Jean-Christophe Chapter II ENGULFED

Christophe had got so far with his clumsy efforts towards the reform of German art when there happened to pass through the town a troupe of French actors. It would be more exact to say, a band; for, as usual, they were a collection of poor devils, picked up goodness knows where, and young unknown players too happy to learn their art, provided they were allowed to act. They were all harnessed to the chariot of a famous and elderly actress who was making tour of Germany, and passing through the little princely town, gave their performances there.

Waldhaus’ review made a great fuss over them. Mannheim and his friends knew or pretended to know about the literary and social life of Paris: they used to repeat gossip picked up in the boulevard newspapers and more or less understood; they represented the French spirit in Germany. That robbed Christophe of any desire to know more about it. Mannheim used to overwhelm him with praises of Paris. He had been there several times; certain members of his family were there. He had relations in every country in Europe, and they had everywhere assumed the nationality and aspect of the country: this tribe of the seed of Abraham included an English baronet, a Belgian senator, a French minister, a deputy in the Reichstag, and a Papal Count; and all of them, although they were united and filled with respect for the stock from which they sprang, were sincerely English, Belgian, French, German, or Papal, for their pride never allowed of doubt that the country of their adoption was the greatest of all. Mannheim was paradoxically the only one of them who was pleased to prefer all the countries to which he did not belong. He used often to talk of Paris enthusiastically, but as he was always extravagant in his talk, and, by way of praising the Parisians, used to represent them as a species of scatterbrains, lewd and rowdy, who spent their time in love-making and revolutions without ever taking themselves seriously, Christophe was not greatly attracted by the "Byzantine and decadent republic beyond the Vosges." He used rather to imagine Paris as it was presented in a naïve engraving which he had seen as a frontispiece to a book that had recently appeared in a German art publication; the Devil of Notre Dame appeared huddled up above the roofs of the town with the legend:

"Eternal luxury like an insatiable Vampire devours its prey above the great city."

Like a good German he despised the debauched Volcae and their literature, of which he only knew lively buffooneries like L’Aiglon, Madame Sans Gêne, and a few café songs. The snobbishness of the little town, where those people who were most notoriously incapable of being interested in art flocked noisily to take places at the box office, brought him to an affectation of scornful indifference towards the great actress. He vowed that he would not go one yard to hear her. It was the easier for him to keep his promise as seats had reached an exorbitant price which he could not afford.

The repertory which the French actors had brought included a few classical pieces; but for the most part it was composed of those idiotic pieces which are expressly manufactured in Paris for exportation, for nothing is more international than mediocrity. Christophe knew La Tosca, which was to be the first production of the touring actors; he had seen it in translation adorned with all those easy graces which the company of a little Rhenish theater can give to a French play: and he laughed scornfully and declared that he was very glad, when he saw his friends go off to the theater, not to have to see it again. But next day he listened none the less eagerly, without seeming to listen, to the enthusiastic tales of the delightful evening they had had: he was angry at having lost the right to contradict them by having refused to see what everybody was talking about.

The second production announced was a French translation of Hamlet. Christophe had never missed an opportunity of seeing a play of Shakespeare’s. Shakespeare was to him of the same order as Beethoven, an inexhaustible spring of life. Hamlet had been specially dear to him during the period of stress and tumultuous doubts through which he had just passed. In spite of his fear of seeing himself reflected in that magic mirror he was fascinated by it: and he prowled about the theater notices, though he did not admit that he was longing to book a seat. But he was so obstinate that after what he had said to his friends he would not eat his words: and he would have stayed at home that evening if chance had not brought him in contact with Mannheim just as he was sadly going home.

Mannheim took his arm and told him angrily, though he never ceased his banter, that an old beast of a relation, his father’s sister, had just come down upon them with all her retinue and that they had all to stay at home to welcome her. He had time to get out of it: but his father would brook no trifling with questions of family etiquette and the respect due to elderly relatives: and as he had to handle his father carefully because he wanted presently to get money out of him, he had had to give in and not go to the play.

"You had tickets?" asked Christophe.

"An excellent box: and I have to go and give it—(I am just going now)—to that old pig, Grünebaum, papa’s partner, so that he can swagger there with the she Grünebaum and their turkey hen of a daughter. Jolly!… I want to find something very disagreeable to say to them. They won’t mind so long as I give them the tickets—although they would much rather they were banknotes."

He stopped short with his month open and looked at Christophe:

"Oh! but—but just the man I want!" He chuckled:

"Christophe, are you going to the theater?"


"Good. You shall go. I ask it as a favor. Yon cannot refuse."

Christophe did not understand.

"But I have no seat."

"Here you are!" said Mannheim triumphantly, thrusting the ticket into his hand.

"You are mad," said Christophe. "What about your father’s orders?"

Mannheim laughed:

"He will be furious!" he said.

He dried his eyes and went on:

"I shall tap him to-morrow morning as soon as he is up before he knows anything."

"I cannot accept," said Christophe, "knowing that he would not like it."

"It does not concern you: you know nothing about it."

Christophe had unfolded the ticket:

"And what would I do with a box for four?"

"Whatever you like. You can sleep in it, dance if you like. Take some women. You must know some? If need be we can lend you some."

Christophe held out the ticket to Mannheim:

"Certainly not. Take it back."

"Not I," said Mannheim, stepping back a pace. "I can’t force you to go if it bores you, but I shan’t take it back. You can throw it in the fire or even take it virtuously to the Grünebaums. I don’t care. Good-night!"

He left Christophe in the middle of the street, ticket in hand, and went away.

Christophe was unhappy about it. He said to himself that he ought to take it to the Grünebaums: but he was not keen about the idea. He went home still pondering, and when later he looked at the clock he saw that he had only just time enough to dress for the theater. It would be too silly to waste the ticket. He asked his mother to go with him. But Louisa declared that she would rather go to bed. He went. At heart he was filled with childish glee at the thought of his evening. Only one thing worried him: the thought of having to be alone in such a pleasure. He had no remorse about Mannheim’s father or the Grünebaums, whose box he was taking: but he was remorseful about those whom he might have taken with him. He thought of the joy it could give to other young people like himself: and it hurt him not to be able to give it them. He cast about but could find nobody to whom he could offer his ticket. Besides, it was late and he must hurry.

As he entered the theater he passed by the closed window on which a poster announced that there was not a single seat left in the office. Among the people who were turning away from it disappointedly he noticed a girl who could not make up her mind to leave and was enviously watching the people going in. She was dressed very simply in black; she was not very tall; her face was thin and she looked delicate; and at the moment he did not notice whether she were pretty or plain. He passed her: then he stopped, turned, and without stopping to think:

"You can’t get a seat, Fräulein?" he asked point-blank.

She blushed and said with a foreign accent:

"No, sir."

"I have a box which I don’t know what to do with. Will you make use of it with me?"

She blushed again and thanked him and said she could not accept. Christophe was embarrassed by her refusal, begged her pardon and tried to insist, but he could not persuade her, although it was obvious that she was dying to accept. He was very perplexed. He made up his mind suddenly.

"There is a way out of the difficulty," he said. "You take the ticket. I don’t want it. I have seen the play." (He was boasting). "It will give you more pleasure than me. Take it, please."

The girl was so touched by his proposal and the cordial manner in which it was made that tears all but came to her eyes. She murmured gratefully that she could not think of depriving him of it.

"Then, come," he said, smiling.

He looked so kind and honest that she was ashamed of having refused, and she said in some confusion:

"Thank you. I will come."

* * * * *

They went in. The Mannheims’ box was wide, big, and faced the stage: it was impossible not to be seen in it if they had wished. It is useless to say that their entry passed unnoticed. Christophe made the girl sit at the front, while he stayed a little behind so as not to embarrass her. She sat stiffly upright, not daring to turn her head: she was horribly shy: she would have given much not to have accepted. To give her time to recover her composure and not knowing what to talk to her about, Christophe pretended to look the other way. Whichever way he looked it was easily seen that his presence with an unknown companion among the brilliant people of the boxes was exciting much curiosity and comment. He darted furious glances at those who were looking at him: he was angry that people should go on being interested in him when he took no interest in them. It did not occur to him that their indiscreet curiosity was more busied with his companion than with himself and that there was more offense in it. By way of showing his utter indifference to anything they might say or think he leaned towards the girl and began to talk to her. She looked so scared by his talking and so unhappy at having to reply, and it seemed to be so difficult for her to wrench out a "Yes" or a "No" without ever daring to look at him, that he took pity on her shyness, and drew back to a corner. Fortunately the play began.

Christophe had not seen the play bill and he hardly cared to know what part the great actress was playing: he was one of those simple people who go to the theater to see the play and not the actors. He had never wondered whether the famous player would be Ophelia or the Queen; if he had wondered about it he would have inclined towards the Queen, bearing in naiad the ages of the two ladies. But it could never have occurred to him that she would play Hamlet. When he saw Hamlet, and heard his mechanical dolly squeak, it was some time before he could believe it; he wondered if he were not dreaming.

"But who? Who is it?" he asked half aloud. "It can’t be…."

And when he had to accept that it was Hamlet, he rapped out an oath, which fortunately his companion did not hear, because she was a foreigner, though it was heard perfectly in the next box: for he was at once indignantly bidden to be silent. He withdrew to the back of the box to swear his fill. He could not recover his temper. If he had been just he would have given homage to the elegance of the travesty and the tour de force of nature and art, which made it possible for a woman of sixty to appear in a youth’s costume and even to seem beautiful in it—at least to kindly eyes. But he hated all tours de force, everything which violates and falsifies Nature, He liked a woman to be a woman, and a man a man. (It does not often happen nowadays.) The childish and absurd travesty of the Leonora of Beethoven did not please him much. But this travesty of Hamlet was beyond all dreams of the preposterous. To make of the robust Dane, fat and pale, choleric, cunning, intellectual, subject to hallucinations, a woman,—not even a woman: for a woman playing the man can only be a monster,—to make of Hamlet a eunuch or an androgynous betwixt and between,—the times must be flabby indeed, criticism must be idiotic, to let such disgusting folly be tolerated for a single day and not hissed off the boards! The actress’s voice infuriated Christophe. She had that singing, labored diction, that monotonous melopoeia which seems to have been dear to the least poetic people in the world since the days of the Champmeslé and the Hôtel de Bourgogne. Christophe was so exasperated by it that he wanted to go away. He turned his back on the scene, and he made hideous faces against the wall of the box like a child put in the corner. Fortunately his companion dared not look at him: for if she had seen him she would have thought him mad.

Suddenly Christophe stopped making faces. He stopped still and made no sound. A lovely musical voice, a young woman’s voice, grave and sweet, was heard. Christophe pricked his ears. As she went on with her words he turned again, keenly interested to see what bird could warble so. He saw Ophelia. In truth she was nothing like the Ophelia of Shakespeare. She was a beautiful girl, tall, big and fine like a young fresh statue—Electra or Cassandra. She was brimming with life. In spite of her efforts to keep within her part, the force of youth and joy that was in her shone forth from her body, her movements, her gestures, her brown eyes that laughed in spite of herself. Such is the power of physical beauty that Christophe who a moment before had been merciless in judging the interpretation of Hamlet never for a moment thought of regretting that Ophelia was hardly at all like his image of her: and he sacrificed his image to the present vision of her remorselessly. With the unconscious faithlessness of people of passion he even found a profound truth in the youthful ardor brimming in the depths of the chaste and unhappy virgin heart. But the magic of the voice, pure, warm, and velvety, worked the spell: every word sounded like a lovely chord: about every syllable there hovered like the scent of thyme or wild mint the laughing accent of the Midi with its full rhythm. Strange was this vision of an Ophelia from Arles! In it was something of that golden sun and its wild northwest wind, its mistral.

Christophe forgot his companion and came and sat by her side at the front of the box: he never took his eyes off the beautiful actress whose name he did not know. But the audience who had not come to see an unknown player paid no attention to her, and only applauded when the female Hamlet spoke. That made Christophe growl and call them: "Idiots!" in a low voice which could be heard ten yards away.

It was not until the curtain was lowered upon the first act that he remembered the existence of his companion, and seeing that she was still shy he thought with a smile of how he must have scared her with his extravagances. He was not far wrong: the girl whom chance had thrown in his company for a few hours was almost morbidly shy; she must have been in an abnormal state of excitement to have accepted Christophe’s invitation. She had hardly accepted it than she had wished at any cost to get out of it, to make some excuse and to escape. It had been much worse for her when she had seen that she was an object of general curiosity, and her unhappiness had been increased almost past endurance when she heard behind her back—(she dared not turn round)—her companion’s low growls and imprecations. She expected anything now, and when he came and sat by her she was frozen with terror: what eccentricity would he commit next? She would gladly have sunk into the ground fathoms down. She drew back instinctively: she was afraid of touching him.

But all her fears vanished when the interval came and she heard him say quite kindly:

"I am an unpleasant companion, eh? I beg your pardon."

Then she looked at him and saw his kind smile which had induced her to come with him.

He went on:

"I cannot hide what I think…. But you know it is too much!… That woman, that old woman!…"

He made a face of disgust.

She smiled and said in a low voice:

"It is fine in spite of everything."

He noticed her accent and asked:

"You are a foreigner?"

"Yes," said she.

He looked at her modest gown.

"A governess?" he said.


"What nationality?"

She said:

"I am French."

He made a gesture of surprise:

"French? I should not have thought it."

"Why?" she asked timidly.

"You are so … serious!" said he.

(She thought it was not altogether a compliment from him.)

"There are serious people also in France," said she confusedly. He looked at her honest little face, with its broad forehead, little straight nose, delicate chin, and thin cheeks framed in her chestnut hair. It was not she that he saw: he was thinking of the beautiful actress. He repeated:

"It is strange that you should be French!… Are you really of the same nationality as Ophelia? One would never think it"

After a moment’s silence he went on:

"How beautiful she is!" without noticing that he seemed to be making a comparison between the actress and his companion that was not at all flattering to her. But she felt it: but she did not mind: for she was of the same opinion. He tried to find out about the actress from her: but she knew nothing: it was plain that she did not know much about the theater.

"You must be glad to hear French?" he asked. He meant it in jest, but he touched her.

"Ah!" she said with an accent of sincerity which struck him, "it does me so much good! I am stifled here."

He looked at her more closely: she clasped her hands, and seemed to be oppressed. But at once she thought of how her words might hurt him:

"Forgive me," she said. "I don’t know what I am saying."

He laughed:

"Don’t beg pardon! You are quite right. You don’t need to be French to be stifled here. Ouf!"

He threw back his shoulders and took a long breath.

But she was ashamed of having been so free and relapsed into silence. Besides she had just seen that the people in the boxes next to them were listening to what they were saying: he noticed it too and was wrathful. They broke off: and until the end of the interval he went out into the corridor. The girl’s words were ringing in his ears, but he was lost in dreams: the image of Ophelia filled his thoughts. During the succeeding acts she took hold of him completely, and when the beautiful actress came to the mad scene and the melancholy songs of love and death, her voice gave forth notes so moving that he was bowled over: he felt that he was going to burst into tears. Angry with himself for what he took to be a sign of weakness—(for he would not admit that a true artist can weep)—and not wishing to make an object of himself, he left the box abruptly. The corridors and the foyer were empty. In his agitation he went down the stairs of the theater and went out without knowing it. He had to breathe the cold night air, and to go striding through the dark, half-empty streets. He came to himself by the edge of a canal, and leaned on the parapet of the bank and watched the silent water whereon the reflections of the street lamps danced in the darkness. His soul was like that: it was dark and heaving: he could see nothing in it but great joy dancing on the surface. The clocks rang the hour. It was impossible for him to go back to the theater and hear the end of the play. To see the triumph of Fortinbras? No, that did not tempt him. A fine triumph that! Who thinks of envying the conqueror? Who would be he after being gorged with all the wild and absurd savagery of life? The whole play is a formidable indictment of life. But there is such a power of life in it that sadness becomes joy, and bitterness intoxicates….

Christophe went home without a thought for the unknown girl, whose name even he had not ascertained.

* * * * *

Next morning he went to see the actress at the little third-rate hotel in which the impresario had quartered her with her comrades while the great actress had put up at the best hotel in the town. He was conducted to a very untidy room where the remains of breakfast were left on an open piano, together with hairpins and torn and dirty sheets of music. In the next room Ophelia was singing at the top of her voice, like a child, for the pleasure of making a noise. She stopped for a moment when her visitor was announced to ask merrily in a loud voice without ever caring whether she were heard through the wall:

"What does he want? What is his name? Christophe? Christophe what?

Christophe Krafft? What a name!"

(She repeated it two or three times, rolling her r’s terribly.)

"It is like a swear—"

(She swore.)

"Is he young or old? Pleasant? Very well. I’ll come."

She began to sing again:

"Nothing is sweeter than my love…." while she rushed about her room cursing a tortoise-shell pin which had got lost in all the rubbish. She lost patience, began to grumble, and roared. Although he could not see her Christophe followed all her movements on the other side of the wall in imagination and laughed to himself. At last he heard steps approaching, the door was flung open, and Ophelia appeared.

She was half dressed, in a loose gown which she was holding about her waist: her bare arms showed in her wide sleeves: her hair was carelessly done, and locks of it fell down into her eyes and over her cheeks. Her fine brown eyes smiled, her lips smiled, her cheeks smiled, and a charming dimple in her chin smiled. In her beautiful grave melodious voice she asked him to excuse her appearance. She knew that there was nothing to excuse and that he could only be very grateful to her for it. She thought he was a journalist come to interview her. Instead of being annoyed when he told her that he had come to her entirely of his own accord and because he admired her, she was delighted. She was a good girl, affectionate, delighted to please, and making no effort to conceal her delight. Christophe’s visit and his enthusiasm made her very happy—(she was not yet spoiled by flattery). She was so natural in all her movements and ways, even in her little vanities and her naïve delight in giving pleasure, that he was not embarrassed for a single moment. They became old friends at once. He could jabber a few words of French: and she could jabber a few words of German: after an hour they told each other all their secrets. She never thought of sending him away. The splendid gay southern creature, intelligent and warm-hearted, who would have been bored to tears with her stupid companions and in a country whose language she did not know, a country without the natural joy that was in herself, was glad to find some one to talk to. As for Christophe it was an untold blessing for him to meet the free-hearted girl of the Midi filled with the life of the people, in the midst of his narrow and insincere fellow citizens. He did not yet know the workings of such natures which, unlike the Germans, have no more in their minds and hearts than they show, and often not even as much. But at the least she was young, she was alive, she said frankly, rawly, what she thought: she judged everything freely from a new and a fresh point of view: in her it was possible to breathe a little of the northwest wind that sweeps away mists. She was gifted. Uneducated and unthinking, she could at once feel with her whole heart and be sincerely moved by things which were beautiful and good; and then, a moment later, she would burst out laughing. She was a coquette and made eyes; she did not mind showing her bare arms and neck under her half open gown; she would have liked to turn Christophe’s head, but it was all purely instinctive. There was no thought of gaining her own ends in her, and she much preferred to laugh, and talk blithely, to be a good fellow, a good chum, without ceremony or awkwardness. She told him about the underworld of the theater, her little sorrows, the silly susceptibilities of her comrades, the bickerings of Jezebel—(so she called the great actress)—who took good care not to let her shine. He confided his sufferings at the hands of the Germans: she clapped her hands and played chords to him. She was kind and would not speak ill of anybody; but that did not keep her from doing so, and while she blamed herself for her malice, when she laughed at anybody, she had a fund of mocking humor and that realistic and witty gift of observation which belongs to the people of the South; she could not resist it and drew cuttingly satirical portraits. With her pale lips she laughed merrily to show her teeth, like those of a puppy, and dark eyes shone in her pale face, which was a little discolored by grease paint.

They noticed suddenly that they had been talking for more than an hour. Christophe proposed to come for Corinne—(that was her stage name)—in the afternoon and show her over the town. She was delighted with the idea, and they arranged to meet immediately after dinner.

At the appointed hour, he turned up. Corinne was sitting in the little drawing-room of the hotel, with a book in her hand, which she was reading aloud. She greeted him with smiling eyes but did not stop reading until she had finished her sentence. Then she signed to him to sit down on the sofa by her side:

"Sit there," she said, "and don’t talk. I am going over my part. I shall have finished in a quarter of an hour."

She followed the script with her finger nail and read quickly and carelessly like a little girl in a hurry. He offered to hear her her words. She passed him the book and got up to repeat what she had learned. She floundered and would repeat the end of one sentence four times before going on to the next. She shook her head as she recited her part; her hair-pins fell down and all over the room. When she could not recollect sometimes some word she was as impatient as a naughty child; sometimes she swore comically or she would use big words;—one word with which she apostrophized herself was very big and very short. Christophe was astonished by the mixture of talent and childishness in her. She would produce moving tones of voice quite aptly, but in the middle of a speech into which she seemed to be throwing her whole heart she would say a whole string of words that had absolutely no meaning. She recited her lesson like a parrot, without troubling about its meaning, and then she produced burlesque nonsense. She did not worry about it. When she saw it she would shout with laughter. At last she said: "Zut!", snatched the book from him, flung it into a corner of the room, and said:

"Holidays! The hour has struck!… Now let us go out."

He was a little anxious about her part and asked:

"You think you will know it?"

She replied confidently:

"Certainly. What is the prompter for?" She went into her room to put on her hat. Christophe sat at the piano while he was waiting for her and struck a few chords. From the next room she called:

"Oh! What is that? Play some more! How pretty it is!"

She ran in, pinning on her hat. He went on. When he had finished she wanted him to play more. She went into ecstasies with all the little arch exclamations habitual to Frenchwomen which they make about Tristan and a cup of chocolate equally. It made Christophe laugh; it was a change from the tremendous affected, clumsy exclamations of the Germans; they were both exaggerated in different directions; one made a mountain out of a mole-hill, the other made a mole-hill out of a mountain; the French was not less ridiculous than the German, but for the moment it seemed more pleasant because he loved the lips from which it came. Corinne wanted to know what he was playing, and when she learned that he had composed it she gave a shout. He had told her during their conversation in the morning that he was a composer, but she had hardly listened to him. She sat by him and insisted on his playing everything that he had composed. Their walk was forgotten. It was not mere politeness on her part; she adored music and had an admirable instinct for it which supplied the deficiencies of her education. At first he did not take her seriously and played his easiest melodies. But when he had played a passage by which he set more store and saw that she preferred it too, although he had not said anything about it, he was joyfully surprised. With the naïve astonishment of the Germans when they meet a Frenchman who is a good musician he said:

"Odd. How good your taste is! I should never have thought it…."

Corinne laughed in his face.

He amused himself then by selecting compositions more and more difficult to understand, to see how far she would go with him. But she did not seem to be put out by his boldness, and after a particularly new melody which Christophe himself had almost come to doubt because he had never succeeded in having it accepted in Germany, he was greatly astonished when Corinne begged him to play it again, and she got up and began to sing the notes from memory almost without a mistake! He turned towards her and took her hands warmly:

"But you are a musician!" he cried.

She began to laugh and explained that she had made her début as a singer in provincial opera houses, but that an impresario of touring companies had recognized her disposition towards the poetic theater and had enrolled her in its services. He exclaimed:

"What a pity!"

"Why?" said she. "Poetry also is a sort of music."

She made him explain to her the meaning of his Lieder; he told her the German words, and she repeated them with easy mimicry, copying even the movements of his lips and eyes as he pronounced the words. When she had these to sing from memory, then she made grotesque mistakes, and when she forgot, she invented words, guttural and barbarously sonorous, which made them both laugh. She did not tire of making him play, nor he of playing for her and hearing her pretty voice; she did not know the tricks of the trade and sang a little from the throat like little girls, and there was a curious fragile quality in her voice that was very touching. She told him frankly what she thought. Although she could not explain why she liked or disliked anything there was always some grain of sense hidden in her judgment. The odd thing was that she found least pleasure in the most classical passages which were most appreciated in Germany; she paid him a few compliments out of politeness; but they obviously meant nothing. As she had no musical culture she had not the pleasure which amateurs and even artists find in what is already heard, a pleasure which often makes them unconsciously reproduce, or, in a new composition, like forms or formulæ which they have already used in old compositions. Nor did she have the German taste for melodious sentimentality (or, at least, her sentimentality was different; Christophe did not yet know its failings)—she did not go into ecstasies over the soft insipid music preferred in Germany; she did not single out the most melodious of his Lieder,—a melody which he would have liked to destroy because his friends, only too glad to be able to compliment him on something, were always talking about it. Corinne’s dramatic instinct made her prefer the melodies which frankly reproduced a certain passion; he also set most store by them. And yet she did not hesitate to show her lack of sympathy with certain rude harmonies which seemed quite natural to Christophe; they gave her a sort of shock when she came upon them; she would stop then and ask "if it was really so." When he said "Yes," then she would rush at the difficulty; but she would make a little grimace which did not escape Christophe. Sometimes even she would prefer to skip the bar. Then he would play it again on the piano.

"You don’t like that?" he would ask.

She would screw up her nose.

"It is wrong," she would say.

"Not at all," he would reply with a laugh. "It is quite right. Think of its meaning. It is rhythmic, isn’t it?"

(He pointed to her heart.)

But she would shake her head:

"May be; but it is wrong here." (She pulled her ear.)

And she would be a little shocked by the sudden outbursts of German declamation.

"Why should he talk so loud?" she would ask. "He is all alone. Aren’t you afraid of his neighbors overhearing him? It is as though—(Forgive me! You won’t be angry?)—he were hailing a boat."

He was not angry; he laughed heartily, he recognized that there was some truth in what she said. Her remarks amused him; nobody had ever said such things before. They agreed that declamation in singing generally deforms the natural word like a magnifying glass. Corinne asked Christophe to write music for a piece in which she would speak to the accompaniment of the orchestra, singing a few sentences every now and then. He was fired by the idea in spite of the difficulties of the stage setting which, he thought, Corinne’s musical voice would easily overcome, and they made plans for the future. It was not far short of five o’clock when they thought of going out. Night fell early. They could not think of going for a walk. Corinne had a rehearsal at the theater in the evening; nobody was allowed to be present. She made him promise to come and fetch her during the next afternoon to take the walk they had planned.

* * * * *

Next day they did almost the same again. He found Corinne in front of her mirror, perched on a high stool, swinging her legs; she was trying on a wig. Her dresser was there and a hair dresser of the town to whom she was giving instructions about a curl which she wished to have higher up. As she looked in the glass she saw Christophe smiling behind her back; she put out her tongue at him. The hair dresser went away with the wig and she turned gaily to Christophe:

"Good-day, my friend!" she said.

She held up her cheek to be kissed. He had not expected such intimacy, but he took advantage of it all the same. She did not attach so much importance to the favor; it was to her a greeting like any other.

"Oh! I am happy!" said she. "It will do very well to-night." (She was talking of her wig.) "I was so wretched! If you had come this morning you would have found me absolutely miserable."

He asked why.

It was because the Parisian hair dresser had made a mistake in packing and had sent a wig which was not suitable to the part.

"Quite flat," she said, "and falling straight down. When I saw it I wept like a Magdalen. Didn’t I, Désirée?"

"When I came in," said Désirée, "I was afraid for Madame. Madame was quite white. Madame looked like death."

Christophe laughed. Corinne saw him in her mirror:

"Heartless wretch; it makes you laugh," she said indignantly.

She began to laugh too.

He asked her how the rehearsal had gone. Everything had gone off well. She would have liked the other parts to be cut more and her own less. They talked so much that they wasted part of the afternoon. She dressed slowly; she amused herself by asking Christophe’s opinion about her dresses. Christophe praised her elegance and told her naïvely in his Franco-German jargon, that he had never seen anybody so "luxurious." She looked at him for a moment and then burst out laughing.

"What have I said?" he asked. "Have I said anything wrong?"

"Yes, yes," she cried, rocking with laughter. "You have indeed."

At last they went out. Her striking costume and her exuberant chatter attracted attention. She looked at everything with her mocking eyes and made no effort to conceal her impressions. She chuckled at the dressmakers’ shops, and at the picture post-card shops in which sentimental scenes, comic and obscene drawings, the town prostitutes, the imperial family, the Emperor as a sea-dog holding the wheel of the Germania and defying the heavens, were all thrown together higgledy-piggledy. She giggled at a dinner-service decoration with Wagner’s cross-grained face, or at a hair dresser’s shop-window in which there was the wax head of a man. She made no attempt to modify her hilarity over the patriotic monument representing the old Emperor in a traveling coat and a peaked cap, together with Prussia, the German States, and a nude Genius of War. She made remarks about anything in the faces of the people or their way of speaking that struck her as funny. Her victims were left in no doubt about it as she maliciously picked out their absurdities. Her instinctive mimicry made her sometimes imitate with her mouth and nose their broad grimaces and frowns, without thinking; and she would blow out her cheeks as she repeated fragments of sentences and words that struck her as grotesque in sound as she caught them. He laughed heartily and was not at all embarrassed by her impertinence, for he was no longer easily embarrassed. Fortunately he had no great reputation to lose, or his walk would have ruined it for ever.

They visited the cathedral. Corinne wanted to go to the top of the spire, in spite of her high heels, and long dress which swept the stairs or was caught in a corner of the staircase; she did not worry about it, but pulled the stuff which split, and went on climbing, holding it up. She wanted very much to ring the bells. From the top of the tower she declaimed Victor Hugo (he did not understand it), and sang a popular French song. After that she played the muezzin. Dusk was falling. They went down into the cathedral where the dark shadows were creeping along the gigantic walls in which the magic eyes of the windows were shining. Kneeling in one of the side chapels, Christophe saw the girl who had shared his box at Hamlet. She was so absorbed in her prayers that she did not see him: he saw that she was looking sad and strained. He would have liked to speak to her, just to say, "How do you do?" but Corinne dragged him off like a whirlwind.

They parted soon afterwards. She had to get ready for the performance, which began early, as usual in Germany. He had hardly reached home when there was a ring at the door and a letter from Corinne was handed in:

"Luck! Jezebel ill! No performance! No school! Come! Let us dine together!

Your friend,


"P.S. Bring plenty of music!"

It was some time before he understood. When he did understand he was as happy as Corinne, and went to the hotel at once. He was afraid of finding the whole company assembled at dinner; but he saw nobody. Corinne herself was not there. At last he heard her laughing voice at the back of the house: he went to look for her and found her in the kitchen. She had taken it into her head to cook a dish in her own way, one of those southern dishes which fills the whole neighborhood with its aroma and would awaken a stone. She was on excellent terms with the large proprietress of the hotel, and they were jabbering in a horrible jargon that was a mixture of German, French, and negro, though there is no word to describe it in any language. They were laughing loudly and making each other taste their cooking. Christophe’s appearance made them noisier than ever. They tried to push him out; but he struggled and succeeded in tasting the famous dish. He made a face. She said he was a barbarous Teuton and that it was no use putting herself out for him.

They went up to the little sitting-room when the table was laid; there were only two places, for himself and Corinne. He could not help asking her where her companions were. Corinne waved her hands carelessly:

"I don’t know."

"Don’t you sup together?"

"Never! We see enough of each other at the theater!… And it would be awful if we had to meet at meals!…"

It was so different from German custom that he was surprised and charmed by it.

"I thought," he said, "you were a sociable people!"

"Well," said she, "am I not sociable?"

"Sociable means living in society. We have to see each other! Men, women, children, we all belong to societies from birth to death. We are always making societies: we eat, sing, think in societies. When the societies sneeze, we sneeze too: we don’t have a drink except with our societies."

"That must be amusing," said she. "Why not out of the same glass?"

"Brotherly, isn’t it?"

"That for fraternity! I like being ’brotherly’ with people I like: not with the others … Pooh! That’s not society: that is an ant heap."

"Well, you can imagine how happy I am here, for I think as you do."

"Come to us, then!"

He asked nothing better. He questioned her about Paris and the French. She told him much that was not perfectly accurate. Her southern propensity for boasting was mixed with an instinctive desire to shine before him. According to her, everybody in Paris was free: and as everybody in Paris was intelligent, everybody made good use of their liberty, and no one abused it. Everybody did what they liked: thought, believed, loved or did not love, as they liked; nobody had anything to say about it. There nobody meddled with other people’s beliefs, or spied on their consciences or tried to regulate their thoughts. There politicians never dabbled in literature or the arts, and never gave orders, jobs, and money to their friends or clients. There little cliques never disposed of reputation or success, journalists were never bought; there men of letters never entered into controversies with the church, that could lead to nothing. There criticism never stifled unknown talent, or exhausted its praises upon recognized talent. There success, success at all costs, did not justify the means, and command the adoration of the public. There were only gentle manners, kindly and sweet. There was never any bitterness, never any scandal. Everybody helped everybody else. Every worthy newcomer was certain to find hands held out to him and the way made smooth for him. Pure love, of beauty filled the chivalrous and disinterested souls of the French, and they were only absurd in their idealism, which, in spite of their acknowledged wit, made them the dupes of other nations. Christophe listened open-mouthed. It was certainly marvelous. Corinne marveled herself as she heard her words. She had forgotten what she had told Christophe the day before about the difficulties of her past life. He gave no more thought to it than she.

And yet Corinne was not only concerned with making the Germans love her country: she wanted to make herself loved, too. A whole evening without flirtation would have seemed austere and rather absurd to her. She made eyes at Christophe; but it was trouble wasted: he did not notice it. Christophe did not know what it was to flirt. He loved or did not love. When he did not love he was miles from any thought of love. He liked Corinne enormously. He felt the attraction of her southern nature; it was so new to him. And her sweetness and good humor, her quick and lively intelligence: many more reasons than he needed for loving. But the spirit blows where it listeth. It did not blow in that direction, and as for playing at love, in love’s absence, the idea had never occurred to him.

Corinne was amused by his coldness. She sat by his side at the piano while he played the music he had brought with him, and put her arm round his neck, and to follow the music she leaned towards the keyboard, almost pressing her cheek against his. He felt her hair touch his face, and quite close to him saw the corner of her mocking eye, her pretty little mouth, and the light down on her tip-tilted nose. She waited, smiling—she waited. Christophe did not understand the invitation. Corinne was in his way: that was all he thought of. Mechanically he broke free from her and moved his chair. And when, a moment later, he turned to speak to Corinne, he saw that she was choking with laughter: her cheeks were dimpled, her lips were pressed together, and she seemed to be holding herself in.

"What is the matter?" he said, in his astonishment.

She looked at him and laughed aloud.

He did not understand.

"Why are you laughing?" he asked. "Did I say anything funny?"

The more he insisted, the more she laughed. When she had almost finished she had only to look at his crestfallen appearance to break out again. She got up, ran to the sofa at the other end of the room, and buried her face in the cushions to laugh her fill; her whole body shook with it. He began to laugh too, came towards her, and slapped her on the back. When she had done laughing she raised her head, dried the tears in her eyes, and held out her hands to him.

"What a good boy you are!" she said.

"No worse than another."

She went on, shaking occasionally with laughter, still holding his hands.

"Frenchwomen are not serious?" she asked. (She pronounced it: "Françouése.")

"You are making fun of me," he said good-humoredly.

She looked at him kindly, shook his hands vigorously, and said:


"Friends!" said he, shaking her hand.

"You will think of Corinette when she is gone? You won’t be angry with the

Frenchwoman for not being serious?"

"And Corinette won’t be angry with the barbarous Teuton for being so stupid?"

"That is why she loves him … You will come and see her in Paris?"

"It is a promise … And she—she will write to him?"

"I swear it … You say: ’I swear.’"

"I swear."

"No, not like that. You must hold up your hand." She recited the oath of the Horatii. She made him promise to write a play for her, a melodrama, which could be translated into French and played in Paris by her. She was going away next day with her company. He promised to go and see her again the day after at Frankfort, where they were giving a performance.

They stayed talking for some time. She presented Christophe with a photograph in which she was much décolletée, draped only in a garment fastening below her shoulders. They parted gaily, and kissed like brother and sister. And, indeed, once Corinne had seen that Christophe was fond of her, but not at all in love, she began to be fond of him, too, without love, as a good friend.

Their sleep was not troubled by it. He could not see her off next day, because he was occupied by a rehearsal. But on the day following he managed to go to Frankfort as he had promised. It was a few hours’ journey by rail. Corinne hardly believed Christophe’s promise. But he had taken it seriously, and when the performance began he was there. When he knocked at her dressing-room door during the interval, she gave a cry of glad surprise and threw her arms round his neck with her usual exuberance. She was sincerely grateful to him for having come. Unfortunately for Christophe, she was much more sought after in the city of rich, intelligent Jews, who could appreciate her actual beauty and her future success. Almost every minute there was a knock at the door, and it opened to reveal men with heavy faces and quick eyes, who said the conventional things with a thick accent. Corinne naturally made eyes, and then she would go on talking to Christophe in the same affected, provoking voice, and that irritated him. And he found no pleasure in the calm lack of modesty with which she went on dressing in his presence, and the paint and grease with which she larded her arms, throat, and face filled him with profound disgust. He was on the point of going away without seeing her again after the performance; but when he said good-bye and begged to be excused from going to the supper that was to be given to her after the play, she was so hurt by it and so affectionate, too, that he could not hold out against her. She had a time-table brought, so as to prove that he could and must stay an hour with her. He only needed to be convinced, and he was at the supper. He was even able to control his annoyance with the follies that were indulged in and his irritation at Corinne’s coquetries with all and sundry. It was impossible to be angry with her. She was an honest girl, without any moral principles, lazy, sensual, pleasure-loving, childishly coquettish; but at the same time so loyal, so kind, and all her faults were so spontaneous and so healthy that it was only possible to smile at them and even to love them. Christophe, who was sitting opposite her, watched her animation, her radiant eyes, her sticky lips, with their Italian smile—that smile in which there is kindness, subtlety, and a sort of heavy greediness. He saw her more clearly than he had yet done. Some of her features reminded him of Ada: certain gestures, certain looks, certain sensual and rather coarse tricks—the eternal feminine. But what he loved in her was her southern nature, that generous nature which is not niggardly with its gifts, which never troubles to fashion drawing-room beauties and literary cleverness, but harmonious creatures who are made body and mind to grow in the air and the sun. When he left she got up from the table to say good-bye to him away from the others. They kissed and renewed their promises to write and meet again.

He took the last train home. At a station the train coming from the opposite direction was waiting. In the carriage opposite his—a third-class compartment—Christophe saw the young Frenchwoman who had been with him to the performance of Hamlet. She saw Christophe and recognized him. They were both astonished. They bowed and did not move, and dared not look again. And yet he had seen at once that she was wearing a little traveling toque and had an old valise by her side. It did not occur to him that she was leaving the country. He thought she must be going away for a few days. He did not know whether he ought to speak to her. He stopped, turned over in his mind what to say, and was just about to lower the window of the carriage to address a few words to her, when the signal was given. He gave up the idea. A few seconds passed before the train moved. They looked straight at each other. Each was alone, and their faces were pressed against the windows and they looked into each other’s eyes through the night. They were separated by two windows. If they had reached out their hands they could have touched each other. So near. So far. The carriages shook heavily. She was still looking at him, shy no longer, now that they were parting. They were so absorbed in looking at each other that they never even thought of bowing for the last time. She was slowly borne away. He saw her disappear, and the train which bore her plunged into the night. Like two circling worlds, they had passed close to each other in infinite space, and now they sped apart perhaps for eternity.

When she had disappeared he felt the emptiness that her strange eyes had left in him, and he did not understand why; but the emptiness was there. Sleepy, with eyes half-closed, lying in a corner of the carriage, he felt her eyes looking into his, and all other thoughts ceased, to let him feel them more keenly. The image of Corinne fluttered outside his heart like an insect breaking its wings against a window; but he did not let it in.

He found it again when he got out of the train on his arrival, when the keen night air and his walk through the streets of the sleeping town had shaken off his drowsiness. He scowled at the thought of the pretty actress, with a mixture of pleasure and irritation, according as he recalled her affectionate ways or her vulgar coquetries.

"Oh! these French people," he growled, laughing softly, while he was undressing quietly, so as not to waken his mother, who was asleep in the next room.

A remark that he had heard the other evening in the box occurred to him:

"There are others also."

At his first encounter with France she laid before him the enigma of her double nature. But, like all Germans, he did not trouble to solve it, and as he thought of the girl in the train he said quietly:

"She does not look like a Frenchwoman."

As if a German could say what is French and what is not.

* * * * *

French or not, she filled his thoughts; for he woke in the middle of the night with a pang: he had just remembered the valise on the seat by the girl’s side; and suddenly the idea that she had gone forever crossed his mind. The idea must have come to him at the time, but he had not thought of it. It filled him with a strange sadness. He shrugged his shoulders.

"What does it matter to me?" he said. "It is not my affair."

He went to sleep.

But next day the first person he met when he went out was Mannheim, who called him "Blücher," and asked him if he had made up his mind to conquer all France. From the garrulous newsmonger he learned that the story of the box had had a success exceeding all Mannheim’s expectations.

"Thanks to you! Thanks to you!" cried Mannheim. "You are a great man. I am nothing compared with you."

"What have I done?" said Christophe.

"You are wonderful!" Mannheim replied. "I am jealous of you. To shut the box in the Grünebaums’ faces, and then to ask the French governess instead of them—no, that takes the cake! I should never have thought of that!"

"She was the Grünebaums’ governess?" said Christophe in amazement.

"Yes. Pretend you don’t know, pretend to be innocent. You’d better!… My father is beside himself. The Grünebaums are in a rage!… It was not for long: they have sacked the girl."

"What!" cried Christophe. "They have dismissed her? Dismissed her because of me?"

"Didn’t you know?" said Mannheim. "Didn’t she tell you?"

Christophe was in despair.

"You mustn’t be angry, old man," said Mannheim. "It does not matter.

Besides, one had only to expect that the Grünebaums would find out…"

"What?" cried Christophe. "Find out what?"

"That she was your mistress, of course!"

"But I do not even know her. I don’t know who she is."

Mannheim smiled, as if to say:

"You take me for a fool."

Christophe lost his temper and bade Mannheim do him the honor of believing what he said. Mannheim said:

"Then it is even more humorous."

Christophe worried about it, and talked of going to the Grünebaums and telling them the facts and justifying the girl. Mannheim dissuaded him.

"My dear fellow," he said, "anything you may say will only convince them of the contrary. Besides, it is too late. The girl has gone away."

Christophe was utterly sick at heart and tried to trace the young Frenchwoman. He wanted to write to her to beg her pardon. But nothing was known of her. He applied to the Grünebaums, but they snubbed him. They did not know themselves where she had gone, and they did not care. The idea of the harm he had done in trying to do good tortured Christophe: he was remorseful. But added to his remorse was a mysterious attraction, which shone upon him from the eyes of the woman who was gone. Attraction and remorse both seemed to be blotted out, engulfed in the flood of the day’s new thoughts. But they endured in the depths of his heart. Christophe did not forget the woman whom he called his victim. He had sworn to meet her again. He knew how small were the chances of his ever seeing her again: and he was sure that he would see her again.

As for Corinne, she never answered his letters. But three months later, when he had given up expecting to hear from her, he received a telegram of forty words of utter nonsense, in which she addressed him in little familiar terms, and asked "if they were still fond of each other." Then, after nearly a year’s silence, there came a scrappy letter scrawled in her enormous childish zigzag writing, in which she tried to play the lady,—a few affectionate, droll words. And there she left it. She did not forget him, but she had no time to think of him.

* * * * *

Still under the spell of Corinne and full of the ideas they had exchanged about art, Christophe dreamed of writing the music for a play in which Corinne should act and sing a few airs—a sort of poetic melodrama. That form of art once so much in favor in Germany, passionately admired by Mozart, and practised by Beethoven, Weber, Mendelssohn and Schumann, and all the great classics, had fallen into discredit since the triumph of Wagnerism, which claimed to have realized the definite formula of the theater and music. The Wagnerian pedants, not content with proscribing every new melodrama, busied themselves with dressing up the old melodramas and operas. They carefully effaced every trace of spoken dialogue and wrote for Mozart, Beethoven, or Weber, recitations in their own manner; they were convinced that they were doing a service to the fame of the masters and filling out their thoughts by the pious deposit of their dung upon masterpieces.

Christophe, who had been made more sensible of the heaviness, and often the ugliness, of Wagnerian declamation by Corinne, had for some time been debating whether it was not nonsense and an offense against nature to harness and yoke together the spoken word and the word sung in the theater: it was like harnessing a horse and a bird to a cart. Speech and singing each had its rhythm. It was comprehensible that an artist should sacrifice one of the two arts to the triumph of that which he preferred. But to try to find a compromise between them was to sacrifice both: it was to want speech no longer to be speech, and singing no longer to be singing; to want singing to let its vast flood be confined between the banks of monotonous canals, to want speech to cloak its lovely naked limbs with rich, heavy stuffs which must paralyze its gestures and movements. Why not leave both with their spontaneity and freedom of movement? Like a beautiful girl walking tranquilly, lithely along a stream, dreaming as she goes: the gay murmur of the water lulls her dreams, and unconsciously she brings her steps and her thoughts in tune with the song of the stream. So being both free, music and poesy would go side by side, dreaming, their dreams mingling. Assuredly all music was not good for such a union, nor all poetry. The opponents of melodrama had good ground for attack in the coarseness of the attempts which had been made in that form, and of the interpreters. Christophe had for long shared their dislike: the stupidity of the actors who delivered these recitations spoken to an instrumental accompaniment, without bothering about the accompaniment, without trying to merge their voices in it, rather, on the contrary, trying to prevent anything being heard but themselves, was calculated to revolt any musical ear. But since he had tasted the beauty of Corinne’s harmonious voice—that liquid and pure voice which played upon music like a ray of light on water, which wedded every turn of a melody, which was like the most fluid and most free singing,—he had caught a glimpse of the beauty of a new art.

Perhaps he was right, but he was still too inexperienced to venture without peril upon a form which—if it is meant to be beautiful and really artistic—is the most difficult of all. That art especially demands one essential condition, the perfect harmony of the combined efforts of the poet, the musicians, and the actors. Christophe had no tremors about it: he hurled himself blindly at an unknown art of which the laws were only known to himself.

His first idea had been to clothe in music a fairy fantasy of Shakespeare or an act of the second part of Faust. But the theaters showed little disposition to make the experiment. It would be too costly and appeared absurd. They were quite willing to admit Christophe’s efficiency in music, but that he should take upon himself to have ideas about poetry and the theater made them smile. They did not take him seriously. The world of music and the world of poesy were like two foreign and secretly hostile states. Christophe had to accept the collaboration of a poet to be able to set foot upon poetic territory, and he was not allowed to choose his own poet. He would not have dared to choose himself. He did not trust his taste in poetry. He had been told that he knew nothing about it; and, indeed, he could not understand the poetry which was admired by those about him. With his usual honesty and stubbornness, he had tried hard sometimes to feel the beauty of some of these works, but he had always been bewildered and a little ashamed of himself. No, decidedly he was not a poet. In truth, he loved passionately certain old poets, and that consoled him a little. But no doubt he did not love them as they should be loved. Had he not once expressed, the ridiculous idea that those poets only are great who remain great even when they are translated into prose, and even into the prose of a foreign language, and that words have no value apart from the soul which they express? His friends had laughed at him. Mannheim had called him a goose. He did not try to defend himself. As every day he saw, through the example of writers who talk of music, the absurdity of artists who attempt to image any art other than their own, he resigned himself—though a little incredulous at heart—to his incompetence in poetry, and he shut his eyes and accepted the judgments of those whom he thought were better informed than himself. So he let his friends of the Review impose one of their number on him, a great man of a decadent coterie, Stephen von Hellmuth, who brought him an Iphigenia. It was at the time when German poets (like their colleagues in France) were recasting all the Greek tragedies. Stephen von Hellmuth’s work was one of those astounding Græco-German plays in which Ibsen, Homer, and Oscar Wilde are compounded—and, of course, a few manuals of archeology. Agamemnon was neurasthenic and Achilles impotent: they lamented their condition at length, and naturally their outcries produced no change. The energy of the drama was concentrated in the rôle of Iphigenia—a nervous, hysterical, and pedantic Iphigenia, who lectured the hero, declaimed furiously, laid bare for the audience her Nietzschian pessimism and, glutted with death, cut her throat, shrieking with laughter.

Nothing could be more contrary to Christophe’s mind than such pretentious, degenerate, Ostrogothic stuff, in Greek dress. It was hailed as a masterpiece by everybody about him. He was cowardly and was overpersuaded. In truth, he was bursting with music and thinking much more of his music than of the text. The text was a new bed into which to let loose the flood of his passions. He was as far as possible from the state of abnegation and intelligent impersonality proper to musical translation of a poetic work. He was thinking only of himself and not at all of the work. He never thought of adapting himself to it. He was under an illusion: he saw in the poem something absolutely different from what was actually in it—just as when he was a child he used to compose in his mind a play entirely different from that which was upon the stage.

It was not until it came to rehearsal that he saw the real play. One day he was listening to a scene, and he thought it so stupid that he fancied the actors must be spoiling it, and went so far as to explain it to them in the poet’s presence; but also to explain it to the poet himself, who was defending his interpretation. The author refused bluntly to hear him, and said with some asperity that he thought he knew what he had meant to write. Christophe would not give in, and maintained that Hellmuth knew nothing about it. The general merriment told him that he was making himself ridiculous. He said no more, agreeing that after all it was not he who had written the poem. Then he saw the appalling emptiness of the play and was overwhelmed by it: he wondered how he could ever have been persuaded to try it. He called himself an idiot and tore his hair. He tried in vain to reassure himself by saying: "You know nothing about it; it is not your business. Keep to your music." He was so much ashamed of certain idiotic things in it, of the pretentious pathos, the crying falsity of the words, the gestures and attitudes, that sometimes, when he was conducting the orchestra, he hardly had the strength to raise his baton. He wanted to go and hide in the prompter’s box. He was too frank and too little politic to conceal what he thought. Every one noticed it: his friends, the actors, and the author. Hellmuth said to him with a frigid smile:

"Is it not fortunate enough to please you?"

Christophe replied honestly:

"Truth to tell, no. I don’t understand it,"

"Then you did not read it when you set it to music?"

"Yes," said Christophe naïvely, "but I made a mistake. I understood it differently."

"It is a pity you did not write what you understood yourself."

"Oh! If only I could have done so!" said Christophe.

The poet was vexed, and in his turn criticised the music. He complained that it was in the way and prevented his words being heard.

If the poet did not understand the musician, or the musician the poet, the actors understood neither the one nor the other, and did not care. They were only asking for sentences in their parts on which to bring in their usual effects. They had no idea of adapting their declamation to the formality of the piece and the musical rhythm. They went one way, the music another. It was as though they were constantly singing out of tune. Christophe ground his teeth and shouted the note at them until he was hoarse. They let him shout and went on imperturbably, not even understanding what he wanted them to do.

Christophe would have flung the whole thing up if the rehearsals had not been so far advanced, and he had not been bound to go on by fear of legal proceedings. Mannheim, to whom he confided his discouragement, laughed at him:

"What is it?" he asked. "It is all going well. You don’t understand each other? What does that matter? Who has ever understood his work but the author? It is a toss-up whether he understands it himself!"

Christophe was worried about the stupidity of the poem, which, he said, would ruin the music. Mannheim made no difficulty about admitting that there was no common sense in the poem and that Hellmuth was "a muff," but he would not worry about him: Hellmuth gave good dinners and had a pretty wife. What more did criticism want?

Christophe shrugged his shoulders and said that he had no time to listen to nonsense.

"It is not nonsense!" said Mannheim, laughing. "How serious people are!

They have no idea of what matters in life."

And he advised Christophe not to bother so much about Hellmuth’s business, but to attend to his own. He wanted him to advertise a little. Christophe refused indignantly. To a reporter who came and asked for a history of his life, he replied furiously:

"It is not your affair!"

And when they asked for his photograph for a review, he stamped with rage and shouted that he was not, thank God! an emperor, to have his face passed from hand to hand. It was impossible to bring him into touch with influential people. He never replied to invitations, and when he had been forced by any chance to accept, he would forget to go or would go with such a bad grace that he seemed to have set himself to be disagreeable to everybody.

But the climax came when he quarreled with his review, two days before the performance.

* * * * *

The thing was bound to happen. Mannheim had gone on revising Christophe’s articles, and he no longer scrupled about deleting whole lines of criticism and replacing them with compliments.

One day, out visiting, Christophe met a certain virtuoso—a foppish pianist whom he had slaughtered. The man came and thanked him with a smile that showed all his white teeth. He replied brutally that there was no reason for it. The other insisted and poured forth expressions of gratitude. Christophe cut him short by saying, that if he was satisfied with the article that was his affair, but that the article had certainly not been written with a view to pleasing him. And he turned his back on him. The virtuoso thought him a kindly boor and went away laughing. But Christophe remembered having received a card of thanks from another of his victims, and a suspicion flashed upon him. He went out, bought the last number of the Review at a news-stand, turned to his article, and read… At first he wondered if he were going mad. Then he understood, and, mad with rage, he ran to the office of the Dionysos.

Waldhaus and Mannheim were there, talking to an actress whom they knew. They had no need to ask Christophe what brought him. Throwing a number of the Review on the table, Christophe let fly at them without stopping to take breath, with extraordinary violence, shouting, calling them rogues, rascals, forgers, thumping on the floor with a chair. Mannheim began to laugh. Christophe tried to kick him. Mannheim took refuge behind the table and rolled with laughter. But Waldhaus took it very loftily. With dignity, formally, he tried to make himself heard through the row, and said that he would not allow any one to talk to him in such a tone, that Christophe should hear from him, and he held out his card. Christophe flung it in his face.

"Mischief-maker!—I don’t need your card to know what you are…. You are a rascal and a forger!… And you think I would fight with you … a thrashing is all you deserve!…"

His voice could be heard in the street. People stopped to listen. Mannheim closed the windows. The actress tried to escape, but Christophe was blocking the way. Waldhaus was pale and choking. Mannheim was stuttering and stammering and trying to reply. Christophe did not let them speak. He let loose upon them every expression he could think of, and never stopped until he was out of breath and had come to an end of his insults. Waldhaus and Mannheim only found their tongues after he had gone. Mannheim quickly recovered himself: insults slipped from him like water from a duck’s back. But Waldhaus was still sore: his dignity had been outraged, and what made the affront more mortifying was that there had been witnesses. He would never forgive it. His colleagues joined chorus with him. Mannheim only of the staff of the Review was not angry with Christophe. He had had his fill of entertainment out of him: it did not seem to him a heavy price to pay for his pound of flesh, to suffer a few violent words. It had been a good joke. If he had been the butt of it he would have been the first to laugh. And so he was quite ready to shake hands with Christophe as though nothing had happened. But Christophe was more rancorous and rejected all advances. Mannheim did not care. Christophe was a toy from which he had extracted all the amusement possible. He was beginning to want a new puppet. From that very day all was over between them. But that did not prevent Mannheim still saying, whenever Christophe was mentioned in his presence, that they were intimate friends. And perhaps he thought they were.

Two days after the quarrel the first performance of Iphigenia took place. It was an utter failure. Waldhaus’ review praised the poem and made no mention of the music. The other papers and reviews made merry over it. They laughed and hissed. The piece was withdrawn after the third performance, but the jokes at its expense did not disappear so quickly. People were only too glad of the opportunity of having a fling at Christophe, and for several weeks the Iphigenia remained an unfailing subject for joking. They knew that Christophe had no weapon of defense, and they took advantage of it. The only thing which held them back a little was his position at the Court. Although his relation with the Grand Duke had become quite cold, for the Prince had several times made remarks to which he had paid no attention whatever, he still went to the Palace at intervals, and still enjoyed, in the eye of the public, a sort of official protection, though it was more visionary than real. He took upon himself to destroy even that last support.

He suffered from the criticisms. They were concerned not only with his music, but also with his idea of a new form of art, which the writers did not take the trouble to understand. It was very easy to travesty it and make fun of it. Christophe was not yet wise enough to know that the best reply to dishonest critics is to make none and to go on working. For some months past he had fallen into the bad habit of not letting any unjust attack go unanswered. He wrote an article in which he did not spare certain of his adversaries. The two papers to which he took it returned it with ironically polite excuses for being unable to publish it. Christophe stuck to his guns. He remembered that the socialist paper in the town had made advances to him. He knew one of the editors. They used to meet and talk occasionally. Christophe was glad to find some one who would talk freely about power, the army and oppression and archaic prejudices. But they could not go far with each other, for the socialist always came back to Karl Marx, about whom Christophe cared not a rap. Moreover, Christophe used to find in his speeches about the free man—besides a materialism which was not much to his taste—a pedantic severity and a despotism of thought, a secret cult of force, an inverse militarism, all of which did not sound very different from what he heard every day in German.

However, he thought of this man and his paper when he saw all other doors in journalism closed to him. He knew that his doing so would cause a scandal. The paper was violent, malignant, and always being condemned. But as Christophe never read it, he only thought of the boldness of its ideas, of which he was not afraid, and not of the baseness of its tone, which would have repelled him. Besides, he was so angry at seeing the other papers in alliance to suppress him that perhaps he would have gone on even if he had been warned. He wanted to show people that he was not so easily got rid of. So he took his article to the socialist paper, which received it with open arms. The next day the article appeared, and the paper announced in large letters that it had engaged the support of the young and talented maestro, Jean-Christophe Krafft, whose keen sympathy with the demands of the working classes was well known.

Christophe read neither the note nor the article, for he had gone out before dawn for a walk in the country, it being Sunday. He was in fine fettle. As he saw the sun rise he shouted, laughed, yodeled, leaped, and danced. No more review, no more criticisms to do! It was spring and there was once more the music of the heavens and the earth, the most beautiful of all. No more dark concert rooms, stuffy and smelly, unpleasant people, dull performers. Now the marvelous song of the murmuring forests was to be heard, and over the fields like waves there passed the intoxicating scents of life, breaking through the crust of the earth and issuing from the grave.

He went home with his head buzzing with light and music, and his mother gave him a letter which had been brought from the Palace while he was away. The letter was in an impersonal form, and told Herr Krafft that he was to go to the Palace that morning. The morning was past, it was nearly one o’clock. Christophe was not put about.

"It is too late now," he said. "It will do to-morrow."

But his mother said anxiously:

"No, no. You cannot put off an appointment with His Highness like that: you must go at once. Perhaps it is a matter of importance."

Christophe shrugged his shoulders.

"Important! As if those people could have anything important to say!… He wants to tell me his ideas about music. That will be funny!… If only he has not taken it into his head to rival Siegfried Meyer [Footnote: A nickname given by German pamphleteers to H.M. (His Majesty) the Emperor.] and wants to show me a Hymn to Aegis! I vow that I will not spare him. I shall say: ’Stick to politics. You are master there. You will always be right. But beware of art! In art you are seen without your plumes, your helmet, your uniform, your money, your titles, your ancestors, your policemen—and just think for a moment what will be left of you then!’"

Poor Louisa took him quite seriously and raised her hands in horror.

"You won’t say that!… You are mad! Mad!"

It amused him to make her uneasy by playing upon her credulity until he became so extravagant that Louisa began to see that he was making fun of her.

"You are stupid, my boy!"

He laughed and kissed her. He was in a wonderfully good humor. On his walk he had found a beautiful musical theme, and he felt it frolicking in him like a fish in water. He refused to go to the Palace until he had had something to eat. He was as hungry as an ape. Louisa then supervised his dressing, for he was beginning to tease her again, pretending that he was quite all right as he was with his old clothes and dusty boots. But he changed them all the same, and cleaned his boots, whistling like a blackbird and imitating all the instruments in an orchestra. When he had finished his mother inspected him and gravely tied his tie for him again. For once in a way he was very patient, because he was pleased with himself—which was not very usual. He went off saying that he was going to elope with Princess Adelaide—the Grand Duke’s daughter, quite a pretty woman, who was married to a German princeling and had come to stay with her parents for a few weeks. She had shown sympathy for Christophe when he was a child, and he had a soft side for her. Louisa used to declare that he was in love with her, and he would pretend to be so in fun.

He did not hurry; he dawdled and looked into the shops, and stopped to pat some dog that he knew as it lay on its side and yawned in the sun. He jumped over the harmless railings which inclosed the Palace square—a great empty square, surrounded with houses, with two little fountains, two symmetrical bare flower-beds, divided, as by a parting, by a gravel path, carefully raked and bordered by orange trees in tubs. In the middle was the bronze statue of some unknown Grand Duke in the costume of Louis Philippe, on a pediment adorned at the four corners by allegorical figures representing the Virtues. On a seat one solitary man was dozing over his paper. Behind the silly moat of the earthworks of the Palace two sleepy cannon yawned upon the sleepy town. Christophe laughed at the whole thing.

He entered the Palace without troubling to take on a more official manner. At most he stopped humming, but his thoughts went dancing on inside him. He threw his hat on the table in the hall and familiarly greeted the old usher, whom he had known since he was a child. (The old man had been there on the day when Christophe had first entered the Palace, on the evening when he had seen Hassler.) But to-day the old man, who always used to reply good-humoredly to Christophe’s disrespectful sallies, now seemed a little haughty. Christophe paid no heed to it. A little farther on, in the ante-chamber, he met a clerk of the chancery, who was usually full of conversation and very friendly. He was surprised to see him hurry past him to avoid having to talk. However, he did not attach any significance to it, and went on and asked to be shown in.

He went in. They had just finished dinner. His Highness was in one of the drawing-rooms. He was leaning against the mantelpiece, smoking, and talking to his guests, among whom Christophe saw his princess, who was also smoking. She was lying back in an armchair and talking in a loud voice to some officers who made a circle about her. The gathering was lively. They were all very merry, and when Christophe entered he heard the Grand Duke’s thick laugh. But he stopped dead when he saw Christophe. He growled and pounced on him.

"Ah! There you are!" he said. "You have condescended to come at last? Do you think you can go on making fun of me any longer? You’re a blackguard, sir!"

Christophe was so staggered by this brutal attack that it was some time before he could utter a word. He was thinking that he was only late, and that that could not have provoked such violence. He murmured:

"What have I done, Your Highness?"

His Highness did not listen and went on angrily:

"Be silent! I will not be insulted by a blackguard!" Christophe turned pale, and gulped so as to try to speak, for he was choking. He made an effort, and said:

"Your Highness, you have no right—you have no right to insult me without telling me what I have done."

The Grand Duke turned to his secretary, who produced a paper from his pocket and held it out to him. He was in such a state of exasperation as could not be explained only by his anger: the fumes of good wine had their share in it, too. He came and stood in front of Christophe, and like a toreador with his cape, furiously waved the crumpled newspaper in his face and shouted:

"Your muck, sir!… You deserve to have your nose rubbed in it!"

Christophe recognized the socialist paper.

"I don’t see what harm there is in it," he said.

"What! What!" screamed the Grand Duke. "You are impudent!… This rascally paper, which insults me from day to day, and spews out filthy insults upon me!…"

"Sire," said Christophe, "I have not read it."

"You lie!" shouted the Grand Duke.

"You shall not call me a liar," said Christophe. "I have not read it. I am only concerned with reviews, and besides, I have the right to write in whatever paper I like."

"You have no right but to hold your tongue. I have been too kind to you. I have heaped kindness upon you, you and yours, in spite of your misconduct and your father’s, which would have justified me in cutting you off. I forbid you to go on writing in a paper which is hostile to me. And further: I forbid you altogether to write anything in future without my authority. I have had enough of your musical polemics. I will not allow any one who enjoys my patronage to spend his time in attacking everything which is dear to people of taste and feeling, to all true Germans. You would do better to write better music, or if that is impossible, to practise your scales and exercises. I don’t want to have anything to do with a musical Bebel who amuses himself by decrying all our national glories and upsetting the minds of the people. We know what is good, thank God. We do not need to wait for you to tell us. Go to your piano, sir, or leave us in peace!"

Standing face to face with Christophe the fat man glared at him insultingly. Christophe was livid, and tried to speak. His lips moved; he stammered:

"I am not your slave. I shall say what I like and write what I like …"

He choked. He was almost weeping with shame and rage. His legs were trembling. He jerked his elbow and upset an ornament on a table by his side. He felt that he was in a ridiculous position. He heard people laughing. He looked down the room, and as through a mist saw the princess watching the scene and exchanging ironically commiserating remarks with her neighbors. He lost count of what exactly happened. The Grand Duke shouted. Christophe shouted louder than he without knowing what he said. The Prince’s secretary and another official came towards him and tried to stop him. He pushed them away, and while he talked he waved an ash-tray which he had mechanically picked up from the table against which he was leaning. He heard the secretary say:

"Put it down! Put it down!"

And he heard himself shouting inarticulately and knocking on the edge of the table with the ash-tray.

"Go!" roared the Grand Duke, beside himself with rage. "Go! Go! I’ll have you thrown out!"

The officers had come up to the Prince and were trying to calm him. The Grand Duke looked apoplectic. His eyes were starting from his head, he shouted to them to throw the rascal out. Christophe saw red. He longed to thrust his fist in the Grand Duke’s face; but he was crushed under a weight of conflicting feelings: shame, fury, a remnant of shyness, of German loyalty, traditional respect, habits of humility in the Prince’s presence. He tried to speak; he could not. He tried to move; he could not. He could not see or hear. He suffered them to push him along and left the room.

He passed through the impassive servants who had come up to the door, and had missed nothing of the quarrel. He had to go thirty yards to cross the ante-chamber, and it seemed a lifetime. The corridor grew longer and longer as he walked up it. He would never get out!… The light of day which he saw shining downstairs through the glass door was his haven. He went stumbling down the stairs. He forgot that he was bareheaded. The old usher reminded him to take his hat. He had to gather all his forces to leave the castle, cross the court, reach his home. His teeth were chattering when he opened the door. His mother was terrified by his face and his trembling. He avoided her and refused to answer her questions. He went up to his room, shut himself in, and lay down. He was shaking so that he could not undress. His breathing came in jerks and his whole body seemed shattered…. Oh! If only he could see no more, feel no more, no longer have to bear with his wretched body, no longer have to struggle against ignoble life, and fall, fall, breathless, without thought, and no longer be anywhere!… With frightful difficulty he tore off his clothes and left them on the ground, and then flung himself into his bed and drew the coverings over him. There was no sound in the room save that of the little iron bed rattling on the tiled floor.

Louisa listened at the door. She knocked in vain. She called softly. There was no reply. She waited, anxiously listening through the silence. Then she went away. Once or twice during the day she came and listened, and again at night, before she went to bed. Day passed, and the night. The house was still. Christophe was shaking with fever. Every now and then he wept, and in the night he got up several times and shook his fist at the wall. About two o’clock, in an access of madness, he got up from his bed, sweating and half naked. He wanted to go and kill the Grand Duke, He was devoured by hate and shame. His body and his heart writhed in the fire of it. Nothing of all the storm in him could be heard outside; not a word, not a sound. With clenched teeth he fought it down and forced it back into himself.

* * * * *

Next morning he came down as usual. He was a wreck. He said nothing and his mother dared not question him. She knew, from the gossip of the neighborhood. All day he stayed sitting by the fire, silent, feverish, and with bent head, like a little old man. And when he was alone he wept in silence.

In the evening the editor of the socialist paper came to see him. Naturally he had heard and wished to have details. Christophe was touched by his coming, and interpreted it naïvely as a mark of sympathy and a desire for forgiveness on the part of those who had compromised him. He made a point of seeming to regret nothing and he let himself go and said everything that was rankling in him. It was some solace for him to talk freely to a man who shared his hatred of oppression. The other urged him on. He saw a good chance for his journal in the event, and an opportunity for a scandalous article, for which he expected Christophe to provide him with material if he did not write it himself; for he thought that after such an explosion the Court musician would put his very considerable political talents and his no less considerable little tit-bits of secret information about the Court at the service of "the cause." As he did not plume himself on his subtlety he presented the thing rawly in the crudest light. Christophe started. He declared that he would write nothing and said that any attack on the Grand Duke that he might make would be interpreted as an act of personal vengeance, and that he would be more reserved now that he was free than when, not being free, he ran some risk in saying what he thought. The journalist could not understand his scruples. He thought Christophe narrow and clerical at heart, but he also decided that Christophe was afraid. He said:

"Oh, well! Leave it to us. I will write it myself. You need not bother about it."

Christophe begged him to say nothing, but he had no means of restraining him. Besides, the journalist declared that the affair was not his concern only: the insult touched the paper, which had the right to avenge itself. There was nothing to be said to that. All that Christophe could do was to ask him on his word of honor not to abuse certain of his confidences which had been made to his friend and not to the journalist. The other made no difficulty about that. Christophe was not reassured by it. He knew too well how imprudent he had been. When he was left alone he turned over everything that he had said, and shuddered. Without hesitating for a moment, he wrote to the journalist imploring him once more not to repeat what he had confided to him. (The poor wretch repeated it in part himself in the letter.)

Next day, as he opened the paper with feverish haste, the first thing he read was his story at great length on the front page. Everything that he had said on the evening before was immeasurably enlarged, having suffered that peculiar deformation which everything has to suffer in its passage through the mind of a journalist. The article attacked the Grand Duke and the Court with low invective. Certain details which it gave were too personal to Christophe, too obviously known only to him, for the article not to be attributed to him in its entirety.

Christophe was crushed by this fresh blow. As he read a cold sweat came out on his face. When he had finished he was dumfounded. He wanted to rush to the office of the paper, but his mother withheld him, not unreasonably being fearful of his violence. He was afraid of it himself. He felt that if he went there he would do something foolish; and he stayed—and did a very foolish thing. He wrote an indignant letter to the journalist in which he reproached him for his conduct in insulting terms, disclaimed the article, and broke with the party. The disclaimer did not appear.

Christophe wrote again to the paper, demanding that his letter should be published. They sent him a copy of his first letter, written on the night of the interview and confirming it. They asked if they were to publish that, too. He felt that he was in their hands. Thereupon he unfortunately met the indiscreet interviewer in the street. He could not help telling him of his contempt for him. Next day the paper, without a spark of shame, published an insulting paragraph about the servants of the Court, who even when they are dismissed remain servants and are incapable of being free. A few allusions to recent events left no room for doubt that Christophe was meant.

* * * * *

When it became evident to everybody that Christophe had no single support, there suddenly cropped up a host of enemies whose existence he had never suspected. All those whom he had offended, directly or indirectly, either by personal criticism or by attacking their ideas and taste, now took the offensive and avenged themselves with interest. The general public whom Christophe had tried to shake out of their apathy were quite pleased to see the insolent young man, who had presumed to reform opinion and disturb the rest of people of property, taken down a peg. Christophe was in the water. Everybody did their best to duck him.

They did not come down upon him all at once. One tried first, to spy out the land. Christophe made no response, and he struck more lustily. Others followed, and then the whole gang of them. Some joined in the sport simply for fun, like puppies who think it funny to leave their mark in inappropriate places. They were the flying squadron of incompetent journalists, who, knowing nothing, try to hide their ignorance by belauding the victors and belaboring the vanquished. Others brought the weight of their principles and they shouted like deaf people. Nothing was left of anything when they had passed. They were the critics—with the criticism which kills.

Fortunately for Christophe, he did not read the papers. A few devoted friends took care to send him the most insulting. But he left them in a heap on his desk and never thought of opening them. It was only towards the end of it that his eyes were attracted by a great red mark round an article. He read that his Lieder were like the roaring of a wild beast; that his symphonies seemed to have come from a madhouse; that his art was hysterical, his harmony spasmodic, as a change from the dryness of his heart and the emptiness of his thought. The critic, who was well known, ended with these words:

"Herr Krafft as a journalist has lately given astounding proof of his style and taste, which roused irresistible merriment in musical circles. He was then given the friendly advice rather to devote himself to composition. But the latest products of his muse have shown that this advice, though well-meant, was bad. Herr Krafft should certainly devote himself to journalism."

After reading the article, which prevented Christophe working the whole morning, naturally he began to look for the other hostile papers, and became utterly demoralized. But Louisa, who had a mania for moving everything lying about, by way of "tidying up," had already burned them. He was irritated at first and then comforted, and he held out the last of the papers to her, and said that she had better do the same with that.

Other rebuffs hurt him more. A quartette which he had sent in manuscript to a well-known society at Frankfort was rejected unanimously and returned without explanation. An overture which an orchestra at Cologne seemed disposed to perform was returned after a month as unplayable. But the worst of all was inflicted on him by an orchestral society in the town. The Kapellmeister, H. Euphrat, its conductor, was quite a good musician, but like many conductors, he had no curiosity of mind. He suffered (or rather he carried to extremes) the laziness peculiar to his class, which consists in going on and on investigating familiar works, while it shuns any really new work like the plague. He was never tired of organizing Beethoven, Mozart, or Schumann festivals: in conducting these works he had only to let himself be carried along by the purring of the familiar rhythms. On the other hand, contemporary music was intolerable to him. He dared not admit it and pretended to be friendly towards young talent; in fact, whenever he was brought a work built on the old lines—a sort of hotch-potch of works that had been new fifty years before—he would receive it very well, and would even produce it ostentatiously and force it upon the public. It did not disturb either his effects or the way in which the public was accustomed to be moved. On the other hand, he was filled with a mixture of contempt and hatred for anything which threatened to disturb that arrangement and put him to extra trouble. Contempt would predominate if the innovator had no chance of emerging from obscurity. But if there were any danger of his succeeding, then hatred would predominate—of course until the moment when he had gained an established success.

Christophe was not yet in that position: far from it. And so he was much surprised when he was informed, by indirect overtures, that Herr H. Euphrat would be very glad to produce one of his compositions. It was all the more unexpected as he knew that the Kapellmeister was an intimate friend of Brahms and others whom he had maltreated in his criticisms. Being honest himself, he credited his adversaries with the same generous feelings which he would have had himself. He supposed that now that he was down they wished to show him that they were above petty spite. He was touched by it. He wrote effusively to Herr Euphrat and sent him a symphonic poem. The conductor replied through his secretary coldly but politely, acknowledging the receipt of his work, and adding that, in accordance with the rules of the society, the symphony would be given out to the orchestra immediately and put to the test of a general rehearsal before it could be accepted for public hearing. A rule is a rule. Christophe had to bow to it, though it was a pure formality which served to weed out the lucubrations of amateurs which were sometimes a nuisance.

A few weeks later Christophe was told that his composition was to be rehearsed. On principle everything was done privately and even the author was not permitted to be present at the rehearsal. But by a generally agreed indulgence the author was always admitted; only he did not show himself. Everybody knew it and everybody pretended not to know it. On the appointed day one of his friends brought Christophe to the hall, where he sat at the back of a box. He was surprised to see that at this private rehearsal the hall—at least the ground floor seats—were almost all filled; a crowd of dilettante idlers and critics moved about and chattered to each other. The orchestra had to ignore their presence.

They began with the Brahms Rhapsody for alto, chorus of male voices, and orchestra on a fragment of the Harzreise im Winter of Goethe. Christophe, who detested the majestic sentimentality of the work, thought that perhaps the "Brahmins" had introduced it politely to avenge themselves by forcing him to hear a composition of which he had written irreverently. The idea made him laugh, and his good humour increased when after the Rhapsody there came two other productions by known musicians whom he had taken to task; there seemed to be no doubt about their intentions. And while he could not help making a face at it he thought that after all it was quite fair tactics; and, failing the music, he appreciated the joke. It even amused him to applaud ironically with the audience, which made manifest its enthusiasm for Brahms and his like.

At last it came to Christophe’s symphony. He saw from the way the orchestra and the people in the hall were looking at his box that they were aware of his presence. He hid himself. He waited with the catch at his heart which every musician feels at the moment when the conductor’s wand is raised and the waters of the music gather in silence before bursting their dam. He had never yet heard his work played. How would the creatures of his dreams live? How would their voices sound? He felt their roaring within him; and he leaned over the abyss of sounds waiting fearfully for what should come forth.

What did come forth was a nameless thing, a shapeless hotch-potch. Instead of the bold columns which were to support the front of the building the chords came crumbling down like a building in ruins; there was nothing to be seen but the dust of mortar. For a moment Christophe was not quite sure whether they were really playing his work. He cast back for the train, the rhythm of his thoughts; he could not recognize it; it went on babbling and hiccoughing like a drunken man clinging close to the wall, and he was overcome with shame, as though he had himself been seen in that condition. It was of no avail to think that he had not written such stuff; when an idiotic interpreter destroys a man’s thoughts he has always a moment of doubt when he asks himself in consternation if he is himself responsible for it. The audience never asks such a question; the audience believes in the interpreter, in the singers, in the orchestra whom they are accustomed to hear as they believe in their newspaper; they cannot make a mistake; if they say absurd things, it is the absurdity of the author. This audience was the less inclined to doubt because it liked to believe. Christophe tried to persuade himself that the Kapellmeister was aware of the hash and would stop the orchestra and begin again. The instruments were not playing together. The horn had missed his beat and had come in a bar too late; he went on for a few minutes, and then stopped quietly to clean his instrument. Certain passages for the oboe had absolutely disappeared. It was impossible for the most skilled ear to pick up the thread of the musical idea, or even to imagine that there was one. Fantastic instrumentations, humoristic sallies became grotesque through the coarseness of the execution. It was lamentably stupid, the work of an idiot, of a joker who knew nothing of music. Christophe tore his hair. He tried to interrupt, but the friend who was with him held him back, assuring him that the Herr Kapellmeister must surely see the faults of the execution and would put everything right—that Christophe must not show himself and that if he made any remark it would have a very bad effect. He made Christophe sit at the very back of the box. Christophe obeyed, but he beat his head with his fists; and every fresh monstrosity drew from him a groan of indignation and misery.

"The wretches! The wretches!…"

He groaned, and squeezed his hands tight to keep himself from crying out.

Now mingled with the wrong notes there came up to him the muttering of the audience, who were beginning to be restless. At first it was only a tremor; but soon Christophe was left without a doubt; they were laughing. The musicians of the orchestra had given the signal; some of them did not conceal their hilarity. The audience, certain then that the music was laughable, rocked with laughter. This merriment became general; it increased at the return of a very rhythmical motif which the double-basses accentuated in a burlesque fashion. Only the Kapellmeister went on through the uproar imperturbably beating time.

At last they reached the end (the best things come to an end). It was the turn of the audience. They exploded with delight, an explosion which lasted for several minutes. Some hissed; others applauded ironically; the wittiest of all shouted "Encore!" A bass voice coming from a stage box began to imitate the grotesque motif. Other jokers followed suit and imitated it also. Some one shouted "Author!" It was long since these witty folk had been so highly entertained.

When the tumult was calmed down a little the Kapellmeister, standing quite impassive with his face turned towards the audience though he was pretending not to see it—(the audience was still supposed to be non-existent)—made a sign to the audience that he was about to speak. There was a cry of "Ssh," and silence. He waited a moment longer; then—(his voice was curt, cold, and cutting):

"Gentlemen," he said, "I should certainly not have let that he played through to the end if I had not wished to make an example of the gentleman who has dared to write offensively of the great Brahms."

That was all; and jumping down from his stand he went out amid cheers from the delighted audience. They tried to recall him; the applause went on for a few minutes longer. But he did not return. The orchestra went away. The audience decided to go too. The concert was over.

It had been a good day.

Christophe had gone already. Hardly had he seen the wretched conductor leave his desk when he had rushed from the box; he plunged down the stairs from the first floor to meet him and slap his face. His friend who had brought him followed and tried to hold him back, but Christophe brushed him aside and almost threw him downstairs;—(he had reason to believe that the fellow was concerned in the trick which had been played him). Fortunately for H. Euphrat and himself the door leading to the stage was shut; and his furious knocking could not make them open it. However the audience was beginning to leave the hall. Christophe could not stay there. He fled.

He was in an indescribable condition. He walked blindly, waving his arms, rolling his eyes, talking aloud like a madman; he suppressed his cries of indignation and rage. The street was almost empty. The concert hall had been built the year before in a new neighborhood a little way out of the town; and Christophe instinctively fled towards the country across the empty fields in which were a few lonely shanties and scaffoldings surrounded by fences. His thoughts were murderous; he could have killed the man who had put such an affront upon him. Alas! and when he had killed him would there he any change in the animosity of those people whose insulting laughter was still ringing in his ears? They were too many; he could do nothing against them; they were all agreed—they who were divided about so many things—to insult and crush him. It was past understanding; there was hatred in them. What had he done to them all? There were beautiful things in him, things to do good and make the heart big; he had tried to say them, to make others enjoy them; he thought they would be happy like himself. Even if they did not like them they should he grateful to him for his intentions; they could, if need be, show him kindly where he had been wrong; but that they should take such a malignant joy in insulting and odiously travestying his ideas, in trampling them underfoot, and killing him by ridicule, how was it possible? In his excitement he exaggerated their hatred; he thought it much more serious than such mediocre people could ever be. He sobbed: "What have I done to them?" He choked, he thought that all was lost, just as he did when he was a child coming into contact for the first time with human wickedness.

And when he looked about him he suddenly saw that he had reached the edge of the mill-race, at the very spot where a few years before his father had been drowned. And at once he thought of drowning himself too. He was just at the point of making the plunge.

But as he leaned over the steep bank, fascinated by the calm clean aspect of the water, a tiny bird in a tree by his side began to sing—to sing madly. He held his breath to listen. The water murmured. The ripening corn moaned as it waved under the soft caressing wind; the poplars shivered. Behind the hedge on the road, out of sight, bees in hives in a garden filled the air with their scented music. From the other side of the stream a cow was chewing the cud and gazing with soft eyes. A little fair-haired girl was sitting on a wall, with a light basket on her shoulders, like a little angel with wings, and she was dreaming, and swinging her bare legs and humming aimlessly. Far away in a meadow a white dog was leaping and running in wide circles. Christophe leaned against a tree and listened and watched the earth in Spring; he was caught up by the peace and joy of these creatures; he could forget, he could forget. Suddenly he clasped the tree with his arms and leaned his cheek against it. He threw himself on the ground; he buried his face in the grass; he laughed nervously, happily. All the beauty, the grace, the charm of life wrapped him round, imbued his soul, and he sucked them up like a sponge. He thought:

"Why are you so beautiful, and they—men—so ugly?"

No matter! He loved it, he loved it, he felt that he would always love it, and that nothing could ever take it from him. He held the earth to his breast. He held life to his breast:

"I love you! You are mine. They cannot take you from me. Let them do what they will! Let them make me suffer!… Suffering also is life!"

Christophe began bravely to work again. He refused to have anything more to do with "men of letters"—well named—makers of phrases, the sterile babblers, journalists, critics, the exploiters and traffickers of art. As for musicians he would waste no more time in battling with their prejudices and jealousy. They did not want him? Very well! He did not want them. He had his work to do; he would do it. The Court had given him back his liberty; he was grateful for it. He was grateful to the people for their hostility; he could work in peace.

Louisa approved with all her heart. She had no ambition; she was not a Krafft; she was like neither his father nor his grandfather. She did not want honors or reputation for her son. She would have liked him to be rich and famous; but if those advantages could only be bought at the price of so much unpleasantness she much preferred not to bother about them. She had been more upset by Christophe’s grief over his rupture with the Palace than by the event itself; and she was heartily glad that he had quarreled with the review and newspaper people. She had a peasant’s distrust of blackened paper; it was only a waste of time and made enemies. She had sometimes heard his young friends of the Review talking to Christophe; she had been horrified by their malevolence; they tore everything to pieces and said horrible things about everybody; and the worse things they said the better pleased they were. She did not like them. No doubt they were very clever and very learned, but they were not kind, and she was very glad that Christophe saw no more of them. She was full of common sense: what good were they to him?

"They may say, write, and think what they like of me," said Christophe. "They cannot prevent my being myself. What do their ideas or their art matter to me? I deny them!"

* * * * *

It is all very fine to deny the world. But the world is not so easily denied by a young man’s boasting. Christophe was sincere, but he was under illusion; he did not know himself. He was not a monk; he had not the temperament for renouncing the world, and besides he was not old enough to do so. At first he did not suffer much, he was plunged in composition; and while his work lasted he did not feel the want of anything. But when he came to the period of depression which follows the completion of a work and lasts until a new work takes possession of the mind, he looked about him and was horrified by his loneliness. He asked himself why he wrote. While a man is writing he never asks himself that question; he must write, there is no arguing about it. And then he finds himself with the work that he has begotten: the great instinct which caused it to spring forth is silent; he does not understand why it was born: he hardly recognizes it, it is almost a stranger to him; he longs to forget it. And that is impossible as long as it is not published or played, or living its own life in the world. Till then it is like a new-born child attached to its mother, a living thing bound fast to his living flesh; it must be amputated at all costs or it will not live. The more Christophe composed the more he suffered under the weight of these creatures who had sprung forth from himself and could neither live nor die. He was haunted by them. Who could deliver him from them? Some obscure impulse would stir in these children of his thoughts; they longed desperately to break away from him to expand into other souls like the quick and fruitful seed which the wind scatters over the universe. Must he remain imprisoned in his sterility? He raged against it.

Since every outlet—theaters, concerts—was closed to him, and nothing would induce him to approach those managers who had once failed him, there was nothing left but for him to publish his writings, but he could not flatter himself that it would be easier to find a publisher to produce his work than an orchestra to play it. The two or three clumsy attempts that he had made were enough; rather than expose himself to another rebuff, or to bargain with one of these music merchants and put up with his patronizing airs, he preferred to publish it at his own expense. It was an act of madness; he had some small savings out of his Court salary and the proceeds of a few concerts, but the source from which the money had come was dried up and it would be a long time before he could find another; and he should have been prudent enough to be careful with his scanty funds which had to help him over the difficult period upon which he was entering. Not only did he not do so; but, as his savings were not enough to cover the expenses of publication, he did not shrink from getting into debt. Louisa dared not say anything; she found him absolutely unreasonable, and did not understand how anybody could spend money for the sake of seeing his name on a book; but since it was a way of making him be patient and of keeping him with her, she was only too happy for him to have that satisfaction.

Instead of offering the public compositions of a familiar and undisturbing kind, in which it could feel at home, Christophe chose from among his manuscripts a suite very individual in character, which he valued highly. They were piano pieces mixed with Lieder, some very short and popular in style, others very elaborate and almost dramatic. The whole formed a series of impressions, joyous or mild, linked together naturally and written alternately for the piano and the voice, alone or accompanied. "For," said Christophe, "when I dream, I do not always formulate what I feel. I suffer, I am happy, and have no words to say; but then comes a moment when I must say what I am feeling, and I sing without thinking of what I am doing; sometimes I sing only vague words, a few disconnected phrases, sometimes whole poems; then I begin to dream again. And so the day goes by; and I have tried to give the impression of a day. Why these gathered impressions composed only of songs or preludes? There is nothing more false or less harmonious. One must try to give the free play of the soul." He had called his suite: A Day. The different parts of the composition bore sub-titles, shortly indicating the succession of his inward dreams. Christophe had written mysterious dedications, initials, dates, which only he could understand, as they reminded Mm of poetic moments or beloved faces: the gay Corinne, the languishing Sabine, and the little unknown Frenchwoman.

Besides this work he selected thirty of his Lieder—those which pleased him most, and consequently pleased the public least. He avoided choosing the most "melodious" of his melodies, but he did choose the most characteristic. (The public always has a horror of anything "characteristic." Characterless things are more likely to please them.)

These Lieder were written to poems of old Silesian poets of the seventeenth century that Christophe had read by chance in a popular collection, and whose loyalty he had loved. Two especially were dear to him, dear as brothers, two creatures full of genius and both had died at thirty: the charming Paul Fleming, the traveler to the Caucasus and to Ispahan, who preserved his soul pure, loving and serene in the midst of the savagery of war, the sorrows of life, and the corruption of his time, and Johann Christian Günther, the unbalanced genius who wore himself out in debauchery and despair, casting his life to the four winds. He had translated Günther’s cries of provocation and vengeful irony against the hostile God who overwhelms His creatures, his furious curses like those of a Titan overthrown hurling the thunder back against the heavens. He had selected Fleming’s love songs to Anemone and Basilene, soft and sweet as flowers, and the rondo of the stars, the Tanzlied (dancing song) of hearts glad and limpid—and the calm heroic sonnet To Himself (An Sich), which Christophe used to recite as a prayer every morning.

The smiling optimism of the pious Paul Gerhardt also had its charm for Christophe. It was a rest for him on recovering from his own sorrows. He loved that innocent vision of nature as God, the fresh meadows, where the storks walk gravely among the tulips and white narcissus, by little brooks singing on the sands, the transparent air wherein there pass the wide-winged, swallows and flying doves, the gaiety of a sunbeam piercing the rain, and the luminous sky smiling through the clouds, and the serene majesty of the evening, the sweet peace of the forests, the cattle, the bowers and the fields. He had had the impertinence to set to music several of those mystic canticles which are still sung in Protestant communities. And he had avoided preserving the choral character. Far from it: he had a horror of it; he had given them a free and vivacious character. Old Gerhardt would have shuddered at the devilish pride which was breathed forth now in certain lines of his Song of the Christian Traveler, or the pagan delight which made this peaceful stream of his Song of Summer bubble over like a torrent.

The collection was published without any regard for common sense, of course. The publisher whom Christophe paid for printing and storing his Lieder had no other claim to his choice than that of being his neighbor. He was not equipped for such important work; the printing went on for months; there were mistakes and expensive corrections. Christophe knew nothing about it and the whole thing cost more by a third than it need have done; the expenses far exceeded anything he had anticipated. Then when it was done, Christophe found an enormous edition on his hands and did not know what to do with it. The publisher had no customers; he took no steps to circulate the work. And his apathy was quite in accord with Christophe’s attitude. When he asked him, to satisfy his conscience, to write him a short advertisement of it, Christophe replied that "he did not want any advertisement; if his music was good it would speak for itself." The publisher religiously respected his wishes; he put the edition away in his warehouse. It was well kept; for in six months not a copy was sold.

* * * * *

While he was waiting for the public to make up its mind Christophe had to find some way of repairing the hole he had made in his means; and he could not be nice about it, for he had to live and pay his debts. Not only were his debts larger than he had imagined but he saw that the moneys on which he had counted were less than he had thought. Had he lost money without knowing it or—what was infinitely more probable—had he reckoned up wrongly? (He had never been able to add correctly.) It did not matter much why the money was missing; it was missing without a doubt. Louisa had to give her all to help her son. He was bitterly remorseful and tried to pay her back as soon as possible and at all costs. He tried to get lessons, though it was painful to him to ask and to put up with refusals. He was out of favor altogether; he found it very difficult to obtain pupils again. And so when it was suggested that he should teach at a school he was only too glad.

It was a semi-religious institution. The director, an astute gentleman, had seen, though he was no musician, how useful Christophe might be, and how cheaply in his present position. He was pleasant and paid very little. When Christophe ventured to make a timid remark the director told him with a kindly smile that as he no longer held an official position he could not very well expect more.

It was a sad task! It was not so much a matter of teaching the pupils music as of making their parents and themselves believe that they had learned it. The chief thing was to make them able to sing at the ceremonies to which the public were admitted. It did not matter how it was done, Christophe was in despair; he had not even the consolation of telling himself as he fulfilled his task that he was doing useful work; his conscience reproached him with it as hypocrisy. He tried to give the children more solid instruction and to make them acquainted with and love serious music; but they did not care for it a bit. Christophe could not succeed in making them listen to it; he had no authority over them; in truth he was not made for teaching children. He took no interest in their floundering; he tried to explain to them all at once the theory of music. When he had to give a piano lesson he would set his pupil a symphony of Beethoven which he would play as a duet with her. Naturally that could not succeed; he would explode angrily, drive the pupil from the piano and go on playing alone for a long time. He was just the same with his private pupils outside the school. He had not an ounce of patience; for instance he would tell a young lady who prided herself on her aristocratic appearance and position, that she played like a kitchen maid; or he would even write to her mother and say that he gave it up, that it would kill him if he went on long bothering about a girl so devoid of talent. All of which did not improve his position. His few pupils left him; he could not keep any of them more than a few months. His mother argued with him; he would argue with himself. Louisa made him promise that at least he would not break with the school he had joined; for if he lost that position he did not know what he should do for a living. And so he restrained himself in spite of his disgust; he was most exemplarily punctual. But how could he conceal his thoughts when a donkey of a pupil blundered for the tenth time in some passages, or when he had to coach his class for the next concert in some foolish chorus!—(For he was not even allowed to choose his programme: his taste was not trusted)—He was not exactly zealous about it all. And yet he went stubbornly on, silent, frowning, only betraying his secret wrath by occasionally thumping on his desk and making his pupils jump in their seats. But sometimes the pill was too bitter; he could not bear it any longer. In the middle of the chorus he would interrupt the singers:

"Oh! Stop! Stop! I’ll play you some Wagner instead."

They asked nothing better. They played cards behind his back. There was always someone who reported the matter to the director; and Christophe would be reminded that he was not there to make his pupils like music but to make them sing. He received his scoldings with a shudder; but he accepted them; he did not want to lose his work. Who would have thought a few years before, when his career looked so assured and brilliant (when he had done nothing), that he would be reduced to such humiliation just as he was beginning to be worth something?

Among the hurts to his vanity that he came by in his work at the school, one of the most painful was having to call on his colleagues. He paid two calls at random; and they bored him so that he had not the heart to go on. The two privileged persons were not at all pleased about it, but the others were personally affronted. They all regarded Christophe as their inferior in position and intelligence; and they assumed a patronizing manner towards him. Sometimes he was overwhelmed by it, for they seemed to be so sure of themselves and the opinion they had of him that he began to share it; he felt stupid with them; what could he have found to say to them? They were full of their profession and saw nothing beyond it. They were not men. If only they had been books! But they were only notes to books, philological commentaries.

Christophe avoided meeting them. But sometimes he was forced to do so. The director was at home once a month in the afternoon; and he insisted on all his people being there. Christophe, who had cut the first afternoon, without excuse, in the vain hope that his absence would not be noticed, was ever afterwards the object of sour attention. Next time he was lectured by his mother and decided to go; he was as solemn about it as though he were going to a funeral.

He found himself at a gathering of the teachers of the school and other institutions of the town, and their wives and daughters. They were all huddled together in a room too small for them, and grouped hierarchically. They paid no attention to him. The group nearest him was talking of pedagogy and cooking. All the wives of the teachers had culinary recipes which they set out with pedantic exuberance and insistence. The men were no less interested in these matters and hardly less competent. They were as proud of the domestic talents of their wives as they of their husbands’ learning. Christophe stood by a window leaning against the wall, not knowing how to look, now trying to smile stupidly, now gloomy with a fixed stare and unmoved features, and he was bored to death. A little away from him, sitting in the recess of the window, was a young woman to whom nobody was talking and she was as bored as he. They both looked at the room and not at each other. It was only after some time that they noticed each other just as they both turned away to yawn, both being at the limit of endurance. Just at that moment their eyes met. They exchanged a look of friendly understanding. He moved towards her. She said in a low voice:

"Are you amused?"

He turned his back on the room, and, looking out of the window, put out his tongue. She burst out laughing, and suddenly waking up she signed to him to sit down by her side. They introduced themselves; she was the wife of Professor Reinhart, who lectured on natural history at the school, and was newly come to the town, where they knew nobody. She was not beautiful; she had a large nose, ugly teeth, and she lacked freshness; but she had keen, clever eyes and a kindly smile. She chattered like a magpie; he answered her solemnly; she had an amusing frankness and a droll wit; they laughingly exchanged impressions out loud without bothering about the people round them. Their neighbors, who had not deigned to notice their existence when it would have been charitable to help them out of their loneliness, now threw angry looks at them; it was in bad taste to be so much amused. But they did not care what the others might think of them; they were taking their revenge in their chatter.

In the end Frau Reinhart introduced her husband to Christophe. He was extremely ugly; he had a pale, greasy, pockmarked, rather sinister face, but he looked very kind. He spoke low down in his throat and pronounced his words sententiously, stammeringly, pausing between each syllable.

They had been married a few months only and these two plain people were in love with each other; they had an affectionate way of looking at each other, talking to each other, taking each other’s hands in the presence of everybody—which was comic and touching. If one wanted anything the other would want it too. And so they invited Christophe to go and sup with them after the reception. Christophe began jokingly to beg to be excused; he said that the best thing to do that evening would be to go to bed; he was quite worn out with boredom, as tired as though he had walked ten miles. But Frau Reinhart said that he could not be left in that condition; it would be dangerous to spend the night with such gloomy thoughts. Christophe let them drag him off. In his loneliness he was glad to have met these good people, who were not very distinguished in their manners but were simple and gemütlich.

* * * * *

The Reinharts’ little house was gemütlich like themselves. It was a rather chattering Gemüt, a Gemüt with inscriptions. The furniture, the utensils, the china all talked, and went on repeating their joy in seeing their "charming guest," asked after his health, and gave him pleasant and virtuous advice. On the sofas—which was very hard—was a little cushion which murmured amiably:

"Only a quarter of an hour!" (Nur ein Viertelstündchen.)

The cup of coffee which was handed to Christophe insisted on his taking more:

"Just a drop!" (Noch ein Schlückchen.)

The plates seasoned the cooking with morality and otherwise the cooking was quite excellent. One plate said:

"Think of everything: otherwise no good will come to you!"


"Affection and gratitude please everybody. Ingratitude pleases nobody."

Although Christophe did not smoke, the ash-tray on the mantelpiece insisted on introducing itself to him:

"A little resting place for burning cigars." (Ruheplätzchen für brennende


He wanted to wash his hands. The soap on the washstand said:

"For our charming guest." (Für unseren lieben Gast.)

And the sententious towel, like a person who has nothing to say, but thinks he must say something all the same, gave him this reflection, full of good sense but not very apposite, that "to enjoy the morning you must rise early."

"Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund."

At length Christophe dared not even turn in his chair for fear of hearing himself addressed by other voices coming from every part of the room. He wanted to say:

"Be silent, you little monsters! We don’t understand each other."

And he burst out laughing crazily and then tried to explain to his host and hostess that he was thinking of the gathering at the school. He would not have hurt them for the world, And he was not very sensible of the ridiculous. Very soon he grew accustomed to the loquacious cordiality of these people and their belongings. He could have tolerated anything in them! They were so kind! They were not tiresome either; if they had no taste they were not lacking in intelligence.

They were a little lost in the place to which they had come. The intolerable susceptibilities of the little provincial town did not allow people to enter it as though it were a mill, without having properly asked for the honor of becoming part of it. The Reinharts had not sufficiently attended to the provincial code which regulated the duties of new arrivals in the town towards those who had settled in it before them. Reinhart would have submitted to it mechanically. But his wife, to whom such drudgery was oppressive—she disliked being put out—postponed her duties from day to day. She had selected those calls which bored her least, to be paid first, or she had put the others off indefinitely. The distinguished persons who were comprised in the last category choked with indignation at such a want of respect. Angelica Reinhart—(her husband called her Lili)—was a little free in her manners; she could not take on the official tone. She would address her superiors in the hierarchy familiarly and make than go red in the face with indignation; and if need be she was not afraid of contradicting them. She had a quick tongue and always had to say whatever was in her head; sometimes she made extraordinarily foolish remarks at which people laughed behind her back; and also she could be malicious whole-heartedly, and that made her mortal enemies. She would bite her tongue as she was saying rash things and wish she had not said them, but it was too late. Her husband, the gentlest and most respectful of men, would chide her timidly about it. She would kiss him and say that she was a fool and that he was right. But the next moment she would break out again; and she would always say things at the least suitable moment; she would have burst if she had not said them. She was exactly the sort of woman to get on with Christophe.

Among the many ridiculous things which she ought not to have said, and consequently was always saying, was her trick of perpetually comparing the way things were done in Germany and the way they were done in France. She was a German—(nobody more so)—but she had been brought up in Alsace among French Alsatians, and she had felt the attraction of Latin civilization which so many Germans in the annexed countries, even those who seem the least likely to feel it, cannot resist. Perhaps, to tell the truth, the attraction had become stronger out of a spirit of contradiction since Angelica had married a North German and lived with him in purely German society.

She opened up her usual subject of discussion on her first evening with

Christophe. She loved the pleasant freedom of conversation in France,

Christophe echoed her. France to him was Corinne; bright blue eyes, smiling

lips, frank free manners, a musical voice; he loved to know more about it.

Lili Reinhart clapped her hands on finding herself so thoroughly agreeing with Christophe.

"It is a pity," she said, "that my little French friend has gone, but she could not stand it; she has gone."

The image of Corinne was at once blotted out. As a match going out suddenly makes the gentle glimmer of the stars shine out from the dark sky, another image and other eyes appeared.

"Who?" asked Christophe with a start, "the little governess?"

"What?" said Frau Reinhart, "you knew her too?"

He described her; the two portraits were identical.

"You knew her?" repeated Christophe. "Oh! Tell me everything you know about her!…"

Frau Reinhart began by declaring that they were bosom friends and had no secrets from each other. But when she had to go into detail her knowledge was reduced to very little. They had met out calling. Frau Reinhart had made advances to the girl; and with her usual cordiality had invited her to come and see her. The girl had come two or three times and they had talked. But the curious Lili had not so easily succeeded in finding out anything about the life of the little Frenchwoman; the girl was very reserved; she had had to worm her story out of her, bit by bit. Frau Reinhart knew that she was called Antoinette Jeannin; she had no fortune, and no friends, except a younger brother who lived in Paris and to whom she was devoted. She used always to talk of him; he was the only subject about which she could talk freely; and Lili Reinhart had gained her confidence by showing sympathy and pity for the boy living alone in Paris without relations, without friends, at a boarding school. It was partly to pay for his education that Antoinette had accepted a post abroad. But the two children could not live without each other; they wanted to be with each other every day, and the least delay in the delivery of their letters used to make them quite ill with anxiety. Antoinette was always worrying about her brother, the poor child could not always manage to hide his sadness and loneliness from her; every one of his complaints used to sound through Antoinette’s heart and seemed like to break it; the thought that he was suffering used to torture her and she used often to imagine that he was ill and would not say so. Frau Reinhart in her kindness had often had to rebuke her for her groundless fears, and she used to succeed in restoring her confidence for a moment. She had not been able to find out anything about Antoinette’s family or position or her inner self. The girl was wildly shy and used to draw into herself at the first question. The little she said showed that she was cultured and intelligent; she seemed to have a precocious knowledge of life; she seemed to be at once naïve and undeceived, pious and disillusioned. She had not been happy in the town in a tactless and unkind family. She used not to complain, but it was easy to see that she used to suffer—Frau Reinhart did not exactly know why she had gone. It had been said that she had behaved badly. Angelica did not believe it; she was ready to swear that it was all a disgusting calumny, worthy of the foolish rotten town. But there had been stories; it did not matter what, did it?

"No," said Christophe, bowing his head.

"And so she has gone."

"And what did she say—anything to you when she went?"

"Ah!" said Lili Reinhart, "I had no chance. I had gone to Cologne for a few days just then! When I came back—Zu spät" (too late).—She stopped to scold her maid, who had brought her lemon too late for her tea.

And she added sententiously with the solemnity which the true German brings naturally to the performance of the familiar duties of daily life:

"Too late, as one so often is in life!"

(It was not clear whether she meant the lemon or her interrupted story.)

She went on:

"When I returned I found a line from her thanking me for all I had done and telling me that she was going; she was returning to Paris; she gave no address."

"And she did not write again?"

"Not again."

Once more Christophe saw her sad face disappear into the night; once more he saw her eyes for a moment just as he had seen them for the last time looking at him through the carriage window.

The enigma of France was once more set before him more insistently than ever. Christophe never tired of asking Frau Reinhart about the country which she pretended to know so well. And Frau Reinhart who had never been there was not reluctant to tell him about it. Reinhart, a good patriot, full of prejudices against France, which he knew better than his wife, sometimes used to qualify her remarks when her enthusiasm went too far; but she would repeat her assertions only the more vigorously, and Christophe, knowing nothing at all about it, backed her up confidently.

What was more precious even than Lili Reinhart’s memories were her books. She had a small library of French books: school books, a few novels, a few volumes bought at random. Christophe, greedy of knowledge and ignorant of France, thought them a treasure when Reinhart went and got them for him and put them at his disposal.

He began with volumes of select passages, old school books, which had been used by Lili Reinhart or her husband in their school days. Reinhart had assured him that he must begin with them if he wished to find his way about French literature, which was absolutely unknown to him. Christophe was full of respect for those who knew more than himself, and obeyed religiously: and that very evening he began to read. He tried first of all to take stock of the riches in his possession.

He made the acquaintance of certain French writers, namely: Thédore-Henri Barrau, François Pétis de la Croix, Frédéric Baudry, Émile Delérot, Charles-Auguste-Désiré Filon, Samuel Descombaz, and Prosper Baur. He read the poetry of Abbé Joseph Reyre, Pierre Lachambaudie, the Duc de Nivernois, André van Hasselt, Andrieux, Madame Colet, Constance-Marie Princesse de Salm-Dyck, Henrietta Hollard, Gabriel-Jean-Baptiste-Ernest-Wilfrid Legouvé, Hippolyte Violeau, Jean Reboul, Jean Racine, Jean de Béranger, Frédéric Béchard, Gustave Nadaud, Édouard Plouvier, Eugène Manuel, Hugo, Millevoye, Chênedollé, James Lacour Delâtre, Félix Chavannes, Francis-Édouard-Joachim, known as François Coppée, and Louis Belmontet. Christophe was lost, drowned, submerged under such a deluge of poetry and turned to prose. He found Gustave de Molinari, Fléchier, Ferdinand-Édouard Buisson, Mérimée, Malte-Brun, Voltaire, Lamé-Fleury, Dumas père, J.J. Bousseau, Mézières, Mirabeau, de Mazade, Claretie, Cortambert, Frédéric II, and M. de Vogüé. The most often quoted of French historians was Maximilien Samson-Frédéric Schoell. In the French anthology Christophe found the Proclamation of the new German Empire; and he read a description of the Germans by Frédéric-Constant de Rougemont, in which he learned that "the German was born to live in the region of the soul. He has not the light noisy gaiety of the Frenchman. His is a great soul; his affections are tender and profound. He is indefatigable in toil, and persevering in enterprise. There is no more moral or long-lived people. Germany has an extraordinary number of writers. She has the genius of art. While the inhabitants of other countries pride themselves on being French, English, Spanish, the German on the other hand embraces all humanity in his love. And though its position is the very center of Europe the German nation seems to be at once the heart and the higher reason of humanity."

Christophe closed the book. He was astonished and tired. He thought:

"The French are good fellows; but they are not strong."

He took another volume. It was on a higher plane; it was meant for high schools. Musset occupied three pages, and Victor Duray thirty, Lamartine seven pages and Thiers almost forty. The whole of the Cid was included—or almost the whole:—-(ten monologues of Don Diègue and Rodrigue had been suppressed because they were too long.)—Lanfrey exalted Prussia against Napoleon I and so he had not been cut down; he alone occupied more space than all the great classics of the eighteenth century. Copious narrations of the French defeats of 1870 had been extracted from La Debâcle of Zola. Neither Montaigne, nor La Rochefoucauld, nor La Bruyère, nor Diderot, nor Stendhal, nor Balzac, nor Flaubert appeared. On the other hand, Pascal, who did not appear in the other book, found a place in this as a curiosity; and Christophe learned by the way that the convulsionary "was one of the fathers of Port-Royal, a girls’ school, near Paris…" [Footnote: The anthologies of French literature which Jean-Christophe borrowed from his friends the Reinharts were:

I. Selected French passages for the use of secondary schools, by Hubert

H. Wingerath, Ph.D., director of the real-school of Saint John at

Strasburg. Part II: Middle forms.—7th Edition, 1902, Dumont-Schauberg.

II. L. Herrig and G.F. Burguy: Literary France, arranged by F. Tendering, director of the real-gymnasium of the Johanneum, Hamburg.—1904, Brunswick.]

Christophe was on the point of throwing the book away; his head was swimming; he could not see. He said to himself: "I shall never get through with it." He could not formulate any opinion. He turned over the leaves idly for hours without knowing what he was reading. He did not read French easily, and when he had labored to make out a passage, it was almost always something meaningless and highfalutin.

And yet from the chaos there darted flashes of light, like rapier thrusts, words that looked and stabbed, heroic laughter. Gradually an impression emerged from his first reading, perhaps through the biased scheme of the selections. Voluntarily or involuntarily the German editors had selected those pieces of French which could seem to establish by the testimony of the French themselves the failings of the French and the superiority of the Germans. But they had no notion that what they most exposed to the eyes of an independent mind like Christophe’s was the surprising liberty of these Frenchmen who criticised everything in their own country and praised their adversaries. Michelet praised Frederick II, Lanfrey the English of Trafalgar, Charras the Prussia of 1813. No enemy of Napoleon had ever dared to speak of him so harshly. Nothing was too greatly respected to escape their disparagement. Even under the great King the previous poets had had their freedom of speech. Molière spared nothing, La Fontaine laughed at everything. Even Boileau gibed at the nobles. Voltaire derided war, flogged religion, scoffed at his country. Moralists, satirists, pamphleteers, comic writers, they all vied one with another in gay or somber audacity. Want of respect was universal. The honest German editors were sometimes scared by it, they had to throw a rope to their consciences by trying to excuse Pascal, who lumped together cooks, porters, soldiers, and camp followers; they protested in a note that Pascal would not have written thus if he had been acquainted with the noble armies of modern times. They did not fail to remind the reader how happily Lessing had corrected the Fables of La Fontaine by following, for instance, the advice of the Genevese Rousseau and changing the piece of cheese of Master Crow to a piece of poisoned meat of which the vile fox dies.

"May you never gain anything but poison. You cursed flatterers!"

They blinked at naked truth; but Christophe was pleased with it; he loved this light. Here and there he was even a little shocked; he was not used to such unbridled independence which looks like anarchy to the eyes even of the freest of Germans, who in spite of everything is accustomed to order and discipline. And he was led astray by the way of the French; he took certain things too seriously; and other things which were implacable denials seemed to him to be amusing paradoxes. No matter! Surprised or shocked he was drawn on little by little. He gave up trying to classify his impressions; he passed from one feeling to another; he lived. The gaiety of the French stories—Chamfort, Ségur, Dumas père, Mérimée all lumped together—delighted him; and every now and then in gusts there would creep forth from the printed page the wild intoxicating scent of the Revolutions.

It was nearly dawn when Louisa, who slept in the next room, woke up and saw the light through the chinks of Christophe’s door. She knocked on the wall and asked if he were ill. A chair creaked on the floor: the door opened and Christophe appeared, pale, in his nightgown, with a candle and a book in his hand, making strange, solemn, and grotesque gestures. Louisa was in terror and got up in her bed, thinking that he was mad. He began to laugh, and, waving his candle, he declaimed a scene from Molière. In the middle of a sentence he gurgled with laughter; he sat at the foot of his mother’s bed to take breath; the candle shook in his hand. Louisa was reassured, and scolded him forcibly:

"What is the matter with you? What is it? Go to bed…. My poor boy, are you going out of your senses?"

But he began again:

"You must listen to this!"

And he sat by her bedside and read the play, going back to the beginning again. He seemed to see Corinne; he heard her mocking tones, cutting and sonorous. Louisa protested:

"Go away! Go away! You will catch cold. How tiresome you are. Let me go to sleep!"

He went on relentlessly. He raised his voice, waved his arms, choked with laughter; and he asked his mother if she did not think it wonderful. Louisa turned her back on him, buried herself in the bedclothes, stopped her ears, and said:

"Do leave me alone!…"

But she laughed inwardly at hearing his laugh. At last she gave up protesting. And when Christophe had finished the act, and asked her, without eliciting any reply, if she did not think what he had read interesting, he bent over her and saw that she was asleep. Then he smiled, gently kissed her hair, and stole back to his own room.

* * * * *

He borrowed more and more books from the Reinharts’ library. There were all sorts of books in it. Christophe devoured them all. He wanted so much to love the country of Corinne and the unknown young woman. He had so much enthusiasm to get rid of that he found a use for it in his reading. Even in second-rate works there were sentences and pages which had the effect on him of a gust of fresh air. He exaggerated the effect, especially when he was talking to Frau Reinhart, who always went a little better than he. Although she was as ignorant as a fish, she delighted to contrast French and German culture and to decry the German to the advantage of the French, just to annoy her husband and to avenge herself for the boredom she had to suffer in the little town.

Reinhart was really amused. Notwithstanding his learning, he had stopped short at the ideas he had learned at school. To him the French were a clever people, skilled in practical things, amiable, talkative, but frivolous, susceptible, and boastful, incapable of being serious, or sincere, or of feeling strongly—a people without music, without philosophy, without poetry (except for l’Art Poétique, Béranger and François Coppée)—a people of pathos, much gesticulation, exaggerated speech, and pornography. There were not words strong enough for the denunciation—-of Latin Immorality; and for want of a better he always came back to frivolity, which for him, as for the majority of his compatriots, had a particularly unpleasant meaning. And he would end with the usual couplet in praise of the noble German people,—the moral people ("By that," Herder has said, "it is distinguished from all other nations.")—the faithful people (treues Volk … Treu meaning everything: sincere, faithful, loyal and upright)—the People par excellence, as Fichte says—German Force, the symbol of justice and truth—German thought—the German Gemüt—the German language, the only original language, the only language that, like the race itself, has preserved its purity—German women, German wine, German song … "Germany, Germany above everything in the world!"

Christophe would protest. Frau Reinhart would cry out. They would all shout. They did not get on the less for it. They knew quite well that they were all three good Germans.

Christophe used often to go and talk, dine and walk with his new friends. Lili Reinhart made much of him, and used to cook dainty suppers for him. She was delighted to have the excuse for satisfying her own greediness. She paid him all sorts of sentimental and culinary attentions. For Christophe’s birthday she made a cake, on which were twenty candles and in the middle a little wax figure in Greek costume which was supposed to represent Iphigenia holding a bouquet. Christophe, who was profoundly German in spite of himself, was touched by these rather blunt and not very refined marks of true affection.

The excellent Reinharts found other more subtle ways of showing their real friendship. On his wife’s instigation Reinhart, who could hardly read a note of music, had bought twenty copies of Christophe’s Lieder—(the first to leave the publisher’s shop)—he had sent them to different parts of Germany to university acquaintances. He had also sent a certain number to the libraries of Leipzig and Berlin, with which he had dealings through his classbooks. For the moment at least their touching enterprise, of which Christophe knew nothing, bore no fruit. The Lieder which had been scattered broadcast seemed to miss fire; nobody talked of them; and the Reinharts, who were hurt by this indifference, were glad they had not told Christophe about what they had done, for it would have given him more pain than consolation. But in truth nothing is lost, as so often appears in life; no effort is in vain. For years nothing happens. Then one day it appears that your idea has made its way. It was impossible to be sure that Christophe’s Lieder had not reached the hearts of a few good people buried in the country, who were too timid or too tired to tell him so.

One person wrote to him. Two or three months after the Reinharts had sent them, a letter came for Christophe. It was warm, ceremonious, enthusiastic, old-fashioned in form, and came from a little town in Thuringia, and was signed "Universitäts Musikdirektor Professor Dr. Peter Schulz."

It was a great joy for Christophe, and even greater for the Reinharts, when at their house he opened the letter, which he had left lying in his pocket for two days. They read it together. Reinhart made signs to his wife which Christophe did not notice. He looked radiant, until suddenly Reinhart saw his face grow gloomy, and he stopped dead in the middle of his reading.

"Well, why do you stop?" he asked.

(They used the familiar du.)

Christophe flung the letter on the table angrily.

"No. It is too much!" he said.

"What is?"


He turned away and went and sulked in a corner.

Reinhart and his wife read the letter, and could find in it only fervent admiration.

"I don’t see," he said in astonishment.

"You don’t see? You don’t see?…" cried Christophe, taking the letter and thrusting it in his face. "Can’t you read? Don’t you see that he is a ’Brahmin’"?

And then Reinhart noticed that in one sentence the Universitäts

Musikdirektor compared Christophe’s Lieder with those of Brahms.

Christophe moaned:

"A friend! I have found a friend at last!… And I have hardly found him when I have lost him!…"

The comparison revolted him. If they had let him, he would have replied with a stupid letter, or perhaps, upon reflection, he would have thought himself very prudent and generous in not replying at all. Fortunately, the Reinharts were amused by his ill-humor, and kept him from committing any further absurdity. They succeeded in making him write a letter of thanks. But the letter, written reluctantly, was cold and constrained. The enthusiasm of Peter Schulz was not shaken by it. He sent two or three more letters, brimming, over with affection. Christophe was not a good correspondent, and although he was a little reconciled to his unknown friend by the sincerity and real sympathy which he could feel behind his words, he let the correspondence drop. Schulz wrote no more. Christophe never thought about him.

* * * * *

He now saw the Reinharts every day and frequently several times a day. They spent almost all the evenings together. After spending the day alone in concentration he had a physical need of talking, of saying everything that was in his mind, even if he were not understood, and of laughing with or without reason, of expanding and stretching himself.

He played for them. Having no other means of showing his gratitude, he would sit at the piano and play for hours together. Frau Reinhart was no musician, and she had difficulty in keeping herself from yawning; but she sympathized with Christophe, and pretended to be interested in everything he played. Reinhart was not much more of a musician than his wife, but was sometimes touched quite materially by certain pieces of music, certain passages, certain bars, and then he would be violently moved sometimes even to tears, and that seemed silly to him. The rest of the time he felt nothing; it was just music to him. That was the general rule. He was never moved except by the least good passages of a composition—absolutely insignificant passages. Both of them persuaded themselves that they understood Christophe, and Christophe tried to pretend that it was so. Every now and then he would be seized by a wicked desire to make fun of them. He would lay traps for them and play things without any meaning, inapt potpourris; and he would let them think that he had composed them. Then, when they had admired it, he would tell them what it was. Then they would grow wary, and when Christophe played them a piece with an air of mystery, they would imagine that he was trying to catch them again, and they would criticise it. Christophe would let them go on and back them up, and argue that such music was worthless, and then he would break out:

"Rascals! You are right!… It is my own!" He would be as happy as a boy at having taken them in. Frau Reinhart would be cross and come and give him a little slap; but he would laugh so good-humoredly that they would laugh with him. They did not pretend to be infallible. And as they had no leg to stand on, Lili Reinhart would criticise everything and her husband would praise everything, and so they were certain that one or other of them would always be in agreement with Christophe.

For the rest, it was not so much the musician that attracted them in Christophe as the crack-brained boy, with his affectionate ways and true reality of life. The ill that they had heard spoken of him had rather disposed them in his favor. Like him, they were rather oppressed by the atmosphere of the little town; like him, they were frank, they judged for themselves, and they regarded him as a great baby, not very clever in the ways of life, and the victim of his own frankness.

Christophe was not under many illusions concerning his new friends, and it made him sad to think that they did not understand the depths of his character, and that they would never understand it. But he was so much deprived of friendship and he stood in such sore need of it, that he was infinitely grateful to them for wanting to like him a little. He had learned wisdom in his experiences of the last year; he no longer thought he had the right to be overwise. Two years earlier he would not have been so patient. He remembered with amusement and remorse his severe judgment of the honest and tiresome Eulers! Alas! How wisdom had grown in him! He sighed a little. A secret voice whispered: "Yes, but for how long?"

That made him smile and consoled him a little. What would he not have given to have a friend, one friend who would understand him and share his soul! But although he was still young he had enough experience of the world to know that his desire was one of those which are most difficult to realize in life, and that he could not hope to be happier than the majority of the true artists who had gone before him. He had learned the histories of some of them. Certain books, borrowed from the Reinharts, had told him about the terrible trials through which the German musicians of the seventeenth century had passed, and the calmness and resolution with which one of these great souls—the greatest of all, the heroic Schutz—had striven, as unshakably he went on his way in the midst of wars and burning towns, and provinces ravaged by the plague, with his country invaded, trampled underfoot by the hordes of all Europe, and—worst of all—broken, worn out, degraded by misfortune, making no fight, indifferent to everything, longing only for rest. He thought: "With such as example, what right has any man to complain? They had no audience, they had no future; they wrote for themselves and God. What they wrote one day would perhaps be destroyed by the next. And yet they went on writing and they were not sad. Nothing made them lose their intrepidity, their joviality. They were satisfied with their song; they asked nothing of life but to live, to earn their daily bread, to express their ideas, and to find a few honest men, simple, true, not artists, who no doubt did not understand them, but had confidence in them and won their confidence in return. How dared he have demanded more than they? There is a minimum of happiness which it is permitted to demand. But no man has the right to more; it rests with a man’s self to gain the surplus of happiness, not with others."

Such thoughts brought him new serenity, and he loved his good friends the Reinharts the more for them. He had no idea that even this affection was to be denied him.

* * * * *

He reckoned without the malevolence of small towns. They are tenacious in their spite—all the more tenacious because their spite is aimless. A healthy hatred which knows what it wants is appeased when it has achieved its end. But men who are mischievous from boredom never lay down their arms, for they are always bored. Christophe was a natural prey for their want of occupation. He was beaten without a doubt; but he was bold enough not to seem crushed. He did not bother anybody, but then he did not bother about anybody. He asked nothing. They were impotent against him. He was happy with his new friends and indifferent to anything that was said or thought of him. That was intolerable.—Frau Reinhart roused even more irritation. Her open friendship with Christophe in the face of the whole town seemed, like his attitude, to be a defiance of public opinion. But the good Lili Reinhart defied nothing and nobody. She had no thought to provoke others; she did what she thought fit without asking anybody else’s advice. That was the worst provocation.

All their doings were watched. They had no idea of it. He was extravagant, she scatter-brained, and both even wanting in prudence when they went out together, or even at home in the evening, when they leaned over the balcony talking and laughing. They drifted innocently into a familiarity of speech and manner which could easily supply food for calumny.

One morning Christophe received an anonymous letter. He was accused in basely insulting terms of being Frau Reinhart’s lover. His arms fell by his sides. He had never had the least thought of love or even of flirtation with her. He was too honest. He had a Puritanical horror of adultery. The very idea of such a dirty sharing gave him a physical and moral feeling of nausea. To take the wife of a friend would have been a crime in his eyes, and Lili Reinhart would have been the last person in the world with whom he could have been tempted to commit such an offense. The poor woman was not beautiful, and he would not have had even the excuse of passion.

He went to his friends ashamed and embarrassed. They also were embarrassed. Each of them had received a similar letter, but they had not dared to tell each other, and all three of them were on their guard and watched each other and dared not move or speak, and they just talked nonsense. If Lili Reinhart’s natural carelessness took the ascendant for a moment, or if she began to laugh and talk wildly, suddenly a look from her husband or Christophe would stop her dead; the letter would cross her mind; she would stop in the middle of a familiar gesture and grow uneasy. Christophe and Reinhart were in the same plight. And each of them was thinking: "Do the others know?"

However, they said nothing to each other and tried to go on as though nothing had happened.

But the anonymous letters went on, growing more and mores insulting and dirty. They were plunged into a condition of depression and intolerable shame. They hid themselves when they received the letters, and had not the strength to burn them unopened. They opened them with trembling hands, and as they unfolded the letters their hearts would sink; and when they read what they feared to read, with some new variation on the same theme—the injurious and ignoble inventions of a mind bent on causing a hurt—they wept in silence. They racked their brains to discover who the wretch might be who so persistently persecuted them..

One day Frau Reinhart, at the end of her letter, confessed the persecution of which she was the victim to her husband, and with tears in his eyes he confessed that he was suffering in the same way. Should they mention it to Christophe? They dared not. But they had to warn him to make him be cautious.—At the first words that Frau Reinhart said to him, with a blush, she saw to her horror that Christophe had also received letters. Such utter malignance appalled them. Frau Reinhart had no doubt that the whole town was in the secret. Instead of helping each other, they only undermined each other’s fortitude. They did not know what to do. Christophe talked of breaking somebody’s head. But whose? And besides, that would be to justify the calumny!… Inform the police of the letters?—That would make their insinuations public…—Pretend to ignore them? It was no longer possible. Their friendly relations were now disturbed. It was useless for Reinhart to have absolute faith in the honesty of his wife and Christophe. He suspected them in spite of himself. He felt that his suspicions were shameful and absurd, and tried hard not to pay any heed to them, and to leave Christophe and his wife alone together. But he suffered, and his wife saw that he was suffering.

It was even worse for her. She had never thought of flirting with Christophe, any more than he had thought of it with her. The calumnious letters brought her imperceptibly to the ridiculous idea that after all Christophe was perhaps in love with her; and although he was never anywhere near showing any such feeling for her, she thought she must defend herself, not by referring directly to it, but by clumsy precautions, which Christophe did not understand at first, though, when he did understand, he was beside himself. It was so stupid that it made him laugh and cry at the same time! He in love with the honest little woman, kind enough as she was, but plain and common!… And to think that she should believe it!… And that he could not deny it, and tell her and her husband:

"Come! There is no danger! Be calm!…" But no; he could not offend these good people. And besides, he was beginning to think that if she held out against being loved by him it was because she was secretly on the point of loving him. The anonymous letters had had the fine result of having given him so foolish and fantastic an idea.

The situation had become at once so painful and so silly that it was impossible for this to go on. Besides, Lili Reinhart, who, in spite of her brave words, had no strength of character, lost her head in the face of the dumb hostility of the little town. They made shamefaced excuses for not meeting:

"Frau Reinhart was unwell…. Reinhart was busy…. They were going away for a few days…."

Clumsy lies which were always unmasked by chance, which seemed to take a malicious pleasure in doing so.

Christophe was more frank, and said:

"Let us part, my friends. We are not strong enough."

The Reinharts wept.—But they were happier when the breach was made.

The town had its triumph. This time Christophe was quite alone. It had robbed him of his last breath of air:—the affection, however humble, without which no heart can live.