The Project Gutenberg eBook of Daughters of Men

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: Daughters of Men

Author: Hannah Lynch

Release date: April 17, 2021 [eBook #65098]

Language: English

Credits: Martin Pettit and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


Transcriber’s Note:
A Table of Contents has been added.

Obvious typographic errors have been corrected.

front cover

title page

[Pg 1]


[Pg 2]








[Pg 3]

Copyright, 1892,
[All rights reserved.]

[Pg 4]


My Dear Friend,

Of your kindly interpretation of the laughter here and there in this volume, purporting to be a picture of modern Greek life, I have no doubt. You at least know that I lack neither friendship nor sympathy with your race. We like not the less those whom we laugh at, provided our laughter is not meant to wound. For are not our own absurdities and weaknesses mirrored in those of others?

My more serious preoccupation is the accuracy of my judgment and observation. For any errors on this ground I claim your indulgence. The foreign observer is proverbially impertinent and inaccurate, as we in Ireland have sad reason to know. We do not lack our Abouts, though it may be doubted if we accept them in a spirit so generous as you do.

In placing your name before my story, I may be said to hoist the colours of Greece, and under them dare sail my little bark of Greek passengers without any fear of coming to grief upon Hellenic shores, should I have the honour to penetrate so far.

H. L.


XI.   TENOS. 128
BOOK IV. 305

[Pg 5]



The Austrian embassy at Athens was more largely and more brilliantly attended than usual. At nine o’clock the Patissia Road showed a line of carriages going backward towards the Platea Omonia from the gaily-lighted embassy. All the foreign ministers were there, as well as the Prime Minister of Greece, and whatever distinguished travellers Athens had the honour of entertaining at that time,—it being winter, there was a goodly number. A Russian Prince or two, presented by the Russian minister; two eminent English politicians on their way to Constantinople for a confidential exchange of views with the Sublime Sultan, to be remembered by jewelled snuff-boxes or some such trifles; a sprightly French mathematician straight from Paris the Blest; a half-dozen of celebrated archæologists, furnished by Europe and the United States, all viewing each other with more or less malevolence and suspicion—the Frenchman noticeably not on speaking terms with his distinguished brother from Germany; Dr. Jarovisky of world renown, fresh from Pergamos[Pg 6] and recent discoveries at Argos, speaking various languages as badly as possible; a genial and witty Irish professor rushing through Greece with the intention of writing an exhaustive analysis of the country and the people, in that spirit of amiable impertinence so characteristic of hasty travellers. There was the flower of the so-called Greek aristocracy: Phanariote Princes, Græco-Italian Counts from Zante and Corfu, and retired merchants and speculators from Constantinople and Smyrna and London. There was a Greek poet, hardly distinguishable in accent and manner from a Parisian, except in a detail of appearance which gave him the head of a convict, so hideously do the Hellenes shave their heads to look as if they wore mouse-coloured skull caps; a prose translator of Shakespeare, who had lately visited the Immortal’s shrine at Warwick, and, in the interests of local colouring modelled himself since his return as closely as possible upon the accepted type of the English man of letters, and surveyed the frivolities under his eye with a British impassivity and glacial neutrality of gaze. All the musical dilettanti of the city of the Wise Maid were there, and all its presentable women. Some of the girls were pretty, and all were thickly powdered and richly dressed; all had large, brilliant dark eyes. And the gowns and frocks from Paris, the jewels, lace, aigrettes, flowers, and bare arms and shoulders made an effective and troublous contrast with the preponderance of masculine evening attire and semi-official splendour.

This large and distinguished gathering had been convened in honour of the return to her native city of Mademoiselle Photini Natzelhuber, a celebrated pianiste,[Pg 7] the rival and friend of Rubinstein, the pupil of Liszt and not greatly inferior to her master, who, at Vienna, had been publicly named by him Queen of Pianists to match his recognised kingliness. All Athens was on tiptoe of expectation, eager to hear her, and still more eager to see her. It is not known, but extravagantly conjectured, with what sum the Baroness von Hohenfels was able to bid over the heads of her rival salonists and procure the honour of the Natzelhuber’s first appearance in Athens. Sane and discerning persons were probably right in putting it down to francs represented by four figures, for Austrian baronesses have a pretty accurate knowledge of the value of money. But for the moment six figures were supposed to represent the sum, and the matter was discussed with that singular absence of reserve or delicacy with which fashionable and well-bred society is apt to discuss the affairs of its host in the host’s own house.

Through the confused mingling of languages French could be detected as the most universal. A fair, pale young man, with the grave questioning air of a stranger who is disagreeably conscious of being shy and ill at ease, and, above all, utterly and helplessly alone, was walking about the rooms, amazed and bewildered by this Babel of tongues and types, and seemed to entreat by his look of gentle fear that no one should notice him or talk to him. He stared around with unquiet, troubled blue eyes, so very blue, so hopelessly, stupidly frank and clear, like a child’s, that they made more noticeable the extreme youthfulness of his face and most slender figure. A mere boy, twenty-one years of innocence and ignorance leaving him on the brink of[Pg 8] manhood with only the potentialities of his sex faintly shadowed in the lightest gold stain above the soft upper lip. He had just stepped into the glare and turmoil of life from the protected shadow of an isolated old castle in Rapolden Kirchen, with no more reliable and scientific guide to the mysteries of existence than a tender and nervous mother, who, after bringing him up like a girl, had left him for another sphere, and no other knowledge of the passions and their complex sensations than that to be gathered in a close and fervent study of music. It is easy to picture him. A reserved lad of high-bred Austrian type, with a glacially pure face, and heart fluttering with girlish timidity, half-frightened and half-attracted by the world he interprets in the vague light of his own pathetic ignorance, just conscious of opening curiosities upon the eternal feminine, and ready to sink with shame the instant a strange woman looked at him.

“Who is that charming boy?” asked a handsome old lady, whose motherly heart was touched by the childish uneasiness and loneliness of his attitude.

“That fair-haired young fellow near the window?” her companion answered. “Nice looking, isn’t he? A very pretty young lady, eh?”

“Don’t be so malicious. Men are always jealous of a handsome boy. You know how powerfully he appeals to our sympathetic sex. But who is he?”

“Rudolph Ehrenstein—a nephew of Madame von Hohenfels. He has just lost his mother, and is travelling in search of distraction. Some of these young ladies will doubtless take compassion on him.”

“Yes, with that pretty face and doleful forsaken[Pg 9] air he will not have to go far for a willing consoler.”

“It would be the very best thing for him,” said the popular poet, joining them. “One never knows how much to believe of gossip, especially in this centre of canards, but they speak of him already as the Natzelhuber’s latest flame.”

“Good heavens! Not possible, surely!” cried the old lady, in a tremor of delighted horror. “He has the face of an angel.”

“Angels have been known to fall, Madame,” said the poet, with his best Parisian bow and cynical shrug, throwing a challenging glance at his neighbour as if to defy him to prove that Théophile Gautier or Dumas could have capped an observation more neatly; and then quoted with a beatific consciousness of his own smartness: “L’ange n’est complet que lorsqu’ il est déchu.”

“Talk of women’s tongues! You men have never a good word to say either of yourselves or of us.”

“Is there not a proverb to that effect as regards the ladies?”

“Calumny, my friend, pure calumny. Men have had the monopoly of proverbs, and, of course, they have used them as they have used everything else, against us. It does not follow that even the clever man believes all the smart and satirical things he says of our sex, but an arrow shot at us looks a smarter achievement than a juster arrow aimed at yourselves. And the smart thing goes down to a duller posterity, and there’s your proverb. Truth is as likely to be in it as in the bottom of the proverbial well!”

“I shall seek it henceforth in you, Madame. Can[Pg 10] you tell me if there is any truth in the announcement that the Natzelhuber is coming to-night?”

“Madame von Hohenfels looks certainly anxious and doubtful. You know Mademoiselle Natzelhuber has an alarming reputation.”

“Oh, yes, abominably eccentric—and ugly,” sighed the poet.

Rudolph Ehrenstein, modestly unconscious that the reliable voice of Public Opinion, glancing at his wings, had been pleased to pronounce them singed and soiled, had retreated into a deep recess and was nearly hidden by a silk curtain and tall palm branches. He sat down on a low chair, and rejoiced that here, at least, there were no bare obtrusive shoulders and brilliant orbs to dazzle him, no scented skirts to trouble him, and that the murmur of varied tongues and voices and the whirr of fans came to him in softened sound. He was just closing his eyes to think of the old dim castle of Rapolden Kirchen and his beloved mother, whose subdued manner and tone seemed to him the more exquisite to remember because of the noisy and strongly perfumed women around him, when a man near the door caught sight of him through his gold-rimmed eyeglass, and starting forward, burst into his retreat with clamorous recognition and two extended hands, the offering of demonstrative friendship.

“Delighted, charming boy, delighted to see you so soon again. Heard from the baroness you were expected in Athens, but no idea you would be here to-night.”

“I arrived last evening,” said Ehrenstein, standing up and grasping the proffered hands with a look of relief, as if he found the necessary restorative in their[Pg 11] touch. “What a quantity of strangers there are here! All their different languages have made my head ache.”

His companion was a rich Greek merchant from Trieste, who was arrayed in extremely florid evening dress and wore a very large white camelia. He glanced at the boy’s mourning studs and sighed as if recalled suddenly to the stern sorrows of life, and then blew a little whiff which expressed the recognised evanescence of even sorrow and bereavement, and thrust their presence from him.

“Well, you see, we Greeks have to draw very largely upon foreign countries for our entertainments,” he said, slipping his arm into Ehrenstein’s and dragging him gently out of the recess. “As a Greek from abroad, I regret to say that it would be impossible to mix with the pure Athenians for any purposes of social pleasure. They can neither talk, dance, nor eat like civilised beings. In fact, my dear Ehrenstein, they are not civilised.”

“What a dreadful thing to say of the descendants of the ancient Greeks,” laughed Rudolph.

“Oh, the ancient Greeks!” exclaimed Agiropoulos, airily. “If you are going back to those old fossils, I will candidly admit that I am out of my depth. There is nothing I am more heartily sick of than the ancient Greek. There’s Jarovisky over there, a perfect lunatic on the subject. Homer for breakfast, Homer for dinner, and Homer for supper admits of variety with improvement. He reads Homer on the terrace by moonlight, and falls asleep with Homer under his pillow. My opinion of the ancient Greeks is, that they were not[Pg 12] one whit better than their amiable representatives of to-day. They were men of great natural eloquence and literary gifts, and knew how to lay on their colours with an eye to future generations. But we have only their version, and it would require at least twenty connecting evidences to prove the word of one Athenian. Why, to hear them talk to-day, one might imagine theirs the chief nation of Europe, and Athens its handsomest capital—dull, ugly little Athens!”

They were walking round the rooms, when Agiropoulos, surveying the crowd through his aggressive eyeglass, suddenly asked his friend if he had been introduced to any ladies.

“I have been introduced to nobody yet except the Greek Minister—oh, I forgot, a young English attaché.”

“Ah, I see the baroness is resolved to keep you hovering yearningly upon the skirts of paradise. Never mind, my child, I will find you a houri. There is a very handsome brunette, the prettiest girl in Athens. Her French is fit for the Faubourg Saint-Germain, and her dot acceptable should your views incline that way. My faith, I would not object to either myself, but my time has not come for settling down. Butterfly, you know, from sweet to sweet, and that sort of thing. Sad dog, as those droll English say. Ah!—””

Before Rudolph could demand an explanation of this singular and enigmatic avowal, understood by even such white innocence as his to hint at something darkly and yet pleasantly irregular, the Baroness von Hohenfels bore down upon the young men with a disturbed expression of face. She tapped Agiropoulos on the shoulder with her fan, and said hurriedly:—

[Pg 13]

“My dear M. Agiropoulos, I am greatly alarmed about the Natzelhuber. You, I believe, are the best authority on her movements and caprices. Do you know why she has not come?”

“I do not, indeed, Madame la Baronne,” answered Agiropoulos, bowing, and twirling his moustache with a fatuous smile. “But it is not so very late.”

“Don’t you know what very primitive hours we keep in Athens?” the baroness cried testily. “Did you see her to-day, Rudolph?”

Young Ehrenstein flushed and shrank a little with a hint of anxious pain in his blue eyes.

“No, aunt, I called, but Mademoiselle Natzelhuber was not visible,” he said.

Agiropoulos looked at him sharply with an imperceptible frown, and then, turning to his hostess, resumed his smile of fatuous security, and said:

“To relieve your doubts, Madame la Baronne, I will drive at once to the lady’s house, and carry her back with me, if even I must employ force.”

“Do so, and you will earn my lasting gratitude. We are all dying to hear her play, and her name was the attraction to-night,” and Madame von Hohenfels brightened. “Come with me, Rudolph. I must find you some lively girl to chat you into good-humour. Delay as little as possible, M. Agiropoulos.”

Agiropoulos bowed low and retired, while Rudolph silently offered his arm to his aunt, shrinking still and wounded.

“It is a great disappointment that M. Reineke is not here to-night. He, also, is a new lion—singularly handsome and captivating and very clever, they say. He[Pg 14] created quite a sensation in Paris last winter. But he got ill coming from Egypt and I suppose he will make his first appearance at the Jaroviskys’ ball next week.”

“Is there to be a ball next week?” Rudolph asked listlessly.

“Of course; are we not all vying to honour an English Cabinet minister? He will probably write about us when he gets home.”

“Who are those girls laughing so loudly?” Rudolph asked, with no particular desire for information.

“They belong to the American legation. Not exactly the choice I would have you make in girls’ society, my dear,—intolerably loud and vulgar,” said the Baroness, surveying them through her long-handled and elegant face-à-main which she raised to her eyes. “They represent the United States—most deplorably. I want you to cultivate the society of the Mowbray Thomases—English Embassy. Here is the son, Vincent, a very nice boy who can speak intelligible French for a wonder, and will, I am sure, be glad to teach you tennis and cricket.”

“He is quite a boy,” cried Rudolph, cheerfully. “I shall be less afraid of him than of your lively young ladies.”

Agiropoulos had in the meantime driven to Academy Street, where Mademoiselle Photini Natzelhuber was staying. He found the house in complete darkness, and only when he had made a considerable noise did a somnolent and astonished servant thrust her head out of a window and demand his business.

“Where is your mistress, Polyxena?” cried Agiropoulos.

[Pg 15]

“In bed, sir.”

“In the name of all that is wonderful, has Photini gone clean out of her senses? In bed, and all Athens waiting for her at the Austrian Embassy!”

Polyxena leisurely unbolted the door, and Agiropoulos rushed past her up the stairs, and hammered frantically outside Photini’s bedroom door.

“Photini, get up and dress this instant. I insist. I swear I will not leave off knocking until you come out—not even at the risk of driving all the neighbours mad!” he shouted.

“What the devil do you want at this time of night, Agiropoulos?” was roared back to him. “I will box that girl’s ears for letting you in. Stop that row. You must be drunk.”

“Come, no nonsense, Photini. I am serious, on my soul I am. You’ve been expected at the Austrian Embassy for the last hour and a half. It is just eleven, and Athenian receptions break up at midnight, you know.”

“I suppose they want me to play. I had forgotten all about it. The mischief take the idiots! For goodness’ sake stop that noise, and I’ll get up.”

It was a little after eleven when a murmur ran through the rooms on the Patissia Road that Agiropoulos had returned with the missing Pleiad. Every one pressed eagerly forward to see the great and eccentric artist. Corns were gratuitously trodden upon and the proprietors forgot to swear, dresses were crushed, and no lady remembered to cover a cross expression with a mendacious smile and a feeble “It does not matter;” all faces wore an expression of open anxiety, curiosity, and wonder.

[Pg 16]

“Quite a bear, I hear,” somebody whispered, audibly, “bites and snarls even. Dresses abominably, and swears like a trooper.”

Mademoiselle Natzelhuber entered the room a little in advance of Agiropoulos, whose smile was one of radiant self-approval and triumph,—he quite enjoyed this open recognition of his ménage irregulier. Photini wore a look of hardly concealed contempt and indifference, and advanced slowly, meeting the multitudinous gaze of curiosity with a regal calmness. Her dress was dowdy and common: she was stout and low-sized, but she succeeded in carrying off these details with truly majestic grace. It was impossible to titter or sneer; despite all shocks of disappointment, it was impossible not to meet gravely that grave indifferent glance, and recognise a strange kind of superiority in its lambent topaz imperturbability. All eyes were fixed upon her but two boyish blue eyes that, after one swift and inquiring look, were averted in a poignant confusion of emotions. Instead, they rested on Agiropoulos.

Madame von Hohenfels moved towards the artist with a gracious smile of welcome, and expressed her pleasure in very cordial terms,—she could afford to be exuberant now that she was relieved of the terror of this woman’s possible defection.

“This, I believe, is your first appearance in Athens after a long absence, Mademoiselle Natzelhuber.”

“Where is your piano, Madame? You did not invite me for the sake of my handsome face, I suppose. Then pass compliments and come to business.”

“Qu’elle est grossière,” was the comment that ran round the room, and the English Cabinet Minister, the[Pg 17] Right Honourable Samuel Warren, gazed at her through his eyeglass, and lisped, “What a very extraordinary creature!” One does not mix in the highest diplomatic circles for nothing, and the Baroness von Hohenfels was perfectly competent to extricate herself and her guests from an awkward situation with both grace and glory. She laughed musically, as if something specially witty had been said, and led the way to the grand piano. The seat was a high one, and Photini tranquilly kicked it down, and gazed around her in search of a low stool. Agiropoulos rushed forward with a chair of the required height, and the artist sat down amid universal silence and touched the keys lightly, upon which her nose might conveniently have played, so near were both. After a few searching bars she burst into Liszt’s splendid orchestral arrangement of “Don Giovanni.”

Agiropoulos cared nothing whatever about her music, and wandered round the room till he reached the place where Ehrenstein was standing.

“That was a delicate mission, eh, Ehrenstein?” he said, with his persistent smile. “Successfully accomplished too.”

“Its success is as apparent as its delicacy,” retorted Rudolph. He was filled with astonishment at the wave of bitterness towards this oily self-satisfied Greek that swelled within him.

Agiropoulos caught the unmistakable ironical tone.

“Might I request you to define your precise meaning, my young friend?” he asked, drily.

“That is easily done. You have acted to-night as no gentleman should.”

All girlish timidity had faded out of Rudolph’s eyes,[Pg 18] which flashed like gem fire in the sparkle of honest indignation.

“Ho! is that where we are?” cried the Greek, with a low exasperating laugh, as he twisted his moustache and examined the gloss of his shoes. “And the crime?”

“In permitting my aunt to speak to you in a distinctly offensive way of Mademoiselle Natzelhuber, and in smiling as you did when you entered the room with her.”

“My dear fellow, what a simpleton you are to talk in this superannuated style about the Natzelhuber.”

“Mademoiselle Natzelhuber is a woman. An honourable gentleman makes no distinction between women as regards certain laws. The same courtesy and consideration are due to all.”

“Don’t tilt against windmills in this extravagant way, Ehrenstein,” said Agiropoulos, laughing good-humoredly. “Why, Photini would be the first to laugh at us for a pair of imbeciles if she heard that we quarrelled about her. She does not want consideration. She is rather a fine fellow in a rough and manly way of her own—very rough, I admit.”

“Pray, make no mistake about me. I object to such vulgar classification as you are disposed to make,” cried Rudolph, sharply.

“I’ll be as wide and as refined as you like—platonic, artistic, spiritual—whichever suits you best. But we may not doubt the admiration, my friend.”

“To prevent gross misinterpretation, I will give you the situation. I hold myself willingly and proudly enslaved to such genius as hers. I would gladly sit in[Pg 19] silence all my life if my ear might be filled with music such as hers. For the sake of that, I am ready to offer my friendship, and forget the rest.”

Rudolph stood back a little with a listening rapt expression, and Agiropoulos glanced contemptuously down at Photini. Agiropoulos was constitutionally incapable of understanding disinterested admiration. His sentiments were coarse and definite, and to him were unknown the conditions of strife, probation, unrewarded and unexacting love, self-distrust and tremulous aspiration and fear; above all, was he free from a young man’s humble reverence of womanhood, which, in the abstract, was to him something so greatly inferior to himself as to be below consideration. Cheerful it must be to escape the hesitations and exquisitely painful flutterings between doubt and hope, and the thousand and one causes of clouded bliss, to the more fastidious and ideal Northern nature. He looked forward to a suitable marriage when his relations with Photini should come to an end, but was not concerned with the question of choice. Girls are plentiful enough, and handsome or ugly, they come to the same thing in the long run: mothers of children of whose looks their husbands are unconscious.

In response to the loud applause which greeted her last chord, Mademoiselle Natzelhuber rose slowly, bent her head as low as her knees, the mossy black curls rolling over her forehead like a veil, and her hands hanging straight down beside her. No one present had ever seen a lady bow in this masculine fashion, and following the breathless magnificence of her playing it so awed her spectators that some moments of dead[Pg 20] silence passed before they were able to break into their many-tongued speech.

“Let me have some cognac, if you please,” she said, curtly, turning to her delighted hostess.

What will not the mistress of a salon endure if she may furnish her guests with a thoroughly new sensation! And certainly Mademoiselle was a very novel sensation.

The cognac was promptly administered to the artist, and the people began to move about and express their opinions.

“That girl is tremendously admired here,” said Agiropoulos to Rudolph, drawing his attention to a noticeable group of young ladies. “Her name is Mademoiselle Eméraude Veritassi. She was not christened Eméraude, I may mention, but we are so very Parisian at Athens that we insist on translating everything, even our own names, into French. The girl beside her is Miss Mary Perpignani, and her brother Mr. John Perpignani, though neither of them knows a word of English. It is chic with us. I am Tonton. I can’t exactly say what language it may be, but it isn’t Greek, and that you see is the main thing. My sister Persephone calls herself Proserpine.”

“What bad taste! Persephone is surely a beautiful name.”

“Ah, but it is Greek—not fashionable, not chic. And if we have no chic, my friend, we have no raison d’être.”

“Who is that going to play now?” asked Rudolph.

“Good heavens! it’s Melpomene—and after the Natzelhuber!”

No wonder there was much admiration expressed at[Pg 21] the nerve of the lady who bravely undertook to play such a masterpiece as Chopin’s “Barcarolle” in the presence of a master not given to handle offenders gently. But everyone was disposed to receive the amiable imperfection of an amateur with indulgence, while it was impossible to conjecture the feelings of the short-haired woman who was quietly sipping her second glass of cognac on an ottoman and listening with a fixed neutral stare in her yellow eyes. When the piece was over, the artist rose, and said with awful measured politeness:

“Does Madame imagine that she has played Chopin’s ‘Barcarolle?’ Doubtless Madame has mistaken the name. I will play the ‘Barcarolle’ now.”

It is easy to understand the feelings with which Madame retired, and the feelings aroused in the breast of Madame’s irate husband, who glared vengeance from the other end of the room; and for one moment every one recognised that a star is not the most agreeable ornament of society, but this idea was soon swept away upon magic sound. Could there be anything dreamed of on earth like the beauty of the “Barcarolle” so played? Enthusiasm reached the white-heat of passion. Ladies tore the flowers from their bosoms, men from their button-holes and flung them at her; faces went white and red, and eyes filled with tears. And there stood Agiropoulos smiling blandly and taking half the triumph as his own, while Rudolph had gone back to his recess and was sobbing unrestrainedly in sheer ecstasy.

When the first wave of emotion had subsided, and the artist had bowed her acknowledgment in the same[Pg 22] curious way, too contemptuous even to shake the flowers off her person, her host stepped forward to offer her his arm and lead her towards the buffet in another room. Somebody else stepped forward with gracious intent, a young self-sufficient viscount, the nephew of the distinguished French minister. He bowed low, and acquainted her with the agreeable fact that he had never heard anything like her playing of the “Barcarolle,” and his regret that Chopin himself could not hear it. Mademoiselle looked at him meditatively for some trying seconds, then said calmly:

“Do you really believe, sir, that I require your approval? Be so good, sir, as to confine your observations on music to your equals.”

“Truly a remarkable and slightly disconcerting person,” said the English Cabinet Minister, arranging his eyeglass the better to observe her. “Extraordinary, egad! I suppose artists are bound to be erratic. But don’t you think they could play just as well with hair like everybody else, and decent manners?”

His companion was of opinion they could, and suggested that the artist in question would create a lively sensation in a London drawing-room.

“By Jove, yes. Suppose we strike a bargain with her, and carry her back with us. We might label her—‘authentic specimen of a Greek barbarian, picked up near the Acropolis; dangerous.’”

All the guests now struggled forward in search of refreshments. But Rudolph strolled about waiting for an opportunity to see Photini alone. His gratitude and admiration were at that exalted pitch when an outpouring is imperative. He knew nothing of the vile report[Pg 23] that had been circulated concerning his own relations with her, and sought her with the damning candour of complete innocence. He found her, and the discovery sent a shock of horror through him that almost stopped the beating of his heart. She was in the centre of a noisy laughing group of men, smoking a cigarette and holding an empty liqueur glass in her hand into which the Baron von Hohenfels was pouring some brandy, laughing boisterously and joking hideously. Every nerve within him thrilled in an agony of shame. This the glorious interpreter of heavenly sound! This the artist he so passionately desired to reverence as a woman, while worshipping her genius! He was half prompted to go away in silence, when his eyes caught the sarcastic triumph of Agiropoulos’ smile. With a mighty effort he gulped down the bitterness of disappointment and shocked surprise, and bravely went forward.

“I have been looking for you, Mademoiselle,” he said coldly. “I wanted so much to thank you for the delight you have given me to-night—this addition to past delight,” he added, holding out his hand.

“Ah! my little Austrian page!” Photini cried, laughing into his solemn grieved face. “I got your card to-day. You must come and see me again. The ‘Mélodiés Hongroises’ you know. I’ve promised you that. A pretty fellow is your nephew, Baron, and quite as charming as he is pretty. But too grave, too grave, and too—sans reproche,” she added cynically.

All the men looked at Rudolph curiously, and laughed. The boy flushed scarlet, bowed and walked away. The rooms were rapidly thinning, and recognising him[Pg 24] as a member of the Hohenfels family, several guests stopped to shake hands with him as they passed him. He received their advances mechanically, hardly heard a word addressed to him, and was still in a dream when his aunt and her husband returned to join him in the empty chambers.

[Pg 25]


That night Rudolph did not go to bed. He spent some hours walking up and down his room in a nervous agitation he could by no means account for. It seemed to him that he had been dropped into a disagreeably topsy-turvy world, and the thought made him wretched and unhappy: dissatisfied and perplexed by his own state, fierce in a vague kind of resentment against Agiropoulos, and filled with an immeasurable grief for Photini. With such soul in her fingers she appeared to him through an ugly cloud like a battered and draggled angel, and he sat disconsolately gazing at the blue and golden flames from the beautiful star-fire above, and asked himself how had it happened, and was there for her henceforth no struggling back into the paths of sweet womanhood from which she had strangely and openly strayed?

Yet why should he grieve so passionately for Photini? No affair of his if she courted slander and irreverent familiarity; nor yet if she indulged in inadmissible tastes in public, and wounded and insulted all who came near her. His own birth and its responsibilities surely excluded him from such preoccupations, and his natural fastidiousness made relations, however slight and flexible, with a woman like Photini [Pg 26]impossible. This he knew well, and despite the knowledge felt miserably sad and unquiet. He wanted so much that she should not degrade his high ideal of the artist who has received nature’s patent of nobility, and a lonely impressionable boy like Rudolph could not afford to stand by tamely and watch the dethroning of his idol. For Photini had been his idol long before they had met. Her name had been borne into his retreat from many quarters, and no one had hinted to him her unlovableness—her disreputableness. Liszt had only spoken to him of her genius with enthusiasm. Had his small circle deliberately conspired to keep him in ignorance of this cruel reality, while he was wandering and losing himself in a forest of delicate and poetic illusions?—building hope upon hope of an unanalysable nature until his whole happiness grew to bind itself round the thought of this unknown woman crowned by art with a glory greater than her womanhood? Photini Natzelhuber! His mother had often told him of the time she first came to Vienna, a slip of a girl, with a curly boyish head and the strangest topaz eyes. Mossy dark hair and topaz eyes with divine fingers—what more did it require to set aflame a dreamy imaginative lad? And when strangers visited the Castle at Rapolden Kirchen and spoke of her, he never seemed to understand that years had flown and left her less girlish, but pictured her like Art, like a goddess ever young. And when he read of knightly reverence and allegiance, he told himself that one day he should go abroad and seek Photini. He dreamed of no conditions or reward, not of marriage or of love in the ordinary sense. To wear her colours, serve her in true devotion, honour[Pg 27] her above all women, and humbly sue the privilege to obey her commands and caprices with some considerable recreative pauses for music—this was Rudolph’s innocent dream. Remember he was brought up by a high-bred mother, all grace and gentle benignity, a woman who wore her widowhood like a sovereign lady to whom man’s homage was a sweet claim. And her pretty and impracticable theories but helped to feed the fires of a fatally romantic temperament, while his complete and unboylike isolation left him an easy prey to the riotous play of fancy. Then is it any wonder that reality at the outset should both crush and bewilder him?

He opened the window, and leant far out with his head against his hand, that the cold night air might blow upon him. Through the confusion of his mind he could gather no dim or possible conclusion upon which to shape immediate action. He dreaded meeting Photini again, for he felt he could never forgive her for the havoc she had made of all his bright hopes. Then softly through the silence of the night waved in echoing dimness the lovely strains of the “Barcarolle,” with its ever recurrent note of passionate melancholy, its very voluptousness of exquisite pain and the musical rhythm of the oars breaking through the water murmur. The memoried sounds flushed his cheek with trembling delight, and he rushed to his violin and tried to pick out the dominant melody. But who could ever hope to play it as she did? And, happily, he became mindful of the possible objections of others to this faint nocturnal music, and generously put up his instrument.

“Ah!” he sighed, “if Photini be hardly a woman,[Pg 28] what an artist, good heavens!” Must much not be forgiven undeniable genius? And was all the ideal love irrevocably vanished? If only he could know. For this uncertainty disturbed him and made him unhappy, and unhappiness is not exactly the condition that enables a young man to see clearly into his own mind or into anybody else’s. He would try to sleep, and then this tempest of emotion and harassing conflict would blow over and leave his eyes clearer to see what he ought to do and leave undone.

But Rudolph did not sleep, and a sleepless night, we know, works disastrously upon the nerves and looks. When he appeared downstairs his uncle glanced up casually from his papers, and, stirring his chocolate, said in surprise:

“Why, whatever is the matter with you, Rudolph? This is too absurd. A girl wouldn’t look so battered after a first ball.”

“Well, I am battered, I suppose. I’ve passed a bad night and I am not used to it,” said Rudolph listlessly.

“A bad night! a fellow of your age! Is it possible? Fact is, my dear boy, your mother has ruined you. Nothing worse than to pamper and coddle up lads as if they were girls. Your mother had no business to keep you immured in that ghostly old place with no hardier society than her own.”

“I wish she were there still and I with her,” said poor Rudolph, with a little break in his voice and a faint clouding of his blue eyes.

“Of course, of course,” hastily cried the volatile baron, whom all evidence of emotion struck chill. “The wish does you and her credit. But all the same,[Pg 29] it is not exactly fit training for a boy. Makes him whimsical and sensitive and shy—a lively prey for all adventurers male and female, especially female. Fact is, it is most enervating and absurd. You ought to have seen something of society long ago, Rudolph; you ought indeed. Men and manners—you know your classics?”

“That is just my difficulty. Men and manners—to find them disappointing and strange. My brief glimpse of them has both sickened and saddened me.”

“Nonsense! You must face life like a man; not dream it away like a puny sentimental girl. You want backbone and nerve, Rudolph, you do indeed. Men are not saints nor women angels. Well, what of that? They are not expected to be so until they get into the next world, which time, as far as I am concerned, I trust will be postponed to the furthest limits. Then the ladies find their wings and the men get canonised, that is, if they haven’t taken snuff. I believe a very estimable saint was once refused canonisation because he took snuff; can’t swear to it, however. For the rest, my boy, adopt the aphorism of the wise German, who was good enough to discover that everything is arranged for the best in this best of all possible worlds.”

“You can take things lightly, uncle, but I cannot.”

“Of course not,” rejoined the baron, lighting a cigar. “Whoever heard of a young man taking anything lightly except his debts?”

“I do not ask that men should be saints nor women angels.”

“It is considerate of you to be so unexacting. Pass[Pg 30] the saintship of your own sex, young men have the extremely awkward habit of quarrelling with women as soon as they discover they are not angels.”

“But I do seek for evidences of gentlemanly feeling, for decent manners and chivalrous speech,” Rudolph went on, ignoring the Baron’s interruptions.

“Now you are hardly so unexacting. This strikes me as demanding something more than sanctity, for it is quite possible that a saint may be an ill-mannered cad,” said the baron gravely.

“I hope, sir, that you will not be offended with me if I express a wish to return to Austria,” said Rudolph, after a pause, nervously devoted to industrious crumbling.

“Indeed, Rudolph,” cried the baron, facing him with a disconcerting steadiness of gaze, “I am very seriously offended to hear you express such a wish. Your aunt and I have cherished the hope that you would find your stay with us pleasant enough to make your visit a prolonged one. What has upset you? If there is anything we can do to make you comfortable, I beg you will state your wishes and count them fulfilled.”

“Nothing, nothing indeed, I assure you. You and my dear aunt are kindness itself, and I am most truly grateful. But I am not happy, uncle. Do not blame me if I seem capricious.”

“Seem! Well, and are you not?”

“I cannot help it if I am perplexed and grieved. I think I should feel less troubled in Rapolden Kirchen, that is all,” Rudolph slowly explained, bending his head with apparent anxiety over the little heap of crumbs he was making with his knife.

[Pg 31]

His uncle watching him narrowly saw the sensitive lips tremble under the soft moustache.

“Come, unveil the mystery, Rudolph,” he said with a quiet smile. “Who is the woman? For, Gad, it looks deucedly like a first prick of love. Nothing else smarts so keenly at your age.”

Rudolph shrank visibly from the coarse frank glance of worldly eyes directed upon a wound so intangible, so especially delicate, and yet open to misconstruction. To grieve about a woman argues the existence of the commoner sentiment, and he loathed the thought of his fine instinct being so misinterpreted. But could a bland and heavy ambassador, who smokes the best cigars and lounges on the softest cushions in irreproachable attire, skilful in gastronomy and a connoisseur in feminine points, be possibly expected to seize and rightly interpret the daintier emotions and pangs of a more exquisite and spiritual organism?

“There is nothing of that matter in my trouble, but I believe I am unfitted for society. I don’t like it; much that others, possibly wiser and better than I, hardly note offends me.”

“You find the charming illusions nurtured in the seclusion of Rapolden Kirchen rudely dispelled,” suggested the baron, looking what he felt, a trifle bored by the lad’s heavy earnestness, but admirably sustained by the comfort of good tobacco. “That happens to every one, though I have no doubt it would afford you immeasurable satisfaction to look upon your case as exceptional. All this is quite correct, since it is so, and if this very interesting and pleasant world realised the fastidious ideal of youth, my dear fellow, it would not be a fit[Pg 32] place for any sensible man to live in. Be reasonable, Rudolph. Give poor society another chance before you decide to abandon it to inevitable perdition. There will be plenty of balls presently. Stay and see if you cannot reconcile your flighty imagination to a waltz or two with some pretty Athenians. You may not credit it, but there are two very pretty girls here.”

[Pg 33]


Given a young man of average resolution in force against an acknowledged and violently self-disapproved inclination, seated in a pleasant morning-room, with clear broad rays of December sunshine, as it knows how to shine in winter in Greece, pouring in through the lattice-work of the windows, every leaf in the garden singing and proclaiming that out-of-doors there is gladness of sight as well as gladness of sound, to soothe the mind of restless and melancholy youth. It will go hard with that young man to resist the temptation to get up, shake out the draggled plumes of thought, and canter away into the country—or why own an uncle who has a horse or two to be had for the asking? One cannot lock oneself away in a dismal chamber merely as a correction against one’s own irregular impulses. Besides, was not his resolution there to act as constable, and move them on if unruly subjects showed any tendency to loiter on the way? So Rudolph made himself look very spruce in a dark green riding coat he had bought in Vienna, and much more suited to the forest depths of Rapolden Kirchen than the high-road of a modern town, put on a pair of brown gauntlet gloves, also scenting too suspiciously of the forest, with long black boots, and he only wanted a forester’s plumed hat to [Pg 34]complete the picture. But he looked exceedingly handsome, and as, abroad, all eccentricities of costume are credited to the English, he was taken as a fair young milord as he cantered briskly along the Partissia Road. Somebody met him and remarked afterwards to the Baron von Hohenfels that “he had had the pleasure of seeing his nephew on horseback got up like Gessler without the hat.”

On the youth rode, quite pleased with his green coat and his fine boots, flicking away an occasional fly from the ear of his bay with a dainty riding whip, and inhaling delightedly the soft odours of the winter landscape. He would have liked to whistle or sing.

“Decidedly, Athens is a charming place,” he thought to himself. “All my life till now I have been frozen at this time of the year, and here the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the sea is smiling out there its very bluest smile, and it would be impossible to paint the lovely colours of the landscape. Hills everywhere, with a long silver plain—the plain of Attica! I wonder where this road leads to? Somewhere out into the country, but it does not matter. I’ll ride to the end of it, and then I’ll ride back.”

It was an enchanting ride. He saw a little beer garden, and stopped to see if the beer of Athens were as refreshing as its air. Well, no; he thought on the whole that he had tasted better beer in Vienna, but the place was quaint, and, who knows? perhaps a centre of classic memories. He would look into Baedeker on his return. Certainly the waiters left much to be desired in manner, in attendance, and in personal appearance. Then he thought of riding back, paid his[Pg 35] score, leaving what would have been considered a satisfactory tip for any one but a proverbially prodigal milord,—that article, with a proper respect for itself, not being thought guilty of a knowledge of coppers,—mounted his horse, and turned its head towards Athens.

His pace this time was not so brisk, nor did his face or the atmosphere seem quite so happy. A vague consciousness of what was awaiting him was slowly beginning to make itself felt through the recent satisfaction of moral superiority, and that consciousness weighted his horse’s step, as it weighted his own boy’s heart. And yet it was fate that was guiding him, and not his own will. Of course not. When does the will ever guide the unwilling, and where would any of us be in moments of complicated decision, if it were not for that convenient scapegoat and disentangler—Fate?

The museums afforded an excuse for putting off the evil moment, and a lad was found to hold the bay while Rudolph went inside to examine the curiosities. He did all that was to be done; stood gravely before Greek vase after Greek vase, each one the exact counterpart of the other, and while running the silver handle of his riding-whip along his lips, told himself that it was really curious that so many intelligent people should be found ready to go into ecstasies over this sort of thing, and prefer to look at a cracked red vase with mad figures on it, to a living pretty face, or a pine-fringed mountain, or the rain-clouds scattered across the blue heavens. And then he gazed at the coins; gazed at broken statues, and at whatever wearied and polite attendants were willing to show him.

“Well, I am not archæological, that is certain,” he[Pg 36] thought, mounting his bay with an open alacrity that might be described as a silent “Hurrah!” and flew—not to the Austrian Embassy, but to Academy Street.

When he asked Polyxena in his blandest tones if her mistress was visible, that gracious minister unto art nodded, and pointed with her thumb over her shoulder:

“Go up there, you will find her about.”

“The Natzelhuber has picked up a perfect counterpart of herself,” Agiropoulos had remarked, which struck Rudolph as unpleasantly accurate.

When Rudolph, after a timid knock, opened the door, he found the pianiste lying on a worn black sofa, smoking a cigarette and reading a French novel, with three cats about her, one comfortably seated at her head, and one across her feet. On the hearthrug there were two dogs feigning to be asleep, in order the more conveniently to pry into the affairs of man, and ridicule together the secrets they had discerned between two blinks and a snap at a fly. The room was poorly furnished and disorderly. A piano which had seen battle and better days, a faded carpet; music on the floor, music on tables, music on chairs. Over the mantelpiece a large portrait of Liszt, under it Rubinstein, above Beethoven, and on either side Chopin and George Sand.

In this little group of portraits consisted the sole decoration of the bare white walls, and a table in a corner held all that its owner had amassed of precious things in her public career: her medals gained at the Conservatoire, the few gifts of gold-studded objects she had condescended in her most amenable moods to accept from grand dukes and duchesses, and other courtly and[Pg 37] wealthy admirers. She looked at Ehrenstein without getting up, and said:

“What do you want?”

“Nothing,” he retorted, sitting down uninvited, and staring at her a moment in cold inquiry.

She was not handsome, nay, she was ugly, and he was glad of it, being still of the innocent belief that the face is the clear index of the soul, and that a fair exterior cannot possibly cover a foul interior. Then, too, the fact that she was unprepossessing made the course he was contemplating so much the easier, since, however sincerely he might regret the artist, he could not in conscience pretend it possible that he should regret her face.

“You are doing well, my young friend,” laughed the Natzelhuber, “excellently well, ’pon my soul. Not so long ago a convent girl could not beat you in humility, and to-day you’ve cheek enough to lend even Agiropoulos a little.”

“Oh!” said Rudolph, lifting his eyebrows, and then changing his tone, suddenly, “but I did not mean to be rude.”

“Then what the devil do you mean?” the artist cried, lighting another cigarette, with almost maternal precautions against disturbing her cats. “Is that the way to come into a woman’s room, making yourself at home without being asked, and impertinently saying you want nothing?”

“If it comes to that, I might ask, is it habitual for morning callers to be received by their hostess lying on a sofa, nursing three cats, smoking, and to be asked what they wanted?”

[Pg 38]

“A very reasonable attitude if it suits me, and a very reasonable question. But since you are so susceptible and cantankerous, I’ll do you the grace to change both to suit you,” she said good-humoredly, removing her cats and placing them back on the sofa when she stood up; then seating herself in an arm-chair, she added:

“Now, what have you come for?”

“To see you,” he said, smiling in spite of himself.

“Much obliged, I am sure. Well, look away, and in the meantime I’ll finish this chapter of my book.”

The method of being severe and renunciatory, with a suitable Byronic fold of the lip and stern compression of the brows—a kind of “fare thee well, and if forever” expression—with a woman like this! Fancy such a reception at twenty-one—when a young man is oldest, gravest, intensest, and slightly melodramatic—from the object of shattered dreams, the creature of agitated and complex feelings, and the cause of poignant humiliation and vexed wonder! Yet the Natzelhuber was unconsciously working most effectually for the boy’s good, and every stab was a definite step on the road to recovery, and to a full lifting of the veil of his own signal folly.

“What makes you look so unhappy, Ehrenstein?” she asked, after a considerable pause. “Have you been playing?”

“No, mademoiselle. I did not know that I looked unhappy,” Rudolph answered, colouring slightly.

“You do then. But there is no need to ask why you are unhappy. You wear your nature in your face, and[Pg 39] that proves to me that you will never be happy—any more than my unlucky self.”


“Because you are too refined and too fastidious, and too everything else that goes to the making of a first-class irrational humbug. A man who wishes to make the best of life should be able to take a little of its mud comfortably, whereas you are ready even to turn up your aristocratic nose at a little elegant dust.”

“And you, mademoiselle? Why are you not happy?—for I cannot regard dust or mud as the impediment here,” said Rudolph sarcastically.

“Oh, for just the contrary reason. I am too gamine! It comes to the same thing, child. We are both mad, though reaching the condition by diametrically opposed roads. My life is ending, and it is too late now to change had I even the desire,—but yours is beginning. Get rid of all that superfluous refinement, and tell yourself that there are things more real and more absolutely necessary than sugar and ice-cream.”

“What you say is very true, and I will remember it. But have you no words of equal wisdom for your own case—although they say that doctors are always better able to treat cholera in an alien body than a fit of indigestion in themselves.”

“I could say much, but I could not be sure of finding an attentive audience in myself. You see I am a poor devil. Not so long ago I had the musical world at my feet—only two names above me, and the second Rubinstein, not so far away. Like this we were crowned,” she explained, making a dot on the cover of her book, and calling it Liszt, with a second lower down,[Pg 40] on the right hand side, which represented Rubinstein, and the last, on the left, hardly more than a thought below the second—“there! the Natzelhuber. And turn from my fame to reality. An ugly old woman without a sou, alone, friendless, ill, the only companions of my solitude these cats and dogs, and that,” she added, pointing to a bottle of brandy.

“Is that not a very bad companion in solitude?” asked Rudolph, pained.

“Not so very bad when it keeps you from cutting your throat in a morbid moment.”

“Mademoiselle, command me—command all your true friends, for surely it is impossible that genius such as yours has gathered no honest friendship along its path, as well as empty honours. Whatever my shortcomings may be in the way of entertaining, I will prove a better counsellor than your present one,” he urged, forgetting all about himself in his anxiety to save her from the approach of certain degradation.

She looked at him sharply, and then a curious softened light came into the yellow eyes, making them once again beautiful and fascinating with their old charm. She placed her two powerful little hands on his shoulders, and seemed to gaze down into his very soul.

“My dear boy, I believe you are sincere. You are as good as you look, and that is saying much. A tired old woman thanks you with all her heart, but it is too late. Some demon fixed himself in that old woman’s head when she was born, and never could manage to find its way out ever since.”

Rudolph was on the point of protesting, when the door opened, and a woman in black, followed by a[Pg 41] young girl entered. The Natzelhuber wheeled round brusquely, and demanded:

“Who are you, madame? and what brings you here, pray?”

The woman, who was stout and hot, stared anxiously, gasped, clutched in vain at her scattered ideas, and murmured something relative to the great honour the illustrious Mademoiselle Natzelhuber had done her in consenting to teach her daughter Andromache, the interview having been arranged for to-day.

“All very well. But that does not explain how you came to enter my room unannounced,” cried the pianiste.

“Your servant sent us up, madame.”

“Polyxena!” roared the Natzelhuber, holding the door open.

Rudolph, ready to sink with shame at the unpleasantness of his position, and eager to beat a hasty retreat, happened to look at the girl who was staring from the stormy musician to him with large dark blue eyes, dark fringed, and full of beseeching anxiety and fright. She was a very pretty girl of somewhat exotic type: olive tints, blue-black hair, with a thin, sedately arranged row of curls upon the forehead. A face of meagre intelligence, without a shade of those subtle and tremulous surprises, that delicate eloquence of opening sensibilities and wonder, that make up so much of girlish beauty in northern races. But Andromache was very touching in that moment of perplexity and humiliation, and having looked at her once, Rudolph felt constrained to look again—which he did willingly enough, though he blushed scarlet at his own audacity.

[Pg 42]

“Polyxena, who the devil gave you leave to send me strangers when I am engaged?”

“How was I to know you were engaged? Haven’t I my work to do without looking after your danglers? Do you think I’m going to walk up here every time your bell rings to find out what I am to say? Ah, then, and upon my word, you’d have first to go into treaty with my Maker to fashion me another pair of legs,” retorted Polyxena, turning on her heel.

“That is the way she always answers me,” said the Natzelhuber, smiling. “But I am fond of servants. They are the only part of humanity that has retained a bit of originality or naturalness. When she is in a good humour that girl delights me with the extraordinary things she says,” she remarked to Rudolph. “So, madame, this is the young woman you want me to turn into an artiste,” she exclaimed, menacingly, standing before the trembling Andromache with her hands joined behind her.

After a long scrutiny, she thrust up her chin, and muttered:

“Pouf! she doesn’t look very bright.”

“Everybody says she is very clever, mademoiselle,” the girl’s mother ventured to plead humbly, “and she plays really well.”

“Who is ‘everybody’? half a dozen brutes of Athenians who couldn’t tell you the difference between C major and F sharp. If you have come here to cite me the opinion of that distinguished and discriminating critic, Everybody, madame, instead of waiting to hear mine, you and your daughter may go about your business, and see what your Everybody will do for you.”

[Pg 43]

Rudolph made a movement towards the door, hoping to escape unnoticed, but the Natzelhuber, having had enough of her last visitors, detained him with an invitation to smoke a cigarette, and drink a glass of brandy.

“Wouldn’t you like me to play you something?”

“Not to-day, thanks. Another time. It’s just breakfast time,” he said hurriedly.

She turned her back on him without another word, and opening the piano, pointed to Andromache to sit down before it. The girl’s hands shook as she removed her gloves, and Rudolph, going downstairs, could hear how unsteady and timid were the first notes that she played.

“Weber’s ‘Invitation à la Danse.’ She will surely fly into another rage when she hears that,” he thought. “But I do wish she would be kind and encouraging to the poor girl. Such pretty eyes as she has! I have never seen prettier. Just like the March violets in Rapoldenkirchen that I used to gather for my mother.”

In the meantime the frightened owner of these eyes like the March violets of Rapoldenkirchen was passing through the worst moment of her existence. Two bars of the “Invitation” served to bring down the wrath of artistic majesty on her head, and very nearly on her hands.

“What do you call that?”

“Weber’s ‘Invitation,’” died away in the girl’s throat.

“Weber’s ‘Rubbish,’ you idiot! It is as little like the ‘Invitation’ as the music of my cats is like the ‘Funeral March.’ But you have a good touch. Something may be made of you when you have learnt your scales, and know how to sit before a piano. Seat low, thumb[Pg 44] covered, body tranquil. Are you prepared to regard yourself as a beginner, with less knowledge than a stammering infant—or do you still cherish the opinion of ‘Everybody’ that you are very clever?”

“I know very well that I am quite ignorant, and it is because I want to learn that I have come to you,” Andromache said, with a simple dignity that mollified the artist.

“Well, I see you are not a fool like your respectable mother,” she said. “Now go home and practice as many scales as you can for three or four or even more hours a day, and come to me at the end of a week. Hard work and slow results, remember.”

[Pg 45]


Among the many curious customs of the modern Athenians—at least those unprovided with permanent tents—is their habit of changing residence every first of September. When they go into each new house, they have at last found their earthly paradise, which they at once begin to maltreat in every possible way, until, by summer-time there is hardly a clean spot left on any of the walls, a door left with a handle, a cupboard with a lock, or a window with a fastening entire in its panes. Then the earthly paradise, is described in terms as exaggeratedly expressive of the reverse of comfort; the family look around for the next September move, and a new home or flat is found with the same fate awaiting it. The only rational way of accounting for this startling custom, which would greatly disturb any reasonable person compelled to follow it, is by supposing that the natives find something exciting and morally or mentally beneficial in their annual migrations.

In compliance with the law, Andromache’s mother, the previous September, had moved from a flat on the second floor in Solon Stettore, a ground floor flat with[Pg 46] plenty of underground accommodation, in one of the many yet unnamed streets that break from the foot of Lycabettus like concentric rays to drop into the straight line of Solon Street, and proceed on a wider and recognised course down among the larger thoroughfares. These baby passages are rarely traversed by any but those who enjoy the qualified happiness of living in them. There is always a river of flowing water edging their entrance like a barrier, which a lady with dainty boots would doubtless view with disapprobation if she were asked to ford it upon an afternoon call. Children by the hundred play about these streets—variously coloured children, ragged, ugly, showing every condition but that of cleanliness and beauty, with little twisted mouths and sharp black eyes that always seem to be measuring in the spectator a possible foe; with coarse matted hair, or shaven heads looking like nothing more than the skin of a mouse worn as a skull cap, or dirty straw, bleached nearly white, hanging about them in unapproachable wisps and understood to be fair hair. As well as the householders, the infants, and running water, the streets offer, as further attraction, the cries of the itinerant merchants, who draw their carts up the dusty, unpaved little hills, and yell out the contents of their store in a way only to be heard in burning cities, where yelling, public and domestic, becomes an art, cultivated with zeal, and heard with joy—by all but the nervous traveller. All day long these vendors come and go, and the aforementioned happy householders need only appear on their thresholds to buy stuffs, soap, candles, sponges, carpets, etc.

In the sweet spot Kyria Karapolos had pitched her[Pg 47] tent with her family, consisting of two sons, the eldest a dashing captain of the Artillery, known in town as Captain Miltiades, understood to have no relations, and to sleep on horseback, dine on gallantry and the recital of his own prowess, and enjoy relaxation from equine exercise in the ball-room. The second son, Themistocles, a dapper little fellow, had a position in the Corinthian Bank, not very remunerative, but enabling him to dress with what he considered Parisian taste, and walk Stadion Street with two or three other fashionable youths, all equally gloved, caned—and killing. He had a violin too, and disliking his family, when constrained to remain at home, spent the time in his own room, which looked out upon the sloping gardens of the French School, and tortured the silence by irritating this poor instrument, deluded into a fond belief that he was playing Gounod’s “Ave Maria” and Schubert’s “Serenade.”

He cherished a hopeless passion for a young lady in the next street who had no fortune; neither had he, nor, what is worse in an aspiring husband, any prospect of making one.

A girl came next, Julia, of abnormal plainness of feature, considerably heightened by a pimpled, sallow complexion and a furtive, untrustworthy expression. Unlike the rest of her family, she had no special qualification, but while the others enjoyed every kind of discomfort, her fortune was pleasantly counted into the Corinthian Bank, to be taken out the day a husband should present himself for her and for it, especially for it. In this land of dowered maidens young gentlemen of expensive tastes and empty purses find it [Pg 48]feasible and honourable to incur debts on the understanding that they will be paid out of somebody’s dowry by and by. Personal looks or qualities are secondary questions, so the absence of attractions in Julia did not weigh in the eyes of her brother and mother in their anxiety to marry her.

The youngest was Andromache, as pretty as Julia was plain, resembling her brother, the redoubtable Captain Miltiades; a sweet girl, too, if suggestive of the unvarying sweetness which is another word for feebleness of character—fond of music, and showing some ability in that direction, never taking part in the family quarrels which were always raging at the table and elsewhere between the rest. But she had the tastes of the woman of warm latitudes. In the house she was rarely fit to be seen,—and she had a passion for powder, unguents and strong perfumes. She was a tolerably efficient housekeeper, and generally spent her mornings in the kitchen, superintending and helping Maria, the maid of all work, who had enough in all conscience to do to keep Captain Miltiades in clean shirts.

Captain Miltiades was not only the hero of his domestic circle, but the hero of all Greece—or so he believed, which comes to the same thing; the boldest soldier, the mightiest captain, the best horseman and dancer, and, crown in romantic imaginations, the most impecunious ornament of Athenian society. His fierce and military moustache and bronzed cheek awed beholders, and his noble brow merging into a bald crown gently fringed with short black hair, which made a thin line above his black military coat and crimson velvet collar, seemed to hold the concentrated[Pg 49] wisdom of ages. But gallant and youthful was the spirit of Captain Miltiades—amatory, too, as behoves a son of Mars. “One may be bald and not old for that,” said his flashing dark-blue eye whenever a maiden’s thoughtful glance rested on the discrowned region. His French left much to be desired, and of other European languages he knew nothing. But then scientific was his knowledge of the gay cotillon, entrancing his movement in the waltz and mazurka; at least the young ladies of Athens thought so. However, be it known to all who care to learn noteworthy facts, Captain Miltiades was an authority on these important subjects; a kind of dancing Master of Ceremonies at the Palace, where he danced with royal partners and was amazingly in demand. But, sad to relate, nobody dreamed of falling in love with him, in spite of his military prowess and carpet-pirouetting. The ladies regarded him as a kind of amiable harlequin, and his presence and warm declarations only excited a smile on the lips of the weakest. Of course he sighed and dangled after every dot, but sighed in vain, for neither his fierce moustache nor his dark blue eyes have brought him somebody’s one figure and countless noughts of francs.

It was twelve o’clock, and Captain Miltiades might be heard galloping up the unpaved street, looking as if nothing short of a miracle could bring horse or rider to stop before they reached the overhanging point of Lycabettus. The miracle was accomplished without flinging the gallant Captain headforemost into the dust or into the nearest flowing stream, and the Captain’s military servant, Theodore, emerged from the side entrance to carry off the panting war-horse, and refresh[Pg 50] its foaming flanks with the stable brush, while the warrior, with stern brow and dissatisfied lips under the nodding red plumes of his cap—this modern Achilles always appeared in a white heat of suppressed anger in the domestic circle—rapped at the glass door which Julia opened.

“Where is Maria?” asked Captain Miltiades.

“In the kitchen, of course, cooking the breakfast.”

“Maria! Maria!”

“Yes, sir,” cried the unfortunate servant, rushing from the steaming pilaf she was preparing, and showing a spacious bosom hardly restrained within the compass of the strained and long since colourless cloth that untidily covered it, and a ragged skirt, and fuzzy black hair that she found as much difficulty in keeping out of the soup as out of her own coal-black eyes—only far greater effort was made to accomplish the latter feat.

“Maria, the balls are commencing, and I shall be going out regularly; you must have two clean shirts for me every day. Do you hear?”

“And how on earth do you think, Captain, I am to get through my work? Two shirts a day indeed! And the same for Mr. Themistocles, I suppose. Four bedrooms to see to, cooking, washing for five persons: and one poor girl to do it all for twenty-five francs a month. You may look for another servant.”

“Get away, or I’ll wring your ear, Maria. You have Theodore to help you in the kitchen, and you know that both my mother and Andromache help you in the housework.”

“Wonderful, indeed! It only wants every one in the[Pg 51] house to sit down and do nothing, and the young ladies to ask me to starch them two white petticoats apiece every day. Ah, animals, pigs, the whole of you,” she added as she retired to the kitchen, and the gallant Captain to his chamber.

Another masculine entrance, and this time the thin piping voice of little Themistocles was heard, calling on the unhappy maid of all work.

“What does this fool want now?” roared the infuriated Maria, appearing in the corridor with a large spoon which she brandished menacingly.

“I am going out this evening, Maria, and I want a second clean shirt,” said Themistocles, thrusting his head out of his room.

“A second clean shirt! Oh, of course. What else? Don’t you think, sir, you might find something more for me to do? I have so very little to do that it would really be a kindness to keep an idle girl in work. Clean shirts for Miltiades, clean shirts for Themistocles. ’Pon my word, it is poor Maria herself who wants clean shirts—and she has not even time to wash her face!”

“Really, it is absurd the trouble you men give in a house,” cried Julia over her embroidery in the hall. “You seem to think there are no limits to what a servant is to be asked to do.”

“Hold your tongue, Julia, and speak more respectfully of your brothers,” retorted little Themistocles.

“What do you mean by quarrelling with your sister, you whipper-snapper?” cried Miltiades, combing his moustache, as he came out of his room to join in the fray. “Another impertinent word to Julia, and it[Pg 52] would not take much to make me kick you out into the street.”

One word from the head of the house, as Captain Miltiades was called, full twenty years his senior, was enough to silence Themistocles, who retired into his room, and proceeded to make a careful study of the libretto of “La Princesse des Canaries.”

The third tap that morning at the glass door of the street, announcing the return of Andromache and her mother, was the cheerful herald of breakfast. Everybody was seated at table, wearing a more or less bellicose air, while Theodore, looking as correct and rigid as an ill-fitting military undress would permit, served out the pilaf when Andromache and Kyria Karapolos entered the dining-room.

Andromache took her seat in silence beside Julia, and slowly unfolded her napkin with an absent air, and her mother at the head of the table began to puff and pant and violently fan herself.

“Pooh! pooh! pooh! what a woman! I thought she would eat poor Andromache.”

“The music-woman,” remarked Captain Miltiades, indistinctly, through a mouthful of pilaf.

“A savage, Miltiades. She has a servant just like herself, who received us as if we were beggars, and told us to go upstairs and look for the Natzelhuber ourselves. And when we went up, there was a nice-looking young gentleman with her, a foreigner, fair, I should say an Englishman or a Russian—what country do you think he comes from, Andromache?”

“Who, mamma?” asked Andromache, coming down from the clouds.

[Pg 53]

“That fair young man we saw at Natzelhuber’s.”

“I don’t know, I did not pay much attention to him,” Andromache replied; and turned her eyes to the dish of roast meat Theodore was placing on the table.

“Well, this young man, as I said, was with her, and when we entered the room, I assure you she all but ordered us out again.”

“And why did you not go away?” demanded the Captain, hotly. “You are always getting yourself insulted for want of proper spirit.”

“You are just like your father, ever ready to fly into a rage for nothing,” protested Kyria Karapolos, sulkily. “If one followed your advice, there would be nothing but quarrelling in the world. By acting civilly I have been able to beat down the Natzelhuber’s terms very much below my expectations. When I asked her what she charged a lesson, I nearly fainted at her answer. Thirty francs! However, when I expressed our position, and how absolutely impossible it would be for us to pay more than ten, she consented to receive Andromache as a pupil on those terms. But whenever I spoke she snubbed me in the most violent manner,—called me an old fool.”

“Perhaps you gave her cause,” sneered Themistocles, who felt bitter towards his mother, regarding her as his natural enemy since she had warned the mother of the young lady in the next street of his pennilessness, a warning which served to close the doors of that paradise forever to him.

“How dare you, sir, speak in such a way to your mother?” thundered the irate Captain, always ready[Pg 54] to pounce on the small bank-clerk, whom he despised very cordially. “I told you to-day that it would not take much to make me kick you into the street. Another offensive word, and see!”

This ebullition quenched all further family expansion round the breakfast-table. The girls hurried through the meal in silence, keeping their eyes resolutely fixed on their plate. One man glowered, and the other sulked in offended dignity, rising hurriedly the instant Theodore appeared with two small cups of Turkish coffee for Kyria Karapolos and the Captain. In another instant the street door was heard to bang behind Themistocles, who, with his slim cane, his yellow gloves, and minute waist, had gone down to indulge in a clerkly saunter as far as Constitution Place, and unbosom his harassed and manly soul to two other minute confidants previous to turning into the Corinthian Bank.

After his coffee, the Captain went back to his barracks beyond the Palace, and Andromache sat down to practice her scales on a cracked piano in the little salon, with a view of the rugged steepness of Lycabettus and the trellised gardens of the French School through the long window. It was a pretty little room, with some excellent specimens of Greek art and Byzantine embroidery, foolish Byzantine saints, in gilt frames, with an artificial vacuity of gaze, the artistic achievements of the rival Athenian photographers, Romaïdes and Moraïtes, views of the Parthenon and the Temple of Jupiter, a bomb that had exploded at the very feet of Captain Miltiades in the late outbreak at Larissa, upon which memorable occasion he had gallantly mangled[Pg 55] the bodies of five thousand Turks and scattered their armies in shame. This valuable piece of historic information I insert for the special benefit of those who may presume to question the direct succession of this mighty Captain from the much admired warriors of Homer. In olden days Captain Miltiades’ glory would have quite outshone that of his puny namesake; as a complete hero, upon his own description, he would have occupied the niche of fame with Hercules and Theseus.

Necessarily there was the sofa, the Greek seat of honour, upon which all distinguished visitors are at once installed, this law, like that of the Medes and Persians, knowing no change. Also sundry tables decorated with albums and the school prizes of the young ladies, the bank-clerk, and the Captain of the Artillery. All the chairs were covered with white dimity, and the floor was polished with bees’ wax, which gave the room an aspect of chill neatness.

Andromache was interrupted in a conscientious study of scales by the entrance of her mother and Julia, and the former’s irrelevant question:

“Don’t you think that young man was English, Andromache?”

“I don’t know, mother, possibly,” was Andromache’s impatient answer, for, though it grieves me to unveil the secret workings of a maiden’s mind, I must perforce confess that the student was thinking just then of Rudolph’s kind and sympathetic glance.

“Can’t you stop that horrible noise and describe him?” said Julia. “You know I always want to hear about foreigners.”

[Pg 56]

“He was fair and tall and handsome, with very kind blue eyes, light, not dark like those of Miltiades—there, that’s all I can say about him,” said Andromache, rising, and standing at the window to stare across at the gardens of the French School.

[Pg 57]


The illustrious Dr. Galenides had just seated himself at his desk to write a note to his no less illustrious colleague, Dr. Melanos, while his hat and gloves on the study table and his carriage outside were testimony of a contemplated professional drive. The study door was suddenly opened with what Dr. Galenides regarded as undue familiarity, and looking up sharply, prepared to administer the deserved rebuke, the learned physician recognised in the intruder an old friend and brother in profession. The new-comer, a rough, provincial-looking Hercules, was Dr. Selaka of Tenos, a member of his Majesty’s parliament, called for some unaccountable reason, “The King of Tenos.” Instead of a rebuke, Dr. Galenides administered an effusive embrace, and clasped this insular majesty to his capacious bosom.

“What a splendid surprise, my dear Constantine!” he cried, when he had kissed both Selaka’s bronzed cheeks. “When did you come to Athens?”

“Last night. I have come to oppose two new measures of the Minister. Have you read his speech on the Budget?”

“Of course. I thought it displayed great [Pg 58]moderation and sagacity. There’s a statesman if you will, Constantine.”

“May the devil sit upon his moustache for an English humbug! England here, England there! Ouf! But wait until he has me to tackle him.”

“You’ll lead him a dance, I’ve no doubt,” laughed Galenides. “But how are all the family?”

“Very well. My niece Inarime is growing more beautiful every day. All the islanders are in love with her. A queer old dog is Pericles. He has brought that girl up in the maddest fashion. Nothing but ancient Greek and that sort of thing, and he has made up his mind she will marry a foreign archæologist, or die an old maid.”

“Yes, I always thought him unpractical and foolish, but I tremendously respect his learning. Why doesn’t he bring the girl to Athens, if he won’t marry her to a Teniote?”

“Well, he talks vaguely of some such intention. You are going out, I see.”

“Yes, and that reminds me, Selaka. I was just writing a line to Melanos, but you’ll do just as well. There is a foreigner sick in the Hôtel de la Grande Bretagne who has sent for me. Could you go round and look at him? I haven’t a spare moment to-day. If I am absolutely wanted for a consultation, of course, I’ll endeavour to attend.”

Selaka consented with alacrity, and the friends parted with cordiality at the door, one to seat himself in a comfortable carriage, and be rolled swiftly to the Queen’s Hospital in the new quarter of Athens, the Teniote to walk to the Hôtel de la Grande Bretagne, a[Pg 59] little above Constitution Square, overlooking the orange trees and fountains in front of the Royal Palace. He was delighted with the prospect of meeting a distinguished foreigner, distinction proclaimed in the choice of hotel, and he would profit by the occasion to discuss the politics of Bismarck with this M. Reineke.

The waiters favoured him with that insolent reception usually bestowed by waiters of distinguished hotels upon foot and provincial-looking arrivals. But the mention of the illustrious Dr. Galenides cleared the haughty brow of Demosthenes; and when Selaka furthermore stated that that great personage had sent him to feel the pulse of the sick foreigner, Demosthenes condescended to call to Socrates, a lesser luminary among the hotel officials, and signified to his satellite that Dr. Selaka might be conducted to M. Reineke’s chamber.

Selaka found his patient, a young man of about twenty-eight, lying on a sofa, wrapped in a silk dressing-gown, with an elegant travelling rug thrown across his feet. Selaka’s keen glance rested in amazement on a delicate Eastern head, long grave eyes of the unfathomable and colourless shade of water flowing over dark tones, with a very noble and intense look in them, a high smooth brow that strengthened this expression of nobility, and finely-cut lips seen through the waves of dark beard and moustache as benign as a sage’s. It was a thoughtful, spiritual face, serene in its strength, unimpassioned in its kindliness—the face of a student and a gentleman.

“I should never take you to be a German, M. Reineke,” said Selaka, after their first greeting, seating[Pg 60] himself beside the sofa, and taking the sick man’s supple fingers into his.

“No one does,” said Reineke, in such pure French as to put to shame Selaka’s grotesque accent. His voice was musical and low, with a softness of tone in harmony with his peculiar beauty, and fever gave it a ring of weariness.

“Are you going to order me quinine, doctor?”

“Why, naturally. How else would you break a fever?”

“But I cannot take it, doctor. It disagrees with me.”

“That is a pity. Four doses taken in four hours cut the worst fever, and set a man on his feet in a day.”

“Some constitutions can bear it, I suppose. But I nearly died after quinine treatment in Egypt. My head has not ceased going round ever since.”

“Your temperature is over a hundred, and you refuse to take quinine! Then there is nothing for you but to linger on in this state. Low diet and repose—that is all I can prescribe.”

Left alone, the sick man closed his eyes wearily and turned to sleep, out of which he was shaken by a knock at the door, and the head of an Englishman thrust itself inside.

“Can I come in, Mr. Reineke?”

“Pray do, Mr. Warren,” said Reineke, smiling agreeably. “It is kind of you to find time to visit a sick wretch amid all your fêtes and sight-seeing.”

“Oh, that is a real pleasure. Only I am so sorry to see you cut up like this and losing all the fun. It was awfully jolly at the Von Hohenfels’ last week. There[Pg 61] was an outrageous lioness there. For the life of me I could not catch her name. The governor wants to secure her for London. By Jove! what a tartar! She nearly ate the French viscount up in a bite.”

“Yes, I heard about it, but she is a very distinguished artist, I believe. You’ve been to Sunium since?”

“Came back to-day for the Jaroviskys’ ball. What a jolly people these Greeks are! The entire country seems at our disposal. Special trains, special boats and guides. Oh, we had an awfully good time, I tell you: inspected the Laurion mines, and looked awfully wise about them and everything else. But surely you’ll be able to go to the Jaroviskys’ to-morrow? What did the doctor say?”

“Nothing wise—a doctor never does.”

“Look here, old fellow, we can’t leave you here while we are dancing and flirting with the pretty Athenians.”

“If the pretty Athenians guessed my nationality, they would not be very eager to have me dance and flirt with them.”

“Then the governor was right? You are not a German?”

“No, I am a Turk. I have lived a good deal in Germany, so I adopted a Teuton name upon coming to Greece to avoid disagreeable associations for the natives. It is very comfortable. I was bored in Paris by the way people stared at me, and whispered openly about me when they heard my Turkish name, so I mean not to resume it. If I played the piano, the ladies fell into ecstatic wonder.”

[Pg 62]

“Well, we are accustomed to the old-fashioned Turk, cross-legged, on a pile of cushions, in flowing garb and turban, smoking a narghile, with a lovely Fatima or two by his side, and exclaiming frequently in sepulchral tones, ‘Allah be praised!’ It will doubtless take us some time to grow used to the newer picture presented by you.”

“Is it not aggravating to be kept here in a darkened room, while near me are ruined porticoes and columns, where once my people built their Moslem forts and turrets, and the voice of the muezzin broke the lone silence after the Pagan days? There is not even a glimpse from my window of that mass of broken pillars that stood out so plainly against the sky when we entered the Piraeus. I feel like a child waiting for the play, when suddenly comes a hitch which keeps the curtain down. I want to walk with the poets and philosophers, read Plato in the groves of the Academe, stand with Œdipus and Antigone at Colonneus, and look towards the towers and temples of Athens, walk with Pericles and Phidias through the marbles of the Acropolis, with none but the voices of glorious spirits to break the silence of the universe,—those spirits who have burned into history the clear gold of their unapproachable intellects, seeing with eyes that have served for centuries, feeling with hearts that have beaten for all time, speaking with lips upon which the noblest words are everlastingly carven.”

“Gad, I see you are an enthusiast like our friend, Miss Winters, who goes into fits when we inform her of some fresh rascality on the part of the modern[Pg 63] Greeks,” cried young Warren, marvelling to hear a Turk talk in this fashion.

“She is a charming old lady, and you youngsters downstairs should not quiz her as you do. She engaged, if I were better, to carry me with her on Sunday to read Paul’s sermon to the men of Athens on the hill of Mars aloud. I have since been informed that it is customary for the Athenians to take their Sunday airing along the foot of the hill of Mars. Fancy the sensation we should have created, standing in a respectful attitude beside the little American lady, piously reading aloud the words of St. Paul.”

Reineke laughed softly, while young Warren exploded in a burst of loud merriment.

“Do you know, when she discovered that the ruffian of a head-waiter is called Demosthenes, she looked so horribly like embracing him, that, seriously alarmed, I exclaimed, ‘Madam, I beseech you, pause in your rash career.’ I don’t think she quite realised the extent of my service, for she very nearly quarrelled with me when I mentioned that Demosthenes is in the habit of defrauding our poor Jehus of at least half their profits.”

“Amiable enthusiast! But don’t class me with her. I have no illusions about the modern Greeks. I have seen in the East how they take advantage of our good-nature and our dislike to trade. I know them to cheat and bargain and deceive, and grow fat upon the kindness of those who trust them. But what have they in common with the ancients? They have not the intellect, the unerring taste, the exquisite restraint of language and bearing, the sunny gravity of temperament,[Pg 64] the simplicity and keen love of the beautiful. If they were really the descendants of the old race, there would be some signs whereby we should recognise their glorious heritage.”

“I don’t know. Perhaps, if we knew the opinion held by the Persians and the barbarians of the old Hellenes—it would be probably very different from their own.”

“We don’t need any opinion with the works they have left. Such eloquence as that is incontrovertible, and in the face of it, their representatives to-day are as much out of place here as were the Franks, the Italians and the Turks. It was a desecration to have built on these immortal shores a nation sprung from slavery and the refuse of the Middle Ages—without tradition or any right to believe in its own destiny. What do they care for? Money, trade! They have no real reverence for knowledge, except that it helps in the acquirement of wealth and power. You will find no Greek ready to consecrate his days, aye, and his nights, to the disinterested dispersion of the clouds of ignorance by as much as a rushlight of knowledge, capable of the unglorified, untrumpeted, unrecognised patience and labour of the scholar. Nor would he willingly choose poverty and obscurity that he might live the life of the spirit.”

“Well, I am afraid there are not many of us who would,” said Warren, good-naturedly. “And these people have their virtues. They are sober and moral.”

“They are indeed, and they are not cruel to their children or their wives, but they make up for the omission by horrible cruelty to animals. They frequently amuse themselves by tying a barrel of petroleum to the tails of[Pg 65] a couple of dogs, and firing it, for the delicate pleasure of gloating over the death agonies of the poor brutes.”

“Good heavens! What awful savages! But do you know, Mr. Reineke, it would be a just punishment for your ill opinion of them if you fell in love with a Greek. ’Pon my word, there are some very pretty girls here.”

“It is possible. But mere beauty has no attraction for me. I have seen lovely women in the East, indolent, unthinking beings, whom I couldn’t respect. I would sooner have a wicked woman who had elements of greatness in her than a virtuous one who had none. Aspasia I should have adored. It is because the women we mostly meet are so insipid that I have never thought to fill my life with the consuming excitement of love. I should feel ashamed and grieved to place my manhood under the feet of a mere household pet, or a drawing-room ornament, a fluttering, flounced marionette with the soul in her eyes gone astray, her lips twisted out of the lovely sensibility of womanhood by senseless chatter and laughter far sadder than tears. To see so many exquisite creatures meant to be worshipped by us, and only ridiculed, meant to guide and ennoble us, and preferring degradation; the purity of maidenly eyes lost in the vilest audacity of gaze, and the high post of spiritual guardians of the world bartered for unworthy conquests.”

“How cold-blooded to be able to furnish all these excellent reasons for not making a fool of yourself! Well, may we hope to see you at the Jaroviskys’?”

“I am afraid not. But pray, come and tell me how you have enjoyed yourself when you have a moment to spare.”

[Pg 66]

“And shall I give your love to Miss Winters?”

“Hardly that, but present her with my most distinguished compliments, if that is good English.”

Dr. Selaka that evening found Reineke more feverish, and although he was not anxious to lose sight of his patient, he seriously advised a sea voyage as the only adequate substitution for quinine.

He was greatly interested in this handsome stranger with the dark beard and romantic intensity of gaze, and speculated wildly on his nationality and circumstances as he walked from the hotel. He thought he might be a Spaniard, until, remembering the late Spanish Minister, who could not pay his passage back to Spain, and only got as far as Corfu by selling all the clothes and furniture he had never paid for, he decided that the Spaniards were a miserable race. The Italians, he thought, were not much better, and Reineke as little resembled a Frenchman as he did a German.

“You might go to Poros,” he said to Gustav. “It is a pretty place, and the trip would do you good.”

“Why not one of the Ægean Islands?” suggested Gustav.

“Certainly. There is Tenos. I live there myself, and I have a brother whom you could stay with for a day or two.”

Selaka coloured with a sudden astonishing thought. This stranger was rich, perhaps unmarried. He might fall in love with Inarime. Now he was bent on urging the trip to Tenos, before undreamed of. “I’ll telegraph to my brother, and you can travel in the Sphacteria. The captain is my godson.”

“You are very kind, doctor, and I am ashamed to[Pg 67] accept such favours from you,” said Reineke, truthfully, in surprised assent.

“Oh, it is a pleasure. We Greeks love to see strangers.”

“Then I will go to-morrow. I want to get well as soon as possible, for I have much to do here,” said Reineke.

[Pg 68]


Crossing Constitution Square the king of Tenos was hilariously accosted by one of his satellites, a member of the Opposition and a lawyer of parchment exterior, whose career had been varied as it was unremunerative. Starting in life as domestic servant, he had found leisure to attend the University, and buy legal books with his perquisites. His stern profession by no means impeded the unsuccessful editorship of several newspapers—comic, political and satirical, each of which enjoyed a kind of ephemeral reputation and lasted about six months, leaving the venturous editor with a lighter pocket, and now he was Selaka’s colleague in obstruction.

“This is the best answer to my telegram, Constantine,” said Stavros. “What a day we’ll have of it in the Boulé[A]—eh?”

“Oh, ay, the Budget Speech. Leave it to me, Stavros. We’ll egg them on to an explosion. Keep to the caricatures. Collars and cuffs Minister! Ouf! Have you been pumping our friends about the Mayoralty?”

“Trust me. Our side is for you to a man. The[Pg 69] party for Oïdas is strong, I admit, and wealth is in his favour, but I think we shall be able to pull you through.”

“If only! Listen Stavros, if I get in as Mayor, I’ll make you a present of a thousand francs, and I’ll secure your son the first vacant place in the University. I know your power,” he added, slyly.

The man of documents swelled with a sense of his own importance. Of that he had no doubt. The ministry depended on the state of his temper, which was uncertain, and the Lord be praised, what is a man if he has not his influence at the beck and call of his friends?

“Oïdas has spent a lot of money on the town,” he hinted.

“That is so. He is enormously rich, and takes care to advertise that fact,” Dr. Selaka replied.

“Well, we must spend money too,—in some cases we can only seem to spend it, and it will come to the same thing, my friend. But I’m hopeful, Constantine. You started on good lines. The swiftest path to celebrity is opposition, and you have never done anything else but oppose. It is a fine career, man, and gives you a decided superiority over the humble and compliant. The man who opposes need never trouble himself for reasons. His vote on the introduction of a measure is sufficient to insure him importance.”

“If obstruction be a merit, I have been obstructing these ten years, and the Mayoralty of Athens seems rather a modest claim upon such a display of superiority,” said Dr. Selaka, quite seriously.

The lawyer’s humour was profoundly tickled. The follies of the weak and foolish were a source of infinite[Pg 70] amusement to him. It was he who had urged the Teniote to the coming ambitious contest, not that he in the least contemplated success, but he understood that with a wiser man to lead, his part would be a much less exciting one.

“We are the Parnellistoi of Greece, Constantine,” he said, with an air of ponderous assertion. “We may be beaten, but our hour of triumph is only retarded.”

He conscientiously consulted his watch, and then added, as an afterthought:

“You will need a larger house, Constantine.”

“I have thought of that, and have been inquiring about the expenses of building. I have a spot in view near the new Hospital. It will be a heavy item added to my election expenses, but my brother Pericles will come to my assistance, I make no doubt.”

“Why does he not come here himself, and establish his family? The man is insane to bury himself in Tenos.”

“With as handsome a daughter as ever the eyes of man fell upon,” interrupted the doctor, angrily.

“My faith! you must bring him to Athens. A handsome niece well dowered will be a feather in your cap. Play her off against Oïdas, and you’ll have the men on your side.”

“Pouf! Use a woman in politics! But if Pericles will let me look out for a son-in-law for him, something might be done in that way.”

“Why not? There are Mingros and Palle, both rich men. With either of them for a nephew you might aspire to be prime minister.”

“You don’t know Pericles. He is a confounded[Pg 71] idiot. Nothing but learning will go down with him. Death before dishonour. Modern Athens represents dishonour to him, because it presumes to prefer other things to the very respectable ancients. If he came to Athens, like Jarovisky, he would expect Inarime to fix her eyes permanently on the Acropolis, with intervals for recognition of the Theseium and minor points of antiquity. I foresee her end. He’ll marry her to some wretched twopenny-halfpenny archæologist, who will barely be able to pay the rent of a flat in some shabby street, and the wages of a maid of all work.”

“We must avert her doom, Constantine. Have her up to town, and bring her some night to the theatre when the King is expected to attend. The young men will stare at her from the stalls, and I’ll have an elegant verse upon her in the ‘New Aristophanes.’”

This proposition brought them to the Boulé in Stadion Street. The Prime Minister’s carriage was outside, and along the railing a row of loafers reclined, discussing each member as he passed in, and the space inside the gates was strewn with soldiers and civilians of every grade. The sharp swarthy faces lit up with eager recognition when Dr. Selaka and Stavros entered the gate, and familiar and jocose greetings were flung casually at them from the crowd.

“Glad to see you have a new coat, Constantine,” one urchin roared after Selaka, and sent his admirers into fits of laughter.

With the dignity of demeanour it behoved a mayor-elect to assume, Selaka coldly ignored the jibes and jokes of the loafers, touched his hat to his acquaintances and ascended the steps of the Chamber with weighty[Pg 72] prophecy of obstruction upon his brow. The interior of the Chamber was a sight for the gods. The floor behind the president was held by corner-boys, soldiers, peasants and beggars in common with the representatives of King George’s Parliament. Deputies in fustanella and embroidered jacket showed pictorially against the less imposing apparel of civilization, and addressed the president at their ease, frequently not condescending to stand, but lounged back in their seats, and merely arrested his attention with an authoritative hand. The proceedings could be watched upstairs from a gallery of boxes, and a very amusing and lively half-hour might thus be spent. The stage below was filled with grown-up children, who fought and wrangled, exchanged amenities and breathless personalities, and foolishly imagined they were ruling the country. It is impossible to conjecture what a parliament of women would be like, but we can safely predict that it could not well surpass the average parliament of men in the futile chatter, squabbling and display of ill-temper.

Dr. Selaka took his seat in a leisurely manner, under the minister’s eye, on the front seat, and listened, with a protruded underlip and the look of sagacity on the alert. Stavros sat back, extending his arms behind the backs of his neighbors, and wore an expression of ostentatious amusement befitting the editor of a satirical newspaper.

The unlucky minister hazarded a loose statement, which gave Dr. Selaka his opportunity. He was on his legs, with two spots of excited red staining his sallow cheeks under the eyes, and opened a vehement fire of epithet and expostulation. The minister retorted,[Pg 73] and Stavros, seated where he was, just held out a cool protesting finger, and cried: “You lie.”

The English Cabinet Minister was sitting upstairs in the box set apart for the diplomatic corps, and on this statement being translated to him, he leant forward and focussed the lawyer with his impertinent eyeglass. This was a species of parliamentary frankness with which he was not familiar, used as he was to having his veracity challenged in a variety of forms. As a novelty it was worth observing—especially the attitude of the minister thus given “the lie direct.”

The president tapped the table and called for order, which was naturally the signal for boisterous disorder. The premier sat down amidst a torrent of words, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs rose to fight his battle as chief lieutenant. The storm raged to the pitch of universal howls, and when at last there was a momentary lull in the atmosphere, exasperated by the abuse of which he had been the free recipient, Stavros jumped up, and flashing threateningly upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs, roared out:—

“It well becomes you to abuse me. You live in a fine house now, and keep your carriage, but for all that, I can remember the time when you were glad to wear my old clothes.”

Dead silence greeted this retort, and a grim smile relaxed the grave faces of the members. No personality is too gross to tickle this most democratic race, and anything that levels the proud man delights them. The Right Honourable Samuel Warren, M. P., upstairs, decided to take the light of his illustrious presence from such a shocking scene, wavered, and remembering[Pg 74] mythology, bethought himself of the laughter of the gods. He was abroad in the pursuit of knowledge, and this was certainly experience.

Stavros was frantically adjured to withdraw and apologise, and as frantically refused to do any such thing. His colleague and imagined leader stood up in his defence and the obstructionist became riotous to the verge of hysterics, until the Right Honourable Samuel Warren, looking down upon the spectacle from a safe distance, really believed he had been dropped into Bedlam instead of Parliament. Uproar succeeded angry protest in deafening succession; with the rapidity of thought mere speech was rejected as inadequate to the occasion. The generals, almost as numerous as soldiers, jumped upon their seats and brandished their hats terrifically. The hapless president made his escape, leaving the chair to one of the vice-presidents, and Constantine Selaka with an agile bound cleared the space intervening between the members’ seats and the tribune, installed himself therein, and shouted his intention of keeping the Chamber sitting until the demands of his party were complied with.

“And would Kyrios Selaka be good enough to state categorically the demands of his party?” the Prime Minister asked, standing to go, holding his hat in his hand, with an officially negative look.

This was a rash invitation. Selaka burst into an interminable, involved and idiotic speech, which Stavros followed from his seat with one much more involved and personal, and much less idiotic.

Evening descended, the dinner-hour passed, and still the unfortunate vice-president held the chair, and [Pg 75]exercised his authority by a furious and inappropriate ringing of the bell, and calls for attention. Exhausted and famished deputies dropped out of representative life in search of animal food; others clamoured for cessation of the strife, and pathetically referred to the solace of the domestic circle. But Stavros and Selaka were adamant. The clamours of nature were unheeded by them; when one shouted and orated, the other sought comfort in cigarette and coffee. Night came, and found Selaka still in the tribune, gloomy, ravenous, and resolute. Meanwhile Stavros had refreshed himself with a snatch of food outside. He returned to the charge while his leader shot into the corridors, and collared excited and admiring attendants in the pursuit of food.

“We are as good as the Parnellistoi over in London,” Selaka remarked, and rubbed his hands with joy, as he and his friend walked home at the end of the protracted sitting.

“That is so, Constantine,” said Stavros, who dearly loved a row of any sort, and who since he could not fight the European powers in person, solaced himself by fighting a temporising president and a tame party. “You’ll be mayor to a certainty.”

“Mayor indeed!” ejaculated Constantine, keenly measuring his own sudden charge for notoriety. “It’s minister at least I ought to be. I have tackled them, Stavros, eh?”

His friend thought so, and went home to express his opinion in three columns of laudatory prose and twelve satirical verses describing the great Homeric fray.


[A] The Greeks call their modern Parliament by the classical name of Boulé.

[Pg 76]


Many years ago a German mechanic drifted, in the spirit of adventure, eastwards, and finding the conditions of life offered him in Athens sufficiently attractive for a man desirous of earning his bread in the easiest manner possible, and not contemptuously inclined towards the midday siesta, the excellent Teuton settled down in the city we may presume to be no longer under the special patronage of Wisdom. Not that Jacob Natzelhuber regretted that Athens’ reign was over. The mechanic was ignominiously indifferent to all great questions, and so long as his employers continued to pay him his weekly wages, conscientiously earned and conscientiously saved, the extravagances of the unfortunate King Otho and the virtues of Queen Amelia troubled him as little as did the glorious ruins on the Acropolis. He never went near the Acropolis. When his glance rested on the mass of broken pillars and temples that dominate every view of the town, he doubtless confused them with the eccentric shapes of the adjoining hills, and if asked his opinion of that point of classic memories, would tranquilly remove his pipe from his lips and remark that the other hill, his own special friend, Lycabettus, was higher. A good-humored, egoistic, [Pg 77]phlegmatic workman, for the rest; fond of leisurely meditation on nothing, fond of smoking in his shirt-sleeves with the help of an occasional glass of mastia or brandy, and convinced that the world goes very well now as it did in olden days, and that the Greek is a composite of barbarian and child.

In a wife one naturally chooses what is most convenient, if one cannot obtain what is most suitable. Jacob chanced upon an enormous indolent maiden, dowered as Greek maids usually are, with a father whose house property was prophetic of better things to come. The girl was not handsome—nor as cleanly or learned in household matters as a German frau; but some half dozen years in the makeshift of Oriental domestic life had served to deaden Jacob’s fastidious sensibilities in this department, and with the prospect of a little money and a couple of houses in the neighbourhood of Lycabettus by and by, on the death of a respectable father-in-law, he was so far demoralised as to face this unsavory future with tolerable tranquillity. They married.

The slow and philosophic Teuton found his Athenian wife and their one servant—a small barefooted child, in perpetual terror of her mistress, whose reprimands generally came upon her in the shape of tin utensils, water-jugs or stiff tugs of hair and ear—rather more noisy than a simple woman and child should be, to his thinking. But he preferred a quiet smoke on the balcony to interference in the kitchen, whence the sounds of hysterical cries, very bad language indeed, and sundry breaking articles reached him.

The lady, when not in a rage, a rare enough occurrence, was an amiable woman so long as her innocent[Pg 78] habits were not interfered with. Jacob was indisposed to interfere with any one—even with his own wife. So Kyria Photini peacefully smoked her three or four cigarettes, and drank her small glass of cognac of an evening, chattered in high Athenian tones with her neighbours, arrayed in a more or less soiled white morning jacket, and any kind of a skirt, with black hair all dishevelled, and sallow cheeks not indicative of an immoderate preference for cold water and soap. The little maid trembled and broke plates, went about with bare feet, short skirts and unkempt woolly hair, meeting her mistress’s vituperations with a wooden animal look, and lifting a protective arm to catch the threatened blow or object. Jacob was not happy, but he was philosopher enough to know that few people ever are, and that the highest wisdom consists in knowing how to make the best of even the worst. He was fond of his wife in his heavy German fashion, removed his pipe, and said, “come, come,” when the heat unstrung her nerves and sent her from her normal condition, bordering on hysterics, into positive madness; consoled himself by remembering that distinguished men in all ages have agreed that woman is incomprehensible, and hoped for some acceptable amelioration with the birth of the expected baby.

The baby came, a small dark girl, and the baby’s mother went to heaven, Jacob naturally supposed, and shed the customary tears of regret, though it can hardly have been happiness or comfort that he regretted. He engaged an Athenian woman to look after the child, and returned to his daily work and bachelor habits, deterred by recent experiences from making any other[Pg 79] venture in the search of domestic bliss. The child was called Photini, and it was greatly to be hoped that a little of the paternal temperament would go to correct the vices of the maternal, but there are relative stages in the path of moral development, and a lazy, hysterical, soulless woman is not the worst thing in feminine nature.

Photini grew up pretty much as the animals do, without any but merely natural obligations placed upon her. She ran about like a little street arab, learned neither reading, nor writing, nor catechism, nor sewing; swore like a small trooper, was more than a match for the barefooted, unkempt-headed girl, who soon learned to tremble before her as she had formerly trembled before her mother; was even too much for her quiet father, who began to be afraid of her furious explosions, and was too indifferent to the duties of paternity to trouble himself seriously about her education. Yet a pretty and striking child she was, with large topaz eyes, that in their audacity and frankness were sufficient in themselves to arrest attention, if there were no mossy black curls making an engaging network above and around the fine boyish brow; with the absurdest and sauciest nose and a wide, pale mouth that had a way of twisting itself into every imaginable grimace without losing a certain disreputable charm of curve and expression. A face full of precocious evil, but withal exquisitely candid—what the French would call a ragged face, warning you and yet claiming a sort of indefinable admiration from its absolute courage and truthfulness. She took to the streets as kindly as if she had been born in them, rolling about in mud and dust in the full enjoyment of unfettered childhood, dealing[Pg 80] blows, expletives, kisses and ugly names with generous indifference. With every one she quarrelled, not as children do, but as savages quarrel, fiercely and murderously; but even in this innocent age she displayed a frank preference for the male sex. Girls filled her with unlimited contempt, and she was never really happy unless surrounded by a group of noisy, quarrelling boys. Then her pretty teeth would gleam in wild laughter, and she would talk more nonsense in five minutes than any six ordinary girls in an hour.

The father saw the lamentable condition of his child, but being a philosopher and caring only for abstract meditations and his ease, he preferred that she should be kept out of his sight as much as possible, than that he should be asked to mend matters. What can a man be expected to do with a motherless baby girl? Not teach it the alphabet, surely? Nor walk it about the barren slopes of Lycabettus of a Sunday, nor initiate it into the mysteries of the Catechism? Clearly there was nothing else for a hard-working and good-tempered German to do but let nature work her will on such unpromising and unmanageable material, and continued to smoke his pipe and drink his mastic at his favourite coffee-house fronting Lycabettus. If nature failed, it was far from likely that he should succeed, and it was too much to expect him to devote his rare leisure hours to his unruly child. The neighbours did not, however, regard it in this light; but then neighbours never are disposed to regard the concerns of others from a reasonable point of view. So many improvements they could bring into the management of your family matters which they fail to bring into their own. No, no; leave a [Pg 81]philosopher to find the easiest road of life and to discover a way out of all domestic responsibilities. Socrates was an admirable example in this high path, and if he could discourse in public on the immortality of the soul and other subjects, while his much calumniated wife and child wanted bread at home, a more modest individual like Jacob Natzelhuber might certainly sip his mastic in the Greek sunshine, and cherish a poor opinion of the policy of Metternich, while his little daughter was running about the narrow Athenian streets.

But there was one saving and remarkable grace about Photini. Not only did she display a nascent passion for music, but even as an infant she had shown an amazing taste for thrumming imaginary tunes on every object with which her fingers came in contact. When not fighting with a dozen amiable little beggars, or rolling delightedly in mud and dust, she was always to be seen playing this imaginary music of hers, and on the few occasions when her father took her to hear the German band on the Patissia Road, the sight of the King and Queen on horseback was nothing to her in comparison with the joy of sound.

This growing passion was becoming too prominent and imperious to be long overlooked; besides, Jacob had a German’s reverence for true musical proclivities, so he purchased the cheapest piano to be had, engaged the services of a Bavarian music master who had come to Athens in the hope of making his fortune under his compatriot king, and for so many hours in the day, at least, Photini was guaranteed from mischief. Her progress was something more than astonishing, and caused the Bavarian to give his spectacles an extra polish before[Pg 82] announcing gravely to Jacob that Liszt himself could not ask for a more promising pupil. This naturally made Jacob very thoughtful, and sent his aimless meditations into quite a new channel. It is a negative condition of mind to feel that one has a poor opinion of Metternich, but to learn that one has a genius in one’s daughter leads to disagreeably positive reflections.

Now Jacob was a quiet man, we know, and the idea of an exceptional child frightened him. It was not an enviable responsibility in his estimation. Far from it, a distinctly painful one. An ordinary girl who would have grown just a little better-looking than her mother, learned to sew and housekeep in the usual way, and terminated an uneventful girlhood by marriage into something better than mechanics, thanks to his industry and economy—this was his ideal of a daughter’s career. Evidently here Nature thought differently.

As soon, however, as he had given a conscientious attention to Photini’s talent, greatly injured by the modest instrument on which she played, he came to the conclusion that this was not a case in which man can interfere, and that he was before a vocation claiming its legitimate right of sovereignty and refusing to be shifted off into the shallow byways of existence.

“I am of your opinion,” he said to the Bavarian master. “It is no common talent, that of my girl, but for my part I would far rather she did not know a major from a minor scale. It is not a woman’s business. However, I can do nothing now. I leave the matter in your hands. I am a poor man, but whatever you propose, as far as it is honourably necessary,[Pg 83] I will make an effort to meet your proposal,” he added, with a slow, grave look.

“There is nothing for it but Germany, Natzelhuber,” said the Bavarian, promptly. “I should fancy we might manage, with the help of your father-in-law, a little influence I possess, and the girl’s own genius, to get her three or four years’ study in Leipzig. Once that much assured, she need only keep her head above water, and the waves will surely carry her——”

The Bavarian flung out his hands in an attitude suggestive of infinity.

“Well, well, so long as they do not carry her into evil,” said Jacob, shaking his head mournfully. “I am mistrustful of a public career for a woman.”

“You cannot deny that it is better than marriage with a man of your own class.”

“I am not so sure about that. But I am afraid Photini will turn out one of those women who had best avoid marriage with any one. She does not look likely to make any man happy, or herself either. A perverse, passionate, uneducated girl, with more ugly names in her head than any two ordinary street boys, and not a single good or amiable instinct in her that I can see.”

Jacob, excellent man, quite forgot to take into consideration that he himself was far from innocent of these disastrous results, and that his paternal indifference had had far more to do with her ill condition than any predisposition of the child’s.

“That is quite another matter and one that concerns me not at all,” rejoined the Bavarian, indifferently. “Art, my dear sir, Art! Fraulein Photini represents an abstract idea to me. The problem of her destiny as a[Pg 84] woman has no attraction for me. She may marry, or she may not—she is not a pretty girl, but I have seen men make idiots of themselves about uglier. It all depends on the spectacles you use. But I am of opinion that a woman of genius has no business with marriage. Goethe, you may remember, wisely calls it the grave of her genius.”

“Probably, but there is time enough to think of that.”

Photini’s grandfather, when consulted, was only too glad to contribute towards the speculation of winging this hybrid fledgling from the parent nest. The Greeks have a naïve respect for fame, of which there was promise in Photini’s talent, so her relatives willingly abstracted a portion from the family funds for her use.

One October morning, Photini, a stripling rather than a girl, of fifteen, with big keen yellow eyes and soft dark curls breaking away from the eyebrows in petulant confusion over and round her head like a boy’s, escorted by a faintly disapproving and anxious father, left the Piræus on an Austrian liner bound for Trieste. Not at all a pretty or attractive girl, most people would decide; of a vulgar indefiniteness of type and a coarseness of expression hardly excused by the charming hair and strange eyes. But she had the virtue of extreme youth on her side, as shown in the slender and supple frame, in the freshness and surprise of her glance, and in the rounded olive cheek melting into a full throat like a bird’s. And youth, God bless it, carries its own apology anywhere; it is the time of possibilities and vague hopes. This girl might, nay, must grow less brusque, less vulgar, less boyish with the development of womanhood; and as her features would refine, so would her heart, at[Pg 85] present as safe and hard as a coral, expand and open out its hidden buds of tremulous sensibility and delicate feeling.

Her second year in Leipzig brought her the third medal, and a decided reputation, yet there were many complaints against her. She had unpardonable fits of idleness broken by explosions of temper, and language hardly less gross than what might be expected in the lowest phase of society. These shortcomings, added to a sharpness of manner and a coarseness of mind, terrified and astounded her masters, who, however, were ready enough to overlook such deficiencies when under the spell of her masterful playing. A girl of seventeen with already an unmistakable fire of inspiration and an echo of Liszt in her touch was not to be despised clearly, whatever her vices, and they, alas! were many, and promised to be more. Her companions shunned her, and her masters spoke of her as “La gamine,” no other appellation being so justly indicative of her appearance and manners.

In the fourth year she left the Conservatoire, its acknowledged star, and capable now of steering her own course in whatever direction impulse or deliberate choice might push her. One of the fortunate of this earth, standing, at twenty, apart, wrapped in the conscious cloak of genius, a majesty, alas! she was incapable of measuring, and which she was destined only to trail in the mire without reaping any benefit, pecuniary or social, from its possession. It was almost as sad a mistake on the part of Nature as if she had endowed one of the lower animals with some glorious gift which could never be to it other than a grotesque[Pg 86] ornament. The girl understood nothing of responsibility, and yet she was proud, unapproachably proud as an artist. She felt and gloried in her superiority in a stupid senseless way; could not acquit herself of the commonest civility towards those who were desirous of helping her, had not the remotest idea of gratitude or the art of gracious acceptance, and considered inconceivable rudeness to every one who addressed her as her natural right. She ought to have been happy, and would doubtless have been so had she known ambition, or felt a moderate but healthy desire to please. But she was hardly conscious of feelings of any kind, only of blind dim instincts of which she could give no account to herself. Poor dumb, unfinished creature with but half a soul, and that run to music. It was pitiable. As she massed follies, proud stupidities, and degradations one upon the other, until the thinnest thread of common sense, of merely animal self-protection was lost to view, one could only wonder and grieve, but not excuse. Nature seemed to have been the sinner, and the extravagant creature her victim. And then there were lucid moments—wretched awakenings, stupefied contemplation of the havoc that had been made of promise, of ripe chances, and, by way of anodyne, a deeper plunge into the mire.

Her first act of independence was a concert in Leipzig which proved an abnormal success, and then upon the advice of her director she went to Vienna, furnished with letters for Liszt. The amiable and courtly king of pianists received her with an exquisite cordiality, expressed the highest satisfaction with her abilities, gave her a few finishing instructions which she received,[Pg 87] as was her wont, ungraciously enough; used his influence in securing her success with his own special public, and recommended her to Rubinstein, who was then on his way back from England. This was the beginning of the only lasting period of lucidity in her mad career.

She left Vienna with Liszt’s portrait and his autograph, “To the Queen of Sound,” added to her meagre luggage, for it was not her way to decorate her plainness of person by any unnecessary attention to her toilet. Just as, music excepted, she was totally uneducated, illiterate even, barely able to write a letter that would shame a peasant, in Greek or German,—which languages she regarded as equally her native tongues,—so her person was left rigidly unadorned. At twenty the results of untidiness are not so deplorable as at thirty or forty, for there is always the fresh round cheek and clear gaze as a relief, and then the complete absence of vanity in a very young girl, constantly before the public in a prominent position, is something so unusual that one can afford to regard it with a smile of wonder rather than one of disdain. The striking feature of the case was that she was fond of male society—particularly of the admiring and love-making male. But heaven help the innocence of the lover who expected her to put on a bow, or brush her hair, or choose a hat with a view to please him!

Rubinstein was more than satisfied with her; paid little or no attention to any eccentricity of exterior or manner, and was ready and glad to do all in his power to advance her. After some years of hard work and occasional public appearances, it was agreed that she should spend a season at St. Petersburg.

[Pg 88]

Everybody was disposed to receive her with open arms and lift her to a permanent and glorious pedestal. But good-natured and art-loving Russian princesses and countesses had calculated without their host. This young lady had no desire to be patronised or helped. People might come to her concerts or to her as pupils, and they might stay away: it mattered little to her which they did. In either case she was pretty sure to regard them as idiots, and if they came to her they would have the advantage of hearing it,—that was the difference, which made it easier for them to stay away, as not only the Russian princesses and countesses found out, but also the princes and counts. They might invite her to their entertainments, but it was a wise precaution on their part not to feel too sure of her presence—as for expecting an answer to a polite letter or message, or civil treatment upon a morning call or at a lesson, well, all this lay without the range of probabilities for the most sanguine.

Her peculiarities were incredible. Rubinstein’s name and influence opened every door to her, and the results were unique. She appeared at one Grand Duchess’s in evening dress with woollen gloves, to the dumb amazement of distinguished guests, one sprightly duchess wondering why she had omitted to come in waterproof and goloshes. When introduced to an ambassador, and informed of his passion for music, she coolly surveyed him from the top of his bald head to the edge of his white gold-striped trousers, and said to her host: “I do not want to be introduced to him. A fellow in gold can know nothing about music.”

Her pupils she treated even worse. One young [Pg 89]countess who was studying Chopin with her sent her a rich plum cake. The Natzelhuber, as she was called, was smoking a cigarette when the servant entered with the countess’s letter, followed by a powdered footman who presented her the cake with a stately bow.

“Does your mistress fancy I am starving?” roared the artist, throwing away her cigarette and seizing the cake in both hands. “What do I want with her trumpery cakes? Tell her that is the reception it met with from Photini Natzelhuber.”

She opened the door, rolled the unfortunate cake down the stairs, flung the gracious note after it, and upon them the frightened footman, who, not foreseeing what was coming, was easily knocked off his balance by her powerful little wrists. Of course the countess discontinued her studies of Chopin, and the Natzelhuber can hardly be said to have been the gainer in the transaction. These were the stupid blunders that left her soon without a friend or a well-wisher. Incapable of a mean or an ungenerous act; incapable of uttering a spiteful word behind an enemy’s back, she was equally incapable of uttering a gracious one to the face of a friend. The habit of recklessly indulging in vile language which she acquired in the streets of Athens never left her, and ambassadors, noblemen, artists and friends who momentarily offended her were never less than “pigs, asses,” and other such gentle and inoffensive beings. She could not help this failing any more than her bad temper and her passion for brandy and sensual pleasures of every kind.

“I know I am only a street vagabond mistakenly an artist, but I cannot help it, nor do I desire to be [Pg 90]otherwise,” she would say, in her clearer moments. “I am mad too, and that I cannot help either.”

Deeply tragic assertions both, but not more deeply tragic than the wasted life and abilities of the woman who made them. The irritable creature, sick to death of Russia, sick of the perpetual and humiliating contrast between her condition and that of those around her,—a humiliation she scorned in the majesty of artistic pride to admit to herself, but smarted from in that vague, unrecognised way all feelings outside music and the grosser sensations stirred within her,—left St. Petersburg without even sending her P. P. C. cards.

She appeared next in Munich, now twenty-seven, at the height of artistic fame, only second to her master, able to command the best audiences and prices, with a European reputation for a startling perfection of technique, a grandeur of inspiration and a simplicity of interpretation that only goes with absolute mastery. Rubinstein and others had dedicated several works to her, and for ten years she traversed the musical world a splendid enigma, a blight, a shame and a sorrow. The possession of certain irregular passions might have found ample apology in her genius, but the Natzelhuber so degraded her art that it quite sank into abeyance in the presence of her iniquities. The wonder was soon, not that such an artist should be so gross, but that such a soulless creature should possess the power of thrilling her hearers with every delicate perception of sense and harmony. As the years gathered over her, a curious slowness, almost a dignity of movement was noticeable in her. She began to awaken to the consciousness that the Natzelhuber was a kind of[Pg 91] sovereign in her way, and should attract the eye and silence frivolous tongues by her manner of entering a room. She was stouter now, but carried her bulk well, holding her head erect and looking calmly at each speaker with those strange yellow eyes of hers, so luminous under the boyish, feathery curls. But the light in them shone from no spirit or soul,—sensuously attractive were they, like those of a Circe.

Thus life found her at thirty-five, alone and friendless, though the Viennese were well disposed towards her upon her reappearance in their midst. But she was too embittered and cross-grained to care greatly for their applause, and accepted the love Agiropoulos offered her renown rather than her wretched self, as a kind of feeble protection from her own society. Her princely disdain for money and the making of it left her very naturally in constant debt, and this state of things was hardly calculated to improve her temper.

About this time young Ehrenstein came to Vienna in search of that distraction we are all agreed to prescribe in the first stage of bereavement. He knew Liszt, and from him procured a letter of introduction to Photini. Determined to make a good impression, he ordered expensive tailoring, and went forth to subdue in the amiable superiority of sex and social elegance. The door was opened to him by an extraordinary woman, who held a cigarette in her hand, and glared furiously upon the timid Cæsar who had come to see and conquer.

“What do you want with me, young man? I do not know you, and furthermore, I do not wish to know you. I am not at home.”

[Pg 92]

Not a reception calculated to justify a young man’s innocent and kindly estimate of his own value. Rudolph’s heart was in his mouth, and the mildest form of expostulation was checked by fright and amazement. Meeting Agiropoulos, he disclosed his hurt, upon which that good-natured individual hastened to remonstrate with his irascible friend.

“Why on earth did you treat poor Ehrenstein so badly?” he asked, surveying her with a look of impertinent amusement. “Do you know, Photini, you often provoke a fellow into wishing you were a man that he might relieve his feelings by a good open fight. But now to quarrel or reason with a woman like you! Ouf! You are impossible!”

“There is the door, if you are tired of me. If not, stay and hold your tongue,” was the contemptuous retort, between two puffs of a cigarette.

Agiropoulos had a certain sense of humor and a keen appreciation of originality in any form. He laughed, and proceeded to roll a cigarette in a very comfortable attitude.

“But really, my dear Photini, you were wrong to behave as you did to the lad. He is a very fair dilettante. He has just come from Pesth, where he saw Liszt, who gave him a letter for you. He is wildly desirous of hearing you play.”

“It is possible. He should have said so. How was I to know that Franz Liszt would send me a yellow-headed girl in trousers?”

“But you did not give him time to say anything. You never do.”

“Nobody ever has anything to say that is worth[Pg 93] listening to. Poh, Poh, Poh! The silliness of men and the weariness of life! Tell the fool he can come to-morrow, and I’ll undertake not to eat him.”

“He will be delighted to receive such satisfactory, and, on the whole, rather necessary reassurance. His nature is so knightly that upon no consideration, even the fear of offering himself as a meal, would he dream of refusing to obey a lady’s mandate. And after his adventure of yesterday, it is natural to suppose that he would view compliance to-morrow with considerable trepidation of the possible results. By the way, Photini, I am going to Athens in the morning.”

He looked at her tranquilly, quite prepared for an explosion. She flung away her cigarette, glanced at him just as serenely, and said:—

“So! Then I will follow you.”

“That is kinder than anything I had dared to hope from you, Photini,” said Agiropoulos, gracefully. “Then you care for me enough to disturb yourself on my account.”

The Natzelhuber lighted another cigarette, puffed silently awhile, and fixed her lover with her steady imperturbable gaze.

“Don’t flatter yourself, my dear fellow! I never disturb myself for any one, but I am sick of Vienna.”

“It strikes me, my excellent friend, you are sick of most places in an incredibly short space of time,” said Agiropoulos, sarcastically, nettled by the coolness, of which he wanted a monopoly.


“I hope you will be civil to Ehrenstein to-morrow. Play him the ‘Mélodiés Hongroises.’ His mother[Pg 94] was a Hungarian, and he adored her. The ‘Mélodiés’ will send him into Paradise.”

“I am not conscious of a desire to procure him that happiness. What the devil do I care about his mother or himself? Either the fellow knows music or he doesn’t.”

Agiropoulos was speeding on his way to Athens while Rudolph was sitting in the Natzelhuber’s undecorated parlor, listening to the magic “Mélodiés Hongroises,” wherein enchanting dance and melody spring exultingly out of subtle waves of variation, their impetuous joy broken suddenly by sharp notes of pathos and vague yearning. Music so gloriously rendered thrilled him into instantaneous love, and his soul was lost irretrievably in exquisite sound.

[Pg 95]


It was the eve of Madame Jarovisky’s ball, and nearly a week had elapsed since Rudolph Ehrenstein had permitted himself the painful pleasure of a visit to Mademoiselle Natzelhuber. He was young and impressionable enough for a week to work a rapid change in him under novel circumstances. He mixed freely in the distinguished diplomatic circles of Athens, had been with the Mowbray Thomases to Tatoi, played cricket with Vincent, whose English-French was a source of piquant amusement to him, his own being irreproachable, played tennis and drank tea with the rowdy American girls his aunt disapproved of, and was accompanied by Miss Eméraude Veritassi when he charmed a small audience with Raff’s Cavatina. The Baron von Hohenfels expressed himself delighted with his nephew’s success, praised his air of distinction and reserve, wished him a little less shy, however, and implored him to cultivate the virtues of tobacco.

“It gives a man a certain tone to be able to appreciate a good cigar,” he explained, airily. “You are improving undoubtedly. Your behaviour with Mademoiselle Veritassi last night was quite pretty and gallant. I may mention, Rudolph, that neither your aunt nor I have any objection to Eméraude Veritassi. Her style is good,[Pg 96] and her French—well, should you think of diplomacy by and bye, you would have no reason to be ashamed of it. She is about the only Greek girl I know who looks as if she had been brought up in Paris. Yes, by all means cultivate her, if you are disposed that way, though perhaps it would be wiser to choose your wife at home.”

Rudolph blushed and smiled pleasantly.

“Is it not rather premature to talk of marriage for me, uncle?” he asked, quizzically.

“Quite so. Still, it is possible for a fellow at your age to get disagreeably entangled, and a respectable marriage, you know, is always preferable to that. Amuse yourself, by all means; I would not restrict you in that line. You must be a man of the world, and gallantry is the very finest education. As I said before, in the regular way, there is no objection to Mademoiselle Veritassi, but for all irregular purposes, stick to the married women, my dear boy. Become a favourite with them, and study an attitude of delicate audacity, a kind of playful rouerie.”

All this was Hebrew to Rudolph, but he took care not to press his uncle for an explanation. Instead, he went upstairs, and donned attire less ostentatious and theatrical than the forest coat and long boots. In a faultless suit of navy-blue he was seen an hour later upon the Patissia Road walking towards the Platea Omonia, and a brisk pace brought him to Photini’s door. It was opened by Polyxena, as rough and untidy as ever, who jerked her thumb towards the stairs, and growled:—

“You’ll find her upstairs.”

[Pg 97]

Rudolph’s heart beat apprehensively as he slowly mounted and knocked outside Photini’s door, which he opened gingerly after a loud “come in.”

“Oh, it is you!” the Natzelhuber exclaimed, more graciously than usual. “I thought it was that fool come for her lesson. Sit down, and let me look at you.”

Rudolph obeyed and smiled enigmatically, as he steadily met her lambent gaze.

“What have you been doing with yourself since I saw you?” she demanded, imperiously.

“Nothing in particular,” said Rudolph.

“Humph! Your face does not show that.”

“May I ask what it shows to your glance of investigation?”

“You are growing impertinent and fatuous. Have you been studying the excellent style of our friend Agiropoulos?”

Rudolph drew himself up proudly. He, a high bred Austrian, to be compared with a vulgar Greek merchant! He drew his aristocratic brows into an angry frown, and raised an irreproachable hand to his fair moustache:

“I cannot think that anything in me could remind you of Monsieur Agiropoulos.”

Photini came over, and stood in front of him with folded arms, calmly surveying him; then she leant forward, and placed her hands on his shoulders, laughing.

“They have doubtless been telling you what a fine fellow you are, and, my dear child, they have been telling you a most infernal lie.”

Rudolph burst out laughing, and took her two hands into his, which he held in a gentle clasp.

“Mademoiselle, you are a very extraordinary woman.[Pg 98] Some people might say you are rude. I hardly think the word applies to you. I don’t know what you are.”

“Mad,” said Photini, drawing him to her and kissing him.

Rudolph went red and white, and started back as if he had been shot. No woman, except his mother, had ever kissed him, and the experience coming to him thus, suddenly and unsought, filled him with an inexplicable anger and pain. Without a word Photini walked straight to the piano, and the silence waved into the unfathomable loveliness of Chopin’s “Barcarolle.”

It was a perfect apology. It must be confessed, this woman so dreadful of speech was delicately cognisant of the language of the soul. Had she been playing for a lover, she could not have done better. But she was scarcely conscious of love for Rudolph. Her thirty-five years of wretched hilarity and miserable sadness had left her heart untouched until now, but she was too proud to acknowledge even to herself the steadily growing interest and yearning awakened in her by the innocent eyes of a lad, and while she played she resolutely kept her face averted from Rudolph’s. So she saw nothing of the varying emotions that swept across it as the notes at her magic touch rose and fell. First his eyes closed, then opened and rested upon her profile eagerly; a feverish red burnt in his cheeks, and his breath came hurriedly. A sense of ecstasy oppressed him, and he drew near her as if impelled by a force independent of his control. She looked up, and saw that his eyes were wet, and he burst out:—

“Oh, it is dreadful, I can’t bear it, but I love you!”

Before she could make answer to this unflattering[Pg 99] and anguished declaration, the door opened, and Andromache Karapolos stood upon the threshold. Rudolph moved hastily back, and met her glance of pleased surprise with one of almost passionate gratitude. The spell and its compelling influences had ceased with Photini’s last note, and now he was only dreading the consequences of his insane avowal, and patiently awaited the inevitable scene.

But for the first time in her life, Photini showed an amiable front to an intruder. She looked gently at Andromache, turned with a commanding gesture to Rudolph, and stood for the girl to take her place at the piano. Though wishing to escape, Rudolph felt that the words he had just uttered laid him under a new obligation of obedience, and he went and stood at the window, with his forehead pressed dejectedly against the pane, looking down on the bright street, while he speculated drearily on what was going to happen to him.

Andromache’s slim brown fingers ran swiftly up and down the piano several times before a word was uttered. Photini watched them attentively, and then said, very graciously:

“That is much better. But your thumb is still too exposed, and you sway your body too much. You are not supposed to play from the waist. You must give another week to scales, and then we’ll see about exercises.”

Andromache rose, and said her brother was waiting downstairs for her. Rudolph looked round at the sound of her voice, and thought her prettier than before.

“Why, Mademoiselle Veritassi would seem plain beside her,” he said to himself, but his fastidious eyes,[Pg 100] running over her dress found it common and ill-cut.

The March-violet eyes rested a moment on his, and were lovely indeed by charm of dewy freshness and girlish timidity. Andromache blushed to the roots of her hair, and the blush was reflected on the young man’s face.

In her nervous tremour she dropped one of her gloves, which he hastened to pick up, and when he handed it to her, they exchanged another glance of mutual admiration, and blushed again more eloquently than before. This short pantomime of two susceptible young creatures was unheeded by Photini, who was tranquilly lighting a cigarette, and when Andromache with a low inclusive bow and a soft “Καλἡ μἑγχ σας,” departed, Rudolph stood in silence at the window to catch a glimpse of her down the street. He saw her cross in the direction of the Academy with a tall military man, in whose black uniform and crimson velvet collar, he recognized an artillery officer. For some foolish undefined reason he rejoiced in this evidence of respectability in her brother.

“My dear child,” Photini began, when they were alone, “you made a fool of yourself a moment ago. It is possible folly is your normal condition,—I believe it is so with men of your stamp, but there are degrees, and you passed the limitations when you made a very uncomplimentary and absurd declaration to me just now.”

She paused to continue smoking. Rudolph breathed a sigh of relief to find he was not taken seriously, and felt himself a cad for that very reason. What right has a man to trifle with such emotions, and then rejoice[Pg 101] that he is not taken seriously? Such inconsequence is surely unworthy a gentleman. He stared at her humbly and imploringly.

“See the advantages of smoking! One can hold one’s tongue,” Photini went on, serenely. “And now, please remember that I am an ugly woman of thirty-five, and you a handsome boy of twenty-one. I am old in evil knowledge, you still in the shade of innocence, a very pleasing shade as long as young men can be got to remain in it. You are an aristocrat, and I am a woman of the people. You perceive, Ehrenstein, that we have nothing in common, and now, go about your business. I have had more than enough of you.”

“Photini,” he protested, touched by her brusque magnanimity, “I have perhaps failed as a gentleman, but it is true, I can’t help loving you, though I admit that nothing but sorrow can come of such love.”

“No, you don’t love me, you love my music. In heaven’s name, don’t make a fool of yourself,” she roared.

“But don’t you want me to come again, Photini?”

“No, I don’t. Why should I?”

“Is it possible to care for me a little?” he asked, sulkily.

“You silly jackanapes! Why do you imagine I care for you?”

“Because you kissed me,” Rudolph jerked out boldly.

“And what if I did? There, I’ll kiss you again, and swear I don’t care a rap for you,” she cried, half-laughing, and gathering his head into her hands, she kissed his lips repeatedly. “Now be off, and don’t let[Pg 102] me see you come whimpering or stamping about this neighbourhood again.”

She pushed him firmly out of the room, and ferociously slammed the door after him. When she was alone, she flung up her arms spasmodically, and cried:—

“Ouf! the fool! I’ve saved him, and I believe he is grateful to me. Poor Photini! You ugly, forsaken old soul, to love a yellow-headed boy at your time of life, with nothing in the world to recommend him, not even his stupid yellow head.” With that she poured herself out a generous glass of brandy, and drank it off at a draught.

Poor Photini!

That afternoon Ehrenstein met the Greek poet in Stadion Street, and they turned and walked together towards Constitution Square, where they sat down at one of the numerous tables outside the Cafés and drank black coffee. Captain Miltiades passed, looking more military and more fierce than ever, twirling a ferocious moustache and roving a killing dark blue eye in search of feminine victims. He stopped to exchange a few words with the Greek poet, and was introduced to Rudolph.

“Has he not a very pretty sister who is taking lessons from Mademoiselle Natzelhuber?” Rudolph asked, afterwards.

“Who? Karapolos? I never heard of a sister. I always thought he was an antique orphan. No one knows where he lives. He is the most abominable fraud in Athens,—a kind of military clown, but a brave soldier for all that, in spite of his blagues.”

[Pg 103]


It was a mystery to the Karapolos how Madame Jarovisky had discovered the existence of Andromache. It was customary for her to invite the glorious and elegant warrior, with whom she had formed pleasing relations at the Palace entertainments. Besides, Hadji Adam, the King’s aide-de-camp and the very particular friend of Captain Miltiades, generally stipulated that his heroic comrade should have the right of entrance into all the distinguished houses of Athens. But even Hadji Adam knew nothing about his family, and how did it come that the Desposine Andromache Karapolos received a card of invitation for Madame Jarovisky’s great ball given in honour of an English Cabinet Minister? Julia the elder was not invited, nor was little Themistocles, the bank clerk. Another remarkable circumstance was the lateness of the invitation. It came on the eve of the ball. Andromache’s mother and Julia were strongly of opinion that no notice should be taken of an attention conveyed with such strange discourtesy. They did not know Madame Jarovisky, and no chaperon had been invited to accompany the younger Miss Karapolos. But Andromache was wild with desire to go. She had often glanced in marvelling admiration[Pg 104] at the Jarovisky palace of marble and statues and colonnades, though she was virtuous enough to lower her eyes before the undraped statues of the terrace which she regarded as scandalous. And now that the chance of entering its bronzed gates and seeing the glories of its interior was presented to her, she was passionately resolved to go. Miltiades was fond of Andromache, and was easily persuaded into seconding her resolution. The head of the house is chaperon enough for any girl, he explained to his weak mother, and it was probably through Mademoiselle Natzelhuber that Madame Jarovisky had learned of Andromache’s existence, which accounted for the lateness of the invitation.

So it was decided that Andromache should go. The excitement put Maria into a good humour, and she was heard to sing, while starching and ironing white petticoats, the Captain’s evening shirt and lace bodices. A little dressmaker was hired for the day, who at breakfast sat opposite the warlike Miltiades, and blushed when Themistocles filled her glass with wine. Everyone laughed and spoke together at table, except the dressmaker and Themistocles, who regarded it as a personal slight that he had not been included in the invitation, and this insult added to the thought of the forbidden paradise in the next street, more than ever convinced him that there was nothing for him but to emigrate to England. After breakfast, instead of showing himself upon Constitution Square, he retired into his own room, and his violin dismally expressed his dissatisfaction in asthmatic strains supposed to be Schubert’s.

[Pg 105]

Then what running about for the women, what screaming of reiterated explanations, hysterical adjurations, differences of opinion as to the looping of a flounce, the draping of a fold, the selection of a ribbon or a flower! Maria was, of course, president of the house-parliament; though her vision was frequently impeded by the tangled locks of hair she found it so difficult to keep out of her black eyes. But the warmest discussion has its end, and all longed-for hours eventually arrive. When Themistocles arrived for dinner, he found he was the only person insufficiently nourished upon the day’s excitement. Theodore ministered to his wants, while all the women were in the girls’ chamber robing Andromache.

Very pretty she looked when dressed in cream muslin striped with silk,—an exquisitely soft and dainty texture made at the Ergasterion of Athens—trimmed with bows of crimson ribbon and charming Greek lace. Her costume was inexpensive, and looked home-made, but its very guilelessness was an effective setting to her extreme youth and simplicity. A Greek girl, whatever her deficiencies, is never awkward or vulgar, and the only suggestion Miltiades could offer in the way of improvement, when he examined her critically, was the brushing off of some of the powder which marred the fine olive of her face. Miltiades himself was resplendent in his full-dress uniform, his grande tenue. More than ever did he resemble the mythical slaughterer of those five thousand wretched Turks; and such smiling and satisfied glory as his was calculated to depress and fill with alarm the breast of the Sultan himself.

Andromache was muffled in a woollen shawl, and[Pg 106] taking the arm of her gallant escort, they went out into the cold blue air. They walked gingerly down the slanting and unpaved street, dreading to splash their evening shoes in the running streams over which they were obliged to jump every time a fresh street broke theirs horizontally. When they reached the even pavement of University Street, behind Hansen’s lovely marble Academy, outlined sharply against the pure dark sky above the perfumed patch of foliage and flowers between it and the University, their footsteps rang out with a loud echo, Andromache’s high heels tapping the stones aggressively. Already a line of carriages was drawn up outside the Jarovisky’s palace. It was the largest ball given at Athens for years. Every one who was not in mourning was there, and most people who were.

Dr. and Madame Jarovisky received their guests at the head of the chill and magnificent hall. When Miltiades appeared, Dr. Jarovisky shook his hand most cordially and asked after his wife and children, shook hands with Andromache, and remarked that he never saw her looking so well, and was delighted to renew his acquaintance with her. Miltiades telegraphed her a glance of warning against any expression of surprise, and explained to her afterwards that Dr. Jarovisky never remembered any of his guests. Madame Jarovisky feebly expressed the pleasure it gave her to see Miss Andromache Karapolos, and hoped she would enjoy herself.

The rooms were crowded, but in spite of heavy perfumes and laughter and light, they were freezingly cold, built as they were of marble, with porphyry pillars and[Pg 107] mosaic floors. Andromache shivered a little, and looked anxiously around while her brother twirled his moustache, and beamed a fatuous smile upon the groups he swiftly scanned.

“See, Miltiades, there is Hadji Adam flirting with Madame von Hohenfels. How handsome he is! and how distinguished she.”

“Madame von Hohenfels is what the French call grande dame. I was introduced to her nephew yesterday. He is a very pretty fellow. I daresay he is somewhere about.”

They entered another room, and here Andromache’s quick glance singled out a noticeable group of laughing and chattering young persons. Mademoiselle Eméraude Veritassi, beautifully arrayed in costly glory from Worth, was its centre, and round her hovered or buzzed like bees, Miss Mary and Master John Perpignani, Agiropoulos, the Greek poet, the young ladies of the American Legation, Ehrenstein and Vincent Mowbray Thomas. At that moment Rudolph happened to look round and met the March-violet eyes, bewitching in the eloquent delight of recognition. She blushed prettily, and an answering blush asserted sympathy on his boyish face. He broke away from the gay crowd, and saluted Captain Karapolos with insinuating cordiality.

If there is a thing the Greek has, at all hours, and in all places, at the disposal of his fellow-man, it is his hand. He shakes hands at every possible pretext, or he embraces. How he would express himself if that method of greeting were suddenly suppressed by act of Parliament, it is not for me to say, but I imagine he[Pg 108] would pay a fine rather than forego the habit. Miltiades, after a jaunty military salute, of which he was equally profuse, held out a white-gloved hand, and then stood with the other gracefully reposing on his hip to discourse to Rudolph in unintelligible French.

“Vous êtes bien, Monsieur,” he began cheerfully.

“Mais oui,” responded Rudolph, smiling at Andromache to whom he bowed deferentially. “Est-ce que vous voudriez bien me presenter à Mademoiselle votre sœur?”

“Monsieur Rudolph Ehrenstein; Andromache—ma sœur,” said Karapolos, with a flourish, and then discovered that he had come to an end of his French. He smiled largely, and his teeth and handsome eyes, so like his sister’s, did duty for speech.

And while he was ogling Miss Mary Perpignani, to whose satisfactory dowry he aspired, audacious Rudolph had asked and obtained Andromache’s first quadrille, and furthermore secured her for the cotillon, which, of course, Miltiades would conduct according to custom.

“Vous me ferez l’honneur, Monsieur, de me confier Mademoiselle votre sœur?” Rudolph asked.

“Certainement,” assented Karapolos, delighted at the unexpected remembrance of a new word. “Je—je, comment—tell him, Andromache, I want to dance myself,” he burst out in Greek.

Andromache translated his wish, and as she spoke, with an expression of shy and charming deprecation, dark and light blue eyes held each other in fascinated gaze. Rudolph’s heart, as fresh and innocent as hers, began to comport itself in a very irregular fashion, and his frame thrilled under a sense of exquisite emotion.[Pg 109] Her French was a little halting, and he was obliged to choose the easiest words for her, but how pleasant it was to hear her speak? The dancers were taking their places for the first quadrille, and Rudolph offered Andromache his arm. He reddened with pleasure when he looked down and saw her little hand in a white silk glove on his coat sleeve. From that moment he thought silk much prettier than Suède or kid. There was something birdlike and irresponsible in the awakening passion of these two young creatures. Neither dreamed of struggling against it or of consequences, but simply fluttered towards each other with lovely glances of sympathy and candid admiration.

The Baroness von Hohenfels, talking to the Right Honourable Samuel Warren, M. P., raised her gold face à main to scrutinise the dancers casually, and saw her nephew with his dowdy and much too pretty partner. She frowned a little, noting how completely absorbed he was and on what an intimate footing the young pair already appeared to be, and looked round in search of Mademoiselle Veritassi, whom she saw dancing with the amiable Agiropoulos. She beckoned imperiously to her husband, who obediently left the side of the English Minister’s wife, and courteously begged to be enlightened as to the cause of her signal.

“Who is that girl Rudolph is dancing with?”

“You surely don’t expect to find me posted up in the names and parentage of all the young ladies of Athens?” laughed the easy baron, looking round.

“Have you eyes in your head? Can’t you see that they are flirting?” protested the baroness.

“He certainly is greatly taken up with her. I fear, my[Pg 110] dear, instead of being the muff I believed him, your nephew is an inveterate flirt. But I’ll inquire about her.”

The baron went back to Mrs. Mowbray Thomas, and the popular poet passing, the baroness touched his arm with her fan, and smiled him an arch invitation.

“M. Michaelopoulos,” she asked, taking his arm, “you know everybody in Athens, don’t you?”

The poet modestly deprecated any such pretension.

“Well, at least you can tell me who that exceedingly attractive young lady is my nephew is dancing with.”

The poet glanced down the room and singled out the couple.

It was impossible for the dullest observer to mistake the language of eyes that constantly dwelt on each other, and the foolish alacrity with which their hands met and clasped in the decorous dance.

“To my eternal desolation, Madame la Baronne, I must admit my ignorance. The young lady is, as you observe, charming—a little provincial, perhaps, clearly not of our world, but charming, very charming. I entreat you, Madame, to note the naïveté and candour of her—how shall we name it? entrainement? the first pressure of the dangerous influence upon tranquil maidenly pulses.”

“Confine yourself to prose, my friend, for the moment, and if you obey me, discover for me her parentage, position, etc.”

“Madame has to command, and I fly to obey her. I conjecture Monsieur Ehrenstein’s latest flame to be a little impossible Athenian, living the Gods know where and how.”

[Pg 111]

“Latest?” cried the baroness, with a look of displeased inquiry.

“Ah! it is to see that Madame’s great mind soars in the empyrean of diplomatic considerations or upon ground more ethereal still. Her delicate ears do not catch an echo of the vulgar gossip upon which grosser ears are fed.”

“I have requested you, M. Michaelopoulos, to discourse to me in prose. What is the vulgar gossip you refer to?”

The poet looked chill, and said, with brutal directness:

“My faith! Madame, your interesting nephew is thought to be the lover of that dainty morsel of womanhood, the Natzelhuber.”

Madame von Hohenfels frowned, and then laughed.

“You forget, Rudolph is noble.”

“I have not remarked that nobility is specially fastidious in such matters. Women! Well, that is frankly a department in which there is no accounting for tastes, and good blood shows as pretty an eccentricity as any other.”

The English statesman was approaching, and the poet walked away with an expression of countenance clearly indicating an intention to remember the baroness’s snub. The dance was over, and in the pause which ensued, Madame Jarovisky, mindful of Rudolph’s information that Andromache was a very promising pupil of Mademoiselle Natzelhuber, politely requested her to favour the company with a specimen of her powers.

“Your mistress has not yet arrived,” she added by way of encouragement, “and you can take advantage of her absence.”

[Pg 112]

Rudolph warmly seconded Madame Jarovisky, and thus flatteringly besought, Andromache suffered herself to be led by the young Austrian to the grand piano. At first she was terribly nervous, and the notes faltered and shook unsteadily beneath her fingers, but discovering that small attention was really paid to her, and drinking in courage and nerve from Rudolph’s pleasant glances of admiration, she gradually acquired a firmer touch, and played fairly well, with brilliancy and just expression, a dance of Rubinstein’s. She was more than half-way through her performance, when a whisper ran through the rooms:—“The Natzelhuber!”

The Cabinet Minister immediately adjusted his eyeglass, and held his sharp, heaven-aspiring nose in a beatific pose that denoted an expectation of diversion. Madame von Hohenfels smiled blandly, well pleased that somebody else should have the onerous charge and torture of entertaining the great woman. Photini was marshalled fussily up the room by anxious little Dr. Jarovisky, himself a blaze of medals and decorations, while his wife advanced with an air of pathetic deprecation and prayer, as if by such feeble weapons the thunder of this female Jove might best be averted. Phontini did not meet her hand, but just glanced at her in calm disdain, and nodded a serene, impersonal and inclusive gaze around, walked to a distant mantelpiece and placidly took her stand there.

“Who is that playing?” she asked of Dr. Jarovisky.

“Really, Mademoiselle, I—I—but wait, I will ask my wife,” the doctor hastened to say, and in his hurry to satisfy the inexorable artist, stumbled over a half dozen chairs and guests before he reached his perturbed wife.

[Pg 113]

“Calliope, she wants to know who is playing?”

“A pupil of hers—Andromache Karapolos,” said Calliope.

Dr. Jarovisky stumbled back in the same awkward and nervous fashion, and said, excitedly:

“You will be charmed, I am sure, Mademoiselle, to learn that the young lady who is delighting us all is a pupil of yours.”

“A pupil of mine, sir?” interrogated Photini, imperiously.

“Mais, oui, ja, ja, Ναἱ,” cried Dr. Jarovisky, in his fright exploding into a multiplicity of tongues. “A Desposine Andromache Karapolos,” and he smiled pleadingly.

“Oh, indeed,” said Photini, with that desperate calm of hers that invariably preluded a thunderstorm.

She rose, and followed by her shaken host, walked slowly down the room with the face of a sphinx. When she came near the piano, Rudolph looked up, saw her, bowed and smiled in anxious conciliation. She neither returned his bow nor his smile, but came behind Andromache, and deliberately dealt that inoffensive maiden a sound box on the ear.

“May I ask who gave you leave to murder Rubinstein for the benefit of a lot of idiots worse than yourself?” she cried.

Pressing her palm to the outraged cheek, now crimson from the blow, Andromache turned round with a face held between indignation and shocked fear. Her tongue refused to give voice to the piteous words that rushed to it, and tears of wounded pride and shame drowned the March violets.

[Pg 114]

“C’est trop fort, Mademoiselle,” Rudolph exclaimed, with a flame of masterful passion in his eyes.

“Vraiment?” retorted Photini, coolly. “Occupez-vous de vos affaires, Monsieur, et laissez les miennes,” and the utter vileness of her accent seriously imperilled the dignity of her speech and deportment. “As for you,” she continued in Greek, turning to Andromache, “you will be so good as to leave Rubinstein, Ehrenstein and every other ’stein alone, and content yourself with scales and exercises for the next year.”

In spite of her cruel and inadmissible behaviour, it was impossible not to feel some sympathy with the just anger of a severe and conscientious artist, though one naturally wished it had sought a less explosive outlet; and it was equally impossible not to recognise that such severity, in more measured and human form, is very salutary for the inefficient and abnormally rash young amateur. But of course all direct sympathy was for the moment concentrated on poor Andromache. Rudolph followed her, looking like a quarrelsome knight, as he stood guard over insulted girlhood, until her brother rushed forward to carry her home; and swore to himself, with petulant emphasis, that never again would he address a word of civility to the woman he mentally apostrophised as a monster and a fiend.

“Ne pleurez pas, Mademoiselle,” he cried, feverishly. “C’est qui doit avoir honte. Pour vous, vous devez la mepriser. Dieu sait si vous en avez le droit.”

“Laissez-moi, Monsieur. Je ne puis rien dire,” said Andromache in a choking voice, and seeing Miltiades coming towards her with a furious stride and the kind of look he must have worn when he sent those five[Pg 115] thousand Turks to Paradise, she rushed to him and gathered her fingers round his arm convulsively. But a warrior and hero like Miltiades could not expect to appreciate the dignity of a pacific departure. With his sister upon his arm he walked to the spot where Photini was seated, listening to the bantering expostulations of Agiropoulos leaning over the back of her chair. She looked impassively at the angry face of the captain, then at the shamed and drooping head of Andromache, but said nothing.

“Mademoiselle Photini Natzelhuber,” said Miltiades, with a curt bow, “I have the honour to announce to you that my sister will in future discontinue her music lessons.”

“And what difference do you think that will make to me?” retorted Photini. “It will be her loss.”

“If you were a man I should know how to deal with you. But as you are only a woman, I can but despise you.”

“If it gives you any satisfaction, I am happy to have afforded you the occasion.”

With this little passage of arms, in which Miltiades may be said to have come off second best, the Captain and his sister retreated, proudly stopping to receive the apologies of Madame and Dr. Jarovisky, and left the field to the enemy.

“A very curious scene indeed,” remarked the Right Honourable Samuel Warren, M. P., to Mrs. Mowbray Thomas. “It is most refreshing to obtain these picturesque glimpses of foreign manners.”

“They’ll have to drop asking that woman into society,” said the English Ambassador. “She is downright dangerous. I never heard of such a thing in my life—striking [Pg 116]a pretty, inoffensive girl in a drawing-room.”

“We are perhaps a little insular and restricted, and our drawing-room life is insufficiently supplied with excitement and surprise,” rejoined the Cabinet Minister.

It was some time before the guests fell into the ordinary social groove. Whether they danced, or chatted, or walked about, they managed to keep a careful and apprehensive eye upon the artist who had so unexpectedly upset the universal equilibrium. But Photini tranquilly ate the ice Agiropoulos brought her, indifferent to the general gaze fixed thus upon her, called for a glass of cognac, and then, with a look of bland defiance at Rudolph, who stood leaning sulkily against the wall, announced her intention of playing once only, and then taking her departure. Rudolph neither heeded the purport of her movement nor the direct challenge of her amber glance. His thoughts were away with Andromache, telling him that she was prettier and sweeter than any one in these crowded rooms, wondering if she were crying, and resolving to meet her brother somewhere the next day and to obtain permission to call on her. Photini he simply loathed.

But ah! good heavens, what a horrible test of his hatred! There was that tantalising witch actually playing at him the fatal irresistible “Mélodiés Hongroises.” He closed his eyes, not to be tempted to look at her with softened emotion; steeled his heart against her that it should not melt upon such sound; but he did not shut his ears. And when their eyes met perforce, there was no longer anger in his, and there was triumph in hers.

[Pg 117]


Dr. Selaka was a proud and hopeful man on the morning he saw Gustav Reineke depart for Syra, in charge of the amiable captain of the Sphacteria. On his return from the Piræus, where he had bidden him farewell, he bethought himself of the duty of inquiring into the identity of this mysterious personage. He consulted Dr. Galenides, who in turn consulted the German Consul and was referred then to the Baron von Hohenfels. Herr Gustav Reineke was vaguely known upon learned repute, but of his antecedents, parentage, means, and social and domestic condition, no information could be accurately obtained. Assertion was winged upon surmise, a very untenable resource with foreigners. There might be a Frau Reineke and a domestic circle in the background, and there might not. Of shadier relations no note was taken. In olden days, we know, science went hand in hand with sharp poverty—clearly an undesirable sequel to Inarime’s protected girlhood. With such a possibility ahead, Dr. Selaka recognised the rashness of arresting the eye of hope upon this particular marriage, despite the depressing reflection that his maniacal brother would infinitely prefer to support an archæological son-in-law, than see Inarime gracefully[Pg 118] enthroned above Athenian matrons, a jewel in solid, unlearned gold.

“Stavros is right. Better have the girl up to Athens, and play her beauty upon the susceptibilities of our friend Mingros.” But it was a minor question. His attention was engrossed by parliamentary strife and the coming election. This was but the preliminary of ministerial glory. Place him upon the tribune, Hellas would shake with the thunder of his voice, and Europe hold down her abashed head in the face of a violated Treaty of Berlin, and an unenlarged Greek frontier. He mentally apostrophised Europe, and fell to speaking of himself, and gesticulating wildly, as he walked from the station in Hermes Street to inspect the new house he was building close to the Queen’s Hospital. The work was progressing fairly, and as he made a bid for luck by sacrificing a cock before the first stone was laid, he felt healthily free from apprehensions of any sort. Dr. Galenides was coming out of the Hospital as he turned to go, and the friends stopped to discuss the situation.

“Stavros grows more irrepressible,” said Dr. Galenides, with a curious smile. “He wields his pen not as a sword but as a whip to lash us all, friends and enemies.”

“All bluster. He likes to be thought volcanic,” laughed Selaka, easily.

“Perhaps he has no objection to a reputation a trifle more serious,” Galenides suggested, with a look ostensibly blank.

Dr. Selaka glanced sharply round at him.

“Do you distrust him?”

[Pg 119]

“It is a wise saying—trust nobody. We are all liable to change.”

“What change do you foresee in Stavros?”

“A change you will hardly appreciate,” Dr. Galenides replied, shutting up his lips with a secretive air.


“Well, well, report speaks queerly at times. Had you been wise, you would have hesitated to compromise yourself upon pressure of his. But it is customary for monarchs to yield to the blandishments of their ministers. This understanding is the basis of the throne. Yours, my friend, is not stable.”

“You forget that I am a monarch of a realm that knows neither ministry nor change. By the way, I sent that young man off to Tenos to-day.”

“That’s another bold stroke. You are too fond of random shots. Beware of bringing down the wrong bird.”

Selaka flushed darkly, and frowned in a threatening manner.

“You have the merit of making yourself understood.”

“I always endeavour to do so, Constantine. Good-bye, before we quarrel. Come and dine with me this evening.”

The doctors shook hands perfunctorily. Selaka was profoundly troubled by these hints against the political constancy of his friend and adviser. He had sagacity enough to believe that Galenides would not speak without some justification for his doubts. It was widely known that Galenides was in the confidence of the Minister. Zeus! Could Oïdas have bought him over?

He kept a keen lookout for any casual evidence of[Pg 120] disloyalty or coldness. For some days depression lay heavily on his spirits, and a telegram from Pericles announcing the safe arrival of the stranger, only temporarily lifted the gloom.

The week was spent in canvassing on his own account, and everywhere he met with proofs of his follower’s remissness on his behalf. He taxed Stavros with faithlessness, and his chequered feelings were promptly whipped back into confidence by the other’s cordiality and grave assurance.—He desert a friend! Might the soul of his father appear to him that night, and announce eternal perdition to him, if he could be guilty of such meanness! Might hell’s flames encompass him, and the remainder of his days be in shadow! He thumped his chest violently, showed by a crimson cheek the wound upon his honour, and the flame of resentment was in his tawny eyes.

Dr. Selaka was convinced, and apologised. Remorse held his glance averted from that of his wronged friend, so gave the other an opportunity for looking slyly sideways at him, and pursing his lips forward to strangle the perfidious smile about them.

In that evening’s edition of the “New Aristophanes,” there was a sensational announcement that the editor ardently desired to explain to the Athenians the motives of a change of policy, and he considerately gave them rendez-vous on the following Sunday afternoon at the Odeon in Minerva Street.

Selaka was alarmed to the verge of unreason, and found no comfort in an enthusiastic letter received that morning from Pericles, expressing complete satisfaction with Reineke, and his conviction that he was in every[Pg 121] way worthy of Inarime. Is it human to be interested in the marriage of a niece when signs of storm are visible upon the political horizon? But it was still possible that a change of policy in Stavros meant no defection upon the question of the mayoralty. All he craved was the lawyer’s help to that post of civic honour, and in parliamentary matters he was free as a weathercock.

There was something so irresistibly comic and original in the audacious proposal of Stavros, that hardly a male in the town failed to put in an appearance at the Odeon. The siesta was cut short, and at half-past three numbers of black-coated civilians were crossing the Platea Omonia, where the afternoon band was playing in front of the Café Charamis. All the tables were speedily vacated, with empty coffee cups to speak of the unwonted evasion. The band went on playing to the nurses and babies, over whom a soldier or two mounted guard.

The Odeon was crowded, and many had to content themselves with being packed closely in the passage, whence a second-hand knowledge of the proceedings could be obtained.

Agiropoulos, always on the alert for surprise and excitement, was there, chatting audibly with the glorious Miltiades. The poet looked on with a casual, contemptuous glance, which clearly expressed his opinion that these Athenians were so very provincial and absurd.

“Absurd? Yes,” ejaculated Agiropoulos, aggressively scanning the assembly through his eyeglass. “That completes their interest.”

[Pg 122]

“By the soul of Hercules! that fellow they call the King of Tenos is monstrous,” muttered the poet.

“Because he presents the front of a credulous Greek?”

“Because he is a damned idiot.”

Here their flattering comments were interrupted by the appearance of Stavros upon the stage. There was lively promise of what the French would call “une séance à sensation,” and all eyes were fastened curiously upon the lawyer and recreant politician. As for his views, we will not indicate them, nor attempt to reproduce his words. The evolution he attempted to accomplish and gracefully explain might fitly be described less delicately upon non-political ground, but the atmosphere is everything.

Stavros was tightly buttoned in a frock coat, as became a legal deputy. A semi-humorous, wholly false smile ran along his lips, and his audacious eyes twinkled pleasantly with appreciation of his difficulties. He saw Selaka, and he nodded deprecatingly, his smile growing sweet and unsteady. And then, with a preparatory sentence or two, he launched out on the sea of empty eloquence. He glided fluently over trivialities, and lost his listeners in a fog of vague ideas, stringing grandiose expressions with an abominable readiness, until weariness sat upon the spirit of sense and begat regret for the wisdom of silence. Alas! this is a wisdom the modern races are unwilling to acquire. The wordy eloquence of the parliamentarian delights depraved taste here as elsewhere, and as long as Stavros talked grandly of Europe, the Treaty of Berlin, the enlargement of the Greek frontier, the future grasp of Constantinople, he was quite able to drown his own[Pg 123] particular villainy with these sprays of aspiration. Some might think him untrue to his political principles, but, after all, what principles could any honest politician have but the good of his country? It had been clearly demonstrated to him that his dear particular friend, Dr. Selaka, the distinguished member for Tenos, was an unfit candidate for the Mayoralty, and that the election of Kyrios Oïdas would redound to the honour and glory of Athens.

“How much has he paid you?” Selaka roared, jumping to his feet, and glaring at the orator.

“Come, Stavros, name the sum,” was shouted from the body of the hall.

Stavros reddened faintly, but he faced the insult with an imperturbable air, dismissing it in disdainful silence. He maundered on, outrageously displaying his conviction that men will swallow any amount of nonsense from a public speaker. His speech was largely interspersed with such sounding and significant words as “patriotism,” and “liberty,” the glory of Greece, duty to his constituents, and the good of Athens, and wound up by protesting that the eye of Europe was anxiously fixed upon the coming election, and it behoved the Athenians to stand upon their honour.

This farrago was followed by loud applause, and Agiropoulos and the poet forced their way out of the hall to enjoy a hearty laugh. Agiropoulos was satirical, and drew a moving picture of Europe trembling upon the issue of the contest between Oïdas and Stavros. The poet turned it into rough verse, and both exploded again in roars of appreciative mirth.

“All the same, he is a villain, that Stavros.”

[Pg 124]

“A very clever fellow,” protested Agiropoulos, “and noticeably for sale. I don’t blame a man for making the best of his vices and gilding them for exposure.”

Selaka was coming out, in voluble altercation with the great Miltiades. The captain looked majestically indignant, and frowned with dreadful purpose. The Deputy shook his fist back towards the hall, thundered, vociferated, and clamored frantically for vengeance.

“There is nothing for it, my friend, but a duel,” the captain insisted. “You must fight him, positively.”

“I will fight him, yes. I, Constantine Selaka, will mangle, murder, shoot him.”

This wrench of wounded trust was more than the wretched man could bear. Agiropoulos took malicious interest in his raving and ranting. He drew near and, by a sympathetic remark, put a point upon his victim’s sufferings.

“By Zeus! I’ll shoot him, I will. I’ll riddle him with balls, and leave his carcase food for the ravens.”

“A very laudable intention on your part, Kyrie Selaka, and one that every reasonable man will appreciate,” said Agiropoulos, winking at the poet.

“I have urged him to it,” Miltiades explained, heroically. “I am proud to place myself in this delicate matter at the service of Dr. Selaka.”

“It is an honour to know a gallant man and a hero like you, Captain Karapolos,” Agiropoulos rejoined gravely.

Miltiades touched his hat and bowed. His expression eloquently said: “If it’s gallantry and heroism you’re in search of, you’ve come to the right person.”

The distraught doctor, walking between his friends,[Pg 125] uttered many a rash word, and no suggestion less than murder could appease his wrath. That evening it was bruited round Athens that he had sent a challenge to Stavros, and the town impatiently awaited the exciting results.

Oïdas acted as second to Stavros. When the hour was fixed, he found his principal plunged in the depths of despair. The lawyer and editor had a very good notion of settling a quarrel with the pen and the tongue, but when it came to a question of loaded pistols, capacity oozed out through his finger-tips, and the sweat of mortal terror drenched his brow.

“If the thing should not go off properly?” he suggested.

“Just hold it straight, and sight your target—like this,” Oïdas explained, lifting the weapon.

“Oh, oh! take care, Oïdas. Mind it doesn’t go off,” Stavros supplicated, making a rush for the door.

“You fool! It is not even loaded.”

Stavros sat up all night to write miserable letters to his mother and sisters at Constantinople, and heaped curses on the head of his frantic enemy. The doctor fared hardly better. Deprived of the stimulating society of his military friend, his spirits sank, his mind became unhinged, and his aspect took a funereal hue. He sent an incoherent missive to Pericles, and lay on his bed weeping and moaning. When Miltiades and Agiropoulos aroused him next morning, his eyelids were appalling to behold, and his effort at cheerfulness most ghastly.

“A soldier never anticipates evil; is that not so, my brave Captain?” laughed Agiropoulos.

“Could not this matter be more pacifically arranged?”[Pg 126] Selaka implored, vainly endeavoring to conceal his fear in the mask of humanity. “It is a sinful thing, my friends, to waste the blood of one’s fellow in a private quarrel.”

“If it comes to that,” said the ready Agiropoulos, “there is little to choose between public and private quarrels. Indeed, more often than not, wars have sprung from personal differences.”

“But the law of every civilised country forbids duelling. Stavros and I are both lawgivers—that is, we represent the Constitution, and are bound to uphold it. It would be monstrous for two members of Parliament to break the law,” pleaded Selaka, covering himself with a last poor remnant of virtue.

“We make the laws for others, never for ourselves. Hang it, man, what’s liberty if it can’t provide us with a backstairs to the Temple of Wrong, and can’t supply us with decent excuses for the evasion of principles?”

“There is an abominable looseness in yours,” remarked Selaka, in a doleful attempt at indignation.

“Come, Doctor,” Miltiades cried, clanking his spurs impatiently. “Whatever the laws of the State may be, the laws of honour demand that neither antagonist be a moment behind time. I have the pistols. Be so good as to hurry your movements.”

The doctor’s laggard air suggested the gathering of scattered limbs, and the necessity for adjusting them before a march could be effected. He looked ruefully at the impassible Agiropoulos, and resented his impertinent eyeglass and his irreproachable toilet. He looked at the stern and gallant captain, wavered, and fresh words of protest died in his throat.

[Pg 127]

“There is no fear of our being discovered and the affair stopped?” he asked, in the tone of one to whom such a contingency would appear the worst possible catastrophe.

“Oh, none whatever,” Miltiades replied, reassuringly.

“Oh!” ejaculated Selaka, with his heart in his boots.

Through a similar hour of agony Stavros had passed, and awaited them with a poor imitation of stoic bearing.

“If anything happens, don’t forget to send this letter to my brother,” Selaka entreated, as he tremblingly took the pistol from Miltiades.

“God have mercy on my soul,” he murmured, firing with closed eyes, and shot—not his enemy but himself.

[Pg 128]


Like a roseate jewel in a circle of sapphire, with opal and mauve and purple lights struck from it by the sun’s rays, lies Tenos upon the deep and variable bosom of the Ægean waters. The Greek islands seen from the sea are untiringly, unspeakably beautiful. Shadow and shine, delicate hues and strong ones melt into an inextricable haze, as do the sensations of the spectator, incapable of analysis as he watches them. Energy oozes out through the finger-tips, the pulses quiet in lazy delight, and the eye is filled for once with seeing. But the heart is tranquil, unutterably content, and of speech there is no need. Here at last is forgetfulness of sorrow and unrest. Here is the Eastern sage’s dream realised, out of the reach of the envenomed shafts of Fate,—floating indolently on a just stirred field of liquid blue, all land and sky and water is a harmonious blending of the purest tints. An infinitude of azure melts by tranquil degrees into milk-white; a flame as bright as the heart of a pomegranate and blinding as unshaded carmine, steals insidiously into the mountains of mauve, and changes them to pink.

But it is only when your barque draws nigh the sleepy little hollow of a very sleepy little town, that[Pg 129] you are shaken out of your exquisite dream of Paradise. You see the harsh subdued contrast of the white houses and their green jalousies, looking as if they had fallen asleep in the Middle Ages, and nobody had remembered to awake them since,—a break of dim barbaric life upon a background of desolate rocks and empty mountain sides. Tenos is certainly not Paradise. It has a little pier, and is a perfect maze of misshapen arches, and filthy lanes, calculated to make the least fastidious stranger shudder in mingled fear and disgust. There are unsavoury little cafés, outside which, at all hours of the day, uncouth men, in dirty costumes, sit drinking and smoking narghiles, which the café-clods carry from one to the other with the long tubes between their lips, and then pass it to the lips of their customers, who are vivaciously, and in passionate earnest, discussing the affairs of Europe, while Providence and the womenfolk are equal partners in the care of their own.

But the town, as you skirt the lanes and arches that crowd down upon the sea-line, has a charm exclusively its own. The tiny streets, when they are paved, are paved with marble; and the houses on either side have a cheerful conversational way of reaching across to shake hands and exchange other amenities. An occasional palm tree lifts itself up against the pure sky, as do the sails of wind mills, circled like monster spiders webs. There is music in the trickling descent of the mountain rills flowing over the marble and silver stones, in and out of which the lizards, quick with life and the joy of the sunshine, are ever coming and going. Then there is that singular construction, the great shrine and pilgrimage of the Virgin of the East, a marble building[Pg 130] containing an expansive courtyard, a square of cloisters and pilgrim-houses and a curious semi-Byzantine church, full of monstrous treasures in gold and silver. Over the little town it towers in glistening splendour, on the top of an inclined street, called “Virgin Street,” enframed in silver olives and stately palms, and elegantly paved outside and inside. The sloping way that runs from it right down to the sea, might be ground of shining snow; it is moss embroidered, and lit by the double geraniums that look like roses, and shaded by the gloomy cypress.

The isle of Tenos has pretensions of its own that it were idle for us to dispute. It is divided into sixty-two villages, some of which consist of three churches and four houses, and none show less than three churches for the accommodation of every dozen inhabitants. It will be satisfactory for the law-loving reader to learn that these villages are apportioned into four mayoralties, governed by one mayor and three justices of the peace, and that,—late crown of representative existence, until M. Tricoupis cruelly brought in a bill a year or two ago, which affiliated this “tight little island” with her near neighbour Andros,—it actually sent three members to Parliament, to look after its interests in King George’s Boulé at Athens. But all glory is evanescent. It has been proved by history that it is idle to place any trust in ministers or princes. Heaven knows why Tenos was shorn of her parliamentary splendour, but alas! what is to be expected of an economic minister, who prefers to consider the debts of Hellas rather than her greatness, and who rashly decided that the work left undone by three Members of Parliament may be[Pg 131] efficiently accomplished by one? The chief and most exasperating neglect of these late illustrious persons is the formation of roads. There is not a single road throughout the island, and only two level spots, the lovely plain of Kolymvithra, and a quarter of a mile round the great purple Castro, where once the Venetians held their seat of government, their solitary fortress towering over the ruined little town of Borgo. This oasis of pathway, in a desert of precipices and rocky altitudes, runs from the top of the episcopal village of Xinara to the Greek monastery in the village of San Francisco. It is unknown whether it is a remnant of Venetian civilisation or of Turkish barbarism. But it is quite certain that it is not the result of the crown of triple representatives Tenos until lately wore. For the rest of the time, the rider is conducted by an unmanageable mule, which indulges a lively weakness for the dizzy verge of a ravine, along which he phlegmatically picks his way. From almost perpendicular escarpments he drops into awful depths of rock and furze and nettle, to trail his anxious and unhappy burden through the musical bed of a torrent, and damage irretrievably a new pair of boots by forcing them into an inconvenient affinity with rough walls and jutting branches.

After a while, when the frame becomes physically inured to the sensational extremities of this kind of exercise, the traveller discovers that, however dreadful the eccentricities of his mule, the brute is very sure, if leisurely, and that though his position be invariably a discomposing ascent or descent, no harm to his head or his limbs will come of it. He gradually learns to[Pg 132] take his troubles philosophically, and look about him with perfect security. If it is evening, he will note the heavenliest sky, and watch the soft mist burn out the sapphire stealingly, while the strata of gold and rose fade to pink and pearly opal. He will delight in the contrast of marble mountain and purple thyme, cyclamens waving the meadows mauve, or poppies covering them in scarlet flakes, and the tall daisies white above the green like the foam of the sea, or anemones making a delicate haze upon the landscape. There will be patches of white heath over the hill curves, and poignant scents to stir the senses. And in and out of the twilit gray of the olives, the darkening glance and sparkle of the sea that is never out of sight,—now laughing through a network of fig branches, then through the stiff spikes of the cactus, or the graceful foliage of the plane, and white villages studding the orchards and gardens like jewels. Over all hangs a strange note of happy indifference, a rude naturalness that seeks no concealment and cares not for shadow, hymns the smiles of blue water and the glory of the sky; the sharp broad beauties of seashore and mountain and valley.

The people are as simple as their landscape. Their lives are spent in Arcadian ignorance and unaccomplished simplicity, as unconscious of the evils of destitution as of the temptation of wealth. They dislike work, and manage to shirk it, for every one owns a garden, a few fruit trees, a goat, a pig, and perhaps a donkey. Dirty in their persons, their houses are invitingly clean, and stand always open.

Leaving the pleasing altitudes of a general survey, the reader is invited to fix his gaze upon the little [Pg 133]village of Xinara. Two things strike the observer on entering its single street; the quantity of pigs and unwashed children, and the signs of desolation and pre-existence upon the blackened ruins in suggestive proximity with the comparatively new houses and cottages. Near bright flowers and trellised verandahs, stand broken walls with fig branches and weeds struggling through a dismantled window, and curious Venetian symbols and legends wrought in marble, now black with age and exposure, above the doors and windows that have long since served the pigeons as convenient shelter. With the pigs and poultry peeping through the wooden chinks, you see blocks of marble crusted with gold and silver stones scintillating like flashes of light. Beside a little glaring church, jaunty in its hideousness, stand a row of houses burnt yellow and black, as if they had sustained all the sieges of the Middle Ages, and pierced with pigeon holes like a face with small-pox.

The street is divided in two by a dark stone arch. Instead of the provincial inn, there are three clubs, the blacksmith’s den, the carpenter’s rude workshop, and the single general store. This is kept by the village Lothario, Demetrius, a splendid fellow inclining to corpulency, who wears a ring, a fez, and even goes to the length of washing his hands and face and combing his hair once a day. One is not a village Lothario for nothing. He is married, and hence he adds a disappointed and hopeless air to his fascinating crimson tie whenever he serves or chats with a woman under forty. But he draws the line at forty. Kyria Demetrius has attained that respectable age.

There is a fountain close by, where the women[Pg 134] gather with red earthen jars to draw water and indulge in cheerful social intercourse. It is enclosed in a deep, damp arch, black and lichen-grown, with heavy beams of wood supporting its roof, and higher up is the public laundry, a tank with a sloping stone under it, where the laundresses scrub their linen kneeling round, and converse in a dull undertone, varied by an occasional tendency to scream.

The houses are reached by a small flight of marble steps, and are always confined to one floor with a pretty terrace outside, and underneath is stabling for the mules and donkeys and other live stock.

Beyond the archway lies the Catholic Cathedral, with the Bishop’s Palace and Garden. The Church is of respectable size, but ugly, and the Palace a dreary yellow building enlivened by the red tiles of the pectinated roof. But the Bishop’s garden is charming. Goldfinches sing in the Persian lilacs, and the rippling rills are never silent. In the centre, there is a big stone tank and a sun-dial, and the oranges swing like gold balls against the dark cypress. The valley upon which it looks down is indeed a vale of delight. Olives paint a silver mist upon the sunny landscape, and the fig and mulberry foliage lend it colour. The girdling mountains of the neighbouring isles rise sharply against the sky, and in and out their curves, opening upon the roseate shores of Eubœa, breaks the sea like lapidescent blue, while through the moist, grassy plain of Kolymvithra twists and swirls a vein of silver water. The other side of the picture is a view of gloomy mountain, bare grey rock and broken blocks of marble, rising above the tangle of village gardens and trellised[Pg 135] verandahs, with their showy display of geraniums, carnations, roses and cactus drapery, from whose bed of peaked leaves gleam large magenta stars. And here and there the windmills make gigantic shadows upon the earth, flocks of pigeons shoot like spots of illuminated snow through the sunlit air, and goats browse amongst the scented furzes of the rocks, in easy companionship with mules and kine.

To reach the house of Pericles Selaka, on the other side of the village, the traveller must make his own pathway with the loose stones in the bed of a minute down-flowing stream. The water is crystal-clear, and nothing can be more engaging than its gurgle and sparkle, but damp feet are the inevitable consequence of its acquaintance. After a wet passage through the torrent-bed, more or less torn and troubled by the neighbourhood of blackberries, thorny hedgerows and tall reeds, he will have to cut his way through a stony meadow, jump the low, loose walls that separate each field, tangle his limbs in a multiplicity of straggling branches and uncultivated growths, and trample ruthlessly upon the pretty heads of the wild flowers. Every shade in foliage, and every hue and odour in flower will charm him: the delicacy of the plane sets off the polished darkness of the oleander and myrtle leaf, the moist glitter of the maidenhair enriches the ferns that spread themselves like fans upon the rocks, and along the vine-branches the shooting leaves begin to uncurl. From the hedges there will be the song of the linnets and goldfinches, and under them the musical lapping of water against stones.

Pericles Selaka’s house had originally belonged to a[Pg 136] Venetian noble family, and still showed the coat-of-arms wrought in marble on either side of the gate, with a Latin inscription under a Venetian gondola. It stood above the village, overlooking the two lovely valleys that divide the flanks of the empty encircling hills,—hills bare of all but the glory of their own tint, and the wavering clouds that sweep, soft and shadowy, over the everlasting sunshine. Behind it the mighty Castro, proud in its purple and grey desolation, bereft of its old splendour, but still dominating the island like an acropolis, and in through the openings of its crags, cleft in nature’s fury, runs the sea as through a frame. The courtyard into which the gate opened was gemmed with flowers. In the middle there was a well, and on either side a palm tree with wooden seats under its shade.

It was winter, so the vine-roofed verandah was a flood of sunshine. A short flight of marble steps led to the terrace above, whence Syra, Delos and Naxos might be seen, as well as the sloping fields that drop into the torrent below, and Selaka’s orchard and vineyard, which, at that time, showed pale, slim lines of green just opening upon the brown earth. A watch-dog dozing in view, lazily observed the regular rise and fall of the digger’s spade, and only wakened to sharp activity whenever a venturesome sheep or goat thrust itself upon his notice. An oppressive silence lay upon the land, and there was silence in the house whence the terrace opened.

The room into which you stepped from the terrace was simplicity itself. White everywhere; white sofas, white curtains and white chair covers, with a purple[Pg 137] table-cloth edged with wonderful Byzantine embroidery. On a black cabinet there was a goodly display of old Greek jars and lamps; and inside, a tray of antique coins and exquisitely carved silver. These heirlooms are to be found in the poorest Teniote cottages. I have been served by a cottager with water and jam on a heavy silver tray, the water in a delicate Venetian glass with armorial bearings wrought in colours into the glass, and the jam in a costly silver chalice. In a recess there were shelves fitted with the Greek classics, from which the Latin writers were jealously excluded. Your scholarly Greek despises Latin. Sitting at a side table beside a window that looked out upon the Castro, was an old man bent over one of these classical tomes. He was reading in a leisurely, familiar way, as a connoisseur sips his port. Occasionally he lifted his eyes from his book, and removed his black cap, all the while unconsciously and swiftly rolling up cigarettes, and puffing with the same deliberate appreciation noticeable in his manner of reading. He was a keen, thoughtful-looking man, with a curious mingling of black and white in hair and beard.

His solitude was interrupted by the entrance of an old woman, dressed in a garment that may best be described as a black sack. She was a serene little woman, very tidily built, with an indefatigable and sturdy air, and in her brown face sparkled two preternaturally black eyes. She wore a Turkish kerchief of red muslin wound round her head, and outside this an enormous plait of false hair, as is the ungraceful habit of the Island women. This was Selaka’s housekeeper and servant in one. She was called Annunziata.

[Pg 138]

“This, Kyrie, has just been brought up from the town,” she said, handing him a telegram.

Pericles took the telegram, opened it in his leisurely way,—one naturally grows sleepy on a sleepy island. It was from his brother in Athens announcing Reineke’s coming. Pericles frowned, and looked more thoughtful than ever as he read the communication. As may be imagined, it was neither very delicate nor very wise. It referred to a possible desirable solution of Inarime’s future.

“Humph,” said Pericles, and crushed the missive in his hand, “my brother is sending us a visitor, Annunziata,” he explained, curtly.

“A visitor! Has your brother taken leave of his senses? Surely the visitor who proposes to come here cannot be other than a madman,” said Annunziata, who appropriated the privilege of speaking her mind to her master.

“He was always a fool,” assented Pericles; “however, it is essential that we should sustain our reputation for hospitality; so, my dear woman, you will be good enough to prepare a room for the guest.”

“And why should I prepare? Don’t you know that my rooms are always prepared?” protested Annunziata, hurt in her honour as a housekeeper.

“Yes, yes, but there will be sheets to air, and flowers and such things to put in the room. He is an invalid; and sick men are proverbially difficult to please. They require as much spoiling as a woman,” said Pericles, dismissing the subject with a majestic wave of his hand.

The subject, however, would not be dismissed from his mind, and he sat there with his open book, his[Pg 139] eyes persistently wandering from one window to another, looking now out on the bright terrace and then on the gloomy Castro behind. It was hardly human for a father not to speculate upon the coming of this stranger, and its possible consequences. A husband for Inarime! Nonsense! it was not to be imagined that any stray adventurer, whom his brother might choose to pick up, could possibly prove a worthy or desirable mate for that pearl among girls. Besides, he was not prepared to give her to any man who could not indisputably claim to be a Greek scholar. He knew the sort of scholars Europe habitually sends to Greece. Self-sufficient young men or tottering archæologists with a barbaric pronunciation and a superficial acquaintance with Homer and Plato. These were not the scholars he desired to know, nor the sort who, under any circumstances, could prove congenial to him. As for Inarime, she was likely to be still more fastidious. Her beauty and her great gifts entitled her to contempt for less gifted mortals. While thinking thus, a shadow crossed the light of the terrace, and a girl’s form stood framed in the doorway.

[Pg 140]


Anybody whose travels have led him to the Hellenic shores, knows too well that the old classic beauty is almost extinct. But not quite. Here and there, on the islands of the Archipelago, he may chance upon a face that looks at him out of the other centuries,—stamped with the grandeur of an unforgotten race in protest against a physical deterioration that gives it the melancholy charm of isolation. This vision is rare, but once seen it is beheld with breathless wonder. There is nothing to compare with it. Other European types of beauty sink beside it, as do Italian melodies beside a bar of Beethoven. It is as if over a gray landscape the scarlet dawn broke suddenly, showing an unhoped-for reality in glowing tints and soft lines no imagination can picture.

Lit by the strong sunshine, with the faintest grave smile round her lovely lips, as she met the puzzled glance of her father, Inarime looked as if she sprang direct from the Immortals.

Something like her face the student dreams of, when he muses over the great Dead. The small dusky head, its blue-black hair, softening to a tawny sheen at the brows; the olive cheek as smooth as satin, almost colourless except where it gathers the bloom of the tea-rose,[Pg 141] or of a shell held to the light. The full firm curves of the mouth, rather grave than gay, but ineffably sweet, with paler lips than those of the North; the delicate nose coming down straight from the forehead: the low arch of the eyebrows, and the curves of the chin that show no weakness. These details much contributed to the charm of the whole. But its greatest beauty were the unfathomable eyes—of a deep brown with an outer ring, which in any joyous mood gave them the gleam of amber, while sorrow or deep emotion darkened them to the luster of agate. She wore a dress of dull gold, with a bronze velvet collar and cuffs. The front of the bodice was trimmed with large bronze buttons. It was not a dress which Mademoiselle Veritassi would have worn, but then, on the other hand, it was not a dress that Mademoiselle Veritassi could have worn. Dowdy it was not, but strange, and looked as if it had grown upon the young, firm, and supple form it clothed. Inarime had a pardonable weakness for this most suitable gown. She had worn it constantly since she had selected it from the merchant who brought the stuff from Syra, with other splendid materials for the women and young persons of Tenos, and the dressmaker, who had studied her art in that same elegant centre, had made it for her. Indeed, she had never a variety of gowns, nor did she seem to miss this source of happiness. Round her neck hung suspended by a thin gold chain a little Byzantine cross, a relic of her mother, and her abundant hair was gathered into a thick coil with a long golden pin. It may seem strange that I should insist upon these trivial matters, seeing it is generally considered that young girls should be thus[Pg 142] adorned, but it is not so in Tenos, and the artistic delight Inarime could not have failed to take in her own beauty, apart from any silly vanity, and with no desire to please the eye of others, is a very singular deviation from the custom of Greek girls.

“Have you been waiting for me ever since, father?” she asked. A still more curious fact, she did not speak the insular dialect, but pure Athenian, with a faultless accent.

“Yes, my dear,” said Pericles, addressing her in the same language, though he had spoken good Teniote to Annunziata. “It is well that you have come now. I think, my dear, it will be better for you to spend a few days with your aunt at Mousoulou, and it has occurred to me that you might go there this afternoon.”

“But, why? I have no desire to go to Mousoulou,” protested Inarime.

“Well, if you would just please me in this matter, I cannot tell you how grateful I should be to you, Inarime,” said her father, who always treated her as an equal. For this young creature was to him more son than daughter, since he had brought her up in a masculine fashion, in the matter of education and training.

“It is strange, father, that you should turn capricious and mysterious, but I will obey you in this as in all else,” she said, with an exquisite gravity which likened her more than ever to a young goddess.

She was standing close to him now; and he got up, placed his hands upon her shoulders, and looked earnestly into her eyes.

“It is no more than I might expect of you, Inarime” he said.

[Pg 143]

There was a dignity, a restraint about the relations of these two that was very striking. Perhaps Pericles affected the manner and bearing of the Ancients, with whom he exclusively communed, and perhaps Inarime had ostentatiously caught this trick from him. Laughter with them was as rare as anger, and both held their pulses in complete subjection.

Something of Inarime’s life,—while that lucky young man, known in Greece as “the man of confidence,” who can be trusted to act as knight to a lady, is leading her mule to the distant village of Mousoulou, and while Gustav Reineke, on the “Iris,” is speeding towards the shores of Tenos. This life is simple enough: unemotional, unanalysable; an eager student from youngest years, the sole companion of a sage who lived in the past. But Inarime enjoyed a local reputation that carried the mind back to antique or mediæval days. The equilibrium of Europe was not likely to be disturbed by it, but the peace of the island most certainly was. All things we know are relative, and it is possible the unknown and unsought conquests of Inarime would have been far enough from causing any excitement to a London sylph. But besides Inarime’s influence and reputation, extending over four mayoralties and sixty-two villages, with a list of suitors headed by a bachelor mayor and the two unmarried deputies, and including every single man and youth of the island, the London sylph will be seen to play a small and insignificant part in her own distinguished circle. She would probably turn up her patrician nose at the addresses of a shepherd and a barbaric demarch. But then the shepherd and the demarch would care as little about her.

[Pg 144]

Despite their inherited and undisguised contempt for women, the sons of Hellas have sense and taste enough to know the value of an antique head on live young shoulders. It was now nearly two years since the mountaineers, meeting on the rocky pathways that scale the crags and precipices and fringe the torrent-beds, began to ask why Selaka delayed to choose a son-in-law. Each man regarded himself as the only proper choice. And down in the cafés the townsfolk and fishermen wanted an answer to the same question. As a set-off against this suspense, there was the satisfactory knowledge that Selaka’s choice would find it no easy matter to bring home his bride. Indeed, a few young bloods, like Thomaso, the Mayor’s nephew, a quarrelsome fellow given to an undue consumption of raki, and Petrus Vitalis, whose father’s recent death left him the proud proprietor of three Caiques, openly spoke of abduction. Constantine Selaka was aware of all this, and was extremely anxious that Pericles should select a son-in-law from among his Athenian friends. Choice and preliminaries should, of course, be a matter of strict secrecy, as a preventive of warlike explosion, for he knew that Inarime’s suitors would prove as little amenable to reason and fair play as the graceless suitors of the unfortunate Penelope.

And if, by delay, his niece should be carried off by the desperate Thomaso or Petrus Vitalis, clack! Good-bye to the Athenian nephew-in-law.

“Idiots! how dare they aspire to her?” Pericles exclaimed, whenever such unsuitable proposal reached him.

“Well, Pericles, you must marry her to somebody,[Pg 145] and you can’t expect a Phœbus Apollo, with the classics on the tip of his tongue. You would find him inconvenient enough,” the less exacting Constantine would explain.

“Leave Apollos, though I would have no objection if one were to be had. But do you seriously expect me to marry a girl like Inarime, as lovely as Artemis, as learned and wise as Athena, to a clown? A fellow who gets up at two of a summer morning to shoot inoffensive birds, and gets drunk upon abominable raki while prating in vile Romanic about politics and the Lord knows what, of which he understands nothing!”

“No, but there is Vitalis, the ‘member,’ who wants her.”

“May the devil sit upon his moustaches for a vulgar blustering fool!” exclaimed the old man, forgetting Olympus. “What is your Vitalis, Constantine? A boor. An uneducated lawyer, who could not tell a verse of Euripides from one of Sophocles; doesn’t, in fact, know that either existed, and never translated a sentence of Thucydides in his life. A clown is better. At least he has a dim consciousness that he is a barbarian. Whereas the other shrunken miserable being in his ill-fitting clothes and European hat, deems himself the happiest edition of a boulevardier. Boulevardier, save the mark! France has been the ruin of us!”

“Then can’t you take Dragonnis, the other member?”

“No, I cannot. I don’t want any wretched politician for Inarime. Dragonnis is as bad as his colleague—a pair of dunderheads. My daughter will not marry a Teniote, neither will she marry a chattering, gossiping Athenian.[Pg 146] Some day I’ll take her abroad, and give her to a scholar and a gentleman, who will see in her gifts and beauty something other than the mere decorations of an upper servant and mother of a family.”

Inarime had been the subject of disputes of this sort between the brothers ever since that memorable day when the absence of shots proclaimed to the village that a little “daughter of man,” instead of the desired “son of God,” had come to bless the house. To the friends and relatives, the intrusion of the unappreciated sex was not, however, looked upon in the light of a blessing. According to custom, people came and shook the hand of the injured father, condoling loudly with the sorrowing and disgraced mother. But when Selaka’s wife died shortly afterwards, and there was no boy on whom he could hope to bestow his knowledge and learning, the father clung to Inarime. He resolved to show the world, by his untiring labour, that a girl may develop remarkable capacity and intellect. He cared little about modern acquirements, but fed her mind exclusively upon the philosophy, poetry, and history of her great ancestors. Homer and Hesiod were the fairy tales of her childhood,—Plutarch the first book she learned to read. She was familiar with all the ancient dialects and Greek literature, from the time of Hesiod to the Alexandrian Renaissance. She was taught to choose the simplest phrasing, and yet one that was severely academical, from which all foreign interpolations of modern Greek were expunged. The old calligraphy, too, was insisted upon, and she wrote papers on the Trilogy from which an infallible University Don might have learned much. Some of these papers her delighted father [Pg 147]contemplated sending to one of the German Universities, where he knew that the fragrance of original thought and excellent style would be more justly appreciated than in frivolous Athens. But he feared the wrench of surrender such recognition from beyond the Ægean might bring. A girl so perilously gifted might seek to plunge into the waters alone and swim in depths beyond which his dim eyes and feeble hopes could not follow. Besides, with him she was completely happy, and publicity is a misery, a fret and a constant strain upon the nerves.

Thus she grew up unconscious of solitude or of needs other than those which her surroundings supplied. As for the accomplishments which occupy the elegant leisure of European young ladies, she was hopelessly ignorant: would have been perfectly unserviceable at a suburban tea-party or a game of tennis, and the popinjays who figure in polite society would have scorned her, had they attempted to engage her in conversation suitable to a background of moonlit balcony, or in the movement of a waltz. But if she could not dance or embroider, and sing Signor Tosti’s weeping melodies, and if her brown slender hands looked as if their acquaintance with sun and air was considerably greater than with kid or Suède, she could carry a water-jar from the village fountain in an attitude that was a picture of grace, with a light swinging step that was the music of motion—and this the London sylph could not have done. Her father was strong upon the necessity for thorough gymnastic training, and she could swim and run and ride a mile like a young athlete. Even Greek boys cannot do as much, but then they are not brought up by antiquated professors, who faithfully copy the precepts of[Pg 148] the old philosophers. Selaka, for this athletic training cultivated a strip of sanded path in his farm near the sea, with the shade of plane trees for rest. Here Inarime raced and exercised, sweeping the sanded path with flying feet, and lips parted with the joy of quick movement and the flush of health crimsoning her olive cheek.

Outside her books, her racing and riding, she had another important duty—that of general letter-writer for Xinara and the adjacent village of Lutra.

[Pg 149]


It was a bright December afternoon when Reineke was left by the Iris upon the little pier at Tenos. Aristides, the “young man of confidence,” who had safely deposited Inarime at her aunt’s at Mousoulou, was sent by Selaka to meet him. Gustav inquiringly scanned his conductor’s face. He disliked its inquisitiveness and keenness, and was repelled by the familiarity with which the fellow held out his hand. But he took the hand, and coldly expressed his satisfaction with his new acquaintance, who explained to him volubly that it would be advisable to rest a little in the town before ascending to Xinara. Aristides then proceeded to guide the stranger to a little café, and Reineke’s visible weakness made even a rest in such a locality grateful. He sat quietly waiting for some coffee, and looked around. Being an Eastern, he felt less shuddering repugnance to the place than an Englishman or Frenchman would have felt. Besides, there was an acute pleasure to be derived from watching the light flash upon the blue waters, and gleam upon the lifted oars until they looked like shining spears. He inferred that Aristides was the son of his host, and conjectured that he would not be likely to draw very[Pg 150] largely upon such resources for intellectual enjoyment. And then, personally, he disliked the Greeks, as we know. He was not restless or particularly active, so that he could comfortably get through a couple of hours in this indolent contemplation. But it was with a sense of relief that he saw Aristides approach with a mule upon which he was invited to mount, and slowly they made the difficult ascent. To a strong man such a ride would be discomposing in the extreme; to a man still in the clutch of an intermittent fever it was positive torture. It seemed to Reineke that the attitude of the beast was a constant perpendicular, now with its head for apex and now with its tail and this sort of motion continued a good hour and a half. The musical flow of the torrent beds and the echo of distant waterfalls were heard mingling with varied bird-notes. But how to take æsthetic pleasure in these sounds when one is momentarily expecting to be hurled into eternity, or, at least, in peril of leaving various limbs about the precipices and ravines; now frantically clutching forward and then almost prone backwards to preserve one’s balance!

Little by little, however, his senses began to recover, and he was able to take occasional glimpses of the strange landscape through which he was being hurled. The gathering twilight was dimming the pure air, but had not yet struck out the colours that lay upon the land. The meadows were full of wild flowers, and he noted how beautiful some of the weeds were. The bloom of the fields and the gray mist of the olives, and the purple haze that lay upon the fig branches, tracing their intricate pattern across the silent hills and making their own pathway for the shadows, charmed[Pg 151] him. The sparkle and murmur of water, the departing smile of sunshine from the darkening heavens, the early stir of shepherd life, an air so fine that every scent from valley and hillside was discernible from the mingled whole, filled him with a sense of exquisite content. And when he saw the beautiful valley of Kolymvithra unfolded like a panorama under the village of Xinara, and the great purple Castro lost in evening shade, he felt that his perilous ride had not been in vain.

As they rode up the little village street, Demetrius and his satellites were standing outside the blacksmith’s den. The presence of a stranger naturally diverted their thoughts from the rascalities of the Prime Minister at Athens, which they had been discussing.

“That, I suppose, is an Englishman,” said the handsome Demetrius, removing his cigarette, and staring hard at Reineke with an air of ill-concealed discontent, as he addressed himself inclusively to Michael, the contemplative carpenter, and Johannis, the blacksmith.

“He is too dark for an Englishman; it is most likely he’s an Italian,” suggested the carpenter, in a tone of apologetic protest.

“You fool! do you think that every Englishman is yellow-haired and white and red?” retorted Demetrius, snappishly. “But you are not going to deny, I hope, that the man has the conceited air of an Englishman? No other people carry themselves as if the world belonged to them, and those that are not English do not count. And what is all this pride for, pray? Ten of their heroes would not make one of ours.”

“Very true, Demetrius,” concurred Michael, conciliatorily. “If England had produced one Miltiades,[Pg 152] we might all go hang ourselves, for no other nation would be allowed to exist. Now here are we good-natured Greeks, who count our heroes by the hundred, and know ourselves to be the point upon which the world, both occidental and oriental, turns, quietly smoking our cigarettes, and willing to allow others a part of the pathway. Whereas an Englishman, when he goes abroad, walks down other people’s streets as if he thought himself merciful in only knocking the owners into the shade instead of crushing them.”

“Well, I can’t say I am for England either,” said Johannis, diving his hands into the pockets of his blue cotton pantaloons. “I always thought she was too fond of helping herself to parts of the globe which she had no right to, and of battering others into submission. But it cannot be denied that she is very rich and sufficiently attentive to the affairs of Greece. London, I hear on first-class authority, is a wonderful place. You know Marengo, the captain of the Iris, stayed there a week; but he never once ventured out of the hotel alone, so frightened was he by the noise and the people. He solemnly swears he saw fifty trains steaming in and out of the station at the same time. It sounds incredible, but Marengo is positive. He counted thirty, but his head grew dizzy, though he saw he had only got through half the number. When driving he had to keep his eyes and ears closed, expecting every minute to be killed by the thousand cabs that whizzed round him as quick as lightning. He could not understand how the people managed to cross the streets, some of them a mile in width!”

“You may believe half of what Marengo says,[Pg 153] Johannis,” cried Demetrius, “he is an unconscionable liar. However, I have certainly been assured that London is a largest kind of town, perhaps a little more extensive than Athens, but then I never believe all I hear. I like to judge things for myself. Not that I have seen Athens either; but I believe it to be the finest city in the world. Why, was not Athens founded long before London or Paris were heard of? Do not people come every day from America to see it, and guardians have to be placed about the Acropolis to prevent strangers robbing its stones or relics? I would be glad if you could name a Greek who would go to London or America for a relic!”

Demetrius looked as if he had sufficiently clinched the matter. If travellers come to Greece for a purpose which certainly does not inspire the Greeks to go to foreign parts, it clearly proves the advantage on the side of Greece.

“True enough, Demetrius,” assented Michael, “and do we not know that Mr. Gladstone, the Prime Minister of England, is more anxious for our safety than that of his own people? And he would gladly exchange London for Athens to-morrow if he could, and mind you, he has seen both places. If we go to war this year, depend upon it, Mr. Gladstone will send us men enough to smash the Turks.”

“We will accept England’s aid when we need it,” said the village Lothario, condescendingly, with a dramatic gesture, as he threw away the end of his cigarette. “But we know very well that three hundred Greeks are more than a match for ten thousand Turks, as they were for the Persians in the olden days.”

[Pg 154]

Demetrius, you will perceive, was learned, and that was why he was president of the clubs.

“Where are you going shooting to-morrow?” asked Johannis, who knew nothing about the Persians, and resented their introduction with the unreasonable jealousy and bigotry of ignorance.

“I am going to shoot round Koumara,” said Demetrius, testily.

“It’s poor shooting you’ll get there,” remarked Johannis. “I am going to Mousoulou. I shot a lot of wild pigeons there last Sunday and bagged larks and sparrows by the dozen.”

In the meantime, through a running fire of continual comment, and under the gaze of every pair of eyes the village possessed, Reineke, conducted by the cheerful and voluble Aristides, was led down the torrent and round by the windmill upon the brow of the hill, to the little postern gate which led into Selaka’s vineyard. He was so exhausted that in dismounting he had to lean heavily upon Aristides, and slowly walked up the sloping path to the gate. It was opened by Annunziata, who flashed him a delightful smile of welcome, and at that moment Selaka himself hastened forward, and shook him cordially by the hand. But Reineke was too weak and fatigued to do more than smile faintly, and murmur some unintelligible phrase, upon which he was helped into the house, and there collapsed at once upon the sofa. Here we will leave him in the sleep of complete exhaustion, feeling shattered and bruised and as if a week’s sleep would be insufficient to recuperate him.

[Pg 155]

CHAPTER XIV. (From Reineke’s Note Book.)


Contrary to my expectations, I awoke on the morning after my arrival at Xinara refreshed, with only that sensation of fatigue in the limbs that makes it delightful to lie perfectly still and revel in the luxury of homespun and lavender-perfumed sheets. The bed was the softest I ever slept on, the room the prettiest and freshest I ever wakened in. Such light, such a cheerful display of linen as everywhere greeted my eyes! In the garden, by the drawn blind, I could see Persian lilacs, in which the birds had evidently built their nests, and down among the trees of the orchards thousands of others seemed to have congregated. The effect of their aubade on this lovely winter morning was curious. It began by a soft twitter, which gradually deepened its volume, until it swelled upon mighty waves and beat frantically against the silver gates of the morning in a shower of sound. It shook the closed shutters like hail that lashes the earth outside. In the half haze of troubled sleep, I imagined, at first, that the heavens had suddenly opened in an unwonted downpour, but as soon as I was thoroughly awake, and glanced upon the dim world which slowly[Pg 156] unfolded beneath the light of the breaking day, I understood and recognised the cause of this patter against the panes. The increasing red of the east began to sweep across the pallid sky, washed the lingering moon white, and enriched the zenith with a dash of warm blue. I got up and opened the nearest window, and then lay back to follow the movement of that impetuous swell of music, sustained with exquisite orchestral harmony. The sound seemed to travel round and round in a circle, continuously gathering force, and then burst into a flood of song. An indistinguishable tumult of wave with ever this strange, perpetual, circuitous movement, as if all the birds of all the gardens and woods had met, and were whirling round and round this spot of earth in some mad dance of wing. I think I must have slept again, or perhaps I lay in an open-eyed dream for some time. When I looked once more out of the window, I saw the bright pleasant little woman, who had welcomed me the night before, walk sturdily down the path that leads to the village, with her red water jar placed on her shoulder, one muscular brown arm flung round her head to support it. What a pleasure it was to watch her! She looked so secure, so contented, so seriously active, and there was a light in her eye which betrayed something more than cheerfulness,—a sense of humour, and a kind of still laugh just traced the faintest sympathetic line round the mouth. I supposed her to be the mother of that intolerable youth who had led my mule last night, and who served me as guide in my most memorable ride.

My restful solitude was broken by the entrance of Annunziata, carrying a little tray with coffee, an [Pg 157]inviting roll called Koulouria, and some cigarettes. She placed it beside me, and then touched my hand softly, and stood and smiled upon me with maternal benignity.

“You are rested, Kyrie?” she asked.

“Quite fresh, and ready for another ride,” I answered, laughing.

When I had partaken of this sober fare, she begged me to be still awhile, and held a light and a cigarette for me. I am fond enough of a recumbent attitude, and nothing loth, accepted the proffered sedative. Then she trotted off with her inimitable air of sturdy serenity, and hardly had she left me to my own contented thoughts when the door opened, and in walked Aristides. Is it not unreasonable to dislike a man, for no other reason than that his exterior and certain tricks of manner revolt you? The fellow is really a decent fellow, but he has a way of lifting the pressure of his lithe frame from one foot to another, and of running his forefinger along his shapely nose, that provokes me to the verge of exasperation. I watch for these tricks with an unaccountable impatience, and when they come, I am invariably harassed with the suppressed impetuosity of physical rage, and expect before long to fling something at him. He entered the room with an air of polished familiarity, took a chair, uninvited, as if he were a prince of the blood whose condescension singularly honoured me, and smiled in large affability and tolerance as he began to roll a cigarette. After a pause he remarked casually, with a very apparent desire to set me at ease:

“Vera nice counthry, Ingland, like vera much I do Ingleesh—large place, I hear.”

[Pg 158]

I nodded, and patiently waited to learn why I should be attacked in execrable English.

“I knew Ingleeshman in Smyrna. He vera nice man, touch vera well piano. You touch piano?”

I admitted an innocent weakness that way, and continued to smoke complacently, tickled by the humour of the situation.

“You are Ingleesh, sarr?”

“I have not that honour.”

“Ah, vous êtes Français?”

I failed to claim that great and much belauded nationality, whereupon Aristides, indefatigable in the pursuit of knowledge, and anxious to confound me with his linguistic skill, burst out radiantly:

“Sie sind Deutsch.”

“If you will condescend to speak your own language and spare me your exasperating murder of Continental tongues, it may be of some slight advantage to you and me,” I cried.

My unaccustomed violence in nowise discomposed him. He proved his philosophic superiority by blandly smiling, as if to turn aside a wrath he considered childish and inconsequent, rolled another cigarette, leant forward, lit it, and observed, with an air of casual approval, that it was a pleasing surprise to meet a foreigner who could speak Greek. He then proceeded to question me with the savage candour and curiosity of his race. He was eager to learn my income, its source, the cost of the clothes I wore, if they were purchased in Paris or in London, if I admired the Greeks and Greece, if I were married, or disposed to marry a Greek, if my parents were alive, and how many brothers and sisters[Pg 159] I had. To those singular questions I replied curtly, contemptuously resolved to see how far he would push his indiscreet investigations. Then when I grew tired, I proceeded to obtain a little information on my own account. From the communicative Aristides I learned that the amiable doctor, who so wisely recommended me the bosom of nature and innocence, is for inscrutable reasons recognised as the King of Tenos, that he is a member of King George’s Parliament, and by claim of obstruction unillumined by a rushlight of intelligence or motive, is called the Parnell of Greece.

My host, it appears, is a more interesting character. His attitude towards the moderns is that of unsparing contempt. He lives with the ancients, and entertains a very lively horror of that superior people, the French. His daughter is reputed to be a handsome and cultivated young woman, to whose hand every unmarried male of the island aspires. She has an exquisite name, Inarime. When I got rid of Aristides, I lay back and conjectured a variety of visions of the owner of such a name. In turn I dismissed from my mind the amiable maiden, the attractive peasant girl, the chill statue and the haughty pedant, the Arab, the Turk, the Italian of the Levant. Not one of these seemed to fit in with my ideal of Inarime, and the thought that she had left Xinara before my arrival fretted me strangely with a sense of baffled desire.

“Just an old pagan philosopher,” Aristides had said, speaking of Selaka, “who keeps the handsomest girl of Tenos locked away from everyone, as if a glance were a stain. He seems to regard her as a goddess,[Pg 160] and nobody here worthy to look upon her divinity. That is why he sent her away before you came. He distrusts you and every other Christian. Now, if you happened to be a Pagan, I have not the slightest doubt he would be willing to marry you right off to Inarime.”

Why should this impertinent suggestion of Aristides have shot the blood of anger and shame into my face? And yet it did, and the heat remained after the fellow had left me to my own reflections. I do not think that I am specially nervous or sensitive, but the shock of that idea touched me with a force that made me shrink as from a prophecy. I dreaded to meet Inarime, and almost resented her exile on my account. There may be something flattering to our masculine vanity in the fact that a beautiful girl has been sent into banishment on our account, but this balsam did not heal a certain dull ache of dismay and resentment.

In this unreasonable mood Selaka found me. He inquired after my health with measured courtliness, and suggested a variety of additions to my comfort. I was dressed now, and reclining on a sofa. Without hesitation I followed his advice to breathe the air of the terrace awhile. The broad sunshine and the open-air serenity of the scene soothed and calmed me, and I felt I could have been content to sit thus for hours watching the flapping shadows of the windmills upon the sunny hills, under the spell of the noon-day silence of nature. My host sat beside me, the inevitable cigarette between his fingers, with a sharp but kindly glance turned occasionally upon me. I imagine the question of my nationality was perplexing him, and he was,[Pg 161] perhaps, seeking an occasion to elicit direct information from me on this point. But this did not conceal from me that the normal expression of his fine dark eyes showed the glow of an impersonal enthusiasm, doubtless lit by his long devotion to the ancients. By reason of his rough-hewn and unfinished features, he looked rather a simple good-natured peasant, removed from the sordid conflict and merely animal sensations of husbandry, than a learned pedagogue or an earth-removed philosopher; a man fond of questioning the stars and his own soul, but not indifferent to the delights of shepherd-life; capable of sparing a daisy and stepping out of the way of a burdened ant, when he walked abroad with Plato or Thucydides in his hand. It struck me that Inarime could be no vulgar glittering jewel to be thus carefully shielded from the irreverent gaze by this sage of Tenos.

“I think you cannot be French,” he said, at last.

“Reineke is a German name,” I answered, evasively, for it was not my wish to court coldness by an avowal of my nationality.

“Ah, it is well. I do not like the French.”

“And yet your countrymen adore them,” I said, and laughed.

“So they do, so they do—to their sorrow and shame.”

“How can that be? Is France not admittedly the first nation of the civilised world?” I exclaimed.

“That depends upon what is understood by civilisation. If you mean humbug, vice, vanity and bluster, infamous plays and vaudevilles, immoral literature generally, you may crown France with a triple crown[Pg 162] of shameless glory. But if you mean truth, good manners, purity, sense and honourable restraint in all things, as the old world understood it, then France is below all other countries to-day. It is because Greece is so infatuated with France that I completely despair of her future.”

“It seems to me that you are charging an innocent country with the vices of a depraved town. France is not Paris, and Paris is the sinner.”

“Paris! France! It is one. The country looks on complacently, and approves the nameless follies of the city. It makes no effort to impede her fatal career, and is not dismayed to see her, with her band of lascivious poets and novelists, dance madly towards her doom, in the degradation of decay, with a weak and dissolute smile on her worn lips.”

“Do you condemn all her writers?”

“Upon moral and artistic grounds I condemn all unreservedly. You are one of those who, perhaps, call Victor Hugo great. I do not. ‘Words, words, words,’ as Hamlet says, and nothing to come at them. Chip away all the superfluous decorations and excrescences of ‘Notre Dame,’ and measure it by the severe restrictions of Greek Art. You have twenty pages, strengthened, purified, with only essential action and speech, instead, of two long volumes of intolerable verbiage. No, sir; France’s sentence has been pronounced. One day Germany will sweep her away, with her vices and her graces, and they, I admit, are many. She is in a debilitated and anæmic state, starting up in spasms of febrile vitality, and the sooner her destiny is accomplished, the better for us and all[Pg 163] other such feebly imitative peoples. Have you stayed long in Athens?”

“No, in fact I have seen nothing as yet of the town.”

“Ah, then you have yet to learn why I, and every true lover of Greece, should hate the name of France. The men and women in Athens speak bad Greek, though there is no reason why their speech should not be as pure as Plutarch’s. Every one chatters in bad French, with what object it would puzzle the Lord himself to discover. The women rave about Ohnet, a vulgar writer whose style even I can know to be execrable. Like the illustrious Hugo, the men read Zola, and are thereby much improved. There are French vaudevilles and cafés-chantants; our army is superintended by Frenchmen, who draw large salaries for the privilege of laughing at us. Paris condescends to send our women its cast-off fashions at enormously disproportionate prices. Athens is, in fact, a small, dull, feeble Paris,—Paris in caricature, without the fascination of its many-sided life.”

He stopped suddenly, half-ashamed and slightly flushed after his burst of indignation. When we had smoked a cigarette apiece, I made careless mention of his brother, and asked about his family. Constantine, he told me, had long ago married a handsome Levantine who, after a few months of conjugal discord, had attempted to shoot him, and then betaken herself to Constantinople with a native of Syra. This disaster had naturally tended to convince Constantine of the nothingness of marriage, and he had since remained in single inconsolation. Pericles himself had[Pg 164] been blessed with a wife, picked up at Ischia, as lovely in soul as in body, but here again was demonstrated the singular fleetingness of wedded bliss. This pearl among wives melted away in the crucial test of childbirth—and Selaka was left, bereaved and truly forlorn, with a baby girl upon his hands.

Later on in the afternoon Selaka joined me, just as my senses were lazily shaking themselves out of the thrall of siesta. He asked me if I were interested in the study of ancient Greek, and upon my enthusiastic affirmative, his face brightened and his manner immediately assumed a cordiality and a pleasure that charmed me. He invited me to accompany him in his walk through his orchard and vineyard; and truly a delight it was to me to be brought face to face with a nature so simple and a mind so exquisitely cultivated as his. Perhaps it would be thought that such exclusive recognition of the past and such a profound and unutterable contempt for the present were narrow and pedantic. That it tended to lessen his interest in humanity cannot be denied. But how very precious, from sincerity and undecorated speech, were the thoughts to which he gave expression during our leisurely walk! Much as I delighted, however, in the ancients, and deeply interesting as was any discussion upon the old Greek writers, I could not get out of my head the one word “Inarime.” I was haunted with the wish, nay, almost the need, to hear something of her, and at last, after a pause in our conversation, I hazarded the question:

“Is your daughter married?”

Selaka fixed me with a quick, suspicious glance, and said, coldly,

[Pg 165]

“My daughter is young; it will be time enough yet to think of marrying her!”

“Then she does not live with you?” I persisted, with pardonable indelicacy.

“She is at present staying with her aunt at Mousoulou,” said Selaka.

I ought to have let the subject drop upon these strong hints, but I went on:

“I am told she is very beautiful.”

“You have been told the truth,” said Selaka.

I saw that further questioning would be indiscreet. However discursive he might be upon the subject of the ancient Greeks, his reticence upon the subject of Inarime was not to be shaken.

Thus passed my three first days in Xinara. Aristides invariably wounded and offended me by his impertinent freedom and his still more impertinent confidences. It appears Aristides is one of Inarime’s admirers, and being promoted to the rank of chief muleteer to his mistress, naturally regards himself as having scored above all his rivals. The early morning was generally spent by me in exploring the neighbouring hills alone. In the afternoon I accompanied Selaka round his small estate. A tranquil, healthy existence it was, and under its influences my late fever and languor left me. With recurrent health I gained in vitality and spirits, and had I not been pursued by an indefinable curiosity—a sense of baffled hope,—I should ere this have been measuring my forces for a return to Athens.

*         *         *         *         *         *         *

It was the fourth day since my arrival from Tenos,[Pg 166] when I opened the door of the bright sitting-room with the intention of passing an hour or two among Selaka’s choice books. Looking out upon the desolate Castor,—seeming the more desolate because of the cruel joy of the sunshine that so ruthlessly exposed its empty flanks, my ear was attracted by the sound of hysterical sobbing and half-angry expostulation, that came from the courtyard through the opposite open window. I walked across the room, wondering what could have happened to disturb the active serenity of Annunziata. My eyes fell upon a village woman, whose withered, sunburnt face was lifted in tearful prayer to another, who sat with her back to me, leaning over a little table. There was something exquisitely youthful and gracious in the attitude,—of majestic youth in the line of the figure clad, as I could see, in some dark yellow stuff. But the small head was completely hidden in a muslin kerchief of spotless white, with a Turkish border of yellow and crimson.

There was a restraint and firmness—an unconscious grace in the pose, and I felt my pulses quicken with eagerness to see the face. Could this be a young judge measuring awful depths of iniquity in a criminal? A cold Diana reproving undue tenderness, a wise Athena rebuking folly? I listened. The villager’s brogue and voluble utterances were difficult to follow. But I gathered that there was question of a letter that had been written, and that the dictator’s mind had altered, and that she now wanted one written in an entirely different spirit.

“I am so sorry, Kyria. He will never come back to me if he gets that letter, and what does anything [Pg 167]matter to me as long as he remains away? Tell him that I am not angry with him; that I will bear anything rather than that he should not come back to me. If he would only leave her and come away from Smyrna! Tell him anything, young lady, that will touch him,—I am so lonely, so weary of waiting for him!” I heard the woman say.

“But, my poor woman, what proof have I that, if I rewrite the letter in this new mood, you will not be sorry for the leniency in another hour, and implore me to write an angrier letter for you?” The voice was clear and soft, with a curious throat sound that somehow carried with it the idea of velvet. Something in it seemed to draw me with an ache of desire to see the speaker. I acted upon an unaccountable and irresistible impulse. It compelled me in a kind of dreamy expectation down the marble steps, and, standing with my hand upon the top of the pillar, close to her, my intense gaze was an equal compulsion to her.

She moved her head round slowly, and our eyes met. Was it the shock of recognition, the awful bliss of surprised surrender, the force of revelation, undreamed, unawaited, yet not the less complete because of its suddenness, that held our glances in a steady dismay?

I laid down my arms at once happy, contented, prone, in a sacred servitude; but she, I could divine, with the delicate instinct of maidenhood, strove to struggle and release her soul. But no effort of even her imperious will could move her eyes from mine, upon which they rested in the mute eloquence of dazzled entreaty, shining as if they were filled with[Pg 168] light. And then slowly their golden hue faded into a wistful brown, and slowly, grudgingly drooped their lids,—and mine, as if by instinct, dropped. It was only afterwards that I could remember the glory of her resplendent youth, and dwell upon the flash of her great beauty.

She laid her hand upon the head of the kneeling, sobbing woman, and said:

“I cannot write your letter to-day, Katinko, but come to me at Mousoulou,” and then turning, looked at me again, this time with less trouble and dismay through the unfathomable tenderness of her gaze,—looked at me steadily, commandingly, unconsciously reminding me that she was sovereign lady, and that not one inch of her sovereignty would she forego for me. I humbly accepted the dismissal of her eyes, without a word of protest or prayer, though the pulses of my body rang with frantic urgence for both. I stood to let her pass me, and was strong enough to resist the temptation to touch her hand as a suppliant might, to prostrate myself before her as a servant. But no; our attitude must be that of equals, something told me. If she be queen then must I be king; sovereign, too. Not servant, Inarime. King of you, as you, beloved, are henceforth queen of me!

I went to my room and tried to think. But thought was vain as action—I could only feel. Feel that I had seen Inarime; that my soul had touched hers; that there was henceforth no life apart for either of us. While I sat thus, dismantled of reality, and full of an overpowering joy, I heard the harsh voice of Aristides checking the impetuosity of his mule, and the words[Pg 169] “Kyria” and “Mousoulou” caught my wandering attention.

I drew near to the window in a thrill of alarm. Inarime was seated on the mule, with no other shelter from the beating sunbeams than the white kerchief bound round her head. A strong impulse swept through me to forbid this departure, to cry out passionately against the injustice of flight and desertion. But this folly would but imperil my position. What right had I to usurp authority and claim upon the surprised declaration of her eloquent eyes? And there came upon me a sense of the perfect tact of her action, its true fitness in accord with the dignity of her sex. Pursuit was for me,—not flight, but a delicate, cold aloofness was hers by divine privilege. Not other would I have her than sensitively alive to the gracelessness of serene and easy conquest. And I was not hurt, was I, by this withdrawal from the new light of day, for her will must ever now be my own.

[Pg 170]

CHAPTER XV. (From Reineke’s Note Book.)


When I joined Selaka in his afternoon stroll, he appeared to notice something different in my step and in my eyes. I felt myself as if I sprang rather than walked, and my glance saw nothing distinctly that it rested upon: it was impeded and clouded by the intense illumination from within. Yet never before did the bare, sunny hills look to me more lovely; never did the Greek isles, rising above their happy waters like rose and mauve clouds upon a blue sky, seem more dreamily enchanting. I remember nothing of our conversation. I walked beside the old man, drunk with my own speechless bliss, and answered his questions at random. And all the while my soul sang aloud its pæan, and the whole earth seemed to smile upon me out of one girl’s grave luminous gaze. Inarime! It seemed to me that the sweet air trembled with the shaking impulses of my intemperate gladness.

Two days passed thus. Blind and absent as I was, I could remark the sullen suspicion of Aristides’ manner, no longer vexing with its impertinent familiarity, but repulsing me with insolent sullenness. I paid no heed to this childishness. But I was struck with the fellow’s extraordinary penetration. Whence could he have[Pg 171] divined there was aught in me to fear or distrust? There was something of the extreme fineness and subtlety of the animal instinct in his intuition, which completely eluded my observation. But Annunziata simply attributed my restored strength and serene joy to the notoriously beneficial influences of mountain air. She always greeted me with her cordial smile, and sometimes ventured to pat my hand in a motherly way. I delighted in her noiseless activity, and in her sturdy self-reliance. Tears for self I should imagine had never dimmed her bright black eyes, and the lines time had traced upon her brown forehead were not lines of pain and mental travail, but the marks of healthy, contented labour. It was a lesson to watch her carry her water jar from the village fountain, or lay the table, without hurry or anxiety, with the perfect ease of punctuality and order. Selaka, I felt, was studying me, half in perplexity, half in alarm, yet with increasing approval. He liked me, and with the days grew his cautious esteem into precipitate affection.

On the third day from my meeting with Inarime, he joined me in the early morning, as I sat upon the terrace, smoking and revelling in the lovely air. My heart could no longer bear this silence and separation, and my tongue at last resolved to give utterance to its urgent claim.

“Will your daughter remain much longer at Mousoulou?” I asked, conscious that my voice was unsteady from eagerness.

“I have not yet decided,” said Selaka quietly.

“Kyrie Selaka, I have a favor to ask you—the very greatest one man can ask another.”

[Pg 172]

I looked round into his face as I spoke, and knew I was pale to the lips.

“You wish to see my daughter,” said Selaka gravely.

“Nay, I have seen her. I want you to take me to her.”

The old man sat for awhile motionless as a statue, then he rose, and paced the terrace in severe and anxious reflection.

After a pause, that seemed to me interminable, he stopped in front of me, and looked in silence into my eyes. He shook back his head, as if he had come to a supreme decision, placed one hand on my shoulder, and held his beard with the other.

“Why not?” he asked, and then sat down beside me.

“That is not worthily said, Kyrie Selaka,” I could not help exclaiming, reproachfully.

“I see. You think I should ask ‘why’ rather than ‘why not,’” said Selaka, smiling softly. “And you are right; it is ‘why?’”

“Why?” I cried, impetuously, “because I love her, because I am hers, and she, I know, is mine.”

“Gently, my son, gently,” he interposed, laying his hand soothingly upon mine. “It seems to me that for a German you possess a pretty lively and reckless temperament. That having looked upon my daughter, her beauty should fire your young blood with romantic aspirations, is but natural. That you should ardently wish to see her again, is as it should be. But that you should hurl yourself with desperate passion into this rash and unconsidered decision that you are hers and Inarime is yours—my son, my son, it is not thus that[Pg 173] I desire Inarime should be loved. From stormy scenes and the tempestuous fluctuations of passion would I jealously guard her, as from other noxious influences. The state of romantic love I regard, in common with all serious thinkers, as the very worst and most degraded state of bondage into which man can fall. It is equally unreasonable in its sickening depressions and in its passionate anticipations. I can see that it is only fruitful in cruelty, in folly, in stupidity, in crime and reckless blunders. Its miseries are immeasurable, and grievously restricted is its circle of joys.”

“But surely, sir, it was with this kind of romantic love that you loved your wife, Inarime’s mother,” I retorted.

“It was not so, my son. I loved her with the priceless affection that is based upon tranquil knowledge, upon spiritual affinity and inalterable esteem. Had the Gods left her to me, very jealously would I have sought to preserve her from the wintry winds of sorrow and poverty, and harsh experiences. Dear to me was she, as a complete blessing, and profound was my grief when she was taken from me. But I did not pursue her with the unthinking ardour of a burning desire, nor was my soul consumed in its fires. I saw that she was good and serene, and her beauty was an added charm. I sought her in the noontide of life, as one seeks shade in the noontide of day.”

“But, sir, I beseech you, do not judge us all by this high and inhuman ideal. We cannot all be sages. The passions will speak with terrible insistence in youth, however heavy a chain of habit and restraint may encompass them, and I cannot think there is[Pg 174] aught unworthy or degrading in their petulant voice. We love not the less nobly and purely because passion is the font from which our love springs. If it prompts imperious exactions, may it not be that it urges sublime devotions? Man has nobly died for the sake of that romantic love you condemn, and what sacrifice can be finer than a woman’s surrender to it?”

“There should be neither sacrifice nor death. Reasonable beings should strive to meet and fulfil the decrees of destiny, in measure and calm acceptance of the laws of nature; not upon any violent urgence of the emotions, allow themselves to be swept away and precipitated into depths like powerless leaves whipped by the blast.”

“But if I recognise the decree of destiny that commands me to love Inarime, must I not obey it?”

“Be temperate; that is all I ask of you. Be just, too, and as little foolish and indiscreet as it is possible for a young man so blinded as you are,” said Selaka, and I thought he did not look extremely offended or discomposed by my impulsiveness.

“And when will you consent to put my discretion and my wisdom to the proof?” I persisted.

“To-morrow morning we will go to Mousoulou.”

To-morrow, Inarime, to-morrow! That was all I could think of as I sat and counted the hours, and my heart now sank within me in the complete prostration of yearning, and then rose to intoxicating heights upon the splendid wings of promise. I walked up and down the terrace all night, and watched the stars, as glorious and varied as the hopes that sprang and wavered and clamoured around me. Oh, the [Pg 175]stillness, the soft yet sharp enchantment of a night-watch upon an Ægean island! The distant murmur of the restless sea breaks the silence of the land, and the shadowy hills fall into the dense veil of the valleys. The charm enters the soul like a pang, and it works upon the quickened senses with the subtle mingling of exasperation, of poignant and tranquil feelings. I felt chill as the twilight crept slowly over the night, and the stars began to pale and drop, one by one, out of the dim sky, like extinguished lamps, tracing a faint milky-way where their blue and golden illumination had been. Then quickly shot into the eastern horizon an arch of blood-red cloud, and showed the sea silver beneath it, and over this scarlet bridge appeared the sun, like a ball of living light ready to explode upon the pallid scene. And then the birds of the orchard began their piercing harmonies, and the wide spears of the grasses glistened with their crystal gathering of the night-dews. Day had come; my day, Inarime, and yours.

Contact with cold water did duty for sleep. I felt quite refreshed when I entered the little sitting-room where the coffee and Koulouria were served.

“You are early,” said Selaka, greeting me with an intangible smile, “and yet I am not wrong in believing you were walking on the terrace long after every one had gone to bed.”

I nodded, and drank my coffee as if it were nectar. I almost choked myself in my eagerness to dispatch my Koulouria, and hugely pleased Annunziata by begging another cup of her excellent coffee. One has not just[Pg 176] recovered from a fever and held a tryst with the stars without serious result to one’s appetite.

After breakfast, under a delicately-clouded sky, we rode through the episcopal village of Xinara, this time, to my satisfaction, unaccompanied by Aristides. The narrowness of the passage compelled us to ride in single file until we had passed the bishop’s palace and all the gardens and pigeon-holed hamlets with their bright terraces and flowers. We turned up off the path round the great Castro, which, near, looks even more impressive than afar, burnt red and brown with the sun and rain, the wild thyme making a purple and scented haze upon its enormous flanks. Skirting the ruins of Borgo, all the valleys and vine plantations and orchards, girdled with hill beyond hill, burst upon our view in a magnificent panorama. Everywhere the sharp contrast of silver, olive and blue sea, and beneath us a vein of humid light flashed and twisted itself like quicksilver through the plain, until a bar of rocks broke it into an impetuous descent of foam. Silence lay upon the land, and alternately soft and glowing colours were swept across the empty hills by the wind-pursued clouds and the variations of sun-fire. Here and there little petulant torrents dashed noisily down the precipices, to twine themselves in the valleys and resume their wild course, wherever the rocks rose and shot them into frothy music. As we rode through each village, the curs came out, and stood near a group of pigs to examine us with a depressed and listless air, or bark at us from the ledge of a rock in a half-hearted way. Children with matted hair and glances of dull curiosity, surveyed us gravely, and whispered their opinions,[Pg 177] and the villagers stared at us with inconvenient candour and solemnity. As we neared Mousoulou, a fine mist began to fall from the upper peaks, like a thin veil gradually thickening until it enveloped the landscape in a grey pall. I enjoyed the prospects of damp mountain scenery, but I could see that Selaka, like all Greeks, was made unhappy and nervous by it.

We reached Mousoulou drenched. A lover may be permitted to shrink from presenting the front of a water-dog to his mistress, and I was keenly relieved to learn that Inarime and her aunt were out when we arrived. An old woman welcomed us, and offered Selaka one sofa of honour and me another. We were administered a glass of cognac, then Selaka left me to listen to the wind howling furiously against the windows, bending the heads of the flowers on the terrace, and freezing my feet as it blew in under the chinks of the five doors that opened off the room. Undeterred by the rain, the villagers came in batches to inspect the stranger—men, women and children. It was a kind of theatrical entertainment for them, with the agreeable merit of being free of charge, and they availed themselves of the occasion with great good-will. The delighted old woman stayed and did the honours of the spectacle, explained me and appraised me with refreshing candour, and after a burst of exclamations, they all stood round perfectly calm, a row of offensive statues.

Can any reader, not experienced, possibly conjecture the nameless irritation of thus being silently, mercilessly stared at, and what black thoughts of murder may rush through the excited brain under it? I think not. When at last I had reached the white-heat of exasperation under[Pg 178] this awful Greek gaze, I rose and turned my back on my tormentors.

The landscape was now folded in a grey mist, broken by the lines of the walls, the spires and perforated belfries. Out of this grey picture showed patches of brown earth and dark rock below the draped head of Mount Elias, and the trees looked like ghosts. The sky was a field of colourless cloud, and the flower-heads on the terrace pierced the opaline vapour with eyes of brilliant reproach. On a distant hill-curve a group of animals were shivering, and near by the raindrops made big pools upon the marble pavement. And soon the grey grew to opaque white, and rushed from the brow of Mount Elias like a swift cloud blotting out the meadows and valleys. Where was the glory of the morning? And where was the warmth of my heart?

“Do you know, sir, that I am inclined to think that I have been quite long enough on view?” I cried, when Selaka returned.

Selaka smiled, and I burst into an irritable laugh, which seemed to impress the audience in the light of a new act. They pressed nearer, and broke into inarticulate sounds of wonder and grave approval. I thought they meditated a general embrace, but they contented themselves with keeping the air from me, poisoning the atmosphere, and expectorating profusely.

“Don’t you think, sir, that it would be possible to hint politely that the entertainment is over?” I piteously implored.

Upon a word and gesture of authority, the audience straggled out, and doubtless held a parliament elsewhere to discuss the remarkable phenomenon.

[Pg 179]

“Surely your daughter is not out in this rain?” I asked, as soon as we were left to ourselves.

“No, she is sheltering in Steni. She accompanied her aunt on a visit to a sick woman.”

I looked round the large nude room, so chill and cheerless after Selaka’s pretty sitting-room. The floor was marked with the wet clogs of the recent explorers, and small rivers traversed it, flowing from our umbrellas. The beams of the ceiling were supported by white arches, and vulgar Italian pictures hung upon the whitewashed walls. It was the dreariest place possible in which to await one’s beloved, and then the sense of dampness, the deafening patter of rain against the windows, the wind roaring and rising in frantic gusts, and earth and sky one inextricable sea of grey! Most utterly wretched did I feel. I had much to do to keep the tears of acute disappointment from my eyes, and depression settled upon me as heavy as the impenetrable vapours outside.

The noonday dinner was served, and like a philosopher Selaka enjoyed the vermicelli soup, the pilau, and dish of larks stewed in tomatoes. I ate, too, mechanically, with my glance and ear strained in feverish intensity for the slightest premonition of Inarime’s return. And as we sat drinking our coffee I could see with rapture that the colourless mist was rolling rapidly off the earth, and above, delicately-tinted clouds were beginning to show themselves upon the slate ground. The sun peeped out through a blurred and ragged veil, and looked as if he intended to dry the deluged world, and pale gold streaked the jagged banks of red and [Pg 180]yellow haze. Down the village street came the sound of hoofed feet, and Selaka rushed forward.

I went and stood at a window, and made a screen of the curtain. Selaka had promised, upon my insistent prayer, to leave me but one moment alone with Inarime before introducing me to her aunt. I saw a tall massive woman, wrapped in a blue cloak, enter, and deposit her wet umbrella in an opposite corner with maddening slowness. I glanced behind her, and here stood Inarime enveloped in some brown garment with a knot of red ribbon at her throat. She wore a red hood, and the moist air and quick ride had left the glow of a pomegranate flower upon her cheek. She stood in the middle of the room, and looked grave inquiry at her father. He nodded reassuringly, told her to wait for him there, and took his sister’s arm to lead her into the inner room.

I came out of my hiding-place. There was something so solemn, so ineffable in the moment, that I rejected all speech as inadequate. I simply stood there looking at Inarime as I have never yet looked at any woman, and then I said:—“Inarime!”

I held out both hands. She turned, and without making any movement towards me looked at me. Again her eyes gave me the impression of eyes that are dazzled with light. They were clear as amber, crystal as her soul, and held mine in willing bondage. Before then my pulses had throbbed with expectation and hope; now they were quieted, numbed almost by sheer intensity of feeling in the trace of gazing silence.

“Inarime!” I said again, and this time my voice dropped to a whisper.

[Pg 181]

Unconsciously she seemed drawn to me, and while our hands met and clasped, our eyes dwelt on each other in grave delight.

“You have not spoken to me, Inarime,” I said.

“Who are you?” she asked, as a wondering child might.

“Has your heart not told you, Inarime?”

Something like fear and humble pleading strove with the mastery of her proud restrained expression. It was so new and perilous to her, that she hardly knew to what she might not have silently pledged herself. She hastily withdrew her hands, but still her eyes rested on mine and sought solution in their depths.

“Oh, I am afraid,” she murmured, and a wave of intangible pain swept over her strong face.

“Not of me, Inarime; not of me,” I entreated, and drew near to gather her hands again.

Before either of us could realise or stay the volcanic influences that impelled us in an irresistible shock, my arms were round her and our lips were one.

*         *         *         *         *         *         *

Here Reineke’s note book, of which I was glad to avail myself, grows too incoherent and impassioned for further use. The author will try to tell the rest of his story.

[Pg 182]


It was unknown, as regards time, to Reineke and Inarime whether minutes or hours had passed before Selaka and his sister rejoined them. The massive woman looked sharply at Gustav, then nodded to her brother in emphatic approval. A keen and not unkindly glance took in the situation, and it was possible she liked Reineke all the more for the tell-tale colour that mounted to his cheeks under her searching inspection.

“Now, my children,” said Selaka, with as near an approach to the ordinary gesture of rubbing the hands as a man so wedded to the customs and restraint of the ancients could display. Here was a son-in-law, if you will, not a popinjay from Athens, not a superficial European, not a gross Teniote; but a man who was accustomed to deep draughts from the old founts of learning! Whose youth still ran fire through his veins, while the beauty of his face was enhanced by a delicate suggestion of strength and burning life! Yes, Selaka was thoroughly pleased with Gustav, and, in spite of his philosophic condemnation of the impetuosities and frenzied purposes of an age he had long since passed, something within him thrilled to their memoried delights. Upon reflection, he would perhaps have viewed less[Pg 183] enthusiastically the love of a saner and older man for Inarime; and there might be moments of sceptical acknowledgment of the sage reticence and colder blood of the other different son-in-law he had dreamed of. There remained nothing now to be discovered but the pecuniary circumstances of Reineke, and some slight knowledge of his parentage. He looked very unlike a German, but German blood might be crossed as well as any other. Inarime had escaped, and Reineke stood rivetted to the very spot she had left with a dazed look on his face as if he felt rather than saw. He was awakened from the dreamy sensations that enveloped him by the touch of Kyria Helene’s hand.

“Pericles tells me that you have come to take Inarime from us,” said she, and then nodded reassuringly to him, as if she thought it on the whole an extremely reasonable intention on his part.

“I am glad you think me worthy,” said Gustav, with a foolish lover’s smile.

“Oh, for that I don’t know; you may and you may not be. Young people must take their chance; it’s for them to choose, and for them to decide. You are comfortably off, I hope?”

“Comfortably off!” burst out Gustav in radiant incoherence, “you ask a man to whom the gates of Paradise have been opened if he is comfortably off? I pray you, do not speak to me about it; settle everything as you will, only leave me to my thoughts and my happiness.”

This might suit a lover, but could hardly be expected to suit the young lady’s guardians.

“That is very well, but I refer to your means of [Pg 184]support. Are you in a position to maintain a wife?” asked the practical Kyria Helene.

“I do not know,” said Gustav; “I am accounted a rich man.”

“But do your people live in Germany?” she proceeded, catechising him severely.

And then came the one great difficulty in Gustav’s path. Oh, if he could have abjured his nationality, gladly then would he have done so. A Turk, and to confess that to these Greeks!—It seemed a horrible risk. Gathering all his energies together, he shook back his head defiantly, and rather gasped than said:

“No, my people do not live in Germany. I am not a German. I am a Turk.”

“A Turk!” cried the woman, and held up her hands in dismay and repulsion.

To Selaka no word was possible; for him the Turk was the symbol of all that is most hateful in his country’s past. He stood transfixed, staring at the young man whom a moment ago he had been prepared to take to his heart, and to whom he had so readily consigned the one treasure of his existence. No, that was not possible. Inarime wed a Turk! It did not seem to him that worse degradation could be for a daughter of free Greece! Despite his contempt of the present, his patriotic pride was very fierce and unbending. He took a step nearer to Gustav, who was looking at him now not defiantly but imploringly, and said:

“There is surely some mistake. Perhaps you mean that you have been born in Turkey. But your name is surely German?”

“No, my name is not German, I merely adopted a[Pg 185] German name in coming to Greece so that I might not wound national susceptibilities, and bring upon myself unnecessary coldness. My name is Daoud Bey. Kyria Selaka, what difference can this make? I love not Inarime the less because my people once oppressed yours. I am not responsible for the blunders of generations. You do not surely imagine that I am less likely to cherish and reverence your daughter than one of her own countrymen? Rather do I believe that the very fact of the past wrongs that her race endured at the hands of mine will add to my solemn charge on the day she entrusts herself to my care. That it shall not be for her grief you may believe, for I love her. Besides, you must think of Inarime, if even you refuse to think of me. For now she is mine, and nothing in regard to my nationality or race can alter that fact. You must accept it.”

“I do not accept it,” said Selaka, “my daughter will not marry a Turk. I have said it.” Words of reproach for the lateness of the avowal were on his lips but he repressed the natural retort “you have deceived me.”

“Is this your decision?” asked Gustav, growing chill with fright.

“It is my decision.”

“Then I will only abide by the voice of Inarime. If she bids me go, I will go even without her, but not otherwise. You may be her father, but I am her lover. You have the claim of long years of devoted care and affection, and I have but the claim of a moment of transcendent passion. But, sir, your claim weighed with mine would prove but a feather as opposed to the barque of love on the waters of destiny!”

[Pg 186]

“No, I think not,” said Selaka. “Inarime will see your race in her lover, and she will not take your name, whatever the effort of parting may cost her.”

“Kyrie Selaka,” cried Gustav, with frantic urgency, “I have but one request to make you, and you must grant it. Not one word of this will be uttered to Inarime; she will only hear from my lips of that which you regard as an impassable barrier to our union.”

Selaka shot a swift inquiry in the direction of his sister.

“I think,” said Helen, “we may accede to this demand. It is reasonable, and it does the young man credit that he should urge it.”

Gustav looked his humble gratitude, and then went out on the terrace, which was nearly dry after the recent deluge. The wet leaves gleamed under their clear burden, while the damp air brought out all the exquisite odours of hillside and valley. Gustav could have almost laughed aloud in the surety of triumph. What could it matter to him the decision of two cold-blooded old people, who perhaps never knew the mighty force of love, or, having known it, had completely forgotten it? He allow himself to be calmly divorced from his mate, and sit down tamely upon the sudden ruins of his life! Such mad acceptance of the control of others might be befitting a phlegmatic Teuton, but it was quite incompatible with the fire of an Oriental. And, then, Inarime could not forsake him; and this theory of race antagonism would be shivered on the first word of his that should fall on her ears. It would mean only a little delay; some indecision, and perhaps some tears; and then for them success lay ahead. Oh, why[Pg 187] does nature give youth its volcanic impulse and its ardent impetuosity! Strife, struggle, delay! These but gave an added impetus to his passion.

Flaming clouds shot from the west, heralds to proclaim the sun’s departure in one burst of splendour. They touched the plane and pepper-trees with light, and spurred the lagging birds into song. A breeze, like a sigh after protracted sobbing, swept from the east, and met the moist earth with a throb of promise. It brushed past over Reineke’s hot cheek, and fanned his thrilled senses into exultation. A silent shout of defiance from the invisible host that march in the wake of triumphant love went up, and Reineke felt his heart impervious to doubt. He heard a step, a light, quick step that he should have recognised in a thousand, and it lashed him with insufferable force.

“Inarime! stay! One moment, beloved,” he cried, in a voice of prayer.

That prayer was her command. She stood still, but did not dare advance lest answering passion should fling her in transport into his arms.

They stood thus, trifling with the eternal moments, their aching glances rivetted as under the spell of enchantment. Then he moved towards her, and her hands met his in silence.

“You are mine, Inarime,” he said, in a whisper. “Nothing now can alter that.”


It was hardly speech. Her lips moved, but it was her eyes that spoke.

“Say it aloud, beloved, that all may hear it, and[Pg 188] know that you promised,—the earth, the trees, the birds and the departing sun. Aloud! Aloud!”

“I am afraid! Can I know? Who are you? Tell me, tell me.”

She retreated, but held him with the bewildering tenderness of her glance.

“Your lover! Lord of you, my lady. Inarime, your husband.”

“I love you,” she cried, and covered her face with her hands.

“My own! Your eyes spoke first. I knew it. Nothing shall part us. Say you believe it.”

“I cannot; but I love you.”

He drew nearer, and his dark, impassioned gaze flamed fire into hers. His breath was on her hair, and he held her hand to his lips.

“Oh, my beloved, thou art the eye of my soul, the voice of my heart,” he burst out, incoherently. At that moment of high-wrought sensation and terrible sincerity, he could no more hold Eastern metaphor in abeyance than he could bid his gaze close upon the light it avidly drank—as sun-drained flowers drink dew. The restraints of European customs and education were broken and overtopped by the strong heat of passion, and wild words gushed upon its wave.

“Inarime, Inarime, thy slim fingers are the rivets that bind my willing feet to high service. Command me! Anything, I pray, but silence and averted looks. Withhold me not thy promise.”

“I cannot,” she said again, startled by his outburst.

“Nay, thou art offended. Oh! blind me not with[Pg 189] thy anger, Inarime. But as thou wilt. Thy anger will I bear rather than that thou shouldst leave me. O fair one, O desired of my life! Thy kiss upon my eyelids shall be as the dawn of my Paradise. Be to me, sweet, as an angel of morning. Lift the gloom and fever of unsatisfied longing from my heart. Be to me as the sun, moon, and stars to this earth of ours—light, life, warmth, and colour. I grow chill with the fear of thy unwillingness, Inarime. Worse than perpetual deafness were to my ear thy ‘nay.’ But ‘nay’ it cannot be, beloved. Thou lovest me. The light has shown it in thy eyes. My voice has revealed it on thy face. Mine art thou, O Inarime, and by our love must thou abide.”

“Can I promise, not knowing? But I love you,” she cried, and her voice rose in passionate protest, as though she felt the blood of feeling rise within her like a mighty sea and encompass her to her doom.

They looked at each other an instant gravely—a look of immeasurable love! And while the flaming heralds were ebbing back into the sea, and the sunken sun followed them through a bed of crimson and orange, drawing a purple pall over his vacated place, these two were locked in each other’s arms. Hush, foolish birds! There is no song of yours sweet enough to pierce their ears. The harmonies of love have swelled upon the silence, and its song is measured by their heart-beats.

Inside, two others were holding sharp counsel over the destiny of this miserable privileged pair.

“Can nothing satisfactory be settled, Pericles?” asked Helene.

[Pg 190]

“Certainly. He goes,” retorted her brother, bringing down his upper lip shortly upon this unpleasant decision.

“But he is rich, Pericles. Be a sane father for once in your life. A rich man! Panaghia mou! You are an idiot.”

“He is a Turk.”

“Oh, a Turk! Never fear, I will keep a careful eye upon him. With me there will be no danger. He will neither desert Inarime, nor outrage her with other wives.”

“I have not thought of that,” said Pericles, reflectively.

Dystychia mou! that is the only thing to be feared in wedding a Turk,” remarked the practical Kyria Helene.

“It is a side-issue, important, I admit, but below the main barrier. I had forgotten, however, that the sentimental and impersonal side would be the one least likely to touch you, Helene.”

“Sentiment and impersonality won’t find your daughter a suitable match, I can assure you,” said Helene, wisely.

“True enough. But you are ever there, my sister, to shunt the train on to the proper line when you detect a tendency to divagation.”

He smiled sadly as he spoke, for his heart was torn with the torture of the coming severity for those tender young people outside. He heard the ardent murmur of Reineke’s voice, and his eyes filled with tears. But he knew that there were no words the lover could utter that would make him abandon his first decision. That[Pg 191] Inarime would seek to shake his resolution he had no fear. Was she not Greek of the very Greek?

“Well, and what are you going to do, Pericles?”

“Inarime will stay here with you, and he will return with me to Xinara at once. Tell your servant to call for the mules. Ten minutes more will I give them, and then their parting is irrevocable.”

“But if Inarime loves this young man? He says she does.”

“Trust her to me. It will be a wrench, but she will get over it. I will take her to Athens, and through the Peloponnesus. New scenes will heal the ache of a young heart.”

Meanwhile, the two outside had dropped from the pinnacle of hardly conscious bliss. She knew his name now, and was standing with one hand stretched across his breast and resting upon his shoulder, and their speech was a happy murmur. No thought of separation here. A life together was what they were speaking of when Selaka interrupted them.

“My children, it is time to part,” he said.

“To part!” cried Inarime. “Then I am not to return to Xinara to-night with you—and him?”

“You are to stay here, and he is to go. Have you not told her?” he demanded sternly of Reineke.

“Nay, sir, consider. Had I time? Can I tell her?” Gustav pleaded, with a broken voice.

Inarime looked from one to the other. In the dusk the light in her lover’s eyes seemed to baffle her searching gaze, and she approached her father a step, her glance still wedded to Gustav’s.

[Pg 192]

“What is there to tell me?” she commanded of both.

“He is a Turk, my daughter. There can be nothing between you,” said Selaka, sadly.

“Oh, father! That may not be. I love him, his lips have sealed my promise upon mine. I cannot now take back that which I have given. You do not forsake me?” she cried, turning to Gustav, in an impulse of childish yearning.

“I! Inarime!”

His throat rose and choked further speech. He held out his arms, and her head sought protection on his breast.

“Inarime, are you not shamed? Leave that man’s embrace. What! do you not see in him the long years of servitude and degradation under which your country groaned? Are you less proud, less worthy of your glorious ancestors than the Greek woman who flung herself and her babes from a rock into the engulfing sea rather than yield to Turkish embraces? Does Hellenic blood run so sluggishly in your veins that revolt does not cry for shame? Come to me, my daughter. That man and you must part.”

“Have pity, sir, I beg you,” almost shouted Gustav, lifting up his head, which had been bent upon the girl’s, and still holding her form closely to him. “Is there no eloquence in her tears? Can I say naught to shake your harsh resolve?”

“Naught. Young tears are soon dried. Inarime!”

She lifted her head from Gustav’s breast, and held her throat to keep back the fierce sobs that shook her.

“Father,” she said, “have I ever disobeyed you?[Pg 193] Have I ever once deliberately thwarted or offended you?”

“Never, my beloved child, never. To me you have been a reward and a support.”

“Then, father, by that past unblotted by tear or wrangle, by the memory of my mother, by your own vanished youth, I beseech you, spare me! I love him, father, leave him to me,” she cried.

Her hands were in Gustav’s, and her praying eyes pierced the heart of Selaka.

“My child, you know not what you ask. I tell you, the man is a Turk. It is mad, it is base of you to be willing to give yourself to him. Do not force me to renounce you.”

She dropped Gustav’s hands, and her face was blanched in a transport of pain.

“Oh, father, blame me not. Your voice has never yet been harsh to me. I am young. Show me some pity. Think what it is, on the threshold of life, to be asked to relinquish life’s best happiness. Plead with me—you,” she urged Gustav, her brows drawn in one line of repressed anguish.

“Sir, is there any sacrifice you will be satisfied with as a proof that for her sake I must utterly renounce my nationality? If I adopt Greece as my home, and your name instead of mine? Inarime is my life, my world, my future,” cried Gustav.

“You are a Turk. You cannot undo or alter that fact.”

“Father, I cannot give him up,” said Inarime.

“Then you are dead to me. Choose between us, my child. Marry him, and go hence without a[Pg 194] father. Drop your past, and take up your future alone.”

“Oh, sir, this is a cruel choice for so tender a daughter. I cannot allow it,” Gustav protested.

“It is my decision. Choose at once, Inarime.”

“Leave you, father, or leave—him?” she said, slowly, dazed with the stress of the moment.

She looked from one to the other, and then with a little sob flung out her arms towards her father, her eyes fastened in piteous entreaty on Gustav’s.

“You will forgive me,” she whispered to Gustav; “you will understand? My father! I cannot leave him. He cared so greatly for me. It would be wicked. It would be cruel. He is old. We are young. Oh, dear God, help me!” she cried, in shuddering sobs, but when her father approached to touch her, she shrank from him in a kind of dismay and repugnance.

Shaken by an answering force of agony, Gustav was on his knees before her, kissing her dress, her feet, her icy fingers. She trembled, and a wave of colour spread over her face as she stooped and pressed her hands against his wet eyes.

“Dearest, it will be worse for me,” she murmured.

“It is monstrous. I cannot, I will not accept dismissal. Youth is the time of ardent purpose and revolt. Every nerve in our bodies, every beat of our hearts must revolt against such cruelty. Your father must relent if we both join against him.”

“I will not relent. Stand up, Herr Reineke. Accept your sentence like a man, and be not less brave than a mere child.”

Thus chidden, Reineke stood up, like one struck[Pg 195] mortally. His glance never left Inarime’s and both were filled with an unfathomable tenderness.

“Go, my daughter, to your room. This gentleman and I will start at once for Xinara.”

Inarime made a step back towards the window, her face still turned to Reineke’s, as a flower’s to the sun.

“Inarime!” cried Gustav, and in an instant she had bounded across the terrace, and was clinging to him as if for sheer life.

“You see, sir,” said Gustav, looking up triumphantly, when their lips were parted. “Love is ever conqueror.”

“I think not. My daughter, say at once, is this our parting—our last parting and our first?”

Inarime lifted her head and removed her arms from her lover’s neck. She gazed questioningly at both men, begged for pity from the one, and for strength from the other.

The old man was sad and stern, as immovable as his own great Castro. Gustav’s beautiful Eastern face was aflame and radiant in youth and strength and passion.

Could she forsake the old and worn?

“Not that, father, not that,” she cried.

“Then leave that man and go inside.”

“I will obey you, father,” she said. “Farewell,” she cried, turning to Gustav, and with one long look she passed from the terrace.

[Pg 196]


The last word has been spoken, the last look exchanged between the lovers, and the wrench of parting is over. Gustav declined to accompany Selaka back to Xinara; he was too shaken for society other than his own. Inarime had bent to her father’s decision, and had accepted the sundering of their lives. More than this he hardly knew.

When Selaka rode down the village, Gustav followed on foot, and knew not whither he went,—content to drift along without purpose or desire. Yet he dreaded the weakness of succumbing to a merely whimpering sorrow. That something had gone from him to which he clung with a kind of frenzied fervour he felt, but he was resolved that the sense of desolation should not conquer him. He had said that he would accept his fate at Inarime’s bidding; now, that that fate seemed harder than human endurance, it was not for him to rebel in impotent anguish, but to endeavour bravely to face the empty world.

As he entered the village of Steni, he saw a little band of villagers approach the Greek church, and, hardly knowing why, he followed them. The church was lit, and in the middle upon a table was a tray of sweets and two long candles, upon which rested two[Pg 197] wreaths joined by a long white ribbon. Pricked by the dull curiosity of a man who no longer feels interested in himself, he pushed his way on up the church, lounged against the pillar and gazed with a strange calmness upon the ceremonial, that soon began. No one who saw him would interpret his impassivity of attitude and look as the despair of a suddenly wrecked life.

The man beside him, standing with his hat on his head, and wearing the preoccupied air with a visible nervousness that usually betokens the happy man upon the portals of marriage, was a mere village clod in an unpicturesque European garb, who stood beside his best man waiting for the bride. A stout, plain, village girl was ushered into the church in a whirlwind of excitement, surrounded by a circle of feminine satellites. She neither looked at the bridegroom, nor at any one else, but kept her eyes fixed in sullen acquiescence on the ground.

She wore a bright-coloured kerchief on her head, with a band of coins round her forehead; and a profusion of jewellery decked her muscular throat and arms. Very expensively and tastelessly was she arrayed, and most miserable did she look in her finery. The fixed misery of her face interested Gustav, who naturally thought it quite in keeping with the lesson of life, that every one should look wretched. Three priests advanced to wed this uncomely couple, and the evolutions that followed struck Gustav with astonishment. He listened to the priests as they droned out the wedding service, and held the Gospel now to the bridegroom’s lips and then to the bride’s; and so on,[Pg 198] three times; watched them place the long lighted tapers in the hands of each; watched the pair give and accept rings, and passively submit to the decoration of the wreaths of artificial flowers, exchanged three times upon either head.

Involuntarily Gustav smiled at the grotesque sight presented by the village clod in his wreath of roses, and then marvelled when the priests and principal personages, with their attendant swains and nymphs, caught hands in a circle, and danced with inconceivable gravity round the table backwards and forwards three times, the bride and bridegroom still wearing their look of dull wretchedness. Good heavens! Was this the kind of ceremony he would have been bound to go through in his marriage with Inarime? to find himself hauled round a table, as sailors haul in the anchor, bound in that degrading fashion with roses! It was some slight salve for his wound to gaze in contempt at this pastoral introduction to marriage, and when a little mischievous boy upset the tray in order that he and his friends might taste of its contents in the scuffle that ensued, and was frantically cuffed and sworn at by the angry priests, Gustav burst out into gloomy laughter, and made his way as well as he could out of the church.

He walked down the darkened street heavy-hearted, thinking of Inarime; he dropped into the rough decline that leads to Xinara, and mingled with the sad images of the day were the cruel dulness of the bride’s face and the tame acceptance of the bridegroom. After all, perhaps it was so; this might be the symbol of marriage, and not the high ideal he yearned for.

[Pg 199]

Under a rocky projection he saw a man who had been pointed out to him as a semi-idiot. An ambitious mother had sent him as a lad to Marseilles; thence he had made his way up to Paris; and now this was his state. Three years of stormy life in that nefarious city had turned a bright lad into a bald, aged idiot, only twenty-five, looking more than fifty. He was staring stupidly down through the thickening shadows to where the sea beat against the distant shore: staring out from the barren island that oppressed him; living acutely and horribly in memory.

Comforted by the sight of a fellow-sufferer, Gustav stopped and said good-night. The wretched man glanced at him in dreary reproach.

“It used to be good-night over there in Paris; the boulevards were lit and there were laughter and gaiety around, happy voices, music, cabs, and pretty women. Here nothing, nothing, nothing, but the everlasting sea and sky and the pathless mountain sides. Don’t say good-night to me, sir, I am dead, irretrievably damned, damned, damned in hell!”

Gustav thought he was not the only living man who thought this world a hell, and turned round by the desolate Castro. He climbed up the rocks, overjoyed by the sensation of complete discomfort, of torn hands and bruised members. Then he stretched himself on the top of the rock, and looked out across the shadowy waters. The first faint glimmer of the crescent shone in the glossy sky, and the stars looked like drops of fire hanging above the world. There was no sound save the far-off roar of the waterfalls thundering down their marble rocks, or the musical clang of the goat[Pg 200] and sheep bells as the shepherds gathered in their flocks for the night. Sometimes a light flamed from a distant window. Gustav thought of old stories he had read, in which maidens placed lights in their windows to light their lovers, or wives as a message to their husbands. The loneliness of his future broke in upon him in a flood of self-pity. There was only one window he wanted to see lighted for him, and that now would be eternally dark. Tears sprang to his eyes, and then, fearful of the horror of the gathering outburst he felt within him, he jumped down the rocks, now sliding, now racing on, tangling his limbs in the bushes and furzes, and shot down the path that hung over the little village of Xinara.

Demetrius saw him pass with flying feet, with set lips, and unseeing eyes; and the popular shop-keeper turned to his patient satellites, Johannes and Michael, and observed:

“He’s been to Mousoulou; I heard it all; the wedding takes place immediately.”

“He’s a good-looking fellow,” said Johannes, apprehensive of the reception of this innocent remark from so susceptible a leader.

“As for that, yes, and he’s getting a good-looking wife, though she does dress outlandishly, and turns up her nose at my stuffs. She got that yellow gown at Syra, and I can’t say I admire the big buttons she wears.”

“Well,” said Michael, reflectively, “she is a very learned young woman, and writes very fine letters for our women. I don’t know what they’ll do when she goes away. I know my girl in Constantinople won’t[Pg 201] be in the way of hearing much from my wife.”

“Ay, that’s so,” said Demetrius, “she’ll be missed as letter-writer, and I’m not so sure that the place won’t seem a good deal smaller and duller when we’ve not her handsome face to look at.”

In the courtyard Gustav brushed up against Aristides, who glared at him and muttered a curse as he removed his frame from the doorway, where he had been airing his ill-humour for the benefit of Annunziata, busy making the new Misythra.

“Here he is,” he said to his good-tempered listener, engaged just then on the delicate process of straining off the sheep’s milk and tying up the remainder of clotted cream tightly in a linen cloth.

Gustav strode up to her and said in an unfamiliar voice, chill and remote like an echo:

“I am going.”

The pleasant old woman laid down her jar, dried her hands, and took hold of his, tightening upon them with an inspiriting and sympathetic grasp.

“My poor child, may God and His saints go with you! I know all. By my faith, I see no reason why you should go. The Turk, we know, is a heretic, but you would marry my Inarime according to the Greek rite. You would be faithful to her as a Christian should be.”

“Faithful!” cried Gustav, vehemently. “Gladly would I die for her.” But he did not see that of the two this is much the easier to do.

“Yes, yes,” said Annunziata, “young men in love talk very tall; when the fit passes, they do very little. But I like you, and I am sorry for you. Go away[Pg 202] now; it is better so. Be assured that your interests here will not suffer by being left in my hands.”

The tears were perilously near his eyelids; he struggled with rising emotion, flung himself round, and in a moment his figure made a vanishing and graceful shadow in the upper air. Selaka was within, pacing the room in perplexed thought, when the young man entered.

“Sir, is this your last word? Must I go and not bear with me the hope of returning?” demanded Gustav.

“You must,” said Selaka, gravely, “you cannot undo your birth, nor can I.”

Gustav waited not for another word, but rushed into his room, hastily gathered his things together, and reappeared in the little parlour with his portmanteau in his hand. He stood in front of Selaka, and looked at him steadily.

“Should this grief be too much for her?”

“She is strong, and she is brave,” said Selaka, “and she will overcome it.”

“Good God!” said Gustav, “have you no thought of the girl’s heart? Are there forces in nature, think you, to dispel or even dull its yearning? Is there ever a barrier to the union of two souls! What you play with is her happiness, for the sake of your own patriotic pride.”

Selaka did not answer, but covered his eyes with his hand, and said:

“It must be so. We are bound irrevocably by ties nearer, more sacred, than any impulse of nature. There are animosities that cannot shrink and vanish[Pg 203] under such considerations as you urge; there is a degradation that cannot be faced by any free spirit! Under other circumstances, I should have regarded your marriage with my daughter as an honour for me and a happiness for her. But that is at an end. You will go hence, and you will forget us, but you may believe that our kindest wishes will follow you wherever you may go.”

They shook hands, and thus they parted. Gustav found Aristides waiting for him outside, with a mule for himself and a donkey for his portmanteau; and through the increasing darkness and the shadows of night, which lay like extended wings on the landscape, they rode silently down into the town.

*         *         *          *         *         *         *          *         *

The next morning Pericles was shaken out of his moody disappointment by Constantine’s wild letter written the night before his duel with the lawyer Stavros, and an accompanying note from the brave Captain, dwelling pompously on his gallant demeanour, and explaining that the wound, the result of an awkward shot, was not in the least dangerous, but simply troublesome, and that the presence of Dr. Selaka’s family in Athens was desirable.

“The very thing. Inarime needs a change,” Pericles cried, brightening at the prospect of getting outside his daughter’s grief.

He and Inarime embarked from the little pier for Athens late that afternoon, and it seemed to him a hopeful omen that the forlorn girl looked about her with eyes of interest.

[Pg 204]



New Year’s Eve at Athens by the Greek calendar. The long street of Hermes was an execrable confusion of the mingled sounds of loud chatter, laughter, jostling and popguns. Everybody was buying monster bouquets for presentation on the morrow. Sensitive nerves were laid prostrate in shivering ache by the din of squib and rattle, and the intolerable and unceasing explosions, and the raw colours were an offence to the eye. But the unfastidious Greeks were drunk with excitement and pleasure. They proudly carried the purchased bouquets with which the New Year’s greetings were to be exchanged, ate sweets, laughed hilariously, and took their jostling very good-naturedly. All the booths erected on either side of the street were covered with flowers, and men went about bearing aloft long poles to which bouquets for sale were affixed,—and these wands wore a curious triumphal aspect. Oh, the dolorous strangeness and multiplied effects of an Oriental town in holiday attire! Its clamorous and enervating[Pg 205] gaieties, and its exasperating want of tone! Think of it with a strong sun beating down upon it, with not a touch of shadow or repose to soothe the pained eyes, with incessant speech clanging and clattering through the air, and every delicate sense affronted!

Foreigners and natives were abroad to view and drink at this local fount of joy. One group we recognise. Rudolph Ehrenstein elbows his way through the crowd and turns protectively every moment to his delighted and staring companion, Andromache with the March-violet eyes, whom we last saw with shamed and drooping head flee Madame Jarovisky’s ball-room. How well, and young, and prettily infatuated the pair look! And there is the glorious Miltiades behind them, bearing on his arm his portly and panting mother. Was there ever conqueror so irresistible? ever hero more gallantly conscious of his heroism? The spectator thought of those hapless five thousand Turks, and shuddered; heard the ostentatious rattle of his spurs, and that terrible weapon of destruction hanging from his side in the eloquence of war; looked at the scarlet plumes nodding above his noble brow, measured the awful imposingness of his tall slim form in the sombre simplicity of the Artillery Uniform and his long military boots, and rejoiced that Providence is good enough to limit the number of such heroes, else would surely be exterminated the horde of non-heroic.

This slaughterer of Turks was now content to be regarded as an amiable slaughterer of women. Twirling his fierce moustache, with a casual eye upon the young couple in front, he was looking round eagerly in search of his latest victim, Miss Mary Perpignani,[Pg 206] while his mother breathed shortly on his arm, and kept muttering, “Poh! Poh! Poh! what a crush!” while she vigorously fanned and rubbed her sallow face with her handkerchief.

Above the foolish pair in front, Love’s star shone with a very gentle fulgence. Just a sense of delicious trouble, unmarred by any passionate impulses, stirred Rudolph. There was a delicate fragrance of homage in his shy and boyish fancy. It was a happiness, exquisite in its completeness and unexactingness, to be with Andromache, to listen to her voice and look quickly, with the tell-tale blood of fervour in his face, into her pretty eyes, his own shining and candid and content. Was there ever a sweeter, more innocent idyll? and the pity was that these two should not be allowed to run smoothly and trustingly into the shade of forest depths and live the life of nature, with no knowledge of the shabby compromises of civilisation and the more turbulent emotions of the heart.

He called her Mademoiselle Andromache, and with a look of shyest prayer had prevailed on her to call him sometimes Monsieur Rudolph. But the Monsieur and Mademoiselle tripped by with alarming facility; the tongue dwelt and faltered and whipped scarlet colour into each susceptible cheek upon the Andromache and Rudolph. Flattering, foolish, happy creatures! If pulses never beat less innocently, and senses never stirred more rapturously, the period of loverhood would indeed be a spot of Arcadia upon the rough road of life.

“Does all this not make your head and eyes ache, Mademoiselle Andromache?” he asked.

“No,” said the Greek maid, untroubled by nerves,[Pg 207] and smiled in healthy admiration. “Are not the bouquets pretty?”

“If you think them pretty, they must be pretty,” said Rudolph, striving loyally to see their beauty. “I am glad you like flowers.”

“Why?” asked Andromache, meeting his eyes consciously.

“Because there are such quantities of flowers about my home in Austria. It is a lovely place, Mademoiselle Andromache. Imagine a great forest, so silent and shadowy. Oh, if you could see it in the moonlight! The trees drop silver, and fairies seem to play among the branches. I wish I could show it to you, take you to see the haunted well, and show you my mother’s favourite walk. You would have loved my mother, dear Mademoiselle Andromache. She was so good, so sweet, so gracious. Oh, it was a bitter loss to me. I cannot accustom myself to it. Sometimes I wake up at night and fancy I hear her enter my room, and feel her soft kiss on my forehead—and it is dreary to know that it is only fancy.”

His voice shook and his clear eyes clouded. Andromache involuntarily pressed his arm in sympathy, and when he looked down upon her he saw responsive tears tremble on her lashes.

“Dear Andromache,” he said, in a whisper, “you make me feel less lonely. Ah, how my mother would have loved you!”

And then these shy young persons, desperately afraid of each other and of themselves, rushed eagerly on to impersonal ground.

At the Byzantine church of Camcarea, which quaintly[Pg 208] obstructs Hermes Street, they were jostled out of sight of their escort, upon which Kyria Karapolos was thrown into a state of voluble alarm.

“Where are they, Miltiades? Panaghia mou! Andromache alone with that young man! Come, Miltiades! I shall have a fit if they have gone far.”

“It is all right, mamma,” laughed Andromache, behind them. “We were pushed off the pavement, and had to let some people pass.”

And then she glanced roguishly at Rudolph, and another rivet in the chain of intimacy was added by a sense of peril and crime shared between them.

“Very well, Andromache. You will stay with me now, and Miltiades will bring back Monsieur Ehrenstein to drink coffee with us later.”

The impenitent ruffian, who had endangered her daughter’s reputation, took his dismissal gaily enough; bowed low and smiled delightfully upon both ladies as he took the arm of the stately and stalwart Miltiades, and stood for them to pass:

“Je crois c’est assez,” said Miltiades, with a comprehensive glance up and down the noisy street, which had the bad taste not to show the piquant face of Miss Mary Perpignani.

Rudolph, to whom the Captain’s limited vocabulary in French was a source of perpetual amusement, intimated his concurrence with this opinion, whereupon they ruthlessly beat their way down to Constitution Square.

“Voulez-vous un café et cigarette?” asked the Captain, touching the back of a chair, and the droll anxiety he displayed in uttering this simple demand[Pg 209] sent Rudolph into an explosion of appreciative mirth.

“Non, non, chez-vous, j’aime mieux,” said Rudolph, indistinctly, between gasps of laughter.

Miltiades frowned, and held his head high with a proud, hurt air. His French might be imperfect and his enunciation laborious, but he was not the less for that a hero. By the grave of Hercules! was he to be flouted and mocked by a young jackanapes from Austria?

“Mais, mon ami, il ne faut pas se fâcher,” cried Rudolph, full of remorse and apprehension. “Ah, si vous saviez tout,” he added, and forced Miltiades to stop and shake hands with him.

But how to unbosom oneself to a desired brother-in-law without a common tongue? His Greek was even more limited than the other’s French, and of German the gallant Captain’s knowledge was restricted to the convivial “Trinken Sie Wein,” and “Hoch.” But despite the difficulties in the way of conversation, the young men were delighted to be together.

Miltiades chattered Greek, and looked eager inquiry at Rudolph who nodded significantly, and was as voluble and communicative in French.

What they said neither knew, but a gleam of intelligence broke the not unpleasant darkness occasionally for Miltiades, in such pregnant words as “votre sœur,” “j’aime,” and “épouser.”

“He wants to marry Andromache,” thought Miltiades, drawing himself up, and looking very grave and responsible. “It would be a splendid match for her, but his uncle will never consent to it. However, I’ll give conditional consent.”

[Pg 210]

“Vous,—épouser ma sœur, Andromache?” he said slowly, as he faced Rudolph with the heaviest air of guardian.

“Justement, Monsieur. Je le désire de tout mon cœur,” cried Rudolph, flaming suddenly.

“Ah,” said Miltiades, pausing, and holding the suitor poised on the wing of awful suspense. “Votre oncle?”

Here Rudolph broke out into vehement protestations regarding which not one word did Miltiades understand. They turned up one of the openings off Stadion Street that led direct to the Lycabettus, and here they met little Themistocles, as fresh and dapper and dainty as if he were ready for exhibition on a toy counter.

Miltiades collared him forcibly, and explained the extremity of his need. Charmed by the possession of this sole superiority over the warrior, which his fluent French gave him, little Themistocles lifted his hat, and twirling his cane with an air of graceful ease, placed his services as interpreter at the disposal of Monsieur Ehrenstein.

Thus was cleared the fog of doubt and perplexity. The Jovelike brow of Miltiades smoothed, and the light of approval beamed softly in his dark blue eyes. Little Themistocles minced, and smiled affectedly, and shrugged his shoulders to an incredible extent, until the inferior glory of the Parisian dandy was totally eclipsed. And Rudolph, now that the fatal leap was taken, was full of vague apprehension and nervous tremors. Was he quite so sure as he assumed to be that he had the right to dispose of himself thus? But Andromache was so pretty and tender, and he so greatly loved her!

[Pg 211]

The enchanted brothers, for once partners in feeling and idea, hurried him up the steep, unpaved streets, laughing boisterously as they jumped the flowing streamlets that intersect them, and when they reached the glass door of the beloved’s home, Miltiades rapped sharply against the pane.

“Maria, tell my mother to join us in the salon,” he said.

“Kyria, you are wanted in the salon,” shouted Maria from the passage, shaking her hair out of her eyes the better to stare at Rudolph. “I’m thinking it is Andromache he wants, and not the old lady,” she muttered.

Kyria Karapolos came puffing excitedly from the dining-room at the end of the passage, followed by Julia, who wore her sulkiest air.

“You are not wanted, Julia,” cried Miltiades, striding into the salon, his sword and spurs making a fearful clatter along the floor.

“You are not wanted, Julia,” echoed Themistocles, vindictively, eager to air his own special spite under the cover of Miltiades’ command.

Miltiades frowned and glowered upon him. He resented the liberty of spurious authority in his presence, and a repetition of thunder irritated him. But Rudolph’s presence checked his anger, and when the suitor, the reigning sovereigns and their humble interpreter were seated, there were perfect serenity and dignity in his bearing.

“Monsieur Rudolph Ehrenstein wants to marry Andromache,” he said, opening the proceedings.

Panaghia mou!” cried Kyria Karapolos, with a[Pg 212] look of unutterable astonishment at an announcement hourly expected.

“He says his uncle will not object, and cannot practically interfere,” Miltiades explained.

“And that he is rich enough to dispense with a dowry,” added Themistocles, thereby bringing upon himself a lightning-flame of contempt from the hero of Greece.

Panaghia mou! But I am rejoiced. My dear Monsieur Ehrenstein, you are charming. I am happy to give you Andromache. Oh, but this is a blessed moment for me!” and with that she rose, and emphatically embraced poor Rudolph, whom the ordeal rendered giddy and awkward. This was the signal for general demonstrations of affection. Miltiades shook hands, and kissed the cheeks of his future brother-in-law, and little Themistocles did likewise.

“Order coffee and liqueur, mother,” said Miltiades.

“You are very amiable,” Rudolph said, gratefully, disturbed by the trouble of the moment. “I am sure it will be my pride and happiness to deserve your good-will in the future.”

Kyria Karapolos returned with Andromache, and announced that the refreshments of jubilation would shortly appear.

“Andromache, behold your husband,” exclaimed Miltiades, with a slightly theatrical flourish.

Whereupon little Themistocles sighed profoundly, and retreated to his own chamber to vex the sunset with strains of his asthmatic violin, to muse upon his misery and think of the young lady in the next street. With a significant nod, Captain Miltiades marched away[Pg 213] to imaginary glory, and Kyria Karapolos, in a kindly impulse, found a pretext for a short absence in the necessity for Julia’s presence.

How frightened and shy two confiding young people can be when first confronted with the horrors of a tête-à-tête.

Andromache was ready to sink with shame, and Rudolph’s heart was in his boots. He looked at her with piteous entreaty, but her lashes rested upon her cheek.

“Andromache, you are not afraid of me, you do not like me less because—because——” and there was something extremely like fear in his own voice and in the tender imploring of his eyes.

“Oh, no, but I do not know what to say,” whispered Andromache, still studying the Smyrna rug at her feet.

“Look at me, Andromache, and say—say something kind.”

She lifted her eyes, and they were filled with passionate admiration:

“Say that—that you love me.”

“I love you,” she said, with adorable simplicity.

“Oh, Andromache,” he cried, suffocated with a sudden thrill, and advanced nearer with outstretched hand.

But she retreated in visible dread.

“May I not have your hand, Andromache?”

She gave it, still shrinking, with averted face.

“Won’t you call me Rudolph, dear Andromache?”

“Rudolph,” she whispered, and their eyes met lovingly.

[Pg 214]

Emboldened by his success, he raised her hand to his lips.

“What a pretty hand, Andromache! You are so pretty, dear one. I love you,” he murmured gently, and steps were heard outside.

[Pg 215]


What are the forces, and on whose behalf employed, that trouble the smooth current of true love? We have seen one pair cruelly separated, and now must these innocents be subjected to infamous treatment? Has the sentence from the beginning been irrevocably pronounced, that if both Adam and Eve prove faithful and worthy, their Eden cannot escape the serpent? Must their bliss be poisoned either by the reptile of Fate or by themselves? Poor sorry lovers, there is no peace, no security for you, even in romance. Your only chance of permanent interest lies in the mist of misfortune. The moment you bask in cloudless content, the wings of poetry are clipped, and your garb is the insipidity of commonplace.

The bolt of Destiny was shot from the blue of dreams next morning, when Rudolph was banqueting blissfully with his uncle and aunt at the midday breakfast.

“Rudolph,” said the enemy, in amiable baronial form, “your aunt and I have arranged a charming surprise for you.”

Rudolph looked up quietly, without a smart of premonition, and smiled his pleasantest.

“That is kind, uncle. And the surprise?”

“Well, seeing how bored you are here—and, really,[Pg 216] my dear boy, I am not astonished—we are going to take you on an exciting voyage through the Peloponnesus. We will show you all the historic spots.”

“But, my dear uncle, I have no desire whatever to see the Peloponnesus or any historic spots,” exclaimed Rudolph, paling before the vision of himself wandering away from Andromache. “I hate history, and don’t care a straw for the ancient Greeks.”

“Oh, Rudolph, don’t show me that I’ve built my hopes on you in vain,” exclaimed the baroness, in cheerful dismay. “I have been counting on you to explain everything to me. Your acquaintance with school books is so much more recent than mine, and the baron is even more hazy in his recollections than I.”

“I am very sorry to disappoint you, aunt, but I cannot leave Athens at present. I am not bored, uncle, I assure you. I am very happy, and I love Athens.”

The baron looked at him sharply, and thought he wore much too happy an air.

“Rudolph, I entreat you—if I were not so massive, I would kneel to you,” cried the baron, in mock prayer, “allow us to drag you away for one solitary fortnight from the enchantress, Mademoiselle Photini Natzelhuber. I admit that our society and the sight of historic spots will prove an inadequate substitute for her charms and fascinations, but humour this whim of two old people, and your return to the feet of the yellow-eyed witch of Academy Street will be the more delightful.”

“I don’t know what you mean, uncle,” protested Rudolph, with a look of startled anxiety. “I have not seen Mademoiselle Natzelhuber since Madame Jarovisky’s ball.”

[Pg 217]

“Not possible? Good gracious! that one so young should be so faithless! The contemplation of the perfidy of my own sex, Madame, fills my eyes with tears. But no, I apprehend. It is merely the refined hesitation of innocence. He sighs at her door—serenades her—have you not, Madame, remarked a tell-tale look about his violin?—and consumes quantities of paper. Well, I shall see that there are at least a dozen quires of note paper, of the very best quality, stamped with the family coat-of-arms, placed in your portmanteau, Rudolph, and your aunt and I will retire discreetly into the background while you compose your flaming epistles and frantically adjure the moon and stars instead of Mademoiselle Photini.

“‘Ma Photini, prépare ta toilette,
Il y a un mois que la mienne est déjà faite;
Mes beaux habits, mes seuls habits,
Voilà un mois que je les ai mis.’

There are some verses, ‘une invitation au mariage,’ of which I make you a present. You didn’t know that I sometimes perpetrate impromptu verses? Good, aren’t they? ‘Ma Photini,’” he began again, singing the lines to an impromptu air, seemingly unconscious that the crimson of anger had mounted to Rudolph’s brow.

“You must not tease the boy,” said the baroness, maliciously. “Remember, you were once in love yourself.”

“With you, Madame, before me, as a substantial testimony of that pleasant fact, I do not see how I can forget it,” smiled the baron.

“My dear baron, our Rudolph well understands that[Pg 218] that is not the sort of love he is pricked with. But, seriously, my dear child, you must not abandon us. A young man loves and he rides away—for a time—which does not in the least prevent him from riding back again, also for a time. Don’t you see? The Natzelhuber won’t die meanwhile.”

“Aunt, I cannot understand why you should talk in this way about Mademoiselle Natzelhuber. Let me positively state that she is nothing to me, nor am I anything to her,” cried Rudolph, testily.

“Poor Mademoiselle! I weep for her,” said the baron. “And there is that wretched Agiropoulos stamping and swearing about Athens, plotting duels and blood and the Lord knows what, protesting against yellow-headed Austrians and amber moustaches. Dear me! That such noble indignation, and a jealousy with a fine mediæval flavour in it, should be wasted! Well, it is settled. If you have got over that little affair of the Natzelhuber, any scruples I may have cherished against tearing you away from the violet-crowned city—vanish. So, my nephew, you will get yourself up in that fascinating green coat and the long boots to-morrow morning, and we will begin by Marathon.”

The baron had finished his coffee and cigar, and stood up with a gesture clearly indicating that the matter was settled. His mocking smile struck Rudolph coward, and though his heart clamoured for open recognition of Andromache, he was unable to force his tongue to break a silence he felt to be mean and unmanly.

“By the way, Rudolph, we have invited the Foreign Legations to dinner at Kephissia, and there will be an expedition before dinner to Tatoi. The young people[Pg 219] will ride, and the elder ones will go by carriage. We start at four, so you will not forget to look your best, and do your utmost to entertain Mademoiselle Veritassi,” said the baron, from the door.

This last shot broke the deeps of holy indignation in the lover’s heart. The Karapolos dined at half-past one. It would be discourteous to call earlier than three. And how much time did that leave him for Andromache? and he would be dragged away from her on the morrow. He looked so candidly miserable and disappointed, that his aunt went over to him, and kissed his forehead.

“Is it your wish, aunt, that I should go with you this afternoon? Could I not join you later in time for dinner at Kephissia?”

“You poor child!” exclaimed the baroness, tenderly, smiling to herself to think that he imagined them ignorant of his secret, and that it should be so easy to manage and thwart him.

“No, no, Rudolph. It would be an affront to our guests. You are like the son of the house now, and your presence is indispensable to the young people.”

Rudolph sighed, and kissed his aunt’s plump hand in piteous and dumb eloquence of protest and acquiescence. His eyes were full of tears as he stood at his own window, and gazed like an angry, disappointed child across the lovely hills and sudden sweeps of empty plain. Why had he not spoken? Why had he not asserted himself? A man on the brink of marriage ought surely to be able to take on himself the responsibility of speech and decision. But there was the mocking smile of his uncle that lashed him into petrified[Pg 220] cowardice, like a well-bred taunt, and flushed him like a buffet, and how to make these worldly relations understand the charm of innocence, the fragrance of a violet, the beauty of an untutored heart?

Punctually at three o’clock, he rapped with his silver-handled walking-stick upon the glass door at the foot of Lycabettus. He had learnt to ask in Greek for the ladies, and with a stare and smile of frank familiarity, Maria supposed it was Andromache and not the others he wanted. The Austrian aristocrat, to whom all evidences of democracy and ill-bred freedom were repugnant, reproved her with a slight touch of haughty insolence, and pointedly repeated his wish to see Kyria Karapolos and her family.

“Kyria Karapolos, the fair young foreigner, is here,” shouted Maria, and left him to find his way into the little salon.

“My dear Monsieur Ehrenstein, it is a pleasure to me to welcome you,” said Kyria Karapolos, hastening to join him.

Her French was fluent, but droll enough to make conversation with her a surprise and a puzzle.

“I have come to tell you that my uncle and aunt have planned an excursion to the Peloponnesus, and they insist on my accompanying them,” Rudolph began at once, very dolorously indeed.

“Well, of course you must please your uncle and aunt. It will make them the more disposed afterwards to assent to your happiness. Here is Andromache. Monsieur Ehrenstein has to leave Athens for a little while. It is quite right. He must not displease those who stand to him as father and mother.”

[Pg 221]

Andromache blanched to the lips, and then a wave of red flowed into her face. Rudolph felt that he loved her more than ever, and while he held her hand, a smile struggled through the pain of his eyes.

“It is so cruel to have to leave you just now, Andromache.”

She dared not trust herself to speak, for she hardly knew how much it is permitted a modest maiden to say to her lover. But her pretty eyes said a great deal more than she dreamed. Rudolph looked into them, and a happy light broke over his face.

“You grieve too, dear,” he said, softly.

“Must you go, Rudolph?” she asked, tremulously.

“Shall I go, sweet friend?”

Andromache looked question at her mother.

“Of course he must,” cried Kyria Karapolos. “It would be folly to anger or thwart them in the beginning. Besides, it won’t be for long, and we can be getting things ready for the wedding in the meantime.”

“Am I to go, Andromache?” Rudolph still asked, holding her shy glance boldly with his own.

“Yes,” she whispered.

She took a little roll of embroidery from the pocket of her apron, and applied herself to it eagerly, but the needle pricks marked tiny spots of red along the cambric. Rudolph noted this, and anxiously cried out that she was hurting him. Andromache looked up in amazement.

“Don’t you understand?” asked this youth, suddenly growing subtle. “It is my fingers you are so cruelly pricking with that sharp needle.”

[Pg 222]

Andromache flashed him a joyous smile, and he bent forward, and held both her hands to his mouth.

“I love you, I love you,” he murmured, fondly.

“Rudolph,” she said, and dropped her eyes.

Kyria Karapolos thought proper to strike this growing heat chill with a sound commonplace, by asking him if he had much land in Austria, and what was the exact amount of his rent-roll.

“I believe it amounts to five thousand, but my steward manages everything for me. You may be assured, however, that I have quite enough for Andromache and myself,” answered Rudolph, simply.

This drove him to describe Rapoldenkirchen, and he necessarily rhapsodised over its loveliness, and the happiness that awaited Andromache in that shadowed home. And there in front of him was the clock summoning him from heaven; it already pointed cruelly to the stroke of four. He stood up and announced his hurry, shook hands with Kyria Karapolos, and held a moment Andromache’s slim fingers, looking sorrowfully into the shining March-violets he felt an irresistible impulse to kiss.

“You will think of me every day, dear?”

“I will, Rudolph.”

“Whisper. Am I very dear to you?”

“Oh, Rudolph, I love you,” she cried, and broke down in simple passion.

He stooped hurriedly and pressed his lips to her hair. In another instant he was outside, tearing madly down the rough streets, splashing his boots and clothes in the little streams, jumping over groups of astonished babies,[Pg 223] and racing, as if pursued by furies, past the Platea Omonia and up the Patissia Road.

There was a carriage outside the Austrian Embassy, and just as he got inside, a group of riders bore down towards it.

“Monsieur Rudolph will be down presently,” the major-domo explained, in answer to the irritable inquiries of the baron.

When Rudolph descended to the hall in his charming riding attire, the baron surveyed him with a curious and amused smile, and nodded approvingly.

“There are some young ladies for you to look after. Spare them, I entreat you,” and, in reply to Rudolph’s questioning look, added, “Young ladies, you know, are weak and susceptible, and you wear an abominably victimising air.”

Rudolph jumped into the saddle with a very apparent want of alacrity. Mademoiselle Veritassi smiled him welcome, and unconsciously he took his place beside her. Three carriages carried the elders, and the party of youthful riders nearly made the dozen. The air was blithe, the sun shone gloriously and struck the landscape lucid green. The young blood of the impressible Rudolph mounted to his head. The laughter of his companions imparted its contagion to his bereaved heart; on he rode with spring running music through his pulses, and caught by the mirth of the landscape.

The young people showed no destructive tendency to break into couples, but kept one gay and impregnable party, laughing, joking, careering in hearty rivalry to see who should out-distance the sedate carriage-folk, chattering nonsense and enjoying the hour with the[Pg 224] frenzied intensity of unperturbed youth. Mademoiselle Veritassi made a delightful companion, with the charm of a well-bred boy, courteously brusque and quizzically candid.

Under the fire of her imperious glance the sundered, dolorous air dropped from Rudolph, the wine of life coursed vigorously through his veins, and he shouted laughter with the rest. They skirted the stations of upper and lower Patissia under the blue shadows of the Parnes mountains. The marble of Pentelicus, struck by the quivering sunbeams, broke the delicate mist afar. On either side, the long waste of olive plantations toned the joy of the scene by their sad colour, and brought out the contrast of the emerald grasses of the underwoods, and the variously-tinted reeds that edge the torrent of the river Cephissus. The little German village of Heraclion showed white and yellow, with solemn spaces of cypress, upon the sky of clear, unshadowed blue. Flocks of white and black sheep were like moving mounds upon the fields, and over all hung Pentelicus, a haze of grey heather and dismantled branches where its marbles were not a dazzle of whiteness. Rudolph was enchanted with everything—with the blurred hillsides and the murmuring streams that curled in soft swirls along by the hedges, with the goatherds following their capricious charges,—the villagers, burnt brown, in the glory of fustanella, scarlet fez and smart jackets, their long sleeves hanging back like idle wings,—with the boys and their donkeys, and the women in embroidered coats and muslin head-dresses.

At Kephissia it was obligatory to dismount and hunt for the grotto of nymphs, and then talk nonsense [Pg 225]beneath its dripping rocks and curtains of maidenhair. It was even compulsory to taste of its water, and the French viscount made a gallant allusion, and quoted the inevitable line from Homer. Then on up the straight road to Tatoi, the arbutus in full fruit, and on either side exquisite varieties of shrub and leaf and winter flowers. The young ladies were eager to feed on the arbutus, and sent their escorts to gather this ethereal nourishment. And when they were replenished, and satisfied with the smirched and bramble-torn condition of the cavaliers, they decorated their bosoms with the berries, which showed like balls of blood upon their sombre habits. All this necessarily involved much explosive mirth and many inarticulate cries. And men and maidens rode on, convinced there is no delight to match a ride through winter Athenian landscape, when the heart is fresh, the eyes are clear, and the senses near the surface; when, above all, there is plenty of arbutus-fruit for the gathering, cavaliers to tear their gloves in its search through the bushes and brambles, and attractive maidens to wear and eat it.

What more potent than youth’s wild spirits? At dinner it was impossible to say whether the young people or the old, to whom they had communicated their irrepressible gaiety, were the more intoxicated. What amazing tact and calculation were displayed by the Baron and Baroness von Hohenfels! Well they understood the impressionable and susceptible temperament they had to deal with when they gathered together these gems of their society. Such brilliant eyes and laughing teeth gleaming above the flowers, such whiz of airy and unseizable nothings shot high on the wings of badinage,[Pg 226] with the same intangible flavour as the foam of champagne which plentifully drowned them. All seemed specially conspiring to captivate the poor bereaved lover. And so well did they succeed, that he quite forgot Andromache. It was only after dinner, when Mademoiselle Veritassi was invited to sing, and selected something weakly sentimental in French, all about hearts and sighs and tears and parting, that the new-born babe, the infant Cupid, began to clamour and blubber within him. Then he turned aside to think of Andromache. He pressed his head against the window, and stared blankly out upon the hotel gardens drenched with moonlight, the flowers washed of all colour in their bath of silver.

The baron saw him in this doleful attitude, and coming up behind him, held one hand sentimentally upon his heart and the other stretched out, in frantic adjuration to the moon.

“Ma Photini, prépare ta toilette,” he sang.

Rudolph faced him angrily, barely able to restrain the strong exclamation that rushed to his lips.

“No, I have just made better, that is, more appropriate verses. Mademoiselle Natzelhuber is notorious for not greatly caring for dress. Then it is clearly an offence to mention it.”

Rudolph muttered the German equivalent for “bosh,” and walked away.

Has any philosopher deigned to discover the reason why, when a party of young folks start upon a boisterous expedition, and laugh until the woods resound with their mirth, the return to the domestic hearth is generally so silent and so depressed? They are bound[Pg 227] to sigh, and look at the stars, or at themselves, in a forlorn and disappointed way, and wonder where and why all their wild enjoyment has vanished.

Rudolph rode in front with Mademoiselle Veritassi, and remembered not the existence of his companion, as his profound and troubled gaze rested solemnly upon the dark landscape. The wavy hilltops stood far out from the horizon, and the sky, instead of looking like a blue shield against them, shot away like a sea of infinite mist. The night air blew chilly round Athens, and the Viscount cheerfully suggested the visit of those intemperate blasts that howl down from the encircling hills with frantic force, and prove more than anything the exceeding greatness of that mass of broken pillars and temples upon the Acropolis that have resisted their destructive strength all these centuries.

But the next day, though cold, was not thought unfit for travelling, and, at an early hour, Rudolph was carried out of Athens to hear his uncle spout and quote upon the plain of Marathon, where the anemones were getting ready for their spring display. Pray, what did Rudolph care about Miltiades? Had he not an intended brother-in-law of the name worth ten such generals? Indeed, he hazarded the opinion that the old one was greatly overrated, upon which his diplomatic uncle smiled, as the wise smile upon the foolish—the smile of tolerant and good-humoured superiority.

[Pg 228]


Pericles carried his wounded brother to Phalerum for the period of convalescence, which an incessantly choleric spleen indefinitely prolonged. They stayed at the Grand Hotel looking upon the sanded beach, made cheerful by the café-tables and the proximity of the railway station, by which hosts of voluble Athenians were ever passing and repassing. In the afternoon they lounged amid the olive trees by the side of the hotel, athwart which the blue of sky and sea showed sharply, and drank their coffee while Constantine eagerly devoured “The Hora” and the “The Palingenesia,” ready to pounce like a hawk on its prey upon the first chance acquaintance Providence, in the shape of the half-hourly train, should send him from Athens.

Pericles sat reading one of his favourite volumes, now and then pausing to look watchfully at his daughter, and thankful in his heart to see how well she bore her sorrow. Inarime was for a time laid prostrate by Gustav’s banishment. And then youth’s elasticity rebounded with unconquered force. Like a drenched bird, she shook out her wet plumes, returned to her books, and saw that the sun was shining and that the flowers were blooming—noted it unwearily and without[Pg 229] dismay. To recognise this much in the time of passionate absorption in self is a rapid stride towards recovery, and at such a moment new scenes and excitements of any sort work most potently.

February had set in sharp and chill when they returned to Athens, Constantine cured and spared the humiliation of seeing the town illuminated in honour of the new Mayor, Oïdas. He insisted on bringing Inarime to the ruinously expensive dressmaker, Madame Antoinette, and there she was supplied with every imaginable detail of fashionable toilet, crowned with a gorgeous red silk parasol and long embroidered Suède gloves.

Inarime, thus apparelled, stood before a cheval mirror, and placidly gazed astonishment at herself. It was impossible to deny that dress added glory to her beauty. Picturesque she had been before with a fitting background of valley and desolate mountain. Now she was a nymph of Paris in walnut-coloured silk, and a little coquettish hat tipped with feathers.

“Now you are fit to be seen in the streets of a capital, Inarime,” said Constantine, surveying her proudly. “Take her with you to Madame Jarovisky’s, Pericles.”

Pericles took her, to Madame Jarovisky’s lasting gratitude. The girl was a positive sensation. Several men stopped to congratulate her uncle next day.

“We must take her to the theatre. There is Faust on to-night. Every one likes Faust, and it will delight Inarime, while she is delighting others,” he said.

“I see no objection to the theatre, but mind, Constantine, I will not have the girl talked of. Remember what my great namesake says of women. Their glory[Pg 230] is the silence men observe upon them.” Here he quoted the famous Oration.

“Stuff and nonsense! Your mind is addled with that folly of the Ancients. Who the deuce cares nowadays about silent virtue or the violet blushing unseen? This is the age of advertisement. Get yourself talked of, yourself, your house, your women—if not well, then by all means ill. Only get the talk. Do you imagine I have not gone about everywhere spreading the report of your learning? That is why you receive so many cards of invitation. I extolled you to the director of the German School of Archæology, and he was so impressed that he sends you a request to attend their meeting next month.”

Shame and disappointment struck scarlet Pericles’ sallow face. He thought the letter the natural result of his own recognised and merited reputation, mainly built upon a correspondence with one of the Greek professors of the University of Bonn.

“Brother,” he reproved, sternly, “it would afford me much satisfaction if you would be good enough to discontinue mentioning abroad my name and my daughter’s.”

“Then I am curious to know how you intend to dispose of that girl of yours.”

Pericles sat still, and played musingly with his finger-tips.

“I must marry her?” he interrogated, softly.

“Marry her! What in the name of all the heathen gods else would you do with her? Stick a professor’s cap on her head, and send her out to lecture to a band of curious rascals like that rash and self-opinionated[Pg 231] young woman, Hypatia? You’d make a respectable Theon.”

“His was the easier part. But Inarime would not be unworthy, though it is the last career I should choose for her,” said Pericles, with a quaint smile.

“Exactly. You apprehend inflammable youth.”

“I desire but to see my daughter live securely in the shade of protection. There are times when I feel overwhelmed with a strange sensation—half-illness, half the simple withdrawal of vitality. Then it is that apprehensions and terror of a solitary future for that dear girl assail and completely master me. I would have her married, and yet it seems so improbable that I shall find a suitable partner, one to whom her cultured intellect would be a noble possession, to whom her beauty would be a thing of worship. There was one—alas! alas!”

“Well, that’s settled. You sent him about his business. It was a foolish thing to do. Helene thinks so, too. A Turk! Well, we don’t choose our nationality. Probably he would just as soon have been born a Greek or a German. Let that pass. Turn the lock upon your desire for culture and learning. They won’t put bread and olives into Inarime’s mouth. Money, Pericles, money is what we must look to.”

When consulted about the theatre, Inarime showed sufficient pleasure in the prospect to quiet the doubts of her anxious father.

“Come down to Antoinette, and get something pretty—very pretty,” Constantine ordered. “You are not a fool, I suppose, and can take some natural interest in your beauty.”

[Pg 232]

“I am glad that I am beautiful,” she said, gravely.

“Very well. Put on your hat, and we’ll drive at once to Antoinette,” her uncle laughed hilariously. “Oh, women!”

Conceive the efficiency of a Parisian dressmaker instructed to enhance beauty. Bedeck Inarime then according to fancy, so that the costume be both scientific and suitable.

Constantine was master upon the occasion, ordered the carriage, secured the box, and fussily did the honours to the bewildered islanders when they arrived in the little back street in which the old theatre was located. It was a most grotesque and shabby paper edifice, ugly, dirty, unstable. But it was worth the tenth-rate Italian companies who hired it, and usually left Athens, after the season, bankrupt. The men, untroubled by feminine charges, sat in the parterre, King George’s officers, of whom there are many, enjoyed the spectacle on half fees, chattering, laughing, and ostentatiously clanking their spurs and swords against the floor as they walked about between the acts. Here and there an aspiring civilian made believe to come fresh from Paris by appearing en frac, and impertinently focussed the constellation of beauty in the box lined with cheap and ragged paper, and in the last stage of dilapidation.

They were playing the waltz when the Selakas entered their box. In spite of excruciating fiddles, and tuneless and vulgar singers, it was possible to detect its intoxicating charm, and Inarime sat and listened with a pleased, abstracted expression, her elbow resting on the front of the box and her chin against her cream-gloved hand. Constantine took the seat beside her, in front,[Pg 233] and audibly hummed the air while his quick glance roved over the house. He saw Oïdas, the Mayor, opposite in a box with his sister and his little motherless girl. They exchanged an uncordial nod, and the Mayor raised his opera-glass to inspect Inarime. He passed it to his sister, and they nodded and whispered together. The young bloods below were soon enough conscious that there was somebody in the boxes worth looking at. Many an eye was turned from the middle-aged Marguerite, whose flaxen wig inartistically exposed the black hair underneath and who wore a soiled white wrapper of uncertain length, with grass-green bows down the front.

With naïve earnestness Inarime followed the actors, listened to the melodies, and frequently turned to bespeak her father’s attention. She was acquainted with Goethe, and knew the story of Marguerite in its classic form. But this sweet and voluptuous music was quite unfamiliar to her. Of music, good or bad, she knew nothing, and had only occasionally heard a village piper piping for the Arcadians to dance. She could see that the dresses were dirty and tawdry, but the novelty of beholding a tender love-scene for the first time acted even by a stagy foolish Faust singing false, and by a cracked-voiced Marguerite in a slovenly wrapper, with wig awry, to the accompaniment of squeaking fiddles and hoarse ’cellos, brought tears of sympathy to her eyes. Her emotions were too keenly touched to allow of her remembering the necessity of wiping away her tears, and when the curtain went down, the tell-tale drops had fallen on her cheek.

“What a lovely young woman,” Agiropoulos [Pg 234]exclaimed, as he stood with his back to the stage, and leisurely surveyed the occupants of the boxes.

“Where?” asked Rudolph, tolerantly.

“Beside the Royal Box. She is with the gallant and fiery member for Tenos.” Agiropoulos broke into laughter, and began to quote Constantine at the Odeon. “‘I’ll mangle him, murder him, riddle him with shots,’ and when it came to the point he had as much courage as a draggled hen.”

Rudolph smiled faintly. He had heard the story before, and Agiropoulos’s excessive spirits bored him. He turned round and looked straight up at the Selaka group. He saw Inarime at once, wearing an intense, almost tragic expression, as if the curtain had just gone down upon her own first love-scene; some moments elapsed before he removed his eyes from her.

Constantine went away in search of an ice for his niece, and a little distraction for himself in shape of gossip and a cigarette. He knocked against Oïdas, and the rival politicians stopped to shake hands.

“Is that your niece you have with you?” the Mayor asked.

“Yes. She and Pericles are staying in town now.”

“A very fine girl—I may say, a very beautiful one. Has your brother any views with regard to her?”

“Matrimonial?” queried Constantine, laughing.

“Those, I think, are the only views fathers are supposed to entertain about their daughters,” retorted Oïdas, with awkward, averted glance.

“Oh, of course. He naturally cherishes the hope to dispose of her some day with entire satisfaction to her and to himself.”

[Pg 235]

“Anybody in question?”

Constantine faced his interrogator boldly, narrowed his eyelids to a sly, meditative slit, and answered:—

“You think of offering yourself, perhaps.”

“I should certainly have no objection to a beautiful young wife. She has a dowry, I presume.”

“I presume so,” said Selaka, shutting up his lips in a portentous way. “But there is something else to be considered besides your willingness.”

“Undoubtedly. Still, it is a sufficiently important point. That is why I mention it.”

Constantine understood perfectly well that such wealth as Oïdas’ entitled its owner to his confident air. No sane father would be likely to reject or hesitate before such an offer as this, and the girl would, of course, be guided by her father.

“Well, I’ll see what I can do,” conceded the wily Constantine.

“Begin by introducing me at once,” suggested the Mayor.

The aspiring Mayor was carried triumphantly to the Selakas’ box. The introduction enabled Oïdas to relieve Inarime of her saucer, which he did with ponderous civility. She was hot and wretched in spite of the eaten ice. Of the Mayor’s presence she took no note; in spirit she gazed gloomily back upon the departed vision of Gustav so harrowingly evoked by the music. Oïdas devoted himself to Selaka with an occasional inclusive droop towards Inarime, whom he furtively and appraisingly observed. Into his box opposite Stavros entered, circumspect, thoroughly unobstructive, having joined the Government and resigned the editorship of[Pg 236] the “New Aristophanes.” He looked casually at Constantine, and bit his underlip, it might be to restrain a blush or a smile. In the next box, just before the curtain went up on the second act, Miltiades rose like an evening sun upon the amazed scene, in grande tenue, cheerfully attended by his mother and Andromache.

“Your twin-soul,” whispered Agiropoulos. “Hector is called.”

Rudolph turned round quickly, beheld Andromache with soft invitation in her glance, jumped up, and in passing down the house, his eyes rested for one moment on Inarime’s face. He withdrew them angrily, in the delicate belief that even a dim consciousness of any other woman’s beauty but his own particular lady’s was almost a deliberate disloyalty.

“Oh, Rudolph, have you not seen her? Is she not beautiful?” Andromache enthusiastically asked, as she turned round her affectionate and glowing face to his when greetings were over, and he had taken his recognised place behind her chair.

“Who?” Rudolph whispered; rapture demanding that their lightest words should be folded in mystery.

Andromache pointed to the Selaka box. The young man looked steadily across over Andromache’s shoulder, frowned a little, and admitted grudgingly:

“She is handsome, but not soft and sweet like my Andromache.”

“Oh, Rudolph!” Andromache flashed on him delightedly.

[Pg 237]

He had only the day before come back from the Peloponnesus, and in a week he hoped to have summoned up courage to declare his honourable bondage to the baron, and start for Austria to conclude pre-nuptial arrangements.

[Pg 238]


When Constantine lighted his niece’s candle and handed it to her, he touched Pericles on the arm and nodded.

“I want you to smoke a cigarette with me before going to bed. I have something to say to you.”

Pericles suffered himself to be led into the sitting-room, and proceeded to roll up a cigarette while his brother lighted the lamp.

“We are agreed upon the advisability of at once marrying Inarime, I suppose?” he began.

“At once!” Pericles exclaimed, in alarm.

“Why not?”

“Think of her recent wound. She behaved so well. I cannot in conscience so soon do wrong to the memory of her lover.”

“Sentiment! The world only exists by ignoring it. What have the fancies of girls to do with suitable family arrangements? I declare you are as great a fool as the child herself. A young woman permits herself the blamable freedom of looking complacently upon a young man who has not been officially chosen for her. She must perforce think herself a martyr and her guardians executioners, when it becomes necessary for them to reprimand her and order her to withdraw her[Pg 239] prematurely fixed affections. Good gracious! It is preposterous. We might as well be in England or in some equally wild place, where girls are unprotected and forward.”

“Whom have you in view?” Pericles quietly asked, bringing the orator back to the point.


“The Mayor! Why, he is a widower and nearly as old as myself.”

“What does it matter? He is rich and influential. Inarime will have a handsome house,—you know that colonnaded building near the Palace? Well, when a man has such a house as that to offer a woman, she need not trouble to examine the wrinkles on his forehead or the crowsfeet under his eyes, or whether his hair be grey or black or red. All things are relative, Pericles, even youth and beauty. It depends on the purse.”

“But have you any proof that Kyrios Oïdas is disposed to think of my daughter?”

“The best possible. He told me so to-night.”

Pericles started, and stared doubtingly at his brother.

“You do not credit me, I see, but it is true, I assure you. He admires her, wants a wife, asked if she had a dowry, and notified his willingness to demand her in marriage.”

“He is a rich man, undoubtedly,” Pericles slowly admitted, remembering just then that Reineke had not started by considerations of the dowry. “In his country women are bought,” he said to himself, “in ours their husbands are purchased. It is merely an opinion on which side the barter is more honourable.”

[Pg 240]

“You consent then to my calling to-morrow on Oïdas with an official communication and recognition?”

“It is too soon,” Pericles pleaded.

“It is never too soon to marry your child well.”

“Perhaps you are right. I would have chosen a younger man. However, do not precipitate matters. I must know more of this Oïdas. He is a politician, and you know my feelings towards that class of men. It is just possible he may be less disreputable and illiterate than the general run. He cannot be an honourable man upon your own admission, for he stooped to buy the influence of that reptile, Stavros.”

“True, but all politicians do so. The greater they are, the more unscrupulous. It is part of their métier, as callousness to pain is of the surgeon’s. You have studied history and I have not; then this fact you must have learnt.”

“Sometimes the loose political mind may prove itself more keenly apprehensive of correct deductions than that of the studiously trained thinker,” Pericles rejoined, with a subtle smile. “Doubtless it is I who am in error.”

“This is idle wandering. I’ll grant you anything in argument, only grant me in turn the consideration of Oïdas’ proposals and his formal reception.”

Pericles thought awhile, then rose and stretched his arms.

“There will be nothing incorrect in receiving him. I cannot settle straight off to marry Inarime to him, but I agree with you that his proposals are worth considering. He is not the man I should have selected,[Pg 241] and that is why I hesitate to compromise our honour. But he can come. I will not coerce my child. It is for her to say whether he will stay.”

This concession was more than Constantine had dared to hope for, and his spirits rose to the point of exuberance next morning when an invitation came from Madame Jarovisky’s for Inarime to attend an afternoon party for young people given in honour of her daughter’s birthday.

There were about twenty young ladies and mature little girls, with a sprinkling of boys and youths from the military and naval schools, at Madame Jarovisky’s when Inarime entered the rooms, escorted by her father. The chaperons retired to the salon downstairs, to refresh themselves with tea and return to their homes, or stay and watch the youngsters disport and play. By and by Miltiades came, that prince of masters of ceremonies, especially invited to conduct the cotillon, and show the small rabble how to dance the mazurka. Could a hero object to shine and lead, even in minute and giggling society? Heavens above us! What would be the result of an entertainment in Athens without Miltiades? Confusion, scare, and disgrace,—worse, the privation of its most picturesque adornment, and its crown of military glory.

The young ladies of Athens were there in every stage, little women dressed like dolls, flirting and pouting with grave little old men of ten and twelve; girls in tutelage, breaking from their governess to dance a riotous quadrille with the future defenders of their country upon land and water; and lastly, the self-conscious and important “demoiselles à marier,” who play [Pg 242]Chopin’s Second Nocturne to the desolation of those who understand Chopin, chatter ceaselessly in indifferent French, draw flowers and keep albums for the collection of all the heart-broken verses in European tongues. Into this lively and flippant circle Inarime was at once whirled with voluble cordiality and cries of frantic enthusiasm.

Mademoiselle Eméraude Veritassi was the presiding archangel, in the artistic setting of the expensive Antoinette. The angels were Miss Mary Perpignani, Sappho Jarovisky, Andromache Karapolos, Proserpine Agiropoulos, and the young ladies of the American legation. Eméraude was the key to the general mood,—she was captain of a pliable and sensitive band of very amiable young marauders. She welcomed Inarime avidly, with the frankest smile and a swift approval of her toilet. The others clustered round her and somewhat bewildered her with this sudden introduction to noisy unmeditative girlhood. Of the mind and ways of girls she was savagely ignorant, we know, and all these laughing faces and softly brilliant glances, turned upon her, shook her with surprise and terror. Could it be that she was one of them and so aloof, so absolutely unlike and out of sympathy with them? Joy and vigour were abounding in them, the susceptible and intoxicating blood of youth and its untamable pulses, gave fire to their eyes and chased reflection from their minds. When they danced together, or with boys of their own age, their steps sprang over the polished floor with the urgent impetuosity of their years. When they stood near her, and panted and laughed[Pg 243] between their gasping speech, she felt as the Peri might, gazing upon happiness afar.

She envied these absurd and frivolous maidens, envied them their untroubled youth,—beside which her own looked sad and grey-toned,—their free hearts and meaningless laughter, their twinkling feet and innocent sentimentality.

“You do not dance,” said Eméraude, pausing beside her after a wild waltz, with fluttering bosom, like a pursued bird.

“I have never danced. I have never met girls before,” Inarime answered, with a sharp note of regret in her voice.

Imagine the consternation and the wonder on the faces around her. Eméraude was naturally spokeswoman for the party. She expressed an opinion that the conversation should be carried on in Greek instead of French.

“Then we shall have to speak our best Greek,” cried Sappho, having heard of Inarime’s learning. “Mademoiselle Selaka speaks the language of Plutarch.”

“Oh, no,” exclaimed Inarime, with a deprecating smile. “I have the current Athenian at your service. Except with my father, I am accustomed to speak the rough brogue of our island.”

“There is just the faintest perceptible tinge of the Archipelago in your accent,” affirmed Eméraude, authoritatively. “This is your first visit to Athens?”

“My first.”

“Oh, are you not happy to be here?” carolled Andromache. “Athens—ah! it is so lovely. I could not leave it.”

[Pg 244]

“Tell us of your life in Tenos,” said Eméraude, taking up the dominant melody of the concerto, and at once the chorus of followers pressed their captain’s demand with an inarticulate cry of accentuated agreement.

“It is very simple. I read and walk with my father, and when not thus occupied, I help Annunziata in housework or I write letters for the villagers.”

“Annunziata! That is a pretty name. Italian?”

“She is Greek, of remotely Italian origin.”

“And why do you write letters for the villagers?” asked Sappho. “Can they not write themselves?”

“None of the women in the villages of Lutra, Xinara, or Mousoulou can write but myself.”

“How marvellous!” exclaimed Miss Perpignani, and the girls wore a look of interjection.

“Are there goats?”

Inarime stared a little at such an obviously foolish question. Her steady luminous gaze struck chill upon the volatile young circle, and for an instant checked their chatter. Then some one broke the uneasy silence.

“How about your dresses? You must leave Tenos when you want new clothes. This pretty frock is surely Athenian.”

“Yes, that is because I am here, and my uncle wishes me to be dressed like everybody else, but hitherto I have had my dresses made at Tenos. They are well made too.”

“Not possible! Like ours, in the modern fashion?”

Inarime lightly scanned the costumes round her.

“I do not think Tenos could produce anything like[Pg 245] these,” she said, simply, “but then we would not know what to do with them over there.”

“Do you live far from the town?”

“Yes, a good way. It takes nearly three hours by mule.”

“I suppose you have no carriages in Tenos?”

“There are no roads to begin with, and in consequence no vehicles of any sort. It is a very rough, wild place.”

“And now you have come to Athens to be married,” concluded Eméraude. “Do you look forward to marriage?”

A dusky colour shot up into Inarime’s face like a hidden flame. She fixed her eyes slowly on Mademoiselle Veritassi.

“If it is my father’s wish that I should marry, it will be my duty to obey him, but I trust he will not ask it of me.”

Another look of wondering consternation flashed over the circle. Not wish to marry! have a house of her own and take precedence of unmarried girls! be somebody in social life, give parties and travel!

“I thought all girls liked the notion of getting married,” remarked Miss Mary Perpignani. “It is so dull to be unmarried, not to be able to go out alone, or to go to Antoinette’s and order what you like. Just think how delightful it must be to be free, like a young man, and do all sorts of lovely naughty things, dance twice if you like with the handsomest officer without any one to tell you it is not convenable, and read all the dreadful French novels. We poor girls are so harassed with that horrid word convenable. To see little boys at the[Pg 246] age of ten allowed to stand on their heads and we, aching for liberty, not allowed to budge at thirty if we are not married!”

“Oh, shocking to think of, as the English say,” cried Sappho, clapping her hands to her ears to shut out the spoken description. “We are martyrs, we unhappy girls.”

“Your faces belie your misery,” said Inarime, gravely.

“Que voulez-vous, Mademoiselle?” Eméraude retorted, gaily, “nous autres, nous sommes á peu près Françaises. Il faut être bien mis et savoir rire malgré tout. Avent de me tuer, je mettrai ma plus jolie robe.”

“Oh, ma chère, ma chère,” the shocked angels chorussed. Then turning to Inarime, one of them soothed her perplexity.

“Don’t pay any heed to the exaggerations of Eméraude. She likes to frighten people. She talks that way, but she means nothing. Comme tu sais blaguer, Eméraude.”

“Mais, point du tout. Je suis sérieuse. Qu’est ce que serait la vie si l’on ne savait pas se moquer de ses chagrins, au lieu de s’en attrister?” protested Eméraude.

“I applaud your sentiment. Cheerfulness I should imagine to be the lesson of life and our highest aspiration,” said Inarime.

“It is not mine, assuredly,” cried Sappho. “My dream is excitement—oh, but the excitement that consumes and fills up every hour, waking and sleeping. I should adore being married to a man I hated, rich, powerful and commanding, of whom I was desperately afraid, and to be in love with a poor, divinely[Pg 247] beautiful young officer. To think of the thrilling terrors and consuming bliss of meetings at parties, at theatres, in picture galleries, horribly shadowed by a jealous husband, only time to whisper a hurried greeting and look into each other’s eyes——”

Be assured this rash prospective sinner was in mind as innocent of a sinister meaning as in limpid gaze. Mademoiselle Veritassi measured her scornfully.

“You have probably been taking your first plunge into Feuillet in secret, and are talking of what you do not in the least understand. You would find your young officer a complete idiot, and his divinely beautiful face would soon enough pall on you. Love, romantic or otherwise, will not be my domain. I aspire to marry a man of moderate intelligence, pliable, of the world and of the best tone, with the doors of a foreign embassy open to him, whom I shall mould and lead, and whose fortune I shall make. My dream is more legitimate, though from the purely masculine point of view, hardly less incorrect than Sappho’s.”

“And yours?” Andromache asked shyly of Inarime.

“Mine? I have none. I have not felt the need for excitement or novelty. My quiet, uneventful life has hitherto amply satisfied me—until lately, until quite lately,” she added, with a slight break in her voice.

Mademoiselle Veritassi scrutinised her through narrowed lids, and smiled imperceptibly.

“You speak German, I am told, fluently. I presume you had a governess.”

“No, my father was my tutor. He taught me everything that I know.”

“Your father! and no governess! And embroidery,[Pg 248] music, drawing and the rest?” Mademoiselle Veritassi gasped.

“I know nothing of such graceful accomplishments. With books I am acquainted, and though I have never measured my speed with any other girl’s, my father tells me I am a swift runner. But girls so brilliantly finished as you will laugh to hear me speak of running.”

“No, no. It is charming. A modern Atlanta. You are truly a divine creature. As for us, our futile accomplishments are mere gossamer wings to skim to social heights for which we are destined. There they drop from us, and their instability is their only charm. Yours are of solider weight, with the merit of corresponding permanence.”

“It is kind of you to reassure me thus, but I know my value. I am only a bookish peasant.”

“Eméraude is right,” Miss Perpignani cooed, caressingly. “You are a divine creature—beautiful as a picture.”

Inarime glanced pitifully at the youthful leader whose voice to these girls was as the voice of fame. Her own intellect was rare, and her knowledge profound, and yet she was humiliated and acutely conscious of her inferiority to this dainty damsel, who fluttered and flirted her fragile fan with inimitable grace, and wore her girlhood with an air of sovereignty that came of twenty years’ sway at home and abroad. We may divine that it was the extreme fastidiousness of the heiress and only child that allowed her to reach twenty unclaimed.

“You have but to wish it to outstrip us all on our own ground. But, I beseech you, spare us. Think[Pg 249] what rivalry with you would mean for us. The sun above the stars. Be content with your beauty and your books, and do not ask to descend to the mere social arena. For me, I ask nothing better than to be your friend.”

The little ones had come to the end of their hour of rhythmic movement, and Miltiades, beaming in the splendour of black and gold, was officiously telling off the couples for the cotillon. He approached the girls, and asked if Mademoiselle Selaka would dance. Inarime shook her head.

“Do, do, dear Inarime—may I?” pleaded Mademoiselle Veritassi. “It will give us all such pleasure to watch you.”

“Yes, yes,” chorused the followers.

“But I cannot dance, alas!” Inarime murmured.

“Your voice is like velvet, and yet clear though so softly murmurous. Do not fear. It is quite simple. Pray be persuaded. Captain Karapolos will guide you.”

Inarime suffered herself to be led across the room to the spot where the couples were noisily forming themselves. Just then she saw Rudolph Ehrenstein enter with the Baroness von Hohenfels on his arm, who surveyed the young people through her face-à-main with a complacent smile. The smile intensified when Inarime came under its rays, while Rudolph and Andromache were looking far too eloquently at each other. Inarime understood the mute avowal of momently wedded orbs, and a thrill of remembered delight and anguish swept over her like a blast.

O bliss too fleeting, and O pain too sweet!

[Pg 250]


The constant dropping of the waters of opposition upon the stone of Pericles’ obstinacy showed the proverbial result. It was worn away in a few days, at the end of which time he yielded to his brother’s persuasions and admitted that a daughter is a ticklish charge for one sane man, only armed with the controlling influences of a father. His girl, he at first argued, was not quite as other girls—she was steadfast, sincere and earnest. He had not yet perceived any tendency in her to the sex’s frantic moodishness and dizzy variations. True, the god Cupid had mastered her at a single glance with alarming urgence. But an antique-modern Greek found excuse in his heart for the headstrong vagaries of the eternally youthful god. He announced himself ready to transfer his responsibilities to Oïdas, if he proved acceptable to Inarime. He was not exuberant at the prospect, nor in the least hurry. But he permitted Oïdas to visit with prospectively nuptial intentions, and left the rest to the gods.

Oïdas came. He came very often, hardly noticed by Inarime, beyond the fact that his coming provided her with flowers, and that he frequently conducted her to the theatre where she heard the surfeiting honey strains of Bellini and Verdi, and to the Saturday concerts at the[Pg 251] Parnassus Club of which he was president, where Bellini and Verdi were also in the ascendant.

“Have you any feeling towards Kyrios Oïdas?” her father once ventured to ask.

“Feeling! I have not remarked him specially. He is polite, but I should imagine not interesting,” Inarime replied.

“Ah!” interjected Selaka, with an air of partial self-commiseration. Having made up his mind after prolonged doubting upon so minor a point, to accept Oïdas for a son-in-law, it was disconcerting to learn that the chosen one had made none but a very dubious impression upon the principal personage of the duet.

He lightly dismissed the fact as another proof of the singular and incorrigible perversity of woman, not even to be counteracted by such anomalous training and education as he had given this particular one.

Not to be out of the fashion, the Baroness von Hohenfels had rapturously taken up the new beauty. Inarime was frequently invited to the Austrian Embassy, and her acquaintance with Mademoiselle Veritassi and her band progressed to intimacy. The delight of joyous youth that lives unthinkingly upon the beating of its own pulses struck dormant rays from her closed nature. She shook off the shadow of her own calm past and emerged from gloom, a radiant being, now and then weighted with her recent heavy bereavement, only to rebound again into realms of intoxicating instability. The friction of her natural forces with these laughing creatures urged her upward, and a return to the desolate solitude of a world unblessed by[Pg 252] the presence of her lover, left her amazed, incredulous and giddy.

The trashy music she had heard struck her as enchantment, until Mademoiselle Veritassi chilled her enthusiasm.

“Do you sometimes go to the theatre?” she queried.



“Mon Dieu! When I want to go to the theatre, I go to Paris or Vienna,” said Mademoiselle Veritassi, superciliously.

“Is it not good here?”

“It is vulgar rubbish—good enough for the Athenians, but not for those who have heard music and seen acting. My child, you have yet to see a theatre.”

This was food for reflection, and another proof of her inferiority to these bewildering nymphs of society. The next time Oïdas made soft proposals touching Verdi and Bellini, Inarime curtly declined them.

“I have intimated to Kyrios Oïdas my entire willingness to receive him into my family,” said Pericles one day to his brother. “It now remains for him to try his fortunes with Inarime, to whom I shall previously communicate his intentions. But I desire that the matter may be speedily settled. This frivolous, noisy existence wearies me. I yearn for my books and the quiet of my mountain home.”

“But are you not pledged to attend the meeting of the German School which takes place in ten days?”

“I will come back for it. Besides, Annunziata writes[Pg 253] for my immediate presence. The steward is not giving satisfaction.”

Inarime entered, modernised beyond recognition in a flimsy grey silk gown slashed with crimson and shaded greens, a belt from which depended ribbons of these mixed hues that floated in the breeze and arrested the distracted glance, with hair which swelled above the mild brow to a pyramidal crown of shadow and threw out bronze and bluish lights, its rippling massy softness in complete harmony with the equable, studious face.

“Why thus early decked in bird of Paradise hues?” laughed Selaka, quietly.

“Mademoiselle Veritassi and her brother are to call for me shortly.”

“Ah, I forgot. You grow dissipated, my dear. It seems to me your books are now quite forsaken for the society of these chattering young persons. Voices, voices, voices, and meaningless laughter I hear as I pass you in the salon. What in heaven’s name have they to say?”

“Well, not much that is worth listening to, I am afraid,” Inarime admitted, with a little apologetic smile. “And they fly from one subject to another so quickly, exchange interjections and telegraphic remarks, scattered phrase with sharp hiatus till I am compelled to give up all hope of following them, having missed their airy education. But the sound of their voices is pretty to the ear—that is, not the sound itself, but its suggestions.”

“Then you are satisfied that you have enough amiable reminiscences to carry back with you to the solitudes of Tenos?” Pericles half-commented, just[Pg 254] looking at Constantine to signify his wish to be left alone with his daughter.

Inarime sighed. Tenos seemed so very far away from her.

“We are going back, my child. Do you not rejoice?”

“Back! So soon! You have enjoyed your visit, father?”

“It is for you to decide. Your pleasure is mine, dearest.”

Her face clouded. Confronted with her ruthlessly severed heart the phrase sounded hollow.

“I have almost forgotten that I was unhappy,” she whispered.

Pericles gazed at her in amazement. He would have staked his life on this girl’s stability and firmness. Here was a curious proof of the inexplicable lightness and variability of the feminine temper. Who was to sound its depths or follow its breathless changes? Man, he concluded (not originally, who can be original on the theme?) treads a mine when he essays to read the book of woman, even in the chapter of his own daughter. The simplest page holds promise of explosion and surprise. Philosophy shrinks from the task, as beyond the hard unimaginative male intelligence.

“You wish to remain here?” he interrogated.

“I think I do,” she breathed through her teeth reluctantly. “To return to Tenos would mean so much for me. It was good of you, father, to give me this change.”

“Well, well,” Selaka interposed, with a disappointed air. “Happily the emotions of your strange sex are ever ready to come to your aid. Sorrow is not [Pg 255]incurable, because you answer so readily to the spur of distraction. Perhaps you will bend as compliantly to the sound of wedding-bells.”

“No, I will not,” she retorted, harshly.

“If I ask it, Inarime?” he bent forward.

“It would not be fair. You have the right to dispose of me, I know, but I ought not to be tried beyond my strength.”

“Do not speak as if it were possible I should be other than your best friend, with your interests exclusively my own,” protested Selaka, affectionately. “But it is the duty of the old to remember the future for the young. Marriage is the natural termination of a girl’s irresponsible existence. I, as your guardian, am bound to find you a suitable mate. You mentioned just now that here at Athens you had forgotten that you were unhappy. That struck me as a singularly pregnant observation—it felicitously summed up your sex. What then can there be objectionable in my proposal to settle you permanently at Athens?”

He awaited her reply as if he expected compliance.

“I spoke of change preluding a return to the old life. It pleased me to feel that I had pushed it away from me for awhile, that I was aloof from it, beholding entirely new scenes and hearing foreign voices. That change I know I wanted to keep me from a merely whimpering discontent. I wish to be strong, father, and hate to succumb to weakness.”

“Prove your wish for strength by casting from you sentimental chains. Your objection is purely sentimental. Remember the lesson of the ancients. We perceive the ideal, and hasten to make our best [Pg 256]compromise with the actual. Love is the unattainable draught. We are sometimes permitted to bring our lips within measurable distance from the rim of the bowl, and then it is withdrawn. Some of us are given one sip of the nectar and must go thirsty ever afterwards. We live the life of the flesh, which is common and crude enough, and nourish our starved spirit upon memory. That is the lesson of experience, but we need not, for that, feel ourselves curtained off from cheerfulness and contented labour.”

He watched her attentively. All the light had fled from her face.

“You wish me to marry Kyrios Oïdas,” she said, after a pause.

“You have rightly guessed. He is not a scholar, I have to admit, and a modern politician does not fill me with admiration; but he is wealthy, and will take care of you. It will be for you to shine, and I dare say he will be proud enough of you.”

“If he were a scholar I could understand,” she exclaimed. “But simple money! Father, you are not material. You are not tired of me?”

“Tired? I? Of you?”

Pericles fondled her hand, and laughed.

“But you wish me to leave you for this man, who is only rich.”

“I shall not live forever, and a husband will be your proper protector. Poverty would not be a recommendation in a suitor, I imagine.”

“But you are not so old, and there are long days before us.”

“Who knows? I have been warned of late that I[Pg 257] am not very strong. It is decided. You must marry.”

“Kyrios Oïdas?”

“I am compromised—pledged.”

She bent her head, and at that moment the bell announced the arrival of her friends.

The Baroness von Hohenfels, hearing of Selaka’s intended departure and a meditated return for the meeting of the German School, called and warmly pressed Inarime to stay with her during M. Selaka’s absence. She would not hear of refusal. There was a room at the Embassy at Mademoiselle Selaka’s disposal; her friends would be desolated to lose her so soon—in fact, she must come.

“You will not have time to miss me, Inarime,” Pericles sang out cheerily from the doorstep, as she drove away in the Baroness’s carriage, her engagement still hanging in the balance of indecision. She had some faint hope of consulting the baroness, and seeking strength and resolution in her judgment.

Inarime took the Austrian Embassy by storm. That evening Rudolph returned from a short absence at Vienna, where he had been bound on pre-nuptial affairs, intending to startle his family by the announcement of his engagement to Andromache and his determination to marry immediately. Tongues were already set wagging, and vague and disconcerting reports had reached the baron and baroness. But their faith was built on the genius of Mademoiselle Veritassi. Rudolph might waver and glory in other chains of captivity, but he would end by sullenly admitting the superlative charm and conquering force of the girl of fashion.

He came back, saw Inarime, fell prostrate in new[Pg 258] adoration, tugged with feeble heart-strings by the soft glimmer of the March violets he remorsefully shrank from seeking.

The diplomatic baron, too, stumbled into captivity, assisted in his fall by the baroness, herself under the spell of Inarime’s beauty. Indeed, not one of the three had shown a spark of resistance.

The heavy ambassador danced hourly attendance upon the young goddess, and under her glance, sparkled, astounded spectators by feats of chivalry and semi-veiled gallantry that turned the clock of time for him back by twenty years. Ah, but his enslavement was not a serious defection. There was the wretched Rudolph, held breathless by his own faithlessness and variable heart-beats. The feeling he gave Andromache was but a rushlight, compared with this blaze of fire. He slept not, nor did he eat. Life died within him out of Inarime’s presence, and was flame in his members when she was near him. The old fancy dropped from him like a toy; this was a consuming need, a poignant hunger with his uprising, and a hunger with added thirst upon his lying down.

To Inarime he was merely a dull and pretty boy to whom it behoved her to show some kindness and forbearance. His gloomy blue eyes fixed silently upon her, vaguely irritated her, and she put command into hers to check their persistent following. Still she preferred him to his uncle, whose gallant attentions and man-of-the-world deference vexed and fretted her. His was a novel language to her, and she hesitated to read it lest there might be studied insult beneath it. From the baroness she heard of Rudolph’s unfortunate [Pg 259]entanglement with Andromache, and upon pressure of confidence, admitted her father’s desire to see her married to Oïdas, whom she did not like or even moderately esteem. She imagined Rudolph forcibly separated from Andromache, and read in that fact his evident unhappiness, which appealed to her for sympathy and touched her with the wand of brotherhood.

Photini was invited to play for her pleasure, and this introduction to the highest music was astonishment to her. Her fine nature recognised mastery, though the riddle was unexplained to her senses. She could not at a leap mount such heights of sound, where the melodies seemed to disport in waves and thunder, with sprays of foam and the facets of jewels. She approached Photini for help.

Photini measured her mercilessly with her formidable gaze,—dwelt on her physical exquisiteness, and smiled sardonically.

“You have beauty, mademoiselle. Be thankful for that, and leave art to those who have souls to comprehend it.”

“Finger-tips as well, and perseverance,” said Inarime, archly.

“Oh, I see. You are not a doll. Well, come to see me any morning, and I’ll play till your ears ache.”

Photini turned on her heel, and beckoned to Rudolph, who gloomily trotted after her into the conservatory.

Selaka returned to Athens for the meeting of German archæologists, and was cordially invited to stay for a few days at the Austrian Embassy.

[Pg 260]


March came and went in a whirlwind of storm and rain that lasted a fortnight. Every one susceptible to atmospheric influences was ill and unhappy, and the wind sobbed and shrieked like the ghosts of centuries crying to be laid. And now, on this first evening, the storm went down, with a little sigh running through the quieted air, like a child’s remembered sob in dreaming. The orange and lemon trees were in full blossom, and the Palace gardens wore “the glory and the freshness of a dream.”

Gustav Reineke stood between the pillars of the Parthenon and watched the sky after sunset. The zenith was clear purple upon which light clouds traced along milky way with edges torn into threadlets of white that curled and lost themselves, shading off to rose upon the eastern horizon. He watched cream deepen into orange, and spread a mist upon the blue, and the azure faint into pearly grey, while the cirrhus arch shifted itself slowly, and dropped behind the hills. The west was a lake of unsullied gold, so pure that the eye could follow the birth of cloud-stains upon it and the flames of crimson and orange striking fire from its heart. Over Lycabettus shone a tremulous radiance, half pink, half opal, and above the blue was shot with silver and[Pg 261] green. Upon the hills the shadows were sharply defined by broken lines of light, and the sea under Salamis was a waveless blue gloom.

Gustav had done brave battle with woe, and wore his sorrow nobly. There was nothing of the crushed air of the love-sick swain about him. He stood up straight, and faced the light of day with mournful calm eyes and strong lips, patiently awaiting the revocation of his sentence or its confirmation, and for the moment gave himself entirely up to the study of archæology. He had come that morning to Athens upon invitation, to attend the meeting of the German School of Archæology.

While Gustav is sky-gazing with an open volume of Pausanias in his hand, another young friend of ours is crossing Constitution Square with the intention of strolling towards the Acropolis. Ten days back in Athens, and not one glimpse of Andromache! Very unlike a lover restored to the arms of his mistress does he look, sauntering along with his hands in his pockets and an expression of miserable perplexity on his face. An airy, wide-awake individual, with an anemone in his button-hole, and a glass in his eye, accosts him noisily, and quickly scanning him, remarks aloud upon the utter dejection of his air.

“Ah, Tonton, je suis épris—cette fois pour de bon,” cried Rudolph, desirous of horrifying somebody else as well as himself.

“Encore? Est-ce possible? Vrai?” ejaculated Agiropoulos.

“C’est très vrai.”

“Allons donc, mon cher! Faut-il te féliciter? Epris[Pg 262] pour la troisième fois dans autant de mois! Mais c’est effrayant!”

Rudolph’s eyes swept the landscape in dreary assent. He thought it very frightful indeed.

“Pauvre Photini! Pauvre Andromaque,” cried Agiropoulos, taking off his hat and running his plump hand over his well-shorn head, “et pauvre—la dernière. Elle sera toujours à plaindre, celle-là.”

“Dis plutôt, pauvre Rudolph!” said Ehrenstein, ruefully.

“Eh, je le dis, mon cher, de bon cœur,” said Agiropoulos, with a reassuring nod and an enigmatic smile, as he turned on his heel, and stopped to discuss Ehrenstein’s lamentable susceptibility with his next acquaintance.

Can this really be our fastidious Rudolph, who has held the above indelicate dialogue with a man he hitherto professed to despise? Has he grown in a few months both cynical and hardened? But the cynicism was only surface deep. This search for an anchor to his affections and the discovery he had made that his emotions and his judgment were unreliable, his heart as unstable as water, wrecked all self-esteem, and left him in a battered condition of mind. He felt as if he had been morally whipped by scorpions, and every nerve within him was bruised.

First Photini, then Andromache, dear, sweet Andromache! how his heart bled for her! that he should be so unworthy of her! And She? the other She! the final, unattainable She, whose looks ran fire through his veins and held him in humble unexacting servitude?

He came out to walk and meditate. Could he have[Pg 263] chosen a more favourable road for meditation than the wide avenue of pepper-trees, that leads by a gentle upward slope to the cactus-bordered hill, upon which the glorious Parthenon rests? Of the nature of his reflections, as he strolled along that famous route, I cannot say much. I imagine they were hazy, like the inarticulate speech of an infant. He wanted something, but for the life of him he could not have put that something into shape or definite speech. Like Hercules, his way was barred by two female forms—only one of whom, however, offered him a direct invitation. And Photini?

And thus these two met, and falling into accidental conversation, which resulted in an exchange of cards, Rudolph learnt that this was Herr Reineke, the distinguished Greek scholar, whose card his aunt had found awaiting her on her return from a drive that morning. Anything was better to Rudolph than that meditation in pursuit of which he had come out expressly, so he warmly pressed Reineke to come back to the Embassy with him. Reineke took a fancy to the frank and high-bred lad, and gladly consented to do so.

On their way he learnt some very original and curious views upon the Ancient Greeks, and his national vanity was flattered by hearing this discontented youth describe the Modern Greeks as worse than the Jews, and express his entire sympathy with the Turks—a thorough gentlemanly race in his opinion. Gustav assented, but claimed an exception for one or two of the modern Greeks, and at this point they reached the Embassy.

The young man found everybody out, so Rudolph[Pg 264] carried off Reineke to a little salon only used in private life. Here the baroness wrote her letters, and here Inarime had sat that morning with a book and a pencil in her hand. Rudolph ordered coffee and cigars, and selected for himself Inarime’s seat. He took up her book, and remembered enough of his Greek to know that it was a volume of the Sicilian Idyllists. He recognised the names Theocritus, Bion and Moschus, but the rest was a blank to him. In turning over the leaves, a sheet of paper dropped out, and this contained writing. He examined it carefully, and was struck with its exquisite caligraphy.

“Can you read Greek—modern?” he asked of Gustav, who was looking idly out of the window.

“Yes,” he answered, turning his face round.

“Please translate that for me,” cried Rudolph excitedly. Gustav extended his hand for the paper, glanced at it carelessly, and read half-finished verses in classical Greek, which baldly translated read something like this:—

“O let me not in this grief fail.
Dear Gods, upon me glance!
For hearts with troubles slowly veil
Hope in remembrance.
“I would not that thy life were sad
Because of our drear fate,
Nor would I have thee wholly glad
While I am forced to wait.”

The lines ended here, and Gustav read them over again, a dim presentiment quickening his pulses. Selaka had shown him Inarime’s writing, beautiful,[Pg 265] finished, like those delicate manuscripts which we have inherited from the old days of cloistered leisure. Surely this was the work of the same hand, and the quiet sadness of the verses swept him like a message from the dead.

“Do you know who wrote this?” he asked slowly.

“Yes,” Rudolph answered, indisposed to be communicative.

“A lady?”

“You think the handwriting a lady’s?”

“I do. I fancy I have seen it before.”

“Let me see. Were you not staying for a short time on one of the Greek islands?”

“Yes; Tenos.”

“Then you perhaps met her. Oh, I am sure of it now,” cried Rudolph, springing up and glaring into Reineke’s face.

Reineke said nothing, but bent his eyes reverently upon the sheet of paper. Might he steal it? If he had been alone he would have kissed it.

“Why don’t you answer me, Herr Reineke?” Rudolph persisted.

“Answer you? What?”

“There is somebody else, I know. I learnt it the other night. Tell me. Is it you?” he demanded.

“Herr Ehrenstein, is it too much to beg an explanation of these somewhat enigmatic questions?” retorted Gustav.

But Ehrenstein eagerly noted that his eyes never once left the piece of paper in his hand.

“It is unworthy to trifle with me in this way. I see that you know her, and that you understand too well[Pg 266] the meaning of those lines. They are perhaps addressed to you.”

“And if it were so?” said Gustav, coldly.

“It would be better to know it at once. Anything would be better than this suspense. Listen, I will tell you something I overheard one night in a conversation between my uncle and her father.”

“Her father? Is Selaka here?” cried Gustav.

“He is. And so is she.”

“She! here? In this house? Now?” exclaimed Gustav, jumping up.

“She is out now with my aunt. They will be back soon.”

“Good God!” muttered Reineke, sitting down, and holding his head in his hands. “Should I go—or shall I stay?”

“Then you are the man. Listen to what I heard last night. My uncle told Selaka that he would be glad to see his daughter my wife—oh, don’t fly into a rage, we are not engaged, and I see by your angry smile you don’t think it likely to come to pass. Well, Selaka said he liked me, and in his estimation, my birth and social position were a set-off against my deficiencies in classical lore. But there is an impediment. His daughter has recently made the heaviest sacrifice a woman can make for her father, and he could not pain her by asking her to choose a successor to the lover she gave up for him. You are the lover, I know. Why did she give you up?”

“Because I am a Turk.”

“A Turk! You!”

Rudolph burst into a harsh laugh, and stopped [Pg 267]suddenly when his ear caught the sound of a carriage drawn up outside. He glanced quickly out of the window.

“She has come, Monsieur le Sultan,” he announced, sarcastically.

Both men stood still, and rapid steps approached. Through the half-open door the flutter of silken raiment was heard brushing the floor, and the baroness stood before them, looking courteous interrogation.

“This is Herr Reineke,” said Rudolph, in German.

“Oh, M. Reineke,” the baroness exclaimed, in French. “This is indeed a pleasure. You will stay and dine with us in a friendly way. No ceremony. The baron will keep you company in morning attire. It will be delightful, as the unexpected always is.”

Gustav declined politely, and glanced beyond her. There stood Inarime with a look of unmistakable rapture and alarm upon her face.

The baroness introduced them; they bowed, but did not dare trust themselves to speech or hand-clasp.

“Must you go at once, Herr Reineke?” asked the baroness, remarking the glory on his face.

“Madame, I must,” he said, and Rudolph saw that Inarime started violently, as if the sound of his voice thrilled her like pain.

Reineke shook hands with the baroness, not conscious that he was making all sorts of impossible promises, and then turned silently to the mute, harrowing eloquence of Inarime’s gaze, with one as unbearable in its piercing tenderness. Rudolph accompanied him downstairs and said nothing until Reineke held out his hand at the door.

[Pg 268]

“No, I cannot touch your hand, Herr Reineke. We must not meet again,” he said, grimly.

“As you wish, Herr Ehrenstein. I am sorry for you, but, as you see, I have not much cause for self-congratulation for myself.”

Rudolph said nothing, and flung away from him.

In the little salon he found Inarime alone, with her head bent down upon the table over her folded arms.

“You love that man, Fraulein?” he asked in German, which she spoke more fluently than French.

“I do,” she said, simply, hardly troubled by the impertinence of the question.

“And there is no chance—none—for me?”

“I do not understand you, Herr Ehrenstein.”

Did she even hear him, as she stared out with that intense look strained beyond her prison through the bright streets traversed by Gustav?

“I, too, love you, Fraulein. I would die for you. You have taken from me my rest, my happiness, my self-respect. Everything I yield to you—honour, manhood, independence. Gladly will I accept slavery at your bidding. I care for nothing but you. Is there no hope for me? Your father will approve my suit.—He is banished.”

Inarime gazed scorn and loathing upon him. There were hardly words strong enough with which to reject such an offer, so made and at such a time.

“Leave me, Herr Ehrenstein. You force me abruptly to terminate my stay under your uncle’s roof.”

She turned her back upon him, and when he broke out into fierce and incoherent apologies, she swept past him out of the room.

[Pg 269]


There was no hope for it. Harmony fled the Austrian Embassy. It had already been bruited that young Ehrenstein was inconveniently demanded by a bloodthirsty warrior, whose sister he had jilted in a scandalous way. The report reached Selaka’s ear, and he looked askance upon the perfidious youth. At first the baron dismissed the affair with a laugh, then, upon scandal mounting higher, and taking a shriller tone, he questioned Rudolph, and being a gentleman, expressed himself in very strong terms upon the young reprobate’s conduct.

Rudolph had sulked and fretted and made everybody around him only a degree less uncomfortable than himself. Twice he had started to go to Andromache and confess the full extent of his iniquity, but he had not had the courage to face the ordeal. If she should cry, or reproach him, or meet him with sad silence! it would be equally unbearable, and there would be nothing left for him but to go away and cut his throat. What was the good of anything? Life was a blunder, a fret, a torment. Without any evil in him, kindly, pure, sweet natured, here was he involved in a mesh of inextricable troubles, behaving to a dear and innocent child like an[Pg 270] arrant villain. And all the while his heart bled for her, and in any moment left him by the haunting thought of Inarime, he was pursued by the soft pain of Andromache’s pretty eyes.

But every one blamed him, and all Athens spoke of him as a heartless scoundrel. The baroness, who was coldly condemnatory, suggested a return to Austria. The baron, sarcastic, plagued him in the “I warned you” tone.

“You are much too sentimental and susceptible, Rudolph, for a life of idleness. You have yet to learn the art of trifling gracefully and uncompromisingly. Remember, a man has not to choose between being a victim or a brute. You have proved yourself both to that little Athenian—first the victim and then the brute. Now, my advice to you is, go back to Rapoldenkirchen. Meditate instructively upon the excellent advantages you have had here, and resolve to continue your education in matters feminine with the married ladies. Avoid girls as you would avoid poison, until you are ready to fix yourself in reasonable harness with one particular girl, whom I advise you to choose as little as possible like yourself. Vienna or Paris will be of infinite service to you just now, and if you like, I could use my influence to obtain you a diplomatic post. As long as you remain in this state of lamentable idleness, so long will your life be precarious.”

But this excellent counsel had fallen on dull ears. An hour after Inarime’s rejection, Rudolph started to go to Andromache, and instead of cutting through Academy Street, as he should have done, he turned up towards the barrack, and before even he was aware of the[Pg 271] propelling instinct that pushed him, he was knocking at Photini’s door.

“Is Mademoiselle Natzelhuber visible?” he asked of Polyxena, with an indifference of look and tone not at all assumed.

“She is upstairs, if that is what you mean,” cried Polyxena, and left him to shut the door behind him.

He walked up the steep stone stairs without a sign of hurry or purpose, and rapped listlessly at Photini’s door. In response to a loud “Come in,” he entered, and found Photini in the midst of her cats and dogs, reading the “Palingenesia.” She threw away the shabby little newspaper, and made room for him on the sofa beside her, eyeing him with a look of sharp scrutiny.

“Well?” she said.

“I am most abjectly miserable, Photini,” he said, and sat down beside her, staring at the floor.

“You look it, my friend.”

“I suppose so. Photini, I want you to let me stay with you.”

“Stay with me! What the deuce do you mean?”

“Just what I say. There are no words to describe my wretchedness. I am sick of everything and everybody. You, at least, won’t criticise or blame. Your own life has not been so successful that you need censure very harshly the blunders of mine.”

He looked at her drearily, unnotingly, and yet he felt drawn to her by an immense personal sympathy and a kind of remembered affection that nothing could ever quite obliterate.

“Oh, for that, I am not disposed to censure any one but the smug hypocrites, who talk religion and virtue[Pg 272] until one longs to fling something in their faces. For the idiots I have a tremendous weakness, I confess.”

“You care a little for me, don’t you, Photini?” Rudolph cried, like a forsaken child.

Photini moved towards him, and gathered him into her arms.

“I love you furiously, you wretched boy,” she exclaimed, and held him to her. “But just because you are an idiot, you are not to pay any heed to it.”

Rudolph for answer flung his arms round her, laid his head upon her bosom, and burst into wild hysteric sobs.

“Oh, you baby!” shouted Photini, trying to shake him off, but he only clung to her the more convulsively, and tightened his clasp of her until she could hardly breathe.

“Finish! this is absurd. What has happened to you, child?”

“Everybody is against me,” he said, striving hard to choke back his tears. “I hate myself. I have made a mess of everything, and I wish I were dead.”

“That is why you have come to me, I suppose. If you are destined to be damned in the next world, you are willing to begin the operation in this,” said Photini, drily.

“I want to stay with you. If you repulse me, Photini, I swear I’ll go straightway and blow my brains out.”

“It would not be much worse.”

“Than staying with you?”

“Yes, than staying with me. The one would be followed by an inquest and a funeral—and behold a swift[Pg 273] and respectable end. The other—my friend, have you measured its consequences?”

“Yes; we should have a great deal of music all to ourselves. We might go away to France or Algiers, and I should forget Athens.”

“No, you would not. There is no such thing as forgetfulness until you take to drink, and then you only forget when you are drunk. The instant you become sober, memory probes your empty heart more strongly than ever.”

“Then we will drink together, Photini,” cried Rudolph, recklessly. “Give me some brandy.”

“I will not. I insist on your going back to that silly chit you’ve treated so badly. Dry her eyes—they are very pretty eyes, my friend Rudolph, and a man might be less agreeably employed. She’ll soon forgive you if you manage to look penitent enough. I boxed her ears once, and I like her all the better for it. Tell her an old woman who loves you sent you back to her.”

“Photini, you are not old,” protested Rudolph, disinclined to speak of Andromache to her. “Come back to the point. Will you have me? You say you love me.”

“Rudolph, you are an ass. Don’t you see that I am trying to save you? What does it matter for myself? You, Agiropoulos, another,—it is all the same. My life is blotted, ruined, disfigured past redemption. One liaison more or less cannot practically affect me. But with you it is different. You are a delicately-trained boy, of fastidious tastes. You are unfit to battle with the coarser elements of life. A robuster morale and a[Pg 274] less dainty nature than yours can buffet and wrestle with brutal conditions, and be none the worse for a hundred false steps, but you will sink irretrievably upon the first. Vice sits indifferently well on some of us, and on others most deplorably. That is why women sink so much more rapidly than men. Despair and self-contempt are stones that hang fatally round their necks, and this,” she said, pointing to a flask of brandy, “helps them to carry the weight until they are crushed by it.”

“It will help me, too, I’ve no doubt,” said Rudolph.

“It is from that I would save you, and from the rest. It is not my habit to express my opinions. I despise people too much to talk seriously to them, but I am not only a musical machine in the lucid pauses of a toper. I have thought a little, too, and I know what I have lost.”

She was walking up and down the room with her hands joined behind her, and there was a glow upon her strange face that made it almost noble. When she had finished, she stood in front of Rudolph, scanned him closely, and asked:

“Are you going? I have had quite enough of this sort of thing.”

“I am not going, Photini. My mind is made up. I will stay with you. Be kind to me. Say you want me.”

“I must not, for then I could not bring myself to give you up. Go away, and think over it. Mind, I would far rather you did not come back, and I think I should be able to kiss with gratitude a note from you telling me you had gone back to that girl.”

[Pg 275]

“You will get no such note from me, for I am going to stay now,” Rudolph exclaimed, impetuously.

“You are a fool. There, I would have saved you—now, it is as heaven wills it. But please remember this. When you come to repent this step, as you will surely in a week, a month, or a year, have the goodness not to bluster and expend your rage on me, or lay your folly to my account.”

Rudolph laughed bitterly.

“I think, mademoiselle, you would very soon make short work of me and my bluster and rage,” he said.

“Well, yes, I believe I should be able for that emergency.”

“Photini, will you play me the ‘Barcarolle’?” Rudolph asked, as he rubbed his cheek caressingly against her arm.

She stooped over him, kissed his hair and forehead, and their lips met in a burning kiss—Rudolph’s first.

[Pg 276]


We can imagine how the fabric, sedulously raised by Constantine’s pursuit of his family’s fortune and advancement, tottered, shook, and fell utterly to pieces upon that one exchanged look between Inarime and Gustav. He in the world, and she the wife of another man! She loathed herself that such should have been deemed possible of her. She acknowledged her father’s right to her obedience, and it was difficult for her to imagine her will in disjunction from his. But surely there are limits to a daughter’s obligations—most wise limits set by nature, whose laws are still more imperative than man’s. We may defy the laws of man, and sometimes their defiance is proof of nobler instinct. But the laws of nature—these are inexorable, and her punishments are fatally swift. Body and mind were set in revolution against this cold commercial alliance. Her soul in arms told her that it would be a bodily degradation under which her mind would inevitably sink.

She had been trained to reason and to think, to hold her words in subjection to her reason, and restrain the impulsiveness of her sex. Expediency, she had been taught, may be a qualified virtue, though founded on the meanest basis, and she had been recommended to[Pg 277] weigh its component parts in particular cases, before pronouncing judgment. Hitherto she had been wise to detect the logical issues of any situation presented to her for the reading, and thus had gained, in the mind of the villagers, the reputation of a wise young counsellor, whose head was filled with all the natural precepts of sagacity. But that swift, immediate contact with flame and fire, the frantic surrender to an untried glance, threw her back upon herself, with shaken faith, in the grasp of wavering moods of stupefaction and self-contempt lit by the lamp of burning bliss.

She saw her folly but did not repudiate it—the goddesses of old had yielded to the sovereign passion upon as little pressure. One of the features of Immortality is its royal dispensation with the tedious form of wooing invented by the weak mortals. Nineteen years of a purity as glacial as Artemis’ before she had given that one kiss to the sleeping boy, were as an unremembered dream, blotted from her mind without regret or shame, upon meeting of eyes that held her own in glad subjection. The thrill of captured maidenhood was still upon her, and O, faithlessness most grievous to the noble captor! she had half pledged herself to take a husband.

“I cannot!” she cried aloud, stung keenly by the horror and the gracelessness of such submission.

And then, to accentuate her anguish, the figure of Oïdas for the first time rose sharp and distinct upon her vision, to fix her in the travail of repugnance. Until now he had passed before her, a scarce-recognised nonentity, wafted past her upon sugary strains of Verdi and Bellini, through the odours of many[Pg 278] flowers. Now he stood out in cruel relief against the background of a holy memory. She saw his high shoulders, with a slight outward droop curving suddenly inward, and making a grotesque narrowness of chest, like a bird of prey curved in upon its wings, and she caught herself smiling at the picture. She detected the material contentions of the oily simper and too affable expression in the small black eyes, noted ruthlessly the uncertainty of the spindle shanks that did lean duty for legs, and the ungraceful flow of the long loose frock coat.

It was borne in then upon her that she unconquerably disliked Oïdas, and that pressure would change that dislike to positive and passionate aversion. Does not youth demand youth for its mate? strength and beauty their like? Was she to stand tamely by, and let her youth and strength and beauty be given away to mean and dwindling age such as his? He had not even the godlike attribute of power upon which she could let herself be whirled into possession, shutting her eyes in the make-believe of fatality. Theseus may carry off an unloving Helen, but at least he is a hero. Helen may repine and revolt, but she feels that the arms that imprison her are strong and conquering arms. She may hate, but she will not despise,—and contempt is the one thing women will not endure. Let the ravisher but possess superb qualities, and pardon may eventually be his. Pride, sitting apart, is nourished on their contemplation though the heart be starving, and it is a fine thing to be able to sustain alien pride in a woman. But a man like Oïdas, the epitome of male commonplace, held[Pg 279] out no future hope of an honourable compromise between pride and the heart’s exactions. Tied to him, she would pass through life a mean and pitiable figure, read in the light of her ignoble choice. It is not given to many women to wed romance, and the curious want of fastidiousness with which the sex may be charged, its readiness to take shabby and uninteresting mates, is one of the best proofs that any man can get a wife. But if a woman once let her glance dwell upon a live figure of a romance, it is astonishing how complete will be her discovery of the general ill looks and unattractiveness of men. Until Inarime had seen Gustav, she had not remarked whether nature favoured men physically or not. But now it was the appearance of Oïdas that told most emphatically against him. Nature had shown her what she could do for a man when she chose to be in a poetic mood, and she was not disposed to accept the exchange of a monkey shivering in a frock-coat.

The warm blood running fire through her now petulant veins taught her how mad was her former belief that she could meet the sacrifice her father proposed with resigned endurance. The revolt of her body was as fierce as that of her soul. Marriage was not like a commercial partnership in which each party lives on certain ground a life apart. It was the complete enslavement of an existence, the surrendering of private thought, of the sanctuaries of mind and person. No escape. Concealment would be subterfuge, the man’s dishonour the wife’s. Habit would be tyranny, the faintest demonstration of an unshared affection an oppression. She rose up at this thought with cheeks dyed[Pg 280] scarlet, so acute was her apprehension of its meaning, and then dropped among her pillows, and hurried to hide from the shame of it under the protecting sheets.

No, she could not! Less cruel far was the old sacrifice at Aulis. Iphigenia might well bow to her father’s awful decision while her soul was unscourged by the scorpion whips of such degradation. The fire in her brain and the burn of hot dry eyelids kept her awake all night, pursued by terrible images of an unholy future, and her first thought, when the dawn touched light upon the window-panes, was to seek her father and intercept him before he left the Embassy. She knew he purposed going out early, intending to add to his notes at the University library, for the German meeting.

“Father,” she cried, in a voice of resolution he was quick to feel there was no shaking, “I must leave this house at once. You will go and make my excuses to the baron, while I will knock at the baroness’ door.”

“What has happened, child? You look disturbed and ill,” Selaka exclaimed, in wonderment.

“I will tell you when we are gone,” she said, growing whiter at the prospect of giving voice to the night’s sufferings. “Go now, dear father, and wait for me in the courtyard.”

“I did believe my daughter was not capricious.”

“Papa,” she pleaded, childishly, “love me a little, be kind to me. Do what I ask.”

Selaka mused half-angrily, as he went in search of the baron, so thoroughly mystified that he almost apprehended being unfitted for learned society that morning:

“Ah, why are these explosive engines, known as[Pg 281] daughters, born to poor harassed man? We idly propagate them as candles to attract the moths around us; to dismay us with their flutter and impertinent importunities;—magnets to attract violent impulses, and run them cantering in rivalry.”

Wrapped up in his own vexed thoughts, he had long been perceived by Reineke at the German school before he recognised the fatal Turk. He bowed coldly, flushed perceptibly under the eyes. The fellow was a man to be proud of, he felt, a man in a million, an ideal son-in-law, and hotly rebuked himself for thinking it. He moved as far away from Reineke as possible, and fell into eager conversation with a Russian professor.

The Russian informed him that the French school had curtly declined to attend, with the added discourtesy of offering no excuse whatsoever.

“Ye gods! Is not the ground of archæology even to be neutral?” thundered Selaka. “Must politics here be thrust upon us, and have us by the ears in a fret of jarring and wrangling? It is not a question of marriage. If civility did not suggest it, policy ought to teach them to take what Germany, with her science and perseverance has to offer them, and be thankful for the gift. Let them sulk, and it will do nobody any harm but themselves.”

“The French minister’s nephew, a very charming young fellow, has sent an unofficial letter of apology on his own behalf. He was invited because of a couple of interesting and graceful articles he wrote for the Revue des deux Mondes. It is known that he received orders to stay away.”

It was an imposing assembly. The nations of the[Pg 282] civilised world were represented by their Embassies and schools, all except sulking France. The blooming half of humanity was present in a dozen or so of choice souls, to deck the scene with their flowery robes and bright hues. The loud murmur of mingled tongues was stopped by Herr Julius Dünckler stepping forward to open the proceedings formally by a neat little speech announcing that the paper of the day would be read by his very youthful but learned colleague, Herr Gustav Reineke. The theme was the everlasting Theatre, a theme happily not exhausted, and matter still for research. Herr Reineke had visited every spot of ground that could be of use to him in the patient analysis of his subject, and his views were so forcibly put forward, his erudition was so minute and vast at the same time, that it seemed to him, the director of the German School of Archæology, that it would be a pleasure and a gain for other workers like himself in that wide field, to assemble and amicably discuss Herr Reineke’s paper. The paper, he stated, was translated into English and French for those present who could not understand German.

Upon invitation, Gustav took his place upon the platform and the ladies at least were unanimous in their admiration of his handsome and distinguished presence.

“He looks a scholar and a gentleman to boot,” murmured Mrs. Mowbray-Thomas.

His voice was grave and musically measured, with an Oriental soft sonorousness which captivated his hearers. His face was impassive in its noble earnestness, its strength toned by delicate beauty, lit with the fine glow of intellect. When he came to the end of his[Pg 283] reading, he bowed in acknowledgment of the applause that greeted it, and, stepping backward, his eyes sought Selaka through the crowd. He was quick to detect the flame of affectionate pride that involuntarily leaped into the old man’s answering look, and a chill from excessive hope ran through his members in a visible shudder.

He beat his way through congratulating strangers till he stood beside Selaka’s chair.

“Your hand?” he said, under his breath, extending his own tentatively, and, seeing it grasped, added, with an ingratiating smile: “It is not withheld.”

“And wherefore? I am proud of you, proud for you, honoured by the distinction,” Selaka answered, huskily, while he followed the crowd towards the door.

“Ah, sir, it is a barren pride for you and me,” said Gustav, keeping close to his side.

Gustav understood that he was dismissed, but with pardonable pertinacity resolved to force Selaka to speak to him of Inarime, and walked beside him.

“She is well?” he almost entreated.

“Very well,” Selaka admitted slowly, not trusting himself to recognise the hungry question in the other’s eyes.

“Her beauty has made some stir here,” he added in a naïve exposure of paternal vanity. “You have heard?”

“No, I arrived yesterday. The town’s gossip has not reached me.”

A thrill of insufferable horror shot through him at the hideous picture of Inarime’s beauty the theme of men’s discourse and the object of their ugly scrutiny. The Turk was thus far strong within him, that if possible[Pg 284] he would have had her shielded from alien homage, guarded the bloom and perfume of her beauty for his own exclusive possession.

After a pause, filled in with conjecture and flashes of memory, he turned again to Selaka.

“Am I still an outcast, sir?”

“Outcast! You know that I esteem you—truly, cordially.”

“For yourself. But for her—in that sense I mean it.”

“I cannot alter the sentence pronounced.”

“Ah!” Gustav interjected, drawing in his breath sharply. “It is so hard on me. I hope, I believe, it is hard on her, too.”

“She is sensible. She will resign herself to marry the man I have chosen for her.”

“Young Ehrenstein!” Gustav almost shouted, with a start.

“Can you ask? He is a fool and a villain. A fellow who does not know his own mind, is betrothed to one woman, loves another, and levants with a third.”

“Such a choice would indeed be tragic for her,” Gustav said, sardonically. “Has she consented?”


“It is incredible to me, sir. You shock me. You unnerve me. I desire to remain cool, but the picture you force upon me is unbearable, vile, discordant. Inarime wedded—and not to me! Impossible! I will not accept it.”

“Hush! You have no choice. I do not offer an alternative,” interposed Selaka, judicially.

“But, sir, you have a tender love for her. Think of the cruelty, the shame and agony for her! She is all[Pg 285] delicacy and sensitiveness. To have given herself to me, and now to be asked to accept another! It is the most abominable desecration of maidenhood! She cannot, she will not! Be reasonable. Think of her, sir.”

“Of whom else do you suppose I think, Herr ——” but Selaka could not bring himself to pronounce the false name, and his tongue shrank with violent repugnance from the other.

“Drop the name,” Gustav implored, seeing his hesitation.

“I do not doubt your tender regard for her, but I do most emphatically deny that it is possible for you to see the position with the eyes of youth. Oh, I understand. You deem me jealous. If that were all. Nay, then it would be worse, for I should doubt her. And I do not. I could answer for her with my life. You are driving her to an ignoble compliance. You wish her to be safe from me.”

“You have guessed rightly. I shall not feel secure until she has passed into other hands—hands that will bind her and you with stronger fetters than mine.”

“Oh, how wrong you are! How you misjudge me! Have I tried to write to her, to see her? Yesterday we met,—we did not even touch hands, we said no word.”

It was Selaka’s turn to start.

“She did not tell me,” he muttered. “To-day she met me with a troubled aspect, and prayed to be taken away.”

“Poor child! Why will you make it harder for her? Have you the heart to grieve her so? Why, oh, why put this heavy burden on the young shoulders you[Pg 286] should cherish? I will not harass you. I will not thwart your plans.”

“You are talking complete nonsense,” Selaka responded, testily. “A father must marry his daughter, if only to feel she will be protected after his death.”

“Protected! Inarime unprotected! You madden me. But for myself I do not complain;—nay, I do most bitterly. Kyrie Selaka, is this your last word?”

“It is.”

“Will nothing—nothing I can say shake you?”


“You are a second Agamemnon,” Gustav cried, and turned away with weary, angry eyes and white lips.

Pericles opened his mouth to call him back, shut it, drove down the unsaid words with a heavy sigh, and walked slowly towards his brother’s house.

Constantine greeted him in the hall with an emphatic look, pointed to the inner room and shrugged his shoulders.

“She is in there, pacing for all the world like a ravenous tiger. Women are cats. They spring and tread delicately, with glittering, rageful eyes, and make you listen, in spite of yourself, for the ominous hiss and spit, or the soft caressing purr. I would not marry that young woman for her weight in gold. That reminds me. Oïdas is bothering me about the engagement. He complains that it is indefinite, that Inarime has stayed too long at that confounded Embassy, and that you keep him on tenter-hooks. It is all over Athens about young Ehrenstein. The senseless whelp! Oïdas is frantic, insists he has been injuriously trifled with; in short, nothing but an immediate marriage will satisfy[Pg 287] him. He is the snarling dog that shows his teeth upon provocation, and is perhaps more dangerous, if not more discomposing, than the spitting cat.”

“It is all right, Constantine. Oïdas is correct in his statement that he has been somewhat unfairly dealt with, in so far as his answer has been unduly delayed. This accident of Ehrenstein’s—the Fates confound him and the Furies overtake him!—teaches me that the conclusion of the bargain must be speedily arrived at. I cannot have my daughter’s name dubiously upon the lips of chattering fools. Oïdas will be apprised this afternoon of my decision.”

He swung into the other room, and a face of piercing eagerness and demand met his!

“Inarime, you must be ready to marry Kyrios Oïdas at once,” he began, without any thoughtful preliminaries.

“It is of that I wished to speak to you, father,” she said, in a dreary quiescence that filled him with hope.

“Come, this promises well. My dear girl is reasonable.”

“He sent me those,” she said, pointing to a small stack of roses, jonquils and heliotrope, that lay a neglected litter, upon the table, and appealed to her senses in revolt with a nauseating sweetness. “And this letter. He is giving a fancy ball, and wishes me to attend publicly as his bride.”

“The wish does him honour, and is but natural and manly. You must get over this fancied repugnance, my girl. You will have to marry him. It is my resolution.”

He spoke with a harshness quite foreign to him, but[Pg 288] its adoption nerved him to show her a front of adamant.

“Father, I will not,” she cried—screamed nearly.

“Will not?” he asked, his brows shooting into a significant arch, and his eyes, for the first time in the interview, holding hers in question.

“Cannot,” she breathed, in a lower tone, with an air of weakness that touched him horribly.

“You see your position. It is for you to obey.”

She caught her breath in a sound held between a sob and a hiss, rebellion gathering ominously about the dark brows.

“You are within your rights, I know. But, oh! father, how can you stand out for paternal authority in the face of my most utter misery?”

“But, Inarime, this is what I cannot understand,” he protested, returning to their old footing of equality. “Why should the thought of this marriage—a wholly respectable alliance—irritate you and make you miserable?”

“It is not he!” she whispered, breathlessly.


“Father, will you at least try to face the situation with a woman’s mind and instinct. Believe me, it is no contemptible mind or instinct that makes us shrink from an abhorrent marriage. We may not have heads clear as yours, but our instincts are as finely responsive to the promptings of nature as a watch is delicately accurate in its measurements of time. Your brains may err and falsely interpret. Our hearts cannot, unless art interferes. I speak now of uneducated woman pitted against educated man. In these things he will have[Pg 289] much to learn from her. We are limited in our nature, father, and that which you ask of me is impossible.”

“I will not hear it. Nothing is impossible when it simply depends on the good-will and common-sense of the person. It is my punishment for having brought you up as a boy. All my love and thought and care were for you, and this is my reward. You seek to disturb and thwart me on the very first occasion that brings our wills into collision. A growing child is like a peach, soft and bloomy to the touch, sweet to the taste, until you come to the heart, where you find bitterness and hardness. What can it matter whom you marry, when you cannot marry him?”

“Oh, it is easy enough for you to speak as a spectator. You will not be marrying the man, and it makes all the difference. The servitude, the loathing, the degradation will be mine to bear, and only a girl can feel that.”

“A girl! a woman! Will you not taunt me with your boast of nicer feeling. This Oïdas, on your own admission, was not specially distasteful to you.”

“That was when you had not proposed him for a husband.”

“Ouf! One notes the unreasonable sex in that retort. What has my simple proposal to do with the man. If he were a detestable fellow you would have hated him from the beginning. Nothing but the unconquerable passion for worrying and grieving and turning everybody topsy-turvy, that is born in every woman, would make my desire to marry you to him paint him to you in blacker colours.”

“It would be the same with any man you might[Pg 290] think fit to propose. If it is the fault of my sex, I cannot in reason be held responsible for it. It is not my fault that I am not born an exception. And I will admit, father, in this case I would infinitely prefer to follow the general rule,” she added, bitterly.

“There, there, my girl, don’t fret me with unkind speech. I have yielded to temper, I know, and am sorry for it. You have ever been a solace and a joy to me, and if I have set my heart on this matter, it is entirely for your good. You must marry some one.”

She allowed him passively to fondle her hand, but her face was still troubled and cold. Why was it so difficult for him, if he loved her, to understand and appreciate the nature of her repugnance? Are a girl’s objections never to count when others have her welfare in view?

“One would think I were disgraced, and marriage necessary at once as a shield for my reputation,” she retorted, crimsoning hotly, held by a sense of audacity and shame, as the full meaning of her words rushed upon her.

“Those are words it requires all my tenderness to forgive, Inarime,” said Pericles, gravely. “You wonder at my anxiety to marry you. Is it not simply a father’s duty? It is, moreover, a duty women, good women, owe to the State.”

“The State!” Inarime exclaimed, with a look of surprised indignation. “What do good women, as you say, owe the State more than others?”

Selaka stared at her incredulously. Could this be his child? This young woman, lashed by angry passions, and stinging him in turn by sharp, impertinent speech!

[Pg 291]

“They owe it the duty to marry and bring up their children befittingly and intelligently.”

“You accept too readily that every good woman is capable of this. It requires, I imagine, special gifts, a special capacity, to bring up children befittingly and intelligently. It is wiser to count on the stupidity and capacity of the average.”

“Granted. O, I grant you that with full conviction. Still, we cannot let the race die out because, unfortunately, parents are for the most part idiots and criminals. The State is wiser to assume they are the reverse.”

“Then means should be taken by the State to see that the young are fitted for their future responsibilities. I have met some very charming young ladies here at Athens—charming, until you have had time to discover that they are for the most part insipid, uneducated and silly. I have nothing to say against them. They were prettily apparelled and amused me. They chatter engagingly—about nothing. They tell me they have been for years studying the piano, with no result, and that they have learned at least four foreign tongues for purposes of social intercourse—not study. I am curious to know how it could enter the brains of any one to suspect these pretty toys of a capacity for bringing up their children intelligently. And yet they will marry, and will doubtless be considered to have accomplished their duty to the uncritical State.”

“Well, well, that is not our concern, happily. You, at least, are not similarly situated. The hours spent by you on study have been spent to some purpose. The only objection I see to Kyrios Oïdas is, that he is somewhat old. I would very willingly have changed him[Pg 292] for young Herr Rudolph because of his youth and social position. He loves you, Inarime, he avowed it frantically to me. But just as I had made up my mind to effect the alteration of bridegrooms, Θις μαυ he explodes in a flame of ugly scandal, leaving the full theatrical smell of fire and brimstone behind him. Faust carried off by a female Mephistopheles! Ouf! This world!”

Inarime walked across the room, pressed her forehead against the window, and stood gazing into the street in disconsolate perplexity. Selaka joined her, and placed his hand affectionately on her shoulders.

“We have been equally in the wrong towards one another, my dear one,” he said. “We have forgotten the seemly restraints of speech, and in our smarting anger and disappointment, have drawn largely upon the copper of language, as if our minds had never fed upon its gold. I am ashamed and grieved. Antigone would not have spoken to Œdipus as you, my child, have to-day spoken to me; and Œdipus would not so completely have forfeited the respect that was due to him. To get back into the old groove, we will separate and meditate a while apart. In the light of reflection, you will see that what I ask is for your sole good. If this story of young Ehrenstein gets abroad, you will be unpleasantly mixed up with it, and marriage will be your best, and, in fact, your only shield from evil surmise. You do not doubt my great love, child?”

Still hurt and dismayed, Inarime withheld the be-sought-for look of reconciliation. Her shoulders moved with an uncontrollable sob; this marriage revolted her, and held her silent.

[Pg 293]

“My daughter! my dearest! Look at me, your father, Inarime.”

She turned her head slowly, stretched out her arms, and was enfolded in his. Their embrace was broken by a loud and frantic entrance. Constantine rushed in, holding a newspaper in his hand, followed close by Oïdas, whose face wore an expression of vindictive spite.

“Pericles,” roared poor Constantine, shaken out of his wits, “look at this! The wretches! the liars! Read it.”

He thrust the paper into his brother’s hands, and began violently to wipe the perspiration from his forehead. Pericles had just time for a hurried glance at the garbled and extremely malicious version of the Ehrenstein romance in the “Aristophanes,” in which Inarime’s name was printed in full, with a minute description of her person, when Oïdas broke out:

“I am mentioned, too, as betrothed to your daughter. I do not know who has authorised this impertinence. How can you expect a man in my position to marry a girl thus advertised!”

“Is that so? You are not perhaps aware,” shrieked Constantine, “that my niece has emphatically refused to marry you. She hates you.”

Oïdas smiled sarcastically. That was chaff unlikely to catch him. Pericles shook himself with a supreme effort out of his state of sickly stupefaction.

“Kyrie Oïdas, it is as my brother says,” he managed to utter, in a vague, chill tone. “My daughter has to-day communicated to me her unconquerable repugnance to the alliance you did us the honour to propose. You[Pg 294] will now do us the still greater honour of relieving us of your presence.”

Oïdas strutted out of the room with lips drawn into an incredulous grin, and when the door slammed behind him, Pericles stretched out his hands helplessly. His face was white and his lips blue. Inarime rushed to him.

“My father!” she murmured, softly. “Uncle, help me.”

Pericles had fallen back in a dead faint.

Oïdas went about the town, distracted, and resolved to spread his evil tale. He did not want for willing ears and believers. Many discredited his story, and reverted to his former unconcealed anxiety to get the girl, and her evident holding back. In the next day’s papers a formal announcement appeared stating the Mayor of Athens wished it to be known that he entertained no intention of marrying the desposyné Inarime Selaka, and had officially rescinded his proposals.

Vague references further appeared to a Turkish lover, a mysterious Bey, roving incognito over Greece—learned, fascinating and romantic. This paragraph and the short letter of Oïdas fell under the amazed eyes of Gustav Reineke, while he sat at breakfast in his hotel. His face flamed furious. Giddy emotions momentarily held him prostrate and insane. Then he rose, clenched his teeth, furnished himself with a heavy riding-whip, and sallied forth towards the newspaper office. He met the editor in the hall, unprotected and unsuspecting. With a growl of Homeric satisfaction, he pounced on that unhappy man, and, passion lending him strength, suitably reduced him to a pulp. Inspirited by this diversion, he sought[Pg 295] the mayor, was courteously admitted, not being known to be on an avenging mission; he then proceeded, without preliminary, to do the work of an infuriated hero upon the rickety body of that civic luminary. Oïdas’ howls were fearful to hear, but the door was locked, and only opened to emit in a flash the lithe frame of Gustav,—his face blanched, his eyes blazing, and his lips triumphant.

[Pg 296]


Rudolph’s disappearance with Photini created rather more than a nine days’ wonder at Athens. This is one of the privileges of living in a small and talkative town where private affairs spread like fire, and scandal is an excitement only second to that of the election of the mayor. But it must be confessed that this was a big scandal, and worth all the ejaculations, comments, and emphatic censure it provoked. The baron shrugged his shoulders and smiled: it may be allowed he was not prepared for this sweeping descent on the part of the innocent Rudolph. But, as he remarked to his wife:

“It’s always your well brought up and virtuous youths who take the rapidest strides to the deuce! I told Ottilie, years ago, that she was bringing up that boy to be a very dainty morsel for any adventuress that might happen to catch him.”

“Well, my dear, we must admit,” said the baroness, “that the Natzelhuber did not put herself to any considerable trouble to catch Rudolph. I’ve not the slightest doubt that the boy was only longing to be caught, and not wishing to escape it.”

“That is ever the way,” remarked her amiable [Pg 297]husband, “with our inconsistent sex. Our normal condition is longing or grumbling. Either we are crying out against the adventuresses who wish to catch us, or we are railing against those who won’t; and when we are caught, we are still crying out that we are caught. The child, you perceive, is father to the man. Watch an infant with his pets: he fondles and maltreats the confiding kitten that rubs itself against him, and deserts it to run after the butterfly. The butterfly won’t be caught and he howls dismally, if he doesn’t go into a fit, and proceeds to strangle the tabby. Thus it has been with your engaging nephew. Mademoiselle Andromache represents the confiding kitten, deserted for Selaka’s daughter, the unattainable butterfly, and Photini stands for the domestic tabby. Only the tabby in question possesses very formidable claws, which she is too likely to use upon the slightest or even upon no provocation from the faithless Rudolph. He will then return to us a sadder and a wiser man. Perhaps when that time comes, it will not be so very difficult for us, with the aid of Mademoiselle Veritassi, should that delightful young lady be still free, to anchor him in the placid waters of matrimony.”

“As for Mademoiselle Veritassi,” said the baroness, “it is always the girls who come off the worst in these matters. They stand there ready victims for the worn and jaded rakes who have sown their wild oats. That wild-oat period is an abomination, Baron, and the theory has done more to injure young men than anything else.”

“Madame, I am not responsible for the errors of civilisation. The period which you so aptly describe[Pg 298] as the wild-oat period, is doubtless a sad one to contemplate for those like you and me, who have passed to the other side, where it is to be hoped there are no wild oats to be sown. But I am not so sure of that. However, I have not the slightest doubt, should Rudolph settle down with Mademoiselle Veritassi, that he will make her as good a husband as any other. Certainly she will find him very pliant and easy to manage. He is wealthy, too, and I suppose a young woman cannot ask anything better than a husband she can easily manage, and a purse she can draw heavily upon,” said the baron, and continued to smoke his morning cigar without any unwonted discomposure.

The baroness went on her round of visits in a saddened spirit, thinking of that young life wrecked on its threshold, and feeling that her sister Ottilie, watching from above, might perhaps consider that she in some manner or another, was responsible for the boy’s fall. She was a good woman in her way, though a worldly one. Whatever might be her opinion of the morals of the young men with whom she associated, she would gladly have shielded poor Rudolph from any such acquaintance with life as theirs. Having no child of her own, she loved the boy with a tender and maternal love.

“It is very dreadful,” she said at dinner to her husband.

“My dear, let us be thankful that it is not worse,—it might have been,” said the cheerful philosopher.

“Worse!” interrogated the baroness.

“He might have married her.”

This appalling suggestion silenced the baroness.

[Pg 299]

Some days later, a letter came from Rudolph from Cape Juan. Already there was a breath of cynicism in it, startling to those who had known him in his not far distant period of girlish and fastidious shrinking. The baron read it attentively, and then said:

“It seems to me, my dear, your Arcadian nephew is going to the devil as fast as brandy and Photini will help him.”

And that was all he said, adding that probably in a year, at the most, Rudolph would reappear in their midst, hardened, cynical, and worldly wise.

The outrage inflicted on Athens in the respected person of her chief citizen still lifted the voice of uproarious censure, and the Turkish Embassy had to interfere on behalf of Daoud Bey, who made good his escape.

In the meantime, how has it been faring with the victim, Andromache? In the first flush of separation, Rudolph was as regular a correspondent as the postal arrangements of the Peloponnesus allowed. His letters breathed artless affection and most gratifying regrets. They described everything he saw at considerable length, and Andromache read them as young ladies will read their first love letters, answered them as candidly, making proper allowance for maidenly reticence; and then devoted herself, with much ardour, to discussing Rudolph with her mother and Julia. All the while the trousseau was progressing rapidly. What dresses to be tried on! what quantities of linen to be embroidered what choice of lace! There was confusion in the little house overlooking the French school, and Themistocles found it more necessary than ever to seek the quiet and seclusion of his own chamber, and there to meditate[Pg 300] upon the young lady in the next street and play endless and torturing variations of Schubert’s Serenade. And O what a glorious time it was for Miltiades! how he boasted of his sister’s brilliant future at the mess-table, and walked the town, or rode on his coal-black charger, with his friend Hadji Adam, the light of excitement in his eye strong enough to dazzle the rash beholder! Alas! that these simple joys should be dashed to the ground in disappointment and humiliation! Letters came more rarely upon the second separation, and their tone was more curt and less confiding. There was even a strain of self-reproach in them which Andromache was too unsuspecting to construe. But these signs of storm passed unnoticed by Miltiades. The letter fever, we know, soon declines with young men absent from their lady-loves, and as the months passed the fever gradually abated, and Rudolph, the faithless, lapsed into silence.

Still the trousseau progressed, and still the marriage preparations went forward. One day Miltiades in his barracks was informed that Rudolph had returned to Athens;—he dropped his knife and fork in astonishment. How came it that he was not aware of this? and how came it that Rudolph had not yet made his appearance in the little salon, where the Turkish bomb that had exploded at the feet of Miltiades was proudly displayed? Miltiades sat at home all the day, and waited for Ehrenstein. He was wise enough not to mention this fact to Andromache or to his mother. Perhaps there would be a very simple explanation forthcoming, and why inflict needless pain upon the women? Days went by, however, and still no [Pg 301]Ehrenstein. By the soul of Hercules, how can a fellow be expected to stand this kind of treatment? The slaughterer of five thousand Turks sit calmly by, while his sister is being jilted in the most outrageous manner! Certainly not.

Miltiades strode the streets of Athens with a more warlike aspect than ever. The very frown of his brows was a challenge, and the glance of his eyes was a dagger: the crimson plumes of his service cap nodded valorously, his sword and spurs clanked. He twirled his moustache until all the little boys and foot passengers made way for him apprehensively. Still no Ehrenstein appeared. Then came the climax. It was an awful moment when the news exploded,—more fatal far than the Turkish bomb on the table,—that Rudolph had disappeared with Photini Natzelhuber. We will draw the veil of discretion upon the picture of a modern Theseus lashed into impotent fury, and striding through the prostrate forms of his womenfolk in hysterics.

With a Jove-like front Miltiades faced the Austrian Embassy, and held stern council with the Baron von Hohenfels. Of course there was nothing to be done. It was clearly impossible to offer money to a warrior and a hero. Such a thing as breaches of promise are here unknown, and it was equally impossible to collar Rudolph and bring him back to his deserted bride. The baron was conciliatory and courteous, as was his wont; expressed the flattering opinion that Mademoiselle Andromache was far too good for a reprobate like his nephew; hoped Miltiades would allow the baroness the honour of calling upon his mother, Kyria Karapolos, and her family; and placed himself, his house, and[Pg 302] everything belonging to him at the disposal of the affronted captain. The interview terminated amicably—how could it be otherwise with the most diplomatic of ambassadors?—Miltiades returned to the bosom of his family, and held a parliament to debate upon proceedings.

Andromache bore her sorrow better than might have been imagined. She necessarily did a little in the way of hysterics, but soon settled down in dreary acquiescence, and spent her days embroidering and practising the piano. The practice of scales may be recommended to jilted young ladies. It soothes the nerves, dulls the imagination, and produces a useful kind of indifference. Young men in similar circumstances prefer, I believe, wine, or cards, or politics,—or worse.

This was the hour in which Maria shone. Very faithfully and lovingly did she tend her young forsaken mistress, hovered over her yearningly, invented delicacies by means of rice, jam, macaroni and tapioca, to tempt the appetite of the most hardened sufferer, sat by her for hours, silently stroking her hair and fondling her hands, and unveiled exquisite depths of tenderness and consideration. Greek servants and Irish servants are the kindest, most affectionate and most absolutely disinterested in the world.

But there was a curious hardness about Andromache’s young mouth: a permanent glitter in her dark blue eyes, that bespoke a cherished design. Of that design she spoke to nobody, but went through the day pretty much as usual, and was grateful to those who remained silent upon her shame. The Baroness von Hohenfels[Pg 303] called, was most pathetic, effusive, and strewed her path with good-will. She called again, this time with Agiropoulos, who stared at Andromache through his eyeglass, wore an expensive orchid in his coat, and conducted himself with his usual fascinating audacity.

“Faith!” he said to the baroness. “I should not object to console the little Karapolos myself.”

“That is an idea,” said the Baroness. “I’ll marry you, and then I shall have Rudolph’s perfidy off my mind.”

“Well, now that Photini has deserted me for your charming nephew, it will be teaching Rudolph a nice lesson in military tactics,—to besiege his deserted town, and carry it by storm,—eh, madame?”

The Baroness was quite serious in her design. A little Athenian might be an impossible match for a young Austrian aristocrat, with the blood of the Crusaders, the Hapsburgs, and heaven knows of what other deeply azure sources, running through his veins;—but a common Greek merchant from Trieste, now, an amiable enough person in florid attire, but not of her world, though gracefully patronised by her! It would be a very proper match, and one which she was resolved to further. The girl was pretty—extremely pretty and young. She wanted polish, and a few months of Agiropoulos’ irresistible society would be sure to accomplish much in that way.

“Decidedly, M. Agiropoulos, I am determined to marry you. You must range yourself. You are now, I suppose, just thirty?”

“Oh, madame, grace I beseech you! Twenty-six. But you see the disastrous results of follies and the[Pg 304] harassing cares your cruel sex imposes on sensitive young men,” said Agiropoulos, with his fatuous smile.

“Then it is of greater necessity that you should settle down at once, and devote yourself to the whims of a wife.”

“I am only eager for the day. I have been well disposed towards Mademoiselle Veritassi, but she, capricious angel, will not have me.”

The baroness felt inclined to box the fellow’s ear, but only smiled.

A few days later this airy individual left a basket of flowers for the desposyné Andromache Karapolos.

[Pg 305]



The journey back to Tenos was a mournful one. Selaka, in a mixture of dread and compunction, shunned his daughter’s glance. There might be a question of the amount of blame due to him for the trouble in which they were mutually involved, but the physical weakness consequent upon his sharp attack left him a prey to exaggerated feelings. That his daughter, his treasure, whom he had believed few men worthy to possess, should have been publicly insulted by a wretch like Oïdas to avenge an ignoble vanity which conceived itself affronted—that so horrible a stroke should have been dealt him by fate, and the heavens remained unmoved and the blood of life still flow in his veins, vision not have been struck from his appalled eyes! Pride lay dead at a stroke, and the unhappy man felt that he could never again lift a front of dignity to the light of day.

Of her own wound Inarime thought nothing. To have got rid of the offensive Oïdas was a gain, even if it cost her an insult. Her father’s illness was her only[Pg 306] care. Dr. Galenides ordered rest and mountain air. Books, he opined, and cheerful shepherd surroundings would more than do the work of physic. The simple sights of nature and her restoring silence would relieve the shocked system, and the late catastrophe should be ignored.

Constantine travelled with them, moody and petulant by force of unexhausted vengeance. He paced the deck, muttering and smoking, smoking and muttering, forgetful of the clamours of the unassuaged appetite, and consigned the courteous steward to the devil when importuned to go down to dinner. Dinner indeed! while that fellow lived who had stolen his friend Stavros from him, beaten him in his election, and outraged his family. His days were passed in an open-eyed bloody-minded dream, and he gloated over the picture of the thrashed mayor, with his features reduced to a purple jelly, and his sneaking frame doubled up with pain. He could have kissed Reineke’s hand in gratitude. Horse-whipping was not in his line, but he understood, when administered by proxy, what a very excellent thing it was. To himself he plotted how when peace should have descended on the insulted and angry household, he would manœuvre to reward Reineke.

“He’ll marry her, he will, or my name’s not Constantine Selaka,” he reiterated to himself, and took the wide expanse of sky and sea to witness that it was a solemn oath.

At Syra they were late for the bi-weekly boat, but Pericles would hear of no delay, so they chartered a caique and shot across the placid blue, as the trail of[Pg 307] sunset glory faded out of the deepening sky and Tenos showed below a solitary patch of green cloud. As they neared the little pier, the swift, short twilight had touched the valleys and lent mystery to the bare sweeps of hillside. A palm stood out upon the sky and appealed to Inarime’s sad eyes in the language of intense familiarity. She remembered to have noticed that one tree on her first childish voyage to Syra and, on coming back, to have claimed it with eager, friendly gaze. It seemed now that eagerness might henceforth hold no part in her experiences, and she felt like one who was staring back with sorrowful visage upon serene unnumbered years. The tears came rapidly as she noted each feature of the dear familiar picture, the background of her young life, and with them the magic thought that Gustav, too, had gazed lingeringly, tenderly upon it, thrilled her ineffably. She tried to imagine his impressions, and examined it keenly to discover how it might strike upon strange vision.

This is a craving of girls—to know how their lovers look upon things both have seen; to get inside their sight and count their very heart-beats. Women grow less exacting and imaginative, I believe, and have more practical demands upon love.

Aristides met them with mules and voluble utterances.

“Where is Paleocapa?” Pericles demanded, remembering to cast a searching glance about for the ruffian steward.

“He went up to meet some fellows in Virgin Street. I’ve no doubt they are in the Oraia Hellas,” answered Aristides.

[Pg 308]

“Besotting himself with his abominable raki—the brute!—Annunziata is well?” Selaka queried, sharply.

“Did you ever know her ill? Kyria Helena is up at Xinara. Nothing has happened since you left except the occasional backslidings of Paleocapa, who at times cannot be kept from his raki and was no less than thrice dead drunk. Oh, yes, Demetrius’ wife is dead, and Michael the carpenter is going to be married to make up for the deficiency,” Aristides chirped on, as heedless as a blackbird.

“Will you give us peace, you chattering fool,” thundered Pericles with an outburst of wholesome rage.

The sharp perfumes of the thyme and pines were wafted on the cool breezes of an April evening, as the little cortège of mules, guided by Aristides, wound slowly up the marble-stepped and rocky way, and Inarime drew in the air with quivering nostrils and parted lips. It was the air of home she breathed, fresh, untainted, smelling of upper hills and far off-seas, not that of a dusty city cheapened by the presence of all-pervading man. Thankfully she acknowledged the quiet of the land, the view unbroken by moving object. Here, at least, might one live unshamed, if even the heart were cut in twain. Upon the projecting point of the Castro, hung one first pale star, steadfast and patient like the light of a soul. Thus patiently and steadfastly should the star of love shine for her, its flame softly and uncomplainingly cherished by her. She would not again quit the shelter of her own grey Castro that looked so desolately upon these valleys, like the ghost of other centuries lured to the scene of its departed[Pg 309] splendours. Her spirit sprang towards it with a throb of solemn joy. Dear sight! she could have clung to its burnt flanks and wept among its thymy crevices.

Night was flying over the heavens as they rounded the little path under it that leads into Xinara. The wind blew chill and balmy, and chased skurrying clouds across the peeping stars, like shadows flailed by the invisible powers to dim their mild radiance. Inarime shivered a little, and turned anxiously to her father.

“Pull up your coat-collar, father,” she entreated.

Demetrius and Johannis were smoking at the shop door when the expected procession passed through the village street. Michael was sitting in his betrothed one’s kitchen, staring at her silently, and profusely expectorating, which was his way of courting. All the villagers that dwelt on high, leant over their rickety wooden balconies, sniffing the evening air and talking in a subdued tone, and those below lounged against door-jambs, or over garden walls.

“Καγ ἑὁπἑρα,” waved upon many voices to Pericles and Inarime, and more royal “Ζἡσω” to the King of Tenos.

“Ζἡσω ὁ βασγἑυς ρἡς Τἡνου,” Demetrius sang out, cheerfully, and every head uncovered, hats were frantically waved by the men, handkerchiefs by the women. One foolish fellow high up, ran into the house for his pistol and luxuriously fired off a couple of shots by way of salute.

“Confound the idiots!” muttered Constantine, shuddering in his terror of the explosion. He hated the sound or the idea of the weapon, and his abortive duel[Pg 310] with Stavros had not tended to lessen his instinctive abhorrence.

“No more of that, my good fellows,” he roared, commandingly. “Any expression of your kind regard flatters me, but my brother has had an illness, and is very much shaken. The ride from the town has proved rather more than his strength is capable of, and your noisy enthusiasm would quite prostrate him. Many thanks and good-night.”

“Ζὁψω!” again shook the silence of night as they rode through the village.

“The Virgin be praised! We have back our own dear young lady,” Katinka shrieked, kissing her fingers vigorously.

Inarime waved her hand in gracious recognition, and the proud, cherishing eyes of her adorers watched her slim figure, and the homely shape of her charger until the twilight mist swallowed them out of their sight. Annunziata and Kyria Helene stood at the little postern gate to welcome them. The tender brightness of their glances and the warmth of their cheering smiles struck the home-sick girl with the force of a buffet. She stumbled choking into Annunziata’s arms, and hung limp about her.

“Annunziata, Annunziata,” she cried like a child.

“My own girl! It is heaven to have you back. ‘When will she come?’ the villagers ask me every day, and shake their heads mournfully at the continued eclipse. Dear sir!” she added, as she caught the hands of Pericles, and held them fondly.

Pericles pressed her brown fingers, then kissed the cheeks of his sister and pleaded for immediate rest.

[Pg 311]

“It’s what we all need—supper and bed,” Constantine growled, turning to abuse Aristides for delay.

Oh, the poignant appeal to the senses of the dusky, sweet-smelling courtyard, rich with its departing spring blooms! It swept Inarime like the breath of childhood and filled her with fervent gratitude. To go away for the first time and come back! A month may hold the meaning of a cycle and awaken in the young heart all the fancies, the miseries and joys of the wanderer. Astonishment thrilled her that this place should greet her with its aspect of awful changelessness, and yet, if a stone, a flower, a chair were changed, it would have left her dumb with aching regret.

Annunziata’s arm was round her, and she put up a timid hand to feel the Turkish kerchief, the plait of false hair outside, and lovingly touched the wrinkled cheek.

“It is so good to be back with you,” she whispered.

“My treasure! my dearest child! I have been with you since you were a baby, and the sun did not shine for me while you were away,” the old woman murmured, and her tearful eyes pierced the baffling glimmer of early moonlight like glittering stars.

The little white salon was cozy and inviting by lamplight, and beyond it, in the inner room, the table was laid for supper. Constantine, dead with fatigue, hunger and shaken bones, pounced on it like a famished ogre, but a little soup and wine sufficed Inarime and Pericles.

“Brother, you look thin and worn,” Helene exclaimed, eyeing him doubtfully.

“Has he not been ill?” screamed Constantine, between the noisy gulps of his soup.

[Pg 312]

“I am well enough, sister, but very weary,” said Pericles, rising from the table. “Inarime, I would speak a word with you before I sleep.”

She followed him to his room, and when he fell into a chair, she crouched on her knees beside him.

“My child, I have been humbled through you,” he began, musingly, while his fingers gently stroked her hair. “Your instinct against my reason! And instinct conquers, reason is beaten, and grievously rebuked. I meant it for the best, my Inarime. But now I yield to your wishes. It would have been well for me to have taken counsel with them from the first. But this is ground upon which, perhaps, the old may always learn from the young without disgrace.”

His speech faltered and died away in supreme weariness. Inarime held her breath. Could this mean the recall of Gustav? And yet the hope seemed so wild that she dared not give it a transient shelter lest the reaction should utterly overwhelm her.

“To-morrow, father dear,” she urged, kissing his hand. “You are so tired now.”

“I have not much to say, and I hasten to have it over that I may not be obliged to revive the painful subject. I will not seek again to oppose your natural desire to remain unwedded, since you cannot hope to wed where your heart is.”

Tears of disappointment sprang to her eyes. She moved away from him in silence, and then glancing over her shoulder, saw the droop of illness in his frame, and his arms hanging languidly beside him. She was smitten with remorse, and went back to him.

“Thank you, father,” she said, softly.

[Pg 313]

“Kiss me, my girl, and leave me,” he just breathed.

She stooped over him and kissed him tenderly. All her reverent love returned on a swell, and it seemed a small thing to give up her lover to stay with her father always. The untroubled harmony of their relations dwelt with her again.

She went to her room, and opened the window to look out upon the peaceful night scene. Her terrace ran round the house, and commanded a view of the plain rolling to the distant sea and the girdling hills and wide dim valleys. The moon was high under a white veil of milky way. The bright metallic stars made a counter-radiance to her silver light, and every leaf and rugged contour was sharply visible in the mystic illumination. An oppressive silence lay upon the mountains, heavy stillness enveloped the valleys; the leaves dropped silver, and the flow of the torrents and the tiny quivering rills ran chill upon the nerves. The spirit of water and moonlight pervaded the scene, running through it with innumerable thin faint echoes. Every nook and crevice lay revealed, and the shadows were defined with harsh distinctness, the distances losing themselves in their own dark verges. Through the dusk, yellow lights from the farm casements were sprinkled here and there, and villages showed through their gardens and orchards as black masses upon the barren highlands.

Her heart was empty from excessive feeling as she looked across the land. Oh, for courage and freedom to wander forth and touch with feet and hands each well-remembered spot! A bat flitting through the air brushed her cheek, and she looked up to follow its[Pg 314] black passage. She sat and watched everything, her energies expended in the delight of recognition. The waves of white cloud stealing across the heavens, and the moon imperceptibly beginning to dip, warned her that time was running apace, and a fluttering movement in the trees underneath told of birds softly stirring in their warm nests. The thought of their warmth made her aware that her teeth were chattering and her limbs were rigid with cold.

Still she sat through the night, and watched the day ushered in upon violet light, that soon glowed like fire. Crimson wings sped over the sky with quivering promise. At their touch the stars seemed to tremble, grew pale and were extinguished one by one. The little birds exulted in their nests and essayed a note or two. Daylight broke upon the earth from the fires of the East. Warmth travelled down the abysses of air, and in its first caress the night-dews shone like jewels on the leaves and flowers. The rapture of the birds grew into a spray of delirious song; it dashed upwards with the ring of silver mellowing to gold as it caught melody. The moon gazed pallid regret upon the scene and melted away in sickly stealth, as the voices of the morning awoke with the shrill crow of the cocks. Every folded leaf was now unclosed, and upon the skirts of the flying dawn the sun rose and spread his tyrannous light over hills and valleys. The world breathed in day, the dewdrops were beginning to melt, and the song of the birds was insufferably sweet to the ears.

Her hands were clammy and her frame was stiff when Inarime rose and entered her room. Never more would she be asked to leave this place. The hand[Pg 315] beggared of the touch of Gustav’s, she was now free to keep unclaimed by any other man. Even that small boon was something to be thankful for, and she blessed her father before flinging herself down to snatch an hour of oblivion and rest for her tired young limbs. In a few hours the kindly villagers would flock to welcome her in person, and the dispensing of customary hospitalities would leave no time for poignant thoughts.

[Pg 316]


Spring waned in the extinguishing heat of summer. The noonday blue of the heavens was lost in a warm grey mist. All the green was burnt off the face of the earth, and the eyes turned in pain from the burning hills and shadowless plain, from the awful glimmer of marble upon the Acropolis and the hot streets below. Shade, shade, darkened chambers and cool drinks, and the sweet siesta, curtained off from the sting of the mosquito, were all that nature called for.

The Baron and Baroness von Hohenfels had left Athens for the repose of an Austrian country house. They knew that Rudolph and Photini were wandering about the south of France with an inconvenient train of live pets, a grand piano, a violin, and discontented hearts. More than this they did not care to know, and patiently awaited the hour of reform, when the wild oats period should have exhausted itself, and the prodigal return to the comfort of more discreet irregularities, hardened, cynical, and very well disposed to settle down in marriage.

The Karapolos were looking forward with much satisfaction to the next September move, and this time were in treaty with the owners of a flat in Solon Street.[Pg 317] Miltiades was away in Thessaly with his regiment, and was not expected back until October. Andromache went about the same as ever, and no one knew whether the wounds of her heart were permanent or not. But Agiropoulos was attentive, though far from communicative in the proper way, and Kyria Karapolos, in her state missives to the absent hero, thought it not improbable that Andromache might be induced to accept him.

Little Themistocles was less on parade in Stadion Street because of the exactions of the weather, but of an evening he cheerfully tortured his violin, and unbosomed himself to his fellow-clerks in the Corinthian bank. Things here as elsewhere went on very much as usual. The town was rapidly thinning, and lodgings and hotels at Kephissia, Phalerum, Munychia and the Piræus as rapidly filling.

Gustav Reineke had been voyaging in Asia Minor with a party of English archæologists bound upon an excavating expedition. Upon his return to Athens, he found his old friend and admirer, Miss Winters, the delightful little American, with her lovely snow-white hair and a complexion as fresh as a girl’s. Gustav was charmed, and so was Miss Winters. They struck at once into fraternity. He accompanied her everywhere, carried her photographic apparatus, adjusted it, and as soon as she disappeared under the cloth, applied himself to read aloud the classics to her. She took full command of him, ordered and piloted him in an impulse of protecting and authoritative motherhood that soothed him unspeakably. He obeyed her with pleasure, and in return imparted to her the story of his love.

[Pg 318]

“And has the young lady no idea where you are?” she asked, struggling frantically with her machine on the Acropolis.

“None. I cannot write to her,” said Reineke, dejectedly.

“What nonsense! You love her; she loves you. You have no right to lose sight of each other. Have you never tried to write?”

“No. I felt the right to do so was not conceded me.”

“Nonsense! it is no question of right or wrong; it is simply natural. Well, I see I cannot settle this to-day, so I had better go home and put my other views in order. Did you say the old man, Selaka, lives in the village of Xinara?”

“Xinara, Tenos,” nodded Gustav.

“I see. Well, carry this home for me, then go and stay quietly in your hotel,—I may have something to tell you in a few days.”

He carried his burden to her rooms, which faced the columns of Jupiter, gallantly kissed her tiny hand, and turned with a soft smile in his eyes as he walked to the Hôtel de la Grande Bretagne.

“I will certainly make a journey to America to see that charming little lady,” he said to himself, and while he sat in his room waiting for the short blue twilight, he took out of his breast pocket the only remembrance of Inarime he possessed—the unfinished verses he had found some months ago at the Austrian Embassy.

Everything on the Acropolis had been photographed from every possible point of view, and nearly everything in the museums, and on the day they had arranged[Pg 319] to start for Sunium, Miss Winters met Reineke with a portentous air.

“Mr. Reineke, I have heard from that old man, and, indeed, he is not worth much. He is just an old heathen.”

Gustav laughed, touched by the irresistible humour of hearing Miss Winters, herself more than half a pagan, abuse any one on the ground of heathenism.

“What are you laughing at, sir?” she asked, frowning.

“Oh, I was not quite prepared to hear you turn upon the heathens, I thought you were in such thorough sympathy with them.”

“With the ancient heathens, if you please,” corrected Miss Winters. “That is very different from modern heathenism. The ancients were respectable, upright and religious men, fearing the gods and respecting the laws of nature. But your Selaka! He has all the vices of the Christian, without any of the virtues of the pagan.”

“Selaka! What of him?” cried Gustav, opening his eyes.

“Did I not tell you? I have heard from him.”

“Heard from Selaka? How? When?”

“Through the post—how else? I wrote to him.”

Reineke sat dumfounded and stared at her. He believed the courage of woman in managing the affairs of stricken man went far; but this utterly surpassed the limitations he allowed it.

“You wrote to him,” he murmured.

“Certainly, it was high time some sane person undertook the task of reasoning with him, and convincing him of his folly.”

“And might I ask how you applied yourself to this[Pg 320] task? upon what grounds you based your arguments?”

“Well, I told him you are no more a Turk than I am.”

Gustav exploded hilariously.

“Why, you know you are not. You are just as Greek as you can very well be,—far more so than he is, you bet.”


“He did not see it;—of course not, the old lunatic.”

“May I be permitted to look at the letter, Miss Winters?”

“There it is. It is a very instructive letter in its way, written in far better German than mine.”

Gustav took the letter, and studied it leisurely. It was dignified and courteous, spoke in high terms of himself as a man of honour and learning to whom he should, in other circumstances, have been proud to entrust his daughter’s happiness. But its tone was unmistakable, its decision unalterable. Gustav sighed heavily as he returned it to Miss Winters.

“He’s a fanatic—that’s just what he is,” she cried.

“And the worst of it is, Miss Winters, one is forced to admire such consistent and adamantine fanaticism, though its bigotry be the bar to one’s own happiness.”

“Why, of course, that’s the worst of it. If there were not such an element of nobility in it I should not want to shake him so much. It is always a satisfaction to be able to call the person who opposes or frustrates your purpose a scoundrel or a brute—but not to be able to call him anything harder than a pig-headed old pagan, and to have to smile admiration through one’s rage of disappointment, puts a point upon one’s anger. Well,[Pg 321] never mind, Mr. Reineke. I’ll thwart him yet. I’ll write to the girl next.”

Gustav gasped and doubtless thought—as the French critic thought of Moses—“cette femme est capable de tout.”

They went together to Sunium, and photographed everything in the neighbourhood, ruins, peasants in fustanella and embroidered jackets, women in embroidered tunics and headgear of coins and muslin, and then went to Corinth and accomplished similar wonders there.

“I quite feel as if I had a son,” said Miss Winters, patting Gustav’s hand affectionately.

“What a pretty and youthful mother I have found,” laughed Reineke.

Miss Winters delayed in Corinth to write a chapter of her book on Greece, and Gustav lounged about with the piratical tendencies of an archæologist. When they reached Athens, borne down by the weight of manuscripts, vases and photographs, Miss Winters found a notification from the Corinth post-office that a letter was waiting for her “au bourreau d’ Athènes.”

“Good heavens, Mr. Reineke, can I in some inexplicable way have brought myself under the penalties of the law? Is it forbidden, under pain of death, to photograph ruins and views of Greece? What connection can I possibly have with the executioner of Athens?”

Gustav laughed and suggested “bureau,” and went off himself to the post-office, where, indeed, he found a letter addressed to Miss Winters in the beautiful calligraphy he so well knew. Then she had written to [Pg 322]Inarime, and he held the answer in his hand! He looked at it lovingly, reverentially, and just within the arches of the post-office, glancing hastily around to ascertain that he was not observed, he raised the envelope to his lips. He gave it to Miss Winters without a word, and went away. That evening Miss Winters came to him at his hotel, silently put the letter into his hand, and closed the door of his room as she went out softly, as one closes the door of a sick chamber.

Gustav sat watching the letter timidly, afraid to learn its contents, and the desire of it burned his cheek and quickened his pulse like fever. How would the silence of months be broken? Would her message realise his high expectations? Would the world be less empty for him because of it? Would this fierce ache of the heart drop into a contented memory? He felt her arms about his neck, her lips upon his, her glance pierced his own through to his inmost soul, held her in his clasp, and lived again their short impassioned hour. How bright the rain-drops had looked upon the winter grasses and curled leaves, how clear the song of the birds in the moist air! The moments fled with the hurry of rapture, his beating pulses timed to their measureless speed.

Still Inarime’s letter lay unopened in his hand.

He saw her in the courtyard at Xinara remonstrating with the sobbing woman crouched at her feet; felt his gaze compel hers and drew in his breath with a catch of pain at the memory of the sweet surprised surrender of her eyes,—followed slowly, obediently, her vanishing form with that last long look of hers to feed his hungry soul.

[Pg 323]

And still the letter was unread.

He sat trifling with his happiness and his misery, scarcely daring to open it, shaken with the apprehensions of yearning, hardly strong enough to lash himself to courage by the past—enervated, sick with expectation, chill with fright. Slowly he took the sheet out of the envelope, and bent his eyes upon it, not noticing that a thinner sheet had fallen to the ground.

Thus it ran:


“I am abashed before the thought of my deep indebtedness to you, and the knowledge that it will never be my good fortune to repay you. More to me than your kind words is the comfort of knowing that, separated from him you write of as I am, by a fatality I have neither voice nor influence to avert, your presence makes amends to him for my enforced silence. Your letter breathes of tender regard for him. Is not that a debt of some magnitude you place on me? A debt I am proud to acknowledge. Alas! Madame, it is useless to hope to combat my father’s repugnance to the marriage you appear to think so natural. I know my father. His prejudices are few, and strong indeed must be that which raises an impassable barrier to my happiness. I hold it as a religious duty to respect it, and smother the feelings of rebellion that sometimes rise and stiffen my heart against him. I have no right to rebel, for he loves me—oh, he loves me very dearly. I think he would almost give his life for mine, and most willingly would I lay down mine for his. Since I was a little child he has cared for me and cherished me. He has[Pg 324] tried to make me the sharer of his great learning, that there might be no division between us, that I might be rather a disciple following afar than an alien to the one object of his existence. You see, it is no common bond you ask me to break. It would be something more than the flight of a daughter,—it would be the defection of a pupil—and he, the tenderest master! I could not bear, by any action of mine, to forfeit my worthiness of such exclusive devotion, and should I not do so past excuse if I were to cause him one pang of disappointment or anger?

“To follow your counsel, and take my destiny into my own hands by one wild leap into the bliss my heart calls for, would be to risk his anger without the assurance that ultimately I should be forgiven. Do not urge me to it, I beseech you. My father ill and alone! The thought would make a mockery of my happiness. It would be a pall upon my bridal robes. Forgive me, Madame. I love you for your wish to help me, though the effort be ineffectual. If I boldly seem to criticise, believe me, it is with no intention to wound. You will think me a coward, perhaps, for I know that it is different with the women of your race. They act without scruple for themselves, and their parents have no other choice than to yield to theirs. But I cannot bring myself to regard this as right. He cannot surely desire that I should come to him thus—with the stain of strife and revolt upon our love. You see I am fastidiously jealous of the future. It is so fatally easy for the young, upon the impetus of ungovernable passion, to let themselves be precipitated into rash errors: so difficult to recover forfeited ground.

[Pg 325]

“But how fervently I thank you for your sweet sympathy and your offer of a home until such time as another would be mine, I have not words to say. Your heart must be fresh to be so tenderly open to the sorrows of the young. I shall bless the day that brings us face to face. If you would visit our island! But we are so rough and backward, and the stillness, I fear, would prove oppressive to one from a country where, I am assured, movement is the extremity of haste. And yet I love the place all the more from my short absence from it. It was like heaven to see it again, to feel the untrodden ground beneath my feet, to watch the unfretted stars from a world below as uneager and as changeless. The seasons are not more regular than our habits, and excitement is undreamed of by us. The villagers come to me with their simple woes, and I comfort them and doctor them, and instil into them such wisdom as my young head has mastered. Sometimes my dear father comes to my help,—not often, for they are less afraid of me. It is, I suppose, because I am nearer to them.

“This letter shames me, it is so idle and garrulous. What have I to say but that I love you, Madame,—I love you, and beg you to accept the assurance of my heartfelt gratitude and my affectionate friendship.

Inarime Selaka.

This letter might seem to lack the artlessness and spontaneity of girlhood. But its very restraint held a precious eloquence for Gustav, and it was not the less dear to him because he felt the writer was completely master of her mind. It held no want for him. He[Pg 326] read between the lines, and adored the eyes the more that he understood their tears were held in check. The lips may have trembled in the reawakened force of passion, the gaze have grown dim with longing, the pulses throbbed to ache and ebbed away upon the sickening wave of despair, but the letter only breathed of weakness conquered, the pressure of a restraint imposed by life-long habit, and could not be called artificial. He reverenced her sweet reasonableness and her grave acceptance of the inevitable. He re-read the letter carefully, and kissed the name at the end. Why had she avoided the writing of his? He began to walk about the room, picking out sentences to burn upon his memory, when his eyes detected a slip of paper upon the ground. He pounced upon it with a presentiment of what it was. Herrn Gustav Reineke was written outside, and it was delicately folded. He opened it, and his breathing could have been heard at the other end of the room.

“Dear One—my dearest! My father has at last consented to let me remain unmarried—but that is all. We may hope for nothing more. Still, our love is respected. I cannot think it is wrong of me to send you this message. At least, I hope it is not. You have my faith. O, I love you, I love you.”

Gustav sat through the night with his head bent over this message. Desires and thoughts and wild hopes wavered and shot through him like arrows, now swift and sharp, now blunt and slow, needlessly lacerating in their passage. When morning came he shook off his dream, and replied to Miss Winter’s glance of veiled interrogation by a look supplicating silence.

[Pg 327]


One day late in October the news somehow or other reached Rudolph, when at Cannes, that Selaka and his daughter were back in Athens. Without a word of explanation to Photini, who was engaged upon a public concert, he started off, and arrived in Athens late at night. The Baron and Baroness von Hohenfels were startled at their midday breakfast, next morning, by the entrance of the prodigal.

“Rudolph, good heavens!” cried the baron, and shook him gladly by the hand, but Rudolph was cold almost to rudeness. He suffered himself to be embraced by his aunt, and then went and stood against the mantelpiece. It was impossible not to note and deplore the change in him: from an engaging and innocent boy he had turned, in less than a year, into a hard and reckless-looking young-old man. His air was aristocratic but strangely unattractive, and his fair face was lined as no face should be lined at twenty-two. The blue eyes that used to be so soft in their clearness, so like his mother’s, as the Baroness thought, were now keen and glittering and held a dull fire within them. He stood thus looking moodily down, and then said curtly:

“You are surprised to see me, I suppose?”

“Well, I will admit,” the baron answered, [Pg 328]“something in the nature of an announcement might have been expected, as a reasonable concession to the laws of courtesy. But since you are here, you had better sit down and take some breakfast with us.”

Rudolph laughed, and took a chair at the table. Before eating he poured himself out a generous tumbler of wine, and drank it almost at a draught. The baron stared a little, looked across at his wife, and lifted his brows meaningly. The talk at first was light. Rudolph touched upon the places he had seen, and made himself exceedingly witty and merry at the expense of the distinguished personages he had met in the course of his travels. He asked how matters stood at Athens; inquired after Agiropoulos and Mademoiselle Veritassi, the Mowbray-Thomases, and his friend the young Viscount, but never a word was said about Andromache. Then lying back in his chair, and lighting a cigar, the baron asked, with a mocking smile.

“And, my amiable nephew, how fares it with the fascinating Natzelhuber?”

Rudolph drew in his brows with a frown, and looking hastily at his aunt, said:

“We will not discuss her, sir, if you please.”

“Oh,” assented the baron, interjectionally, and busied himself with his cigar; “may one, without indiscretion, be permitted to inquire into your plans for the future?”

“I have no plans,” said Rudolph, taking up a cigar.

“At least I see,” laughed the baron, “you have succumbed to the beneficial influence of tobacco.”

“Yes, I smoke now; I do most things now that other men do.”

[Pg 329]

“So I perceive,” said the baron, drily, “you even look as if you did a little more,” he added, noting that Rudolph had helped himself to a second glass of brandy.

When Rudolph stood up, the baroness stopped him with a demand to know if they might expect the pleasure of his presence at dinner that night.

The young man nodded and left the room.

“A singularly altered young man,” said the baron, across to his wife, “it seems to me that the Natzelhuber has imparted some of her natural courtesy to him, and given his manners the piquant flavour of originality!”

“Oh, he is frightfully changed,” said the baroness; “and did you remark his deplorable weakness for wine?”

“Well, yes, it struck me, I confess, that he rather copiously washed down the small allowance of food he indulged in.”

“Poor boy, we must only try and keep him here now that we have him, and get up a few lively entertainments for him. That he is wretched it is easy to see. I think his recklessness comes from despair.”

The baron shrugged his shoulders. “That is always the way with well-brought-up youths,—the slightest folly plays the very mischief with their temperaments, and they are ever in extremes, whether on the path of virtue or on the more fascinating road to the dogs!”

While the easy-going ambassador was thus moralising, Rudolph was scouring Athens in search of tidings of the Selakas. Having ascertained at the Hôtel des Étrangers that they had gone out for a drive, he[Pg 330] returned to the Embassy, borrowed one of his uncle’s horses, and was soon out upon the open road, sweeping the plain of Attica with eager glances strained in every direction for the carriage in which the father and daughter might be found.

Upon the skirt of the olive-misted plain he dismounted, and entered the leafy shade of a little café garden, lost in a glade of scented pines and oleanders. Here he called for cognac, and sat moodily smoking until the sun went down.

Let us glance at the house of Karapolos now, situated in Solon Street. Miltiades is back from Thessaly, more glorious and more ferocious than ever. He learnt that morning of Rudolph’s reappearance in Athens, and communicated that fact to his family at dinner. That evening, as he returned from duty, he missed a dainty silver pistol his friend Hadji Adam had given him. With a brow of thunder and voice of menace he sallied forth and had his servant Theodore arrested for the robbery. While Theodore was being carried off, shrieking and protesting, and calling upon all the saints and the Virgin and the soul of his dead mother to witness that he was being falsely accused, Andromache, for some unaccountable reason was wandering about the steep solitudes of Lycabettus in company with the faithful Maria. She had been allowed to go forth in pursuit of veils and gloves in the frequented street of Hermes. Now, what, one asks, could take a young lady towards sunset up a lonely and rugged slope of Lycabettus, when her ostensible journey lay in the region of shops? This was a secret known only to Andromache and to the faithful Maria.

[Pg 331]

On the following afternoon, Andromache begged her mother to take her to hear the band play upon Constitution Square. The square was thronged, the ladies, as is customary in Athens, walking together, and the men in similar fraternity, Captain Miltiades was with these, and so were Agiropoulos and the popular poet.

A close observer might have noticed that Andromache’s pretty dark blue eyes glistened with a curious light; that the blood had left her face and lips, and that she walked like one in a state of nervous excitement. Poor, betrayed, little Andromache! if only she had confided her frantic purpose to somebody, and had not all these months repressed her sorrow, and striven to show a brave front to the curious world! Many horrors are spared the loquacious, and the worst follies are those committed by silent sufferers. Andromache kept looking fixedly round in evident watch for some one. If you want to meet any one in Athens, you are sure to do so between Stadion Street and Constitution Square. The person Andromache was looking for soon made his appearance, walking casually along, not caring greatly to examine the people that were hustling against him. He sat down at a café table, and called for coffee, and while waiting for it began to roll up a cigarette, and unconsciously hummed the melody of Waldteufel’s “Souvenir,” which the band was playing. Andromache made a step forward from her mother’s side to the table at which Rudolph was seated; and in a second she whipped out of her breast the little silver pistol, for the loss of which Theodore was in prison, and fired straight at the shoulder of her recreant[Pg 332] lover. Imagine the commotion, the whirr of speech and explanation, the jostling to look at the injured maid and the wounded man. The band stopped playing in the middle of Waldteufel’s charming waltz, band-master and band attracted to the spot. Strange as it may appear, all Hellenic sympathies were upon the side of Andromache: not a single voice of censure was raised against her, but everybody seemed to think that she had performed a feat of courage. Here her courage ended; the pistol fell from her hand, and she dropped rigid into her mother’s arms. She was carried home, and soon passed into the unconsciousness of brain fever. Rudolph was not seriously injured, but faint enough to need the help of a carriage to take him back to the Austrian Embassy, with the prospect of confinement to his room for a few days.

The Baron von Hohenfels in his official position was greatly perturbed by this scandal, and made immediate application for a change of post. He was too angry to visit his luckless nephew’s room until the baroness’ prayers melted him. When Dr. Galenides had seen the patient, and pronounced him in a favourable condition for recovery, the baron suffered himself to be led to the bedside.

Rudolph looked very piteous upon his pillow, with the flush of fever on his white cheeks and a harassed, humble expression in his eyes. The much aggrieved baron relented, hummed and hawed a little as a kind of impatient protest, stroked his beard, and finally began, in a softened voice:

“My dear boy, are you quite satisfied now that you have made Athens too hot for an Austrian Ambassador?”

[Pg 333]

“I am very sorry, uncle,” said Rudolph, and he looked it.

“Well, yes, I can quite believe that you are not exactly jubilant.”

“As soon as I am well enough to move, I’ll leave Greece, and wild horses will never drag me here again.”

“On the whole, I think you have done fairly well upon the classic shores of Hellas, and it would be as well to confine yourself to the rest of Europe during the remainder of your mortal career. But it is a little hard on me that my family should reflect discredit upon my country. Zounds! Could you not have understood that the Greeks are a most susceptible and clannish race? There is one thing they will not forgive, and that is an affront done a compatriot by a stranger. And we Austrians, you must know, are not more adored here than the English. In fact, we are hated. If the French Viscount had jilted Mademoiselle Andromache Karapolos, and had been shot at by her, public indignation would have taken a considerably modified tone.”

“What can I do, uncle?” asked Rudolph, penitently.

“Get well as soon as possible, and give Athens a wide berth. I cannot advise you to fling yourself at the feet of the fair Andromache, for I don’t believe that young lady could very well persuade herself to forgive you after this public scandal. It is a stupid affair altogether. I thought you were flirting, but an engagement! Good heavens! What do you imagine to be the value of a gentleman’s word? A promise of marriage is not a thing that can be lightly made, because[Pg 334] it is not a thing that can ever be lightly broken. The man is called a cad, and the woman a jilt; and both are greatly the worse for such a reputation.”

Rudolph said nothing, but his way of turning on his pillow was a direct appeal for mercy. The baron felt it to be so, and got up, believing that the heavy responsibilities of uncle were accomplished with grace and dignity.

When the illustrious Dr. Galenides called next day, he found his patient so far recovered that he felt disposed to sit at his bedside, and chat with him in a friendly way.

“My dear young friend,” he said, cheerfully, “it is the fault of youth, and perhaps, in a measure, its virtue, to be too precipitate. If intelligent young people could only be induced to take for their motto that wise and ancient precept, ‘Μησἑν ἁγαν’—which I believe the French translate as ‘le juste milieu,’—there would be no such thing as maidens forced to avenge themselves by means of a pistol, nor young men deserving such treatment.”

Rudolph shrank a little, and said, with assumed coldness:

“Pray, doctor, do not think hardly of her. I behaved badly to her, and only cowardice kept me from going to her and asking her to forgive me.”

Dr. Galenides smiled and bowed.

“She is regarded as a heroine now.”

“And I, my uncle tells me, as a cad,” cried Rudolph, bitterly.

“Well, not exactly as a hero, I have to admit.”

“Have you heard how she is, doctor?”

[Pg 335]

“Very ill indeed—brain fever,—but she is young and strong.”

“Doctor, if you see her, will you take her a message? I dare not write. Tell her my sufferings have been greater than hers, and tell her I shall always remember her as a sweet and charming girl far too good for me. I hope she will be happy. As for me, doctor, my life is wrecked upon the threshold.”

“One always thinks so at twenty-two. At thirty-two one understands that it is rather difficult to wreck a man’s life. Get well, my dear Monsieur Ehrenstein. Life is a very pleasant thing, I assure you, full of kindly surprise and interest. And remember the wise motto of my old friends—‘Μησἑν ἁγαν’—neither extreme, the just middle,” ended the physician, balancing by way of illustration a paper knife upon his finger.

While Dr. Galenides was putting on his gloves, the baroness entered the room, accompanied by Pericles Selaka. Rudolph’s face went bright scarlet, and then turned white, with a pinched, and anxious expression.

“You, Pericles!” cried Dr. Galenides, with something like alarm in his voice. “I was on my way to you.”

“Oh, I am much better to-day, and wanted very much to see how this other patient of yours is getting on,” said Selaka, approaching.

“Are you ill, too?” asked Rudolph, excitedly.

“A little unwell, but it is nothing,” answered Selaka, with a smile, as he took Rudolph’s hand and held it.

[Pg 336]

Dr. Galenides glanced significantly at the baroness, and went away.

Selaka leant across the side of the bed, and looked steadily at Rudolph, over whom the baroness was hovering with maternal attentions. The sick man reached out his hand to take his aunt’s, and held it an instant to his lips.

“Poor fellow! you will be excited in a minute,” said the baroness.

“It is kind of you, Herr Selaka, to come to me,” Rudolph said, in German.

“I am sorry for what has happened,” returned Selaka. “I know nothing more regrettable than the frantic precipitancy and anger of youth. I cannot understand why you should have made a promise you did not consider binding, or why, having made it, you should have broken it. It would not be my place to speak upon a matter so delicate and so private, did I not feel, through a member of my family, partly responsible for your misbehaviour.”

“I doubt the utility or kindness of scolding the wrong-doer when the mischief is done,” interrupted the good-natured baroness.

“Scold! I trust I do not seem to scold, madame,” said Selaka, opening his eyes, and thrusting out his hand with an air of stately reproach. “Not even you can be more sorry for this young man’s misfortune. He is much censured at present. But my voice is not amongst those that censure him. I simply do not understand how he can have behaved so unwisely. But my heart is filled with pity for him. I am sure he never wished to wrong or pain any one, and I deeply feel that one of[Pg 337] my name should unconsciously have been the means of bringing this grief upon him, and upon others. Had he trusted me when he first found his faith wavering where he had hoped it anchored, I should have taken measures to protect him from his own uncertain heart. Believe me, it would have been best so, and you, my poor young friend, would have been the happier.”

“Perhaps you are right, sir,” said Rudolph, wearily. “I am sure I do not know. But tell me—tell me something about her—about your daughter. Does she despise me?”

“She grieves for you, and deplores her own disastrous influence upon you.”

“She need not. I do not desire that she should grieve for me,” cried Rudolph. “You all speak of me as if I had committed some frightful crime—a murder, a forgery, a felony—as if I had incurred indelible shame. Granted I have misbehaved myself—we will even grant that I have not acted as a gentleman—am I the first to find he had given his promise to the wrong person?”

“Rudolph Ehrenstein, you well know you have done worse than this,—you affronted your deserted bride by linking your life in the face of the world with that of a woman who had already incurred public odium. This is what grieves me most, and it is this step I feel that drove that unhappy girl to her mad act.”

“We will not speak of her, if you please, Herr Selaka,” said Rudolph, with a proud look. “As for Mademoiselle Natzelhuber, it wounds me that she should be so cruelly misjudged. Believe me, under[Pg 338] more fortunate circumstances, she would have been a good woman. She is full of kindness and sympathy for every phase of misery. She gives away the money she earns more freely than many rich people spend that which they inherit. She is an unhappy woman, sir; there is nothing base or shabby in her, and I am not so sure that there is not a good deal that is noble.”

“I can well believe you, Herr Rudolph. I have not the honour of knowing Mademoiselle Natzelhuber, and the public voice rather loves to spread abroad the fame of glaring vices than that of private virtues. The lady, I believe, has made a point of shocking every accepted canon of taste, and, of course, society revenges itself by painting her as black as possible. But we Greeks, despite our French tastes, are a very sober and a very moral people, and a step like yours takes away our breath. This sounds like preaching, does it not? But I am grieved, distressed. I would have given you Inarime,—once, I almost wished it. However, it was useless to hope for that. My daughter’s heart is given elsewhere, and it is well now that it is so. Still, had you told me of this entanglement, had you left it in my power to aid you! Young men, I know, sometimes shrink from opening their hearts to their parents and relatives. But me you would have found indulgent and perhaps helpful.”

Rudolph stretched out his hand and Selaka clasped it warmly.

“Thank you, sir! It would have made all the difference if Inarime thought as you do. Do you know why I came back to Athens?”

“I think I can guess,” said Selaka, smiling.

[Pg 339]

“Oh, I loved her so! and, Heaven help me, I cannot choose but love her still. May I hope to see her, sir?” he asked, humbly.

“No, Herr Rudolph,” said Selaka, shaking his head. “That I cannot permit, nor would she consent. In the years to come, when I shall be no more, it will be for her to choose her friends, but as long as I stand between her and the world those friends shall be spotless, or at least their names shall be untainted by the breath of public scandal.”

“The lives of young men would be very different if all parents were as particular and severe as you, Herr Selaka,” observed the baroness, turning round from the window.

Rudolph moved upon his pillow, and covered his eyes with his arm.

“You are right, sir, I am not worthy to look upon her,” he said.

Suddenly there was heard from the hall an ominous sound, the louder because of the stillness of the house. The baroness ran to the door and held it open, listening anxiously. Could that voice, pitched in a key of lofty indignation, be mistaken for other than the voice of an angry hero? Ah, who but Miltiades, the glory of modern Athens, could stride in that magnificent fashion through a hall, clatter and clang his spurs along the tessellated pavement, rattle and shake the stairs, the balustrade, with as much noise as all the heroes of Homer sacking Ilion; nodding fearful menace in his crimson plumes and sending potent lightning flames with his violet glances?

The baroness looked question and alarm at Selaka,[Pg 340] and poor Rudolph, cowed by weakness and fright, shuddered among his pillows, whiter far than the linen that framed his face.

“Do not seek to bar my passage, menial,” Miltiades was roaring, as the clatter and clang of sword and spurs approached the sick chamber. “It is Monsieur Rudolph Ehrenstein I desire to see.”

Even Rudolph could not resist a ghastly smile at hearing his name so curiously pronounced by the warrior. Miltiades stood upon the threshold, and the baroness could not have looked more petrified if she had found herself confronted by an open cannon.

“Madame,” said Miltiades, ever the pink of courtesy, as the brave should be to the fair; after his most ceremonious military salute, he advanced a step, and said, “I have a few words to say to your nephew, Monsieur Rudolph Ehrenstein.”

“Enter, enter, I pray you, Captain Karapolos,” said the baroness in rather halting but intelligible Greek. “My nephew is ill—as you see. Perhaps you will consent to spare him the unpleasantness of a scene. He is very ill.”

“So, madame, is my sister. Dr. Galenides tells me she will hardly recover. Is this to be borne quietly—think you?”

“Kyrie Selaka, explain to him—I do not know Greek well enough. Tell him how grieved, how miserably sad the baron and I are about this business. Speak kindly for us and try to soothe him. I understand he must be in a desperate state, and heaven knows how sincerely I pity him. Oh, Rudolph, Rudolph, when will you young men learn to think of others as well as yourselves?” she cried, distractedly.

[Pg 341]

“Captain Karapolos, this proceeding of yours is surely as unseemly as it is futile,” said Selaka. “What good do you expect can come of such a step? It will not restore your sister to health and happiness, and you but needlessly inflict pain upon this lady, who is sincerely distressed for you. My dear sir, the great lesson of life is, that the inevitable must be accepted. We cannot go back on our good deeds or our ill, and it is not now in the power of this young man to repair the mischief he has done. The consequences of wrongdoing cannot be shirked by those who suffer them, or by those who have done the wrong. They baffle each step of flight and struggle, and hunt us down remorselessly.”

“My dear sir, such stuff may suit a pulpit or a university chair, but it offends the ear of a soldier. I care not a jot for the inevitable, and, as far as I am concerned, this young man will answer to me for his evil deeds—to me, sir, Miltiades Karapolos, captain of King George’s Artillery,” shouted Miltiades, slapping his chest emphatically.

Rudolph sat up in bed, and asked feebly:

“Did he say, Herr Selaka, that Andromache is very ill?”

Selaka bowed, and Miltiades glared interrogation.

“Dangerously ill?”

“It appears so.”

“Oh, good God! what a wretch I have been! Please tell him, if she gets better, and will consent to forgive me, I will gladly fulfil my engagement. Tell him it was not because Andromache ceased to be dear to me that I left her, but that, loving somebody else, I[Pg 342] felt I had ceased to be worthy of her. Tell him it was not, heaven knows, for my pleasure I so acted, that it was a horrible grief to me.”

Miltiades glanced suspiciously from one to the other, and looked annihilation and contempt upon the sick youth.

“What does the fellow say?” he demanded, fiercely.

Selaka faithfully repeated Rudolph’s message. If Miltiades had been thunder before, he was lightning now added. He stalked to the bed, struck Rudolph full in the face, and without another word strode from the room.

“Good gracious!” cried the baroness, and fell limply into a chair.

“I must get well now,” muttered Rudolph, between his teeth.

Next day Agiropoulos and the popular poet called. It was known all over Athens that, as well as having been shot at by the sister, Rudolph had been struck by the brother. Agiropoulos took a fiendish delight in the situation. Personally he asked nothing better than to console the heroine as soon as she should have struggled back from the encompassing shadows of unreason. He was quite ready to place at her disposal fortune, hand, and heart, as much as he possessed of that superfluous commodity, which, it must be confessed, was little enough. He loved notoriety in any form, and was enchanted with the veil of romance that enveloped Andromache, not in the least scrupulous upon the point that the veil was smirched with powder and blood. If possible, these unusual stains but gave an added impetus to his interest.

[Pg 343]

“Well, my young friend,” he said, sitting down and elegantly crossing his legs, while, the better to survey the sorry hero of the tragedy, he adjusted his eye-glass with that peculiar grimace common to those thus decorated. “You look a little the worse for Mademoiselle Andromache’s last embrace—eh?” he queried, and turned with a smile to the popular poet.

“He has the air of Endymion after the desertion of Diana,” said the poet.

“Was Endymion deserted? Faith, that is a piece of mythological information for me. We live and learn, eh, Ehrenstein?”

“I suppose so,” said Rudolph, drearily. “The learning is not more pleasant than the living.”

“You charming boy! so delightful to know that innocence still flourishes in our midst. The century is exhausted, but a young heart is a perennial fount of misery. For, my young friend, there is no more sure prophecy of youth and innocence than utter woe and dejection. If you give him time, Michaelopoulos will put that into a neat verse for you.”

“Don’t, pray. I hate poetry,” cried Rudolph.

“It is, I believe, on record that babes have been known to hate milk,” said Agiropoulos, blandly.

“Don’t weary me with smart talk. I have other things to think of, Agiropoulos, and cannot listen to your witticisms,” protested Rudolph.

“Don’t mention it. I will be dull to please you. May a poor forsaken wretch inquire after the health of a quondam mistress?”

“Agiropoulos, if you have not got the breeding of a[Pg 344] gentleman, try to remember when you are in the presence of one,” cried Rudolph.

“Whew!” whistled Agiropoulos, with his enigmatic smile.

“I suppose, Ehrenstein, you don’t exactly want another challenge?”

“I want nothing, and I most certainly don’t want you.”

“Is this delirium, think you, Michaelopoulos?”

“Looks uncommonly like it,” the poet replied.

“Let me feel your pulse, Monsieur Endymion—what an appropriate comparison for the moment! That young gentleman was, we are given to understand, partial to the recumbent attitude. But we are rather embarrassed by our choice of Selene. Which shall it be, Ehrenstein, first, second or third?”

“Will you do me the favour of leaving my room, sir?” ordered Rudolph, frigidly. “When I have finished with Captain Miltiades Karapolos, I shall be happy to dispose of your claims, Agiropoulos, and then of your friend’s, if he thinks proper to demand the privilege.”

“And then of each of the desposyné Inarime’s suitors, comprising a list of two members of parliament, a mayor, a justice of the peace, forty or fifty bachelor islanders and a distinguished archæologist. Don’t forget the archæologist, I implore you, Rudolph. Demolish him before you touch me, or Michaelopoulos—the name is rather long, but practice will accustom your tongue to it—besides, your mellifluous German will be a substantial aid. First lay low the mighty Karapolos, and in a moment you avenge five thousand desolate[Pg 345] Turkish hearths—have they hearths in Turkey? Then give the deathly accolade to the archæologist. After that, of course, these two humble individuals are entirely at your disposal, as the courtly Spaniards say. Do you know Spanish? Neither do I. Ta-ta, my friend. You have a heavy day’s work before you when you get well, Monsieur Endymion. To sweep off the face of the earth a Greek hero, a Greek poet, a Greek merchant, a Turkish archæologist, an insular demarch, two members of parliament, a justice of the peace, and fifty Teniotes. Lead me from the presence of this bloodthirsty youth, friend. I shudder,” cried Agiropoulos.

Mighty is the passion of anger—mightier far than that of love. Anger lifted Rudolph out of his sick bed, and placed him, one chill November morning, opposite Miltiades in a lonely field under the Shadow of Lycabettus, with Hadji Adam for his antagonist’s second and the French Viscount for his own. The duel terminated for Rudolph, as nineteenth century duels frequently do, but Miltiades was imprisoned for fourteen days in his own room in Solon Street, with a soldier mounted guard outside, for his colonel, with an unheroic disregard for the laws of honour, judged his act an infringement of military law.

While Rudolph, with bitterness in his heart and humiliation on his brow, was speeding back to Cannes and to Photini, Agiropoulos progressed favourably with his wooing. Half-dead with shame at her notoriety, poor Andromache asked nothing better than a chance of getting away for ever from Athens.

[Pg 346]


Two men coming by opposite directions down Hermes Street, with their eyes anywhere but where they ought to have been, stumbled into each other’s arms, and started back instantly, with aggressive question on their faces.

“Well, Constantine,” one cried, eyeing the other furtively and distrustfully.

“Well, Stavros,” the other responded, with a corresponding expression.

“Here’s my hand, Constantine,” Stavros said, after a reflective pause, and held out his hand with an air of strenuous cordiality. “Touch it. It’s a loyal hand, and an honest one. I was always your friend, always liked you.”

“And so did I,” assented Constantine, as he laid his upon the extended palm shamefacedly.

“What! yourself? I never doubted it, my dear fellow.”

“No, you,” Constantine muttered sulkily.

“Come, that’s like old times,” roared Stavros, putting an arm through the unreluctant Selaka’s, and wheeling him round towards Constitution Square. “It does me good to hear you after our stupid quarrel.”

“Yes, it was stupid,” Constantine admitted.

[Pg 347]

The glorious Miltiades, crossing the square, hailed them with his full-dress military salute, and hurrying up, shook them boisterously by the hand and bestowed the clap of patronage upon their backs, while a humorous twinkle in his handsome eyes betrayed remembrance of their heroic encounter.

“The reconciliation of the Inseparables! A sight for the gods. Achilles and Agamemnon, I am profoundly rejoiced at your good sense.”

“Friends can shake hands, I suppose, Captain Karapolos, without all this ado,” sneered Stavros, resentfully.

“So they can, but I could not resist the temptation to stop and offer my congratulations. Hoch! Trinken sie wein!” he shouted, proud of his German, and turned on his heel laughing heartily.

“The greatest idiot in all Athens,” exclaimed Stavros, scowling after him.

The reconciled friends seated themselves at a table, called for coffee, and began to roll up cigarettes.

“I’ll tell you a secret, Constantine,” said Stavros, as he leaned across and spoke in the subdued tone of confidence. “That Oïdas is an unconscionable blackguard. You always thought it, I know, and you were right.”

Selaka, perfectly conscious that he had never imparted any such opinion of Oïdas to Stavros, blinked uneasily, and took upon himself the air of full admission.

“You found him out?” he interrogated, cautiously.

“I should think so,” Stavros exclaimed, waving his hand comprehensively. “But there are limits to my endurance. I am going to throw him over. I have[Pg 348] compromised myself by being mixed up with such a fellow. He has money—and he makes no scruple of his use of it.”

“You showed a fine tolerance, too, my friend.”

It still made Constantine sore to reflect that his closest friend had been bought over by the richer man.

“No, truly. You are quite in error. It was not the money, but I thought I could do so much better for my family. You see, Constantine, a man must hold no private feelings in abeyance when the interests of the family call upon him to silence them. You cannot have imagined our quarrel was not a cause of real distress to me. But now we are good friends, eh?”

“That depends. Why do you dislike Oïdas?”

“Oh, for several reasons. He behaved like a villain all round to me, to you and to your family. I mean to expose him. He promised to make room for us at the University and to get my son that post I have so long coveted for him. He has not fulfilled a single obligation he contracted with me. I had much better have trusted to you. You are not rich, and the golden mist through which he shines dazzled me. I did not expect him to come to me direct, and to sue me with soft talk. We all do the best we can for ourselves, Constantine, and often the best is barren of result.”

“Well, I don’t want to be hard on you now that you have come to see your error. You have thrown him over then?”

“Quite so. We are quits. Some time my hour of revenge will come—it always does if patiently waited for, and if you like to join me, it will be yours too. You don’t imagine, I hope, that I had anything to do[Pg 349] with that wretched article about Inarime in the ‘Aristophanes’? I abused him for it horribly. He instigated it, you know.”

“Oïdas! the mighty heavens! His motive, Stavros?”

“He heard about that Turkish fellow, and Agiropoulos very maliciously assured him he had no chance. He was wild when he knew it was all round Athens that he wanted to marry a girl who didn’t want him. He took it into his head he was flouted and mocked, and he resolved to bespatter the girl with as much mud as possible.”

“The villain! the hound!” Constantine muttered, incapable of coherent speech or thought.

“She is back in Tenos, I believe?”

Constantine nodded, with blazing inward-seeing eyes.

“He is in Athens—buoyed up, I suppose, with hope.”

“He! Who?”

“Your romantic Reineke,—a handsome fellow, too?”

“Where is he staying?”

“Just opposite,—the Grande Bretagne.”

Constantine rose with an undefined purpose, and Agiropoulos, lazily sauntering across the square, nodded and placed an arresting hand on his shoulder.

“My dear fellow! How fares it with your island Majesty? Such a comfort to have a vestige of royalty,—even spurious royalty in our midst, now that the real thing has temporarily migrated to Denmark.”

“How do you do, Agiropoulos?” said Stavros, crossly.

[Pg 350]

“Ah, my excellent friend Stavros! The fiery principals! How thrilling! Zeus! that was a bloody encounter! May I implore the soothing charm of your society—with a cigarette? Athens is so dull. All the interesting personages of our drama have vanished, and there is not the ghost of a sensation to rouse us.”

“Are you not going to be married?” snarled Stavros.

“Yes, the silken chains of Hymen will shortly weave their spell around me. The individual sheds his personality upon the gamelian threshold, and the dual is evolved. Do I transgress the proprieties of speech? Alas! my poor single and consequently unhappy friends, you must forgive the metaphysical impetuosities of a contemplating bridegroom.”

He gracefully extracted a cigarette from a dainty silver case, and gazed amorously into space.

“Miss Karapolos is well?” Constantine asked.

“She is admirably well—and looks it, and your kind inquiry leaves me your debtor. The virgin blush of health and heroism mantles her brow, and she is all the better for her little misadventure and the fever, which fortunately for me, the happy successor, has entirely carried off the susceptible humours of an earlier fancy.”

“I am glad to hear it,” Constantine exclaimed, heartily. “It is very wise of her to marry at once, and shake herself free of the whole affair. It must be unpleasant for you, however.”

“Not in the least, my friend. In the interests of the dramatic I am a willing sufferer; I will go so far as to describe myself a delighted martyr. I adore the[Pg 351] drama, and if there is a thing that wearies me, it is the thought of monotonous and tame maidenhood. Mademoiselle Karapolos, in default of a warlike Hector, which a mind more classical might exact, will next month graciously condescend to accept my name in the genitive case. Kyria Agiropoulou (Poor girls! it is sad to think that they are not allowed the privilege of a surname in the nominative case) is a heroine with a touch of flame and fire in her veins. I have none myself, and it gratifies me to know that the destructive influence of two phlegmatic temperaments is happily avoided for my posterity.”

“Good heavens! Who is that?” cried Constantine, standing, and with his hand grasped the back of a chair, and stared amazedly at a slowly advancing carriage.

Agiropoulos turned round with more haste than his boast of a phlegmatic temperament warranted, gazed with impertinent and complacent curiosity through his eye-glass at a carriage bowling gaily down from the Boulevard d’Amélie, which contained an ostensible Indian prince, dark but not beautiful, who leaned his head indolently against the shoulder of a fashionable young Athenian lady, whose mother sat alone with her back to the horses.

“Typical of the graceful and amiable abandonment of modern life,” lisped Agiropoulos. “The prince has diamonds and rupees in abundance. A little must be conceded such a happy being. If this public concession succeed in the regular way—the mamma on the front seat and the gentleman on the back, in her place, with his head negligently pillowed on the daughter’s shoulder—think of the gain, my friends.[Pg 352] Oh, I see it on your lips, my excellent Constantine, but spare me the Scriptures. I can stand most things but a biblical quotation. Strange, it is only then I discover I possess that distressing outcome of modern life—nerves. What does it matter—the loss of soul against the gain of the world? I know the quotation. The young lady probably has no soul—why should she? A soul is the most inconvenient thing I know of, except perhaps a conscience.”

“I call it a disgraceful sight. If the prince does not marry her?” thundered Selaka, indignantly.

“Which is very likely, my dear fellow. In that case the mamma will bring her spotted lamb to Paris, or perhaps London, or naughtier Vienna, and the stain of the royal head will be washed off her shoulder by less magnificent wedding favours.”

“You are brutally cynical, Agiropoulos. Thank God, I live on an innocent island where one never hears such thoughts expressed. Good-bye, Stavros.”

“You are indeed an enviable mortal, dropped into this mire out of that Arcadia. But go, leave the dust and depravity of this much too exciting town, and return to your shepherds and flocks and peaceful mountain altitudes. To us, alas! the glitter and distracting noises!”

“Good-bye for the present, Constantine. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be friends with you again.”

“Stay! one word, I pray your Majesty,” chimed the imperturbable Agiropoulos. Selaka flung round uneasily, and frowned on him inquiringly. “Relieve an anxious mind. Is the beautiful nymph of the hills well?”

[Pg 353]

“My niece?”

“The peerless maid of Tenos! Who else? The modern Helen! Strange that history should repeat itself. How many Iliums have since been burnt, albeit it takes by our humble calculations less than ten years nowadays. That’s the beauty of the calendar. It ties us to dates, and the newspapers do their best to tie us to hard facts.”

“They don’t always succeed,” sneered Constantine.

“There speaks the voice of wisdom—with apologies to our editor. The ‘Aristophanes’ flourishes, I hope? So Helen is well. When does she settle down to serene wifehood in the house of Menelaus?”

“Let my niece alone, sir. You are not acquainted with her. The respect of women is a commendable virtue in young men,” Constantine growled, turning on his heel.

Gustav Reineke was writing in his room when Constantine was announced. He started up, confused and wondering, keeping the hand which held his pen pressed upon the papers on the table, and looked inquiringly at Inarime’s uncle.

“Kyrie Selaka,” he said, and smiled vaguely.

“We are strangers known to one another by repute,” said Constantine, who bowed and held out his hand with the singularly gentlemanly ease of the islander.

Reineke took his hand and pressed it warmly. Read in the illumination of his ardent hopes, this visit was a gracious augury which it behoved him to receive with visible and cordial satisfaction.

“Be seated, pray,” he said, and the smile that lit up his dark serene face was as winning as a child’s.

[Pg 354]

“I suppose you are astonished to see me, sir.”

“I am deeply grateful—yes, and a little astonished. You have come, I suppose, to bring me news of her?”

“Of—not from her,” Constantine said, prudently. “I am not deputed by any one, you understand.”

His brows shot up with secretive purpose, and his eager glance was full of a meaning it puzzled Reineke to read. He nodded affirmatively, and the light upon his face sobered to the proper tone of unexpectant resignation.

“I am grateful under any circumstances. To hear of her is second best, and it is not given to man often to get anything so good as second best,” he said, calmly.

“You are a philosopher, sir, and philosophy is beyond me. My niece is well—patient as you might apprehend. But that mad brother of mine is just an obstinate old idiot. He will hear neither of reason nor expediency. You had the misfortune to be born a Turk, and it is your fatality. He has some curious idea that man cannot enter into strife with fate. He never had much brains for aught but books, and I have observed that books have a naturally weakening effect upon the intelligence.”

Gustav laughed tolerantly, and ostentatiously trifled with his papers.

“You see I too consume paper and the midnight oil.”

“I’ve no doubt of it. You’d have shown yourself more sensible in this affair if you didn’t.”

“As—for instance?”

[Pg 355]

“You’d have carried your case high-handedly, and reduced the maniac to reason. What are lovers for but to create scenes and bear away the maiden upon the wings of melodrama?”

Gustav coloured and bent his eyes upon the table. This was hardly the sort of man with whom he cared to discuss a matter so very delicate that speech almost affected it as touch affects the bloom of a peach.

“Your brother is well?” he merely asked.

“Pericles! Far from it. He has never rightly recovered from that bad attack after—after—the time you thrashed that scoundrel Oïdas. You remember?”

Gustav reddened darkly, and then paled as suddenly. His eyes took the deadly brilliance of a panther’s, and he said under his breath:

“I remember,” closing his teeth upon the memory.

“I never had an opportunity of thanking you,” Constantine cried, jumping up and insisting on shaking Reineke’s hands as if they were pump handles. Gustav gravely endured the operation, but when the exuberant Greek, in his anxiety to discharge his conscience of arrears of gratitude, bent his head and bestowed two kisses on his cheeks, Reineke withdrew a little, and lifted his slow Oriental gaze in mild reproof.

“You owe me nothing,” he said, impassively.

“Nothing!” protested Constantine, noisily, “and the honour of our family vindicated! A miserable coward punished! By the Olympian gods! but you are a fellow! How my heart rejoiced! I could have danced!”

Gustav’s face sharpened in the shadow of lassitude. The unnecessary violence of Constantine’s mood oppressed and irritated him, but he simply gazed patient[Pg 356] inquiry at him, and meekly awaited the promised news of Inarime.

“So you see, Herr Reineke—I suppose I may call you by that more familiar name?—(Gustav bowed) you have made me your friend in this matter, and I am resolved you shall have Inarime some day. It will be so easy, if you once forget that you are a Turk.”

“It is kind of you—most kind, but I fail to see how you will be able to accomplish it if Inarime’s father refuses his consent.”

“But, the chief bar removed, there will be no reason why he should withhold his consent. We’ll see, we’ll see,” continued the uncle. “There’s a way out of all difficulties. Pericles will come to his senses some day. But you are right to respect his prejudices, and so is she. In the abstract, that is. I would persecute him if it were my case. But lovers are ticklish creatures to advise or interfere with. In the meantime, if you will keep me informed of your whereabouts, I will let you know how matters progress, and will send for you on the slightest chance of success after acquainting him with your readiness to become one of us.”

“You will? Kyrie Selaka, I know not how to thank you. Oh, this is indeed much—it is much,” Gustav breathed fervently.

“Not at all. I like you, and I want to see you and my niece happy. Hope! it is I, Constantine Selaka, who bid you.”

Reineke paced the room awhile in silence, keenly observed by his companion, and sat down to stare idly out of the window. Phrases of Inarime’s letter to Miss Winter recurred to him like buoyant messages.

[Pg 357]

“You will be here for some time?” Constantine asked.

“As long as you like—as long as you bid me hope.”

“That is well. You are a distinguished personage, Herr Reineke, and it will not be difficult to find you.” Then in a lighter tone, dismissing the graver personal matter, he broke into town gossip.

“I have just met that impertinent young man Agiropoulos. You heard, I suppose, he is going to marry that little heroine, the Karapolos girl?”

“How should I? But it is well. A woman is all the better for being hedged round with the conventionalities of life; and in no case are they so powerfully protecting as when they chain her by marriage, when, practically speaking, she ceases to be a responsible agent,” Reineke said, and added as an afterthought, to exclude Inarime from the slightly contemptuous classification, “that is, the average woman, that unexplained engine of impulse and unreason.”

“Poor little creature! She was hard hit. I wonder what has become of her recreant lover.”

“Young Ehrenstein?”

“Yes. He levanted, you know, with that piano-playing woman, the Natzelhuber.”

“I met them in Paris a month ago.”

“You did? And they are still living together?”

“Most wretchedly. I cannot understand a man choosing degradation and misery because the particular happiness he sets his heart on is beyond his grasp. Women! Yes. If they can’t have the best, they plunge themselves into the worst. They are in extremes of goodness and badness, and scorn half-measures. I daresay poor young Ehrenstein finds a woman’s satisfaction in [Pg 358]contrasting his present with the future that might have been.”

“Quite a boy! Miserable, you say. Did you speak to him?”

“No. He was with Mademoiselle Natzelhuber. I would have stopped, but he glowered on me so forbiddingly that perforce I had to pass on in silence and without bowing. Doubtless he read commiseration in my glance, and resented it. They had been quarrelling, and each seemed an unloved burden to the other.”

“And you heard nothing?”

“I met Mademoiselle Natzelhuber afterwards in a fashionable salon. She had been drawn out of her tub, by what means I know not, and with Diogenes’ contempt, consented to play. The soul of despair and unrest was in her fingers. It was the saddest music I ever heard. I spoke to her of Rudolph, and she implored me to take him off her hands. She said he bored her, and the sight of him filled her with inexplicable anger. I got their address, and when I called, she received me, and threatened to tear me to pieces if I sought to interfere between them. As I walked away, I glanced up at the window, and saw Ehrenstein looking down listlessly upon me. His face was the face of a lost soul.”

Gustav’s voice dropped to a whisper. Constantine sat thrumming the table with his fingers, and jerked his head up and down disconsolately.

“It is an awful story,” he said.

“It has burnt a hateful picture on my mind. I remember the day I first saw that boy on the Acropolis—a mere innocent, unhappy boy. Now he drowns his[Pg 359] misery in brandy and shuns his equals. I heard at a club that he plays heavily and is steeped in vice.”

“The Lord succour him! He was a child when he came to Athens. As for that wretched woman who has brought him to this——”

“She did not. We are needlessly hard on women. He walked into the pit with his eyes open, and she was simply an instrument of his own choice. If she had not been there, he would have found other means,” said Gustav.

[Pg 360]


Winter had lashed the Eastern world with sharp frenzy, and now early spring was raging over the plain of Attica, driving madly in a whirlwind of dust down from the encircling hills, with its breath of ice and its shrewish roar. And soon it would be at its verge, and stand on tiptoe with wistful glance set upon the hurrying summer that so soon would consume its flowers and grasses and chattering rills.

Still Gustav lingered at Athens studying archæology and patiently waiting for Constantine’s message of hope. Exploring expeditions helped him through the long leisure. The last proposed by Miss Winters was to Vari, to do homage to the mythical Cave of Pan, where Plato was dedicated to Apollo and the Muses.

Gustav drove round from his hotel at seven o’clock in the morning to pick up Miss Winters and her paraphernalia, at her lodgings in front of the Columns of Jupiter. Upon the mountains, hue upon hue lay intermelted in one transfused whole of indescribable loveliness. The great forked flanks of Hymettus looked so desolate against the joy of the sky, as to suggest that here had Prometheus been chained and had stamped it with the legacy of permanent sadness.[Pg 361] Under the hills stretched on either side wide fields sheeted with blood-red poppies; the birds woke the air with song, and the air was full of the lovely scent of the pine. Gustav’s senses thrilled to the exquisite charm of the hour, and Miss Winters’ gaze was a prayer and a thanksgiving.

When they had devoutly visited the shrine, difficult of access, and had come back into the pine region, flushed and tired and heated by the blaze of sunfire, they were accommodated by a courteous villager with an empty room, into which a table newly-washed and two chairs were introduced as additional helps to lunch. The villager supplied them with boiled eggs, water and bread, which was being baked at the general oven in the middle of the place, and Gustav produced a bottle of Santorin wine, some fruit and cold chicken. For a forlorn lover he ate a very hearty meal, and took an animated pleasure in supplying the absence of attendance.

After lunch they went and sat on a little wooden seat, and while Gustav smoked, Miss Winters, to the complete astonishment of these simple folk, fed all the dogs of the place upon bread and chicken just as if they had been Christians. Greek dogs are never fed, they pick up what they can here and there, and shrink instinctively from man, whose only caress is a kick.

“That old man is very ill,” Miss Winters said at length.

“Which old man?”

“That old heathen of Tenos, of course.”

“Oh! Selaka!”

[Pg 362]

“Yes. I met his brother yesterday. He was attending somebody in the house, and I asked to see him.”

“Truly, you are a marvellous woman, and a most excellent friend,” said Gustav.

“I reckon I can seize an opportunity, and don’t fail for the want of pluck and keeping my eyes open. The brother is a doctor.”

“I know. Constantine. They call him the King of Tenos.”

“Tenos seems to be the home of idiots. Well, the pagan is very ill—heart-disease—doomed. The doctor is on your side, and says if you will go to Tenos, in about ten days he will be there to meet you, and thinks it not improbable that the old lunatic may be talked into reason before he goes to—Hades or elsewhere.”

Reineke reddened slightly and breathed hard, but he said nothing. The mere hope meant too much for speech. To touch again land so sacred as her island home, to look upon the fastnesses which enshielded her from the world—to see her, feel her, hear her, divine her nearness by every acute sense quickened to an ache. Perhaps——

Thought could go no farther. He rose and flung away his cigarette with a passionate gesture, and began to pace the dusty path while the driver got the horses ready for their return. He seemed to see Inarime’s face, not the landscape, and his heart throbbed with the wonder of it. He was silent during the drive home, and sat till far into the night on his balcony, watching the stars come out in the soft[Pg 363] blue gloom and wink and play like illuminated shuttles upon their glossy background.

Ten days later he came to say good-bye to his friend. The charming old lady stood in front of him, and peered into his face with kindly question. A soft smile stirred the grave depths of his dark intense eyes as he gave her back her look, and tenderly lifted her hand to his lips.

“No matter what happens, our friendship must be lifelong,” he said.

“Yes, I mean to fall frantically in love with your wife. You will bring her right along to Washington City to see me, and I’ll have my book on Greece ready, to present you with a copy on your marriage.” She raised herself on tiptoe and kissed his cheek.

“Now go straight away to Tenos, and I guess you’ll carry the day,” she added.

It was not Aristides who met him this time upon the little quay of St. Nicholas, but insular majesty itself.

“The King of Tenos,” said Gustav, smiling as he shook hands with Constantine.

“The slave of Tenos—the devil take the lot,” cried Dr. Selaka, angrily. “I haven’t a moment to myself once I land on this wretched island. Because they make me deputy, I must look after all their ailments gratis; I must stand godfather for all their children, which means presents illimitable and care for the rest of my days; I must lend my house for marriages, and give marriage breakfasts to all the daughters—dowries sometimes, and last, but not least, I must submit to be carried about the island, up those massacring mountain paths and down destructive precipices, while the idiots[Pg 364] fire off pistols and guns in the exuberance of their spirits, until I am smothered with smoke and half-dead with fright.”

“I see there are drawbacks to the glory of a seat in the Boulé.”

“I rather think so. Oh! the monsters! I am compelled to sneak down all the back lanes to escape them. Come this way. Our mules are hidden under yonder filthy archway.”

How familiar the ride seemed to Gustav, although he had only twice ridden through this strange scenery. He recognised every field and hedge, each cleft in the mountains, the cave of Aiolos, and the little forsaken fountain with the figures of St. Michael, St. George and the Virgin Mary roughly carven upon a marble slab by some unknown hand in the seventeenth century. A thin vein of water flowed from the torrent above into the fountain with a tinkling sound that broke the silence very sadly. How desolate in the stillness looked the interminable lines of marble hills stained with burnt thyme and furze, the great jagged rocks tinted with gold and red and purple and grey, forked against the sapphire sky, and the dim grey glades of olives below! Desertion lay upon all, and the beauty was the beauty of neglect and barrenness. And above towered the Castro, slanting down from the upper world, greyer, sterner than ever, with the rocky desert of Bolax behind, and the villages afar, so white and tiny, tangled upon the slopes, curve flowing after curve to the horizon, the cornfields and meadows touching the scene to life, and the sea breaking into the wide green plain of Kolymvithra like a lake. Here and there a forgotten[Pg 365] faded lemon showed through the orchards, and the geraniums were as drops of blood upon the leaves. How dear and homelike, how personal it all appeared to him! Inarime it spoke of. No sound came to him but the clamour of the frogs among the moist reeds of the torrent-beds, or the liquid flow of bird music from the trees, broken by occasional farm cries and the bark of watch dogs.

Pericles Selaka knew that his days were numbered. He was filled with the trouble and indecision of his daughter’s future. But the thought of relenting towards Gustav—Daoud Bey, as he now bitterly called him—did not enter his mind. His anger against Gustav was the more unreasonable and fierce because of his affection and admiration for the man. What right had a scholar and a gentleman to prove nothing better than a miserable Turk? Inarime grieved for the fellow. Of course. And did he not grieve for her grief? Were there not moments of yearning to throw off this intolerable cloak of resolution, and send for Gustav to make his daughter happy? Had she not a right to happiness? She was young and beautiful. The thought of such beauty as hers dropping unwedded into the grave exasperated him. But a renegade Turk!

The day of Gustav’s arrival, Selaka was alone in the sitting-room. Inarime had gone to the fountain for Annunziata, who was busy preparing the midday breakfast. By an unaccountable impulse, Selaka’s thoughts flew back to his short married life, and, standing upon the threshold of memory, struck him with the force of reality. Tears shook upon his eyelids, and suddenly he raised his head with a listening air. A delicate[Pg 366] breeze seemed to sweep past him, and played about his forehead and hair like caressing fingers. Then it came back again and approached him like a soft regretful sigh. He rose, impelled by an influence which he felt it a pleasure to obey, and followed the sighing breeze. The blinds were drawn to keep out the glare of the noonday sun, and a ray from a chink broke into the twilight in a dazzling river of gold. The air just lifted the blind, and breathed again about his face, this time lingering like a kiss upon his lips; a rose-leaf kiss, that very tender lips might give. He staggered against the framework of the window, filled with a superstitious dread. Was this breath the soul of his dead wife that floated about him with speechless message? Might it not be that she was filled with concern for the coming solitude of her forsaken child? Strive as he might against the insane idea, it grew upon him, and took possession of his frighted senses. A damp perspiration broke upon his brow, the pallor of terror was on his cheek, and his heart beat against his side with suffocating blows.

Hardly knowing why, he held back the blind, and looked down into the courtyard to see if any wind stirred among the flowers. All was still. Not a leaf trembled; the flowers drooped in the drowsy heat of a sultry summer day. He opened the window, and put out his hand. The air was hot and motionless, and the watch-dog lay panting in the shade of a palmtree. He closed the window, drew down the blind, and looked through the soft gloom of the apartment. This time he shivered as the whispering breath struck him full in the face, like a wing brushing past. He stretched out his hands with a cry of protest and alarm, and fell[Pg 367] upon the floor in a swoon, with the name of his dead wife upon his lips.

When Selaka opened his eyes, he found himself lying on the sofa, and saw the face of Gustav Reineke bent over his anxiously. He stared in awed amazement, shrank back a little, put up one hand and timidly touched the young man as if to test his reality.

“You are better, sir?” asked Reineke, taking the hand, and he held it in a warm, protective clasp.

“You! Daoud Bey,” muttered Selaka, indistinctly.

“Look on me as Gustav Reineke, I beg you, sir, and my presence will hurt you less. The past is no more for me; have I not promised?” said Gustav, gently.

“I am conquered, Gustav. I give her to you.”

Gustav gasped, and instinctively dropped on his knees beside the sofa. He hid his face on the pillow, and burst into uncontrollable tears. The sick man lay still, and watched him in a state of stupid fatigue and torpor. Somebody entered the room, and crossing, touched Gustav’s shoulder. He sprang to his feet, and met the serene brown glance of Annunziata’s eyes.

“You are welcome, sir, you are very welcome,” she said, and held out both hands, nodding with subdued approval.

Gustav took them, and shook them with a force that almost hurt. Yet he wore the look of a man in a trance.

“You are a good, kind woman. Tell me where she is.”

“She is detained in the village. Go into the garden, and I will send her uncle to fetch her.”

Gustav obeyed her, and passed out into the garden.[Pg 368] How changed everything was since his winter visit, eighteen months before. But he hardly noted whither he went as he precipitated himself down the oleander alley. The air quivered with light. The smell of the pines and thyme floated up from the valley upon the summer wind that just stirred the laurel leaves and plumes of the reeds in the torrent below. All abroad sleepy delight, and within an immeasurable joy that touched on anguish! He stood on the gravel path edged with blue and white irises, and looked down upon the little goat road behind the zigzag of spiked cactuses. The shadow of the kids, as they played, wavered upon the silver light that sparkled and shook in liquid masses from the upper rocks.

Would she come by that path? The eternal sunshine and the aching mist of blue dazzled him as did his own overpowering happiness. The rapture of the birds was a fit interpretation of his own rapture, and the lizards, darting in and out of the rocks like shuttles quick with life, were as his beating pulses. He loved everything, the water and flowers, the quaint and tiny insects that flew around him, and the pigeons that flashed through the air with an impetuosity he longed to rival.

A step behind him drained the blood from his heart, and he turned, sick and frightened with the strength of passion.

Inarime was looking at him with equal fear and awe. Slowly and silently their glances drew one another until their hands met, but speech was beyond them. They did not speak at once nor embrace, but remained thus standing and gazing, and then a flame sprang into[Pg 369] Gustav’s intense look, and spread like fire over his face.

“Inarime!” he murmured, and opened his arms.

She was in them enfolded, and their lips were one.

“Oh, Gustav, you have come to me,” cried Inarime.

“At last! At long last! Did it seem long to you, dearest?”

“Long! I tried so hard to do without you, but it grew harder each day. But you are with me now, dear one.”

“Not again to leave you, Inarime. My own, how best shall I serve you? How shall I treat you? It is as if a mortal were mated with a goddess.”

“You, too, O love, are to me as a god,” whispered Inarime.

“Nay, nay, beloved, you must not so exalt your worshipper,” protested Gustav, laughing, while he drew her to a stone and gently forced her to sit down, that he might kneel before her, and hold her clasped.

He looked up at her in mute adoration, and smiled. She framed his dusky, glowing face with her hands, and her own, bent over it, looked glorious in its joy.

“Dearest,” he cried, “bliss cannot madden or kill, or I should not now be kneeling here, alive and sane.”

“Oh, Gustav, life is so short. No wonder lovers must have their hereafter. We may not reach an end.”

“Nay, sweet, our life shall not be short; while others merely exist, we shall live our days to the very full. Think of it—a future with each other. Here, hereafter! It cannot be for us other than Paradise.”

“I love you, Gustav.”

“Goddess, I adore you.”

[Pg 370]

She pressed her cheek against his, and he felt her happy tears.

“My father will need me—us,” she said. “Come.”

They found Selaka waiting eagerly for them. Inarime had not seen him since his seizure, and ran to him with a cry of pain, shocked to see him look so ill.

“My son,” said Selaka, with laboured breath, “I would ask you much, since I have given you so much.”

“There is nothing, sir, you can ask that I will not gladly grant,” said Gustav, taking his hand.

“I would charge you with my dying breath not to resume your hateful name. It would sting me in the grave if my daughter bore it.”

“It shall be as you wish, sir. Inarime will be the wife of Gustav Reineke, and Daoud Bey is no more.”

The old man winced under the name, but feebly pressed Gustav’s hand. Shaken with terror and regret for her own great bliss, Inarime knelt beside the sofa, and looked beseechingly at her father.

“I have one other request to make to you, my children. You have been kept apart long enough. I do not desire that my death should impose a longer separation upon you. If you must mourn me—though I do not desire that either—let it be together. Let not the grave overshadow your wedding joys. Think of me, not as dead but as a disembodied spirit that will hover around and about you in tender concern, sharing your griefs, which it is my prayer may be few, and your delights, which I hope will be many. Weep not for me, Inarime. Death is but a quiet sleep, the grave but rest. You will have your husband. He will be all to you—more even[Pg 371] than I. Promise me, my beloved child, that you will not grieve, and that there will be no delay in your marriage.”

Inarime crept closer to her father, and twined her arms round his neck.

“There, there, my girl. Gustav, you will be very tender to her.”

“Oh, sir, my life henceforth will be devotion to her.”

“Thank you, thank you. I feel it will be so. Take her now; comfort her, and dry her tears. That is well. The arms that hold her now are stronger than mine, the breast that pillows her head will henceforth be its best protection. And should a son be born to you, my children, call him Pericles after me, and bring him up to love greatly the great past of my country. Come nearer, my sight grows dim. Call Annunziata, and my brother. I would bid them farewell. You, Inarime, stay close to me. It is with your dear hand in mine that I would go hence into the unknown.”

Constantine and Annunziata were waiting outside. But when they followed Gustav into the dying man’s presence, Selaka had fallen into a doze. No word was spoken. Annunziata wept silently: Constantine’s sobs were the only sound; Inarime knelt watching her father’s face, and Gustav stood over her with his arm about her neck. Selaka’s eyes opened, and flashed with a ray of youth. He uttered his wife’s name in a loud, clear voice, and then the light of life was extinguished.

Gustav bent and kissed Inarime.

[Pg 372]


Time, summer afternoon, touching sunset, early in the month of June.—Scene, the beach of Phalerum.

The band is playing a lively selection from Lecocq, whose works are delighting the Athenians, interpreted by a third-rate French company three times a week at the Olympian Theatre of Athens, and three times nightly at the theatre of the Piræus. All the seats outside the Grand Hotel are filled, as are those edging the golden strand where the children are digging and making sand-pies—quantities of babies, dressed in French taste, in English taste, and overdressed whatever the taste, and quarrelling and making-up in a variety of tongues.

Every table shows a display of coffee cups, of liqueur glasses and of empty ice plates. The Athenian gilded youth walk up and down, twirling slim canes; with shorn heads, wide-brimmed hats, white trousers, and moustaches turned up with emphasis. Droll youths with a serious belief in their own fascinations, made up, some of them imprisoned in corsets. Such boots and trousers, such coats and moustaches! Ah! misfortune to the susceptible maidens of Athens! Their hour is surely come with these lions abroad.

And the young ladies! Such chatter and beaming[Pg 373] smiles, such hats, high heels, ribbons, laces, veils, powder and perfume! Such miracles of millinery produced without any regard to cost! Ah, there are two sides to the picture, my friends, and is it quite so certain that the lions facing these nymphs will have the best of the encounter? There are enough uniforms here to convince the sceptical traveller that he is in a land of heroes. Infantry officers of every rank, in light blue. Numbers of artillerymen in black with crimson velveteen collar and cuffs. Yes, there yonder is the glorious Miltiades, linked with that Phœbus Apollo, Hadji Adam. How the heart gladdens at the sight, how the nerves shake at the clanking of that terrible sabre of his, at the rattle of his glittering spurs, and with what cordial delight do we recognise his military salute and meet the condescension of his hand-clasp! One singles out the pair instinctively, amid the multiplicity of uniforms, above the rank and file of mere marine officers and saucy midshipmen. For, be it known to benighted foreigners, all male Athens dons a uniform, military or naval. Either politics or the uniform nothing else counts. Epaulettes or the Bouléor le néant.

And the band is playing—is playing with a desperate fervour, befitting noisy, volatile Athens. The waiters are rushing wildly about with trays of cognac and vermouth, of ices and coffee, the fragrance of Greek tobacco fills the air, the chatter of human voices and the shrill cry of excited children mingle with the soft murmur of the sea, that beats so gently upon the sand. A charming hour, a charming scene. The sky as blue as the lucid waters beneath; shifting hues wavering upon[Pg 374] the sharp mountain sides; the early lights flickering against the trees, and the sound of happy laughter and speech heard above the band!

The blessed, foolish, frivolous people, self-intoxicated, needing nothing but its daily gossip, its leaflets called newspapers, coffee and cigarettes, the excitement of the half-hourly trains to Phalerum of a summer evening, the rascalities of its politicians to denounce, along with the nameless Turk and the faithless Mr. Gladstone, to the strains of its bad, vivacious music!

With regret do I ask the reader to stand with me under the shade of the Grand Hotel, and cast a farewell glance upon the scene. By the last train from town old acquaintances arrive—a young pair on their wedding tour. Three years ago we last saw one of them facing the hero of Greece at an uncomfortable hour of the morning upon uncomfortable business. Now he is the husband—of whom? Of whom but that elegant young lady of the great world, Mademoiselle Eméraude Veritassi. They were married at Rome, where the Baron von Hohenfels is Austrian plenipotentiary, with Rudolph for one of his attachés. The bride and bridegroom have taken Athens on their way to St. Petersburg, to which Embassy Rudolph now belongs. Ehrenstein looks what he is—an aristocrat in faultless attire, who has lived hard and enjoys the reputation of a strong attachment to brandy and music. Pale, thin, stern and fastidious, with an air of quiescent wretchedness. Poor Rudolph! Is this all that his mutable affections have brought him—indifference and hopelessness? Photini had died, and he had mourned[Pg 375] her passionately, not her, perhaps, but his blighted youth. And when he found Mademoiselle Veritassi disposed to overlook his shady past for the sake of his expectations, his wealth, and his fair, handsome face, it did not seem to him he could do very much better than marry her.

They walked the beach once, and then returned, and seated themselves a little above the Grand Hotel, Ehrenstein gloomily facing the sea while he waited for his cognac; and his bride, in Worth’s latest splendours, looking landwards, expecting an ice.

“See, Rudolph, here is my old flame, M. Michaelopoulos, the great poet,” cried Eméraude, pleasantly excited.

“Indeed,” said Rudolph, stroking his moustache and indolently shifting his eyes.

“Good heavens! Mademoiselle Veritassi! I forgot, a thousand excuses, Madame Ehrenstein,” exclaimed the popular poet.

“My dear friend! Sit down and tell us all the news. Rudolph, order some cognac for M. Michaelopoulos. And now, do tell me everything. What was said about my marriage?”

“Athens rejoiced that Austria in you, Madame, should so wisely have chosen,” said the poet, with a magnificent bow.

“No, truly? You mock me, sir. Does Austria, I wonder, think that Greece chose as wisely?” asked the vivacious bride with an arch, half-malicious glance at her morose husband.

“Could Austria think otherwise?” the poet replied.

“If such a humble person as myself may answer for[Pg 376] Austria, I may say that no better choice could have been made,” said Rudolph, sarcastically.

“My friend, I mean to prove the wisdom of my choice.”

Rudolph raised his eyebrows in lazy interrogation.

“At the present you are simply an attaché,” explained his wife. “With my good help you will become an ambassador. That was why I married you. I always thought the position of ambassadress would suit me admirably.”

“So! You flatter me, Madame.”

“Why not? You surely did not think I was in love with you.”

“Well, I own I had some faint hope you returned my adoration.”

Eméraude glanced quickly at her husband, and smiled, a strange, hard little smile. Lying back with half-shut eyes, she said to the poet:

“It is evident that my husband is on his wedding tour, judging by the pretty things he says.”

“I shall doubtless reach perfection in that art under your amiable tuition,” retorted the bridegroom, as he turned to inspect the crowd.

“They certainly don’t give the unblest any reason to envy their happiness,” mused the poet. “Who would have thought that such a gentle, girlish boy would turn into a bitter and cynical rake?”

Some friends of Eméraude bore down upon her, and after a torrent of congratulation, haughtily received by Rudolph, the latter rose and took the poet’s arm. They walked past the hotel, and a dark flush spread like a[Pg 377] flame over Rudolph’s face when he recognised the gallant Captain of the Artillery.

“The sister is here, too,” said the poet, not troubled with any hesitation or sensitiveness to the delicacy of the subject.

“Indeed,” said Rudolph, very softly.

He did not resent the liberty; he felt an aching desire to hear something of her—hear that she was well and happy.

“She is married,” he said.

“Yes, and grown so stout. There’s a baby with them. There they are.”

Rudolph started, and the hand on the poet’s arm trembled violently.

Agiropoulos and Andromache were coming towards him. Agiropoulos was on the side of the sea, fat, contented, floridly attired, with a flower in his buttonhole and a gold-rimmed glass in his eye. The departing sunshine shone from the west full upon Andromache’s face. It had lost all the pretty appeal of youth. A handsome enough profile, dull, well-filled, with dark blue eyes looking out of a forest of curled fringe, upon which a much too fashionable bonnet reposed. Rudolph was startled and disappointed to find his old love the mere expression of commonplace, domestic content. Yes, she looked as if she did not greatly mourn him, and remembering his wife’s elegance and social charm, he recognised he had done better than marry Andromache. But good heavens! how pretty and sweet she had been in those old days when his heart was so fresh and his days so innocent! He saw again the little salon overlooking the Gardens of the French School, with all its[Pg 378] trivial details accurately fixed upon his memory, and two foolish young creatures so desperately afraid of each other, when first confronted with a love scene. What a charming idyll! and how evanescent and unseizable its fragrance floated out of the past!

Andromache was the first to see him. She did not start, but turned pale to the lips, and looked at him steadily while her fingers closed convulsively upon her red parasol. Agiropoulos brought his quick, sharp gaze to bear upon Ehrenstein, who at once lifted his hat. But his salute was not returned by husband or wife, Andromache stared straight before her, and Agiropoulos smiled insolently as he passed.

Rudolph gazed across the sea with twitching lips. The cut hurt him more than he dared allow to himself. He was gentleman enough to feel ashamed that he deserved it, but was unaccountably angry with Andromache for not having learned to forgive him.

“Let us go back to Madame,” he said, quietly.

“Have you had enough of Phalerum, Eméraude?” he asked, in reply to the silent question of his wife’s look.

“You discontented fellow! We have only just come.”

“And how long are we to remain?”

“There, I see you are upset, and, as I can’t expect to make you an ambassador if I don’t humour you a little, I’ll take you back to Athens at once,” said Eméraude, rising good-naturedly.

Rudolph flashed her a look of boyish gratitude, and pressed her hand as he helped her into the train. He was a little boisterous and intractable on his way to town,[Pg 379] laughed and talked wildly and, when they got into a carriage at Athens to drive to the Hôtel de la Grande Bretagne, a reaction came, and he sat back, the picture of moody discontent. Verily, Mademoiselle Veritassi has not chosen an easy life, but we can see that she understands her task, and that, in spite of ill-tempers and storms, the whip-hand will be hers.

Turning the corner of Hermes Street, Rudolph’s unhappy glance fell upon another picture, and one that struck a heavier blow upon his bruised heart. Two persons on a balcony of the Hôtel d’Angleterre, which faces Constitution Square, opposite the Palace, were enjoying the sunset, and the soft, departing daylight. A man was leaning with his back to the railing, smoking and looking down upon a seated woman in front of him. Rudolph’s pulses stood still. It was impossible not to recognise the owner of the supple brown hand that grasped the edge of the railing, and upon a slight movement of the smoker, who seemed to be speaking with playful earnestness to his companion, Rudolph saw Reineke’s delicate, clear profile. A hungry pain sprang into Rudolph’s eyes as he sat forward, and looked back through the railings, while the carriage drove across the Square. He saw Inarime distinctly, with her eyes lifted to her husband, and a happy smile stirring her grave lips. And as he watched, Reineke went over and sat beside her.

The carriage stopped in front of the Hôtel de la Grande Bretagne, and Rudolph helped his wife out. Instead of following her in, he hurried down the path to stare again at the rival hotel. Inarime now was standing with her hand upon Gustav’s shoulder, and the spectator might divine that the husband was protesting[Pg 380] laughingly against some decision of hers. Then with her tender, grave smile she passed from him and went inside. Gustav remained seated on the balcony, smoking.

“They are not contented—they are happy,” said Rudolph, as he turned to join his wife. “Nobody is miserable but myself. Photini is dead, and I’m alive. I don’t know that it is I who have the best of it, either. She was right. She told me from the first I never should be happy. Andromache! Inarime! and poor Photini! I wonder why I have missed the gladness of life. It seems to exist, and some people catch it. I am only twenty-five. Heaven help me, what shall I be ten years hence, when I feel so bitter on my wedding tour?”

He knocked at his wife’s door, and entering, threw himself on a sofa.

“How long do you propose staying in this wretched hole?” he asked.

“A week or so,” said his wife, surprised. “Why?”

“I want to know what I am expected to do with myself.”

“Look after me, of course, and dance attendance on me,” laughed his wife.


title page