Part 3 out of 13
the metre of the lines, read through one after another of the poems he
liked best. At a particular favourite, he stopped playing and held the
book in both hands.
He had hardly begun anew when the door of his room was
unceremoniously opened, and Dove entered, in the jocose way he adopted
when in a rosy mood. Maurice made a movement to conceal his book,
merely in order to avoid the explanation he new must follow; but was
too late; Dove had espied it. He did not belie himself on this
occasion; he was extremely astonished to find Maurice "still at it,"
but much more so to see a book open before him; and he vented his
surprise loudly and wordily.
"Liszt used to read the newspaper," said Maurice, for the sake of
saying something. He had swung round in the piano-chair, and he yawned
as he spoke, without attempting to disguise it.
"Why, yes, of course, why not?" agreed Dove cordially, afraid lest he
had seemed discouraging. "Why not, indeed? For those who can do it. I
wish I could. But will you believe me, Guest"--here he seated himself,
and settled into an attitude for talking, one hand inserted between
his crossed knees--"will you believe me, when I say I find it a
difficult business to read at all?--at any time. I find it too
stimulating, too ANREGEND, don't you know? I assure you, for weeks
now, I have been trying to read PAST AND PRESENT, and have not yet got
beyond the first page. It gives one so much to think about, opens up
so many new ideas, that I stop myself and say: 'Old fellow, that must
be digested.' This, I see, is poetry"--he ran quickly and disparagingly
through Maurice's little volume, and laid it down again. "I don't care
much for poetry myself, or for novels either. There's so much in life
worth knowing that is true, or of some use to one; and besides, as we
all know, fact is stranger than fiction."
They spoke also of Furst's performance the evening before, and Dove
gave it its due, although he could not conceal his opinion that
Furst's star would ultimately pale before that of a new-comer to the
town, a late addition to the list of Schwarz's pupils, whom he, Dove,
had been "putting up to things a bit." This was a "Manchester man" and
former pupil of Halle's, and it would certainly not be long before he
set the place in a stir. Dove had just come from his lodgings, where
he had been permitted to sit and hear him practise finger-exercises.
"A touch like velvet," declared Dove. "And a stretch!--I have never
seen anything like it. He spans a tenth, nay, an eleventh, more easily
than we do an octave."
The object of Dove's visit was, it transpired, to propose that
Maurice should accompany him that evening to the theatre, where DIE
WALKURE was to be performed; and as, on this day, Dove had reasons for
seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses, he suggested, out of
the fulness of his heart, that they should also invite Madeleine to
join them. Maurice was nothing loath to have the meeting with her
over, and so, though it was not quite three o'clock, they went
together to the MOZARTSTRASSE.
They found Madeleine before her writing-table, which was strewn with
closely written sheets. This was mail-day for America, she explained,
and begged the young men to excuse her finishing an important letter
to an American journalist, with whom she had once "chummed up" on a
trip to Italy.
"One never knows when these people may be of use to one," she was
accustomed to say.
Having addressed and stamped the envelope, and tossed it to the
others, she rose and gave a hand to each. At Maurice, she smiled in a
"You should have stayed, my son. Some one came, after all."
Maurice laid an imploring finger on his lips, but Dove had seized the
opportunity of glancing at his cravat in the mirror, and did not seem
She agreed willingly to their plan of going to the theatre; she had
thought of it herself; then, a girl she knew had asked her to come to
hear her play in ENSEMBLESPIEL.
"However, I will let that slip. Schelper and Moran-Olden are to sing;
it will be a fine performance. I suppose some one is to be there," she
said laughingly to Dove, "or you would not be of the party."
But Dove only smiled and looked sly.
Without delay, Madeleine began to detail to Maurice, the leading
motives on which the WALKURE was built up; and Dove, having hummed,
strummed and whistled all those he knew by heart, settled down to a
discourse on the legitimacy and development of the motive, and
especially in how far it was to be considered a purely intellectual
implement. He spoke with the utmost good-nature, and was so
unconscious of being a bore that it was impossible to take him amiss.
Madeleine, however, could not resist, from time to time, throwing in a
"Really!" "How extraordinary!" "You don't say so!" among his abstruse
remarks. But her sarcasm was lost on Dove; and even if he had noticed
it, he would only have smiled, unhit, being too sensible and
good-humoured easily to take offence.
It was always a mystery to his friends where Dove got his information;
he was never seen to read, and there was little theorising about art,
little but the practical knowledge of it, in the circles to which he
belonged. But just as he went about picking up small items of gossip,
so he also gathered in stray scraps of thought and information, and
being by nature endowed with an excellent memory, he let nothing that
he had once heard escape him. He had, besides, the talker's gift of
neatly stringing together these tags he had pulled off other people,
of connecting them, and giving them a varnish of originality.
"By no means a fool," Madeleine was in the habit of saying of him. "He
would be easier to deal with if he were."
Here, on the leading motive as handled by Wagner and Wagner's
forerunners, he had an unwritten treatise ripe in his brain. But he
had only just compared the individual motives to the lettered ribbons
that issue from the mouths of the figures in medieval pictures, and
began to hint at the IDEE FIXE of Berlioz, when he was interrupted by
a knock at the door.
"HEREIN!" cried Madeleine in her clear voice; and at the sight of the
person who opened the door, Maurice involuntarily started up from his
chair, and taking his stand behind it, held the back of it firmly with
both hands, in self-defence.
It was Louise.
On seeing the two young men, she hesitated, and, with the door-handle
still in her hand, smiled a faint questioning smile at Madeleine,
raising her eyebrows and showing a thin line of white between her
"May I come in?" she asked, with her head a little on one side.
"Why, of course you know you may," said Madeleine with some asperity.
And so Louise entered, and came forward to the table at which they had
been sitting; but before anything further could be said, she raised
her arms to catch up a piece of hair which had fallen loose on her
neck. The young men were standing, waiting to greet her, Maurice still
behind his chair; but she did not hurry on their account, or "just on
their account did not hurry," as Madeleine mentally remarked.
Both watched Louise, and followed her movements. To their eyes, she
appeared to be very simply dressed; it was only Madeleine who
appreciated the cost and care of this seeming simplicity. She wore a
plain, close-fitting black dress, of a smooth, shiny stuff, which
obeyed and emphasised the lines and outlines of her body; and, as she
stood, with her arms upraised, composedly aware of being observed,
they could see the line of her side rising and falling with the rise
and fall of each breath. Otherwise, she wore a large black hat, with
feathers and an overhanging brim, which threw shadows on her face, and
made her eyes seem darker than ever.
Letting her arms drop with a sigh of relief, she shook hands with
Dove, and Dove--to Madeleine's diversion and Maurice's intense
disgust--introduced Maurice to her as his friend. She looked full at
the latter, and held out her hand; but before he could take it, she
withdrew it again, and put both it and her left hand behind her back.
"No, no," she said. "I mustn't shake hands with you to-day. Today is
Friday. And to give one's hand for the first time on a Friday would
bring bad luck--to you, if not to me."
She was serious, but both the others laughed, and Maurice, having let
his outstretched hand fall, coloured, and smiled rather foolishly. She
did not seem to notice his discomfiture; turning to Madeleine, she
began to speak of a piece of music she wished to borrow; and then
Maurice had a chance of observing her at his ease, and of listening to
her voice, in which he heard all manner of impossible things. But
while Madeleine, with Dove's assistance, was looking through a pile of
music, Louise came suddenly up to him and said: "You are not offended
with me, are you?" She had a low voice, with a childish cadence in it,
which touched him like a caress.
"Offended? I with you?" He meant to laugh, but his voice shook.
She stared at him, openly astonished, not only at his words, but also
at the tone in which they were said; and the strange, fervent gaze
bent on her by this man whom she saw for the first time in her life,
confused her and made her uneasy. Slowly and coldly she turned away,
but Madeleine, who was charitably occupying Dove as long as she could,
did not take any notice of her. And as the young man continued to
stare at her, she looked out of the window at the lowering grey sky,
and said, with a shudder: "What a day for June!"
All eyes followed hers, Maurice's with the rest; but almost instantly
he brought them back again to her face.
"Louise is a true Southerner," said Madeleine; "and is
wretched if there's a cloud in the sky."
Louise smiled, and he saw her strong white teeth. "It's not quite as
bad as that," she said; and then, although herself not clear why she
should have answered these searching eyes, she added, looking at
Maurice: "I come from Australia."
If she had said she was a visitant from another world, Maurice would
not, at the moment, have felt much surprise; but on hearing the name
of this distant land, on which he would probably never set foot, a
sense of desolation overcame him. He realised anew, with a pang, what
an utter stranger he was to her; of her past life, her home, her
country, he knew and could know nothing.
"That is very far away," he said, speaking out of this feeling, and
then was vexed with himself for having done so. His words sounded
foolish as they lingered on in the stillness that followed them, and
would, he believed, lay him open to Madeleine's ridicule. But he had
not much time in which to repent of them; the music had been found,
and she was going again. He heard her refuse an invitation to stay:
she had an engagement at half-past four. And now Dove, who,
throughout, had kept in the background, looked at his watch and took
up his hat: he had previously offered, unopposed, to do the long wait
outside the theatre, which was necessary when one had no tickets, and
now it was time to go. But when Louise heard the word theatre, she
laid a slim, ungloved hand on Dove's arm.
"The very thing for such a night!"
They all said "AUF WIEDERSEHEN!" to one another; she did not offer to
shake hands again, and Maurice nursed a faint hope that it was on his
account. He opened the window, leant out, and watched them, until they
went round the corner of the street.
Madeleine smiled shrewdly behind his back, but when he turned, she was
grave. She did not make any reference to what had passed, nor did she,
as he feared she would, put questions to him: instead, she showed him
a song of Krafft's, and asked him to play the accompaniment for her.
He gratefully consented, without knowing what he was undertaking. For
the song, a setting of a poem by Lenau, was nominally in C sharp
minor; but it was black with accidentals, and passed through many keys
before it came to a close in D flat major. Besides this, the right
hand had much hard passage-work in quaint scales and broken
octaves, to a syncopated bass of chords that were adapted to the
stretch of no ordinary hand.
"LIEBLOS UND OHNE GOTT AUF EINER HAIDE," sang Madeleine on the high F
sharp; but Maurice, having collected neither his wits nor his fingers,
began blunderingly, could not right himself, and after scrambling
through a few bars, came to a dead stop, and let his hands fall from
"Not to-day, Madeleine."
She laughed good-naturedly. "Very well--not to-day. One shouldn't ask
you to believe to-day that DIE GANZE WELT IST ZUM VERZWEIFELN
While she made tea, he returned to the window, where he stood with his
hands in his pockets, lost in thought. He told himself once more what
he found it impossible to believe: that he was going to see Louise
again in a few hours; and not only to see her, but to speak to her, to
be at her side. And when his jubilation at this had subsided, he went
over in memory all that had just taken place. His first impression, he
could afford now to admit it, had been almost one of disappointment:
that came from having dreamed so long of a shadowy being, whom he had
called by her name, that the real she was a stranger to him.
Everything about her had been different from what he had expected--her
voice, her smile, her gestures--and in the first moments of their
meeting, he had been chill with fear, lest--lest . . . even yet he did
not venture to think out the thought. But this first sensation of
strangeness over, he had found her more charming, more desirable, than
even he had hoped; and what almost wrung a cry of pleasure from him as
he remembered it, was that not the smallest trifle--no touch of
coquetry, no insincerely spoken word--had marred the perfect impression
of the whole. To know her, to stand before her, he recognised it now,
gave the lie to false slander and report. Hardest of all, however, was
it to grasp that the meeting had actually come to pass and was over:
it had been so ordinary, so everyday, the most natural thing in the
world; there had been no blast of trumpets, nor had any occult
sympathy warned her that she was in the presence of one who had
trembled for weeks at the idea of this moment and again he leaned
forward and gazed at the spot in the street, where she had disappeared
from sight. He was filled with envy of Dove--this was the latter's
reward for his unfailing readiness to oblige others--and in fancy he
saw Dove walking street after street at her side.
In reality, the two parted from each other shortly after turning the
On any other day, Dove would have been still more prompt to take leave
of his companion; but, on this particular one, he was in the mood to
be a little reckless. In the morning, he had received, with a
delightful shock, his first letter from Ephie, a very frank, warmly
written note, in which she relied on his great kindness to secure her,
WITHOUT FAIL--these words were deeply underscored--two places in the
PARQUET of the theatre, for that evening's performance. Not the letter
alone, but also its confiding tone, and the reliance it placed in him,
had touched Dove to a deep pleasure; he had been one of the first to
arrive at the box-office that morning, and, although he had not
ventured, unasked, to take himself a seat beside the sisters, he was
now living in the anticipation of promenading the FOYER with them in
the intervals between the acts, and of afterwards escorting them home.
On leaving Louise he made for the theatre with a swinging stride--had
he been in the country, stick in hand, he would have slashed off the
heads of innumerable green and flowering things. As it was, he
whistled--an unusual thing for him to do in the street--then assumed the
air of a man hard pressed for time. Gradually the passers-by began to
look at him with the right amount of attention; he jostled, as if by
accident, one or two of those who were unobservant, then apologised
for his hurry. It was not pleasurable anticipation alone that was
responsible for Dove's state of mind, and for the heightening and
radiation of his self-consciousness. In offering to go early to the
theatre, and to stand at the doors for at least three-quarters of an
hour, in order that the others, coming considerably later might still
have a chance of gaining their favourite seats: in doing this, Dove
was not actuated by a wholly unselfish motive, but by the more
complicated one, which, consciously or unconsciously, was present
beneath all the friendly cares and attentions he bestowed on people.
He was never more content with himself, and with the world at large,
than when he felt that he was essential to the comfort and well-being
of some of his fellow-mortals; than when he, so to speak, had a finger
in the pie of their existence. It engendered a sense of importance,
gave life fulness and variety; and this far outweighed the trifling
inconveniences such welldoing implied. Indeed, he throve on them. For,
in his mild way, Dove had a touch of Caesarean mania--of a lust for
Left to herself, Louise Dufrayer walked slowly home to her room in the
BRUDERSTRASSE, but only to throw a hasty look round. It was just as she
had expected: although it was long past the appointed time, he was not
there. At a flower-shop in a big adjoining street, she bought a bunch
of many-coloured roses, and with these in her hands, went straight to
where Schilsky lived.
Mounting to the third floor of the house in the TALSTRASSE, she
opened, without ceremony, the door of his room, which gave direct on
the landing; but so stealthily that the young man, who was sitting
with his back to the door, did not hear her enter. Before he could
turn, she had sprung forward, her arms were round his neck, and the
roses under his nose. He drew his face away from their damp fragrance,
but did not look up, and, without removing his cigarette, asked in a
tone of extreme bad temper: "What are you doing here, Lulu? What
nonsense is this? For God's sake, shut the door!"
She ruffled his hair with her lips. "You didn't come. And the day has
seemed so long."
He tried to free himself, putting the roses aside with one hand,
while, with his cigarette, he pointed to the sheets of music-paper
that lay before him. "For a very good reason. I've had no time."
She went back and closed the door; and then, sitting down on his knee,
unpinned her big hat, and threw it and the roses on the bed. He put
his arm round her to steady her, and as soon as he held her to him,
his ill-temper was vanquished. He talked volubly of the
instrumentation he was busy with. But she, who could point out almost
every fresh note he put on paper, saw plainly that he had not been at
work for more than a quarter of an hour; and, in a miserable swell of
doubt and jealousy, such as she could never subdue, she asked:
"Were you practising as well?"
He took no notice of these words, and she did not trust herself to say
more, until, with his free hand, he began jotting again, making notes
that were no bigger than pin-heads. Then she laid her hand on his. "I
haven't seen you all day."
But he was too engrossed to listen. "Look here," he said pointing to a
thick-sown bar. "That gave me the deuce of a bother. While here "--and
now he explained to her, in detail, the properties of the tenor-tuba
in B, and the bass-tuba in F, and the use to which he intended to put
these instruments. She heard him with lowered eyes, lightly
caressing the back of his hand with her finger-tips. But when he
ceased speaking, she rubbed her cheek against his.
"It is enough for to-day. Lulu has been lonely."
Not one of his thoughts was with her, she saw that, as he answered: "I
must get this finished."
"If I can. You know well enough, Lulu, when I'm in the swing----"
"Yes, yes, I know. If only it wouldn't always come, just when I want
Her face lost its brightness; she rose from his knee and roamed about
the room, watched from the wall by her pictured self.
"But is there ever a moment in the day when you don't want me? You are
never satisfied." He spoke abstractedly, without interest in the
answer she might make, and, relieved of her weight, leant forward
again, while his fingers played some notes on the table. But when she
began to let her hands stray over the loose papers and other articles
that encumbered chairs, piano and washstand, he raised his head and
watched her with a sharp eye.
"For goodness' sake, let those things alone, can't you?" he said after
he had borne her fidgeting for some time.
"You have no secrets from me, I suppose?" She said it with her
tenderest smile, but he scowled so darkly in reply that she went over
to him again, to touch him with her hand. Standing behind him, with
her fingers in his hair, she said: "Just to-day I wanted you so much.
This morning I was so depressed that I could have killed myself."
He turned his head, to give her a significant glance.
"Good reason for the blues, Lulu. I warned you. You want too much of
everything. And can't expect to escape a KATER."
"Too much?" she echoed, quick to resent his words. "Does it seem so to
you? Would days and days of happiness be too much after we have been
separated for a week?--after Wednesday night?--after what you said to me
"Yesterday I was in the devil of a temper. Why rake up old scores? Now
go home. Or at least keep quiet, and let me get something done."
He shook his head free of her caressing hand, and, worse
still, scratched the place where it had lain. She stood irresolute,
not venturing to touch him again, looking hungrily at him. Her eyes
fell on the piece of neck, smooth, lightly browned, that showed
between his hair and the low collar; and, in an uncontrollable rush of
feeling, she stooped and kissed it. As he accepted the caress, without
demur, she said: "I thought of going to the theatre to-night, dear."
He was pleased and showed it. "That's right--it's just what you need to
cheer you up."
"But I want you to come, too."
He struck the table with his fist. "Good God, can't you get it into
your head that I want to work?"
She laughed, with ready bitterness. "I should think I could. That's
nothing new. You are always busy when I ask you to do anything. You
have time for everything and every one but me. If this were something
you yourself wanted to do to-night, neither your work nor anything
else would stand in the way of it; but my wishes can always be
ignored. Have you forgotten already that I only came home the day
He looked sullen. "Now don't make a scene, Lulu. It doesn't do a whit
"A scene!" she cried, seizing on his words. "Whenever I open my lips
now, you call it a scene. Tell me what I have done, Eugen! Why do you
treat me like this? Are you beginning to care less for me? The first
evening, the very first, I get home, you won't stay with me--you
haven't even kept that evening free for me--and when I ask you about
it, and try to get at the truth--oh, do you remember all the cruel
things you said to me yesterday? I shall never forget them as long as
I live. And now, when I ask you to come out with me--it is such a
little thing-oh, I can't sit at home this evening, Eugen, I can't do
it! If you really loved me, you would understand."
She flung herself across the bed and sobbed despairingly. Schilsky,
who had again made believe during this outburst to be absorbed in his
work, cast a look of mingled anger and discomfort at the prostrate
figure, and for some few moments, succeeded in continuing his
occupation with a show of indifference; but as, in place of abating,
her sobs grew more heart-rending, his own face began to twitch, and
finally he dropped pencil and cigarette, and with a loud expression of
annoyance went over to the bed.
"Lulu," he said persuasively. "Come, Lulu," and bending over
her, he laid his hands on her shoulders and tried to force her to
rise. She resisted him with all her might, but he was the stronger,
and presently he had her on her feet, where, with her head on his
shoulder, she wept out the rest of her tears. He held her to him, and
although his face above her was still dark, did what he could to
soothe her. He could never bear, to see or to hear a woman cry, and
this loud passionate weeping, so careless of anything but itself,
racked his nerves, and filled him with an uneasy wrath against
"Don't cry, darling, don't cry!" he said again and again. Gradually
she grew calmer, and he, too, was still; but when her sobs were
hushed, and she was clinging to him in silence, he put his hands on
her shoulders and held her back from him, that he might look at her.
His face wore a stubborn expression, which she knew, and which made
him appear years older than he was.
"Now listen to me, Lulu," he said. "When you behave in this way again,
you won't see me afterwards for a week--I promise you that, and you
know I keep my word. Instead of being glad that I am in the right mood
and can get something done, you come here--which you know I have
repeatedly forbidden you to do--and make a fool of yourself like this.
I have explained everything to you. I could not possibly stay on
Wednesday night--why didn't you time your arrival better? But it's just
like you. You would throw the whole of one's future into the balance
for the sake of a whim. Yesterday I was in a beast of a temper--I've
admitted it. But that was made all right last night; and no one but
you would drag it up again."
He spoke with a kind of dogged restraint, which only sometimes gave
way, when the injustice she was guilty of forced itself upon him.
"Now, like a good girl, go home--go to the theatre and enjoy yourself.
I don't mind you being happy without me. At least, go!--under any
circumstances you ought not to be here. How often have I told you
that!" His moderation swept over into the feverish irritation she knew
so well how to kindle in him, and his lisp became so marked that he
was almost unintelligible. "You won't have a rag of reputation left."
"If I don't care, why should you?" She felt for his hand. But he
turned his back. "I won't have it, I tell you. You know what
the student underneath said the last time he met you on the stair."
She pressed her handkerchief to her lips to keep from bursting anew
into sobs, and there was a brief silence--he stood at the window,
gazing savagely at the opposite house-wall--before she said: "Don't
speak to me like that. I'm going--now--this moment. I will never do it
As he only mumbled disbelief at this, she put her arms round his neck,
and raised her tear-stained face to his: her eyes were blurred and
sunken with crying, and her lips were white. He knew every line of her
face by heart; he had known it in so many moods, and under so many
conditions, that he was not as sensitive to its influence as he had
once been; and he stood unwilling, with his hands in his pockets,
while she clung to him and let him feel her weight. But he was very
fond of her, and, as she continued mutely to implore forgiveness--she,
Lulu, his Lulu, whom every one envied him--his hasty anger once more
subsided; he put his arms round her and kissed her. She nestled in
against him, over-happy at his softening, and for some moments they
stood like this, in the absolute physical agreement that always
overcame their differences. In his arms, with her head on his
shoulder, she smoothed back his hair; and while she gazed, with
adoring eyes, at this face that constituted her world, she murmured
words of endearment; and all the unsatisfactory day was annulled by
these few moments of perfect harmony.
It was he who loosened his grasp. "Now, it's all right, isn't it? No
more tears. But you really must be off, or you'll be late."
"Yes. And you?"
He had taken up his violin and was tuning it, preparatory to playing
himself back into the mood she had dissipated. He ran his fingers up
and down, tried flageolets, and slashed chords across the strings.
But when she had sponged her face and pinned on her hat, he said, in
response to her beseeching eyes, which, as so often before, made the
granting of this one request, a touchstone of his love for her: "Look
here, Lulu, if I possibly can, I'll drop in at the end of the first
act. Look out for me then, in the FOYER."
And with this, she was forced to be content.
When, shortly after five o'clock, Madeleine and Maurice arrived at the
New Theatre, they took their places at the end of a queue which
extended to the corner of the main building; and before they had
stood very long, so many fresh people had been added to the line, that
it had lengthened out until it all but reached the arch of the
theatre-cafe. Dove was well to the fore, and would be one of the first
to gain the box-office. A quarter of an hour had still to elapse before
the doors opened; and Maurice borrowed his companion's textbook, and
read studiously, to acquaint himself with the plot of the opera.
Madeleine took out Wolzogen's FUHRER, with the intention of brushing
up her knowledge of the motives; but, before she had finished a page,
she had grown so interested in what two people behind her were saying
that she turned and took part in the conversation.
The broad expanse of the AUGUSTUSPLATZ facing the theatre was bare and
sunny. A policeman arrived, and ordered the queue in a straighter
line; then he strolled up and down, stroking and smoothing his white
gloves. More people came hurrying over the square to the theatre, and
ranged themselves at the end of the tail. As the hands of the big
clock on the post-office neared the quarter past five, a kind of
tremor ran through the waiting line; it gathered itself more compactly
together. One clock after another boomed the single stroke; sounds
came from within the building; the burly policeman placed himself at
the head of the line. There was a noise of drawn bolts and grating
locks, and after a moment's suspense, light shone out and the big door
was flung open.
"Gent--ly!" shouted the policeman, but the leaders of the queue charged
with a will, and about a dozen people had dashed forward, before he
could throw down a stemming arm, on which those thus hindered leaned
as on a bar of iron. Madeleine and Maurice were to the front of the
second batch. And the arm down, in they flew also, Madeleine leading
through the swing-doors at the side of the corridor, up the steep,
wooden stairs, one flight after another, higher and higher, round and
round, past one, two, three, tiers--a mad race, which ended
almost in the arms of the gate-keeper at the topmost gallery.
Dove was waiting with the tickets, and they easily secured the desired
places; not in the middle of the gallery, where, as Madeleine
explained while she tucked her hat and jacket under the seat, the
monstrous chandelier hid the greater part of the stage, but at the
right-hand side, next the lattice that separated the seats at
seventy-five from those at fifty pfennigs.
"This is first-rate for seeing," said Maurice.
Madeleine laughed. "You see too much--that's the trouble. Wait till
you've watched the men running about the bottom of the Rhine, working
the cages the Rhine-daughters swim in."
As yet, with the exception of the gallery, the great building was
empty. Now the iron fire-curtain rose; but the sunken well of the
orchestra was in darkness, and the expanse of seats on the ground
floor far below, was still encased in white wrappings--her and there an
attendant began to peel them off. Maurice, poring over his book, had
to strain his eyes to read, and this, added to the difficulty of the
German, and his own sense of pleasurable excitement, made him soon
give up the attempt, and attend wholly to what Madeleine was saying.
It was hot already, and the air of the crowded gallery was permeated
with various, pungent odours: some people behind them were eating a
strong-smelling sausage, and the man on the other side of the lattice
reeked of cheap tobacco. When they had been in their seats for about a
quarter of an hour, the lights throughout the theatre went up, and,
directly afterwards, the lower tiers and the ground floor were
sprinkled with figures. One by, one, the members of the orchestra
dropped in,, turned up the lamps attached to their stands, and taking
their instruments, commenced to tune and flourish; and soon stray
motives and scraps of motives came mounting up, like lost birds, from
wind and strings; the man of the drums beat a soft rattatoo, and
applied his ear to the skins of his instruments. Now the players were
in their seats, waiting for the conductor; late-comers in the audience
entered with an air of guilty haste. The chief curtain had risen, and
the stage was hidden only by stuff curtains, bordered with a runic
scroll. A delightful sense of expectation pervaded the theatre.
Maurice had more than once looked furtively at his watch; and, at
every fresh noise behind him, he turned his head--turned so often that
the people in the back seats grew suspicious, and whispered to one
another. Madeleine had drawn his attention to everything worth
noticing; and now, with her opera-glass at her eyes, she pointed out
to him people whom he ought to know. Dove, having eaten a ham-roll at
the buffet on the stair, had ever since sat with his opera-glass glued
to his face, and only at this moment did he remove it with a sigh of
"There they are," said Madeleine, and showed Maurice the place in the
PARQUET, where Ephie and Johanna Cayhill were sitting. But the young
man only glanced cursorily in the direction she indicated; he was
wondering why Louise did not come--the time had all but gone. He could
not bring himself to ask, partly from fear of being disappointed,
partly because, now that he knew her, it was harder than before to
bring her name over his lips. But the conductor had entered by the
orchestra-door; he stood speaking to the first violinist, and the next
moment would climb into his seat. The players held their instruments
in readiness--and a question trembled on Maurice's tongue. But at this
very moment, a peremptory fanfare rang out behind the scene, and
Madeleine said: "The sword motive, Maurice," to add in the same
breath: "There's Louise."
He looked behind him. "Where?"
She nudged him. "Not here, you silly," she said in a loud whisper.
"Surely you haven't been expecting her to come up here? PARQUET,
fourth row from the front, between two women in plaid dresses--oh, now
the lights have gone."
"Ssh!" said at least half a dozen people about them: her voice was
audible above the growling of the thunder.
Maurice took her opera-glass, and, notwithstanding the darkness into
which the theatre had been plunged, travelled his eyes up and down the
row she named--naturally without success. When the curtains parted and
disclosed the stage, it was a little lighter, but not light enough for
him; he could not find the plaids; or rather there were only plaids in
the row; and there was also more than one head that resembled hers. To
know that she was there was enough to distract him; and he was
conscious of the music and action of the opera merely as something
that was going on outside him, until he received another sharp nudge
from Madeleine on his righthand side.
"You're not attending. And this is the only act you'll be able to make
He gave a guilty start, and turned to the stage, where Hunding
had just entered to a pompous measure. In his endeavours to understand
what followed, he was aided by his companions, who prompted him
alternately. But Siegmund's narration seemed endless, and his thoughts
wandered in spite of himself.
"Listen to this," said Dove of a sudden. "It's one of the few songs
Wagner has written." He swayed his head from side to side, to the
opening bars of the love-song; and Maurice found the rhythm so
inviting that he began keeping time with his foot, to the indignation
of a music-loving policeman behind them, who gave an angry: "Pst!"
"One of the finest love-scenes that was ever written," whispered
Madeleine in her decisive way. And Maurice believed her. From this
point on, the music took him up and carried him with it; and when the
great doors burst open, and let in the spring night, he applauded
vigorously with the rest, keeping it up so long that Dove disappeared,
and Madeleine grew impatient.
"Let us go. The interval is none too long."
They went downstairs to the first floor of the building, and entered a
long, broad, brilliantly lighted corridor. Here the majority of the
audience was walking round and round, in a procession of twos and
threes; groups of people also stood at both ends and looked on; others
went in and out of the doors that opened on the great loggia.
Madeleine and Maurice joined the perambulating throng, Madeleine
bowing and smiling to her acquaintances, Maurice eagerly scanning the
faces that came towards him on the opposite side.
Suddenly, a stout gentleman, in gold spectacles, kid gloves tight to
bursting, and a brown frock coat, over the amplitude of which was
slung an opera-glass, started up from a corner, and, seizing both
Madeleine's hands, worked them up and down. At the same time, he made
a ceremonious little speech about the length of time that had elapsed
since their last meeting, and paid her a specious compliment on the
taste she displayed in being present at so serious an opera. Madeleine
laughed, and said a few words in her hard, facile German: the best was
yet to come; "DIE MORAN" was divine as Brunnhilde. Having bowed and
said: "Lohse" to Maurice, the stranger took no further notice of him,
but, drawing Madeleine's hand through his arm, in a manner half
gallant, half paternal, invited her to take ices with him, at the
Maurice remained standing in a corner, scrutinising those who
passed him. He exchanged a few words with one of his companions of the
dinner-table--a small-bodied, big-headed chemical student called
Dickensey, who had a reputation for his cynicism. He had just asked
Maurice whether Siegmund reminded him more of a pork-butcher or a
prizefighter, and had offered to lay a bet that he would never attend
a performance in this theatre when the doors of Hunding's house flew
open, or the sword lit up, at exactly the right moment--when Maurice
caught sight of Dove and the Cayhills. He excused himself, and went to
Not one of the three looked happy. Johanna was unspeakably bored and
did not conceal it; she gazed with contempt on the noisy, excited
crowd. Dove was not only burning to devote himself to Ephie; he had
also got himself into a dilemma, and was at this moment doing his best
to explain the first act of the opera to Johanna, without touching on
the relationship of the lovers. His face was red with the effort, and
he hailed Maurice's appearance as a welcome diversion. But Ephie, too,
greeted him with pleasure, and touching his arm, drew him back, so
that they dropped behind the others. She was coquettishly dressed this
evening, and looked so charming that people drew one another's
attention to DIE REIZENDE KLEINE ENGLADNDERIN. But Maurice soon
discovered that she was out of spirits, and disposed to be cross. For
fear lest he was the offender, he asked if she had quite forgiven him,
and if they were good friends again. "Oh, I had forgotten all about
it!" But, a moment after, she was grave and quiet--altogether unlike
"Are you not enjoying yourself, Ephie?"
"No, I'm not. I think it's stupid. And they're all so fat."
This referred to the singers, and was indisputable; Maurice could only
agree with her, and try to rally her. Meanwhile, he continued
surreptitiously to scour the hall, with an evergrowing sense of
Then, suddenly, among those who were passing in the opposite
direction, he saw Louise. In a flash he understood why he had not been
able to find her in the row of seats: he had looked for her in a black
dress, and she was all in white, with heavy white lace at her neck.
Her companion was an Englishman called Eggis, of whom it was rumoured
that he had found it advisable abruptly to leave his native land:
here, he made a precarious living by journalism, and by doing
odd jobs for the consulate. In spite of his shabby clothes, this man,
prematurely bald, with dissipated features, had polished manners and
an air of refinement; and, thoroughly enjoying his position, he was
talking to his companion with vivacity. It was plain that Louise was
only half listening to him; with a faint, absent smile on her lips,
she, too, restlessly scanned the crowd.
They all caught sight of Schilsky at the same moment, and Maurice, on
whom nothing was lost, saw as well the quick look that passed between
Louise and him, and its immediate effect: Louise flashed into a smile,
and was full of gracious attentiveness to the little man at her side.
Schilsky leant against the wall, with his hands in his pockets, his
conspicuous head well back. On entering the FOYER, he had been pounced
on by Miss Jensen. The latter, showily dressed in a large-striped
stuff, had in tow a fellow-singer about half her own size, whom she
was rarely to be seen without; but, on this occasion, the wan little
American stood disconsolately apart, for Miss Jensen was paying no
attention to him. In common with the rest of her sex, she had a
weakness for Schilsky; and besides, on this evening, she needed
specially receptive ears, for she had been studying the role of
Sieglinde, and was full of criticisms and objections. As Ephie and
Maurice passed them, she nodded to the latter and said: "Good evening,
neighbour!" while Schilsky, seizing the chance, broke away, without
troubling to excuse himself. Thus deserted, Miss Jensen detained
Maurice, and so he lost the couple he wanted to keep in sight. But at
the first pause in the conversation, Ephie plucked at his sleeve.
"Let us go out on the balcony."
They went outside on the loggia, where groups of people stood
refreshing themselves in the mild evening air, which was pleasant with
the scent of lilac. Ephie led the way, and Maurice followed her to the
edge of the parapet, where they leaned against one of the pillars.
Here, he found himself again in the neighbourhood of the other two.
Louise, leaning both hands on the stone-work, was looking out over the
square; but Schilsky, lounging as before, with his legs crossed, his
hands in his pockets, had his back to it, and was letting his eyes
range indifferently over the faces before him. As Maurice and Ephie
came up, he yawned long and heartily, and, in so doing, showed all his
defective teeth. Furtively watching them, Maurice saw him lean
towards his companion and say something to her; at the same time, he
touched with his fingertips the lace she wore at the front of her
dress. The familiarity of the action grated on Maurice, and he turned
away his head. When he looked again, a moment or two later, he was
disturbed anew. Louise was leaning forward, still in the same
position, but Schilsky was plainly conversing by means of signs with
some one else. He frowned, half closed his eyes, shook his head, and,
as if by chance, laid a finger on his lips.
"Who's he doing that to?" Maurice asked himself, and followed the
direction of the other's eyes, which were fixed on the corner where he
and Ephie stood. He turned, and looked from side to side; and, as he
did this, he caught a glimpse of Ephie's face, which made him observe
her more nearly: it was flushed, and she was gazing hard at Schilsky.
With a rush of enlightenment, Maurice looked back at the young man,
but this time Schilsky saw that he was being watched; stooping, he
said a nonchalant word to his companion, and thereupon they went
indoors again. All this passed like a flash, but it left, none the
less, a disagreeable impression, and before Maurice had recovered from
it, Ephie said: "Let us go in."
They pressed towards the door.
"I'm poor company to-night, Ephie," he said, feeling already the need
of apologising to her for his ridiculous suspicion. "But you are
quiet, too." He glanced down at her as he spoke, and again was
startled; her expression was set and defiant, but her baby lips
trembled. "What's the matter? I believe you are angry with me for
being so silent."
"I guess it doesn't make any difference to me whether you talk or
not," she replied pettishly. "But I think it's just as dull and stupid
as it can be. I wish I hadn't come."
"Would you like to go home?"
"Of course I wouldn't. I'll stop now I'm here--oh, can't we go quicker?
How slow you are! Do make haste."
He thought he heard tears in her voice, and looked at her in
perplexity. While he contemplated getting her into a quiet corner and
making her tell him truthfully what the matter was, they came upon
Madeleine, who had been searching everywhere for Maurice. Madeleine
had more colour in her cheeks than usual, and, in the pleasing
consciousness that she was having a successful evening, she brought
her good spirits to bear on Ephie, who stood fidgeting beside them.
"You look nice, child," she remarked in her patronising way.
"Your dress is very pretty. But why is your face so red? One would
think you had been crying."
Ephie, growing still redder, tossed her head. "It's no wonder, I'm
sure. The theatre is as hot as an oven. But at least my nose isn't red
Madeleine was on the point of retorting, but at this moment, the
interval came to an end, and the electric bells rang shrilly. The
people who were nearest the doors went out at once, upstairs and down.
Among the first were Louise and Schilsky, the latter's head as usual
visible above every one else's.
"I will go, too," said Ephie hurriedly. "No, don't bother to come with
me. I'll find my way all right. I guess the others are in front."
"There's something wrong with that child to-night," said Madeleine as
she and Maurice climbed to the gallery. "Pert little thing! But I
suppose even such sparrow-brains have their troubles."
"I suppose they have," said Maurice. He had just realised that the
longed-for interval was over, and with it more of the hopes he had
Dove was already in his seat, eating another roll. He moved along to
make room for them, but not a word was to be got out of him, and as
soon as he had finished eating, he raised the opera-glass to his eyes
again. Behind his back, Madeleine whispered a mischievous remark to
Maurice, but the latter smiled wintrily in return. He had searched
swiftly and thoroughly up and down the fourth row of the PARQUET, only
to find that Louise was not in it. This time there could be no doubt
whatever; not a single white dress was in the row, and towards the
middle a seat was vacant. They had gone home then; he would not see
her again--and once more the provoking darkness enveloped the theatre.
This second act had no meaning for him, and he found the various
scenes intolerably long. Dove volunteered no further aid, and
Madeleine's explanations were insufficient; he was perplexed and
bored, and when the curtains fell, joined in the applause merely to
save appearances. The others rose, but he said he would not go
downstairs; and when they had drawn back to let Dove push by and hurry
away, Madeleine said she, too, would stay. However they would at least
go into the corridor, where the air was better. After they had
promenaded several times up and down, they descended to a
lower floor and there, through a little half-moon window that gave on
the FOYER below, they watched the living stream which, underneath, was
going round as before. Madeleine talked without a pause.
"Look at Dove!" She pointed him out as he went by with the two
sisters. "Did you ever see such a gloomy air? He might sit for Werther
to-night. And oh, look, there's Boehmer with his widow--see, the
pretty fattish little woman. She's over forty and has buried two
husbands, but is crazy about Boehmer. They say she's going to marry
him, though he's more than twenty years younger than she is."
At this juncture, to his astonishment, Maurice saw Schilsky and
Louise. He uttered an involuntary exclamation, and Madeleine
understood it. She stopped her gossip to say: "You thought she had
gone, didn't you? Probably she has only changed her seat. They do that
sometimes--he hates PARQUET." And, after a pause: "How cross she looks!
She's evidently in a temper about something. I never saw people hide
their feelings as badly as they do. It's positively indecent."
Her strictures were justifiable; as long as the two below were in
sight, and as often as they came round, they did not exchange word or
look with each other. Schilsky frowned sulkily, and his loose-knitted
body seemed to hang together more loosely than usual, while as for
Louise--Maurice staring hard from his point of vantage could not have
believed it possible for her face to change in this way. She looked
suddenly older, and very tired; and her mobile mouth was hard.
When, an hour later, after a tedious colloquy between Brunnhilde and
Wotan, this long and disappointing evening came to an end, to the more
human strains of the FEUERZAUBER, and they, the last of the
gallery-audience to leave, had tramped down the wooden stairs,
Maurice's heart leapt to his throat to discover, as they turned the
last bend, not only the two Cayhills waiting for them, but also, a
little distance further off, Louise. She stood there, in her white
dress, with a thin scarf over her head.
Madeleine was surprised too. "Louise! Is it you? And alone?"
The girl did not respond. "I want to borrow some money from you,
Madeleine--about five or six marks," she said, without smiling, in one
of those colourless voices that preclude further questioning.
Madeleine was not sure if she had more than a couple of marks
in her purse, and confirmed this on looking through it under a lamp;
but both young men put their hands in their pockets, and the required
sum was made up. As they walked across the square, Louise explained.
Dressed, and ready to start for the theatre, she had not been able to
find her purse.
"I looked everywhere. And yet I had it only this morning. At the last
moment, I came down here to Markwald's. He knows me; and he let me
have the seats on trust. I said I would go in afterwards."
They waited outside the tobacconist's, while she settled her debt.
Before she came out again, Madeleine cast her eyes over the group,
and, having made a rapid surmise, said good-naturedly to Johanna:
"Well, I suppose we shall walk together as far as we can. Shall you
and I lead off?"
Maurice had a sudden vision of bliss; but no sooner had Louise
appeared again, with the shopman bowing behind her, then Ephie came
round to his side, with a naive, matter-of-course air that admitted of
no rebuff, and asked him to carry her opera-glass. Dove and Louise
brought up the rear.
But Dove had only one thought: to be in Maurice's place. Ephie had
behaved so strangely in the theatre; he had certainly done something
to offend her, and, although he had more than once gone over his
conduct of the past week, without finding any want of correctness on
his part, whatever it was, he must make it good without delay.
"You know my friend Guest, I think," he said at last, having racked
his brains to no better result--not for the world would he have had his
companion suspect his anxiety to leave her. "He's a clever fellow, a
very clever fellow. Schwarz thinks a great deal of him. I wonder what
his impressions of the opera were. This was his first experience of
Wagner; it would be interesting to hear what he has to say."
Louise was moody and preoccupied, but Dove's words made her smile.
"Let us ask him," she said.
They quickened their steps and overtook the others. And when Dove,
without further ado, had marched round to Ephie's side, Louise, left
slightly to herself, called Maurice back to her.
"Mr. Guest, we want your opinion of the WALKURE."
Confused to find her suddenly beside him, Maurice was still more
disconcerted at the marked way in which she slackened her pace
to let the other two get in front. Believing, too, that he heard a
note of mockery in her voice, he coloured and hesitated. Only a moment
ago he had had several things worth saying on his tongue; now they
would not out. He stammered a few words, and broke down in them
half-way. She said nothing, and after one of the most embarrassing
pauses he had ever experienced, he avowed in a burst of forlorn
courage: "To tell the truth, I did not hear much of the music."
But Louise, who had merely exchanged one chance companion for another,
did not ask the reason, or display any interest in his confession, and
they went on in silence. Maurice looked stealthily at her: her white
scarf had slipped back and her wavy head was bare. She had not heard
what he said, he told himself; her thoughts had nothing to do with
him. But as he stole glances at her thus, unreproved, he wakened to a
sudden consciousness of what was happening to him: here and now, after
long weeks of waiting, he was walking at her side; he knew her, was
alone with her, in the summer darkness, and, though a cold hand
gripped his throat at the thought, he took the resolve not to let this
moment pass him by, empty-handed. He must say something that would
rouse her to the fact of his existence; something that would linger in
her mind, and make her remember him when he was not there. But they
were half way down the GRIMMAISCHESTRASSE; at the end, where the
PETERSTRASSE crossed it, Dove and the Cayhills would branch off, and
Madeleine return to them. He had no time to choose his phrases.
"When I was introduced to you this afternoon, Miss Dufrayer, you did
not know who I was," he said bluntly. "But I knew you very well--by
sight, I mean, of course. I have seen you often--very often."
He had done what he had hoped to do, had arrested her attention. She
turned and considered him, struck by the tone in which he spoke.
"The first time I saw you," continued Maurice, with the same show of
boldness--"you, of course, will not remember it. It was one evening in
Schwarz's room--in April--months ago. And since then, I . . . well . . .
She was gazing at him now, in surprise. She remembered at this minute,
how once before, that day, his manner of saying some simple thing had
affected her disagreeably. Then, she had eluded the matter with an
indifferent word; now, she was not in a mood to do this, or in
a mood to show leniency. She was dispirited, at war with herself, and
she welcomed the excuse to vent her own bitterness on another.
"And since then--well?"
"Since then . . . "He hesitated, and gave a nervous laugh at his own
daring. "Since then . . . well, I have thought about you more
than--than is good for my peace of mind."
For a moment amazement kept her silent; then she, too, laughed, and
the walls of the dark houses they were passing seemed to the young man
to re-echo the sound.
"Your peace of mind!"
She repeated the words after him, with such an ironical emphasis that
his unreflected courage curled and shrivelled. He wished the ground
had swallowed him up before he had said them. For, as they fell from
her lips, the audacity he had been guilty of, and the absurdity that
was latent in the words themselves, struck him in the face like
pellets of hail.
"Your peace of mind! What has your peace of mind to do with me?" she
cried, growing extravagantly angry. "I never saw you in my life till
to-day; I may never see you again, and it is all the same to me
whether I do or not.--Oh, my own peace of mind, as you call it, is
quite hard enough to take care of, without having a stranger's thrown
at me! What do you mean by making me responsible for it! I have never
done anything to you."
All the foolish castles Maurice had built came tumbling about his
cars. He grew pale and did not venture to look at her.
"Make you responsible! Oh, how can you misunderstand me so cruelly!"
His consternation was so palpable that it touched her in spite of
herself. Her face had been as naively miserable as a child's, now it
softened, and she spoke more kindly.
"Don't mind what I say. To-night I am tired . . . have a headache . . .
anything you like."
A wave of compassion drowned his petty feelings of injury, and his
sympathy found vent in a few inadequate words.
"Help me?--you?" She laughed, in an unhappy way. "To help, one must
understand, and you couldn't understand though you tried. All you
others lead such quiet lives; you know nothing of what goes on in a
life like mine. Every day I ask myself why I have not thrown myself
out of the window, or over one of the bridges into the river,
and put an end to it."
Wrapped up though she was in herself, she could not help smiling at
his frank gesture of dismay.
"Don't be afraid," she said, and the smile lingered on her lips. "I
shall never do it. I'm too fond of life, and too afraid of death. But
at least," she caught herself up again, "you will see how ridiculous
it is for you to talk to me of your peace of mind. Peace of mind! I
have never even been passably content. Something is always wanting.
To-night, for instance, I feel so much energy in me, and I can make
nothing of it--nothing! If I were a man, I should walk for hours,
bareheaded, through the woods. But to be a woman . . . to be cooped up
inside four walls . . . when the night itself is not large enough to
hold it all!----"
She threw out her hands to emphasise her helplessness, then let them
drop to her sides again. There was a silence, for Maurice could not
think of anything to say; her fluency made him tongue-tied. He
struggled with his embarrassment until they were all but within
earshot of the rest, at the bottom of the street.
"If I . . . if you would let me . . . There is nothing in the world I
wouldn't do to help you," he ended fervently.
She did not reply; they had reached the corner where the others
waited. There was a general leave-taking. Through a kind of mist,
Maurice saw that Ephie's face still wore a hostile look; and she
hardly moved her lips when she bade him good-night.
Madeleine drew her own conclusions as she walked the rest of the way
home between two pale and silent people. She had seen, on coming out
of the theatre, that Louise was in one of her bad moods--a fact easily
to be accounted for by Schilsky's absence. Maurice had evidently been
made to suffer under it, too, for not a syllable was to be drawn from
him, and, after several unavailing attempts she let him alone.
As they crossed the ROSSPLATZ, which lay wide and deserted in the
starlight, Louise said abruptly: "Suppose, instead of going home, we
walk to Connewitz?"
At this proposal, and at Maurice's seconding of it, Madeleine laughed
with healthy derision.
"That is just like one of your crazy notions," she said "What a
creature you are! For my part, I decline with thanks. I have to get a
Moscheles ETUDE ready by to-morrow afternoon, and need all my
wits. But don't let me hinder you. Walk to Grimma if you want to."
"What do you say? Shall you and I go on?" Louise turned to Maurice;
and the young man did not know whether she spoke in jest or in
Madeleine knew her better. "Louise!" she said warningly. "Maurice has
work to do to-morrow, too."
"You thought I meant it," said the girl, and laughed so ungovernably
that Madeleine was again driven to remonstrance.
"For goodness' sake, be quiet! We shall have a policeman after us, if
you laugh like that."
Nothing more was said until they stood before the housedoor in the
BRUDERSTRASSE. There Louise, who had lapsed once more into her former
indifference, asked Madeleine to come upstairs with her.
"I will look for the purse again; and then I can give you what I owe
you. Or else I am sure to forget. Oh, it's still early; and the night
is so long. No one can think of sleep yet."
Madeleine was not a night-bird, but she was also not averse to having
a debt paid. Louise looked from her to Maurice. "Will you come, too,
Mr. Guest? It will only take a few minutes," she said, and, seeing his
unhappy face, and remembering what had passed between them, she spoke
more gently than she had yet done.
Maurice felt that he ought to refuse; it was late. But Madeleine
answered for him. "Of course. Come along, Maurice," and he crossed the
threshold behind them.
After lighting a taper, they entered a paved vestibule, and mounted a
flight of broad and very shallow stairs; half-way up, there was a deep
recess for pot-plants, and a wooden seat was attached to the wall. The
house had been a fine one in its day; it was solidly built, had
massive doors with heavy brass fittings, and thick mahogany banisters.
On the first floor were two doors, a large and a small one, side by
side. Louise unlocked the larger, and they stepped into a commodious
lobby, off which several rooms opened. She led the way to the furthest
of these, and entered in front of her companions.
Maurice, hesitating just inside the door, found himself close to a
grand piano, which stood free on all sides, was open, and disorderly
with music. It was a large room, with three windows; and one
end of it was shut off by a high screen, which stretched almost from
wall to wall. A deep sofa stood in an oriel-window; a writing-table
was covered with bric-a-brac, and three tall flower-vases were filled
with purple lilac. But there was a general air of untidiness about the
room; for strewn over the chairs and tables were numerous small
articles of dress and the toilet-hairpins, a veil, a hat and a
skirt--all traces of her intimate presence.
As she lifted the lamp from the writing-table to place it on the
square table before the sofa, Madeleine called her attention to a
folded paper that had lain beneath it.
"It seems to be a letter for you."
She caught at it with a kind of avidity, tore it open, and heedless of
their presence, devoured it, not only with her eyes: but with her
parted lips and eager hands. When she looked up again, her cheeks had
a tinge of colour in them; her eyes shone like faceted jewels; her
smile was radiant and infectious. With no regard for appearances, she
buttoned the note in the bosom of her dress.
"Now we will look for the purse," she said. "But come in, Mr.
Guest--you are still standing at the door. I shall think you are
offended with me. Oh, how hot the room is!--and the lilac is stifling.
First the windows open! And then this scarf off, and some more light.
You will help me to look, will you not?"
It was to Maurice she spoke, with a childlike upturning of her face to
his--an irresistibly confiding gesture. She disappeared behind the
screen, and came out bareheaded, nestling with both hands at the coil
of hair on her neck. Then she lit two candles that stood on the piano
in brass candlesticks, and Maurice lighted her round the room, while
she searched in likely and unlikely places--inside the piano, in empty
vases, in the folds of the curtains--laughing at herself as she did so,
until Madeleine said that this was only nonsense, and came after them
herself. When Maurice held the candle above the writing-table, he
lighted three large photographs of Schilsky, one more dandified than
the other; and he was obliged to raise his other hand to steady the
At last, following a hint from Madeleine, they discovered the purse
between the back of the sofa and the seat; and now Louise remembered
that it had been in the pocket of her dressing-gown that afternoon.
"How stupid of me! I might have known," she said contritely.
"So many things have gone down there in their day. Once a silver
hair-brush that I was fond of; and I sometimes look there when bangles
or hat-pins are missing," and letting her eyes dance at Maurice, she
threw back her head and laughed.
Here, however, another difficulty arose; except for a few nickel
coins, the purse was found to contain only gold, and the required
change could not be made up.
"Never mind; take one of the twenty-mark pieces," she urged. "Yes,
Madeleine, I would rather you did;" and when Madeleine hinted that
Maurice might not find it too troublesome to come back with the change
the following day, she turned to the young man, and saying: "Yes, if
Mr. Guest would be so kind," smiled at him with such a gracious warmth
that it was all he could do to reply with a decent unconcern.
But the hands of the clock on the writing-table were nearing half-past
eleven, and now it was she who referred to the lateness of the hour.
"Thank you very much," she said to Maurice on parting. "And you must
forget the nonsense I talked this evening. I didn't mean it--not a word
of it." She laughed and held out her hand. "I wouldn't shake hands
with you this afternoon, but now--if you will? For to-night I am not
superstitious. Nothing bad will happen; I'm sure of that. And I am
very much obliged to you--for everything. Good night."
Only a few minutes back, he had been steeped in pity for her; now it
seemed as if no one had less need of pity or sympathy than she. He was
bewildered, and went home to pass alternately from a mood of rapture
to one of jealous despair. And the latter was torturous, for, as they
walked, Madeleine had let fall such a vile suspicion that he had
parted from her in anger, calling as he went that if he believed what
she said to be true, he would never put faith in a human being again.
In the light of the morning, of course, he knew that it was
incredible, a mere phantasm born of the dark; and towards four o'clock
that afternoon, he called at the BRUDERSTRASSE with the change. But
Louise was not at home, and as he did not find her in on three
successive days, he did not venture to return. He wrote his name on a
card, and left this, together with the money, in an envelope.
After parting from the rest, Dove and the two Cayhills continued their
way in silence: they were in the shadow thrown by the steep vaulting
of the THOMASKIRCHE, before a word was exchanged between them. Johanna
had several times glanced inquiringly at her sister, but Ephie had
turned away her head, so that only the outline of her cheek was
visible, and as Dove had done exactly the same, Johanna could only
conclude that the two had fallen out. It was something novel for her
to be obliged to talk when Ephie was present, but it was impossible
for them to walk the whole way home as mum as this, especially as Dove
had already heaved more than one deep sigh.
So, as they turned into the PROMENADE, Johanna said with a jerk, and
with an aggressiveness that she could not subdue: "Well, that is the
first and the last time anyone shall persuade me to go to a so-called
opera by Wagner."
"Is not that just a little rash?" asked Dove. He smiled, unruffled,
with a suggestion of patronage; but there was also a preoccupation in
his manner, which showed that he was thinking of other things.
"You call that music," said Johanna, although he had done nothing of
the kind. "I call it noise. I am not musical myself, thank goodness,
but at least I know a tune when I hear one."
"If my opinion had been asked, I should certainly have suggested
something lighter--LOHENGRIN OR TANNHAUSER, for instance," said Dove.
"You would have done us a favour if you had," replied Johanna; and she
meant what she said, in more ways than one. She had been at a loss to
account for Ephie's sudden longing to hear DIE WALKURE, and had gone
to the theatre against her will, simply because she never thwarted
Ephie if she could avoid it. Now, after she had heard the opera, she
felt aggrieved with Dove as well; as far as she had been able to
gather from his vague explanations, from the bawling of the singers,
and from subsequent events, the first act treated of relations so
infamous that, by common consent, they are considered non-existent;
and Johanna was of the opinion that, instead of being so ready
to take tickets for them, Dove might have let drop a hint of the
nature of the piece Ephie wished to see.
After this last remark of Johanna's there was another lengthy pause.
Then Dove, looking fondly at what he could see of Ephie's cheek, said:
"I am afraid Miss Ephie has not enjoyed it either; she is so quiet--so
Ephie, who had been staring into the darkness, bit her lip: he was at
it again. After the unfriendly way in which Maurice Guest had deserted
her, and forced her into Dove's company, Dove had worried her right
down the GRIMMAISCHESTRASSE, to know what the matter was, and how he
had offended her. She felt exasperated with every one, and if he began
his worryings again, would have to vent her irritation somehow.
"Ephie has only herself to blame if she didn't enjoy it; she was bent
on going," said Johanna, in the mildly didactic manner she invariably
used towards her sister. "But I think she is only tired--or a little
"Oh, that is not likely," Dove hastened to interpose.
"I am not cross, Joan," said Ephie angrily. "And if it was my fault you
had to come--I've enjoyed myself very much, and I shall go again, as
often as I like. But I won't be teased--I won't indeed!"
This was the sharpest answer Johanna had ever received from Ephie. She
looked at her in dismay, but made no response, for of nothing was
Johanna more afraid than of losing the goodwill Ephie bore her.
Mentally she put her sister's pettishness down to the noise and heat
of the theatre, and it was an additional reason for bearing Wagner and
his music a grudge. Dove also made no further effort to converse
connectedly, but his silence was of a conciliatory kind, and, as they
advanced along the PROMENADE, he could not deny himself the pleasure
of drawing the pretty, perverse child's attention to the crossings,
the ruts in the road, the best bits of pavement, with a: "Walk you
here, Miss Ephie," "Take care," "Allow me," himself meanwhile dancing
from one side of the footpath to the other, until the young girl was
"I can see for myself, thank you. I have eyes in my head as well as
anyone else," she exclaimed at length; and to Johanna's amazed:
"Ephie!" she retorted: "Yes, Joan, you think no one has a right to be
rude but yourself."
Johanna was more hurt by these words than she would have confessed.
She had hitherto believed that Ephie--affectionate, lazy
little Ephie--accepted her individual peculiarities as an integral part
of her nature: it had not occurred to her that Ephie might be standing
aloof and considering her objectively--let alone mentally using such an
unkind word as rudeness of her. But Ephie's fit of ill-temper, for
such it undoubtedly was, made Johanna see things differently; it
hinted at unsuspected, cold scrutinies in the past, and implied a
somewhat laming care of one's words in the days to come, which would
render it difficult ever again to be one's perfectly natural self.
Had Johanna not been so occupied with her own feelings, she would have
heard the near tears in Ephie's voice; it was with the utmost
difficulty that the girl kept them back, and at the house-door, she
had vanished up the stairs long before Dove had finished saying
good-night. In the corridor, she hesitated whether or no, according to
custom, she should go to her mother's room. Then she put a brave face
on it, and opened the door.
"Here we are, mummy. Good night. I hope the evening wasn't too long."
Long?--on the contrary the hours had flown. Mrs. Cayhill, left to
herself, had all the comfortable sensations of a tippler in the
company of his bottle. She could forge ahead, undeterred by any sense
of duty; she had not to interrupt herself to laugh at Ephie's wit, nor
was she troubled by Johanna's cold eye--that eye which told more plainly
than words, how her elder daughter regarded her self-indulgence.
Propped up in bed on two pillows, she now laid down her book, and put
out her hand to draw Ephie to her.
"Did you enjoy it, darling? Were you amused? But you will tell me all
about it in the morning."
"Yes, mother, in the morning. I am a little tired--but it was very
sweet," said Ephie bravely. "Good night."
Mrs. Cayhill kissed her, and nodded in perfect contentment at the
pretty little figure before her. Ephie was free to go. And at last she
was in her own room--at last!
She hastily locked both doors, one leading to the passage and one to
her sister's room. A moment later, Johanna was at the latter, trying
to open it.
"Ephie! What is the matter? Why have you locked the door? Open it at
once, I insist upon it," she cried anxiously, and as loudly as she
dared, for fear of disturbing the other inmates of the house.
But Ephie begged hard not to be bothered; she had a bad headache,
and only wanted to be quiet.
"Let me give you a powder," urged her sister. "You are so excited--I am
sure you are not well;" and when this, too, was refused: "You had
nothing but some tea, child--you must be hungry. And they have left our
supper on the table."
No, she was not hungry, didn't want any supper, and was very sleepy.
"Well, at least unlock your door," begged Johanna, with visions of the
dark practices which Ephie, the soul of candour, might be contemplating
on the other side. "I will not come in, I promise you," she added.
"Oh, all right," said Ephie crossly. But as soon as she heard that
Johanna had gone, she returned to the middle of the room without
touching the door; and after standing undecided for a moment, as if
not quite sure what was coming next, she sat down on a chair at the
foot of the bed, and suddenly began to cry. The tears had been in
waiting for so long that they flowed without effort, abundantly,
rolling one over another down her cheeks; but she was careful not to
make a sound; for, even when sobbing bitterly, she did not forget that
at any moment Johanna might enter the adjoining room and overhear her.
And then, what a fuss there would be! For Ephie was one of those
fortunate people who always get what they want, and but rarely have
occasion to cry. All her desires had moved low, near earth, and been
easily fulfilled. Did she break her prettiest doll, a still prettier
was forthcoming; did anything happen to cross wish or scheme of hers,
half a dozen brains were at work to think out a compensation.
But now she wept in earnest, behind closed doors, for she had received
an injury which no one could make good. And the more she thought of
it, the more copiously her tears flowed. The evening had been one long
tragedy of disappointment: her fevered anticipation beforehand, her
early throbs of excitement in the theatre, her growing consternation
as the evening advanced, her mortification at being slighted--a
sensation which she experienced for the first time. Again and again
she asked herself what she had done to be treated in this way. What
had happened to change him?
She was sitting upright on her chair, letting the tears stream
unchecked; her two hands lay upturned on her knee; in one of them was
a diminutive lace handkerchief, rolled to a ball, with which now and
then she dabbed away the hottest tears. The windows of the
room were still open, the blinds undrawn, and the street-lamps threw a
flickering mesh of light on the wall. In the glass that hung over the
washstand, she saw her dim reflection: following an impulse, she dried
her eyes, and, with trembling fingers, lighted two candles, one on
each side of the mirror. By this uncertain light, she leant forward
with both hands on the stand, and peered at herself with a new
She was still just as she had come out of the theatre: a many-coloured
silk scarf was twisted round her head, and the brilliant, dangling
fringes, and the stray tendrils of hair that escaped, made a frame for
the rounded oval of her face. And then her skin was so fine, her eyes
were so bright, the straight lashes so black and so long!--she put her
head back, looked at herself through half-closed lids, turned her face
this way and that, even smiling, wet though her cheeks were, in order
that she might see the even line of teeth, with their slightly notched
edges. The smile was still on her lips when the tears welled up again,
ran over, trickled down and dropped with a splash, she watching them,
until a big, unexpected sob rose in her throat, and almost choked her.
Yes, she was pretty--oh, very, very pretty! But it made what had
happened all the harder to understand. How had he had the heart to
treat her so cruelly?
She knelt down by the open window, and laid her head on the sill. The
moon, a mere sharp line of silver, hung fine and slender, like a
polished scimitar, above the dark mass of houses opposite. Turning her
hot face up to it, she saw that it was new, and instantly felt a throb
of relief that she had not caught her first glimpse of it through
glass. She bowed her head to it, quickly, nine times running, and sent
up a prayer to the deity of fortune that had its home there. Good
luck!--the fulfilment of one's wish! She wished in haste, with
tight-closed eyes--and who knew but what, the very next day, her wish
might come true! Tired with crying, above all, tired of the grief
itself, she began more and more to let her thoughts stray to the
morrow. And having once yielded to the allurements of hope, she even
endeavoured to make the best of the past evening, telling herself that
she had not been alone for a single instant; he had really had no
chance of speaking to her. In the next breath, of course, she reminded
herself that he might easily have made a chance, had he wished; and a
healthier feeling of resentment stole over her. Rising from her
cramped position, she shut the window. She resolved to show him that
she was not a person who could be treated in this off-hand
fashion; he should see that she was not to be trifled with.
But she played with her unhappiness a little longer, and even had an
idea of throwing herself on the bed without undressing. She was very
sleepy, though, and the desire to be between the cool, soft sheets was
too strong to be withstood. She slipped out of her clothes, leaving
them just where they fell on the floor, like round pools; and before
she had finished plaiting her hair, she was stifling a hearty yawn.
But in bed, when the light was out, she lay and stared before her.
"I am very, very unhappy. I shall not sleep a wink," she said to
herself, and sighed at the prospect of the night-watch.
But before five minutes had passed her closed hand relaxed, and lay
open and innocent on the coverlet; her breath came regularly--she was
fast asleep. The moon was visible for a time in the setting of the
unshuttered window; and when she wakened next day, toward nine
o'clock, the full morning sun was playing on the bed.
For several months prior to this, Ephie had worshipped Schilsky at a
distance. The very first time she saw him play, he had made a profound
impression on her: he looked so earnest and melancholy, so supremely
indifferent to every one about him, as he stood with his head bent to
his violin. Then, too, he had beautiful hands; and she did not know
which she admired more, his auburn hair with the big hat set so
jauntily on it, or the thrillingly impertinent way he had of staring
at you--through half-closed eyes, with his head well back--in a manner
at once daring and irresistible.
Having come through a period of low spirits, caused by an acute
consciousness of her own littleness and inferiority, Ephie so far
recovered her self-confidence that she was able to look at her
divinity when she met him; and soon after this, she made the
intoxicating discovery that not only did he return her look, but that
he also took notice of her, and deliberately singled her out with his
gaze. And the belief was pardonable on Ephie's part, for Schilsky made
it a point of honour to stare any pretty girl into confusion; besides
which, he had a habit of falling into sheep-like reveries, in which he
saw no more of what or whom he looked at, than do the glassy eyes of
the blind. More than once, Ephie had blushed and writhed in blissful
torture under these stonily staring eyes.
From this to persuading herself that her feelings were returned
was only a step. Events and details, lighter than puff-balls,
were to her links of iron, which formed a wonderful chain of evidence.
She went about nursing the idea that Schilsky desired an introduction
as much as she did; that he was suffering from a romantic and
melancholy attachment, which forbade him attempting to approach her.
At this date, she became an adept at inventing excuses to go to the
Conservatorium when she thought he was likely to be there; and,
suddenly grown rebellious, she shook off Johanna's protectorship,
which until now had weighed lightly on her. She grew fastidious about
her dress, studied before the glass which colours suited her best, and
the effect of a particular bow or ribbon; while on the days she had
her violin-lessons, she developed a coquetry which made nothing seem
good enough to wear, and was the despair of Johanna. When Schilsky
played at an ABENDUNTERHALTUNG, she sat in the front row of seats, and
made her hands ache with applauding. Afterwards she lay wakeful, with
hot cheeks, and dreamt extravagant dreams of sending him great baskets
and bouquets of flowers, with coloured streamers to them, such as the
singers in the opera received on a gala night. And though no name was
given, he would know from whom they came. But on the only occasion she
tried to carry out the scheme, and ventured inside a florist's shop,
her scant command of German, and the excessive circumstantiality of
the matter, made her feel so uncomfortable that she had fled
precipitately, leaving the shopman staring after her in surprise.
Things were at this pass when, one day late in May, Ephie went as
usual to take her lesson. It was two o'clock on a cloudless afternoon,
and so warm that the budding lilac in squares and gardens began to
give out fragrance. In the whitewashed, many-windowed corridors of the
Conservatorium, the light was harsh and shadowless; it jarred on one,
wounded the nerves. So at least thought Schilsky, who was hanging
about the top storey of the building, in extreme ill-humour. He had
been forced to make an appointment with a man to whom he owed money;
the latter had not yet appeared, and Schilsky lounged and swore, with
his two hands deep in his pockets, and his sulkiest expression. But
gradually, he found himself listening to the discordant tones of a
violin--at first unconsciously, as we listen when our thoughts are
elsewhere engaged, then more and more intently. In one of the junior
masters' rooms, some one had begun to play scales in the third
position, uncertainly, with shrill feebleness, seeking out
each note, only to produce it falsely. As this scraping worked on him,
Schilsky could not refrain from rubbing his teeth together, and
screwing up his face as though he had toothache; now that the
miserable little tones had successfully penetrated his ear, they hit
him like so many blows.
"Damn him for a fool!" he said savagely to himself, and found an
outlet for his irritation in repeating these words aloud. Then,
however, as an ETUDE was commenced, with an impotence that struck him
as purely vicious, he could endure the torment no longer. He had seen
in the BUREAU the particular master, and knew that the latter had not
yet come upstairs. Going to the room from which the sounds issued, he
stealthily opened the door.
A girl was standing with her back to him, and was so engrossed in
playing that she did not hear him enter. On seeing this, he proposed
to himself the schoolboy pleasure of creeping up behind her and giving
her a well-deserved fright. He did so, with such effect that, had he
not caught it, her violin would have fallen to the floor.
He took both her wrists in his, held them firm, and, from his superior
height--he was head and shoulders taller than Ephie --looked down on
the miscreant. He recognised her now as a pretty little American whom
he had noticed from time to time about the building; but--but . . .
well, that she was as astoundingly pretty as this, he had had no
notion. His eyes strayed over her face, picking out all its beauties,
and he felt himself growing as soft as butter. Besides, she had
crimsoned down to her bare, dimpled neck; her head drooped; her long
lashes covered her eyes, and a tremulous smile touched the corners of
her mouth, which seemed uncertain whether to laugh or to cry--the
short, upper-lip trembled. He felt from her wrists, and saw from the
uneasy movement of her breast, how wildly her heart was beating--it was
as if one held a bird in one's hand. His ferocity died away; none of
the hard words he had had ready crossed his lips; all he said, and in
his gentlest voice, was: "Have I frightened you?" He was desperately
curious to know the colour of her eyes, and, as she neither answered
him nor looked up, but only grew more and more confused, he let one of
her hands fall, and taking her by the chin, turned her face up to his.
She was forced to look at him for a moment. Upon which, he stooped and
kissed her on the mouth, three times, with a pause between each kiss.
Then, at a noise in the corridor, he swung hastily from the
room, and was just in time to avoid the master, against whom he
brushed up in going out of the door.
Herr Becker looked suspiciously at his favourite pupil's tell-tale face
and air of extreme confusion; and, throughout the lesson, his manner
to her was so cold and short that Ephie played worse than ever before.
After sticking fast in the middle of a passage, she stopped
altogether, and begged to be allowed to go home. When she had gone,
and some one else was playing, Herr Becker stood at the window and
shook his head: round this innocent baby face he had woven several
Meanwhile Ephie flew rather than walked home, and having reached her
room unseen, flung herself on the bed, and buried her burning cheeks
in the white coolness of the pillows. Johanna, finding her thus, a
short time after, was alarmed, put questions of various kinds, felt
sure the sun had been too hot for her, and finally stood over the bed,
holding her unfailing remedy, a soothing powder for the nerves.
"Oh, do for goodness' sake, leave me alone, Joan," said Ephie. "I
don't want your powders. I am all right. Just let me be."
She drank the mixture, however, and catching sight of Johanna's
anxious face, and aware that she had been cross, she threw her arms
round her sister, hugged her, and called her a "dear old darling
Joan." But there was something in the stormy tenderness of the
embrace, in the flushed cheeks and glittering eyes that made Johanna
even more uneasy. She insisted upon Ephie lying still and trying to
sleep; and, after taking off her shoes for her, and noiselessly
drawing down the blinds, she went on tiptoe out of the room.
Ephie burrowed more deeply in her pillow, and putting both hands to
her cars, to shut out the world, went over the details of what had
happened. It was like a fairy-story. She walked lazily down the sunny
corridor, entered the class-room, and took off her hat, which Herr
Becker hung up for her, after having playfully examined it. She had
just taken her violin from its case, when he remembered something he
had to do in the BUREAU, and went out of the room, bidding her
practise her scales during his absence; she heard again and smiled at
the funny accent with which he said: "Just a moment." She saw the bare
walls of the room, the dust that lay white on the lid on the piano,
was conscious of the difficulties of C sharp minor. She even knew
the very note at which HE had been beside her--without a word
of warning, as suddenly as though he had sprung from the earth. She
heard the cry she had given, and felt his hands--the hands she had so
often admired--clasp her wrists. He was so close to her that she felt
his breath, and knew the exact shape of the diamond ring he wore on
his little finger. She felt, too, rather than saw the audacious
admiration of his eyes; and his voice was not the less caressing
because a little thick. And then--then--she burrowed more firmly, held
her ears more tightly to, laughed a happy, gurgling laugh that almost
choked her: never, as long as she lived, would she forget the feel of
his moustache as it scratched her lips!
When she rose and looked at herself in the glass, it seemed
extraordinary that there should be no outward difference in her; and
for several days she did not lose this sensation of being mysteriously
changed. She was quieter than usual, and her movements were a little
languid, but a kind of subdued radiance peeped through and shone in
her eyes. She waited confidently for something to happen: she did not
herself know what it would be, but, after the miracle that had
occurred, it was beyond belief that things could jog on in their old
familiar course; and so she waited and expected--at every letter the
postman brought, each time the door-bell rang, whenever she went into
But after a week had dragged itself to an end, and she had not even
seen Schilsky again, she grew restless and unsure; and sometimes at
night, when Johanna thought she was asleep, she would stand at her
window, and, with a very different face from that which she wore by
day, put countless questions to herself, all of which began with why
and how. And Johanna was again beset by the fear that Ephie was
sickening for an illness, for the child would pass from bursts of
rather forced gaiety to fits of real fretfulness, or sink into brown
studies, from which she wakened with a start. But if, on some such
occasion, Johanna said to her: "Where ARE your thoughts, Ephie?" she
would only laugh, and answer, with a hug: "Wool-gathering, you dear
From the lesson following the eventful one, Ephie played truant, on
the ground of headache, partly because her fancy pictured him lying in
wait like an ogre to eat her up, and partly from a poor little foolish
fear lest he should think her too easily won. Now, however, she blamed
herself for not having given him an opportunity to speak to her, and
began to frequent the Conservatorium assiduously. When, after
ten long days, she saw him again, an unfailing instinct guided her
It was in the vestibule, as she was leaving the building, and they met
face to face. Directly she espied him, though her heart thumped
alarmingly, Ephie tossed her head, gazed fixedly at some distant
object, and was altogether as haughty as her parted lips would allow
of. And she played her part so well that Schilsky's attention was
arrested; he remembered who she was, and stared hard at her as she
passed. Not only this, but pleased, he could not have told why, he
turned and followed her out, and standing on the steps, looked after
her. She went down the street with her head in the air, holding her
dress very high to display a lace-befrilled petticoat, and clattering
gracefully on two high-heeled, pointed shoes. He screwed up his eyes
against the sun, in order to see her better--he was short-sighted, too,
but vanity forbade him to wear glasses--and when, at the corner of the
street, Ephie rather spoilt the effect of her behaviour by throwing a
hasty glance back, he laughed and clicked his tongue against the roof
of his mouth.
"VERDAMMT!" he said with expression.
And both on that day and the next, when he admired a well-turned ankle
or a pretty petticoat, he was reminded of the provoking little
American, with the tossed head and baby mouth.
A few days later, in the street that ran alongside the Gewandhaus, he
saw her again.
Ephie, who, in the interval, had upbraided herself incessantly, was
none the less, now the moment had come, about to pass as before--even
more frigidly. But this time Schilsky raised his hat, with a tentative
smile, and, in order not to appear childish, she bowed ever so
slightly. When he was safely past, she could not resist giving a
furtive look behind her, and at precisely the same moment, he turned,
too. In spite of her trouble, Ephic found the coincidence droll; she
tittered, and he saw it, although she immediately laid the back of her
hand on her lips. It was not in him to let this pass unnoticed. With a
few quick steps, he was at her side.
He took off his hat again, and looked at her not quite sure how to
"I am happy to see you have not forgotten me," he said in excellent
Ephie had impulsively stopped on hearing him come up with her, and
now, colouring deeply, tried to dig a hole in the pavement with the
toe of her shoe. She, too, could not think what to say; and
this, together with the effect produced on her by his peculiar lisp,
made her feel very uncomfortable. She was painfully conscious of his
insistent eyes on her face, as he waited for her to speak; but there
was a distressing pause before he added: "And sorry to see you are
still angry with me."
At this, she found her tongue. Looking, not at him, but at a passer-by
on the opposite side of the street, she said: "Why, I guess I have a
right to be."
She tried to speak severely, but her voice quavered, and once more the
young man was not sure whether the trembling of her lip signified
tears or laughter.
"Are you always so cruel?" he asked, with an intentness that made her
eyes seek the ground again. "Such a little crime! Is there no hope for
She attempted to be dignified. "Little! I am really not accustomed----"
"Then I'm not to be forgiven?"
His tone was so humble that suddenly she had to laugh. Shooting a
quick glance at him, she said:
"That depends on how you behave in future. If you promise never to----"
Before the words were well out of her mouth, she was aware of her
stupidity; her laugh ended, and she grew redder than before. Schilsky
had laughed, too, quite frankly, and he continued to smile at the
confusion she had fallen into. It seemed a long time before he said
with emphasis: "That is the last thing in the world you should ask of me."
Ephie drooped her head, and dug with her shoe again; she had never
been so tongue-tied as to-day, just when she felt she ought to say
something very cold and decisive. But not an idea presented itself,
and meanwhile he went on: "The punishment would be too hard. The
temptation was so great."
As she was still obstinately silent, he stooped and peeped under the
overhanging brim of her hat. "Such pretty lips!" he said, and then, as
on the former occasion, he took her by the chin and turned her face up
But she drew back angrily. "Mr. Schilskyl . . . how dare you! Take
your hand away at once."
"There!--I have sinned again," he said, and folded his hands in mock
supplication. "Now I am afraid you will never forgive me.--But listen,
you have the advantage of me; you know my name. Will you not tell me
Having retreated a full yard from him, Ephie regained some of
her native self-composure. For the first time, she found herself able
to look straight at him. "No," she said, with a touch of her usual
lightness. "I shall leave you to find it out for yourself; it will
give you something to do."
They both laughed. "At least give me your hand," he said; and when he
held it in his, he would not let her go, until, after much seeming
reluctance on her part, she had detailed to him the days and hours of
her lessons at the Conservatorium, and where he would be likely to
meet her. As before, he stood and watched her go down the street,
hoping that she would turn at the corner. But, on this day, Ephie
whisked along in a great hurry.
On after occasions, he waylaid her as she came and went, and either
stood talking to her, or walked the length of the street beside her.
At the early hour of the afternoon when Ephie had her lessons, he did
not need to fear being seen by acquaintances; the sunshine was
undisturbed in the quiet street. The second time they met, he told her
that he had found out what her name was; and his efforts to pronounce
it afforded Ephie much amusement. Their conversation was always of the
same nature, half banter, half earnest. Ephie, who had rapidly
recovered her assurance, invariably began in her archest manner, and
it became his special pleasure to reduce her, little by little, to a
But one day, about a fortnight later, she came upon him at a different
hour, when he was not expecting to see her. He was strolling up and
down in front of the Conservatorium, waiting for Louise, who might
appear at any moment. Ephie had been restless all the morning, and had
finally made an excuse to go out: her steps naturally carried her to
the Conservatorium, where she proposed to study the notice-board, on
the chance of seeing Schilsky. When she caught sight of him, her eyes
brightened; she greeted him with an inviting smile, and a saucy
remark. But Schilsky did not take up her tone; he cut her words short.
"What are you doing here to-day?" he asked with a frown of displeasure,
meanwhile keeping a watchful eye on the inner staircase--visible through
the glass doors--down which Louise would come. "I haven't a moment to
Mortally offended by his manner, Ephie drew back her extended hand,
and giving him a look of surprise and resentment, was about to pass
him by without a further word. But this was more than Schilsky
could bear; he put out his hand to stop her, always, though, with one
eye on the door.
"Now, don't be cross, little girl," he begged impatiently. "It's not my
fault--upon my word it isn't. I wasn't expecting to see you to-day--you
know that. Look here, tell me--this sort of thing is so unsatisfactory--is
there no other place I could see you? What do you do with yourself all
day? Come, answer me, don't be angry."
Ephie melted. "Come and visit us on Sunday afternoon," she said. "We
are always at home then."
He laughed rudely, and took no notice of her words. "Come, think of
something--quick!" he said.
He was on tenterhooks to be gone, and showed it. Ephie grew
flustered, and though she racked her brains, could make no further
"Oh well, if you can't, you know," he said crossly, and loosened his
hold of her arm.
Then, at the last moment, she had a flash of inspiration; she
remembered how, on the previous Sunday, Dove had talked enthusiastically
of an opera-performance, which, if she were not mistaken, was to take
place the following night. Dove had declared that all musical Leipzig
would probably be present in the theatre. Surely she might risk mentioning
this, without fear of another snub.
"I am going to the opera to-morrow night," she said in a small, meek
voice, and was on the verge of tears. Schilsky hardly heard her;
Louise had appeared at the head of the stairs. "The very thing," he
said. "I shall look out for you there, little girl. Good-bye. AUF
He went down the steps, without even raising his hat, and when Louise
came out, he was sauntering towards the building again, as if he had
come from the other end of the street.
Ephie went home in a state of anger and humiliation which was new to
her. For the first few hours, she was resolved never to speak to
Schilsky again. When this mood passed, she made up her mind that he
should atone for his behaviour to the last iota: he should grovel
before her; she would scarcely deign to look at him. But the nearer
the time came for their meeting, the more were her resentful feelings
swallowed up by the wish to see him. She counted off the hours till
the opera commenced; she concocted a scheme to escape Johanna's
surveillance; she had a story ready, if it should be necessary, of how
she had once been introduced to Schilsky. Her fingers trembled
with impatience as she fastened on a pretty new dress, which had just
been sent home: a light, flowered stuff, with narrow bands of black
velvet artfully applied so as to throw the fairness of her hair and
skin into relief.
The consciousness of looking her best gave her manner a light sureness
that was very charming. But from the moment they entered the FOYER,
Ephie's heart began to sink: the crowd was great; she could not see
Schilsky; and in his place came Dove, who was not to be shaken off.
Even Maurice was bad enough--what concern of his was it how she enjoyed
herself? When, finally, she did discover the person she sought, he
was with some one else, and did not see her; and when she had
succeeded in making him look, he frowned, shook his head, and made
angry signs that she was not to speak to him, afterwards going
downstairs with the sallow girl in white. What did it mean? All
through the tedious second act, Ephie wound her handkerchief round and
round, and in and out of her fingers. Would it never end? How long
would the fat, ugly Brunnhilde stand talking to Siegmund and the woman
who lay so ungracefully between his knees? As if it mattered a straw
what these sham people did or felt! Would he speak to her in the next
interval, or would he not?
The side curtains had hardly swept down before she was up from her
seat, hurrying Johanna away. This time she chose to stand against the
wall, at the end of the FOYER. After a short time, he came in sight,
but he had no more attention to spare for her than before; he did not
even look in her direction. Her one consolation was that obviously he
was not enjoying himself; he wore a surly face, was not speaking, and,
to a remark the girl in white made, he answered by an angry flap of
the hand. When they had twice gone past in this way, and she had each
time vainly put herself forward, Ephie began to take an interest in
what Dove was saying, to smile at him and coquet with him, and the
more openly, the nearer Schilsky drew. Other people grew attentive,
and Dove went into a seventh heaven, which made it hard for him
placidly to accept the fit of pettish silence, she subsequently fell
The crowning touch was put to this disastrous evening by the fact that
Schilsky's companion of the FOYER walked the greater part of the way
home with them; and, what was worse, that she took not the slightest
notice of Ephie.
Before leaving her bedroom the following morning, Ephie wrote on her
scented pink paper a short letter, which began: "Dear Mr. Schilsky,"
and ended with: "Your sincere friend, Euphemia Stokes Cayhill." In
this letter, she "failed to understand" his conduct of the previous
evening, and asked him for an explanation. Not until she had closed
the envelope, did she remember that she was ignorant of his address.
She bit the end of her pen, thinking hard, and directly breakfast was
over, put on her hat and slipped out of the house.
It was the first time Ephie had had occasion to enter the BUREAU of
the Conservatorium; and, when the heavy door had swung to behind her,
and she was alone in the presence of the secretaries, each of whom was
bent over a high desk, writing in a ledger, her courage almost failed
her. The senior, an old, white-haired man, with a benevolent face, did
not look up; but after she had stood hesitating for some minutes, an
under-secretary solemnly laid down his pen, and coming to the counter,
wished in English to know what he could do for her. Growing very red,
Ephie asked him if he "would . . . could . . . would please tell her
where Mr. Schilsky lived."
Herr Kleefeld leaned both hands on the counter, and disconcerted her
by staring at her over his spectacles.
"Mr. Schilsky? Is it very important?" he said with a leer, as if he
were making a joke.
"Why, yes, indeed," replied Ephie timidly.
He nodded his head, more to himself than to her, went back to his
desk, opened another ledger, and ran his finger down a page, repeating
aloud as he did so, to her extreme embarrassment: "Mr. Schilsky--let me
see. Mr. Schilsky--let me see."
After a pause, he handed her a slip of paper, on which he had
painstakingly copied the address: "TALSTRASSE, 12 III."
"Why, I thank you very much. I have to ask him about some music. Is
there anything to pay?" stammered Ephie.
But Herr Kleefeld, leaning as before on the counter, shook his head
from side to side, with a waggish air, which confused Ephie still
more. She made her escape, and left him there, still wagging, like a
Having addressed the letter in the nearest post office, she
entered a confectioner's and bought a pound of chocolate creams; so
that when Johanna met her in the passage, anxious and angry at her
leaving the house without a word, she was able to assert that her
candy-box had been empty, and she felt she could not begin to practise
till it was refilled. But Johanna was very cantankerous, and obliged
her to study an hour overtime to atone for her escapade.
Then followed for Ephie several unhappy days, when all the feeling she
seemed capable of concentrated itself on the visits of the postman.
She remained standing at the window until she had seen him come up the
street, and she was regularly the first to look through the mails as
they lay on the lobby table. Two days brought no reply to her letter.
On the third fell a lesson, which she was resolved not to take. But
when the hour came, she dressed herself with care and went as usual.
Schilsky was nowhere to be seen. Half a week later, the same thing was
repeated, except that on this day, she made herself prettier than
ever: she was like some gay, garden flower, in a big white hat, round
the brim of which lay scarlet poppies, and a dress of a light blue,
which heightened the colour of her cheeks, and, reflected in her eyes,
made them bluer than a fjord in the sun. But her spirits were low; if
she did not see him this time, despair would crush her.
But she did--saw him while she was still some distance off, standing
near the portico of the Conservatorium; and at the sight of him, after
the uncertainty she had gone through during the past week, she could
hardly keep back her tears. He did not come to meet her; he stood and
watched her approach, and only when she reached him, indolently held
out his hand. As she refused to notice it, and went to the extreme