung 
defiance in the face of Fate! 

; This mouth, Father, told all this to me. 
This mouth is their message to me. 

"Do you know what has happened, 
Father? The strangest, the most unbeliev 
able, the most preposterous thing in the 
world! I have been seduced by my own 
mouth! A miracle! A miracle of earth, not 
of heaven, Father by my own mouth ! 
" I am going away, too, Father, now. 
"And right there, before the feeble and 
astonished old man, she tore off her hood 
and the bindings of her brow, and went out 
into the spring that was waiting for her 
across the fields, and away. Think of the 
audacity, the power of decision, the strong, 



quick-working will that nothing could 
enfeeble ! 

: You have both heard of Madame X , 

have you not, who had such a genius for life 
and luxury, whose sables the Tzaritza envied, 
who had at her feet half the desirable men 
of France? She was Sister Seraphine." 

"Every one has a right to happiness, 
do you not think so?" exclaimed Mischna 
Stepanoff, the joy of her own lost youth 
leaping to her eyes. 



ABOUT the middle of the sixteenth cen 
tury there was built, on the westward- 
fronting coast of Istria, a pleasure palace. 
The builder, Paul, Count of Radknothy, 
was a Hungarian nobleman of wealth and 
power, who had traveled widely and formed 
his taste upon the best models of the day. 

On his frequent journeys he tarried often- 
est in Venice. The rich and luxurious city 
held for him the charm it has never failed 
to hold for the people of the North. 

Here he met La Fiorita, a dancer re 
nowned for her beauty. She was his senior 
by a number of years and a woman of un 
savory reputation. The story of her amours, 
which had been many, sounded like a page 
from Masuccio, and had been the talk of 
Italy. She had been persona grata with 



the nobles of that licentious age. She had 
ruled as temporary mistress of many a 
summer palace hidden away among the 
Italian hills. For Count Radknothy she 
had the fascination which women of mature 
years have had for younger men. He 
married her and took her away to his Is- 
trian home. 

She was glad of this lucky stroke of for 
tune. She realized that, considering the 
life she had led, her beauty could not last 
in its perfection. 

In the second year after her marriage, 
shortly before the time of her first confine 
ment, she was miraculously saved from 
death at the hands of an assassin by a 
Carthusian nun, whom the blow struck. 
The assassin, who paid for the attempt 
with his life, was a follower of her old 
days, hi whose heart her beauty had been 
more than a fancy. 

This escape from death back into the 
luxurious life she had never ceased to look 



upon as the kindness of Providence, aroused 
the religious fanaticism that slumbers in 
the Italian soul. In return, she made a 
vow that the unborn child should be sacred 
to the church. Later, a daughter was born 
to Count and Countess Radknothy, who 
was christened Elsbeth. 

Overjoyed at her safe delivery, chastened 
in mind by the favors of Heaven, the Count 
ess decided that the child should take the 
veil in a convent of the Silent Sisters. Then 
she felt that she had atoned for the sins of 
her youth. Accordingly, when little Els 
beth was twelve years old, she was sent to 
the Hungarian Convent of St. Euthymius. 

This convent, which had once been the 
war-castle of a feudal lord, and which bore 
witness to its past in its stern and forbid 
ding exterior, was situated in northwestern 
Hungary, just south of the Little Car 
pathians, and surrounded by their gloomy 
forests. It stood on an elevation. On the 
north a lake lay, whose outlet was the 




shallow Ipoly, which to southward joins the 
Danube. It was a hilly, thinly populated 
country of ancient mansions separated from 
each other by miles of woodland. 

From the convent but one building was 
visible, the family chapel of the Rakoczi, a 
family of royal lineage whose male members 
had led the wars for Hungarian independ 
ence. The castle was on the other side of 
the chapel and its rear was toward the lake. 
On the north side of the convent there was 
but one window. From this the warlike 
baron used to watch his enemies approach. 
Beneath the window, clinging to the wall, 
was a staircase. This was the room which 
was assigned to Elsbeth. 

Notwithstanding her childish immaturity, 
it was evident that she had inherited her 
mother s blond beauty, which, in her case, 
was made more brilliant by the father s 
Hungarian blood. During the two years 
that had preceded her daughter s birth, La 
Fiorita had luxuriated in her Istrian palace. 




Here, freed from the efforts of a dancer s life, 
and cherished by a love in the flower of its 
youth, her beauty had reached its perfec 
tion. In addition, little Elsbeth had in 
herited her mother s abundant vitality and 
her taste for music and dancing. 

Because of the child s love of music and 
the noble family to which she belonged, 
the rules of St. Euthymius were lifted, and 
she was permitted to take her lute with her. 
La Fiorita consoled herself with the thought 
that the lute would take the place of con 
versation, which was forbidden. With this 
solicitude she dismissed the subject. She 
felt that she had purchased the forgiveness 
of Heaven and gave herself over unrestrain 
edly to the life of pleasure she loved. 

It was autumn when Elsbeth reached St. 
Euthymius. The repellent exterior of the 
convent-fortress was softened by the rich 
ness of the season. Autumn once seen 
among the mountains of Hungary is some 
thing always to remember. A languid 




radiance enfolds the landscape. The stern 
Carpathians float in a mist of blue, through 
which white, fragile birches and fiery maples 
gleam. The forests and the mountains are 
reflected in the water. Along the roads 
ferns expand into fans of gold. The wood 
lands exhale an aromatic perfume. 

The witchery of the season dulled the 
first pain of separation. But when the 
rains of November scattered the leaves, and 
the wind sang about the lonely towers and 
echoed down the bare corridors, she cried 
like a little child to go home. The sisters 
efforts to comfort her were vain. Equally 
vain were their attempts to divert her mind 
with lessons and prayer. She still cried to 
go home. 

There was no devotional chord in her 
nature to respond to the good sisters teach 
ings. They were like a voice calling in a 
land where no one lives. When winter came, 
the entire world was black and white. 
Without, the snow and the bare trees or 



the blacker pines and firs; within, white, 
echoing rooms, where silent, black-clad figures 
moved. The sight filled her with grief, and 
by contrast called to mind her bright- 
gowned, beautiful mother. 

When spring came, she was so pale and 
thin that the kind sisters would have sent 
word of her condition to her parents, had 
it not been expressly stated that no word 
was to be sent to disturb the peace of the 
Istrian home. 

When she was seventeen, the sisters de 
cided that she was sufficiently instructed in 
the duties of the order to be made a member. 
Obediently she took the veil and the vow 
of silence. This occasioned no fresh grief, 
since it could not interfere with her source 
of happiness her dreams. 

In the spring of the following year, 
shortly after vespers, when she was in her 
room alone, she heard some one playing 
upon a lute a melody of enchanting rhythm. 
Hastily she unfastened the window square. 




In the melody floated, with the breath of 
the soft spring night. It came from the 
lake. She vibrated pleasurably to it. In it 
were poured out the longing heart of youth 
and the soft allurements of love. Instinc 
tively she threw off the cloak and hood. 
She unclasped the black mantle ate her 
throat. In her eyes, upon her face, glowed 
that look of inspired joy with which La 
Fiorita had held her admirers. Snatching 
the lute from the wall, she repeated the 
melody and improvised an answer. The 
unknown musician understood and followed 
her lead. Thus they conversed for an hour 
through the medium of music. 

The next morning Elsbeth was summoned 
to the Superior. Some of the sisters said 
that they had heard music in the night 
coming from her room, and of a kind not 
suitable for convent walls. Had not years 
of silence lamed their tongues and made 
them incapable of utterance, they would 
have been eloquent in their description of 



the melodies they had heard. As it was, they 
insisted vehemently upon their wickedness. 

"My daughter," said the Superior, "since 
this is the first complaint against you, you 
shall go unpunished. We have shown for 
bearance because of your youth. Now 
that you are older, and have become one 
of us permanently, it is right that you 
should obey the rules and uphold them. 
In the future play sacred music, or such as 
befits the vows you have taken." With 
this the Superior dismissed her. 

It was later that night when the lute 
called beneath her window. Her answer 
was a sharp note of warning. The unseen 
musician understood. When again he touched 
the strings, it was midnight, and the shy 
summer stars had been hours a-twinkle. 
He played the same alluring cantilena, but 
softly, tenderly, as if meant for a loved 
one s ears alone. He swept the strings so 
delicately it was but a breath of musical 
fragrance upon the night. 


Elsbeth trembled. The blood coursed 
pleasurably through her veins. Her soul 
expanded with joy. Fear was forgotten. 
She thought only of the unseen one upon 
the lake who called to her. 

He had understood what she said the 
night before. He had come again. She 
took her lute and replied clearly and dar 
ingly. Then again the soft melodic whisper 
floated up from the water. Her answer was 
firm and triumphant, shrilling on one sus 
tained crystal note of longing. This pas 
sionate appeal for life, for freedom, touched 
the hearer s heart, as the murmurous caress 
which followed proved. 

Six years had passed since any one had 
spoken to her like that, six silent years of 
convent life. She was like one buried alive, 
calling out to the warm, sweet world on 
the other side of the grave. Her lute told 
this in a song of unrest. 

The next day there was a solemn meeting 
of the sisters in the great audience hall of 


St. Euthymius. Sister Seraphita had heard 
the music. She had awakened the others, 
who, in their turn, awakened the Mother 
Superior. Never had their unworldly ears 
heard sounds like these. They plunged 
them into an alien world, where they trem 
bled. They troubled their minds with the 
tone-pictures they flashed upon the senses. 
The music concealed a persistent sugges 
tion that there are nobler things than a life 
of prayer and penance. It brought back 
memories of forgotten days. It touched 
their arid hearts to strange tremors. It 
sent a-flutter insistent voices as the sea 
sends abroad upon the wind the story of its 
secret longing. It gave transient energy to 
dead instincts. It set vibrating thoughts 
inimical to convent life. The stupidest 
among them felt this, and they agreed that 
it must be stopped. 

In addition, it had been whispered that 
it sounded as if two lutes were being played, 
instead of one. Of course, they knew that 




that was impossible. No one could gain 
entrance to the convent. If they did hear 
two lutes, who was it who played the other 

A look of awful comprehension brightened 
their dull old eyes. It was marvelous play 
ing, too. They remembered that. Even the 
Superior said that she had not heard its 
equal. No mortal fingers swept that other 
lute. No mortal fingers could so fill the 
castle with resonance. There were two 
lutes! Who played the other? It was 
Satan who did it Satan and none other ! 

Then the Superior recalled what she had 
heard of the music and dancing madness 
that had taken possession of the nuns of 
the south of France in the early years of 
the church. How it had been proved to be 
the work of Satan and how the evil spirit 
had been exorcised. Abbe X had writ 
ten a book about it. After discussing the 
subject, Elsbeth was sent for. 

"My dear daughter," began the Superior, 



"it grieved me to learn of your disobedience. 
I, together with the sisters, have decided 
that forfeiture of the lute is a just punish 
ment. Sister Seraphita may now bring it 
to my room and hang it upon the wall. 
As for you, my daughter, I recommend 
the prayers for the penitent." Then she 
rose, signifying that the session was at an 

Elsbeth said nothing. Her mind was so 
filled by the occurrences of the past days 
that the meaning barely reached her. 

That night the melody floated up to 
where she stood waiting, just as the sickle 
of the moon swung to a level with the black 

How could she answer now? Hastily she 
unfastened the window. Then she remem 
bered a lace handkerchief belonging to her 
mother, which she picked up the day they 
took her away. It was filmy and light. It 
would float upon the water. He would see 
it fluttering down. In one corner was em- 



broidered, in the colored needlework of the 
day, the crest of the house of Radknothy. 

The changed music that came told her 
that he had caught the handkerchief. He 
understood the message. In the answering 
tones there was something deferential. 

Then he played the melody of the first 
night, modulating it masterfully, and using 
the theme as the basic idea for many a 
sweetly extemporized caprice. As she stood 
alone in the dim cell listening, while the 
warm spring night caressed the short, bright 
curls upon her head, it thrilled her with a 
joy that was akin to pain. It was like the 
memory of something that had vanished - 
a tragic past that had swept her away 
upon billows of flame. It was the sense- 
memory of a past whose incidents she 
could not recall, but whose fervor flashed 
upon her. 

The sisters heard the music. One by one, 
softly, they crept to the Mother Superior s 
door to see if she were awake. There she 


sat, a terrified, trembling old figure, her 
eyes staring at the lute upon the wall, while 
her pale lips murmured a prayer. One by 
one they peered in to make sure that the 
lute was really there, hanging motionless 
upon the wall. Yet its music echoed down 
the long corridors and floated in at the 
windows. A ghastly procession they made! 
Shrunken and hollow of cheek, toothless, 
yellow and wrinkled of face! The candles 
silhouetted sharply and distorted their bald 
and trembling heads. 

Yes, there was the lute, motionless, just 
where Sister Seraphita had hung it. Yet 
they could hear its music. What a horrible 
thing! To listen to music made by a lute 
hung out of reach upon a wall! Their 
shrunken chins and toothless lips trem 
bled. Their knees knocked together. It 
was all their old, weak hands could do to 
hold the candles. 

Here was proof of the work of the evil 
spirit. Every sister in the convent was a 


witness. Perhaps it was Satan himself who 
swept the strings. In addition, they had 
heard that the coming of an evil spirit is 
accompanied by a breath of cool air or a 
freshening breeze. Whenever the wind came 
stronger, the music was noticeably louder. 
That was another proof. 

The next day and the next were given 
over to prayer. But each night the same 
dreadful thing occurred, the same luxurious 
and sinful melody came floating on the 
midnight. The aged sisters were distracted. 
They were grieved, too. No scandal had 
ever touched St. Euthymius. 

On the fourth day they met in solemn 

council, to which Elsbeth was summoned, 

in order to be questioned. She said that 

each night, in accordance with the Superior s 

orders, she had gone early to bed after 

repeating thrice the prayers for the penitent. 

Quickly she fell asleep. Then she dreamed 

- but so vividly that the following day she 

was unable to tell the dream from reality 





that the Mother Superior came to her 
door, knocked softly, opened it and held 
out the lute. She took it and improvised 
upon it the rest of the night. Softly then 
again the knocking came, the Superior 
opened the door, took the lute and went 
away. Each night she dreamed the same 
dream. And each morning she found her 
door as she had left it. 

On hearing this the good sisters were 
more puzzled than ever. One thing, how 
ever, was certain. Elsbeth was the medium 
through which the evil spirit gained entrance. 
Through her he was trying to draw the 
Mother Superior into his toils, and thus 
work the ruin of the convent. 

After sifting conflicting opinions, they de 
cided that she should be confined within her 
room for a month. During that time she 
was not to see nor hold converse with any 
one. Food and drink would be placed at 
her door at regular intervals. 

The first days of confinement were lonely. 




The lute was gone. There was nothing for 
company. Nor did the first week of con 
finement have any effect upon exorcising 
the demon. Each night the trembling old 
women gathered in the Superior s room to 
watch with terrified eyes while the motion 
less lute made music. 

Elsbeth s only amusement was to stand 
on tiptoe and look out through the swing 
ing square of the window. It was so high 
that she could not see anything immediately 
below. One day while she was standing on 
tiptoe peering out, her knees, trembling 
with the strain, struck a projection of the 
grooved wood, and she felt the wall yield 
as if a door were there. 

Getting down on her knees, she scrutin 
ized every curve of the decorative wood to 
see if a spring could be found. She knew 
the room had belonged to the old Baron 
who built the castle, and that it was unlike 
the others. Since the hidden spring if 
such an one there were did not disclose 


itself to the eye, she determined to follow 
with her fingers every scroll of the panel, 
pressing evenly upon each in turn. 

About half-way up to the lower edge of 
the window, at about the height where 
her knees had been, a whorl of polished 
wood slipped from sight. The panel swung 
out and the level lake lay before her. Lean 
ing out, she found that the stairway which 
she had seen from the edge of the water was 
within reach. This was the old Baron s 
place of secret exit. 

That night, when the unknown serenader 
touched his lute, she opened the door, 
swung lightly to the stair top and motioned 
silence. The listening sisters, who heard the 
music begin, then cease abruptly, were filled 
with thankfulness. After waiting an hour 
and hearing no recurrent sound, they crept 
back to their beds, secure in the thought 
that the exorcising of the demon had begun. 

In a little boat at the foot of the stairs 
sat a man holding a jeweled lute. It seemed 


to Elsbeth that she had always known him. 
He looked just like the men with whom she 
had been acquainted for years in her dreams. 
Like them, he was dark and young. Like 
them, too, he was handsome and had come 
to fetch her in a boat. He wore the costume 
of an Hungarian nobleman of the middle of 
the sixteenth century: a light blue mantle 
fancifully braided, of Polish cut, thrown 
coquettishly over one shoulder, called in 
those days kabodion; black velvet breeches, 
a round-topped hat and a tight-fitting dress 
coat, such as were worn by men of birth, 
called mente. Years of silence had thrown 
her so completely upon herself for com 
panionship that it had become difficult to 
tell the real from the unreal. The one who 
waited in the boat was merely a proof of 
the reality of dreams. 

He, on his part, saw a girl-woman of mag 

nificent proportions coming swiftly down 

the steps. Upon her head a halo of little 

curls shone in the light. Her face was very 




white, but in her eyes there was the look 
with which La Fiorita had gone to meet 
her lovers. So familiarly did she hasten to 
him that he felt himself drawn within the 
magic circle of her day dreams, where nothing 
was impossible, and held out his hands impul 
sively to help her to a seat. 

Yet, how can any one tell in what other 
life we have met, how close the tie that 
bound us, whose fibers vibrate on in this! 

"Where shall we go?" he asked, admira 
tion shining in his eyes. 

"Down there, around the bend of the lake, 
where the sisters cannot hear our voices." 

He bent to the oars, and a silver furrow 
stretched behind them. Meanwhile Elsbeth 
looked attentively at her companion. His 
youth pleased her. He was the only one 
she had met who was young like herself. 

Prince Rakoczi was about twenty-eight. 

He had been married some years to an 

Italian woman many years his senior. The 

Princess known as the Princess of the 





Bloody Heart, because of a heart of rubies 
which she invariably wore was descended 
from the Italian house of Montanelli. The 
head of this house was known throughout 
Europe for the making of skillful and 
artistic instruments of torture. It was due 
to her father, Alonzo Montanelli, that in 
that age murder had reached the dignity of 
a fine art, and was accompanied by the 
exquisite decorative setting that befits a 
fete. The name, Montanelli, was password 
to every torture chamber of Europe. 

Once around the bend, she said: "Where 
are we going?" 

"To my chapel yonder." 

"Shall we be alone?" 

"Quite alone." 

"Then I will play upon your lute." 

:< You shall have another like it for your 
self," he said, handing it toward her, while 
the moon found the heart of a crimson 
stone and flashed red light upon his hand. 

At sight of the richly lighted chapel, her 




eyes shone like a little child s at sight of a 
Christmas tree. So great was her capacity 
for happiness that she forgot the past in 
the pleasure of a moment. 

He led her into the chapel. :< You can 
not imagine what I thought when I first 
saw you. I thought that you were the 
original of a picture that hangs here. That 
Magdalene is not a painter s dream. It is 
the portrait of the woman whom my father 
loved. During my mother s life the picture 
was not hung. It was only after I came 
into possession of the estate that it was 
taken from its place of concealment. It is 
La Fiorita, a dancing girl whom my father 
knew in Venice in his youth." Looking up, 
Elsbeth saw a voluptuous Venetian beauty, 
whose face stirred vague memories. 

When they rowed back to the convent, 
the moon was low in the sky. The lake was 
dull and tarnished. In the tops of the trees 
a crisp wind shivered that told of dawn. 

During the days that followed, Elsbeth 


was glad of her imprisonment. She escaped 
the sisters prying eyes. They who live in 
solitude are skilled in reading the heart. 

Each night the Prince came for her, and 
they drifted down the lake, explored its 
recesses, improvised upon their lutes within 
the chapel, or reclined upon the steps to talk 
of love. In this way a month passed away. 

To the good sisters of St. Euthymius the 
month had brought comfort. The evil spirit 
was controlled and put to flight. They 
could sleep in peace, their timid old hearts 
untroubled by fear. Now the lute hung 
silent upon the wall. There had been no 
recurrence of the melody. The prayerful 
penance of Elsbeth had exorcised the demon. 

The Superior called a council. It was 
agreed that Elsbeth should spend another 
month in prayer and silence. When the 
word was brought to her, she received it 
humbly. The Superior s heart was filled 
with gratitude. Her patience was. bearing 




One night, after the beginning of the 
second month, when Elsbeth and Prince 
Rakoczi entered the chapel, he rushed to 
fasten the door that communicated with 
the castle. 

"Why do you do that?" inquired Elsbeth. 

"The Princess has arrived. Of course 
there is little danger of her coming here. 
Yet it is best to be safe." 

Then they forgot about her in their love 
and joy in each other, and set about per 
fecting plans for Elsbeth s escape from the 

"Listen, little one," the Prince continued, 
drawing her to him, while the candles 
struck rich colors from his braided kabodion 
and accented the pallor of his face. "It is 
arranged for to-morrow night. A larger 
boat and two oarsmen will come for us 
here. They will row us to the end of the 
lake. There an old servant will await us 
with a carriage. He will take you to a 
hunting lodge of mine, to the east of here, 


near the Bohemian Forest. There, as soon 
as I can make arrangements, I will join 
you, and together we will go to Italy. I 
have a present for you for to-morrow night, 
too a dress and a jewel, brought all the 
way from Stamboul. You shall put it on, 
and we will celebrate our marriage here at 
the altar - 

"What was that a knock?" 


"The Princess?" 

"It must be. No one else would come. 
We must be quick. I will get into that 
chest there, beneath the picture. Turn the 
jeweled fruit to the right. That locks it. 
Then go to the altar and say your prayers. 
If she questions you, your quick wits must 
frame an answer." 

When Elsbeth unbolted the door, a tall, 
gaunt woman approaching middle age swept 
in. She wore a long, dark, cloaklike gar 
ment of morit, and a violet-colored kaza- 
bajka, while her hair was partially hidden 



beneath a white csepesz. Suspended from 
her neck was a ruby heart. She had nar 
row, side-glancing eyes, a long oval face, and 
thin lips. Her expression indicated cruelty. 

"My fair nun, how came you here 
and at this hour?" 

"Most gracious Princess," replied Els- 
beth, bending in salutation, "last night I 
had a dream in which I saw The Virgin of 
the Red Girdle poise in the air above the 
Rakoczi chapel. That, as the gracious 
Princess knows, bodes ill. I made a vow 
to avert the ill by prayerful intercession at 
the altar." 

"And you chose night, good sister, for 
your beneficent purpose?" 

"By day, most gracious Princess, I am 
occupied with convent duties. Therefore I 
sacrifice to it the hours of sleep." 

"But the Prince does he help you? 
Where is he?" 

"The Prince? Your Highness will see 
that I am at my prayers alone, and with 



your gracious permission I will return to 

The Princess made a signal of dismissal, 
and Elsbeth knelt with her rosary at the 

Princess Rakoczi was too astute and too 
well versed in the intrigues of that subtle 
age to take the nun s smoothly spoken 
words at their face value. She saw, too, 
that the nun was a woman of great beauty. 
The disfiguring garb could not hide that. 
She made a tour of the chapel. Around the 
outer edge, at the base of the walls, were 
placed coffers in which the church silver, 
the relics, and the priestly vestments were 
stored. From time to time, as she made 
this tour of inspection, she glanced sharply 
at Elsbeth, to see if she were intent upon 
her beads. When she had completed the 
circuit, she paused at Elsbeth s right and 
bent to look at the gem-decorated carving 
of the chest that stood beneath the picture 

of La Fiorita. As she bent down, she heard 



a sharp sound. Looking up, she saw 
that the rosary had dropped upon the 
marble altar and that the nun s hands 
were trembling. 

" I have found him ! " she thought. " What 
a lesson I will teach them!" Jealous rage 
pinched her pale features to a cruel thin 
ness. Aloud she said: "Good sister, I 
thank you for your unselfish watchfulness." 

Elsbeth rose and remained bowing while 
the Princess passed out. When she had 
been gone a sufficient time for safety, the 
nun bolted the door and released the Prince. 

You shall not have another experience 
like this!" he said, clasping her in his arms. 

"But to-morrow night?" 

"She would not spy upon us two nights 
in succession." 

On the way across the lake, the sparkles 
of light upon the water were not more 
numerous than the words of love which he 
lavished upon Elsbeth. They erased from 
her mind the disagreeable occurrence. She 




thought only of the morrow, of escape 
and of the gorgeous gown and the jewel 
that had come from Stamboul. 

As soon as they left the chapel, the Prin 
cess had the door unbolted, and entered, 
followed by two men bearing a chest iden 
tical in size and design with the one that 
stood beneath the picture. In obedience to 
her command they exchanged them, and 
took the former chest back to the castle. 

The next night found Elsbeth on the 
stairs waiting eagerly. When Prince Ra- 
koczi came, she took the package he gave 
her and ran back to her room. When again 
she came out, she wore a short white satin 
princess dress, heavily embroidered in seed 
pearls. It was cut low and square at the 
neck, and flared at the bottom. It resembled 
in style and cut the votive robes made for 
statues of the Virgin. About her neck was 
a cross of diamonds. The convent cloak 
was thrown over her arm, to be used in 
case of need. 





No sooner had they entered the chapel 
and seen to the safe bolting of the door, 
than with kisses and caresses he led her to 
the picture of La Fiorita. Moving a few 
steps away, he paused and looked at her. 

: You cannot imagine how greatly you 
resemble that picture. In certain ways the 
faces are identical. The difference is that 
you have not lived so much. That is the 
woman my father loved. This is the woman 
whom I love. As she was the grief of his 
life, you will be the happiness of mine " 
An imperative knock interrupted him. 

Elsbeth donned the cloak and hood, draw 
ing it carefully over the whiteness of her 
gown. Then she unbolted the door. Gra 
ciously the Princess entered. 

"My good sister, I am going to take 
you from your prayerful duties for a few 
moments to-night to gratify a curiosity of 

"I shall be most happy to serve you, 
Gracious Princess," murmured Elsbeth. 


"I have heard," she continued, "that 
beneath the fingers of a pure woman the 
opal loses its angry fire and becomes white 
like a pearl. It is my wish to find out if 
that is true. Now on that chest there 
the one beneath the repentant Magdalene 
opals are set. You, of course, having had 
no occasion to observe the chest, have not 
seen them. I will make the test in the 
light of this candle, if you will come. Now 
observe the decoration on the chest front, 
a procession of wise men bearing offerings 
to the infant Christ. It was designed and 
made by Maestro Benedetto da Majano and 
is well-nigh priceless. Notice the rich soft 
ness of the wood its depth of color. Do 
you see how it poises between the shades of 
brown and red? Look at that kneeling figure 
there, holding up a plate filled with fruit. 
The fruit in the center of the plate is made 
of opals. Now place your finger upon the 
central one, the apple. It represents, I fancy, 
the forbidden fruit of the tree of life. 


"That s right. That s right. Remark 
able! Remarkable! It has grown pale- 
see! So have you, good nun. Why is that? 
Why does your hand tremble? Hold it more 
firmly, that I may see. There ! there ! 
Now press your fingers on that central 

Elsbeth obeyed. As she did so, a shriek 
rang out, so heartrending, so horrible, it 
curdled the blood. Again a shriek of mortal 
anguish then silence. 

Above her, stern and erect, Princess 
Rakoczi towered, her thin face illumined 
by the pointed candle. Without a word 
she gathered up her rustling robe and walked 

When she had gone, Elsbeth lifted the 
chest lid. "Merciful God!" she cried. 
"Help! Help! Help!" Again and again 
she called, until her throat felt numb and 

WTien she pressed her ringer to the opal, 
she had touched a spring that released 

3cxx/c&o&:y3C y&^^ 


round, needle-like darts of steel, which had 
been concealed beneath the satin lining. 
The body within was shredded into ribbons. 
In the space of a moment it had become an 
unrecognizable mass of pulp. Across it lay 
a silver heart, shining dimly, and beside it 
two tiny marble Cupids held chains of 
roses, which were dotted with blood. 

Madly she grasped the steels, attempting 
to tear them away. But she succeeded 
only in making deep wounds in the palms 
of her hands. She ran to the castle door, 
determined to have revenge. The door was 
fastened on the other side. When she beat 
upon it and tried to call for help, she found 
she could not speak. Her throat was para 
lyzed. She was dumb. 

The next morning, when the sisters of St. 
Euthymius came to tell her that they had 
decided to release her from her confinement, 
they found her lying upon her bed, robed in 
white satin and pearls, a cross of diamonds 
upon her breast. When they spoke to her in 
f 1911 



their astonishment at the sight that met 
their eyes, and asked for an explanation, she 
pointed to her mouth. They understood. 
She had taken the vow of eternal silence. 
Then she held up her hands. The palms 
were dotted with spots of red. They fell 
upon their knees in reverence and adora 
tion, crying: "A miracle! The stigmata! 
The stigmata! " They saw, too, that her face 
was changed, and that her hair was streaked 
with white. 

For the remainder of her life, which 
lasted twenty -five years, Saint Elsbeth was 
never known to break her vow of silence. 

The white robe and the diamond cross 
which came down from heaven when she 
was made the bride of Christ possessed 
greater healing efficacy than any relics in 
Hungary. Their power was oftenest called 
into service by maidens and young lovers, 
until Saint Elsbeth became the patron saint 
of the heart. Through these relics Saint 
Euthymius became the richest convent in 
[ 1921 



all Hungary and the most widely known 
for the piety of its inmates. 

There are certain days of midsummer 
when the convent is gratuitously open to 
the public. Then the room with its tiny 
window overlooking the lake is shown, 
where the miracle was wrought, and the 
white satin robe and diamond cross came 
down from heaven to honor Saint Elsbeth, 
who was the bride of Christ. 



Vivere ardendo e non sentire il malo ! l 


(To live intensely, to be impervious to wrong!) 

were sitting over our after-dinner 
cigars, my host, Gustav Berengy, and 
myself, when the conversation touched on 
love. Without pausing to consider the effect 
of the question or its evident infringement 
of guest-right, I boyishly asked him why he 
had never married. 

Gustav Berengy had been the friend of my 
grandfather. They had known each other 
in Paris in their youth. I remembered hear 
ing my grandfather say that Berengy was 
not only the handsomest, but the most dis 
tinguished man he had met. Looking out 
upon the luxurious park-setting of his seaside 

1 From " Rime di tre gentil donne." 
[ 194] 


home, I could not help wondering why he 
had always lived alone. 

As I asked the question, I saw that the eyes 
looking into mine were dimmed for a moment, 
as if by a veil of grief. 

"I am married," he replied; "not by the 
law of man, but by something more sacred - 
the law of the heart, which is God s law." 

"I beg your pardon," I hastened to make 
reply, repenting of the ill-timed question. " I 
had not heard of your marriage, nor indeed," 
I added, "of your wife s death." 

"No, of course not," was the answer, "be 
cause I do not know myself whether she is 
alive or dead. In all these years I have not 
been able to tell. She is here with me, in 
the great room there above," indicating 
with his hand a wing of the house. 

"I do not believe I understand," I mur 
mured awkwardly, trying to hit upon a fit 
ting answer. 

"Very likely you do not, because I do not." 
Grief like a shadow flitted across his face. 



For the moment it looked aged and strangely 

"Of course you do not understand, be 
cause I do not. For fifty years she has been 
there in that room. For fifty years my 
heart has not wavered in its allegiance to her, 
and yet I do not know, as I have told you, 
whether she is alive or dead." 

We sat in silence, while my host looked 
reminiscently out across the sea, as if some 
where in its spaces he sought the mystery s 
solving. A sensation of fear swept over me, 
which, however, I controlled upon the in 
stant. I was ashamed of my folly. This 
genial, courtly gentleman was not mad. In 
the eyes that looked into mine there was 
none of the maniac s frenzy. On the con 
trary, they were gently meditative, and 
pregnant with thought and grief. 

"No," he said, reminiscently, lighting a 

fresh cigar, whose white smoke in the gentle 

evening floated up and blended aureole-like 

with the thick whiteness of his hair, "no, I 



do not mind telling you why I have never 
married, as the world puts it. It is a strange 
story. I doubt if you will believe it. But 
you are leaving on the morrow, and I shall 
never see you again. Besides, I am old, you 
know. I am eighty." 

With a sad smile he waved aside my polite 
demurrer. "Fifty years is long enough to 
keep a secret, is it not?" he continued. 
"And it might be well in after years for 
some one to know the truth. It might help 

Involuntarily my thoughts flew to the great 
silent room above, where for fifty years the 
woman had lain who was neither alive nor 
dead. Little did I guess what was housed 
there, as my heart beat eagerly with antici 

"I was born, as you know, in France," 
said my host. "My mother died at my 
birth. My childhood was spent in a mo 
nastic school on the gloomy coast of La Bas 
Bretagne. There I did not see much child- 


ish merriment, as you may imagine. Shortly 
after graduating, when the subject was being 
discussed as to whether or not I, the younger 
son, should take holy orders and at that 
time of my impressionable youth I was not 
greatly averse to the idea, so accustomed 
had I become to monastic discipline my 
father and my brother died, leaving me heir 
to the name and fortune. Thus duty, rather 
than inclination, kept me in a world of 
which at that time I knew nothing. 

"Finding the loneliness of the old home 
unendurable, I went to Paris. There I saw 
something of life. When at length dissipa 
tion palled upon me, I gave myself over to 
study and to art. It was then that I met 
your grandfather. Finally, I determined to 
make the grand tour, which in those days was 
de rigueur for young men of wealth and posi 
tion. I sauntered across Europe, pausing 
wherever caprice seized me, idled carelessly 
across Asia, dallying with my art the while, 
reached its eastern coast, and found myself 



confronted by the great Pacific. Here, not 
knowing what else to do, but without a defi 
nite goal in view, I took passage for a cruise 
among the islands of Polynesia. Some 
months later, when I had satisfied my 
curiosity in regard to the South Seas, just 
after leaving the Austral Isles, a typhoon 
struck us and we were wrecked upon an out 
lying coral reef. The steamer was virtually 
cut in two. The entire crew were drowned 
with the exception of the first mate, one 
sailor, and myself. 

" We were swept by the fury of the waves 
upon a high white beach, where a group of 
natives who had seen the wreck were waiting 
for the storm to subside, with the intention 
of plundering the ship. I found that we had 
merely exchanged one form of death for an 
other and a crueler one. We were seized, 
bound hand and foot, and thrown upon the 
ground to await the tribe s decision of our 
fate upon the morrow. That night, while 
I lay awake wondering what the outcome 



would be, a young native woman, whose sin 
ewy strength had caught my eye during the 
day, slipped up to where I lay alone at a 
distance from the others, and with incredible 
swiftness cut the thongs that bound me. 
Putting her finger to her lips significantly, 
she motioned me to follow. One fate was as 
bad as another, if they all meant death, and 
I did not hesitate. 

"She went across the island, walking so 
swiftly that it was all that I could do to keep 
up. Not once did she look back, or seem 
to think of me. She went straight on, as if 
impelled by fear. I have no idea how far we 
walked. When at length she paused with a 
gesture that made me know that the journey 
was at an end, the day was not far off. We 
had crossed the island, and again the sea lay 
before us. 

"The shore was different here. It was re 
pellent and stern, like the coast of La Bas 
Bretagne which I had known in my gloomy 
childhood. Rocks sloped in sharp declivity 




to the water, which looked threatening and 

"Going up to one of the rocky walls, she 
pointed to an opening beneath, and went in 
a little way, motioning me to follow. There 
I saw a stairway hewn from the living rock, 
and descending into the bowels of the earth. 
Although it seemed at first glance to be 
perpendicular, it sloped slightly toward the 
water, at whose edge we had entered, so I 
knew that whatever pathway lay beyond 
must lead beneath the sea. 

" She crouched down upon the stair beside 
me and, stretching out one long bare arm, 
pointed down, down, down once, twice, 
thrice meaning that there I must go. Then 
she took from her back a bag-shaped basket 
and handed it to me. In it were food and 

"Like a whirr of yellow swords, the first 
sun-rays pierced the sky. As if frightened 
to see the day so soon, she bounded up the 

stairs and was gone. To go back meant 
[201 ] 



death; to go on meant I knew not what. 
But the chance of a life hung in the balance, 
so I went on. 

"The stairs led downward between smooth 
walls of rock. How far I do not know. I 
counted the steps until I could count no 
longer. My brain grew dizzy and refused to 
work. I sat down and buried my face in my 
hands to recover poise. I got up and went on, 
and again my brain refused to count the in 
finite steps. Again I had to give it up. 

"The opening above, which for a time shed 
light plentifully upon me, became a distant 
pin-point, then vanished, and inky blackness 
surrounded me. I should have felt like one 
buried alive, had it not been for the fresh air 
that swept between the perpendicular walls 
of this canal-way. 

"But what awaited me at the bottom? 
Was it water, black and silent and of fathom 
less depth impassable, mysterious water 
that had never reflected the stars or the sun? 
Was I to find myself upon the edge of an 
[ 202 ] 



abyss whose depth I could sense but could 
not estimate? 

"What torturing fear and suspense did I 
not suffer, as I descended that frightful stair 
way! Suppose my foot slipped and I should 
fall! What then! But she, my guide of the 
night, had motioned that I was to follow the 
stairway. She had not crossed the island 
merely to bring about my death. It was her 
intention to save me. I must have faith in 
her. There was no other way. I summoned 
fresh courage and crept down the blackness. 

"I lost all account of time as hours go. 
But judging by my weariness and hunger 
when I reached the level, I think I must 
have put in a good part of a day in descend 
ing that frightful stairway. At the bottom 
I found myself in a smooth and level road 
enclosed between walls of granite. 

"But the silence and the darkness how 
can I tell you what they were? Such silence 
drives men mad. The darkness was like 

velvet in its black impenetrableness. It 


seemed to fall upon my face and stifle me. 
Nothing disturbed the silence. Even the 
wind slipped noiselessly through this grave 
of granite. And it had come so far that it 
had freed its wings of the scents of the 
world of light, of the sea and of the earth. 
No message from the world above came here. 
Not a sound broke the silence. From the 
walls of barren rock no dust clods fell to tell 
of the ceaseless, weaving life of the earth. 
Adown their sides no water tinkled. Along 
the road there was not even the friendly 
whirr of a dried leaf blown by the wind. 
Nothing! Nothing! 

"After I had traveled for a time and the 
silence had heaped its leaden weight upon 
me, I shrieked. I could restrain myself no 
longer. I cried out with all the strength of 
lung that I possessed, and the granite walls 
sent back a million, broken- voiced echoes 
to beat about my ears. 

"For days I traveled on like this, pausing 
only to eat and sleep. I had lost reckoning 
[204 ] 




of time, of night, of day. I heard only the 
measured sound of my own steps. I do not 
know how many days and nights had passed 
like this, when I found that the road was lead 
ing upward. It became narrower and steeper. 
I brushed the rock walls as I walked; I could 
scarcely squeeze between them. I did not 
fear. The sound of my steps had dulled my 
brain. Darkness had paralyzed the power to 

"Above my head the roof lowered till I 
could no longer stand erect. I fell upon 
my knees and crept forward. The w T ind 
changed; it freshened. I thought it brought 
a scent of the sea. Suddenly thick leaves 
barred the way. I brushed through them, 
and the star-splendid circle of a tropic night 
swept into view. 

"I was in the garden of a spacious resi 
dence that crowned an elevation. Below 
me a white city lay, and around and beyond 
the sea. How I drank in the air! How I 
rejoiced in the sleepy rustle of leaves and 



grass, and in the regained face of the 
earth ! 

"The city which presented itself to my eyes 
was arranged in the form of a w r heel, whose 
hub w r as the dwelling in the garden where I 
stood. From the dwelling the streets radiated 
like spokes, and at the end of each, terminat 
ing at the island s edge, shone the sea. Around 
the eminence spread a circular park of con 
siderable breadth, adorned with flowers and 
statues. Around this lay a smooth wide 
road, bordered at regular intervals with 
slender palms, whose leaves in the windless 
night were motionless. Opposite, the city 
streets began, and each was headed by a 
building of great beauty, so that beyond the 
park and the roadway rose a circular sweep 
of noble buildings. At regular distances 
from the central starting-point, each street 
was interrupted by a small circular space of 
greensward, and these, uniting, made a drive 
way around the city. 

"I chose at random one of the paths that 


intersected the garden and followed it. Since 
I was the toy of chance, I determined to 
resign myself bravely. After a detour the 
path led toward the dwelling, blended with 
one of its marble walks, and ended at the foot 
of a staircase. I climbed the stairs and en 
tered an uncovered corridor of white marble. 
After walking to the end, I found it closed 
by a smooth and rounded stone. I touched 
it. It swung open, enfolding and sweeping 
me w T ithin its circle, and then closed silently 
behind me. Impenetrable draperies of silk 
hung in front of me, brushing my face. I 
parted them and entered the strangest room 
I ever saw. 

"It was long and of unusual height. The 
top was uncovered and let in the tropic 
night. Around the edge of the top of the 
walls a rim of opal glass projected, upon 
which a glass ceiling was folded back, to be 
used in case of need. There were no pictures 
in the room, nor were there decorations or 
adornment of any kind. The four walls 



were hung uniformly in curtains of heavy 
white silk, which fell in straight folds to the 

There was no air moving. Indeed, I 
remembered the night outside to have been 
singularly windless. Yet these white cur 
tains shivered and swayed with a sibilant 
and silken murmur. Across their surface gold 
lines and figures swept. An endless chain of 
golden phantoms girdled the spacious cham 
ber. From the walls bright forms leaped 
with a burst of light, and then faded back to 
whiteness. Round and round swept a glit 
tering, changing pageant, impalpable and 
soundless. Sometimes the gold within the 
witch -wrought silk blazed forth until the air 
gleamed with yellow light that dimmed the 
stars. Anon it paled to such a vague misty 
radiance as engirdles a winter moon. But al 
ways there was change and light and motion 
and the rustle of swayed silk. If I examined 
the curtains closely, if I took them up in my 
hands, I found that they were colorless and 


uniformly white. But if I let them fall 
again, and stepped a foot away to look at 
them, gold light and flashing form leaped out 
to startle me. 

"There were times when the gold wall- 
light faded and a dim brilliancy took its 
place. Occasionally, too, a silver light in 
spirited the restless curtains, pallid frost- 
shine filled the room, and horizontal lines of 
silver swept round the walls. When the sil 
ver lines grouped themselves into form and 
being, it was as if lustrous spirits danced 
airily a ghost dance of joy, now flashing for 
an instant into vivid life, now paling and 
fading into silver mist that still retained 
their gracious contours. 

"There was no furniture save a long, nar 
row, bed-like pedestal or support of ivory, 
which stood in the center of the room. Upon 
this rested a mammoth sickle likewise of 
ivory, formed like the new moon, and within 
its hollow curve there lay - - how shall I tell 
you ! was it a woman wrapped in lustrous 


gauze, or was it a mammoth opal that bore 
a woman s form? Standing beside the figure 
and looking down, I could not tell. Be 
neath the pallid surface colors glowed like 
tint of flesh with jewels upon it. Again, they 
seemed to be only the fiery flash of an opal s 
heart, and the surface became icily cold. 

"I discovered plainly once or twice the 
long, noble lines of a figure relaxed as if in 
sleep. Within the white stone floated the 
gracious semblance of a woman, yet far 
away and insubstantial, like colors seen in 
a dream. Sometimes I thought the figure 
breathed, but by the light of those moving 
curtains I could not tell. They kept up such 
a tremor of shifting brightness that my own 
body became unreal and no longer seemed 
to belong to me. They dazzled my senses 
and broke my chain of reasoned thinking. 
I was adrift with nothing to guide me. When 
at length I turned from contemplation of the 
mysterious figure to find again, if possible, 
the place of exit, in the wall-labyrinth of 



weaving light, some power which I could not 
but obey compelled me to pause on a sudden 
and look back. 

"There, standing upright by the moon s 
ivory horn, was the opal woman. The tan 
gling gauze which covered her which I had 
not dared to touch to find if it were gauze 
or the smooth cold surface of a stone had 
slipped to her feet, where it billowed white 
like foam. She was taller than the average 
woman and more slender, yet withal muscu- 
larly built and round. Hers was the body of 

"An apron-like corselet of flexible gold, 
woven in open-work squares, fitted her 
smoothly, falling evenly to her feet, but 
opened to the waist on either side. Beneath 
this from the waist downward fell something 
silken and white, softening the sharp outline 
of the gold. In each little open-work square 
of the corselet hung a pink gem, and be 
tween her breasts was set a ruby. 

" Her hair, which was thick and of a bronze 



color, was arranged in great coils on either 
side of her head, completely covering her 
ears. In the center of each coil shone a ruby 
that matched in size and color the one be 
tween her breasts. From these rubies, and 
attached to them, extended a net of tiny 
pearls, covering her hair and holding it se 
curely in place. 

"So absorbed was I in contemplation of 
her person, that I forgot that word was due 
from me. When at length I lifted my eyes 
to hers, it was as if along with the conquest 
of my senses the conquest of my mind had 
been completed. They seemed to enfold and 
sweep me within a sea of light where all 
things were foreign to my will. 

"Notwithstanding her strange and fan 
tastic costuming, which at once revealed 
and enhanced the beauty of her body, I 
knew that this was no vain coquette. This 
was not a woman to find pleasure in vulgar 
admiration. Her costume I felt to be the 
result of some ideal of life, of beauty, which 




was the ruling passion of her mind. Calmly 
and in silence we looked at each other. In 
my face surprise and admiration struggled. 
She, however, was undisturbed and looked 
back at me serenely. 

"Even then, before a word had been ex 
changed between us, I felt that her life and 
her ideal of life were altogether dissimilar to 
my own, that mentally we were the opposite 
each of the other. Within her I sensed un- 
soundable depths of peace and calm, which 
had their origin in some mental possession to 
which I was an alien. I measured then the 
abyss that lay between us. 

" She was as richly colored and as gorgeous 
as a canvas, yet in her bearing there was 
nothing that hinted of pride or self-con 
sciousness. I shall never forget that first 
glimpse of her. The picture is printed in 
delibly upon my brain, despite the years 
that have intervened so vividly, indeed, 
that nothing has been able to dim it. For 
me it has dulled all other visions. Judge of 




it by the fact that I had known more or less 
well the beauties of Paris, and that I was 
accustomed to the luxurious gowning of the 
French city. It was only a few seconds that 
we stood there, and yet so vivifying is 
the power of beauty - - it was time enough 
for a world of fancies to sweep my brain. 

"Her eyes were two flowers set within the 
petaled pallor of her face. Wide, straight- 
fronting eyes of chastest blue they were, 
whose vivid vitality was softened by an 
inner and a spiritual flame. Her face sym 
bolized the dream-white city which I had 
seen outside in the night. And the chang 
ing light-splendor of that wondrous room 
was caught up and concentrated there. As 
I stood looking at her, a thousand vague and 
vanishing glimpses of remembered loveliness 
came back to haunt me. There was some 
thing about her that shut off thought con 
nection with the active world of fact, and set 
one adrift among the pages of the painters. 
Despite her slenderness and her purely wo- 


manly beauty she was strong and master 
ful. She suggested the " virile note of great 

"In silence I stood and waited for her to 
speak. In a voice whose calmness was like 
the azure flame within her eyes, she said: 
You were not going away, were you? 
Stay and be my guest. Besides, you know, 
you cannot go. There is no way. 

"Nothing could give me greater pleasure 
than to be your guest for a time/ I added. 

" For a time? 

" Yes ; then I must go back to Europe, to 
my home to France. 

" Home? Yes, yes; of course but how 
can you! You are in the Opal Isles. 

" And where are they? 

"A strange look crossed her face, but so 
swiftly that I could not tell whether it was 
perplexity or grief. 

"The Opal Isles they they are in 
the center of the shoreless sea where the white 
wave circles. And I am Asra. 



"But there are steamers, of course; I 
can - 

"Never mind to-night. That can wait, 
can it not? She touched a hidden spring 
that summoned a servant. The blue room. 
Then, turning to me, she said : He will give 
you clothing suitable to our life and climate. 
Good night. 

"Good night, I repeated in a daze. 

"After nearing the curtain behind which 
the servant had disappeared and stood wait 
ing, I looked back. Asra lay silent and white, 
as I had first seen her, between the pale cres 
cent s ivory horns. Again she seemed to be 
not a woman, but a gigantic opal, beneath 
whose surface a rainbow slept. The curtains 
had begun their sibilant whispering again, and 
from them leaped gold phantoms in a dance 
of joy. Nearer and nearer to the ivory moon 
they circled. They formed a glittering cor 
don about it, weaving of bright motion a 
visible song of sleep. When the long cur 
tains fell behind me, I thought: * Perhaps 



it has all been a dream/ I did not know. I 
could not tell. 

; This is the guest-room, the servant 
said, breaking in upon my reverie. It tells 
of the supremacy of the sea. Here are your 
clothes. Good night. 

"The room was similar to the one I had 
left. Like it, it was roofless. Like it, too, it 
was walled in white silk. Within the silk 
slumbered not gold and silver, but the mys 
teries of the sea. I saw depth on depth of 
translucent water of every varying shade, 
running the entire gamut of blues and greens, 
within which gem-winged fish, slim silvery 
serpents, and strange iridescent sea-life swam. 
It was as if I looked through leagues of 
water, as one looks across a level prairie. 
Sometimes the water was blue and warm 
and pierced by sunlight. Again it was black- 
green and angry. Sometimes a cold light 
shivered this soundless ocean, a great wave 
came rolling in, crested with pale foam the 
color of fear. At the moment when it seemed 

ready to break and shed its tumbling waters 
over me, it vanished and the white silk 
trembled crisply. I remembered what Asra 
had said of the white wave that circles the 
shoreless sea. The servant, too, had spoken 
of the supremacy of the sea. I felt that in 
both expressions there was concealed a 
threat, or at least a deeper meaning. Un 
bidden came the thought that perhaps the 
Opal Isles and the people who dwelled within 
them were somehow at the mercy of the sea. 
"When I stretched myself out upon the 
narrow ivory bed in the center of the room, 
I still continued to watch the curtains, in 
the dim wonder of approaching sleep. I was 
conscious of their beauty and their magic, 
but I no longer felt any desire to solve a 
mystery where all was mystery. As I fell 
asleep I wondered if I, too, would be trans 
formed into an opal. Why not? Are we 
not all opals by day and night, white flesh 
opals beneath whose surface flashes the flame 
of imagination? 




"W T hen I went downstairs the next day 
dressed in a white tunic worn after the man 
ner of the Greek costume, I found that I 
had slept the greater part of the day. On the 
way a servant met me and led me to a room 
where Asra awaited me. She wore the won 
derful costume of the evening before. The 
sight of her brought back the golden phan 
toms of which she seemed to be an em 
bodied one. I wondered if, when I ap 
proached her, she would vanish and the 
pallor of space confront me. I had ceased 
to trust the testimony of my senses. But 
she stood there calmly smiling, the swinging 
pink corselet gems swaying with the move 
ment of her breath. 

"When I went up to her, she held out her 
hand frankly and wished me good morning. 
I was more surprised to find that she was 
real, that she did not vanish at my approach, 
than if, upon the instant, a dozen phantoms 
had leaped to take her place. The little hand 

within my own was warm and white. Here 



was the first reality. In gratitude I bent 
over it. As I lifted my head, bright sunlight 
swept in from the open side of the room and 
swathed her about like a robe. Color became 
sound. I saw then their relationship to fear 
lessness and joy. 

"With the new clothes I put on a new life 
a lighter, freer, happier life. The black- 
robed world which I had known seemed far 
away. Suddenly it seemed to have been a 
sort of slavery. I saw it fettered with re 
straints and prejudices. I saw it bowed of 
back and weary. I drew a deep breath as 
of one pleasantly released, as if prison doors 
had opened and shown me light. 

"Laughing, Asra came to where I stood 
and clasped upon my upper arm a bracelet 
of opals. 

"Now you are a subject of the Opal 
Isles! Now there is no retreat. 

"I looked down upon the glittering gems. 
Each stone was emitting sparklets of cold 
green light, as if in anger at me, an inter- 


loper. While I was watching almost in fear 
its malevolent shine, a servant entered and 
asked Asra if she wished to drive as usual 
at that hour. She looked toward me 

Nothing could give me greater pleasure,* 
I replied, to the unuttered question in her 
eyes. I should like to see the city by day. 

" As we drove along, I saw that there were 
other cities and other islands, a dozen or 
more perhaps. They had been hidden from 
me the evening before by the luminousness 
of the night, which had made them a part 
of the distance. Between the islands little 
red-sailed boats fluttered, but nowhere was 
the long, black smoke-ribbon of a steamer to 
be seen. 

Where are the Opal Isles? I ques 
tioned, turning to Asra. I never heard the 
name before. I m sure I never dreamed of 
cities of white marble on the other side of the 

"I told you last night, 5 she replied eva- 

sively, that they are in the center of the 
shoreless sea, where the white wave circles. 

" I fancied then, as I looked out across the 
shining water, that something white and 
ominous like foam bounded the far horizon. 
She followed my glance. When again she 
looked toward me, I thought that within her 
eyes I read fear, but the look vanished as 
quickly as it came, and the old serenity took 
its place. 

That does not tell me where I am " in 
the center of the shoreless sea" that only 
helps to lose me the more. 

" What difference does it make where one 
is, if one is happy? How could happiness be 
situated upon a map ! 

But are there no steamers, no seafaring 
vessels? I insisted, looking out beyond the 
islands where the smooth water stretched to 
the horizon, unfurrowed of prow or oar. 

"Of course not! W T hy should there be? 
When one reaches the Land of the Ideal, 
where everything is exactly as one would have 


it, is it reasonable to suppose that any one 
would wish to go away? 

" Very true. But how do they get here? 

" How did you? 

"But I mean others. How do they get 

There is only one road that can lead to 
a land like this. They who are fit find it. 

"But do not all roads lead two ways? 

"All but this one. 

"I yield. There is no use in questioning 
the Sphinx. 

"We were driving through streets lined 
with marble buildings and bordered on either 
side by smooth parkways. At frequent in 
tervals along the greensward were statues, 
decorative urns, shrubs, and flowers. Each 
building, whatsoever its size, extent, or pur 
pose, was a little work of art and formed a 
helpful part of the general grouping. No 
where was there anything ugly or unsightly. 
Nowhere was there a false color or an imma 
ture line. It was as if the people had worked 


together with the single aim of making their 
city faultless. They seemed to know that 
ugly things are immoral. 

"On the larger buildings I noticed that the 
decorations were frequently suggestive of the 
sea, as if in some remote age the city had 
risen from its depth. Carved upon the 
marble were shells, fish, trailing vines and 
weeds whose graceful sinuosities told of the 
swinging of tides. When we crossed one of 
the long spoke-like streets which swept from 
the center to the edge of the island, I saw 
that at its end, upon the turf that met it at 
right angles, there was a group of statuary. 
Asra told me that similar groups stood at 
the end of each street where it touched the 
sea. This group represented dancing nymphs 
pausing suddenly in the last wild round of 
some ecstatic dance, uplifted to toe-tips by 
motion-mad draperies, with muscles tense, 
up-strained to slimmest height, heads flung 
back, holding to their lips, trumpet-wise, 
fluted shells, through which they were fling- 


ing defiance at the deep. This picture stuck 
in my memory. It was like a pin prick of 
fear. In the smiling water it made me see a 
menace and a danger. 

;< There were buildings in the city which 
had a look of great age. They were yellow 
and mottled and streaked faintly with fine 
lines of gray. Their architecture was strange. 
It was simple and dignified, but as alien as 
the flora of an unknown land. The light 
fell upon these ancient buildings tenderly, 
with none of the harsh obtrusiveness of un 
shaded white. It was like a retrospective 
thought where unpleasant things seen in the 
flattering mirror of the past have lost their 
harshness. High above the city rose the 
grace of palms, and in all directions shone 
blue water. 

"Then began a life which lasted too brief 
a time and which I have never ceased to re 
gret; a life where all the standards of living 
were reversed. How shall I tell you? 

"Beauty, not gold, was king! the intelli- 


gent appreciation, the creation of beauty. 
They called it the spirit of life made visible. 
There was no religion, no church; in their 
stead they had placed fearlessness and joy 
and kindness. If you can imagine what the 
result would be to take away wealth as the 
objective goal of a nation s endeavor, you 
will gain an idea of what I mean. 

"Gradually in our walks and drives, or in 
our sails upon the water, Asra instructed 
me in the new life, until I was beginning to 
forget the old. At least I had reached the 
point where there was no desire of return. I 
will not enter into tiresome details of the 
island people and their ways, because the 
most important part is what came later and 
its effect upon my life. 

"Perhaps two weeks had elapsed since my 
arrival in the Opal Isles when Asra asked 
me to visit with her a little rocky islet, the 
farthest and most outlying of the Opal group, 
whence a fine view was to be had of the island 
cities, and the great sea to westward. At 



her suggestion, we took along a hamper of 
food, that we might spend the day if we 
wished. I managed the red-sailed boat, and 
we went alone. 

"Rocky and grim the island rose from the 
water, like the summit of a mountain whose 
base had been submerged by the tides. Near 
the shore on one side, opposite the landing, 
stood a graceful little pavilion, a place of 
rest and shelter from the too direct rays of 
the sun. Within were seats and a table. 

"At one end of the pavilion the rock walls 
were near and rose high above its roof. In 
the wind-sheltered crevices an airy blue 
flower grew that resembled the anemone. 
There were occasional ferns, too. Other 
vegetation there was none. The shore was 
strewn with dull, copper-colored seaweeds 
of sharply indented edges. They resembled 
hairy tentacles, long eager sea-arms reaching 
from the deep to drag us down. 

"Asra wore the dress in which I had first 
seen her, the gold open-work corselet, with 



the swinging pink stones and giant rubies. 
As I looked at her, the light struck a flame 
from the ruby above her heart, and I noticed 
that its color was that of the crimson sail. I 
remembered how I had watched it upon the 
misty water, and how I had thought that it 
was the color of life, when life is lived bravely. 

"I am glad of your mood to-day, she 
said, divining my thoughts. Why can you 
not always be like this? Why can you not 
always be dominant and fearless? That is 
the way to live. I do not understand you 
when you are sad. 

" Nor I myself. 

" Why is it then? 

The mystery of things, perhaps. I do 
not know exactly. Perhaps it is because I 
wonder where I am. 

" What possible difference can place make 
if we are happy? 

: Perhaps it is because I fear the day will 
come when I must go away. 

"A deep light shone in her eyes. The 



thought flashed through my brain that here 
was such a face as dwells forever in the 
depth of our ideals. 

But why need you go? What is there in 
the old world that you want? Stay here 
with me/ 

" Do you mean it, Asra? I cried, all but 
smothered with the joy that burst upon my 

"Yes, why not? 

Then this life is mine forever ! I ex 
claimed, hastening toward her, while she 
waved me gently away. 

To the fearless all things belong. 

" Asra! I cried, the wild joy still beating 
in my brain. 

" Again she waved me away. See! She 
spread a paper before me which she had 
taken from a slender chatelaine swinging 
from her waist. This is the permission 
for me to choose whom I wish you if I 

; And you do wish, Asra? 




"Otherwise would I have told you? It 
depends upon you. There are conditions. 
You must banish fear, doubt, sadness, for 
ever. Do you understand? If you were un 
able, it would mean ruin such ruin as you 
do not know. You must be sure of yourself. 

f Anything that lies within my power I 
will do. But is this within my power? Can 
I be sure? Can I know? 

"I looked out over the sea. The broad 
light fell full upon it, and a myriad merry 
eyes looked back at me. Its voice reached 
me. I listened. The meaning was unmis 
takable. It was the undying laughter of the 
pagan gods. At night, too, I remembered, its 
voice had reached me; and I shivered to 
think that it was a dirge then, that it 
sang an eternal dirge. And between these 
two voices of nature the two voices that 
call forever, the laughter and the dirge 
what was there? The ideal! Yes, the ideal, 
desirable and unattainable, forever, between 
the laughter and the dirge. 




: Now you have reached it ! she ex 
claimed, breaking in upon my thinking. You 
were sure to. Now you will conquer. Put the 
other world behind you. Annihilate it with 
your fearlessness. Be mine ! 

"Her face inspirited me. Courage, like 
wine, strengthened my veins. I felt that I 
had been lifted into a high and rarefied ele 
ment. The moments became lyric and sped 
onward with the lilt of song. 

! I will not fail you. I will live with you 
upon your height of joy. I will prove that I 
am worthy. 

"I clasped her in my arms, and the face 
which w T as like the realization of a dream was 
near to mine. 

"I knew it! she exclaimed, disengaging 
herself gently from my embrace. 

"For the moment I moved in an element 
of lightness and joy, freed from fear, super 
stition, and corroding care. I began to re 
alize that joy is the most important thing in 

the world, the most pregnant of possibility 


and power. I saw a new world, a new sky, 
and a new earth. Beneath her mighty touch, 
I saw as if for the first time the face of the 
morning upon the level water. I looked 
across it. My fancy peopled with triumphant 
phantoms the immeasurable distances that 
lay beyond. Worlds on worlds sprung up in 
space over which joy floated like a victorious 
banner and whose roadways were threaded 
by the gleaming feet of love. I saw victo 
rious and triumphant things; white arms 
up-flung, red lips that shrilled in song; 
bright helmet plumes blown back like flame; 
and between them the white, glorious face 
of the woman I loved. Joy had strung my 
mind to a finer pitch. It had given it tem 
porarily the strength and the suppleness of 
steel. Like a thin and glittering sword of 
unbreakable metal, joy stood, unsheathed 
of grief and formidable forever, between me 
and the destructive forces of life. Nothing 
now could diminish my power. I had found 

that for which we are created. 



"Wherever the mysterious roads of life 
might lead, it was joy that waited for me 
at the end. All the beautiful, unalterable 
things in whose creation joy had been dom 
inant came thronging to enrich my senses. 

You are right. Joy is the greatest thing 
in the world. It is the alkahest, the universal 
solvent, in which beauty becomes fluid, and, 
like a returning tide of ocean, flows in and 
makes fecund the barren coves and inlets of 
the soul. 

Put away all that you have known in the 
past/ she answered quickly. Forget that 
there was ever another way of living, another 
land. Be mine wholly. If you are worthy, 
the reward will not be slight. 

The past is as if it had not been. It is 
a tide that has slipped back again into the 

"And it has washed away the writing on 
the sand. Look! She pointed to the sea. 
Like its deep the soul is. Nothing can 
sully it. 




"As a lark rises in space, its only connec 
tion with the dim earth being ribbons of 
fluted sound, so did my ecstatic vision rise 
and hold me high above, where petty griefs 
could not pull me down and where in my 
focusing point of light I could draw what I 
wished up unto myself. 

"I promise, Asra. 

Then I choose you, she answered sol 
emnly, a strange new note of warning ringing 
in her voice. 

"I felt as if the horses of the sun had 
whirled me to the heights of light. Swift air 
lashed my ears. Glory inundated my senses. 
I felt the vertigo of happiness. I saw poise 
beneficently above me then the vision of love 
the glittering, gold-cloud vision of love as 
it is painted by tone in the overture to Lo 
hengrin. When it passed, the elastic swing 
of my vision, which had attained height suffi 
cient to embrace all things, brought before 
me, by power of contrast, the black, autumn 
coast of La Bas Bretagne, as I had seen it 




in my gloomy childhood. The shore was 
strewn with rocks, like this one, and, perched 
upon them, much as was this gay pavilion, 
stood a church, somber and dark with age. 
Upon the tower a huge dark crucifix stood, 
whose black shadow fell far below. I saw 
again that cold autumnal sea; the slow- 
swinging ridges of dim water, where the 
black cross wavered, and between which 
poised black boats, over whose edges from 
time to time passed sadly the cold, silent 
creatures of the sea. The bright vision faded. 
I fell from my height of joy. It was as if I 
spun down infinitudes of space, light, like 
sound, ringing as I went. 

" Asra, you swept me with you to a dizzy 
height, where, for a few moments, I saw the 
splendor of the worlds unfurl. But I can 
not keep it. My eyes grow dim; my senses 
are blurred. A thousand fears assail me. I 
am afraid of the heights. I cannot live there 
calmly. I am not equal to it. 

" What do you mean? Again there was 



that solemn note of warning that shook my 

; Do not fail me now. You do not realize 
what it would mean. You do not dream 
what would come. 

"Again I saw the cold gray sky of France. 
The dim water ridges again swung toward 
me, and upon them lay blackly the shadow 
of sorrow. Doubts and fears like a demon 
army fell upon me. They overcame me; 
they crushed me. 

"Asra, what of that dark ocean whose 
name is death? 

* What of that! she replied in scorn. 
*I do not fear it. Put all such thoughts be 
hind you. Be brave! Let us intoxicate our 
selves with living, with fancies, dreams, ex 
quisite sensations. The present cannot last. 
Therefore make it perfect. Since Life is 
a guest whom we may not ignore if we 
would, does it not behoove us to be royal 

"No more could that impassioned voice 




arouse me, nor the eyes, that filled my soul 
with light. The earth had claimed me. Su 
pinely I fell back upon its breast. Never 
again could she lift me to the heights. 

"I am not worthy of you, Asra. Can you 
forgive me? I said, folding her in my arms 
and pressing my lips to hers. 

"When my lips touched hers, a change 
passed over her. She was standing close 
beside me, and yet she seemed to be distant, 
to have moved away. 

"Oh, the folly! Why did you not listen 
to me! Why did you not bury yourself in 
your dream and forget! Why did you not 
content yourself with looking! There are 
things made only to dream of - - that vanish 
at the touch. Good is not good until it is 
useless, she added enigmatically. 

" The ideal must never be reached. Look ! 
Wildly her voice rang out. 

"I followed the direction of her eyes and 
her pointing hand. 

"The white wave! 




"The sky-line was blurred beneath on- 
rushing water, white and thunderous and 

What does it mean, the white wave? 
: Did I not warn you? Come, save your 
self while there is time! 

"She unclasped the bracelet from my arm 
and flung it down. She led me toward the 
rock that towered at the end of the pavilion. 
After walking some distance around its pro 
jection upon the sand, we came to a dark 
and narrow opening. There, handing me the 
food hamper, she said: Go straight ahead! 
Go! Go! 

: But you will you not go too? What 
of you? 

1 No, no ! No matter. There is not time 
to tell you. Do as I wish. Go quickly. 

"I looked across the sea. I saw the tower 
ing water. Its icy breath fanned my face. 
Its pale crest reached the zenith. Sprayed 
foam beads fell from it like marbles and 
dotted the blue ahead. The red sail of our 


boat fluttered in fear. Without pausing to 
think or to reason, I picked Asra up in my 
arms and darted with her into the black 
opening. It was the work of an instant. 
There was not time for word or argument. 

"No sooner had we crossed the dividing 
line than, with a crash, a great rock suspended 
above the entrance like a door fell and shut 
us off from sight of the island and the 
glittering wave that rolled thundering on. 
There was no retreat. There was nothing 
to do but to go on. I had come from the 
darkness and I was plunged back into it 
again. Neither light nor sound reached us. 
Impenetrable night surrounded us. The air 
however was fresh, as if it had connection 
with the outside. Beneath my feet a smooth 
roadway of stone led downward, the declivity 
being sharp. 

"A change had taken place in Asra, which 
the excitement of the first few moments had 
prevented me from noticing. Her body had 

become light as air, and cold and stiff. I 



dreaded to confront the fact and acknowl 
edge to myself what had happened. It was 
no longer the body of a woman. It was no 
longer my beloved, no longer Asra, whom I 
held in my arms. It was the opal which I 
had first seen between the moon s ivory horns. 
What a grief was this! What sorrow filled 
my soul ! It was useless to cry out or remon 
strate. The change which I had seen upon 
the night of my arrival had taken place again. 
I consoled myself by thinking that, with day 
light and the earth s surface regained, she 
would be herself once more. If it had not 
been for this thought, I could not have gone 
on. I should not have tried for life. What 
would there have been to live for! Why 
could I not reasonably expect this? I had 
seen it happen before. Almost beneath my 
eyes the miracle had taken place. 

"Lifting the mammoth opal to my shoul 
der, the easier to carry it, I sped swiftly 
down the smooth stone way, hoping every 
moment for a ray of light to give promise of 



an exit, however far away. When I reached 
the bottom of the declivity and found level 
stone beneath my feet, there was still no sign 
of light, and I was so weary that I put my 
burden down and slept. When I awoke, I ate 
some of the food in the hamper and went on. 

"I must have been deep within the heart 
of the earth. No sound nor scent of living 
thing came here. Yet the air was fresh and 
free from the damp smell of prisoned places. 
This was the thing that gave me hope. Some 
where, not far away, it had met an outer 
current and purified itself. The wind blew 
in my face. It seemed to come from the di 
rection in which I was going. It was not my 
own motion that caused it. When I paused, 
I could still feel it blowing gently in my face. 
That gave me heart, and was the one foun 
dation for hope. Somewhere in the darkness 
there was an exit through which the fresh air 

" My other journey beneath the earth was 
as nothing in point of time in comparison 


with this. Had it not been for the plentiful 
supply of food within the hamper, I must 
have perished before I reached the surface. 
As it was, I suffered greatly. I was exhausted. 
My feet were blistered with walking on un 
yielding stone, and my arms were stiff with 
the strain of holding securely that strange 
burden. Hope was still high in my heart 
that I should see the miracle wrought anew 
and Asra rise from her opal sleep. Other 
wise I should have cared for nothing. Life 
would not have been worth the saving. 

"It was night when I came to the surface 
of the earth, or, at least, darkness had fallen. 
I found myself upon a tiny island, no larger 
than a dot upon the water, evidently a coal 
ing station in the South Pacific. There was 
but one building, a keeper s cottage, and over 
it floated the flag of France. 

"The evening was not old, for the tide, 

which indications proved to have been low 

that day, was creeping in. I did not pause 

to think or to be thankful for my safety. I 




thought only of Asra. I was in a fever of 
excitement to find out if my hope was to be 
realized. Would she awake from her sleep 
and speak to me? Would our old life go on 
as before? Carefully I deposited the precious 
burden upon the ground. The moon was a 
slender sickle of gold and lent but little light. 
However, there was a luster that came from 
the water, and the southern stars were bright. 
By their aid I hoped to see. 

"Asra was wrapped in a thick white tissue. 
I remembered that it had the same billowy 
whiteness as the covering that slipped and 
fell down at her feet like foam on the night 
of my arrival, when I first saw her standing 
by the moon s ivory horns. I thrust it aside, 
tearing it in my haste. Before me lay a 
radiant opal. From it colors spouted like 
jets of water in a wonder-park. 

"The quick interchange of colors blinded 
me. I could distinguish nothing, peer as I 
might. I knelt down and put my face close 

to the stone in the endeavor to see. Then it 



was as if a rain of light sprayed my face. It 
was useless. I could make out nothing. Yet 
the great stone preserved perfectly the con 
tour of her body. Surely I should be able to 
see her when that play of color called up 
by the light combinations of the night sub 
sided. As I stood bravely fortifying my soul 
with hope, defiant in face of discouragement, 
the glamour of the old island life we had led 
together touched me vividly, and for an in 
stant s space swung me to the heights of 
joy. The stone grew pale and white. I 
knelt beside it. Then, plainly in its depth, 
I saw Asra asleep, in her gold corselet with its 
little pink gems and giant rubies. 

" Asra! I called. Awake! We are safe 
now. Awake and speak to me. 

"Peering closely, I saw her smile, else some 
ray of restless light touched her. 

"In memory I saw once more the silk- 
hung chamber with its golden phantoms, 
and I grieved to think that I might never 
see it again. 




"Asra! The white wave is gone. There 
is no sign of it anywhere. We are safe. 
Awake ! 

"For answer I heard the sea s undying 
pagan laughter. Asra faded away. The 
stone s brilliancy revived. The mad dance 
of spouting colors began. I knew I could not 
call her back. I flung myself down beside 
her and buried my face in the sand. In a 
frenzy of grief I determined to watch until 
morning. Then, surely, the change I longed 
for would come. I could not give up hope. 
Hope meant life. The day would settle it, 
and as I wished. I lay down beside her and 
waited for the sun. 

" What a night was that ! It was the long 
est I ever knew. At times weariness over 
powered me, and I slept to wake with strung 
nerves. It seemed as if the day would never 
come. I thought the stars of a dozen nights 
rose and set. I thought the magic in which 
I was entangled had hindered the old rota 
tion of day and night. Every change in 




the night sky was reflected in the stone, as 
if it were the pulse of night. A wisp of clouds 
across the zenith, and it was malevolently 
somber; a freshening breeze swept them 
away, and fire darted from it. 

"The day came, gray and chill, with a 
pallid mist. I was drenched to the skin, and 
shivering with cold. Fear, born of weariness, 
assailed me. The earth-grief fell upon me 
like a cloak. I ached in every limb. In what 
a fever of hope and fear did I hang over the 
stone, waiting for the light to clear sufficiently 
to see. When it did, I could no longer see 
the face of Asra, only her gemmed costum 
ing and the dim outlines of her body. 

"Then the fear that she would fade away 
forever all but drove me mad. I forgot hun 
ger, weariness, everything, in the endeavor 
to see again the face I loved. As I watched 
in such anxiety as they know who have loved 
deeply, trembling the while, as if from fever, 
the sun sent its first level rays across the 
sea. The light penetrated the stone. There 


was nothing to hinder me now. I could 
delude myself no longer. I could see plainly. 
Asra was not there. 

"Beneath the snowy surface I could dis 
tinguish a mingled brightness and the long 
gold lines where her body had been. While I 
was looking, these, too, melted away in a 
dance of color. Doubt and fear had killed 
her. She had warned me, too. She had 
told me that the result would be something 
undreamed of. 

"If for an instant hope sprang glowing in 
my heart, I could see her dimly, but when it 
passed she melted away in a jeweled mist 
and left me alone. In one telescopic flash of 
mind I realized the gloom, the barrenness, of 
the years that were to come. I realized then, 
in the flower of my youth, that the best of 
life lay behind me. From what I had known, 
the paths of life must lead downward. 

"Leaving her concealed in the reeds, I went 
to the house. I had been correct in my sup 
position that it was a French coaling-station. 



The keeper was greatly surprised at the 
presence of a stranger. When I explained 
how I came, he was more surprised and 
shook his head doubtfully. He declared 
that he had never heard of the Opal Isles. 
He could not explain my presence in any 
satisfactory way, however, since the only 
steamer which had been expected for weeks 
was due that day. When I told him more of 
the islands, with their twelve white cities, he 
no longer contradicted me. He said nothing, 
but he looked at me strangely. He thought 
that I was mad and feared lest opposition 
arouse my fury. I knew then that it would 
be useless to tell of my experience to any one. 
No one would believe it. 

"I saw that the keeper would be relieved 
to be rid of me. When I asked him for a loan 
to defray my expenses to Melbourne on the 
expected steamer, giving only my word in 
pledge of refunding, he assented readily. 
He showed a like willingness to oblige me 
when I asked for a certain wooden chest, 




some six feet in length, which I had seen out 
doors beneath one of the windows, and for 
which I had no ostensible use. He was will 
ing to do anything to have me off his hands. 

"The first thing I did when I reached Mel 
bourne was to cable for money to my attor 
neys in Paris. When the answer came, I 
proceeded to hire a steamer and to equip it 
for a cruise of indefinite length. After procur 
ing the most trustworthy seamen that port 
afforded, I set out on my quest of the Opal 
Isles. The captain, an old man whose life had 
been spent upon southern seas, said that in his 
youth he had heard of wonderful cities of 
white marble beyond the last known land. 
Likewise he said that he had heard that no 
one could land there, because they floated 
always out of reach. Others affirmed that 
they were merely icebergs drifting northward 
from the polar circle. 

"I was glad to leave the low, yellow, sun 
baked shores of Australia. I longed for the 
open sea. After we had steamed out of port 



and gone some distance, sand blown by a 
furious wind from that blistering upland 
desert which makes its interior, fell upon us 
and dotted the sea like rain. 

"Straight to southward we steamed, past 
Tasmania. As we neared it, I remembered 
that it was spring in the southern seas - 
November. Tasmania was pink with orchard 
bloom. After we passed it and looked back 
- so different is its southern coast there 
was nothing to be seen but towering columns 
of black basalt. 

"Now the roll of the long waves struck 
us, sweeping always from west to east. Tre 
mendous waves they are, whose length no 
one may measure. On and on they sweep, 
unhindered and unchecked, until somewhere 
to southward they girdle the earth. 

"Five days later we sighted New Zealand 
a row of white mountains whose bases are 
buried in yellow gorse. When we came 
nearer, we saw the cherry blossoms and the 
dog-roses of an English garden. Then again 


to southward and out into the long wash of 
the Australasian waves. Here our steamer 
disturbed and put to flight a myriad sea-fowl 
resting idly upon the surface of the water; 
down-white albatross with wings of jet, and 
Cape pigeons with checker-board backs. 
Land was definitely left behind with all that 
we had known. Before us, like a magic path 
way enticing us to follow, stretched the long, 
shining roadstead of the wind. Swiftly we 
slipped down it and away toward the Polar 
seas. At night the Southern Cross flamed 
bright. At night we saw the vari-tinted 
stars of a southern zone. We were in a 
strange world, with a strange sky above us. 
The sea, too, was strange. Sometimes it was 
so clear by some little island s side that we 
could see the mysteries of the deep. Some 
times we saw algae as delicate and finely 
lined as carven cameos, and sometimes kelp 
so long it mocked the sea-serpent in its 

"We coasted past unknown islands, where 



bright sea-growths blazed on coral reefs. 
We saw palms that looked as if they sprang 
from the water, so slender was their foothold 
in the soil. At times all that we knew of an 
island was a whiff of fragrance that blew 
across our faces while we slept, or we rose 
to find a feathery greenness in the day. Or 
at dawn we coasted near enough to land to 
catch a phrase drawled in dull semi-tones, or 
to see the sun gild sharply the bare body of a 
woman with black and floating hair. Then 
we came to barren water where no islands 
were, turquoise blue and chill, upon whose 
outer edge the ice-fields lay. Then back to 
northward. Round and round we swung. 
Thus we scoured the seas. We became 
known to every merchantman, to every sailor. 
At first they thought that ours was a like 
occupation. When they found out the differ 
ence, they looked upon us with disfavor. Sto 
ries were circulated. They said we brought 
misfortune and foul weather. Wrecks and 
sea tragedies were laid at our door. They 




confused us with the Flying Dutchman. 
Gloom settled down upon us. No one escaped 
it. Even I was losing heart. I found that 
we may not live other than our fellows. The 
punishment for being different is not slight. 

"Days and days I sat on deck and scanned 
the horizon with my glass. When weariness 
overpowered me, a sailor took my place. Nor 
at night was the watch relaxed. Then, too, 
a sailor sat ready to lift his glass at call of a 
ray of light and sweep the sea. Each night 
when I went to bed, it was with the hope of 
finding myself beside the blessed islands when 
I awoke. That failing, I consoled myself 
with the possibilities of day. My life trem 
bled between hope and disappointment. 
These were the poles of my narrowed world. 

"There was one room in the steamer espe 
cially arranged for Asra. No one entered 
there except myself. It was lighted with 
brilliancy, that no material aid might be 
lacking in reading the great stone s heart. 
There, after the nerve-racking day on deck, 



I spent a part of the night, peering into the 
long gem which lay upon a couch of white. 

"It was rarely now, and only under mental 
stress, that I was able to glimpse the dear 
face. To do so it was necessary to shut my 
self off for days from contact with my fellow 
men and by imaginative effort and strong 
stimulants key myself to a fictitious joy. 
Then, for one moment, the fair body in its 
golden corselet would be visible in all its 
beauty, and the face smile as if ready to 
awake from sleep. Nor was this consolation 
of great duration. It was not long before the 
strongest and headiest wines failed to have 
any effect upon me, and I took to drugs. The 
moments of vision were of slighter duration, 
the body less distinctly seen, less real, and, 
it seemed sometimes, less lovely. It was 
all going from me, all that I had loved. I 
watched it, but I was powerless to hinder. 

"The effect of the drugs failed altogether. 
There was nothing now that could lift me 
for an instant to the old height of joy where 



Asra and I had lived and loved. The strain 
was telling upon my health. Physical weak 
ness helped to make the moments of vision 
rarer. Never again, Titan-like, could I live 
with Asra upon the heights. Weariness and 
weakness and impotence fell upon me. The 
earth called me, and held me bound. I could 
only look at the opal with its heart of flame 
and dream sadly of what had been. I could 
see Asra now only in the dream recesses of 
my brain. And I knew, too, that this power 
would not last. Old age w^ould blot it out. 
There was nothing that I could hold arid call 
my own. 

"The years of cruising had been futile. 
They had brought disappointment to my 
hopes and to my heart the certainty that I 
should never find the delectable isles. My 
strength was exhausted. I was worn out with 
the fruitless quest. I gave it up and came 

"That room there," indicating with a 

wave of his hand an upper wing of the house, 




"I built for Asra. It is arranged and fur 
nished like the room in which I found her. 
There she has lain for fifty years and, as I 
told you, I do not know whether she is alive 
or dead. That part of the house, as you may 
have noticed, fronts the sea, that she may 
hear always what she loved the undying 
laughter of the pagan gods. 

"It is years and years now since I have 
seen her. I am old and I have not the 
strength. I shall never see her again. But 
I know that she is there asleep." 

A year later, in a distant city, I picked up 
a paper and this head-line caught my eye: 
"The Strangest Will Ever Filed." It was 
an account of how one Gustav Berengy, a 
nobleman of the south of France, had left 
his wealth to a gigantic opal, which was 
shaped like a woman s form. 




C est quelque part en des pays du nord le sais-je? 
C est quelque part sous des poles aciereux, 
Ou les blancs angles de la neige 
Griffent des pans de roc nitreux. 


OOD evening, my Lord of Mozart." 

The voice was sweet and so was the 
title. He looked up in surprise. Midnight 
had sounded. He had thought that he was 
the only one awake in the old house in the 
Rauhensteingasse with its myriad rooms, of 
which he rented three. His wife and children 
were abed. Their clothing littered the room 
in which he sat and added to its disorder. 

He remembered the beautiful face that 
was bending beside him. At sight of it the 
years rolled back to the days of his child 
hood. Now, as she stood in his miserable 


room and called him "My Lord of Mozart," 
he jumped up in readiness for her behest. 

"I have come for you. The carriage waits 

Something snapped in his head, and it 
seemed to him that he rushed through gray 
leagues of space. Then he mastered himself 
and followed in the direction in which his 
visitor had gone. He did not find her. She 
was not within the hall nor upon the street. 

There, however, a carriage waited, its 
driver by the door. He jumped in and fell 
back among soft cushions. A whip curled 
in the air, and two horses dashed through 
the darkness. They left the city, and 
reached the country. The speed did not 
lessen. He saw in fleeting perspective black 
hills and bare trees against a dull silver sky, 
where pale green stars shone. After they 
had driven at this pace for a time, they came 
to a city. He did not care what city it was. 
He only knew that she lived here. At last 
he should know who she was. At last! 




The driver dismounted and opened the 
door. With his whip he pointed to a gate 
ahead. Then he bowed, leaped to the box 
and was gone. There was an inscription 
upon the gate. When he came near, he read 
in strange and antique characters : * The 
Land of Music." After he had passed 
through the gate, he turned to have another 
look at it. There was nothing to be seen 
of the gate through which he had entered, 
nor of the country beyond. In all directions 
rose the roofs and towers of an alien city. 

He found himself in a square where a 
number of streets converged. He read their 
names, and one caught his fancy: "The 
Street of the Masters." He turned into it. 

"W T hat wonderful dwellings there are in 
The Land of Music!" he exclaimed joy 
ously, forgetting for the instant the one he 
sought. "I knew it! I knew it! Why 
could I not have come here sooner!" he 
added, his lips and chin trembling piteously. 

"What dwellings the masters dwell in!" 


He looked rapturously down the vista be 
fore him. "Here are tone-palaces of an 
Assyrian magnificence, silverly translucent, 
of the most gracious symmetry and rising 
to unthinkable heights. How I love this 
land, through whose gateways I have just 
passed! How I love it! It is as if it were 
made for me. It is a world of crystal and 
silver and white onyx and pale ivory. I can 
see streets of dwellings whose harmonious 
lines make Grecian temples heavy; dwell 
ings of such fabulously fragile beauty as the 
frost of northern nights paints on the win 
dows. There are arches springing airily 
from arches, reproduced again and again 
in delicate, diminishing curves; fagades of 
silver fretwork of the palpitating tenuity 
of a spider s web; forests of fair columns, 
their capitals hung with leaves of light." 

Then it was that a strange inversion 
took place. This became the reality, and 
that sad other world the dream. He cov 
ered his face with his hands and gave way 



to a storm of tears, so greatly was he relieved 
to be rid of the dream where he had known 
only sorrow. The relief, the unspeakable 
relief, to know that it was a dream! His 
frail figure became erect and proud, as he 
walked along, recognizing the dwellings of 
his friends. "Here are the houses of Gliick 
and Sebastian Bach and my dear, dear 
Haydn. But what is that that structure 
just ahead? Beethoven? Yes, Beethoven." 
He looked about. Nowhere could he see any 
thing that out-topped it. "My little friend 
Beethoven! How kind is life in comparison 
with the hideousness of dreams!" Again 
tears dimmed his eyes. "And there dwells 
Handel! That is just such a temple as the 
saints would build. It is not altogether 
original, but it is the work of a mighty soul. 
If it does not stand for versatility, it stands 
for strength." 

After passing the stern home of Handel, 
it was some little distance to the next dwell 
ing. When he came where he could see it 


plainly, he laughed long and wildly, just as 
madmen laugh. "Who ever heard of any 
one forgetting his own home! How could 
that black dream have lasted long enough 
for me to do that? Will it never cease to 
haunt me? The idea of forgetting my own 
home!" And he laughed as madly as before. 

Ahead, upon a little eminence, not quite 
in a straight line with the other houses of the 
street, he saw a sumptuous Italian palace 
of the best days, built evidently for love 
and leisure. 

It was just such a palace as Lorenzo the 
Magnificent dreamed of setting among the 
laureled hills of Tuscany. It was built of 
resonant crystal, turreted and pinacled, and 
provided with a myriad Venetian balco 
nies and pillared porticos. It was not of 
such tremendous height as the dwelling of 
Beethoven, nor of such vast dimensions as 
that of Handel, and yet it might easily be 
called lovelier than either, because of its 
charm of design. 



As he stormed up the steps impatiently, 
he noticed how well his blue satin court 
suit with its jeweled stars and orders and his 
curling golden hair suited the dwelling in 
which he lived. The doors swung open to 
receive him. Powdered footmen bent before 

The guests were waiting. They were in 
their places ready for the dance. He bowed 
before his partner. Her mouth was a little 
red dot, and her eyes were two deep pools 
of love. They swung into the dance. The 
music uplifted them. As changing figures 
brought them together, he sensed pleasantly 
the delicacy of her flesh and the floating 
fragrance of her hair. As he bent in the 
dance s slow salutes, his eyes embraced soft 
shoulders, white breasts upheld, flower-like, 
by stir! corsages, slim, jewel-clasped necks, 
and twinkling feet beneath lifted lace. 

Cavaliers, with heads flung back and 
hands to sw T ord hilt, like true old French 
gallants, danced haughtily out to meet gay 



Watteau ladies. Then what smiles, what 
courtly bows, what languishment, what bird- 
like gayety! In the swinging whirl he saw 
court trains outfloat in satin splendor, and 
the backward tilt of high-coiffured heads. 
The floors and the mirrored walls reflected 
the dancers, redoubling their graces in fluent 
light. He caught the interchange of stolen 
glances. He saw delicate fingers press re 
sponsive hands. He saw the amorous lean 
ing of fond bodies and the pledge of lifted 
eyes. The air was electric with love. He 
drank it in eagerly, greedily. It was for 
this that he had thirsted. Again, for an 
instant, the black dream swept down upon 
him and blotted the pageant out. When 
it passed and he found anew the bright 
reality, he grasped his companion in his 
arms convulsively and buried his face in her 
breast to forget. 

"To the banquet hall, good friends! To 
the banquet hall!" he commanded, when 

he lifted his face. He leaped to the center of 




the room, silenced the orchestra, and flung 
up his arms to signal attention, uncontrol 
lable laughter bubbling on his lips 

" Wine or woman, which is sweetest, 
Tell me which for pleasure s meetest, 
Which from care can take us fleetest? " 

he sang, as he danced along. 

Silks swished past him. Fans fluttered 
like butterflies. Little slippers clicked in 
merry flight. Women drifted past with 
heightened color and dream- veiled eyes. 
He heard their low laughter and knew that 
they were being led with a caress. 

As he entered the banquet room, a forest 
of upstretched arms whose hands held each 
a wineglass greeted him: "Long life to the 
Lord of Mozart! The Lord of Mozart!" 

Amber and crimson wine-light flecked faces 
and breasts and lifted arms, and fell in long 
broken ribbons upon the walls. 

"Now find out which one is sweetest! * 
they chorused. 

"I pledge a health to each lady," he gal- 


lantly responded, bowing before each in 
turn. " In this way I shall find her, for 
surelv she is here." When he had made the 

rounds and satisfied himself that she was 
not, he beckoned a young cavalier to him. 
"Why is she not here?" 
"She? She never takes part in our 

"But she promised to meet me here." 
"Impossible, my lord; she is queen." 
"And I am I not king?" he responded 
haughtily. Then, repenting of the words, 
he flung his arms tenderly about the boyish 

"Ah, my boy, you do not know what love 

is its torture, its longing, its insatiable 

longing. He noticed then how the young 

cavalier resembled his youthful self before 

grief and disappointment had lined his face 

and lighted their wild light in his eyes. 

"Goto my generals ! Summon the army ! " 

Doors slid back, transforming the pleasure 

palace into a hall. The dancers arranged 



themselves on either side. Between them 
the soldiers passed. And what soldiers! 
They were small and supple and swift. They 
flew rather than walked. Each one was a 
black music note, spurred and bent and 
vicious. From their legs black needle-like 
stilettos pointed. They were a destructive, 
unstemmable torrent. When the last one 
had crossed the threshold, and they stood 
drawn up in readiness before it "After 
them, my friends!" he ordered. The rev 
elers obeyed. Black horses waited at the 
door. They leaped upon them and swung 
through the night. 

In the Land of Music it is always night 
night lighted by feverishly bright stars and 
the rising and setting of strange moons. 

Upon black and shining backs poised 
delicate figures; outflying manes revealed 
the clasp of jeweled arms, and beside the 
wild heads of the horses shone the faces of 
musical nymphs. The streets through which 
they passed were no longer lined with mag- 



nificent buildings. They had entered the 
oldest part of the Land of Music, which is 
sparsely settled and where the dwellings are 
quaint and ancient. Here a primitive people 
had lived. 

"What a ridiculous army!" roared the 
Lord of Mozart, who led the cavalcade, 
standing upon his horse and pirouetting. 
"Look! my good friends! Look!" He 
pointed ahead. 

There they were, gathering about a struc 
ture of considerable extent, an army of 
dwarfs, with big, oblong, melon-like heads. 
They carried stilettos fringed with darts, 
but they were slow of motion and aged. 
They did not seem to have strength enough 
to carry about their cumbersome heads. 
And in numbers they did not reach the half 
of the army of Mozart. 

"So that s our enemy!" he exclaimed, 
convulsed with laughter, pirouetting again 
upon his horse s back. "We ll make short 
work of them. Quick, upon them!" 



Like a cloud of black locusts, the vicious 
army of Mozart fell upon them. They cov 
ered them from sight. They smothered 
them. They dazed them by their numbers 
and agility. They killed them. 

"Now to the house!" he called. "The 
way is clear." His eyes shone like steel, 
and spots of fever dotted his cheeks. He 
knew that within that ancient dwelling was 
the lady of his heart. 

"Come, my friends!" They rode across 
the dead bodies of the ancient soldiers, 
laughing at their ugliness. The ladies pulled 
high their silken trains lest they be spotted 
with dust and blood. 

"My generals, there within sits the lady 
of my heart. Bring her out and place her 
upon the horse beside me." 

The lady they lifted to the saddle in no 
way resembled the gay court beauties. In 
her bearing there was something noble. 

"Back to the palace!" 

Like magic, they covered the distance. 



In front of the entrance, the Lord of Mozart 
halted and stood erect in his stirrups, bowing 
majestically to right and left. 

"I thank you, good friends, for your aid. 
And now, good night. I go to celebrate the 
conquest of love." 

"May joy be with you!" they called in 
return, waving their hands as their galloping 
horses disappeared in the brightness of the 

"Why did you try to conquer me by 
force?" she asked, facing him in the great 
chamber into which he had taken her, and 
speaking for the first time. "Do you not 
know that it is really by my will that I 
have come to save you from humiliation? 
Do you not know that you can have no 
power over me?" 

"Am I not King! I have power over 

"You do not know who I am." 

"How can that matter, since I love 




"I am the Lady Melodia. I cannot be 
long to any one. I belong to all. I am queen 

"Did I not know that we are one!" he 
answered, bowing in mock humility to the 
stately figure. "Have you not come to me 
of your own will? Is it not you who guided 
me here?" 

"That is why your deed to-night is 

"But I need you so!" he continued pite- 
ously. "Surely you will not leave me when 
I need you so. Let me tell you; then you 
will pity me. I am haunted by a hideous 
dream. (I never told any one before. I con 
ceal it carefully.) Sometimes I cannot tell 
which is real this life here, or the dream. 
I have the strange consciousness" -he 
looked about timidly, like a little child, lest 
some one hear his secret, then drew her 
close to him, his eyes dark with fear 
"that I lead two lives. One is in another 
world, a world of hard material facts, where 



by the proper grasping of the facts one can 
have every joy, every comfort. But there 
I cannot grasp anything. I cannot accustom 
myself to living. I cannot feel at home. I 
cannot understand how men buy prosperity. 
I cannot learn anything. I cannot cope with 
people. They beat me at every turn. I 
lack something that fiber of the common 
place that contends and wins. There, in 
that black dream-world, I cannot do the 
simplest things. And because I cannot, I 
suffer suffer poverty and hunger. When 
I buy things honestly with my brain, when 
I win success, I cannot grasp it. Everything 
slips away and leaves me alone to know 
the want of beggars. Your presence alone 
dispels that horror and makes me know that 
this is real, that I am real, and that here I 

Like the face of a mother in tenderness 
was the face of the Lady Melodia, as she 
murmured: "Dear one! Dear one!" 

"Your face lights that black dream-world 



like a star and rests upon my soul. But 
there it paralyzes the power of action." 

"But are you not willing to suffer the 
dream for the sake of this?" She indicated 
the glittering chamber. 

"If I could always remember that it is 
a dream," he answered piteously. "But 
they other people have had real things, 
while I have had only the glitter of foam. 
I ll tell you what it s like," he added boy 
ishly. "You ve seen a bottle dropped into 
water where, instead of standing upright, 
it wavers about, unable to keep balance? 
That is what I am without you. Does not 
that justify what I did to-night? Does not 
that make it right?" 

Pity had taken the place of resentment 
when she answered: "Yes, perhaps. But you 
see you cannot keep me. A Titan could not 
do that." 

"But I am more than a Titan." 

"Once I was wholly yours " 




"In your youth. Then I was yours un 
asked. Before you had grown old, before 
life had marred you." 

He looked at himself in a mirror. It was 
true that there was no sign of youth in the 
face, nor, strange as it may seem, was there 
any sign of age. It was the face of one whom 
some terrible passion had consumed and 
burnt out without materially ageing. 

"Why did you leave me?" 

"Because you were false to me." 

"How could I be false to you when I 
have had no pleasures apart from you?" 

"Did I not tell you that you could not 
live two lives the life of a man and the 
life of a god?" 

"You mean love? That is the only thing 
that makes the black dream tolerable. It is 
like the honey the stinging bee carries. It 
is the gem in the head of the toad." 

"That is why I said you were false to 
me," she replied, anger brightening her 




"But now I love only you. Surely you 
know that." 

"How can that right the matter? I can 
not belong to any one in whose heart I have 
been supplanted for an instant." 

"You will reconsider when you know that 
I am worthy. Besides, there is no one else 
who is worthy. Perhaps you have not read 
my heart. I tired of that other of love 
long ago, as I have tired of every real 
thing. It became like a too sweet honey. 
It sickened me, it smothered me; it made 
me struggle to be free. It made me long to 
feel flying in my face the bright insubstantial- 
ity of dreams. And you are my brightest 
dream," he said, lifting the long hair and 
burying his face in it. 

"I know, I know, but " 

"Wait! Do not decide now. You do 
not know me. There are powers you have 
not suspected. I will make you forget. I 
will take you where oblivion is deepest. I 

will prove that I am worthy. You shall 




never leave me. What care I for law for 
right ! I will take you where there is no law, 
no right, except my will. I will isolate you 
with myself so far beyond the boundaries 
of the real that thought cannot return. We 
will go beyond the farthest edge of dreams. 
Come to the window where you can see the 
exterior of the palace. Now watch." 

She saw the crystal walls glow as if a 
flame dwelled within them, while from tower 
to basement fell a silver veil bordered with 
diamond sound-crystals, which floated grace 
fully. Then the veil rose and vanished; the 
flame dimmed and faded until the palace 
became as frail as if made of ashes. From 
this ashen palace rose a diaphanous, white 
gauze, pearl-encrusted palace, mirroring 
itself in a lake of ice. The man beside her, 
too, had changed. He became well-nigh 
transparent. He looked like a spirit made 
visible. His hand was frailer and whiter than 
the gauze upon which it rested. His eyes 
were terrible in their concentrated power. 


"Now, see where I have taken you! Now 
do you think that there is any return? See 
that avenue of white ferns there, from 
which the frost particles fall like rain. Can 
you leave me now? Do you want to? Look 
at that frozen sea to the north, encrusted 
with opaque crystals. Note its greenish 
pallor. You are wondering what is flying 
across it, are you not? I can see it in your 
eyes. You are saying to yourself: What 
are those creatures which have no form and 
yet have every form? Watch them awhile 

- watch them ! My love, those changeful 
and indeterminate contours are the unem- 
bodied stuff melodic dreams are made of. 
They are the world of my soul made visible 

- the soul of a creator. Now do you guess 
where you are? If you do, you know that 
there is no return. They who come here 
cannot go back. 

"Watch the far horizon for a moment! 
There that light. There, every once in a 
while, bright caravans swing to sight, re- 



main visible for a time, like ships upon the 
desert, flooding the sea with a regretful 
splendor, then disappear. But you can 
never reach them, my love, never signal 
them and go away from me. Do you hear 
that sound? But you do not know what it is, 
Sweet, else you would not listen so calmly. 

"High above that frozen sea (in whose 
heart sleep a million terrors that frozen 
sea, which is genius), so high that your eye 
cannot see it, a brilliant-winged bird hovers 
and flings down the fragment of a song. The 
bird is love. When its song reaches the sur 
face of that frozen sea, it is shivered and 
broken like a crystal, and the fragments roll 
on and on until they reach my gauze-built 
palace and make it tremble pitifully. Am I 
not the first of kings, the wonder king! Who 
can resist me! Not you!" he answered, 
kissing her impetuously. 

"Do you never tire of mad improba 

"Tire of them! Does God tire of his 




Heaven? The madder they are, the more 
they please me. I, too, am a god. I have 
made a heaven of my own. I can love only 
a self -created world where nothing bears the 
mark of materiality, of other people s com- 
monplaceness. In my world matter takes 
the form of my slightest wish. I am the 
center about which change revolves. I am 
the force which projects form." He clapped 
his hands. "Let the palace be lighted!" 

Across the floor crept the wan shimmer of 
the will-o -the-wisp, and down the walls the 
green phosphoric glow of fireflies. Then, at 
a motion of his hand, the gauze palace faded 
to a cold ethereal splendor until it seemed 
to the Lady Melodia, in her fear and won 
der, that it was little more than a vague radi 
ance against the snow-lit water. Above, three 
moons poised, swinging melodiously into 
place, streaking it with opalescent light. 

"Will you deign to accept my arm?" he 
asked mockingly. As he bent before her, she 
saw that he had become as ethereal as his 



house of gauze. His face had an unearthly 
beauty, and his eyes were awful in their 
concentrated splendor. 

They left the chamber and entered a hall, 
in whose center a staircase descended for 
two stories. Upon this staircase came and 
went an endless procession of pale and regal 
women, dull gems upon their breasts and 

With a gesture of offended dignity, the 
Lady Melodia turned as if to leave the hall. 

"There is no cause for anger," he ex 
claimed. "I love them, of course. Are 
they not made for love? But in loving 
them, I have dreamed only of you." 

" Your love, evidently, has not made them 
happy," she retorted scornfully. "Why are 
their eyes so full of grief and regret? 
And why are they silent? Do they never 

"They are not real, any more than I am. 
They are prisoned in the crystal prison 
of a melody. They are the women who rise 



from the whirlpools of music. Like the Rus- 
salka, they flutter over the abyss. I created 
them to live on the boundary line of sound 
and silence." 

"That is cruel. Give them life. I com 
mand you!" 

"In every artist, my love, there is the soul 
of a Nero who longs for the burning of 
Rome. They who love beauty are always 

"But this is monstrous. I will not per 
mit it." 

" I am no crueler to them than life has been 
to me. Like them, I have always lived on 
the boundary line of two worlds. In neither 
have I been at home. I, too, am not real. 
Why do you not pity me? Am I not dearer 
to you than they?" 

"What are they begging for so piteously? 
See their outstretched hands!" 

"For life, to break the melody in which 
they are encased and give them life." 

"And you can refuse?" 



"Is not that just what life has refused me? 
Besides, I love them best as they are. Can 
you not see what they are to me? They 
are my soul s life. They are the myriad 
lives that my brain lives. Look! As they 
strain earthward with bitter yearning, thirst 
ing for life, for the substantiality of joy, of 
love, can you not understand how they 
inspire me, how they make me what I am? 
Their futile frenzy touches my brain to fire. 
It pours a fury into my soul and strings my 
nerves to mastery and to creative power. 

"Ah, you do not know no one will ever 
know what they have been to me, what 
stories, what caprices they have breathed 
into me. Their mute eloquence has told me 
tales of wild longing, of unspeakable desires, 
of unknown loves I cannot tell you how 
I love them. They set a-tingle in my brain 
the centers of creative fancy. They swing 
me into the harmonies of the silences. They 
project upon the canvas of my soul melodic 
visions. I live with the unexpanded vigor 



of their prisoned lives. Their desires are 
realized in me. 

"Ah!" he continued, becoming remi 
niscent and talking as if to himself, "I have 
had strange, strange loves indeed, which 
not even tone-magic can picture, beyond the 
limits of time and space. I have always 
been the king of bons viveurs. I have been a 
pagan exquisite, a Lucullian epicure! How 
I have despised those who had only money 
to enjoy with! What miserable beggars are 
they! What has gold to do with the brain? 
It is the brain that enjoys. 

"But to-night is the crowning night. To 
night I have you. To-night I have for a love 
her whom no mortal has dared to love be 
fore. In your eyes I shall not read the mem 
ory of other lovers. Their ghosts cannot 
come between us. Upon your lips I shall 
not taste the savor of their kisses. Your 
sweetness has been reserved for me. What 
matters it that I have made a bonfire of my 

soul to buy you ! If I had ten lives, I would 




do the same. This way! This way! There 
is another room. This room was made for 
you. No other woman has entered it. It 
is a strange room. It is lighted only by the 
stars, those discreet stars which have shone 
upon the amorous sleep of lovers." 

No sooner had they crossed the threshold, 
however, than the Lord of Mozart began to 
tremble violently. Beads of sweat dotted 
his brow. He put out his hands gropingly, 
as do they who cannot see. 

"The dream! Again the dream! Oh, 
keep it from me! Banish it with your kisses! 
Banish it with your mouth and the clasp of 
your arms. How is it possible that I suffer 
from a horror like this in the splendid palace 
of my genius? I cannot see you, but I know 
that you are here. I see only the dream. In 
the dream I am dying, dying miserably, in 
a shabby rooming-house in old Vienna. 
Through a little window I can see that it is 
misty and gray outside, and that a cold rain 
drizzles down. In the room where I lie 



are poverty and the weeping of little 

"Oh, fling it from me with your love! 
Let me bury my face in your breast and for 
get. Keep it away from me! Keep it away 
from me! Why can I not reason! Why 
can I not know that the world would not 
permit one gifted as I am to die in want 
one who bears within his blood the genius 
of his race! 

: Yet I do die there. I know it. I see it. 
Unaccompanied by a single one who mourns, 
my shabby coffin is borne along in the rain 
to the potter s field where the beggars lie, 
and the red earth covers my mouth." 

The Lady Melodia bent her head and 
wept. She knew that the dream was true, 
and that the king of the world had died. 



|"N a low doorway, beneath a sign which 
* advertised his saloon in three languages, 
Hebrew, German, and wretched phonetic 
Mauschel, stood the Polish keeper, bawling 
out for the benefit of his countrymen the 
arrival of fresh vodka from the Vistula. 

Since the "hep hep" riots and the Juden- 
krawall, the Hamburg Ghetto gates had 
been closed and the quarter shut off from 
supplies. This morning they were open 
again, and noise and excitement followed. 

The news kindled the inhabitants volu 
bility. Men and women rushed into the 
street to discuss it. Their minds were 
divided between love of money and need of 
supplies and the world-old fear of bodily in 
jury. They recalled the horrors of the weeks 
preceding the ban, and shivered to think 

that there was no way of escape. They 



must expose themselves to fresh injuries or 

In one of the most wretched rooms of the 
quarter this subject had been under discus 
sion since sunrise. Here lived Gaon Zunz, 
his aged wife, Deborah, and his fifteen-year 
old granddaughter, Rahel. 

Since the exile, Gaon had increased his 
hours of prayer and fasting, and he felt 
convinced that restoration to liberty had 
been brought about by his prayerful inter 
cession. Therefore he decided that in the 
future Rahel must go to the city and beg, 
that he might devote himself to prayer and 

Gaon Zunz was born in southern Russia, 
where he became a follower of the Chassi- 
dim. In his early manhood he journeyed 
westward to preach to the less devout 
Jews of central Europe that fond fanati 
cism of the East. In Hamburg he married 
and settled, with the hope of raising sons 
to the glory of Israel. Disappointed in 



this and feeling it to be God s justice for 
weakness lurking in the flesh, he gave him 
self over to prayer and fasting, to month- 
long meditation upon the mystic Cabbala, 
and to interpreting the Torah and the 
Talmud after the manner of the chosen. 
Thus he earned the prouder name of Father 
of the Faith. 

Late in life, a daughter was born to 
Deborah and Gaon, but there was no re 
joicing in the house of Zunz. Then, indeed, 
Gaon felt that the hand of God was heavy 
upon him. And when, at the age of seven 
teen, Rahel, his daughter, after persistently 
refusing to enter into his arrangements for 
marriage, ran away with a French artist 
who had become enamored of her rare 
Oriental beauty, and had painted her as 
"La Belle Juive" he felt that there was no 
sinner so great as he, for was he not respon 
sible for his household? 

Misery and sorrow fell upon him. The 
roots of his faith were shaken. Surely there 




must be sin in his heart, else he could not 
so grievously err. 

The intervening years had served some 
what to lighten this burden of grief, along 
with the self -justify ing thought that when 
the ban had been pronounced against his 
daughter he had been the first to join in 
the curse. Likewise he remembered, and 
with a thrill of pleasure, that the next day 
he had celebrated, in tolerable serenity of 
soul, the ceremony in honor of the dead. 

Two years later the artist husband died, 
and one winter morning, Rahel, with a ten- 
days -old child, came back to the old East 
Ghetto gate to beg admittance. Kind- 
hearted Joel, the keeper, took her peti 
tion to the chief rabbi and interceded for 

All day she waited in the cold by the gate, 
while the rabbis, after having summoned 
her father, deliberated. Gaon said nothing 
in her favor. He had buried her, and she 
no longer existed. He would abide by the 




will of the majority. Toward sunset it was 
agreed that she should be taken back. 

The chill of the day of waiting in the 
snow by the windy gate was more than her 
weakened condition could bear, and she 
died shortly, leaving baby Rahel to the 
stern up-bringing of her aged grandparents. 

At the thought that his daughter had 
died in the faith of her fathers, a great 
peace settled down upon Gaon, and with it 
the blessed realization that she could sin 
no more. "The Lord killeth and maketh 
alive: He bringeth down to the grave and 
bringeth up," he repeated with fervor. He 
had at last received substantial proof of 
the answering of prayer. He had received 
his reward as a faithful "Son of the Com 
mandment," who places reverence for the 
Law before love of family. 

In return for this favor of the Most High, 
he determined so to bring up the little 
Rahel that there might be no repetition of 
her mother s waywardness. 



A sad childhood was hers. The playtimes 
with little neighbors were embittered by 
scornful treatment and the nicknames " Gen 
tile" and "Christian dog." They had been 
told that she was not of the ancient blood. 
She learned to feel that she was an outcast. 
When she told these things to her grand 
father, he explained, as best he could, that 
her father had belonged to the wicked 
world outside the gate, and that the sins of 
the fathers are visited upon the children. 

She meditated long and deeply upon 
this, but she could not understand. As a, 
result there remained with her an unspeak 
able fear of that stern Hebrew God to 
whom her grandfather prayed, and whose 
dwelling was the round-topped prayer house. 
After feast days she lay awake far into the 
night, tormented by visions of ghostly, 
white-clad figures with up-stretched arms 
weaving to and fro for hours in the ecstasy 
of prayer, or intoning the ancient desert 

songs of Judea. She had watched them 

1 / 





ever since she could remember from her seat 
beside her grandmother in the long gallery 
behind the grating. 

Despite the regular attendance at the 
synagogue, Gaon was unable to impress 
upon the child the sacredness of the ancient 
ceremonial. Fruitless were his exhortations. 
She was neither willful nor perverse. They 
made no impression upon her. They failed 
to penetrate the depths of her being. She 
could not be brought to realize the wicked 
ness of eating butter after meat, nor of 
eating it from the same plate; nor of touch 
ing the implements for making fire between 
Friday night and Saturday night. Indeed, 
her very first whipping was for drinking the 
cup of wine poured for Elijah. 

Gaon looked upon these pranks as the 
outcome of childish dullness. In addition, 
he was preparing himself by prayer for the 
favor of the ecstatic vision. So bent was 
he upon self-examination that he did not 
perceive that in the child-soul was being 




fought the ancient battle of the Latin and 
the Hebrew, the worshippers of the flesh 
and the worshippers of the spirit, the 
realists and the dreamers, which, in ages 
past, had made the self-denying followers 
of the Hebrew Moses repellant and un 
lovely to Judea s pleasure-loving, pagan 

By the time little Rahel reached her 
eighth year, she had learned not to play 
with other children. Cruelty had made her 
timid. She preferred to stay within rather 
than subject herself to taunts. In the 
dingy little front room, hung about with 
old clothes, and tawdry, half-worn orna 
ments, she would sit for hours and watch 
the children through the top half of the 
dirty window, which reached the street 
level. At first this isolation was grief un 
speakable, and rebellion filled her soul. 
She watched them through blinding tears, 
while longing for love and companionship 
gripped her heart. 






Time eased this feeling and taught her to 
amuse herself. She found she could make 
any number of playmates with a pencil. 
Soon the days were not long enough to fix 
upon paper the swarming children of her 
fancy. She reproduced everything she saw; 
the passers in the street, the women who 
bought old clothes of her grandmother, and 
the furniture in the room. 

When her eyes and back ached from long 
bending, she would look up through the 
broken pane of the dirty window at a scrap 
of blue sky ever and ever so far away, and 
the color gave her pleasure. It reminded 
her of one of her grandfather s stories of the 
Holy Land of the Jews, where there was a 
sea called Galilee, which was as blue as 
the turquoise in the Polish saloon-keeper s 
wife s Shabbes brooch. 

One day, after many weeks of practice, 
when her childish fingers had acquired con 
siderable skill, she found a fresh sheet of 
brown paper which she pinned smoothly 




upon a board, with the intention of making 
a picture of Grossmutter Jackobsky, the 
pickle dealer across the way. 

All day the little, fat old woman stood 
and waved and beckoned with her dirty, 
brass-ringed fingers and called: "Pick-leal! 
Pick-les I ! " About her neck was a rope, 
from which was suspended a flat board, 
piled breast-high with green, shining pickles. 

She wore a curly, faded wig which was 
always askew, and many -branched coral ear 
rings which reached her shoulders, the rings 
being tied about her ears with coarse yarn, 
which made two wriggling black bows on 
either side. 

She was touching the figure up for the 
last time one night several days later, when 
Gaon came in unexpectedly and caught her 
at the work. 

"What s this?" he thundered, snatching 

the picture from her hands. " God of Israel ! 

that one of my own blood should keep me 

from the vision ! Have I not told you that 





we may not make pictures, that it is expressly 
forbidden by the Torah? Have I not told 
you that it is a violation of the Law? " Thou 
shall not make unto thee a graven image, nor 
any likeness of anythinqlthat is in heaven above, 

I/ V *J t/I 

or that is in the earttilbeneath, or that is in 
the water under the earth : for I, the Lord 
thy God, am a jealous God . . . 

The last words ended in a shriek of rage. 
His face was streaked with lines of ashen 
white. Purple veins knotted up ominously 
upon his forehead. Madness trembled in 
his voice. She could see its unsteady light 
in his eyes. 

Scarce knowing what he did, in his fear 
and horror of the crime that had been com 
mitted beneath his roof, he fell upon the 
frightened child. When his anger had ex 
pended itself, Rahel s right hip was dis 
located and her back injured. After many 
weeks, when she was able to be up and 
about again, she was a hopeless cripple, 

and a distortion of the body had set in. 


At sight of the result of his anger, Gaon 
quoted Samuel: "Wickedness proceedeth 
from the wicked," and sought to prepare 
himself anew for the vision. 

During the years that followed, no answer 
had been granted him until the opening of 
the gate on the day for which he had peti 
tioned. He ascribed the barrenness of the 
intervening years to Rahel s transgression 
of the Torah law. Now he felt that God 
had forgiven him and restored him to favor. 
If he could win thus much by personal 
intercession, was it not reasonable to be 
lieve that he could win more and perhaps 
avert the future persecution of his people? 

For this reason he had made up his mind 
that Rahel must go into the city and look 
after the living. She was old enough. She 
was fifteen, although she was hardly larger 
than a child of twelve. During the seven 
years since the injury she had steadily 
grown out of shape, until she was a one 
sided hunchback with a huge, misshapen 




hip. Her face, too, had taken on the pinched, 
pitiful look of cripples. 

Gaon s decision that she must go to the 
city was like sentence of death. She had 
never been outside the gate. She was 
afraid of the great world which stoned 
grown people as the children used to stone 
her. And to go all alone ! Her soul sickened. *" 

:< Yes, you must go on the morrow, Rahel, 
if the others are not molested to-day. I am 
too old. Besides, I have a greater duty here. 
There will be no danger for you, because 
you do not look like our people. You are 
a cripple, and they will give to you richly." 

It was a pitiable figure, clad in the sober, 
earth-colored livery of the poor, that limped 
down the long street from the Ghetto gate 
the next morning. She looked like a little, 
shivering partridge with a broken wing. 
Slung over her back and trailing along be 
hind in the dirt, was a coarse bag for old 
clothes. Hidden carefully in the bottom 
of that bag, however, were brown paper 




and two pencils, in case she had a minute 
in which to rest. 

The spring air was warm and sweet. 
Iridescent flecks of morning mist hovered 
over distances and disengaged themselves 
from grass and trees. What a wonderful 
world outside the gate! The houses were 
clean and white. The windows sparkled. 
In front of each house was a little green 
grass plot with flowers in it. She had never 
seen flowers growing before. There was no 
room in the Ghetto, which was a fixed space 
for an increasing number. To be sure, there 
were flowers in the Synagogue for the Feast 
of Weeks, and the succah were frequently 
roofed with green leaves and trailing vines 
for Tabernacles. But here were flowers of 
all colors growing right out of the ground. 

She forgot her fears. Her cramped lungs 
expanded in the purer air. Her cramped 
soul expanded, too, with joy at realization 
of the beauty of the world. 

There is a Fatherland of the spirit which 


has nothing to do with country, race, or 
language, where the heart is happy, and 
over which beams warmly the smiling sun 
of genius. She had found it in the heart 
of an alien city; but the artist s gift was 
hers, and that makes beggars kings. 

In each yard grew some flower that she 
had not seen in the one before, arid she 
wandered on and on, forgetful of time, 
weariness, the errand upon which she had 
come. Color affected her sensitive nerves 
pleasurably, exquisitely, as does melody 
the sensitive ears of a musician. 

There were trees, too. In the Ghetto only 
thin, starved poplars grew. Here were all 
kinds, and the tender young leaves upon 
them shone like an aura of green, sweet 

She walked on and on, until she dropped 
from weariness, and the chilling thought 
came that Gaon would be very angry if 
she went back empty-handed. 

While she rested, she ate the bread she 



had brought, and began to look at the 
people. They were not like Ghetto people. 
For the most part they were well dressed. 
Some of the women had bright yellow hair, 
and, best of all, they looked down upon her 
kindly. As she sat staring up at them, with 
great, dark eyes in whose depths lay grief 
and an infinite longing, first one, then an 
other, dropped a coin in her lap. 

Down at the end of a distant street, ever 
and ever so far away, something sparkled, 
something blue as the sky, but of a chang 
ing blue, vibrantly bright, like light. It was 
the color of the turquoise in the rich Polish 
woman s Shabbes brooch. It must be the 
Sea of Galilee! Why had not her grand 
father told her! It was probably a very 
large sea, she reflected, and the other side 
reached Palestine. 

The desire came to reproduce the sea 

with the dancing splendor upon it, and 

indeed everything she saw; the flowers, 

the trees with their halos of young light. 




There followed speedily the discouraging 
thought that a pencil could not do it. For 
Ghetto scenes, where everything was gray 
or black or brown, a pencil was well enough, 
but for this something different was needed. 

She jumped up, forgetful of weariness and 
her aching back, determined to beg enough 
clothes to fill the bag, so that she could 
keep the coins for herself. When she reached 
the Ghetto, she would talk it over with Joel. 
He would know if there were pencils of a 
different kind, which made color. If there 
were, she would give him the money and 
let him buy them. 

The next morning she took advantage of 
Gaon s good humor and left the Ghetto late, 
that she might see Joel alone and find out 
if he had made the purchases. Sure enough, 
he was waiting for her, his wizened face 
puckered into a smile. Carefully beckon 
ing her to one side, he handed her a tin 
box. Lifting the lid, he showed her rows 
and rows of bright paint tubes, brushes, 




pieces of canvas, and some sheets of draw 
ing paper. 

"Didn t it cost an awful lot, Joel, more 
than I gave you?" 

"Just three times as much; but you ll 
earn the money in a week to pay it back - 
see if you don t! One of the artist fellows 
in the shop showed me how to use them. 
You stick your thumb through this thing 
sol Then squeeze out the paint and mix it 
the color of what you want to make. That 
same artist fellow told me there was going 
to be a picture show in his shop window 
to-day. You be sure to see it. The pic 
tures will be made out of just such stuff as 
you have here. Now don t you miss seeing 
that picture show on no account Ra- 
hel!" he called out, as she hobbled away. 

Her heart grew light as the distance 
increased between herself and the Ghetto. 
The bright world filled her with a pleasant 
sense of possession. Could she not make all 

the lovely things she saw her own? Could 



she not steal them and put them on the 
white paper in the bottom of the old bag? 

"I ll fill the bag first and get what money 
I can, and then I ll go to the picture show." 

Few could withstand the appealing, mis 
shapen figure, with the ragged dress and 
piteous face. As noon approached, there 
was enough in the bag to satisfy Gaon, and 
she turned her steps toward the shop, in 
the direction Joel had given. 

It was not hard to find. Some distance 
away she caught the gold gleam of a frame, 
and saw a crowd upon the walk. When she 
reached the edge of the crowd, she was 
obliged to put her burden down and pause 
for breath. Noon was at hand and the 
people were beginning to leave. Soon she 
dared to creep forward and look up. 

Oh, never-to-be-forgotten moment! Won 
drous vision! The gold frame filled the 
window from side to side. Within it, float 
ing downward across a well-nigh endless 
vista of clouds and radiant mists, tenderly 



up -curling and fleecily white, yet which 
seemed to be just on the point of bursting 
into the brilliancy of sunlight, or into some 
more delicate, multi-colored efflorescence of 
light, was a figure a figure of a man of 
divinest beauty. His blue robe edged with 
gold floated gently on the roseate air. 
About his head was a circle of light, as if 
there an immortal sun was about to rise, 
and his hands were outstretched in the 
blessing of prayer. 

It is strange," thought Rahel, "that his 
hands are held right out toward me." She 
looked about for verification. "Yes, they 
are held right out toward me and not toward 
any of the others. And his eyes, too, are 
looking down into mine." 
/ As she stood and looked up at the sweet, : 
\ sad eyes, and they looked back tenderly 
into hers, a feeling of grief cramped her 
heart, grief for the mother-love she had 
never known, for the careless merriment of 
childhood lost and gone, for the stonings, 




the taunts, the jeers, the insults; for the 
cruel beatings, the enforced fasts, the insuf 
ficient food; the cold, damp room where 
she slept on a pile of rags and wept herself 
to sleep, and where, in her timid childhood, 
she had suffered agonies of fear of the dark 
and the storms and the wind. She felt that 
the pictured One above was sorry ; that He 
pitied her and suffered too; that He knew it 
all, understood it all; and tears came to 
her eyes and fell down, one by one, like 
crystals, on the walk. She felt as the child 
feels who runs to its mother s skirts, sure 
of protection and comfort. 

The beam of love melted the hardened 
anguish of her heart and gave it voice, as 
sun melts silent snow-fields and makes way 
for the " green murmur " of summer. She 
stood and wept, and her heart \\ as lightened. 
Her grief melted away and vanished in the 
mist of tears. Passers-by jostled her, but 
she did not feel them. The noon hour 
passed nor did hunger remind her of it, nor 
[ 306 ] 



weariness warn that she had stood for a 
long time. The ineffable face which has 
smiled its peace adown the bitterness of the 
ages smiled into hers, and the miracle of 
love was wrought anew. 

She could not drag herself away from the 
picture; she could not look enough. She 
drank in its meaning, its caressing sympathy, 
its all-pervading kindliness, greedily. It was 
for this that she had thirsted, as a traveler 
in a stony desert thirsts for water; for what 
is love but the thirst of the soul? 

"I can make me a picture just like that! " 
she thought, with a thrill of pleasure. 

Inspired by this resolve, she went around 
to a side street, took out the drawing-paper 
and pencils and, seating herself upon the 
old bag, went to work. 

"I will make it just like that, only be 
neath I will paint the Sea of Galilee." 

When the picture was sketched in, she 
left the clothes-bag with a Jewish fruit- 
seller, and went back to compare her work 



with the original; changing and correcting 
until the pencil sketch was a perfect likeness 
in miniature. 

On the way home, she meditated upon 
ways and means of executing the plan. 
How could she get a piece of canvas large 
enough, and when she got it, where could 
she put it? Gaon must not know, nor any 
one in the quarter. 

As she neared the Ghetto and saw in the 
distance the complicated twisted gables of 
the old house, like a flash the problem solved 
itself. The two rooms occupied by Gaon 
and Deborah were on the first floor. Out 
of the rear of these rooms a rickety stairway, 
clinging to one wall, led to an upper, back 
room, which Rahel occupied. This room, 
whose two outer walls were of stone, belonged 
to an older house, which a wealthy rabbi 
had built for his own use several decades 
before. The front had fallen down and been 
replaced by the present wretched wooden 






The old rabbi s room had been painted 
pale yellow, with the exception of one long, 
white panel reaching nearly to the ceiling, 
which was left unpainted as was the 
custom with the pious for a testimonial 
of the good rabbi s grief at the destruction 
of the Temple and Jerusalem. 

"I will paint it in that panel. Grand 
mother is too feeble and too nearly blind to 
risk the stairs, and Gaon is too busy. He 
has not entered the room for years. It 
will be safe enough there. To-morrow is 
Shabbes, and the next day the Christian 
Sunday; I shall have two days in which 
to begin it." 

When Monday came and she went into 
the city again, it was with the happy con 
sciousness that the great picture was begun. 
She went straight to the shop window in 
order to contemplate the original and take 
from it corrective ideas for her copy. 

The picture was gone, but in its place 
there was another of the same man, almost, 



if not quite, as lovely. This time he was 
sitting in a field of lilies beside a sunny sea. 
She felt dimly, rather than thought, that his 
face was as pure and as beautiful as the 
flowers and did not cause the slightest dis 
cord in the scene s serenity. In front of 
him children played. He was holding his 
arms out toward them invitingly, as if to 
embrace them all, and the world beside, as 
if he would say, "So wide is my love." 
The same gentle, tender smile curved the 
lips, and the eyes were twin stars of love. 

Beneath were some printed words she 
could not read. As she stood lost in con 
templation, a woman came and stood beside 
her in whose face she recognized the old 
indelible marks of the Jewish race. 

The woman was a baptized Jewess, whose 
early days had been passed in the Ghetto, 
and who retained a memory of its Mauschel 

"Who is it?" ventured Rahel timidly, 
pointing to the picture. 




Finding the name unintelligible to the 
strange child, the woman was searching in 
her mind for a circumlocution when 

"Is it a great king?" whispered Rahel, 
in an awed voice. 

: Yes, the greatest King in the world." 

"Where does he live?" 


"Then he is here in Hamburg?" 

"Yes, dear." 


"Yes, right here." 

"What is he doing there in the picture?" 

"Blessing little children. He loves them. 
If they are blind, He touches their eyes and 
they see. If they are ill, He makes them 

"Does he love me?" 

"Yes, dear." 

Again tears came to her eyes and fell upon 
the pavement. 

"Do you think he would make me well 
and straight?" 




"If you love Him, I know He will." 

When Rahel brushed the tears away from 
her eyes, so that she could look up, the kind 
woman was gone. She could not see her in 
any direction and she had forgotten to ask 
where he lived. 

That day she thought of nothing but the 
King. Gaon and his displeasure if she re 
turned with an empty bag vanished like 
mist before the sun. The King ! The King ! 
Her soul was caught up and whirled along in 
an ecstasy of emotion that banished thought 
and fear. 

The divine face which in ages past smiled 
down upon its martyrs insensibility to pain 
and anguish, upon its exiles for faith s sake, 
forgetfulness of home and kindred, and upon 
the mortally injured, the blessed promise of 
a paradise beyond, wrought its old magic 
upon her. Nor weariness, nor hunger, nor 
fear could reach her through Love s fever, 
sent of God. 

"Such a very great king," she reflected, 



"must live in one of those large houses at 
the edge of the city." 

Patiently she limped along the dusty 
roads, the old bag trailing behind, pausing 
at each house that presented a goodly ap 
pearance to inquire, in a language that no 
one could understand, if the King lived there. 
When they shook their heads, she was loth 
to go away, and tried again and again to 
explain. To make up for inability to answer 
her questions, and for the grief and disap 
pointment that lay in her eyes, they gave 
her money. She took it mechanically, not 
knowing what she did. 

For a week she was not seen in the Ghetto. 
The day s long journeys to the outskirts of 
the city made it impossible to reach the 
gate at four, which was closing time. She 
slept in barns and by haystacks, and kind- 
hearted servants fed her 

No large house in the environs was left un- 
visited. As daily the quest became more 
futile, she stopped passers on the streets, 




and with trembling gestures and tearful 
words tried to explain what she wanted to 
know, pointing the while to her poor bent 
back and misshapen hip. She peered into 
the carriages of the rich and scanned each 
passing face. 

Her feet were bruised and bleeding; her 
throat parched with the dust of the road; 
her eyes dim and blurred with the strain of 
looking. But of this she knew nothing, nor 
that the absorbing passion was wasting her 
body and burning up the frail tenement of 
the spirit. 

People became accustomed to seeing the 
strange child with the wild, white face, and 
touched their foreheads significantly when 
they met her. 

A week later, when she turned her steps 
toward the Ghetto, the only thought that 
came to console her for the bitterness of dis 
appointment was that she must surely find 
iiim sometime, because he lived in Ham 
burg. And then, too, he might be away 



on a visit and that kind woman not know 
about it. 

The silver coins served in some slight de 
gree to mollify Gaon s wrath, until she per 
sistently refused to explain the cause of her 
absence. Then he would have beaten her as 
of old, had it not been for the nearness of 
the Passover, and the fact that he wished to 
preserve his serenity of soul, with the hope 
that at that season the vision might be 
vouchsafed him. He made peace with his 
conscience by commanding her to stay at 
home and fast and pray, preceding the feast. 

During these days of punishment, when 
she was confined within her room, she utilized 
every moment of the light, from the first 
faint flush of dawn to the last pallid beam of 
evening, in working upon the picture. Like 
magic it grew beneath her fingers. Each 
stroke of the brush brought nearer to her 
the living figure. She thrilled with the artist s 
incommunicable joy of creation. All her 
life, all her love, all her energy, all her 


longing, she put into the blessed face. She 
poured her soul into it. She robbed her 
frail body of life that it might beam the 

As the painted face took on life and beauty 
and color, and the pulsating glow of reality, 
the frail, gnome-like figure that worked upon 
it, standing upon an old chair placed on top 
of a table, became frailer and more spectral 
looking, and painted with a fiercer and a 
more demoniac energy. The brush flew 
with the fury of inspiration. Each drop of 
paint wrought a miracle and called matter 
into life. The artist s body was wasted 
away until it looked as if a spirit caught up 
in a cobweb of rags was hovering against 
the old rabbi s wall, and painting with the 
marvelous precision of a supernatural power. 
At the end of the two weeks the picture was 
completed and shone like a gem illuminating 
the dingy room. 

When Gaon s good humor returned suf 
ficiently to send Rahel out of the Ghetto 



again, Passion-week had come and its tragic 
gloom hung over the German city. As she 
walked along slowly and feebly, feeling the 
effect of the fast, she caught sight, down the 
old familiar street, of the Sea of Galilee, 
and her heart leaped high with joy at the 
thought that beneath the feet of the King 
she had made it just so blue and sparkling. 

She was too weak to beg. She was too 
weary to walk. She sat down and watched 
the blue water in that happy daze which 
exhaustion brings to the mind. She felt as 
if she were encased in a crystal sphere, against 
which beat vainly the tingling noises of lii e, 
but whose bright surface reflected, soap- 
bubble-wise, color and form with an added 
charm. The world floated off and away, 
and she watched it vaguely, her mind taking 
note of it as of something seen in a dream. 
She did not know how long she sat there. 
Hours were as minutes. The light began to 
slope to westward, warning her of closing 
time. She got up feebly, determined to go 



as far as the window to see the picture. On 
the morrow the Passover began, and she 
would not be permitted to leave the Ghetto 
for eight days. Feebly, dizzily, she dragged 
herself along, her mind a chaos of fragment 
ary thoughts. 

She could see the window some distance 
away, but nothing gleamed in it. On ap 
proaching, what a vision of grief met her 
eyes! The shock brought order to her mind 
and summoned her strength by one mighty 
effort to a consuming realization of grief. 

There, in the deep window recess, which 
was draped in black, just where the glowing 
picture had hung, was a huge cross of snowy 
marble, and upon it, dying, suffering, with 
pitiful wounds upon the hands and feet and 
breast, with a crown of cruel thorns upon 
the gentle brow Oh ! agony beyond ex 
pression The King U 

Now she could never find him, never see 
him! Now he could not lay his hands in 
blessing upon her and make her well ! There 



was no one who pitied her, no one who 
loved her! There was nothing left to live 

When the dimness which overmastering 
emotion causes passed, she looked about at 
the people to see if their grief was equal to 
her own. They were going about busily 
and happily as usual. Bright-haired girls 
tripped by in groups, carrying bouquets of 
gay flowers, and calm matrons led little 
children. Yes, yes, it was all true what 
Gaon had told her: the world outside the gate 
was wicked ! 

Why did they not mourn for him? Why 
did they not cover their heads with the white 
grave cloths and strew upon them ashes? 
Why did they not find the ones who killed 
him and torture them torture them - 
torture them! 

Her grief was transformed into rage. 
Physical exhaustion strung her nerves to the 
pitch of frenzy and sent the wild blood beat 
ing in her brain. 




She threw away the old bag. She pushed 
back hastily the thick hair from her eyes. 
She straightened as best she could the miser 
able bent figure. She turned and faced the 
passers-by and the busy street. She flung 
her long, thin arms upward, as do Judean 
shepherds when they pray, and in that stern 
and ancient tongue which is rich in reproaches 
and the eloquence of vengeance, she cursed 
them. She cursed them in her rage and 
fury at their heartlessness, their wanton 
cruelty, their base ingratitude. 

Shriller and shriller grew her voice, fiercer 
and more unrestrained the unintelligible 
words, which called down upon them the 
vengeance of the stern Hebrew God, who 
would destroy them with the fire of his 
wrath. Her frail body, swaying to and fro 
in the agony of emotion, was all but con 
sumed by the whirlwind of passion that 
swept it. The heat of anger burned and 
withered it as does flame the stubble, and 
she fell forward exhausted, upon the walk. 


Some one picked her up and placed her in 
a neighboring doorway. But what terrible 
grief breathed from her facer! Her eyes, out 
of which the passion had died, were like dim, 
tarnished mirrors, and the pitiful mouth was 
pinched and pale. There was nothing left 
to live for! The sun had gone out and the 
moon was dead and the stars had fallen out 
of heaven. 

When she reached home, she flung herself 
upon the floor and wept. To her grand 
mother s questions and exhortations she was 
deaf. She did not hear them. Nothing 
mattered now. 

Gaon came, his eyes shining with fanati 
cism, and told her that it was the eve of the 
Fourteenth of Nisan, that on the morrow the 
Passover began, and that she must help her 
grandmother prepare the evening meal. To 
his commands she turned unheeding ears. 
Her lifted face expressed the apathy of the 
dead. Her blurred eyes looked through him 
and beyond at something he could not see. 
[321 ] 



When the meal was ready, the cups of 
salted water set on, the bitter herbs, and the 
leg of mutton, Gaon arose and said reverently: 
"Blessed art Thou who hast sanctified us 
by Thy commandments, and hast commanded 
us concerning the removal of the leavened 

He took one of the lighted candles and 
proceeded to search carefully the house, ac 
cording to the command, to make sure that 
nothing forbidden be left during the season 
of the feast. Into every nook and cranny of 
the two rooms he peered, saying after each 
examination that if anything forbidden be 
left unnoticed, it was not his fault and his 
heart was pure. 

When Rahel heard him groping on the 
rickety stairs in the back room, she leaped 
to her feet and followed. 

"Grandfather do not go there! You 
know there can be nothing in my room. Do 
not go there! " 

"I must do as the Law commands." 
. [ 322 J 




"No Grandfather! it is useless the 
stairs are unsafe do not go ! " 

Unheeding her words, he climbed the 
creaking stairs, Rahel following. He flung 
the door open. The draft blew the candle 
flame to gigantic size, illuminating the pic 
ture high upon the opposite wall. In the 
momentary flash of light it was a living form. 
The dingy wall had parted and let in the 
mist-sweet, white, cloud-radiance of night, 
adown which sped toward the trembling, 
aged man the glorious figure of the young 
Messiah. For a moment he was overcome 
by fear and reverence, and awed into silence 
by the majesty of beauty. 

Then his nature reasserted itself. He 
remembered that Rahel had begged him netf 
to come. The truth dawned upon him. His 
face grew cruel and thin. Unspeakable 
anger shone from the narrow little eyes upon 
her who had broken the Law and a second 
time kept him from the vision. A hideous 
Hebrew type became visible beneath the 



mask which habit made. From under the 
snarling, lifted upper lip, long teeth pro 
truded like tusks, and his voice was hoarse 
with wrath. 

"Rahel, did you do that?" 

No answer. 

"Rahel, I say, did you do that?" 

The strain of the day and the past two 
weeks had exhausted her. The face that 
looked back at him was as white and as 
emotionless as the dead. In the dulled eyes 
shone no light of comprehension. 

"God of Abraham! and painted in the 
place sacred to Jerusalem and the Tem 
ple! Never shall I gain the vision never! 
never!" His shrunken body quivered like 
a leaf in the wind. "Now I shall never 
gain the vision!" Tears, pitifulness, a 
world of disappointment, trembled in his 

"I have sinned grievously. I have not kept 
the Law. It says : If thy right hand offend 
thee, cut it off. And I let her live when she 



offended first I let her live Oh, God of 
Abraham I let her live " 

"Do you understand what you have done; 
that you have defiled the house; that you 
have broken the express command of the 
Torah : Thou shalt have no other Gods be 
fore me; that you have kept me from the 
vision? Do you understand?" The old 
anger flashed its wild light over his face and 
rang tempestuously in his voice. "Do you 

" There ! take that ! and that ! " He 
struck her upon the head with all the force 
of his uplifted arm. "I will seal up the door; 
I will disclaim to my God accountability of 
this room and its contents! Now, O God, I 
have done as Thou commandest: If thy 
right hand offend thee, cut it off." 

In falling, Rahel s temple struck a stone 
uncovered of plastering at the foot of the old 
rabbi s wall, and she lay motionless, a thin 
stream of bright blood trickling down her 






After fastening the door and sealing it 
securely and disclaiming, as was the custom 
on the eve of the Fourteenth of Nisan, ac 
countability for anything forbidden found 
beneath his roof, he went back to his blind 
and aged wife, where he said grace with 
fervent solemnity and partook of the sacred 

That night the Hamburg fire broke out. 
The inhabitants of the Ghetto barely escaped. 
They were well-nigh forgotten. When the 
gate-keepers remembered them and let them 
out, they were on the verge of being roasted 
like rats in a trap. 

Among the first to reach the Great Gate and 
wait were Gaon and his wife. Rahel was 
not with them. Faithful to his vow, he had 
left the door of the old rabbi s room sealed 
and fastened. 

The devastation of that terrible fire is a 

matter of history. It is numbered among 

the calamities that have befallen the human 

race. When, days later, the fire had sub- 




sided, nothing of the swarming Ghetto 
buildings was left but charred and crumbling 

When Easter dawned, bright and smiling, 
there still rose from this burnt and blackened 
district wreaths of smoke and white steam, 
up-curling reverently round the base of the 
indestructible stone of the old rabbi s wall 
which, alone, of all the Ghetto, still stood 
erect, ascending like a peace offering of incense 
toward the glorious figure that looked down 
from above, a figure glowing with youth and 
beauty, and framed in the glittering light of 
spring radiant, triumphant, indestructible, 
immortal the King the Hebrew Christ ! 




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