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Maurice Guest by Henry Handel Richardson

Part 1 out of 13

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Part I

S'amor non e che dunque e quel ch'io sento?
Ma s'egli e amor, per Dio, che cosa e quale?



One noon in 189-, a young man stood in front of the new Gewandhaus in
Leipzig, and watched the neat, grass-laid square, until then white and
silent in the sunshine, grow dark with many figures.

The public rehearsal of the weekly concert was just over, and, from
the half light of the warm-coloured hall, which for more than two
hours had held them secluded, some hundreds of people hastened, with
renewed anticipation, towards sunlight and street sounds. There was a
medley of tongues, for many nationalities were represented in the
crowd that surged through the ground-floor and out of the glass doors,
and much noisy ado, for the majority was made up of young people, at
an age that enjoys the sound of its own voice. In black, diverging
lines they poured through the heavy swinging doors, which flapped
ceaselessly to and fro, never quite closing, always opening afresh,
and on descending the shallow steps, they told off into groups, where
all talked at once, with lively gesticulation. A few faces had the
strained look that indicates the conscientious listener; but most of
these young musicians were under the influence of a stimulant more
potent than wine, which manifested itself in a nervous garrulity and a
nervous mirth.

They hummed like bees before a hive. Maurice Guest, who had come out
among the first, lingered to watch a scene that was new to him, of
which he was as yet an onlooker only. Here and there came a member of
the orchestra; with violin-case or black-swathed wind-instrument in
hand, he deftly threaded his way through the throng, bestowing, as he
went, a hasty nod of greeting upon a colleague, a sweep of the hat on
an obsequious pupil. The crowd began to disperse and to overflow in
the surrounding streets. Some of the stragglers loitered to swell the
group that was forming round the back entrance to the building; here
the lank-haired Belgian violinist would appear, the wonders of whose
technique had sent thrills of enthusiasm through his hearers, and
whose close proximity would presently affect them in precisely the
same way. Others again made off, not for the town, with its
prosaic suggestion of work and confinement, but for the freedom of the
woods that lay beyond.

Maurice Guest followed them.

It was a blowy day in early spring. Round white masses of cloud moved
lightly across a deep blue sky, and the trees, still thin and naked,
bent their heads and shook their branches, as if to elude the gambols
of a boisterous playfellow. The sun shone vividly, with restored
power, and though the clouds sometimes passed over his very face, the
shadows only lasted for a moment, and each returning radiance seemed
brighter than the one before. In the pure breath of the wind, as it
gustily swept the earth, was a promise of things vernal, of the tender
beauties of a coming spring; but there was still a keen, delightful
freshness in the air, a vague reminder of frosty starlights and serene
white snow--the untrodden snow of deserted, moon-lit streets--that
quickened the blood, and sent a craving for movement through the
veins. The people who trod the broad, clean roads and the paths of the
wood walked with a spring in their steps; voices were light and high,
and each breath that was drawn increased the sense of buoyancy, of
undiluted satisfaction. With these bursts of golden sunshine, so other
than the pallid gleamings of the winter, came a fresh impulse to life;
and the most insensible was dimly conscious how much had to be made up
for, how much lived into such a day.

Maurice Guest walked among the mossgreen tree-trunks, each of which
vied with the other in the brilliancy of its coating. He was under the
sway of a twofold intoxication: great music and a day rich in promise.
From the flood of melody that had broken over him, the frenzied storms
of applause, he had come out, not into a lamplit darkness that would
have crushed his elation back upon him and hemmed it in, but into the
spacious lightness of a fair blue day, where all that he felt could
expand, as a flower does in the sun.

His walk brought him to a broad stream, which flashed through the wood
like a line of light. He paused on a suspension bridge, and leaning
over the railing, gazed up the river into the distance, at the horizon
and its trees, delicate and feathery in their nakedness against the
sky. Swollen with recent rains and snows, the water came hurrying
towards him--the storm-bed of the little river, which, meandering in
from the country, through pleasant woods, in ever narrowing curves,
ran through the town as a small stream, to be swelled again on
the outskirts by the waters of two other rivers, which joined it at
right angles. The bridge trembled at first, when other people crossed
it, on their way to the woods that lay on the further side, but soon
the last stragglers vanished, and he was alone.

As he looked about, eager to discover beauty in the strip of landscape
that stretched before him--the line of water, its banks of leafless
trees--he was instinctively filled with a desire for something grander,
for a feature in the scene that would answer to his mood. There, where
the water appeared to end in a clump of trees, there, should be
mountains, a gently undulating line, blue with the unapproachable blue
of distance, and high enough to form a background to the view; in
sumer, heavy with haze, melting into the sky; in winter, lined and
edged with snow. From this, his thoughts sprang back to the music he
had heard that morning. All the vague yet eager hopes that had run
riot in his brain, for months past, seemed to have been summed up and
made clear to him, in one supreme phrase of it, a great phrase in C
major, in the concluding movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. First
sounded by the shrill sweet winds, it had suddenly been given out by
the strings, in magnificient unison, and had mounted up and on, to the
jubilant trilling of the little flutes. There was such a courageous
sincerity in this theme, such undauntable resolve; it expressed more
plainly than words what he intended his life of the next few years to
be; for he was full to the brim of ambitious intentions, which he had
never yet had a chance of putting into practice. He felt so ready for
work, so fresh and unworn; the fervour of a deep enthusiasm was
rampant in him. What a single-minded devotion to art, he promised
himself his should be! No other fancy or interest should share his
heart with it, he vowed that to himself this day, when he stood for
the first time on historic ground, where the famous musicians of the
past had found inspiration for their immortal works. And his thoughts
spread their wings and circled above his head; he saw himself already
of these masters' craft, their art his, he wrenching ever new secrets
from them, penetrating the recesses of their genius, becoming one of
themselves. In a vision as vivid as those that cross the brain in a
sleepless night, he saw a dark, compact multitude wait, with breath
suspended, to catch the notes that fell like raindrops from his
fingers; saw himself the all-conspicuous figure, as, with masterful
gestures, he compelled the soul that lay dormant in brass and strings,
to give voice to, to interpret to the many, his subtlest
emotions. And he was overcome by a tremulous compassion with himself
at the idea of wielding such power over an unknown multitude, at the
latent nobility of mind and aim this power implied.

Even when swinging back to the town, he had not shaken himself free of
dreams. The quiet of a foreign midday lay upon the streets, and there
were few discordant sounds, few passers-by, to break the chain of his
thought. He had movememt, silence, space. And as is usual with
active-brained dreamers, he had little or no eye for the real life
about him; he was not struck by the air of comfortable prosperity, of
thriving content, which marked the great commercial centre, and he let
pass, unnoticed, the unfamiliar details of a foreign street, the
trifling yet significant incidents of foreign life. Such impressions
as he received, bore the stamp of his own mood. He was sensible, for
instance, in face of the picturesque houses that clustered together in
the centre of the town, of the spiritual GEMUTLICHKEIT, the absence of
any pomp or pride in their romantic past, which characterises the old
buildings of a German town. These quaint and stately houses, wedged
one into the other, with their many storeys, their steeply sloping
roofs and eye-like roof-windows, were still in sympathetic touch with
the trivial life of the day which swarmed in and about them. He
wandered leisurely along the narrow streets that ran at all angles off
the Market Place, one side of which was formed by the gabled RATHAUS,
with its ground-floor row of busy little shops; and, in fancy, he
peopled these streets with the renowned figures that had once walked
them. He looked up at the dark old houses in which great musicians had
lived, died and been born, and he saw faces that he recognised lean
out of the projecting windows, to watch the life and bustle below, to
catch the last sunbeam that filtered in; he saw them take their daily
walk along these very streets, in the antiquated garments of their
time. They passed him by, shadelike and misanthropic, and seemed to
steal down the opposite side, to avoid his too pertinent gaze. Bluff,
preoccupied, his keen eyes lowered, the burly Cantor passed, as he had
once done day after day, with the disciplined regularity of high
genius, of the honest citizen, to his appointed work in the shadows of
the organ-loft; behind him, one who had pointed to the giant with a
new burst of ardour, the genial little improviser, whose triumphs had
been those of this town, whose fascinating gifts and still more
fascinating personality, had made him the lion of his age. And
it was only another step in this train of half-conscious thought,
that, before a large lettered poster, which stood out black and white
against the reds and yellows of the circular advertisement-column, and
bore the word "Siegfried," Maurice Guest should not merely be filled
with the anticipation of a world of beauty still unexplored, but that
the world should stand to him for a symbol, as it were, of the easeful
and luxurious side of a life dedicated to art--of a world-wide fame;
the society of princes, kings; the gloss of velvet; the dull glow of
gold.--And again, tapering vistas opened up, through which he could
peer into the future, happy in the knowledge, that he stood firm in a
present which made all things possible to a holy zeal, to an
unhesitating grasp.

But it was growing late, and he slowly retraced his steps. In the
restaurant into which he turned for dinner, he was the only customer.
The principal business of the day was at an end; two waiters sat
dozing in corners, and a man behind the counter, who was washing
metal-topped beer-glasses, had almost the whole pile polished bright
before him. Maurice Guest sat down at a table by the window; and, when
he had finished his dinner and lighted a cigarette, he watched the
passers-by, who crossed the pane of glass like the figures in a moving

Suddenly the door opened with an energetic click, and a lady came in,
enveloped in an old-fashioned, circular cloak, and carrying on one arm
a pile of paper-covered music. This, she laid on the table next that
at which the young man was sitting, then took off her hat. When she
had also hung up the unbecoming cloak, he saw that she was young and
slight. For the rest, she seemed to bring with her, into the warm,
tranquil atmosphere of the place, heavy with midday musings, a breath
of wind and outdoor freshness--a suggestion that was heightened by the
quick decisiveness of her movements: the briskness with which she
divested herself of her wrappings, the quick smooth of the hair on
either side, the business-like way in which she drew up her chair to
the table and unfolded her napkin.

She seemed to be no stranger there, for, on her entrance, the younger
and more active waiter had at once sprung up with officious haste, and
almost before she was ready, the little table was newly spread and
set, and the dinner of the day before her. She spoke to the man in a
friendly way as she took her seat, and he replied with a pleased and
smiling respect.

Then she began to eat, deliberately, and with an overemphasised
nicety. As she carried her soup-spoon to her lips, Maurice Guest felt
that she was observing him; and throughout the meal, of which she ate
but little, he was aware of a peculiarly straight and penetrating
gaze. It ended by disconcerting him. Beckoning the waiter, he went
through the business of paying his bill, and this done, was about to
push back his chair and rise to his feet, when the man, in gathering
up the money, addressed what seemed to be a question to him. Fearful
lest he had made a mistake in the strange coinage, Maurice looked up
apprehensively. The waiter repeated his words, but the slight
nervousness that gained on the young man made him incapable of
separating the syllables, which were indistinguishably blurred. He
coloured, stuttered, and felt mortally uncomfortable, as, for the
third time, the waiter repeated his remark, with the utmost slowness.

At this point, the girl at the adjacent table put down her knife and
fork, and leaned slightly forward.

"Excuse me," she said, and smiled. "The waiter only said he thought
you must be a stranger here: DER HERR IST GEWISS FREMD IN LEIPZIG?"
Her rather prominent teeth were visible as she spoke.

Maurice, who understood instantly her pronunciation of the words, was
not set any more at his ease by her explanation. "Thanks very much."
he said, still redder than usual. "I . . . er . . . thought the fellow
was saying something about the money."

"And the Saxon dialect is barbarous, isn't it?" she added kindly. "But
perhaps you have not had much experience of it yet."

"No. I only arrived this morning."

At this, she opened her eyes wide. "Why, you are a courageous person!"
she said and laughed, but did not explain what she meant, and he did
not like to ask her.

A cup of coffee was set on the table before her; she held a lump of
sugar in her spoon, and watched it grow brown and dissolve. "Are you
going to make a long stay?" she asked, to help him over his

"Two years, I hope," said the young man.

"Music?" she queried further, and, as he replied affirmatively: "Then
the Con. of course?"--an enigmatic question that needed to be
explained. "You're piano, are you not?" she went on. "I thought so. It
is hardly possible to mistake the hands"--here she just glanced
at her own, which, large, white, and well formed, were lying on the
table. "With strings, you know, the right hand is as a rule shockingly

He found the high clearness of her voice very agreeable after the deep
roundnesses of German, and could have gone on listening to it. But she
was brushing the crumbs from her skirt, preparatory to rising.

"Are you an old resident here?" he queried in the hope of detaining

"Yes, quite. I'm at the end of my second year; and don't know whether
to be glad or sorry," she answered. "Time goes like a flash.--Now, look
here, as one who knows the ways of the place, would you let me give
you a piece of advice? Yes?--It's this. You intend to enter the
Conservatorium, you say. Well, be sure you get under a good man--that's
half the battle. Try and play privately to either Schwarz or Bendel.
If you go in for the public examination with all the rest, the people
in the BUREAU will put you to anyone they like, and that is disastrous.
Choose your own master, and beard him in his den beforehand."

"Yes . . . and you recommend? May I ask whom you are with?" he said

"Schwarz is my master; and I couldn't wish for a better. But Bendel is
good, too, in his way, and is much sought after by the
Americans--you're not American, are you? No.--Well, the English colony
runs the American close nowadays. We're a regular army. If you don't
want to, you need hardly mix with foreigners as long as you're here.
We have our clubs and balls and other social functions--and our
geniuses--and our masters who speak English like natives . . . But
there!--you'll soon know all about it yourself."

She nodded pleasantly and rose.

"I must be off," she said. "To-day every minute is precious. That
wretched PROBE spoils the morning, and directly it is over, I have to
rush to an organ-lesson--that's why I'm here. For I can't expect a
PENSION to keep dinner hot for me till nearly three o'clock--can I?
Morning rehearsals are a mistake. What?--you were there, too?
Really?--after a night in the train? Well, you didn't get much, did
you, for your energy? A dull aria, an overture that 'belongs in the
theatre,' as they say here, an indifferently played symphony that one
has heard at least a dozen times. And for us poor pianists, not a
fresh dish this season. Nothing but yesterday's remains heated
up again."

She laughed as she spoke, and Maurice Guest laughed, too, not being
able at the moment to think of anything to say.

Getting the better of the waiter, who stood by, napkin on arm, smiling
and officious, he helped her into the unbecoming cloak; then took up
the parcel of music and opened the door. In his manner of doing this,
there may have been a touch of over-readiness, for no sooner was she
outside, than she quietly took the music from him, and, without even
offering him her hand, said a friendly but curt good-bye: almost
before he had time to return it, he saw her hurrying up the street, as
though she had never vouchsafed him word or thought. The abruptness of
the dismissal left him breathless; in his imagination, they had walked
at least a strip of the street together. He stepped off the pavement
into the road, that he might keep her longer in sight, and for some
time he saw her head, in the close-fitting hat, bobbing along above
the heads of other people.

On turning again, he found that the waiter was watching him from the
window of the restaurant, and it seemed to the young man that the
pale, servile face wore a malicious smile. With the feeling of
disconcertion that springs from being caught in an impulsive action we
have believed unobserved, Maurice spun round on his heel and took a
few quick steps in the opposite direction. When once he was out of
range of the window, however, he dropped his pace, and at the next
corner stopped altogether. He would at least have liked to know her
name. And what in all the world was he to do with himself now?

Clouds had gathered; the airy blue and whiteness of the morning had
become a level sheet of grey, which wiped the colour out of
everything; the wind, no longer tempered by the sun, was chilly, as it
whirled down the narrow streets and freaked about the corners. There
was little temptation now to linger on one's steps. But Maurice Guest
was loath to return to the solitary room that stood to him for home,
to shut himself up with himself, inside four walls: and turning up his
coat collar, he began to walk slowly along the curved
GRIMMAISCHESTRASSE. But the streets were by this time black with
people, most of whom came hurrying towards him, brisk and bustling,
and gay, in spite of the prevailing dullness, at the prospect of the
warm, familiar evening. He was continually obliged to step off the
pavement into the road, to allow a bunch of merry, chattering
girls, their cheeks coloured by the wind beneath the dark fur of their
hats, or a line of gaudy capped, thickset students, to pass him by,
unbroken; and it seemed to him that he was more frequently off the
pavement than on it. He began to feel disconsolate among these jovial
people, who were hastening forward, with such spirit, to some end, and
he had not gone far, before he turned down a side street to be out of
their way. Vaguely damped by his environment, which, with the sun's
retreat, had lost its charm, he gave himself up to his own thoughts,
and was soon busily engaged in thinking over all that had been said by
his quondam acquaintance of the dinner-table, in inventing neatly
turned phrases and felicitous replies. He walked without aim, in a
leisurely way down quiet streets, quickly across big thoroughfares,
and paid no attention to where he was going. The falling darkness made
the quaint streets look strangely alike; it gave them, too, an air of
fantastic unreality: the dark old houses, marshalled in rows on either
side, stood as if lost in contemplation, in the saddening dusk. The
lighting of the street-lamps, which started one by one into existence,
and the conflict with the fading daylight of the uneasily beating
flame, that was swept from side to side in the wind like a woman's
hair--these things made his surroundings seem still shadowier and less

He was roused from his reverie by finding himself on what was
apparently the outskirts of the town. With much difficulty he made his
way back, but he was still far from certain of his whereabouts, when
an unexpected turn to the right brought him out on the spacious
AUGUSTUSPLATZ, in front of the New Theatre. He had been in this square
once already, but now its appearance was changed. The big buildings
that flanked it were lit up; the file of droschkes waiting for fares,
under the bare trees, formed a dotted line of lights. A double row of
hanging lamps before the CAFE FRANCAIS made the corner of the
GRIMMAISCHESTRASSE dazzling to the eyes; and now, too, the massive
white theatre was awake as well. Lights shone from all its high
windows, streamed out through the Corinthian columns and low-porched
doorways. Its festive air was inviting, after his twilight wanderings,
and he went across the square to it. Immediately before the theatre,
early corners stood in knots and chatted; programme--and text-vendors
cried and sold their wares; people came hurrying from all directions,
as to a magnet; hastily they ascended the low steps and disappeared
beneath the portico.

He watched until the last late-comer had vanished. Only he was left;
he again was the outsider. And now, as he stood there in the deserted
square, which, a moment before, had been so animated, he had a sudden
sinking of the heart: he was seized by that acute sense of desolation
that lies in wait for one, caught by nightfall, alone in a strange
city. It stirs up a wild longing, not so much for any particular spot
on earth, as for some familiar hand or voice, to take the edge off an
intolerable loneliness.

He turned and walked rapidly back to the small hotel near the railway
station, at which he was staying until he found lodgings. He was tired
out, and for the first time became thoroughly conscious of this; but
the depression that now closed in upon him, was not due to fatigue
alone, and he knew it. In sane moments--such as the present--when
neither excitement nor enthusiasm warped his judgment, he was under no
illusion about himself; and as he strode through the darkness, he
admitted that, all day long, he had been cheating himself in the usual
way. He understood perfectly that it was by no means a matter of
merely stretching out his hand, to pluck what he would, from this tree
that waved before him; he reminded himself with some bitterness that
he stood, an unheralded stranger, before a solidly compact body of
things and people on which he had not yet made any impression. It was
the old story: he played at expecting a ready capitulation of the
whole--gods and men--and, at the same time, was only too well aware of
the laborious process that was his sole means of entry and fellowship.
Again--to instance another of his mental follies--the pains he had been
at to take possession of the town, to make it respond to his forced
interpretation of it! In reality, it had repelled him--yes, he was
chilled to the heart by the aloofness of this foreign town, to which
not a single tie yet bound him.

By the light of a fluttering candle, in the dingy hotel bedroom, he
sat and wrote a letter, briefly announcing his safe arrival. About to
close the envelope, he hesitated, and then, unfolding the sheet of
paper again, added a few lines to what he had written. These cost him
more trouble than all the rest.


He threw himself on the creaking wooden bed and tried to sleep. But
his brain was active, and the street was noisy; people talked late in
the adjoining room, and trod heavily in the one above. It was long
after midnight before the house was still and he fell into an uneasy

Towards morning, he had a strange dream, from which he wakened in a
cold sweat. Once more he was wandering through the streets, as he had
done the previous day, apparently in search of something he could not
find. But he did not know himself what he sought. All of a sudden, on
turning a corner, he came upon a crowd of people gathered round some
object in the road, and at once said to himself, this is it, here it
is. He could not, however, see what it actually was, for the people,
who were muttering to themselves in angry tones, strove to keep him
back. At all costs, he felt, he must get nearer to the mysterious
thing, and, in a spirit of bravado, he was pushing through the crowd
to reach it, when a great clamour arose; every one sprang back, and
fled wildly, shrieking: "Moloch, Moloch!" He did not know in the least
what it meant, but the very strangeness of the word added to the
horror, and he, too, fled with the rest; fled blindly, desperately, up
streets and down, watched, it seemed to him, from every window by a
cold, malignant eye, but never daring to turn his head, lest he should
see the awful thing behind him; fled on and on, through streets that
grew ever vaguer and more shadowy, till at last his feet would carry
him no further: he sank down, with a loud cry, sank down, down, down,
and wakened to find that he was sitting up in bed, clammy with fear,
and that dawn was stealing in at the sides of the window.


In Maurice Guest, it might be said that the smouldering unrest of two
generations burst into flame. As a young man, his father, then a poor
teacher in a small provincial town, had been a prey to certain dreams
and wishes, which harmonised ill with the conditions of his life.
When, for example, on a mild night, he watched the moon scudding a
silvery, cloud-flaked sky; when white clouds sailed swiftly, and soft
spring breezes were hastening past; when, in a word, all things seemed
to be making for some place, unknown, afar-off, where he was not, then
he, too, was seized with a desire to be moving, to strap on a knapsack
and be gone, to wander through foreign countries, to see strange
cities and hear strange tongues, was unconsciously filled with the
desire to taste, lighthearted, irresponsible, the joys and experiences
of the WANDERJAHRE, before settling down to face the
matter-of-factnesss of life. And as the present continually pushed the
realisation of his dreams into the future, he satisfied the immediate
thirst of his soul by playing the flute, and by breathing into the
thin, reedy tones he drew from it, all that he dreamed of, but would
never know. For he presently came to a place in his life where two
paths diverged, and he was forced to make a choice between them. It
was characteristic of the man that he chose the way of least
resistance, and having married, more or less improvidently, he turned
his back on the visions that had haunted his youth: afterwards, the
cares, great and small, that came in the train of the years, drove
them ever further into the background. Want of sympathy in his
home-life blunted the finer edges of his nature; of a gentle and
yielding disposition, he took on the commonplace colour of his
surroundings. After years of unhesitating toil, it is true, the most
pressing material needs died down, but the dreams and ambitions had
died, too, never to come again. And as it is in the nature of things
that no one is less lenient towards romantic longings than he who has
suffered disappointment in them, who has failed to transmute them into
reality, so, in this case, the son's first tentative leanings to a
wider life, met with a more deeply-rooted, though less decisive,
opposition, on the part of the father than of the mother.

But Maurice Guest had a more tenacious hold on life.

The home in which he grew up, was one of those cheerless, middle-class
homes, across which never passes a breath of the great gladness, the
ideal beauty of life; where thought never swings itself above the
material interests of the day gone, the day to come, and existence
grows as timid and trivial as the petty griefs and pleasures that
intersperse it. The days drip past, one by one, like water from a
spout after a rain-shower; and the dull monotony of them benumbs all
wholesome temerity at its core. Maurice Guest had known days of this
kind. For before the irksomeness of the school-bench was well behind
him, he had begun his training as a teacher, and as soon as he had
learnt how to instil his own half-digested knowledge into the minds of
others, he received a small post in the school at which his father
taught. The latter had, for some time, secretly cherished a wish to
send the boy to study at the neighbouring university, to make a
scholar of his eldest son; but the longer he waited, the more
unfavourable did circumstances seem, and the idea finally died before
it was born.

Maurice Guest looked back on the four years he had just come through,
with bitterness; and it was only later, when he was engrossed heart
and soul in congenial work, that he began to recognise, and be vaguely
grateful for, the spirit of order with which they had familiarised
him. At first, he could not recall them without an aversion that was
almost physical: this machine-like regularity, which, in its disregard
of mood and feeling, had something of a divine callousness to human
stirrings; the jarring contact with automaton-like people; his
inadequacy and distaste for a task that grew day by day more painful.
His own knowledge was so hesitating, so uncertain, too slight for
self-confidence, just too much and too fresh to allow him to
generalise with the unthinking assurance that was demanded of him. Yet
had anyone, he asked himself, more obstacles to overcome than he, in
his efforts to set himself free? This silent, undemonstrative father,
who surrounded himself with an unscalable wall of indifference; this
hard-faced, careworn mother, about whose mouth the years had traced
deep lines, and for whom, in the course of a single-handed battle with
life, the true reality had come to be success or failure in the
struggle for bread. What was art to them but an empty name, a pastime
for the drones and idlers of existence? How could he set up his
ambitions before them, to be bowled over like so many ninepins? When,
at length, after much heartburning and conscientious scrupling,
he was mastered by a healthier spirit of self-assertion, which made
him rebel against the uselessness of the conflict, and doggedly
resolve to put an end to it, he was only enabled to stand firm by
summoning to his aid all the strengthening egoism, which is latent in
every more or less artistic nature. To the mother, in her honest
narrowness, the son's choice of a calling which she held to be
unfitting, was something of a tragedy. She allowed no item of her duty
to escape her, and moved about the house as usual, sternly observant
of her daily task, but her lips were compressed to a thin line, and
her face reflected the anger that burnt in her heart, too deep for
speech. In the months that followed, Maurice learnt that the censure
hardest to meet is that which is never put into words, which refuses
to argue or discuss: he chafed inwardly against the unspoken
opposition that will not come out to be grappled with, and overthrown.
And, as he was only too keenly aware, there was more to be faced than
a mere determined aversion to the independence with which he had
struck out: there was, in the first place, a pardonably human sense of
aggrievedness that the eldest-born should cross their plans and
wishes; that, after the year-long care and thought they had bestowed
on him, he should demand fresh efforts from them; and, again, most
harassing of all and most invulnerable, such an entire want of faith
in the powers he was yearning to test--the prophet's lot in the mean
blindness of the family--that, at times, it threatened to shake his
hard-won faith in himself.--But before the winter drew to a close he
was away.

Away!--to go out into the world and be a musican--that was his longing
and his dream. And he never came to quite an honest understanding with
himself on this point, for desire and dream were interwoven in his
mind; he could not separate the one from the other. But when he
weighed them, and allowed them to rise up and take shape before him,
it was invariably in this order that they did so. In reality, although
he himself was but vaguely conscious of the fact, it was to some
extent as means to an end, that, when his eyes had been opened to its
presence, he clutched--like a drowning man who seizes upon a
spar--clutched and held fast to his talent. But the necessary insight
into his powers had first to be gained, for it was not one of those
talents which, from the beginning, strut their little world with the
assurance of the peacock. He was, it is true, gifted with an
instinctive feeling for the value and significance of tones--as
a child he sang by ear in a small, sweet voice, which gained him the
only notice he received at school, and he easily picked out his notes,
and taught himself little pieces, on the old-fashioned, silk-faced
piano, which had belonged to his mother as a girl, and at which, in
the early days of her marriage, she had sung in a high, shrill voice,
the sentimental songs of her youth. But here, for want of incentive,
matters remained; Maurice was kept close at his school-books, and,
boylike, he had no ambition to distinguish himself in a field so
different from that in which his comrades won their spurs. It was only
when, with the end of his schooldays in sight, he was putting away
childish things, that he seriously turned his attention to the piano
and his hands. They were those of the pianist, broad, strong and
supple, and the new occupation soon engrossed him deeply; he gave up
all his spare time to it, and, in a few months, attained so creditable
a proficiency, that he went through a course of instruction with a
local teacher of music, who, scenting talent, dismissed preliminaries
with the assurance of his kind, and initiated his pupil into all that
is false and meretricious in the literature of the piano--the cheaply
pathetic, the tinsel of transcription, the titillating melancholy of
Slavonic dance-music--to leave him, but for an increased agility of
finger, not a whit further forward than he had found him. Then
followed months when the phantom of discontent stalked large through
Maurice's life, grew, indeed, day by day more tangible, more easily
defined; for there came the long, restless summer evenings, when it
seemed as if a tranquil darkness would never fall and bar off the
distant, the unattainable; and as he followed some flat, white country
road, that was lost to sight on the horizon as a tapering line, or
looked out across a stretch of low, luxuriant meadows, the very
placidity of which made heart and blood throb quicker, in a sense of
opposition: then the desire to have finished with the life he knew,
grew almost intolerable, and only a spark was needed to set his
resolve ablaze.

It was one evening when the summer had already dragged itself to a
close, that Maurice walked through a drizzling rain to the
neighbouring cathedral town, to attend a performance of ELIJAH. It was
the first important musical experience of his life, and, carried away
by the volumes of sound, he repressed his agitation so ill, that it
became apparent to his neighbour, a small, wizened, old man, who was
leaning forward, his hands hanging between his knees and his eyes
fixed on the floor, alternately shaking and nodding his head.
In the interval between the parts, they exchanged a few words,
halting, excited on Maurice's part, interrogative on his companion's;
when the performance was over, they walked a part of the way together,
and found so much to say, that often, after this, when his week's work
was behind him, Maurice would cover the intervening miles for the
pleasure of a few hours' conversation with this new friend. In a
small, dark room, the air of which was saturated with tobacco-smoke,
he learned, by degrees, the story of the old musician's life: how,
some thirty years previously, he had drifted into the midst of this
provincial population, where he found it easy to earn enough for his
needs, and where his position was below that of a dancing-master; but
how, long ago, in his youth--that youth of which he spoke with a
far-away tone in his voice, and at which he seemed to be looking out
as at a fading shore--it had been his intention to perfect himself as a
pianist. Life had been against him; when, the resolve was strongest,
poverty and ill-heath kept him down, and since then, with the years
that passed, he had come to see that his place would only have been
among the multitude of little talents, whose destiny it is to imitate
and vulgarise the strivings of genius, to swell the over-huge mass of
mediocrity. And so, he had chosen that his life should he a failure--a
failure, that is, in the eyes of the world; for himself, he judged
otherwise. The truth that could be extracted from words was such a
fluctuating, relative truth. Failure! success!--what WAS success, but a
clinging fast, unabashed by smile or neglect, to that better part in
art, in one's self, that cannot be taken away?--never for a thought's
space being untrue to the ideal each one of us bears in his breast;
never yielding jot or tittle to the world's opinion. That was what it
meant, and he who was proudly conscious of having succeeded thus,
could well afford to regard the lives of others as half-finished and
imperfect; he alone was at one with himself, his life alone was a
harmonious whole.

To Maurice Guest, all this mattered little or not at all; it was
merely the unavoidable introduction. The chief thing was that the old
man had known the world which Maurice so desired to know; he had seen
life, had lived much of his youth in foreign lands, and had the
conversation been skilfully set agoing in this direction, he would lay
a wrinkled hand on his listener's shoulder, and tell him of this
shadowy past, with short hoarse chuckles of pleasure and reminiscence,
which invariably ended in a cough. He painted it in vivid colours, and
with the unconscious heightening of effect that comes natural
to one who looks back upon a happy past, from which the countless
pricks and stings that make up reality have faded, leaving in their
place a sense of dreamy, unreal brightness, like that of sunset upon
distant hills. He told him of Germany, and the gay, careless years he
had spent there, working at his art, years of inspiriting,
untrammelled progress; told him of famous musicians he had seen and
known, of great theatre performances at which he had assisted, of
stirring PREMIERES, long since forgotten, of burning youthful
enthusiasms, of nights sleepless with holy excitement, and days of
fruitful, meditative idleness. Under the spell of these reminiscences,
he seemed to come into touch again with life, and his eyes lit with a
spark of the old fire. At moments, he forgot his companion altogether,
and gazed long and silently before him, nodding and smiling to himself
at the memories he had stirred up in his brain, memories of things
that had long ceased to be, of people who had long been quiet and
unassertive beneath their handful of earth, but for whom alone, the
brave, fair world had once seemed to exist. Then he would lose himself
among strange names, in vague histories of those who had borne these
names, and of what they had become in their subsequent journeyings
towards the light, for which they had set out, side by side, with so
much ardour (and oftenest what he had to tell was a modest
mediocrity); but the greater number of them had lost sight one of the
other; the most inseparable friends had, once parted, soon forgotten.
And the bluish smoke sent upwards as he talked, in clouds and spirals
that mounted rapidly and vanished, seemed to Maurice symbolic of the
brief and shadowy lives that were unrolled before him. But, after all
this, when the lights came, the piano was opened, and then, for an
hour or two, the world was forgotten in a different way. It was here
that the chief landmarks of music emerged from the mists in which, for
Maurice, they had hitherto been enveloped; here he learned that Bach
and Beethoven were giants, and made uncertain efforts at appreciation;
learnt that Gluck was a great composer, Mozart a genius of many parts,
Mendelssohn the direct successor in this line of kings. Sonatas,
symphonies, operas, were hammered out with tremendous force and
precision on the harsh, scrupulously tuned piano; and all were
dominated alike by the hoarse voice of the old man, who never wavered,
never faltered, but sang from beginning to end with all his might.
Each one of the pleasant hours spent in this new world helped to
deepen Maurice's resolution to free himself while there was yet
time; each one gave more clearness and precision to his somewhat
formless desires; for, in all that concerned his art, the nameless old
musician hated his native land, with the hatred of the bigot for those
who are hostile or indifferent to his faith.

With a long and hot-chased goal in sight, a goal towards which our
hearts, in joyous eagerness, have already leapt out, it is astonishing
how easy it becomes to make light of the last, monotonous stretch of
road that remains to be travelled. Is there not, just beyond, a
resting-place?--and cool, green shadows? Events and circumstances which
had hitherto loomed forth gigantic, threatening to crush, now appeared
to Maurice trivial and of little moment; he saw them in other
proportions now, for it seemed to him that he was no longer in their
midst: he stood above them and overlooked them, and, with his eyes
fixed upon a starry future, he joyfully prepared himself for his new
life. What is more, those around him helped him to this altered view
of things. For as the present marched steadily upon the future,
devouring as it went; as the departure this future contained took on
the shape of a fact, the countless details of which called for
attention, it began to be accepted as even the most unpalatable facts
in the long run usually are, with an ungracious resignation in face of
the inevitable. Thus, with all his ardour to be gone, Maurice Guest
came to see the last stage of his home-life almost in a bright light,
and even with a touch of melancholy, as something that was fast
slipping from him, never to be there in all its entirety, exactly as
it now was, again: the last calm hour of respite before he plunged
into the triumphs, but also into the tossings and agitations of the


It was April, and a day such as April will sometimes bring: one of
those days when the air is full of a new, mysterious fragrance, when
the sunshine lies like a flood upon the earth, and high clouds hang
motionless in the far-distant blue--a day at the very heels of which it
would seem that summer was lurking. Maurice Guest stood at his window,
both sides of which were flung open, drinking in the warm air, and
gazing absently up at the stretch of sky, against which the dark
roof-lines of the houses opposite stood out abruptly. His hands were
in his pockets, and, to a light beat of the foot, he hummed softly to
himself, but what, he could not have told: whether some fragment of
melody that had lingered in a niche of his brain and now came to his
lips, or whether a mere audible expression of his mood. The strong,
unreal sun of the afternoon was just beginning to reach the house; it
slanted in, golden, by the side of the window, and threw on the wall
above the piano, a single long bar of light.

He leaned over and looked down into the street far below--still no one
there! But it was only half-past four. He stretched himself long and
luxuriously, as if, by doing so, he would get rid of a restlessness
which arose from repressed physical energy, and also from an
impatience to be more keenly conscious of life, to feel it, as it
were, quicken in him, not unakin to that passionate impulse towards
perfection, which, out-of-doors, was urging on the sap and loosening
firm green buds: he had a day's imprisonment behind him, and all
spring's magic was at work to ferment his blood. How small and close
the room was! He leaned out on the sill, as far out as he could, in
the sun. It was shining full down the street now, gilding the
canal-like river at the foot, and throwing over the tall, dingy houses
on the opposite side, a tawdry brightness, which, unlike that of the
morning with its suggestion of dewy shade, only served to bring out
the shabbiness of broken plaster and paintless window; a shamefaced
yet aggressive shabbiness, where high-arched doorways and wide entries
spoke to better days, and also to a subsequent decay, now openly
admitted in the little placards which dotted them here and there,
bearing the bold-typed words GARCON LOGIS, and dangling bravely
yellow from the windows of the cheap lodgings they proclaimed vacant.
It was very still; the hoarse voice of a fruit-seller crying his wares
in the adjoining streets, was to be heard at intervals, but each time
less distinctly, and from the distance came the faint tones of a
single piano. How different it was in the morning! Then, if, pausing a
moment from his work, he opened the window and leaned out for a brief
refreshment, what a delightful confusion of sounds met his ear! Pianos
rolled noisily up and down, ploughing one through the other, beating
one against the other, key to key, rhythm to rhythm, each in a
clamorous despair at being unable to raise its voice above the rest,
at having to form part of this jumble of discord: some so near at hand
or so directly opposite that, none the less, it was occasionally
possible to follow them through the persistent reiterations of a
fugue, or through some brilliant glancing ETUDE, the notes of which
flew off like sparks; others, further away, of which were audible only
the convulsive treble outbursts and the toneless rumblings of the
bass, now and then cut shrilly through by the piercing sharpness of a
violin, now and then, at quieter moments, borne up and accompanied by
the deep, guttural tones of a neighbouring violoncello. This was
always discovered at work upon scales, uncertain, hesitating scales on
the lower strings, and, heard suddenly, after the other instruments'
genial hubbub, it sounded like some inarticulate animal making uncouth
attempts at expression. At rare intervals there came a lull, and then,
before all burst forth again together, or fell in, one by one, a
single piano or the violin would, like a solo voice in a symphony,
bear the whole burden; or if the wind were in the west, it would
sometimes carry over with it, from the woods on the left, the mournful
notes of a French horn, which some unskilful player had gone out to

This was that new world of which he was now a part--into which he had
been so auspiciously received.

Yes, the beginning and the thousand petty disquiets that go with
beginnings, were behind him; he had made a start, and he believed a
good one--thanks to Dove. He was really grateful to Dove. A chance
acquaintance, formed on one of those early days when he loitered,
timid and unsure, about the BUREAU of the Conservatorium, Dove had
taken him up with what struck even the grateful new-comer as
extraordinary good-nature, going deliberately out of his way to be of
service to him, meeting him at every turn with assistance and advice.
It was Dove who had helped him over the embarrassments of the
examination; it was through Dove's influence that he had obtained a
private interview with Schwarz, and, in Dove's opinion, Schwarz was
the only master in Leipzig under whom it was worth while to study; the
only one who could be relied on to give the exhaustive TECHNIQUE that
was indispensable, without, in the process, destroying what was of
infinitely more account, the individuality, the TEMPERAMENT of the
student. This and more, Dove set forth at some length in their
conversations; then, warming to his work, he would go further: would
go on to speak of phrasings and interpretations; of an artistic use of
the pedals, and the legitimate participation of the emotions; of the
confines of absolute music as touched in the Ninth Symphony: would
refer incidentally to Schopenhauer and make Wagner his authority,
using terms that were new to his hearer, and, now and then, by way of
emphasis, bringing his palm down flat and noiselessly upon the
table.--It had not taken them long to become friends;
fellow-countrymen, of the same age, with similar aims and interests,
they had soon slipped into one of the easy-going friendships of youth.

A quarter to five! As the strokes from the neighbouring church--clock
died away, the melody of Siegfried's horn was whistled up from the
street, and looking over, Maurice saw his friend. He seized his music
and went hastily down the four flights of stairs.

They crossed the river and came to newer streets. It was delightful
out-of-doors. A light breeze met them as they turned, and a few
ragged, fleecy clouds that it was driving up, only made the sky seem
bluer, The two young men walked leisurely, laughing and talking rather
loudly. Maurice Guest had already, in dress and bearing, taken on a
touch of musicianly disorder, but Dove's lengthier residence had left
no trace upon him; he might have stepped that day from the streets of
the provincial English town to which he belonged. His well brushed
clothes sat with an easy inelegance, his tie was small, his linen
clean, and the only concession he made to his surroundings, the
broad-brimmed, soft felt hat, looked oddly out of place on his
close-cut hair. He carried himself erectly, swinging a little on his

As they went, he passed in review the important items of the day:
so-and-so had strained a muscle, so-and-so had spoilt a second piano.
But his particular interest centred upon that evening's
ABENDUNTERHALTUNG. A man named Schilsky, whom it was no
exaggeration to call their finest, very finest violinist was to play
Vieuxtemps' Concerto in D. Dove all but smacked his lips as he spoke
of it. In reply to a query from Maurice, he declared with vehemence
that this Schilsky was a genius. Although so great a violinist, he
could play almost every other instrument with case; his memory had
become a by-word; his compositions were already famous. At the present
moment, he was said to be at work upon a symphonic poem, having for
its base a new and extraordinary book, half poetry, half philosophy, a
book which he, Dove, could confidently assert, would effect a
revolution in human thought, but of which, just at the minute, he was
unable to remember the name. Infected by his friend's enthusiasm,
Maurice here recalled having, only the day before, met some one who
answered to Dove's description: the genial Pole had been storming up
the steps of the Conservatorium, two at a time, with wild, affrighted
eyes, and a halo of dishevelled auburn hair.--Dove made no doubt that
he had been seized with a sudden inspiration.

Gewandhaus and Conservatorium lay close together, in a new quarter of
the town. The Conservatorium, a handsome, stone-faced building, three
lofty storeys high, was just now all the more imposing in appearance
as it stood alone in an unfinished street-block, and as, opposite,
hoardings still shut in all that had yet been raised of the great
library, which would eventually overshadow it. The severe plainness of
its long front, with the unbroken lines of windows, did not fail to
impress the unused beholder, who had not for very long gone daily out
and in; it suggested to him the earnest, unswerving efforts,
imperative on his pursuit of the ideal; an ideal which, to many, was
as it were personified by the concert-house in the adjoining square:
it was hither, towards this clear-limned goal, that bore him, like a
magic carpet, the young enthusiast's most ambitious dream.--But in the
life that swarmed about the Conservatorium, there was nothing of a
tedious austerity. It was one of the briskest times of day, and the
short street and the steps of the building were alive with young
people of both sexes. Young men sauntered to and from the cafe at the
corner, or stood gesticulating in animated groups. All alike were
conspicuous for a rather wilful slovenliness, for smooth faces and
bushy hair, while the numerous girls, with whom they paused to laugh
and trifle, were, for the most part, showy in dress and loudly
vivacious in manner. On the kerbstone, a knot of the latter, tittering
among themselves, shot furtive glances at Dove and Maurice as
they passed. Here, a pretty, laughing face was the centre of a little
circle; there, a bevy of girls clustered about a young man, who, his
hands in his pockets, leaned carelessly against the door-arch; and
again, another, plump and much befeathered, with a string of large
pearlbeads round her fat, white neck, had isolated herself from the
rest, to take up, on the steps, a more favourable stand. A master who
went by, a small, jovial man in a big hat, had a word for all the
girls, even a chuck of the chin for one unusually saucy face. Inside,
classes were filing out of the various rooms, other classes were going
in; there was a noisy flocking up and down the broad, central
staircase, i crowding about the notice-board, a going and coming in
the long, stone corridors. The concert-hall was being lighted.

Maurice slowly made his way through the midst of all these people,
while Dove loitered, or stepped out of hearing, with one friend after
another. In a side corridor, off which, cell like, opened a line of
rooms, they pushed a pair of doubledoors, and went in to take their

The room they entered was light and high, and contained, besides a
couple of grand pianos, a small table and a row of wooden chairs.
Schwarz stood with his back to the window, biting his nails. He was a
short, thickset man, with keen eyes, and a hard, prominent mouth,
which was rather emphasised than concealed, by the fair, scanty tuft
of hair that hung from his chin. Upon the two new-comers, he bent a
cold, deliberate gaze, which, for some instants, he allowed to rest
chillingly on them, then as deliberately withdrew, having--so at least
it seemed to those who were its object--having, without the tremor of
an eyelid, scanned them like an open page: it was the look,
impenetrable, all-seeing, of the physician for his patient. At the
piano, a young man was playing the Waldstein Sonata. So intent was he
on what he was doing, that his head all but touched the music standing
open before him, while his body, bent thus double, swayed vigorously
from side to side. His face was crimson, and on his forehead stood out
beads of perspiration. He had no cuffs on, and his sleeves were a
little turned back. The movement at an end, he paused, and drawing a
soiled handkerchief from his pocket, passed it rapidly over neck and
brow. In the ADAGIO which followed, he displayed an extreme delicacy
of touch--not, however, but what this also cost him some exertion, for,
previous to the striking of each faint, soft note, his hand described
a curve in the air, the finger he was about to use, lowered,
the others slightly raised, and there was always a second of something
like suspense, before it finally sank upon the expectant note. But
suddenly, without warning, just as the last, lingering tones were
dying to the close they sought, the ADAGIO slipped over into the
limpid gaiety of the RONDO, and then, there was no time more for
premeditation: then his hands twinkled up and down, joining, crossing,
flying asunder, alert with little sprightly quirks and turns, going
ever more nimbly, until the brook was a river, the allegretto a
prestissimo, which flew wildly to its end amid a shower of dazzling

Schwarz stood grave and apparently impassive; from time to time,
however, when unobserved, he swept the three listeners with a rapid
glance. Maurice Guest was quite carried away; he had never heard
playing like this, and he leaned forward in his seat, and gazed full
at the player, in open admiration. But his neighbour, a pale, thin
man, with one of those engaging and not uncommon faces which, in mould
of feature, in mildness of expression, and still more in the cut of
hair and beard, bear so marked a likeness to the conventional
Christ-portrait: this neighbour looked on with only a languid
interest, which seemed unable to get the upper hand of melancholy
thoughts. Maurice, who believed his feelings shared by all about him,
was chilled by such indifference: he only learned later, after they
had become friends, that nothing roused in Boehmer a real or lasting
interest, save what he, Boehmer, did himself. Dove sat absorbed, as
reverent as if at prayer; but there were also moments when, with his
head a little on one side, he wore an anxious air, as if not fully at
one with the player's rendering; others again, after a passage of
peculiar brilliancy, when he threw at Schwarz a humbly grateful look.
While Schwarz, the sonata over, was busy with his pencil on the margin
of the music, Dove leaned over to Maurice and whispered behind his
hand: "Furst--our best pianist."

Now came the turn of the others, and the master's attention wandered;
he stretched himself, yawned, and sighed aloud, then, in the search
for something he could not find, turned out on the lid of the second
piano the contents of sundry pockets. While Dove played, he wrote as
if for life in a bulky notebook.

Maurice remarked this without being properly conscious of it, so
impressed had he been by the sonata. The exultant beauty of the
great final theme had permeated his every fibre, inciting him,
emboldening him, and, still under the sway of this little elation when
his own turn to play came, he was the richer by it, and acquitted
himself with unusual verve.

As the class was about to leave the room, Schwarz signed to Maurice to
remain behind. For several moments, he paced the floor in silence;
then he stopped suddenly short in front of the young man, and, with
legs apart, one hand at his back, he said in a tone which wavered
between being brutal and confidential, emphasising his words with a
series of smart pencil-raps on his hearer's shoulder:

"Let me tell you something: if I were not of the opinion that you had
ability, I should not detain you this evening. It is no habit of mine,
mark this, to interfere with my pupils. Outside this room, most of
them do not exist for me. In your case, I am making an exception,
because . . ."--Maurice was here so obviously gratified that the
speaker made haste to substitute: "because I should much like to know
how it is that you come to me in the state you do." And without
waiting for a reply: "For you know nothing, or, let us say, worse than
nothing, since what you do know, you must make it your first concern
to forget." He paused, and the young man's face fell so much that he
prolonged the pause, to enjoy the discomfiture he had produced. "But
give me time," he continued, "adequate time, and I will undertake to
make something of you." He lowered his voice, and the taps became more
confidential. "There is good stuff here; you have talent, great
talent, and, as I have observed to-day, you are not wanting in
intelligence. But," and again his voice grew harsher, his eye more
piercing, "understand me, if you please, no trifling with other
studies; let us have no fiddling, no composing. Who works with me,
works for me alone. And a lifetime, I repeat it, a lifetime, is not
long enough to master such an instrument as this!"

He brought his hand down heavily on the lid of the piano, and glared
at Maurice as if he expected the latter to contradict him. Then,
noisily clearing his throat, he began anew to pace the room.

As Maurice stood waiting for his dismissal, with very varied feelings,
of which, however, a faint pride was uppermost; as he stood waiting,
the door opened, and a girl looked in. She hesitated a moment, then
entered, and going up to Schwarz, asked him something in a low voice.
He nodded an assent, nodded two or three times, and with quite
another face; its hitherto unmoved severity had given way to an
indulgent friendliness. She laid her hat and jacket on the table, and
went to the piano.

Schwarz motioned Maurice to a chair. He sat down almost opposite her.

And now came for him one of those moments in life, which,
unlooked-for, undivined, send before them no promise of being
different, in any way, from the commonplace moments that make up the
balance of our days. No gently graduated steps lead up to them: they
are upon us with the violent abruptness of a streak of lightning, and
like this, they, too, may leave behind them a scarry trace. What such
a moment holds within it, is something which has never existed for us
before, something it has never entered our minds to go out and
seek--the corner of earth, happened on by chance, which comes most near
the Wineland of our dreams; the page, idly perhaps begun, which brings
us a new god; the face of the woman who is to be our fate--but,
whatever it may be, let it once exist for us, and the soul responds
forthwith, catching in blind haste at the dimly missed ideal.

For one instant Maurice Guest had looked at the girl before him with
unconcern, but the next it was with an intentness that soon became
intensity, and feverishly grew, until he could not tear his eyes away.
The beauty, whose spell thus bound him, was of that subtle kind which
leaves many a one cold, but, as if just for this reason, is almost
always fateful for those who feel its charm: at them is lanced its
accumulated force. The face was far from faultless; there was no
regularity of feature, no perfection of line, nor was there more than
a touch of the sweet girlish freshness that gladdens like a morning in
May. The features, save for a peremptory turn of mouth and chin, were
unremarkable, and the expression was distant, unchanging . . . but
what was that to him? This deep white skin, the purity of which was
only broken by the pale red of the lips; this dull black hair, which
lay back from the low brow in such wonderful curves, and seemed, of
itself, to fall into the loose knot on the neck--there was something
romantic, exotic about her, which was unlike anything he had ever
seen: she made him think of a rare, hothouse flower; some scentless,
tropical flower, with stiff, waxen petals. And then her eyes! So
profound was their darkness that, when they threw off their covering
of heavy lid, it seemed to his excited fancy as if they must
scorch what they rested on; they looked out from the depths of their
setting like those of a wild beast crouched within a cavern; they lit
up about them like stars, and when they fell, they went out like
stars, and her face took on the pallor of early dawn.

She was playing from memory. She gazed straight before her with
far-away eyes, which only sometimes looked down at her hands, to aid
them in a difficult passage. At her belt, she wore a costly yellow
rose, and as she once leaned towards the treble, where both hands were
at work close together, it fell to the floor. Maurice started forward,
and picking it up, laid it on the piano; beneath the gaslight, it sank
a shadowy gold image in the mirror-like surface. As yet she had paid
no heed to him, but, at this, she turned her head, and, still
continuing to play, let her eyes rest absently on him.

They sank their eyes in each other's. A thrill ran through Maurice, a
quick, sharp thrill, which no sensation of his later life outdid in
keenness and which, on looking back, he could always feel afresh. The
colour rose to his face and his heart beat audibly, but he did not
lower his eyes, and for not doing so, seemed to himself infinitely
bold. A host of confused feelings bore down upon him, well-nigh
blotting out the light; but, in a twinkling, all were swallowed up in
an overpowering sense of gratitude, in a large, vague, happy
thankfulness, which touched him almost to the point of tears. As it
swelled through him and possessed him, he yearned to pour it forth, to
make an offering of this gratefulness--fine tangle of her beauty and
his own glad mood--and, by sustaining her look, he seemed to lay the
offering at her feet. Nor would any tongue have persuaded him that she
did not understand. The few seconds were eternities: when she turned
away it was as if untold hours had passed over him in a body, like a
flight of birds; as if a sudden gulf had gaped between where he now
was and where he had previously stood.

Dismissed curtly, with a word, he hung about the corridor in the hope
of seeing her again; but the piano went on and on, unceasingly. Here,
after some time, he was found by Dove, who carried him off with loud
expressions of surprise.

The concert was more than half over. The main part of the hall was
brightly lit and full of people: from behind, one looked across a sea
of heads. On the platform at the other end, a girl in red was playing
a sonata; a master sat by her side, and leant forward, at regular
intervals, to turn the leaves of the music. Dove and Maurice
remained standing at the back, under the gallery, among a portion of
the audience which shifted continuously: those about them wandered in
and out of the hall at pleasure, now inside, head in hand, critically
intent, now out in the vestibule, stretching their legs, lounging in
easy chat. In the pause that followed the sonata, Dove went towards
the front, to join some ladies who beckoned him, and, while some one
sang a noisy aria, Maurice gave himself up to his own thoughts. They
all led to the same point: how he should contrive to see her again,
how he should learn her name, and, beside them, everything else seemed
remote, unreal; he saw the people next him as if from a distance. But
in a wait that was longer than usual, he was awakened to his
surroundings: a stir ran over the audience, like a gust of wind over
still water; the heads in the seats before him inclined one to
another, wagged and nodded; there was a gentle buzz of voices. Behind
him, the doors opened and shut, letting in all who were outside: they
pressed forward expectantly. On his left, a row of girls tried to
start a round of applause and tittered nervously at their failure.
Schilsky had come down the platform and commenced tuning. He bent his
long, thin body as he pressed his violin to his knee, and his reddish
hair fell over his face. The accompanist, his hands on the keys,
waited for the signal to begin.

Maurice drew a deep breath of anticipation. But the first shrill,
sweet notes had hardly cut the silence, when, the door opening once
more, some one entered and pushed through the standing crowd. He
looked round, uneasy at the disturbance, and found that it was she:
what is more, she came up to his very side. He turned away so hastily
that he touched her arm, causing it to yield a little, and some
moments went by before he ventured to look again. When he did, in some
tremor, he saw that, without fear of discovery, he might look as long
or as often as he chose. She was listening to the player with the
raptness of a painted saint: her whole face listened, the tightened
lips, the open nostrils, the wide, vigilant eyes. Maurice, lost in her
presence, grew dizzy with the scent of her hair--that indefinable
odour, which has something of the raciness in it of new-turned
earth--and foolish wishes arose and jostled one another in his mind: he
would have liked to plunge both hands into the dark, luxuriant mass;
still better, cautiously to draw his palm down this whitest skin,
which, seen so near, had a faint, satin-like sheen. The mere
imagining of it set him throbbing, and the excitement in his blood was
heightened by the sensuous melancholy of the violin, which, just
beyond the pale of his consciousness, throbbed and languished with him
under the masterful bow.

Shortly before the end of the concerto, she turned and made her way
out. Maurice let a few seconds elapse, then followed. But the long
white corridors stretched empty before him; there was no trace of her
to he seen. As he was peering about, in places that were strange to
him, a tumult of applause shook the hall, the doors flew open and the
audience poured out.

Dove had joined other friends, and a number of them left the building
together; everyone spoke loudly and at once. But soon Maurice and Dove
outstepped their companions, for these came to words over the means
used by Schilsky to mount, with bravour, a certain gaudy scale of
octaves, and, at every second pace, they stopped, and wheeled round
with eloquent gesture. In their presence Dove had said little; now he
gave rein to his feelings: his honest face glowed with enthusiasm, the
names of renowned players ran off his lips like beads off a string,
and, in predicting Schilsky a career still more brilliant, his voice
grew husky with emotion.

Maurice listened unmoved to his friend's outpouring, and the first
time Dove stopped for breath, went straight for the matter which, in
his eyes, had dwarfed all others. So eager was he to learn something
of her, that he even made shift to describe her; his attempt fell out
lamely, and a second later he could have bitten off his tongue.

Dove had only half an ear for him.

"Eh? What? What do you say?" he asked as Maurice paused; but his
thoughts were plainly elsewhere. This fact is, just at this moment, he
was intent on watching some ladies: were they going to notice him or
not? The bow made and returned, he brought his mind back to Maurice
with a great show of interest.

Here, however, they all turned in to Seyffert's Cafe and, seating
themselves at a long, narrow table, waited for Schilsky, whom they
intended to fete. But minutes passed, a quarter, then half of an hour,
and still he did not come. To while the time, his playing of the
concerto was roundly commented and discussed. There was none of the
ten or twelve young men but had the complete jargon of the craft at
his finger-tips; not one, too, but was rancorous and admiring in a
breath, now detecting flaws as many as motes in a beam, now
heaping praise. The spirited talk, flying thus helter-skelter through
the gamut of opinion, went forward chiefly in German, which the
foreigners of the party spoke with various accents, but glibly enough;
only now and then did one of them spring over to his mother-tongue, to
fetch a racy idiom or point a joke.

Not having heard a note of Schilsky's playing, Maurice did not trust
himself to say much, and so was free to observe his right-hand
neighbour, a young man who had entered late, and taken a vacant chair
beside him. To the others present, the new-comer paid no heed, to
Maurice he murmured an absent greeting, and then, having called for
beer and emptied his glass at a draught, he appeared mentally to
return whence he had come, or to engage without delay in some urgent
train of thought. His movements were noiseless, but startlingly
abrupt. Thus, after sitting quiet for a time, his head in his hands,
he flung back in his seat with a sort of wildness, and began to stare
fixedly at the ceiling. His face was one of those, which, as by a
mystery, preserve the innocent beauty of their childhood, long after
childhood is a thing of the past: delicate as the rosy lining of a
great sea-shell was the colour that spread from below the forked blue
veins of the temples, and it paled and came again as readily as a
girl's. Girlish, too, were the limpid eyes, which, but for a trick of
dropping unexpectedly, seemed always to be gazing, in thoughtful
surprise, at something that was visible to them alone. As to the
small, frail body, it existed only for sake of the hands: narrow
hands, with long, fleshless fingers, nervous hands, that were never

All at once, in a momentary lull, he leant towards Maurice, and,
without even looking up, asked the latter if he could recall the
opening bars of the prelude to TRISTAN UND ISOLDE. If so, there was a
certain point he would like to lay before him.

"You see, it's this way, old fellow," he said confidentially. "I've
come to the conclusion that if, at the end of the third bar, Wagner

"Throw him out, throw him out!" cried an American who was sitting
opposite them. "You might as well try to stop a nigger in heat as
Krafft on Wagner."

"That's so," said another American named Ford, who, on arriving, had
not been quite sober, and now, after a few glasses of beer, was
exceedingly tipsy. "That's so. As I've always said, it's a disgrace to
the township, a disgrace, sir. Ought to be put down. Why don't he
write them himself?"

From the depths of his brown study, Krafft looked vaguely at the
speakers, and checked, but not discomposed, drew out a notebook and
jotted down an idea.

Meanwhile, at the far end of the table, Boehmer and a Russian
violinist still harped upon the original string. And, having worked
out Schilsky, they passed on to Zeppelin, his master, and the Russian,
who was not Zeppelin's pupil, set to showing with vehemence that his
"method" was a worthless one. He was barely started when a wiry
American, in a high, grating voice, called Schilsky a wretched fool:
why had he not gone to Berlin at Easter, as he had planned, instead of
dawdling on here where he had no more to gain? At this, several of the
young men laughed and looked significant. Furst--he had proved to be a
jolly little man, who, with unbuttoned vest, absorbed large quantities
of beer and perspired freely--Furst alone was of the opinion, which he
expressed forcibly, in his hearty Saxon dialect, that had Schilsky
left Leipzig at this particular time, he would have been a fool

"Look here, boys," he cried, pounding the table to get attention.
"That's all very well, but he must have an eye to the practical side
of things, too----"

"DER BIEDERE SACHSE HOCH!" threw in Boehmer, who was Prussian, and of
a more ideal cast of mind.

"--and a chance such as this, he will certainly never have again. A
hundred thousand marks, if a pfennig, and a face to turn after in the
street! No, he is a confounded deal wiser to stay here and make sure
of her, for that sort is as slippery as an eel."

"Krafft can tell us; he let her go; is she?--is it true?" shouted half
a dozen.

Krafft looked up and winked. His reply was so gross and so witty that
there was a very howl of mirth.

"KRAFFT HOCH, HOCH KRAFFT!" they cried, and roared again, until the
proprietor, a mild, round-faced man, who was loath to meddle with his
best customers, advanced to the middle of the floor, where he stood
smiling uneasily and rubbing his hands.

But it was growing late.

"Why the devil doesn't he come?" yawned Boehmer.

Perhaps," said Dove, mouthing deliberately as if he had a good
thing on his tongue; perhaps, by now, he is safe in the arms of----"

"Jesus or Morpheus?" asked a cockney 'cellist.

"Safe in the arms of Jesus!" sang the tipsy pianist; but he was
outsung by Krafft, who, rising from his seat, gave with dramatic

O sink' hernieder,
Nacht der Liebe,
gieb Vergessen,
dass ich lebe . . .

After this, with much laughter and ado, they broke up to seek another
cafe in the heart of the town, where the absinthe was good and the
billiard-table better, two of his friends supporting Ford, who was
testily debating with himself why a composer should compose his own
works. At the first corner, Maurice whispered a word to Dove, and,
unnoticed by the rest, slipped away. For some time, he heard the sound
of their voices down the quiet street. A member of the group, in
defiance of the night, began to sing; and then, just as one bird is
provoked by another, rose a clear, sweet voice he recognised as
Krafft's, in a song the refrain of which was sung by all:

Give me the Rose of Sharon,
And a bottle of Cyprus wine!

What followed was confused, indistinct, but over and over again he

. . . the Rose of Sharon,
. . . a bottle of Cyprus wine!

until that, too, was lost in the distance.

When he reached his room, he did not light the lamp, but crossed to
the window and stood looking out into the darkness. The day's
impressions, motley as the changes of a kaleidoscope, seethed in his
brain, clamoured to be recalled and set in order; but he kept them
back; he could not face the task. He felt averse to any mental effort,
in need of a repose as absolute as the very essence of silence itself.
The sky was overcast; a wayward breeze blew coolly in upon him and
refreshed him; a few single raindrops fell. In the air a gentle
melancholy was abroad, and, as he stood there, wax for any
passing mood, it descended on him and enveloped him. He gave himself
up to it, unresistingly, allowed himself to toy with it, to sink
beneath it. Just, however, as he was sinking, sinking, he was roused,
suddenly, as from sleep, by the vivid presentiment that something was
about to happen to him: it seemed as if an important event were
looming in the near distance, ready to burst in upon his life, and not
only instantly, but with a monstrous crash of sound. His pulses beat
more quickly, his nerves stretched, like bows. But it was very still;
everything around him slept, and the streets were deserted.

A keen sense of desolation came over him; never, in his life, had he
felt so utterly alone. In all this great city that spread, ocean-like,
around him, not a heart was the lighter for his being there. Oh, to
have some one beside him!--some one who would talk soothingly to him,
of shadowy, far-off things, or, still better, be merely a sympathetic
presence. He passed rapidly in review people he had known, saw their
faces and heard their voices, but not one of them would do. No, he
wanted a friend, the friend he had often dreamed of, whose thoughts
would be his thoughts, with whom there would be no need of speech.
Then his longing swelled, grew fiercer and more undefined, and a
sudden burst of energy convulsed him and struggled to find vent. His
breath came hard, and he stretched his arms out into the night,
uncertainly, as if to grasp something he did not see; but they fell to
his side again. He would have liked to sweep through the air, to feel
the wind rushing dizzily through him; or to be set down before some
feat that demanded the strength of a Titan--anything, no matter what,
to be rid of the fever in his veins. But it beset him, again and
again, only by slow degrees weakening and dying away.

A bitter moisture sprang to his eyes. Leaning his head on his arms, he
endeavoured to call up her face. But it was of no use, though he
strained every nerve; for some time he could see only the rose that
had lain beside her on the piano, and in the troubled image that at
last crowned his patience, her eyes looked out, like jewels, from a
setting of golden petals.

Lying wakeful in the darkness, he saw them more clearly. Now, though,
they had a bluish light, were like moons, moons that burnt. If he lit
the lamp and tried to read, they got between him and the book, and
danced up and down the pages, with jerky, clockwork movements, like
stage fireflies. He put the light out, and lay staring vacantly
at the pale square of the window. And then, just when he was least
expecting it, he saw the whole face, so close to him and so
distinctly, that he started up on his elbow; and in the second or two
it remained--a Medusa-face, opaquely white, with deep, unfathomable
eyes--he recognised, with a shock, that his peace of mind was gone;
that the sudden experience of a few hours back had given his life new
meaning; that something had happened to him which could not be undone;
in other words--with an incredulous gasp at his own folly--that he was
head over ears in love.

Through the uneasy sleep into which he ultimately fell, she, and the
yellow rose, and the Rose of Sharon--a giant flower, with monstrous
crimson petals--passed and repassed, in one of those glorious tangles,
which no dreamer has ever unravelled.

When he wakened, it was broad daylight, and things wore a different
aspect. Not that his impression of the night had faded, but it was
forced to retire behind the hard, clear affairs of the morning. He got
up, full of vigour, impatient to be at work, and having breakfasted,
sat down at the piano, where he remained until his hands dropped from
the keys with fatigue. Throughout these hours, his mind ran chiefly on
the words Schwarz had said to him, the previous evening. They rose
before him in their full significance, and he leisurely chewed the
honeyed cud of praise. "I will undertake to make something of you,
undertake to make something of you"--his brain tore the phrase to
tatters. "Something" was properly vague, as praise should be, and
allowed the imagination free scope. Under the stimulus, everything
came easy; he mastered a passage of bound sixths that had baffled him
for days. And in this elated frame of mind, there was something almost
pleasurable in the pang with which he would become conscious of a
shadow in the background, a spot on his sun to make him unhappy.

Unhappy?--no: it gave a zest to his goings--out and comings-in. Through
long hours of work he was borne up by an ardent hope: afterwards, he
might see her. It made the streets exciting places of possible
surprises. Might she not, at any moment, turn the corner and be before
him? Might she not, this very instant, be going in the same direction
as he, in the next street? But a very little of this pleasant dallying
with chance was enough. One morning, when the houses opposite
were ablaze with sunshine, and he had settled down to practice with a
keen relish for the obstacles to be overcome; on this morning, within
half an hour, his mood swung round to the other extreme, and, from now
on, his desire to see her again was a burning unrest, which roused him
from sleep, and drove him out, at odd hours, no matter what he was
doing. Moodily he scoured the streets round the Conservatorium,
disconcerted by his own folly, and pricked incessantly by the
consciousness of time wasted. A companion at his side might have
dispelled the cobwebs; but Dove, his only friend, he avoided, for the
reason that Dove's unfailing good spirits needed to be met with a
similiar mood. And as for speaking of the matter, the mere thought of
the detailed explanation that would now be necessary, did he open his
lips, filled him with dismay. When four or five days had gone by in
this manner, without result, he took to hanging about, with other
idlers, on the steps of the Conservatorium, always hoping that she
would suddenly emerge from the doors behind him, or come towards him,
a roll of music in her hand.

But she never came.

One afternoon, however, as he loitered there, he encountered his
acquaintance of the very first day. He recognised her while she was
still some distance off, by her peculiar springy gait; at each step,
she rose slightly on the front part of her foot, as if her heels were
on springs. As before, she was indifferently dressed; a small, close
hat came down over her face and hid her forehead; her skirt seemed
shrunken, and hung limp about her ankles, accentuating the
straightness of her figure. But below the brim of the hat her eyes
were as bright as ever, and took note of all that happened. On seeing
Maurice, she professed to remember him "perfectly," beginning to speak
before she had quite come up to him.

The following day they met once more at the same place. This time, she
raised her eyebrows.

"You here again?" she said.

She disappeared inside the building; but a few minutes later returned,
and said she was going for a walk: would he come, too?

He assented, with grateful surprise, and they set off together in the
direction of the woods, as briskly as though they were on an errand.
But when they had crossed the suspension-bridge and reached the
quieter paths that ran through the NONNE, they simultaneously
slackened their pace. The luxuriant undergrowth of shrub, which filled
in, like lacework, the spaces between the tree-trunks, was sprinkled
with its first dots and pricks of green, and the afternoon was
pleasant for walking--sunless and still, and just a little fragrantly
damp from all the rife budding and sprouting. It was a day to further
a friendship more effectually than half a dozen brighter ones; a day
on which to speak out thoughts which a June sky, the indiscreet
playing of full sunlight, even the rustling of the breeze in the
leaves might scare, like fish, from the surface.

When they had laughingly introduced themselves to each other Maurice
Guest's companion talked about herself, with a frankness that left
nothing to be desired, and impressed the young man at her side very
agreeably. Before they had gone far, he knew all about her. Her name
was Madeleine Wade; she came from a small town in Leicestershire, and,
except for a step-brother, stood alone in the world. For several
years, she had been a teacher in a large school near London, and the
position was open for her to return to, when she had completed this,
the final year of her course. Then, however, she would devote herself
exclusively to the teaching of music, and, with this in view, she had
here taken up as many branches of study as she had time for. Besides
piano, which was her chief subject, she learned singing, organ,
counterpoint, and the elements of the violin.

"So much is demanded nowadays," she said in her dear soprano. "And if
you want to get on, it doesn't do to be behindhand. Of course, it
means hard work, but that is nothing to me--I am used to work and love
it. Since I was seventeen--I am twenty-six now--I can fairly say I have
never got up in the morning, without having my whole day mapped and
planned before me.--So you see idlers can have no place on my list of

She spoke lightly, yet with a certain under-meaning. As, however,
Maurice Guest, on whom her words made a sympathetic impression, as of
something strong and self-reliant--as he did not respond to it, she
fell back on directness, and asked him what he had been doing when she
met him, both on this day and the one before.

"I tell you candidly, I was astonished to find you there again," she
said. "As a rule, new-comers are desperately earnest brooms."

His laugh was a trifle uneasy; and he answered evasively, not meaning
to say much. But he had reckoned without the week of silence that lay
behind him; it had been more of a strain than he knew, and his pent-up
speech once set agoing could not be brought to a stop. An almost
physical need of comunication made itself felt in him; he spoke with a
volubility that was foreign to him, began his sentences with a
confidential "You see," and said things at which he himself was
amazed. He related impressions, not facts, and impressions which,
until now, he had not been conscious of receiving; he told unguardedly
of his plans and ambitions, and even went back and touched on his
home-life, dwelling with considerable bitterness on the scant sympathy
he had received.

His companion looked at him curiously. She had expected a casual
answer to her casual words, a surface frankness, such as she herself
had shown, and, at first, she felt sceptical towards this unbidden
confidence: she did not care for people who gave themselves away at a
word; either they were naive to foolishness or inordinately vain. But
having listened for some time to his outpourings, she began to feel
reassured; and soon she understood that he was talking thus at random,
merely because he was lonely and bottled-up. Before he had finished,
she was even a little gratified by his openness, and on his confiding
to her what Schwarz had said to him, she smiled indulgently.

"Perhaps I took it to mean more than it actually did," said Maurice
apologetically. "But anyhow it was cheering to hear it. You see, I
must prove to the people at home that I was right and they were wrong.
Failure was preached at me on every side. I was the only soul to
believe in myself."

"And you really disliked teaching so?"

"Hated it with all my heart."

She frankly examined him. He had a pale, longish face, with thin lips,
which might indicate either narrow prejudice or a fanatic tenacity.
When he grew animated, he had a habit of opening his eyes very wide,
and of staring straight before him. At such moments, too, he tossed
back his head, with the impatient movements of a young horse. His
hands and feet were good, his clothes of a provincial cut. Her fingers
itched to retie the bow of his cravat for him, to pull him here and
there into shape. Altogether, he made the impression upon her of being
a very young man: when he coloured, or otherwise grew embarrassed,
under her steady gaze, she mentally put him down for less than
twenty. But he had good manners; he allowed her to pass before him,
where the way grew narrow; walked on the outside of the path; made
haste to draw back an obstreperous branch; and not one of these
trifling conventionalities was lost on Madeleine Wade.

They had turned their steps homewards, and were drawing near the edge
of the wood, when, through the tree-trunks, which here were bare and
far apart, they saw two people walking arm in arm; and on turning a
corner found the couple coming straight towards them, on the same path
as themselves. In the full flush of his talk, Maurice Guest did not at
first grasp what was about to happen. He had ended the sentence he was
at, and begun another, before the truth broke on him. Then he
stuttered, lost the thread of his thought, was abruptly silent; and
what he had been going to say, and what, a moment before, had seemed
of the utmost importance, was never said. His companion did not seem
to notice his preoccupation; she gave an exclamation of what sounded
like surprise, and herself looked steadily at the approaching pair.
Thus they went forward to a meeting which the young man had imagined
to himself in many ways, but not in this. The moment he had waited for
had come; and now he wished himself miles away. Meanwhile, they walked
on, in a brutal, matter-of-fact fashion, and at a fairish pace, though
each step he took was an event, and his feet were as heavy and awkward
as if they did not belong to him.

The other two sauntered towards them, without haste. The man she was
with had his arm through hers, her hand in his left hand, while in his
right he twirled a cane. They were not speaking; she looked before
her, rather listlessly, with dark, indifferent eyes. To see this, to
see also that she was taller and broader than he had believed, and in
full daylight somewhat sallow, Maurice had first to conquer an
aversion to look at all, on account of the open familiarity of their
attitude. It was not like this that he had dreamt of finding her. And
so it happened that when, without a word to him, his companion crossed
the path and confronted the other two, he only lingered for an
instant, in an agony of indecision, and then, by an impulse over which
he had no control, walked on and stood out of earshot.

He drew a deep breath, like one who has escaped a danger; but almost
simultaneously he bit his lip with mortification: could any power on
earth make it clear to him why he had acted in this way? All
his thoughts had been directed towards this moment for so long, only
to take this miserable end. A string of contemptuous epithets for
himself rose to his lips. But when he looked back at the group, the
reason of his folly was apparent to him; at the sight of this other
beside her, a sharp twinge of jealousy had run through him and
disturbed his balance. He gazed ardently at her in the hope that she
would look round, but it was only the man--he was caressing his slight
moustache and hitting at loose stones while the girls talked--who
turned, as if drawn by Maurice's stare, and looked full at him, with
studied insolence. In him, Maurice recognised the violinist of the
concert, but he, too, was taller than he had believed, and much
younger. A mere boy, said Maurice to himself; a mere boy, with a
disagreeable dissipated face.

Madeleine Wade came hurrying to rejoin him, apologising for the delay;
the meeting had, however, been fortunate, as she had had a message
from Schwarz to deliver. Maurice let a few seconds elapse, then asked
without preamble: "Who is that?"

His companion looked quickly at him, struck both by his tone and by
his unconscious use of the singular. The air of indifference with
which he was looking out across the meadowland, told its own tale.

"Schilsky? Don't you know Schilsky? Our Joachim IN SPE?" she asked, to
tease him.

Maurice Guest coloured. "Yes, I heard him play the other night," he
answered in good faith. "But I didn't mean him. I meant the--the lady
he was with."

The girl at his side laughed, not very heartily.

"ET TU, BRUTE!" she said. "I might have known it. It really is
remarkable that though so many people don't think Louise goodlooking--I
have often heard her called plain--yet I never knew a man go past her
without turning his head.--You want to know who and what she is? Well,
that depends on whom you ask. Schwarz would tell you she was one of
his most gifted pupils--but no: he always says that of his pretty
girls, and some do find her pretty, you know."

"She is, indeed, very," said Maurice with warmth. "Though I think
pretty is not just the word."

"No, I don't suppose it is," said Madeleine, and this time there was a
note of mockery in her laugh. But Maurice did not let himself be
deterred. As it seemed likely that she was going to let the
subject rest here, he persisted: "But suppose I asked you--what would
you say?"

She gave him a shrewd side-glance. "I think I won't tell you," she
said, more gravely. "If a man has once thought a girl pretty, and all
the rest of it, he's never grateful for the truth. If I said Louise
was a baggage, or a minx, or some other horrid thing, you would always
bear me a grudge for it, so please note, I don't say it--for we are
going to be friends, I hope?"

"I hope so, too," said the young man.

They walked some distance along the unfinished end of the
MOZARTSTRASSE, where only a few villas stood, in newly made gardens.

"At least, I should like to know her name her whole name. You said
Louise, I think?"

She laughed outright at this. "Her name is Dufrayer, Louise Dufrayer,
and she has been here studying with Schwarz for about a year and a
half now. She has some talent, but is indolent to the last degree, and
only works when she can't help it. Also she always has an admirer of
some kind in tow. This, to-day, is her last particular friend.--Is that
biographical matter enough?"

He was afraid he had made himself ridiculous in her eyes, and did not
answer. They walked the rest of the way in silence. At her house-door,
they paused to take leave of each other.

"Good-bye. Come and see me sometimes when you have time. We were once
colleagues, you know, and are now fellow-pupils. I should be glad to
help you if you ever need help."

He thanked her and promised to remember; then walked home without,
knowing how he did it. He had room in brain for one thought only; he
knew her name, he knew her name. He said it again and again to
himself, walked in time with it, and found it as heady as wine; the
mere sound of the spoken syllables seemed to bring her nearer to him,
to establish a mysterious connection between them. Moreover, in itself
it pleased him extraordinarily; and he was vaguely grateful to
something outside himself, that it was a name he could honestly

In a kind of defiant challenge to unseen powers, he doubled his arm
and felt the muscles in it. Then he sat down at his piano, and, to the
dismay of his landlady--for it was now late evening--practised for a
couple of hours without stopping. And the scales he sent flying
up and down in the darkness had a ring of exultation in them, were
like cries of triumph.

He had discovered the "Open Sesame" to his treasure. And there was
time and to spare. He left everything to the future, in blind trust
that it would bring him good fortune. It was enough that they were
here together, inhabitants of the same town. Besides, he had formed a
friendship with some one who knew her; a way would surely open up, in
which he might make her aware of his presence. In the meantime, it was
something to live for. Each day that dawned might be THE day.

But little by little, like a fountain run dry, his elation subsided,
and, as he lay sleepless, he had a sudden fit of jealous despair. He
remembered, with a horrid distinctness, how he had seen her. Again she
came towards them, at the other's side, hand in hand with him,
inattentive to all but him. Now he could almost have wept at the
recollection. Those clasped hands!--he could have forgiven everything
else, but the thought of these remained with him and stung him. Here
he lay, thinking wild and foolish things, building castles that had no
earthly foundation, and all the time it was another who had the right
to be with her, to walk at her side, and share her thoughts. Again he
was the outsider; behind these two was a life full of detail and
circumstance, of which he knew nothing. His excited brain called up
pictures, imagined fiercely at words and looks, until the darkness and
stillness of the room became unendurable; and he sprang up, threw on
his clothing, and went out. Retracing his steps, he found the very
spot where they had met. Guiltily, with a stealthy look round him,
though wood and night were black as ink, he knelt down and kissed the
gravel where he thought she had stood.


It was through Dove's agency--Dove was always on the spot to guide and
assist his friends; to advise where the best, or cheapest, or rarest,
of anything was to be had, from secondhand Wagner scores to hair
pomade; he knew those shops where the "half-quarters" of ham or
roast-beef weighed heavier than elsewhere, restaurants where the beer
had least froth and the cutlets were largest for the money; knew the
ins and outs of Leipzig as no other foreigner did, knew all that went
on, and the affairs of everybody, as though he went through life
garnering in just those little facts that others were apt to overlook.
Through Dove, Maurice became a paying guest at a dinner-table kept by
two maiden ladies, who eked out their income by providing a plain
meal, at a low price, for respectable young people.

The company was made up to a large extent of English-speaking
foreigners. There were several university students--grave-faced, older
men, with beards and spectacles--who looked down on the young
musicians, and talked, of set purpose, on abstruse subjects. More
noteworthy were two American pianists: Ford, who could not carry a
single glass of beer, and played better when he had had more than one;
and James, a wiry, red-haired man, with an unfaltering opinion of
himself, and an iron wrist--by means of a week's practice, he could
ruin any piano. Two ladies were also present. Philadelphia Jensen; of
German-American parentage, was a student of voice-production, under a
Swedish singing master who had lately set musical circles in a
ferment, with his new and extraordinary method: its devotees swore
that, in time, it would display marvellous results; but, in the
meantime, the most advanced pupils were only emitting single notes,
and the greater number stood, every morning, before their respective
mirrors, watching their mouths open and shut, fish-fashion, without
producing a sound. Miss Jensen--she preferred the English pronunciation
of the J--was a large, fleshy woman, with a curled fringe and prominent
eyes. Her future stage-presence was the object of general admiration;
it was whispered that she aimed at Isolde. Loud in voice and manner,
she was fond of proclaiming her views on all kinds of subjects,
from diaphragmatic respiration, through GHOSTS, which was being read
by a bold, advanced few, down to the continental methods of regulating
vice--to the intense embarrassment of those who sat next her at table.
Still another American lady, Miss Martin, was studying with Bendel,
the rival of Schwarz; and as she lived in the same quarter of the town
as Dove and Maurice, the three of them often walked home together. For
the most part, Miss Martin was in a state of tragic despair. With the
frankness of her race, she admitted that she had arrived in Leipzig,
expecting to astonish. In this she had been disappointed; Bendel had
treated her like any other of his pupils; she was still playing Haydn
and Czerny, and saw endless vistas of similar composers "back of
these." Dove laid the whole blame on Bendel's method--which he
denounced with eloquence--and strongly advocated her becoming a pupil
of Schwarz. He himself undertook to arrange matters, and, in what
seemed an incredibly short time, the change was effected. For a
little, things went better; Schwarz was reported to have said that she
had talent, great talent, and that he would make something of her; but
soon, she was complaining anew: if there were any difference between
Czerny and Bertini, Haydn and Dussek, some one might "slick up "and
tell her what it was. Off the subject of her own gifts, she was a
lively, affable girl, with china-blue eyes, pale flaxen hair, and
coal-black eyebrows; and both young men got on well with her, in the
usual superficial way. For Maurice Guest, she had the additional
attraction, that he had once seen her in the street with the object of
his romantic fancy.

Since the afternoon when he had heard from Madeleine Wade who this
was, he had not advanced a step nearer making her acquaintance; though
a couple of weeks had passed, though he now knew two people who knew
her, and though his satisfaction at learning her name had immediately
yielded to a hunger for more. And now, hardly a day went by, on which
he did not see her. His infatuation had made him keen of scent; by
following her, with due precaution, he had found out for himself in
the BRUDERSTRASSE, the roomy old house she lived in; had found out how
she came and went. He knew her associates, knew the streets she
preferred, the hour of day at which she was to be met at the
Conservatorium. Far away, at the other end of one of the quiet streets
that lay wide and sunny about the Gewandhaus, when, to other eyes she
was a mere speck in the distance, he learned to recognise her--if only
by the speed at which his heart beat--and he even gave chase to
imaginary resemblances. Once he remained sitting in a tramway far
beyond his destination, because he traced, in one of the passengers, a
curious likeness to her, in long, wavy eyebrows that were highest in
the middle of the forehead.

Thus the pale face with the heavy eyes haunted him by day and by

He was very happy and very unhappy, by turns--never at rest. If he
imagined she had looked observantly at him as she passed, he was
elated for hours after. If she did not seem to notice him, it was
brought home to him anew that he was nothing to her; and once, when he
had gazed too boldly, instead of turning away his eyes, as she went
close by him to Schwarz's room, and she had resented the look with
cold surprise, he felt as culpable as if he had insulted her. He
atoned for his behaviour, the next time they met, by assuming his very
humblest air; once, too, he deliberately threw himself in her way, for
the mere pleasure of standing aside with the emphatic deference of a
slave. Throughout this period, and particularly after an occasion such
as the last, his self-consciousness was so peculiarly intensified that
his surroundings ceased to exist for him--they two were the gigantic
figures on a shadow background--and what he sometimes could not believe
was, that such feelings as these should be seething in him, and she
remain ignorant of them. He lost touch with reality, and dreamed
dreams of imperceptible threads, finer than any gossamer, which could
be spun from soul to soul, without the need of speech.

He heaped on her all the spiritual perfections that answered to her
appearance. And he did not, for a time, observe anything to make him
waver in his faith that she was whiter, stiller, and more
unapproachable--of a different clay, in short, from other women. Then,
however, this illusion was shattered. Late one afternoon, she came
down the stairs of the house she lived in, and, pausing at the door,
looked up and down the hot, empty street, shading her eyes with her
hand. No one was in sight, and she was about to turn away, when, from
where he was watching in a neighbouring doorway, Maurice saw the
red-haired violinist come swiftly round the corner. She saw him, too,
took a few, quick steps towards him, and, believing herself unseen,
looked up in is face as they met; and the passionate tenderness of the
look, the sudden lighting of lip and eye, racked the poor, unwilling
spy for days. To suit this abrupt descent from the pedestal, he
was obliged to carve a new attribute to his idol, and laboriously
adapt it.

Schilsky, this insolent boy, was the thorn in his side. It was
Schilsky she was oftenest to be met with; he was her companion at the
most unexpected hours; and, with reluctance, Maurice had to admit to
himself that she had apparently no thought to spare for anyone else.
But it did not make any difference. The curious way in which he felt
towards her, the strange, overwhelming effect her face had on him,
took no account of outside things. Though he might never hope for a
word from her; though he should learn in the coming moment that she
was the other's promised wife; he could not for that reason banish her
from his mind. His feelings were not to be put on and off, like
clothes; he had no power over them. It was simply a case of accepting
things as they were, and this he sought to do.

But his imagination made it hard for him, by throwing up pictures in
which Schilsky was all-prominent. He saw him the confidant of her joys
and troubles; HE knew their origin, knew what key her day was set in.
If her head ached, if she were tired or spiritless, his hand was on
her brow. The smallest events in her life were an open book to him;
and it was these worthless details that Maurice Guest envied him most.
He kept a tight hold on his fancy, but if, as sometimes happened, it
slipped control, and painted further looks of the kind he had seen
exchanged between them, a kiss or an embrace, he was as wretched as if
he had in reality been present.

At other times, this jealous unrest was not the bitterest drop in his
cup; it was bitterer to know that she was squandering her love on one
who was unworthy of it. At first, from a feeling of exaggerated
delicacy, he had gone out of his way to escape hearing Schilsky's
name; but this mood passed, and gave place to an undignified hankering
to learn everything he could, concerning the young man. What he heard
amounted to this: a talented rascal, the best violinist the
Conservatorium had turned out for years, one to whom all gates would
open; but--this "but" always followed, with a meaning smile and a wink
of the eye: and then came the anecdotes. They had nothing
heaven-scaling in them--these soiled love-stories; this perpetual
impecuniosity; this inability to refuse money, no matter whose the
hand that offered it; this fine art in the disregarding of established
canons--and, to Maurice Guest, bred to sterner standards, they seemed
unspeakably low and mean. Hours came when he strove in vain to
understand her. Ignorant of these things she could not be; was it
within the limits of the possible that she could overlook them?--and he
shivered lest he should be forced to think less highly of her.
Ultimately, sending his mind back over what he had read and heard,
drawing on his own slight experience, he came to a compromise with
himself. He said that most often the best and fairest women loved men
who were unworthy of them. Was it not a weakness and a strength of her
sex to see good where no good was?--a kind of divine frailty, a wilful
blindness, a sweet inability to discern.

At times, again, he felt almost content that Schilsky was what he was.
If the day should ever come when, all barriers down, he, Maurice
Guest, might be intimately associated with her life; if he should ever
have the chance of proving to her what real love was, what a holy
mystic thing, how far removed from a blind passing fancy; if he might
serve her, be her slave, lay his hands under her feet, lead her up and
on, all suffused in a sunset of tenderness: then, she would see that
what she had believed to be love had been nothing but a FATA MORGANA,
a mirage of the skies. And he heard himself whispering words of
incredible fondness to her, saw her listening with wonder in her eyes.

At still other moments, he was ready to renounce every hope, if, by
doing so, he could add jot or tittle to her happiness.

The further he spun himself into his dreams, however, and the better
he learnt to know her in imagination, the harder it grew to take the
first step towards realising his wishes. In those few, brief days,
when he hugged her name to him as a talisman, he waited cheerfully for
something to happen, something unusual, that would bring him to her
notice--a dropped handkerchief, a seat vacated for her at a concert,
even a timely accident. But as day after day went by, in eventless
monotony, he began to cast about him for human aid. From Dove, his
daily companion, Dove of the outstretched paws of continual help, he
now shrank away. Miss Martin was not to be spoken to except in Dove's
company. There was only one person who could assist him, if she would,
and that was Madeleine Wade. He called to mind the hearty invitation
she had given him, and reproached himself for not having taken
advantage of it.

One afternoon, towards six o'clock, he rang the bell of her lodgings
in the MOZARTSTRASSE. This was a new street, the first blocks of which
gave directly on the Gewandhaus square; but, at the further
end, where she lived, a phalanx of redbrick and stucco fronts looked
primly across at a similar line. In the third storey of one of these
houses, Madeleine Wade had a single, large room, the furniture of
which was so skilfully contrived, that, by day, all traces of the
room's double calling were obliterated.

As he entered, on this first occasion, she was practising at a grand
piano which stood before one of the windows. She rose at once, and,
having greeted him warmly, made him sit down among the comfortable
cushions that lined the sofa. Then she took cups and saucers from a
cupboard in the wall, and prepared tea over a spirit-lamp. He soon
felt quite at home with her, and enjoyed himself so well that many
such informal visits followed.

But the fact was not to be denied: it was her surroundings that
attracted him, rather than she herself. True, he found her frankness
delightfully "refreshing," and when he spoke of her, it was as of an
"awfully good sort," "a first-class girl"; for Madeleine was
invariably lively, kind and helpful. At the same time, she was without
doubt a trifle too composed, too sure of herself; she had too keen an
eye for human foibles; she came towards you with a perfectly natural
openness, and she came all the way--there was nothing left for you to
explore. And when not actually with her, it was easy to forget her;
there was never a look or a smile, never a barbed word, never a sudden
spontaneous gesture--the vivid translation of a thought--to stamp itself
on your memory.

But it was only at the outset that he thought things like these.
Madeleine Wade had been through experiences of the same kind before;
and hardly a fortnight later they were calling each other by their
Christian names.

When he came to her, towards evening, tired and inclined to be lonely,
she seated him in a corner of the sofa, and did not ask him to say
much until she had made the tea. Then, when the cups were steaming in
front of them, she discussed sympathetically with him the progress of
his work. She questioned him, too, about

When he came to her, tired and inclined to be lonely, she seated him
in a corner of the sofa, and did not ask him to say much until she
made tea. Then, when the cups were steaming in front of them, she
discussed sympathetically with him the progress of his work. She
questioned him, too, about his home and family, and he read her parts
of his mother's letters, which arrived without fail every Tuesday
morning. She also drew from him a more detailed account of his
previous life; and, in this connection, they had several animated
discussions about teaching, a calling to which Madeleine looked
composedly forward to returning, while Maurice, in strong superlative,
declared he had rather force a flock of sheep to walk in line.
She told him, too, some of the gossip the musical quarter of the town
was rife with, about those in high places; and, in particular, of the
bitter rivalry that had grown up with the years between Schwarz and
Bendel, the chief masters of the piano. If these two met in the
street, they passed each other with a stony stare; if, at an
ABENDUNTERHALTUNG, a pupil of one was to play, the other rose
ostentatiously and left the hall. She also hinted that in order to
obtain all you wanted at the Conservatorium, to be favoured above your
fellows, it was only necessary flagrantly to bribe one of the clerks,
Kleefeld by name, who was open to receive anything, being wretchedly
impecunious and the father of a large family.

Finding, too, that Maurice was bent on learning German, she, who spoke
the language fluently, proposed that they should read it together; and
soon it became their custom to work through a few pages of QUINTUS
FIXLEIN, a scene or two of Schiller, some lyrics of Heine. They also
began to play duets, symphonies old and new, and Madeleine took care
constantly to have something fresh and interesting at hand. To all
this the young man brought an unbounded zeal, and, if he had had his
way, they would have gone on playing or reading far into the evening.

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