Part 7 out of 8
"How do you like me?" she asked.
She had on a salmon-colored broche velvet dress, with ostrich
feather trimmings, and a long train. Shoulders and bust rose as out
of pink foam from the scarf-like folds of some very airy material;
brilliants flashed at her breast and on her arms, the diadem was in
her hair, two solitaires in the delicate little ears, a double row
of pearls round her neck, and an ostrich feather fan, with enameled
gold mounts, in her hand. A superb figure!
"How beautiful!" he said, and stroked her chin fondly. He dared not
touch her cheeks, for fear of disturbing the pearl powder. "But you
look just as regal without the brilliants."
"Flatterer! Would you not like to come, after all? Make haste and
He only shook his head, smiling.
"But are you not a little bit jealous, when you see me go off by
myself to a ball? I shall talk to the men, and take their arm and
dance with them; the people will look at me and pay me attention--
does it not make any difference to you?"
"No, dear heart, for I hope it will make none to you either."
"Ah, yes--you need have no fear on that score. But still--in your
place--you men, you love differently from us. And not so well," she
added with a sigh, as Anne appeared with her fur-lined cloak, and
announced that the carriage was waiting.
Some hours later Wilhelm was startled out of a deep sleep by burning
kisses. He opened his dazed eyes, and, blinking in the lamplight,
saw Pilar standing by the bed as if in a cloud. She held her great
bouquet in one hand, and with the other was plucking the roses and
gardenias to pieces, and strewing the petals over his head and face,
as she did in the sunny afternoons at St. Valery. She must have been
engaged in this pastime for a considerable time, for the pillows and
quilt were covered with flowers, and his hair was full of them. As
neither Pilar's entry with the lamp nor the shower of blossoms had
succeeded in wakening him, she had leaned over him and roused him
with a kiss.
"Oh, sleepy head!" she cried, and continued to rain flowers on his
dazzled, blinking eyes. "At least you have been dreaming of me?"
"To tell the truth," he returned, "I have not dreamed at all."
"And I have never left off thinking about you all the time, and have
longed so for you. Look here!"
She took a lamp off the chimney-piece, and held up her ball
programme before his eyes. The blank places were filled up with
pencil-writing, which looked as if it might be lines of poetry:
which in truth it was--Spanish improvisations breathing burning love
and passionate longing. He would have understood or guessed their
meaning even if Pilar had not translated them with kisses and
"Now, you see, you bad boy," she went on, "those were my thoughts
while I was away from you. I had not thought it would be so
difficult to enjoy myself without you. It was impossible. It is only
three, but I could not stand it any longer. I escaped before the
cotillion. If you only knew how hollow and stupid it all seemed to
me! How dull I thought the men's conversation, how ludicrous the
affectations of the women! What are all these people compared to
you! No, I will never go out again without you. Come, Wilhelm, and
help me to undress. I will not have Anne about me now--nobody--only
Had she been drinking champagne at the ball? Had the lights, the
music, the dancing, the perfumes, her own verses gone to her head?
Whatever was the cause, her nerves were certainly very highly
strung, and only calmed down when the morning was well advanced, and
she had exhausted herself in a thousand fond extravagances.
During the next few days Wilhelm noticed something odd in Pilar's
manner which he failed to understand. She seemed strangely absent
and thoughtful, by turns unnaturally silent and feverishly
talkative, would sit for hours beside him glancing mysteriously at
him from time to time, as if she knew something very wonderful, and
were debating in her own mind whether to tell it or keep it to
herself. She blushed if he looked at her inquiringly, and rushed
away and locked herself into her boudoir.
He watched these peculiar proceedings patiently for about a week,
and then asked one day, not without a secret misgiving:
"Pilar, what is the matter with you lately?"
Probably she had only waited for this. She cast herself upon his
breast, drew his head down, and whispered something in his ear. He
straightened himself up with a jerk.
"Are you certain?" he asked, with an unsteady voice.
"Almost, I think; yes, Wilhelm, it must be so," she stammered,
hiding her face on his shoulder.
It was well she did not look at him at that moment. Unskilled as he
was in the art of dissembling, his face expressed no pleasure at
all, but only painful surprise. For weeks, but more especially since
his gloomy broodings on New-Year's night, the anxious thought lay
heavy on him, "What if our connection should have results?" The
situation would then become so complicated that he saw no prospect
of ever putting it straight again. The idea had only hitherto been
an indefinite cause of anxiety--now it resolved itself into a fact
which appalled him. At the same time he could not but see how happy
Pilar was at the prospect, and it seemed to him unkind, even brutal,
to let her have an inkling of what he felt at her news. He kissed
her in silence, and pressed her hand long and warmly.
"You have not said yet that you are glad," she said, and raised her
eyes to his in fond reproach.
"Must one put everything into words?" he returned, with an uneasy
"It is true," she answered; "I ought to be accustomed to your German
ways by this time. But your reserve is quite uncanny to us
Southerners. You are silent where our hearts simply overflow with
words quite of themselves. You are content to think where we shout
With these words Pilar depicted her own state. She felt in truth
that she could shout for joy, and the happy words flowed of
themselves from her lips. Now at last the future stood clearly and
definitely outlined before her eyes. Now indeed she was bound to
Wilhelm, as was her burning desire, and that far faster than by any
documents with solemn signatures and official seals. Her heart was
so light, she felt as if her feet no longer touched the ground and
that she must float away into the blue ether like the ecstatic
saints in the church pictures of her own country. She talked
incessantly of the coming being, and thought of nothing else waking
or sleeping. She had not the slightest doubt that it would be a boy.
Isabel had to lay the cards a dozen times, and the knave of spades
came to the top nearly every time, an infallible promise of a boy.
And how beautiful he would be, the son of such a handsome father,
the fruit of such transcendent love! She consulted with Wilhelm what
name he should receive, and wanted a definite statement or a
suggestion, or at least some slight conjecture as to the profession
his father would choose for him. And should he be educated in Paris?
Would it not be too great a strain upon the little brain to have to
learn French, Spanish, and German at the same time? What anxieties,
what responsibilities, but at the same time what bliss! She did not
even let Wilhelm see the whole depth of her feelings, knowing that
he would not follow her in these extravagant raptures. She did not
let him see her kneel two or three times a day at the altar or on
her priedieu, and cover the silver Madonna del Pilar with ecstatic
kisses. He knew nothing of her having sent for the priest of the
diocese and ordered a number of masses. She did not take him with
her when--her impatience leading her far ahead of events--she rushed
from shop to shop looking for a cradle, and only put off buying one
because she could find none in all Paris that was sumptuous and
This went on for about a fortnight, till one day she tottered into
Wilhelm's room, all dissolved in tears, sank sobbing at his feet,
and hid her face on his knee.
"Pilar, what has happened?" he cried in alarm.
"Oh, Wilhelm, Wilhelm," was all the answer he could get from her;
and only after long and loving persuasion did she murmur in such low
and broken tones that she had to repeat her words before he could
understand her, "My happiness was premature, I was mistaken."
She was insolable at the destruction of her airy castle, and was ill
for days, the first time since Wilhelm had known her. He sympathized
deeply with her in her grief, but he did not conceal from himself
that he was infinitely relieved at the turn affairs had taken. With
such a morbidly analytical and yet profoundly moral nature as his,
no rapture of the senses could possibly last for six months and
more. The passion in which reason plays no part was past and over
long ago, and during the last few weeks he had reflected upon the
situation with ever-increasing clearness and deliberation. At first
he had not been quite sure of his feelings, but earnest self-
examination by degrees made everything plain to him. What he was
most distinctly conscious of was a sense of profound disgust at his
present manner of life. Things could not remain as they were. Sooner
or later it must inevitably come to the knowledge of his friends.
What would they think of him for leading such a life at Pilar's
side, in her house? She had children who would some day sit in
judgment upon her conduct and his. And how did he stand in the eyes
of the servants and the visitors whose acquaintance Pilar had forced
upon him? If at least she would give up her outside circle of
friends! But that she either could not or would not do, and so
brought ill-natured witnesses of their relations to the house, and
Wilhelm must needs accommodate himself to an intercourse with
second-rate people who inevitably form the set of a woman whose
domestic circumstances are not clearly, or rather all too clearly
defined. And before these people, who appeared to him greatly
inferior to himself, both morally and intellectually, he was forced
to cast down his eyes. Reflect as he might upon the situation, the
result was always the same--it must be put to an end to. But how?
There remained always the possibility that her husband might die and
she be thus free to marry him. Strange, he always hurried over this
solution of the difficulty. In his inner consciousness he was
apparently not desirous of making the connection a lifelong one,
even if sanctioned by lawful formalities. Leave her. He shuddered at
the thought. It would be criminal to cause her so great a grief, for
he was assured that she loved him passionately, and he was deeply
and fondly grateful to her for doing so. She might some day grow
tired of him. He hoped for this, but the hope was so faint, so
secret, so hidden, that he hardly dared confess it to himself,
knowing well that it was a deadly and altogether undeserved insult
to her love. And even this faint hope vanished when she whispered
the news of her prospective motherhood in his ear; now there was no
possibility of a dissolution of their connection. If a human
creature was indebted to him for its life, he must give himself up
to it, and to this sacred duty he must sacrifice freedom, happiness,
even self-respect. But his heart contracted with a bitter pang at
the thought. It was as if a black curtain had been drawn in front of
him, or a window walled up which permitted a view over the open
country from a dark room.
However, he had been spared this crowning addition to the burden of
his discomfort, and he breathed more freely. But the episode had
served to rend the last remaining veil that hung before his moral
eye. That the situation should seem so unbearable, that he was so
sensitive to the opinion of others, that his blood had run cold at
Pilar's news, that he had felt the disappointment of her hopes as a
relief, that the idea that the danger might recur should fill him
with terror--this all pointed to one fact, the realization of which
forced itself upon him with inexorable persistency; he did not love
Pilar, or at any rate he did not love her sufficiently--not enough
to take her finally into his life, and, possessing her, to forget
himself and all the world beside.
In the midst of his torturing efforts to come to some conclusion he
noticed that Auguste, who had come to his room with a letter,
lingered about in an undecided manner, as if he had something to say
but did not know exactly how to say it.
"What is it?" asked Wilhelm, coming to his assistance.
He liked Auguste, for he was always civil and attentive to him,
whereas the hostility of the rest of the servants was easily
discerned in spite of their forced show of servility.
"Monsieur le Docteur must excuse me," said the man, "but I really
can't listen to it any longer and keep quiet. The lady's maid never
stops saying the most scandalous things about monsieur. She says it
is not true that monsieur is a celebrated doctor and a member of
Parliament, and that they are not going to make him President of the
"Who has been trying to impose upon you with such stories?"
"But Madamela Comtess tells everybody so, and all the world knows
it. I have long wanted to ask monsieur for something against the
rheumatism in my left shoulder, but did not like to because madame
says monsieur may not practice here."
What object could Pilar have in inventing these fables?
As he remained silent Auguste resumed:
"Monsieur may trust me, I am discreet, and I always defend him
against Anne, who is spiteful as a cat. She says monsieur is a
Prussian spy and a fortune-hunter, and is simply preying upon
madame. And she calls monsieur something still worse, which I would
not like to repeat. It is a shame, for monsieur has never done her
any harm, and it would not be quite so bad if she only let out her
vile temper before us, but she slanders monsieur to outsiders and
gives him a dreadfully bad name."
"I am sorry that you should retail such gossip to me," said Wilhelm,
making a great effort to appear unmoved.
"I considered it my duty, as an honest man. I am not saying more
than the truth about the maid, and am perfectly ready to repeat it
all to her face. Madame la Comtesse is really wrong in keeping the
viper. There are plenty of respectable and handy young women who
would think themselves lucky to be taken into madame's service. I
have a cousin, for instance, who has been in the best houses--Anne
couldn't hold a candle to her; if monsieur would recommend her to
Madame la Comtesse--"
"I can do nothing in the matter," said Wilhelm brusquely.
He turned his back upon the man and absorbed himself pointedly in
his books. Auguste stood a moment, but seeing that Wilhelm would
take no further notice of him, shrugged his shoulders and left the
Wilhelm was surprised himself at the impression the man's
information had made upon him. Dismay, anger, and shame struggled
for the mastery in his breast. What a suffocating air he breathed in
this house! How vile and underhand and insincere were the people by
whom he was surrounded! But was this true that Auguste told him? Did
he not lie and slander like the rest? Was he not doing the servant
far too great an honor by letting his mind dwell on the low gossip
of the servants' hall? He felt a kind of dim revolt against his own
excitement which he felt to be unworthy of him, and, under other
circumstances, he really would have been too proud to allow such
tale-bearing to exert the slightest influence upon his thoughts or
actions. But, in his present state of mind, Auguste's words sounded
to him like a brutal translation of his own thoughts, condemning him
for his cowardice in submitting to his humiliating position, and he
recognized more clearly than ever that he must fight his way out of
It was not easy to carry out this resolve. When Pilar came to his
room and took his arm to lead him down to lunch, she was as
bewitching and fond as ever. At table she chattered brightly about
an exhibition of pictures in the Cercle des Mirlitons, which she
wanted to see with him that afternoon, asked him about the work he
had done to-day, and if he had given a thought to her now and then
between his crusty old books, and altogether gave evidence of such
childlike and implicit confidence in his love and faith, such utter
absence of suspicion as to possible rocks ahead, that that which he
had it in his mind to do seemed almost like a stab in the dark. His
mental suffering was so poignant as to be visibly reflected in his
countenance, and Pilar interrupted her lively flow of talk to ask
"What is the matter with you to-day, darling? Don't you feel well?"
He took his courage in both hands, and answered with another
"Tell me, Pilar, did you really trump up a story about me? That I
was a celebrated doctor and member of Parliament, and the future
President of the German Republic?"
She flashed, but tried to laugh off her embarrassment. "Oh, it was
only a harmless little romance to amuse myself. You could be all
that if you liked, I am sure, you are ever so much cleverer than
these puppets--" She stopped short in the middle of the sentence as
she caught sight of the menacing frown upon his face, drew her chair
with a rapid movement close to his, and said, in her most humble and
insinuating tones, "Dearest, are you vexed with me?"
"Yes, for it is a humiliating, and beside which, a totally
unnecessary invention, and lays me open to the worst construction."
"And who has taken upon themselves to retail it to you? That Cuerbo,
"It was not the Countess Cuerbo--not that it matters if the actual
fact is true."
"Forgive me, Wilhelm," she pleaded, "I thought to act for the best.
The whole story was chiefly for my mother's benefit. I wanted her to
love you and be grateful to you. I wanted her to take you to her
heart like a son. I do not care a bit about the other people. I only
told them the story to keep myself in practice. And beside, you know
what the world is. A man's personal worth goes for nothing, it only
cares for the outward signs of success, and that is why I said you
were a celebrated man and had a great future before you. That is no
invention, for I believe it firmly. And I told them that you had
saved my life, because it is true, for life was a burden to me till
I knew you, and you have made it worth living."
"But do you not see into what a degrading position you force me?"
"I hoped you would never hear about it. My intentions were so good.
Our relations to one another must be explained in some way. I wanted
to shield your reputation from these people and shut their mouths."
"You see, my poor Pilar," said Wilhelm sadly, "your excuse is the
bitterest criticism upon our relations. You yourself feel how ugly
the naked truth would look, and try to dress it up before the eyes
of the world. That kind of life cannot go on. We are doomed to
destruction in such an atmosphere of lies. We must return somehow to
truth and order." At his last words she let go of him and turned
"Ah, then it is only a pretext," she cried; "you want to get up a
quarrel with me as an excuse for breaking with me. That is unmanly
of you, that is cowardly. Be frank, tell me straight out what you
want. I have a right to demand absolute candor of you."
Her words stabbed him like a knife. There was some truth in her
accusation. It was neither honest nor manly to make so much of her
fibs when he had something very different in his mind. She appealed
to his candor--she should not do so in vain.
"It was not a pretext," he said, and forced himself to look into her
face that seemed turning to stone, "but a prompting cause. You ask
for the truth, and you shall have it, for I owe it you. Well then,
things cannot remain as they are. I cannot go on living as a hanger-
on in this house. I--"
He sought painfully for words, but could find none.
Pilar breathed hard. "Well--in short--" The words came out as if she
were being strangled.
"In short, Pilar--I must--we shall have--"
"I will not help you. Finish--you shall say the word."
"We shall have to part, Pilar."
"Wretch!" The cry wrenched itself from her breast.
Wilhelm rose and prepared to leave the room. But at the same instant
she had rushed to him, and clinging wildly to him, she cried, beside
herself with anguish:
"Don't go, Wilhelm, don't be angry with me. You don't know what I
feel--you are torturing me to death."
Her sobs were so violent that she could not keep upon her feet, and
sank on the floor in front of him. He lifted her up and set her on a
chair, and his own eyes were wet as he said:
"I am not suffering less than you, Pilar, but the cup of bitterness
must be drunk."
"You do not love me," she moaned. "You have never loved me."
"Do not say that, Pilar. I have loved you, but it is our ill-luck--"
"You have loved me, you say. So you do not love me now? Wilhelm,
speak--do you not love me any more?"
He tried to evade the question. "You know, from the first, I did not
want to come here. My weak compliance is revenging itself upon me
now. You yourself only spoke of it as a trial; if I could not
accustom myself to it you would not insist on my remaining."
"You do not love me any more! So that is your boasted German
constancy of which you are so proud! These are your vows which I
took for gospel truth!"
"I have no recollection of having made any vows," he retorted. He
was sorry for it the moment the words had left his mouth.
"That is true," she answered bitterly; "you never promised anything.
You left me to do all the vowing. It is unpardonable of me to
reproach you, I have no claim upon you. I forced myself upon you--
why don't you tell me so? Shout it in my ears! Despise me, kick me--
I deserve no better. I have been guilty of the deadly sin of loving
you madly, and forgetting everything else in the world for that. You
are quite right to punish me for it. And see how low I have sunk!
see what my love has brought me to! You may curse me, you may ill-
treat me; I love you all the same, Wilhelm--do what you will, I love
you all the same."
She was so distraught that she could not stay in the dining room.
With a sudden violent movement she grasped his arm and dragged him
away with her upstairs to the bedroom, where she threw herself
exhausted on the sofa. Wilhelm stood before her, looking thoroughly
crestfallen, and wishing devoutly that he had the dread hour behind
him. The silence frightened Pilar. She raised her head, and said in
a weak, changed voice:
"It is all over, is it not? Tell me that it was only a bad dream--
tell me that you will not frighten me like that again."
"Pilar," he returned miserably, "I wish you would listen to me
quietly. You are generally so reasonable."
"No, no," she cried; "I am not reasonable--I will not be reasonable.
I love you out of all reason. I shall repeat it a thousand times,
till you give up talking to me of reason."
"And yet it is impossible for me to stay in this house."
She straightened herself up, looked at him for a moment, and then
said with unnatural calmness, as she wiped the tears from her eyes:
"Very well; but if you go I shall go with you."
"What! you would leave your home, your friends, your beloved Paris--
give up all you have been accustomed to, and follow me to Germany?"
"To Germany--to the Inferno--wherever you like."
"You do not mean it seriously."
"I do mean it, very seriously. I cannot live without you."
"But you have duties, you have your children--"
"I have no children, I have only you. And if my children were a
barrier between you and me, I would strangle them with my own
She spoke with such savage determination that he shuddered. But the
battle must be fought out. He must not yield now.
"There is nothing for it," he said after a pause, during which he
stood with downcast eyes, fumbling nervously with the buttons of his
morning coat. "Our position would be equally wretched wherever we
were. Fate is stronger than we are. I do not see how we are to
escape it. Wherever we went, we should have to hide the truth, and
surround ourselves with a tissue of lies, and that I cannot stand. I
would rather die."
"Die?" she exclaimed, and her eyes flamed up wierdly--"I am quite
ready. That is a way out of the difficulty. Die--whenever you like;
but live without you? No, I will cling to you; no power on earth
shall tear me from you. If you want to shake me off, you will have
to kill me first." "And yet you said you would not try to hold me
back if I wished to leave you."
"And you remembered those foolish words! While my heart was
overflowing, you listened coolly and took note of everything, so
that you might use it against me afterward. I really did not think
you were so noble, so generous minded, as that."
"You see that you were mistaken in me. I am narrow-minded, mean-
spirited, a thorough Philistine; you have said so repeatedly. What
do you see in me to care for? Let me go."
"Oh, how you fix on every word and then turn it against me! I am not
equal to you; you are stronger than I, because you do not love me
and I love you. What do I care if you are narrow-minded--a
Philistine? If you were a highway robber I would not let you go."
She stretched out her arms to him and drew him to her, and pressed
him so tightly to her bosom that he could hardly breathe. Then she
burst into tears, and wept so bitterly, so inconsolably, from the
bottom of her heart, like a child who has been very deeply hurt. In
order to value woman's tears aright, one must have often seen them
flow. Wilhelm was a novice in this respect. He imagined that Pilar's
tears were the outcome of the same amount of pain as he must have
felt to weep like that, and every drop fell like molten lead upon
his heart. His resolutions melted like ice before the fire; he had
not the courage to wound this clinging, loving, sobbing creature. He
rocked her gently in his arms till, exhausted by her frightful
excitement, she fell asleep.
The storm was averted for this time, but her confidence, her joyous
sense of security, was gone forever. The scene left her with a
nervous restlessness which gradually increased to morbid fear. She
was haunted by the idea, that Wilhelm had some plan for deserting
her. She could not get rid of the thought--it assumed the aspect of
a possession. She changed color as she did regularly two or three
times in the course of the morning--she opened the door of his room
unexpectedly and did not see him at the writing table, because,
maybe, he had gone out on to the balcony for a moment, to rest from
his work and cool his heated brow. Then she would search the house
distractedly till she found him, and breathed again. In the night,
she would start up, and feel about her hurriedly, to make sure that
Wilhelm was there. She would not let him go a step out of the house
without her. She even accompanied him to the National Library, and
while he read or made notes, she sat beside him apparently occupied
with a book, but in reality never taking her eye off him. She made
no more visits except to the houses where she could take Wilhelm
with her. She had curious jealous fancies, examining, for instance,
with great care every letter that came for him, lest the address
should be in a feminine hand. Her desire to be forever proving to
herself that he was there, that he still belonged to her, took the
form of an insatiable craving for love, admitting, so to speak, of
no pauses for digestion. She was a beautiful, greedy werewolf,
knowing neither consideration nor restraint, her vampire mouth
forever draining the warm life-blood.
"She is crazy," said Anne to one of Queen Isabella's ladies who had
been calling on Pilar, and remarked afterward to the maid that she
found the countess strangely altered. Isabel, the cook with the red
nose and alcoholic, watery eyes, passed whole mornings with her
mistress laying the cards, till she forgot all about lunch. The
father confessor, too, became an ever more frequent guest in the
house of his fashionable parishioner, and received in exchange for
his mild and discreet exhortations, donations for his church, gifts
for his poor, and requests for masses and prayers. But in none of
these distractions did Pilar find the peace she sought, and in her
terror of heart she telegraphed one day to her mother to come at
once to Paris and stay with her for a time. Don Pablo had taken the
message to the office, and talked about it afterward downstairs.
Auguste hurried to retail the news to Wilhelm, who had no difficulty
in understanding the motive. In the first moment he thought he was
glad of the approaching arrival of the Marquise de Henares. For,
distasteful as the idea might be that the mother should become a
witness of the daughter's questionable relations, he hoped that her
presence would have a quieting effect on Pilar, and help to bring
her to reason. But, on second thoughts, he was seized with afresh
anxiety. He knew that Pilar's was the stronger spirit of the two,
that she had a great influence over her mother, and could induce her
to adopt any opinion or feelings she might choose. What if the
marquise ranged herself on her daughter's side? Then, instead of
one, he would have two women against him, and his struggle for
freedom, in which he had already succumbed to one of them, would be
The Marquise de Henares did not come. She wrote that she was out of
health, and was beside detained in Madrid by a thousand social
duties; but in the spring or summer she would be very pleased to
come and spend a few weeks with her only child and her
Wilhelm maintained an outward show of calm. He did not renew his
attempt at revolt, made no resistance against the fact that Pilar
took entire possession of his existence, and clung to him like his
shadow; he only grew paler, and quieter, and more despondent than
before. But he pondered day and night upon some way of unraveling
the knot, and was in despair at finding none. Should he cut it? He
could not. He lived over again the scene in the dining room; he
pictured to himself how Pilar would sob, and fling herself on the
floor, and clasp his knees, and tear her hair, and saw himself,
after a useless repetition of his torture, disarmed anew. For one
moment he thought of giving a cry for help, of calling Schrotter to
his aid, but he was ashamed of his want of manliness, and put the
idea from him. There was nothing for it but to resign himself. He
did so with a gloomy, desperate relinquishment of all his
principles, his sense of morality, his ideals of life. He was the
victim of a malign fate, and there was no use fighting against it.
He must accept it as he would sickness or death. He was untrue to
himself, was a dissembler before himself and others: it lay in the
inexorable logic of things that he must suffer for it. But what a
shipwreck! After a pure and dignified life, wholly filled up by duty
and a striving after knowledge, entirely devoted to warring against
the animal element in man, and to educating himself up to an ideal
standard of freedom from ignoble instincts, thus shamefully to choke
and drown in the muddy lees of a love-potion!
Pilar, who fancied him reconciled to the situation, grew easier in
her mind, and by degrees lost much of her distrust. About a month
later, toward the middle of March, she had so far regained her
equanimity as to allow herself, after a steady resistance, to be
persuaded by a friend to attend her house-warming ball--"pendre la
cremaillere," as they call it in Paris. The friend was quite as
superstitious as Pilar herself, and had vowed a hundred times over
that she would have no luck in her new house if Pilar were absent
from the opening ball.
It was not till ten o'clock in the evening that she finally made up
her mind. She waited till Wilhelm had gone to bed, and then sent for
Isabel, and shut herself up with her in the boudoir. After Isabel
had turned up the knave of hearts eight times running, and she had
seen that Wilhelm was in bed, reading the newspaper, she gave Anne
and Don Pablo a few orders, dressed hurriedly, and went off, after
many kisses and embraces, and with the promise of not staying long.
Wilhelm read his paper to the end, blew out the light, and turned
himself to the wall. But sleep forsook him, and he stared with wide-
open eyes into the darkness. Suddenly an odd suggestion flashed
across his mind--was rejected--returned again obstinately, grew
stronger, and finally was so imperative that Wilhelm sat up in bed
excitedly and relit the candles. Don Pablo had gone home, Anne had
accompanied Pilar, Isabel was in the back premises, engaged upon the
Val de Penas, two fresh casks of which had lately arrived, and
Auguste was probably in his bedroom asleep. He was as good as alone
in the house. Now or never!
He sprang out of bed, and began to dress with a beating heart. Had
it come to this with him? He was on the point of committing an act
of cowardice--yes, but no greater, perhaps even less so, than
smouldering away in slavery and degradation. It was an ugly breach
of trust. Not really so, for he had expressed, himself plainly to
Pilar, and she must know how matters stood between them. Moreover,
if you fall into the mire, you cannot expect to get out of it again
without besmirching yourself. But--what will poor Pilar's feelings
be when she comes home and finds him gone? At the picture he
faltered, and very near returned to bed. But no--he put it forcibly
He rapidly finished dressing, and went into his room to collect such
things as were absolutely necessary. The two large trunks had been
removed, and would in any case have been out of the question at this
juncture. The portmanteau lay behind a wardrobe. Into it he stuffed
some linen and clothes, a few books and his manuscript, cast one
look round the rooms in which he had encountered such heavy storms
of the heart, extinguished the lights, and walked resolutely
The gas was burning in the hall, the front door stood half open, and
on the doorstep was Auguste, talking to a maid-servant from the next
house. She flitted away as the man turned round, and, to his
astonishment, perceived Wilhelm with a portmanteau in his hand. He
stepped quickly indoors.
"Ah," he said in a muffled tones, "Monsieur le Docteur! I
understand--I understand. I would have done it long ago. It really
couldn't go on like that any longer. But monsieur might have said a
word to me; for as to me--I am dumb!"
Wilhelm was crushed to the earth. So he was not to be spared one
humiliation, not even the patronizing familiarity of this lackey!
But it could not be helped now. Regardless of his opposition,
Auguste took the portmanteau out of his hand, and asked with eager
civility where he should carry it.
"Only to a fiacre," Wilhelm answered.
They went out together into the Boulevard Pereire, and as they
walked along beside the deep cutting of the circle railway, Auguste
"Monsieur is leaving Paris, no doubt?"
Wilhelm made no reply.
"Has Monsieur le Docteur left any address?" he continued urgently.
"No," answered Wilhelm.
"But it would be better if he did so, in case any letters might
come. And it will surely interest monsieur to know how things go on
in the house. Monsieur need only confide it to me. I would not tell
it to a single soul, not even if le bon Dieu himself came down with
all his saints."
Wilhelm was weak enough to form a fresh link between himself and
Pilar, when he had just severed the old one. He wrote Schrotter's
address on a leaf of his pocketbook and gave it to Auguste, saying:
"Anything will reach me safely under that address."
They reached the cab stand in the Avenue de Villiers; Wilhelm got
into one, took the portmanteau inside, and pressed a sovereign into
Auguste's hand, who thanked him and asked where the cabman was to
"First of all, just along the avenue," answered Wilhelm.
Auguste grinned as he repeated this order to the driver, and was
just closing the door, when there was a yelp of pain.
"Infamous beast!" cried Auguste, and gave Fido, who had followed
them unperceived, a kick. The poor animal had always been accustomed
to going with them when Wilhelm and Pilar drove out, and now was
preparing to jump into the vehicle, when he just escaped being
crushed in the door. Wilhelm stooped to give the puffing,
affectionate creature a farewell pat.
"Monsieur should take him as a souvenir," said Auguste, with thinly-
veiled sarcasm. "Nobody will take any notice of him now, in any
"You are quite right," said Wilhelm, and let the dog come in. The
fiacre moved off, and Auguste looked after it for a long time, as he
whistled the latest popular air.
It wanted but little to midday when Wilhelm came out of a hotel on
the Neuer Jungfernstieg in Hamburg, and made his way toward the
Alster, Fido trotting behind him, whose coat, for want of its
accustomed daily washing and brushing, looked sadly neglected.
The sky was thickly overcast, the air unusually mild, on account of
the prevailing west wind, and the pavement of the Jungfernstieg damp
and muddy. A thin veil of yellow fog lay over the Binnen Alster,
giving the objects far and near the indefinite, wavering appearance
of a mirage. Above the dark masses of houses to the right rose four
sharp spires, from the points of which, smoke-wreaths seemed to rise
and trail away. Far away in front the Lombardsbrucke was just
distinguishable, its three arches apparently hung with gray
draperies. Swans glided lazily in groups or singly over the muddy-
looking surface of the water, or came under the open windows of the
Alster Pavilion, through which late breakfasting guests threw them
The small, green-painted Uhlenhorst steamer lay alongside of the
second landing-place. Wilhelm stepped on board, and remained on
deck, staring absently into the fog or at the dim outlines of the
houses on the shore. On the night of his escape from the Boulevard
Pereire he had driven to the Gare du Nord, and taken a midnight
train, which brought him at about six the next evening to Cologne.
He was dead with fatigue when he got there, stayed the night, and
went on the following afternoon to Hamburg. He had been there two
days now, but had not been able till to-day to gather sufficient
courage to go and see Paul. Solitude had been an absolute necessity
to him; he fancied that he who ran might read upon his brow the
story of how he had lived and of what he had been guilty. His
thoughts were incessantly in Paris. During the journey, in Cologne,
since his arrival in Hamburg, he saw nothing but Pilar's room, her
return from the ball, and her passionate exhibition of grief during
the hours and days that followed. He only lived in these imaginings.
There seemed as yet no immediate connection between his natural
surroundings and his mental life. He felt as if a few steps would
bring him again to Pilar's side, and more than once the desire came
over him to return to her, and lay himself at her feet, there to
vegetate luxuriously henceforth, without a will or thought, to the
end. He resisted this impulse, but he was powerless against the
tyranny of his imagination, which ceased not to call up before him
the scenes that were being enacted in the house in Paris.
After a minute or two the boat started. The shores receded and
spread apart, and the lines of houses came and went like dissolving
views upon a white wall. The boat shot under the dark and clammy
arch of the bridge, where the echo increased the splashing of the
steamer waves and the thump of the machinery to a roar. The noise
subsided suddenly, as when a damper is laid over a resounding
instrument; the steamer had passed the bridge, and floated out on to
the broad waters of the Aussen Alster, which widened apparently into
a great bay, the mist having wiped out the boundary lines between
its oily surface and the flat shores which barely rose above it. The
boat described bold curves from side to side, touching at the
different landing-places, and presently--dimly at first and then
more distinctly--the square tower and ponderous, castle-like
structure of the Fahrhaus Hotel came in sight. The steamer had
reached the furthest point of its journey.
Wilhelm found himself once more at the familiar spot which had so
often been the goal of his short walks with Willy. Scarcely ten
months had elapsed since he had looked at it for the last time, but
his morbid mental vision prolonged that time to an eternity. He felt
like the sultan of the Eastern legend, who fancied he had lived an
entire lifetime, while, in reality, he sank for one moment into his
bath in sight of his whole court. He overcame a strange attack of
shyness, and rang at the door in the Carlstrasse. The liveried
servant opened it, gave an exclamation of surprise, and hurried
before him to the smoking room. Wilhelm followed closely on his
heels, and only left him time to open the door and call loudly into
"Herr Dr. Eyuhardt!"
"What! Is it you or your ghost? Well, I must say--" cried Paul,
overjoyed, receiving him with open arms.
The first tempestuous greetings over, he pressed him, down upon the
sofa, seated himself beside him, and rained down a torrent of
questions upon him--Where had he come from? How had he fared all
this time? What were his plans? And, above all things, where was his
"At the hotel," Wilhelm answered, a little nervously.
"At the hotel? Are you in your right senses? There is only one hotel
for you in Hamburg, and that is the hotel Haber. Were you so
uncomfortable there before that you have withdrawn your custom from
"Don't try to persuade me, my good Paul. Believe me, it is best so.
Your hospitality oppresses me."
"Is that the remark of a friend?" grumbled Paul.
"It is a fault in me, I know, but I do beg of you to let me have my
"Just wait till I send Malvine to you--you will have to lay down
your arms before her."
"No, Paul, I really cannot live in your house again. I will come and
see you--so often that you will get tired of me--"
"But let me live here as I am accustomed to in Berlin, especially as
it will probably be for a long time."
"Then you are going to stay in Hamburg? That is splendid!"
"For the present at least. I see nothing else to be done."
"But in the summer you will surely come and spend some weeks at
"That is more likely."
The door opened and Malvine hurried in, and ran up to Wilhelm as he
rose to meet her.
"To think of you falling from the clouds like this!" she cried, and
shook both his hands warmly. "Not a letter, not a telegram, nothing!
Well, you knew, at any rate, that you would always be welcome."
Again he had to make a determined stand against having their
hospitality forced upon him, and kind, persistent Malvine would not
give up the struggle as easily as Paul. As Wilhelm, however, was
equally persistent in his refusal, and would not even divulge the
name of his hotel till they had sworn to leave him his independence,
they finally gave up the fight.
"And now tell us all that has happened to you," said Paul, patting
him on the shoulder. "You must have had a very good time, for you
either did not write at all or only in a flash--like this: 'Dear
friend, am quite well--how are you all? Best love--always yours.'
Well, I don't think any the worse of you. In gay Paris one has
something better to do than to think of dull old fogies on the
"You don't think that seriously," answered Wilhelm, pressing his
"I should rather be inclined to think that the doctor had been ill,"
said Malvine, whose woman's eye had instantly remarked the pallor
and weariness of Wilhelm's thin face.
"Really--have you been ill?" cried Paul, concerned.
"No, no, there is nothing the matter with me," Wilhelm hastened to
answer, with a forced smile.
The awakened anxiety of his friends would not be dispelled, however,
till he had repeated his assurance many times, and reinforced it by
additions and enlargements.
Paul then returned to his question as to Wilhelm's adventures, the
latter doing his best to get out of it by a few vague remarks on the
uneventful character of his life during the last few months, and
then hurried to descant on Paris, describing the town to them with
the volubility of a guide-book. On his inquiring in return about
their affairs, Paul and Malvine vied with one another in the
redundancy of their account. All was well, so far. At the last
distribution of Orders Paul had received the Order of the Red Eagle,
and beside that, during the course of the winter, two new foreign
decorations. There were all sorts of innovations on the estate,
which he described in detail. At present he was hard at work on an
entirely new scheme: the founding of a colony on the moor, composed
of discharged prisoners, tramps, and such like ne'er-do-wells;
where, by supplying them with agricultural labor, they might be
brought back to a decent and remunerative way of life.
Malvine had much to tell of the autumn and winter festivities, both
at her own and other houses, and also, that of the three heiresses
whom she had picked out for Wilhelm, one was married, another
engaged, and there remained only the third, the one with the curly
hair, who still asked after him from time to time.
Meanwhile the news of Wilhelm's arrival had penetrated as far as
Willy, who now came rushing in.
"Onkelchen, Onkelchen! have you come back?" he shouted, long before
he reached Wilhelm, and stretched out his little arms to him. He had
not grown much, but was plump and rosy as a ripe apple. Wilhelm
kissed him, and stroked the soft, fair curls that felt so much like
Pilar's silky hair.
"Have you been a good boy all this time?" he asked.
"Oh, yes, very good--haven't I, father?" the boy cried eagerly. "And
I can read now--everything--the newspaper too. I got a beautiful big
box of bricks for it at Christmas."
Wilhelm had taken him on his knee, but the lively child would not
keep quiet for long. He jumped down and hopped about in front of his
godfather and chattered away.
"I say, Onkelchen, you have just come in time for my birthday,
Wilhelm had not thought of it.
"When is your birthday, my boy?" he asked, rather crestfallen.
"Why, don't you know? It is the day after to-morrow. And what have
you brought me?"
He did not wait for an answer, having caught sight, at that moment,
of Fido, who, shy as all dogs are in a strange place and among
strange people, had crept away under a table, and sat there very
still with his eyes firmly fixed on Wilhelm.
"A dog! A spitz!" Willy shrieked with joy. "Is he for me,
He rushed at Fido, took hold of him by the paw, and dragged him out.
Malvine cried anxiously:
"Let him go, Willy!"
But Wilhelm reassured her.
"He won't hurt him, he is quite gentle."
Fido allowed himself to be dragged without much resistance into the
middle of the room, only turning his head away nervously and eying
the child askance, as if doubtful as to his intentions. But when
Willy began to pat and stroke him kindly, and set him on his hind
legs in the first position for begging, Fido realized that no harm
was going to befall him, and attached himself instantly to the new
friend with that easy confidence which was this sociable creature's
great fault of character. He fell to wagging his bushy tail in a
highly expressive manner, tried to lick Willy's rosy face, and was
altogether so overcome by pleasing emotions that he got a severe
attack of coughing, sneezing, and snorting, and Willy exclaimed:
"My Spitz has caught a cold on the journey. We must give him some
black-currant tea, mother!"
The boy took a great delight in the dog, playing with him the whole
time of Wilhelm's visit, feeding him at dinner, and even wanted to
make him drink beer, which Fido steadfastly refused to do, and was
much disappointed when, at leaving, Wilhelm prepared to take the dog
"Didn't you bring him for me?" he asked with a pout.
Wilhelm consoled him by promising that he should see Fido every day,
and solemnly transferred to him all legal rights to the animal. On
these conditions Willy was content that Fido should go on living
with Wilhelm, and that he should come frequently on a starring tour,
as it were, to the Carlstrasse.
Wilhelm's first visit to his friends on the Uhlenhorst did not tend
to lighten his spirit. In their home he breathed a pure and
wholesome atmosphere, which, it seemed to him, he must contaminate
by the heavy, noxious perfume which still clung to him, and which he
could not get rid of. Their life was as transparent as crystal,
every moment would bear the scrutiny of the severest eye. He, on the
other hand, had much to conceal. His memory recalled many a scene;
he saw himself again in various situations, and thought--what would
they say if they knew? Paul and Malvine told him cheerfully of all
that had occurred to them during the last eight months; he was
condemned to lock away his experiences in the depths of his heart.
His open and confiding nature was little used to keeping a secret.
It rose to his lips as often as he found himself alone with his
friend, and his longing to unburden himself was all the more intense
that he had himself formed no certain judgment on his course of
action, and yearned to hear from the mouth of an unprejudiced person
of sound moral tone and worldly experience, that he had done no
great harm. He carried in his own breast an accusing voice which
called him faithless and mean-spirited, and showed him Pilar as the
victim of his treachery; and he had need of an advocate, seeing that
he was himself unable to refute these accusations with any sort of
He was to receive the support he longed for. Soon after his arrival
in Hamburg he had written to Schrotter, telling him of his change of
residence, and expressing, at the same time, his intense desire to
see him again after their long separation, also, if it would not be
asking too much, to propose that he, Schrotter, should make a short
journey, say to Wittenberg, where they might meet and spend a few
days together, if it were possible for Schrotter to get away from
Berlin for a short time.
Schrotter answered by return of post. He was delighted to find that
Wilhelm was so near, and promised to take advantage of the first
fine days of April to make his little excursion to Hamburg. He would
arrange it so that he could at least spend a week with Wilhelm. It
was not impossible that he might bring Bhani with him.
Only a fortnight had passed since Wilhelm received this letter,
when, on his return one afternoon from the Uhlenhorst, the hotel
porter informed him that a gentleman had arrived from Berlin, and
had asked for him; that he was expecting him in his room, the number
of which he mentioned. With joyful foreboding Wilhelm hurried
upstairs so fast that Fido could not follow, and knocked at the
door. A familiar voice answered. "Come in!" and the next moment he
was in Schrotter's arms.
The first greetings over, Schrotter gave his young friend a long and
penetrating look from under the half-closed lids, and remarked
"I suppose you are surprised that I did not wait till April, but
dropped down upon you unawares like this?"
"I am too delighted to be surprised," answered Wilhelm, and pressed
Schrotter's large, strong hand.
He had scarcely altered at all in the year and a quarter, and with
his herculean shoulders and powerful head, his fair hair, blushed
into a great tuft above his forehead, only just beginning to turn
gray, he was still the very type and picture of ripe manhood and
"But I had a reason for changing my original plan," Schrotter went
on. "Unwittingly I have committed a breach of good manners against
you, for which I must personally ask you to forgive me." He drew a
letter out of his breast-pocket and handed it to Wilhelm. "This
letter came yesterday. Seeing the address, I took it for granted
that it was for me, and so I read it, and discovered then that it
was for you."
Wilhelm turned pale as Schrotter handed him the letter. It bore the
Paris postmark, and Schrotter's name and address in a large, clumsy
hand. Nothing on the outside to betray that it was for Wilhelm.
Auguste--Wilhelm divined at once that he was the writer of the
letter--had not thought of putting it in a second envelope directed
to Wilhelm, or of adding his name to the original address.
Wilhelm's hand shook as he unfolded the letter, and a veil fell
before his eyes. For one moment he had the idea to put the letter in
his pocket, and say he would read it later on, for it was torture to
him that Schrotter should be a witness of the emotion he knew he
must feel on reading it. But of what use was it to dissemble?
Schrotter would have to know. He glanced over Auguste's stiff
The man wrote in his ill-bred tone, with spelling to match:
"PARIS, March 26, 1880.
"MONSIEUR LE DOCTEUR: It is a week now since you left, and time that
you should know what has been going on during that time. It was as
good as a play! But you shall hear.
"When Madame la Comtesse came home, and I opened the door to her, I
said nothing, but I thought to myself--what a row there will be
presently. And sure enough, she had hardly set foot in her rooms
when we heard an awful scream. It didn't scare me, because I knew
all about it; but Isabel came tumbling out, and howled in French and
Spanish mixed: 'Is it a fire? Are there thieves in the house?' It
was enough to make you die of laughing.
"I was called upstairs and questioned by Anne--the countess had not
the strength. She was kneeling in her ball-dress beside the bed, her
face buried in the pillows that still showed the pressure of your
head, and crying as if her heart would break. I know that madame
cries very easily--she has always been that way as long as I have
known her--but I really should not have thought, to look at her,
that she could hold such a quantity of tears. Anne cross-examined me
like a magistrate, but of course I made an innocent face, and knew
nothing at all. I saw plainly that she did not really care a bit,
the viper, for while she was cross-questioning me she gave me a look
once or twice that told me quite enough. But Madame la Comtesse is
very sharp. She saw at once that I knew more than I had a mind to
tell. She turned a face to me, as white as a cheese, and looked at
me with such eyes, that I might well have been frightened if I had
not--I may say it without boasting--been born in Carpentras. At
first she tried it with kindness, and then she threatened to turn me
out of the house that minute, and then she wanted to bribe me by all
sorts of promises--ma foi! it was not a very easy moment, but I
stood firm, and madame threw herself back on the bed, and the tap
was turned on full again. Would you believe it, that that Anne had
the face to say to madame she had better look in the bureau to see
if her money and jewels were safe. 'Silence, wretch!' cried Madame
la Comtesse, so that the windows rattled, and gave the person a look
that made her double up like a penknife. She does not come from
Carpentras. To make a long story short, none of us went to bed that
night. Madame took it into her head you might have gone for a little
walk in the middle of the night, and would come back. Good idea,
wasn't it? But when the morning came, she saw that the bird had
really flown, and that changed the whole affair. She took to her
bed, and stayed there for five days with the room all darkened, ate
nothing, drank nothing, was delirious, had four doctors called in
each at fifty francs the visit, beside priests and nuns, and Madame
la Marquise, her mamma, got three telegrams, one longer than the
other, and arrived here the day before yesterday, and now they are
trying which can cry the most. But the daughter has the best of it.
Since she had her mamma with her, madame seems calmer. She got up
yesterday for the first time, and--not to keep back anything from
you--I have great hopes that in a fortnight or three weeks' time we
shall see her going to balls again. That will do her a world of
"She had your things taken up to the box-room, so that she might not
see them any more, and Madame la Marquise has your room, but Madame
la Comtesse never sets foot in it. The artist in hair says that
there is talk of renting a new house, or even of going to Spain. I
should be very sorry to leave Madame la Comtesse, but to Spain I
would not go.
"I should be glad to know from Monsieur le Docteur whether, after
madame has consoled herself a little, I may give her monsieur's
address, that his things may be forwarded. I hope you are well, and
that you will write me a line. You need not be anxious about madame,
she will soon be all right again. You were not the first, and, let
us hope, you will not have been the last.
"I salute Monsieur le Docteur, "Your very obedient servant,
"POSTSCRIPT.--In spite of her desperation, madame had the presence
of mind to try and persuade Anne you very probably had to fly from
your political enemies, or had even been carried off and murdered by
Prussian agents. Anne said, 'Yes; such things have happened.' The
viper! You did well to take yourself out of this."
Wilhelm was unaware that he read the letter twice or three times
over without a pause between. When he was beginning for the fourth
time, he suddenly remembered that he was not alone, and that
Schrotter was sitting there watching him. He folded the letter in
confusion. He had not the courage to say anything, or even to look
at his friend, but dropped his hands and his head, and cast down his
Schrotter was the first to break the silence.
"I must beg you once more to forgive me for opening the letter. Of
course, I could not have an idea--"
"No," said Wilhelm in a low voice, "it is for me to ask your
forgiveness for not having been open with you. But I had every
intention of making good my fault. It was for that I asked you to
meet me at Wittenberg."
"Spare yourself the telling of anything that might be painful to
you," said Schrotter, with kindly forethought. "I can guess the
drift of it, and now understand your last letter. I thought you
would probably be in a frame of mind to need a friend near you, and
so I came without delay."
"I will not leave you to guess anything," Wilhelm returned, and
pressed Schrotter's hand. "I will tell you all; it is an absolute
necessity to me, and will, at the same time, be a kind of
And he began his confession in a low, dull voice, and with downcast
eyes, like a sinner acknowledging a shameful deed, and Schrotter
listened to him gravely and in silence, like a priest before whom
some poor oppressed soul is casting down its burden of guilt.
Wilhelm kept nothing back, neither the mad intoxication of the first
weeks, nor the bitter humiliation of the last. He disclosed Pilar's
passion and his own weakness, the pagan sensuality and the artifices
of the woman's insatiable love, and the unworthy part he had played
in her house before the servants and strangers. He spoke of his
tormenting doubts as to the justice of his actions, and concluded:
"And now, tell me, shall I answer this letter?"
"What are you thinking of?" cried Schrotter, when Wilhelm stopped
speaking, and looked at him in anxious expectation. "Your only plan
now is to keep dark. If, notwithstanding your silence, they write to
you again, I would advise you to burn the letters unread. That will
demand a certain amount of fortitude, no doubt, but as the letters
will come to my address, I will do it for you, if you authorize me."
Wilhelm tried hard to make up his mind.
"No, do not burn them unread," he said, after a pause; "open the
letters, and then judge for yourself, in each case, whether you will
let me know the whole or part of the contents."
"Always the same want of will power!" returned Schrotter. "First you
free yourself, and then have not the courage to burn your ships
behind you. Believe me, it is best that you should have no further
news from Paris, and after some months you can send for your things
through a third person. Have you anybody in Paris who could arrange
that for you?"
"Then I will do it. And even if you were to let the things go, it
would be no great loss. Above all things, no renewing of old
fetters. This lackey takes a healthy enough view of the matter, for
all his cynicisms. You must not take it too tragically. You have
passed through your heart crisis--it comes to most of us--only with
you it has happened late, and under unpropitious circumstances. That
has tended to make it more severe than is usually the case. But now,
let it be past and over, though naturally it will take some little
time for your mind to regain its normal balance. What I regret most
in the affair is, that it precludes the idea of marriage for you for
some time to come, and I had wished that so much for you. As long as
the fascinations of this siren are fresh in your memory, no
respectable German girl will have any attraction for you, and the
love she is able to offer you will seem flat and insipid."
"You only speak of me," Wilhelm ventured to remark, "but that is not
the worst side of the story; what weighs most heavily on my mind is,
that I have broken my faith with her."
"Do not let that worry you," Schrotter replied. "You were in such a
position as to be forced to act in self-defense. It would have been
inexcusable in you to have stayed any longer where you were. For a
liaison of that kind is only conceivable when the man loves the
woman very deeply. You, my friend, did not love the lady at all. If
you have any doubts about it in your own mind, you may take my word
for it--had you loved her, you would not have parted from her. You
would, if necessary, have carried her off from Paris, and continued
to live with her in some world-forgotten spot, as you did at St.
Valery. Or you would have gone off to the Philippines, and fought
her husband to the death, in order to gain free possession of her or
die in the attempt. That is how love acts when it is of that
elemental force which alone can justify such relations before the
higher natural tribunal of morality. But if your love is not strong
enough to prompt you to do these things, then it is immoral, and
must be shaken off."
Wilhelm was still unconvinced.
"I surely owe her gratitude for having loved me? That imposes
certain duties upon me; I have no right to break a heart which gave
itself wholly to me."
"Your idea has a specious air of generosity," answered Schrotter
firmly, "but in reality it is morbid and weak. Love accepts no alms.
One gives oneself wholly or not at all. Do you imagine that any
woman of spirit would be satisfied if you said to her: 'I do not
love you, I should like to leave you, but I will stay on with you
because I do not wish to give you pain, or from pity--soft-
heartedness.' Why, she would thrust you from her, and rather, a
thousand times, die than live on your bounty. On the other hand, the
woman who would still hold fast to a man after such a declaration,
must be of so poor a stuff that I do not consider her capable of
feeling any violent pain. Woman, in general, has a far truer and
more natural judgment in this question. Where she does not love she
has no scruples about want of consideration, and the knowledge that
it will hurt the man's feelings has rarely restrained her from
rejecting an unwelcome suitor. There is such a thing as necessary
cruelty, my friend--the physician knows that better than anybody."
Wilhelm shook his head thoughtfully.
"Your cruelties are not for your own advantage, but for that of your
patient. I have no such excuse to offer."
"Yes, you have," cried Schrotter. "You cure the countess of a morbid
and hysterical sentiment. This Auguste is right--she will console
"And if does not?"
"If not--why, what can I say?--we must simply wait and see. But it
would surprise me very much. The worst is over. In such cases, if
women mean to commit some act of madness, they do it in the first
moment. The countess has her mother with her, she has three
children, she has, from all I hear, an extremely buoyant nature, her
despair will soon calm down. If not, it is always open to you to
return in a year's time and do the prodigal son, and have the fatted
calf killed for you."
As Wilhelm looked at him with suppressed reproach, Schrotter laid
his hand on the young man's shoulder.
"You no doubt think me a hard-hearted old fogey--you miss the ring
of romance in what I say. That is quite natural. The language of
reason always sounds flat to the ear of passion--and not to passion
only, but to sentimentality and feebleness. Let us finish. You know
my advice. Give no sign of life, and so give time a chance to do its
work. Try to forgot the past, and help the lady to do likewise, and
do not remind her of it again by letters, or any other kind of
communication. And now let us talk of something else. What are your
"I have none," answered Wilhelm, with a dispirited gesture. "I have
not forgotten what you wrote to me at New Year. If our wishes make
up our future, I have no future before me, for I have no wish."
"Not even to be near me again?" asked Schrotter.
"Ah, yes," answered Wilhelm quickly, and looked him affectionately
in the deep-set blue eyes.
"You see now. This wandering life is no good for you. You must see
about getting back to Berlin."
"Yes, but you know--"
"Of course I know. But something must be done. You must apply to the
authorities to withdraw your sentence of banishment."
"And you advise me to do this?"
"Unwillingly, as you may well suppose. But I see nothing else for
"And how should I word such a petition? I could neither acknowledge
a transgression in the past, nor promise amendment in the future."
"No, it would be of no use going into details. It would have to be a
bald petition for pardon." And seeing Wilhelm recoil involuntarily,
he added: "It does not do to be too proud in such a case. In the
preposterously unequal struggle between the individual and the
organized power of the State, it is no disgrace to declare yourself
beaten and ask for quarter."
"A petition without any gush or protestations of loyalty, in which I
would simply say: 'Please allow me to come back to Berlin, because I
prefer it to any other place of residence,' would certainly be
ineffectual, and I should only have humiliated myself for nothing."
"We must get somebody to take up your cause. I shall do all in my
power to make the Oberburgermeister put in a good word for you."
"Would you yourself do what you are advising me to do?"
Schrotter was silent for a moment.
"I am not in the same case. If Berlin were as much a necessity to me
as it is to you I would do it--most certainly."
Wilhelm looked as if he were swallowing a bitter draught. But
Schrotter's strong hand lay tenderly on the dark head.
"Yes, friend Eynhardt," he said; "you will send in the petition, and
it will, I hope, have the desired result. Do it for my sake. Yes,
look at me; I have need of you. I miss you. I am getting to be an
old man. At sixty years of age one does not make new friendships.
All the more carefully does one keep those one has. Berlin has
seemed to me a desert--almost unbearable, without you. You do not
know how impossible things have become there. They are misusing,
without one pang of conscience, the most touching and lovable
characteristic of our people--its sense of gratitude, which it
exaggerates to the point of weakness. They are doing all they can to
bind Germany hand and foot, to gag her and drag her back into
absolutism before her sentimentality will allow her to put herself
on the defensive. They are pandering to the lowest instincts of the
people, and enervating their manhood by every artifice in their
power. Thus they have successfully achieved the introduction into
Germany of that most degraded form of self-worship--Chauvinism. They
poison her morality by wisely organizing that every conscience,
every conviction, should have its price. They debase her ideals by
decreeing that henceforth the officer is to be the national patron
saint to whom the people are to offer up their devotion and worship.
The press, literature, art, lecturing-room--all preach the same
gospel, that the highest product of humanity is the officer, and
that "soldierly discipline and smartness"--in other words, slavish
submission, self-conceit, arrogance, and the upholding of mere brute
force--are the noblest qualities of a man and a patriot. The army is
taught to forget that it is the armed population of the country, and
is trained to be a band of body servants. And even when the soldiers
return to private life, the idea of servitude is carefully kept up,
and he finds again in the military 'Verein' the beloved barrack
life, with all its servile submissiveness and abnegation of free
will. Whichever way I look, I am filled with horror. Everything is
ground down, everything laid waste, the governing spirit has not
left one stone standing upon another. Even our youth, with whom lies
our hope for the future, is rotten in part. In many student circles
I see a want of principle, a low cringing to success, a cowardly
worship of animal strength, that is without its parallel in our
history. Instinctively, this corrupt youth sides, in every question,
with the strong against the weak, with the pursuer against the
pursued, and that at the age when my generation exerted itself
passionately, without a question as to right or wrong, for everyone
oppressed against every oppressor. Of course we were simpletons, we
of '48, and the golden youth of to-day scoffs superciliously at our
naive ideals. In the present order of things everything has become a
curse--even the parliamentary system. For that gives the people no
means of making its will known, and has simply become a vehicle for
general corruption at the elections. Our officials, on whose
independence of spirit we used to pride ourselves so much, have sunk
into mere electioneering agents, and unless they pursue, oppress,
and grind the opponents of the government, have no chance of
promotion. It is a Police State such as we have never known, not
even before '48. For at least every man got his rights in those
days, scanty as those rights may have been, and the official was not
the enemy of the citizen, but his somewhat despotic guardian and
protector. Shall I say all? The most consoling class to me in
Germany to-day are the Social Democrats. They have independence of
spirit, self-denial, character, and idealism. Their ideals are not
my ideals--far from it--but what does that matter? It is relief
enough to find people who have any ideals at all, and who are ready
to suffer and die for them. I fear that not till this generation has
passed away will the German people become once more the upright,
true-hearted, incorruptible idealists they were, who, at every
turning-point of their history, were ready to bleed to death for
freedom of opinion, and other purely spiritual advantages. I take a
very black view of things perhaps. If only the harm done is not
permanent, if only Germany retains sufficient virile strength to
throw off the poison instilled into her veins and recover her former
In his excitement he had risen, and was pacing the room like an
angry lion in a cage. Wilhelm did not like to interrupt the stream
of words, which seemed to be forced from him by some powerful inward
pressure. Now he said:
"I can well understand your point of view. You emigrated in '48, and
kept your democratic ideas fresh in your heart. Twenty years of
absence, and an intense longing for your home, glorified the
Fatherland in your eyes. You come back and find a country whose
historical development has taken a totally different turn in the
meantime, and the plain reality in nowise corresponds to the
poetical picture you had painted for yourself. Naturally you are
painfully disappointed. I know that of old from my own father. But
may I venture to remark that your criticism is hard, and perhaps not
altogether well founded? A system of government passes--the people
remain. In its inner depths it is untouched by official corruption,
and you yourself acknowledge that the aggressive boasters only
formed a small part of our youth. I am not uneasy for the future of
"You may be right," returned Schrotter, grown calmer meanwhile, and
standing still in front of Wilhelm. "But the present is gloomy, that
is very certain. But enough of this. I came to cheer you, and have
instead lightened my own heart. It was overflowing, and I have no
one in Berlin to whom I can unburden myself. You see, I must have
you near me. So write your petition, and if it is not accepted, why
then--then we will go together to Switzerland or America, and love
our country from afar, and without any admixture of bitterness, just
as I did in India."
In face of this deep and unselfish concern over the condition of the
commonalty which trembled in Schrotter's voice and spoke from his
gloomy blue eyes, Wilhelm felt half ashamed of having made so much
of his own small troubles. He declared himself willing to send in
the petition, and for the first time for weeks he was able to think
of something else than Pilar and his dealings with regard to her.
Schrotter stayed for a few days, which he passed almost exclusively
with Wilhelm and Paul. All three felt themselves younger by ten
years in this renewal of their intimacy, and Paul said more than
once, "Would it not be splendid, Herr Doctor, if you two would buy
some property near me? Then, in the summer months at any rate, we
could all live together, so to speak. I am quite convinced that that
would be a sure way of keeping ourselves young forever." Schrotter
smiled at this proposal. All he wanted was to have Wilhelm near him
once more. In the meantime, Bhani, his patients, his poor, recalled
him to Berlin, and he left in hope that Wilhelm might be able to
follow him ere long.
Schrotter lost no time. He did his utmost to persuade influential
people to exert themselves on Wilhelm's behalf, but the difficulties
were greater than he had imagined. Wilhelm was in very bad odor with
the police authorities, who would not believe that he was not a
Socialist, and that he did not afford that party valuable support in
the shape of money.
Some three weeks after Schrotter's visit to Hamburg another letter
came from Auguste. He was surprised, he said, that Monsieur le
Docteur had not answered, and proceeded to inform him of a new turn
in the affair. They had discovered that Madame la Comtesse injected
herself secretly with morphine, pricked herself, Auguste said, and
two Sisters of Mercy had to watch her day and night to prevent it.
Schrotter judged it unnecessary to inform Wilhelm of the contents of
Schrotter's visit had had an extremely salutary effect on Wilhelm.
His self-torture grew less poignant, the memory of Paris receded
into the background, and in proportion as it paled the red returned
to his cheeks and the light to his dull eyes. He still held aloof
from the busy turmoil of the world, and was still dominated by a
profound consciousness of the aimlessness of his life, and yet, for
the first time for years, perhaps since he took his degree, he
entertained a desire, a hope, that he might be permitted to return
On the last Sunday in April Wilhelm was spending the afternoon at
the Uhlenhorst. The family were preparing to remove shortly to
Friesenmoor, and Paul had gone over to the estate to make some
arrangements. He was expected back in the evening, when they were
all to go for a row on the Alster.
Spring was unusually early that year; the trees showed gay sprigs of
green already, the air was wonderfully mild and balmy, and in the
exhilarating blue of the sky feathery white cloudlets were floating,
whose course one was fain to follow with sweet dreams and fancies.
It was a sin to stay indoors on such a lovely afternoon, Malvine
declared, and so proposed that they should go out to the terrace
overlooking the water and sit there till Paul came home.
The terrace belonged to the villa in the Carlstrasse, laying on the
path round the shore which bears with perfect right the name "An der
schonen Aussicht"--the beautiful view--and was built out in a square
into the Alster. A low stone parapet surrounded it on three sides,
the fourth--that toward the pathway--being formed by an iron paling
with a locked gate in it. One corner of the terrace, which was
otherwise paved with asphalt, was laid out in a round flower bed, in
which the primroses and violets were just beginning to come up. Near
the balustrade at the waterside, under a large tentlike umbrella,
stood a garden table and a few chairs. Here Malvine and Wilhelm
seated themselves, while Willy played about with Fido. To the right
of the terrace was a narrow little bay where the shallow boat was
fastened in which they were to make their pleasure trip later on.
The boat was tied to a wooden landing-place, which inclosed the
little bay on the side away from the terrace, and from which a few
mossy steps led down to the water. The Alster was swollen with
melting snow and spring rains, and almost washed the foot of the
terrace; only one of the steps of the landing appeared above the
surface of the water. Willy, finding it rather dull on the terrace,
elected to play on the pier, and began jumping in and out of the
boat, into which Fido refused to follow him, as he was afraid of the
The view was enchanting. The opposite shore gleamed silvery blue in
the delicate white light of a northern spring day. In the distance,
the masses of houses and the spires of Hamburg hung upon the horizon
like a faintly tinted, half-washed out transparency. A light breeze
ruffled the broad bosom of the Alster, and the red and green
steamboats plowed dark furrows in its brightness, which remained
there long after the boats had passed, and faded away finally in
many a serpentine curve. Numbers of little rowing and sailing-boats
floated upon the slow current, peopled by couples and parties in
their Sunday clothes, their talk and merry laughter sounding across
the water to the shore. A sailing-boat passed quite close to the
terrace on its way to the Fahrhaus. A young boatman handled the
sails, a little boy was steering, and in the stern sat a young man
and a pretty rosy girl, their arms affectionately intertwined,
softly singing, "Life let us cherish." Malvine smiled as she caught
sight of the little idyll, and turning to Wilhelm, who was gazing
dreamily into the quiet sunny beauty of the surrounding scene: "Can
you imagine any more delightful occupation on a spring day like
this," she said, "than to go love-making like those two little
people over there?"
A shadow passed over Wilhelm's face. He saw himself lying in the
high grass under a wide-spreading tree in St. Valery, and over him
there hovered a white hand that strewed him with fresh blossoms.
At that instant they heard a little frightened cry, followed
immediately by a second one, and then a gurgle. Both sprang to their
feet, and Malvine uttered a piercing shriek of terror. Right in
front of them, not more than a step from the terrace, they saw Willy
in the midst of a whirl of foam which he had churned up round him
with his desperate, struggling little limbs. His arms were tossing
wildly above the water, but the head with its floating golden curls
dipped under from time to time, and the little distorted mouth
opened for an agonized breath and scream, only to be stopped by the
in-rushing water. The boat rocking violently close by explained with
sufficient clearness how the accident had happened. The boy had
clambered on to the edge of the boat to rock himself, had
overbalanced and fallen into the water, and in his struggles had
already drifted some paces from the shore. Fido stood barking and
gasping on the step and dipping his paws into the water only to draw
them out again.
Malvine stretched out her arms to the child, but her feet refused
their office, she stood rooted to the spot, unable to do anything
but utter terrible inarticulate screams. Only a few seconds elapsed-
-just long enough to realize what had happened--when Wilhelm sprang
with lightning rapidity on to his chair, and from thence, with one
bound, over the parapet into the water. He disappeared below the
surface, but rose again at once just beside the child, who clung to
him with all his remaining strength. How he managed it he did not
know, but, although he could not swim, he managed to push the boy in
front of him toward the terrace, crying anxiously, "Catch hold of
him! Catch hold of him!" Life returned to Malvine's limbs, she
leaned over the parapet and stretched out her arms. Wilhelm made a
supreme effort and lifted the boy so far out of the water that she
could grasp him, put her arms round him, and drag him up, and with
him apparently Wilhelm, for his head and shoulders rose for a moment
above the water. With a jerk she dragged the fainting boy over the
parapet and held him in her arms, while she continued to scream for
help. People came running from the shore the Carlstrasse, the
Fahrhaus, and in an instant the terrace was crowded. They relieved
the still half-demented mother of the dripping child to carry him
across to the house. She was pushing her way through the closely
packed groups and tottering after them when a cry reached her.
"There is another one in the water!" Only then did she remember
Wilhelm. Terrified to death, she turned and flew back to the edge of
the terrace. A crowd stood there gesticulating wildly, all talking
at once, and obstructing the view. A gap opened when two or three
men with more presence of mind than the rest rushed down to the
landing, jumped into the boat, untied it, and pushed off from the
shore. And now, to her unspeakable horror, she saw that Wilhelm had
disappeared, and the thick muddy waters gave no clew to the spot
where he had gone down. This was too much, and she altogether lost
consciousness. When she came to herself she was lying on the sofa in
her husband's smoking room, her dress in disorder, and the maids
busy about her. She first looked round her startled, then her memory
returned with a flash, and she cried with quivering lips: "How is
Willy--and Dr. Eynhardt?"
"Master Willy has quite come round, and they are putting him to
bed," the servants hastened to answer.
"But Dr. Eynhardt?"
To that they had no reply.
Malvine jumped up and would have rushed out.
"Gnadige Frau!" cried the girls, horrified, "you can't go out like
They held her back; Malvine struggled to free herself, but at that
moment there was a sound of heavy footsteps and a confused murmur of
voices in the hall, some one flung open the door, the man-servant
put in his head, but started back at sight of his mistress and
closed the door abruptly. Then he went on, and the footsteps and
murmuring voices followed him.
"They are bringing him in!" shrieked Malvine, and they could hold
her back no longer. A moment later and she knew that she was right.
On the billiard-table, in the room to the right of the hall, lay
Wilhelm's motionless form, while the people who had carried him in
stood round. Water flowed from his clothes and made little pools on
the green cloth and trickled into the leather pockets of the
billiard-table. His breast did not move, and death stared from the
glazed, half-open eyes.
A doctor was soon on the spot, the curious were turned out of the
house, and they began the work of resuscitation. They had labored
uninterruptedly for nearly an hour when Paul burst in, crying in a
choking voice: "Doctor--doctor, is he alive?" The servants had told
him all in flying haste outside.
The doctor shook his head. "There is nothing more to be done."
But Paul would not believe it. He would not suffer them to cease
their efforts. The rubbing, the movements, the artificial
respiration had to be kept up for another full hour. But death held
his prey fast, and would not let them force it out of his clutches.
Two days later, on a gray rainy day, they buried him. Schrotter came
over from Berlin for the funeral. He looked quite broken down, and
grief had aged his leonine features to an appalling extent. Malvine
and Willy were lying ill in bed, so that Paul and Schrotter followed
their friend alone to his last resting-place. When the coffin was
carried out and lifted into the hearse, and Paul came out of his
house, he saw through the veil of tears that obscured his vision
that several hundred men were standing in orderly array on the
opposite side of the Carlstrasse. They were young for the most part,
but there was a sprinkling of older men among them; all were poorly,
but cleanly and decently dressed, and every man had a red
everlasting in his buttonhole. They stood as motionless as a troop
under arms, and apparently followed the orders of a gray-bearded man
who paced authoritatively up and down the silent line.
Paul was surprised, and asked the undertaker, who was waiting for
him beside the hearse, who these people were. He had not invited
anybody, and did not expect there would be a crowd of any kind,
although the Hamburg papers had devoted whole columns to the
The undertaker went over and addressed himself to the man who was
evidently the leader of the party. He informed Paul on his return:
"They are workingmen's societies from Hamburg and Altona. Their
leader says the deceased was not one of them, but they wanted to
show him this last mark of respect because he had been kind to them
during his lifetime."
On the first of May of the following year, which happened to fall on
a Sunday, a long procession of carriages drove along the road from
Harburg to Friesenmoor. They stopped at the entrance to the estate.
Before them rose a triumphal arch composed of branches of fir
garlanded with flowers, and adorned with flags and ribbons, and a
gold inscription on a blue ground, which ran as follows:
"A gracious Sovereign's due Reward
To fruitful Labour, honest Work."
A "Verein" with its banner was posted beside the arch. There was a
roar of cannon, the banner waved, the Verein gave three "Hochs!" and
its chief, or spokesman, stepped up to the first carriage, in which
sat a youngish gentleman with spectacles, and an officer in the
gorgeous uniform of a Landwehr dragoon, his breast covered with
stars and crosses. The spectacled gentleman was the Landrath of the
circuit, and the cavalry officer was no other than Paul Haber, now
Herr Paul von Haber. For he had been raised to the nobility, and
celebrated his auspicious event to-day in the midst of his retainers
and a host of invited guests, whom he had fetched in a dozen
carriages from the station at Harburg, supported by his
distinguished young pupils.
The spokesman of the Verein, a man of some fifty years of age, with
a grizzled beard, addressed the proprietor in a glowing speech, in
which, among other things, he assured him--the man of thirty-seven--
that "We all look upon you as our father, and honor and love you as
if we were your children." Paul smiled, and returned thanks in a few
warm words, then renewed "Hochs!" more waving of banners and firing
of cannon, and the procession set itself in motion again.
At the entrance to Kaiser Wilhelm's Dorf there ensued a second and
more elaborate welcome. Here too there was a triumphal arch and
cannons, and instead of one there were three Vereins with flags and
banners, also the schoolchildren, headed by the pastor and the
schoolmaster, and the whole female portion of the community lining
the roadway on either side, or massed round the base of the arch.
The pastor made a speech, a fair-haired schoolgirl recited a long
piece of poetry composed by the master in the sweat of his brow, the
Choral Verein sang, the Young Men's Verein--who were given to
instrumental music--piped and blew a chorale, and not till the all-
prevading joy and enthusiasm had found sufficient vent in the firing
of cannon, in speeches, poetry, and music, did the carriages move
on, and finally reach the steps of Friesenmoor House, where the
guests were received by Frau von Haber, assisted by Frau Brohl and
Frau Marker. At the moment of leaving the carriages three flags were
run up the flagstaff on the tower--the black, white, and red flag of
the empire, then the white and black Prussian one, and finally a
green, white, and red banner with a large coat-of-arms in the
center. This third flag, somewhat enigmatical to the guests, was the
new family banner of the House of von Haber, with the coat-of-arms
of that noble race, now displayed for the first time to the admiring
gaze of the beholders.
The designing of a coat-of-arms had been no light task to Paul. From
the moment--now five months ago--that he knew his promotion to the
nobility was a settled affair, he had devoted the best part of his
thoughts to this weighty question. He hesitated long between
medieval simplicity and modern symbolism. An illustrative crest that
should be a play upon his name was out of the question; for of
course it was only another of Mayboom, the farce-writer's, jokes--he
had taken him into his confidence on one of his visits to Berlin--to
suggest a sack of oats, gules on a field, vert. After devising a
dozen crests, each of which he thought charming, only to reject it a
day or two afterward as inappropriate, he finally fixed on the one
which now adorned his proud banner. It displayed on a field, vert,
three waving transverse bars argent, and in a free quarter-purpure-
dexter a medal of the Franco-Prussian War in natural colors. The
waving bars were in allusion to the drainage canals on his marsh
estate, and the medal to his career in the war. He did not forget
that he owed the realization of his life's scheme to his wife's
marriage-portion, and wished to show his appreciation of the fact in
a delicate manner by crossing the transverse bars with a marshmallow
in natural colors. However, he abandoned this design when they
pointed out to him at the Herald's office that the crest would be
rather overladen thereby, and at the same time would betray too
plainly the "newly-baked" aristocrat. Paul left nothing undone. He
provided himself with a motto. The incorrigible Mayboom recommended,
"The Moor has done his duty." Paul decided on "Meinem Konige treu"--
True to my king. Somebody at the Herald's office suggested putting
it "Minem Kunege treu," but he had not the courage.
But though his promotion had occupied him almost exclusively during
the last few months, necessitating frequent journeys to Berlin, he
did not cease to think of poor Wilhelm. For a whole year he, as well
as Malvine and Willy, wore deep mourning for the friend who had
sacrificed himself for them, and Paul erected a magnificent monument
over him in the St. Georg Cemetery in Hamburg, on which neither
marble nor gilt nor verses were spared. The monument is one of the
sights of the churchyard, and pointed out to visitors with great
pride by the sexton. Old Frau Brohl, too, kept green the memory of
the departed friend. Her speciality now was the manufacturing of
flags and banners since Paul had founded quite a number of Vereins
among the settlers on his estate--latterly a Military Verein, and
one for Conservative electors. She was hard at work from morning
till night on these objects of art, which she constructed out of
heavy silk, and covered so thickly with symbolical devices, and
embroidered mottoes and inscriptions, that they were as stiff as
boards, and would neither flutter nor roll up. But when Wilhelm's
funeral monument was to be dedicated, she put aside Paul's banner
and coat-of-arms, upon which she was engaged, and wove a wreath of
wire and black and white and lilac beads, a yard and a half in
diameter, on which, between laurel leaves, were Wilhelm's name and
the date of his death, and the words: "Eternal gratitude." Nothing
the least like it had ever been seen in Hamburg before, and it was
much admired on the occasion of the ceremony.
Paul showed himself throughout as a man of feeling and character.
When his patent of nobility was signed, and he came to Berlin to be
admitted to the emperor, to thank him for the honor accorded to him,
he went to Schrotter, and begged him, as a personal favor, to accept
his invitation to the festivity which should take place on his
estate on the first of May. "I look upon you as Wilhelm's substitute
here on earth," he said, "and our friend must not be absent from my
side on this joyful occasion. I owe everything to him. He laid the
foundation of my prosperity, and preserved my heir to me, for whom
alone I am working and striving. If Wilhelm were with us now, he
would not refuse my request, and with that thought before you, Herr
Doctor, you will not pain me by refusing." The words came from
Paul's heart, and showed that he felt keenly the desire to do
homage, in his way, to Wilhelm's memory. Schrotter could not but
To all outward appearances he had recovered from the terrible shock
of his friend's death, in reality, however, he was all the less
likely to have got over his loss, owing to the circumstance that he
was often busied with the management of Wilhelm's affairs, and thus
the wound was inevitably kept open.
Wilhelm left no will. After much inquiry, it was discovered that he
had a very distant relative living at Lowenhagen, near Konigsberg,
married to a poor village smith, and lavishly endowed with children.
The house in the Kochstrasse went to her--a very windfall, for which
the honest wife and mother was too thankful to be able to simulate
grief at the death of the relative she had never known. She
generously handed over all Wilhelm's papers to Schrotter, after
having assured herself by inquiries in various quarters that they
would only fetch the value of their weight. Schrotter gave them to
the young man whom he and Wilhelm had supported in his studies out
of the Dorfling legacy. The recipient was clever and shrewd, and
justified the confidences his patrons had placed in his future. He
found that the first volume of the "History of Human Ignorance,"
testing of the early ideas of mankind and their psychological
reasons, was completely ready for the press; and all the notes and
literary sources for the two following volumes only needed putting
together to bring the work up to the end of the eighteenth century,
and the experiments of Lavoisier, from which the indestructibility
of matter was deduced.
The first volume appeared in the autumn. On the title page he gave
his own name as the author, but did not omit, as a man of honor, to
mention in the preface that in compiling the work he had availed
himself of "the preparatory notes of the late Dr. Wilhelm Eynhardt,
an eminent scholar, lost all too early to the scientific word by a
tragic death." In the ensuing editions which followed rapidly upon
the first, the book meeting with great success, this preface was
omitted as unnecessary. The second volume appeared in the following
year; the third--very prudently--not till two years later. There
were no more. In the two last volumes there was no more mention of
Eynhardt. After the publication of the first volume, the young man
whose name adorned the title-page received a call to a public
school, of which he now forms one of the chief ornaments. To various
inquiries with regard to a concluding volume which should treat of
the nineteenth century, he replied by pointing out the doubtful
wisdom of a history or criticism of hypotheses and opinions which
were as yet incomplete and still under discussion, and put them off
with vague promises for the future. Schrotter only shrugged his
shoulders. He knew Wilhelm's views on the subject of posthumous
fame, and the immortality of the individual, and considered it
inexpedient to punish the clever young professor for being a man
like the rest.
About three months after Wilhelm's death Schrotter received one more
letter from Auguste. He observed curtly and dryly that Monsieur le
Docteur evidently did not wish to have anything more to do with him;
he wrote, however, once more, and for the last time, in order to
give him his new address in case he might desire to answer. He had
been obliged to look for another place, the game was up at the
Boulevard Pereire. In spite of all their watchfulness, madame had
managed to obtain morphine, and one night in July, when the sister
who shared her room was asleep, she had given herself so many
"pricks" that they had been unable to bring her round again. Anne
declared that it was on the anniversary of the day on which Madame
la Comtesse had made the acquaintance of monsieur. At the breaking
up of the household, Monsieur le Docteur's things had been handed
over to him, Auguste, and he held them at monsieur's disposal.
Schrotter wrote in answer that he might keep them, and sent him a
small sum of money as a bequest from Wilhelm.
Pilar's suicide made somewhat of an impression on him. So there were
women, after all, who could die of love, and that not in the first
moments of a mad and passionate grief, but after months, when the
nerves have had time to cool down. "She was hysterical," Schrotter
said to himself, endeavoring thereby to dispel various uncomfortable
suggestions. He did not wholly succeed.
As Paul begged him so earnestly to come to his festival, he accepted
the invitation, and found himself, on the first of May, among the
guests whom Malvine received on the steps of Friesenmoor House.
In the great oak-paneled dining room, with its windows looking to
the west, a banquet was laid for twenty-four guests. Following the
country custom, they sat down to table at twelve o'clock. Malvine,
handsomely dressed and richly adorned, sat enthroned in the middle
of the long side of the table, and had Chamberlain von Swerte (of
the House of Hellebrand) and the Landrath, to right and left of her.
Paul, who sat opposite, insisted against all the rules of etiquette
on having Schrotter beside him as his left-hand neighbor. On his
right, Frau Brohl, in rustling silk, sat in rapt silence. The ever-
modest Frau Marker was content to take a lower place.
The pastor said grace before the dinner began, which seemed to
surprise the Landrath, but the Chamberlain was much edified. The
Young Men's Verein played dance-music and marches in front of the
open windows. Paul proposed the health of the emperor, whereupon the
Landrath, in a carefully worded speech, drank to the host and the
ladies. They all clinked glasses with an enthusiasm which was in no
way feigned, but perfectly accountable after so splendid a dinner
and such well-assorted wines. In the midst of the gayety and noise,
and while the clarionets and trumpets blared away outside, Paul
turned to his neighbor, and tapping the foot of his glass against
the edge of Schrotter's, he whispered to him, unheard by the others:
"To HIS memory!" He turned his head away abruptly, bent over his
glass, and was busily engaged in furtively passing his table-napkin
across his face and eyes. Schrotter put his lips to his glass and
closed his eyes. One could positively trace upon his broad brow how
a thought passed over it like a shadow.
The dinner lasted fully two hours, and brought Malvine in many a
fiery compliment, especially from the chamberlain, which she could
accept with a good conscience, knowing well how much she would have
to pay to the great Hamburg pastry-cook who had provided it. At
dessert the heir was handed round. Willy, who was really beginning
to grow a little, was unquestionably a well-bred child. He went with
much dignity and propriety from guest to guest, closely followed by
Fido, who had grown far too stout, offered his cheek politely to
each one, shook hands prettily, and was permitted to withdraw,
accompanied by his short-winded dog, after they had all sufficiently
After dinner the guests amused themselves according to their several
tastes. Some went to enjoy Paul's excellent cigars in the smoking
room, others went down to the village to look on at the rural
festival arranged by the master for his people, and where, between
singing, music, dancing, and drinking, the fun ran high; others
again took a walk through the fields of the estate where the young
crops were just coming up, spreading a green haze over the yellow
coating of sand. It was altogether a radiant picture of joy and
prosperity; and the happiest of all, whether of the guests flushed
with the good dinner or the villagers stamping on the green, seemed
to be the master of the house. He was rich, respected, full of
health and spirits, his family life unclouded; he had a high
position, possessed numberless decorations, was a captain of the
Landwehr, had been promoted to the cavalry, and now was even raised
to the nobility. What more could he desire?
Well then, if he seemed happy appearances were deceptive. A worm
gnawed at his heart. He had hoped to be created Freiherr--baron--and
here he was a simple "Herr von." How rarely is happiness perfect
Pleading important business next morning in Berlin, Schrotter left
soon after four o'clock. He would not hear of Paul's deserting his
guests to accompany him to the station, as he was most anxious to
do, but drove alone to Harburg, and took the train that left at five
o'clock, bringing him to Berlin by way of Uelzen.
It was nearly two in the morning when he reached home. He stole on
tiptoe into his room, but Bhani, whose sleep was light and restless
when he was not there, heard him directly. She stretched out her
arms to him with a low exclamation of joy, pressed him to her bosom
while he kissed her on the brow, and was for jumping up and
attending to his wants. He would not suffer it, and declared that he
wanted nothing. So she remained where she was, only following him
with her eyes while he unpacked his bag and put everything in order.
He then went into his study adjoining and locked the door behind
him. Bhani heard him walking up and down for awhile, and then caught
the sound of a creaking as of a drawer being opened. She knew what
that meant and heaved a deep sigh. He was taking out the great
leather book with metal-bound corners; his diary, which had become
his sole confidant now that Wilhelm was dead. Guided by the delicate
tact of the Oriental, the poor simple creature divined easily enough
that her sahib had cares which she could not understand and sorrows
which she might not share, and yet how happy she would be if he
would but deign to enlighten her ignorance, to explain it all to her
and disclose his heart to her fully. But, proud and reserved, he
scorned to acknowledge his troubles to any but himself, and it was
only in his diary that he unburdened himself of all that weighed
upon his heart and mind.
And now he sat at his study table and wrote in the big book.
"My poor Eynhardt! Only a year since he departed, and already it is
as if he had never been. What remains of him? A book that bears a
stranger's name upon the title-page; a little dog that is perhaps
happier now than when it belonged to him; a child like a dozen
others, who will presumably grow up to be a man like a dozen other
men; and a memory in my heart which will cease with the day, not far
hence, when this heart shall cease to beat. Now if Haber were to die