Days of joy,
Like the torrents of spring
They hurried away.'
--_From an Old Ballad_.
At two o'clock in the night
he had gone back to his study. He had dismissed the servant after
the candles were lighted, and throwing himself into a low chair by
the hearth, he hid his face in both hands.
Never had he felt such
weariness of body and of spirit. He had passed the whole evening in
the company of charming ladies and cultivated men; some of the
ladies were beautiful, almost all the men were distinguished by
intellect or talent; he himself had talked with great success, even
with brilliance ... and, for all that, never yet had the _taedium
vitae_ of which the Romans talked of old, the 'disgust for life,'
taken hold of him with such irresistible, such suffocating force.
Had he been a little younger, he would have cried with misery,
weariness, and exasperation: a biting, burning bitterness, like the
bitter of wormwood, filled his whole soul. A sort of clinging
repugnance, a weight of loathing closed in upon him on all sides
like a dark night of autumn; and he did not know how to get free
from this darkness, this bitterness. Sleep it was useless to reckon
upon; he knew he should not sleep.
He fell to thinking ...
slowly, listlessly, wrathfully. He thought of the vanity, the
uselessness, the vulgar falsity of all things human. All the stages
of man's life passed in order before his mental gaze (he had himself
lately reached his fifty-second year), and not one found grace in
his eyes. Everywhere the same ever-lasting pouring of water into a
sieve, the ever-lasting beating of the air, everywhere the same
self-deception--half in good faith, half conscious--any toy to amuse
the child, so long as it keeps him from crying. And then, all of a
sudden, old age drops down like snow on the head, and with it the
ever-growing, ever-gnawing, and devouring dread of death ... and the
plunge into the abyss! Lucky indeed if life works out so to the end!
May be, before the end, like rust on iron, sufferings, infirmities
come.... He did not picture life's sea, as the poets depict it,
covered with tempestuous waves; no, he thought of that sea as a
smooth, untroubled surface, stagnant and transparent to its darkest
depths. He himself sits in a little tottering boat, and down below
in those dark oozy depths, like prodigious fishes, he can just make
out the shapes of hideous monsters: all the ills of life, diseases,
sorrows, madness, poverty, blindness.... He gazes, and behold, one
of these monsters separates itself off from the darkness, rises
higher and higher, stands out more and more distinct, more and more
loathsomely distinct.... An instant yet, and the boat that bears him
will be overturned! But behold, it grows dim again, it withdraws,
sinks down to the bottom, and there it lies, faintly stirring in the
slime.... But the fated day will come, and it will overturn the
He shook his head, jumped up
from his low chair, took two turns up and down the room, sat down to
the writing-table, and opening one drawer after another, began to
rummage among his papers, among old letters, mostly from women. He
could not have said why he was doing it; he was not looking for
anything--he simply wanted by some kind of external occupation to
get away from the thoughts oppressing him. Opening several letters
at random (in one of them there was a withered flower tied with a
bit of faded ribbon), he merely shrugged his shoulders, and glancing
at the hearth, he tossed them on one side, probably with the idea of
burning all this useless rubbish. Hurriedly, thrusting his hands
first into one, and then into another drawer, he suddenly opened his
eyes wide, and slowly bringing out a little octagonal box of
old-fashioned make, he slowly raised its lid. In the box, under two
layers of cotton wool, yellow with age, was a little garnet cross.
For a few instants he looked
in perplexity at this cross--suddenly he gave a faint cry....
Something between regret and delight was expressed in his features.
Such an expression a man's face wears when he suddenly meets some
one whom he has long lost sight of, whom he has at one time tenderly
loved, and who suddenly springs up before his eyes, still the same,
and utterly transformed by the years.
He got up, and going back to
the hearth, he sat down again in the arm-chair, and again hid his
face in his hands.... 'Why to-day? just to-day?' was his thought,
and he remembered many things, long since past.
This is what he
But first I must mention his
name, his father's name and his surname. He was called Dimitri
Here follows what he
It was the summer of 1840.
Sanin was in his twenty-second year, and he was in Frankfort on his
way home from Italy to Russia. He was a man of small property, but
independent, almost without family ties. By the death of a distant
relative, he had come into a few thousand roubles, and he had
decided to spend this sum abroad before entering the service, before
finally putting on the government yoke, without which he could not
obtain a secure livelihood. Sanin had carried out this intention,
and had fitted things in to such a nicety that on the day of his
arrival in Frankfort he had only just enough money left to take him
back to Petersburg. In the year 1840 there were few railroads in
existence; tourists travelled by diligence. Sanin had taken a place
in the '_bei-wagon_'; but the diligence did not start till eleven
o'clock in the evening. There was a great deal of time to be got
through before then. Fortunately it was lovely weather, and Sanin
after dining at a hotel, famous in those days, the White Swan, set
off to stroll about the town. He went in to look at Danneker's
Ariadne, which he did not much care for, visited the house of
Goethe, of whose works he had, however, only read _Werter_, and that
in the French translation. He walked along the bank of the Maine,
and was bored as a well-conducted tourist should be; at last at six
o'clock in the evening, tired, and with dusty boots, he found
himself in one of the least remarkable streets in Frankfort. That
street he was fated not to forget long, long after. On one of its
few houses he saw a signboard: 'Giovanni Roselli, Italian
confectionery,' was announced upon it. Sanin went into it to get a
glass of lemonade; but in the shop, where, behind the modest
counter, on the shelves of a stained cupboard, recalling a chemist's
shop, stood a few bottles with gold labels, and as many glass jars
of biscuits, chocolate cakes, and sweetmeats--in this room, there
was not a soul; only a grey cat blinked and purred, sharpening its
claws on a tall wicker chair near the window and a bright patch of
colour was made in the evening sunlight, by a big ball of red wool
lying on the floor beside a carved wooden basket turned upside down.
A confused noise was audible in the next room. Sanin stood a moment,
and making the bell on the door ring its loudest, he called, raising
his voice, 'Is there no one here?' At that instant the door from an
inner room was thrown open, and Sanin was struck dumb with
A young girl of nineteen ran
impetuously into the shop, her dark curls hanging in disorder on her
bare shoulders, her bare arms stretched out in front of her. Seeing
Sanin, she rushed up to him at once, seized him by the hand, and
pulled him after her, saying in a breathless voice, 'Quick, quick,
here, save him!' Not through disinclination to obey, but simply from
excess of amazement, Sanin did not at once follow the girl. He
stood, as it were, rooted to the spot; he had never in his life seen
such a beautiful creature. She turned towards him, and with such
despair in her voice, in her eyes, in the gesture of her clenched
hand, which was lifted with a spasmodic movement to her pale cheek,
she articulated, 'Come, come!' that he at once darted after her to
the open door.
In the room, into which he
ran behind the girl, on an old-fashioned horse-hair sofa, lay a boy
of fourteen, white all over--white, with a yellowish tinge like wax
or old marble--he was strikingly like the girl, obviously her
brother. His eyes were closed, a patch of shadow fell from his thick
black hair on a forehead like stone, and delicate, motionless
eyebrows; between the blue lips could be seen clenched teeth. He
seemed not to be breathing; one arm hung down to the floor, the
other he had tossed above his head. The boy was dressed, and his
clothes were closely buttoned; a tight cravat was twisted round his
The girl rushed up to him
with a wail of distress. 'He is dead, he is dead!' she cried; 'he
was sitting here just now, talking to me--and all of a sudden he
fell down and became rigid.... My God! can nothing be done to help
him? And mamma not here! Pantaleone, Pantaleone, the doctor!' she
went on suddenly in Italian. 'Have you been for the doctor?'
'Signora, I did not go, I
sent Luise,' said a hoarse voice at the door, and a little
bandy-legged old man came hobbling into the room in a lavender frock
coat with black buttons, a high white cravat, short nankeen
trousers, and blue worsted stockings. His diminutive little face was
positively lost in a mass of iron-grey hair. Standing up in all
directions, and falling back in ragged tufts, it gave the old man's
figure a resemblance to a crested hen--a resemblance the more
striking, that under the dark-grey mass nothing could be
distinguished but a beak nose and round yellow eyes.
'Luise will run fast, and I
can't run,' the old man went on in Italian, dragging his flat gouty
feet, shod in high slippers with knots of ribbon. 'I've brought some
In his withered, knotted
fingers, he clutched a long bottle neck.
'But meanwhile Emil will
die!' cried the girl, and holding out her hand to Sanin, 'O, sir, O
_mein Herr_! can't you do something for him?'
'He ought to be bled--it's an
apoplectic fit,' observed the old man addressed as Pantaleone.
Though Sanin had not the
slightest notion of medicine, he knew one thing for certain, that
boys of fourteen do not have apoplectic fits.
'It's a swoon, not a fit,' he
said, turning to Pantaleone. 'Have you got any brushes?'
The old man raised his little
'Brushes, brushes,' repeated
Sanin in German and in French. 'Brushes,' he added, making as though
he would brush his clothes.
The little old man understood
him at last.
'Ah, brushes! _Spazzette_! to
be sure we have!'
'Bring them here; we will
take off his coat and try rubbing him.'
'Good ... _Benone_! And ought
we not to sprinkle water on his head?'
'No ... later on; get the
brushes now as quick as you can.'
Pantaleone put the bottle on
the floor, ran out and returned at once with two brushes, one a
hair-brush, and one a clothes-brush. A curly poodle followed him in,
and vigorously wagging its tail, it looked up inquisitively at the
old man, the girl, and even Sanin, as though it wanted to know what
was the meaning of all this fuss.
Sanin quickly took the boy's
coat off, unbuttoned his collar, and pushed up his shirt-sleeves,
and arming himself with a brush, he began brushing his chest and
arms with all his might. Pantaleone as zealously brushed away with
the other--the hair-brush--at his boots and trousers. The girl flung
herself on her knees by the sofa, and, clutching her head in both
hands, fastened her eyes, not an eyelash quivering, on her brother.
Sanin rubbed on, and kept
stealing glances at her. Mercy! what a beautiful creature she was!
Her nose was rather large,
but handsome, aquiline-shaped; her upper lip was shaded by a light
down; but then the colour of her face, smooth, uniform, like ivory
or very pale milky amber, the wavering shimmer of her hair, like
that of the Judith of Allorio in the Palazzo-Pitti; and above all,
her eyes, dark-grey, with a black ring round the pupils, splendid,
triumphant eyes, even now, when terror and distress dimmed their
lustre.... Sanin could not help recalling the marvellous country he
had just come from.... But even in Italy he had never met anything
like her! The girl drew slow, uneven breaths; she seemed between
each breath to be waiting to see whether her brother would not begin
Sanin went on rubbing him,
but he did not only watch the girl. The original figure of
Pantaleone drew his attention too. The old man was quite exhausted
and panting; at every movement of the brush he hopped up and down
and groaned noisily, while his immense tufts of hair, soaked with
perspiration, flapped heavily from side to side, like the roots of
some strong plant, torn up by the water.
'You'd better, at least, take
off his boots,' Sanin was just saying to him.
The poodle, probably excited
by the unusualness of all the proceedings, suddenly sank on to its
front paws and began barking.
old man hissed at it. But at that instant the girl's face was
transformed. Her eyebrows rose, her eyes grew wider, and shone with
Sanin looked round ... A
flush had over-spread the lad's face; his eyelids stirred ... his
nostrils twitched. He drew in a breath through his still clenched
'Emil!' cried the girl ...
Slowly the big black eyes
opened. They still had a dazed look, but already smiled faintly; the
same faint smile hovered on his pale lips. Then he moved the arm
that hung down, and laid it on his chest.
'Emilio!' repeated the girl,
and she got up. The expression on her face was so tense and vivid,
that it seemed that in an instant either she would burst into tears
or break into laughter.
'Emil! what is it? Emil!' was
heard outside, and a neatly-dressed lady with silvery grey hair and
a dark face came with rapid steps into the room.
A middle-aged man followed
her; the head of a maid-servant was visible over their shoulders.
The girl ran to meet them.
'He is saved, mother, he is
alive!' she cried, impulsively embracing the lady who had just
'But what is it?' she
repeated. 'I come back ... and all of a sudden I meet the doctor and
The girl proceeded to explain
what had happened, while the doctor went up to the invalid who was
coming more and more to himself, and was still smiling: he seemed to
be beginning to feel shy at the commotion he had caused.
'You've been using friction
with brushes, I see,' said the doctor to Sanin and Pantaleone, 'and
you did very well.... A very good idea ... and now let us see what
further measures ...'
He felt the youth's pulse.
'H'm! show me your tongue!'
The lady bent anxiously over
him. He smiled still more ingenuously, raised his eyes to her, and
blushed a little.
It struck Sanin that he was
no longer wanted; he went into the shop. But before he had time to
touch the handle of the street-door, the girl was once more before
him; she stopped him.
'You are going,' she began,
looking warmly into his face; 'I will not keep you, but you must be
sure to come to see us this evening: we are so indebted to you--you,
perhaps, saved my brother's life, we want to thank you--mother wants
to. You must tell us who you are, you must rejoice with us ...'
'But I am leaving for Berlin
to-day,' Sanin faltered out.
'You will have time though,'
the girl rejoined eagerly. 'Come to us in an hour's time to drink a
cup of chocolate with us. You promise? I must go back to him! You
What could Sanin do?
'I will come,' he replied.
The beautiful girl pressed
his hand, fluttered away, and he found himself in the street.
When Sanin, an hour and a
half later, returned to the Rosellis' shop he was received there
like one of the family. Emilio was sitting on the same sofa, on
which he had been rubbed; the doctor had prescribed him medicine and
recommended 'great discretion in avoiding strong emotions' as being
a subject of nervous temperament with a tendency to weakness of the
heart. He had previously been liable to fainting-fits; but never had
he lost consciousness so completely and for so long. However, the
doctor declared that all danger was over. Emil, as was only suitable
for an invalid, was dressed in a comfortable dressing-gown; his
mother wound a blue woollen wrap round his neck; but he had a
cheerful, almost a festive air; indeed everything had a festive air.
Before the sofa, on a round table, covered with a clean cloth,
towered a huge china coffee-pot, filled with fragrant chocolate, and
encircled by cups, decanters of liqueur, biscuits and rolls, and
even flowers; six slender wax candles were burning in two
old-fashioned silver chandeliers; on one side of the sofa, a
comfortable lounge-chair offered its soft embraces, and in this
chair they made Sanin sit. All the inhabitants of the confectioner's
shop, with whom he had made acquaintance that day, were present, not
excluding the poodle, Tartaglia, and the cat; they all seemed happy
beyond expression; the poodle positively sneezed with delight, only
the cat was coy and blinked sleepily as before. They made Sanin tell
them who he was, where he came from, and what was his name; when he
said he was a Russian, both the ladies were a little surprised,
uttered ejaculations of wonder, and declared with one voice that he
spoke German splendidly; but if he preferred to speak French, he
might make use of that language, as they both understood it and
spoke it well. Sanin at once availed himself of this suggestion.
'Sanin! Sanin!' The ladies would never have expected that a Russian
surname could be so easy to pronounce. His Christian
name--'Dimitri'--they liked very much too. The elder lady observed
that in her youth she had heard a fine opera--Demetrio e
Polibio'--but that 'Dimitri' was much nicer than 'Demetrio.' In this
way Sanin talked for about an hour. The ladies on their side
initiated him into all the details of their own life. The talking
was mostly done by the mother, the lady with grey hair. Sanin learnt
from her that her name was Leonora Roselli; that she had lost her
husband, Giovanni Battista Roselli, who had settled in Frankfort as
a confectioner twenty--five years ago; that Giovanni Battista had
come from Vicenza and had been a most excellent, though fiery and
irascible man, and a republican withal! At those words Signora
Roselli pointed to his portrait, painted in oil-colours, and hanging
over the sofa. It must be presumed that the painter, 'also a
republican!' as Signora Roselli observed with a sigh, had not fully
succeeded in catching a likeness, for in his portrait the late
Giovanni Battista appeared as a morose and gloomy brigand, after the
style of Rinaldo Rinaldini! Signora Roselli herself had come from
'the ancient and splendid city of Parma where there is the wonderful
cupola, painted by the immortal Correggio!' But from her long
residence in Germany she had become almost completely Germanised.
Then she added, mournfully shaking her head, that all she had left
was _this_ daughter and _this_ son (pointing to each in turn with
her finger); that the daughter's name was Gemma, and the son's
Emilio; that they were both very good and obedient
children--especially Emilio ... ('Me not obedient!' her daughter put
in at that point. 'Oh, you're a republican, too!' answered her
mother). That the business, of course, was not what it had been in
the days of her husband, who had a great gift for the confectionery
line ... ('_Un grand uomo_!' Pantaleone confirmed with a severe
air); but that still, thank God, they managed to get along!
Gemma listened to her mother,
and at one minute laughed, then sighed, then patted her on the
shoulder, and shook her finger at her, and then looked at Sanin; at
last, she got up, embraced her mother and kissed her in the hollow
of her neck, which made the latter laugh extremely and shriek a
little. Pantaleone too was presented to Sanin. It appeared he had
once been an opera singer, a baritone, but had long ago given up the
theatre, and occupied in the Roselli family a position between that
of a family friend and a servant. In spite of his prolonged
residence in Germany, he had learnt very little German, and only
knew how to swear in it, mercilessly distorting even the terms of
abuse. '_Ferroflucto spitchebubbio_' was his favourite epithet for
almost every German. He spoke Italian with a perfect accent--for was
he not by birth from Sinigali, where may be heard '_lingua toscana
in bocca romana_'! Emilio, obviously, played the invalid and
indulged himself in the pleasant sensations of one who has only just
escaped a danger or is returning to health after illness; it was
evident, too, that the family spoiled him. He thanked Sanin
bashfully, but devoted himself chiefly to the biscuits and
sweetmeats. Sanin was compelled to drink two large cups of excellent
chocolate, and to eat a considerable number of biscuits; no sooner
had he swallowed one than Gemma offered him another--and to refuse
was impossible! He soon felt at home: the time flew by with
incredible swiftness. He had to tell them a great deal--about Russia
in general, the Russian climate, Russian society, the Russian
peasant--and especially about the Cossacks; about the war of 1812,
about Peter the Great, about the Kremlin, and the Russian songs and
bells. Both ladies had a very faint conception of our vast and
remote fatherland; Signora Roselli, or as she was more often called,
Frau Lenore, positively dumfoundered Sanin with the question,
whether there was still existing at Petersburg the celebrated house
of ice, built last century, about which she had lately read a very
curious article in one of her husband's books, '_Bettezze delle
arti_.' And in reply to Sanin's exclamation, 'Do you really suppose
that there is never any summer in Russia?' Frau Lenore replied that
till then she had always pictured Russia like this--eternal snow,
every one going about in furs, and all military men, but the
greatest hospitality, and all the peasants very submissive! Sanin
tried to impart to her and her daughter some more exact information.
When the conversation touched on Russian music, they begged him at
once to sing some Russian air and showed him a diminutive piano with
black keys instead of white and white instead of black. He obeyed
without making much ado and accompanying himself with two fingers of
the right hand and three of the left (the first, second, and little
finger) he sang in a thin nasal tenor, first 'The Sarafan,' then
'Along a Paved Street.' The ladies praised his voice and the music,
but were more struck with the softness and sonorousness of the
Russian language and asked for a translation of the text. Sanin
complied with their wishes--but as the words of 'The Sarafan,' and
still more of 'Along a Paved Street' (_sur une rue pavée une jeune
fille allait à l'eau_ was how he rendered the sense of the original)
were not calculated to inspire his listeners with an exalted idea of
Russian poetry, he first recited, then translated, and then sang
Pushkin's, 'I remember a marvellous moment,' set to music by Glinka,
whose minor bars he did not render quite faithfully. Then the ladies
went into ecstasies. Frau Lenore positively discovered in Russian a
wonderful likeness to the Italian. Even the names Pushkin (she
pronounced it Pussekin) and Glinka sounded somewhat familiar to her.
Sanin on his side begged the ladies to sing something; they too did
not wait to be pressed. Frau Lenore sat down to the piano and sang
with Gemma some duets and 'stornelle.' The mother had once had a
fine contralto; the daughter's voice was not strong, but was
But it was not Gemma's
voice--it was herself Sanin was admiring. He was sitting a little
behind and on one side of her, and kept thinking to himself that no
palm-tree, even in the poems of Benediktov--the poet in fashion in
those days--could rival the slender grace of her figure. When, at
the most emotional passages, she raised her eyes upwards--it seemed
to him no heaven could fail to open at such a look! Even the old
man, Pantaleone, who with his shoulder propped against the doorpost,
and his chin and mouth tucked into his capacious cravat, was
listening solemnly with the air of a connoisseur--even he was
admiring the girl's lovely face and marvelling at it, though one
would have thought he must have been used to it! When she had
finished the duet with her daughter, Frau Lenore observed that
Emilio had a fine voice, like a silver bell, but that now he was at
the age when the voice changes--he did, in fact, talk in a sort of
bass constantly falling into falsetto--and that he was therefore
forbidden to sing; but that Pantaleone now really might try his
skill of old days in honour of their guest! Pantaleone promptly put
on a displeased air, frowned, ruffled up his hair, and declared that
he had given it all up long ago, though he could certainly in his
youth hold his own, and indeed had belonged to that great period,
when there were real classical singers, not to be compared to the
squeaking performers of to-day! and a real school of singing; that
he, Pantaleone Cippatola of Varese, had once been brought a laurel
wreath from Modena, and that on that occasion some white doves had
positively been let fly in the theatre; that among others a Russian
prince Tarbusky--'_il principe Tarbusski_'--with whom he had been on
the most friendly terms, had after supper persistently invited him
to Russia, promising him mountains of gold, mountains!... but that
he had been unwilling to leave Italy, the land of Dante--_il paese
del Dante!_ Afterward, to be sure, there came ... unfortunate
circumstances, he had himself been imprudent.... At this point the
old man broke off, sighed deeply twice, looked dejected, and began
again talking of the classical period of singing, of the celebrated
tenor Garcia, for whom he cherished a devout, unbounded veneration.
'He was a man!' he exclaimed. 'Never had the great Garcia (_il gran
Garcia_) demeaned himself by singing falsetto like the paltry tenors
of to-day--_tenoracci_; always from the chest, from the chest, _voce
di petto, si!_' and the old man aimed a vigorous blow with his
little shrivelled fist at his own shirt-front! 'And what an actor! A
volcano, _signori miei_, a volcano, _un Vesuvio_! I had the honour
and the happiness of singing with him in the _opera dell'
illustrissimo maestro_ Rossini--in Otello! Garcia was Otello,--I was
Iago--and when he rendered the phrase':--here Pantaleone threw
himself into an attitude and began singing in a hoarse and shaky,
but still moving voice:
"L'i ... ra daver ...
so daver ... so il fato lo
più no ... no ... no ... non temerò!"
The theatre was all a-quiver,
_signori miei_! though I too did not fall short, I too after him.
"L'i ra daver ... so
daver ... so il fato Temèr
più non davro!"
And all of a sudden, he
crashed like lightning, like a tiger: _Morro!... ma vendicato ..._
Again when he was singing ... when he was singing that celebrated
air from "_Matrimonio segreto_," _Pria che spunti_ ... then he, _il
gran Garcia_, after the words, "_I cavalli di galoppo_"--at the
words, "_Senza posa cacciera_,"--listen, how stupendous, _come è
stupendo_! At that point he made ...' The old man began a sort of
extraordinary flourish, and at the tenth note broke down, cleared
his throat, and with a wave of his arm turned away, muttering, 'Why
do you torment me?' Gemma jumped up at once and clapping loudly and
shouting, bravo!... bravo!... she ran to the poor old super-annuated
Iago and with both hands patted him affectionately on the shoulders.
Only Emil laughed ruthlessly. _Cet âge est sans pitié_--that age
knows no mercy--Lafontaine has said already.
Sanin tried to soothe the
aged singer and began talking to him in Italian--(he had picked up a
smattering during his last tour there)--began talking of '_paese del
Dante, dove il si suona_.' This phrase, together with '_Lasciate
ogni speranza_,' made up the whole stock of poetic Italian of the
young tourist; but Pantaleone was not won over by his blandishments.
Tucking his chin deeper than ever into his cravat and sullenly
rolling his eyes, he was once more like a bird, an angry one too,--a
crow or a kite. Then Emil, with a faint momentary blush, such as one
so often sees in spoilt children, addressing his sister, said if she
wanted to entertain their guest, she could do nothing better than
read him one of those little comedies of Malz, that she read so
nicely. Gemma laughed, slapped her brother on the arm, exclaimed
that he 'always had such ideas!' She went promptly, however, to her
room, and returning thence with a small book in her hand, seated
herself at the table before the lamp, looked round, lifted one
finger as much as to say, 'hush!'--a typically Italian gesture--and
Malz was a writer flourishing
at Frankfort about 1830, whose short comedies, written in a light
vein in the local dialect, hit off local Frankfort types with bright
and amusing, though not deep, humour. It turned out that Gemma
really did read excellently--quite like an actress in fact. She
indicated each personage, and sustained the character capitally,
making full use of the talent of mimicry she had inherited with her
Italian blood; she had no mercy on her soft voice or her lovely
face, and when she had to represent some old crone in her dotage, or
a stupid burgomaster, she made the drollest grimaces, screwing up
her eyes, wrinkling up her nose, lisping, squeaking.... She did not
herself laugh during the reading; but when her audience (with the
exception of Pantaleone: he had walked off in indignation so soon as
the conversation turned _o quel ferroflucto Tedesco_) interrupted
her by an outburst of unanimous laughter, she dropped the book on
her knee, and laughed musically too, her head thrown back, and her
black hair dancing in little ringlets on her neck and her shaking
shoulders. When the laughter ceased, she picked up the book at once,
and again resuming a suitable expression, began the reading
seriously. Sanin could not get over his admiration; he was
particularly astonished at the marvellous way in which a face so
ideally beautiful assumed suddenly a comic, sometimes almost a
vulgar expression. Gemma was less successful in the parts of young
girls--of so-called '_jeunes premières_'; in the love-scenes in
particular she failed; she was conscious of this herself, and for
that reason gave them a faint shade of irony as though she did not
quite believe in all these rapturous vows and elevated sentiments,
of which the author, however, was himself rather sparing--so far as
he could be.
Sanin did not notice how the
evening was flying by, and only recollected the journey before him
when the clock struck ten. He leaped up from his seat as though he
had been stung.
'What is the matter?'
inquired Frau Lenore.
'Why, I had to start for
Berlin to-night, and I have taken a place in the diligence!'
'And when does the diligence
'At half-past ten!'
'Well, then, you won't catch
it now,' observed Gemma; 'you must stay ... and I will go on
'Have you paid the whole fare
or only given a deposit?' Frau Lenore queried.
'The whole fare!' Sanin said
dolefully with a gloomy face.
Gemma looked at him, half
closed her eyes, and laughed, while her mother scolded her:
'The young gentleman has paid
away his money for nothing, and you laugh!'
'Never mind,' answered Gemma;
'it won't ruin him, and we will try and amuse him. Will you have
Sanin drank a glass of
lemonade, Gemma took up Malz once more; and all went merrily again.
The clock struck twelve.
Sanin rose to take leave.
'You must stay some days now
in Frankfort,' said Gemma: 'why should you hurry away? It would be
no nicer in any other town.' She paused. 'It wouldn't, really,' she
added with a smile. Sanin made no reply, and reflected that
considering the emptiness of his purse, he would have no choice
about remaining in Frankfort till he got an answer from a friend in
Berlin, to whom he proposed writing for money.
'Yes, do stay,' urged Frau
Lenore too. 'We will introduce you to Mr. Karl Klüber, who is
engaged to Gemma. He could not come to-day, as he was very busy at
his shop ... you must have seen the biggest draper's and silk
mercer's shop in the _Zeile_. Well, he is the manager there. But he
will be delighted to call on you himself.'
Sanin--heaven knows why--was
slightly disconcerted by this piece of information. 'He's a lucky
fellow, that fiancé!' flashed across his mind. He looked at Gemma,
and fancied he detected an ironical look in her eyes. He began
'Till to-morrow? Till
to-morrow, isn't it?' queried Frau Lenore.
'Till to-morrow!' Gemma
declared in a tone not of interrogation, but of affirmation, as
though it could not be otherwise.
'Till to-morrow!' echoed
Emil, Pantaleone, and the
poodle Tartaglia accompanied him to the corner of the street.
Pantaleone could not refrain from expressing his displeasure at
'She ought to be ashamed! She
mouths and whines, _una caricatura_! She ought to represent Merope
or Clytemnaestra--something grand, tragic--and she apes some
wretched German woman! I can do that ... _merz, kerz, smerz_,' he
went on in a hoarse voice poking his face forward, and brandishing
his fingers. Tartaglia began barking at him, while Emil burst out
laughing. The old man turned sharply back.
Sanin went back to the White
Swan (he had left his things there in the public hall) in a rather
confused frame of mind. All the talk he had had in French, German,
and Italian was ringing in his ears.
'Engaged!' he whispered as he
lay in bed, in the modest apartment assigned to him. 'And what a
beauty! But what did I stay for?'
Next day he sent a letter to
his friend in Berlin.
He had not finished dressing,
when a waiter announced the arrival of two gentlemen. One of them
turned out to be Emil; the other, a good-looking and well-grown
young man, with a handsome face, was Herr Karl Klüber, the betrothed
of the lovely Gemma.
One may safely assume that at
that time in all Frankfort, there was not in a single shop a manager
as civil, as decorous, as dignified, and as affable as Herr Klüber.
The irreproachable perfection of his get-up was on a level with the
dignity of his deportment, with the elegance--a little affected and
stiff, it is true, in the English style (he had spent two years in
England)--but still fascinating, elegance of his manners! It was
clear from the first glance that this handsome, rather severe,
excellently brought-up and superbly washed young man was accustomed
to obey his superior and to command his inferior, and that behind
the counter of his shop he must infallibly inspire respect even in
his customers! Of his supernatural honesty there could never be a
particle of doubt: one had but to look at his stiffly starched
collars! And his voice, it appeared, was just what one would expect;
deep, and of a self-confident richness, but not too loud, with
positively a certain caressing note in its timbre. Such a voice was
peculiarly fitted to give orders to assistants under his control:
'Show the crimson Lyons velvet!' or, 'Hand the lady a chair!'
Herr Klüber began with
introducing himself; as he did so, he bowed with such loftiness,
moved his legs with such an agreeable air, and drew his heels
together with such polished courtesy that no one could fail to feel,
'that man has both linen and moral principles of the first quality!'
The finish of his bare right hand--(the left, in a suede glove, held
a hat shining like a looking-glass, with the right glove placed
within it)--the finish of the right hand, proffered modestly but
resolutely to Sanin, surpassed all belief; each finger-nail was a
perfection in its own way! Then he proceeded to explain in the
choicest German that he was anxious to express his respect and his
indebtedness to the foreign gentleman who had performed so signal a
service to his future kinsman, the brother of his betrothed; as he
spoke, he waved his left hand with the hat in it in the direction of
Emil, who seemed bashful and turning away to the window, put his
finger in his mouth. Herr Klüber added that he should esteem himself
happy should he be able in return to do anything for the foreign
gentleman. Sanin, with some difficulty, replied, also in German,
that he was delighted ... that the service was not worth speaking of
... and he begged his guests to sit down. Herr Klüber thanked him,
and lifting his coat-tails, sat down on a chair; but he perched
there so lightly and with such a transitory air that no one could
fail to realise, 'this man is sitting down from politeness, and will
fly up again in an instant.' And he did in fact fly up again
quickly, and advancing with two discreet little dance-steps, he
announced that to his regret he was unable to stay any longer, as he
had to hasten to his shop--business before everything! but as the
next day was Sunday, he had, with the consent of Frau Lenore and
Fräulein Gemma, arranged a holiday excursion to Soden, to which he
had the honour of inviting the foreign gentleman, and he cherished
the hope that he would not refuse to grace the party with his
presence. Sanin did not refuse so to grace it; and Herr Klüber
repeating once more his complimentary sentiments, took leave, his
pea-green trousers making a spot of cheerful colour, and his
brand-new boots squeaking cheerfully as he moved.
Emil, who had continued to
stand with his face to the window, even after Sanin's invitation to
him to sit down, turned round directly his future kinsman had gone
out, and with a childish pout and blush, asked Sanin if he might
remain a little while with him. 'I am much better to-day,' he added,
'but the doctor has forbidden me to do any work.'
'Stay by all means! You won't
be in the least in my way,' Sanin cried at once. Like every true
Russian he was glad to clutch at any excuse that saved him from the
necessity of doing anything himself.
Emil thanked him, and in a
very short time he was completely at home with him and with his
room; he looked at all his things, asked him about almost every one
of them, where he had bought it, and what was its value. He helped
him to shave, observing that it was a mistake not to let his
moustache grow; and finally told him a number of details about his
mother, his sister, Pantaleone, the poodle Tartaglia, and all their
daily life. Every semblance of timidity vanished in Emil; he
suddenly felt extraordinarily attracted to Sanin--not at all because
he had saved his life the day before, but because he was such a nice
person! He lost no time in confiding all his secrets to Sanin. He
expatiated with special warmth on the fact that his mother was set
on making him a shopkeeper, while he _knew_, knew for certain, that
he was born an artist, a musician, a singer; that Pantaleone even
encouraged him, but that Herr Klüber supported mamma, over whom he
had great influence; that the very idea of his being a shopkeeper
really originated with Herr Klüber, who considered that nothing in
the world could compare with trade! To measure out cloth--and cheat
the public, extorting from it '_Narren--oder Russen Preise_'
(fools'--or Russian prices)--that was his ideal! [Footnote: In
former days--and very likely it is not different now--when, from May
onwards, a great number of Russians visited Frankfort, prices rose
in all the shops, and were called 'Russians',' or, alas! 'fools'
'Come! now you must come and
see us!' he cried, directly Sanin had finished his toilet and
written his letter to Berlin.
'It's early yet,' observed
'That's no matter,' replied
Emil caressingly. 'Come along! We'll go to the post--and from there
to our place. Gemma will be so glad to see you! You must have lunch
with us.... You might say a word to mamma about me, my career....'
'Very well, let's go,' said
Sanin, and they set off.
Gemma certainly was delighted
to see him, and Frau Lenore gave him a very friendly welcome; he had
obviously made a good impression on both of them the evening before.
Emil ran to see to getting lunch ready, after a preliminary whisper,
'don't forget!' in Sanin's ear.
'I won't forget,' responded
Frau Lenore was not quite
well; she had a sick headache, and, half-lying down in an easy
chair, she tried to keep perfectly still. Gemma wore a full yellow
blouse, with a black leather belt round the waist; she too seemed
exhausted, and was rather pale; there were dark rings round her
eyes, but their lustre was not the less for it; it added something
of charm and mystery to the classical lines of her face. Sanin was
especially struck that day by the exquisite beauty of her hands;
when she smoothed and put back her dark, glossy tresses he could not
take his eyes off her long supple fingers, held slightly apart from
one another like the hand of Raphael's Fornarina.
It was very hot out-of-doors;
after lunch Sanin was about to take leave, but they told him that on
such a day the best thing was to stay where one was, and he agreed;
he stayed. In the back room where he was sitting with the ladies of
the household, coolness reigned supreme; the windows looked out upon
a little garden overgrown with acacias. Multitudes of bees, wasps,
and humming beetles kept up a steady, eager buzz in their thick
branches, which were studded with golden blossoms; through the
half-drawn curtains and the lowered blinds this never-ceasing hum
made its way into the room, telling of the sultry heat in the air
outside, and making the cool of the closed and snug abode seem the
Sanin talked a great deal, as
on the day before, but not of Russia, nor of Russian life. Being
anxious to please his young friend, who had been sent off to Herr
Klüber's immediately after lunch, to acquire a knowledge of
book-keeping, he turned the conversation on the comparative
advantages and disadvantages of art and commerce. He was not
surprised at Frau Lenore's standing up for commerce--he had expected
that; but Gemma too shared her opinion.
'If one's an artist, and
especially a singer,' she declared with a vigorous downward sweep of
her hand, 'one's got to be first-rate! Second-rate's worse than
nothing; and who can tell if one will arrive at being first-rate?'
Pantaleone, who took part too in the conversation--(as an old
servant and an old man he had the privilege of sitting down in the
presence of the ladies of the house; Italians are not, as a rule,
strict in matters of etiquette)--Pantaleone, as a matter of course,
stood like a rock for art. To tell the truth, his arguments were
somewhat feeble; he kept expatiating for the most part on the
necessity, before all things, of possessing '_un certo estro
d'inspirazione_'--a certain force of inspiration! Frau Lenore
remarked to him that he had, to be sure, possessed such an
'_estro_'--and yet ... 'I had enemies,' Pantaleone observed
gloomily. 'And how do you know that Emil will not have enemies, even
if this "_estro_" is found in him?' 'Very well, make a tradesman of
him, then,' retorted Pantaleone in vexation; 'but Giovan' Battista
would never have done it, though he was a confectioner himself!'
'Giovan' Battista, my husband, was a reasonable man, and even though
he was in his youth led away ...' But the old man would hear nothing
more, and walked away, repeating reproachfully, 'Ah! Giovan'
Battista!...' Gemma exclaimed that if Emil felt like a patriot, and
wanted to devote all his powers to the liberation of Italy, then, of
course, for such a high and holy cause he might sacrifice the
security of the future--but not for the theatre! Thereupon Frau
Lenore became much agitated, and began to implore her daughter to
refrain at least from turning her brother's head, and to content
herself with being such a desperate republican herself! Frau Lenore
groaned as she uttered these words, and began complaining of her
head, which was 'ready to split.' (Frau Lenore, in deference to
their guest, talked to her daughter in French.)
Gemma began at once to wait
upon her; she moistened her forehead with eau-de-Cologne, gently
blew on it, gently kissed her cheek, made her lay her head on a
pillow, forbade her to speak, and kissed her again. Then, turning to
Sanin, she began telling him in a half-joking, half-tender tone what
a splendid mother she had, and what a beauty she had been. '"Had
been," did I say? she is charming now! Look, look, what eyes!'
Gemma instantly pulled a
white handkerchief out of her pocket, covered her mother's face with
it, and slowly drawing it downwards, gradually uncovered Frau
Lenore's forehead, eyebrows, and eyes; she waited a moment and asked
her to open them. Her mother obeyed; Gemma cried out in ecstasy
(Frau Lenore's eyes really were very beautiful), and rapidly sliding
the handkerchief over the lower, less regular part of the face, fell
to kissing her again. Frau Lenore laughed, and turning a little
away, with a pretence of violence, pushed her daughter away. She too
pretended to struggle with her mother, and lavished caresses on
her--not like a cat, in the French manner, but with that special
Italian grace in which is always felt the presence of power.
At last Frau Lenore declared
she was tired out ... Then Gemma at once advised her to have a
little nap, where she was, in her chair, 'and I and the Russian
gentleman--"_avec le monsieur russe_"--will be as quiet, as quiet
... as little mice ... "_comme des petites souris_."' Frau Lenore
smiled at her in reply, closed her eyes, and after a few sighs began
to doze. Gemma quickly dropped down on a bench beside her and did
not stir again, only from time to time she put a finger of one hand
to her lips--with the other hand she was holding up a pillow behind
her mother's head--and said softly, 'sh-sh!' with a sidelong look at
Sanin, if he permitted himself the smallest movement. In the end he
too sank into a kind of dream, and sat motionless as though
spell-bound, while all his faculties were absorbed in admiring the
picture presented him by the half-dark room, here and there spotted
with patches of light crimson, where fresh, luxuriant roses stood in
the old-fashioned green glasses, and the sleeping woman with
demurely folded hands and kind, weary face, framed in the snowy
whiteness of the pillow, and the young, keenly-alert and also kind,
clever, pure, and unspeakably beautiful creature with such black,
deep, overshadowed, yet shining eyes.... What was it? A dream? a
fairy tale? And how came _he_ to be in it?
The bell tinkled at the outer
door. A young peasant lad in a fur cap and a red waistcoat came into
the shop from the street. Not one customer had looked into it since
early morning ... 'You see how much business we do!' Frau Lenore
observed to Sanin at lunch-time with a sigh. She was still asleep;
Gemma was afraid to take her arm from the pillow, and whispered to
Sanin: 'You go, and mind the shop for me!' Sanin went on tiptoe into
the shop at once. The boy wanted a quarter of a pound of
peppermints. 'How much must I take?' Sanin whispered from the door
to Gemma. 'Six kreutzers!' she answered in the same whisper. Sanin
weighed out a quarter of a pound, found some paper, twisted it into
a cone, tipped the peppermints into it, spilt them, tipped them in
again, spilt them again, at last handed them to the boy, and took
the money.... The boy gazed at him in amazement, twisting his cap in
his hands on his stomach, and in the next room, Gemma was stifling
with suppressed laughter. Before the first customer had walked out,
a second appeared, then a third.... 'I bring luck, it's clear!'
thought Sanin. The second customer wanted a glass of orangeade, the
third, half-a-pound of sweets. Sanin satisfied their needs,
zealously clattering the spoons, changing the saucers, and eagerly
plunging his fingers into drawers and jars. On reckoning up, it
appeared that he had charged too little for the orangeade, and taken
two kreutzers too much for the sweets. Gemma did not cease laughing
softly, and Sanin too was aware of an extraordinary lightness of
heart, a peculiarly happy state of mind. He felt as if he had for
ever been standing behind the counter and dealing in orangeade and
sweetmeats, with that exquisite creature looking at him through the
doorway with affectionately mocking eyes, while the summer sun,
forcing its way through the sturdy leafage of the chestnuts that
grew in front of the windows, filled the whole room with the
greenish-gold of the midday light and shade, and the heart grew soft
in the sweet languor of idleness, carelessness, and youth--first
A fourth customer asked for a
cup of coffee; Pantaleone had to be appealed to. (Emil had not yet
come back from Herr Klüber's shop.) Sanin went and sat by Gemma
again. Frau Lenore still went on sleeping, to her daughter's great
delight. 'Mamma always sleeps off her sick headaches,' she observed.
Sanin began talking--in a whisper, of course, as before--of his
minding the shop; very seriously inquired the price of various
articles of confectionery; Gemma just as seriously told him these
prices, and meanwhile both of them were inwardly laughing together,
as though conscious they were playing in a very amusing farce. All
of a sudden, an organ-grinder in the street began playing an air
from the Freischütz: '_Durch die Felder, durch die Auen_ ...' The
dance tune fell shrill and quivering on the motionless air. Gemma
started ... 'He will wake mamma!' Sanin promptly darted out into the
street, thrust a few kreutzers into the organ-grinder's hand, and
made him cease playing and move away. When he came back, Gemma
thanked him with a little nod of the head, and with a pensive smile
she began herself just audibly humming the beautiful melody of
Weber's, in which Max expresses all the perplexities of first love.
Then she asked Sanin whether he knew 'Freischütz,' whether he was
fond of Weber, and added that though she was herself an Italian, she
liked _such_ music best of all. From Weber the conversation glided
off on to poetry and romanticism, on to Hoffmann, whom every one was
still reading at that time.
And Frau Lenore still slept,
and even snored just a little, and the sunbeams, piercing in narrow
streaks through the shutters, were incessantly and imperceptibly
shifting and travelling over the floor, the furniture, Gemma's
dress, and the leaves and petals of the flowers.
It appeared that Gemma was
not very fond of Hoffmann, that she even thought him ... tedious!
The fantastic, misty northern element in his stories was too remote
from her clear, southern nature. 'It's all fairy-tales, all written
for children!' she declared with some contempt. She was vaguely
conscious, too, of the lack of poetry in Hoffmann. But there was one
of his stories, the title of which she had forgotten, which she
greatly liked; more precisely speaking, it was only the beginning of
this story that she liked; the end she had either not read or had
forgotten. The story was about a young man who in some place, a sort
of restaurant perhaps, meets a girl of striking beauty, a Greek; she
is accompanied by a mysterious and strange, wicked old man. The
young man falls in love with the girl at first sight; she looks at
him so mournfully, as though beseeching him to deliver her.... He
goes out for an instant, and, coming back into the restaurant, finds
there neither the girl nor the old man; he rushes off in pursuit of
her, continually comes upon fresh traces of her, follows them up,
and can never by any means come upon her anywhere. The lovely girl
has vanished for him for ever and ever, and he is never able to
forget her imploring glance, and is tortured by the thought that all
the happiness of his life, perhaps, has slipped through his fingers.
Hoffmann does not end his
story quite in that way; but so it had taken shape, so it had
remained, in Gemma's memory.
'I fancy,' she said, 'such
meetings and such partings happen oftener in the world than we
Sanin was silent ... and soon
after he began talking ... of Herr Klüber. It was the first time he
had referred to him; he had not once remembered him till that
Gemma was silent in her turn,
and sank into thought, biting the nail of her forefinger and fixing
her eyes away. Then she began to speak in praise of her betrothed,
alluded to the excursion he had planned for the next day, and,
glancing swiftly at Sanin, was silent again.
Sanin did not know on what
subject to turn the conversation.
Emil ran in noisily and waked
Frau Lenore ... Sanin was relieved by his appearance.
Frau Lenore got up from her
low chair. Pantaleone came in and announced that dinner was ready.
The friend of the family, ex-singer, and servant also performed the
duties of cook.
Sanin stayed on after dinner
too. They did not let him go, still on the same pretext of the
terrible heat; and when the heat began to decrease, they proposed
going out into the garden to drink coffee in the shade of the
acacias. Sanin consented. He felt very happy. In the quietly
monotonous, smooth current of life lie hid great delights, and he
gave himself up to these delights with zest, asking nothing much of
the present day, but also thinking nothing of the morrow, nor
recalling the day before. How much the mere society of such a girl
as Gemma meant to him! He would shortly part from her and, most
likely, for ever; but so long as they were borne, as in Uhland's
song, in one skiff over the sea of life, untossed by tempest, well
might the traveller rejoice and be glad. And everything seemed sweet
and delightful to the happy voyager. Frau Lenore offered to play
against him and Pantaleone at 'tresette,' instructed him in this not
complicated Italian game, and won a few kreutzers from him, and he
was well content. Pantaleone, at Emil's request, made the poodle,
Tartaglia, perform all his tricks, and Tartaglia jumped over a stick
'spoke,' that is, barked, sneezed, shut the door with his nose,
fetched his master's trodden-down slippers; and, finally, with an
old cap on his head, he portrayed Marshal Bernadotte, subjected to
the bitterest upbraidings by the Emperor Napoleon on account of his
treachery. Napoleon's part was, of course, performed by Pantaleone,
and very faithfully he performed it: he folded his arms across his
chest, pulled a cocked hat over his eyes, and spoke very gruffly and
sternly, in French--and heavens! what French! Tartaglia sat before
his sovereign, all huddled up, with dejected tail, and eyes blinking
and twitching in confusion, under the peak of his cap which was
stuck on awry; from time to time when Napoleon raised his voice,
Bernadotte rose on his hind paws. '_Fuori, traditore!_' cried
Napoleon at last, forgetting in the excess of his wrath that he had
to sustain his rôle as a Frenchman to the end; and Bernadotte
promptly flew under the sofa, but quickly darted out again with a
joyful bark, as though to announce that the performance was over.
All the spectators laughed, and Sanin more than all.
Gemma had a particularly
charming, continual, soft laugh, with very droll little shrieks....
Sanin was fairly enchanted by that laugh--he could have kissed her
for those shrieks!
Night came on at last. He had
in decency to take leave! After saying good-bye several times over
to every one, and repeating several times to all, 'till
to-morrow!'--Emil he went so far as to kiss--Sanin started home,
carrying with him the image of the young girl, at one time laughing,
at another thoughtful, calm, and even indifferent--but always
attractive! Her eyes, at one time wide open, clear and bright as
day, at another time half shrouded by the lashes and deep and dark
as night, seemed to float before his eyes, piercing in a strange
sweet way across all other images and recollections.
Of Herr Klüber, of the causes
impelling him to remain in Frankfort--in short, of everything that
had disturbed his mind the evening before--he never thought once.
We must, however, say a few
words about Sanin himself.
In the first place, he was
very, very good-looking. A handsome, graceful figure, agreeable,
rather unformed features, kindly bluish eyes, golden hair, a clear
white and red skin, and, above all, that peculiar, naïvely-cheerful,
confiding, open, at the first glance, somewhat foolish expression,
by which in former days one could recognise directly the children of
steady-going, noble families, 'sons of their fathers,' fine young
landowners, born and reared in our open, half-wild country parts,--a
hesitating gait, a voice with a lisp, a smile like a child's the
minute you looked at him ... lastly, freshness, health, softness,
softness, softness,--there you have the whole of Sanin. And
secondly, he was not stupid and had picked up a fair amount of
knowledge. Fresh he had remained, for all his foreign tour; the
disturbing emotions in which the greater part of the young people of
that day were tempest-tossed were very little known to him.
Of late years, in response to
the assiduous search for 'new types,' young men have begun to appear
in our literature, determined at all hazards to be 'fresh'... as
fresh as Flensburg oysters, when they reach Petersburg.... Sanin was
not like them. Since we have had recourse already to simile, he
rather recalled a young, leafy, freshly-grafted apple-tree in one of
our fertile orchards--or better still, a well-groomed, sleek,
sturdy-limbed, tender young 'three-year-old' in some old-fashioned
seignorial stud stable, a young horse that they have hardly begun to
break in to the traces.... Those who came across Sanin in later
years, when life had knocked him about a good deal, and the
sleekness and plumpness of youth had long vanished, saw in him a
totally different man.
Next day Sanin was still in
bed when Emil, in his best clothes, with a cane in his hand and much
pomade on his head, burst into his room, announcing that Herr Klüber
would be here directly with the carriage, that the weather promised
to be exquisite, that they had everything ready by now, but that
mamma was not going, as her head was bad again. He began to hurry
Sanin, telling him that there was not a minute to lose.... And Herr
Klüber did, in fact, find Sanin still at his toilet. He knocked at
the door, came in, bowed with a bend from the waist, expressed his
readiness to wait as long as might be desired, and sat down, his hat
balanced elegantly on his knees. The handsome shop-manager had got
himself up and perfumed himself to excess: his every action was
accompanied by a powerful whiff of the most refined aroma. He
arrived in a comfortable open carriage--one of the kind called
landau--drawn by two tall and powerful but not well-shaped horses. A
quarter of an hour later Sanin, Klüber, and Emil, in this same
carriage, drew up triumphantly at the steps of the confectioner's
shop. Madame Roselli resolutely refused to join the party; Gemma
wanted to stay with her mother; but she simply turned her out.
'I don't want any one,' she
declared; 'I shall go to sleep. I would send Pantaleone with you
too, only there would be no one to mind the shop.'
'May we take Tartaglia?'
'Of course you may.'
scrambled, with delighted struggles, on to the box and sat there,
licking himself; it was obviously a thing he was accustomed to.
Gemma put on a large straw hat with brown ribbons; the hat was bent
down in front, so as to shade almost the whole of her face from the
sun. The line of shadow stopped just at her lips; they wore a tender
maiden flush, like the petals of a centifoil rose, and her teeth
gleamed stealthily--innocently too, as when children smile. Gemma
sat facing the horses, with Sanin; Klüber and Emil sat opposite. The
pale face of Frau Lenore appeared at the window; Gemma waved her
handkerchief to her, and the horses started.
Soden is a little town half
an hour's distance from Frankfort. It lies in a beautiful country
among the spurs of the Taunus Mountains, and is known among us in
Russia for its waters, which are supposed to be beneficial to people
with weak lungs. The Frankforters visit it more for purposes of
recreation, as Soden possesses a fine park and various
'wirthschaften,' where one may drink beer and coffee in the shade of
the tall limes and maples. The road from Frankfort to Soden runs
along the right bank of the Maine, and is planted all along with
fruit trees. While the carriage was rolling slowly along an
excellent road, Sanin stealthily watched how Gemma behaved to her
betrothed; it was the first time he had seen them together. _She_
was quiet and simple in her manner, but rather more reserved and
serious than usual; _he_ had the air of a condescending
schoolmaster, permitting himself and those under his authority a
discreet and decorous pleasure. Sanin saw no signs in him of any
marked attentiveness, of what the French call '_empressement_,' in
his demeanour to Gemma. It was clear that Herr Klüber considered
that it was a matter settled once for all, and that therefore he saw
no reason to trouble or excite himself. But his condescension never
left him for an instant! Even during a long ramble before dinner
about the wooded hills and valleys behind Soden, even when enjoying
the beauties of nature, he treated nature itself with the same
condescension, through which his habitual magisterial severity
peeped out from time to time. So, for example, he observed in regard
to one stream that it ran too straight through the glade, instead of
making a few picturesque curves; he disapproved, too, of the conduct
of a bird--a chaffinch--for singing so monotonously. Gemma was not
bored, and even, apparently, was enjoying herself; but Sanin did not
recognise her as the Gemma of the preceding days; it was not that
she seemed under a cloud--her beauty had never been more
dazzling--but her soul seemed to have withdrawn into herself. With
her parasol open and her gloves still buttoned up, she walked
sedately, deliberately, as well-bred young girls walk, and spoke
little. Emil, too, felt stiff, and Sanin more so than all. He was
somewhat embarrassed too by the fact that the conversation was all
the time in German. Only Tartaglia was in high spirits! He darted,
barking frantically, after blackbirds, leaped over ravines, stumps
and roots, rushed headlong into the water, lapped at it in desperate
haste, shook himself, whining, and was off like an arrow, his red
tongue trailing after him almost to his shoulder. Herr Klüber, for
his part, did everything he supposed conducive to the mirthfulness
of the company; he begged them to sit down in the shade of a
spreading oak-tree, and taking out of a side pocket a small booklet
entitled, '_Knallerbsen; oder du sollst und wirst lachen!_' (Squibs;
or you must and shall laugh!) began reading the funny anecdotes of
which the little book was full. He read them twelve specimens; he
aroused very little mirth, however; only Sanin smiled, from
politeness, and he himself, Herr Klüber, after each anecdote, gave
vent to a brief, business-like, but still condescending laugh. At
twelve o'clock the whole party returned to Soden to the best tavern
They had to make arrangements
about dinner. Herr Klüber proposed that the dinner should be served
in a summer-house closed in on all sides--'_im Gartensalon_'; but at
this point Gemma rebelled and declared that she would have dinner in
the open air, in the garden, at one of the little tables set before
the tavern; that she was tired of being all the while with the same
faces, and she wanted to see fresh ones. At some of the little
tables, groups of visitors were already sitting.
While Herr Klüber, yielding
condescendingly to 'the caprice of his betrothed,' went off to
interview the head waiter, Gemma stood immovable, biting her lips
and looking on the ground; she was conscious that Sanin was
persistently and, as it were, inquiringly looking at her--it seemed
to enrage her. At last Herr Klüber returned, announced that dinner
would be ready in half an hour, and proposed their employing the
interval in a game of skittles, adding that this was very good for
the appetite, he, he, he! Skittles he played in masterly fashion; as
he threw the ball, he put himself into amazingly heroic postures,
with artistic play of the muscles, with artistic flourish and shake
of the leg. In his own way he was an athlete--and was superbly
built! His hands, too, were so white and handsome, and he wiped them
on such a sumptuous, gold-striped, Indian bandana!
The moment of dinner arrived,
and the whole party seated themselves at the table.
Who does not know what a
German dinner is like? Watery soup with knobby dumplings and pieces
of cinnamon, boiled beef dry as cork, with white fat attached, slimy
potatoes, soft beetroot and mashed horseradish, a bluish eel with
French capers and vinegar, a roast joint with jam, and the
inevitable '_Mehlspeise_,' something of the nature of a pudding with
sourish red sauce; but to make up, the beer and wine first-rate!
With just such a dinner the tavernkeeper at Soden regaled his
customers. The dinner, itself, however, went off satisfactorily. No
special liveliness was perceptible, certainly; not even when Herr
Klüber proposed the toast 'What we like!' (Was wir lieben!) But at
least everything was decorous and seemly. After dinner, coffee was
served, thin, reddish, typically German coffee. Herr Klüber, with
true gallantry, asked Gemma's permission to smoke a cigar.... But at
this point suddenly something occurred, unexpected, and decidedly
unpleasant, and even unseemly!
At one of the tables near
were sitting several officers of the garrison of the Maine. From
their glances and whispering together it was easy to perceive that
they were struck by Gemma's beauty; one of them, who had probably
stayed in Frankfort, stared at her persistently, as at a figure
familiar to him; he obviously knew who she was. He suddenly got up,
and glass in hand--all the officers had been drinking hard, and the
cloth before them was crowded with bottles--approached the table at
which Gemma was sitting. He was a very young flaxen-haired man, with
a rather pleasing and even attractive face, but his features were
distorted with the wine he had drunk, his cheeks were twitching, his
blood-shot eyes wandered, and wore an insolent expression. His
companions at first tried to hold him back, but afterwards let him
go, interested apparently to see what he would do, and how it would
end. Slightly unsteady on his legs, the officer stopped before
Gemma, and in an unnaturally screaming voice, in which, in spite of
himself, an inward struggle could be discerned, he articulated, 'I
drink to the health of the prettiest confectioner in all Frankfort,
in all the world (he emptied his glass), and in return I take this
flower, picked by her divine little fingers!' He took from the table
a rose that lay beside Gemma's plate. At first she was astonished,
alarmed, and turned fearfully white ... then alarm was replaced by
indignation; she suddenly crimsoned all over, to her very hair--and
her eyes, fastened directly on the offender, at the same time
darkened and flamed, they were filled with black gloom, and burned
with the fire of irrepressible fury. The officer must have been
confused by this look; he muttered something unintelligible, bowed,
and walked back to his friends. They greeted him with a laugh, and
Herr Klüber rose
spasmodically from his seat, drew himself up to his full height, and
putting on his hat pronounced with dignity, but not too loud,
'Unheard of! Unheard of! Unheard of impertinence!' and at once
calling up the waiter, in a severe voice asked for the bill ... more
than that, ordered the carriage to be put to, adding that it was
impossible for respectable people to frequent the establishment if
they were exposed to insult! At those words Gemma, who still sat in
her place without stirring--her bosom was heaving violently--Gemma
raised her eyes to Herr Klüber ... and she gazed as intently, with
the same expression at him as at the officer. Emil was simply
shaking with rage.
'Get up, _mein Fräulein_,'
Klüber admonished her with the same severity, 'it is not proper for
you to remain here. We will go inside, in the tavern!'
Gemma rose in silence; he
offered her his arm, she gave him hers, and he walked into the
tavern with a majestic step, which became, with his whole bearing,
more majestic and haughty the farther he got from the place where
they had dined. Poor Emil dragged himself after them.
But while Herr Klüber was
settling up with the waiter, to whom, by way of punishment, he gave
not a single kreutzer for himself, Sanin with rapid steps approached
the table at which the officers were sitting, and addressing Gemma's
assailant, who was at that instant offering her rose to his
companions in turns to smell, he uttered very distinctly in French,
'What you have just done, sir, is conduct unworthy of an honest man,
unworthy of the uniform you wear, and I have come to tell you you
are an ill-bred cur!' The young man leaped on to his feet, but
another officer, rather older, checked him with a gesture, made him
sit down, and turning to Sanin asked him also in French, 'Was he a
relation, brother, or betrothed of the girl?'
'I am nothing to her at all,'
cried Sanin, 'I am a Russian, but I cannot look on at such insolence
with indifference; but here is my card and my address; _monsieur
l'officier_ can find me.'
As he uttered these words,
Sanin threw his visiting-card on the table, and at the same moment
hastily snatched Gemma's rose, which one of the officers sitting at
the table had dropped into his plate. The young man was again on the
point of jumping up from the table, but his companion again checked
him, saying, 'Dönhof, be quiet! Dönhof, sit still.' Then he got up
himself, and putting his hand to the peak of his cap, with a certain
shade of respectfulness in his voice and manner, told Sanin that
to-morrow morning an officer of the regiment would have the honour
of calling upon him. Sanin replied with a short bow, and hurriedly
returned to his friends.
Herr Klüber pretended he had
not noticed either Sanin's absence nor his interview with the
officers; he was urging on the coachman, who was putting in the
horses, and was furiously angry at his deliberateness. Gemma too
said nothing to Sanin, she did not even look at him; from her
knitted brows, from her pale and compressed lips, from her very
immobility it could be seen that she was suffering inwardly. Only
Emil obviously wanted to speak to Sanin, wanted to question him; he
had seen Sanin go up to the officers, he had seen him give them
something white--a scrap of paper, a note, or a card.... The poor
boy's heart was beating, his cheeks burned, he was ready to throw
himself on Sanin's neck, ready to cry, or to go with him at once to
crush all those accursed officers into dust and ashes! He controlled
himself, however, and did no more than watch intently every movement
of his noble Russian friend.
The coachman had at last
harnessed the horses; the whole party seated themselves in the
carriage. Emil climbed on to the box, after Tartaglia; he was more
comfortable there, and had not Klüber, whom he could hardly bear the
sight of, sitting opposite to him.
The whole way home Herr
Klüber discoursed ... and he discoursed alone; no one, absolutely no
one, opposed him, nor did any one agree with him. He especially
insisted on the point that they had been wrong in not following his
advice when he suggested dining in a shut-up summer-house. There no
unpleasantness could have occurred! Then he expressed a few decided
and even liberal sentiments on the unpardonable way in which the
government favoured the military, neglected their discipline, and
did not sufficiently consider the civilian element in society (_das
bürgerliche Element in der Societät_!), and foretold that in time
this cause would give rise to discontent, which might well pass into
revolution, of which (here he dropped a sympathetic though severe
sigh) France had given them a sorrowful example! He added, however,
that he personally had the greatest respect for authority, and never
... no, never!... could be a revolutionist--but he could not but
express his ... disapprobation at the sight of such licence! Then he
made a few general observations on morality and immorality,
good-breeding, and the sense of dignity.
During all these
lucubrations, Gemma, who even while they were walking before dinner
had not seemed quite pleased with Herr Klüber, and had therefore
held rather aloof from Sanin, and had been, as it were, embarrassed
by his presence--Gemma was unmistakably ashamed of her betrothed!
Towards the end of the drive she was positively wretched, and
though, as before, she did not address a word to Sanin, she suddenly
flung an imploring glance at him.... He, for his part, felt much
more sorry for her than indignant with Herr Klüber; he was even
secretly, half-consciously, delighted at what had happened in the
course of that day, even though he had every reason to expect a
challenge next morning.
This miserable _partie de
plaisir_ came to an end at last. As he helped Gemma out of the
carriage at the confectionery shop, Sanin without a word put into
her hand the rose he had recovered. She flushed crimson, pressed his
hand, and instantly hid the rose. He did not want to go into the
house, though the evening was only just beginning. She did not even
invite him. Moreover Pantaleone, who came out on the steps,
announced that Frau Lenore was asleep. Emil took a shy good-bye of
Sanin; he felt as it were in awe of him; he greatly admired him.
Klüber saw Sanin to his lodging, and took leave of him stiffly. The
well-regulated German, for all his self-confidence, felt awkward.
And indeed every one felt awkward.
But in Sanin this feeling of
awkwardness soon passed off. It was replaced by a vague, but
pleasant, even triumphant feeling. He walked up and down his room,
whistling, and not caring to think about anything, and was very well
pleased with himself.
'I will wait for the
officer's visit till ten o'clock,' he reflected next morning, as he
dressed,' and then let him come and look for me!' But Germans rise
early: it had not yet struck nine when the waiter informed Sanin
that the Herr Seconde Lieutenant von Richter wished to see him.
Sanin made haste to put on his coat, and told him to ask him up.
Herr Richter turned out, contrary to Sanin's expectation, to be a
very young man, almost a boy. He tried to give an expression of
dignity to his beardless face, but did not succeed at all: he could
not even conceal his embarrassment, and as he sat down on a chair,
he tripped over his sword, and almost fell. Stammering and
hesitating, he announced to Sanin in bad French that he had come
with a message from his friend, Baron von Dönhof; that this message
was to demand from Herr von Sanin an apology for the insulting
expressions used by him on the previous day; and in case of refusal
on the part of Herr von Sanin, Baron von Dönhof would ask for
satisfaction. Sanin replied that he did not mean to apologise, but
was ready to give him satisfaction. Then Herr von Richter, still
with the same hesitation, asked with whom, at what time and place,
should he arrange the necessary preliminaries. Sanin answered that
he might come to him in two hours' time, and that meanwhile, he,
Sanin, would try and find a second. ('Who the devil is there I can
have for a second?' he was thinking to himself meantime.) Herr von
Richter got up and began to take leave ... but at the doorway he
stopped, as though stung by a prick of conscience, and turning to
Sanin observed that his friend, Baron von Dönhof, could not but
recognise ... that he had been ... to a certain extent, to blame
himself in the incident of the previous day, and would, therefore,
be satisfied with slight apologies ('_des exghizes léchères_.') To
this Sanin replied that he did not intend to make any apology
whatever, either slight or considerable, since he did not consider
himself to blame. 'In that case,' answered Herr von Richter,
blushing more than ever,' you will have to exchange friendly
shots--_des goups de bisdolet à l'amiaple_!'
'I don't understand that at
all,' observed Sanin; 'are we to fire in the air or what?'
'Oh, not exactly that,'
stammered the sub-lieutenant, utterly disconcerted, 'but I supposed
since it is an affair between men of honour ... I will talk to your
second,' he broke off, and went away.
Sanin dropped into a chair
directly he had gone, and stared at the floor. 'What does it all
mean? How is it my life has taken such a turn all of a sudden? All
the past, all the future has suddenly vanished, gone,--and all
that's left is that I am going to fight some one about something in
Frankfort.' He recalled a crazy aunt of his who used to dance and
'O my lieutenant!
My little cucumber!
My little love!
Dance with me, my little
And he laughed and hummed as
she used to: 'O my lieutenant! Dance with me, little dove!' 'But I
must act, though, I mustn't waste time,' he cried aloud--jumped up
and saw Pantaleone facing him with a note in his hand.
'I knocked several times, but
you did not answer; I thought you weren't at home,' said the old
man, as he gave him the note. 'From Signorina Gemma.'
Sanin took the note,
mechanically, as they say, tore it open, and read it. Gemma wrote to
him that she was very anxious--about he knew what--and would be very
glad to see him at once.
'The Signorina is anxious,'
began Pantaleone, who obviously knew what was in the note, 'she told
me to see what you are doing and to bring you to her.'
Sanin glanced at the old
Italian, and pondered. A sudden idea flashed upon his brain. For the
first instant it struck him as too absurd to be possible.
'After all ... why not?' he
'M. Pantaleone!' he said
The old man started, tucked
his chin into his cravat and stared at Sanin.
'Do you know,' pursued
Sanin,' what happened yesterday?'
Pantaleone chewed his lips
and shook his immense top-knot of hair. 'Yes.'
(Emil had told him all about
it directly he got home.)
'Oh, you know! Well, an
officer has just this minute left me. That scoundrel challenges me
to a duel. I have accepted his challenge. But I have no second. Will
_you_ be my second?'
Pantaleone started and raised
his eyebrows so high that they were lost under his overhanging hair.
'You are absolutely obliged
to fight?' he said at last in Italian; till that instant he had made
use of French.
'Absolutely. I can't do
otherwise--it would mean disgracing myself for ever.'
'H'm. If I don't consent to
be your second you will find some one else.'
'Yes ... undoubtedly.'
Pantaleone looked down. 'But
allow me to ask you, Signor de Tsanin, will not your duel throw a
slur on the reputation of a certain lady?'
'I don't suppose so; but in
any case, there's no help for it.'
'H'm!' Pantaleone retired
altogether into his cravat. 'Hey, but that _ferroflucto
Klüberio_--what's he about?' he cried all of a sudden, looking up
'_Che_!' Pantaleone shrugged
his shoulders contemptuously. 'I have, in any case, to thank you,'
he articulated at last in an unsteady voice 'that even in my present
humble condition you recognise that I am a gentleman--_un
galant'uomo_! In that way you have shown yourself to be a real
_galant'uomo_. But I must consider your proposal.'
'There's no time to lose,
dear Signor Ci ... cippa ...'
'Tola,' the old man chimed
in. 'I ask only for one hour for reflection.... The daughter of my
benefactor is involved in this.... And, therefore, I ought, I am
bound, to reflect!... In an hour, in three-quarters of an hour, you
shall know my decision.'
'Very well; I will wait.'
'And now ... what answer am I
to give to Signorina Gemma?'
Sanin took a sheet of paper,
wrote on it, 'Set your mind at rest, dear friend; in three hours'
time I will come to you, and everything shall be explained. I thank
you from my heart for your sympathy,' and handed this sheet to
He put it carefully into his
side-pocket, and once more repeating 'In an hour!' made towards the
door; but turning sharply back, ran up to Sanin, seized his hand,
and pressing it to his shirt-front, cried, with his eyes to the
ceiling: 'Noble youth! Great heart! (_Nobil giovanotto! Gran
cuore!_) permit a weak old man (_a un vecchiotto!_) to press your
valorous right hand (_la vostra valorosa destra!_)' Then he skipped
back a pace or two, threw up both hands, and went away.
Sanin looked after him ...
took up the newspaper and tried to read. But his eyes wandered in
vain over the lines: he understood nothing.
An hour later the waiter came
in again to Sanin, and handed him an old, soiled visiting-card, on
which were the following words: 'Pantaleone Cippatola of Varese,
court singer (_cantante di camera_) to his Royal Highness the Duke
of Modena'; and behind the waiter in walked Pantaleone himself. He
had changed his clothes from top to toe. He had on a black frock
coat, reddish with long wear, and a white piqué waistcoat, upon
which a pinch-beck chain meandered playfully; a heavy cornelian seal
hung low down on to his narrow black trousers. In his right hand he
carried a black beaver hat, in his left two stout chamois gloves; he
had tied his cravat in a taller and broader bow than ever, and had
stuck into his starched shirt-front a pin with a stone, a so-called
'cat's eye.' On his forefinger was displayed a ring, consisting of
two clasped hands with a burning heart between them. A smell of
garments long laid by, a smell of camphor and of musk hung about the
whole person of the old man; the anxious solemnity of his deportment
must have struck the most casual spectator! Sanin rose to meet him.
'I am your second,'
Pantaleone announced in French, and he bowed bending his whole body
forward, and turning out his toes like a dancer. 'I have come for
instructions. Do you want to fight to the death?'
'Why to the death, my dear
Signor Cippatola? I will not for any consideration take back my
words--but I am not a bloodthirsty person!... But come, wait a
little, my opponent's second will be here directly. I will go into
the next room, and you can make arrangements with him. Believe me I
shall never forget your kindness, and I thank you from my heart.'
'Honour before everything!'
answered Pantaleone, and he sank into an arm-chair, without waiting
for Sanin to ask him to sit down. 'If that _ferroflucto
spitchebubbio_,' he said, passing from French into Italian, 'if that
counter-jumper Klüberio could not appreciate his obvious duty or was
afraid, so much the worse for him!... A cheap soul, and that's all
about it!... As for the conditions of the duel, I am your second,
and your interests are sacred to me!... When I lived in Padua there
was a regiment of the white dragoons stationed there, and I was very
intimate with many of the officers!... I was quite familiar with
their whole code. And I used often to converse on these subjects
with your principe Tarbuski too.... Is this second to come soon?'
'I am expecting him every
minute--and here he comes,' added Sanin, looking into the street.
Pantaleone got up, looked at
his watch, straightened his topknot of hair, and hurriedly stuffed
into his shoe an end of tape which was sticking out below his
trouser-leg, and the young sub-lieutenant came in, as red and
embarrassed as ever.
Sanin presented the seconds
to each other. 'M. Richter, sous-lieutenant, M. Cippatola, artiste!'
The sub-lieutenant was slightly disconcerted by the old man's
appearance ... Oh, what would he have said had any one whispered to
him at that instant that the 'artist' presented to him was also
employed in the culinary art! But Pantaleone assumed an air as
though taking part in the preliminaries of duels was for him the
most everyday affair: probably he was assisted at this juncture by
the recollections of his theatrical career, and he played the part
of second simply as a part. Both he and the sub-lieutenant were
silent for a little.
'Well? Let us come to
business!' Pantaleone spoke first, playing with his cornelian seal.
'By all means,' responded the
sub-lieutenant, 'but ... the presence of one of the principals ...'
'I will leave you at once,
gentlemen,' cried Sanin, and with a bow he went away into the
bedroom and closed the door after him.
He flung himself on the bed
and began thinking of Gemma ... but the conversation of the seconds
reached him through the shut door. It was conducted in the French
language; both maltreated it mercilessly, each after his own
fashion. Pantaleone again alluded to the dragoons in Padua, and
Principe Tarbuski; the sub-lieutenant to '_exghizes léchères_' and
'_goups de bistolet à l'amiaple_.' But the old man would not even
hear of any _exghizes_! To Sanin's horror, he suddenly proceeded to
talk of a certain young lady, an innocent maiden, whose little
finger was worth more than all the officers in the world ... (_oune
zeune damigella innoucenta, qu'a elle sola dans soun péti doa vale
pin que tout le zouffissié del mondo_.'), and repeated several times
with heat: 'It's shameful! it's shameful!' (_E ouna onta, ouna
onta_!) The sub-lieutenant at first made him no reply, but presently
an angry quiver could be heard in the young man's voice, and he
observed that he had not come there to listen to sermonising.
'At your age it is always a
good thing to hear the truth!' cried Pantaleone.
The debate between the
seconds several times became stormy; it lasted over an hour, and was
concluded at last on the following conditions: 'Baron von Dönhof and
M. de Sanin to meet the next day at ten o'clock in a small wood near
Hanau, at the distance of twenty paces; each to have the right to
fire twice at a signal given by the seconds, the pistols to be
single-triggered and not rifle-barrelled.' Herr von Richter
withdrew, and Pantaleone solemnly opened the bedroom door, and after
communicating the result of their deliberations, cried again:
'_Bravo Russo_! _Bravo giovanotto_! You will be victor!'
A few minutes later they both
set off to the Rosellis' shop. Sanin, as a preliminary measure, had
exacted a promise from Pantaleone to keep the affair of the duel a
most profound secret. In reply, the old man had merely held up his
finger, and half closing his eyes, whispered twice over,
_Segredezza_! He was obviously in good spirits, and even walked with
a freer step. All these unusual incidents, unpleasant though they
might be, carried him vividly back to the time when he himself both
received and gave challenges--only, it is true, on the stage.
Baritones, as we all know, have a great deal of strutting and fuming
to do in their parts.
Emil ran out to meet
Sanin--he had been watching for his arrival over an hour--and
hurriedly whispered into his ear that his mother knew nothing of the
disagreeable incident of the day before, that he must not even hint
of it to her, and that he was being sent to Klüber's shop again!...
but that he wouldn't go there, but would hide somewhere!
Communicating all this information in a few seconds, he suddenly
fell on Sanin's shoulder, kissed him impulsively, and rushed away
down the street. Gemma met Sanin in the shop; tried to say something
and could not. Her lips were trembling a little, while her eyes were
half-closed and turned away. He made haste to soothe her by the
assurance that the whole affair had ended ... in utter nonsense.
'Has no one been to see you
to-day?' she asked.
'A person did come to me and
we had an explanation, and we ... we came to the most satisfactory
Gemma went back behind the
'She does not believe me!' he
thought ... he went into the next room, however, and there found
Her sick headache had passed
off, but she was in a depressed state of mind. She gave him a smile
of welcome, but warned him at the same time that he would be dull
with her to-day, as she was not in a mood to entertain him. He sat
down beside her, and noticed that her eyelids were red and swollen.
'What is wrong, Frau Lenore?
You've never been crying, surely?'
'Oh!' she whispered, nodding
her head towards the room where her daughter was.
'Don't speak of it ...
'But what have you been
'Ah, M'sieu Sanin, I don't
know myself what for!'
'No one has hurt your
'Oh no!... I felt very low
all of a sudden. I thought of Giovanni Battista ... of my youth ...
Then how quickly it had all passed away. I have grown old, my
friend, and I can't reconcile myself to that anyhow. I feel I'm just
the same as I was ... but old age--it's here! it is here!' Tears
came into Frau Lenore's eyes. 'You look at me, I see, and wonder....
But you will get old too, my friend, and will find out how bitter it
Sanin tried to comfort her,
spoke of her children, in whom her own youth lived again, even
attempted to scoff at her a little, declaring that she was fishing
for compliments ... but she quite seriously begged him to leave off,
and for the first time he realised that for such a sorrow, the
despondency of old age, there is no comfort or cure; one has to wait
till it passes off of itself. He proposed a game of tresette, and he
could have thought of nothing better. She agreed at once and seemed
to get more cheerful.
Sanin played with her until
dinner-time and after dinner Pantaleone too took a hand in the game.
Never had his topknot hung so low over his forehead, never had his
chin retreated so far into his cravat! Every movement was
accompanied by such intense solemnity that as one looked at him the
thought involuntarily arose, 'What secret is that man guarding with
such determination?' But _segredezza_! _segredezza_!
During the whole of that day
he tried in every possible way to show the profoundest respect for
Sanin; at table, passing by the ladies, he solemnly and sedately
handed the dishes first to him; when they were at cards he
intentionally gave him the game; he announced, apropos of nothing at
all, that the Russians were the most great-hearted, brave, and
resolute people in the world!
'Ah, you old flatterer!'
Sanin thought to himself.
And he was not so much
surprised at Signora Roselli's unexpected state of mind, as at the
way her daughter behaved to him. It was not that she avoided him ...
on the contrary she sat continually a little distance from him,
listened to what he said, and looked at him; but she absolutely
declined to get into conversation with him, and directly he began
talking to her, she softly rose from her place, and went out for
some instants. Then she came in again, and again seated herself in
some corner, and sat without stirring, seeming meditative and
perplexed ... perplexed above all. Frau Lenore herself noticed at
last, that she was not as usual, and asked her twice what was the
'Nothing,' answered Gemma;
'you know I am sometimes like this.'
'That is true,' her mother
So passed all that long day,
neither gaily nor drearily--neither cheerfully nor sadly. Had Gemma
been different--Sanin ... who knows?... might not perhaps have been
able to resist the temptation for a little display--or he might
simply have succumbed to melancholy at the possibility of a
separation for ever.... But as he did not once succeed in getting a
word with Gemma, he was obliged to confine himself to striking minor
chords on the piano for a quarter of an hour before evening coffee.
Emil came home late, and to
avoid questions about Herr Klüber, beat a hasty retreat. The time
came for Sanin too to retire.
He began saying good-bye to
Gemma. He recollected for some reason Lensky's parting from Olga in
_Oniegin_. He pressed her hand warmly, and tried to get a look at
her face, but she turned a little away and released her fingers.
It was bright starlight when
he came out on the steps. What multitudes of stars, big and little,
yellow, red, blue and white were scattered over the sky! They seemed
all flashing, swarming, twinkling unceasingly. There was no moon in
the sky, but without it every object could be clearly discerned in
the half-clear, shadowless twilight. Sanin walked down the street to
the end ... He did not want to go home at once; he felt a desire to
wander about a little in the fresh air. He turned back and had
hardly got on a level with the house, where was the Rosellis' shop,
when one of the windows looking out on the street, suddenly creaked
and opened; in its square of blackness--there was no light in the
room--appeared a woman's figure, and he heard his name--'Monsieur
He rushed at once up to the
window ... Gemma! She was leaning with her elbows on the
window-sill, bending forward.
'Monsieur Dimitri,' she began
in a cautious voice, 'I have been wanting all day long to give you
something ... but I could not make up my mind to; and just now,
seeing you, quite unexpectedly again, I thought that it seems it is
Gemma was forced to stop at
this word. She could not go on; something extraordinary happened at
All of a sudden, in the midst
of the profound stillness, over the perfectly unclouded sky, there
blew such a violent blast of wind, that the very earth seemed
shaking underfoot, the delicate starlight seemed quivering and
trembling, the air went round in a whirlwind. The wind, not cold,
but hot, almost sultry, smote against the trees, the roof of the
house, its walls, and the street; it instantaneously snatched off
Sanin's hat, crumpled up and tangled Gemma's curls. Sanin's head was
on a level with the window-sill; he could not help clinging close to
it, and Gemma clutched hold of his shoulders with both hands, and
pressed her bosom against his head. The roar, the din, and the
rattle lasted about a minute.... Like a flock of huge birds the
revelling whirlwind darted revelling away. A profound stillness
reigned once more.
Sanin raised his head and saw
above him such an exquisite, scared, excited face, such immense,
large, magnificent eyes--it was such a beautiful creature he saw,
that his heart stood still within him, he pressed his lips to the
delicate tress of hair, that had fallen on his bosom, and could only
murmur, 'O Gemma!'
'What was that? Lightning?'
she asked, her eyes wandering afar, while she did not take her bare
arms from his shoulder.
'Gemma!' repeated Sanin.
She sighed, looked around
behind her into the room, and with a rapid movement pulling the now
faded rose out of her bodice, she threw it to Sanin.
'I wanted to give you this
He recognised the rose, which
he had won back the day before....
But already the window had
slammed-to, and through the dark pane nothing could be seen, no
trace of white.
Sanin went home without his
hat.... He did not even notice that he had lost it.
It was quite morning when he
fell asleep. And no wonder! In the blast of that instantaneous
summer hurricane, he had almost as instantaneously felt, not that
Gemma was lovely, not that he liked her--that he had known before
... but that he almost ... loved her! As suddenly as that blast of
wind, had love pounced down upon him. And then this senseless duel!
He began to be tormented by mournful forebodings. And even suppose
they didn't kill him.... What could come of his love for this girl,
another man's betrothed? Even supposing this 'other man' was no
danger, that Gemma herself would care for him, or even cared for him
already ... What would come of it? How ask what! Such a lovely
He walked about the room, sat
down to the table, took a sheet of paper, traced a few lines on it,
and at once blotted them out.... He recalled Gemma's wonderful
figure in the dark window, in the starlight, set all a-fluttering by
the warm hurricane; he remembered her marble arms, like the arms of
the Olympian goddesses, felt their living weight on his
shoulders.... Then he took the rose she had thrown him, and it
seemed to him that its half-withered petals exhaled a fragrance of
her, more delicate than the ordinary scent of the rose.
'And would they kill him
straight away or maim him?'
He did not go to bed, and
fell asleep in his clothes on the sofa.
Some one slapped him on the
shoulder.... He opened his eyes, and saw Pantaleone.
'He sleeps like Alexander of
Macedon on the eve of the battle of Babylon!' cried the old man.
'What o'clock is it?'
'A quarter to seven; it's a
two hours' drive to Hanau, and we must be the first on the field.
Russians are always beforehand with their enemies! I have engaged
the best carriage in Frankfort!'
Sanin began washing. 'And
where are the pistols?'
'That _ferroflucto Tedesco_
will bring the pistols. He'll bring a doctor too.'
Pantaleone was obviously
putting a good face on it as he had done the day before; but when he
was seated in the carriage with Sanin, when the coachman had cracked
his whip and the horses had started off at a gallop, a sudden change
came over the old singer and friend of Paduan dragoons. He began to
be confused and positively faint-hearted. Something seemed to have
given way in him, like a badly built wall.
'What are we doing, my God,
_Santissima Madonna!_' he cried in an unexpectedly high pipe, and he
clutched at his head. 'What am I about, old fool, madman,
Sanin wondered and laughed,
and putting his arm lightly round Pantaleone's waist, he reminded
him of the French proverb: '_Le vin est tiré--il faut le boire_.'
'Yes, yes,' answered the old
man, 'we will drain the cup together to the dregs--but still I'm a
madman! I'm a madman! All was going on so quietly, so well ... and
all of a sudden: ta-ta-ta, tra-ta-ta!'
'Like the _tutti_ in the
orchestra,' observed Sanin with a forced smile. 'But it's not your
'I know it's not. I should
think not indeed! And yet ... such insolent conduct! _Diavolo,
diavolo_!' repeated Pantaleone, sighing and shaking his topknot.
The carriage still rolled on
It was an exquisite morning.
The streets of Frankfort, which were just beginning to show signs of
life, looked so clean and snug; the windows of the houses glittered
in flashes like tinfoil; and as soon as the carriage had driven
beyond the city walls, from overhead, from a blue but not yet
glaring sky, the larks' loud trills showered down in floods.
Suddenly at a turn in the road, a familiar figure came from behind a
tall poplar, took a few steps forward and stood still. Sanin looked
more closely.... Heavens! it was Emil!
'But does he know anything
about it?' he demanded of Pantaleone.
'I tell you I'm a madman,'
the poor Italian wailed despairingly, almost in a shriek. 'The
wretched boy gave me no peace all night, and this morning at last I
revealed all to him!'
'So much for your
_segredezza_!' thought Sanin. The carriage had got up to Emil. Sanin
told the coachman to stop the horses, and called the 'wretched boy'
up to him. Emil approached with hesitating steps, pale as he had
been on the day he fainted. He could scarcely stand.
'What are you doing here?'
Sanin asked him sternly. 'Why aren't you at home?'
'Let ... let me come with
you,' faltered Emil in a trembling voice, and he clasped his hands.
His teeth were chattering as in a fever. 'I won't get in your
way--only take me.'
'If you feel the very
slightest affection or respect for me,' said Sanin, 'you will go at
once home or to Herr Klüber's shop, and you won't say one word to
any one, and will wait for my return!'
'Your return,' moaned
Emil--and his voice quivered and broke, 'but if you're--'
interrupted--and he pointed to the coachman, 'do control yourself!
Emil, please, go home! Listen to me, my dear! You say you love me.
Well, I beg you!' He held out his hand to him. Emil bent forward,
sobbed, pressed it to his lips, and darting away from the road, ran
back towards Frankfort across country.
'A noble heart too,' muttered
Pantaleone; but Sanin glanced severely at him.... The old man shrank
into the corner of the carriage. He was conscious of his fault; and
moreover, he felt more and more bewildered every instant; could it
really be he who was acting as second, who had got horses, and had
made all arrangements, and had left his peaceful abode at six
o'clock? Besides, his legs were stiff and aching.
Sanin thought it as well to
cheer him up, and he chanced on the very thing, he hit on the right
'Where is your old spirit,
Signor Cippatola? Where is _il antico valor_?'
Signor Cippatola drew himself
up and scowled '_Il antico valor_?' he boomed in a bass voice. '_Non
è ancora spento_ (it's not all lost yet), _il antico valor!_'
He put himself in a dignified
attitude, began talking of his career, of the opera, of the great
tenor Garcia--and arrived at Hanau a hero.
After all, if you think of
it, nothing is stronger in the world ... and weaker--than a word!
The copse in which the duel
was to take place was a quarter of a mile from Hanau. Sanin and
Pantaleone arrived there first, as the latter had predicted; they
gave orders for the carriage to remain outside the wood, and they
plunged into the shade of the rather thick and close-growing trees.
They had to wait about an hour.
The time of waiting did not
seem particularly disagreeable to Sanin; he walked up and down the
path, listened to the birds singing, watched the dragonflies in
their flight, and like the majority of Russians in similar
circumstances, tried not to think. He only once dropped into
reflection; he came across a young lime-tree, broken down, in all
probability by the squall of the previous night. It was unmistakably
dying ... all the leaves on it were dead. 'What is it? an omen?' was
the thought that flashed across his mind; but he promptly began
whistling, leaped over the very tree, and paced up and down the
path. As for Pantaleone, he was grumbling, abusing the Germans,
sighing and moaning, rubbing first his back and then his knees. He
even yawned from agitation, which gave a very comic expression to
his tiny shrivelled-up face. Sanin could scarcely help laughing when
he looked at him.
They heard, at last, the
rolling of wheels along the soft road. 'It's they!' said Pantaleone,
and he was on the alert and drew himself up, not without a momentary
nervous shiver, which he made haste, however, to cover with the
ejaculation 'B-r-r!' and the remark that the morning was rather
fresh. A heavy dew drenched the grass and leaves, but the sultry
heat penetrated even into the wood.
Both the officers quickly
made their appearance under its arched avenues; they were
accompanied by a little thick-set man, with a phlegmatic, almost
sleepy, expression of face--the army doctor. He carried in one hand
an earthenware pitcher of water--to be ready for any emergency; a
satchel with surgical instruments and bandages hung on his left
shoulder. It was obvious that he was thoroughly used to such
excursions; they constituted one of the sources of his income; each
duel yielded him eight gold crowns--four from each of the
combatants. Herr von Richter carried a case of pistols, Herr von
Dönhof--probably considering it the thing--was swinging in his hand
a little cane.
'Pantaleone!' Sanin whispered
to the old man; 'if ... if I'm killed--anything may happen--take out
of my side pocket a paper--there's a flower wrapped up in it--and
give the paper to Signorina Gemma. Do you hear? You promise?'
The old man looked dejectedly
at him, and nodded his head affirmatively.... But God knows whether
he understood what Sanin was asking him to do.
The combatants and the
seconds exchanged the customary bows; the doctor alone did not move
as much as an eyelash; he sat down yawning on the grass, as much as
to say, 'I'm not here for expressions of chivalrous courtesy.' Herr
von Richter proposed to Herr 'Tshibadola' that he should select the
place; Herr 'Tshibadola' responded, moving his tongue with
difficulty--'the wall' within him had completely given way again.
'You act, my dear sir; I will watch....'
And Herr von Richter
proceeded to act. He picked out in the wood close by a very pretty
clearing all studded with flowers; he measured out the steps, and
marked the two extreme points with sticks, which he cut and pointed.
He took the pistols out of the case, and squatting on his heels, he
rammed in the bullets; in short, he fussed about and exerted himself
to the utmost, continually mopping his perspiring brow with a white
handkerchief. Pantaleone, who accompanied him, was more like a man
frozen. During all these preparations, the two principals stood at a
little distance, looking like two schoolboys who have been punished,
and are sulky with their tutors.
The decisive moment
arrived.... 'Each took his pistol....'
But at this point Herr von
Richter observed to Pantaleone that it was his duty, as the senior
second, according to the rules of the duel, to address a final word
of advice and exhortation to be reconciled to the combatants, before
uttering the fatal 'one! two! three!'; that although this
exhortation had no effect of any sort and was, as a rule, nothing
but an empty formality, still, by the performance of this formality,
Herr Cippatola would be rid of a certain share of responsibility;
that, properly speaking, such an admonition formed the direct duty
of the so-called 'impartial witness' (_unpartheiischer Zeuge_) but
since they had no such person present, he, Herr von Richter, would
readily yield this privilege to his honoured colleague. Pantaleone,
who had already succeeded in obliterating himself behind a bush, so
as not to see the offending officer at all, at first made out
nothing at all of Herr von Richter's speech, especially, as it had
been delivered through the nose, but all of a sudden he started,
stepped hurriedly forward, and convulsively thumping at his chest,
in a hoarse voice wailed out in his mixed jargon: '_A la la la ...
Che bestialita! Deux zeun ommes comme ça que si battono--perchè? Che
diavolo? An data a casa!_'
'I will not consent to a
reconciliation,' Sanin intervened hurriedly.
'And I too will not,' his
opponent repeated after him.
'Well, then shout one, two,
three!' von Richter said, addressing the distracted Pantaleone. The
latter promptly ducked behind the bush again, and from there, all
huddled together, his eyes screwed up, and his head turned away, he
shouted at the top of his voice: '_Una ... due ... tre!_'
The first shot was Sanin's,
and he missed. His bullet went ping against a tree. Baron von Dönhof
shot directly after him--intentionally, to one side, into the air.
A constrained silence
followed.... No one moved. Pantaleone uttered a faint moan.
'Is it your wish to go on?'
'Why did you shoot in the
air?' inquired Sanin.
'That's nothing to do with
'Will you shoot in the air
the second time?' Sanin asked again.
'Possibly: I don't know.'
'Excuse me, excuse me,
gentlemen ...' began von Richter; 'duellists have not the right to
talk together. That's out of order.'
'I decline my shot,' said
Sanin, and he threw his pistol on the ground.
'And I too do not intend to
go on with the duel,' cried Dönhof, and he too threw his pistol on
the ground. 'And more than that, I am prepared to own that I was in
the wrong--the day before yesterday.'
He moved uneasily, and
hesitatingly held out his hand. Sanin went rapidly up to him and
shook it. Both the young men looked at each other with a smile, and
both their faces flushed crimson.
'_Bravi! bravi!_' Pantaleone
roared suddenly as if he had gone mad, and clapping his hands, he
rushed like a whirlwind from behind the bush; while the doctor, who
had been sitting on one side on a felled tree, promptly rose, poured
the water out of the jug and walked off with a lazy, rolling step
out of the wood.
'Honour is satisfied, and the
duel is over!' von Richter announced.
'_Fuori!_' Pantaleone boomed
once more, through old associations.
When he had exchanged bows
with the officers, and taken his seat in the carriage, Sanin
certainly felt all over him, if not a sense of pleasure, at least a
certain lightness of heart, as after an operation is over; but there
was another feeling astir within him too, a feeling akin to
shame.... The duel, in which he had just played his part, struck him
as something false, a got-up formality, a common officers' and
students' farce. He recalled the phlegmatic doctor, he recalled how
he had grinned, that is, wrinkled up his nose when he saw him coming
out of the wood almost arm-in-arm with Baron Dönhof. And afterwards
when Pantaleone had paid him the four crowns due to him ... Ah!
there was something nasty about it!
Yes, Sanin was a little
conscience-smitten and ashamed ... though, on the other hand, what
was there for him to have done? Could he have left the young
officer's insolence unrebuked? could he have behaved like Herr
Klüber? He had stood up for Gemma, he had championed her ... that
was so; and yet, there was an uneasy pang in his heart, and he was
conscience--smitten, and even ashamed.
Not so Pantaleone--he was
simply in his glory! He was suddenly possessed by a feeling of
pride. A victorious general, returning from the field of battle he
has won, could not have looked about him with greater
self-satisfaction. Sanin's demeanour during the duel filled him with
enthusiasm. He called him a hero, and would not listen to his
exhortations and even his entreaties. He compared him to a monument
of marble or of bronze, with the statue of the commander in Don
Juan! For himself he admitted he had been conscious of some
perturbation of mind, 'but, of course, I am an artist,' he observed;
'I have a highly-strung nature, while you are the son of the snows
and the granite rocks.'
Sanin was positively at a
loss how to quiet the jubilant artist.
Almost at the same place in
the road where two hours before they had come upon Emil, he again
jumped out from behind a tree, and, with a cry of joy upon his lips,
waving his cap and leaping into the air, he rushed straight at the
carriage, almost fell under the wheel, and, without waiting for the
horses to stop, clambered up over the carriage-door and fairly clung
'You are alive, you are not
wounded!' he kept repeating. 'Forgive me, I did not obey you, I did
not go back to Frankfort ... I could not! I waited for you here ...
Tell me how was it? You ... killed him?'
Sanin with some difficulty
pacified Emil and made him sit down.
With great verbosity, with
evident pleasure, Pantaleone communicated to him all the details of
the duel, and, of course, did not omit to refer again to the
monument of bronze and the statue of the commander. He even rose
from his seat and, standing with his feet wide apart to preserve his
equilibrium, folding his arm on his chest and looking contemptuously
over his shoulder, gave an ocular representation of the
commander--Sanin! Emil listened with awe, occasionally interrupting
the narrative with an exclamation, or swiftly getting up and as
swiftly kissing his heroic friend.
The carriage wheels rumbled
over the paved roads of Frankfort, and stopped at last before the
hotel where Sanin was living.
Escorted by his two
companions, he went up the stairs, when suddenly a woman came with
hurried steps out of the dark corridor; her face was hidden by a
veil, she stood still, facing Sanin, wavered a little, gave a
trembling sigh, at once ran down into the street and vanished, to
the great astonishment of the waiter, who explained that 'that lady
had been for over an hour waiting for the return of the foreign
gentleman.' Momentary as was the apparition, Sanin recognised Gemma.
He recognised her eyes under the thick silk of her brown veil.
'Did Fräulein Gemma know,
then?'... he said slowly in a displeased voice in German, addressing
Emil and Pantaleone, who were following close on his heels.
Emil blushed and was
'I was obliged to tell her
all,' he faltered; 'she guessed, and I could not help it.... But now
that's of no consequence,' he hurried to add eagerly, 'everything
has ended so splendidly, and she has seen you well and uninjured!'
Sanin turned away.
'What a couple of
chatterboxes you are!' he observed in a tone of annoyance, as he
went into his room and sat down on a chair.
'Don't be angry, please,'
'Very well, I won't be
angry'--(Sanin was not, in fact, angry--and, after all, he could
hardly have desired that Gemma should know nothing about it). 'Very
well ... that's enough embracing. You get along now. I want to be
alone. I'm going to sleep. I'm tired.'
'An excellent idea!' cried
Pantaleone. 'You need repose! You have fully earned it, noble
signor! Come along, Emilio! On tip-toe! On tip-toe! Sh--sh--sh!'
When he said he wanted to go
to sleep, Sanin had simply wished to get rid of his companions; but
when he was left alone, he was really aware of considerable
weariness in all his limbs; he had hardly closed his eyes all the
preceding night, and throwing himself on his bed he fell immediately
into a sound sleep.
He slept for some hours
without waking. Then he began to dream that he was once more
fighting a duel, that the antagonist standing facing him was Herr
Klüber, and on a fir-tree was sitting a parrot, and this parrot was
Pantaleone, and he kept tapping with his beak: one, one, one!
'One ... one ... one!' he
heard the tapping too distinctly; he opened his eyes, raised his
head ... some one was knocking at his door.
'Come in!' called Sanin.
The waiter came in and
answered that a lady very particularly wished to see him.
'Gemma!' flashed into his
head ... but the lady turned out to be her mother, Frau Lenore.
Directly she came in, she
dropped at once into a chair and began to cry.
'What is the matter, my dear,
good Madame Roselli?' began Sanin, sitting beside her and softly
touching her hand. 'What has happened? calm yourself, I entreat
'Ah, Herr Dimitri, I am very
... very miserable!'
'You are miserable?'
'Ah, very! Could I have
foreseen such a thing? All of a sudden, like thunder from a clear
She caught her breath.
'But what is it? Explain!
Would you like a glass of water?'
'No, thank you.' Frau Lenore
wiped her eyes with her handkerchief and began to cry with renewed
energy. 'I know all, you see! All!'
'All? that is to say?'
'Everything that took place
to-day! And the cause ... I know that too! You acted like an
honourable man; but what an unfortunate combination of
circumstances! I was quite right in not liking that excursion to
Soden ... quite right!' (Frau Lenore had said nothing of the sort on
the day of the excursion, but she was convinced now that she had
foreseen 'all' even then.) 'I have come to you as to an honourable
man, as to a friend, though I only saw you for the first time five
days ago.... But you know I am a widow, a lonely woman.... My
Tears choked Frau Lenore's
voice. Sanin did not know what to think. 'Your daughter?' he
'My daughter, Gemma,' broke
almost with a groan from Frau Lenore, behind the tear-soaked
handkerchief, 'informed me to-day that she would not marry Herr
Klüber, and that I must refuse him!'
Sanin positively started back
a little; he had not expected that.
'I won't say anything now,'
Frau Lenore went on, 'of the disgrace of it, of its being something
unheard of in the world for a girl to jilt her betrothed; but you
see it's ruin for us, Herr Dimitri!' Frau Lenore slowly and
carefully twisted up her handkerchief in a tiny, tiny little ball,
as though she would enclose all her grief within it. 'We can't go on
living on the takings of our shop, Herr Dimitri! and Herr Klüber is
very rich, and will be richer still. And what is he to be refused
for? Because he did not defend his betrothed? Allowing that was not
very handsome on his part, still, he's a civilian, has not had a
university education, and as a solid business man, it was for him to
look with contempt on the frivolous prank of some unknown little
officer. And what sort of insult was it, after all, Herr Dimitri?'
'Excuse me, Frau Lenore, you
seem to be blaming me.'
'I am not blaming you in the
least, not in the least! You're quite another matter; you are, like
all Russians, a military man ...'
'Excuse me, I'm not at all
'You're a foreigner, a
visitor, and I'm grateful to you,' Frau Lenore went on, not heeding
Sanin. She sighed, waved her hands, unwound her handkerchief again,
and blew her nose. Simply from the way in which her distress
expressed itself, it could be seen that she had not been born under
a northern sky.
'And how is Herr Klüber to
look after his shop, if he is to fight with his customers? It's
utterly inconsistent! And now I am to send him away! But what are we
going to live on? At one time we were the only people that made
angel cakes, and nougat of pistachio nuts, and we had plenty of
customers; but now all the shops make angel cakes! Only consider;
even without this, they'll talk in the town about your duel ... it's
impossible to keep it secret. And all of a sudden, the marriage
broken off! It will be a scandal, a scandal! Gemma is a splendid
girl, she loves me; but she's an obstinate republican, she doesn't
care for the opinion of others. You're the only person that can
Sanin was more amazed than
ever. 'I, Frau Lenore?'
'Yes, you alone ... you
alone. That's why I have come to you; I could not think of anything
else to do! You are so clever, so good! You have fought in her
defence. She will trust you! She is bound to trust you--why, you
have risked your life on her account! You will make her understand,
for I can do nothing more; you make her understand that she will
bring ruin on herself and all of us. You saved my son--save my
daughter too! God Himself sent you here ... I am ready on my knees
to beseech you....' And Frau Lenore half rose from her seat as
though about to fall at Sanin's feet.... He restrained her.
'Frau Lenore! For mercy's
sake! What are you doing?'
She clutched his hand
impulsively. 'You promise ...'
'Frau Lenore, think a moment;
what right have I ...'
'You promise? You don't want
me to die here at once before your eyes?'
Sanin was utterly nonplussed.
It was the first time in his life he had had to deal with any one of
ardent Italian blood.
'I will do whatever you
like,' he cried. 'I will talk to Fräulein Gemma....'
Frau Lenore uttered a cry of
'Only I really can't say what
result will come of it ...'
'Ah, don't go back, don't go
back from your words!' cried Frau Lenore in an imploring voice; 'you
have already consented! The result is certain to be excellent. Any
way, _I_ can do nothing more! She won't listen to _me_!'
'Has she so positively stated
her disinclination to marry Herr Klüber?' Sanin inquired after a
'As if she'd cut the knot
with a knife! She's her father all over, Giovanni Battista! Wilful
'Wilful? Is she!' ... Sanin
said slowly. 'Yes ... yes ... but she's an angel too. She will mind
you. Are you coming soon? Oh, my dear Russian friend!' Frau Lenore
rose impulsively from her chair, and as impulsively clasped the head
of Sanin, who was sitting opposite her. 'Accept a mother's
blessing--and give me some water!'
Sanin brought Signora Roselli
a glass of water, gave her his word of honour that he would come
directly, escorted her down the stairs to the street, and when he
was back in his own room, positively threw up his arms and opened
his eyes wide in his amazement.
'Well,' he thought, 'well,
_now_ life is going round in a whirl! And it's whirling so that I'm
giddy.' He did not attempt to look within, to realise what was going
on in himself: it was all uproar and confusion, and that was all he
knew! What a day it had been! His lips murmured unconsciously:
'Wilful ... her mother says ... and I have got to advise her ...
her! And advise her what?'
Sanin, really, was giddy, and
above all this whirl of shifting sensations and impressions and
unfinished thoughts, there floated continually the image of Gemma,
the image so ineffaceably impressed on his memory on that hot night,
quivering with electricity, in that dark window, in the light of the
With hesitating footsteps
Sanin approached the house of Signora Roselli. His heart was beating
violently; he distinctly felt, and even heard it thumping at his
side. What should he say to Gemma, how should he begin? He went into
the house, not through the shop, but by the back entrance. In the
little outer room he met Frau Lenore. She was both relieved and
scared at the sight of him.
'I have been expecting you,'
she said in a whisper, squeezing his hand with each of hers in turn.
'Go into the garden; she is there. Mind, I rely on you!'
Sanin went into the garden.
Gemma was sitting on a
garden-seat near the path, she was sorting a big basket full of
cherries, picking out the ripest, and putting them on a dish. The
sun was low--it was seven o'clock in the evening--and there was more
purple than gold in the full slanting light with which it flooded
the whole of Signora Roselli's little garden. From time to time,
faintly audibly, and as it were deliberately, the leaves rustled,
and belated bees buzzed abruptly as they flew from one flower to the
next, and somewhere a dove was cooing a never-changing, unceasing
note. Gemma had on the same round hat in which she had driven to
Soden. She peeped at Sanin from under its turned-down brim, and
again bent over the basket.
Sanin went up to Gemma,
unconsciously making each step shorter, and ... and ... and nothing
better could he find to say to her than to ask why was she sorting
Gemma was in no haste to
'These are riper,' she
observed at last, 'they will go into jam, and those are for tarts.
You know the round sweet tarts we sell?'
As she said those words,
Gemma bent her head still lower, and her right hand with two
cherries in her fingers was suspended in the air between the basket
and the dish.
'May I sit by you?' asked
'Yes.' Gemma moved a little
along on the seat. Sanin placed himself beside her. 'How am I to
begin?' was his thought. But Gemma got him out of his difficulty.
'You have fought a duel
to-day,' she began eagerly, and she turned all her lovely, bashfully
flushing face to him--and what depths of gratitude were shining in
those eyes! 'And you are so calm! I suppose for you danger does not
'Oh, come! I have not been
exposed to any danger. Everything went off very satisfactorily and
Gemma passed her finger to
right and to left before her eyes ... Also an Italian gesture. 'No!
no! don't say that! You won't deceive me! Pantaleone has told me
'He's a trustworthy witness!
Did he compare me to the statue of the commander?'
'His expressions may be
ridiculous, but his feeling is not ridiculous, nor is what you have
done to-day. And all that on my account ... for me ... I shall never
'I assure you, Fräulein Gemma
'I shall never forget it,'
she said deliberately; once more she looked intently at him, and
He could now see her delicate
pure profile, and it seemed to him that he had never seen anything
like it, and had never known anything like what he was feeling at
that instant. His soul was on fire.
'And my promise!' flashed in
among his thoughts.
'Fräulein Gemma ...' he began
after a momentary hesitation.
She did not turn to him, she
went on sorting the cherries, carefully taking them by their stalks
with her finger-tips, assiduously picking out the leaves.... But
what a confiding caress could be heard in that one word,
'Has your mother said nothing
to you ... about ...'
Gemma suddenly flung back
into the basket the cherries she had taken.
'Has she been talking to
you?' she asked in her turn.
'What has she been saying to
'She told me that you ...
that you have suddenly decided to change ... your former intention.'
Gemma's head was bent again. She vanished altogether under her hat;
nothing could be seen but her neck, supple and tender as the stalk
of a big flower.
'Your intentions ... relative
to ... the future arrangement of your life.'
'That is ... you are speaking
... of Herr Klüber?'
'Mamma told you I don't want
to be Herr Klüber's wife?'
Gemma moved forward on the
seat. The basket tottered, fell ... a few cherries rolled on to the
path. A minute passed by ... another.
'Why did she tell you so?' he
heard her voice saying. Sanin as before could only see Gemma's neck.
Her bosom rose and fell more rapidly than before.
'Why? Your mother thought
that as you and I, in a short time, have become, so to say, friends,
and you have some confidence in me, I am in a position to give you
good advice--and you would mind what I say.'
Gemma's hands slowly slid on
to her knees. She began plucking at the folds of her dress.
'What advice will you give
me, Monsieur Dimitri?' she asked, after a short pause.
Sanin saw that Gemma's
fingers were trembling on her knees.... She was only plucking at the
folds of her dress to hide their trembling. He softly laid his hand
on those pale, shaking fingers.
'Gemma,' he said, 'why don't
you look at me?' She instantly tossed her hat back on to her
shoulder, and bent her eyes upon him, confiding and grateful as
before. She waited for him to speak.... But the sight of her face
had bewildered, and, as it were, dazed him. The warm glow of the
evening sun lighted up her youthful head, and the expression of that
head was brighter, more radiant than its glow.
'I will mind what you say,
Monsieur Dimitri,' she said, faintly smiling, and faintly arching
her brows; 'but what advice do you give me?'
'What advice?' repeated
Sanin. 'Well, you see, your mother considers that to dismiss Herr
Klüber simply because he did not show any special courage the day
before yesterday ...'
'Simply because?' said Gemma.
She bent down, picked up the basket, and set it beside her on the
'That ... altogether ... to
dismiss him, would be, on your part ... unreasonable; that it is a
step, all the consequences of which ought to be thoroughly weighed;
that in fact the very position of your affairs imposes certain
obligations on every member of your family ...'
'All that is mamma's
opinion,' Gemma interposed; 'those are her words; but what is your
'Mine?' Sanin was silent for
a while. He felt a lump rising in his throat and catching at his
breath. 'I too consider,' he began with an effort ...
Gemma drew herself up. 'Too?
'Yes ... that is ...' Sanin
was unable, positively unable to add a single word more.
'Very well,' said Gemma. 'If
you, as a friend, advise me to change my decision--that is, not to
change my former decision--I will think it over.' Not knowing what
she was doing, she began to tip the cherries back from the plate
into the basket.... 'Mamma hopes that I will mind what you say. Well
... perhaps I really will mind what you say.'
'But excuse me, Fräulein
Gemma, I should like first to know what reason impelled you ...'
'I will mind what you say,'
Gemma repeated, her face right up to her brows was working, her
cheeks were white, she was biting her lower lip. 'You have done so
much for me, that I am bound to do as you wish; bound to carry out
your wishes. I will tell mamma ... I will think again. Here she is,
by the way, coming here.'
Frau Lenore did in fact
appear in the doorway leading from the house to the garden. She was
in an agony of impatience; she could not keep still. According to
her calculations, Sanin must long ago have finished all he had to
say to Gemma, though his conversation with her had not lasted a
quarter of an hour.
'No, no, no, for God's sake,
don't tell her anything yet,' Sanin articulated hurriedly, almost in
alarm. 'Wait a little ... I will tell you, I will write to you ...
and till then don't decide on anything ... wait!'
He pressed Gemma's hand,
jumped up from the seat, and to Frau Lenore's great amazement,
rushed past her, and raising his hat, muttered something
She went up to her daughter.
'Tell me, please, Gemma...'
The latter suddenly got up
and hugged her. 'Dear mamma, can you wait a little, a tiny bit ...
till to-morrow? Can you? And till to-morrow not a word?... Ah!...'
She burst into sudden happy
tears, incomprehensible to herself. This surprised Frau Lenore, the
more as the expression of Gemma's face was far from
sorrowful,--rather joyful in fact.
'What is it?' she asked. 'You
never cry and here, all at once ...'
'Nothing, mamma, never mind!
you only wait. We must both wait a little. Don't ask me anything
till to-morrow--and let us sort the cherries before the sun has
'But you will be reasonable?'
'Oh, I'm very reasonable!'
Gemma shook her head significantly. She began to make up little
bunches of cherries, holding them high above her flushed face. She
did not wipe away her tears; they had dried of themselves.
Almost running, Sanin
returned to his hotel room. He felt, he knew that only there, only
by himself, would it be clear to him at last what was the matter,
what was happening to him. And so it was; directly he had got inside
his room, directly he had sat down to the writing-table, with both
elbows on the table and both hands pressed to his face, he cried in
a sad and choked voice, 'I love her, love her madly!' and he was all
aglow within, like a fire when a thick layer of dead ash has been
suddenly blown off. An instant more ... and he was utterly unable to
understand how he could have sat beside her ... her!--and talked to
her and not have felt that he worshipped the very hem of her
garment, that he was ready as young people express it 'to die at her
feet.' The last interview in the garden had decided everything. Now
when he thought of her, she did not appear to him with blazing curls
in the shining starlight; he saw her sitting on the garden-seat, saw
her all at once tossing back her hat, and gazing at him so
confidingly ... and the tremor and hunger of love ran through all
his veins. He remembered the rose which he had been carrying about
in his pocket for three days: he snatched it out, and pressed it
with such feverish violence to his lips, that he could not help
frowning with the pain. Now he considered nothing, reflected on
nothing, did not deliberate, and did not look forward; he had done
with all his past, he leaped forward into the future; from the
dreary bank of his lonely bachelor life he plunged headlong into
that glad, seething, mighty torrent--and little he cared, little he
wished to know, where it would carry him, or whether it would dash
him against a rock! No more the soft-flowing currents of the Uhland
song, which had lulled him not long ago ... These were mighty,
irresistible torrents! They rush flying onwards and he flies with
He took a sheet of paper, and
without blotting out a word, almost with one sweep of the pen, wrote
'DEAR GEMMA,--You know what
advice I undertook to give you, what your mother desired, and what
she asked of me; but what you don't know and what I must tell you
now is, that I love you, love you with all the ardour of a heart
that loves for the first time! This passion has flamed up in me
suddenly, but with such force that I can find no words for it! When
your mother came to me and asked me, it was still only smouldering
in me, or else I should certainly, as an honest man, have refused to
carry out her request.... The confession I make you now is the
confession of an honest man. You ought to know whom you have to do
with--between us there should exist no misunderstandings. You see
that I cannot give you any advice.... I love you, love you, love
you--and I have nothing else--either in my head or in my heart!!
When he had folded and sealed
this note, Sanin was on the point of ringing for the waiter and
sending it by him.... 'No!' he thought, 'it would be awkward.... By
Emil? But to go to the shop, and seek him out there among the other
employés, would be awkward too. Besides, it's dark by now, and he
has probably left the shop.' Reflecting after this fashion, Sanin
put on his hat, however, and went into the street; he turned a
corner, another, and to his unspeakable delight, saw Emil before
him. With a satchel under his arm, and a roll of papers in his hand,
the young enthusiast was hurrying home.
'They may well say every
lover has a lucky star,' thought Sanin, and he called to Emil.
The latter turned and at once
rushed to him.
Sanin cut short his
transports, handed him the note, and explained to whom and how he
was to deliver it.... Emil listened attentively.
'So that no one sees?' he
inquired, assuming an important and mysterious air, that said, 'We
understand the inner meaning of it all!'
'Yes, my friend,' said Sanin
and he was a little disconcerted; however, he patted Emil on the
cheek.... 'And if there should be an answer.... You will bring me
the answer, won't you? I will stay at home.'
'Don't worry yourself about
that!' Emil whispered gaily; he ran off, and as he ran nodded once
more to him.
Sanin went back home, and
without lighting a candle, flung himself on the sofa, put his hands
behind his head, and abandoned himself to those sensations of newly
conscious love, which it is no good even to describe. One who has
felt them knows their languor and sweetness; to one who has felt
them not, one could never make them known.
The door opened--Emil's head
'I have brought it,' he said
in a whisper: 'here it is--the answer!'
He showed and waved above his
head a folded sheet of paper.
Sanin leaped up from the sofa
and snatched it out of Emil's hand. Passion was working too
powerfully within him: he had no thought of reserve now, nor of the
observance of a suitable demeanour--even before this boy, her
brother. He would have been scrupulous, he would have controlled
himself--if he could!
He went to the window, and by
the light of a street lamp which stood just opposite the house, he
read the following lines:--
I beg you, I beseech
you--_don't come to see us, don't show yourself all day to-morrow_.
It's necessary, absolutely necessary for me, and then everything
shall be settled. I know you will not say no, because ...
Sanin read this note twice
through. Oh, how touchingly sweet and beautiful her handwriting
seemed to him! He thought a little, and turning to Emil, who,
wishing to give him to understand what a discreet young person he
was, was standing with his face to the wall, and scratching on it
with his finger-nails, he called him aloud by name.
Emil ran at once to Sanin.
'What do you want me to do?'
'Listen, my young friend...'
'Monsieur Dimitri,' Emil
interrupted in a plaintive voice, 'why do you address me so
Sanin laughed. 'Oh, very
well. Listen, my dearest boy--(Emil gave a little skip of
delight)--listen; _there_ you understand, there, you will say, that
everything shall be done exactly as is wished--(Emil compressed his
lips and nodded solemnly)--and as for me ... what are you doing
to-morrow, my dear boy?'
'I? what am I doing? What
would you like me to do?'
'If you can, come to me early
in the morning--and we will walk about the country round Frankfort
till evening.... Would you like to?'
Emil gave another little
skip. 'I say, what in the world could be jollier? Go a walk with
you--why, it's simply glorious! I'll be sure to come!'
'And if they won't let you?'
'They will let me!'
'Listen ... Don't say _there_
that I asked you to come for the whole day.'
'Why should I? But I'll get
away all the same! What does it matter?'
Emil warmly kissed Sanin, and
Sanin walked up and down the
room a long while, and went late to bed. He gave himself up to the
same delicate and sweet sensations, the same joyous thrill at facing
a new life. Sanin was very glad that the idea had occurred to him to
invite Emil to spend the next day with him; he was like his sister.
'He will recall her,' was his thought.
But most of all, he marvelled
how he could have been yesterday other than he was to-day. It seemed
to him that he had loved Gemma for all time; and that he had loved
her just as he loved her to-day.
At eight o'clock next
morning, Emil arrived at Sanin's hotel leading Tartaglia by a
string. Had he sprung of German parentage, he could not have shown
greater practicality. He had told a lie at home; he had said he was
going for a walk with Sanin till lunch-time, and then going to the
shop. While Sanin was dressing, Emil began to talk to him, rather
hesitatingly, it is true, about Gemma, about her rupture with Herr
Klüber; but Sanin preserved an austere silence in reply, and Emil,
looking as though he understood why so serious a matter should not
be touched on lightly, did not return to the subject, and only
assumed from time to time an intense and even severe expression.
After drinking coffee, the
two friends set off together--on foot, of course--to Hausen, a
little village lying a short distance from Frankfort, and surrounded
by woods. The whole chain of the Taunus mountains could be seen
clearly from there. The weather was lovely; the sunshine was bright
and warm, but not blazing hot; a fresh wind rustled briskly among
the green leaves; the shadows of high, round clouds glided swiftly
and smoothly in small patches over the earth. The two young people
soon got out of the town, and stepped out boldly and gaily along the
well-kept road. They reached the woods, and wandered about there a
long time; then they lunched very heartily at a country inn; then
climbed on to the mountains, admired the views, rolled stones down
and clapped their hands, watching the queer droll way in which the
stones hopped along like rabbits, till a man passing below, unseen
by them, began abusing them in a loud ringing voice. Then they lay
full length on the short dry moss of yellowish-violet colour; then
they drank beer at another inn; ran races, and tried for a wager
which could jump farthest. They discovered an echo, and began to
call to it; sang songs, hallooed, wrestled, broke up dry twigs,
decked their hats with fern, and even danced. Tartaglia, as far as
he could, shared in all these pastimes; he did not throw stones, it
is true, but he rolled head over heels after them; he howled when
they were singing, and even drank beer, though with evident
aversion; he had been trained in this art by a student to whom he
had once belonged. But he was not prompt in obeying Emil--not as he
was with his master Pantaleone--and when Emil ordered him to
'speak,' or to 'sneeze,' he only wagged his tail and thrust out his
tongue like a pipe.
The young people talked, too.
At the beginning of the walk, Sanin, as the elder, and so more
reflective, turned the conversation on fate and predestination, and
the nature and meaning of man's destiny; but the conversation
quickly took a less serious turn. Emil began to question his friend
and patron about Russia, how duels were fought there, and whether
the women there were beautiful, and whether one could learn Russian
quickly, and what he had felt when the officer took aim at him.
Sanin, on his side, questioned Emil about his father, his mother,
and in general about their family affairs, trying every time not to
mention Gemma's name--and thinking only of her. To speak more
precisely, it was not of her he was thinking, but of the morrow, the
mysterious morrow which was to bring him new, unknown happiness! It
was as though a veil, a delicate, bright veil, hung faintly
fluttering before his mental vision; and behind this veil he felt
... felt the presence of a youthful, motionless, divine image, with
a tender smile on its lips, and eyelids severely--with affected
seventy--downcast. And this image was not the face of Gemma, it was
the face of happiness itself! For, behold, at last _his_ hour had
come, the veil had vanished, the lips were parting, the eyelashes
are raised--his divinity has looked upon him--and at once light as
from the sun, and joy and bliss unending! He dreamed of this
morrow--and his soul thrilled with joy again in the melting torture
of ever-growing expectation!
And this expectation, this
torture, hindered nothing. It accompanied every action, and did not
prevent anything. It did not prevent him from dining capitally at a
third inn with Emil; and only occasionally, like a brief flash of
lightning, the thought shot across him, What if any one in the world
knew? This suspense did not prevent him from playing leap-frog with
Emil after dinner. The game took place on an open green lawn. And
the confusion, the stupefaction of Sanin may be imagined! At the
very moment when, accompanied by a sharp bark from Tartaglia, he was
flying like a bird, with his legs outspread over Emil, who was bent
double, he suddenly saw on the farthest border of the lawn two
officers, in whom he recognised at once his adversary and his
second, Herr von Dönhof and Herr von Richter! Each of them had stuck
an eyeglass in his eye, and was staring at him, chuckling!... Sanin
got on his feet, turned away hurriedly, put on the coat he had flung
down, jerked out a word to Emil; the latter, too, put on his jacket,
and they both immediately made off.
It was late when they got
back to Frankfort. 'They'll scold me,' Emil said to Sanin as he said
good-bye to him. 'Well, what does it matter? I've had such a
splendid, splendid day!'
When he got home to his
hotel, Sanin found a note there from Gemma. She fixed a meeting with
him for next day, at seven o'clock in the morning, in one of the
public gardens which surround Frankfort on all sides.
How his heart throbbed! How
glad he was that he had obeyed her so unconditionally! And, my God,
what was promised ... what was not promised, by that unknown,
unique, impossible, and undubitably certain morrow!
He feasted his eyes on
Gemma's note. The long, elegant tail of the letter G, the first
letter of her name, which stood at the bottom of the sheet, reminded
him of her lovely fingers, her hand.... He thought that he had not
once touched that hand with his lips.... 'Italian women,' he mused,
'in spite of what's said of them, are modest and severe.... And
Gemma above all! Queen ... goddess ... pure, virginal marble....'
'But the time will come; and
it is not far off....' There was that night in Frankfort one happy
man.... He slept; but he might have said of himself in the words of
'I sleep ... but my
watchful heart sleeps not.'
And it fluttered as lightly
as a butterfly flutters his wings, as he stoops over the flowers in
the summer sunshine.
At five o'clock Sanin woke
up, at six he was dressed, at half-past six he was walking up and
down the public garden within sight of the little arbour which Gemma
had mentioned in her note. It was a still, warm, grey morning. It
sometimes seemed as though it were beginning to rain; but the
outstretched hand felt nothing, and only looking at one's
coat-sleeve, one could see traces of tiny drops like diminutive
beads, but even these were soon gone. It seemed there had never been
a breath of wind in the world. Every sound moved not, but was shed
around in the stillness. In the distance was a faint thickening of
whitish mist; in the air there was a scent of mignonette and white
In the streets the shops were
not open yet, but there were already some people walking about;
occasionally a solitary carriage rumbled along ... there was no one
walking in the garden. A gardener was in a leisurely way scraping
the path with a spade, and a decrepit old woman in a black woollen
cloak was hobbling across the garden walk. Sanin could not for one
instant mistake this poor old creature for Gemma; and yet his heart
leaped, and he watched attentively the retreating patch of black.
Seven! chimed the clock on
the tower. Sanin stood still. Was it possible she would not come? A
shiver of cold suddenly ran through his limbs. The same shiver came
again an instant later, but from a different cause. Sanin heard
behind him light footsteps, the light rustle of a woman's dress....
He turned round: she!
Gemma was coming up behind
him along the path. She was wearing a grey cape and a small dark
hat. She glanced at Sanin, turned her head away, and catching him
up, passed rapidly by him.
'Gemma,' he articulated,
She gave him a little nod,
and continued to walk on in front. He followed her.
He breathed in broken gasps.
His legs shook under him.
Gemma passed by the arbour,
turned to the right, passed by a small flat fountain, in which the
sparrows were splashing busily, and, going behind a clump of high
lilacs, sank down on a bench. The place was snug and hidden. Sanin
sat down beside her.
A minute passed, and neither
he nor she uttered a word. She did not even look at him; and he
gazed not at her face, but at her clasped hands, in which she held a
small parasol. What was there to tell, what was there to say, which
could compare, in importance, with the simple fact of their presence
there, together, alone, so early, so close to each other.
'You ... are not angry with
me?' Sanin articulated at last.
It would have been difficult
for Sanin to have said anything more foolish than these words ... he
was conscious of it himself.... But, at any rate, the silence was
'Angry?' she answered. 'What
'And you believe me?' he went
'In what you wrote?'
Gemma's head sank, and she
said nothing. The parasol slipped out of her hands. She hastily
caught it before it dropped on the path.
'Ah, believe me! believe what
I wrote to you!' cried Sanin; all his timidity suddenly vanished, he
spoke with heat; 'if there is truth on earth--sacred, absolute
truth--it's that I love, love you passionately, Gemma.'
She flung him a sideway,
momentary glance, and again almost dropped the parasol.
'Believe me! believe me!' he
repeated. He besought her, held out his hands to her, and did not
dare to touch her. 'What do you want me to do ... to convince you?'
She glanced at him again.
'Tell me, Monsieur Dimitri,'
she began; 'the day before yesterday, when you came to talk to me,
you did not, I imagine, know then ... did not feel ...'
'I felt it,' Sanin broke in;
'but I did not know it. I have loved you from the very instant I saw
you; but I did not realise at once what you had become to me! And
besides, I heard that you were solemnly betrothed.... As far as your
mother's request is concerned--in the first place, how could I
refuse?--and secondly, I think I carried out her request in such a
way that you could guess....'
They heard a heavy tread, and
a rather stout gentleman with a knapsack over his shoulder,
apparently a foreigner, emerged from behind the clump, and staring,
with the unceremoniousness of a tourist, at the couple sitting on
the garden-seat, gave a loud cough and went on.
'Your mother,' Sanin began,
as soon as the sound of the heavy footsteps had ceased, 'told me
your breaking off your engagement would cause a scandal'--Gemma
frowned a little--that I was myself in part responsible for
unpleasant gossip, and that ... consequently ... I was, to some
extent, under an obligation to advise you not to break with your
betrothed, Herr Klüber....'
'Monsieur Dimitri,' said
Gemma, and she passed her hand over her hair on the side turned
towards Sanin, 'don't, please, call Herr Klüber my betrothed. I
shall never be his wife. I have broken with him.'
'You have broken with him?
'You saw him?'
'Yes. At our house. He came
to see us.'
'Gemma? Then you love me?'
She turned to him.
'Should ... I have come here,
if not?' she whispered, and both her hands fell on the seat.
Sanin snatched those
powerless, upturned palms, and pressed them to his eyes, to his
lips.... Now the veil was lifted of which he had dreamed the night
before! Here was happiness, here was its radiant form!
He raised his head, and
looked at Gemma, boldly and directly. She, too, looked at him, a
little downwards. Her half-shut eyes faintly glistened, dim with
light, blissful tears. Her face was not smiling ... no! it laughed,
with a blissful, noiseless laugh.
He tried to draw her to him,
but she drew back, and never ceasing to laugh the same noiseless
laugh, shook her head. 'Wait a little,' her happy eyes seemed to
'O Gemma!' cried Sanin: 'I
never dreamed that you would love me!'
'I did not expect this
myself,' Gemma said softly.
'How could I ever have
dreamed,' Sanin went on, 'when I came to Frankfort, where I only
expected to remain a few hours, that I should find here the
happiness of all my life!'
'All your life? Really?'
'All my life, for ever and
ever!' cried Sanin with fresh ardour.
The gardener's spade suddenly
scraped two paces from where they were sitting.
'Let's go home,' whispered
Gemma: 'we'll go together--will you?'
If she had said to him at
that instant 'Throw yourself in the sea, will you?' he would have
been flying headlong into the ocean before she had uttered the last
They went together out of the
garden and turned homewards, not by the streets of the town, but
through the outskirts.
的国家（il paese del Dane！）。后来当然发生了……不幸的情况，是他自己不小心……这时老人中断自己的话，深深地叹了两口气，垂下了眼睑，接着又重新谈起了古典音乐的时代
“这才是个人！”他大声说，“伟大的加尔西亚（il gran Garsia）从来也不会降格到像今天那些唱男高音的家伙（tenoracci）那样用假音来唱：一直是用胸音，胸音（voce
est sans pitie⑦，这个年纪的人是不知道怜悯的。”来诺拉太太已经在说话了。
certo estro d’inspirazione——某种灵感的激情！来诺拉太太向他指出，说他当然具备这种“灵感”，但是……
du sollst und wirst lachen！》（《爆破筒——或你应当而且一定会发笑》），开始朗读充斥全书的诉讼笑话。他一共念了十二则笑话，然而听去却颇觉索然。只有萨宁一个人为了
burgerliche Element in der Societot）——因此不满情绪正在逐渐增长，而不满情绪的增长，就会使革命逼近，这方面已经有了可悲的先例（说到这里他同情地。然而严肃地叹了口气），
报告萨宁，说陆军少尉（der Herr Secorde Lieutenant）封•里希特先生希望进见。萨宁迅速穿上外衣，吩咐去“请他进来”。出乎萨宁的意料之外，原来里希特先生极其年轻，几乎是个孩子。他竭力在
goupsde pisdolet al’amiaple！”①
vostra volorosa destra！）”然后他跳跃着略微后退几步，两手一挥——走了。
cantanle di camera）。跟在茶房后面出现的正是潘塔列昂自己。他从头到脚都换了装。他穿一件褪成了棕色的黑燕尾服和白色的凸纹布马甲，马甲上别出心裁地挂着一根顿
更高，在浆过的硬领上则别着一颗叫做“猫眼”的宝石（ceil de chat）。右手的食指上戴着宝石戒指，戒指的造型是一双交叉放着的手，而双手之间则镶着一颗火热的心！久置的陈旧气息以及樟脑和麝香的气味从老头的奇异
ella sola danssoun peti doa vale pin que toutt le zouffissie del
“I1 antico valor？”他粗声粗气地宣告说。“Non