Jean-Christophe Chapter III DELIVERANCE

He had no one. All his friends had disappeared. His dear Gottfried, who had come to his aid in times of difficulty, and whom now he so sorely needed, had gone some months before. This time forever. One evening in the summer of the last year a letter in large handwriting, bearing the address of a distant village, had informed Louisa that her brother had died upon one of his vagabond journeys which the little peddler had insisted on making, in spite of his ill health. He was buried there in the cemetery of the place. The last manly and serene friendship which could have supported Christophe had been swallowed up. He was left alone with his old mother, who cared nothing for his ideas—could only love him and not understand him. About him was the immense plain of Germany, the green ocean. At every attempt to climb out of it he only slipped back deeper than ever. The hostile town watched him drown….

And as he was struggling a light flashed upon him in the middle of the night, the image of Hassler, the great musician whom he had loved so much when he was a child. His fame shone over all Germany now. He remembered the promises that Hassler had made him then. And he clung to this piece of wreckage in desperation. Hassler could save him! Hassler must save him! What was he asking? Not help, nor money, nor material assistance of any kind. Nothing but understanding. Hassler had been persecuted like him. Hassler was a free man. He would understand a free man, whom German mediocrity was pursuing with its spite and trying to crush. They were fighting the same battle.

He carried the idea into execution as soon as it occurred to him. He told his mother that he would be away for a week, and that very evening he took the train for the great town in the north of Germany where Hassler was Kapellmeister, He could not wait. It was a last effort to breathe.

* * * * *

Hassler was famous. His enemies had not disarmed, but his friends cried that he was the greatest musician, present, past and future. He was surrounded by partisans and detractors who were equally absurd. As he was not of a very firm character, he had been embittered by the last, and mollified by the first. He devoted his energy to writing things to annoy his critics and make them cry out. He was like an urchin playing pranks. These pranks were often in the most detestable taste. Not only did he devote his prodigious talent to musical eccentricities which made the hair of the pontiffs stand on end, but he showed a perverse predilection for queer themes, bizarre subjects, and often for equivocal and scabrous situations; in a word, for everything which could offend ordinary good sense and decency. He was quite happy when the people howled, and the people did not fail him. Even the Emperor, who dabbled in art, as every one knows, with the insolent presumption of upstarts and princes, regarded Hassler’s fame as a public scandal, and let no opportunity slip of showing his contemptuous indifference to his impudent works. Hassler was enraged and delighted by such august opposition, which had almost become a consecration for the advanced paths in German art, and went on smashing windows. At every new folly his friends went into ecstasies and cried that he was a genius.

Hassler’s coterie was chiefly composed of writers, painters, and decadent critics who certainly had the merit of representing the party of revolt against the reaction—always a menace in North Germany—of the pietistic spirit and State morality; but in the struggle the independence had been carried to a pitch of absurdity of which they were unconscious. For, if many of them were not lacking in a rude sort of talent, they had little intelligence and less taste. They could not rise above the fastidious atmosphere which they had created, and like all cliques, they had ended by losing all sense of real life. They legislated for themselves and hundreds of fools who read their reviews and gulped down everything they were pleased to promulgate. Their adulation had been fatal to Hassler, for it had made him too pleased with himself. He accepted without examination every musical idea that came into his head, and he had a private conviction, however he might fall below his own level, he was still superior to that of all other musicians. And though that idea was only too true in the majority of cases, it did not follow that it was a very fit state of mind for the creation of great works. At heart Hassler had a supreme contempt for everybody, friends and enemies alike; and this bitter jeering contempt was extended to himself and life in general. He was all the more driven back into his ironic skepticism because he had once believed in a number of generous and simple things. As he had not been strong enough to ward off the slow destruction of the passing of the days, nor hypocritical enough to pretend to believe in the faith he had lost, he was forever gibing at the memory of it. He was of a Southern German nature, soft and indolent, not made to resist excess of fortune or misfortune, of heat or cold, needing a moderate temperature to preserve its balance. He had drifted insensibly into a lazy enjoyment of life. He loved good food, heavy drinking, idle lounging, and sensuous thoughts. His whole art smacked of these things, although he was too gifted for the flashes of his genius not still to shine forth from his lax music which drifted with the fashion. No one was more conscious than himself of his decay. In truth, he was the only one to be conscious of it—at rare moments which, naturally, he avoided. Besides, he was misanthropic, absorbed by his fearful moods, his egoistic preoccupations, his concern about his health—he was indifferent to everything which had formerly excited his enthusiasm or hatred.

* * * * *

Such was the man to whom Christophe came for assistance, With what joy and hope he arrived, one cold, wet morning, in the town wherein then lived the man who symbolized for him the spirit of independence in his art! He expected words of friendship and encouragement from him—words that he needed to help him to go on with the ungrateful, inevitable battle which every true artist has to wage against the world until he breathes his last, without even for one day laying down his arms; for, as Schiller has said, "the only relation with the public of which a man never repents—is war."

Christophe was so impatient that he just left his bag at the first hotel he came to near the station, and then ran to the theater to find out Hassler’s address. Hassler lived some way from the center of the town, in one of the suburbs. Christophe took an electric train, and hungrily ate a roll. His heart thumped as he approached his goal.

The district in which Hassler had chosen his house was almost entirely built in that strange new architecture into which young Germany has thrown an erudite and deliberate barbarism struggling laboriously to have genius. In the middle of the commonplace town, with its straight, characterless streets, there suddenly appeared Egyptian hypogea, Norwegian chalets, cloisters, bastions, exhibition pavilions, pot-bellied houses, fakirs, buried in the ground, with expressionless faces, with only one enormous eye; dungeon gates, ponderous gates, iron hoops, golden cryptograms on the panes of grated windows, belching monsters over the front door, blue porcelain tiles plastered on in most unexpected places; variegated mosaics representing Adam and Eve; roofs covered with tiles of jarring colors; houses like citadels with castellated walls, deformed animals on the roofs, no windows on one side, and then suddenly, close to each other, gaping holes, square, red, angular, triangular, like wounds; great stretches of empty wall from which suddenly there would spring a massive balcony with one window—a balcony supported by Nibelungesque Caryatides, balconies from which there peered through the stone balustrade two pointed heads of old men, bearded and long-haired, mermen of Boecklin. On the front of one of these prisons—a Pharaohesque mansion, low and one-storied, with two naked giants at the gate—the architect had written:

Let the artist show his universe,

Which never was and yet will ever be.

Seine Welt zeige der Künstler,

Die niemals war noch jemals sein wird.

Christophe was absorbed by the idea of seeing Hassler, and looked with the eyes of amazement and under no attempt to understand. He reached the house he sought, one of the simplest—in a Carolingian style. Inside was rich luxury, commonplace enough. On the staircase was the heavy atmosphere of hot air. There was a small lift which Christophe did not use, as he wanted to gain time to prepare himself for his call by going up the four flights of stairs slowly, with his legs giving and his heart thumping with his excitement. During that short ascent his former interview with Hassler, his childish enthusiasm, the image of his grandfather were as clearly in his mind as though it had all been yesterday.

It was nearly eleven when he rang the bell. He was received by a sharp maid, with a serva padrona manner, who looked at him impertinently and began to say that "Herr Hassler could not see him, as Herr Hassler was tired." Then the naïve disappointment expressed in Christophe’s face amused her; for after making an unabashed scrutiny of him from head to foot, she softened suddenly and introduced him to Hassler’s study, and said she would go and see if Herr Hassler would receive him. Thereupon she gave him a little wink and closed the door.

On the walls were a few impressionist paintings and some gallant French engravings of the eighteenth century: for Hassler pretended to some knowledge of all the arts, and Manet and Watteau were joined together in his taste in accordance with the prescription of his coterie. The same mixture of styles appeared in the furniture, and a very fine Louis XV bureau was surrounded by new art armchairs and an oriental divan with a mountain of multi-colored cushions. The doors were ornamented with mirrors, and Japanese bric-a-brac covered the shelves and the mantelpiece, on which stood a bust of Hassler. In a bowl on a round table was a profusion of photographs of singers, female admirers and friends, with witty remarks and enthusiastic interjections. The bureau was incredibly untidy. The piano was open. The shelves were dusty, and half-smoked cigars were lying about everywhere.

In the next room Christophe heard a cross voice grumbling, It was answered by the shrill tones of the little maid. It was dear that Hassler was not very pleased at having to appear. It was clear, also, that the young woman had decided that Hassler should appear; and she answered him with extreme familiarity and her shrill voice penetrated the walls. Christophe was rather upset at hearing some of the remarks she made to her master. But Hassler did not seem to mind. On the contrary, it rather seemed as though her impertinence amused him; and while he went on growling, he chaffed the girl and took a delight in exciting her. At last Christophe heard a door open, and, still growling and chaffing, Hassler came shuffling.

He entered. Christophe’s heart sank. He recognized him. Would to God he had not! It was Hassler, and yet it was not he. He still had his great smooth brow, his face as unwrinkled as that of a babe; but he was bald, stout, yellowish, sleepy-looking; his lower lip drooped a little, his mouth looked bored and sulky. He hunched his shoulders, buried his hands in the pockets of his open waistcoat; old shoes flopped on his feet; his shirt was bagged above his trousers, which he had not finished buttoning. He looked at Christophe with his sleepy eyes, in which there was no light as the young man murmured his name. He bowed automatically, said nothing, nodded towards a chair, and with a sigh, sank down on the divan and piled the cushions about himself. Christophe repeated:

"I have already had the honor…. You were kind enough…. My name is

Christophe Krafft…."

Hassler lay back on the divan, with his legs crossed, his lands clasped together on his right knee, which he held up to his chin as he replied:

"I don’t remember."

Christophe’s throat went dry, and he tried to remind him of their former meeting. Under any circumstances it would have been difficult for him to talk of memories so intimate; now it was torture for him. He bungled his sentences, could not find words, said absurd things which made him blush. Hassler let him flounder on and never ceased to look at him with his vague, indifferent eyes. When Christophe had reached the end of his story, Hassler went on rocking his knee in silence for a moment, as though he were waiting for Christophe to go on. Then he said:

"Yes…. That does not make us young again…." and stretched his legs.

After a yawn he added:

"… I beg pardon…. Did not sleep…. Supper at the theater last night…." and yawned again.

Christophe hoped that Hassler would make some reference to what he had just told him, but Hassler, whom the story had not interested at all, said nothing about it, and he did not ask Christophe anything about his life. When he had done yawning he asked:

"Have you been in Berlin long?"

"I arrived this morning," said Christophe.

"Ah!" said Hassler, without any surprise. "What hotel?"

He did not seem to listen to the reply, but got up lazily and pressed an electric bell.

"Allow me," he said.

The little maid appeared with her impertinent manner.

"Kitty," said he, "are you trying to make me go without breakfast this morning?"

"You don’t think I am going to bring it here while you have some one with you?"

"Why not?" he said, with a wink and a nod in Christophe’s direction. "He feeds my mind: I must feed my body."

"Aren’t you ashamed to have some one watching you eat—like an animal in a menagerie?"

Instead of being angry, Hassler began to laugh and corrected her:

"Like a domestic animal," he went on. "But do bring it. I’ll eat my shame with it."

Christophe saw that Hassler was making no attempt to find out what he was doing, and tried to lead the conversation back. He spoke of the difficulties of provincial life, of the mediocrity of the people, the narrow-mindedness, and of his own isolation. He tried to interest him in his moral distress. But Hassler was sunk deep in the divan, with his head lying back on a cushion and his eyes half closed, and let him go on talking without even seeming to listen; or he would raise his eyelids for a moment and pronounce a few coldly ironical words, some ponderous jest at the expense of provincial people, which cut short Christophe’s attempts to talk more intimately. Kitty returned with the breakfast tray: coffee, butter, ham, etc. She put it down crossly on the desk in the middle of the untidy papers. Christophe waited until she had gone before he went on with his sad story which he had such difficulty in continuing. Hassler drew the tray towards himself. He poured himself out some coffee and sipped at it. Then in a familiar and cordial though rather contemptuous way he stopped Christophe in the middle of a sentence to ask if he would take a cup.

Christophe refused. He tried to pick up the thread of his sentence, but he was more and more nonplussed, and did not know what he was saying. He was distracted by the sight of Hassler with his plate under his chin, like a child, gorging pieces of bread and butter and slices of ham which he held in his fingers. However, he did succeed in saying that he composed, that he had had an overture in the Judith of Hebbel performed. Hassler listened absently.

"Was?" (What?) he asked.

Christophe repeated the title.

"Ach! So, so!" (Ah! Good, good!) said Hassler, dipping his bread and his fingers into his cup. That was all.

Christophe was discouraged and was on the point of getting up and going, but he thought of his long journey in vain, and summoning up all his courage he murmured a proposal that he should play some of his works to Hassler. At the first mention of it Hassler stopped him.

"No, no. I don’t know anything about it," he said, with his chaffing and rather insulting irony. "Besides, I haven’t the time."

Tears came to Christophe’s eyes. But he had vowed not to leave until he had Hassler’s opinion about his work. He said, with a mixture of confusion and anger:

"I beg your pardon, but you promised once to hear me. I came to see you for that from the other end of Germany. You shall hear me."

Hassler, who was not used to such ways, looked at the awkward young man, who was furious, blushing, and near tears. That amused him, and wearily shrugging his shoulders, he pointed to the piano, and said with an air of comic resignation:

"Well, then!… There you are!"

On that he lay back on his divan, like a man who is going to sleep, smoothed out his cushions, put them under his outstretched arms, half closed his eyes, opened them for a moment to take stock of the size of the roll of music which Christophe had brought from one of his pockets, gave a little sigh, and lay back to listen listlessly.

Christophe was intimidated and mortified, but he began to play. It was not long before Hassler opened his eyes and ears with the professional interest of the artist who is struck in spite of himself by a beautiful thing. At first he said nothing and lay still, but his eyes became less dim and his sulky lips moved. Then he suddenly woke up, growling his surprise and approbation. He only gave inarticulate interjections, but the form of them left no doubt as to his feelings, and they gave Christophe an inexpressible pleasure. Hassler forgot to count the number of pages that had been played and were left to be played. When Christophe had finished a piece, he said:

"Go on!… Go on!…"

He was beginning to use human language.

"That’s good! Good!" he exclaimed to himself. "Famous!… Awfully famous! (Schrecklich famos!) But, damme!" He growled in astonishment. "What is it?"

He had risen on his seat, was stretching for wind, making a trumpet with his hand, talking to himself, laughing with pleasure, or at certain odd harmonies, just putting out his tongue as though to moisten his lips. An unexpected modulation had such an effect on him that he got up suddenly with an exclamation, and came and sat at the piano by Christophe’s side. He did not seem to notice that Christophe was there. He was only concerned with the music, and when the piece was finished he took the book and began to read the page again, then the following pages, and went on ejaculating his admiration and surprise as though he had been alone in the room.

"The devil!" he said. "Where did the little beast find that?…"

He pushed Christophe away with his shoulders and himself played certain passages. He had a charming touch on the piano, very soft, caressing and light. Christophe noticed his fine long, well-tended hands, which were a little morbidly aristocratic and out of keeping with the rest. Hassler stopped at certain chords and repeated them, winking, and clicking with his tongue. He hummed with his lips, imitating the sounds of the instruments, and went on interspersing the music with his apostrophes in which pleasure and annoyance were mingled. He could not help having a secret initiative, an unavowed jealousy, and at the same time he greedily enjoyed it all.

Although he went on talking to himself as though Christophe did not exist, Christophe, blushing with pleasure, could not help taking Hassler’s exclamations to himself, and he explained what he had tried to do. At first Hassler seemed not to pay any attention to what the young man was saying, and went on thinking out loud; then something that Christophe said struck him and he was silent, with his eyes still fixed on the music, which he turned over as he listened without seeming to hear. Christophe grew more and more excited, and at last he plumped into confidence, and talked with naïve enthusiasm about his projects and his life.

Hassler was silent, and as he listened he slipped hack into his irony. He had let Christophe take the book from his hands; with his elbow on the rack of the piano and his hand on his forehead, he looked at Christophe, who was explaining; his work with youthful ardor and eagerness. And he smiled bitterly as he thought of his own beginning, his own hopes, and of Christophe’s hopes, and all the disappointments that lay in wait for him.

Christophe spoke with his eyes cast down, fearful of losing the thread of what he had to say. Hassler’s silence encouraged him. He felt that Hassler was watching him and not missing a word that he said, and he thought he had broken the ice between them, and he was glad at heart. When he had finished he shyly raised his head—confidently, too—and looked at Hassler. All the joy welling in him was frozen on the instant, like too early birds, when he saw the gloomy, mocking eyes that looked into his without kindness. He was silent.

After an icy moment, Hassler spoke dully. He had changed once more; he affected a sort of harshness towards the young man. He teased him cruelly about his plans, his hopes of success, as though he were trying to chaff himself, now that he had recovered himself. He set himself coldly to destroy his faith in life, his faith in art, his faith in himself. Bitterly he gave himself as an example, speaking of his actual works in an insulting fashion.

"Hog-waste!" he said. "That is what these swine want. Do you think there are ten people in the world who love music? Is there a single one?"

"There is myself!" said Christophe emphatically. Hassler looked at him, shrugged his shoulders, and said wearily:

"You will be like the rest. You will do as the rest have done. You will think of success, of amusing yourself, like the rest…. And you will be right…."

Christophe tried to protest, but Hassler cut him short; he took the music and began bitterly to criticise the works which he had first been praising, Not only did he harshly pick out the real carelessness, the mistakes in writing, the faults of taste or of expression which had escaped the young man, but he made absurd criticisms, criticisms which might have been made by the most narrow and antiquated of musicians, from which he himself, Hassler, had had to suffer all his life. He asked what was the sense of it all. He did not even criticise: he denied; it was as though he were trying desperately to efface the impression that the music had made on him in spite of himself.

Christophe was horrified and made no attempt to reply. How could he reply to absurdities which he blushed to hear on the lips of a man whom he esteemed and loved? Besides, Hassler did not listen to him. He stopped at that, stopped dead, with the book in his hands, shut; no expression in his eyes and his lips drawn down in bitterness. At last he said, as though he had once more forgotten Christophe’s presence:

"Ah! the worst misery of all is that there is not a single man who can understand you!"

Christophe was racked with emotion. He turned suddenly, laid his hand on

Hassler’s, and with love in his heart he repeated:

"There is myself!"

But Hassler did not move his hand, and if something stirred in his heart for a moment at that boyish cry, no light shone in his dull eyes, as they looked at Christophe. Irony and evasion were in the ascendant. He made a ceremonious and comic little bow in acknowledgment.

"Honored!" he said.

He was thinking:

"Do you, though? Do you think I have lost my life for you?"

He got up, threw the book on the piano, and went with his long spindle legs and sat on the divan again. Christophe had divined his thoughts and had felt the savage insult in them, and he tried proudly to reply that a man does not need to be understood by everybody; certain souls are worth a whole people; they think for it, and what they have thought the people have to think.—But Hassler did not listen to him. He had fallen back into his apathy, caused by the weakening of the life slumbering in him. Christophe, too sane to understand the sudden change, felt that he had lost. But he could not resign himself to losing after seeming to be so near victory. He made desperate efforts to excite Hassler’s attention once more. He took up his music book and tried to explain the reason, for the irregularities which Hassler had remarked. Hassler lay back on the sofa and preserved a gloomy silence. He neither agreed nor contradicted; he was only waiting for him to finish.

Christophe saw that there was nothing more to be done. He stopped short in the middle of a sentence. He rolled up his music and got up. Hassler got up, too. Christophe was shy and ashamed, and murmured excuses. Hassler bowed slightly, with a certain haughty and bored distinction, coldly held out his hand politely, and accompanied him to the door without a word of suggestion that he should stay or come again.

* * * * *

Christophe found himself in the street once more, absolutely crushed. He walked at random; he did not know where he was going. He walked down several streets mechanically, and then found himself at a station of the train by which he had come. He went back by it without thinking of what he was doing. He sank down on the seat with his arms and legs limp. It was impossible to think or to collect his ideas; he thought of nothing, he did not try to think. He was afraid to envisage himself. He was utterly empty. It seemed to him that there was emptiness everywhere about him in that town. He could not breathe in it. The mists, the massive houses stifled him. He had only one idea, to fly, to fly as quickly as possible,—as if by escaping from the town he would leave in it the bitter disillusion which he had found in it.

He returned to his hotel. It was half-past twelve. It was two hours since he had entered it,—with what a light shining in his heart! Now it was dead.

He took no lunch. He did not go up to his room. To the astonishment of the people of the hotel, he asked for his bill, paid as though he had spent the night there, and said that he was going. In vain did they explain to him that there was no hurry, that the train he wanted to go by did not leave for hours, and that he had much better wait in the hotel. He insisted on going to the station at once. He was like a child. He wanted to go by the first train, no matter which, and not to stay another hour in the place. After the long journey and all the expense he had incurred,—although he had taken his holiday not only to see Hassler, but the museums, and to hear concerts and to make certain acquaintances—he had only one idea in his head: To go….

He went back to the station. As he had been told, his train did not leave for three hours. And also the train was not express—(for Christophe had to go by the cheapest class)—stopped on the way. Christophe would have done better to go by the next train, which went two hours later and caught up the first. But that meant spending two more hours in the place, and Christophe could not bear it. He would not even leave the station while he was waiting.—A gloomy period of waiting in those vast and empty halls, dark and noisy, where strange shadows were going in and out, always busy, always hurrying; strange shadows who meant nothing to him, all unknown to him, not one friendly face. The misty day died down. The electric lamps, enveloped in fog, flushed the night and made it darker than ever. Christophe grew more and more depressed as time went on, waiting in agony for the time to go. Ten times an hour he went to look at the train indicators to make sure that he had not made a mistake. As he was reading them once more from end to end to pass the time, the name of a place caught his eye. He thought he knew it. It was only after a moment that he remembered that it was where old Schulz lived, who had written him such kind and enthusiastic letters. In his wretchedness the idea came to him of going to see his unknown friend. The town was not on the direct line on his way home, but a few hours away, by a little local line. It meant a whole night’s journey, with two or three changes and interminable waits. Christophe never thought about it. He decided suddenly to go. He had an instinctive need of clinging to sympathy of some sort. He gave himself no time to think, and telegraphed to Schulz to say that he would arrive next morning. Hardly had he sent the telegram than he regretted it. He laughed bitterly at his eternal illusions. Why go to meet a new sorrow?—But it was done now. It was too late to change his mind.

These thoughts filled his last hour of waiting—his train at last was ready. He was the first to get into it, and he was so childish that he only began to breathe again when the train shook, and through the carriage window he could see the outlines of the town fading into the gray sky under the heavy downpour of the night. He thought he must have died if he had spent the night in it.

At the very hour—about six in the evening—a letter from Hassler came for Christophe at his hotel. Christophe’s visit stirred many things in him. The whole afternoon he had been thinking of it bitterly, and not without sympathy for the poor boy who had come to him with such eager affection to be received so coldly. He was sorry for that reception and a little angry with himself. In truth, it had been only one of those fits of sulky whimsies to which he was subject. He thought to make it good by sending Christophe a ticket for the opera and a few words appointing a meeting after the performance—Christophe never knew anything about it. When he did not see him, Hassler thought:

"He is angry. So much the worse for him!"

He shrugged his shoulders and did not wait long for him.

Next day Christophe was far away—so far that all eternity would not have been enough to bring them together. And, they were both separated forever.

* * * * *

Peter Schulz was seventy-five. He had always had delicate health, and age had not spared him. He was fairly tail, but stooping, and his head hung down to his chest. He had a weak throat and difficulty in breathing. Asthma, catarrh, bronchitis were always upon him, and the marks of the struggles he had to make—many a night sitting up in his bed, bending forward, dripping with sweat in the effort to force a breath of air into his stifling lungs—were in the sorrowful lines on his long, thin, clean-shaven face. His nose was long and a little swollen at the top. Deep lines came from under his eyes and crossed his cheeks, that were hollow from his toothlessness. Age and infirmity had not been the only sculptors of that poor wreck of a man: the sorrows of life also had had their share in its making.—And in spite of all he was not sad. There was kindness and serenity in his large mouth. But in his eyes especially there was that which gave a touching softness to the old face. They were light gray, limpid, and transparent. They looked straight, calmly and frankly. They hid nothing of the soul. Its depths could be read in them.

His life had been uneventful. He had been alone for years. His wife was dead. She was not very good, or very intelligent, and she was not at all beautiful. But he preserved a tender memory of her. It was twenty-five years since he had lost her, and he had never once failed a night to have a little imaginary conversation, sad and tender, with her before he went to sleep. He shared all his doings with her.—He had had no children. That was the great sorrow of his life. He had transferred his need of affection to his pupils, to whom he was attached as a father to his sons. He had found very little return. An old heart can feel very near to a young heart and almost of the same age; knowing how brief are the years that lie between them. But the young man never has any idea of that. To him an old man is a man of another age, and besides, he is absorbed by his immediate anxieties and instinctively turns away from the melancholy end of all his efforts. Old Schulz had sometimes found gratitude in his pupils who were touched by the keen and lively interest he took in everything good or ill that happened to them. They used to come and see him from time to time. They used to write and thank him when they left the university. Some of them used to go on writing occasionally during the years following. And then old Schulz would hear nothing more of them except in the papers which kept him informed of their advancement, and he would be as glad of their success as though it was his own. He was never hurt by their silence. He found a thousand excuses for it. He never doubted their affection and used to ascribe even to the most selfish the feelings that he had for them.

But his books were his greatest refuge. They neither forgot nor deceived him. The souls which he cherished in them had risen above the flood of time. They were inscrutable, fixed for eternity in the love they inspired and seemed to feel, and gave forth once more to those who loved them. He was Professor of Æsthetics and the History of Music, and he was like an old wood quivering with the songs of birds. Some of these songs sounded very far away. They came from the depths of the ages. But they were not the least sweet and mysterious of all.—Others were familiar and intimate to him, dear companions; their every phrase reminded him of the joys and sorrows of his past life, conscious or unconscious:—(for under every day lit by the light of the sun there are unfolded other days lit by a light unknown)—And there were some songs that he had never yet heard, songs which said the things that he had been long awaiting and needing; and his heart opened to receive them like the earth to receive rain. And so old Schulz listened, in the silence of his solitary life, to the forest filled with birds, and, like the monk of the legend, who slept in the ecstasy of the song of the magic bird, the years passed over him and the evening of life was come, but still he had the heart of a boy of twenty.

He was not only rich in music. He loved the poets—old and new. He had a predilection for those of his own country, especially for Goethe; but he also loved those of other countries. He was a learned man and could read several languages. In mind he was a contemporary of Herder and the great Weltbürger—the "citizens of the world" of the end of the eighteenth century. He had lived through the years of bitter struggle which preceded and followed seventy, and was immersed in their vast idea. And although he adored Germany, he was not "vainglorious" about it. He thought, with Herder, that "among all vainglorious men, he who is vainglorious of his nationality is the completest fool," and, with Schiller, that "it is a poor ideal only to write for one nation." And he was timid of mind, but his heart was large, and ready to welcome lovingly everything beautiful in the world. Perhaps he was too indulgent with mediocrity; but his instinct never doubted as to what was the best; and if he was not strong enough to condemn the sham artists admired by public opinion, he was always strong enough to defend the artists of originality and power whom public opinion disregarded. His kindness often led him astray. He was fearful of committing any injustice, and when he did not like what others liked, he never doubted but that it must be he who was mistaken, and he would manage to love it. It was so sweet to him to love! Love and admiration were even more necessary to his moral being than air to his miserable lungs. And so how grateful he was to those who gave him a new opportunity of showing them!—Christophe could have no idea of what his Lieder had been to him. He himself had not felt them nearly so keenly when he had written them. His songs were to him only a few sparks thrown out from his inner fire. He had cast them forth and would cast forth others. But to old Schulz they were a whole world suddenly revealed to him—a whole world to be loved. His life had been lit up by them.

* * * * *

A year before he had had to resign his position at the university. His health, growing more and more precarious, prevented his lecturing. He was ill and in bed when Wolf’s Library had sent him as usual a parcel of the latest music they had received, and in it were Christophe’s Lieder. He was alone. He was without relatives. The few that he had had were long since dead. He was delivered into the hands of an old servant, who profited by his weakness to make him do whatever she liked. A few friends hardly younger than himself used to come and see him from time to time, but they were not in very good health either, and when the weather was bad they too stayed indoors and missed their visits. It was winter then and the streets were covered with melting snow. Schulz had not seen anybody all day. It was dark in the room. A yellow fog was drawn over the windows like a screen, making it impossible to see out. The heat of the stove was thick and oppressive. From the church hard by an old peal of bells of the seventeenth century chimed every quarter of an hour, haltingly and horribly out of tune, scraps of monotonous chants, which seemed grim in their heartiness to Schulz when he was far from gay himself. He was coughing, propped up by a heap of pillows. He was trying to read Montaigne, whom he loved; but now he did not find as much pleasure in reading him as usual. He let the book fall, and was breathing with difficulty and dreaming. The parcel of music was on the bed. He had not the courage to open it. He was sad at heart. At last he sighed, and when he had very carefully untied the string, he put on his spectacles and began to read the pieces of music. His thoughts were elsewhere, always returning to memories which he was trying to thrust aside.

The book he was holding was Christophe’s. His eyes fell on an old canticle the words of which Christophe had taken from a simple, pious poet of the seventeenth century, and had modernized them. The Christliches Wanderlied (The Christian Wanderer’s Song) of Paul Gerhardt.

_Hoff! O du arme Seele,

Hoff! und sei unverzagt.

Enwarte nur der Zeit,

So wirst du schon erblicken

Die Sonne der schönsten Freud._

Hope, oh! thou wretched soul,

Hope, hope and be valiant!

* * * * *

Only wait then, wait,

And surely thou shalt see

The sun of lovely Joy.

Old Schulz knew the ingenuous words, but never had they so spoken to him, never so nearly…. It was not the tranquil piety, soothing and lulling the soul by its monotony. It was a soul like his own. It was his own soul, but younger and stronger, suffering, striving to hope, striving to see, and seeing, Joy. His hands trembled, great tears trickled down his cheeks. He read on:

Auf! Auf! gieb deinem Schmerze

Und Sorgen gute Nacht!

Lass fahren was das Herze

Betrübt und traurig macht!

Up! Up! and give thy sorrow

And all thy cares good-night;

And all that grieves and saddens

Thy heart be put to flight.

Christophe brought to these thoughts a boyish and valiant ardor, and the heroic laughter in it showed forth in the last naïve and confident verses:

Bist du doch nicht Regente,

Der alles führen, soll,

Gott sitzt im Regimente,

Und führet alles wohl.

Not thou thyself art ruler

Whom all things must obey,

But God is Lord decreeing—

All follows in His way.

And when there came the superbly defiant stanzas which in his youthful barbarian insolence he had calmly plucked from their original position in the poem to form the conclusion of his Lied:

_Und obgleich alle Teufel

Hier wollten wiederstehn,

So wird doch ohne Zweifel,

Gott nicht zurücke gehn.

Was er ihm vorgenommen,

Und was er haben will,

Das muss doch endlich Rommen

Zu seinem Zweck und Ziel._

And even though all Devils

Came and opposed his will,

There were no cause for doubting,

God will be steadfast still:

What He has undertaken,

All His divine decree—

Exactly as He ordered

At last shall all things be.

… then there were transports of delight, the intoxication of war, the triumph of a Roman Imperator.

The old man trembled all over. Breathlessly he followed the impetuous music like a child dragged along by a companion. His heart beat. Tears trickled down. He stammered:

"Oh! My God!… Oh! My God!…"

He began to sob and he laughed; he was happy. He choked. He was attacked by a terrible fit of coughing. Salome, the old servant, ran to him, and she thought the old man was going to die. He went on crying, and coughing, and saying over and over again:

"Oh! My God!… My God!…"

And in the short moments of respite between the fits of coughing he laughed a little hysterically.

Salome thought he was going mad. When at last she understood the cause of his agitation, she scolded him sharply:

"How can anybody get into such a state over a piece of foolery!… Give it me! I shall take it away. You shan’t see it again."

But the old man held firm, in the midst of his coughing, and he cried to Salome to leave him alone. As she insisted, he grew angry, swore, and choked himself with his oaths. Never had she known him to be angry and to stand out against her. She was aghast and surrendered her prize. But she did not mince her words with him. She told him he was an old fool and said that hitherto she had thought she had to do with a gentleman, but that now she saw her mistake; that he said things which would make a plowman blush, that his eyes were starting from his head, and if they had been pistols would have killed her…. She would have gone on for a long time in that strain if he had not got up furiously on his pillow and shouted at her:

"Go!" in so peremptory a voice that she went, slamming the door and declaring that he might call her as much as he liked, only she would not put herself out and would leave him alone to kick the bucket.

Then silence descended upon the darkening room. Once more the bells pealed placidly and grotesquely through the calm evening. A little ashamed of his anger, old Schulz was lying on his back, motionless, waiting, breathless, for the tumult in his heart to die down. He was clasping the precious Lieder to his breast and laughing like a child.

* * * * *

He spent the following days of solitude in a sort of ecstasy. He thought no more of his illness, of the winter, of the gray light, or of his loneliness. Everything was bright and filled with love about him. So near to death, he felt himself living again in the young soul of an unknown friend.

He tried to imagine Christophe. He did not see him as anything like what he was. He saw him rather as an idealized version of himself, as he would have liked to be: fair, slim, with blue eyes, and a gentle, quiet voice, soft, timid and tender. He idealized everything about him: his pupils, his neighbors, his friends, his old servant. His gentle, affectionate disposition and his want of the critical faculty—in part voluntary, so as to avoid any disturbing thought—surrounded him with serene, pure images like himself. It was the kindly lying which he needed if he were to live. He was not altogether deceived by it, and often in his bed at night he would sigh as he thought of a thousand little things which had happened during the day to contradict his idealism. He knew quite well that old Salome used to laugh at him behind his back with her gossips, and that she used to rob him regularly every week. He knew that his pupils were obsequious with him while they had need of him, and that after they had received all the services they could expect from him they deserted him. He knew that his former colleagues at the university had forgotten him altogether since he had retired, and that his successor attacked him in his articles, not by name, but by some treacherous allusion, and by quoting some worthless thing that he had said or by pointing out his mistakes—(a procedure very common in the world of criticism). He knew that his told friend Kunz had lied to him that very afternoon, and that he would never see again the books which his other friend, Pottpetschmidt, had borrowed for a few days,—which was hard for a man who, like himself, was as attached to his books as to living people. Many other sad things, old or new, would come to him. He tried not to think of them, but they were there all the same. He was conscious of them. Sometimes the memory of them would pierce him like some rending sorrow.

"Oh! My God! My God!…"

He would groan in the silence of the night.—And then fee would discard such hurtful thoughts; he would deny them; he would try to be confident, and optimistic, and to believe in human truth; and he would believe. How often had his illusions been brutally destroyed!—But always others springing into life, always, always…. He could not do without them.

The unknown Christophe became a fire of warmth to his life. The first cold, ungracious letter which he received from him would have hurt him—(perhaps it did so)—but he would not admit it, and it gave him a childish joy. He was so modest and asked so little of men that the little he received from them was enough to feed his need of loving and being grateful to them. To see Christophe was a happiness which he had never dared to hope for, for he was too old now to journey to the banks of the Rhine, and as for asking Christophe to come to him, the idea had never even occurred to him.

Christophe’s telegram reached him in the evening, just as he was sitting down to dinner. He did not understand at first. He thought he did not know the signature. He thought there was some mistake, that the telegram was not for him. He read it three times. In his excitement his spectacles would not stay on his nose. The lamp gave a very bad light, and the letters danced before his eyes. When he did understand he was so overwhelmed that he forgot to eat. In vain did Salome shout at him. He could not swallow a morsel. He threw his napkin on the table, unfolded,—a thing he never did. He got up, hobbled to get his hat and stick, and went out. Old Schulz’s first thought on receiving such good news was to go and share it with others, and to tell his friends of Christophe’s coming.

He had two friends who were music mad like himself, and he had succeeded in making them share his enthusiasm for Christophe. Judge Samuel Kunz and the dentist, Oscar Pottpetschmidt, who was an excellent singer. The three old friends had often talked about Christophe, and they had played all his music that they could find. Pottpetschmidt sang, Schulz accompanied, and Kunz listened. They would go into ecstasies for hours together. How often had they said while they were playing:

"Ah! If only Krafft were here!"

Schulz laughed to himself in the street for the joy he had and was going to give. Night was falling, and Kunz lived in a little village half an hour away from the town. But the sky was clear; it was a soft April evening. The nightingales were singing. Old Schulz’s heart was overflowing with happiness. He breathed without difficulty, he walked like a boy. He strode along gleefully, without heeding the stones against which he kicked in the darkness. He turned blithely into the side of the road when carts came along, and exchanged a merry greeting with the drivers, who looked at him in astonishment when the lamps showed the old man climbing up the bank of the road.

Night was fully come when he reached Kunz’s house, a little way out of the village in a little garden. He drummed on the door and shouted at the top of his voice. A window was opened and Kunz appeared in alarm. He peered through the door and asked:

"Who is there? What is it?"

Schulz was out of breath, but he called gladly:

"Krafft—Krafft is coming to-morrow…." Kunz did not understand; but he recognized the voice:

"Schulz!… What! At this hour? What is it?" Schulz repeated:

"To-morrow, he is coming to-morrow morning!…’

"What?" asked Kunz, still mystified.

"Krafft!" cried Schulz.

Kunz pondered the word for a moment; then a loud exclamation showed that he had understood.

"I am coming down!" he shouted.

The window was closed. He appeared on the steps with a lamp in his hand and came down into the garden. He was a little stout old man, with a large gray head, a red beard, red hair on his face and hands. He took little steps and he was smoking a porcelain pipe. This good natured, rather sleepy little man had never worried much about anything. For all that, the news brought by Schulz excited him; he waved his short arms and his lamp and asked:

"What? Is it him? Is he really coming?"

"To-morrow morning!" said Schulz, triumphantly waving the telegram.

The two old friends went and sat on a seat in the arbor. Schulz took the lamp. Kunz carefully unfolded the telegram and read it slowly in a whisper. Schulz read it again aloud over his shoulder. Kunz went on looking at the paper, the marks on the telegram, the time when it had been sent, the time when it had arrived, the number of words. Then he gave the precious paper back to Schulz, who was laughing happily, looked at him and wagged his head and said:

"Ah! well … Ah! well!…"

After a moment’s thought and after drawing in and expelling a cloud of tobacco smoke he put his hand on Schulz’s knee and said:

"We must tell Pottpetschmidt."

"I was going to him," said Schulz.

"I will go with you," said Kunz.

He went in and put down his lamp and came back immediately. The two old men went on arm in arm. Pottpetschmidt lived at the other end of the village. Schulz and Kunz exchanged a few absent words, but they were both pondering the news. Suddenly Kunz stopped and whacked on the ground with his stick:

"Oh! Lord!" he said…. "He is away!"

He had remembered that Pottpetschmidt had had to go away that afternoon for an operation at a neighboring town where he had to spend the night and stay a day or two. Schulz was distressed. Kunz was equally put out. They were proud of Pottpetschmidt; they would have liked to show him off. They stood in the middle of the road and could not make up their minds what to do.

"What shall we do? What shall we do?" asked Kunz.

"Krafft absolutely must hear Pottpetschmidt," said Schulz.

He thought for a moment and said:

"We must sent him a telegram."

They went to the post office and together they composed a long and excited telegram of which it was very difficult to understand a word, Then they went back. Schulz reckoned:

"He could be here to-morrow morning if he took the first train."

But Kunz pointed out that it was too late and that the telegram would not be sent until the morning. Schulz nodded, and they said:

"How unfortunate!"

They parted at Kunz’s door; for in spite of his friendship for Schulz it did not go so far as to make him commit the imprudence of accompanying Schulz outside the village, and even to the end of the road by which he would have had to come back alone in the dark. It was arranged that Kunz should dine on the morrow with Schulz. Schulz looked anxiously at the sky:

"If only it is fine to-morrow!"

And his heart was a little lighter when Kunz, who was supposed to have a wonderful knowledge of meteorology, looked gravely at the sky—(for he was no less anxious than Schulz that Christophe should see their little countryside in all its beauty)—and said:

"It will be fine to-morrow."

* * * * *

Schulz went along the road to the town and came to it not without having stumbled more than once in the ruts and the heaps of stones by the wayside. Before he went home he called in at the confectioner’s to order a certain tart which was the envy of the town. Then he went home, but just as he was going in he turned back to go to the station to find out the exact time at which the train arrived. At last he did go home and called Salome and discussed at length the dinner for the morrow. Then only he went to bed worn out; but he was as excited as a child on Christmas Eve, and all night he turned about and about and never slept a wink. About one o’clock in the morning he thought of getting up to go and tell Salome to cook a stewed carp for dinner; for she was marvelously successful with that dish. He did not tell her; and it was as well, no doubt. But he did get up to arrange all sorts of things in the room he meant to give Christophe; he took a thousand precautions so that Salome should not hear him, for he was afraid of being scolded. All night long he was afraid of missing the train although Christophe could not arrive before eight o’clock. He was up very early. He first looked at the sky; Kunz had not made a mistake; it was glorious weather. On tiptoe Schulz went down to the cellar; he had not been there for a long time, fearing the cold and the steep stairs; he selected his best wines, knocked his head hard against the ceiling as he came up again, and thought he was going to choke when he reached the top of the stairs with his full basket. Then he went to the garden with his shears; ruthlessly he cut his finest roses and the first branches of lilac in flower. Then he went up to his room again, shaved feverishly, and cut himself more than once. He dressed carefully and set out for the station. It was seven o’clock. Salome had not succeeded in making him take so much as a drop of milk, for he declared that Christophe would not have had breakfast when he arrived and that they would have breakfast together when they came from the station.

He was at the station three-quarters of an hour too soon. He waited and waited for Christophe and finally missed him. Instead of waiting patiently at the gate he went on to the platform and lost his head in the crowd of people coming and going. In spite of the exact information of the telegram he had imagined, God knows why, that Christophe would arrive by a different train from that which brought him; and besides it had never occurred to him that Christophe would get out of a fourth-class carriage. He stayed on for more than half an hour waiting at the station, when Christophe, who had long since arrived, had gone straight to his house. As a crowning misfortune Salome had just gone out to do her shopping; Christophe found the door shut. The woman next door whom Salome had told to say, in case any one should ring, that she would soon be back, gave the message without any addition to it. Christophe, who had not come to see Salome and did not even know who she was, thought it a very bad joke; he asked if Herr Universitäts Musikdirektor Schulz was not at home. He was told "Yes," but the woman could not tell him where he was. Christophe was furious and went away.

When old Schulz came back with a face an ell long and learned from Salome, who had just come in too, what had happened he was in despair; he almost wept. He stormed at his servant for her stupidity in going out while he was away and not having even given instructions that Christophe was to be kept waiting. Salome replied in the same way that she could not imagine that he would be so foolish as to miss a man whom he had gone to meet. But the old man did not stay to argue with her; without losing a moment he hobbled out of doors again and went off to look for Christophe armed with the very vague clues given him by his neighbors.

Christophe had been offended at finding nobody and not even a word of excuse. Not knowing what to do until the next train he went and walked about the town and the fields, which, he thought very pretty. It was a quiet reposeful little town sheltered between gently sloping hills; there were gardens round the houses, cherry-trees and flowers, green lawns, beautiful shady trees, pseudo-antique ruins, white busts of bygone princesses on marble columns in the midst of the trees, with gentle and pleasing faces. All about the town were meadows, and hills. In the flowering trees blackbirds whistled joyously, for many little orchestras of flutes gay and solemn. It was not long before Christophe’s ill-humor vanished; he forgot Peter Schulz.

The old man rushed vainly through the streets questioning people; he went up to the old castle on the hill above the town, and was coming back in despair when, with his keen, far-sighted eyes, he saw some distance away a man lying in a meadow in the shade of a thorn. He did not know Christophe; he had no means of being sure that it was he. Besides, the man’s back was turned towards him and his face was half hidden in the grass. Schulz prowled along the road and about the meadow with his heart beating:

"It is he … No, it is not he…"

He dared not call to him. An idea struck him; he began to sing the last bars of Christophe’s Lied:

"Auf! Auf!…" (Up! Up!…)

Christophe rose to it like a fish out of the water and shouted the following bars at the top of his voice. He turned gladly. His face was red and there was grass in his hair. They called to each other by name and ran together. Schulz strode across the ditch by the road; Christophe leaped the fence. They shook hands warmly and went back to the house laughing and talking loudly. The old man told how he had missed him. Christophe, who a moment before had decided to go away without making any further attempt to see Schulz, was at once conscious of his kindness and simplicity and began to love him. Before they arrived they had already confided many things to each other.

When they reached the house they found Kunz, who, having learned that Schulz had gone to look for Christophe, was waiting quietly. They were given café au lait. But Christophe said that he had breakfasted at an inn. The old man was upset; it was a real grief to him that Christophe’s first meal in the place should not have been in his house; such small things were of vast importance to his fond heart. Christophe, who understood him, was amused by it secretly, and loved him the more for it. And to console him he assured him that he had appetite enough for two breakfasts; and he proved his assertion.

All his troubles had gone from his mind; he felt that he was among true friends and he began to recover. He told them about his journey and his rebuffs in a humorous way; he looked like a schoolboy on holiday. Schulz beamed and devoured him with his eyes and laughed heartily.

It was not long before conversation turned upon the secret bond that united the three of them: Christophe’s music. Schulz was longing to hear Christophe play some of his compositions; but he dared not ask him to do so. Christophe was striding about the room and talking. Schulz watched him whenever he went near the open piano; and he prayed inwardly that he might stop at it. The same thought was in Kunz. Their hearts beat when they saw him sit down mechanically on the piano stool, without stopping talking, and then without looking at the instrument run his fingers over the keys at random. As Schulz expected hardly had Christophe struck a few arpeggios than the sound took possession of him; he went on striking chords and still talking; then there came whole phrases; and then he stopped talking and began to play. The old men exchanged a meaning glance, sly and happy.

"Do you know that?" asked Christophe, playing one of his Lieder.

"Do I know it?" said Schulz delightedly. Christophe said without stopping, half turning his head:

"Euh! It is not very good. Your piano!" The old man was very contrite. He begged pardon:

"It is old," he said humbly. "It is like myself." Christophe turned round and looked at the old man, who seemed to be asking pardon for his age, took both his hands, and laughed. He looked into his honest eyes:

"Oh!" he said, "you are younger than I." Schulz laughed aloud and spoke of his old body and his infirmities.

"Ta, ta, ta!" said Christophe, "I don’t mean that; I know what I am saying.

It is true, isn’t it, Kunz?"

(They had already suppressed the "Herr.")

Kunz agreed emphatically.

Schulz tried to find the same indulgence for his piano. "It has still some beautiful notes," he said timidly.

And he touched them-four or five notes that were fairly true, half an octave in the middle register of the instrument, Christophe understood that it was an old friend and he said kindly,—thinking of Schulz’s eyes:

"Yes. It still has beautiful eyes."

Schulz’s face lit up. He launched out on an involved eulogy of his old piano, but he dropped immediately, for Christophe had begun to play again. Lieder followed Lieder; Christophe sang them softly. With tears in his eyes Schulz followed his every movement. With his hands folded on his stomach Kunz closed his eyes the better to enjoy it. From time to time Christophe turned beaming towards the two old men who were absolutely delighted, and he said with a naïve enthusiasm at which they never thought of laughing:

"Hein! It is beautiful I… And this! What do you say about this?… And this again!… This is the most beautiful of all…. Now I will play you something which will make your hair curl…."

As he was finishing a dreamy fragment the cuckoo clock began to call. Christophe started and shouted angrily. Kunz was suddenly awakened and rolled his eyes fearfully. Even Schulz did not understand at first. Then when he saw Christophe shaking his fist at the calling bird and shouting to someone in the name of Heaven to take the idiot and throw it away, the ventriloquist specter, he too discovered for the first time in his life that the noise was intolerable; and he took a chair and tried to mount it to take down the spoil-sport. But he nearly fell and Kunz would not let him try again; he called Salome. She came without hurrying herself, as usual, and was staggered to find the clock thrust into her hands, which Christophe in his impatience had taken down himself.

"What am I to do with it?" she asked.

"Whatever you like. Take it away! Don’t let us see it again!" said Schulz, no less impatient than Christophe.

(He wondered how he could have borne such a horror for so long.)

Salome thought that they were surely all cracked.

The music went on. Hours passed. Salome came and announced that dinner was served. Schulz bade her be silent. She came again ten minutes later, then once again, ten minutes after that; this time she was beside herself and boiling with rage while she tried to look unperturbed; she stood firmly in, the middle of the room and in spite of Schulz’s desperate gestures she asked in a brazen voice:

"Do the gentlemen prefer to eat their dinner cold or burned? It does not matter to me. I only await your orders."

Schulz was confused by her scolding and tried to retort; but Christophe burst out laughing. Kunz followed his example and at length Schulz laughed too. Salome, satisfied with the effect she had produced, turned on her heels with the air of a queen who is graciously pleased to pardon her repentant subjects.

"That’s a good creature!" said Christophe, getting up from the piano. "She is right. There is nothing so intolerable as an audience arriving in the middle of a concert."

They sat at table. There was an enormous and delicious repast. Schulz had touched Salome’s vanity and she only asked an excuse to display her art. There was no lack of opportunity for her to exercise it. The old friends were tremendous feeders. Kunz was a different man at table; he expanded like a sun; he would have done well as a sign for a restaurant. Schulz was no less susceptible to good cheer; but his ill health imposed more restraint upon him. It is true that generally he did not pay much heed to that; and he had to pay for it. In that event he did not complain, if he were ill at least he knew why. Like Kunz he had recipes of his own handed down from father to son for generations. Salome was accustomed therefore to work for connoisseurs. But on this occasion, she had contrived to include all her masterpieces in one menu; it was like an exhibition of the unforgettable cooking of Germany, honest and unsophisticated, with all the scents of all the herbs, and thick sauces, substantial soups, perfect stews, wonderful carp, sauerkraut, geese, plain cakes, aniseed and caraway seed bread. Christophe was in raptures with his mouth full, and he ate like an ogre; he had the formidable capacity of his father and grandfather, who would have devoured a whole goose. But he could live just as well for a whole week on bread and cheese, and cram when occasion served. Schulz was cordial and ceremonious and watched him with kind eyes, and plied him with all the wines of the Rhine. Kunz was shining and recognized him as a brother. Salome’s large face was beaming happily. At first she had been deceived when Christophe came. Schulz had spoken about him so much beforehand that she had fancied him as an Excellency, laden with letters and honors. When she saw him she cried out:

"What! Is that all?"

But at table Christophe won her good graces; she had never seen anybody so splendidly do justice to her talent. Instead of going back to her kitchen she stayed by the door to watch Christophe, who was saying all sorts of absurd things without missing a bite, and with her hands on her hips she roared with laughter. They were all glad and happy. There vas only one shadow over their joy: the absence of Pottpetschmidt. They often returned to it.

"Ah! If he were here! How he would eat! How he would drink! How he would sing!"

Their praises of him were inexhaustible.

"If only Christophe could see him!… But perhaps he would be able to. Perhaps Pottpetschmidt would return in the evening, on that night at latest…."

"Oh! I shall be gone to-night," said Christophe.

A shadow passed over Schulz’s beaming face.

"What! Gone!" he said in a trembling voice. "But you are not going."

"Oh, yes," said Christophe gaily. "I must catch the train to-night."

Schulz was in despair. He had counted on Christophe spending the night, perhaps several nights, in his house. He murmured:

"No, no. You can’t go!…"

Kunz repeated:

"And Pottpetschmidt!…"

Christophe looked at the two of them; he was touched by the dismay on their kind friendly faces and said:

"How good you are!… If you like I will go to-morrow morning."

Schulz took him by the hand.

"Ah!" he said. "How glad I am! Thank you! Thank you!"

He was like a child to whom to-morrow seems so far, so far, that it will not bear thinking on. Christophe was not going to-day; to-day was theirs; they would spend the whole evening together; he would sleep under his roof; that was all that Schulz saw; he would not look further.

They became merry again. Schulz rose suddenly, looked very solemn, and excitedly and slowly proposed the toast of their guest, who had given him the immense joy and honor of visiting the little town and his humble house; he drank to his happy return, to his success, to his glory, to every happiness in the world, which with all his heart he wished him. And then he proposed another toast "to noble music,"—another to his old friend Kunz,—another to spring,—and he did not forget Pottpetschmidt. Kunz in his turn drank to Schulz and the others, and Christophe, to bring the toasts to an end, proposed the health of dame Salome, who blushed crimson. Upon that, without giving the orators time to reply, he began a familiar song which the two old men took up; after that another, and then another for three parts which was all about friendship and music and wine; the whole was accompanied by loud laughter and the clink of glasses continually touching.

It was half-past three when they got up from the table. They were rather drowsy. Kunz sank into a chair; he was longing to have a sleep. Schulz’s legs were worn out by his exertions of the morning and by standing for his toasts. They both hoped that Christophe would sit at the piano again and go on playing for hours. But the terrible boy, who was in fine form, first struck two or three chords on the piano, shut it abruptly, looked out of the window, and asked if they could not go for a walk until supper. The country attracted him. Kunz showed little enthusiasm, but Schulz at once thought it an excellent idea and declared that he must show their guest the walk round the Schönbuchwälder. Kunz made a face; but he did not protest and got up with the others; he was as desirous as Schulz of showing Christophe the beauties of the country.

They went out. Christophe took Schulz’s arm and made him walk a little faster than the old man liked. Kunz followed mopping his brow. They talked gaily. The people standing at their doors watched them pass and thought that Herr Professor Schulz looked like a young man. When they left the town they took to the fields. Kunz complained of the heat. Christophe was merciless and declared that the air was exquisite. Fortunately for the two old men, they stopped frequently to argue and they forgot the length of the walk in their conversation. They went into the woods. Schulz recited verses of Goethe and Mörike. Christophe loved poetry, but he could not remember any, and while he listened he stepped into a vague dream in which music replaced the words and made him forget them. He admired Schulz’s memory. What a difference there was between the vivacity of mind of this poor rich old man, almost impotent, shut up in his room for a great part of the year, shut up in his little provincial town almost all his life,—and Hassler, young, famous, in the very thick of the artistic movement, and touring over all Europe for his concerts and yet interested in nothing and unwilling to know anything! Not only was Schulz in touch with every manifestation of the art of the day that Christophe knew, but he knew an immense amount about musicians of the past and of other countries of whom Christophe had never heard. His memory was a great reservoir in which all the beautiful waters of the heavens were collected. Christophe never wearied of dipping into it, and Schulz was glad of Christophe’s interest. He had sometime? found willing listeners or docile pupils, but he had never yet found a young and ardent heart with which he could share his enthusiasms, which sometimes so swelled in him that he was like to choke.

They had become the best friends in the world when unhappily the old man chanced to express his admiration for Brahms. Christophe was at once coldly angry; he dropped Schulz’s arm and said harshly that anyone who loved Brahms could not be his friend. That threw cold water on their happiness. Schulz was too timid to argue, too honest to lie, and murmured and tried to explain. But Christophe stopped him:


It was so cutting that it was impossible to reply. There was an icy silence. They walked on. The two old men dared not look at each other. Kunz coughed and tried to take up the conversation again and to talk of the woods and the weather; but Christophe sulked and would not talk and only answered with monosyllables. Kunz, finding no response from him, tried to break the silence by talking to Schulz; but Schulz’s throat was dry, he could not speak. Christophe watched him out of the corner of his eyes and he wanted to laugh; he had forgiven him already. He had never been seriously angry with him; he even thought it brutal to make the poor old man sad; but he abused his power and would not appear to go back on what he had said. They remained so until they left the woods; nothing was to be heard but the weary steps of the two downcast old men; Christophe whistled through his teeth and pretended not to see them. Suddenly he could bear it no longer. He burst out laughing, turned towards Schulz and gripped his arm:

"My dear good old Schulz!" he said, looking at him affectionately. "Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it beautiful?"

He was speaking of the country and the fine day, but his laughing eyes seemed to say:

"You are good. I am a brute. Forgive me! I love you much."

The old man’s heart melted. It was as though the sun had shone again after an eclipse. But a short time passed before he could utter a word. Christophe took his arm and went on talking to him more amiably than ever; in his eagerness he went faster and faster without noticing the strain upon his two companions. Schulz did not complain; he did not even notice his fatigue; he was so happy. He knew that he would have to pay for that day’s rashness; but he thought:

"So much the worse for to-morrow! When he is gone I shall have plenty of time to rest."

But Kunz, who was not so excited, followed fifteen yards behind and looked a pitiful object. Christophe noticed it at last. He begged his pardon confusedly and proposed that they should lie down in a meadow in the shade of the poplars. Of course Schulz acquiesced without a thought for the effect it might have on his bronchitis. Fortunately Kunz thought of it for him; or at least he made it an excuse for not running any risk from the moisture of the grass when he was in such a perspiration. He suggested that they should take the train back to the town from a station close by. They did so. In spite of their fatigue they had to hurry, so as not to be late, and they reached the station just as the train came in.

At the sight of them a big man threw himself out of the door of a carriage and roared the names of Schulz and Kunz, together with all their titles and qualities, and he waved his arms like a madman. Schulz and Kunz shouted in reply and also waved their arms; they rushed to the big man’s compartment and he ran to meet them, jostling the people on the platform. Christophe was amazed and ran after them asking:

"What is it?"

And the others shouted exultantly:

"It is Pottpetschmidt!"

The name did not convey much to him. He had forgotten the toasts at dinner. Pottpetschmidt in the carriage and Schulz and Kunz on the step were making a deafening noise, they were marveling at their encounter. They climbed into the train as it was going. Schulz introduced Christophe. Pottpetschmidt bowed as stiff as a poker and his features lost all expression; then when the formalities were over he caught hold of Christophe’s hand and shook it five or six times, as though he were trying to pull his arm out, and then began to shout again. Christophe was able to make out that he thanked God and his stars for the extraordinary meeting. That did not keep him from slapping his thigh a moment later and crying out upon the misfortune of having had to go away—he who never went away—just when the Herr Kapellmeister was coming. Schulz’s telegram had only reached him that morning an hour after the train went; he was asleep when it arrived and they had not thought it worth while to wake him. He had stormed at the hotel people all morning. He was still storming. He had sent his patients away, cut his business appointments and taken the first train in his haste to return, but the infernal train had missed the connection on the main line; Pottpetschmidt had had to wait three hours at a station; he had exhausted all the expletives in his vocabulary and fully twenty times had narrated his misadventures to other travelers who were also waiting, and a porter at the station. At last he had started again. He was fearful of arriving too late … But, thank God! Thank God!…

He took Christophe’s hands again and crushed them in his vast paws with their hairy fingers. He was fabulously stout and tall in proportion; he had a square head, close cut red hair, a clean-shaven pock-marked face, big eyes, large nose, thin lips, a double chin, a short neck, a monstrously wide back, a stomach like a barrel, arms thrust out by his body, enormous feet and hands; a gigantic mass of flesh, deformed by excess in eating and drinking; one of those human tobacco-jars that one sees sometimes rolling along the streets in the towns of Bavaria, which keep the secret of that race of men that is produced by a system of gorging similar to that of the Strasburg geese. He listened with joy and warmth like a pot of butter, and with his two hands on his outstretched knees, or on those of his neighbors, he never stopped talking, hurling consonants into the air like a catapult and making them roll along. Occasionally he would have a fit of laughing which made him shake all over; he would throw back his head, open his mouth, snorting, gurgling, choking. His laughter would infect Schulz and Kunz and when it was over they would look at Christophe as they dried their eyes. They seemed to be asking him:

"Hein!… And what do you say?"

Christophe said nothing; he thought fearfully:

"And this monster sings my music?"

They went home with Schulz. Christophe hoped to avoid Pottpetschmidt’s singing and made no advances in spite of Pottpetschmidt’s hints. He was itching to be heard. But Schulz and Kunz were too intent oh showing their friend off; Christophe had to submit. He sat at the piano rather ungraciously; he thought:

"My good man, my good man, you don’t know what is in store for you; have a care! I will spare you nothing."

He thought that he would hurt Schulz and he was angry at that; but he was none the less determined to hurt him rather than have this Falstaff murdering his music. He was spared the pain of hurting his old friend: the fat man had an admirable voice. At the first bars Christophe gave a start of surprise. Schulz, who never took his eyes off him, trembled; he thought that Christophe was dissatisfied; and he was only reassured when he saw his face grow brighter and brighter as he went on playing. He was lit up by the reflection of Christophe’s delight; and when the song was finished and Christophe turned round and declared that he had never heard any of his songs sung so well, Schulz found a joy in all sweeter and greater than Christophe’s in his satisfaction, sweeter and greater than Pottpetschmidt’s in his triumph; for they had only their own pleasure, and Schulz had that of his two friends. They went on with the music. Christophe cried aloud; he could not understand how so ponderous and common a creature could succeed in reading the idea of his Lieder. No doubt there were not exactly all the shades of meaning, but there was the impulse and the passion which he had never quite succeeded in imparting to professional singers. He looked at Pottpetschmidt and wondered:

"Does he really feel that?"

But he could not see in his eyes any other light than that of satisfied vanity. Some unconscious force stirred in that solid flesh. The blind passion was like an army fighting without knowing against whom or why. The spirit of the Lieder took possession of it and it obeyed gladly, for it had need of action; and, left to itself, it never would have known how.

Christophe fancied that on the day of the Creation the Great Sculptor did not take very much trouble to put in order the scattered members of his rough-hewn creatures, and that He had adjusted them anyhow without bothering to find out whether they were suited to each other, and so every one was made up of all sorts of pieces; and one man was scattered among five or six different men; his brain was with one, his heart with another, and the body belonging to his soul with yet another; the instrument was on one side, the performer on the other. Certain creatures remained like wonderful violins, forever shut up in their cases, for want of anyone with the art to play them. And those who were fit to play them were found all their lives to put up with wretched scraping fiddles. He had all the more reason for thinking so as he was furious with himself for never having been able properly to sing a page of music. He had an untuned voice and could never hear himself without disgust.

However, intoxicated by his success, Pottpetschmidt began to "put expression" into Christophe’s Lieder, that is to say he substituted his own for Christophe’s. Naturally he did not think that the music gained by the change, and he grew gloomy. Schulz saw it. His lack of the critical faculty and his admiration for his friends would not have allowed him of his own accord to set it down to Pottpetschmidt’s bad taste. But his affection for Christophe made him perceptive of the young man’s finest shades of thought; he was no longer in himself, he was in Christophe; and he too suffered from Pottpetschmidt’s affectations. He tried hard to stop his going down that perilous slope. It was not easy to silence Pottpetschmidt. Schulz found it enormously difficult, when the singer had exhausted Christophe’s repertory, to keep him from breaking out into the lucubrations of mediocre compositions at the mention of whose names Christophe curled up and bristled like a porcupine.

Fortunately the announcement of supper muzzled Pottpetschmidt. Another field for his valor was opened for him; he had no rival there; and Christophe, who was a little weary with his exploits in the afternoon, made no attempt to vie with him.

It was getting late. They sat round the table and the three friends watched Christophe; they drank in his words. It seemed very strange to Christophe to find himself in the remote little town among these old men whom he had never seen until that day and to be more intimate with them than if they had been his relations. He thought how fine it would be for an artist if he could know of the unknown friends whom his ideas find in the world,—how gladdened his heart would be and how fortified he would be in his strength. But he is rarely that; every one lives and dies alone, fearing to say what he feels the more he feels and the more he needs to express it. Vulgar flatterers have no difficulty in speaking. Those who love most have to force their lips open to say that they love. And so he must be grateful indeed to those who dare to speak; they are unconsciously collaborators with the artist.—Christophe was filled with gratitude for old Schulz. He did not confound him with his two friends; he felt that he was the soul of the little group; the others were only reflections of that living fire of goodness and love. The friendship that Kunz and Pottpetschmidt had for him was very different. Kunz was selfish; music gave him a comfortable satisfaction like a fat cat when it is stroked. Pottpetschmidt found in it the pleasure of tickled vanity and physical exercise. Neither of them troubled to understand him. But Schulz absolutely forgot himself; he loved.

It was late. The two friends went away in the night. Christophe was left alone with Schulz. He said:

"Now I will play for you alone."

He sat at the piano and played,—as he knew how to play when he had some one dear to him by his side. He played his latest compositions. The old man was in ecstasies. He sat near Christophe and never took his eyes from him and held his breath. In the goodness of his heart he was incapable of keeping the smallest happiness to himself, and in spite of himself he said:

"Ah! What a pity Kunz is not here!"

That irritated Christophe a little.

An hour passed; Christophe was still playing; they had not exchanged a word. When Christophe had finished neither spoke a word. There was silence, the house, the street, was asleep. Christophe turned and saw that the old man was weeping; he got up and went and embraced him. They talked in whispers in the stillness of the night. The clock ticked dully in the next room. Schulz talked in a whisper, with his hands clasped, and leaning forward; he was telling Christophe, in answer to his questions, about his life and his sorrow; at every turn he was ashamed of complaining and had to say:

"I am wrong … I have no right to complain … Everybody has been very good to me…."

And indeed he was not complaining; it was only an involuntary melancholy emanating from the dull story of his lonely life. At the most sorrowful moments he wove into it professions of faith vaguely idealistic and very sentimental which amazed Christophe, though it would have been too cruel to contradict him. At bottom there was in Schulz not so much a firm belief as a passionate desire to believe—an uncertain hope to which he clung as to a buoy. He sought the confirmation of it in Christophe’s eyes. Christophe understood the appeal in the eyes of his friend, who clung to him with touching confidence, imploring him,—and dictating his answer. Then he spoke of the calm faith or strength, sure of itself, words which the old man was expecting, and they comforted him. The old man and the young had forgotten the years that lay between, them; they were near each other, like brothers of the same age, loving and helping each other; the weaker sought the support of the stronger; the old man took refuge in the young man’s soul.

They parted after midnight; Christophe had to get up early to catch the train by which he had come. And so he did not loiter as he undressed. The old man had prepared his guests room as though for a visit of several months. He had put a bowl of roses on the table and a branch of laurel. He had put fresh blotting paper on the bureau. During the morning he had had an upright piano carried up. On the shelf by the bed he had placed books chosen from among his most precious and beloved. There was no detail that he had not lovingly thought out. But it was a waste of trouble: Christophe saw nothing. He flung himself on his bed and went sound asleep at once.

Schulz could not sleep. He was pondering the joy that he had had and the sorrow he must have at the departure of his friend. He was turning over in his mind the words that had been spoken. He was thinking that his dear Christophe was sleeping near him on the other side of the wall against which his bed lay. He was worn out, stiff all over, depressed; he felt that he had caught cold during the walk and that he was going to have a relapse; but he had only one thought:

"If only I can hold out until he has gone!" And he was fearful of having a fit of coughing and waking Christophe. He was full of gratitude to God, and began to compose verses to the song of old Simeon: "Nunc dimittis …" He got up in a sweat to write the verses down and sat at his desk until he had carefully copied them out with an affectionate dedication, and his signature, and the date and hour. Then he lay down again with a shiver and could not get warm all night.

Dawn came. Schulz thought regretfully of the dawn of the day before. But he was angry with himself for spoiling with such thoughts the few minutes of happiness left to him; he knew that on the morrow he would regret the time fleeting then, and he tried not to waste any of it. He listened, eager for the least sound in the next room. But Christophe did not stir. He lay still just as he had gone to bed; he had not moved. Half-past six rang and he still slept. Nothing would have been easier than to make him miss the train, and doubtless he would have taken it with a laugh. But the old man was too scrupulous to use a friend so without his consent. In vain did he say to himself:

"It will not be my fault. I could not help it. It will be enough to say nothing. And if he does not wake in time I shall have another whole day with him."

He answered himself:

"No, I have no right."

And he thought it his duty to go and wake him. He knocked at his door. Christophe did not hear at first; he had to knock again. That made the old man’s heart thump as he thought: "Ah! How well he sleeps! He would stay like that till mid-day!…"

At last Christophe replied gaily through the partition. When he learned the time he cried out; he was heard bustling about his room, noisily dressing himself, singing scraps of melody, while he chattered with Schulz through the wall and cracked Jokes while the old man laughed in spite of his sorrow. The door opened; Christophe appeared, fresh, rested, and happy; he had no thought of the pain he was causing. In reality there was no hurry for him to go; it would have cost him nothing to stay a few days longer; and it would have given Schulz so much pleasure! But Christophe could not know that. Besides, although he was very fond of the old man, he was glad to go; he was worn out by the day of perpetual conversation, by these people who clung to him in desperate fondness. And then he was young, he thought there would be plenty of time to meet again; he was not going to the other ends of the earth!—The old man knew that he would soon be much farther than the other ends of the earth, and he looked at Christophe for all eternity.

In spite of hit extreme weariness he took him to the station. A fine cold rain was falling noiselessly. At the station when he opened his purse Christophe found that he had not enough money to buy his ticket home. He knew that Schulz would gladly lead him the money, but he would not ask him for it…. Why? Why deny those who love you the opportunity—the happiness of doing you a service?… He would not out of discretion—perhaps out of vanity. He took a ticket for a station on the way, saying that he would do the rest of the journey on foot.

The time for leaving came. They embraced on the footboard of the carriage. Schulz slipped the poem he had written during the night into Christophe’s hand. He stayed on the platform below the compartment. They had nothing more to say to each other, as usual when good-byes are too long drawn out, but Schulz’s eyes went on speaking, they never left Christophe’s face until the train went.

The carriage disappeared round a curve. Schulz was left alone. He went back by the muddy path; he dragged along; suddenly he felt all his weariness, the cold, the melancholy of the rainy day. He was hardly able to reach home and to go upstairs again. Hardly had he reached his room than he was seized with an attack of asthma and coughing. Salome came to his aid. Through his involuntary groans, he said:

"What luck!… What luck that I was prepared for it…." He felt very ill. He went to bed. Salome fetched the doctor. In bed he became as limp as a rag. He could not move; only his breast was heaving and panting like a million billows. His head was heavy and feverish. He spent the whole day in living through the day before, minute by minute; he tormented himself, and then was angry with himself for complaining after so much happiness. With his hands clasped and his heart big with love he thanked God.

* * * * *

Christophe was soothed by his day and restored to confidence in himself by the affection that he had left behind him,—so he returned home. When he had gone as far as his ticket would take him he got out blithely and took to the road on foot. He had sixty kilometers to do. He was in no hurry and dawdled like a school-boy. It was April. The country was not very far on. The leaves were unfolding like little wrinkled hands at the ends of the Hack branches; the apple trees were in flower, and along the hedges the frail eglantine smiled. Above the leafless forest, where a soft greenish down was beginning to appear, on the summit of a little hill, like a trophy on the end of a lance, there rose an old Romanic castle. Three black clouds sailed across the soft blue sky. Shadows chased over the country in spring, showers passed, then the bright sun shone forth again and the birds sang.

Christophe found that for some time he had been thinking of Uncle Gottfried. He had not thought of the poor man for a long time, and he wondered why the memory of him should so obstinately obsess him now; he was haunted by it as he walked along a path along a canal that reflected the poplars; and the image of his uncle was so actual that as he turned a great wall he thought he saw him coming towards him.

The sky grew dark. A heavy downpour of rain and hail fell, and thunder rumbled in the distance. Christophe was near a village; he could see its pink walls and red roofs among the clumps of trees. He hurried and took shelter under the projecting roof of the nearest house. The hail-stones came lashing down; they rang out on the tiles and fell down into the street like pieces of lead. The ruts were overflowing. Above the blossoming orchards a rainbow flung its brilliant garish scarf over the dark blue clouds.

On the threshold a girl was standing knitting. She asked Christophe to enter. He accepted the invitation. The room into which he stepped was used as a kitchen, a dining-room, and a bed-room. At the back a stew-pot hung over a great fire. A peasant woman who was cleaning vegetables wished Christophe good-day, and bade him go near the fire to dry himself. The girl fetched a bottle of wine and gave him to drink. She sat on the other side of the table and went on knitting, while at the same time she looked after two children who were playing at testing each other’s eyes with those grasses which are known in the country as "thiefs" or "sweeps." She began to talk to Christophe. It was only after a moment that he saw that she was blind. She was not pretty. She was a big girl, with red cheeks, white teeth, and strong arms, but her features were irregular; she had the smiling, rather expressionless air of many blind people, and also their mania for talking of things and people as though they could see them. At first Christophe was startled and wondered if she were making fun of him when she said that he looked well and that the country was looking very pretty. But after looking from the blind girl to the woman who was cleaning the vegetables, he saw that nobody was surprised and that it was no joke—(there was nothing to joke about indeed).—The two women asked Christophe friendly questions as to whither he was going and whence he had come. The blind girl joined in the conversation with a rather exaggerated eagerness; she agreed with, or commented on, Christophe’s remarks about the road and the fields. Naturally her observations were often wide of the mark. She seemed to be trying to pretend that she could see as well as he.

Other members of the family came in: a healthy peasant of thirty and his young wife. Christophe talked to them all, and watched the clearing sky, waiting for the moment to set out again. The blind girl hummed an air while she plied her knitting needles. The air brought back all sorts of old memories to Christophe.

"What!" he said. "You know that." (Gottfried had taught her it.)

He hummed the following notes. The girl began to laugh. She sang the first half of the phrases and he finished them. He had just got up to go and look at the weather and he was walking round the room, mechanically taking stock of every corner of it, when near the dresser he saw an object which made him start. It was a long twisted stick, the handle of which was roughly carved to represent a little bent man bowing. Christophe knew it well, he had played with it as a child. He pounced on the stick and asked in a choking voice:

"Where did you get this?… Where did you get it?" The man looked up and said:

"A friend left it here—an old friend who is dead."

Christophe cried:


They all turned and asked:

"How do you know …?"

And when Christophe told them that Gottfried was his uncle, they were all greatly excited. The blind girl got up; her ball of wool rolled across the room; she stopped her work and took Christophe’s hands and said in a great state of emotion:

"You are his nephew?"

They all talked at once. Christophe asked:

"But how … how do you come to know him?" The man replied:

"It was here that he died."

They sat down again, and when the excitement had gone down a little, the mother told, as she went on with her work, that Gottfried used to go to the house for many years; he always used to stay there on his way to and fro from his journeys. The last time he came—(it was in last July)—he seemed very tired, and when he took off his pack it was some time before he could speak a word, but they did not take any notice of it because they were used to seeing him like that when he arrived and knew that he was short of breath. He did not complain either. He never used to complain; he always used to find some happiness in the most unpleasant things. When he was doing some exhausting work he used to be glad thinking how good it would be in bed at night, and when he was ill he used to say how good it would be when he was not ill any longer….

"And, sir, it is wrong to be always content," added the woman, "for if you axe not sorry for yourself, nobody will pity you. I always complain…."

Well, nobody had paid any attention to him. They had even chaffed him about looking so well and Modesta—(that was the blind girl’s name)—who had just relieved him of his pack had asked him if he was never going to be tired of running like a young man. He smiled in reply, for he could not speak. He sat on the seat by the door. Everybody went about their work, the men to the fields, the woman to her cooking. Modesta went near the seat, she stood leaning against the door with her knitting in her hands and talked to Gottfried. He did not reply; she did not ask him for any reply and told him everything that had happened since his last visit. He breathed with difficulty and she heard him trying hard to speak. Instead of being anxious about him she said:

"Don’t speak. Just rest. You shall talk presently…. How can people tire themselves out like that!…"

And then he did not talk or even try to talk. She went on with her story thinking that he was listening. He sighed and said nothing. When the mother came a little later she found Modesta still talking and Gottfried motionless on the seat with his head flung back facing the sky; for some minutes Modesta had been talking to a dead man. She understood then that the poor man had been trying to say a few words before he died but had not been able to; then with his sad smile he had accepted that and had closed his eyes in the peace of the summer evening….

The rain had ceased. The daughter-in-law went to the stables, the son took his mattock and cleared the little gutter in front of the door which the mud had obstructed. Modesta had disappeared at the beginning of the story. Christophe was left alone in the room with the mother, and was silent and much moved. The old woman, who was rather talkative, could not bear a prolonged silence; and she began to tell him the whole history of her acquaintance with Gottfried. It went far back. When she was quite young Gottfried loved her. He dared not tell her, but it became a joke; she made fun of him, everybody made fun of him,—(it was; the custom wherever he went)—Gottfried used to come faithfully every year. It seemed natural to him that people should make fun of him, natural that she should have married and been happy with another man. She had been too happy, she had boasted too much of her happiness; then unhappiness came. Her husband died suddenly. Then his daughter,—a fine strong girl whom everybody admired, who was to be married to the son of the richest farmer of the district,—lost her sight as the result of an accident. One day when she had climbed to the great pear tree behind the house to pick the fruit the ladder slipped; as she fell a broken branch struck a blow near the eye. At first it was thought that she would escape with a scar, but later, she had had unceasing pains in her forehead; one eye lost its sight, then the other; and all their remedies had been useless. Of course the marriage was broken off; her betrothed had vanished without any explanation, and of all the young men who a month before had actually fought for a dance with her, not one had the courage—(it is quite comprehensible)—to take a blind girl to his arms. And so Modesta, who till then had been careless and gay, had fallen into such despair that she wanted to die. She refused to eat; she did nothing but weep from morning to evening, and during the night they used to hear her still moaning in her bed. They did not know what to do, they could only join her in her despair; and she only wept the more. At last they lost patience with her moaning; then they scolded her and she talked of throwing herself into the canal. The minister would come sometimes; he would talk of the good God, and eternal things, and the merit she was gaining for the next world by bearing her sorrows, but that did not console her at all. One day Gottfried came. Modesta had never been very kind to him. Not that she was naturally unkind, but she was disdainful, and besides she never thought; she loved to laugh, and there was no malice in what she said or did to him. When he heard of her misfortune he was as overwhelmed by it as though he were a member of the family. However he did not let her see it the first time he saw her. He went and sat by her side, made no allusion to her accident and began to talk quietly as he had always done before. He had no word of pity for her; he even seemed not to notice that she was blind. Only he never talked to her of things she could not see; he talked to her about what she could hear or notice in her blindness; and he did it quite simply as though it were a natural thing; it was as though he too were blind. At first she did not listen and went on weeping. But next day she listened better and even talked to him a little….

"And," the woman went on, "I do not know what he can have said to her. For we were hay-making and I was too busy to notice her. But in the evening when we came in from the fields we found her talking quietly. And after that she went on getting better. She seemed to forget her affliction. But every now and then she would think of it again; she would weep alone or try to talk to Gottfried of sad things; but he seemed not to hear, or he would not reply in the same tone; he would go on talking gravely or merrily of things which soothed and interested her. At last he persuaded her to go out of the house, which she had never left since her accident. He made her go a few yards round the garden at first, and then for a longer distance in the fields. And at last she learned to find her way everywhere and to make out everything as though she could see. She even notices things to which we never pay any attention, and she is interested in everything, whereas before she was never interested in much outside herself. That time Gottfried stayed with us longer than usual. We dared not ask him to postpone his departure, but he stayed of his own accord until he saw that she was calmer. And one day—she was out there in the yard,—I heard her laughing. I cannot tell you what an effect that had on me. Gottfried looked happy too. He was sitting near me. We looked at each other, and I am not ashamed to tell you, sir, that I kissed him with all my heart. Then he said to me:

"’Now I think I can go. I am not needed any more.’

"I tried to keep him. But he said:

"’No. I must go now. I cannot stay any longer.’

"Everybody knew that he was like the Wandering Jew: he could not stay anywhere; we did not insist. Then he went, but he arranged to come here more often, and every time it was a great joy for Modesta; she was always better after his visits. She began to work in the house again; her brother married; she looks after the children; and now she never complains and always looks happy. I sometimes wonder if she would be so happy if she had her two eyes. Yes, indeed, sir, there are days, when I think that it would be better to be like her and not to see certain ugly people and certain evil things. The world is growing very ugly, it grows worse every day…. And yet I should be very much afraid of God taking me at my word, and for my part I would rather go on seeing the world, ugly as it is…."

Modesta came back and the conversation changed. Christophe wished to go now that the weather was fair again, but they would not let him. He had to agree to stay to supper and to spend the night with them. Modesta sat near Christophe and did not leave him all the evening. He would have liked to talk intimately to the girl whose lot filled him with pity. But she gave him no opportunity. She would only try to ask him about Gottfried. When Christophe told her certain things she did not know, she was happy and a little jealous. She was a little unwilling to talk of Gottfried herself; it was apparent that she did not tell everything, and when she did tell everything she was sorry for it at once; her memories were her property, she did not like sharing them with another; in her affection she was as eager as a peasant woman in her attachment to her land; it hurt her to think that anybody could love Gottfried as much as she. It is true that she refused to believe it; and Christophe, understanding, left her that satisfaction. As he listened to her he saw that, although she had seen Gottfried and had even seen him with indulgent eyes, since her blindness she had made of him an image absolutely different from the reality, and she had transferred to the phantom of her mind all the hunger for love that was in her. Nothing had disturbed her illusion. With the bold certainty of the blind, who calmly invent what they do not know, she said to Christophe:

"You are like him."

He understood that for years she had grown used to living in a house with closed shutters through which the truth could not enter. And now that she had learned to see in the darkness that surrounded her, and even to forget the darkness, perhaps she would have been afraid of a ray of light filtering through the gloom. With Christophe she recalled a number of rather silly trivialities in a smiling and disjointed conversation in which Christophe could not be at his ease. He was irritated by her chatter; he could not understand how a creature who had suffered so much had not become more serious in her suffering, and he could not find tolerance for such futility; every now and then he tried to talk of graver things, but they found no echo; Modesta could not—or would not—follow him.

They went to bed. It was long before Christophe could sleep. He was thinking of Gottfried and trying to disengage him from the image of Modesta’s childish memories. He found it difficult and was irritated. His heart ached at the thought that Gottfried had died there and that his body had no doubt lain in that very bed. He tried to live through the agony of his last moments, when he could neither speak nor make the blind girl understand, and had closed his eyes in death. He longed to have been able to raise his eyelids and to read the thoughts hidden under them, the mystery of that soul, which had gone without making itself known, perhaps even without knowing itself! It never tried to know itself, and all its wisdom lay in not desiring wisdom, or in not trying to impose its will on circumstance, but in abandoning itself to the force of circumstance, in accepting it and loving it. So he assimilated the mysterious essence of the world without even thinking of it. And if he had done so much good to the blind girl, to Christophe, and doubtless to many others who would be forever unknown, it was because, instead of bringing the customary words of the revolt of man against nature, he brought something of the indifferent peace of Nature, and reconciled the submissive soul with her. He did good like the fields, the woods, all Nature with which he was impregnated. Christophe remembered the evenings he had spent with Gottfried in the country, his walks as a child, the stories and songs in the night. He remembered also the last walk he had taken with his uncle, on the hill above the town, on a cold winter’s morning, and the tears came to his eyes once more. He did not try to sleep, so as to remain with his memories. He did not wish to lose one moment of that night in the little place, filled with the soul of Gottfried, to which he had been led as though impelled by some unknown force. But while he lay listening to the irregular trickling of the fountain and the shrill cries of the bats, the healthy fatigue of youth mastered his will, and he fell asleep.

When he awoke the sun was shining: everybody on the farm was already at work. In the hall he found only the old woman and the children. The young couple were in the fields, sand Modesta had gone to milk. They looked for her in vain. She was nowhere to be found. Christophe said he would not wait for her return. He did not much want to see her, and he said that he was in a hurry. He set out after telling the old woman to bid the others good-bye for him.

As he was leaving the village at a turn of the road he the blind girl sitting on a bank under a hawthorn hedge. She got up as she heard him coming, approached him smiling, took his hand, and said:


They climbed up through meadows to a little shady flowering field filled with tombstones, which looked down on the village. She led him to a grave and said:

"He is there."

They both knelt down. Christophe remembered another grave by which he had knelt with Gottfried, and he thought:

"Soon it will be my turn."

But there was no sadness in his thought. A great peace was ascending from the earth. Christophe leaned over the grave and said, in a whisper to Gottfried:

"Enter into me!…"

Modesta was praying, with her hands clasped and her lips moving in silence. Then she went round the grave on her knees, feeling the ground and the grass and the flowers with her hands. She seemed to caress them, her quick fingers seemed to see. They gently plucked the dead stalks of the ivy and the faded violets. She laid her hand on the curb to get up. Christophe saw her fingers pass furtively over Gottfried’s name, lightly touching each letter. She said:

"The earth is sweet this morning."

She held out her hand to him. He gave her his. She made him touch the moist warm earth. He did not loose her hand. Their locked fingers plunged into the earth. He kissed Modesta. She kissed him, too.

They both rose to their feet. She held out to him a few fresh violets she had gathered, and put the faded ones into her bosom. They dusted their knees and left the cemetery without a word. In the fields the larks were singing. White butterflies danced about their heads. They sat down in a meadow a few yards away from each other. The smoke of the village was ascending direct to the sky that was washed by the rain. The still canal glimmered between the poplars. A gleaming blue mist wrapped the meadows and woods in its folds.

Modesta broke the silence. She spoke in a whisper of the beauty of the day as though she could see it. She drank in the air through her half-open lips; she listened for the sounds of creatures and things. Christophe also knew the worth of such music. He said what she was thinking and could not have said. He named certain of the cries and imperceptible tremors that they could hear in the grass, in the depths of the air. She said:

"Ah! You see that, too?"

He replied that Gottfried had taught him to distinguish them.

"You, too?" she said a little crossly.

He wanted to say to her:

"Do not be jealous."

But he saw the divine light smiling all about them: he looked at her blind eyes and was filled with pity.

"So," he asked, "it was Gottfried taught you?"

She said "Yes," and that they gave her more delight than ever before…. She did not say before "what." She never mentioned the words "eyes" or "blind."

They were silent for a moment. Christophe looked at her in pity. She felt that he was looking at her. He would have liked to tell her how much he pitied her. He would have liked her to complain, to confide in him. He asked kindly:

"You have been very unhappy?"

She sat dumb and unyielding. She plucked the blades of grass and munched them in silence. After a few moments,—(the song of a lark was going farther and farther from them in the sky),—Christophe told her how he too had been unhappy, and how Gottfried had helped him. He told her all his sorrows, his trials, as though he were thinking aloud or talking to a sister. The blind girl’s face lit up as he told his story, which she followed eagerly. Christophe watched her and saw that she was on the point of speaking. She made a movement to come near him and hold his hand. He moved, too—but already she had relapsed into her impassiveness, and when he had finished, she only replied with a few banal words. Behind her broad forehead, on which there was not a line, there was the obstinacy of a peasant, hard as a stone. She said that she must go home to look after her brothers children. She talked of them with a calm smile.

He asked her:

"You are happy?"

She seemed to be more happy to hear him say the word. She said she was happy and insisted on the reasons she had for being so: she was trying to persuade herself and him that it was so. She spoke of the children, and the house, and all that she had to do….

"Oh! yes," she said, "I am very happy!" Christophe did not reply. She rose to go. He rose too. They said good-bye gaily and carelessly. Modesta’s hand trembled a little in Christophe’s. She said:

"You will have fine weather for your walk to-day." And she told him of a crossroads where he must not go wrong. It was as though, of the two, Christophe were the blind one.

They parted. He went down the hill. When he reached the bottom he turned. She was standing at the summit in the same place. She waved her handkerchief and made signs to him as though she saw him.

There was something heroic and absurd in her obstinacy in denying her misfortune, something which touched Christophe and hurt him. He felt how worthy Modesta was of pity and even of admiration,—and he could not have lived two days with her. As he went his way between flowering hedges he thought of dear old Schulz, and his old eyes, bright and tender, before which so many sorrows had passed which they refused to see, for they would not see hurtful realities.

"How does he see me, I wonder?" thought Christophe. "I am so different from his idea of me! To him I am what he wants me to be. Everything is in his own image, pure and noble like himself. He could not bear life if he saw it as it is."

And he thought of the girl living in darkness who denied the darkness, and tried to pretend that what was was not, and that what was not was.

Then he saw the greatness of German idealism, which he had so often loathed because in vulgar souls it is a source of hypocrisy and stupidity. He saw the beauty of the faith which Begets a world within the world, different from the world, like a little island in the ocean.—But he could not bear such a faith for himself, and refused to take refuge upon such an Island of the Dead. Life! Truth! He would not be a lying hero. Perhaps that optimistic lie which a German Emperor tried to make law for all his people was indeed necessary for weak creatures if they were to live. And Christophe would have thought it a crime to snatch from such poor wretches the illusion which upheld them. But for himself he never could have recourse to such subterfuges. He would rather die than live by illusion. Was not Art also an illusion? No. It must not be. Truth! Truth! Byes wide open, let him draw in through every pore the all-puissant breath of life, see things as they are, squarely face his misfortunes,—and laugh.

* * * * *

Several months passed. Christophe had lost all hope of escaping from the town. Hassler, the only man who could have saved him, had refused to help him. And old Schulz’s friendship had been taken from him almost as soon as it had been given.

He had written once on his return, and he had received two affectionate letters, but from sheer laziness, and especially because of the difficulty he had expressing himself in a letter, he delayed thanking him for his kind words. He put off writing from day to day. And when at last he made up his mind to write he had a word from Kunz announcing the death of his old friend. Schulz had had a relapse of his bronchitis which had developed into pneumonia. He had forbidden them to bother Christophe, of whom he was always talking. In spite of his extreme weakness and many years of illness, he was not spared a long and painful end. He had charged Kunz to convey the tidings to Christophe and to tell him that he had thought of him up to the last hour; that he thanked him for all the happiness he owed him, and that his blessing would be on Christophe as long as he lived. Kunz did not tell him that the day with Christophe had probably been the reason of his relapse and the cause of his death.

Christophe wept in silence, and he felt them all the worth of the friend he had lost, and how much he loved him, and he was grieved not to have told him more of how he loved him. It was too late now. And what was left to him? The good Schulz had only appeared enough to make the void seem more empty, the night more black after he ceased to be. As for Kunz and Pottpetschmidt, they had no value outside the friendship they had for Schulz and Schulz for them. Christophe valued them at their proper worth. He wrote to them once and their relation ended there. He tried also to write to Modesta, but she answered with a commonplace letter in which she spoke only of trivialities. He gave up the correspondence. He wrote to nobody and nobody wrote to him.

Silence. Silence. From day to day the heavy cloak of silence descended upon Christophe. It was like a rain of ashes falling on him. It seemed already to be evening, and Christophe was losing his hold on life. He would not resign himself to that. The hour of sleep was not yet come. He must live.

And he could not live in Germany. The sufferings of his genius cramped by the narrowness of the little town lashed him into injustice. His nerves were raw: everything drew blood. He was like one of those wretched wild animals who perished of boredom in the holes and cages in which they were imprisoned in the Stadtgarten (town gardens). Christophe used often to go and look at them in sympathy. He used to look at their wonderful eyes, in which there burned—or every day grew fainter—a fierce and desperate fire. Ah! How they would have loved the brutal bullet which sets free, or the knife that strikes into their bleeding hearts! Anything rather than the savage indifference of those men who prevented them from either living or dying!

Not the hostility of the people was the hardest for Christophe to bear, but their inconsistency, their formless, shallow natures. There was no knowing how to take them. The pig-headed opposition of one of those stiff-necked, bard races who refuse to understand any new thought were much better. Against force it is possible to oppose force—the pick and the mine which hew away and blow up the hard rock. But what can be done against an amorphous mass which gives like a jelly, collapses under the least pressure, and retains no imprint of it? All thought and energy and everything disappeared in the slough. When a stone fell there were hardly more than a few ripples quivering on the surface of the gulf: the monster opened and shut its maw, and there was left no trace of what had been.

They were not enemies. Dear God! if they only had been enemies! They were people who had not the strength to love or hate, or believe or disbelieve,—in religion, in art, in politics, in daily life; and all their energies were expended in trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. Especially since the German victories they had been striving to make a compromise, a revolting intrigue between their new power and their old principles. The old idealism had not been renounced. There should have been a new effort of freedom of which they were incapable. They were content with a forgery, with making it subservient to German interests. Like the serene and subtle Schwabian, Hegel, who had waited until after Leipzig and Waterloo to assimilate the cause of his philosophy with the Prussian State—their interests having changed, their principles had changed too. When they were defeated they said that Germany’s ideal was humanity. Now that they had defeated others, they said that Germany was the ideal of humanity. When other countries were more powerful, they said, with Lessing, that "patriotism is a heroic weakness which it is well to be without" and they called themselves "citizens of the world." Now that they were in the ascendant, they could not enough despise the Utopias "à la Française." Universal peace, fraternity, pacific progress, the rights of man, natural equality: they said that the strongest people had absolute rights against the others, and that the others, being weaker, had no rights against themselves. It was the living God and the Incarnate Idea, the progress of which is accomplished by war, violence, and oppression. Force had become holy now that it was on their side. Force had become the only idealism and the only intelligence.

In truth, Germany had suffered so much for centuries from having idealism and no fame that she had every excuse after so many trials for making the sorrowful confession that at all costs Force must be hers. But what bitterness was hidden in such a confession from the people of Herder and Goethe! And what an abdication was the German victory, what a degradation of the German ideal! Alas! There were only too many facilities for such an abdication in the deplorable tendency even of the best Germans to submit.

"The chief characteristic of Germany," said Moser, more than a century ago, "is obedience." And Madame de Staël:

"They have submitted doughtily. They find philosophic reasons for explaining the least philosophic theory in the world: respect for power and the chastening emotion of fear which changes that respect into admiration."

Christophe found that feeling everywhere in Germany, from the highest to the lowest—from the William Tell of Schiller, that limited little bourgeois with muscles like a porter, who, as the free Jew Börne says, "to reconcile honor and fear passes before the pillar of dear Herr Gessler, with his eyes down so as to be able to say that he did not see the hat; did not disobey,"—to the aged and respectable Professor Weisse, a man of seventy, and one of the most honored mea of learning in the town, who, when he saw a Herr Lieutenant coming, would make haste to give him the path and would step down into the road. Christophe’s blood boiled whenever he saw one of these small acts of daily servility. They hurt him as much as though he had demeaned himself. The arrogant manners of the officers whom he met in the street, their haughty insolence, made him speechless with anger. He never would make way for them. Whenever he passed them he returned their arrogant stare. More than once he was very near causing a scene. He seemed to be looking for trouble. However, he was the first to understand the futility of such bravado; but he had moments of aberration, the perpetual constraint which he imposed on himself and the accumulation of force in him that had no outlet made him furious. Then he was ready to go any length, and he had a feeling that if he stayed a year longer in the place he would be lost. He loathed the brutal militarism which he felt weighing down upon him, the sabers clanking on the pavement, the piles of arms, and the guns placed outside the barracks, their muzzles gaping down on the town, ready to fire. Scandalous novels, which were then making a great stir, denounced the corruption of the garrisons, great and small: the officers were represented as mischievous creatures, who, outside their automatic duties, were only idle and spent their time in drinking, gambling, getting into debt, living on their families, slandering one another, and from top to bottom of the hierarchy they abused their authority at the expense of their inferiors. The idea that he would one day have to obey them stuck in Christophe’s throat. He could not, no, he could never bear it, and lose his own self-respect by submitting to their humiliations and injustice…. He had no idea of the moral strength in some of them, or of all that they might be suffering themselves: lost illusions, so much strength and youth and honor and faith, and passionate desire for sacrifice, turned to ill account and spoiled,—the pointlessness of a career, which, if it is only a career, if it has not sacrifice as its end, is only a grim activity, an inept display, a ritual which is recited without belief in the words that are said….

His country was not enough for Christophe. He felt in himself that unknown force which wakes suddenly, irresistibly, in certain species of birds, at definite times, like the ebb and flow of the tides:—the instinct of the great migrations. As he read the volumes of Herder and Fichte which old Schulz had left him, he found souls like his own, not "sons of the soil" slavishly bound to the globe, but "spirits, sons of the sun" turning invincibly to the light wheresoever it comes.

Whither should he go? He did not know. But instinctively his eyes turned to the Latin South. And first to France—France, the eternal refuge of Germany in distress. How often had German thought turned to France, without ceasing to slander her! Even since seventy, what an attraction emanated from the town which had been shattered and smoking under the German guns! The most revolutionary and the most reactionary forms of thought and art had found alternately and sometimes at once example and inspiration there. Like so many other great German musicians in distress, Christophe turned towards Paris…. What did he know of the French? Two women’s faces and some chance reading. That was enough for him to imagine a country of light, of gaiety, of courage, and even of a little Gallic boasting, which does not sort ill with the bold youth of the heart. He believed it all, because he needed to believe it all, because, with all his soul, he would have liked it to be so.

* * * * *

He made up his mind to go. But he could not go because of his mother.

Louisa was growing old. She adored her son, who was her only joy, and she was all that he most loved on earth. And yet they were always hurting each other. She hardly understood Christophe, and did not try to understand him. She was only concerned to love him. She had a narrow, timid, dull mind, and a fine heart; an immense need of loving and being loved in which there was something touching and sad. She respected her son because he seemed to her to be very learned; but she did all she could to stifle his genius. She thought he would stay all his life with her in their little town. They had lived together for years, and she could not imagine that he would not always be the same. She was happy: why should he not be happy, too? All her dreams for him soared no higher than seeing him married to some prosperous citizen of the town, hearing him play the organ at church on Sundays, and never having him leave her. She regarded her son as though he were still twelve years old. She would have liked him never to be more than that. Innocently she inflicted torture on the unhappy man who was suffocated in that narrow world.

And yet there was much truth—moral greatness—in that unconscious philosophy of the mother, who could not understand ambition and saw all the happiness of life in the family affections and the accomplishment of humble duties. She was a creature who wished to love and only to love. Sooner renounce life, reason, logic, the material world, everything, rather than love! And that love was infinite, suppliant, exacting: it gave everything—it wished to be given everything; it renounced life for love, and it desired that renunciation from others, from the beloved. What a power is the love of a simple soul! It makes it find at once what the groping reasoning of an uncertain genius like Tolstoy, or the too refined art of a dying civilization, discovers after a lifetime—ages—of bitter struggle and exhausting effort! But the imperious world which was seething in Christophe had very different laws and demanded another wisdom.

For a long time he had been wanting to announce his determination to his mother. But he was fearful of the grief it would bring to her, and just as he was about to speak he would lose his courage and put it off. Two or three times he did timidly allude to his departure, but Louisa did not take him seriously:—perhaps she preferred not to take him seriously, so as to persuade him that he was talking in jest. Then he dared not go on; but he would remain gloomy and thoughtful, or it was apparent that he had some secret burden upon his soul. And the poor woman, who had an intuition as to the nature of that secret, tried fearfully to delay the confession of it. Sometimes in the evening, when they were sitting, silent, in the light of the lamp, she would suddenly feel that he was going to speak, and then in terror she would begin to talk, very quickly, at random, about nothing in particular. She hardly knew what she was saying, but at all costs she must keep him from speaking. Generally her instinct made her find the best means of imposing silence on him: she would complain about her health, about the swelling of her hands and feet, and the cramps in her legs. She would exaggerate her sickness: call herself an old, useless, bed-ridden woman. He was not deceived by her simple tricks. He would look at her sadly in dumb reproach, and after a moment he would get up, saying that he was tired, and go to bed.

But all her devices could not save Louisa for long. One evening, when she resorted to them once more, Christophe gathered his courage and put his hand on his mother’s and said:

"No, mother. I have something to say to you." Louisa was horrified, but she tried to smile and say chokingly:

"What is it, my dear?"

Christophe stammered out his intention of going. She tried to take it as a joke and to turn the conversation as usual, but he was not to be put off, and went on so deliberately and so seriously that there was no possibility of doubt. Then she said nothing. Her pulse stopped, and she sat there dumb, frozen, looking at him with terror in her eyes. Such sorrow showed in her eyes as he spoke that he too stopped, and they sat, both speechless. When at last she was able to recover her breath, she said—(her lips trembled)—:

"It is impossible…. It is impossible…."

Two large tears trickled down her cheeks. He turned his head away in despair and hid his face in his hands. They wept. After some time he went to his room and shut himself up until the morrow. They made no reference to what had happened, and as he did not speak of it again she tried to pretend that he had abandoned the project. But she lived on tenterhooks.

There came a time when he could hold himself in no longer. He had to speak even if it broke his heart: he was suffering too much. The egoism of his sorrow mastered the idea of the suffering he would bring to her. He spoke. He went through with it, never looking at his mother, for fear of being too greatly moved. He fixed the day for his departure so as to avoid a second discussion—(he did not know if he could again win the sad courage that was in him that day). Louisa cried:

"No, no! Stop, stop!…"

He set his teeth and went on implacably. When he had finished (she was sobbing) he took her hands and tried to make her understand how it was absolutely necessary for his art and his life for him to go away for some time. She refused to listen. She wept and said:

"No, no!… I will not…."

After trying to reason with her, in vain, he left her, thinking that the night would bring about a change in her ideas. But when they met next day at breakfast he began once more to talk of his plans. She dropped the piece of bread she was raising to her lips and said sorrowfully and reproachfully:

"Why do you want to torture me?"

He was touched, but he said:

"Dear mother, I must."

"No, no!" she replied. "You must not…. You want to hurt me…. It is a madness…."

They tried to convince each other, but they did not listen to each other. He saw that argument was wasted; it would only make her suffer more, and he began ostentatiously to prepare for his departure.

When she saw that no entreaty would stop him, Louisa relapsed into a gloomy stupor. She spent her days locked up in her room and without a light, when evening came. She did not speak or eat. At night he could hear her weeping. He was racked by it. He could have cried out in his grief, as he lay all night twisting and turning in his bed, sleeplessly, a prey to his remorse. He loved her so. Why must he make her suffer?… Alas! She would not be the only one: he saw that clearly…. Why had destiny given him the desire and strength of a mission which must make those whom he loved suffer?

"Ah!" he thought. "If I were free, if I were not drawn on by the cruel need of being what I must be, or else of dying in shame and disgust with myself, how happy would I make you—you whom I love! Let me live first; do, fight, suffer, and then I will come hack to you and love you more than ever. How I would like only to love, love, love!…"

He never could have been strong enough to resist the perpetual reproach of the grief-stricken soul had that reproach been strong enough to remain silent. But Louisa, who was weak and rather talkative, could not keep the sorrow that was stifling her to herself. She told her neighbors. She told her two other sons. They could not miss such a fine opportunity of putting Christophe in the wrong. Rodolphe especially, who had never ceased to be jealous of his elder brother, although there was little enough reason for it at the time—Rodolphe, who was cut to the quick by the least praise of Christophe, and was secretly afraid of his future success, though he never dared admit so base a thought—(for he was clever enough to feel his brother’s force, and to be afraid that others would feel it, too), Rodolphe was only too happy to crush Christophe beneath the weight of his superiority. He had never worried much about his mother, though he knew her straitened circumstances: although he was well able to afford to help her, he left it all to Christophe. But when he heard of Christophe’s intention he discovered at once hidden treasures of affection. He was furious at his proposing to leave his mother and called it monstrous egoism. He was impudent enough to tell Christophe so. He lectured him loftily like a child who deserves smacking: he told him stiffly of his duty towards his mother and of all that she had sacrificed for him. Christophe almost burst with rage. He kicked Rodolphe out and called him a rascal and a hypocrite. Rodolphe avenged himself by feeding his mother’s indignation. Excited by him, Louisa began to persuade herself that Christophe was behaving like a bad son. She tried to declare that he had mo right to go, and she was only too willing to believe it. Instead of using only her tears, which were her strongest weapon, she reproached Christophe bitterly and unjustly, and disgusted him. They said cruel things to each other: the result was that Christophe, who, till then, had been hesitating, only thought of hastening his preparations for his departure. He knew that the charitable neighbors were commiserating his mother and that in the opinion of the neighborhood she was regarded as a victim and himself as a monster. He set his teeth and would not go back on his resolve.

The days passed. Christophe and Louisa hardly spoke to each other. Instead of enjoying to the last drop their last days together, these two who loved each other wasted the time that was left—as too often happens—in one of those sterile fits of sullenness in which so many affections are swallowed up. They only met at meals, when they sat opposite each other, not looking at each other, never speaking, forcing themselves to eat a few mouthfuls, not so much for the sake of eating as for the sake of appearances. Christophe would contrive to mumble a few words, but Louisa would not reply; and when she tried to talk he would be silent. This state of things was intolerable to both of them, and the longer it went on the more difficult it became to break it. Were they going to part like that? Louisa admitted that she had been unjust and awkward, but she was suffering too much to know how to win back her son’s love, which she thought she had lost, and at all costs to prevent his departure, the idea of which she refused to face. Christophe stole glances at his mother’s pale, swollen face and he was torn by remorse; but he had made up his mind to go, and knowing that he was going forever out of her life, he wished cowardly to be gone to escape his remorse.

His departure was fixed for the next day but one. One of their sad meals had just come to an end. When they finished their supper, during which they had not spoken a word, Christophe withdrew to his room; and sitting at his desk, with his head in his hands—he was incapable of working—he became lost in thought. The night was drawing late: it was nearly one o’clock in the morning. Suddenly he heard a noise, a chair upset in the next room. The door opened and his mother appeared in her nightgown, barefooted, and threw her arms round his neck and sobbed. She was feverish. She kissed her son and moaned through her despairing sobs:

"Don’t go! Don’t go! I implore you! I implore you! My dear, don’t go!… I shall die…. I can’t, I can’t bear it!…"

He was alarmed and upset. He kissed her and said: "Dear mother, calm yourself, please, please!"

But she went on:

"I can’t bear it … I have only you. If you go, what will become of me? I shall die if you go. I don’t want to die away from you. I don’t want to die alone. Wait until I am dead!…"

Her words rent his heart. He did not know what to say to console her. What arguments could hold good against such an outpouring of love and sorrow! He took her on his knees and tried to calm her with kisses and little affectionate words. The old woman gradually became silent and wept softly. When she was a little comforted, he said:

"Go to bed. You will catch cold."

She repeated: "Don’t go!"

He said in a low voice: "I will not go."

She trembled and took his hand. "Truly?" she said. "Truly?"

He turned his head away sadly. "To-morrow," he answered, "I will tell you to-morrow…. Leave me now, please!…"

She got up meekly and went back to her room. Next morning she was ashamed of her despairing outburst which had come upon her like a madness in the middle of the night, and she was fearful of what her son would say to her. She waited for him, sitting in a corner of the room. She had taken up some knitting for occupation, but her hands refused to hold it. She let it fall. Christophe entered. They greeted each other in a whisper, without looking at each other. He was gloomy, and went and stood by the window, with his back to his mother, and he stayed without speaking. There was a great struggle in him. He knew the result of it already, and was trying to delay the issue. Louisa dared not speak a word to him and provoke the answer which she expected and feared. She forced herself to take up her knitting again, but she could not see what she was doing, and she dropped her stitches. Outside it was raining. After a long silence Christophe came to her. She did not stir, but her heart was beating. Christophe stood still and looked at her, then, suddenly, he went down on his knees and hid his face in his mother’s dress, and without saying a word, he wept. Then she understood that he was going to stay, and her heart was filled with a mortal agony of joy—but at once she was seized by remorse, for she felt all that her son was sacrificing for her, and she began to suffer all that Christophe had suffered when it was she whom he sacrificed. She bent over him and covered his brow and his hair with kisses. In silence their tears and their sorrow mingled. At last he raised his head, and Louisa took his face in her hands and looked into his eyes. She would have liked to say to him:


But she could not.

He would have liked to say to her:

"I am glad to stay."

But he could not.

The situation was hopeless; neither of them could alter it. She sighed in her sorrow and love:

"Ah! if we could all be born and all die together!" Her simple way filled him with tenderness; he dried his tears and tried to smile and said:

"We shall all die together."

She insisted:

"Truly you will not go?"

He got up:

"I have said so. Don’t let us talk about it. There is nothing more to be said."

Christophe kept his word; he never talked of going again, but he could not help thinking of it. He stayed, but he made his mother pay dearly for his sacrifice by his sadness and bad temper. And Louisa tactlessly—much more tactlessly than she knew, never failing to do what she ought not to have done—Louisa, who knew only too well the reason of his grief, insisted on his telling her what it was. She worried him with her affection, uneasy, vexing, argumentative, reminding him every moment that they were very different from each other—and that he was trying to forget. How often he had tried to open his heart to her! But just as he was about to speak the Great Wall of China would rise between them, and he would keep his secrets buried in himself. She would guess, but she never dared invite his confidence, or else she could not. When she tried she would succeed only in flinging back in him those secrets which weighed so sorely on him and which he was so longing to tell.

A thousand little things, harmless tricks, cut her off from him and irritated Christophe. The good old creature was doting. She had to talk about the local gossip, and she had that nurse’s tenderness which will recall all the silly little things of the earliest years, and everything that is associated with the cradle. We have such difficulty in issuing from it and growing into men and women! And Juliet’s nurse must forever be laying before us our duty-swaddling clothes, commonplace thoughts, the whole unhappy period in which the growing soul struggles against the oppression of vile matter or stifling surroundings!

And with it all she had little outbursts of touching tenderness—as though to a little child—which used to move him greatly and he would surrender to them—like a little child.

The worst of all to bear was living from morning to night as they did, together, always together, isolated from the rest of the world. When two people suffer and cannot help each other’s suffering, exasperation is fatal; each in the end holds the other responsible for the suffering; and each in the end believes it. It were better to be alone; alone in suffering.

It was a daily torment for both of them. They would never have broken free if chance had not come to break the cruel indecision, against which they were struggling, in a way that seemed unfortunate—but it was really fortunate.

It was a Sunday in October. Four o’clock in the afternoon. The weather was brilliant. Christophe had stayed in his room all day, chewing the cud of melancholy.

He could bear it no longer; he wanted desperately to go out, to walk, to expend his energy, to tire himself out, so as to stop thinking.

Relations with his mother had been strained since the day before. He was just going out without saying good-bye to her; but on the stairs he thought how it would hurt her the whole evening when she was left alone. He went back, making an excuse of having left something in his room. The door of his mother’s room was ajar. He put his head in through the aperture. He watched his mother for a, few moments…. (What a place those two seconds were to fill in his life ever after!)…

Louisa had just come in from vespers. She was sitting in her favorite place, the recess of the window. The wall of the house opposite, dirty white and cracked, obstructed the view, but from the corner where she sat she could see to the right through the yards of the next houses a little patch of lawn the size of a pocket-handkerchief. On the window-sill a pot of convolvulus climbed along its threads and over this frail ladder stretched its tendrils which were caressed by a ray of sunlight. Louisa was sitting in a low chair bending over her great Bible which was open on her lap, but she was not reading. Her hands were laid flat on the book—her hands with their swollen veins, worker’s nails, square and a little bent—and she was devouring with loving eyes the little plant and the patch of sky she could see through it. A sunbeam, basking on the green gold leaves, lit up her tired face, with its rather blotchy complexion, her white, soft, and rather thick hair, and her lips, parted in a smile. She was enjoying her hour of rest. It was the best moment of the week to her. She made use of it to sink into that state so sweet to those who suffer, when thoughts dwell on nothing, and in torpor nothing speaks save the heart and that is half asleep.

"Mother," he said, "I want to go out. I am going by Buir. I shall be rather late."

Louisa, who was dozing off, trembled a little. Then she turned her head towards him and looked at him with her calm, kind eyes.

"Yes, my dear, go," she said. "You are right; make use of the fine weather."

She smiled at him. He smiled at her. They looked at each other for a moment, then they said good-night affectionately, nodding and smiling with the eyes.

He closed the door softly. She slipped back into her reverie, which her son’s smile had lit up with a bright ray of light like the sunbeam on the pale leaves of the convolvulus.

So he left her—forever.

* * * * *

An October evening. A pale watery sun. The drowsy country is sinking to sleep. Little village bells are slowly ringing in the silence of the fields. Columns of smoke rise slowly in the midst of the plowed fields. A fine mist hovers in the distance. The white fogs are awaiting the coming of the night to rise…. A dog with his nose to the ground was running in circles in a field of beet. Great flocks of crows whirled against the gray sky.

Christophe went on dreaming, having no fixed object, but yet instinctively he was walking in a definite direction. For several weeks his walks round the town had gravitated whether he liked it or not towards another village where he was sure to meet a pretty girl who attracted him. It was only an attraction, but it was very vivid and rather disturbing. Christophe could hardly do without loving some one; and his heart was rarely left empty; it always had some lovely image for its idol. Generally it did not matter whether the idol knew of his love; his need was to love, the fire must never be allowed to go out; there must never be darkness in his heart.

The object of this new flame was the daughter of a peasant whom he had met, as Eliézer met Rebecca, by a well; but she did not give him to drink; she threw water in his face. She was kneeling by the edge of a stream in a hollow in the bank between two willows, the roots of which made a sort of nest about her; she was washing linen vigorously; and her tongue was not less active than her arms; she was talking and laughing loudly with other girls of the village who were washing opposite her or the other side of the stream. Christophe was lying in the grass a few yards away, and, with his chin resting in his hands, he watched them. They were not put out by it; they went on chattering in a style which sometimes did not lack bluntness. He hardly listened; he heard only the sound of their merry voices, mingling with the noise of their washing pots, and with the distant lowing of the cows in the meadows, and he was dreaming, never taking his eyes off the beautiful washerwoman. A bright young face would make him glad for a whole day. It was not long before the girls made out which of them he was looking at; and they made caustic remarks to each other; the girl he preferred was not the least cutting in the observations she threw at him. As he did not budge, she got up, took a bundle of linen washed and wrung, and began to lay it out on the bushes near him so as to have an excuse for looking at him. As she passed him she continued to splash him with her wet clothes and she looked at him boldly and laughed. She was thin and strong: she had a fine chin, a little underhung, a short nose, arching eyebrows, deep-set blue eyes, bold, bright and hard, a pretty mouth with thick lips, pouting a little like those of a Greek maid, a mass of fair hair turned up in a knot on her head, and a full color. She carried her head very erect, tittered at every word she said and even when she said nothing, and walked like a man, swinging her sunburned arms. She went on laying out hey linen while she looked at Christophe with a provoking smile—waiting for him to speak. Christophe stared at her too; but he had no desire to talk to her. At last she burst out laughing to his face and turned back towards her companions. He stayed lying where he was until evening fell and he saw her go with her bundle on her back and her bare arms crossed, her back bent under her load, still talking and laughing.

He saw her again a few days later at the town market among heaps of carrots and tomatoes and cucumbers and cabbages. He lounged about watching the crowd of women, selling, who were standing in a line by their baskets like slaves for sale. The police official went up to each of them with his satchel and roll of tickets, receiving a piece of money and giving a paper. The coffee seller went from row to row with a basket full of little coffee pots. And an old nun, plump and jovial, went round the market with two large baskets on her arms and without any sort of humility begged vegetables, or talked of the good God. The women shouted: the old scales with their green painted pans jingled and clanked with the noise of their chains; the big dogs harnessed to the little carts barked loudly, proud of their importance. In the midst of the rabble Christophe saw Rebecca.—Her real name was Lorchen (Eleanor).—On her fair hair she had placed a large cabbage leaf, green and white, which made a dainty lace cap for her. She was sitting on a basket by a heap of golden onions, little pink turnips, haricot beans, and ruddy apples, and she was munching her own apples one after another without trying to sell them. She never stopped eating. From time to time she would dry her chin and wipe it with her apron, brush back her hair with her arm, rub her cheek against her shoulder, or her nose with the back of her hand. Or, with her hands on her knees, she would go on and on throwing a handful of shelled peas from one to the other. And she would look to right and left idly and indifferently. But she missed nothing of what was going on about her. And without seeming to do so she marked every glance cast in her direction. She saw Christophe. As she talked to her customers she had a way of raising her eyebrows and looking at her admirer over their heads. She was as dignified and serious as a Pope; but inwardly she was laughing at Christophe. And he deserved it; he stood there a few yards away devouring her with his eyes, then he went away without speaking to her. He had not the least desire to do so.

He came back more than once to prowl round the market and the village where she lived. She would be about the yard of the farm; he would stop on the road to look at her. He did not admit that he came to see her, and indeed he did so almost unconsciously. When, as often happened, he was absorbed by the composition of some work he would be rather like a somnambulist: while his conscious soul was following its musical ideas the rest of him would be delivered up to the other unconscious soul which is forever watching for the smallest distraction of the mind to take the freedom of the fields. He was often bewildered by the buzzing of his musical ideas when he was face to face with her; and he would go on dreaming as he watched her. He could not have said that he loved her; he did not even think of that; it gave him pleasure to see her, nothing more. He did not take stock of the desire which was always bringing him back to her.

His insistence was remarked. The people at the farm joked about it, for they had discovered who Christophe was. But they left him in peace; for he was quite harmless. He looked silly enough in truth; but he never bothered about it.

* * * * *

There was a holiday in the village. Little boys were crushing crackers between stones and shouting "God save the Emperor!" ("Kaiser lebe! Hoch!"). A cow shut up in the barn and the men drinking at the inn were to be heard. Kites with long tails like comets dipped and swung in the air above the fields. The fowls were scratching frantically in the straw and the golden dung-heap; the wind blew out their feathers like the skirts of an old lady. A pink pig was sleeping voluptuously on his side in the sun.

Christophe made his way towards the red roof of the inn of the Three Kings above which floated a little flag. Strings of onions hung by the door, and the windows were decorated with red and yellow flowers. He went into the saloon, filled with tobacco smoke, where yellowing chromos hung on the walls and in the place of honor a colored portrait of the Emperor-King surrounded with a wreath of oak leaves. People were dancing. Christophe was sure his charmer would be there. He sat in a corner of the room from which he could watch the movement of the dancers undisturbed. But in spite of all this care to pass unnoticed Lorchen spied him out in his corner. While she waltzed indefatigably she threw quick glances at him over her partner’s shoulder to make sure that he was still looking at her; and it amused her to excite him; she coquetted with the young men of the village, laughing the while with her wide mouth. She talked a great deal and said silly things and was not very different from the girls of the polite world who think they must laugh and move about and play to the gallery when anybody looks at them, instead of keeping their foolishness to themselves. But they are not so very foolish either; for they know quite well that the gallery only looks at them and does not listen to what they say.—With his elbows on the table and his chin in his hands Christophe watched the girl’s tricks with burning, furious eyes; his mind was free enough not to be taken in by her wiles, but he was not enough himself not to be led on by them; and he growled with rage and he laughed in silence and shrugged his shoulders in falling into the snare.

Not only the girl was watching him; Lorchen’s father also had his eyes on him. Thick-set and short, bald-headed—a big head with a short nose—sunburned skull with a fringe of hair that had been fair and hung in thick curls like Dürer’s St. John, clean-shaven, expressionless face, with a long pipe in the corner of his mouth, he was talking very deliberately to some other peasants while all the time he was watching Christophe’s pantomime out of the corner of his eye; and he laughed softly. After a moment he coughed and a malicious light shone in his little gray eyes and he came and sat at Christophe’s table. Christophe was annoyed and turned and scowled at him; he met the cunning look of the old man, who addressed Christophe familiarly without taking his pipe from his lips. Christophe knew him; he knew him for a common old man; but his weakness for his daughter made him indulgent towards the father and even gave him a queer pleasure in being with him; the old rascal saw that. After talking about rain and fine weather and some chaffing reference to the pretty girls in the room, and a remark on Christophe’s not dancing he concluded that Christophe was right not to put himself out and that it was much better to sit at table with a mug in his hand; without ceremony he invited himself to have a drink. While he drank the old man went on talking deliberately as always. He spoke about his affairs, the difficulty of gaining a livelihood, the bad weather and high prices. Christophe hardly listened and only replied with an occasional grunt; he was not interested; he was looking at Lorchen. Christophe wondered what had procured him the honor of the old man’s company and confidences. At last he understood. When the old man had exhausted his complaints he passed on to another chapter; he praised the quality of his produce, his vegetables, his fowls, his eggs, his milk, and suddenly he asked if Christophe could not procure him the custom of the Palace. Christophe started:

"How the devil did he know?… He knew him then?"

"Oh, yes," said the old man. "Everything is known …" He did not add:

"… when you take the trouble to make enquiries."

But Christophe added it for him. He took a wicked pleasure in telling him that although everything was known, he was no doubt unaware that he had just quarreled with the Court and that if he had ever been able to flatter himself on having some credit with the servants’ quarters and butchers of the Palace—(which he doubted strongly)—that credit at present was dead and buried. The old man’s lips twitched imperceptibly. However, he was not put out and after a moment he asked if Christophe could not at least recommend him to such and such a family. And he mentioned all those with whom Christophe had had dealings; for he had informed himself of them at the market, and there was no danger of his forgetting any detail that might be useful to him. Christophe would have been furious at such spying upon him had he not rather wanted to laugh at the thought that the old man would be robbed in spite of all his cunning (for he had no doubt of the value of the recommendation he was asking—a recommendation more likely to make him lose his customers than to procure him fresh ones). So he let him empty all his bag of clumsy tricks and answered neither "Yes" nor "No." But the peasant persisted and finally he came down to Christophe and Louisa whom he had kept for the end, and expressed his keen desire to provide them with milk, butter and cream. He added that as Christophe was a musician nothing was so good for the voice as a fresh egg swallowed raw morning and evening; and he tried hard to make him let him provide him with these, warm from the hen. The idea of the old peasant taking him for a singer made Christophe roar with laughter. The peasant took advantage of that to order another bottle. And then having got all he could out of Christophe for the time being he went away without further ceremony.

Night had fallen. The dancing had become more and more excited. Lorchen had ceased to pay any attention to Christophe; she was too busy turning the head of a young lout of the village, the son of a rich farmer, for whom all the girls were competing. Christophe was interested by the struggle; the young women smiled at each other and would have been only too pleased to scratch each other. Christophe forgot himself and prayed for the triumph of Lorchen. But when her triumph was won he felt a little downcast. He was enraged by it. He did not love Lorchen; he did not want to be loved by her; it was natural that she should love anybody she liked.—No doubt. But it was not pleasant to receive so little sympathy himself when he had so much need of giving and receiving. Here, as in the town, he was alone. All these people were only interested in him while they could make use of him and then laugh at him. He sighed, smiled as he looked at Lorchen, whom her joy in the discomfiture of her rivals had made ten times prettier than ever, and got ready to go. It was nearly nine. He had fully two miles to go to the town.

He got up from the table when the door opened and a handful of soldiers burst in. Their entry dashed the gaiety of the place. The people began to whisper. A few couples stopped dancing to look uneasily at the new arrivals. The peasants standing near the door deliberately turned their backs on them and began to talk among themselves; but without seeming to do so they presently contrived to leave room for them to pass. For some time past the whole neighborhood had been at loggerheads with the garrisons of the fortresses round it. The soldiers were bored to death and wreaked their vengeance on the peasants. They made coarse fun of them, maltreated them, and used the women as though they were in a conquered country. The week before some of them, full of wine, had disturbed a feast at a neighboring village and had half killed a farmer. Christophe, who knew these things, shared the state of mind of the peasant, and he sat down again and waited to see what would happen.

The soldiers were not worried by the ill-will with which their entry was received, and went noisily and sat down at the full tables, jostling the people away from them to make room; it was the affair of a moment. Most of the people, went away grumbling. An old man sitting at the end of a bench did not move quickly enough; they lifted the bench and the old man toppled over amid roars of laughter. Christophe felt the blood rushing to his head; he got up indignantly; but, as he was on the point of interfering, he saw the old man painfully pick himself up and instead of complaining humbly crave pardon. Two of the soldiers came to Christophe’s table; he watched them come and clenched his fists. But he did not have to defend himself. They were two tall, strong, good-humored louts, who had followed sheepishly one or two daredevils and were trying to imitate them. They were intimidated by Christophe’s defiant manner, and when he said curtly: "This place is taken," they hastily begged his pardon and withdrew to their end of the bench so as not to disturb him. There had been a masterful inflection in his voice; their natural servility came to the fore. They saw that Christophe was not a peasant.

Christophe was a little mollified by their submission, and was able to watch things more coolly. It was not difficult to see that the gang were led by a non-commissioned officer—a little bull-dog of a man with hard eyes—with a rascally, hypocritical and wicked face; he was one of the heroes of the affray of the Sunday before. He was sitting at the table next to Christophe. He was drunk already and stared at the people and threw insulting sarcasms at them which they pretended not to hear. He attacked especially the couples dancing, describing their physical advantages or defects with a coarseness of expression which made his companions laugh. The girls blushed and tears came to their eyes; the young men ground their teeth and raged in silence. Their tormentor’s eyes wandered slowly round the room, sparing nobody; Christophe saw them moving towards himself. He seized his mug, and clenched his fist on the table and waited, determined to throw the liquor at his head on the first insult. He said to himself:

"I am mad. It would be better to go away. They will slit me up; and then if I escape they will put me in prison; the game is not worth the candle. I’d better go before he provokes me."

But his pride would not let him, he would not seem to be running away from such brutes as these. The officer’s cunning brutal stare was fixed on him. Christophe stiffened and glared at him angrily. The officer looked at him for a moment; Christophe’s face irritated him; he nudged his neighbor and pointed out the young man with a snigger; and he opened his lips to insult him. Christophe gathered himself together and was just about to fling his mug at him…. Once more chance saved him. Just as the drunken man was about to speak an awkward couple of dancers bumped into him and made him drop his glass. He turned furiously and let loose a flood of insults. His attention was distracted; he forgot Christophe. Christophe waited for a few minutes longer; then seeing that his enemy had no thought of going on with his remarks he got up, slowly took his hat and walked leisurely towards the door. He did not take his eyes off the bench where the other was sitting, just to let him feel that he was not giving in to him. But the officer had forgotten him altogether; no one took any notice of him.

He was just turning the handle of the door; in a few seconds he would have been outside. But it was ordered that he should not leave so soon. An angry murmur rose at the end of the room. When the soldiers had drunk they had decided to dance. And as all the girls had their cavaliers they drove away their partners, who submitted to it. But Lorchen was not going to put up with that. It was not for nothing that she had her bold eyes and her firm chin which so charmed Christophe. She was waltzing like a mad thing when the officer who had fixed his choice upon her came and pulled her partner away from her. She stamped with her foot, screamed, and pushed the soldier away, declaring that she would never dance with such a boor. He pursued her. He dispersed with his fists the people behind whom she was trying to hide. At last she took refuge behind a table; and then protected from him for a moment she took breath to scream abuse at him; she saw that all her resistance would be useless and she stamped with rage and groped for the most violent words to fling at him and compared his face to that of various animals of the farm-yard. He leaned towards her over the table, smiled wickedly, and his eyes glittered with rage. Suddenly he pounced and jumped over the table. He caught hold of her. She struggled with feet and fists like the cow-woman she was. He was not too steady on his legs and almost lost his balance. In his fury he flung her against the wall and slapped her face. He had no time to do it again; some one had jumped on his back, and was cuffing him and kicking him back into the crowd. It was Christophe who had flung himself on him, overturning tables and people without stopping to think of what he was doing. Mad with rage, the officer turned and drew his saber. Before he could make use of it Christophe felled him with a stool. The whole thing had been So sudden that none of the spectators had time to think of interfering. The other soldiers ran to Christophe drawing their sabers. The peasants flung themselves at them. The uproar became general. Mugs flew across the room; the tables were overturned. The peasants woke up; they had old scores to pay off. The men rolled about on the ground and bit each other savagely. Lorchen’s partner, a stolid farm-hand, had caught hold of the head of the soldier who had just insulted him and was banging it furiously against the wall. Lorchen, armed with a cudgel, was striking out blindly. The other girls ran away screaming, except for a few wantons who joined in heartily. One of them—a fat little fair girl—seeing a gigantic soldier—the same who had sat at Christophe’s table—crushing in the chest of his prostrate adversary with his boot, ran to the fire, came back, dragged the brute’s head backwards and flung a handful of burning ashes into his eyes. The man bellowed. The girl gloated, abused the disarmed enemy, whom the peasants now thwacked at their ease. At last the soldiers finding themselves on the losing side rushed away leaving two of their number on the floor. The fight went on in the village street. They burst into the houses crying murder, and trying to smash everything. The peasants followed them with forks, and set their savage dogs on them. A third soldier fell with his belly cleft by a fork. The others had to fly and were hunted out of the village, and from a distance they shouted as they ran across the fields that they would fetch their comrades and come back immediately.

The peasants, left masters of the field, returned to the inn; they were exultant; it was a revenge for all the outrages they had suffered for so long. They had as yet no thought of the consequences of the affray. They all talked at once and boasted of their prowess. They fraternized with Christophe, who was delighted to feel in touch with them. Lorchen came and took his hand and held it for a moment in her rough paw while she giggled at him. She did not think him ridiculous for the moment.

They looked to the wounded. Among the villagers there were only a few teeth knocked out, a few ribs broken and a few slight bruises and scars. But it was very different with the soldiers. They were seriously injured: the giant whose eyes had been burned had had his shoulder half cut off with a hatchet; the man whose belly had been pierced was dying; and there was the officer who had been knocked down by Christophe. They were laid out by the hearth. The officer, who was the least injured of the three, had just opened his eyes. He took a long look at the ring of peasants leaning over him, a look filled with hatred. Hardly had he regained consciousness of what had happened than he began to abuse them. He swore that he would be avenged and would settle their hash, the whole lot of them; he choked with rage; it was palpable that if he could he would exterminate them. They tried to laugh, but their laughter was forced. A young peasant shouted to the wounded man:

"Hold your gab or I’ll kill you."

The officer tried to get up, and he glared at the man who had just spoken to him with blood-shot eyes:

"Swine!" he said. "Kill me! They’ll cut your heads off."

He went on shouting. The man who had been ripped up screamed like a bleeding pig. The third was stiff and still like a dead man. A crushing terror came over the peasants. Lorchen and some women carried the wounded men to another room. The shouts of the officer and the screams of the dying man died away. The peasants were silent; they stood fixed in the circle as though the three bodies were still lying at their feet; they dared not budge and looked at each other in panic. At last Lorchen’s father said:

"You have done a fine piece of work!"

There was an agonized murmuring; their throats were dry. Then they began all to talk at once. At first they whispered as though they were afraid of eavesdroppers, but soon they raised their voices and became more vehement; they accused each other; they blamed each other for the blows they had struck. The dispute became acrid; they seemed to be on the point of going for each other. Lorchen’s father brought them to unanimity. With his arms folded he turned towards Christophe and jerked his chin at him:

"And," he said, "what business had this fellow here?"

The wrath of the rabble was turned on Christophe:

"True! True!" they cried. "He began it! But for him nothing would have happened."

Christophe was amazed. He tried to reply:

"You know perfectly that what I did was for you, not for myself."

But they replied furiously:

"Aren’t we capable of defending ourselves? Do you think we need a gentleman from the town to tell us what we should do? Who asked your advice? And besides who asked you to come? Couldn’t you stay at home?"

Christophe shrugged his shoulders and turned towards the door. But

Lorchen’s father barred the way, screaming:

"That’s it! That’s it!" he shouted. "He would like to cut away now after getting us all into a scrape. He shan’t go!"

The peasants roared:

"He shan’t go! He’s the cause of it all. He shall pay for it all!"

They surrounded him and shook their fists at him. Christophe saw the circle of threatening faces closing in upon him; fear had infuriated them. He said nothing, made a face of disgust, threw his hat on the table, went and sat at the end of the room, and turned his back on them.

But Lorchen was angry and flung herself at the peasants. Her pretty face was red and scowling with rage. She pushed back the people who were crowding round Christophe:

"Cowards! Brute beasts!" she cried. "Aren’t you ashamed? You want to pretend that he brought it all on you! As if they did not see you all! As if there was a single one of you who had not hit out his hand as he could!… If there had been a man who had stayed with his arms folded while the others were fighting I would spit in his face and call him: Coward! Coward!…"

The peasants, surprised by this unexpected outburst, stayed for a moment in silence; they began to shout again:

"He began it! Nothing would have happened but for him."

In vain did Lorchen’s father make signs to his daughter. She went on:

"Yes. He did begin it! That is nothing for you to boast about. But for him you would have let them insult you. You would have let them insult you. You cowards! You funks!"

She abused her partner:

"And you, you said nothing. Your heart was in your mouth; you held out your bottom to be kicked. You would have thanked them for it! Aren’t you ashamed?… Aren’t you all ashamed? You are not men! You’re as brave as sheep with your noses to the ground all the time! He had to give you an example!—And now you want to make him bear everything?… Well, I tell you, that shan’t happen! He fought for us. Either you save him or you’ll suffer along with him. I give you my word for it!"

Lorchen’s father caught her arm. He was beside himself and shouted:

"Shut up! Shut up!… Will you shut up, you bitch!"

But she thrust him away and went on again. The peasants yelled. She shouted louder than they in a shrill, piercing scream:

"What have you to say to it all? Do you think I did not see you just now kicking the man who is lying half dead in the next room? And you, show me your hands!… There’s blood on them. Do you think I did not see you with your knife? I shall tell everything I saw if you do the least thing against him. I will have you all condemned."

The infuriated peasants thrust their faces into Lorchen’s and bawled at her. One of them made as though to box her ears, but Lorchen’s lover seized him by the scruff of the neck and they jostled each other and were on the point of coming to blows. An old man said to Lorchen:

"If we are condemned, you will be too."

"I shall be too," she said, "I am not so cowardly as you."

And she burst out again.

They did not know what to do. They turned to her father:

"Can’t you make her be silent?"

The old man had understood that it was not wise to push Lorchen too far. He signed to them to be calm. Silence came. Lorchen went on talking alone; then as she found no response, like a fire without fuel, she stopped. After a moment her father coughed and said:

"Well, then, what do you want? You don’t want to ruin us."

She said:

"I want him to be saved."

They began to think. Christophe had not moved from where he sat; he was stiff and proud and seemed not to understand that they were discussing him; but he was touched by Lorchen’s intervention. Lorchen seemed not to be aware of his presence; she was leaning against the table by which he was sitting, and glaring defiantly at the peasants, who were smoking and looking down at the ground. At last her father chewed his pipe for a little and said:

"Whether we say anything or not,—if he stays he is done for. The sergeant major recognized him; he won’t spare him. There is only one thing for him to do—to get away at once to the other side of the frontier."

He had come to the conclusion it would be better for them all If Christophe escaped; in that way he would admit his guilt, and when he was no longer there to defend himself it would not be difficult to put upon him the burden of the affair. The others agreed. They understood each other perfectly.—Now that they had come to a decision they were all in a hurry for Christophe to go. Without being in the least embarrassed by what they had been saying a moment before they came up to him and pretended to be deeply interested in his welfare.

"There is not a moment to lose, sir," said Lorchen’s father. "They will come back. Half an hour to go to the fortress. Half an hour to come back…. There is only just time to slip away."

Christophe had risen. He too had been thinking. He knew that if he stayed he was lost. But to go, to go without seeing his mother?… No. It was impossible. He said that he would first go back to the town and would still have time to go during the night and cross the frontier. But they protested loudly. They had barred the door just before to prevent his going; now they wanted to prevent his not going. If he went back to the town he was certain to be caught; they would know at the fortress before he got there; they would await him at home.—He insisted. Lorchen had understood him:

"You want to see your mother?… I will go instead of you."



"Really! You will do that?"

"I will go."

She took her shawl and put it round her head.

"Write a letter. I will take it to her. Come with me. I will give you some ink."

She took him into the inner room. At the door she turned, and addressing her lover:

"And do you get ready," she said. "You must take him. You must not leave him until you have seen him over the frontier."

He was as eager as anybody to see Christophe over into France and farther if possible.

Lorchen went into the next room with Christophe. He was still hesitating. He was torn by grief at the thought that he would not be able to embrace his mother. When would he see her again? She was so old, so worn out, so lonely! This fresh blow would be too much for her. What would become of her without him?… But what would become of him if he stayed and were condemned and put in prison for years? Would not that even more certainly mean destitution and misery for her? If he were free, though far away, he could always help her, or she could come to him.—He had not time to see clearly in his mind. Lorchen took his hands—she stood near him and looked at him; their faces were almost touching; she threw her arms round his neck and kissed his mouth:

"Quick! Quick!" she whispered, pointing to the table, He gave up trying to think. He sat down. She tore a sheet of squared paper with red lines from an account book.

He wrote:

"My DEAR MOTHER: Forgive me. I am going to hurt you much. I cannot do otherwise. I have done nothing wrong. But now I must fly and leave the country. The girl who brings you this letter will tell you everything. I wanted to say good-bye to you. They will not let me. They say that I should be arrested. I am so unhappy that I have no will left. I am going over the frontier but I shall stay near it until you have written to me; the girl who brings you my letter will bring me your reply. Tell me what to do. I will do whatever you say. Do you want me to come back? Tell me to come back! I cannot bear the idea of leaving you alone. What will you do to live? Forgive me! Forgive me! I love you and I kiss you…."

"Be quick, sir, or we shall be too late," said Lorchen’s swain, pushing the door open.

Christophe wrote his name hurriedly and gave the letter to Lorchen.

"You will give it to her yourself?"

"I am going," she said.

She was already ready to go.

"To-morrow," she went on, "I will bring you her reply; you must wait for me at Leiden,—(the first station beyond the German frontier)—on the platform."

(She had read Christophe’s letter over his shoulder as he wrote.)

"You will tell me everything and how she bore the blow and everything she says to you? You will not keep anything from me?" said Christophe beseechingly.

"I will tell you everything."

They were not so free to talk now, for the young man was at the door watching them:

"And then, Herr Christophe," said Lorchen, "I will go and see her sometimes and I will send you news of her; do not be anxious."

She shook hands with him vigorously like a man.

"Let us go!" said the peasant.

"Let us go!" said Christophe.

All three went out. On the road they parted. Lorchen went one way and Christophe, with his guide, the other. They did not speak. The crescent moon veiled in mists was disappearing behind the woods. A pale light hovered over the fields. In the hollows the mists had risen thick and milky white. The shivering trees were bathed in the moisture of the air.—They were not more than a few minutes gone from the village when the peasant flung back sharply and signed to Christophe to stop. They listened. On the road in front of them they heard the regular tramp of a troop of soldiers coming towards them. The peasant climbed the hedge into the fields. Christophe followed him. They walked away across the plowed fields. They heard the soldiers go by on the road. In the darkness the peasant shook his fist at them. Christophe’s heart stopped like a hunted animal that hears the baying of the hounds. They returned to the road again, avoiding the villages and isolated farms where the barking of the dogs betrayed them to the countryside. On the slope of a wooded hill they saw in the distance the red lights of the railway. They took the direction of the signals and decided to go to the first station. It was not easy. As they came down into the valley they plunged into the fog. They had to jump a few streams. Soon they found themselves in immense fields of beetroot and plowed land; they thought they would never be through. The plain was uneven; there were little rises and hollows into which they were always in danger of falling. At last after walking blindly through the fog they saw suddenly a few yards away the signal light of the railway at the top of an embankment. They climbed the bank. At the risk of being run over they followed the rails until they were within a hundred yards of the station; then they took to the road again. They reached the station twenty minutes before the train went. In spite of Lorchen’s orders the peasant left Christophe; he was in a hurry to go back to see what had happened to the others and to his own property.

Christophe took a ticket for Leiden and waited alone in the empty third-class waiting room. An official who was asleep on a seat came and looked at Christophe’s ticket and opened the door for him when the train came in. There was nobody in the carriage. Everybody in the train was asleep. In the fields all was asleep. Only Christophe did not sleep in spite of his weariness. As the heavy iron wheels approached the frontier he felt a fearful longing to be out of reach. In an hour he would be free. But till then a word would be enough to have him arrested…. Arrested! His whole being revolted at the word. To be stifled by odious force!… He could not breathe. His mother, his country, that he was leaving, were no longer in his thoughts. In the egoism of his threatened liberty he thought only of that liberty of his life which he wished to save. Whatever it might cost! Even at the cost of crime. He was bitterly sorry that he had taken the train instead of continuing the journey to the frontier on foot. He had wanted to gain a few hours. A fine gain! He was throwing himself into the jaws of the wolf. Surely they were waiting for him at the frontier station; orders must have been given; he would be arrested…. He thought for a moment of leaving the train while it was moving, before it reached the station; he even opened the door of the carriage, but it was too late; the train was at the station. It stopped. Fire minutes. An eternity. Christophe withdrew to the end of the compartment and hid behind the curtain and anxiously watched the platform on which a gendarme was standing motionless. The station master came out of his office with a telegram in his hand and went hurriedly up to the gendarme. Christophe had no doubt that it was about himself. He looked for a weapon. He had only a strong knife with two blades. He opened it in his pocket. An official with a lamp on his chest had passed the station master and was running along the train. Christophe saw him coming. His fist closed on the handle of the knife in his pocket and he thought:

"I am lost."

He was in such a state of excitement that he would have been capable of plunging the knife into the man’s breast if he had been unfortunate enough to come straight to him and open his compartment. But the official stopped at the next carriage to look at the ticket of a passenger who had just taken his seat. The train moved on again. Christophe repressed the throbbing of his heart. He did not stir. He dared hardly say to himself that he was saved. He would not say it until he had crossed the frontier…. Day was beginning to dawn. The silhouettes of the trees were starting out of the night. A carriage was passing on the road like a fantastic shadow with a jingle of bells and a winking eye…. With his face close pressed to the window Christophe tried to see the post with the imperial arms which marked the bounds of his servitude. He was still looking for it in the growing light when the train whistled to announce its arrival at the first Belgian station.

He got up, opened the door wide, and drank in the icy air. Free! His whole life before him! The joy of life!… And at once there came upon him suddenly all the sadness of what he was leaving, all the sadness of what he was going to meet; and he was overwhelmed by the fatigue of that night of emotion. He sank down on the seat. He had hardly been in the station a minute. When a minute later an official opened the door of the carriage he found Christophe asleep. Christophe awoke, dazed, thinking he had been asleep an hour; he got out heavily and dragged himself to the customs, and when he was definitely accepted on foreign territory, having no more to defend himself, he lay down along a seat in the waiting room and dropped off and slept like a log.

* * * * *

He awoke about noon. Lorchen could hardly come before two or three o’clock. While he was waiting for the trains he walked up and down the platform of the little station. Then he went straight on into the middle of the fields; It was a gray and joyless day giving warning of the approach of winter. The light was dim. The plaintive whistle of a train stopping was all that broke the melancholy silence. Christophe stopped a few yards away from the frontier in the deserted country. Before him was a little pond, a clear pool of water, in which the gloomy sky was reflected. It was inclosed by a fence and two trees grew by its side. On the right, a poplar with leafless trembling top. Behind, a great walnut tree with black naked branches like a monstrous polypus. The black fruit of it swung heavily on it. The last withered leaves were decaying and falling one by one upon the still pond….

It seemed to him that he had already seen them, the two trees, the pond …—and suddenly he had one of those moments of giddiness which open great distances in the plain of life. A chasm in Time. He knew not where he was, who he was, in what age he lived, through how many ages he had been so. Christophe had a feeling that it had already been, that what was, now, was not, now, but in some other time. He was no longer himself. He was able to see himself from outside, from a great distance, as though it were some one else standing there in that place. He heard the buzzing of memory and of an unknown creature within himself; the blood boiled in his veins and roared:

"Thus … Thus .. Thus …"

The centuries whirled through him…. Many other Kraffts had passed through the experiences which were his on that day, and had tasted the wretchedness of the last hour on their native soil. A wandering race, banished everywhere for their independence and disturbing qualities. A race always the prey of an inner demon that never let it settle anywhere. A race attached to the soil from which it was torn, and never, never ceasing to love it.

Christophe in his turn was passing through these same sorrowful experiences; and he was finding on the way the footsteps of those who had gone before him. With tears in his eyes he watched his native land disappear in the mist, his country to which he had to say farewell.—Had he not ardently desired to leave it?—Yes; but now that he was actually leaving it he felt himself racked by anguish. Only a brutish heart can part without emotion from the motherland. Happy or unhappy he had lived with her; she was his mother and his comrade; he had slept in her, he had slept on her bosom, he was impregnated with her; in her bosom she held the treasure of his dreams, all his past life, the sacred dust of those whom he had loved. Christophe saw now in review the days of his life, and the dear men and women whom he was leaving on that soil or beneath it. His sufferings were not less dear to him than his joys. Minna, Sabine, Ada, his grandfather, Uncle Gottfried, old Schulz—all passed before him in the space of a few minutes. He could not tear himself away from the dead—(for he counted Ada also among the dead)—the idea of his mother whom he was leaving, the only living creature of all those whom he loved, among these phantoms was intolerable to him.

He was almost on the point of crossing the frontier again, so cowardly did his flight seem to him. He made up his mind that if the answer Lorchen was to bring him from his mother betrayed too great grief he would return at all costs. But if he received nothing? If Lorchen had not been able to reach Louisa, or to bring back the answer? Well, he would go back.

He returned to the station. After a grim time of waiting the train at last appeared. Christophe expected to see Lorchen’s bold face in the train; for he was sure she would keep her promise; but she did not appear. He ran anxiously from one compartment to another; he said to himself that if she had been in the train she would have been one of the first to get out. As he was plunging through the stream of passengers coming from the opposite direction he saw a face which he seemed to know. It was the face of a little girl of thirteen or fourteen, chubby, dimpled, and ruddy as an apple, with a little turned-up nose and a large mouth, and a thick plait coiled around her head. As he looked more closely at her he saw that she had in her hand an old valise very much like his own. She was watching him too like a sparrow; and when she saw that he was looking at her she came towards him; but she stood firmly in front of Christophe and stared at him with her little mouse-like eyes, without speaking a word. Christophe knew her; she was a little milkmaid at Lorchen’s farm. Pointing to the valise he said:

"That is mine, isn’t it?"

The girl did not move and replied cunningly:

"I’m not sure. Where do you come from, first of all?"


"And who sent it you?"

"Lorchen. Come. Give it me."

The little girl held out the valise.

"There it is."

And she added:

"Oh! But I knew you at once!"

"What were you waiting for then?"

"I was waiting for you to tell me that it was you."

"And Lorchen?" asked Christophe. "Why didn’t she come?"

The girl did not reply. Christophe understood that she did not want to say anything among all the people. They had first to pass through the customs. When that was done Christophe took the girl to the end of the platform:

"The police came," said the girl, now very talkative. "They came almost as soon as you had gone. They went into all the houses. They questioned everybody, and they arrested big Sami and Christian and old Kaspar. And also Mélanie and Gertrude, though they declared they had done nothing, and they wept; and Gertrude scratched the gendarmes. It was not any good then saying that you had done it all."

"I?" exclaimed Christophe.

"Oh! yes," said the girl quietly. "It was no good as you had gone. Then they looked for you everywhere and hunted for you in every direction."

"And Lorchen?"

"Lorchen was not there. She came back afterwards after she had been to the town."

"Did she see my mother?"

"Yes. Here is the letter. And she wanted to come herself, but she was arrested too."

"How did you manage to come?"

"Well, she came back to the village without being seen by the police, and she was going to set out again. But Irmina, Gertrude’s sister, denounced her. They came to arrest her. Then when she saw the gendarmes coming she went up to her room and shouted that she would come down in a minute, that she was dressing. I was in the vineyard behind the house; she called to me from the window: ’Lydia! Lydia!’ I went to her; she threw down your valise and the letter which your mother had given her, and she explained where I should find you. I ran, and here I am."

"Didn’t she say anything more?"

"Yes. She told me to give you this shawl to show you that I came from her."

Christophe recognized the white shawl with red spots and embroidered flowers which Lorchen had tied round her head when she left him on the night before. The naïve improbability of the excuse she had made for sending him such a love-token did not make him smile.

"Now," said the girl, "here is the return train. I must go home.


"Wait," said Christophe. "And the fare, what did you do about that?"

"Lorchen gave it me."

"Take this," said Christophe, pressing a few pieces of money into her hand.

He held her back as she was trying to go.

"And then…." he said.

He stooped and kissed her cheeks. The girl affected to protest.

"Don’t mind," said Christophe jokingly. "It was not for you."

"Oh! I know that," said the girl mockingly. "It was for Lorchen."

It was not only Lorchen that Christophe kissed as he kissed the little milkmaid’s chubby cheeks; it was all Germany.

The girl slipped away and ran towards the train which was just going. She hung out of the window and waved her handkerchief to him until she was out of sight. He followed with his eyes the rustic messenger who had brought him for the last time the breath of his country and of those he loved.

When she had gone he found himself utterly alone, this time, a stranger in a strange land. He had in his hand his mother’s letter and the shawl love-token. He pressed the shawl to his breast and tried to open the letter. But his hands trembled. What would he find in it? What suffering would be written in it?—No; he could not bear the sorrowful words of reproach which already he seemed to hear; he would retrace his steps.

At last he unfolded the letter and read: "My poor child, do not be anxious about me. I will be wise. God has punished me. I must not be selfish and keep you here. Go to Paris. Perhaps it will be better for you. Do not worry about me. I can manage somehow. The chief thing is that you should be happy. I kiss you. MOTHER.

"Write to me when you can."

Christophe sat down on his valise and wept.

* * * * *

The porter was shouting the train for Paris.

The heavy train was slowing down with a terrific noise. Christophe dried his tears, got up and said:

"I must go."

He looked at the sky in the direction in which Paris must be. The sky, dark everywhere, was even darker there. It was like a dark chasm. Christophe’s heart ached, but he said again:

"I must go."

He climbed into the train and leaning out of the window went on looking at the menacing horizon:

"O, Paris!" he thought, "Paris! Come to my aid! Save me! Save my thoughts!"

The thick fog grew denser still. Behind Christophe, above the country he was leaving, a little patch of sky, pale blue, large, like two eyes—like the eyes of Sabine—smiled sorrowfully through the heavy veil of clouds and then was gone. The train departed. Rain fell. Night fell.