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Title: Trilby
Author: George du Maurier
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0605601.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: October 2012


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With a few exceptions, the spelling of French words has not been
normalized or corrected. (note of etext transcriber)




_SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION_

TRILBY

A Novel

_By_

GEORGE DU  MAURIER

AUTHOR OF

"PETER IBBETSON" "THE MARTIAN"
"SOCIAL PICTORIAL SATIRE"

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS
BY THE AUTHOR

[Illustration: "_Aux nouvelles que j'apporte,
Vos beaux yeux vont pleurer!_"]

NEW YORK
INTERNATIONAL BOOK AND PUBLISHING COMPANY
1899

_This volume is issued for sale in
paper covers only._

Copyright, 1894, 1899, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

_All rights reserved._

[Illustration: "_IT WAS TRILBY!_" [See page 317]]

    _"Hélas! Je sais un chant d'amour,
     Triste et gai, tour à tour!"_


ILLUSTRATIONS

[Not included in this texct version.
See illustrated version at http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0605601h.html]

                                                                    PAGE

"IT WAS TRILBY!"                                           _Frontispiece_
TAFFY, ALIAS TALBOT WYNNE                                              4
"THE LAIRD OF COCKPEN"                                                 5
"THE THIRD HE WAS 'LITTLE BILLEE'"                                     7
"IT DID ONE GOOD TO LOOK AT HIM"                                       9
AMONG THE OLD MASTERS                                                 13
"WISTFUL AND SWEET"                                                   17
THE "ROSEMONDE" OF SCHUBERT                                           21
TRILBY'S LEFT FOOT                                                    27
THE FLEXIBLE FLAGEOLET                                                31
THE BRIDGE OF ARTS                                                    34
"THREE MUSKETEERS OF THE BRUSH"                                       39
TAFFY MAKES THE SALAD                                                 43
"THE GLORY THAT WAS GREECE"                                           47
TRILBY'S FOREBEARS                                                    52
TAIL-PIECE                                                            56
"AS BAD AS THEY MAKE 'EM"                                             59
"A VOICE HE DIDN'T UNDERSTAND"                                        63
"AND SO, NO MORE"                                                     67
"'TWO ENGLANDERS IN ONE DAY'"                                         70
"'HIMMEL! THE ROOF OF YOUR MOUTH'"                                    73
"'ÇA FERA UNE FAMEUSE CRAPULE DE MOINS!'"                             77
"'AV YOU SEEN MY FAHZER'S OLE SHOES?'"                                81
TAFFY À L'ÉCHELLE!                                                    85
"THE FOX AND THE CROW"                                                89
THE LATIN QUARTER                                                     92
CUISINE BOURGEOISE EN BOHÈME                                          95
"THE SOFT EYES"                                                       98
ILYSSUS                                                              101
"'VOILÀ L'ESPAYCE DE HOM KER JER SWEE!'"                             105
TIT FOR TAT                                                          111
THE HAPPY LIFE                                                       116
"'LET ME GO, TAFFY...'"                                              119
"'QU'EST CE QU'IL A DONC, CE LITREBILI?'"                            121
REPENTANCE                                                           125
CONFESSION                                                           129
"ALL AS IT USED TO BE"                                               133
"TWIN GRAY STARS"                                                    135
"AN INCUBUS"                                                         137
THE CAPITALIST AND THE SWELL                                         141
"'I WILL NOT! I WILL NOT!'"                                          151
DODOR IN HIS GLORY                                                   153
HÔTEL DE LA ROCHEMARTEL                                              155
CHRISTMAS EVE                                                        161
"'ALLONS GLYCÈRE! ROUGIS MON VERRE....'"                             163
SOUVENIR                                                             168
"MY SISTER DEAR"                                                     173
A DUCAL FRENCH FIGHTING-COCK                                         175
"'ANSWER ME, TRILBY!'"                                               179
A CARY_HAT_IDE                                                       180
"'LES GLOUGLOUX DU VIN À QUAT' SOUS....'"                            183
"'IS SHE A _LADY_, MR. WYNNE?'"                                      187
"'_FOND_ OF HIM? AREN'T _YOU_?'"                                     191
"SO LIKE LITTLE BILLEE"                                              195
"'I MUST TAKE THE BULL BY THE HORNS'"                                199
"'TRILBY! WHERE IS SHE?'"                                            203
LA SŒUR DE LITREBILI                                                 205
"HE FELL A-WEEPING, QUITE DESPERATELY"                               207
"THE SWEET MELODIC PHRASE"                                           211
"SORROWFULLY, ARM IN ARM"                                            215
DEMORALIZATION                                                       225
FRED WALKER                                                          227
_PLATONIC LOVE_                                                      230
"DARLINGS, OLD OR YOUNG"                                             235
"THE MOON-DIAL"                                                      237
THE CHAIRMAN                                                         239
A HAPPY DINNER                                                       245
"A-SMOKIN' THEIR POIPES AND CIGYARS"                                 247
"BONJOUR, SUZON!"                                                    253
A HUMAN NIGHTINGALE                                                  257
CUP-AND-BALL                                                         263
SWEET ALICE                                                          267
"MAY HEAVEN GO WITH HER!"                                            272
"'SO MUCH FOR ALICE, TRAY'"                                          277
"'YOU'RE A _THIEF_, SIR!'"                                           287
"AN ATMOSPHERE OF BANK-NOTES AND GOLD"                               293
"A LITTLE PICTURE OF THE THAMES"                                     296
"'AH! THE BEAUTIFUL INTERMENT, MESSIEURS!'"                          301
"PAUVRE TRILBY".                                                     303
"'JE PRONG!'"                                                        307
"'OON PAIR DE GONG BLONG'"                                           311
GECKO                                                                315
"AU CLAIR DE LA LUNE"                                                319
"OUVRE-MOI TA PORTE POUR L'AMOUR DE DIEU!"                           322
"MALBROUCK S'EN VA-T'EN GUERRE"                                      325
"AUX NOUVELLES QUE J'APPORTE, VOS BEAUX YEUX VONT PLEURER!".         329
UN IMPROMPTU DE CHOPIN                                               331
"AND THE REMEMBRANCE OF THEM--HAND IN HAND"                          338
"'I BELIEVE YOU, MY BOY!'"                                           341
"MAMAN DUCHESSE"                                                     351
THE CUT DIRECT                                                       354
"PETIT ENFANT, J'AIMAIS D'UN AMOUR TENDRE...."                       358
"'VITE! VITE! UN COMMISSAIRE DE POLICE!'"                            363
"I SUPPOSE YOU DO ALL THIS KIND OF THING FOR MERE AMUSEMENT,
MR. WYNNE?"                                                          367
THE FIRST VIOLIN LOSES HIS TEMPER                                    373
"HAST THOU FOUND ME, O MINE ENEMY?"                                  375
"'OH, DON'T YOU REMEMBER SWEET ALICE, BEN BOLT?'"                    377
"THE LAST THEY SAW OF SVENGALI"                                      383
"'THREE NICE CLEAN ENGLISHMEN'"                                      386
"PŒNA PEDE CLAUDO"                                                   389
"THE OLD STUDIO"                                                     391
"'ET MAINTENANT DORS, MA MIGNONNE!'"                                 395
"TAFFY WAS ALLOWED TO SEE GECKO"                                     400
A FAIR BLANCHISSEUSE DE FIN                                          403
A THRONE IN BOHEMIA                                                  407
"'OH, MY POOR GIRL! MY POOR GIRL!'"                                  410
"'AH, POOR MAMMA! SHE WAS EVER SO MUCH PRETTIER THAN THAT!'"         416
"'TO SING LIKE THAT IS _TO PRAY_!'"                                  422
"'THE REMEMBRANCE OF THAT PALM SUNDAY!'"                             425
FOR GECKO                                                            431
"OUT OF THE MYSTERIOUS EAST"                                         432
"'SVENGALI!... SVENGALI!... SVENGALI!...'"                           437
"TOUT VIENT À POINT, POUR QUI SAIT ATTENDRE!"                        439
"I, PETE COELESTES...."                                              441
"PETITS BONHEURS DE CONTREBANDE"                                     447
ENTER GECKO                                                          451
"'WE TOOK HER VOICE NOTE BY NOTE'"                                   455
THE NIGHTINGALE'S FIRST SONG                                         459
"'ICH HABE _GELIEBT UND GELEBET_!'"                                  461
TAIL-PIECE                                                           464


*


TRILBY

Part First

    "Mimi Pinson est une blonde,
       Une blonde que l'on connaît;
     Elle n'a qu'une robe au monde,
       Landérirette! et qu'un bonnet!"


It was a fine, sunny, showery day in April.

The big studio window was open at the top, and let in a pleasant breeze
from the northwest. Things were beginning to look shipshape at last. The
big piano, a semi-grand by Broadwood, had arrived from England by "the
Little Quickness" (_la Petite Vitesse_, as the goods trains are called
in France), and lay, freshly tuned, alongside the eastern wall; on the
wall opposite was a panoply of foils, masks, and boxing-gloves.

A trapeze, a knotted rope, and two parallel cords, supporting each a
ring, depended from a huge beam in the ceiling. The walls were of the
usual dull red, relieved by plaster casts of arms and legs and hands and
feet; and Dante's mask, and Michael Angelo's altorilievo of Leda and the
swan, and a centaur and Lapith from the Elgin marbles--on none of these
had the dust as yet had time to settle.

There were also studies in oil from the nude; copies of Titian,
Rembrandt, Velasquez, Rubens, Tintoret, Leonardo da Vinci--none of the
school of Botticelli, Mantegna, and Co.--a firm whose merits had not as
yet been revealed to the many.

Along the walls, at a great height, ran a broad shelf, on which were
other casts in plaster, terra-cotta, imitation bronze; a little Theseus,
a little Venus of Milo, a little discobolus; a little flayed man
threatening high heaven (an act that seemed almost pardonable under the
circumstances!); a lion and a boar by Barye; an anatomical figure of a
horse with only one leg left and no ears; a horse's head from the
pediment of the Parthenon, earless also; and the bust of Clytie, with
her beautiful low brow, her sweet wan gaze, and the ineffable forward
shrug of her dear shoulders that makes her bosom a nest, a rest, a
pillow, a refuge--to be loved and desired forever by generation after
generation of the sons of men.

Near the stove hung a gridiron, a frying-pan, a toasting-fork, and a
pair of bellows. In an adjoining glazed corner cupboard were plates and
glasses, black-handled knives, pewter spoons, and three-pronged steel
forks; a salad-bowl, vinegar cruets, an oil-flask, two mustard-pots
(English and French), and such like things--all scrupulously clean. On
the floor, which had been stained and waxed at considerable cost, lay
two chetah-skins and a large Persian praying-rug. One-half of it,
however (under the trapeze and at the farthest end from the window,
beyond the model throne), was covered with coarse matting, that one
might fence or box without slipping down and splitting one's self in
two, or fall without breaking any bones.

Two other windows of the usual French size and pattern, with shutters to
them and heavy curtains of baize, opened east and west, to let in dawn
or sunset, as the case might be, or haply keep them out. And there were
alcoves, recesses, irregularities, odd little nooks and corners, to be
filled up as time wore on with endless personal knick-knacks, bibelots,
private properties and acquisitions--things that make a place genial,
homelike, and good to remember, and sweet to muse upon (with fond
regret) in after-years.

And an immense divan spread itself in width and length and delightful
thickness just beneath the big north window, the business window--a
divan so immense that three well-fed, well-contented Englishmen could
all lie lazily smoking their pipes on it at once without being in each
other's way, and very often did!

At present one of these Englishmen--a Yorkshireman, by-the-way, called
Taffy (and also the Man of Blood, because he was supposed to be
distantly related to a baronet)--was more energetically engaged.
Bare-armed, and in his shirt and trousers, he was twirling a pair of
Indian clubs round his head. His face was flushed, and he was perspiring
freely and looked fierce. He was a very big young man, fair, with kind
but choleric blue eyes, and the muscles of his brawny arm were strong as
iron bands.

For three years he had borne her Majesty's commission, and had been
through the Crimean campaign without a scratch. He would have been one
of the famous six hundred in the famous charge at Balaklava but for a
sprained ankle (caught playing leapfrog in the trenches), which kept him
in hospital on that momentous day. So that he lost his chance of glory
or the grave, and this humiliating misadventure had sickened him of
soldiering for life, and he never quite got over it. Then, feeling
within himself an irresistible vocation for art, he had sold out; and
here he was in Paris, hard at work, as we see.

[Illustration: TAFFY, ALIAS TALBOT WYNNE]

He was good-looking, with straight features; but I regret to say that,
besides his heavy plunger's mustache, he wore an immense pair of
drooping auburn whiskers, of the kind that used to be called Piccadilly
weepers, and were afterwards affected by Mr. Sothern in Lord Dundreary.
It was a fashion to do so then for such of our gilded youth as could
afford the time (and the hair); the bigger and fairer the whiskers, the
more beautiful was thought the youth! It seems incredible in these days,
when even her Majesty's household brigade go about with smooth cheeks
and lips, like priests or play-actors.

            "What's become of all the gold
    Used to hang and brush their bosoms ...?"

[Illustration: "THE LAIRD OF COCKPEN"]

Another inmate of this blissful abode--Sandy, the Laird of Cockpen, as
he was called--sat in similarly simple attire at his easel, painting at
a lifelike little picture of a Spanish toreador serenading a lady of
high degree (in broad daylight). He had never been to Spain, but he had
a complete toreador's kit--a bargain which he had picked up for a mere
song in the Boulevard du Temple--and he had hired the guitar. His pipe
was in his mouth--reversed; for it had gone out, and the ashes were
spilled all over his trousers, where holes were often burned in this
way.

Quite gratuitously, and with a pleasing Scotch accent, he began to
declaim:

    "A street there is in Paris famous
       For which no rhyme our language yields;
     Roo Nerve day Petty Shong its name is--
       The New Street of the Little Fields...."

And then, in his keen appreciation of the immortal stanza, he chuckled
audibly, with a face so blithe and merry and well pleased that it did
one good to look at him.

He also had entered life by another door. His parents (good, pious
people in Dundee) had intended that he should be a solicitor, as his
father and grandfather had been before him. And here he was in Paris
famous, painting toreadors, and spouting the "Ballad of the
Bouillabaisse," as he would often do out of sheer lightness of
heart--much oftener, indeed, than he would say his prayers.

Kneeling on the divan, with his elbow on the window-sill, was a third
and much younger youth. The third he was "Little Billee." He had pulled
down the green baize blind, and was looking over the roofs and
chimney-pots of Paris and all about with all his eyes, munching the
while a roll and a savory saveloy, in which there was evidence of much
garlic. He ate with great relish, for he was very hungry; he had been
all the morning at Carrel's studio, drawing from the life.

Little Billee was small and slender, about twenty or twenty-one, and had
a straight white forehead veined with blue, large dark-blue eyes,
delicate, regular features, and coal-black hair. He was also very
graceful and well built, with very small hands and feet, and much better
dressed than his friends, who went out of their way to outdo the
denizens of the quartier latin in careless eccentricity of garb, and
succeeded. And in his winning and handsome face there was just a faint
suggestion of some possible very remote Jewish ancestor--just a tinge of
that strong, sturdy, irrepressible, indomitable, indelible blood which
is of such priceless value in diluted homœopathic doses, like the dry
white Spanish wine called montijo, which is not meant to be taken pure;
but without a judicious admixture of which no sherry can go round the
world and keep its flavor intact; or like the famous bull-dog strain,
which is not beautiful in itself; and yet just for lacking a little of
the same no greyhound can ever hope to be a champion. So, at least, I
have been told by wine-merchants and dog-fanciers--the most veracious
persons that can be. Fortunately for the world, and especially for
ourselves, most of us have in our veins at least a minim of that
precious fluid, whether we know it or show it or not. _Tant pis pour les
autres!_

As Little Billee munched he also gazed at the busy place below--the
Place St. Anatole des Arts--at the old houses opposite, some of which
were being pulled down, no doubt lest they should fall of their own
sweet will. In the gaps between he would see discolored, old, cracked,
dingy walls, with mysterious windows and rusty iron balconies of great
antiquity--sights that set him dreaming dreams of mediæval French love
and wickedness and crime, bygone mysteries of Paris!

[Illustration: "THE THIRD HE WAS 'LITTLE BILLEE'"]

One gap went right through the block, and gave him a glimpse of the
river, the "Cité," and the ominous old Morgue; a little to the right
rose the gray towers of Notre Dame de Paris into the checkered April
sky. Indeed, the top of nearly all Paris lay before him, with a little
stretch of the imagination on his part; and he gazed with a sense of
novelty, an interest and a pleasure for which he could not have found
any expression in mere language.

Paris! Paris!! Paris!!!

The very name had always been one to conjure with, whether he thought of
it as a mere sound on the lips and in the ear, or as a magical written
or printed word for the eye. And here was the thing itself at last, and
he, he himself, ipsissimus, in the very midst of it, to live there and
learn there as long as he liked, and make himself the great artist he
longed to be.

Then, his meal finished, he lit a pipe, and flung himself on the divan
and sighed deeply, out of the over-full contentment of his heart.

He felt he had never known happiness like this, never even dreamed its
possibility. And yet his life had been a happy one. He was young and
tender, was Little Billee; he had never been to any school, and was
innocent of the world and its wicked ways; innocent of French
especially, and the ways of Paris and its Latin quarter. He had been
brought up and educated at home, had spent his boyhood in London with
his mother and sister, who now lived in Devonshire on somewhat
straitened means. His father, who was dead, had been a clerk in the
Treasury.

He and his two friends, Taffy and the Laird, had taken this studio
together. The Laird slept there, in a small bedroom off the studio.
Taffy had a bedroom at the Hôtel de Seine, in the street of that name.
Little Billee lodged at the Hôtel Corneille, in the Place de l'Odéon.

He looked at his two friends, and wondered if any one, living or dead,
had ever had such a glorious pair of chums as these.

Whatever they did, whatever they said, was simply perfect in his eyes;
they were his guides and philosophers as well as his chums. On the other
hand, Taffy and the Laird were as fond of the boy as they could be.

His absolute belief in all they said and did touched them none the less
that they were conscious of its being somewhat in excess of their
deserts. His almost girlish purity of mind amused and charmed them, and
they did all they could to preserve it, even in the quartier latin,
where purity is apt to go bad if it be kept too long.

[Illustration: "IT DID ONE GOOD TO LOOK AT HIM"]

They loved him for his affectionate disposition, his lively and
caressing ways; and they admired him far more than he ever knew, for
they recognized in him a quickness, a keenness, a delicacy of
perception, in matters of form and color, a mysterious facility and
felicity of execution, a sense of all that was sweet and beautiful in
nature, and a ready power of expressing it, that had not been vouchsafed
to them in any such generous profusion, and which, as they ungrudgingly
admitted to themselves and each other, amounted to true genius.

And when one within the immediate circle of our intimates is gifted in
this abnormal fashion, we either hate or love him for it, in proportion
to the greatness of his gift; according to the way we are built.

So Taffy and the Laird loved Little Billee--loved him very much indeed.
Not but what Little Billee had his faults. For instance, he didn't
interest himself very warmly in other people's pictures. He didn't seem
to care for the Laird's guitar-playing toreador, nor for his serenaded
lady--at all events, he never said anything about them, either in praise
or blame. He looked at Taffy's realisms (for Taffy was a realist) in
silence, and nothing tries true friendship so much as silence of this
kind.

But, then, to make up for it, when they all three went to the Louvre, he
didn't seem to trouble much about Titian either, or Rembrandt, or
Velasquez, Rubens, Veronese, or Leonardo. He looked at the people who
looked at the pictures, instead of at the pictures themselves;
especially at the people who copied them, the sometimes charming young
lady painters--and these seemed to him even more charming than they
really were--and he looked a great deal out of the Louvre windows,
where there was much to be seen: more Paris, for instance--Paris, of
which he could never have enough.

But when, surfeited with classical beauty, they all three went and dined
together, and Taffy and the Laird said beautiful things about the old
masters, and quarrelled about them, he listened with deference and rapt
attention, and reverentially agreed with all they said, and afterwards
made the most delightfully funny little pen-and-ink sketches of them,
saying all these beautiful things (which he sent to his mother and
sister at home); so life-like, so real, that you could almost hear the
beautiful things they said; so beautifully drawn that you felt the old
masters couldn't have drawn them better themselves; and so irresistibly
droll that you felt that the old masters could not have drawn them at
all--any more than Milton could have described the quarrel between
Sairey Gamp and Betsy Prig; no one, in short, but Little Billee.

Little Billee took up the "Ballad of the Bouillabaisse" where the Laird
had left it off, and speculated on the future of himself and his
friends, when he should have got to forty years--an almost impossibly
remote future.

These speculations were interrupted by a loud knock at the door, and two
men came in.

First, a tall, bony individual of any age between thirty and forty-five,
of Jewish aspect, well-featured but sinister. He was very shabby and
dirty, and wore a red béret and a large velveteen cloak, with a big
metal clasp at the collar. His thick, heavy, languid, lustreless black
hair fell down behind his ears on to his shoulders, in that
musicianlike way that is so offensive to the normal Englishman. He had
bold, brilliant black eyes, with long, heavy lids, a thin, sallow face,
and a beard of burnt-up black which grew almost from his under eyelids;
and over it his mustache, a shade lighter, fell in two long spiral
twists. He went by the name of Svengali, and spoke fluent French with a
German accent, and humorous German twists and idioms, and his voice was
very thin and mean and harsh, and often broke into a disagreeable
falsetto.

His companion was a little swarthy young man--a gypsy, possibly--much
pitted with the small-pox, and also very shabby. He had large, soft,
affectionate brown eyes, like a King Charles spaniel. He had small,
nervous, veiny hands, with nails bitten down to the quick, and carried a
fiddle and a fiddlestick under his arm, without a case, as though he had
been playing in the street.

"Ponchour, mes enfants," said Svengali. "Che vous amène mon ami Checko,
qui choue du fiolon gomme un anche!"

Little Billee, who adored all "sweet musicianers," jumped up and made
Gecko as warmly welcome as he could in his early French.

"Ha! le biâno!" exclaimed Svengali, flinging his red béret on it, and
his cloak on the ground. "Ch'espère qu'il est pon, et pien t'accord!"

And sitting down on the music-stool, he ran up and down the scales with
that easy power, that smooth, even crispness of touch, which reveal the
master.

[Illustration: AMONG THE OLD MASTERS]

Then he fell to playing Chopin's impromptu in A flat, so beautifully
that Little Billee's heart went nigh to bursting with suppressed
emotion and delight. He had never heard any music of Chopin's before,
nothing but British provincial home-made music--melodies with
variations, "Annie Laurie," "The Last Rose of Summer," "The Blue Bells
of Scotland;" innocent little motherly and sisterly tinklings, invented
to set the company at their ease on festive evenings, and make all-round
conversation possible for shy people; who fear the unaccompanied sound
of their own voices, and whose genial chatter always leaves off directly
the music ceases.

He never forgot that impromptu, which he was destined to hear again one
day in strange circumstances.

Then Svengali and Gecko made music together, divinely. Little
fragmentary things, sometimes consisting but of a few bars, but these
bars of _such_ beauty and meaning! Scraps, snatches, short melodies,
meant to fetch, to charm immediately, or to melt or sadden or madden
just for a moment, and that knew just when to leave off--czardas, gypsy
dances, Hungarian love-plaints, things little known out of eastern
Europe in the fifties of this century, till the Laird and Taffy were
almost as wild in their enthusiasm as Little Billee--a silent enthusiasm
too deep for speech. And when these two great artists left off to smoke,
the three Britishers were too much moved even for that, and there was a
stillness....

Suddenly there came a loud knuckle-rapping at the outer door, and a
portentous voice of great volume, and that might almost have belonged to
any sex (even an angel's), uttered the British milkman's yodel,"Milk
below!" and before any one could say "Entrez," a strange figure
appeared, framed by the gloom of the little antechamber.

It was the figure of a very tall and fully developed young female, clad
in the gray overcoat of a French infantry soldier, continued netherwards
by a short striped petticoat, beneath which were visible her bare white
ankles and insteps, and slim, straight, rosy heels, clean cut and smooth
as the back of a razor; her toes lost themselves in a huge pair of male
list slippers, which made her drag her feet as she walked.

She bore herself with easy, unembarrassed grace, like a person whose
nerves and muscles are well in tune, whose spirits are high, who has
lived much in the atmosphere of French studios, and feels at home in it.

This strange medley of garments was surmounted by a small bare head with
short, thick, wavy brown hair, and a very healthy young face, which
could scarcely be called quite beautiful at first sight, since the eyes
were too wide apart, the mouth too large, the chin too massive, the
complexion a mass of freckles. Besides, you can never tell how beautiful
(or how ugly) a face may be till you have tried to draw it.

But a small portion of her neck, down by the collar-bone, which just
showed itself between the unbuttoned lapels of her military coat collar,
was of a delicate privetlike whiteness that is never to be found on any
French neck, and very few English ones. Also, she had a very fine brow,
broad and low, with thick level eyebrows much darker than her hair, a
broad, bony, high bridge to her short nose, and her full, broad cheeks
were beautifully modelled. She would have made a singularly handsome
boy.

As the creature looked round at the assembled company and flashed her
big white teeth at them in an all-embracing smile of uncommon width and
quite irresistible sweetness, simplicity, and friendly trust, one saw at
a glance that she was out of the common clever, simple, humorous,
honest, brave, and kind, and accustomed to be genially welcomed wherever
she went. Then suddenly closing the door behind her, dropping her smile,
and looking wistful and sweet, with her head on one side and her arms
akimbo, "Ye're all English, now, aren't ye?" she exclaimed. "I heard the
music, and thought I'd just come in for a bit, and pass the time of day:
you don't mind? Trilby, that's my name--Trilby O'Ferrall."

She said this in English, with an accent half Scotch and certain French
intonations, and in a voice so rich and deep and full as almost to
suggest an incipient tenore robusto; and one felt instinctively that it
was a real pity she wasn't a boy, she would have made such a jolly one.

"We're delighted, on the contrary," said Little Billee, and advanced a
chair for her.

But she said, "Oh, don't mind me; go on with the music," and sat herself
down cross-legged on the model-throne near the piano.

As they still looked at her, curious and half embarrassed, she pulled a
paper parcel containing food out of one of the coat-pockets, and
exclaimed:

[Illustration: "WISTFUL AND SWEET"]

"I'll just take a bite, if you don't object; I'm a model, you know, and
it's just rung twelve--'the rest.' I'm posing for Durien the sculptor,
on the next floor. I pose to him for the altogether."

"The altogether?" asked Little Billee.

"Yes--_l'ensemble_, you know--head, hands, and
feet--everything--especially feet. That's my foot," she said, kicking
off her big slipper and stretching out the limb. "It's the handsomest
foot in all Paris. There's only one in all Paris to match it, and here
it is," and she laughed heartily (like a merry peal of bells), and stuck
out the other.

And in truth they were astonishingly beautiful feet, such as one only
sees in pictures and statues--a true inspiration of shape and color, all
made up of delicate lengths and subtly modulated curves and noble
straightnesses and happy little dimpled arrangements in innocent young
pink and white.

So that Little Billee, who had the quick, prehensile, æsthetic eye, and
knew by the grace of Heaven what the shapes and sizes and colors of
almost every bit of man, woman, or child should be (and so seldom are),
was quite bewildered to find that a real, bare, live human foot could be
such a charming object to look at, and felt that such a base or pedestal
lent quite an antique and Olympian dignity to a figure that seemed just
then rather grotesque in its mixed attire of military overcoat and
female petticoat, and nothing else!

Poor Trilby!

The shape of those lovely slender feet (that were neither large nor
small), fac-similed in dusty, pale plaster of Paris, survives on the
shelves and walls of many a studio throughout the world, and many a
sculptor yet unborn has yet to marvel at their strange perfection, in
studious despair.

For when Dame Nature takes it into her head to do her very best, and
bestow her minutest attention on a mere detail, as happens now and
then--once in a blue moon, perhaps--she makes it uphill work for poor
human art to keep pace with her.

It is a wondrous thing, the human foot--like the human hand; even more
so, perhaps; but, unlike the hand, with which we are so familiar, it is
seldom a thing of beauty in civilized adults who go about in leather
boots or shoes.

So that it is hidden away in disgrace, a thing to be thrust out of sight
and forgotten. It can sometimes be very ugly, indeed--the ugliest thing
there is, even in the fairest and highest and most gifted of her sex;
and then it is of an ugliness to chill and kill romance, and scatter
young love's dream, and almost break the heart.

And all for the sake of a high heel and a ridiculously pointed toe--mean
things, at the best!

Conversely, when Mother Nature has taken extra pains in the building of
it, and proper care or happy chance has kept it free of lamentable
deformations, indurations, and discolorations--all those grewsome
boot-begotten abominations which have made it so generally
unpopular--the sudden sight of it, uncovered, comes as a very rare and
singularly pleasing surprise to the eye that has learned how to see!

Nothing else that Mother Nature has to show, not even the human face
divine, has more subtle power to suggest high physical distinction,
happy evolution, and supreme development; the lordship of man over
beast, the lordship of man over man, the lordship of woman over all!

_En, voilà, de l'éloquence--à propos de bottes!_

Trilby had respected Mother Nature's special gift to herself--had never
worn a leather boot or shoe, had always taken as much care of her feet
as many a fine lady takes of her hands. It was her one coquetry, the
only real vanity she had.

Gecko, his fiddle in one hand and his bow in the other, stared at her in
open-mouthed admiration and delight, as she ate her sandwich of
soldier's bread and _fromage à la crème_ quite unconcerned.

When she had finished she licked the tips of her fingers clean of
cheese, and produced a small tobacco-pouch from another military pocket,
and made herself a cigarette, and lit it and smoked it, inhaling the
smoke in large whiffs, filling her lungs with it, and sending it back
through her nostrils, with a look of great beatitude.

Svengali played Schubert's "Rosemonde," and flashed a pair of
languishing black eyes at her with intent to kill.

But she didn't even look his way. She looked at Little Billee, at big
Taffy, at the Laird, at the casts and studies, at the sky, the
chimney-pots over the way, the towers of Notre Dame, just visible from
where she sat.

Only when he finished she exclaimed: "Maïe, aïe! c'est rudement bien
tapé, c'te musique-là! Seulement, c'est pas gai, vous savez! Comment
q'ça s'appelle?"

"It is called the 'Rosemonde' of Schubert, matemoiselle," replied
Svengali. (I will translate.)

[Illustration: THE "ROSEMONDE" OF SCHUBERT]

"And what's that--Rosemonde?" said she.

"Rosemonde was a princess of Cyprus, matemoiselle, and Cyprus is an
island."

"Ah, and Schubert, then--where's that?"

"Schubert is not an island, matemoiselle. Schubert was a compatriot of
mine, and made music, and played the piano, just like me."

"Ah, Schubert was a _monsieur_, then. Don't know him; never heard his
name."

"That is a pity, matemoiselle. He had some talent. You like this better,
perhaps," and he strummed,

    "Messieurs les étudiants,
     S'en vont à la chaumière
     Pour y danser le cancan,"

striking wrong notes, and banging out a bass in a different key--a
hideously grotesque performance.

"Yes, I like that better. It's gayer, you know. Is that also composed by
a compatriot of yours?" asked the lady.

"Heaven forbid, matemoiselle."

And the laugh was against Svengali.

But the real fun of it all (if there was any) lay in the fact that she
was perfectly sincere.

"Are you fond of music?" asked Little Billee.

"Oh, ain't I, just!" she replied. "My father sang like a bird. He was a
gentleman and a scholar, my father was. His name was Patrick Michael
O'Ferrall, fellow of Trinity, Cambridge. He used to sing 'Ben Bolt.' Do
you know 'Ben Bolt'?"

"Oh yes, I know it well," said Little Billee. "It's a very pretty
song."

"I can sing it," said Miss O'Ferrall. "Shall I?"

"Oh, certainly, if you will be so kind."

Miss O'Ferrall threw away the end of her cigarette, put her hands on her
knees as she sat cross-legged on the model-throne, and sticking her
elbows well out, she looked up to the ceiling with a tender, sentimental
smile, and sang the touching song,

    "Oh, don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt?
     Sweet Alice, with hair so brown?" etc., etc.

As some things are too sad and too deep for tears, so some things are
too grotesque and too funny for laughter. Of such a kind was Miss
O'Ferrall's performance of "Ben Bolt."

From that capacious mouth and through that high-bridged bony nose there
rolled a volume of breathy sound, not loud, but so immense that it
seemed to come from all round, to be reverberated from every surface in
the studio. She followed more or less the shape of the tune, going up
when it rose and down when it fell, but with such immense intervals
between the notes as were never dreamed of in any mortal melody. It was
as though she could never once have deviated into tune, never once have
hit upon a true note, even by a fluke--in fact, as though she were
absolutely tone-deaf and without ear, although she stuck to the time
correctly enough.

She finished her song amid an embarrassing silence. The audience didn't
quite know whether it were meant for fun or seriously. One wondered if
she were not paying out Svengali for his impertinent performance of
"Messieurs les étudiants." If so, it was a capital piece of impromptu
tit-for-tat admirably acted, and a very ugly gleam yellowed the tawny
black of Svengali's big eyes. He was so fond of making fun of others
that he particularly resented being made fun of himself--couldn't endure
that any one should ever have the laugh of _him_.

At length Little Billee said: "Thank you so much. It is a capital song."

"Yes," said Miss O'Ferrall. "It's the only song I know, unfortunately.
My father used to sing it, just like that, when he felt jolly after hot
rum and water. It used to make people cry; he used to cry over it
himself. _I_ never do. Some people think I can't sing a bit. All I can
say is that I've often had to sing it six or seven times running in
_lots_ of studios. I vary it, you know--not the words, but the tune. You
must remember that I've only taken to it lately. Do you know Litolff?
Well, he's a great composer, and he came to Durien's the other day, and
I sang 'Ben Bolt,' and what do you think he said? Why, he said Madame
Alboni couldn't go nearly so high or so low as I did, and that her voice
wasn't half so strong. He gave me his word of honor. He said I breathed
as natural and straight as a baby, and all I want is to get my voice a
little more under control. That's what _he_ said."

"Qu'est-ce qu'elle dit?" asked Svengali. And she said it all over again
to him in French--quite French French--of the most colloquial kind. Her
accent was not that of the Comédie Française, nor yet that of the
Faubourg St. Germain, nor yet that of the pavement. It was quaint and
expressive--"funny without being vulgar."

"Barpleu! he was right, Litolff," said Svengali. "I assure you,
matemoiselle, that I have never heard a voice that can equal yours; you
have a talent quite exceptional."

She blushed with pleasure, and the others thought him a "beastly cad"
for poking fun at the poor girl in such a way. And they thought Monsieur
Litolff another.

She then got up and shook the crumbs off her coat, and slipped her feet
into Durien's slippers, saying, in English: "Well, I've got to go back.
Life ain't all beer and skittles, and more's the pity; but what's the
odds, so long as you're happy?"

On her way out she stopped before Taffy's picture--a chiffonnier with
his lantern bending over a dust heap. For Taffy was, or thought himself,
a passionate realist in those days. He has changed, and now paints
nothing but King Arthurs and Guineveres and Lancelots and Elaines and
floating Ladies of Shalott.

"That chiffonnier's basket isn't hitched high enough," she remarked.
"How could he tap his pick against the rim and make the rag fall into it
if it's hitched only half-way up his back? And he's got the wrong
sabots, and the wrong lantern; it's _all_ wrong."

"Dear me!" said Taffy, turning very red; "you seem to know a lot about
it. It's a pity you don't paint, yourself."

"Ah! now you're cross!" said Miss O'Ferrall. "Oh, maïe, aïe!"

She went to the door and paused, looking round benignly. "What nice
teeth you've all three got. That's because you're Englishmen, I suppose,
and clean them twice a day. I do too. Trilby O'Ferrall, that's my name,
48 Rue des Pousse-Cailloux!--pose pour l'ensemble, quand ça l'amuse!
va-t-en ville, et fait tout ce qui concerne son état! Don't forget.
Thanks all, and good-bye."

"En v'là une orichinale," said Svengali.

"I think she's lovely," said Little Billee, the young and tender. "Oh,
heavens, what angel's feet! It makes me sick to think she sits for the
figure. I'm sure she's quite a lady."

And in five minutes or so, with the point of an old compass, he
scratched in white on the dark red wall a three-quarter profile outline
of Trilby's left foot, which was perhaps the more perfect poem of the
two.

Slight as it was, this little piece of impromptu etching, in its sense
of beauty, in its quick seizing of a peculiar individuality, its subtle
rendering of a strongly received impression, was already the work of a
master. It was Trilby's foot, and nobody else's, nor could have been,
and nobody else but Little Billee could have drawn it in just that
inspired way.

"Qu'est-ce que c'est, 'Ben Bolt'?" inquired Gecko.

Upon which Little Billee was made by Taffy to sit down to the piano and
sing it. He sang it very nicely with his pleasant little throaty English
barytone.

[Illustration: TRILBY'S LEFT FOOT]

It was solely in order that Little Billee should have opportunities of
practising this graceful accomplishment of his, for his own and his
friends' delectation, that the piano had been sent over from London,
at great cost to Taffy and the Laird. It had belonged to Taffy's mother,
who was dead.

Before he had finished the second verse, Svengali exclaimed: "Mais c'est
tout-à-fait chentil! Allons, Gecko, chouez-nous ça!"

And he put his big hands on the piano, over Little Billee's, pushed him
off the music-stool with his great gaunt body, and, sitting on it
himself, he played a masterly prelude. It was impressive to hear the
complicated richness and volume of the sounds he evoked after Little
Billee's gentle "tink-a-tink."

And Gecko, cuddling lovingly his violin and closing his upturned eyes,
played that simple melody as it had probably never been played
before--such passion, such pathos, such a tone!--and they turned it and
twisted it, and went from one key to another, playing into each other's
hands, Svengali taking the lead; and fugued and canoned and
counterpointed and battle-doored and shuttlecocked it, high and low,
soft and loud, in minor, in pizzicato, and in sordino--adagio, andante,
allegretto, scherzo--and exhausted all its possibilities of beauty; till
their susceptible audience of three was all but crazed with delight and
wonder; and the masterful Ben Bolt, and his over-tender Alice, and his
too submissive friend, and his old schoolmaster so kind and so true, and
his long-dead schoolmates, and the rustic porch and the mill, and the
slab of granite so gray,

    "And the dear little nook
     By the clear running brook,"

were all magnified into a strange, almost holy poetic dignity and
splendor quite undreamed of by whoever wrote the words and music of that
unsophisticated little song, which has touched so many simple British
hearts that don't know any better--and among them, once, that of the
present scribe--long, long ago!

"Sacrepleu! il choue pien, le Checko, hein?" said Svengali, when they
had brought this wonderful double improvisation to a climax and a close.
"C'est mon élèfe! che le fais chanter sur son fiolon, c'est comme si
c'était _moi_ qui chantais! ach! si ch'afais pour teux sous de voix, che
serais le bremier chanteur du monte! I cannot sing!" he continued. (I
will translate him into English, without attempting to translate his
accent, which is a mere matter of judiciously transposing p's and b's,
and t's and d's, and f's and v's, and g's and k's, and turning the soft
French j into sch, and a pretty language into an ugly one.)

"I cannot sing myself, I cannot play the violin, but I can teach--hein,
Gecko? And I have a pupil--hein, Gecko?--la betite Honorine;" and here
he leered all round with a leer that was not engaging. "The world shall
hear of la betite Honorine some day--hein, Gecko? Listen all--this is
how I teach la betite Honorine! Gecko, play me a little accompaniment in
pizzicato."

And he pulled out of his pocket a kind of little flexible flageolet (of
his own invention, it seems), which he screwed together and put to his
lips, and on this humble instrument he played "Ben Bolt," while Gecko
accompanied him, using his fiddle as a guitar, his adoring eyes fixed in
reverence on his master.

And it would be impossible to render in any words the deftness, the
distinction, the grace, power, pathos, and passion with which this truly
phenomenal artist executed the poor old twopenny tune on his elastic
penny whistle--for it was little more--such thrilling, vibrating,
piercing tenderness, now loud and full, a shrill scream of anguish, now
soft as a whisper, a mere melodic breath, more human almost than the
human voice itself, a perfection unattainable even by Gecko, a master,
on an instrument which is the acknowledged king of all!

So that the tear which had been so close to the brink of Little Billee's
eye while Gecko was playing now rose and trembled under his eyelid and
spilled itself down his nose; and he had to dissemble and
surreptitiously mop it up with his little finger as he leaned his chin
on his hand, and cough a little husky, unnatural cough--_pour se donner
une contenance_!

He had never heard such music as this, never dreamed such music was
possible. He was conscious, while it lasted, that he saw deeper into the
beauty, the sadness of things, the very heart of them, and their
pathetic evanescence, as with a new, inner eye--even into eternity
itself, beyond the veil--a vague cosmic vision that faded when the music
was over, but left an unfading reminiscence of its having been, and a
passionate desire to express the like some day through the plastic
medium of his own beautiful art.

[Illustration: THE FLEXIBLE FLAGEOLET]

When Svengali ended, he leered again on his dumb-struck audience, and
said: "That is how I teach la betite Honorine to sing; that is how I
teach Gecko to play; that is how I teach '_il bel canto_'! It was
lost, the bel canto--but I found it, in a dream--I, and nobody
else--I--Svengali--I--I--_I!_ But that is enough of music; let us play
at something else--let us play at this!" he cried, jumping up and
seizing a foil and bending it against the wall.... "Come along, Little
Pillee, and I will show you something more you don't know...."

So Little Billee took off coat and waistcoat, donned mask and glove and
fencing-shoes, and they had an "assault of arms," as it is nobly called
in French, and in which poor Little Billee came off very badly. The
German Pole fenced wildly, but well.

Then it was the Laird's turn, and he came off badly too; so then Taffy
took up the foil, and redeemed the honor of Great Britain, as became a
British hussar and a Man of Blood. For Taffy, by long and assiduous
practice in the best school in Paris (and also by virtue of his native
aptitudes), was a match for any maître d'armes in the whole French army,
and Svengali got "what for."

And when it was time to give up play and settle down to work, others
dropped in--French, English, Swiss, German, American, Greek; curtains
were drawn and shutters opened; the studio was flooded with light--and
the afternoon was healthily spent in athletic and gymnastic exercises
till dinner-time.

But Little Billee, who had had enough of fencing and gymnastics for the
day, amused himself by filling up with black and white and red
chalk-strokes the outline of Trilby's foot on the wall, lest he should
forget his fresh vision of it, which was still to him as the thing
itself--an absolute reality, born of a mere glance, a mere chance.

Durien came in and looked over his shoulder, and exclaimed: "Tiens! le
pied de Trilby! vous avez fait ça d'après nature?"

"Nong!"

"De mémoire, alors?"

"Wee!"

"Je vous en fais mon compliment! Vous avez eu la main heureuse. Je
voudrais bien avoir fait ça, moi! C'est un petit chef-d'œuvre que
vous avez fait là--tout bonnement, mon cher! Mais vous élaborez trop. De
grâce, n'y touchez plus!"

And Little Billee was pleased, and touched it no more; for Durien was a
great sculptor, and sincerity itself.

       *       *       *       *       *

And then--well, I happen to forget what sort of day this particular day
turned into at about six of the clock.

If it was decently fine, the most of them went off to dine at the
Restaurant de la Couronne, kept by the Père Trin, in the Rue de
Monsieur, who gave you of his best to eat and drink for twenty sols
Parisis, or one franc in the coin of the empire. Good distending soups,
omelets that were only too savory, lentils, red and white beans, meat so
dressed and sauced and seasoned that you didn't know whether it were
beef or mutton--flesh, fowl, or good red herring--or even bad, for that
matter--nor very greatly care.

And just the same lettuce, radishes, and cheese of Gruyère or Brie as
you got at the Trois Frères Provençaux (but not the same butter!). And
to wash it all down, generous wine in wooden "brocs"--that stained a
lovely æsthetic blue everything it was spilled over.

[Illustration: THE BRIDGE OF ARTS]

And you hobnobbed with models, male and female, students of law and
medicine, painters and sculptors, workmen and blanchisseuses and
grisettes, and found them very good company, and most improving to your
French, if your French was of the usual British kind, and even to some
of your manners, if these were very British indeed. And the evening was
innocently wound up with billiards, cards, or dominos at the Café du
Luxembourg opposite; or at the Théâtre du Luxembourg, in the Rue de
Madame, to see funny farces with screamingly droll Englishmen in them;
or, still better, at the Jardin Bullier (la Closerie des Lilas), to see
the students dance the cancan, or try and dance it yourself, which is
not so easy as it seems; or, best of all, at the Théâtre de l'Odéon, to
see some piece of classical _repertoire_.

Or, if it were not only fine, but a Saturday afternoon into the bargain,
the Laird would put on a necktie and a few other necessary things, and
the three friends would walk arm in arm to Taffy's hotel in the Rue de
Seine, and wait outside till he had made himself as presentable as the
Laird, which did not take very long. And then (Little Billee was always
presentable) they would, arm in arm, the huge Taffy in the middle,
descend the Rue de Seine and cross a bridge to the Cité, and have a look
in at the Morgue. Then back again to the quays on the rive gauche by the
Pont Neuf, to wend their way westward; now on one side to look at the
print and picture shops and the magasins of bric-à-brac, and haply
sometimes buy thereof, now on the other to finger and cheapen the
second-hand books for sale on the parapet, and even pick up one or two
utterly unwanted bargains, never to be read or opened again.

When they reached the Pont des Arts they would cross it, stopping in the
middle to look up the river towards the old Cité and Notre Dame,
eastward, and dream unutterable things, and try to utter them. Then,
turning westward, they would gaze at the glowing sky and all it glowed
upon--the corner of the Tuileries and the Louvre, the many bridges, the
Chamber of Deputies, the golden river narrowing its perspective and
broadening its bed as it went flowing and winding on its way between
Passy and Grenelle to St. Cloud, to Rouen, to the Havre, to England
perhaps--where _they_ didn't want to be just then; and they would try
and express themselves to the effect that life was uncommonly well worth
living in that particular city at that particular time of the day and
year and century, at that particular epoch of their own mortal and
uncertain lives.

Then, still arm in arm and chatting gayly, across the court-yard of the
Louvre, through gilded gates well guarded by reckless imperial Zouaves,
up the arcaded Rue de Rivoli as far as the Rue Castiglione, where they
would stare with greedy eyes at the window of the great corner
pastry-cook, and marvel at the beautiful assortment of bonbons,
pralines, dragées, marrons glacés--saccharine, crystalline substances of
all kinds and colors, as charming to look at as an illumination;
precious stones, delicately frosted sweets, pearls and diamonds so
arranged as to melt in the mouth; especially, at this particular time of
the year, the monstrous Easter-eggs of enchanting hue, enshrined like
costly jewels in caskets of satin and gold; and the Laird, who was well
read in his English classics and liked to show it, would opine that
"they managed these things better in France."

Then across the street by a great gate into the Allée des Feuillants,
and up to the Place de la Concorde--to gaze, but quite without base
envy, at the smart people coming back from the Bois de Boulogne. For
even in Paris "carriage people" have a way of looking bored, of taking
their pleasure sadly, of having nothing to say to each other, as though
the vibration of so many wheels all rolling home the same way every
afternoon had hypnotized them into silence, idiocy, and melancholia.

And our three musketeers of the brush would speculate on the vanity of
wealth and rank and fashion; on the satiety that follows in the wake of
self-indulgence and overtakes it; on the weariness of the pleasures that
become a toil--as if they knew all about it, had found it all out for
themselves, and nobody else had ever found it out before!

Then they found out something else--namely, that the sting of healthy
appetite was becoming intolerable; so they would betake themselves to an
English eating-house in the Rue de la Madeleine (on the left-hand side
near the top), where they would renovate their strength and their
patriotism on British beef and beer, and household bread, and bracing,
biting, stinging yellow mustard, and horseradish, and noble apple-pie,
and Cheshire cheese; and get through as much of these in an hour or so
as they could for talking, talking, talking; such happy talk! as full of
sanguine hope and enthusiasm, of cocksure commendation or condemnation
of all painters, dead or alive, of modest but firm belief in themselves
and each other, as a Paris Easter-egg is full of sweets and pleasantness
(for the young).

And then a stroll on the crowded, well-lighted boulevards, and a bock at
the café there, at a little three-legged marble table right out on the
genial asphalt pavement, still talking nineteen to the dozen.

Then home by dark, old, silent streets and some deserted bridge to their
beloved Latin quarter, the Morgue gleaming cold and still and fatal in
the pale lamplight, and Notre Dame pricking up its watchful twin towers,
which have looked down for so many centuries on so many happy, sanguine,
expansive youths walking arm in arm by twos and threes, and forever
talking, talking, talking....

The Laird and Little Billee would see Taffy safe to the door of his
hôtel garni in the Rue de Seine, where they would find much to say to
each other before they said good-night--so much that Taffy and Little
Billee would see the Laird safe to _his_ door, in the Place St. Anatole
des Arts. And then a discussion would arise between Taffy and the Laird
on the immortality of the soul, let us say, or the exact meaning of the
word "gentleman," or the relative merits of Dickens and Thackeray, or
some such recondite and quite unhackneyed theme, and Taffy and the Laird
would escort Little Billee to _his_ door, in the Place de l'Odéon, and
he would re-escort them both back again, and so on till any hour you
please.

       *       *       *       *       *

Or again, if it rained, and Paris through the studio window loomed
lead-colored, with its shiny slate roofs under skies that were ashen and
sober, and the wild west wind made woful music among the chimney-pots,
and little gray waves ran up the river the wrong way, and the Morgue
looked chill and dark and wet, and almost uninviting (even to three
healthy-minded young Britons), they would resolve to dine and spend a
happy evening at home.

[Illustration: "THREE MUSKETEERS OF THE BRUSH"]

Little Billee, taking with him three francs (or even four), would dive
into back streets and buy a yard or so of crusty new bread, well
burned on the flat side, a fillet of beef, a litre of wine, potatoes and
onions, butter, a little cylindrical cheese called "bondon de
Neufchâtel," tender curly lettuce, with chervil, parsley, spring onions,
and other fine herbs, and a pod of garlic, which would be rubbed on a
crust of bread to flavor things with.

Taffy would lay the cloth Englishwise, and also make the salad, for
which, like everybody else I ever met, he had a special receipt of his
own (putting in the oil first and the vinegar after); and indeed his
salads were quite as good as everybody else's.

The Laird, bending over the stove, would cook the onions and beef into a
savory Scotch mess so cunningly that you could not taste the beef for
the onions--nor always the onions for the garlic!

And they would dine far better than at le Père Trin's, far better than
at the English Restaurant in the Rue de la Madeleine--better than
anywhere else on earth!

And after dinner, what coffee, roasted and ground on the spot, what
pipes and cigarettes of "caporal," by the light of the three shaded
lamps, while the rain beat against the big north window, and the wind
went howling round the quaint old mediæval tower at the corner of the
Rue Vieille des Mauvais Ladres (the old street of the bad lepers), and
the damp logs hissed and crackled in the stove!

What jolly talk into the small hours! Thackeray and Dickens again, and
Tennyson and Byron (who was "not dead yet" in those days); and Titian
and Velasquez, and young Millais and Holman Hunt (just out); and
Monsieur Ingres and Monsieur Delacroix, and Balzac and Stendhal and
George Sand; and the good Dumas! and Edgar Allan Poe; and the glory that
was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome....

Good, honest, innocent, artless prattle--not of the wisest, perhaps, nor
redolent of the very highest culture (which, by-the-way, can mar as well
as make), nor leading to any very practical result; but quite
pathetically sweet from the sincerity and fervor of its convictions, a
profound belief in their importance, and a proud trust in their
life-long immutability.

Oh, happy days and happy nights, sacred to art and friendship! oh, happy
times of careless impecuniosity, and youth and hope and health and
strength and freedom--with all Paris for a playground, and its dear old
unregenerate Latin quarter for a workshop and a home!

And, up to then, no kill-joy complications of love!

No, decidedly no! Little Billee had never known such happiness as
this--never even dreamed of its possibility.

       *       *       *       *       *

A day or two after this, our opening day, but in the afternoon, when the
fencing and boxing had begun and the trapeze was in full swing, Trilby's
"Milk below!" was sounded at the door, and she appeared--clothed this
time in her right mind, as it seemed: a tall, straight, flat-backed,
square-shouldered, deep-chested, full-bosomed young grisette, in a snowy
frilled cap, a neat black gown and white apron, pretty faded,
well-darned, brown stockings, and well-worn, soft, gray, square-toed
slippers of list, without heels and originally shapeless; but which her
feet, uncompromising and inexorable as boot-trees, had ennobled into
everlasting classic shapeliness, and stamped with an unforgettable
individuality, as does a beautiful hand its well-worn glove--a fact
Little Billee was not slow to perceive, with a curious conscious thrill
that was only half æsthetic.

Then he looked into her freckled face, and met the kind and tender
mirthfulness of her gaze and the plucky frankness of her fine wide smile
with a thrill that was not æsthetic at all (nor the reverse), but all of
the heart. And in one of his quick flashes of intuitive insight he
divined far down beneath the shining surface of those eyes (which seemed
for a moment to reflect only a little image of himself against the sky
beyond the big north window) a well of sweetness; and floating somewhere
in the midst of it the very heart of compassion, generosity, and warm
sisterly love; and under that--alas! at the bottom of all--a thin slimy
layer of sorrow and shame. And just as long as it takes for a tear to
rise and gather and choke itself back again, this sudden revelation
shook his nervous little frame with a pang of pity, and the knightly
wish to help. But he had no time to indulge in such soft emotions.
Trilby was met on her entrance by friendly greetings on all sides.

"Tiens! c'est la grande Trilby!" exclaimed Jules Guinot through his
fencing-mask. "Comment! t'es déjà debout après hier soir? Avons-nous
assez rigolé chez Mathieu, hein? Crénom d'un nom, quelle noce! V'là une
crémaillère qui peut se vanter d'être diantrement bien pendue, j'espère!
Et la petite santé, c'matin?"

"Hé, hé! mon vieux," answered Trilby. "Ça boulotte, apparemment! Et toi?
et Victorine? Comment qu'a s'porte à c't'heure? Elle avait un fier coup
d'chasselas! c'est-y jobard, hein? de s'fich 'paf comme ça d'vant
l'monde! Tiens, v'là, Gontran! ça marche-t-y, Gontran, Zouzou d'mon
cœur?"

[Illustration: TAFFY MAKES THE SALAD]

"Comme sur des roulettes, ma biche!" said Gontran, _alias_ l'Zouzou--a
corporal in the Zouaves. "Mais tu t'es donc mise chiffonnière, à
présent? T'as fait banqueroute?"

(For Trilby had a chiffonnier's basket strapped on her back, and carried
a pick and lantern.)

"Mais-z-oui, mon bon!" she said. "Dame! pas d'veine hier soir! t'as bien
vu! Dans la dêche jusqu'aux omoplates, mon pauv' caporal-sous-off! nom
d'un canon--faut bien vivre, s'pas?"

Little Billee's heart sluices had closed during this interchange of
courtesies. He felt it to be of a very slangy kind, because he couldn't
understand a word of it, and he hated slang. All he could make out was
the free use of the "tu" and the "toi," and he knew enough French to
know that this implied a great familiarity, which he misunderstood.

So that Jules Guinot's polite inquiries whether Trilby were none the
worse after Mathieu's house-warming (which was so jolly), Trilby's kind
solicitude about the health of Victorine, who had very foolishly taken a
drop too much on that occasion, Trilby's mock regrets that her own bad
luck at cards had made it necessary that she should retrieve her fallen
fortunes by rag-picking--all these innocent, playful little amenities
(which I have tried to write down just as they were spoken) were couched
in a language that was as Greek to him--and he felt out of it, jealous
and indignant.

"Good-afternoon to you, Mr. Taffy," said Trilby, in English. "I've
brought you these objects of art and virtu to make the peace with you.
They're the real thing, you know. I borrowed 'em from le père Martin,
chiffonnier en gros et en détail, grand officier de la Légion d'Honneur,
membre de l'Institut, et cetera, treize bis, Rue du Puits d'Amour,
rez-de-chaussée, au fond de la cour à gauche, vis-à-vis le
mont-de-piété! He's one of my intimate friends, and--"

"You don't mean to say you're the intimate friend of a _rag-picker_?"
exclaimed the good Taffy.

"Oh yes! Pourquoi pas? I never brag; besides, there ain't any beastly
pride about le père Martin," said Trilby, with a wink. "You'd soon find
that out if _you_ were an intimate friend of his. This is how it's put
on. Do you see? If _you_'ll put it on, I'll fasten it for you, and show
you how to hold the lantern and handle the pick. You may come to it
yourself some day, you know. Il ne faut jurer de rien! Père Martin will
pose for you in person, if you like. He's generally disengaged in the
afternoon. He's poor but honest, you know, and very nice and clean;
quite the gentleman. He likes artists, especially English--they pay. His
wife sells bric-à-brac and old masters: Rembrandts from two francs fifty
upwards. They've got a little grandson--a love of a child. I'm his
god-mother. You know French, I suppose?"

"Oh yes," said Taffy, much abashed. "I'm very much obliged to you--very
much indeed--a--I--a--"

"Y a pas d'quoi!" said Trilby, divesting herself of her basket and
putting it, with the pick and lantern, in a corner. "Et maintenant, le
temps d'absorber une fine de fin sec [a cigarette] et je m'la brise [I'm
off]. On m'attend à l'Ambassade d'Autriche. Et puis zut! Allez toujours,
mes enfants. En avant la boxe!"

She sat herself down cross-legged on the model-throne, and made herself
a cigarette, and watched the fencing and boxing. Little Billee brought
her a chair, which she refused; so he sat down on it himself by her
side, and talked to her, just as he would have talked to any young lady
at home--about the weather, about Verdi's new opera (which she had never
heard), the impressiveness of Notre Dame, and Victor Hugo's beautiful
romance (which she had never read), the mysterious charm of Leonardo da
Vinci's Lisa Gioconda's smile (which she had never seen)--by all of
which she was no doubt rather tickled and a little embarrassed, perhaps
also a little touched.

Taffy brought her a cup of coffee, and conversed with her in polite
formal French, very well and carefully pronounced; and the Laird tried
to do likewise. _His_ French was of that honest English kind that breaks
up the stiffness of even an English party; and his jolly manners were
such as to put an end to all shyness and constraint, and make
self-consciousness impossible.

Others dropped in from neighboring studios--the usual cosmopolite crew.
It was a perpetual come and go in this particular studio between four
and six in the afternoon.

There were ladies, too, _en cheveux_, in caps and bonnets, some of whom
knew Trilby, and thee'd and thou'd with familiar and friendly affection,
while others mademoiselle'd her with distant politeness, and were
mademoiselle'd and madame'd back again. "Absolument comme à l'Ambassade
d'Autriche," as Trilby observed to the Laird, with a British wink that
was by no means ambassadorial.

Then Svengali came and made some of his grandest music, which was as
completely thrown away on Trilby as fireworks on a blind beggar, for all
she held her tongue so piously.

Fencing and boxing and trapezing seemed to be more in her line; and
indeed, to a tone-deaf person, Taffy lunging his full spread with a
foil, in all the splendor of his long, lithe, youthful strength, was a
far gainlier sight than Svengali at the key-board flashing his languid
bold eyes with a sickly smile from one listener to another, as if to
say: "N'est-ce pas que che suis peau! N'est-ce pas que ch'ai tu chénie?
N'est-ce pas que che suis suplime, enfin?"

[Illustration: "THE GLORY THAT WAS GREECE"]

Then enter Durien the sculptor, who had been presented with a baignoire
at the Porte St. Martin to see "La Dame aux Camélias," and he invited
Trilby and another lady to dine with him "au cabaret" and share his box.

So Trilby didn't go to the Austrian embassy after all, as the Laird
observed to Little Billee, with such a good imitation of her wink that
Little Billee was bound to laugh.

But Little Billee was not inclined for fun; a dulness, a sense of
disenchantment, had come over him; as he expressed it to himself, with
pathetic self-pity:

    "A feeling of sadness and longing
       That is not akin to pain,
     And resembles sorrow only
       As the mist resembles the rain."

And the sadness, if he had known, was that all beautiful young women
with kind sweet faces and noble figures and goddess-like extremities
should not be good and pure as they were beautiful; and the longing was
a longing that Trilby could be turned into a young lady--say the vicar's
daughter in a little Devonshire village--his sister's friend and
co-teacher at the Sunday-school; a simple, pure, and pious maiden of
gentle birth.

For he adored piety in woman, although he was not pious by any means.
His inarticulate, intuitive perceptions were not of form and color
secrets only, but strove to pierce the veil of deeper mysteries in
impetuous and dogmatic boyish scorn of all received interpretations. For
he flattered himself that he possessed the philosophical and scientific
mind, and piqued himself on thinking clearly, and was intolerant of
human inconsistency.

That small reserve portion of his ever-active brain which should have
lain fallow while the rest of it was at work or play, perpetually
plagued itself about the mysteries of life and death, and was forever
propounding unanswerable arguments against the Christian belief, through
a kind of inverted sympathy with the believer. Fortunately for his
friends, Little Billee was both shy and discreet, and very tender of
other people's feelings; so he kept all his immature juvenile
agnosticism to himself.

To atone for such ungainly strong-mindedness in one so young and tender,
he was the slave of many little traditional observances which have no
very solid foundation in either science or philosophy. For instance, he
wouldn't walk under a ladder for worlds, nor sit down thirteen to
dinner, nor have his hair cut on a Friday, and was quite upset if he
happened to see the new moon through glass. And he believed in lucky and
unlucky numbers, and dearly loved the sights and scents and sounds of
high-mass in some dim old French cathedral, and found them secretly
comforting.

Let us hope that he sometimes laughed at himself, if only in his sleeve!

And with all his keenness of insight into life he had a well-brought-up,
middle-class young Englishman's belief in the infallible efficacy of
gentle birth--for gentle he considered his own and Taffy's and the
Laird's, and that of most of the good people he had lived among in
England--all people, in short, whose two parents and four grandparents
had received a liberal education and belonged to the professional class.
And with this belief he combined (or thought he did) a proper democratic
scorn for bloated dukes and lords, and even poor inoffensive baronets,
and all the landed gentry--everybody who was born an inch higher up than
himself.

It is a fairly good middle-class social creed, if you can only stick to
it through life in despite of life's experience. It fosters independence
and self-respect, and not a few stodgy practical virtues as well. At all
events, it keeps you out of bad company, which is to be found both above
and below.

And all this melancholy preoccupation, on Little Billee's part, from the
momentary gleam and dazzle of a pair of over-perfect feet in an
over-æsthetic eye, too much enamoured of mere form!

Reversing the usual process, he had idealized from the base upward!

Many of us, older and wiser than Little Billee, have seen in lovely
female shapes the outer garment of a lovely female soul. The instinct
which guides us to do this is, perhaps, a right one, more often than
not. But more often than not, also, lovely female shapes are terrible
complicators of the difficulties and dangers of this earthly life,
especially for their owner, and more especially if she be a humble
daughter of the people, poor and ignorant, of a yielding nature, too
quick to love and trust. This is all so true as to be trite--so trite as
to be a common platitude!

A modern teller of tales, most widely (and most justly) popular, tells
us of heroes and heroines who, like Lord Byron's corsair, were linked
with one virtue and a thousand crimes. And so dexterously does he weave
his story that the young person may read it and learn nothing but good.

My poor heroine was the converse of these engaging criminals: she had
all the virtues but one; but the virtue she lacked (the very one of all
that plays the title-role, and gives its generic name to all the rest of
that goodly company) was of such a kind that I have found it impossible
so to tell her history as to make it quite fit and proper reading for
the ubiquitous young person so dear to us all.

Most deeply to my regret. For I had fondly hoped it might one day be
said of me that whatever my other literary shortcomings might be, I at
least had never penned a line which a pure-minded young British mother
might not read aloud to her little blue-eyed babe as it lies sucking its
little bottle in its little bassinet.

Fate has willed it otherwise.

Would indeed that I could duly express poor Trilby's one shortcoming in
some not too familiar medium--in Latin or Greek, let us say--lest the
young person (in this ubiquitousness of hers, for which Heaven be
praised) should happen to pry into these pages when her mother is
looking another way.

Latin and Greek are languages the young person should not be taught to
understand--seeing that they are highly improper languages, deservedly
dead--in which pagan bards who should have known better have sung the
filthy loves of their gods and goddesses.

But at least am I scholar enough to enter one little Latin plea on
Trilby's behalf--the shortest, best, and most beautiful plea I can think
of. It was once used in extenuation and condonation of the frailties of
another poor weak woman, presumably beautiful, and a far worse offender
than Trilby, but who, like Trilby, repented of her ways, and was most
justly forgiven--

    "Quia multum amavit!"

[Illustration: TRILBY'S FOREBEARS]

Whether it be an aggravation of her misdeeds or an extenuating
circumstance, no pressure of want, no temptations of greed or vanity,
had ever been factors in urging Trilby on her downward career after her
first false step in that direction--the result of ignorance, bad advice
(from her mother, of all people in the world), and base betrayal. She
might have lived in guilty splendor had she chosen, but her wants were
few. She had no vanity, and her tastes were of the simplest, and she
earned enough to gratify them all, and to spare.

So she followed love for love's sake only, now and then, as she would
have followed art if she had been a man--capriciously, desultorily, more
in a frolicsome spirit of camaraderie than anything else. Like an
amateur, in short--a distinguished amateur who is too proud to sell his
pictures, but willingly gives one away now and then to some highly
valued and much admiring friend.

Sheer gayety of heart and genial good-fellowship, the difficulty of
saying nay to earnest pleading. She was "bonne camarade et bonne fille"
before everything. Though her heart was not large enough to harbor more
than one light love at a time (even in that Latin quarter of genially
capacious hearts), it had room for many warm friendships; and she was
the warmest, most helpful, and most compassionate of friends, far more
serious and faithful in friendship than in love.

Indeed, she might almost be said to possess a virginal heart, so little
did she know of love's heartaches and raptures and torments and
clingings and jealousies.

With her it was lightly come and lightly go, and never come back again;
as one or two, or perhaps three, picturesque bohemians of the brush or
chisel had found, at some cost to their vanity and self-esteem; perhaps
even to a deeper feeling--who knows?

Trilby's father, as she had said, had been a gentleman, the son of a
famous Dublin physician and friend of George the Fourth's. He had been a
fellow of his college, and had entered holy orders. He also had all the
virtues but one; he was a drunkard, and began to drink quite early in
life. He soon left the Church, and became a classical tutor, and failed
through this besetting sin of his, and fell into disgrace.

Then he went to Paris, and picked up a few English pupils there, and
lost them, and earned a precarious livelihood from hand to mouth,
anyhow; and sank from bad to worse.

And when his worst was about reached, he married the famous tartaned and
tamoshantered bar-maid at the Montagnards Écossais, in the Rue du
Paradis Poissonnière (a very fishy paradise indeed); she was a most
beautiful Highland lassie of low degree, and she managed to support him,
or helped him to support himself, for ten or fifteen years. Trilby was
born to them, and was dragged up in some way--_à la grâce de Dieu!_

Patrick O'Ferrall soon taught his wife to drown all care and
responsibility in his own simple way, and opportunities for doing so
were never lacking to her.

Then he died, and left a posthumous child--born ten months after his
death, alas! and whose birth cost its mother her life.

Then Trilby became a _blanchisseuse de fin_, and in two or three years
came to grief through her trust in a friend of her mother's. Then she
became a model besides, and was able to support her little brother, whom
she dearly loved.

At the time this story begins, this small waif and stray was "en
pension" with le père Martin, the rag-picker, and his wife, the dealer
in bric-à-brac and inexpensive old masters. They were very good people,
and had grown fond of the child, who was beautiful to look at, and full
of pretty tricks and pluck and cleverness--a popular favorite in the Rue
du Puits d'Amour and its humble neighborhood.

Trilby, for some freak, always chose to speak of him as her godson, and
as the grandchild of le père et la mère Martin, so that these good
people had almost grown to believe he really belonged to them.

And almost every one else believed that he was the child of Trilby (in
spite of her youth), and she was so fond of him that she didn't mind in
the least.

He might have had a worse home.

La mère Martin was pious, or pretended to be; le père Martin was the
reverse. But they were equally good for their kind, and, though coarse
and ignorant and unscrupulous in many ways (as was natural enough), they
were gifted in a very full measure with the saving graces of love and
charity, especially he. And if people are to be judged by their works,
this worthy pair are no doubt both equally well compensated by now for
the trials and struggles of their sordid earthly life.

So much for Trilby's parentage.

And as she sat and wept at Madame Doche's impersonation of la Dame aux
Camélias (with her hand in Durien's) she vaguely remembered, as in a
waking dream, now the noble presence of Taffy as he towered cool and
erect, foil in hand, gallantly waiting for his adversary to breathe,
now the beautiful sensitive face of Little Billee and his deferential
courtesy.

And during the _entr'actes_ her heart went out in friendship to the
jolly Scotch Laird of Cockpen, who came out now and then with such
terrible French oaths and abominable expletives (and in the presence of
ladies, too!), without the slightest notion of what they meant.

For the Laird had a quick ear, and a craving to be colloquial and
idiomatic before everything else, and made many awkward and embarrassing
mistakes.

It would be with him as though a polite Frenchman should say to a fair
daughter of Albion, "D---- my eyes, mees, your tea is getting ---- cold;
let me tell that good old ---- of a Jules to bring you another cup."

And so forth, till time and experience taught him better. It is perhaps
well for him that his first experiments in conversational French were
made in the unconventional circle of the Place St. Anatole des Arts.

[Illustration]




Part Second

    "Dieu! qu'il fait bon la regarder,
       La gracieuse, bonne et belle!
       Pour les grands biens qui sont en elle
     Chacun est prêt de la louer."


Nobody knew exactly how Svengali lived, and very few knew where (or
why). He occupied a roomy dilapidated garret, au sixième, in the Rue
Tire-Liard; with a truckle-bed and a piano-forte for furniture, and very
little else.

He was poor; for in spite of his talent he had not yet made his mark in
Paris. His manners may have been accountable for this. He would either
fawn or bully, and could be grossly impertinent. He had a kind of
cynical humor, which was more offensive than amusing, and always laughed
at the wrong thing, at the wrong time, in the wrong place. And his
laughter was always derisive and full of malice. And his egotism and
conceit were not to be borne; and then he was both tawdry and dirty in
his person; more greasily, mattedly unkempt than even a really
successful pianist has any right to be, even in the best society.

He was not a nice man, and there was no pathos in his poverty--a poverty
that was not honorable, and need not have existed at all; for he was
constantly receiving supplies from his own people in Austria--his old
father and mother, his sisters, his cousins, and his aunts,
hard-working, frugal folk of whom he was the pride and the darling.

He had but one virtue--his love of his art; or, rather, his love of
himself as a master of his art--_the_ master; for he despised, or
affected to despise, all other musicians, living or dead--even those
whose work he interpreted so divinely, and pitied them for not hearing
Svengali give utterance to their music, which of course they could not
utter themselves.

"Ils safent tous un peu toucher du biâno, mais pas grand'chose!"

He had been the best pianist of his time at the Conservatory in Leipsic;
and, indeed, there was perhaps some excuse for this overweening conceit,
since he was able to lend a quite peculiar individual charm of his own
to any music he played, except the highest and best of all, in which he
conspicuously failed.

He had to draw the line just above Chopin, where he reached his highest
level. It will not do to lend your own quite peculiar individual charm
to Handel and Bach and Beethoven; and Chopin is not bad as a
_pis-aller_.

He had ardently wished to sing, and had studied hard to that end in
Germany, in Italy, in France, with the forlorn hope of evolving from
some inner recess a voice to sing with. But nature had been singularly
harsh to him in this one respect--inexorable. He was absolutely without
voice, beyond the harsh, hoarse, weak raven's croak he used to speak
with, and no method availed to make one for him. But he grew to
understand the human voice as perhaps no one has understood it--before
or since.

So in his head he went forever singing, singing, singing, as probably no
human nightingale has ever yet been able to sing out loud for the glory
and delight of his fellow-mortals; making unheard heavenly melody of the
cheapest, trivialest tunes--tunes of the café concert, tunes of the
nursery, the shop-parlor, the guard-room, the school-room, the pothouse,
the slum. There was nothing so humble, so base even, but that his magic
could transform it into the rarest beauty without altering a note. This
seems impossible, I know. But if it didn't, where would the magic come
in?

Whatever of heart or conscience--pity, love, tenderness, manliness,
courage, reverence, charity--endowed him at his birth had been swallowed
up by this one faculty, and nothing of them was left for the common uses
of life. He poured them all into his little flexible flageolet.

Svengali playing Chopin on the piano-forte, even (or especially)
Svengali playing "Ben Bolt" on that penny whistle of his, was as one of
the heavenly host.

[Illustration: "AS BAD AS THEY MAKE 'EM"]

Svengali walking up and down the earth seeking whom he might cheat,
betray, exploit, borrow money from, make brutal fun of, bully if he
dared, cringe to if he must--man, woman, child, or dog--was about as bad
as they make 'em.

To earn a few pence when he couldn't borrow them he played
accompaniments at café concerts, and even then he gave offence; for in
his contempt for the singer he would play too loud, and embroider his
accompaniments with brilliant improvisations of his own, and lift his
hands on high and bring them down with a bang in the sentimental parts,
and shake his dirty mane and shrug his shoulders, and smile and leer at
the audience, and do all he could to attract their attention to himself.
He also gave a few music lessons (not at ladies' schools, let us hope),
for which he was not well paid, presumably, since he was always without
the sou, always borrowing money, that he never paid back, and exhausting
the pockets and the patience of one acquaintance after another.

He had but two friends. There was Gecko, who lived in a little garret
close by in the Impasse des Ramoneurs, and who was second violin in the
orchestra of the Gymnase, and shared his humble earnings with his
master, to whom, indeed, he owed his great talent, not yet revealed to
the world.

Svengali's other friend and pupil was (or rather had been) the
mysterious Honorine, of whose conquest he was much given to boast,
hinting that she was "une jeune femme du monde." This was not the case.
Mademoiselle Honorine Cahen (better known in the quartier latin as Mimi
la Salope) was a dirty, drabby little dolly-mop of a Jewess, a model for
the figure--a very humble person indeed, socially.

She was, however, of a very lively disposition, and had a charming
voice, and a natural gift of singing so sweetly that you forgot her
accent, which was that of the "tout ce qu'il y a de plus canaille."

She used to sit at Carrel's, and during the pose she would sing. When
Little Billee first heard her he was so fascinated that "it made him
sick to think she sat for the figure"--an effect, by-the-way, that was
always produced upon him by all specially attractive figure models of
the gentler sex, for he had a reverence for woman. And before everything
else, he had for the singing woman an absolute worship. He was
especially thrall to the contralto--the deep low voice that breaks and
changes in the middle and soars all at once into a magnified angelic boy
treble. It pierced through his ears to his heart, and stirred his very
vitals.

He had once heard Madame Alboni, and it had been an epoch in his life;
he would have been an easy prey to the sirens! Even beauty paled before
the lovely female voice singing in the middle of the note--the
nightingale killed the bird-of-paradise.

I need hardly say that poor Mimi la Salope had not the voice of Madame
Alboni, nor the art; but it was a beautiful voice of its little kind,
always in the very middle of the note, and her artless art had its quick
seduction.

She sang little songs of Béranger's--"Grand'mère, parlez-nous de lui!"
or "T'en souviens-tu? disait un capitaine--" or "Enfants, c'est moi qui
suis Lisette!" and such like pretty things, that almost brought the
tears to Little Billee's easily moistened eyes.

But soon she would sing little songs that were not by Béranger--little
songs with slang words Little Billee hadn't French enough to understand;
but from the kind of laughter with which the points were received by
the "rapins" in Carrel's studio he guessed these little songs were vile,
though the touching little voice was as that of the seraphim still; and
he knew the pang of disenchantment and vicarious shame.

Svengali had heard her sing at the Brasserie des Porcherons in the Rue
du Crapaud-volant, and had volunteered to teach her; and she went to see
him in his garret, and he played to her, and leered and ogled, and
flashed his bold, black, beady Jew's eyes into hers, and she straightway
mentally prostrated herself in reverence and adoration before this
dazzling specimen of her race.

So that her sordid, mercenary little gutter-draggled soul was filled
with the sight and the sound of him, as of a lordly, godlike,
shawm-playing, cymbal-banging hero and prophet of the Lord God of
Israel--David and Saul in one!

And then he set himself to teach her--kindly and patiently at first,
calling her sweet little pet names--his "Rose of Sharon," his "pearl of
Pabylon," his "cazelle-eyed liddle Cherusalem skylark"--and promised her
that she should be the queen of the nightingales.

But before he could teach her anything he had to unteach her all she
knew; her breathing, the production of her voice, its emission--everything
was wrong. She worked indefatigably to please him, and soon succeeded in
forgetting all the pretty little sympathetic tricks of voice and
phrasing Mother Nature had taught her.

[Illustration: "A VOICE HE DIDN'T UNDERSTAND"]

But though she had an exquisite ear, she had no real musical
intelligence--no intelligence of any kind except about sous and
centimes; she was as stupid as a little downy owl, and her voice was
just a light native warble, a throstle's pipe, all in the head and nose
and throat (a voice he _didn't_ understand, for once), a thing of mere
youth and health and bloom and high spirits--like her beauty, such as it
was--_beauté du diable, beauté damnée_.

She did her very best, and practised all she could in this new way, and
sang herself hoarse: she scarcely ate or slept for practising. He grew
harsh and impatient and coldly severe, and of coarse she loved him all
the more; and the more she loved him the more nervous she got and the
worse she sang. Her voice cracked; her ear became demoralized; her
attempts to vocalize grew almost as comical as Trilby's. So that he lost
his temper completely, and called her terrible names, and pinched and
punched her with his big bony hands till she wept worse than Niobe, and
borrowed money of her--five-franc pieces, even francs and
demifrancs--which he never paid her back; and browbeat and bullied and
ballyragged her till she went quite mad for love of him, and would have
jumped out of his sixth-floor window to give him a moment's pleasure!

He did not ask her to do this--it never occurred to him, and would have
given him no pleasure to speak of. But one fine Sabbath morning (a
Saturday, of course) he took her by the shoulders and chucked her, neck
and crop, out of his garret, with the threat that if she ever dared to
show her face there again he would denounce her to the police--an awful
threat to the likes of poor Mimi la Salope!

"For where did all those five-franc pieces come from--_hein?_--with
which she had tried to pay for all the singing-lessons that had been
thrown away upon her? Not from merely sitting to painters--_hein?_"

Thus the little gazelle-eyed Jerusalem skylark went back to her native
streets again--a mere mud-lark of the Paris slums--her wings clipped,
her spirit quenched and broken, and with no more singing left in her
than a common or garden sparrow--not so much!

And so, no more of "la betite Honorine!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The morning after this adventure Svengali woke up in his garret with a
tremendous longing to spend a happy day; for it was a Sunday, and a very
fine one.

He made a long arm and reached his waistcoat and trousers off the floor,
and emptied the contents of their pockets on to his tattered blanket; no
silver, no gold, only a few sous and two-sou pieces, just enough to pay
for a meagre _premier déjeuner_!

He had cleared out Gecko the day before, and spent the proceeds (ten
francs, at least) in one night's riotous living--pleasures in which
Gecko had had no share; and he could think of no one to borrow money
from but Little Billee, Taffy, and the Laird, whom he had neglected and
left untapped for days.

So he slipped into his clothes, and looked at himself in what remained
of a little zinc mirror, and found that his forehead left little to be
desired, but that his eyes and temples were decidedly grimy. Wherefore,
he poured a little water out of a little jug into a little basin, and,
twisting the corner of his pocket-handkerchief round his dirty
forefinger, he delicately dipped it, and removed the offending stains.
His fingers, he thought, would do very well for another day or two as
they were; he ran them through his matted black mane, pushed it behind
his ears, and gave it the twist he liked (and that was so much disliked
by his English friends). Then he put on his béret and his velveteen
cloak, and went forth into the sunny streets, with a sense of the
fragrance and freedom and pleasantness of Sunday morning in Paris in the
month of May.

He found Little Billee sitting in a zinc hip-bath, busy with soap and
sponge; and was so tickled and interested by the sight that he quite
forgot for the moment what he had come for.

"Himmel! Why the devil are you doing that?" he asked, in his
German-Hebrew-French.

"Doing _what_?" asked Little Billee, in his French of
Stratford-atte-Bowe.

"Sitting in water and playing with a cake of soap and a sponge!"

"Why, to try and get myself _clean_, I suppose!"

"Ach! And how the devil did you get yourself _dirty_, then?"

To this Little Billee found no immediate answer, and went on with his
ablution after the hissing, splashing, energetic fashion of Englishmen;
and Svengali laughed loud and long at the spectacle of a little
Englishman trying to get himself clean--"tâchant de se nettoyer!"

When such cleanliness had been attained as was possible under the
circumstances, Svengali begged for the loan of two hundred francs, and
Little Billee gave him a five-franc piece.

Content with this, _faute de mieux_, the German asked him when he would
be trying to get himself clean again, as he would much like to come and
see him do it.

"Demang mattang, à votre sairveece!" said Little Billee, with a
courteous bow.

"_What!! Monday too!!_ Gott in Himmel! you try to get yourself clean
_every day_?"

And he laughed himself out of the room, out of the house, out of the
Place de l'Odéon--all the way to the Rue de Seine, where dwelt the "Man
of Blood," whom he meant to propitiate with the story of that original,
Little Billee, trying to get himself clean--that he might borrow another
five-franc piece, or perhaps two.

[Illustration: "AND SO, NO MORE."]

As the reader will no doubt anticipate, he found Taffy in his bath too,
and fell to laughing with such convulsive laughter, such twistings,
screwings, and doublings of himself up, such pointings of his dirty
forefinger at the huge naked Briton, that Taffy was offended, and all
but lost his temper.

"What the devil are you cackling at, sacred head of pig that you are?
Do you want to be pitched out of that window into the Rue de Seine? You
filthy black Hebrew sweep! Just you wait a bit; _I'll_ wash your head
for you!"

And Taffy jumped out of his bath, such a towering figure of righteous
Herculean wrath that Svengali was appalled, and fled.

"Donnerwetter!" he exclaimed, as he tumbled down the narrow staircase of
the Hôtel de Seine; "what for a thick head! what for a pig-dog! what for
a rotten, brutal, verfluchter kerl of an Englander!"

Then he paused for thought.

"Now will I go to that Scottish Englander, in the Place St. Anatole des
Arts, for that other five-franc piece. But first will I wait a little
while till he has perhaps finished trying to get himself clean."

So he breakfasted at the crèmerie Souchet, in the Rue Clopin-Clopant,
and, feeling quite safe again, he laughed and laughed till his very
sides were sore.

Two Englanders in one day--as naked as your hand!--a big one and a
little one, trying to get themselves clean!

He rather flattered himself he'd scored off those two Englanders.

After all, he was right perhaps, from his point of view: you can get as
dirty in a week as in a lifetime, so what's the use of taking such a lot
of trouble? Besides, so long as you are clean enough to suit your kind,
to be any cleaner would be priggish and pedantic, and get you disliked.

Just as Svengali was about to knock at the Laird's door, Trilby came
down-stairs from Durien's, very unlike herself. Her eyes were red with
weeping, and there were great black rings round them; she was pale under
her freckles.

"Fous afez du chacrin, matemoiselle?" asked he.

She told him that she had neuralgia in her eyes, a thing she was subject
to; that the pain was maddening, and generally lasted twenty-four hours.

"Perhaps I can cure you; come in here with me."

The Laird's ablutions (if he had indulged in any that morning) were
evidently over for the day. He was breakfasting on a roll and butter,
and coffee of his own brewing. He was deeply distressed at the sight of
poor Trilby's sufferings, and offered whiskey and coffee and gingernuts,
which she would not touch.

Svengali told her to sit down on the divan, and sat opposite to her, and
bade her look him well in the white of the eyes.

"Recartez-moi pien tans le planc tes yeux."

Then he made little passes and counterpasses on her forehead and temples
and down her cheek and neck. Soon her eyes closed and her face grew
placid. After a while, a quarter of an hour perhaps, he asked her if she
suffered still.

"Oh! presque plus du tout, monsieur--c'est le ciel."

In a few minutes more he asked the Laird if he knew German.

"Just enough to understand," said the Laird (who had spent a year in
Düsseldorf), and Svengali said to him in German: "See, she sleeps not,
but she shall not open her eyes. Ask her."

"Are you asleep, Miss Trilby?" asked the Laird.

"No."

"Then open your eyes and look at me."

She strained her eyes, but could not, and said so.

Then Svengali said, again in German, "She shall not open her mouth. Ask
her."

[Illustration: "'TWO ENGLANDERS IN ONE DAY'"]

"Why couldn't you open your eyes. Miss Trilby?" She strained to open her
mouth and speak, but in vain. "She shall not rise from the divan. Ask
her." But Trilby was spellbound, and could not move.

"I will now set her free," said Svengali.

And, lo! she got up and waved her arms, and cried, "Vive la Prusse! me
v'là guérie!" and in her gratitude she kissed Svengali's hand; and he
leered, and showed his big brown teeth and the yellow whites at the top
of his big black eyes, and drew his breath with a hiss.

"Now I'll go to Durien's and sit. How can I thank you, monsieur? You
have taken all my pain away."

"Yes, matemoiselle. I have got it myself; it is in my elbows. But I love
it, because it comes from you. Every time you have pain you shall come
to me, 12 Rue Tire-Liard, au sixième au-dessus de l'entresol, and I will
cure you and take your pain myself--"

"Oh, you are too good!" and in her high spirits she turned round on her
heel and uttered her portentous war-cry, "Milk below!" The very rafters
rang with it, and the piano gave out a solemn response.

"What is that you say, matemoiselle?"

"Oh! it's what the milkmen say in England."

"It is a wonderful cry, matemoiselle--wunderschön! It comes straight
through the heart; it has its roots in the stomach, and blossoms into
music on the lips like the voice of Madame Alboni--voce sulle labbre! It
is good production--c'est un cri du cœur!"

Trilby blushed with pride and pleasure.

"Yes, matemoiselle! I only know one person in the whole world who can
produce the voice so well as you! I give you my word of honor."

"Who is it, monsieur--yourself?"

"Ach, no, matemoiselle; I have not that privilege. I have unfortunately
no voice to produce.... It is a waiter at the Café de la Rotonde, in the
Palais Royal; when you call for coffee, he says 'Boum!' in basso
profondo. Tiefstimme--F. moll below the line--it is phenomenal! It is
like a cannon--a cannon also has very good production, matemoiselle.
They pay him for it a thousand francs a year, because he brings many
customers to the Café de la Rotonde, where the coffee isn't very good.
When he dies they will search all France for another, and then all
Germany, where the good big waiters come from--and the cannons--but they
will not find him, and the Café de la Rotonde will be bankrupt--unless
you will consent to take his place. Will you permit that I shall look
into your mouth, matemoiselle?"

She opened her mouth wide, and he looked into it.

"Himmel! the roof of your mouth is like the dome of the Panthéon; there
is room in it for 'toutes les gloires de la France,' and a little to
spare! The entrance to your throat is like the middle porch of St.
Sulpice when the doors are open for the faithful on All-Saints' day; and
not one tooth is missing--thirty-two British teeth as white as milk and
as big as knuckle-bones! and your little tongue is scooped out like the
leaf of a pink peony, and the bridge of your nose is like the belly of a
Stradivarius--what a sounding-board! and inside your beautiful big chest
the lungs are made of leather! and your breath, it embalms--like the
breath of a beautiful white heifer fed on the buttercups, and daisies of
the Vaterland! and you have a quick, soft, susceptible heart, a heart of
gold, matemoiselle--all that sees itself in your face!

[Illustration: "'HIMMEL! THE ROOF OF YOUR MOUTH'"]

    "'Votre cœur est un luth suspendu!
      Aussitôt qu'on le touche, il résonne....'

What a pity you have not also the musical organization!"

"Oh, but I _have_, monsieur; you heard me sing 'Ben Bolt,' didn't you?
What makes you say that?"

Svengali was confused for a moment. Then he said: "When I play the
'Rosemonde' of Schubert, matemoiselle, you look another way and smoke a
cigarette.... You look at the big Taffy, at the Little Billee, at the
pictures on the walls, or out of window, at the sky, the chimney-pots of
Notre Dame de Paris; you do not look at Svengali!--Svengali, who looks
at you with all his eyes, and plays you the 'Rosemonde' of Schubert!"

"Oh, maïe, aïe!" exclaimed Trilby; "you _do_ use lovely language!"

"But never mind, matemoiselle; when your pain arrives, then shall you
come once more to Svengali, and he shall take it away from you, and keep
it himself for a soufenir of you when you are gone. And when you have it
no more, he shall play you the 'Rosemonde' of Schubert, all alone for
you; and then, 'Messieurs les étutiants, montez à la chaumière!' ...
because it is gayer! _And you shall see nothing, hear nothing, think of
nothing but Svengali, Svengali, Svengali!_"

Here he felt his peroration to be so happy and effective that he thought
it well to go at once and make a good exit. So he bent over Trilby's
shapely freckled hand and kissed it, and bowed himself out of the room,
without even borrowing his five-franc piece.

"He's a rum 'un, ain't he?" said Trilby. "He reminds me of a big hungry
spider, and makes me feel like a fly! But he's cured my pain! he's cured
my pain! Ah! you don't know what my pain is when it comes!"

"I wouldn't have much to do with him, all the same!" said the Laird.
"I'd sooner have any pain than have it cured in that unnatural way, and
by such a man as that! He's a bad fellow, Svengali--I'm sure of it! He
mesmerized you; that's what it is--mesmerism! I've often heard of it,
but never seen it done before. They get you into their power, and just
make you do any blessed thing they please--lie, murder, steal--anything!
and kill yourself into the bargain when they've done with you! It's just
too terrible to think of!"

So spake the Laird, earnestly, solemnly, surprised out of his usual
self, and most painfully impressed--and his own impressiveness grew upon
him and impressed him still more. He loomed quite prophetic.

Cold shivers went down Trilby's back as she listened. She had a
singularly impressionable nature, as was shown by her quick and ready
susceptibility to Svengali's hypnotic influence. And all that day, as
she posed for Durien (to whom she did not mention her adventure), she
was haunted by the memory of Svengali's big eyes and the touch of his
soft, dirty finger-tips on her face; and her fear and her repulsion grew
together.

And "Svengali, Svengali, Svengali!" went ringing in her head and ears
till it became an obsession, a dirge, a knell, an unendurable burden,
almost as hard to bear as the pain in her eyes.

"_Svengali, Svengali, Svengali!_"

At last she asked Durien if he knew him.

"Parbleu! Si je connais Svengali!"

"Quest-ce que t'en penses?"

"Quand il sera mort, ça fera une fameuse crapule de moins!"


"CHEZ CARREL."

Carrel's atelier (or painting-school) was in the Rue Notre Dame des
Potirons St. Michel, at the end of a large court-yard, where there were
many large dirty windows facing north, and each window let the light of
heaven into a large dirty studio.

The largest of these studios, and the dirtiest, was Carrel's, where some
thirty or forty art students drew and painted from the nude model every
day but Sunday from eight till twelve, and for two hours in the
afternoon, except on Saturdays, when the afternoon was devoted to
much-needed Augean sweepings and cleanings.

One week the model was male, the next female, and so on, alternating
throughout the year.

A stove, a model-throne, stools, boxes, some fifty strongly built low
chairs with backs, a couple of score easels and many drawing-boards,
completed the mobilier.

The bare walls were adorned with endless caricatures--_des charges_--in
charcoal and white chalk; and also the scrapings of many palettes--a
polychromous decoration not unpleasing.

[Illustration: "'ÇA FERA UNE FAMEUSE CRAPULE DE MOINS'"]

For the freedom of the studio and the use of the model each student paid
ten francs a month to the massier, or senior student, the responsible
bellwether of the flock; besides this, it was expected of you, on your
entrance or initiation, that you should pay for your footing--your
_bienvenue_--some thirty, forty, or fifty francs, to be spent on cakes
and rum punch all round.

Every Friday Monsieur Carrel, a great artist, and also a stately,
well-dressed, and most courteous gentleman (duly decorated with the red
rosette of the Legion of Honor), came for two or three hours and went
the round, spending a few minutes at each drawing-board or easel--ten
or even twelve when the pupil was an industrious and promising one.

He did this for love, not money, and deserved all the reverence with
which he inspired this somewhat irreverent and most unruly company,
which was made up of all sorts.

Graybeards who had been drawing and painting there for thirty years and
more, and remembered other masters than Carrel, and who could draw and
paint a torso almost as well as Titian or Velasquez--almost, but not
quite--and who could never do anything else, and were fixtures at
Carrel's for life.

Younger men who in a year or two, or three or five, or ten or twenty,
were bound to make their mark, and perhaps follow in the footsteps of
the master; others as conspicuously singled out for failure and future
mischance--for the hospital, the garret, the river, the Morgue, or,
worse, the traveller's bag, the road, or even the paternal counter.

Irresponsible boys, mere rapins, all laugh and chaff and
mischief--"blague et bagout Parisien"; little lords of misrule--wits,
butts, bullies; the idle and industrious apprentice, the good and the
bad, the clean and the dirty (especially the latter)--all more or less
animated by a certain _esprit de corps_, and working very happily and
genially together, on the whole, and always willing to help each other
with sincere artistic counsel if it were asked for seriously, though it
was not always couched in terms very flattering to one's self-love.

Before Little Billee became one of this band of brothers he had been
working for three or four years in a London art school, drawing and
painting from the life; he had also worked from the antique in the
British Museum--so that he was no novice.

As he made his début at Carrel's one Monday morning he felt somewhat shy
and ill at ease. He had studied French most earnestly at home in
England, and could read it pretty well, and even write it and speak it
after a fashion; but he spoke it with much difficulty, and found studio
French a different language altogether from the formal and polite
language he had been at such pains to learn. Ollendorff does not cater
for the quartier latin. Acting on Taffy's advice--for Taffy had worked
under Carrel--Little Billee handed sixty francs to the massier for his
_bienvenue_--a lordly sum--and this liberality made a most favorable
impression, and went far to destroy any little prejudice that might have
been caused by the daintiness of his dress, the cleanliness of his
person, and the politeness of his manners. A place was assigned to him,
and an easel and a board; for he elected to stand at his work and begin
with a chalk drawing. The model (a male) was posed, and work began in
silence. Monday morning is always rather sulky everywhere (except
perhaps in judee). During the ten minutes' rest three or four students
came and looked at Little Billee's beginnings, and saw at a glance that
he thoroughly well knew what he was about, and respected him for it.

Nature had given him a singularly light hand--or rather two, for he was
ambidextrous, and could use both with equal skill; and a few months'
practice at a London life school had quite cured him of that
purposeless indecision of touch which often characterizes the prentice
hand for years of apprenticeship, and remains with the amateur for life.
The lightest and most careless of his pencil strokes had a precision
that was inimitable, and a charm that specially belonged to him, and was
easy to recognize at a glance. His touch on either canvas or paper was
like Svengali's on the key-board--unique.

As the morning ripened little attempts at conversation were made--little
breakings of the ice of silence. It was Lambert, a youth with a
singularly facetious face, who first woke the stillness with the
following uncalled-for remarks in English very badly pronounced:

"Av you seen my fahzere's ole shoes?"

"I av not seen your fahzere's ole shoes."

Then, after a pause:

"Av you seen my fahzere's ole 'at?"

"I av not seen your fahzere's old 'at!"

Presently another said, "Je trouve qu'il a une jolie tête, l'Anglais."

But I will put it all into English:

"I find that he has a pretty head--the Englishman! What say _you_,
Barizel?"

"Yes; but why has he got eyes like brandy-balls, two a penny?"

"Because he's an Englishman!"

"Yes; but why has he got a mouth like a guinea-pig, with two big teeth
in front like the double blank at dominos?"

"Because he's an Englishman!"

[Illustration: "'AV YOU SEEN MY FAHZERE'S OLE SHOES?'"]

"Yes; but why has he got a back without any bend in it, as if he'd
swallowed the Colonne Vendôme as far up as the battle of Austerlitz?"

"Because he's an Englishman!"

And so on, till all the supposed characteristics of Little Billee's
outer man were exhausted. Then:

"Papelard!"

"What?"

"_I_ should like to know if the Englishman says his prayers before going
to bed."

"Ask him."

"Ask him yourself!"

"_I_ should like to know if the Englishman has sisters; and if so, how
old and how many and what sex."

"Ask him."

"Ask him yourself!"

"_I_ should like to know the detailed and circumstantial history of the
Englishman's first love, and how he lost his innocence!"

"Ask him," etc., etc., etc.

Little Billee, conscious that he was the object of conversation, grew
somewhat nervous. Soon he was addressed directly.

"Dites donc, l'Anglais?"

"Kwaw?" said Little Billee.

"Avez-vous une sœur?"

"Wee."

"Est-ce qu'elle vous ressemble?"

"Nong."

"C'est bien dommage! Est-ce qu'elle dit ses prières, le soir, en se
couchant?"

A fierce look came into Little Billee's eyes and a redness to his
cheeks, and this particular form of overture to friendship was
abandoned.

Presently Lambert said, "Si nous mettions l'Anglais à l'échelle?"

Little Billee, who had been warned, knew what this ordeal meant.

They tied you to a ladder, and carried you in procession up and down the
court-yard, and if you were nasty about it they put you under the pump.

During the next rest it was explained to him that he must submit to this
indignity, and the ladder (which was used for reaching the high shelves
round the studio) was got ready.

Little Billee smiled a singularly winning smile, and suffered himself to
be bound with such good-humor that they voted it wasn't amusing, and
unbound him, and he escaped the ordeal by ladder.

Taffy had also escaped, but in another way. When they tried to seize him
he took up the first _rapin_ that came to hand, and, using him as a kind
of club, he swung him about so freely and knocked down so many students
and easels and drawing-boards with him, and made such a terrific rumpus,
that the whole studio had to cry for "pax!" Then he performed feats of
strength of such a surprising kind that the memory of him remained in
Carrel's studio for years, and he became a legend, a tradition, a myth!
It is now said (in what still remains of the quartier latin) that he was
seven feet high, and used to juggle with the massier and model as with a
pair of billiard balls, using only his left hand!

To return to Little Billee. When it struck twelve, the cakes and rum
punch arrived--a very goodly sight that put every one in a good temper.

The cakes were of three kinds--Babas, Madeleines, and Savarins--three
sous apiece, fourpence half-penny the set of three. No nicer cakes are
made in France, and they are as good in the quartier latin as anywhere
else; no nicer cakes are made in the whole world, that I know of. You
must begin with the Madeleine, which is rich and rather heavy; then the
Baba; and finish up with the Savarin, which is shaped like a ring, very
light, and flavored with rum. And then you must really leave off.

The rum punch was tepid, very sweet, and not a bit too strong.

They dragged the model-throne into the middle, and a chair was put on
for Little Billee, who dispensed his hospitality in a very polite and
attractive manner, helping the massier first, and then the other
graybeards in the order of their grayness, and so on down to the model.

Presently, just as he was about to help himself, he was asked to sing
them an English song. After a little pressing he sang them a song about
a gay cavalier who went to serenade his mistress (and a ladder of ropes,
and a pair of masculine gloves that didn't belong to the gay cavalier,
but which he found in his lady's bower)--a poor sort of song, but it was
the nearest approach to a comic song he knew. There are four verses to
it, and each verse is rather long. It does not sound at all funny to a
French audience, and even with an English one Little Billee was not good
at comic songs.

[Illustration: TAFFY À L'ÉCHELLE!]

He was, however, much applauded at the end of each verse. When he had
finished, he was asked if he were _quite_ sure there wasn't any more of
it, and they expressed a deep regret; and then each student, straddling
on his little thick-set chair as on a horse, and clasping the back of it
in both hands, galloped round Little Billee's throne quite
seriously--the strangest procession he had ever seen. It made him laugh
till he cried, so that he couldn't eat or drink.

Then he served more punch and cake all round; and just as he was going
to begin himself, Papelard said:

"Say, you others, I find that the Englishman has something of truly
distinguished in the voice, something of sympathetic, of
touching--something of _je ne sais quoi_!"

Bouchardy: "Yes, yes--something of _je ne sais quoi_! That's the very
phrase--n'est-ce pas, vous autres, that is a good phrase that Papelard
has just invented to describe the voice of the Englishman. He is very
intelligent, Papelard."

Chorus: "Perfect, perfect; he has the genius of characterization,
Papelard. Dites donc, l'Anglais! once more that beautiful song--hein?
Nous vous en prions tous."

Little Billee willingly sang it again, with even greater applause, and
again they galloped, but the other way round and faster, so that Little
Billee became quite hysterical, and laughed till his sides ached.

Then Dubosc: "I find there is something of very capitous and exciting in
English music--of very stimulating. And you, Bouchardy?"

Bouchardy: "Oh, me! It is above all the _words_ that I admire; they have
something of passionate, of romantic--'ze-ese glâ-âves, zese
glâ-âves--zey do not belong to me.' I don't know what that means, but I
love that sort of--of--of--_je ne sais quoi_, in short! Just _once_
more, l'Anglais; only _once_, the _four_ couplets."

So he sang it a third time, all four verses, while they leisurely ate
and drank and smoked and looked at each other, nodding solemn
commendation of certain phrases in the song: "Très bien!" "Très bien!"
"Ah! voilà qui est bien réussi!" "Épatant, ça!" "Très fin!" etc., etc.
For, stimulated by success, and rising to the occasion, he did his very
utmost to surpass himself in emphasis of gesture and accent and
histrionic drollery--heedless of the fact that not one of his listeners
had the slightest notion what his song was about.

It was a sorry performance.

And it was not till he had sung it four times that he discovered the
whole thing was an elaborate impromptu farce, of which he was the butt,
and that of all his royal spread not a crumb or a drop was left for
himself.

It was the old fable of the fox and the crow! And to do him justice, he
laughed as heartily as any one, as if he thoroughly enjoyed the
joke--and when you take jokes in that way people soon leave off poking
fun at you. It is almost as good as being very big, like Taffy, and
having a choleric blue eye!

Such was Little Billee's first experience of Carrel's studio, where he
spent many happy mornings and made many good friends.

No more popular student had ever worked there within the memory of the
grayest graybeards; none more amiable, more genial, more cheerful,
self-respecting, considerate, and polite, and certainly none with
greater gifts for art.

Carrel would devote at least fifteen minutes to him, and invited him
often to his own private studio. And often, on the fourth and fifth day
of the week, a group of admiring students would be gathered by his easel
watching him as he worked.

"C'est un rude lapin, l'Anglais! au moins il sait son orthographe en
peinture, ce coco-là!"

Such was the verdict on Little Billee at Carrel's studio; and I can
conceive no loftier praise.

       *       *       *       *       *

       *       *       *       *       *

       *       *       *       *       *

Young as she was (seventeen or eighteen, or thereabouts), and also
tender (like Little Billee), Trilby had singularly clear and quick
perceptions in all matters that concerned her tastes, fancies, or
affections, and thoroughly knew her own mind, and never lost much time
in making it up.

On the occasion of her first visit to the studio in the Place St.
Anatole des Arts, it took her just five minutes to decide that it was
quite the nicest, homeliest, genialest, jolliest studio in the whole
quartier latin, or out of it, and its three inhabitants, individually
and collectively, were more to her taste than any one else she had ever
met.

[Illustration: "THE FOX AND THE CROW"]

In the first place, they were English, and she loved to hear her
mother-tongue and speak it. It awoke all manner of tender recollections,
sweet reminiscences of her childhood, her parents, her old home--such a
home as it was--or, rather, such homes; for there had been many
flittings from one poor nest to another. The O'Ferralls had been as
birds on the bough.

She had loved her parents very dearly; and, indeed, with all their
faults, they had many endearing qualities--the qualities that so often
go with those particular faults--charm, geniality, kindness, warmth of
heart, the constant wish to please, the generosity that comes before
justice, and lends its last sixpence and forgets to pay its debts!

She knew other English and American artists, and had sat to them
frequently for the head and hands; but none of these, for general
agreeableness of aspect or manner, could compare in her mind with the
stalwart and magnificent Taffy, the jolly fat Laird of Cockpen, the
refined, sympathetic, and elegant Little Billee; and she resolved that
she would see as much of them as she could, that she would make herself
at home in that particular studio, and necessary to its "locataires";
and, without being the least bit vain or self-conscious, she had no
doubts whatever of her power to please--to make herself both useful and
ornamental if it suited her purpose to do so.

Her first step in this direction was to borrow Père Martin's basket and
lantern and pick (he had more than one set of these trade properties)
for the use of Taffy, whom she feared she might have offended by the
freedom of her comments on his picture.

Then, as often as she felt it to be discreet, she sounded her war-cry at
the studio door and went in and made kind inquiries, and, sitting
cross-legged on the model-throne, ate her bread and cheese and smoked
her cigarette and "passed the time of day," as she chose to call it;
telling them all such news of the quartier as had come within her own
immediate ken. She was always full of little stories of other studios,
which, to do her justice, were always good-natured, and probably
true--quite so, as far as she was concerned; she was the most literal
person alive; and she told all these "ragots, cancans, et potins
d'atelier" in a quaint and amusing manner. The slightest look of gravity
or boredom on one of those three faces, and she made herself scarce at
once.

She soon found opportunities for usefulness also. If a costume were
wanted, for instance, she knew where to borrow it, or hire it or buy it
cheaper than any one anywhere else. She procured stuffs for them at cost
price, as it seemed, and made them into draperies and female garments of
any kind that was wanted, and sat in them for the toreador's sweetheart
(she made the mantilla herself), for Taffy's starving dress-maker about
to throw herself into the Seine, for Little Billee's studies of the
beautiful French peasant girl in his picture, now so famous, called "The
Pitcher Goes to the Well."

Then she darned their socks and mended their clothes, and got all their
washing done properly and cheaply at her friend Madame Boisse's, in the
Rue des Cloîtres Ste. Pétronille.

And then again, when they were hard up and wanted a good round sum of
money for some little pleasure excursion, such as a trip to
Fontainebleau or Barbizon for two or three days, it was she who took
their watches and scarf-pins and things to the Mount of Piety in the
Street of the Well of Love (where dwelt "ma tante," which is French for
"my uncle" in this connection), in order to raise the necessary funds.

[Illustration: THE LATIN QUARTER]

She was, of course, most liberally paid for all these little services,
rendered with such pleasure and good-will--far too liberally, she
thought. She would have been really happier doing them for love.

Thus in a very short time she became a _persona gratissima_--a sunny and
ever welcome vision of health and grace and liveliness and unalterable
good-humor, always ready to take any trouble to please her beloved
"Angliches," as they were called by Madame Vinard, the handsome
shrill-voiced _concierge_, who was almost jealous; for she was devoted
to the Angliches too--and so was Monsieur Vinard--and so were the little
Vinards.

She knew when to talk and when to laugh and when to hold her tongue; and
the sight of her sitting cross-legged on the model-throne darning the
Laird's socks or sewing buttons on his shirts or repairing the
smoke-holes in his trousers was so pleasant that it was painted by all
three. One of these sketches (in water-color, by Little Billee) sold the
other day at Christie's for a sum so large that I hardly dare to mention
it. It was done in an afternoon.

Sometimes on a rainy day, when it was decided they should dine at home,
she would fetch the food and cook it, and lay the cloth, and even make
the salad. She was a better saladist than Taffy, a better cook than the
Laird, a better caterer than Little Billee. And she would be invited to
take her share in the banquet. And on these occasions her tremulous
happiness was so immense that it would be quite pathetic to see--almost
painful; and their three British hearts were touched by thoughts of all
the loneliness and homelessness, the expatriation, the half-conscious
loss of caste, that all this eager childish clinging revealed.

And that is why (no doubt) that with all this familiar intimacy there
was never any hint of gallantry or flirtation in any shape or form
whatever--bonne camaraderie, voilà tout. Had she been Little Billee's
sister she could not have been treated with more real respect. And her
deep gratitude for this unwonted compliment transcended any passion she
had ever felt. As the good Lafontaine so prettily says,

    "Ces animaux vivaient entre eux comme cousins;
     Cette union si douce, et presque fraternelle,
     Edifiait tous les voisins!"

And then their talk! It was to her as the talk of the gods in Olympus,
save that it was easier to understand, and she could always understand
it. For she was a very intelligent person, in spite of her wofully
neglected education, and most ambitious to learn--a new ambition for
her.

So they lent her books--English books: Dickens, Thackeray, Walter
Scott--which she devoured in the silence of the night, the solitude of
her little attic in the Rue des Pousse-Cailloux, and new worlds were
revealed to her. She grew more English every day; and that was a good
thing.

Trilby speaking English and Trilby speaking French were two different
beings. Trilby's English was more or less that of her father, a
highly-educated man; her mother, who was a Scotch woman, although an
uneducated one, had none of the ungainliness that mars the speech of so
many English women in that humble rank--no droppings of the h, no
broadening of the o's and a's.

[Illustration: CUISINE BOURGEOISE EN BOHÈME]

Trilby's French was that of the quartier latin--droll, slangy, piquant,
quaint, picturesque--quite the reverse of ungainly, but in which there
was scarcely a turn of phrase that would not stamp the speaker as
being hopelessly, emphatically "no lady!" Though it was funny without
being vulgar, it was perhaps a little _too_ funny!

And she handled her knife and fork in the dainty English way, as no
doubt her father had done--and his; and, indeed, when alone with them
she was so absolutely "like a lady" that it seemed quite odd (though
very seductive) to see her in a grisette's cap and dress and apron. So
much for her English training.

But enter a Frenchman or two, and a transformation effected itself
immediately--a new incarnation of Trilbyness--so droll and amusing that
it was difficult to decide which of her two incarnations was the most
attractive.

It must be admitted that she had her faults--like Little Billee.

For instance, she would be miserably jealous of any other woman who came
to the studio, to sit or scrub or sweep or do anything else, even of the
dirty tipsy old hag who sat for Taffy's "found drowned"--"as if she
couldn't have sat for it herself!"

And then she would be cross and sulky, but not for long--an injured
martyr, soon ready to forgive and be forgiven.

She would give up any sitting to come and sit to her three English
friends. Even Durien had serious cause for complaint.

Then her affection was exacting: she always wanted to be told one was
fond of her, and she dearly loved her own way, even in the sewing on of
buttons and the darning of socks, which was innocent enough. But when
it came to the cutting and fashioning of garments for a toreador's
bride, it was a nuisance not to be borne!

"What could _she_ know of toreadors' brides and their wedding-dresses?"
the Laird would indignantly ask--as if he were a toreador himself; and
this was the aggravating side of her irrepressible Trilbyness.

In the caressing, demonstrative tenderness of her friendship she "made
the soft eyes" at all three indiscriminately. But sometimes Little
Billee would look up from his work as she was sitting to Taffy or the
Laird, and find her gray eyes fixed on him with an all-enfolding gaze,
so piercingly, penetratingly, unutterably sweet and kind and tender,
such a brooding, dovelike look of soft and warm solicitude, that he
would feel a flutter at his heart, and his hand would shake so that he
could not paint; and in a waking dream he would remember that his mother
had often looked at him like that when he was a small boy, and she a
beautiful young woman untouched by care or sorrow; and the tear that
always lay in readiness so close to the corner of Little Billee's eye
would find it very difficult to keep itself in its proper place--unshed.

And at such moments the thought that Trilby sat for the figure would go
through him like a knife.

She did not sit promiscuously to anybody who asked, it is true. But she
still sat to Durien; to the great Gérôme; to M. Carrel, who scarcely
used any other model.

It was poor Trilby's sad distinction that she surpassed all other models
as Calypso surpassed her nymphs; and whether by long habit, or through
some obtuseness in her nature, or lack of imagination, she was equally
unconscious of self with her clothes on or without! Truly, she could be
naked and unashamed--in this respect an absolute savage.

[Illustration: "THE SOFT EYES"]

She would have ridden through Coventry, like Lady Godiva--but without
giving it a thought beyond wondering why the streets were empty and the
shops closed and the blinds pulled down--would even have looked up to
Peeping Tom's shutter with a friendly nod, had she known he was behind
it!

In fact, she was absolutely without that kind of shame, as she was
without any kind of fear. But she was destined soon to know both fear
and shame.

And here it would not be amiss for me to state a fact well known to all
painters and sculptors who have used the nude model (except a few senile
pretenders, whose purity, not being of the right sort, has gone rank
from too much watching), namely, that nothing is so chaste as nudity.
Venus herself, as she drops her garments and steps on to the
model-throne, leaves behind her on the floor every weapon in her armory
by which she can pierce to the grosser passions of man. The more perfect
her unveiled beauty, the more keenly it appeals to his higher instincts.
And where her beauty fails (as it almost always does somewhere in the
Venuses who sit for hire), the failure is so lamentably conspicuous in
the studio light--the fierce light that beats on this particular
throne--that Don Juan himself, who has not got to paint, were fain to
hide his eyes in sorrow and disenchantment, and fly to other climes.

All beauty is sexless in the eyes of the artist at his work--the beauty
of man, the beauty of woman, the heavenly beauty of the child, which is
the sweetest and best of all.

Indeed it is woman, lovely woman, whose beauty falls the shortest, for
sheer lack of proper physical training.

As for Trilby, G----, to whom she sat for his Phryne, once told me that
the sight of her thus was a thing to melt Sir Galahad, and sober
Silenus, and chasten Jove himself--a thing to Quixotize a modern French
masher! I can well believe him. For myself, I only speak of Trilby as I
have seen her--clothed and in her right mind. She never sat to me for
any Phryne, never bared herself to me, nor did I ever dream of asking
her. I would as soon have asked the Queen of Spain to let me paint her
legs! But I have worked from many female models in many countries, some
of them the best of their kind. I have also, like Svengali, seen Taffy
"trying to get himself clean," either at home or in the swimming-baths
of the Seine; and never a sitting woman among them all who could match
for grace or finish or splendor of outward form that mighty Yorkshireman
sitting in his tub, or sunning himself, like Ilyssus, at the Bains Henri
Quatre, or taking his running header _à la hussarde_, off the
spring-board at the Bains Deligny, with a group of wondering Frenchmen
gathered round.

Up he shot himself into mid-air with a sounding double downward kick,
parabolically; then, turning a splendid semi-demi-summersault against
the sky, down he came headlong, his body straight and stiff as an arrow,
and made his clean hole in the water without splash or sound, to
reappear a hundred yards farther on!

"Sac à papier! quel gaillard que cet Anglais, hein?"

"A-t-on jamais vu un torse pareil!"

"Et les bras, donc!"

"Et les jambes, nom d'un tonnerre!"

"Mâtin! J'aimerais mieux être en colère contre lui qu'il ne soit en
colère contre moi!" etc., etc., etc.

       *       *       *       *       *

Omne ignotum pro magnifico!

If our climate were such that we could go about without any clothes on,
we probably should; in which case, although we should still murder and
lie and steal and bear false witness against our neighbor, and break the
Sabbath day and take the Lord's name in vain, much deplorable wickedness
of another kind would cease to exist for sheer lack of mystery; and
Christianity would be relieved of its hardest task in this sinful world,
and Venus Aphrodite (_alias_ Aselgeia) would have to go a-begging along
with the tailors and dress-makers and boot-makers, and perhaps our
bodies and limbs would be as those of the Theseus and Venus of Milo; who
was no Venus, except in good looks!

[Illustration: ILYSSUS]

At all events, there would be no cunning, cruel deceptions, no artful
taking in of artless inexperience, no unduly hurried waking-up from
Love's young dream, no handing down to posterity of hidden uglinesses
and weaknesses, and worse!

And also many a flower, now born to blush unseen, would be reclaimed
from its desert, and suffered to hold its own, and flaunt away with the
best in the inner garden of roses!

And here let me humbly apologize to the casual reader for the length and
possible irrelevancy of this digression, and for its subject. To those
who may find matter for sincere disapprobation or even grave offence in
a thing that has always seemed to me so simple, so commonplace, as to be
hardly worth talking or writing about, I can only plead a sincerity
equal to theirs, and as deep a love and reverence for the gracious,
goodly shape that God is said to have made after His own image for
inscrutable purposes of His own.

Nor, indeed, am I pleading for such a subversive and revolutionary
measure as the wholesale abolition of clothes, being the chilliest of
mortals, and quite unlike Mr. Theseus or Mr. Ilyssus either.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sometimes Trilby would bring her little brother to the studio in the
Place St. Anatole des Arts, in his "beaux habits de Pâques," his hair
well curled and pomatumed, his hands and face well washed.

He was a very engaging little mortal. The Laird would fill his pockets
full of Scotch goodies, and paint him as a little Spaniard in "Le Fils
du Toreador," a sweet little Spaniard with blue eyes, and curly locks
as light as tow, and a complexion of milk and roses, in singular and
piquant contrast to his swarthy progenitor.

Taffy would use him as an Indian club or a dumb-bell, to the child's
infinite delight, and swing him on the trapeze, and teach him "la boxe."

And the sweetness and fun of his shrill, happy, infantile laughter
(which was like an echo of Trilby's, only an octave higher) so moved and
touched and tickled one that Taffy had to look quite fierce, so he might
hide the strange delight of tenderness that somehow filled his manly
bosom at the mere sound of it (lest Little Billee and the Laird should
think him goody-goody); and the fiercer Taffy looked, the less this
small mite was afraid of him.

Little Billee made a beautiful water-color sketch of him, just as he
was, and gave it to Trilby, who gave it to le père Martin, who gave it
to his wife with strict injunctions not to sell it as an old master.
Alas! it _is_ an old master now, and Heaven only knows who has got it!

Those were happy days for Trilby's little brother, happy days for
Trilby, who was immensely fond of him, and very proud. And the happiest
day of all was when Trois Angliches took Trilby and Jeannot (for so the
mite was called) to spend the Sunday in the woods at Meudon, and
breakfast and dine at the garde champêtre's. Swings, peep-shows,
donkey-rides; shooting at a mark with cross-bows and little pellets of
clay, and smashing little plaster figures and winning macaroons; losing
one's self in the beautiful forest; catching newts and tadpoles and
young frogs; making music on mirlitons. Trilby singing "Ben Bolt" into a
mirliton was a thing to be remembered, whether one would or no!

Trilby on this occasion came out in a new character, _en demoiselle_,
with a little black bonnet, and a gray jacket of her own making.

To look at (but for her loose, square-toed, heelless silk boots laced up
the inner side), she might have been the daughter of an English
dean--until she undertook to teach the Laird some favorite cancan steps.
And then the Laird himself, it must be admitted, no longer looked like
the son of a worthy, God-fearing, Sabbath-keeping Scotch solicitor.

This was after dinner, in the garden, at "la loge du garde champêtre."
Taffy and Jeannot and Little Billee made the necessary music on their
mirlitons, and the dancing soon became general, with plenty also to look
on, for the garde had many customers who dined there on summer Sundays.

It is no exaggeration to say that Trilby was far and away the belle of
that particular ball, and there have been worse balls in much finer
company, and far plainer women!

Trilby lightly dancing the cancan (there are cancans and cancans) was a
singularly gainly and seductive person--_et vera incessu patuit dea_!
Here, again, she was funny without being vulgar. And for mere grace
(even in the cancan), she was the forerunner of Miss Kate Vaughan; and,
for sheer fun, the precursor of Miss Nelly Farren!

And the Laird, trying to dance after her ("dongsong le konkong," as he
called it), was too funny for words; and if genuine popular success is a
true test of humor, no greater humorist ever danced a _pas seul_.

[Illustration: "'VOILÀ L'ESPAYCE DE HOM KER JER SWEE!'"]

What Englishmen could do in France during the fifties, and yet manage to
preserve their self-respect, and even the respect of their respectable
French friends!

"Voilà l'espayce de hom ker jer swee!" said the Laird, every time he
bowed in acknowledgment of the applause that greeted his performance of
various solo steps of his own--Scotch reels and sword-dances that come
in admirably....

Then, one fine day, the Laird fell ill, and the doctor had to be sent
for, and he ordered a nurse. But Trilby would hear of no nurses, not
even a Sister of Charity! She did all the nursing herself, and never
slept a wink for three successive days and nights.

On the third day the Laird was out of all danger, the delirium was past,
and the doctor found poor Trilby fast asleep by the bedside.

Madame Vinard, at the bedroom door, put her finger to her lips, and
whispered: "Quel bonheur! il est sauvé, M. le Docteur; écoutez! il dit
ses prières en Anglais, ce brave garçon!"

The good old doctor, who didn't understand a word of English, listened,
and heard the Laird's voice, weak and low, but quite clear, and full of
heart-felt fervor, intoning, solemnly:

    "'Green herbs, red peppers, mussels, saffron,
          Soles, onions, garlic, roach, and dace--
      All these you eat at Terré's Tavern
          In that one dish of bouillabaisse!'"

"Ah! mais c'est très bien de sa part, ce brave jeune homme! rendre
grâces au ciel comme cela, quand le danger est passé! très bien, très
bien!"

Sceptic and Voltairian as he was, and not the friend of prayer, the good
doctor was touched, for he was old, and therefore kind and tolerant, and
made allowances.

And afterwards he said such sweet things to Trilby about it all, and
about her admirable care of his patient, that she positively wept with
delight--like sweet Alice with hair so brown, whenever Ben Bolt gave her
a smile.

All this sounds very goody-goody, but it's true.

So it will be easily understood how the trois Angliches came in time to
feel for Trilby quite a peculiar regard, and looked forward with
sorrowful forebodings to the day when this singular and pleasant little
quartet would have to be broken up, each of them to spread his wings and
fly away on his own account, and poor Trilby to be left behind all by
herself. They would even frame little plans whereby she might better
herself in life, and avoid the many snares and pitfalls that would beset
her lonely path in the quartier latin when they were gone.

Trilby never thought of such things as these; she took short views of
life, and troubled herself about no morrows.

There was, however, one jarring figure in her little fool's paradise, a
baleful and most ominous figure that constantly crossed her path, and
came between her and the sun, and threw its shadow over her, and that
was Svengali.

He also was a frequent visitor at the studio in the Place St. Anatole,
where much was forgiven him for the sake of his music, especially when
he came with Gecko and they made music together. But it soon became
apparent that they did not come there to play to the three Angliches: it
was to see Trilby, whom they both had taken it into their heads to
adore, each in a different fashion:

Gecko, with a humble, doglike worship that expressed itself in mute,
pathetic deference and looks of lowly self-depreciation, of apology for
his own unworthy existence, as though the only requital he would ever
dare to dream of were a word of decent politeness, a glance of tolerance
or good-will--a mere bone to a dog.

Svengali was a bolder wooer. When he cringed, it was with a mock
humility full of sardonic threats; when he was playful, it was with a
terrible playfulness, like that of a cat with a mouse--a weird ungainly
cat, and most unclean; a sticky, haunting, long, lean, uncanny, black
spider-cat, if there is such an animal outside a bad dream.

It was a great grievance to him that she had suffered from no more pains
in her eyes. She had; but preferred to endure them rather than seek
relief from him.

So he would playfully try to mesmerize her with his glance, and sidle up
nearer and nearer to her, making passes and counter-passes, with stern
command in his eyes, till she would shake and shiver and almost sicken
with fear, and all but feel the spell come over her, as in a nightmare,
and rouse herself with a great effort and escape.

If Taffy were there he would interfere with a friendly "Now then, old
fellow, none of that!" and a jolly slap on the back, which would make
Svengali cough for an hour, and paralyze his mesmeric powers for a week.

Svengali had a stroke of good-fortune. He played at three grand
concerts with Gecko, and had a well-deserved success. He even gave a
concert of his own, which made a furor, and blossomed out into beautiful
and costly clothes of quite original color and shape and pattern, so
that people would turn round and stare at him in the street--a thing he
loved. He felt his fortune was secure, and ran into debt with tailors,
hatters, shoemakers, jewellers, but paid none of his old debts to his
friends. His pockets were always full of printed slips--things that had
been written about him in the papers--and he would read them aloud to
everybody he knew, especially to Trilby, as she sat darning socks on the
model-throne while the fencing and boxing were in train. And he would
lay his fame and his fortune at her feet, on condition that she should
share her life with him.

"Ach, himmel, Drilpy!" he would say, "you don't know what it is to be a
great pianist like me--hein! What is your Little Billee, with his
stinking oil-bladders, sitting mum in his corner, his mahlstick and his
palette in one hand, and his twiddling little footle pig's-hair brush in
the other! What noise does _he_ make? When his little fool of a picture
is finished he will send it to London, and they will hang it on a wall
with a lot of others, all in a line, like recruits called out for
inspection, and the yawning public will walk by in procession and
inspect, and say 'damn!' Svengali will go to London _himself_. Ha! ha!
He will be all alone on a platform, and play as nobody else can play;
and hundreds of beautiful Engländerinnen will see and hear and go mad
with love for him--Prinzessen, Comtessen, Serene English Altessen. They
will soon lose their Serenity and their Highness when they hear
Svengali! They will invite him to their palaces, and pay him a thousand
francs to play for them; and after, he will loll in the best arm-chair,
and they will sit all round him on footstools, and bring him tea and gin
and küchen and marrons glacés, and lean over him and fan him--for he is
tired after playing them for a thousand francs of Chopin! Ha, ha! I know
all about it--hein?

"And he will not look at them, even! He will look inward, at his own
dream--and his dream will be about Drilpy--to lay his talent, his glory,
his thousand francs at her beautiful white feet!

"Their stupid, big, fat, tow-headed, putty-nosed husbands will be mad
with jealousy, and long to box him, but they will be afraid. Ach! those
beautiful Anglaises! they will think it an honor to mend his shirts, to
sew buttons on his pantaloons; to darn his socks, as you are doing now
for that sacred imbecile of a Scotchman who is always trying to paint
toreadors, or that sweating, pig-headed bullock of an Englander who is
always trying to get himself dirty and then to get himself clean
again!--_e da capo!_

"Himmel! what big socks are those! what potato-sacks!

"Look at your Taffy! what is he good for but to bang great musicians on
the back with his big bear's paw! He finds that droll, the bullock!...

[Illustration: TIT FOR TAT]

"Look at your Frenchmen there--your damned conceited verfluchte pig-dogs
of Frenchmen--Durien, Barizel, Bouchardy! What can a Frenchman talk of,
hein? Only himself, and run down everybody else! His vanity makes me
sick! He always thinks the world is talking about _him_, the fool! He
forgets that there's a fellow called _Svengali_ for the world to talk
about! I tell you, Drilpy, it is about _me_ the world is talking--me and
nobody else--me, me, me!

"Listen what they say in the _Figaro_" (reads it).

"What do you think of that, hein? What would your Durien say if people
wrote of _him_ like that?

"But you are not listening, sapperment! great big she-fool that you
are--sheep's-head! Dummkopf! Donnerwetter! you are looking at the
chimney-pots when Svengali is talking! Look a little lower down between
the houses, on the other side of the river! There is a little ugly gray
building there, and inside are eight slanting slabs of brass, all of a
row, like beds in a school dormitory, and one fine day you shall lie
asleep on one of those slabs--you, Drilpy, who would not listen to
Svengali, and therefore lost him!... And over the middle of you will be
a little leather apron, and over your head a little brass tap, and all
day long and all night the cold water shall trickle, trickle, trickle
all the way down your beautiful white body to your beautiful white feet
till they turn green, and your poor, damp, draggled, muddy rags will
hang above you from the ceiling for your friends to know you by; drip,
drip, drip! But you will have no friends....

"And people of all sorts, strangers, will stare at you through the big
plate-glass windows--Englanders, chiffonniers, painters and sculptors,
workmen, pioupious, old hags of washer-women--and say, 'Ah! what a
beautiful woman was that! Look at her! She ought to be rolling in her
carriage and pair!' And just then who should come by, rolling in his
carriage and pair, smothered in furs, and smoking a big cigar of the
Havana, but Svengali, who will jump out, and push the canaille aside,
and say, 'Ha! ha! that is la grande Drilpy, who would not listen to
Svengali, but looked at the chimney-pots when he told her of his manly
love, and--'"

"Hi! damn it, Svengali, what the devil are you talking to Trilby about?
You're making her sick; can't you see? Leave off, and go to the piano,
man, or I'll come and slap you on the back again!"

Thus would that sweating, pig-headed bullock of an Englander stop
Svengali's love-making and release Trilby from bad quarters of an hour.

Then Svengali, who had a wholesome dread of the pig-headed bullock,
would go to the piano and make impossible discords, and say: "Dear
Drilpy, come and sing 'Pen Polt'! I am thirsting for those so beautiful
chest notes! Come!"

Poor Trilby needed little pressing when she was asked to sing, and would
go through her lamentable performance, to the great discomfort of Little
Billee. It lost nothing of its grotesqueness from Svengali's
accompaniment, which was a triumph of cacophony, and he would encourage
her--"Très pien, très pien, ça y est!"

When it was over, Svengali would test her ear, as he called it, and
strike the C in the middle and then the F just above, and ask which was
the highest; and she would declare they were both exactly the same. It
was only when he struck a note in the bass and another in the treble
that she could perceive any difference, and said that the first sounded
like père Martin blowing up his wife, and the second like her little
godson trying to make the peace between them.

She was quite tone-deaf, and didn't know it; and he would pay her
extravagant compliments on her musical talent, till Taffy would say:
"Look here, Svengali, let's hear _you_ sing a song!"

And he would tickle him so masterfully under the ribs that the creature
howled and became quite hysterical.

Then Svengali would vent his love of teasing on Little Billee, and pin
_his_ arms behind his back and swing him round, saying: "Himmel! what's
this for an arm? It's like a girl's!"

"It's strong enough to paint!" said Little Billee.

"And what's this for a leg? It's like a mahlstick!"

"It's strong enough to kick, if you don't leave off!"

And Little Billee, the young and tender, would let out his little heel
and kick the German's shins; and just as the German was going to
retaliate, big Taffy would pin _his_ arms and make him sing another
song, more discordant than Trilby's--for he didn't dream of kicking
Taffy; of that you may be sure!

Such was Svengali--only to be endured for the sake of his music--always
ready to vex, frighten, bully, or torment anybody or anything smaller
and weaker than himself--from a woman or a child to a mouse or a fly.




Part Third

    "Par deçà, ne dela la mer
         Ne sçay dame ni damoiselle
         Qui soit en tous biens parfaits telle--
     C'est un songe que d'y penser:
     Dieu! qu'il fait bon la regarder!"


One lovely Monday morning in late September, at about eleven or so,
Taffy and the Laird sat in the studio--each opposite his picture,
smoking, nursing his knee, and saying nothing. The heaviness of Monday
weighed on their spirits more than usual, for the three friends had
returned late on the previous night from a week spent at Barbizon and in
the forest of Fontainebleau--a heavenly week among the painters:
Rousseau, Millet, Corot, Daubigny, let us suppose, and others less known
to fame this day. Little Billee, especially, had been fascinated by all
this artistic life in blouses and sabots and immense straw hats and
panamas, and had sworn to himself and to his friends that he would some
day live and die there--painting, the forest as it is, and peopling it
with beautiful people out of his own fancy--leading a healthy out-door
life of simple wants and lofty aspirations.

At length Taffy said: "Bother work this morning! I feel much more like a
stroll in the Luxembourg Gardens and lunch at the Café de l'Odéon, where
the omelets are good and the wine isn't blue."

"The very thing I was thinking of myself," said the Laird.

[Illustration: THE HAPPY LIFE]

So Taffy slipped on his old shooting-jacket and his old Harrow cricket
cap, with the peak turned the wrong way, and the Laird put on an old
great-coat of Taffy's that reached to his heels, and a battered straw
hat they had found in the studio when they took it; and both sallied
forth into the mellow sunshine on the way to Carrel's. For they meant to
seduce Little Billee from his work, that he might share in their
laziness, greediness, and general demoralization.

And whom should they meet coming down the narrow turreted old Rue
Vieille des Mauvais Ladres but Little Billee himself, with an air of
general demoralization so tragic that they were quite alarmed. He had
his paint-box and field-easel in one hand and his little valise in the
other. He was pale, his hat on the back of his head, his hair staring
all at sixes and sevens, like a sick Scotch terrier's.

"Good Lord! what's the matter?" said Taffy.

"Oh! oh! oh! she's sitting at Carrel's!"

"Who's sitting at Carrel's?"

"Trilby! sitting to all those ruffians! There she was, just as I opened
the door; I saw her, I tell you! The sight of her was like a blow
between the eyes, and I bolted! I shall never go back to that beastly
hole again! I'm off to Barbizon, to paint the forest; I was coming round
to tell you. Good-bye!..."

"Stop a minute--are you mad?" said Taffy, collaring him.

"Let me go, Taffy--let me go, damn it! I'll come back in a week--but I'm
going now! Let me go; do you hear?"

"But look here--I'll go with you."

"No; I want to be alone--quite alone. Let me go, I tell you!"

"I sha'n't let you go unless you swear to me, on your honor, that you'll
write directly, you get there, and every day till you come back. Swear!"

"All right; I swear--honor bright! Now there! Good-bye--good-bye; back
on Sunday--good-bye!" And he was off.

"Now, what the devil does all that mean?" asked Taffy, much perturbed.

"I suppose he's shocked at seeing Trilby in that guise, or disguise, or
unguise, sitting at Carrel's--he's such an odd little chap. And I must
say, I'm surprised at Trilby. It's a bad thing for her when we're away.
What could have induced her? She never sat in a studio of that kind
before. I thought she only sat to Durien and old Carrel."

They walked for a while in silence.

"Do you know, I've got a horrid idea that the little fool's in love with
her!"

"I've long had a horrid idea that _she's_ in love with _him_."

"That would be a very stupid business," said Taffy.

They walked on, brooding over those two horrid ideas, and the more they
brooded, considered, and remembered, the more convinced they became that
both were right.

"Here's a pretty kettle of fish!" said the Laird--"and talking of fish,
let's go and lunch."

And so demoralized were they that Taffy ate three omelets without
thinking, and the Laird drank two half-bottles of wine, and Taffy three,
and they walked about the whole of that afternoon for fear Trilby should
come to the studio--and were very unhappy.

       *       *       *       *       *

This is how Trilby came to sit at Carrel's studio:

Carrel had suddenly taken it into his head that he would spend a week
there, and paint a figure among his pupils, that they might see and
paint with--and if possible like--him. And he had asked Trilby as a
great favor to be the model, and Trilby was so devoted to the great
Carrel that she readily consented. So that Monday morning found her
there, and Carrel posed her as Ingres's famous figure in his picture
called "La Source," holding a stone pitcher on her shoulder.

[Illustration: "'LET ME GO, TAFFY ...'"]

And the work began in religious silence. Then in five minutes or so
Little Billee came bursting in, and as soon as he caught sight of her he
stopped and stood as one petrified, his shoulders up, his eyes staring.
Then lifting his arms, he turned and fled.

"Qu'est ce qu'il a donc, ce Litrebili?" exclaimed one or two students
(for they had turned his English nickname into French).

"Perhaps he's forgotten something," said another. "Perhaps he's
forgotten to brush his teeth and part his hair!"

"Perhaps he's forgotten to say his prayers!" said Barizel.

"He'll come back, I hope!" exclaimed the master.

And the incident gave rise to no further comment.

But Trilby was much disquieted, and fell to wondering what on earth was
the matter.

At first she wondered in French: French of the quartier latin. She had
not seen Little Billee for a week, and wondered if he were ill. She had
looked forward so much to his painting her--painting her
beautifully--and hoped he would soon come back, and lose no time.

Then she began to wonder in English--nice clean English of the studio in
the Place St. Anatole des Arts--her father's English--and suddenly a
quick thought pierced her through and through, and made the flesh tingle
on her insteps and the backs of her hands, and bathed her brow and
temples with sweat.

She had good eyes, and Little Billee had a singularly expressive face.

Could it possibly be that he was _shocked_ at seeing her sitting there?

She knew that he was peculiar in many ways. She remembered that neither
he nor Taffy nor the Laird had ever asked her to sit for the figure,
though she would have been only too delighted to do so for them. She
also remembered how Little Billee had always been silent whenever she
alluded to her posing for the "altogether," as she called it, and had
sometimes looked pained and always very grave.

She turned alternately pale and red, pale and red all over, again and
again, as the thought grew up in her--and soon the growing thought
became a torment.

[Illustration: "'QU'EST CE QU'IL A DONC, CE LITREBILI?'"]

This new-born feeling of shame was unendurable--its birth a travail that
racked and rent every fibre of her moral being, and she suffered agonies
beyond anything she had ever felt in her life.

"What is the matter with you, my child? Are you ill?" asked Carrel,
who, like every one else, was very fond of her, and to whom she had sat
as a child ("l'Enfance de Psyché," now in the Luxembourg Gallery, was
painted from her).

She shook her head, and the work went on.

Presently she dropped her pitcher, that broke into bits; and putting her
two hands to her face she burst into tears and sobs--and there, to the
amazement of everybody, she stood crying like a big baby--"La source aux
larmes?"

"What _is_ the matter, my poor dear child?" said Carrel, jumping up and
helping her off the throne.

"Oh, I don't know--I don't know--I'm ill--very ill--let me go home!"

And with kind solicitude and despatch they helped her on with her
clothes, and Carrel sent for a cab and took her home.

And on the way she dropped her head on his shoulder, and wept, and told
him all about it as well as she could, and Monsieur Carrel had tears in
his eyes too, and wished to Heaven he had never induced her to sit for
the figure, either then or at any other time. And pondering deeply and
sorrowfully on such terrible responsibility (he had grown-up daughters
of his own), he went back to the studio; and in an hour's time they got
another model and another pitcher, and went to work again.

       *       *       *       *       *

And Trilby, as she lay disconsolate on her bed all that day and all the
next, and all the next again, thought of her past life with agonies of
shame and remorse that made the pain in her eyes seem as a light and
welcome relief. For it came, and tortured worse and lasted longer than
it had ever done before. But she soon found, to her miserable
bewilderment, that mind-aches are the worst of all.

Then she decided that she must write to one of the trois Angliches, and
chose the Laird.

She was more familiar with him than with the other two: it was
impossible not to be familiar with the Laird if he liked one, as he was
so easy-going and demonstrative, for all that he was such a canny Scot!
Then she had nursed him through his illness; she had often hugged and
kissed him before the whole studio full of people--and even when alone
with him it had always seemed quite natural for her to do so. It was
like a child caressing a favorite young uncle or elder brother. And
though the good Laird was the least susceptible of mortals, he would
often find these innocent blandishments a somewhat trying ordeal! She
had never taken such a liberty with Taffy; and as for Little Billee, she
would sooner have died!

So she wrote to the Laird. I give her letter without the spelling, which
was often faulty, although her nightly readings had much improved it:

     "MY DEAR FRIEND,--I am very unhappy. I was sitting at Carrel's, in
     the Rue des Potirons, and Little Billee came in, and was so shocked
     and disgusted that he ran away and never came back.

     "I saw it all in his face.

     "I sat there because M. Carrel asked me to. He has always been very
     kind to me--M. Carrel--ever since I was a child; and I would do
     anything to please him, but never _that_ again.

     "He was there too.

     "I never thought anything about sitting before. I sat first as a
     child to M. Carrel. Mamma made me, and made me promise not to tell
     papa, and so I didn't. It soon seemed as natural to sit for people
     as to run errands for them, or wash and mend their clothes. Papa
     wouldn't have liked my doing that either, though we wanted the
     money badly. And so he never knew.

     "I have sat for the altogether to several other people besides--M.
     Gérôme, Durien, the two Hennequins, and Émile Baratier; and for the
     head and hands to lots of people, and for the feet only to Charles
     Faure, André Besson, Mathieu Dumoulin, and Collinet. Nobody else.

     "It seemed as natural for me to sit as for a man. Now I see the
     awful difference.

     "And I have done dreadful things besides, as you must know--as all
     the quartier knows. Baratier and Besson; but not Durien, though
     people think so. Nobody else, I swear--except old Monsieur Penque
     at the beginning, who was mamma's friend.

     "It makes me almost die of shame and misery to think of it; for
     that's not like sitting. I knew how wrong it was all along--and
     there's no excuse for me, none. Though lots of people do as bad,
     and nobody in the quartier seems to think any the worse of them.

     "If you and Taffy and Little Billee cut me, I really think I shall
     go mad and die. Without your friendship I shouldn't care to live a
     bit. Dear Sandy, I love your little finger better than any man or
     woman I ever met; and Taffy's and Little Billee's little fingers
     too.

[Illustration: REPENTANCE]

     "What shall I do? I daren't go out for fear of meeting one of you.
     Will you come and see me?

     "I am never going to sit again, not even for the face and hands. I
     am going back to be a _blanchisseuse de fin_ with my old friend
     Angèle Boisse, who is getting on very well indeed, in the Rue des
     Cloîtres Ste. Pétronille.

     "You _will_ come and see me, won't you? I shall be in all day till
     you do. Or else I will meet you somewhere, if you will tell me
     where and when; or else I will go and see you in the studio, if you
     are sure to be alone. Please don't keep me waiting long for an
     answer.

     "You don't know what I'm suffering.

     "Your ever-loving, faithful friend,

     "TRILBY O'FERRALL."

She sent this letter by hand, and the Laird came in less than ten
minutes after she had sent it; and she hugged and kissed and cried over
him so that he was almost ready to cry himself; but he burst out
laughing instead--which was better and more in his line, and very much
more comforting--and talked to her so nicely and kindly and naturally
that by the time he left her humble attic in the Rue des Pousse-Cailloux
her very aspect, which had quite shocked him when he first saw her, had
almost become what it usually was.

The little room under the leads, with its sloping roof and mansard
window, was as scrupulously neat and clean as if its tenant had been a
holy sister who taught the noble daughters of France at some Convent of
the Sacred Heart. There were nasturtiums and mignonette on the outer
window-sill, and convolvulus was trained to climb round the window.

As she sat by his side on the narrow white bed, clasping and stroking
his painty, turpentiny hand, and kissing it every five minutes, he
talked to her like a father--as he told Taffy afterwards--and scolded
her for having been so silly as not to send for him directly, or come to
the studio. He said how glad he was, how glad they would all be, that
she was going to give up sitting for the figure--not, of course, that
there was any real harm in it, but it was better not--and especially how
happy it would make them to feel she intended to live straight for the
future. Little Billee was to remain at Barbizon for a little while; but
she must promise to come and dine with Taffy and himself that very day,
and cook the dinner; and when he went back to his picture, "Les Noces du
Toréador"--saying to her as he left, "à ce soir donc, mille sacrés
tonnerres de nong de Dew!"--he left the happiest woman in the whole
Latin quarter behind him: she had confessed and been forgiven.

And with shame and repentance and confession and forgiveness had come a
strange new feeling--that of a dawning self-respect.

Hitherto, for Trilby, self-respect had meant little more than the mere
cleanliness of her body, in which she had always revelled; alas! it was
one of the conditions of her humble calling. It now meant another kind
of cleanliness, and she would luxuriate in it for evermore; and the
dreadful past--never to be forgotten by her--should be so lived down as
in time, perhaps, to be forgotten by others.

The dinner that evening was a memorable one for Trilby. After she had
washed up the knives and forks and plates and dishes, and put them by,
she sat and sewed. She wouldn't even smoke her cigarette, it reminded
her so of things and scenes she now hated. No more cigarettes for Trilby
O'Ferrall.

They all talked of Little Billee. She heard about the way he had been
brought up, about his mother and sister, the people he had always lived
among. She also heard (and her heart alternately rose and sank as she
listened) what his future was likely to be, and how rare his genius was,
and how great--if his friends were to be trusted. Fame and fortune would
soon be his--such fame and fortune as fell to the lot of very
few--unless anything should happen to spoil his promise and mar his
prospects in life, and ruin a splendid career; and the rising of the
heart was all for him, the sinking for herself. How could she ever hope
to be even the friend of such a man? Might she ever hope to be his
servant--his faithful, humble servant?

       *       *       *       *       *

Little Billee spent a month at Barbizon, and when he came back it was
with such a brown face that his friends hardly knew him; and he brought
with him such studies as made his friends "sit up."

The crushing sense of their own hopeless inferiority was lost in wonder
at his work, in love and enthusiasm for the workman.

[Illustration: CONFESSION]

Their Little Billee, so young and tender, so weak of body, so strong of
purpose, so warm of heart, so light of hand, so keen and quick and
piercing of brain and eye, was their master, to be stuck on a pedestal
and looked up to and bowed down to, to be watched and warded and
worshipped for evermore.

When Trilby came in from her work at six, and he shook hands with her
and said "Hullo, Trilby!" her face turned pale to the lips, her
under-lip quivered, and she gazed down at him (for she was among the
tallest of her sex) with such a moist, hungry, wide-eyed look of humble
craving adoration that the Laird felt his worst fears were realized, and
the look Little Billee sent up in return filled the manly bosom of Taffy
with an equal apprehension.

Then they all four went and dined together at le père Trin's, and Trilby
went back to her _blanchisserie de fin_.

Next day Little Billee took his work to show Carrel, and Carrel invited
him to come and finish his picture "The Pitcher Goes to the Well" at his
own private studio--an unheard-of favor, which the boy accepted with a
thrill of proud gratitude and affectionate reverence.

So little was seen for some time of Little Billee at the studio in the
Place St. Anatole des Arts, and little of Trilby; a _blanchisseuse de
fin_ has not many minutes to spare from her irons. But they often met at
dinner. And on Sunday mornings Trilby came to repair the Laird's linen
and darn his socks and look after his little comforts, as usual, and
spend a happy day. And on Sunday afternoons the studio would be as
lively as ever, with the fencing and boxing, the piano-playing and
fiddling--all as it used to be.

And week by week the friends noticed a gradual and subtle change in
Trilby. She was no longer slangy in French, unless it were now and then
by a slip of the tongue, no longer so facetious and droll, and yet she
seemed even happier than she had ever seemed before.

Also, she grew thinner, especially in the face, where the bones of her
cheeks and jaw began to show themselves, and these bones were
constructed on such right principles (as were those of her brow and chin
and the bridge of her nose) that the improvement was astonishing, almost
inexplicable.

Also, she lost her freckles as the summer waned and she herself went
less into the open air. And she let her hair grow, and made of it a
small knot at the back of her head, and showed her little flat ears,
which were charming, and just in the right place, very far back and
rather high; Little Billee could not have placed them better himself.
Also, her mouth, always too large, took on a firmer and sweeter outline,
and her big British teeth were so white and even that even Frenchmen
forgave them their British bigness. And a new soft brightness came into
her eyes that no one had ever seen there before. They were stars, just
twin gray stars--or rather planets just thrown off by some new sun, for
the steady mellow light they gave out was not entirely their own.

Favorite types of beauty change with each succeeding generation. These
were the days of Buckner's aristocratic Album beauties, with lofty
foreheads, oval faces, little aquiline noses, heart-shaped little
mouths, soft dimpled chins, drooping shoulders, and long side ringlets
that fell over them--the Lady Arabellas and the Lady Clementinas,
Musidoras and Medoras! A type that will perhaps come back to us some
day.

May the present scribe be dead!

Trilby's type would be infinitely more admired now than in the fifties.
Her photograph would be in the shop-windows. Sir Edward Burne-Jones--if
I may make so bold as to say so--would perhaps have marked her for his
own, in spite of her almost too exuberant joyousness and irrepressible
vitality. Rossetti might have evolved another new formula from her; Sir
John Millais another old one of the kind that is always new and never
sates nor palls--like Clytie, let us say--ever old and ever new as love
itself!

Trilby's type was in singular contrast to the type Gavarni had made so
popular in the Latin quarter at the period we are writing of, so that
those who fell so readily under her charm were rather apt to wonder why.
Moreover, she was thought much too tall for her sex, and her day, and
her station in life, and especially for the country she lived in. She
hardly looked up to a bold gendarme! and a bold gendarme was nearly as
tall as a "dragon de la garde," who was nearly as tall as an average
English policeman. Not that she was a giantess, by any means. She was
about as tall as Miss Ellen Terry--and that is a charming height, _I_
think.

[Illustration: "ALL AS IT USED TO BE"]

One day Taffy remarked to the Laird: "Hang it! I'm blest if Trilby isn't
the handsomest woman I know! She looks like a grande dame masquerading
as a grisette--almost like a joyful saint at times. She's lovely! By
Jove! I couldn't stand her hugging me as she does you! There'd be a
tragedy--say the slaughter of Little Billee."

"Ah! Taffy, my boy," rejoined the Laird, "when those long sisterly arms
are round my neck it isn't _me_ she's hugging."

"And then," said Taffy, "what a trump she is! Why, she's as upright and
straight and honorable as a man! And what she says to one about one's
self is always so pleasant to hear! That's Irish, I suppose. And, what's
more, it's always true."

"Ah, that's Scotch!" said the Laird, and tried to wink at Little Billee,
but Little Billee wasn't there.

[Illustration: "TWIN GRAY STARS"]

Even Svengali perceived the strange metamorphosis. "Ach, Drilpy," he
would say, on a Sunday afternoon, "how beautiful you are! It drives me
mad! I adore you. I like you thinner; you have such beautiful bones! Why
do you not answer my letters? What! you do not _read_ them? You _burn_
them? And yet I--Donnerwetter! I forgot! The grisettes of the quartier
latin have not learned how to read or write; they have only learned how
to dance the cancan with the dirty little pig-dog monkeys they call men.
Sacrement! We will teach the little pig-dog monkeys to dance something
else some day, we Germans. We will make music for them to dance to!
Boum! boum! Better than the waiter at the Café de la Rotonde, hein? And
the grisettes of the quartier latin shall pour us out your little white
wine--'fotre betit fin planc,' as your pig-dog monkey of a poet says,
your rotten verfluchter De Musset, 'who has got such a splendid future
behind him'! Bah! What do _you_ know of Monsieur Alfred de Musset? We
have got a poet too, my Drilpy. His name is Heinrich Heine. If he's
still alive, he lives in Paris, in a little street off the Champs
Élysées. He lies in bed all day long, and only sees out of one eye, like
the Countess Hahn-Hahn, ha! ha! He adores French grisettes. He married
one. Her name is Mathilde, and she has got süssen füssen, like you. He
would adore you too, for your beautiful bones; he would like to count
them one by one, for he is very playful, like me. And, ach! what a
beautiful skeleton you will make! And very soon, too, because you do not
smile on your madly-loving Svengali. You burn his letters without
reading them! You shall have a nice little mahogany glass case all to
yourself in the museum of the École de Médecine, and Svengali shall come
in his new fur-lined coat, smoking his big cigar of the Havana, and push
the dirty carabins out of the way, and look through the holes of your
eyes into your stupid empty skull, and up the nostrils of your high bony
sounding-board of a nose without either a tip or a lip to it, and into
the roof of your big mouth, with your thirty-two big English teeth, and
between your big ribs into your big chest, where the big leather lungs
used to be, and say, 'Ach! what a pity she had no more music in her than
a big tomcat!' And then he will look all down your bones to your poor
crumbling feet, and say, 'Ach! what a fool she was not to answer
Svengali's letters!' and the dirty carabins shall--"

"Shut up, you sacred fool, or I'll precious soon spoil _your_ skeleton
for you."

Thus the short-tempered Taffy, who had been listening.

Then Svengali, scowling, would play Chopin's funeral march more divinely
than ever; and where the pretty, soft part comes in, he would whisper to
Trilby, "That is Svengali coming to look at you in your little mahogany
glass case!"

And here let me say that these vicious imaginations of Svengali's, which
look so tame in English print, sounded much more ghastly in French,
pronounced with a Hebrew-German accent, and uttered in his hoarse,
rasping, nasal, throaty rook's caw, his big yellow teeth baring
themselves in a mongrel canine snarl, his heavy upper eyelids drooping
over his insolent black eyes.

Besides which, as he played the lovely melody he would go through a
ghoulish pantomime, as though he were taking stock of the different
bones in her skeleton with greedy but discriminating approval. And when
he came down to the feet, he was almost droll in the intensity of his
terrible realism. But Trilby did not appreciate this exquisite fooling,
and felt cold all over.

He seemed to her a dread, powerful demon, who, but for Taffy (who alone
could hold him in check), oppressed and weighed on her like an
incubus--and she dreamed of him oftener than she dreamed of Taffy, the
Laird, or even Little Billee!

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus pleasantly and smoothly, and without much change or adventure,
things went on till Christmastime.

Little Billee seldom spoke of Trilby, or Trilby of him. Work went on
every morning at the studio in the Place St. Anatole des Arts, and
pictures were begun and finished--little pictures that didn't take long
to paint--the Laird's Spanish bull-fighting scenes, in which the bull
never appeared, and which he sent to his native Dundee and sold there;
Taffy's tragic little dramas of life in the slums of Paris--starvings,
drownings--suicides by charcoal and poison--which he sent everywhere,
but did not sell.

[Illustration: "AN INCUBUS"]

Little Billee was painting all this time at Carrel's studio--his private
one--and seemed preoccupied and happy when they all met at mealtime, and
less talkative even than usual.

He had always been the least talkative of the three; more prone to
listen, and no doubt to think the more.

In the afternoon people came and went as usual, and boxed and fenced and
did gymnastic feats, and felt Taffy's biceps, which by this time
equalled Mr. Sandow's!

Some of these people were very pleasant and remarkable, and have become
famous since then in England, France, America--or have died, or married,
and come to grief or glory in other ways. It is the Ballad of the
Bouillabaisse all over again!

It might be worth while my trying to sketch some of the more noteworthy,
now that my story is slowing for a while--like a French train when the
engine-driver sees a long curved tunnel in front of him, as I do--and no
light at the other end!

My humble attempts at characterization might be useful as "mémoires pour
servir" to future biographers. Besides, there are other reasons, as the
reader will soon discover.

There was Durien, for instance--Trilby's especial French adorer, "pour
le bon motif!" a son of the people, a splendid sculptor, a very fine
character in every way--so perfect, indeed, that there is less to say
about him than any of the others--modest, earnest, simple, frugal,
chaste, and of untiring industry; living for his art, and perhaps also a
little for Trilby, whom he would have been only too glad to marry. He
was Pygmalion; she was his Galatea--a Galatea whose marble heart would
never beat for _him_!

Durien's house is now the finest in the Parc Monceau; his wife and
daughters are the best-dressed women in Paris, and he one of the
happiest of men; but he will never quite forget poor Galatea:

"La belle aux pieds d'albâtre--aux deux talons de rose!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Then there was Vincent, a Yankee medical student, who could both work
and play.

He is now one of the greatest oculists in the world, and Europeans cross
the Atlantic to consult him. He can still play, and when he crosses the
Atlantic himself for that purpose he has to travel incognito like a
royalty, lest his play should be marred by work. And his daughters are
so beautiful and accomplished that British dukes have sighed after them
in vain. Indeed, these fair young ladies spend their autumn holiday in
refusing the British aristocracy. We are told so in the society papers,
and I can quite believe it. Love is not always blind; and if he is,
Vincent is the man to cure him.

In those days he prescribed for us all round, and punched and
stethoscoped us, and looked at our tongues for love, and told us what to
eat, drink, and avoid, and even where to go for it.

For instance: late one night Little Billee woke up in a cold sweat, and
thought himself a dying man--he had felt seedy all day and taken no
food; so he dressed and dragged himself to Vincent's hotel, and woke him
up, and said, "Oh, Vincent, Vincent! I'm a dying man!" and all but
fainted on his bed. Vincent felt him all over with the greatest care,
and asked him many questions. Then, looking at his watch, he delivered
himself thus: "Humph! 3.30! rather late--but still--look here, Little
Billee--do you know the Halle, on the other side of the water, where
they sell vegetables?"

"Oh yes! yes! What vegetable shall I--"

"Listen! On the north side are two restaurants, Bordier and Baratte.
They remain open all night. Now go straight off to one of those tuck
shops, and tuck in as big a supper as you possibly can. Some people
prefer Baratte. I prefer Bordier myself. Perhaps you'd better try
Bordier first and Baratte after. At all events, lose no time; so off you
go!"

Thus he saved Little Billee from an early grave.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then there was the Greek, a boy of only sixteen, but six feet high, and
looking ten years older than he was, and able to smoke even stronger
tobacco than Taffy himself, and color pipes divinely; he was a great
favorite in the Place St. Anatole, for his _bonhomie_, his niceness, his
warm geniality. He was the capitalist of this select circle (and nobly
lavish of his capital). He went by the name of Poluphloisboiospaleapologos
Petrilopetrolicoconose--for so he was christened by the Laird--because
his real name was thought much too long and much too lovely for the
quartier latin, and reminded one of the Isles of Greece--where burning
Sappho loved and sang.

What was he learning in the Latin quarter? French? He spoke French like
a native! Nobody knows. But when his Paris friends transferred their
bohemia to London, where were they ever made happier and more at home
than in his lordly parental abode--or fed with nicer things?

[Illustration: THE CAPITALIST AND THE SWELL]

That abode is now his, and lordlier than ever, as becomes the dwelling
of a millionaire and city magnate; and its gray-bearded owner is as
genial, as jolly, and as hospitable as in the old Paris days, but he no
longer colors pipes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then there was Carnegie, fresh from Balliol, redolent of the 'varsity.
He intended himself then for the diplomatic service, and came to Paris
to learn French as it is spoke; and spent most of his time with his
fashionable English friends on the right side of the river, and the rest
with Taffy, the Laird, and Little Billee on the left. Perhaps that is
why he has not become an ambassador. He is now only a rural dean, and
speaks the worst French I know, and speaks it wherever and whenever he
can.

It serves him right, I think.

He was fond of lords, and knew some (at least, he gave one that
impression), and often talked of them, and dressed so beautifully that
even Little Billee was abashed in his presence. Only Taffy, in his
threadbare out-at-elbow shooting-jacket and cricket cap, and the Laird,
in his tattered straw hat and Taffy's old overcoat down to his heels,
dared to walk arm in arm with him--nay, insisted on doing so--as they
listened to the band in the Luxembourg Gardens.

And his whiskers were even longer and thicker and more golden than
Taffy's own. But the mere sight of a boxing-glove made him sick.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then there was the yellow-haired Antony, a Swiss--the idle apprentice,
le "roi des truands," as we called him--to whom everything was
forgiven, as to François Villon, _à cause de ses gentillesses_ surely,
for all his reprehensible pranks, the gentlest and most lovable creature
that ever lived in bohemia, or out of it.

Always in debt, like Svengali--for he had no more notion of the value of
money than a humming-bird, and gave away in reckless generosity to
friends what in strictness belonged to his endless creditors--like
Svengali, humorous, witty, and a most exquisite and original artist, and
also somewhat eccentric in his attire (though scrupulously clean), so
that people would stare at him as he walked along--a thing that always
gave him dire offence! But unlike Svengali, full of delicacy,
refinement, and distinction of mind and manner--void of any
self-conceit--and, in spite of the irregularities of his life, the very
soul of truth and honor, as gentle as he was chivalrous and brave--the
warmest, stanchest, sincerest, most unselfish friend in the world; and,
as long as his purse was full, the best and drollest boon companion in
the world--but that was not forever!

When the money was gone, then would Antony hie him to some beggarly
attic in some lost Parisian slum, and write his own epitaph in lovely
French or German verse--or even English (for he was an astounding
linguist); and, telling himself that he was forsaken by family, friends,
and mistress alike, look out of his casement over the Paris chimney-pots
for the last time, and listen once more to "the harmonies of nature," as
he called it--and "aspire towards the infinite," and bewail "the cruel
deceptions of his life"--and finally lay himself down to die of sheer
starvation.

And as he lay and waited for his release that was so long in coming, he
would beguile the weary hours by mumbling a crust "watered with his own
salt tears," and decorating his epitaph with fanciful designs of the
most exquisite humor, pathos, and beauty--these illustrated epitaphs of
the young Antony, of which there exists a goodly number, are now
priceless, as all collectors know all over the world.

Fainter and fainter would he grow--and finally, on the third day or
thereabouts, a remittance would reach him from some long-suffering
sister or aunt in far Lausanne--or else the fickle mistress or faithless
friend (who had been looking for him all over Paris) would discover his
hiding-place, the beautiful epitaph would be walked off in triumph to le
père Marcas in the Rue du Ghette and sold for twenty, fifty, a hundred
francs--and then _Vogue la galére!_ And back again to bohemia, dear
bohemia and all its joys, as long as the money lasted ... _e poi, da
capo!_

And now that his name is a household word in two hemispheres, and he
himself an honor and a glory to the land he has adopted as his own, he
loves to remember all this and look back from the lofty pinnacle on
which he sits perched up aloft to the impecunious days of his idle
apprenticeship--_le bon temps où l'on était si malheureux!_

And with all that Quixotic dignity of his, so famous is he as a wit that
when he jokes (and he is always joking) people laugh first, and then ask
what he was joking about. And you can even make your own mild funniments
raise a roar by merely prefacing them "as Antony once said!"

The present scribe has often done so.

And if by a happy fluke you should some day hit upon a really good thing
of your own--good enough to be quoted--be sure it will come back to you
after many days prefaced "as Antony once said."

And these jokes are so good-natured that you almost resent their being
made at anybody's expense but your own--never from Antony

    "The aimless jest that striking has caused pain,
     The idle word that he'd wish back again!"

Indeed, in spite of his success, I don't suppose he ever made an enemy
in his life.

And here, let me add (lest there be any doubt as to his identity), that
he is now tall and stout and strikingly handsome, though rather
bald--and such an aristocrat in bearing, aspect, and manner that you
would take him for a blue-blooded descendant of the crusaders instead of
the son of a respectable burgher in Lausanne.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then there was Lorrimer, the industrious apprentice, who is now also
well-pinnacled on high; himself a pillar of the Royal Academy--probably,
if he lives long enough, its future president--the duly knighted or
baroneted Lord Mayor of "all the plastic arts" (except one or two
perhaps, here and there, that are not altogether without some
importance).

May this not be for many, many years! Lorrimer himself would be the
first to say so!

Tall, thin, red-haired, and well-favored, he was a most eager, earnest,
and painstaking young enthusiast, of precocious culture, who read
improving books, and did not share in the amusements of the quartier
latin, but spent his evenings at home with Handel, Michael Angelo, and
Dante, on the respectable side of the river. Also, he went into good
society sometimes, with a dress-coat on, and a white tie, and his hair
parted in the middle!

But in spite of these blemishes on his otherwise exemplary record as an
art student, he was the most delightful companion--the most
affectionate, helpful, and sympathetic of friends. May he live long and
prosper!

Enthusiast as he was, he could only worship one god at a time. It was
either Michael Angelo, Phidias, Paul Veronese, Tintoret, Raphael, or
Titian--never a modern--moderns didn't exist! And so thoroughgoing was
he in his worship, and so persistent in voicing it, that he made those
immortals quite unpopular in the Place St. Anatole des Arts. We grew to
dread their very names. Each of them would last him a couple of months
or so; then he would give us a month's holiday, and take up another.

Antony did not think much of Lorrimer in those days, nor Lorrimer of
him, for all they were such good friends. And neither of them thought
much of Little Billee, whose pinnacle (of pure unadulterated fame) is
now the highest of all--the highest probably that can be for a mere
painter of pictures!

And what is so nice about Lorrimer, now that he is a graybeard, an
academician, an accomplished man of the world and society, is that he
admires Antony's genius more than he can say--and reads Mr. Rudyard
Kipling's delightful stories as well as Dante's "Inferno"--and can
listen with delight to the lovely songs of Signor Tosti, who has not
precisely founded himself on Handel--can even scream with laughter at a
comic song--even a nigger melody--so, at least, that it but be sung in
well-bred and distinguished company--for Lorrimer is no bohemian.

    "Shoo, fly! don'tcher bother me!
     For I belong to the Comp'ny G!"

Both these famous men are happily (and most beautifully)
married--grandfathers, for all I know--and "move in the very best
society" (Lorrimer always, I'm told; Antony now and then); "la haute,"
as it used to be called in French bohemia--meaning dukes and lords and
even royalties, I suppose, and those who love them and whom they love.

That _is_ the best society, isn't it? At all events, we are assured it
used to be; but that must have been before the present scribe (a meek
and somewhat innocent outsider) had been privileged to see it with his
own little eye.

And when they happen to meet there (Antony and Lorrimer, I mean), I
don't expect they rush very wildly into each other's arms, or talk very
fluently about old times. Nor do I suppose their wives are very
intimate. None of our wives are. Not even Taffy's and the Laird's.

Oh, Orestes! Oh, Pylades!

Oh, ye impecunious, unpinnacled young inseparables of eighteen,
nineteen, twenty, even twenty-five, who share each other's thoughts and
purses, and wear each other's clothes, and swear each other's oaths,
and smoke each other's pipes, and respect each other's lights o' love,
and keep each other's secrets, and tell each other's jokes, and pawn
each other's watches and merrymake together on the proceeds, and sit all
night by each other's bedsides in sickness, and comfort each other in
sorrow and disappointment with silent, manly sympathy--"wait till you
get to forty year!"

Wait even till each or either of you gets himself a little pinnacle of
his own--be it ever so humble!

Nay, wait till either or each of you gets himself a wife!

History goes on repeating itself, and so do novels, and this is a
platitude, and there's nothing new under the sun.

May too cecee (as the idiomatic Laird would say, in the language he
adores)--may too cecee ay nee eecee nee láh!

       *       *       *       *       *

Then there was Dodor, the handsome young dragon de la garde--a full
private, if you please, with a beardless face, and damask-rosy cheeks,
and a small waist, and narrow feet like a lady's, and who, strange to
say, spoke English just like an Englishman.

And his friend Gontran, _alias_ l'Zouzou--a corporal in the Zouaves.

Both of these worthies had met Taffy in the Crimea, and frequented the
studios in the quartier latin, where they adored (and were adored by)
the grisettes and models, especially Trilby.

Both of them were distinguished for being the worst subjects (_les plus
mauvais sujets_) of their respective regiments; yet both were special
favorites not only with their fellow-rankers, but with those in command,
from their colonels downward.

Both were in the habit of being promoted to the rank of corporal or
brigadier, and degraded to the rank of private next day for general
misconduct, the result of a too exuberant delight in their promotion.

Neither of them knew fear, envy, malice, temper, or low spirits; ever
said or did an ill-natured thing; ever even thought one; ever had an
enemy but himself. Both had the best or the worst manners going,
according to their company, whose manners they reflected; they were true
chameleons!

Both were always ready to share their last ten-sou piece (not that they
ever seemed to have one) with each other or anybody else, or anybody
else's last ten-sou piece with you; to offer you a friend's cigar; to
invite you to dine with any friend they had; to fight with you, or for
you, at a moment's notice. And they made up for all the anxiety,
tribulation, shame, and sorrow they caused at home by the endless fun
and amusement they gave to all outside.

It was a pretty dance they led; but our three friends of the Place St.
Anatole (who hadn't got to pay the pipers) loved them both, especially
Dodor.

One fine Sunday afternoon Little Billee found himself studying life and
character in that most delightful and festive scene la Fête de St.
Cloud, and met Dodor and l'Zouzou there, who hailed him with delight,
saying:

"Nous allons joliment jubiler, nom d'une pipe!" and insisted on his
joining in their amusements and paying for them--roundabouts, swings,
the giant, the dwarf, the strong man, the fat woman--to whom they made
love and were taken too seriously, and turned out--the menagerie of wild
beasts, whom they teased and aggravated till the police had to
interfere. Also _al fresco_ dances, where their cancan step was of the
wildest and most unbridled character, till a sous-officier or a gendarme
came in sight, and then they danced quite mincingly and demurely, _en
maître d'école_, as they called it, to the huge delight of an immense
and ever-increasing crowd, and the disgust of all truly respectable men.

They also insisted on Little Billee's walking between them, arm in arm,
and talking to them in English whenever they saw coming towards them a
respectable English family with daughters. It was the dragoon's delight
to get himself stared at by fair daughters of Albion for speaking as
good English as themselves--a rare accomplishment in a French
trooper--and Zouzou's happiness to be thought English too, though the
only English he knew was the phrase "I will not! I will not!" which he
had picked up in the Crimea, and repeated over and over again when he
came within ear-shot of a pretty English girl.

Little Billee was not happy in these circumstances. He was no snob. But
he was a respectably brought-up young Briton of the higher middle class,
and it was not quite pleasant for him to be seen (by fair countrywomen
of his own) walking arm in arm on a Sunday afternoon with a couple of
French private soldiers, and uncommonly rowdy ones at that.

[Illustration: "'I WILL NOT! I WILL NOT!'"]

Later, they came back to Paris together on the top of an omnibus,
among a very proletarian crowd, and there the two facetious warriors
immediately made themselves pleasant all round and became very popular,
especially with the women and children; but not, I regret to say,
through the propriety, refinement, and discretion of their behavior.
Little Billee resolved that he would not go a-pleasuring with them any
more.

However, they stuck to him through thick and thin, and insisted on
escorting him all the way back to the quartier latin, by the Pont de la
Concorde and the Rue de Lille in the Faubourg St. Germain.

Little Billee loved the Faubourg St. Germain, especially the Rue de
Lille. He was fond of gazing at the magnificent old mansions, the
"hôtels" of the old French noblesse, or rather the outside walls
thereof, the grand sculptured portals with the armorial bearings and the
splendid old historic names above them--Hôtel de This, Hôtel de That,
Rohan-Chabot, Montmorency, La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, La Tour
d'Auvergne.

He would forget himself in romantic dreams of past and forgotten French
chivalry which these glorious names called up; for he knew a little of
French history, loving to read Froissart and Saint-Simon and the genial
Brantôme.

Halting opposite one of the finest and oldest of all these gateways, his
especial favorite, labelled "Hôtel de la Rochemartel" in letters of
faded gold over a ducal coronet and a huge escutcheon of stone, he began
to descant upon its architectural beauties and noble proportions to
l'Zouzou.

"_Parbleu!_" said l'Zouzou, "_connu_, _farceur!_ why, I was _born_
there, on the 6th of March, 1834, at 5.30 in the morning. Lucky day for
France--_hein_?"

"Born there? what do you mean--in the porter's lodge?"

At this juncture the two great gates rolled back, a liveried Suisse
appeared, and an open carriage and pair came out, and in it were two
elderly ladies and a younger one.

[Illustration: DODOR IN HIS GLORY]

To Little Billee's indignation, the two incorrigible warriors made the
military salute, and the three ladies bowed stiffly and gravely.

And then (to Little Billee's horror this time) one of them happened to
look back, and Zouzou actually kissed his hand to her.

"Do you _know_ that lady?" asked Little Billee, very sternly.

"_Parbleu! si je la connais!_ Why, it's my mother! Isn't she nice? She's
rather cross with me just now."

"Your _mother_! Why, what do you mean? What on earth would your mother
be doing in that big carriage and at that big house?"

"_Parbleu, farceur!_ She lives there!"

"_Lives_ there! Why, who and what is she, your mother?"

"The Duchesse de la Rochemartel, _parbleu!_ and that's my sister; and
that's my aunt, Princess de Chevagné-Bauffremont! She's the '_patronne_'
of that _chic_ equipage. She's a millionaire, my aunt Chevagné!"

"Well, I never! What's _your_ name, then?"

"Oh, _my_ name! Hang it--let me see!
Well--Gontran-Xavier--François--Marie--Joseph d'Amaury--Brissac de
Roncesvaulx de la Rochemartel-Boisségur, at your service!"

"Quite correct!" said Dodor; "_l'enfant dit vrai!_"

"Well--I--never! And what's _your_ name, Dodor?"

"Oh! I'm only a humble individual, and answer to the one-horse name of
Théodore Rigolot de Lafarce. But Zouzou's an awful swell, you know--his
brother's the Duke!"

[Illustration: HÔTEL DE LA ROCHEMARTEL]

Little Billee was no snob. But he was a respectably brought-up young
Briton of the higher middle class, and these revelations, which he could
not but believe, astounded him so that he could hardly speak. Much as he
flattered himself that he scorned the bloated aristocracy, titles are
titles--even French titles!--and when it comes to dukes and princesses
who live in houses like the Hôtel de la Rochemartel ...!

It's enough to take a respectably brought-up young Briton's breath away!

When he saw Taffy that evening, he exclaimed: "I say, Zouzou's mother's
a duchess!"

"Yes--the Duchesse de la Rochemartel-Boisségur."

"You never told me!"

"You never asked me. It's one of the greatest names in France. They're
very poor, I believe."

"Poor! You should see the house they live in!"

"I've been there, to dinner; and the dinner wasn't very good. They let a
great part of it, and live mostly in the country. The Duke is Zouzou's
brother; very unlike Zouzou; he's consumptive and unmarried, and the
most respectable man in Paris. Zouzou will be the Duke some day."

"And Dodor--he's a swell, too, I suppose--he says he's _de_ something or
other!"

"Yes--Rigolot de Lafarce. I've no doubt he descends from the Crusaders,
too; the name seems to favor it, anyhow; and such lots of them do in
this country. His mother was English, and bore the worthy name of Brown.
He was at school in England; that's why he speaks English so well--and
behaves so badly, perhaps! He's got a very beautiful sister, married to
a man in the 60th Rifles--Jack Reeve, a son of Lord Reevely's; a selfish
sort of chap. I don't suppose he gets on very well with his
brother-in-law. Poor Dodor! His sister's about the only living thing he
cares for--except Zouzou."

       *       *       *       *       *

I wonder if the bland and genial Monsieur Théodore--"notre Sieur
Théodore"--now junior partner in the great haberdashery firm of
"Passefil et Rigolot," on the Boulevard des Capucines, and a pillar of
the English chapel in the Rue Marbœuf, is very hard on his employés
and employées if they are a little late at their counters on a Monday
morning?

I wonder if that stuck-up, stingy, stodgy, communard-shooting,
church-going, time-serving, place-hunting, pious-eyed, pompous old prig,
martinet, and philistine, Monsieur le Maréchal-Duc de la
Rochemartel-Boisségur, ever tells Madame la Maréchale-Duchesse (_née_
Hunks, of Chicago) how once upon a time Dodor and he--

We will tell no tales out of school.

The present scribe is no snob. He is a respectably brought-up old Briton
of the higher middle-class--at least, he flatters himself so. And he
writes for just such old philistines as himself, who date from a time
when titles were not thought so cheap as to-day. Alas! all reverence for
all that is high and time-honored and beautiful seems at a discount.

So he has kept his blackguard ducal Zouave for the bouquet of this
little show--the final _bonne bouche_ in his bohemian _menu_--that he
may make it palatable to those who only look upon the good old quartier
latin (now no more to speak of) as a very low, common, vulgar quarter
indeed, deservedly swept away, where misters the students (shocking
bounders and cads) had nothing better to do, day and night, than mount
up to a horrid place called the thatched house--_la chaumière_--

     "Pour y danser le cancan
      Ou le Robert Macaire--
      Toujours--toujours--toujours--
      La nuit comme le jour ...
      Et youp! youp! youp!
    Tra la la la la ... la la la!"

       *       *       *       *       *

       *       *       *       *       *

       *       *       *       *       *

Christmas was drawing near.

There were days when the whole quartier latin would veil its iniquities
under fogs almost worthy of the Thames Valley between London Bridge and
Westminster, and out of the studio window the prospect was a dreary
blank. No morgue! no towers of Notre Dame! not even the chimney-pots
over the way--not even the little mediæval toy turret at the corner of
the Rue Vieille des Mauvais Ladres, Little Billee's delight!

The stove had to be crammed till its sides grew a dull deep red before
one's fingers could hold a brush or squeeze a bladder; one had to box or
fence at nine in the morning, that one might recover from the cold bath,
and get warm for the rest of the day!

Taffy and the Laird grew pensive and dreamy, childlike and bland; and
when they talked it was generally about Christmas at home in merry
England and the distant land of cakes, and how good it was to be there
at such a time--hunting, shooting, curling, and endless carouse!

It was Ho! for the jolly West Riding, and Hey! for the bonnets of Bonnie
Dundee, till they grew quite homesick, and wanted to start by the very
next train.

They didn't do anything so foolish. They wrote over to friends in London
for the biggest turkey, the biggest plum-pudding, that could be got for
love or money, with mince-pies, and holly and mistletoe, and sturdy,
short, thick English sausages, half a Stilton cheese, and a sirloin of
beef--two sirloins, in case one should not be enough.

For they meant to have a Homeric feast in the studio on Christmas
Day--Taffy, the Laird, and Little Billee--and invite all the delightful
chums I have been trying to describe; and that is just why I tried to
describe them--Durien, Vincent, Antony, Lorrimer, Carnegie,
Petrolicoconose, l'Zouzou, and Dodor!

The cooking and waiting should be done by Trilby, her friend Angèle
Boisse, M. et Mme. Vinard, and such little Vinards as could be trusted
with glass and crockery and mince-pies; and if that was not enough, they
would also cook themselves and wait upon each other.

When dinner should be over, supper was to follow with scarcely any
interval to speak of; and to partake of this other guests should be
bidden--Svengali and Gecko, and perhaps one or two more. No ladies!

For, as the unsusceptible Laird expressed it, in the language of a
gillie he had once met at a servants' dance in a Highland country-house,
"Them wimmen spiles the ball!"

Elaborate cards of invitation were sent out, in the designing and
ornamentation of which the Laird and Taffy exhausted all their fancy
(Little Billee had no time).

Wines and spirits and English beers were procured at great cost from M.
E. Delevingne's, in the Rue St. Honoré, and liqueurs of every
description--chartreuse, curaçoa, ratafia de cassis, and anisette; no
expense was spared.

Also, truffled galantines of turkey, tongues, hams, rillettes de Tours,
pâtés de foie gras, "fromage d'Italie" (which has nothing to do with
cheese), saucissons d'Arles et de Lyon, with and without garlic, cold
jellies peppery and salt--everything that French charcutiers and their
wives can make out of French pigs, or any other animal whatever, beast,
bird, or fowl (even cats and rats), for the supper; and sweet jellies,
and cakes, and sweetmeats, and confections of all kinds, from the famous
pastry-cook at the corner of the Rue Castiglione.

Mouths went watering all day long in joyful anticipation. They water
somewhat sadly now at the mere remembrance of these delicious
things--the mere immediate sight or scent of which in these degenerate
latter days would no longer avail to promote any such delectable
secretion. Hélas! ahimè! ach weh! ay de mi! eheu! οἱμοι--in
point of fact, _alas_!

That is the very exclamation I wanted.

[Illustration: CHRISTMAS EVE]

Christmas Eve came round. The pieces of resistance and plum-pudding
and mince-pies had not yet arrived from London--but there was plenty of
time.

Les trois Angliches dined at le père Trin's, as usual, and played
billiards and dominos at the Café du Luxembourg, and possessed their
souls in patience till it was time to go and hear the midnight mass at
the Madeleine, where Roucouly, the great barytone of the Opéra Comique,
was retained to sing Adam's famous Noël.

The whole quartier seemed alive with the réveillon. It was a clear,
frosty night, with a splendid moon just past the full, and most
exhilarating was the walk along the quays on the Rive Gauche, over the
Pont de la Concorde and across the Place thereof, and up the thronged
Rue de la Madeleine to the massive Parthenaic place of worship that
always has such a pagan, worldly look of smug and prosperous modernity.

They struggled manfully, and found standing and kneeling room among that
fervent crowd, and heard the impressive service with mixed feelings, as
became true Britons of very advanced liberal and religious opinions; not
with the unmixed contempt of the proper British Orthodox (who were there
in full force, one may be sure).

But their susceptible hearts soon melted at the beautiful music, and in
mere sensuous _attendrissement_ they were quickly in unison with all the
rest.

For as the clock struck twelve out pealed the organ, and up rose the
finest voice in France:

    "Minuit, Chrétiens! c'est l'heure solennelle
     Où l'Homme-Dieu descendit parmi nous!"

And a wave of religious emotion rolled over Little Billee and submerged
him; swept him off his little legs, swept him out of his little self,
drowned him in a great seething surge of love--love of his kind, love of
love, love of life, love of death, love of all that is and ever was and
ever will be--a very large order indeed, even for Little Billee.

[Illustration: "'ALLONS GLYCÈRE! ROUGIS MON VERRE....'"]

And it seemed to him that he stretched out his arms for love to one
figure especially beloved beyond all the rest--one figure erect on high
with arms outstretched to him, in more than common fellowship of need;
not the sorrowful figure crowned with thorns, for it was in the likeness
of a woman; but never that of the Virgin Mother of Our Lord.

It was Trilby, Trilby, Trilby! a poor fallen sinner and waif all but
lost amid the scum of the most corrupt city on earth. Trilby weak and
mortal like himself, and in woful want of pardon! and in her gray
dovelike eyes he saw the shining of so great a love that he was abashed;
for well he knew that all that love was his, and would be his forever,
come what would or could.

    "Peuple, debout! Chante ta délivrance!
     _Noël! Noël! Voici le Rédempteur!_"

So sang and rang and pealed and echoed the big, deep, metallic barytone
bass--above the organ, above the incense, above everything else in the
world--till the very universe seemed to shake with the rolling thunder
of that great message of love and forgiveness!

Thus at least felt Little Billee, whose way it was to magnify and
exaggerate all things under the subtle stimulus of sound, and the
singing human voice had especially strange power to penetrate into his
inmost depths--even the voice of man!

And what voice but the deepest and gravest and grandest there is can
give worthy utterance to such a message as that, the epitome, the
abstract, the very essence of all collective humanity's wisdom at its
best!

Little Billee reached the Hôtel Corneille that night in a very exalted
frame of mind indeed, the loftiest, lowliest mood of all.

Now see what sport we are of trivial, base, ignoble earthly things!

Sitting on the door-step and smoking two cigars at once he found Ribot,
one of his fellow-lodgers, whose room was just under his own. Ribot was
so tipsy that he could not ring. But he could still sing, and did so at
the top of his voice. It was not the Noël of Adam that he sang. He had
not spent his réveillon in any church.

With the help of a sleepy waiter, Little Billee got the bacchanalian
into his room and lit his candle for him, and, disengaging himself from
his maudlin embraces, left him to wallow in solitude.

As he lay awake in his bed, trying to recall the deep and high emotions
of the evening, he heard the tipsy hog below tumbling about his room and
still trying to sing his senseless ditty:

                          "Allons, Glycère!
                          Rougis mon verre
    Du jus divin dont mon cœur est toujours jaloux ...
                          Et puis à table,
                          Bacchante aimable!
    Enivrons-nous (hic) Les g-glougloux sont des rendezvous!"...

Then the song ceased for a while, and soon there were other sounds, as
on a Channel steamer. Glougloux indeed!

Then the fear arose in Little Billee's mind lest the drunken beast
should set fire to his bedroom curtains. All heavenly visions were
chased away for the night....

Our hero, half-crazed with fear, disgust, and irritation, lay wide
awake, his nostrils on the watch for the smell of burning chintz or
muslin, and wondered how an educated man--for Ribot was a
law-student--could ever make such a filthy beast of himself as that! It
was a scandal--a disgrace; it was not to be borne; there should be no
forgiveness for such as Ribot--not even on Christmas Day! He would
complain to Madame Paul, the patronne; he would have Ribot turned out
into the street; he would leave the hotel himself the very next morning!
At last he fell asleep, thinking of all he would do; and thus,
ridiculously and ignominiously for Little Billee, ended the réveillon.

Next morning he complained to Madame Paul; and though he did not give
her warning, nor even insist on the expulsion of Ribot (who, as he heard
with a hard heart, was "bien malade ce matin"), he expressed himself
very severely on the conduct of that gentleman, and on the dangers from
fire that might arise from a tipsy man being trusted alone in a small
bedroom with chintz curtains and a lighted candle. If it hadn't been for
himself, he told her, Ribot would have slept on the door-step, and serve
him right! He was really grand in his virtuous indignation, in spite of
his imperfect French; and Madame Paul was deeply contrite for her
peccant lodger, and profuse in her apologies; and Little Billee began
his twenty-first Christmas Day like a Pharisee, thanking his star that
he was not as Ribot!




Part Fourth

                "Félicité passée
                 Qui ne peux revenir,
                 Tourment de ma pensée,
    Que n'ay-je, en te perdant, perdu le souvenir!"


Mid-day had struck. The expected hamper had not turned up in the Place
St. Anatole des Arts.

All Madame Vinard's kitchen battery was in readiness; Trilby and Madame
Angèle Boisse were in the studio, their sleeves turned up, and ready to
begin.

At twelve the trois Angliches and the two fair blanchisseuses sat down
to lunch in a very anxious frame of mind, and finished a pâté de foie
gras and two bottles of Burgundy between them, such was their
disquietude.

The guests had been invited for six o'clock.

Most elaborately they laid the cloth on the table they had borrowed from
the Hôtel de Seine, and settled who was to sit next to whom, and then
unsettled it, and quarrelled over it--Trilby, as was her wont in such
matters, assuming an authority that did not rightly belong to her, and
of course getting her own way in the end.

And that, as the Laird remarked, was her confounded Trilbyness.

Two o'clock--three--four--but no hamper! Darkness had almost set in. It
was simply maddening. They knelt on the divan, with their elbows on the
window-sill, and watched the street lamps popping into life along the
quays--and looked out through the gathering dusk for the van from the
Chemin de Fer du Nord--and gloomily thought of the Morgue, which they
could still make out across the river.

[Illustration: SOUVENIR]

At length the Laird and Trilby went off in a cab to the station--a long
drive--and, lo! before they came back the long-expected hamper arrived,
at six o'clock.

And with it Durien, Vincent, Antony, Lorrimer, Carnegie,
Petrolicoconose, Dodor, and l'Zouzou--the last two in uniform, as usual.

And suddenly the studio, which had been so silent, dark, and dull, with
Taffy and Little Billee sitting hopeless and despondent round the
stove, became a scene of the noisiest, busiest, and cheerfulest
animation. The three big lamps were lit, and all the Chinese lanterns.
The pieces of resistance and the pudding were whisked off by Trilby,
Angèle, and Madame Vinard to other regions--the porter's lodge and
Durien's studio (which had been lent for the purpose); and every one was
pressed into the preparations for the banquet. There was plenty for idle
hands to do. Sausages to be fried for the turkey, stuffing made, and
sauces, salads mixed, and punch--holly hung in festoons all round and
about--a thousand things. Everybody was so clever and good-humored that
nobody got in anybody's way--not even Carnegie, who was in evening dress
(to the Laird's delight). So they made him do the scullion's
work--cleaning, rinsing, peeling, etc.

The cooking of the dinner was almost better fun than the eating of it.
And though there were so many cooks, not even the broth was spoiled
(cockaleekie, from a receipt of the Laird's).

It was ten o'clock before they sat down to that most memorable repast.

Zouzou and Dodor, who had been the most useful and energetic of all its
cooks, apparently quite forgot they were due at their respective
barracks at that very moment: they had only been able to obtain "la
permission de dix heures." If they remembered it, the certainty that
next day Zouzou would be reduced to the ranks for the fifth time, and
Dodor confined to his barracks for a month, did not trouble them in the
least.

The waiting was as good as the cooking. The handsome, quick,
authoritative Madame Vinard was in a dozen places at once, and openly
prompted, rebuked, and ballyragged her husband into a proper smartness.
The pretty little Madame Angèle moved about as deftly and as quietly as
a mouse; which of course did not prevent them both from genially joining
in the general conversation whenever it wandered into French.

Trilby, tall, graceful, and stately, and also swift of action, though
more like Juno or Diana than Hebe, devoted herself more especially to
her own particular favorites--Durien, Taffy, the Laird, Little
Billee--and Dodor and Zouzou, whom she loved, and tutoyé'd en bonne
camarade as she served them with all there was of the choicest.

The two little Vinards did their little best--they scrupulously
respected the mince-pies, and only broke two bottles of oil and one of
Harvey sauce, which made their mother furious. To console them, the
Laird took one of them on each knee and gave them of his share of
plum-pudding and many other unaccustomed good things, so bad for their
little French tumtums.

The genteel Carnegie had never been at such a queer scene in his life.
It opened his mind--and Dodor and Zouzou, between whom he sat (the Laird
thought it would do him good to sit between a private soldier and a
humble corporal), taught him more French than he had learned during the
three months he had spent in Paris. It was a specialty of theirs. It was
more colloquial than what is generally used in diplomatic circles, and
stuck longer in the memory; but it hasn't interfered with his preferment
in the Church.

He quite unbent. He was the first to volunteer a song (without being
asked) when the pipes and cigars were lit, and after the usual toasts
had been drunk--her Majesty's health, Tennyson, Thackeray, and Dickens;
and John Leech.

He sang, with a very cracked and rather hiccupy voice, his only song (it
seems)--an English one, of which the burden, he explained, was French:

    "Veeverler veeverler veeverler vee
          Veeverler companyee!"

And Zouzou and Dodor complimented him so profusely on his French accent
that he was with difficulty prevented from singing it all over again.

Then everybody sang in rotation.

The Laird, with a capital barytone, sang

    "Hie diddle Dee for the Lowlands low,"

which was encored.

Little Billee sang "Little Billee."

Vincent sang

      "Old Joe kicking up behind and afore.
    And the yaller gal a-kicking up behind old Joe."

A capital song, with words of quite a masterly scansion.

Antony sang "Le Sire de Framboisy." Enthusiastic encore.

Lorrimer, inspired no doubt by the occasion, sang the "Hallelujah
Chorus," and accompanied himself on the piano, but failed to obtain an
encore.

Durien sang

    "Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment;
     Chagrin d'amour dure toute la vie...."

It was his favorite song, and one of the beautiful songs of the world,
and he sang it very well--and it became popular in the quartier latin
ever after.

The Greek couldn't sing, and very wisely didn't.

Zouzou sang capitally a capital song in praise of "le vin à quat' sous!"

Taffy, in a voice like a high wind (and with a very good imitation of
the Yorkshire brogue), sang a Somersetshire hunting-ditty, ending:

    "Of this 'ere song should I be axed the reason for to show,
     I don't exactly know, I don't exactly know!
     But all my fancy dwells upon Nancy,
                 And I sing Tally-ho!"

It is a quite superexcellent ditty, and haunts my memory to this day;
and one felt sure that Nancy was a dear and a sweet, wherever she lived,
and when. So Taffy was encored twice--once for her sake, once for his
own.

[Illustration: "MY SISTER DEAR"]

And finally, to the surprise of all, the bold dragoon sang (in English)
"My Sister Dear," out of _Masaniello_, with such pathos, and in a voice
so sweet and high and well in tune, that his audience felt almost weepy
in the midst of their jollification, and grew quite sentimental, as
Englishmen abroad are apt to do when they are rather tipsy and hear
pretty music, and think of their dear sisters across the sea, or their
friends' dear sisters.

Madame Vinard interrupted her Christmas dinner on the model-throne to
listen, and wept and wiped her eyes quite openly, and remarked to Madame
Boisse, who stood modestly close by: "Il est gentil tout plein, ce
dragon! Mon Dieu! comme il chante bien! Il est Angliche aussi, il
paraît. Ils sont joliment bien élevés, tous ces Angliches--tous plus
gentils les uns que les autres! et quant à Monsieur Litrebili, on lui
donnerait le bon Dieu sans confession!"

And Madame Boisse agreed.

Then Svengali and Gecko came, and the table had to be laid and decorated
anew, for it was supper-time.

Supper was even jollier than dinner, which had taken off the keen edge
of the appetites, so that every one talked at once--the true test of a
successful supper--except when Antony told some of his experiences of
bohemia; for instance, how, after staying at home all day for a month to
avoid his creditors, he became reckless one Sunday morning, and went to
the Bains Deligny, and jumped into a deep part by mistake, and was saved
from a watery grave by a bold swimmer, who turned out to be his
boot-maker, Satory, to whom he owed sixty francs--of all his duns the
one he dreaded the most--and who didn't let him go in a hurry.

Whereupon Svengali remarked that he also owed sixty francs to
Satory--"Mais comme che ne me baigne chamais, che n'ai rien à
craindre!"

Whereupon there was such a laugh that Svengali felt he had scored off
Antony at last and had a prettier wit. He flattered himself that he'd
got the laugh of Antony _this_ time.

And after supper Svengali and Gecko made such lovely music that
everybody was sobered and athirst again, and the punch-bowl, wreathed
with holly and mistletoe, was placed in the middle of the table, and
clean glasses set all round it.

[Illustration: A DUCAL FRENCH FIGHTING-COCK]

Then Dodor and l'Zouzou stood up to dance with Trilby and Madame Angèle,
and executed a series of cancan steps, which, though they were so
inimitably droll that they had each and all to be encored, were such
that not one of them need have brought the blush of shame to the cheek
of modesty.

Then the Laird danced a sword-dance over two T squares and broke them
both. And Taffy, baring his mighty arms to the admiring gaze of all, did
dumb-bell exercises, with Little Billee for a dumb-bell, and all but
dropped him into the punch-bowl; and tried to cut a pewter ladle in two
with Dodor's sabre, and sent it through the window; and this made him
cross, so that he abused French sabres, and said they were made of worse
pewter than even French ladles; and the Laird sententiously opined that
they managed these things better in England, and winked at Little
Billee.

Then they played at "cock-fighting," with their wrists tied across their
shins, and a broomstick thrust in between; thus manacled, you are placed
opposite your antagonist, and try to upset him with your feet, and he
you. It is a very good game. The cuirassier and the Zouave playing at
this got so angry, and were so irresistibly funny a sight, that the
shouts of laughter could be heard on the other side of the river, so
that a sergent de ville came in and civilly requested them not to make
so much noise. They were disturbing the whole quartier, he said, and
there was quite a "rassemblement" outside. So they made him tipsy, and
also another policeman, who came to look after his comrade, and yet
another; and these guardians of the peace of Paris were trussed and made
to play at cock-fighting, and were still funnier than the two soldiers,
and laughed louder and made more noise than any one else, so that Madame
Vinard had to remonstrate with them; till they got too tipsy to speak,
and fell fast asleep, and were laid next to each other behind the
stove.

The _fin de siècle_ reader, disgusted at the thought of such an orgy as
I have been trying to describe, must remember that it happened in the
fifties, when men calling themselves gentlemen, and being called so,
still wrenched off door-knockers and came back drunk from the Derby, and
even drank too much after dinner before joining the ladies, as is all
duly chronicled and set down in John Leech's immortal pictures of life
and character out of _Punch_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then M. and Mme. Vinard and Trilby and Angèle Boisse bade the company
good-night, Trilby being the last of them to leave.

Little Billee took her to the top of the staircase, and there he said to
her:

"Trilby, I have asked you nineteen times, and you have refused. Trilby,
once more, on Christmas night, for the twentieth time--_will_ you marry
me? If not, I leave Paris to-morrow morning, and never come back. I
swear it on my word of honor!"

Trilby turned very pale, and leaned her back against the wall, and
covered her face with her hands.

Little Billee pulled them away.

"Answer me, Trilby!"

"God forgive me, _yes!_" said Trilby, and she ran down-stairs, weeping.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was now very late.

It soon became evident that Little Billee was in extraordinary high
spirits--in an abnormal state of excitement.

He challenged Svengali to spar, and made his nose bleed, and frightened
him out of his sardonic wits. He performed wonderful and quite
unsuspected feats of strength. He swore eternal friendship to Dodor and
Zouzou, and filled their glasses again and again, and also (in his
innocence) his own, and trinquéd with them many times running. They were
the last to leave (except the three helpless policemen); and at about
five or six in the morning, to his surprise, he found himself walking
between Dodor and Zouzou by a late windy moonlight in the Rue Vieille
des Mauvais Ladres, now on one side of the frozen gutter, now on the
other, now in the middle of it, stopping them now and then to tell them
how jolly they were and how dearly he loved them.

Presently his hat flew away, and went rolling and skipping and bounding
up the narrow street, and they discovered that as soon as they let each
other go to run after it, they all three sat down.

So Dodor and Little Billee remained sitting, with their arms round each
other's necks and their feet in the gutter, while Zouzou went after the
hat on all fours, and caught it, and brought it back in his mouth like a
tipsy retriever. Little Billee wept for sheer love and gratitude, and
called him a cary_hat_ide (in English), and laughed loudly at his own
wit, which was quite thrown away on Zouzou! "No man ever _had_ such
dear, dear frenge! no man ever _was_ s'happy!"

After sitting for a while in love and amity, they managed to get up on
their feet again, each helping the other; and in some never-to-be-remembered
way they reached the Hôtel Corneille.

[Illustration: "'ANSWER ME, TRILBY!'"]

There they sat little Billee on the door-step and rang the bell, and
seeing some one coming up the Place de l'Odéon, and fearing he might be
a sergent de ville, they bid Little Billee a most affectionate but hasty
farewell, kissing him on both cheeks in French fashion, and contriving
to get themselves round the corner and out of sight.

Little Billee tried to sing Zouzou's drinking-song:

                  "Quoi de plus doux
                   Que les glougloux--
    Les glougloux du vin à quat' sous...."

The stranger came up. Fortunately, it was no sergent de ville, but
Ribot, just back from a Christmas-tree and a little family dance at his
aunt's, Madame Kolb (the Alsacian banker's wife, in the Rue de la
Chaussée d'Antin).

[Illustration: A CARY_HAT_IDE]

Next morning poor Little Billee was dreadfully ill.

He had passed a terrible night. His bed had heaved like the ocean, with
oceanic results. He had forgotten to put out his candle, but fortunately
Ribot had blown it out for him, after putting him to bed and tucking him
up like a real good Samaritan.

And next morning, when Madame Paul brought him a cup of tisane de
chiendent (which does not happen to mean a hair of the dog that bit
him), she was kind, but very severe on the dangers and disgrace of
intoxication, and talked to him like a mother.

"If it had not been for kind Monsieur Ribot" (she told him), "the
door-step would have been your portion; and who could say you didn't
deserve it? And then think of the dangers of fire from a tipsy man all
alone in a small bedroom with chintz curtains and a lighted candle!"

"Ribot was kind enough to blow out my candle," said Little Billee,
humbly.

"Ah, Dame!" said Madame Paul, with much meaning--"au moins il a _bon
cœur_, Monsieur Ribot!"

And the crulest sting of all was when the good-natured and incorrigibly
festive Ribot came and sat by his bedside, and was kind and tenderly
sympathetic, and got him a pick-me-up from the chemist's (unbeknown to
Madame Paul).

"Credieu! vous vous êtes crânement bien amusé, hier soir! quelle bosse,
hein! je parie que c'était plus drôle que chez ma tante Kolb!"

All of which, of course, it is unnecessary to translate; except,
perhaps, the word "bosse," which stands for "noce," which stands for a
"jolly good spree."

In all his innocent little life Little Billee had never dreamed of such
humiliation as this--such ignominious depths of shame and misery and
remorse! He did not care to live. He had but one longing: that Trilby,
dear Trilby, kind Trilby, would come and pillow his head on her
beautiful white English bosom, and lay her soft, cool, tender hand on
his aching brow, and there let him go to sleep, and sleeping, die!

He slept and slept, with no better rest for his aching brow than the
pillow of his bed in the Hôtel Corneille, and failed to die this time.
And when, after some forty-eight hours or so, he had quite slept off the
fumes of that memorable Christmas debauch, he found that a sad thing had
happened to him, and a strange!

It was as though a tarnishing breath had swept over the reminiscent
mirror of his mind and left a little film behind it, so that no past
thing he wished to see therein was reflected with quite the old pristine
clearness. As though the keen, quick, razorlike edge of his power to
reach and re-evoke the by-gone charm and glamour and essence of things
had been blunted and coarsened. As though the bloom of that special joy,
the gift he unconsciously had of recalling past emotions and sensations
and situations, and making them actual once more by a mere effort of the
will, had been brushed away.

And he never recovered the full use of that most precious faculty, the
boon of youth and happy childhood, and which he had once possessed,
without knowing it, in such singular and exceptional completeness. He
was to lose other precious faculties of his over-rich and complex
nature--to be pruned and clipped and thinned--that his one supreme
faculty of painting might have elbow-room to reach its fullest, or else
you would never have seen the wood for the trees (or _vice versa_--which
is it?).

[Illustration: "'LES GLOUGLOUX DU VIN À QUAT' SOUS....'"]

On New-year's Day Taffy and the Laird were at their work in the studio,
when there was a knock at the door, and Monsieur Vinard, cap in hand,
respectfully introduced a pair of visitors, an English lady and
gentleman.

The gentleman was a clergyman, small, thin, round-shouldered, with a
long neck; weak-eyed and dryly polite. The lady was middle-aged, though
still young looking; very pretty, with gray hair; very well dressed;
very small, full of nervous energy, with tiny hands and feet. It was
Little Billee's mother; and the clergyman, the Rev. Thomas Bagot, was
her brother-in-law.

Their faces were full of trouble--so much so that the two painters did
not even apologize for the carelessness of their attire, or for the odor
of tobacco that filled the room. Little Billee's mother recognized the
two painters at a glance, from the sketches and descriptions of which
her son's letters were always full.

They all sat down.

After a moment's embarrassed silence, Mrs. Bagot exclaimed, addressing
Taffy: "Mr. Wynne, we are in terrible distress of mind. I don't know if
my son has told you, but on Christmas Day he engaged himself to be
married!"

"To--be--_married!_" exclaimed Taffy and the Laird, for whom this was
news indeed.

"Yes--to be married to a Miss Trilby O'Ferrall, who, from what he
implies, is in quite a different position in life to himself. Do you
know the lady, Mr. Wynne?"

"Oh yes! I know her very well indeed; we _all_ know her."

"Is she English?"

"She's an English subject, I believe."

"Is she a Protestant or a Roman Catholic?" inquired the clergyman.

"A--a--upon my word, I really don't know!"

"You know her very well indeed, and you _don't_--_know_--_that_, Mr.
Wynne!" exclaimed Mr. Bagot.

"Is she a _lady_, Mr. Wynne?" asked Mrs. Bagot, somewhat impatiently, as
if that were a much more important matter.

By this time the Laird had managed to basely desert his friend; had got
himself into his bedroom, and from thence, by another door, into the
street and away.

"A lady?" said Taffy; "a--it so much depends upon what that word exactly
means, you know; things are so--a--so different here. Her father was a
gentleman, I believe--a fellow of Trinity, Cambridge--and a clergyman,
if _that_ means anything!... he was unfortunate and all
that--a--intemperate, I fear, and not successful in life. He has been
dead six or seven years."

"And her mother?"

"I really know very little about her mother, except that she was very
handsome, I believe, and of inferior social rank to her husband. She's
also dead; she died soon after him."

"What is the young lady, then? An English governess, or something of
that sort?"

"Oh, no, no--a--nothing of _that_ sort," said Taffy (and inwardly, "You
coward--you cad of a Scotch thief of a sneak of a Laird--to leave all
this to me!").

"What? Has she independent means of her own, then?"

"A--not that I know of; I should even say, decidedly not!"

"What _is_ she, then? She's at least respectable, I hope!"

"At present she's a--a blanchisseuse de fin--that is considered
respectable here."

"Why, that's a washer-woman, isn't it?"

"Well--rather better than that, perhaps--_de fin_, you know!--things are
so different in Paris! I don't think you'd say she was very much like a
washer-woman--to look at!"

"Is she so good-looking, then?"

"Oh yes; extremely so. You may well say that--very beautiful,
indeed--about that, at least, there is no doubt whatever!"

"And of unblemished character?"

Taffy, red and perspiring as if he were going through his Indian-club
exercise, was silent--and his face expressed a miserable perplexity. But
nothing could equal the anxious misery of those two maternal eyes, so
wistfully fixed on his.

After some seconds of a most painful stillness, the lady said, "Can't
you--oh, _can't_ you give me an answer, Mr. Wynne?"

"Oh, Mrs. Bagot, you have placed me in a terrible position! I--I love
your son just as if he were my own brother! This engagement is a
complete surprise to me--a most painful surprise! I'd thought of many
possible things, but never of _that!_ I cannot--I really _must_ not
conceal from you that it would be an unfortunate marriage for your
son--from a--a worldly point of view, you know--although both I and
McAllister have a very deep and warm regard for poor Trilby
O'Ferrall--indeed, a great admiration and affection and respect! She
was once a model."

"A _model_, Mr. Wynne? What _sort_ of a model--there are models and
models, of course."

[Illustration: "'IS SHE A _LADY_, MR. WYNNE?'"]

"Well, a model of every sort, in every possible sense of the word--head,
hands, feet, everything!"

"A model for the _figure?_"

"Well--yes!"

"Oh, my God! my God! my God!" cried Mrs. Bagot--and she got up and
walked up and down the studio in a most terrible state of agitation,
her brother-in-law following her and begging her to control herself. Her
exclamations seemed to shock him, and she didn't seem to care.

"Oh, Mr. Wynne! Mr. Wynne! If you only _knew_ what my son is to me--to
all of us--always has been! He has been with us all his life, till he
came to this wicked, accursed city! My poor husband would never hear of
his going to any school, for fear of all the harm he might learn there.
My son was as innocent and pure-minded as any girl, Mr. Wynne--I could
have trusted him anywhere--and that's why I gave way and allowed him to
come _here_, of all places in the world--all alone. Oh! I should have
come with him! Fool--fool--fool that I was!...

"Oh, Mr. Wynne, he won't see either his mother or his uncle! I found a
letter from him at the hotel, saying he'd left Paris--and I don't even
know where he's gone!... Can't _you_, can't Mr. McAllister, do
_anything_ to avert this miserable disaster? You don't know how he loves
you both--you should see his letters to me and to his sister! they are
always full of you!"

"Indeed, Mrs. Bagot--you can count on McAllister and me for doing
everything in our power! But it is of no use our trying to influence
your son--I feel quite sure of _that_! It is to _her_ we must make our
appeal."

"Oh, Mr. Wynne! to a washer-woman--a figure model--and Heaven knows what
besides! and with such a chance as this!"

"Mrs. Bagot, you don't know her? She may have been all that. But
strange as it may seem to you--and seems to me, for that matter--she's
a--she's--upon my word of honor, I really think she's about the best
woman I ever met--the most unselfish--the most--"

"Ah! She's a _beautiful_ woman--I can well see _that!_"

"She has a beautiful nature, Mrs. Bagot--you may believe me or not, as
you like--and it is to that I shall make my appeal, as your son's
friend, who has his interests at heart. And let me tell you that deeply
as I grieve for you in your present distress, my grief and concern for
her are far greater!"

"What! grief for her if she marries my son!"

"No, indeed--but if she refuses to marry him. She may not do so, of
course--but my instinct tells me she will!"

"Oh! Mr. Wynne, is that likely?"

"I will do my best to make it so--with such an utter trust in her
unselfish goodness of heart and her passionate affection for your son
as--"

"How do you know she has all this passionate affection for him?"

"Oh, McAllister and I have long guessed it--though we never thought this
particular thing would come of it. I think, perhaps, that first of all
you ought to see her yourself--you would get quite a new idea of what
she really is--you would be surprised, I assure you."

Mrs. Bagot shrugged her shoulders impatiently, and there was silence for
a minute or two.

And then, just as in a play, Trilby's "Milk below!" was sounded at the
door, and Trilby came into the little antechamber, and seeing
strangers, was about to turn back. She was dressed as a grisette, in her
Sunday gown and pretty white cap (for it was New-year's Day), and
looking her very best.

Taffy called out, "Come in, Trilby!"

And Trilby came into the studio.

As soon as she saw Mrs. Bagot's face she stopped short--erect, her
shoulders a little high, her mouth a little open, her eyes wide with
fright--and pale to the lips--a pathetic, yet commanding, magnificent,
and most distinguished apparition, in spite of her humble attire.

The little lady got up and walked straight to her, and looked up into
her face, that seemed to tower so. Trilby breathed hard.

At length Mrs. Bagot said, in her high accents, "You are Miss Trilby
O'Ferrall?"

"Oh yes--yes--I am Trilby O'Ferrall, and you are Mrs. Bagot; I can see
that!"

A new tone had come into her large, deep, soft voice, so tragic, so
touching, so strangely in accord with the whole aspect just then--so
strangely in accord with the whole situation--that Taffy felt his cheeks
and lips turn cold, and his big spine thrill and tickle all down his
back.

"Oh yes; you are very, very beautiful--there's no doubt about _that_!
You wish to marry my son?"

"I've refused to marry him nineteen times for his own sake; he will tell
you so himself. I am not the right person for him to marry. I know that.
On Christmas night he asked me for the twentieth time; he swore he would
leave Paris next day forever if I refused him. I hadn't the courage. I
was weak, you see! It was a dreadful mistake."

"Are you so fond of him?"

"_Fond_ of him? Aren't _you_?"

"I'm his mother, my good girl!"

To this Trilby seemed to have nothing to say.

"You have just said yourself you are not a fit wife for him. If you are
so _fond_ of him, will you ruin him by marrying him; drag him down;
prevent him from getting on in life; separate him from his sister, his
family, his friends?"

[Illustration: "'_FOND_ OF HIM? AREN'T _YOU_?'"]

Trilby turned her miserable eyes to Taffy's miserable face, and said,
"Will it really be all that, Taffy?"

"Oh, Trilby, things have got all wrong, and can't be righted! I'm afraid
it might be so. Dear Trilby--I can't tell you what I feel--but I can't
tell you lies, you know!"

"Oh no--Taffy--you don't tell lies!"

Then Trilby began to tremble very much, and Taffy tried to make her sit
down, but she wouldn't. Mrs. Bagot looked up into her face, herself
breathless with keen suspense and cruel anxiety--almost imploring.

Trilby looked down at Mrs. Bagot very kindly, put out her shaking hand,
and said; "Good-bye, Mrs. Bagot. I will not marry your son. I _promise_
you. I will never see him again."

Mrs. Bagot caught and clasped her hand and tried to kiss it, and said:
"Don't go yet, my dear good girl. I want to talk to you. I want to tell
you how deeply I--"

"Good-bye, Mrs. Bagot," said Trilby, once more; and, disengaging her
hand, she walked swiftly out of the room.

Mrs. Bagot seemed stupefied, and only half content with her quick
triumph.

"She will not marry your son, Mrs. Bagot. I only wish to God she'd marry
_me_!"

"Oh, Mr. Wynne!" said Mrs. Bagot, and burst into tears.

"Ah!" exclaimed the clergyman, with a feebly satirical smile and a
little cough and sniff that were not sympathetic, "now if _that_ could
be arranged--and I've no doubt there wouldn't be much opposition on the
part of the lady" (here he made a little complimentary bow), "it would
be a very desirable thing all round!"

"It's tremendously good of you, I'm sure--to interest yourself in _my_
humble affairs," said Taffy. "Look here, sir--I'm not a great genius
like your nephew--and it doesn't much matter to any one but myself what
I make of my life--but I can assure you that if Trilby's heart were set
on me as it is on him, I would gladly cast in my lot with hers for life.
She's one in a thousand. She's the one sinner that repenteth, you know!"

"Ah, yes--to be sure!--to be sure! I know all about that; still, facts
are facts, and the world is the world, and we've got to live in it,"
said Mr. Bagot, whose satirical smile had died away under the gleam of
Taffy's choleric blue eye.

Then said the good Taffy, frowning down on the parson (who looked mean
and foolish, as people can sometimes do even with right on their side):
"And now, Mr. Bagot--I can't tell you how very keenly I have suffered
during this--a--this most painful interview--on account of my very deep
regard for Trilby O'Ferrall. I congratulate you and your sister-in-law
on its complete success. I also feel very deeply for your nephew. I'm
not sure that he has not lost more than he will gain by--a--by
the--a--the success of this--a--this interview, in short!"

Taffy's eloquence was exhausted, and his quick temper was getting the
better of him.

Then Mrs. Bagot, drying her eyes, came and took his hand in a very
charming and simple manner, and said: "Mr. Wynne, I think I know what
you are feeling just now. You must try and make some allowance for us.
You will, I am sure, when we are gone, and you have had time to think a
little. As for that noble and beautiful girl, I only wish that she were
such that my son _could_ marry her--in her past life, I mean. It is not
her humble rank that would frighten me; _pray_ believe that I am quite
sincere in this--and don't think too hardly of your friend's mother.
Think of all I shall have to go through with my poor son--who is deeply
in love--and no wonder! and who has won the love of such a woman as
that! and who cannot see at present how fatal to him such a marriage
would be. I can see all the charm and believe in all the goodness, in
spite of all. And, oh, how beautiful she is, and what a voice! All that
counts for so much, doesn't it? I cannot tell you how I grieve for her.
I can make no amends--who could, for such a thing? There are no amends,
and I shall not even try. I will only write and tell her all I think and
feel. You will forgive us, won't you?"

And in the quick, impulsive warmth and grace and sincerity of her manner
as she said all this, Mrs. Bagot was so absurdly like Little Billee that
it touched big Taffy's heart, and he would have forgiven anything, and
there was nothing to forgive.

"Oh, Mrs. Bagot, there's no question of forgiveness. Good heavens! it is
all so unfortunate, you know! Nobody's to blame that I can see.
Good-bye, Mrs. Bagot; good-bye, sir," and so saying, he saw them down to
their "remise," in which sat a singularly pretty young lady of seventeen
or so, pale and anxious, and so like Little Billee that it was quite
funny, and touched big Taffy's heart again.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Trilby went out into the court-yard in the Place St. Anatole des
Arts, she saw Miss Bagot looking out of the carriage window, and in the
young lady's face, as she caught her eye, an expression of sweet
surprise and sympathetic admiration, with lifted eyebrows and parted
lips--just such a look as she had often got from Little Billee! She knew
her for his sister at once. It was a sharp pang.

[Illustration: "SO LIKE LITTLE BILLEE"]

She turned away, saying to herself: "Oh no; I will not separate him from
his sister, his family, his friends! That would _never_ do! _That's_
settled, anyhow!"

Feeling a little dazed, and wishing to think, she turned up the Rue
Vieille des Mauvais Ladres, which was always deserted at this hour. It
was empty but for a solitary figure sitting on a post, with its legs
dangling, its hands in its trousers-pockets, an inverted pipe in its
mouth, a tattered straw hat on the back of its head, and a long gray
coat down to its heels. It was the Laird.

As soon as he saw her he jumped off his post and came to her, saying:
"Oh, Trilby--what's it all about? I couldn't stand it! I ran away!
Little Billee's mother's there!"

"Yes, Sandy dear, I've just seen her."

"Well, what's up?"

"I've promised her never to see Little Billee any more. I was foolish
enough to promise to marry him. I refused many times these last three
months, and then he said he'd leave Paris and never come back, and so,
like a fool, I gave way. I've offered to live with him and take care of
him and be his servant--to be everything he wished but his wife! But he
wouldn't hear of it. Dear, dear Little Billee! he's an angel--and I'll
take precious good care no harm shall ever come to him through me! I
shall leave this hateful place and go and live in the country: I suppose
I must manage to get through life somehow. I know of some poor people
who were once very fond of me, and I could live with them and help them
and keep myself. The difficulty is about Jeannot. I thought it all out
before it came to this. I was well prepared, you see."

She smiled in a forlorn sort of way, with her upper lip drawn tight
against her teeth, as if some one were pulling her back by the lobes of
her ears.

"Oh! but Trilby--what shall we do without you? Taffy and I, you know!
You've become one of us!"

"Now how good and kind of you to say that!" exclaimed poor Trilby, her
eyes filling. "Why, that's just all I lived for, till all this happened.
But it can't be any more now, can it? Everything is changed for me--the
very sky seems different. Ah! Durien's little song--'_Plaisir
d'amour--chagrin d'amour_!' it's all quite true, isn't it? I shall start
immediately, and take Jeannot with me, I think."

"But where do you think of going?"

"Ah! I mayn't tell you that, Sandy dear--not for a long time! Think of
all the trouble there'd be-- Well, there's no time to be lost. I must
take the bull by the horns."

She tried to laugh, and took him by his big side-whiskers and kissed him
on the eyes and mouth, and her tears fell on his face.

Then, feeling unable to speak, she nodded farewell, and walked quickly
up the narrow winding street. When she came to the first bend she turned
round and waved her hand, and kissed it two or three times, and then
disappeared.

The Laird stared for several minutes up the empty
thoroughfare--wretched, full of sorrow and compassion. Then he filled
himself another pipe and lit it, and hitched himself on to another post,
and sat there dangling his legs and kicking his heels, and waited for
the Bagots' cab to depart, that he might go up and face the righteous
wrath of Taffy like a man, and bear up against his bitter reproaches for
cowardice and desertion before the foe.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next morning Taffy received two letters: one, a very long one, was from
Mrs. Bagot. He read it twice over, and was forced to acknowledge that it
was a very good letter--the letter of a clever, warm-hearted woman, but
a woman also whose son was to her as the very apple of her eye. One felt
she was ready to flay her dearest friend alive in order to make Little
Billee a pair of gloves out of the skin, if he wanted a pair; but one
also felt she would be genuinely sorry for the friend. Taffy's own
mother had been a little like that, and he missed her every day of his
life.

Full justice was done by Mrs. Bagot to all Trilby's qualities of head
and heart and person; but at the same time she pointed out, with all the
cunning and ingeniously casuistic logic of her sex, when it takes to
special pleading (even when it has right on its side), what the
consequences of such a marriage must inevitably be in a few years--even
sooner! The quick disenchantment, the life-long regret, on both sides!

He could not have found a word to controvert her arguments, save perhaps
in his own private belief that Trilby and Little Billee were both
exceptional people; and how could he hope to know Little Billee's nature
better than the boy's own mother!

And if he had been the boy's elder brother in blood, as he already was
in art and affection, would he, should he, could he have given his
fraternal sanction to such a match?

Both as his friend and his brother he felt it was out of the question.

The other letter was from Trilby, in her bold, careless handwriting,
that sprawled all over the page, and her occasionally imperfect
spelling. It ran thus:

[Illustration: "'I MUST TAKE THE BULL BY THE HORNS'"]

     "MY DEAR, DEAR TAFFY,--This is to say good-bye. I'm going away, to
     put an end to all this misery, for which nobody's to blame but
     myself.

     "The very moment after I'd said _yes_ to Little Billee I knew
     perfectly well what a stupid fool I was, and I've been ashamed of
     myself ever since. I had a miserable week, I can tell you. I knew
     how it would all turn out.

     "I am dreadfully unhappy, but not half so unhappy as if I married
     him and he were ever to regret it and be ashamed of me; and of
     course he would, really, even if he didn't show it--good and kind
     as he is--an angel!

     "Besides--of course I could never be a lady--how could I?--though I
     ought to have been one, I suppose. But everything seems to have
     gone wrong with me, though I never found it out before--and it
     can't be righted!

     "Poor papa!

     "I am going away with Jeannot. I've been neglecting him shamefully.
     I mean to make up for it all now.

     "You mustn't try and find out where I am going; I know you won't if
     I beg you, nor any one else. It would make everything so much
     harder for me.

     "Angèle knows; she has promised me not to tell. I should like to
     have a line from you very much. If you send it to her she will send
     it on to me.

     "Dear Taffy, next to Little Billee, I love you and the Laird better
     than any one else in the whole world. I've never known real
     happiness till I met you. You have changed me into another
     person--you and Sandy and Little Billee.

     "Oh, it _has_ been a jolly time, though it didn't last long. It
     will have to do for me for life. So good-bye. I shall never, never
     forget; and remain, with dearest love,

     "Your ever faithful and most affectionate friend,

     "TRILBY O'FERRALL.

     "P.S.--When it has all blown over and settled again, if it ever
     does, I shall come back to Paris, perhaps, and see you again some
     day."

The good Taffy pondered deeply over this letter--read it half a dozen
times at least; and then he kissed it, and put it back into its envelope
and locked it up.

He knew what very deep anguish underlay this somewhat trivial expression
of her sorrow.

He guessed how Trilby, so childishly impulsive and demonstrative in the
ordinary intercourse of friendship, would be more reticent than most
women in such a case as this.

He wrote to her warmly, affectionately, at great length, and sent the
letter as she had told him.

The Laird also wrote a long letter full of tenderly worded friendship
and sincere regard. Both expressed their hope and belief that they would
soon see her again, when the first bitterness of her grief would be
over, and that the old pleasant relations would be renewed.

And then, feeling wretched, they went and silently lunched together at
the Café de l'Odéon, where the omelets were good and the wine wasn't
blue.

Late that evening they sat together in the studio, reading. They found
they could not talk to each other very readily without Little Billee to
listen--three's company sometimes and two's none!

Suddenly there was a tremendous getting up the dark stairs outside in a
violent hurry, and Little Billee burst into the room like a small
whirlwind--haggard, out of breath, almost speechless at first with
excitement.

"Trilby? where is she?... what's become of her?... She's run away ...
oh! She's written me such a letter!... We were to have been married ...
at the Embassy ... my mother ... she's been meddling; and that cursed
old ass ... that beast ... my uncle!... They've been here! I know all
about it.... Why didn't you stick up for her?..."

"I did ... as well as I could. Sandy couldn't stand it, and cut."

"_You_ stuck up for her ... _you_--why, you agreed with my mother that
she oughtn't to marry me--you--you false friend--you.... Why, she's an
angel--far too good for the likes of _me_ ... you know she is. As ... as
for her social position and all that, what degrading rot! Her father was
as much a gentleman as mine ... besides ... what the devil do I care for
her father?... it's _her_ I want--_her_--_her_--_her_, I tell you.... I
can't _live_ without her.... I must have her _back_--I must have her
_back_ ... do you _hear_? We were to have lived together at Barbizon ...
all our lives--and I was to have painted stunning pictures ... like
those other fellows there. Who cares for _their_ social position, I
should like to know ... or that of their wives? _Damn_ social
position!... we've often said so--over and over again. An artist's life
should be _away_ from the world--above all that meanness and paltriness
... all in his work. Social position, indeed! Over and over again we've
said what fetid, bestial rot it all was--a thing to make one sick and
shut one's self away from the world.... Why say one thing and act
another?... Love comes before all--love levels all--love and art ... and
beauty--before such beauty as Trilby's rank doesn't exist. Such rank as
mine, too! Good God! I'll never paint another stroke till I've got her
back ... never, never, I tell you--I can't--I won't!..."

[Illustration: "'TRILBY! WHERE IS SHE?'"]

And so the poor boy went on, tearing and raving about in his rampage,
knocking over chairs and easels, stammering and shrieking, mad with
excitement.

They tried to reason with him, to make him listen, to point out that it
was not her social position alone that unfitted her to be his wife and
the mother of his children, etc.

It was no good. He grew more and more uncontrollable, became almost
unintelligible, he stammered so--a pitiable sight and pitiable to hear.

"Oh! oh! good heavens! are you so precious immaculate, you two, that you
should throw stones at poor Trilby! What a shame, what a hideous shame
it is that there should be one law for the woman and another for the
man!... poor weak women--poor, soft, affectionate things that beasts of
men are always running after and pestering and ruining and trampling
underfoot.... Oh! oh! it makes me sick--it makes me sick!" And finally
he gasped and screamed and fell down in a fit on the floor.

The doctor was sent for; Taffy went in a cab to the Hôtel de Lille et
d'Albion to fetch his mother; and poor Little Billee, quite unconscious,
was undressed by Sandy and Madame Vinard and put into the Laird's bed.

The doctor came, and not long after Mrs. Bagot and her daughter. It was
a serious case. Another doctor was called in. Beds were got and made up
in the studio for the two grief-stricken ladies, and thus closed the eve
of what was to have been poor Little Billee's wedding-day, it seems.

Little Billee's attack appears to have been a kind of epileptic seizure.
It ended in brain-fever and other complications--a long and tedious
illness. It was many weeks before he was out of danger, and his
convalescence was long and tedious too.

His nature seemed changed. He lay languid and listless--never even
mentioned Trilby, except once to ask if she had come back, and if any
one knew where she was, and if she had been written to.

She had not, it appears. Mrs. Bagot had thought it was better not, and
Taffy and the Laird agreed with her that no good could come of writing.

Mrs. Bagot felt bitterly against the woman who had been the cause of all
this trouble, and bitterly against herself for her injustice. It was an
unhappy time for everybody.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was more unhappiness still to come.

One day in February Madame Angèle Boisse called on Taffy and the Laird
in the temporary studio where they worked. She was in terrible
tribulation.

[Illustration: LA SŒUR DE LITREBILI]

Trilby's little brother had died of scarlet-fever and was buried, and
Trilby had left her hiding-place the day after the funeral and had never
come back, and this was a week ago. She and Jeannot had been living at a
village called Vibraye, in la Sarthe, lodging with some poor people she
knew--she washing and working with her needle till her brother fell ill.

She had never left his bedside for a moment, night or day, and when he
died her grief was so terrible that people thought she would go out of
her mind; and the day after he was buried she was not to be found
anywhere--she had disappeared, taking nothing with her, not even her
clothes--simply vanished and left no sign, no message of any kind.

All the ponds had been searched--all the wells, and the small stream
that flows through Vibraye--and the old forest.

Taffy went to Vibraye, cross-examined everybody he could, communicated
with the Paris police, but with no result, and every afternoon, with a
beating heart, he went to the Morgue....

       *       *       *       *       *

The news was of course kept from Little Billee. There was no difficulty
about this. He never asked a question, hardly ever spoke.

When he first got up and was carried into the studio he asked for his
picture "The Pitcher Goes to the Well," and looked at it for a while,
and then shrugged his shoulders and laughed--a miserable sort of laugh,
painful to hear--the laugh of a cold old man, who laughs so as not to
cry! Then he looked at his mother and sister, and saw the sad havoc that
grief and anxiety had wrought in them.

It seemed to him, as in a bad dream, that he had been mad for many
years--a cause of endless sickening terror and distress; and that his
poor weak wandering wits had come back at last, bringing in their train
cruel remorse, and the remembrance of all the patient love and kindness
that had been lavished on him for many years! His sweet sister--his
dear, long-suffering mother! what had really happened to make them look
like this?

And taking them both in his feeble arms, he fell a-weeping, quite
desperately and for a long time.

And when his weeping-fit was over, when he had quite wept himself out,
he fell asleep.

[Illustration: "HE FELL A-WEEPING, QUITE DESPERATELY"]

And when he awoke he was conscious that another sad thing had happened
to him, and that for some mysterious cause his power of loving had not
come back with his wandering wits--had been left behind--and it seemed
to him that it was gone for ever and ever--would never come back
again--not even his love for his mother and sister, not even his love
for Trilby--where all _that_ had once been was a void, a gap, a
blankness....

Truly, if Trilby had suffered much, she had also been the innocent cause
of terrible suffering. Poor Mrs. Bagot, in her heart, could not forgive
her.

I feel this is getting to be quite a sad story, and that it is high time
to cut this part of it short.

As the warmer weather came, and Little Billee got stronger, the studio
became more pleasant. The ladies' beds were removed to another studio on
the next landing, which was vacant, and the friends came to see Little
Billee, and make it more lively for him and his sister.

As for Taffy and the Laird, they had already long been to Mrs. Bagot as
a pair of crutches, without whose invaluable help she could never have
held herself upright to pick her way in all this maze of trouble.

Then M. Carrel came every day to chat with his favorite pupil and
gladden Mrs. Bagot's heart. And also Durien, Carnegie, Petrolicoconose,
Vincent, Antony, Lorrimer, Dodor, and l'Zouzou; Mrs. Bagot thought the
last two irresistible, when she had once been satisfied that they were
"gentlemen," in spite of appearances. And, indeed, they showed
themselves to great advantage; and though they were so much the opposite
to Little Billee in everything, she felt almost maternal towards them,
and gave them innocent, good, motherly advice, which they swallowed
_avec attendrissement_, not even stealing a look at each other. And they
held Mrs. Bagot's wool, and listened to Miss Bagot's sacred music with
upturned pious eyes, and mealy mouths that butter wouldn't melt in!

It is good to be a soldier and a detrimental; you touch the hearts of
women and charm them--old and young, high or low (excepting, perhaps, a
few worldly mothers of marriageable daughters). They take the sticking
of your tongue in the cheek for the wearing of your heart on the sleeve.

Indeed, good women all over the world, and ever since it began, have
loved to be bamboozled by these genial, roistering dare-devils, who
haven't got a penny to bless themselves with (which is so touching), and
are supposed to carry their lives in their hands, even in piping times
of peace. Nay, even a few rare _bad_ women sometimes, such women as the
best and wisest of us are often ready to sell our souls for!

    "A lightsome eye, a soldier's mien,
       A feather of the blue,
     A doublet of the Lincoln green--
       No more of me you knew,
             My love!
       No more of me you knew...."

As if that wasn't enough, and to spare!

Little Billee could hardly realize that these two polite and gentle and
sympathetic sons of Mars were the lively grigs who had made themselves
so pleasant all round, and in such a singular manner, on the top of that
St. Cloud omnibus; and he admired how they added hypocrisy to their
other crimes!

Svengali had gone back to Germany, it seemed, with his pockets fall of
napoleons and big Havana cigars, and wrapped in an immense fur-lined
coat, which he meant to wear all through the summer. But little Gecko
often came with his violin and made lovely music, and that seemed to do
Little Billee more good than anything else.

It made him realize in his brain all the love he could no longer feel in
his heart. The sweet melodic phrase, rendered by a master, was as
wholesome, refreshing balm to him while it lasted--or as manna in the
wilderness. It was the one good thing within his reach, never to be
taken from him as long as his ear-drums remained and he could hear a
master play.

Poor Gecko treated the two English ladies _de bas en haut_ as if they
had been goddesses, even when they accompanied him on the piano! He
begged their pardon for every wrong note they struck, and adopted their
"tempi"--that is the proper technical term, I believe--and turned
scherzos and allegrettos into funeral dirges to please them; and agreed
with them, poor little traitor, that it all sounded much better like
that!

O Beethoven! O Mozart! did you turn in your graves?

Then, on fine afternoons, Little Billee was taken for drives to the Bois
de Boulogne with his mother and sister in an open fly, and generally
Taffy as a fourth; to Passy, Auteuil, Boulogne, St. Cloud, Meudon--there
are many charming places within an easy drive of Paris.

[Illustration: "THE SWEET MELODIC PHRASE"]

And sometimes Taffy or the Laird would escort Mrs. and Miss Bagot to the
Luxembourg Gallery, the Louvre, the Palais Royal--to the Comédie
Française once or twice; and on Sundays, now and then, to the English
chapel in the Rue Marbœuf. It was all very pleasant; and Miss Bagot
looks back on the days of her brother's convalescence as among the
happiest in her life.

And they would all five dine together in the studio, with Madame Vinard
to wait, and her mother (a cordon bleu) for cook; and the whole aspect
of the place was changed and made fragrant, sweet, and charming by all
this new feminine invasion and occupation.

And what is sweeter to watch than the dawn and growth of love's young
dream, when strength and beauty meet together by the couch of a beloved
invalid?

Of course the sympathetic reader will foresee how readily the stalwart
Taffy fell a victim to the charms of his friend's sweet sister, and how
she grew to return his more than brotherly regard! and how, one lovely
evening, just as March was going out like a lamb (to make room for the
first of April), little Billee joined their hands together, and gave
them his brotherly blessing!

As a matter of fact, however, nothing of this kind happened. Nothing
ever happens but the _un_foreseen. Pazienza!

       *       *       *       *       *

Then at length one day--it was a fine, sunny, showery day in April,
by-the-bye, and the big studio window was open at the top and let in a
pleasant breeze from the northwest, just as when our little story
began--a railway omnibus drew up at the porte cochère in the Place St.
Anatole des Arts, and carried away to the station of the Chemin de Fer
du Nord Little Billee and his mother and sister, and all their
belongings (the famous picture had gone before); and Taffy and the Laird
rode with them, their faces very long, to see the last of the dear
people, and of the train that was to bear them away from Paris; and
Little Billee, with his quick, prehensile, æsthetic eye, took many a
long and wistful parting gaze at many a French thing he loved, from the
gray towers of Notre Dame downward--Heaven only knew when he might see
them again!--so he tried to get their aspect well by heart, that he
might have the better store of beloved shape and color memories to chew
the cud of when his lost powers of loving and remembering clearly should
come back, and he lay awake at night and listened to the wash of the
Atlantic along the beautiful red sandstone coast at home.

He had a faint hope that he should feel sorry at parting with Taffy and
the Laird.

But when the time came for saying good-bye he couldn't feel sorry in the
least, for all he tried and strained so hard!

So he thanked them so earnestly and profusely for all their kindness and
patience and sympathy (as did also his mother and sister) that their
hearts were too full to speak, and their manner was quite gruff--it was
a way they had when they were deeply moved and didn't want to show it.

And as he gazed out of the carriage window at their two forlorn figures
looking after him when the train steamed out of the station, his sorrow
at not feeling sorry made him look so haggard and so woe-begone that
they could scarcely bear the sight of him departing without them, and
almost felt as if they must follow by the next train, and go and cheer
him up in Devonshire, and themselves too.

They did not yield to this amiable weakness. Sorrowfully, arm in arm,
with trailing umbrellas, they recrossed the river, and found their way
to the Café de l'Odéon, where they ate many omelets in silence, and
dejectedly drank of the best they could get, and were very sad indeed.

       *       *       *       *       *

       *       *       *       *       *

       *       *       *       *       *

Nearly five years have elapsed since we bade farewell and _au revoir_ to
Taffy and the Laird at the Paris station of the Chemin de Fer du Nord,
and wished Little Billee and his mother and sister Godspeed on their way
to Devonshire, where the poor sufferer was to rest and lie fallow for a
few months, and recruit his lost strength and energy, that he might
follow up his first and well-deserved success, which perhaps contributed
just a little to his recovery.

Many of my readers will remember his splendid début at the Royal Academy
in Trafalgar Square with that now so famous canvas "The Pitcher Goes to
the Well," and how it was sold three times over on the morning of the
private view, the third time for a thousand pounds--just five times what
he got for it himself. And that was thought a large sum in those days
for a beginner's picture, two feet by four.

[Illustration: "SORROWFULLY, ARM IN ARM"]

I am well aware that such a vulgar test is no criterion whatever of a
picture's real merit. But this picture is well known to all the world by
this time, and sold only last year at Christy's (more than thirty-six
years after it was painted) for three thousand pounds.

Thirty-six years! That goes a long way to redeem even three thousand
pounds of all their cumulative vulgarity.

"The Pitcher" is now in the National Gallery, with that other canvas by
the same hand, "The Moon-Dial." There they hang together for all who
care to see them, his first and his last--the blossom and the fruit.

He had not long to live himself, and it was his good-fortune, so rare
among those whose work is destined to live forever, that he succeeded at
his first go-off.

And his success was of the best and most flattering kind.

It began high up, where it should, among the masters of his own craft.
But his fame filtered quickly down to those immediately beneath, and
through these to wider circles. And there was quite enough of opposition
and vilification and coarse abuse of him to clear it of any suspicion of
cheapness or evanescence. What better antiseptic can there be than the
philistine's deep hate? What sweeter, fresher, wholesomer music than the
sound of his voice when he doth so furiously rage?

Yes! That is "good production." As Svengali would have said, "C'est un
cri du cœur!"

And then, when popular acclaim brings the great dealers and the big
cheques, up rises the printed howl of the duffer, the disappointed one,
the "wounded thing with an angry cry"--the prosperous and happy bagman
that _should_ have been, who has given up all for art, and finds he
can't paint and make himself a name, after all, and never will, so falls
to writing about those who can--and what writing!

To write in hissing dispraise of our more successful fellow-craftsman,
and of those who admire him! that is not a clean or pretty trade. It
seems, alas! an easy one, and it gives pleasure to so many. It does not
even want good grammar. But it pays--well enough even to start and run a
magazine with, instead of scholarship and taste and talent! humor,
sense, wit, and wisdom! It is something like the purveying of
pornographic pictures: some of us look at them and laugh, and even buy.
To be a purchaser is bad enough; but to be the purveyor thereof--ugh!

A poor devil of a cracked soprano (are there such people still?) who has
been turned out of the Pope's choir because he can't sing in tune,
_after all_!--think of him yelling and squeaking his treble rage at
Santley--Sims Reeves--Lablache!

Poor, lost, beardless nondescript! why not fly to other climes, where at
least thou might'st hide from us thy woful crack, and keep thy miserable
secret to thyself! Are there no harems still left in Stamboul for the
likes of thee to sweep and clean, no women's beds to make and slops to
empty, and doors and windows to bar--and tales to carry, and the pasha's
confidence and favor and protection to win? Even _that_ is a better
trade than pandering for hire to the basest instinct of all--the dirty
pleasure we feel (some of us) in seeing mud and dead cats and rotten
eggs flung at those we cannot but admire--and secretly envy!

All of which eloquence means that Little Billee was pitched into right
and left, as well as overpraised. And it all rolled off him like water
off a duck's back, both praise and blame.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a happy summer for Mrs. Bagot, a sweet compensation for all the
anguish of the winter that had gone before, with her two beloved
children together under her wing, and all the world (for her) ringing
with the praise of her boy, the apple of her eye, so providentially
rescued from the very jaws of death, and from other dangers almost as
terrible to her fiercely jealous maternal heart.

And his affection for her _seemed_ to grow with his returning health;
but, alas! he was never again to be quite the same light-hearted,
innocent, expansive lad he had been before that fatal year spent in
Paris.

One chapter of his life was closed, never to be reopened, never to be
spoken of again by him to her, by her to him. She could neither forgive
nor forget. She could but be silent.

Otherwise he was pleasant and sweet to live with, and everything was
done to make his life at home as sweet and pleasant as a loving mother
could--as could a most charming sister--and others' sisters who were
charming too, and much disposed to worship at the shrine of this young
celebrity, who woke up one morning in their little village to find
himself famous, and bore his blushing honors so meekly. And among them
the vicar's daughter, his sister's friend and co-teacher at the
Sunday-school, "a simple, pure, and pious maiden of gentle birth,"
everything he once thought a young lady should be; and her name it was
Alice, and she was sweet, and her hair was brown--as brown!...

And if he no longer found the simple country pleasures, the junketings
and picnics, the garden-parties and innocent little musical evenings,
quite so exciting as of old, he never showed it.

Indeed, there was much that he did not show, and that his mother and
sister tried in vain to guess--many things.

And among them one thing that constantly preoccupied and distressed
him--the numbness of his affections. He could be as easily demonstrative
to his mother and sister as though nothing had ever happened to
him--from the mere force of a sweet old habit--even more so, out of
sheer gratitude and compunction.

But, alas! he felt that in his heart he could no longer care for them in
the least!--nor for Taffy, nor the Laird, nor for himself; not even for
Trilby, of whom he constantly thought, but without emotion; and of whose
strange disappearance he had been told, and the story had been confirmed
in all its details by Angèle Boisse, to whom he had written.

It was as though some part of his brain where his affections were seated
had been paralyzed, while all the rest of it was as keen and as active
as ever. He felt like some poor live bird or beast or reptile, a part
of whose cerebrum (or cerebellum, or whatever it is) had been dug out by
the vivisector for experimental purposes; and the strongest emotional
feeling he seemed capable of was his anxiety and alarm about this
curious symptom, and his concern as to whether he ought to mention it or
not.

He did not do so, for fear of causing distress, hoping that it would
pass away in time, and redoubled his caresses to his mother and sister,
and clung to them more than ever; and became more considerate of others
in manner, word, and deed than he had ever been before, as though by
constantly assuming the virtue he had no longer he would gradually coax
it back again. There was no trouble he would not take to give pleasure
to the humblest.

Also, his vanity about himself had become as nothing, and he missed it
almost as much as his affection.

Yet he told himself over and over again that he was a great artist, and
that he would spare no pains to make himself a greater. But that was no
merit of his own.

2+2=4, also 2×2=4; that peculiarity was no reason why 4 should be
conceited; for what was 4 but a result, either way?

Well, he was like 4--just an inevitable result of circumstances over
which he had no control--a mere product or sum; and though he meant to
make himself as big a 4 as he could (to cultivate his peculiar
_fourness_), he could no longer feel the old conceit and
self-complacency; and they had been a joy, and it was hard to do without
them.

At the bottom of it all was a vague, disquieting unhappiness, a constant
fidget.

And it seemed to him, and much to his distress, that such mild
unhappiness would be the greatest he could ever feel henceforward--but
that, such as it was, it would never leave him, and that his moral
existence would be for evermore one long, gray, gloomy blank--the
glimmer of twilight--never glad, confident morning again!

So much for Little Billee's convalescence.

Then one day in the late autumn he spread his wings and flew away to
London, which was very ready with open arms to welcome William Bagot,
the already famous painter, _alias_ Little Billee!




Part Fifth




LITTLE BILLEE

_An Interlude_

    "Then the mortal coldness of the Soul like death itself comes down;
     It cannot feel for others' woes, it dare not dream its own;
     That heavy chill has frozen o'er the fountain of our tears,
     And, though the eye may sparkle yet, 'tis where the ice appears.

     "Though wit may flash from fluent lips, and mirth distract the breast,
     Through midnight hours that yield no more their former hope of rest:
     'Tis but as ivy leaves around a ruined turret wreathe,
     All green and wildly fresh without, but worn and gray beneath."


When Taffy and the Laird went back to the studio in the Place St.
Anatole des Arts, and resumed their ordinary life there, it was with a
sense of desolation and dull bereavement beyond anything they could have
imagined; and this did not seem to lessen as the time wore on.

They realized for the first time how keen and penetrating and
unintermittent had been the charm of those two central figures--Trilby
and Little Billee--and how hard it was to live without them, after such
intimacy as had been theirs.

"Oh, it _has_ been a jolly time, though it didn't last long!" So Trilby
had written in her farewell letter to Taffy; and these words were true
for Taffy and the Laird as well as for her.

And that is the worst of those dear people who have charm: they are so
terrible to do without, when once you have got accustomed to them and
all their ways.

And when, besides being charming, they are simple, clever, affectionate,
constant, and sincere, like Trilby and Little Billee! Then the
lamentable hole their disappearance makes is not to be filled up! And
when they are full of genius, like Little Billee--and like Trilby, funny
without being vulgar! For so she always seemed to the Laird and Taffy,
even in French (in spite of her Gallic audacities of thought, speech,
and gesture).

All seemed to have suffered change. The very boxing and fencing were
gone through perfunctorily, for mere health's sake; and a thin layer of
adipose deposit began to soften the outlines of the hills and dales on
Taffy's mighty forearm.

Dodor and l'Zouzou no longer came so often, now that the charming Little
Billee and his charming mother and still more charming sister had gone
away--nor Carnegie, nor Antony, nor Lorrimer, nor Vincent, nor the
Greek. Gecko never came at all. Even Svengali was missed, little as he
had been liked. It is a dismal and sulky looking piece of furniture, a
grand-piano that nobody ever plays--with all its sound and its souvenirs
locked up inside--a kind of mausoleum! a lop-sided coffin--trestles and
all!

So it went back to London by the "little quickness," just as it had
come!

Thus Taffy and the Laird grew quite sad and mopy, and lunched at the
Café de l'Odéon every day--till the goodness of the omelets palled, and
the redness of the wine there got on their nerves and into their heads
and faces, and made them sleepy till dinner-time. And then, waking up,
they dressed respectably, and dined expensively, "like gentlemen," in
the Palais Royal, or the Passage Choiseul, or the Passage des
Panoramas--for three francs, three francs fifty, even five francs a
head, and half a franc to the waiter!--and went to the theatre almost
every night, on that side of the water--and more often than not they
took a cab home, each smoking a Panatella, which costs twenty-five
centimes--five sous--2-1/2_d._

Then they feebly drifted into quite decent society--like Lorrimer and
Carnegie--with dress-coats and white ties on, and their hair parted in
the middle and down the back of the head, and brought over the ears in a
bunch at each side, as was the English fashion in those days; and
subscribed to _Galignani's Messenger_; and had themselves proposed and
seconded for the Cercle Anglais in the Rue Sainte-n'y touche, a circle
of British philistines of the very deepest dye; and went to hear divine
service on Sunday mornings in the Rue Marbœuf!

Indeed, by the end of the summer they had sunk into such depths of
demoralization that they felt they must really have a change; and
decided on giving up the studio in the Place St. Anatole des Arts, and
leaving Paris for good; and going to settle for the winter in
Düsseldorf, which is a very pleasant place for English painters who do
not wish to overwork themselves--as the Laird well knew, having spent a
year there.

[Illustration: DEMORALIZATION]

It ended in Taffy's going to Antwerp for the Kermesse, to paint the
Flemish drunkard of our time just as he really is; and the Laird's going
to Spain, so that he might study toreadors from the life.

I may as well state here that the Laird's toreador pictures, which had
had quite a vogue in Scotland as long as he had been content to paint
them in the Place St. Anatole des Arts, quite ceased to please (or sell)
after he had been to Seville and Madrid; so he took to painting Roman
cardinals and Neapolitan pifferari from the depths of his
consciousness--and was so successful that he made up his mind he would
never spoil his market by going to Italy!

So he went and painted his cardinals and his pifferari in Algiers; and
Taffy joined him there, and painted Algerian Jews--just as they really
are (and didn't sell them); and then they spent a year in Munich, and
then a year in Düsseldorf, and a winter in Cairo, and so on.

And all this time Taffy, who took everything _au grand
sérieux_--especially the claims and obligations of
friendship--corresponded regularly with Little Billee, who wrote him
long and amusing letters back again, and had plenty to say about his
life in London--which was a series of triumphs, artistic and social--and
you would have thought from his letters, modest though they were, that
no happier young man, or more elate, was to be found anywhere in the
world.

It was a good time in England, just then, for young artists of promise;
a time of evolution, revolution, change, and development--of the
founding of new schools and the crumbling away of old ones--a keen
struggle for existence--a surviving of the fit--a preparation, let us
hope, for the ultimate survival of the fittest.

And among the many glories of this particular period two names stand out
very conspicuously--for the immediate and (so far) lasting fame their
bearers achieved, and the wide influence they exerted, and continue to
exert still.

The world will not easily forget Frederic Walker and William Bagot,
those two singularly gifted boys, whom it soon became the fashion to
bracket together, to compare and to contrast, as one compares and
contrasts Thackeray and Dickens, Carlyle and Macaulay, Tennyson and
Browning--a futile though pleasant practice, of which the temptations
seem irresistible!

Yet why compare the lily and the rose?

These two young masters had the genius and the luck to be the
progenitors of much of the best art-work that has been done in England
during the last thirty years, in oils, in water-color, in black and
white.

They were both essentially English and of their own time; both
absolutely original, receiving their impressions straight from nature
itself; uninfluenced by any school, ancient or modern, they founded
schools instead of following any, and each was a law unto himself, and a
law-giver unto many others.

[Illustration: FRED WALKER]

Both were equally great in whatever they attempted--landscape, figures,
birds, beasts, or fishes. Who does not remember the fish-monger's shop
by F. Walker, or W. Bagot's little piebald piglings, and their venerable
black mother, and their immense, fat, wallowing pink papa? An ineffable
charm of poetry and refinement, of pathos and sympathy and delicate
humor combined, an incomparable ease and grace and felicity of
workmanship belong to each; and yet in their work are they not as wide
apart as the poles; each complete in himself and yet a complement to the
other?

And, oddly enough, they were both singularly alike in aspect--both small
and slight, though beautifully made, with tiny hands and feet; always
arrayed as the lilies of the field, for all they toiled and spun so
arduously; both had regularly featured faces of a noble cast and most
winning character; both had the best and simplest manners in the world,
and a way of getting themselves much and quickly and permanently
liked....

_Que la terre leur soit légère!_

And who can say that the fame of one is greater than the other's!

Their pinnacles are twin, I venture to believe--of just an equal height
and width and thickness, like their bodies in this life; but unlike
their frail bodies in one respect: no taller pinnacles are to be seen,
methinks, in all the garden of the deathless dead painters of our time,
and none more built to last!

       *       *       *       *       *

But it is not with the art of Little Billee, nor with his fame as a
painter, that we are chiefly concerned in this unpretending little tale,
except in so far as they have some bearing on his character and his
fate.

"I should like to know the detailed history of the Englishman's first
love, and how he lost his innocence!"

"Ask him!"

"Ask him yourself!"

Thus Papelard and Bouchardy, on the morning of Little Billee's first
appearance at Carrel's studio, in the Rue des Potirons St. Michel.

And that is the question the present scribe is doing his little best to
answer.

       *       *       *       *       *

A good-looking, famous, well-bred, and well-dressed youth finds that
London Society opens its doors very readily; he hasn't long to knock;
and it would be difficult to find a youth more fortunately situated,
handsomer, more famous, better dressed or better bred, more seemingly
happy and successful, with more attractive qualities and more condonable
faults, than Little Billee, as Taffy and the Laird found him when they
came to London after their four or five years in foreign parts--their
Wanderjahr.

He had a fine studio and a handsome suite of rooms in Fitzroy Square.
Beautiful specimens of his unfinished work, endless studies, hung on his
studio walls. Everything else was as nice as it could be--the furniture,
the bibelots, and bric-à-brac, the artistic foreign and Eastern
knick-knacks and draperies and hangings and curtains and rugs--the
semi-grand piano by Collard & Collard.

That immortal canvas, the "Moon-Dial" (just begun, and already
commissioned by Moses Lyon, the famous picture-dealer), lay on his
easel.

No man worked harder and with teeth more clinched than Little Billee
when he was at work--none rested or played more discreetly when it was
time to rest or play.

[Illustration: PLATONIC LOVE]

The glass on his mantel-piece was full of cards of invitation,
reminders, pretty mauve and pink and lilac-scented notes; nor were
coronets wanting on many of these hospitable little missives. He had
quite overcome his fancied aversion for bloated dukes and lords and the
rest (we all do sooner or later, if things go well with us); especially
for their wives and sisters and daughters and female cousins; even their
mothers and aunts. In point of fact, and in spite of his tender years,
he was in some danger (for his art) of developing into that type adored
by sympathetic women who haven't got much to do: the friend, the tame
cat, the platonic lover (with many loves)--the squire of dames, the
trusty one, of whom husbands and brothers have no fear!--the delicate,
harmless dilettante of Eros--the dainty shepherd who dwells "dans le
pays du tendre!"--and stops there!

The woman flatters and the man confides--and there is no danger
whatever, I'm told--and I am glad!

One man loves his fiddle (or, alas! his neighbor's sometimes) for all
the melodies he can wake from it--it is but a selfish love!

Another, who is no fiddler, may love a fiddle too; for its symmetry, its
neatness, its color--its delicate grainings, the lovely lines and curves
of its back and front--for its own sake, so to speak. He may have a
whole galleryful of fiddles to love in this innocent way--a harem!--and
yet not know a single note of music, or even care to hear one. He will
dust them and stroke them, and take them down and try to put them in
tune--pizzicato!--and put them back again, and call them ever such sweet
little pet names: viol, viola, viola d'amore, viol di gamba, violino
mio! and breathe his little troubles into them, and they will give back
inaudible little murmurs in sympathetic response, like a damp Æolian
harp; but he will never draw a bow across the strings, nor wake a single
chord--or discord!

And who shall say he is not wise in his generation? It is but an
old-fashioned philistine notion that fiddles were only made to be played
on--the fiddles themselves are beginning to resent it; and rightly, I
wot!

In this harmless fashion Little Billee was friends with more than one
fine lady _de par le monde_.

Indeed, he had been reproached by his more bohemian brothers of the
brush for being something of a tuft-hunter--most unjustly. But nothing
gives such keen offence to our unsuccessful brother, bohemian or
bourgeois, as our sudden intimacy with the so-called great, the little
lords and ladies of this little world! Not even our fame and success,
and all the joy and pride they bring us, are so hard to condone--so
imbittering, so humiliating, to the jealous fraternal heart.

Alas! poor humanity--that the mere countenance of our betters (if they
_are_ our betters!) should be thought so priceless a boon, so consummate
an achievement, so crowning a glory, as all that!

    "A dirty bit of orange-peel,
         The stump of a cigar--
     Once trod on by a princely heel,
         How beautiful they are!"

Little Billee was no tuft-hunter--he was the tuft-hunted, or had been.
No one of his kind was ever more persistently, resolutely, hospitably
harried than this young "hare with many friends" by people of rank and
fashion.

And at first he thought them most charming; as they so often are, these
graceful, gracious, gay, good-natured stoics and barbarians, whose
manners are as easy and simple as their morals--but how much
better!--and who, at least, have this charm, that they can wallow in
untold gold (when they happen to possess it) without ever seeming to
stink of the same: yes, they bear wealth gracefully--and the want of it
more gracefully still! and these are pretty accomplishments that have
yet to be learned by our new aristocracy of the shop and counting-house,
Jew or gentile, which is everywhere elbowing its irresistible way to
the top and front of everything, both here and abroad.

Then he discovered that, much as you might be with them, you could never
be _of_ them, unless perchance you managed to hook on by marrying one of
their ugly ducklings--their failures--their remnants! and even then life
isn't all beer and skittles for a rank outsider, I'm told! Then he
discovered that he didn't want to be of them in the least; especially at
such a cost as that! and that to be very much with them was apt to pall,
like everything else.

Also, he found that they were very mixed; good, bad, and
indifferent--and not always very dainty or select in their
predilections, since they took unto their bosoms such queer outsiders
(just for the sake of being amused a little while) that their capricious
favor ceased to be an honor and a glory--if it ever was! And, then,
their fickleness!

Indeed, he found, or thought he found, that they could be just as
clever, as liberal, as polite or refined--as narrow, insolent,
swaggering, coarse, and vulgar--as handsome, as ugly--as graceful, as
ungainly--as modest or conceited, as any other upper class of the
community--and, indeed, some lower ones!

Beautiful young women, who had been taught how to paint pretty little
landscapes (with an ivy-mantled ruin in the middle distance), talked
technically of painting to him, _de pair à pair_, as though they were
quite on the same artistic level, and didn't mind admitting it, in spite
of the social gulf between.

Hideous old frumps (osseous or obese, yet with unduly bared neck, and
shoulders that made him sick) patronized him and gave him good advice,
and told him to emulate Mr. Buckner both in his genius and his
manners--since Mr. Buckner was the only "gentleman" who ever painted for
hire; and they promised him, in time, an equal success!

Here and there some sweet old darling specially enslaved him by her
kindness, grace, knowledge of life, and tender womanly sympathy, like
the dowager Lady Chiselhurst--or some sweet young one, like the lovely
Duchess of Towers, by her beauty, wit, good-humor, and sisterly interest
in all he did, and who in some vague, distant manner constantly reminded
him of Trilby, although she was such a great and fashionable lady!

But just such darlings, old or young, were to be found, with still
higher ideals, in less exalted spheres; and were easier of access, with
no impassable gulf between--spheres where there was no patronizing,
nothing but deference and warm appreciation and delicate flattery, from
men and women alike--and where the aged Venuses, whose prime was of the
days of Waterloo, went with their historical remains duly shrouded, like
ivy-mantled ruins (and in the middle distance!).

[Illustration: "DARLINGS, OLD OR YOUNG"]

So he actually grew tired of the great before they had time to tire of
him--incredible as it may seem, and against nature; and this saved him
many a heart-burning; and he ceased to be seen at fashionable drums or
gatherings of any kind, except in one or two houses where he was
especially liked and made welcome for his own sake; such as Lord
Chiselhurst's in Piccadilly, where the "Moon-Dial" found a home for a
few years, before going to its last home and final resting-place in the
National Gallery (R. I. P.); or Baron Stoppenheim's in Cavendish Square,
where many lovely little water-colors signed W. B. occupied places of
honor on gorgeously gilded walls; or the gorgeously gilded bachelor
rooms of Mr. Moses Lyon, the picture-dealer in Upper Conduit Street--for
Little Billee (I much grieve to say it of a hero of romance) was an
excellent man of business. That infinitesimal dose of the good old
Oriental blood kept him straight, and not only made him stick to his
last through thick and thin, but also to those whose foot his last was
found to match (for he couldn't or wouldn't alter his last).

He loved to make as much money as he could, that he might spend it
royally in pretty gifts to his mother and sister, whom it was his
pleasure to load in this way, and whose circumstances had been very much
altered by his quick success. There was never a more generous son or
brother than Little Billee of the clouded heart, that couldn't love any
longer!

       *       *       *       *       *

As a set-off to all these splendors, it was also his pleasure now and
again to study London life at its lower end--the eastest end of all.
Whitechapel, the Minories, the Docks, Ratcliffe Highway, Rotherhithe,
soon got to know him well, and he found much to interest him and much to
like among their denizens, and made as many friends there among
ship-carpenters, excisemen, longshoremen, jack-tars, and what not, as in
Bayswater and Belgravia (or Bloomsbury).

He was especially fond of frequenting sing-songs, or "free-and-easys,"
where good, hard-working fellows met of an evening to relax and smoke
and drink and sing--round a table well loaded with steaming tumblers and
pewter pots, at one end of which sits Mr. Chairman in all his glory, and
at the other "Mr. Vice." They are open to any one who can afford a pipe,
a screw of tobacco, and a pint of beer, and who is willing to do his
best and sing a song.

[Illustration: "THE MOON-DIAL"]

No introduction is needed; as soon as any one has seated himself and
made himself comfortable, Mr. Chairman taps the table with his long clay
pipe, begs for silence, and says to his vis-à-vis: "Mr. Vice, it strikes
me as the gen'l'man as is just come in 'as got a singing face. Per'aps,
Mr. Vice, you'll be so very kind as juster harsk the aforesaid gen'l'man
to oblige us with a 'armony."

Mr. Vice then puts it to the new-comer, who, thus appealed to, simulates
a modest surprise, and finally professes his willingness, like Mr.
Barkis; then, clearing his throat a good many times, looks up to the
ceiling, and after one or two unsuccessful starts in different keys,
bravely sings "Kathleen Mavourneen," let us say--perhaps in a touchingly
sweet tenor voice:

    "Kathleen Mavourneen, the gry dawn is brykin',
     The 'orn of the 'unter is 'eard on the 'ill." ...

And Little Billee didn't mind the dropping of all these aitches if the
voice was sympathetic and well in tune, and the sentiment simple,
tender, and sincere.

Or else, with a good rolling jingo bass, it was,

    "'Earts o' hoak are our ships; 'earts o' hoak are our men;
      And we'll fight and we'll conkwer agen and agen!"

And no imperfection of accent, in Little Billee's estimation, subtracted
one jot from the manly British pluck that found expression in these
noble sentiments--nor added one tittle to their swaggering, blatant, and
idiotically aggressive vulgarity!

Well, the song finishes with general applause all round. Then the
chairman says, "Your 'ealth and song, sir!" And drinks, and all do the
same.

Then Mr. Vice asks, "What shall we 'ave the pleasure of saying, sir,
after that very nice 'armony?"

[Illustration: THE CHAIRMAN]

And the blushing vocalist, if he knows the ropes, replies, "A roast
leg o' mutton in Newgate, and nobody to eat it!" Or else, "May 'im as is
going up the 'ill o' prosperity never meet a friend coming down!" Or
else, "'Ere's to 'er as shares our sorrers and doubles our joys!" Or
else, "'Ere's to 'er as shares our joys and doubles our expenses!" and
so forth.

More drink, more applause, and many 'ear, 'ears. And Mr. Vice says to
the singer: "You call, sir. Will you be so good as to call on some other
gen'l'man for a 'armony?" And so the evening goes on.

And nobody was more quickly popular at such gatherings, or sang better
songs, or proposed more touching sentiments, or filled either chair or
vice-chair with more grace and dignity than Little Billee. Not even
Dodor or l'Zouzou could have beaten him at that.

And he was as happy, as genial, and polite, as much at his ease, in
these humble gatherings as in the gilded saloons of the great, where
grand-pianos are, and hired accompanists, and highly-paid singers, and a
good deal of talk while they sing.

So his powers of quick, wide, universal sympathy grew and grew, and made
up to him a little for his lost power of being specially fond of special
individuals. For he made no close friends among men, and ruthlessly
snubbed all attempts at intimacy--all advances towards an affection
which he felt he could not return; and more than one enthusiastic
admirer of his talent and his charm was forced to acknowledge that, with
all his gifts, he seemed heartless and capricious; as ready to drop you
as he had been to take you up.

He loved to be wherever he could meet his kind, high or low; and felt as
happy on a penny steamer as on the yacht of a millionaire--on the
crowded knife-board of an omnibus as on the box-seat of a nobleman's
drag--happier; he liked to feel the warm contact of his fellow-man at
either shoulder and at his back, and didn't object to a little honest
grime! And I think all this genial caressing love of his kind, this
depth and breath of human sympathy, are patent in all his work.

On the whole, however, he came to prefer for society that of the best
and cleverest of his own class--those who live and prevail by the
professional exercise of their own specially trained and highly educated
wits, the skilled workmen of the brain--from the Lord Chief-Justice of
England downward--the salt of the earth, in his opinion: and stuck to
them.

There is no class so genial and sympathetic as _our own_, in the
long-run--even if it be but the criminal class! none where the welcome
is likely to be so genuine and sincere, so easy to win, so difficult to
outstay, if we be but decently pleasant and successful; none where the
memory of us will be kept so green (if we leave any memory at all!).

So Little Billee found it expedient, when he wanted rest and play, to
seek them at the houses of those whose rest and play were like his
own--little halts in a seeming happy life-journey, full of toil and
strain and endeavor; oases of sweet water and cooling shade, where the
food was good and plentiful, though the tents might not be of cloth of
gold; where the talk was of something more to his taste than court or
sport or narrow party politics; the new beauty; the coming match of the
season; the coming ducal conversion to Rome; the last elopement in high
life--the next! and where the music was that of the greatest
music-makers that can be, who found rest and play in making better music
for love than they ever made for hire--and were listened to as they
should be, with understanding and religious silence, and all the fervent
gratitude they deserved.

There were several such houses in London then--and are still--thank
Heaven! And Little Billee had his little billet there--and there he was
wont to drown himself in waves of lovely sound, or streams of clever
talk, or rivers of sweet feminine adulation, seas! oceans!--a somewhat
relaxing bath!--and forget for a while his everlasting chronic plague of
heart-insensibility, which no doctor could explain or cure, and to which
he was becoming gradually resigned--as one does to deafness or blindness
or locomotor ataxia--for it had lasted nearly five years! But now and
again, during sleep, and in a blissful dream, the lost power of
loving--of loving mother, sister, friend--would be restored to him; just
as with a blind man who sometimes dreams he has recovered his sight; and
the joy of it would wake him to the sad reality: till he got to know,
even in his dream, that he was only dreaming, after all, whenever that
priceless boon seemed to be his own once more--and did his utmost not to
wake. And these were nights to be marked with a white stone, and
remembered!

And nowhere was he happier than at the houses of the great surgeons and
physicians who interested themselves in his strange disease. When the
Little Billees of this world fall ill, the great surgeons and physicians
(like the great singers and musicians) do better for them, out of mere
love and kindness, than for the princes of the earth, who pay them
thousand-guinea fees and load them with honors.

       *       *       *       *       *

And of all these notable London houses none was pleasanter than that of
Cornelys the great sculptor, and Little Billee was such a favorite in
that house that he was able to take his friends Taffy and the Laird
there the very day they came to London.

First of all they dined together at a delightful little Franco-Italian
pothouse near Leicester Square, where they had bouillabaisse (imagine
the Laird's delight), and spaghetti, and a poulet rôti, which is _such_
a different affair from a roast fowl! and salad, which Taffy was allowed
to make and mix himself; and they all smoked just where they sat, the
moment they had swallowed their food--as had been their way in the good
old Paris days.

That dinner was a happy one for Taffy and the Laird, with their Little
Billee apparently unchanged--as demonstrative, as genial, and caressing
as ever, and with no swagger to speak of; and with so many things to
talk about that were new to them, and of such delightful interest! They
also had much to say--but they didn't say very much about Paris, for
fear of waking up Heaven knows what sleeping dogs!

And every now and again, in the midst of all this pleasant foregathering
and communion of long-parted friends, the pangs of Little Billee's
miserable mind-malady would shoot through him like poisoned arrows.

He would catch himself thinking how fat and fussy and serious about
trifles Taffy had become; and what a shiftless, feckless, futile duffer
was the Laird; and how greedy they both were, and how red and coarse
their ears and gills and cheeks grew as they fed, and how shiny their
faces; and how little he would care, try as he might, if they both fell
down dead under the table! And this would make him behave more
caressingly to them, more genially and demonstratively than ever--for he
knew it was all a grewsome physical ailment of his own, which he could
no more help than a cataract in his eye!

Then, catching sight of his own face and form in a mirror, he would
curse himself for a puny, misbegotten shrimp, an imp--an abortion--no
bigger, by the side of the herculean Taffy or the burly Laird of
Cockpen, than six-pennorth o' half-pence: a wretched little overrated
follower of a poor trivial craft--a mere light amuser! For what did
pictures matter, or whether they were good or bad, except to the
triflers who painted them, the dealers who sold them, the idle,
uneducated, purse-proud fools who bought them and stuck them up on their
walls because they were told!

And he felt that if a dynamite shell were beneath the table where they
sat, and its fuse were smoking under their very noses, he would neither
wish to warn his friends nor move himself. He didn't care a d----!

And all this made him so lively and brilliant in his talk, so
fascinating and droll and witty, that Taffy and the Laird wondered at
the improvement success and the experience of life had wrought in him,
and marvelled at the happiness of his lot, and almost found it in their
warm, affectionate hearts to feel a touch of envy!

[Illustration: A HAPPY DINNER]

Oddly enough, in a brief flash of silence, "entre la poire et le
fromage," they heard a foreigner at an adjoining table (one of a very
noisy group) exclaim: "Mais quand je vous dis que j'l'ai entendue, moi,
la Svengali! et même qu'elle a chanté l'Impromptu de Chopin absolument
comme si c'était un piano qu'on jouait! voyons!..."

"Farceur! la bonne blague!" said another--and then the conversation
became so noisily general it was no good listening any more.

"Svengali! how funny that name should turn up! I wonder what's become of
_our_ Svengali, by-the-way?" observed Taffy.

"I remember _his_ playing Chopin's Impromptu," said Little Billee; "what
a singular coincidence!"

There were to be more coincidences that night; it never rains them but
it pours!

So our three friends finished their coffee and liqueured up, and went to
Cornelys's, three in a hansom--

                            "Like Mars,
    A-smokin' their poipes and cigyars."

Sir Louis Cornelys, as everybody knows, lives in a palace on Campden
Hill, a house of many windows; and whichever window he looks out of, he
sees his own garden and very little else. In spite of his eighty years,
he works as hard as ever, and his hand has lost but little of its
cunning. But he no longer gives those splendid parties that made him
almost as famous a host as he was an artist.

[Illustration: "A-SMOKIN' THEIR POIPES AND CIGYARS"]

When his beautiful wife died he shut himself up from the world; and
now he never stirs out of his house and grounds except to fulfil his
duties at the Royal Academy and dine once a year with the Queen.

It was very different in the early sixties. There was no pleasanter or
more festive house than his in London, winter or summer--no lordlier
host than he--no more irresistible hostesses than Lady Cornelys and her
lovely daughters; and if ever music had a right to call itself divine,
it was there you heard it--on late Saturday nights during the London
season--when the foreign birds of song come over to reap their harvest
in London Town.

It was on one of the most brilliant of these Saturday nights that Taffy
and the Laird, chaperoned by Little Billee, made their début at Mechelen
Lodge, and were received at the door of the immense music-room by a
tall, powerful man with splendid eyes and a gray beard, and a small
velvet cap on his head--and by a Greek matron so beautiful and stately
and magnificently attired that they felt inclined to sink them on their
bended knees as in the presence of some overwhelming Eastern
royalty--and were only prevented from doing so, perhaps, by the simple,
sweet, and cordial graciousness of her welcome.

And whom should they be shaking hands with next but Antony, Lorrimer,
and the Greek--with each a beard and mustache of nearly five years'
growth!

But they had no time for much exuberant greeting, for there was a sudden
piano crash--and then an immediate silence, as though for pins to
drop--and Signor Giuglini and the wondrous maiden Adelina Patti sang the
Miserere out of Signor Verdi's most famous opera--to the delight of all
but a few very superior ones who had just read Mendelssohn's letters (or
misread them) and despised Italian music; and thought cheaply of "mere
virtuosity," either vocal or instrumental.

When this was over, Little Billee pointed out all the lions to his
friends--from the Prime Minister down to the present scribe--who was
right glad to meet them again and talk of auld lang syne, and present
them to the daughters of the house and other charming ladies.

Then Roucouly, the great French barytone, sang Durien's favorite song,

    "Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment;
     Chagrin d'amour dure toute la vie...."

with quite a little drawing-room voice--but quite as divinely as he had
sung "Noël, noël," at the Madeleine in full blast one certain Christmas
Eve our three friends remembered well.

Then there was a violin solo by young Joachim, then as now the greatest
violinist of his time; and a solo on the piano-forte by Madame Schumann,
his only peeress! and these came as a wholesome check to the levity of
those for whom all music is but an agreeable pastime, a mere emotional
delight, in which the intellect has no part; and also as a well-deserved
humiliation to all virtuosi who play so charmingly that they make their
listeners forget the master who invented the music in the lesser master
who interprets it!

For these two--man and woman--the highest of their kind, never let you
forget it was Sebastian Bach they were playing--playing in absolute
perfection, in absolute forgetfulness of themselves--so that if you
weren't up to Bach, you didn't have a very good time!

But if you were (or wished it to be understood or thought you were), you
seized your opportunity and you scored; and by the earnestness of your
rapt and tranced immobility, and the stony, gorgon-like intensity of
your gaze, you rebuked the frivolous--as you had rebuked them before by
the listlessness and carelessness of your bored resignation to the
Signorina Patti's trills and fioritures, or M. Roucouly's pretty little
French mannerisms.

And what added so much to the charm of this delightful concert was that
the guests were not packed together sardinewise, as they are at most
concerts; they were comparatively few and well chosen, and could get up
and walk about and talk to their friends between the pieces, and wander
off into other rooms and look at endless beautiful things, and stroll in
the lovely grounds, by moon or star or Chinese-lantern light.

And there the frivolous could sit and chat and laugh and flirt when Bach
was being played inside; and the earnest wander up and down together in
soul-communion, through darkened walks and groves and alleys where the
sound of French or Italian warblings could not reach them, and talk in
earnest tones of the great Zola, or Guy de Maupassant and Pierre Loti,
and exult in beautiful English over the inferiority of English
literature, English art, English music, English everything else.

For these high-minded ones who can only bear the sight of classical
pictures and the sound of classical music do not necessarily read
classical books in any language--no Shakespeares or Dantes or Molières
or Goethes for _them_. They know a trick worth two of that!

And the mere fact that these three immortal French writers of light
books I have just named had never been heard of at this particular
period doesn't very much matter; they had cognate predecessors whose
names I happen to forget. Any stick will do to beat a dog with, and
history is always repeating itself.

Feydeau, or Flaubert, let us say--or for those who don't know French and
cultivate an innocent mind, Miss Austen (for to be dead and buried is
almost as good as to be French and immoral!)--and Sebastian Bach, and
Sandro Botticelli--that all the arts should be represented. These names
are rather discrepant, but they made very good sticks for dog-beating;
and with a thorough knowledge and appreciation of these (or the
semblance thereof), you were well equipped in those days to hold your
own among the elect of intellectual London circles, and snub the
philistine to rights.

Then, very late, a tall, good-looking, swarthy foreigner came in, with a
roll of music in his hands, and his entrance made quite a stir; you
heard all round, "Here's Glorioli," or "Ecco Glorioli," or "Voici
Glorioli," till Glorioli got on your nerves. And beautiful ladies,
ambassadresses, female celebrities of all kinds, fluttered up to him
and cajoled and fawned;--as Svengali would have said, "Prinzessen,
Comtessen, Serene English Altessen!"--and they soon forgot their
Highness and their Serenity!

For with very little pressing Glorioli stood up on the platform, with
his accompanist by his side at the piano, and in his hands a sheet of
music, at which he never looked. He looked at the beautiful ladies, and
ogled and smiled; and from his scarcely parted, moist, thick, bearded
lips, which he always licked before singing, there issued the most
ravishing sounds that had ever been heard from throat of man or woman or
boy! He could sing both high and low and soft and loud, and the
frivolous were bewitched, as was only to be expected; but even the
earnestest of all, caught, surprised, rapt, astounded, shaken, tickled,
teased, harrowed, tortured, tantalized, aggravated, seduced,
demoralized, corrupted into naturalness, forgot to dissemble their
delight.

And Sebastian Bach (the especially adored of all really great musicians,
and also, alas! of many priggish outsiders who don't know a single note
and can't remember a single tune) was well forgotten for the night; and
who were more enthusiastic than the two great players who had been
playing Bach that evening? For these, at all events, were broad and
catholic and sincere, and knew what was beautiful, whatever its kind.

[Illustration: "BONJOUR, SUZON!"]

It was but a simple little song that Glorioli sang, as light and pretty
as it could well be, almost worthy of the words it was written to, and
the words are De Musset's; and I love them so much I cannot resist the
temptation of setting them down here, for the mere sensuous delight of
writing them, as though I had just composed them myself:

    "Bonjour, Suzon, ma fleur des bois!
       Es-tu toujours la plus jolie?
     Je reviens, tel que tu me vois,
       D'un grand voyage en Italie!
     Du paradis j'ai fait le tour--
     J'ai fait des vers--j'ai fait l'amour....
           Mais que t'importe!
           Mais que t'importe!
     Je passe devant ta maison:
           Ouvre ta porte!
           Ouvre ta porte!
             Bonjour, Suzon!

     "Je t'ai vue au temps des lilas.
       Ton cœur joyeux venait d'éclore,
     Et tu disais: 'je ne veux pas,
       Je ne veux pas qu'on m'aime encore.'
     Qu'as-tu fait depuis mon départ?
     Qui part trop tôt revient trop tard.
           Mais que m'importe?
           Mais que m'importe?
     Je passe devant ta maison:
           Ouvre ta porte!
           Ouvre ta porte!
             Bonjour, Suzon!"

And when it began, and while it lasted, and after it was over, one felt
really sorry for all the other singers. And nobody sang any more that
night; for Glorioli was tired, and wouldn't sing again, and none were
bold enough or disinterested enough to sing after him.

Some of my readers may remember that meteoric bird of song, who, though
a mere amateur, would condescend to sing for a hundred guineas in the
saloons of the great (as Monsieur Jourdain sold cloth); who would sing
still better for love and glory in the studios of his friends.

For Glorioli--the biggest, handsomest, and most distinguished-looking
Jew that ever was--one of the Sephardim (one of the Seraphim!)--hailed
from Spain, where he was junior partner in the great firm of Moralés,
Peralés, Gonzalés & Glorioli, wine-merchants, Malaga. He travelled for
his own firm; his wine was good, and he sold much of it in England. But
his voice would bring him far more gold in the month he spent here; for
his wines have been equalled--even surpassed--but there was no voice
like his anywhere in the world, and no more finished singer.

Anyhow, his voice got into Little Billee's head more than any wine, and
the boy could talk of nothing else for days and weeks; and was so
exuberant in his expressions of delight and gratitude that the great
singer took a real fancy to him (especially when he was told that this
fervent boyish admirer was one of the greatest of English painters); and
as a mark of his esteem, privately confided to him after supper that
every century two human nightingales were born--only two! a male and a
female; and that he, Glorioli, was the representative "male rossignol of
this soi-disant dix-neuvième siècle."

"I can well believe that! And the female, your mate that should be--_la
rossignolle_, if there is such a word?" inquired Little Billee.

"Ah! mon ami ... it was Alboni till la petite Adelina Patti came out a
year or two ago; and now it is _la Svengali_."

"La Svengali?"

"Oui, mon fy! You will hear her some day--et vous m'en direz des
nouvelles!"

"Why, you don't mean to say that she's got a better voice than Madame
Alboni?"

"Mon ami, an apple is an excellent thing--until you have tried a peach!
Her voice to that of Alboni is as a peach to an apple--I give you my
word of honor! but bah! the voice is a detail. It's what she does with
it--it's incredible! it gives one cold all down the back! it drives you
mad! it makes you weep hot tears by the spoonful! Ah! the tear, mon fy!
tenez! I can draw everything but _that_! Ça n'est pas dans mes cordes!
_I_ can only madden with _love_! But la Svengali!... And then, in the
middle of it all, prrrout!... she makes you laugh! Ah! le beau rire!
faire rire avec des larmes plein les yeux--voilà qui me passe!... Mon
ami, when I heard her it made me swear that even _I_ would never try to
sing any more--it seemed _too_ absurd! and I kept my word for a month at
least--and you know, je sais ce que je vaux, moi!"

"You are talking of la Svengali, I bet," said Signor Spartia.

"Oui, parbleu! You have heard her?"

"Yes--at Vienna last winter," rejoined the greatest singing-master in
the world. "J'en suis fou! hélas! I thought _I_ could teach a woman how
to sing till I heard that blackguard Svengali's pupil. He has married
her, they say!"

[Illustration: A HUMAN NIGHTINGALE]

"That _blackguard_ Svengali!" exclaimed Little Billee ... "why, that
must be a Svengali I knew in Paris--a famous pianist! a friend of mine!"

"That's the man! also une fameuse crapule (sauf vot' respect); his real
name is Adler; his mother was a Polish singer; and he was a pupil at the
Leipsic Conservatorio. But he's an immense artist, and a great
singing-master, to teach a woman like that! and such a woman! belle
comme un ange--mais bête comme un pot. I tried to talk to her--all she
can say is 'ja wohl,' or 'doch,' or 'nein,' or 'soh'! not a word of
English or French or Italian, though she sings them, oh! but _divinely_!
It is '_il bel canto_' come back to the world after a hundred years...."

"But what voice is it?" asked Little Billee.

"Every voice a mortal woman can have--three octaves--four! and of such a
quality that people who can't tell one tune from another cry with
pleasure at the mere sound of it directly they hear her; just like
anybody else. Everything that Paganini could do with his violin she does
with her voice--only better--and what a voice! un vrai baume!"

"Now I don't mind petting zat you are schbeaking of la Sfencali," said
Herr Kreutzer, the famous composer, joining in. "Quelle merfeille, hein?
I heard her in St. Betersburg, at ze Vinter Balace. Ze vomen all vent
mat, and pulled off zeir bearls and tiamonts and kave zem to her--vent
town on zeir knees and gried and gissed her hants. She tit not say vun
vort! She tit not efen schmile! Ze men schnifelled in ze gorners, and
looked at ze bictures, and tissempled--efen I, Johann Kreutzer! efen ze
Emperor!"

"You're joking," said Little Billee.

"My vrent, I neffer choke ven I talk apout zinging. You vill hear her
zum tay yourzellof, and you vill acree viz me zat zere are two classes
of beoble who zing. In ze vun class, la Sfencali; in ze ozzer, all ze
ozzer zingers!"

"And does she sing good music?"

"I ton't know. _All_ music is koot ven _she_ zings it. I forket ze zong;
I can only sink of ze zinger. Any koot zinger can zing a peautiful zong
and kif bleasure, I zubboce! But I voot zooner hear la Sfencali zing a
scale zan anypotty else zing ze most peautiful zong in ze vorldt--efen
vun of my own! Zat is berhaps how zung ze crate Italian zingers of ze
last century. It vas a lost art, and she has found it; and she must haf
pecun to zing pefore she pecan to schpeak--or else she voot not haf hat
ze time to learn all zat she knows, for she is not yet zirty! She zings
in Paris in Ogdoper, Gott sei dank! and gums here after Christmas to
zing at Trury Lane. Chullien kifs her ten sousand bounts!"

"I wonder, now! Why, that must be the woman I heard at Warsaw two years
ago--or three," said young Lord Witlow. "It was at Count Siloszech's.
He'd heard her sing in the streets, with a tall, black-bearded ruffian,
who accompanied her on a guitar, and a little fiddling gypsy fellow. She
was a handsome woman, with hair down to her knees, but stupid as an owl.
She sang at Siloszech's, and all the fellows went mad and gave her their
watches and diamond studs and gold scarf-pins. By gad! I never heard or
saw anything like it. I don't know much about music myself--couldn't
tell 'God Save the Queen' from 'Pop Goes the Weasel,' if the people
didn't get up and stand and take their hats off; but I was as mad as the
rest--why, I gave her a little German silver vinaigrette I'd just bought
for my wife; hanged if I didn't--and I was only just married, you know!
It's the peculiar twang of her voice, I suppose!"

And hearing all this, Little Billee made up his mind that life had still
something in store for him, since he would some day hear la Svengali.
Anyhow, he wouldn't shoot himself till then!

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus the night wore itself away. The Prinzessen, Comtessen, and Serene
English Altessen (and other ladies of less exalted rank) departed home
in cabs and carriages; and hostess and daughters went to bed. Late
sitters of the ruder sex supped again, and smoked and chatted and
listened to comic songs and recitations by celebrated actors. Noble
dukes hobnobbed with low comedians; world-famous painters and sculptors
sat at the feet of Hebrew capitalists and aitchless millionaires.
Judges, cabinet ministers, eminent physicians, and warriors and
philosophers saw Sunday morning steal over Campden Hill and through the
many windows of Mechelen Lodge, and listened to the pipe of
half-awakened birds, and smelled the freshness of the dark summer dawn.
And as Taffy and the Laird walked home to the Old Hummums by daylight,
they felt that last night was ages ago, and that since then they had
foregathered with "much there was of the best in London." And then they
reflected that "much there was of the best in London" were still
strangers to them--except by reputation--for there had not been time for
many introductions: and this had made them feel a little out of it; and
they found they hadn't had such a very good time after all. And there
were no cabs. And they were tired, and their boots were tight.

And the last they had seen of Little Billee before leaving was a glimpse
of their old friend in a corner of Lady Cornelys's boudoir, gravely
playing cup-and-ball with Fred Walker for sixpences--both so rapt in the
game that they were unconscious of anything else, and both playing so
well (with either hand) that they might have been professional
champions!

And that saturnine young sawbones, Jakes Talboys (now Sir Jakes, and one
of the most genial of Her Majesty's physicians), who sometimes after
supper and champagne was given to thoughtful, sympathetic, and acute
observation of his fellow-men, remarked to the Laird in a whisper that
was almost convivial: "Rather an enviable pair! Their united ages amount
to forty-eight or so, their united weights to about fifteen stone, and
they couldn't carry you or me between them. But if you were to roll all
the other brains that have been under this roof to-night into one, you
wouldn't reach the sum of their united genius.... I wonder which of the
two is the most unhappy!"

       *       *       *       *       *

       *       *       *       *       *

The season over, the song-birds flown, summer on the wane, his picture,
the "Moon-Dial," sent to Moses Lyon's (the picture-dealer in Conduit
Street), Little Billee felt the time had come to go and see his mother
and sister in Devonshire, and make the sun shine twice as brightly for
them during a month or so, and the dew fall softer!

So one fine August morning found him at the Great Western Station--the
nicest station in all London, I think--except the stations that book you
to France and far away.

It always seems so pleasant to be going west! Little Billee loved that
station, and often went there for a mere stroll, to watch the people
starting on their westward way, following the sun towards Heaven knows
what joys or sorrows, and envy them their sorrows or their joys--any
sorrows or joys that were not merely physical, like a chocolate drop or
a pretty tune, a bad smell or a toothache.

And as he took a seat in a second-class carriage (it would be third in
these democratic days), south corner, back to the engine, with _Silas
Marner_, and Darwin's _Origin of Species_ (which he was reading for the
third time), and _Punch_, and other literature of a lighter kind, to
beguile him on his journey, he felt rather bitterly how happy he could
be if the little spot, or knot, or blot, or clot which paralyzed that
convolution of his brain where he kept his affections could but be
conjured away!

The dearest mother, the dearest sister in the world, in the dearest
little sea-side village (or town) that ever was! and other dear
people--especially Alice, sweet Alice with hair so brown, his sister's
friend, the simple, pure, and pious maiden of his boyish dreams: and
himself, but for that wretched little kill-joy cerebral occlusion, as
sound, as healthy, as full of life and energy as he had ever been!

[Illustration: CUP-AND-BALL]

And when he wasn't reading _Silas Marner_, or looking out of window at
the flying landscape, and watching it revolve round its middle distance
(as it always seems to do), he was sympathetically taking stock of his
fellow-passengers, and mildly envying them, one after another,
indiscriminately!

A fat, old, wheezy philistine, with a bulbous nose and only one eye, who
had a plain, sickly daughter, to whom he seemed devoted, body and soul;
an old lady, who still wept furtively at recollections of the parting
with her grandchildren, which had taken place at the station (they had
borne up wonderfully, as grandchildren do); a consumptive curate, on the
opposite corner seat by the window, whose tender, anxious wife (sitting
by his side) seemed to have no thoughts in the whole world but for him;
and her patient eyes were his stars of consolation, since he turned to
look into them almost every minute, and always seemed a little the
happier for doing so. There is no better star-gazing than that!

So Little Billee gave her up _his_ corner seat, that the poor sufferer
might have those stars where he could look into them comfortably without
turning his head.

Indeed (as was his wont with everybody), Little Billee made himself
useful and pleasant to his fellow-travellers in many ways--so many that
long before they had reached their respective journeys' ends they had
almost grown to love him as an old friend, and longed to know who this
singularly attractive and brilliant youth, this genial, dainty,
benevolent little princekin could possibly be, who was dressed so
fashionably, and yet went second class, and took such kind thought of
others; and they wondered at the happiness that must be his at merely
being alive, and told him more of their troubles in six hours than they
told many an old friend in a year.

But he told them nothing about himself--that self he was so sick of--and
left them to wonder.

And at his own journey's end, the farthest end of all, he found his
mother and sister waiting for him, in a beautiful little
pony-carriage--his last gift--and with them sweet Alice, and in her
eyes, for one brief moment, that unconscious look of love surprised
which is not to be forgotten for years and years and years--which can
only be seen by the eyes that meet it, and which, for the time it lasts
(just a flash), makes all women's eyes look exactly the same (I'm told):
and it seemed to Little Billee that, for the twentieth part of a second,
Alice had looked at him with Trilby's eyes--or his mother's, when that
he was a little tiny boy.

It all but gave him the thrill he thirsted for! Another twentieth part
of a second, perhaps, and his brain-trouble would have melted away; and
Little Billee would have come into his own again--the kingdom of love!

A beautiful human eye! _Any_ beautiful eye--a dog's, a deer's, a
donkey's, an owl's even! To think of all that it can look, and all that
it can see! all that it can even _seem_, sometimes! What a prince among
gems! what a star!

But a beautiful eye that lets the broad white light of infinite space
(so bewildering and garish and diffused) into one pure virgin heart, to
be filtered there! and lets it out again, duly warmed, softened,
concentrated, sublimated, focussed to a point as in a precious stone,
that it may shed itself (a love-laden effulgence) into some stray
fellow-heart close by--through pupil and iris, entre quatre-z-yeux--the
very elixir of life!

Alas! that such a crown-jewel should ever lose its lustre and go blind!

Not so blind or dim, however, but it can still see well enough to look
before and after, and inward and upward, and drown itself in tears, and
yet not die! And that's the dreadful pity of it. And this is a quite
uncalled-for digression; and I can't think why I should have gone out of
my way (at considerable pains) to invent it! In fact--

    "Of this here song, should I be axed the reason for to show,
     I don't exactly know, I don't exactly know!
     _But all my fancy dwells upon Nancy._" ...

"How pretty Alice has grown, mother! quite lovely, I think! and so nice;
but she was always as nice as she could be!"

So observed Little Billee to his mother that evening as they sat in the
garden and watched the crescent moon sink to the Atlantic.

"Ah! my darling Willie! If you _could_ only guess how happy you would
make your poor old mammy by growing fond of Alice.... And Blanche, too!
what a joy for _her_!"

"Good heavens! mother.... Alice is not for the likes of _me_! She's for
some splendid young Devon squire, six foot high, and acred and
whiskered within an inch of his life!..."

"Ah, my darling Willie! you are not of those who ask for love in
vain.... If you only _knew_ how she believes in you! She almost beats
your poor old mammy at _that_!"

[Illustration: SWEET ALICE]

And that night he dreamed of Alice--that he loved her as a sweet good
woman should be loved; and knew, even in his dream, that it was but a
dream; but, oh! it was good! and he managed not to wake; and it was a
night to be marked with a white stone! And (still in his dream) she had
kissed him, and healed him of his brain-trouble forever. But when he
woke next morning, alas! his brain-trouble was with him still, and he
felt that no dream kiss would ever cure it--nothing but a real kiss from
Alice's own pure lips!

And he rose thinking of Alice, and dressed and breakfasted thinking of
her--and how fair she was, and how innocent, and how well and carefully
trained up the way she should go--the beau ideal of a wife.... Could she
possibly care for a shrimp like himself?

For in his love of outward form he could not understand that any woman
who had eyes to see should ever quite condone the signs of physical
weakness in man, in favor of any mental gifts or graces whatsoever.

Little Greek that he was, he worshipped the athlete, and opined that all
women without exception--all English women especially--must see with the
same eyes as himself.

He had once been vain and weak enough to believe in Trilby's love (with
a Taffy standing by--a careless, unsusceptible Taffy, who was like unto
the gods of Olympus!)--and Trilby had given him up at a word, a
hint--for all his frantic clinging.

She would not have given up Taffy, _pour si peu_, had Taffy but lifted a
little finger! It is always "just whistle, and I'll come to you, my
lad!" with the likes of Taffy ... but Taffy hadn't even whistled! Yet
still he kept thinking of Alice--and he felt he couldn't think of her
well enough till he went out for a stroll by himself on a sheep-trimmed
down. So he took his pipe and his Darwin, and out he strolled into the
early sunshine--up the green Red Lane, past the pretty church, Alice's
father's church--and there, at the gate, patiently waiting for his
mistress, sat Alice's dog--an old friend of his, whose welcome was a
very warm one.

Little Billee thought of Thackeray's lovely poem in _Pendennis_:

    "She comes--she's here--she's past!
     May heaven go with her!..."

Then he and the dog went on together to a little bench on the edge of
the cliff--within sight of Alice's bedroom window. It was called "the
Honeymooners' Bench."

"That look--that look--that look! Ah--but Trilby had looked like that,
too! And there are many Taffys in Devon!"

He sat himself down and smoked and gazed at the sea below, which the sun
(still in the east) had not yet filled with glare and robbed of the
lovely sapphire-blue, shot with purple and dark green, that comes over
it now and again of a morning on that most beautiful coast.

There was a fresh breeze from the west, and the long, slow billows broke
into creamier foam than ever, which reflected itself as a tender white
gleam in the blue concavities of their shining shoreward curves as they
came rolling in. The sky was all of turquoise but for the smoke of a
distant steamer--a long thin horizontal streak of dun--and there were
little brown or white sails here and there, dotting; and the stately
ships went on....

Little Billee tried hard to feel all this beauty with his heart as well
as his brain--as he had so often done when a boy--and cursed his
insensibility out loud for at least the thousand and first time.

Why couldn't these waves of air and water be turned into equivalent
waves of sound, that he might feel them through the only channel that
reached his emotions! That one joy was still left to him--but, alas!
alas! he was only a painter of pictures--and not a maker of music!

He recited "Break, break, break," to Alice's dog, who loved him, and
looked up into his face with sapient, affectionate eyes--and whose
name, like that of so many dogs in fiction and so few in fact, was
simply Tray. For Little Billee was much given to monologues out loud,
and profuse quotations from his favorite bards.

Everybody quoted that particular poem either mentally or aloud when they
sat on that particular bench--except a few old-fashioned people, who
still said,

    "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll!"

or people of the very highest culture, who only quoted the nascent (and
crescent) Robert Browning; or people of no culture at all, who simply
held their tongues--and only felt the more!

Tray listened silently.

"Ah, Tray, the best thing but one to do with the sea is to paint it. The
next best thing to that is to bathe in it. The best of all is to lie
asleep at the bottom. How would _you_ like that?

    "'And on thy ribs the limpet sticks,
      And in thy heart the scrawl shall play....'"

Tray's tail became as a wagging point of interrogation, and he turned
his head first on one side and then on the other--his eyes fixed on
Little Billee's, his face irresistible in its genial doggy wistfulness.

"Tray, what a singularly good listener you are--and therefore what
singularly good manners you've got! I suppose all dogs have!" said
Little Billee; and then, in a very tender voice, he exclaimed,

"Alice, Alice, Alice!"

And Tray uttered a soft, cooing, nasal croon in his head register,
though he was a barytone dog by nature, with portentous, warlike
chest-notes of the jingo order.

"Tray, your mistress is a parson's daughter, and therefore twice as much
of a mystery as any other woman in this puzzling world!

"Tray, if my heart weren't stopped with wax, like the ears of the
companions of Ulysses when they rowed past the sirens--you've heard of
Ulysses, Tray? he loved a dog--if my heart weren't stopped with wax, I
should be deeply in love with your mistress; perhaps she would marry me
if I asked her--there's no accounting for tastes!--and I know enough of
myself to know that I should make her a good husband--that I should make
her happy--and I should make two other women happy besides.

"As for myself personally, Tray, it doesn't very much matter. One good
woman would do as well as another, if she's equally good-looking. You
doubt it? Wait till you get a pimple inside your bump of--your bump
of--wherever you keep your fondnesses, Tray.

"For that's what's the matter with me--a pimple--just a little clot of
blood at the root of a nerve, and no bigger than a pin's point!

"That's a small thing to cause such a lot of wretchedness, and wreck a
fellow's life, isn't it? Oh, curse it, curse it, curse it--every day and
all day long!

"And just as small a thing will take it away, I'm told!

"Ah! grains of sand are small things--and so are diamonds! But diamond
or grain of sand, only Alice has got that small thing! Alice alone, in
all the world, has got the healing touch for me now; the hands, the
lips, the eyes! I know it--I feel it! I dreamed it last night! She
looked me well in the face, and took my hand--both hands--and kissed me,
eyes and mouth, and told me how she loved me. Ah! what a dream it was!
And my little clot melted away like a snow-flake on the lips, and I was
my old self again, after many years--and all through that kiss of a pure
woman.

"I've never been kissed by a pure woman in my life--never! except by my
dear mother and sister; and mothers and sisters don't count, when it
comes to kissing.

"Ah! sweet physician that she is, and better than all! It will all come
back again with a rush, just as I dreamed, and we will have a good time
together, we three!...

[Illustration: "MAY HEAVEN GO WITH HER!"]

"But your mistress is a parson's daughter, and believes everything she's
been taught from a child, just as you do--at least, I hope so. And I
like her for it--and you too.

"She has believed her father--will she ever believe me, who think so
differently? And if she does, will it be good for her?--and then, where
will her father come in?

"Oh! it's a bad thing to live, and no longer believe and trust in your
father, Tray! to doubt either his honesty or his intelligence. For he
(with your mother to help) has taught you all the best he knows, if he
has been a good father--till some one else comes and teaches you
better--or worse!

"And, then, what are you to believe of what good still remains of all
that early teaching--and how are you to sift the wheat from the
chaff?...

"Kneel undisturbed, fair saint! I, for one, will never seek to undermine
thy faith in any father, on earth or above it!

"Yes, there she kneels in her father's church, her pretty head bowed
over her clasped hands, her cloak and skirts falling in happy folds
about her: I see it all!

"And underneath, that poor, sweet, soft, pathetic thing of flesh and
blood, the eternal woman--great heart and slender brain--forever
enslaved or enslaving, never self-sufficing, never free ... that dear,
weak, delicate shape, so cherishable, so perishable, that I've had to
paint so often, and know so well by heart! and love ... ah, how I love
it! Only painter-fellows and sculptor-fellows can ever quite know the
fulness of that pure love.

"There she kneels and pours forth her praise or plaint, meekly and duly.
Perhaps it's for me she's praying!

    "'Leave thou thy sister when she prays.'

"She believes her poor little prayer will be heard and answered
somewhere up aloft. The impossible will be done. She wants what she
wants so badly, and prays for it so hard.

"She believes--she believes--what _doesn't_ she believe, Tray?

"The world was made in six days. It is just six thousand years old. Once
it all lay smothered under rain-water for many weeks, miles deep,
because there were so many wicked people about somewhere down in
Jude_e_, where they didn't know everything! A costly kind of clearance!
And then there was Noah, who _wasn't_ wicked, and his most respectable
family, and his ark--and Jonah and his whale--and Joshua and the sun,
and what not. I remember it all, you see, and, oh! such wonderful things
that have happened since! And there's everlasting agony for those who
don't believe as she does; and yet she is happy, and good, and very
kind; for the mere thought of any live creature in pain makes her
wretched!

"After all, if she believes in me, she'll believe in anything; let her!

"Indeed, I'm not sure that it's not rather ungainly for a pretty woman
_not_ to believe in all these good old cosmic taradiddles, as it is for
a pretty child not to believe in Little Red Riding-hood, and Jack and
the Beanstalk, and Morgiana and the Forty Thieves; we learn them at our
mother's knee, and how nice they are! Let us go on believing them as
long as we can, till the child grows up and the woman dies and it's all
found out.

"Yes, Tray, I will be dishonest for her dear sake. I will kneel by her
side, if ever I have the happy chance, and ever after, night and
morning, and all day long on Sundays if she wants me to! What will I
_not_ do for that one pretty woman who believes in _me_? I will respect
even _that_ belief, and do my little best to keep it alive forever. It
is much too precious an earthly boon for _me_ to play ducks and drakes
with....

"So much for Alice, Tray--your sweet mistress and mine.

"But, then, there's Alice's papa--and that's another pair of sleeves, as
we say in France.

"Ought one ever to play at make-believe with a full-grown man for any
consideration whatever--even though he be a parson, and a possible
father-in-law? _There's_ a case of conscience for you!

"When I ask him for his daughter, as I must, and he asks me for my
profession of faith, as he will, what can I tell him? The truth?

"But, then, what will _he_ say? What allowances will _he_ make for a
poor little weak-kneed, well-meaning waif of a painter-fellow like me,
whose only choice lay between Mr. Darwin and the Pope of Rome, and who
has chosen once and forever--and that long ago--before he'd ever even
heard of Mr. Darwin's name.

"Besides, why should he make allowances for me? I don't for him. I think
no more of a parson than he does of a painter-fellow--and that's
precious little, I'm afraid.

"What will he think of a man who says:

"'Look here! the God of your belief isn't mine and never will be--but I
love your daughter, and she loves me, and I'm the only man to make her
happy!'

"He's no Jephthah; he's made of flesh and blood, although he's a
parson--and loves his daughter as much as Shylock loved his.

"Tell me, Tray--thou that livest among parsons--what man, not being a
parson himself, can guess how a parson would think, an average parson,
confronted by such a poser as that?

"Does he, dare he, _can_ he ever think straight or simply on any subject
as any other man thinks, hedged in as he is by so many limitations?

"He is as shrewd, vain, worldly, self-seeking, ambitious, jealous,
censorious, and all the rest, as you or I, Tray--for all his Christian
profession--and just as fond of his kith and kin!

"He is considered a gentleman--which perhaps you and I are not--unless
we happen to behave as such; it is a condition of his noble calling.
Perhaps it's in order to become a gentleman that he's become a parson!
It's about as short a royal road as any to that enviable distinction--as
short almost as her Majesty's commission, and much safer, and much less
expensive--within reach of the sons of most fairly successful butchers
and bakers and candlestick-makers.

"While still a boy he has bound himself irrevocably to certain beliefs,
which he will be paid to preserve and preach and enforce through life,
and act up to through thick and thin--at all events, in the eyes of
others--even his nearest and dearest--even the wife of his bosom.

"They are his bread and butter, these beliefs--and a man mustn't quarrel
with his bread and butter. But a parson must quarrel with those who
don't believe as he tells them!

[Illustration: "'SO MUCH FOR ALICE, TRAY'"]

"Yet a few years' thinking and reading and experience of life, one would
suppose, might possibly just shake his faith a little (just as though,
instead of being parson, he had been tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor,
gentleman, apothecary, ploughboy, thief), and teach him that many of
these beliefs are simply childish--and some of them very wicked
indeed--and most immoral.

"It is very wicked and most immoral to believe, or affect to believe,
and tell others to believe, that the unseen, unspeakable, unthinkable
Immensity we're all part and parcel of, source of eternal, infinite,
indestructible life and light and might, is a kind of wrathful,
glorified, and self-glorifying ogre in human shape, with human passions,
and most inhuman hates--who suddenly made us out of nothing, one fine
day--just for a freak--and made us so badly that we fell the next--and
turned us adrift the day after--damned us from the very beginning--_ab
ovo--ab ovo usque ad malum_--ha, ha!--and ever since! never gave us a
chance!

"All-merciful Father, indeed! Why, the Prince of Darkness was an angel
in comparison (and a gentleman into the bargain).

"Just think of it, Tray--a finger in every little paltry pie--an eye and
an ear at every key-hole, even that of the larder, to catch us tripping,
and find out if we're praising loud enough, or grovelling low enough, or
fasting hard enough--poor god-forsaken worms!

"And if we're naughty and disobedient, everlasting torment for us;
torture of so hideous a kind that we wouldn't inflict it on the basest
criminal, not for one single moment!

"Or else, if we're good and do as we are bid, an eternity of bliss so
futile, so idle, and so tame that we couldn't stand it for a week, but
for thinking of its one horrible alternative, and of our poor brother
for ever and ever roasting away, and howling for the drop of water he
never gets.

"Everlasting flame, or everlasting dishonor--nothing between!

"Isn't it ludicrous as well as pitiful--a thing to make one snigger
through one's tears? Isn't it a grievous sin to believe in such things
as these, and go about teaching and preaching them, and being paid for
it--a sin to be heavily chastised, and a shame? What a legacy!

"They were shocking bad artists, those conceited, narrow-minded Jews,
those poor old doting monks and priests and bigots of the grewsome, dark
age of faith! They couldn't draw a bit--no perspective, no
chiaro-oscuro; and it's a woful image they managed to evolve for us out
of the depths of their fathomless ignorance, in their zeal to keep us
off all the forbidden fruit we're all so fond of, because we were built
like that! And by whom? By our Maker, I suppose (who also made the
forbidden fruit, and made it very nice--and put it so conveniently for
you and me to see and smell and reach, Tray--and sometimes even pick,
alas!).

"And even at that it's a failure. Only the very foolish little birds are
frightened into good behavior. The naughty ones laugh and wink at each
other, and pull out its hair and beard when nobody's looking, and build
their nests out of the straw it's stuffed with (the naughty little birds
in black, especially), and pick up what they want under its very nose,
and thrive uncommonly well; and the good ones fly away out of sight; and
some day, perhaps, find a home in some happy, useful father-land far
away, where the Father isn't a bit like this. Who knows?

"And I'm one of the good little birds, Tray--at least, I hope so. And
that unknown Father lives in me whether I will or no, and I love Him
whether He be or not, just because I can't help it, and with the best
and bravest love that can be--the perfect love that believeth no evil,
and seeketh no reward, and casteth out fear. For I'm His father as much
as He's mine, since I've conceived the thought of Him after my own
fashion!

"And He lives in you too, Tray--you and all your kind. Yes, good dog,
you king of beasts, I see it in your eyes....

"Ah, bon Dieu Père, le Dieu des bonnes gens! Oh! if we only knew for
_certain_, Tray! what martyrdom would we not endure, you and I, with a
happy smile and a grateful heart--for sheer _love_ of such a father! How
little should _we_ care for the things of this earth!

"But the poor parson?

"He must willy-nilly go on believing, or affecting to believe, just as
he is told, _word for word_, or else good-bye to his wife and children's
bread and butter, his own preferment, perhaps even his very
gentility--that gentility of which his Master thought so little, and he
and his are apt to think so much--with possibly the Archbishopric of
Canterbury at the end of it, the bâton de maréchal that lies in every
clerical knapsack.

"What a temptation! one is but human!

"So how can he be honest without believing certain things, to believe
which (without shame) one must be as simple as a little child; as,
by-the-way, he is so cleverly told to be in these matters, and so
cleverly tells us--and so seldom is himself in any other matter
whatever--his own interests, other people's affairs, the world, the
flesh, and the devil! And that's clever of him too....

"And if he chooses to be as simple as a little child, why shouldn't I
treat him as a little child, for his own good, and fool him to the top
of his little bent for his dear daughter's sake, that I may make her
happy, and thereby him too?

"And if he's _not_ quite so simple as all that, and makes artful little
compromises with his conscience--for a good purpose, of course--why
shouldn't I make artful little compromises with mine, and for a better
purpose still, and try to get what I want in the way _he_ does? I want
to marry his daughter far worse than he can ever want to live in a
palace, and ride in a carriage and pair with a mitre on the panels.

"If he _cheats_, why shouldn't I cheat too?

"If _he_ cheats, he cheats everybody all round--the wide, wide world,
and something wider and higher still that can't be measured, something
in himself. _I_ only cheat _him_!

"_If_ he cheats, he cheats for the sake of very worldly things
indeed--tithes, honors, influence, power, authority, social
consideration and respect--not to speak of bread and butter! _I_ only
cheat for the love of a lady fair--and cheating for cheating, I like my
cheating best.

"So, whether he cheats or not, I'll--

"Confound it! what would old Taffy do in such a case, I wonder?...

"Oh, bother! it's no good wondering what old Taffy would do.

"Taffy never wants to marry _anybody's_ daughter; he doesn't even want
to paint her! He only wants to paint his beastly ragamuffins and thieves
and drunkards, and be left alone.

"Besides, Taffy's as simple as a little child himself, and couldn't fool
any one, and wouldn't if he could--not even a parson. But if any one
tries to fool _him_, my eyes! don't he cut up rough, and call names, and
kick up a shindy, and even knock people down! That's the worst of
fellows like Taffy. They're too good for this world and too solemn.
They're impossible, and lack all sense of humor. In point of fact,
Taffy's a _gentleman_--poor fellow! _et puis voilà!_

"I'm not simple--worse luck; and I can't knock people down--I only wish
I could! I can only paint them! and not even _that_ 'as they really
are!' ... Good old Taffy!...

"Faint heart never won fair lady!

"Oh, happy, happy thought--I'll be brave and win!

"I can't knock people down, or do doughty deeds, but I'll be brave in my
own little way--the only way I can....

"I'll simply lie through thick and thin--I must--I will--nobody need
ever be a bit the wiser! I can do more good by lying than by telling the
truth, and make more deserving people happy, including myself and the
sweetest girl alive--the end shall justify the means: that's my excuse,
my only excuse! and this lie of mine is on so stupendous a scale that it
will have to last me for life. It's my only one, but its name is _Lion_!
and I'll never tell another as long as I live.

"And now that I know what temptation really is, I'll never think any
harm of any parson any more ... never, never, never!"

So the little man went on, as if he knew all about it, had found it all
out for himself, and nobody else had ever found it out before! and I am
not responsible for his ways of thinking (which are not necessarily my
own).

It must be remembered, in extenuation, that he was very young, and not
very wise: no philosopher, no scholar--just a painter of lovely
pictures; only that and nothing more. Also, that he was reading Mr.
Darwin's immortal book for the third time, and it was a little too
strong for him; also, that all this happened in the early sixties, long
ere Religion had made up her mind to meet Science half-way, and hobnob
and kiss and be friends. Alas! before such a lying down of the lion and
the lamb can ever come to pass, Religion will have to perform a larger
share of the journey than half, I fear!

Then, still carried away by the flood of his own eloquence (for he had
never had such an innings as this, no such a listener), he again
apostrophized the dog Tray, who had been growing somewhat inattentive
(like the reader, perhaps), in language more beautiful than ever:

"Oh, to be like you, Tray--and secrete love and good-will from morn till
night, from night till morning--like saliva, without effort! with never
a moment's cessation of flow, even in disgrace and humiliation! How much
better to love than to be loved--to love as you do, my Tray--so warmly,
so easily, so unremittingly--to forgive all wrongs and neglect and
injustice so quickly and so well--and forget a kindness never! Lucky dog
that you are!

    "'Oh! could I feel as I have felt, or be as I have been,
      Or weep as I could once have wept, o'er many a vanished scene,
      As springs in deserts found seem sweet, all brackish tho' they be,
      So 'midst this withered waste of life those tears would flow to me!'

"What do you think of those lines, Tray? I _love_ them, because my
mother taught them to me when I was about your age--six years old, or
seven! and before the bard who wrote them had fallen; like Lucifer, son
of the morning! Have you ever heard of Lord Byron, Tray? He too, like
Ulysses, loved a dog, and many people think that's about the best there
is to be said of him nowadays! Poor Humpty Dumpty! Such a swell as he
once was! 'Not all the king's horses, nor all the--'"

Here Tray jumped up suddenly and bolted--he saw some one else he was
fond of, and ran to meet him. It was the vicar, coming out of his
vicarage.

A very nice-looking vicar--fresh, clean, alert, well tanned by sun and
wind and weather--a youngish vicar still; tall, stout, gentlemanlike,
shrewd, kindly, wordly, a trifle pompous, and authoritative more than a
trifle; not much given to abstract speculation, and thinking fifty times
more of any sporting and orthodox young country squire, well-inched and
well-acred (and well-whiskered), than of all the painters in
Christendom.

"'When Greeks joined Greeks, then was the tug of war,'" thought Little
Billee; and he felt a little uncomfortable. Alice's father had never
loomed so big and impressive before, or so distressingly nice to look
at.

"Welcome, my Apelles, to your ain countree, which is growing quite proud
of you, I declare! Young Lord Archie Waring was saying only last night
that he wished he had half your talent! He's _crazed_ about painting,
you know, and actually wants to be a painter himself! The poor dear old
marquis is quite sore about it!"

With this happy exordium the parson stopped and shook hands; and they
both stood for a while, looking seaward. The parson said the usual
things about the sea--its blueness; its grayness; its greenness; its
beauty; its sadness; its treachery.

    "'Who shall put forth on thee,
      Unfathomable sea!'"

"Who indeed!" answered Little Billee, quite agreeing. "I vote _we_
don't, at all events." So they turned inland.

The parson said the usual things about the land (from the
country-gentleman's point of view), and the talk began to flow quite
pleasantly, with quoting of the usual poets, and capping of quotations
in the usual way--for they had known each other many years, both here
and in London. Indeed, the vicar had once been Little Billee's tutor.

And thus, amicably, they entered a small wooded hollow. Then the vicar,
turning of a sudden his full blue gaze on the painter, asked, sternly:

"What book's that you've got in your hand, Willie?"

"A--a--it's the _Origin of Species_, by Charles Darwin. I'm very
f-f-fond of it. I'm reading it for the third time.... It's very
g-g-good. It _accounts_ for things, you know."

Then, after a pause, and still more sternly:

"What place of worship do you most attend in London--especially of an
evening, William?"

Then stammered Little Billee, all self-control forsaking him:

"I d-d-don't attend any place of worship at all, morning, afternoon, or
evening. I've long given up going to church altogether. I can only be
frank with you; I'll tell you why...."

And as they walked along the talk drifted on to very momentous subjects
indeed, and led, unfortunately, to a serious falling out--for which
probably both were to blame--and closed in a distressful way at the
other end of the little wooded hollow--a way most sudden and unexpected,
and quite grievous to relate. When they emerged into the open the parson
was quite white, and the painter crimson.

"Sir," said the parson, squaring himself up to more than his full height
and breadth and dignity, his face big with righteous wrath, his voice
full of strong menace--"sir, you're--you're a--you're a _thief_, sir, a
_thief_! You're trying to _rob me of my Saviour_! Never you dare to
darken _my_ door-step again!"

"Sir," said Little Billee, with a bow, "if it comes to calling names,
you're--you're a--no; you're Alice's father; and whatever else you are
besides, I'm another for trying to be honest with a parson; so
good-morning to you."

And each walked off in an opposite direction, stiff as pokers; and Tray
stood between, looking first at one receding figure, then at the
other, disconsolate.

[Illustration: "'YOU'RE A _THIEF_, SIR!'"]

And thus Little Billee found out that he could no more lie than he could
fly. And so he did not marry sweet Alice after all, and no doubt it was
ordered for her good and his. But there was tribulation for many days in
the house of Bagot, and for many months in one tender, pure, and pious
bosom.

And the best and the worst of it all is that, not very many years after,
the good vicar--more fortunate than most clergymen who dabble in stocks
and shares--grew suddenly very rich through a lucky speculation in Irish
beer, and suddenly, also, took to thinking seriously about things (as a
man of business should)--more seriously than he had ever thought before.
So at least the story goes in North Devon, and it is not so new as to be
incredible. Little doubts grew into big ones--big doubts resolved
themselves into downright negations. He quarrelled with his bishop; he
quarrelled with his dean; he even quarrelled with his "poor dear old
marquis," who died before there was time to make it up again. And
finally he felt it his duty, in conscience, to secede from a Church
which had become too narrow to hold him, and took himself and his
belongings to London, where at least he could breathe. But there he fell
into a great disquiet, for the long habit of feeling himself always _en
évidence_--of being looked up to and listened to without contradiction;
of exercising influence and authority in spiritual matters (and even
temporal); of impressing women, especially, with his commanding
presence, his fine sonorous voice, his lofty brow, so serious and
smooth, his soft, big, waving hands, which soon lost their country
tan--all this had grown as a second nature to him, the breath of his
nostrils, a necessity of his life. So he rose to be the most popular
Unitarian preacher of his day, and pretty broad at that.

But his dear daughter Alice, she stuck to the old faith, and married a
venerable High-Church archdeacon, who very cleverly clutched at and
caught her and saved her for himself just as she stood shivering on the
very brink of Rome; and they were neither happy nor unhappy
together--_un ménage bourgeois, ni beau ni laid, ni bon ni mauvais_. And
thus, alas! the bond of religious sympathy, that counts for so much in
united families, no longer existed between father and daughter, and the
heart's division divided them. _Ce que c'est que de nous!_ ... The pity
of it!

And so no more of sweet Alice with hair so brown.




Part Sixth

    '"Vraiment, la reine auprès d'elle était laide
            Quand, vers le soir,
      Elle passait sur le pont de Tolède
            En corset noir!
      Un chapelet du temps de Charlemagne
            Ornait son cou....
      _La vent qui vient à travers la montagne
            Me rendra fou!_

    "'Dansez, chantez, villageois! la nuit tombe....
            Sabine, un jour,
      A tout donné--sa beauté de colombe,
            Et son amour--
      Pour l'anneau d'or du Comte de Soldagne,
            Pour un bijou....
      _La vent qui vient à travers la montagne
            M'a rendu fou!_'"


Behold our three musketeers of the brush once more reunited in Paris,
famous, after long years.

In emulation of the good Dumas, we will call it "cinq ans après." It was
a little more.

Taffy stands for Porthos and Athos rolled into one, since he is big and
good-natured, and strong enough to "assommer un homme d'un coup de
poing," and also stately and solemn, of aristocratic and romantic
appearance, and not too fat--not too much ongbong-pwang, as the Laird
called it--and also he does not dislike a bottle of wine, or even two,
and looks as if he had a history.

The Laird, of course, is d'Artagnan, since he sells his pictures well,
and by the time we are writing of has already become an Associate of the
Royal Academy; like Quentin Durward, this d'Artagnan was a Scotsman:

    "Ah, was na he a Roguy, this piper of Dundee!"

And Little Billee, the dainty friend of duchesses, must stand for
Aramis, I fear! It will not do to push the simile too far; besides,
unlike the good Dumas, one has a conscience. One does not play ducks and
drakes with historical facts, or tamper with historical personages. And
if Athos, Porthos & Co. are not historical by this time, I should like
to know who are!

Well, so are Taffy, the Laird, and Little Billee--_tout ce qu'il y a de
plus historiques_!

Our three friends, well groomed, frock-coated, shirt-collared within an
inch of their lives, duly scarfed and scarf-pinned, chimney-pot-hatted,
and most beautifully trousered, and balmorally booted, or neatly spatted
(or whatever was most correct at the time), are breakfasting together on
coffee, rolls, and butter at a little round table in the huge court-yard
of an immense caravanserai, paved with asphalt, and covered in at the
top with a glazed roof that admits the sun and keeps out the rain--and
the air.

A magnificent old man as big as Taffy, in black velvet coat and breeches
and black silk stockings, and a large gold chain round his neck and
chest, looks down like Jove from a broad flight of marble steps--as
though to welcome the coming guests, who arrive in cabs and railway
omnibuses through a huge archway on the boulevard, or to speed those who
part through a lesser archway opening on to a side street.

"Bon voyage, messieurs et dames!"

At countless other little tables other voyagers are breakfasting or
ordering breakfast; or, having breakfasted, are smoking and chatting and
looking about. It is a babel of tongues--the cheerfulest, busiest,
merriest scene in the world, apparently the costly place of rendezvous
for all wealthy Europe and America; an atmosphere of bank-notes and
gold.

Already Taffy has recognized (and been recognized by) half a dozen old
fellow-Crimeans, of unmistakable military aspect like himself; and three
canny Scotsmen have discreetly greeted the Laird; and as for Little
Billee, he is constantly jumping up from his breakfast and running to
this table or that, drawn by some irresistible British smile of
surprised and delighted female recognition: "What, _you_ here? How nice!
Come over to hear la Svengali, I suppose."

At the top of the marble steps is a long terrace, with seats and people
sitting, from which tall glazed doors, elaborately carved and gilded,
give access to luxurious drawing-rooms, dining-rooms, reading-rooms,
lavatories, postal and telegraph offices; and all round and about are
huge square green boxes, out of which grow tropical and exotic
evergreens all the year round--with beautiful names that I have
forgotten. And leaning against these boxes are placards announcing what
theatrical or musical entertainments will take place in Paris that day
or night; and the biggest of these placards (and the most
fantastically decorated) informs the cosmopolite world that Madame
Svengali intends to make her first appearance in Paris that very
evening, at nine punctually, in the Cirque des Bashibazoucks, Rue St.
Honoré!

[Illustration: "AN ATMOSPHERE OF BANK-NOTES AND GOLD"]

Our friends had only arrived the previous night, but they had managed to
secure stalls a week beforehand. No places were any longer to be got for
love or money. Many people had come to Paris on purpose to hear la
Svengali--many famous musicians from England and everywhere else--but
they would have to wait many days.

The fame of her was like a rolling snowball that had been rolling all
over Europe for the last two years--wherever there was snow to be picked
up in the shape of golden ducats.

Their breakfast over, Taffy, the Laird, and Little Billee, cigar in
mouth, arm in arm, the huge Taffy in the middle (_comme autrefois_),
crossed the sunshiny boulevard into the shade, and went down the Rue de
la Paix, through the Place Vendôme and the Rue Castiglione to the Rue de
Rivoli--quite leisurely, and with a tender midriff-warming sensation of
freedom and delight at almost every step.

Arrived at the corner pastry-cook's, they finished the stumps of their
cigars as they looked at the well-remembered show in the window; then
they went in and had, Taffy a Madeleine, the Laird a baba, and Little
Billee a Savarin--and each, I regret to say, a liqueur-glass of _rhum de
la Jamaïque_.

After this they sauntered through the Tuileries Gardens, and by the quay
to their favorite Pont des Arts, and looked up and down the
river--_comme autrefois_!

It is an enchanting prospect at any time and under any circumstances;
but on a beautiful morning in mid-October, when you haven't seen it for
five years, and are still young! and almost every stock and stone that
meets your eye, every sound, every scent, has some sweet and subtle
reminder for you--

Let the reader have no fear. I will not attempt to describe it. I
shouldn't know where to begin (nor when to leave off!).

Not but what many changes had been wrought; many old landmarks were
missing. And among them, as they found out a few minutes later, and much
to their chagrin, the good old Morgue!

They inquired of a _gardien de la paix_, who told them that a new
Morgue--"une bien jolie Morgue, ma foi!"--and much more commodious and
comfortable than the old one, had been built beyond Notre Dame, a little
to the right.

"Messieurs devraient voir ça--on y est très bien!"

But Notre Dame herself was still there, and la Sainte Chapelle, and Le
Pont Neuf, and the equestrian statue of Henri IV. _C'est toujours ça!_

And as they gazed and gazed, each framed unto himself, mentally, a
little picture of the Thames they had just left--and thought of Waterloo
Bridge, and St. Paul's, and London--but felt no homesickness whatever,
no desire to go back!

And looking down the river westward there was but little change.

On the left-hand side the terraces and garden of the Hôtel de la
Rochemartel (the sculptured entrance of which was in the Rue de Lille)
still overtopped the neighboring houses and shaded the quay with tall
trees, whose lightly falling leaves yellowed the pavement for at least a
hundred yards of frontage--or backage, rather; for this was but the rear
of that stately palace.

[Illustration: "A LITTLE PICTURE OF THE THAMES"]

"I wonder if l'Zouzou has come into his dukedom yet?" said Taffy.

And Taffy the realist, Taffy the modern of moderns, also said many
beautiful things about old historical French dukedoms; which, in spite
of their plentifulness, were so much more picturesque than English ones,
and constituted a far more poetical and romantic link with the past;
partly on account of their beautiful, high-sounding names!

"Amaury de Brissac de Roncesvaulx de la Rochemartel-Boisségur was a
generous mouthful! Why, the very sound of it is redolent of the twelfth
century! Not even Howard of Norfolk can beat that!"

For Taffy was getting sick of "this ghastly thin-faced time of ours," as
he sadly called it (quoting from a strange and very beautiful poem
called "Faustine," which had just appeared in the _Spectator_--and which
our three enthusiasts already knew by heart), and beginning to love all
things that were old and regal and rotten and forgotten and of bad
repute, and to long to paint them just as they really were.

"Ah! they managed these things better in France, especially in the
twelfth century, and even the thirteenth!" said the Laird. "Still,
Howard of Norfolk isn't bad at a pinch--_fote de myoo_!" he continued,
winking at Little Billee. And they promised themselves that they would
leave cards on Zouzou, and, if he wasn't a duke, invite him to dinner;
and also Dodor, if they could manage to find him.

Then along the quay and up the Rue de Seine, and by well-remembered
little mystic ways to the old studio in the Place St. Anatole des Arts.

Here they found many changes: A row of new houses on the north side, by
Baron Haussmann--the well-named; a boulevard was being constructed right
through the place; but the old house had been respected, and, looking
up, they saw the big north window of their good old abode blindless and
blank and black but for a white placard in the middle of it with the
words: "À louer. Un atelier, et une chambre à coucher."

They entered the court-yard through the little door in the porte
cochère, and beheld Madame Vinard standing on the step of her loge, her
arms akimbo, giving orders to her husband--who was sawing logs for
firewood, as usual at that time of the year--and telling him he was the
most helpless log of the lot.

She gave them one look, threw up her arms, and rushed at them, saying,
"Ah, mon Dieu! les trois Angliches!"

And they could not have complained of any lack of warmth in her
greeting, or in Monsieur Vinard's.

"Ah! mais quel bonheur de vous revoir! Et comme vous avez bonne mine,
tous! Et Monsieur Litrebili, donc! il a grandi!" etc., etc. "Mais vous
allez boire la goutte avant tout--vite, Vinard! Le ratafia de cassis que
Monsieur Durien nous a envoyé la semaine dernière!"

And they were taken into the loge and made free of it--welcomed like
prodigal sons; a fresh bottle of black-currant brandy was tapped, and
did duty for the fatted calf. It was an ovation, and made quite a stir
in the quartier.

_Le Retour des trois Angliches--cinq ans après!_

She told them all the news: about Bouchardy; Papelard; Jules Guinot, who
was now in the Ministère de la Guerre; Barizel, who had given up the
arts and gone into his father's business (umbrellas); Durien, who had
married six months ago, and had a superb atelier in the Rue Taitbout,
and was coining money; about her own family--Aglaë, who was going to be
married to the son of the charbonnier at the corner of the Rue de la
Canicule--"un bon mariage; bien solide!" Niniche, who was studying the
piano at the Conservatoire, and had won the silver medal; Isidore, who,
alas! had gone to the bad--"perdu par les femmes! un si joli garçon,
vous concevez! ça ne lui a pas porté bonheur, par exemple!" And yet she
was proud! and said his father would never have had the pluck!

"À dix-huit ans, pensez donc!

"And that good Monsieur Carrel; he is dead, you know! Ah, messieurs
savaient ça? Yes, he died at Dieppe, his natal town, during the winter,
from the consequences of an indigestion--que voulez-vous! He always had
the stomach so feeble!... Ah! the beautiful interment, messieurs! Five
thousand people, in spite of the rain! Car il pleuvait averse! And M. le
Maire and his adjunct walking behind the hearse, and the gendarmerie and
the douaniers, and a bataillon of the douzième chasseurs-à-pied, with
their music, and all the sapper-pumpers, en grande tenue with their
beautiful brass helmets! All the town was there, following: so there was
nobody left to see the procession go by! q'c'était beau! Mon Dieu,
q'c'était beau! c'que j'ai pleuré, d'voir ça! n'est-ce-pas, Vinard?"

"Dame, oui, ma biche! j'crois ben! It might have been Monsieur le Maire
himself that one was interring in person!"

"Ah, ça! voyons, Vinard; thou'rt not going to compare the Maire of
Dieppe to a painter like Monsieur Carrel?"

"Certainly not, ma biche! But still, M. Carrel was a great man all the
same, in his way. Besides, I wasn't there--nor thou either, as to that!"

"Mon Dieu! comme il est idiot, ce Vinard--of a stupidity to cut with a
knife! Why, thou might'st almost be a Mayor thyself, sacred imbecile
that thou art!"

And an animated discussion arose between husband and wife as to the
respective merits of a country mayor on one side and a famous painter
and member of the Institute on the other, during which _les trois
Angliches_ were left out in the cold. When Madame Vinard had
sufficiently routed her husband, which did not take very long, she
turned to them again, and told them that she had started a _magasin de
bric-à-brac_, "vous verres ça!"

Yes, the studio had been to let for three months. Would they like to see
it? Here were the keys. They would, of course, prefer to see it by
themselves, alone; "je comprends ça! et vous verrez ce que vous verrez!"
Then they must come and drink once more again the drop, and inspect her
_magasin de bric-à-brac_.

So they went up, all three, and let themselves into the old place where
they had been so happy--and one of them for a while so miserable!

It was changed indeed.

Bare of all furniture, for one thing; shabby and unswept, with a
pathetic air of dilapidation, spoliation, desecration, and a musty,
shut-up smell; the window so dirty you could hardly see the new houses
opposite; the floor a disgrace!

All over the walls were caricatures in charcoal and white chalk, with
more or less incomprehensible legends; very vulgar and trivial and
coarse, some of them, and pointless for _trois Angliches_.

[Illustration: "'AH! THE BEAUTIFUL INTERMENT, MESSIEURS!'"]

But among these (touching to relate) they found, under a square of
plate-glass that had been fixed on the wall by means of an oak frame,
Little Billee's old black-and-white-and-red chalk sketch of Trilby's
left foot, as fresh as if it had been done only yesterday! Over it was
written: "Souvenir de la Grande Trilby, par W. B. (Litrebili)." And
beneath, carefully engrossed on imperishable parchment, and pasted on
the glass, the following stanzas:

     "Pauvre Trilby--la belle et bonne et chère!
      Je suis son pied. Devine qui voudra
      Quel tendre ami, la chérissant naguère,
      Encadra d'elle (et d'un amour sincère)
    Ce souvenir charmant qu'un caprice inspira--
              Qu'un souffle emportera!

     "J'étais jumeau: qu'est devenu mon frère?
      Hélas! Hélas! L'Amour nous égara.
      L'Éternité nous unira, j'espère;
      Et nous ferons comme autrefois la paire
    Au fond d'un lit bien chaste où nul ne troublera
              Trilby--qui dormira.

     "Ô tendre ami, sans nous qu'allez-vous faire?
      La porte est close où Trilby demeura.
      Le Paradis est loin ... et sur la terre
      (Qui nous fut douce et lui sera légère)
    Pour trouver nos pareils, si bien qu'on cherchera--
              Beau chercher l'on aura!"

Taffy drew a long breath into his manly bosom, and kept it there as he
read this characteristic French doggerel (for so he chose to call this
touching little symphony in _ère_ and _ra_). His huge frame thrilled
with tenderness and pity and fond remembrance, and he said to himself
(letting out his breath): "Dear, dear Trilby! Ah! if you had only cared
for _me_, _I_ wouldn't have let you give me up--not for any one on
earth. _You_ were the mate for _me_!"

[Illustration: "PAUVRE TRILBY"]

And that, as the reader has guessed long ago, was big Taffy's "history."

The Laird was also deeply touched, and could not speak. Had he been in
love with Trilby, too? Had he ever been in love with any one?

He couldn't say. But he thought of Trilby's sweetness and unselfishness,
her gayety, her innocent kissings and caressings, her drollery and
frolicsome grace, her way of filling whatever place she was in with her
presence, the charming sight and the genial sound of her; and felt that
no girl, no woman, no lady he had ever seen yet was a match for this
poor waif and stray, this long-legged, cancan-dancing, quartier-latin
grisette, blanchisseuse de fin, "and Heaven knows what besides!"

"Hang it all!" he mentally ejaculated, "I wish to goodness I'd married
her _myself_!"

Little Billee said nothing either. He felt unhappier than he had ever
once felt for five long years--to think that he could gaze on such a
memento as this, a thing so strongly personal to himself, with dry eyes
and a quiet pulse! and he unemotionally, dispassionately, wished himself
dead and buried for at least the thousand and first time!

All three possessed casts of Trilby's hands and feet and photographs of
herself. But nothing so charmingly suggestive of Trilby as this little
masterpiece of a true artist, this happy fluke of a happy moment. It was
Trilbyness itself, as the Laird thought, and should not be suffered to
perish.

They took the keys back to Madame Vinard in silence.

She said: "Vous avez vu--n'est-ce pas, messieurs?--le pied de Trilby!
c'est bien gentil! C'est Monsieur Durien qui a fait mettre le verre,
quand vous êtes partis; et Monsieur Guinot qui a composé _l'épitaphe_.
Pauvre Trilby! qu'est-ce qu'elle est devenue! comme elle était bonne
fille, hein? et si belle! et comme elle était vive elle était vive elle
était vive! Et comme elle vous aimait tous bien--et surtout Monsieur
Litrebili--n'est-ce pas?"

Then she insisted on giving them each another liqueur-glass of Durien's
ratafia de cassis, and took them to see her collection of bric-à-brac
across the yard, a gorgeous show, and explained everything about it--how
she had begun in quite a small way, but was making it a big business.

"Voyez cette pendule! It is of the time of Louis Onze, who gave it with
his own hands to Madame de Pompadour(!). I bought it at a sale in--"

"Combiang?" said the Laird.

"C'est cent-cinquante francs, monsieur--c'est bien bon marché--une
véritable occasion, et--"

"Je prong!" said the Laird, meaning "I take it!"

Then she showed them a beautiful brocade gown "which she had picked up
at a bargain at--"

"Combiang?" said the Laird.

"Ah, ça, c'est trois cents francs, monsieur. Mais--"

"Je prong!" said the Laird.

"Et voici les souliers qui vont avec, et que--"

"Je pr--"

But here Taffy took the Laird by the arm and dragged him by force out
of this too seductive siren's cave.

The Laird told her where to send his purchases; and with many
expressions of love and good-will on both sides, they tore themselves
away from Monsieur et Madame Vinard.

The Laird, however, rushed back for a minute, and hurriedly whispered to
Madame Vinard: "Oh--er--le piay de Trilby--sur le mure, vous savvy--avec
le verre et toot le reste--coopy le mure--comprenny?... Combiang?"

"Ah, monsieur!" said Madame Vinard--"c'est un peu difficile, vous
savez--couper un mur comme ça! On parlera au propriétaire si vous
voulez, et ça pourrait peut-être s'arranger, si c'est en bois! seulement
il fau--"

"Je prong!" said the Laird, and waved his hand in farewell.

[Illustration: "'JE PRONG!'"]

They went up the Rue Vieille des Mauvais Ladres, and found that about
twenty yards of a high wall had been pulled down--just at the bend where
the Laird had seen the last of Trilby, as she turned round and kissed
her hand to him--and they beheld, within, a quaint and ancient
long-neglected garden; a gray old garden, with tall, warty, black-boled
trees, and damp, green, mossy paths that lost themselves under the brown
and yellow leaves and mould and muck which had drifted into heaps here
and there, the accumulation of years--a queer old faded pleasance, with
wasted bowers and dilapidated carved stone benches and weather-beaten
discolored marble statues--noseless, armless, earless fauns and
hamadryads! And at the end of it, in a tumble-down state of utter ruin,
a still inhabited little house, with shabby blinds and window-curtains,
and broken window-panes mended with brown paper--a Pavillon de Flore,
that must have been quite beautiful a hundred years ago--the once
mysterious love-resort of long-buried abbés with light hearts, and
well-forgotten lords and ladies gay--red-heeled, patched, powdered,
frivolous, and shameless, but oh! how charming to the imagination of
the nineteenth century! And right through the ragged lawn, (where lay,
upset in the long dewy grass, a broken doll's perambulator by a tattered
Punchinello) went a desecrating track made by cart-wheels and horses'
hoofs; and this, no doubt, was to be a new street--perhaps, as Taffy
suggested, "La Rue _Neuve_ des Mauvais Ladres!" (The _New_ Street of the
Bad Lepers!).

"Ah, Taffy!" sententiously opined the Laird, with his usual wink at
Little Billee, "I've no doubt the _old_ lepers were the best, bad as
they were!"

"I'm quite _sure_ of it!" said Taffy, with sad and sober conviction and
a long-drawn sigh. "I only wish I had a chance of painting one--just as
he really was!"

How often they had speculated on what lay hidden behind that lofty old
brick wall! and now this melancholy little peep into the once festive
past, the touching sight of this odd old poverty-stricken abode of
Heaven knows what present grief and desolation, which a few strokes of
the pickaxe had laid bare, seemed to chime in with their own gray mood
that had been so bright and sunny an hour ago; and they went on their
way quite dejectedly, for a stroll through the Luxembourg Gallery and
Gardens.

The same people seemed to be still copying the same pictures in the
long, quiet, genial room, so pleasantly smelling of oil-paint--Rosa
Bonheur's "Labourage Nivernais"--Hébert's "Malaria"--Couture's "Decadent
Romans."

And in the formal dusty gardens were the same pioupious and zouzous
still walking with the same nounous, or sitting by their sides on
benches by formal ponds with gold and silver fish in them--and just the
same old couples petting the same toutous and loulous![A]

[A] _Glossary._--Pioupiou (_alias_ pousse-caillou, _alias_
tourlourou)--a private soldier of the line. Zouzou--a Zouave. Nounou--a
wet-nurse with a pretty ribboned cap and long streamers. Toutou--a
nondescript French lapdog, of no breed known to Englishmen (a regular
little beast!) Loulou--a Pomeranian dog--not much better.

Then they thought they would go and lunch at le père Trin's--the
Restaurant de la Couronne, in the Rue du Luxembourg--for the sake of
auld lang syne! But when they got there the well-remembered fumes of
that humble refectory, which had once seemed not unappetizing, turned
their stomachs. So they contented themselves with warmly greeting le
père Trin, who was quite overjoyed to see them again, and anxious to
turn the whole establishment topsy-turvy that he might entertain such
guests as they deserved.

Then the Laird suggested an omelet at the Café de l'Odéon. But Taffy
said, in his masterful way, "Damn the Café de l'Odéon!"

And hailing a little open fly, they drove to Ledoyen's, or some such
place, in the Champs Élysées, where they feasted as became three
prosperous Britons out for a holiday in Paris--three irresponsible
musketeers, lords of themselves and Lutetia, _beati possidentes!_--and
afterwards had themselves driven in an open carriage and pair through
the Bois de Boulogne to the fête de St. Cloud (or what still remained of
it, for it lasts six weeks), the scene of so many of Dodor's and
Zouzou's exploits in past years, and found it more amusing than the
Luxembourg Gardens; the lively and irrepressible spirit of Dodor seemed
to pervade it still.

But it doesn't want the presence of a Dodor to make the blue-bloused
sons of the Gallic people (and its neatly shod, white-capped daughters)
delightful to watch as they take their pleasure. And the Laird (thinking
perhaps of Hampstead Heath on an Easter Monday) must not be blamed for
once more quoting his favorite phrase--the pretty little phrase with
which the most humorous and least exemplary of British parsons began his
famous journey to France.

When they came back to the hotel to dress and dine, the Laird found he
wanted a pair of white gloves for the concert--"Oon pair de gong blong,"
as he called it--and they walked along the boulevards till they came to
a haberdasher's shop of very good and prosperous appearance, and, going
in, were received graciously by the "patron," a portly little bourgeois,
who waved them to a tall and aristocratic and very well dressed young
commis behind the counter, saying, "Une paire de gants blancs pour
monsieur."

And what was the surprise of our three friends in recognizing Dodor!

The gay Dodor, Dodor l'irrésistible, quite unembarrassed by his
position, was exuberant in his delight at seeing them again, and
introduced them to the patron and his wife and daughter, Monsieur,
Madame, and Mademoiselle Passefil. And it soon became pretty evident
that, in spite of his humble employment in that house, he was a great
favorite in that family, and especially with mademoiselle.

[Illustration: "'OON PAIR DE GONG BLONG'"]

Indeed, Monsieur Passefil invited our three heroes to stay and dine then
and there; but they compromised matters by asking Dodor to come and dine
with _them_ at the hotel, and he accepted with alacrity.

Thanks to Dodor, the dinner was a very lively one, and they soon forgot
the regretful impressions of the day.

They learned that he hadn't got a penny in the world, and had left the
army, and had for two years kept the books at le père Passefil's and
served his customers, and won his good opinion and his wife's, and
especially his daughter's; and that soon he was to be not only his
employer's partner, but his son-in-law; and that, in spite of his
impecuniosity, he had managed to impress them with the fact that in
marrying a Rigolot de Lafarce she was making a very splendid match
indeed!

His brother-in-law, the Honorable Jack Reeve, had long cut him for a bad
lot. But his sister, after a while, had made up her mind that to marry
Mlle. Passefil wasn't the worst he could do; at all events, it would
keep him out of England, and _that_ was a comfort! And passing through
Paris, she had actually called on the Passefil family, and they had
fallen prostrate before such splendor; and no wonder, for Mrs. Jack
Reeve was one of the most beautiful, elegant, and fashionable women in
London, the smartest of the smart.

"And how about l'Zouzou?" asked Little Billee.

"Ah, old Gontran! I don't see much of him. We no longer quite move in
the same circles, you know; not that he's proud, or me either! but he's
a sub-lieutenant in the Guides--an officer! Besides, his brother's
dead, and he's the Duc de la Rochemartel, and a special pet of the
Empress; he makes her laugh more than anybody! He's looking out for the
biggest heiress he can find, and he's pretty safe to catch her, with
such a name as that! In fact, they say he's caught her already--Miss
Lavinia Hunks, of Chicago. Twenty million dollars!--at least, so the
_Figaro_ says!"

Then he gave them news of other old friends; and they did not part till
it was time for them to go to the Cirque des Bashibazoucks, and after
they had arranged to dine with his future family on the following day.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Rue St. Honoré was a long double file of cabs and carriages
slowly moving along to the portals of that huge hall, Le Cirque des
Bashibazoucks. Is it there still, I wonder? I don't mind betting not!
Just at this period of the Second Empire there was a mania for
demolition and remolition (if there is such a word), and I have no doubt
my Parisian readers would search the Rue St. Honoré for the Salle des
Bashibazoucks in vain!

Our friends were shown to their stalls, and looked round in surprise.
This was before the days of the Albert Hall, and they had never been in
such a big place of the kind before, or one so regal in aspect, so
gorgeously imperial with white and gold and crimson velvet, so dazzling
with light, so crammed with people from floor to roof, and cramming
itself still.

A platform carpeted with crimson cloth had been erected in front of the
gates where the horses had once used to come in, and their fair riders,
and the two jolly English clowns; and the beautiful nobleman with the
long frock-coat and brass buttons, and soft high boots, and four-in-hand
whip--"la chambrière."

In front of this was a lower stand for the orchestra. The circus itself
was filled with stalls--stalles d'orchestre. A pair of crimson curtains
hid the entrance to the platform at the back, and by each of these stood
a small page, ready to draw it aside and admit the diva.

The entrance to the orchestra was by a small door under the platform,
and some thirty or forty chairs and music-stands, grouped around the
conductor's estrade, were waiting for the band.

Little Billee looked round, and recognized many countrymen and
countrywomen of his own--many great musical celebrities especially, whom
he had often met in London. Tiers upon tiers of people rose up all round
in a widening circle, and lost themselves in a dazy mist of light at the
top--it was like a picture by Martin! In the imperial box were the
English ambassador and his family, with an august British personage
sitting in the middle, in front, his broad blue ribbon across his breast
and his opera-glass to his royal eyes.

Little Billee had never felt so excited, so exhilarated by such a show
before, nor so full of eager anticipation. He looked at his programme,
and saw that the Hungarian band (the first that had yet appeared in
western Europe, I believe) would play an overture of gypsy dances. Then
Madame Svengali would sing "un air connu, sans accompagnement," and
afterwards other airs, including the "Nussbaum" of Schumann (for the
first time in Paris, it seemed). Then a rest of ten minutes; then more
csárdás; then the diva would sing "Malbrouck s'en va-t'en guerre," of
all things in the world! and finish up with "un impromptu de Chopin,
sans paroles."

Truly a somewhat incongruous bill of fare!

[Illustration: GECKO]

Close on the stroke of nine the musicians came in and took their seats.
They were dressed in the foreign hussar uniform that has now become so
familiar. The first violin had scarcely sat down before friends
recognized in him their old friend Gecko.

Just as the clock struck, Svengali, in irreproachable evening dress,
tall and stout and quite splendid in appearance, notwithstanding his
long black mane (which had been curled), took his place at his desk. Our
friends would have known him at a glance, in spite of the wonderful
alteration time and prosperity had wrought in his outward man.

He bowed right and left to the thunderous applause that greeted him,
gave his three little baton-taps, and the lovely music began at once. We
have grown accustomed to strains of this kind during the last twenty
years; but they were new then, and their strange seduction was a
surprise as well as an enchantment.

Besides, no such band as Svengali's had ever been heard; and in
listening to this overture the immense crowd almost forgot that it was a
mere preparation for a great musical event, and tried to encore it. But
Svengali merely turned round and bowed--there were to be no encores that
night.

Then a moment of silence and breathless suspense--curiosity on tiptoe!

Then the two little page-boys each drew a silken rope, and the curtains
parted and looped themselves up on each side symmetrically; and a tall
female figure appeared, clad in what seemed like a classical dress of
cloth of gold, embroidered with garnets and beetles' wings; her snowy
arms and shoulders bare, a gold coronet of stars on her head, her thick
light brown hair tied behind and flowing all down her back to nearly her
knees, like those ladies in hair-dressers' shops who sit with their
backs to the plate-glass windows to advertise the merits of some
particular hair-wash.

She walked slowly down to the front, her hands hanging at her sides in
quite a simple fashion, and made a slight inclination of her head and
body towards the imperial box, and then to right and left. Her lips and
cheeks were rouged; her dark level eyebrows nearly met at the bridge of
her short high nose. Through her parted lips you could see her large
glistening white teeth; her gray eyes looked straight at Svengali.

Her face was thin, and had a rather haggard expression, in spite of its
artificial freshness; but its contour was divine, and its character so
tender, so humble, so touchingly simple and sweet, that one melted at
the sight of her. No such magnificent or seductive apparition has ever
been seen before or since on any stage or platform--not even Miss Ellen
Terry as the priestess of Artemis in the late Laureate's play, "The
Cup."

The house rose at her as she came down to the front; and she bowed again
to right and left, and put her hand to her heart quite simply and with a
most winning natural gesture, an adorable gaucherie--like a graceful and
unconscious school-girl, quite innocent of stage deportment.

_It was Trilby!_

       *       *       *       *       *

Trilby the tone-deaf, who couldn't sing one single note in tune! Trilby,
who couldn't tell a C from an F!!

What was going to happen!

Our three friends were almost turned to stone in the immensity of their
surprise.

Yet the big Taffy was trembling all over; the Laird's jaw had all but
fallen on to his chest; Little Billee was staring, staring his eyes
almost out of his head. There was something, to them, so strange and
uncanny about it all; so oppressive, so anxious, so momentous!

The applause had at last subsided. Trilby stood with her hands behind
her, one foot (the left one) on a little stool that had been left there
on purpose, her lips parted, her eyes on Svengali's, ready to begin.

He gave his three beats, and the band struck a chord. Then, at another
beat from him, but in her direction, she began, without the slightest
appearance of effort, without any accompaniment whatever, he still
beating time--conducting her, in fact, just as if she had been an
orchestra herself:

    "Au clair de la lune,
       Mon ami Pierrot!
     Prête-moi ta plume
       Pour écrire un mot.
     Ma chandelle est morte ...
       Je n'ai plus de feu!
     Ouvre-moi ta porte
       Pour l'amour de Dieu!"

This was the absurd old nursery rhyme with which la Svengali chose to
make her début before the most critical audience in the world! She sang
it three times over--the same verse. There is but one.

The first time she sang it without any expression whatever--not the
slightest. Just the words and the tune; in the middle of her voice, and
not loud at all; just as a child sings who is thinking of something
else; or just as a young French mother sings who is darning socks by a
cradle, and rocking her baby to sleep with her foot.

But her voice was so immense in its softness, richness, freshness, that
it seemed to be pouring itself out from all round; its intonation
absolutely, mathematically pure; one felt it to be not only faultless,
but infallible; and the seduction, the novelty of it, the strangely
sympathetic quality! How can one describe the quality of a peach or a
nectarine to those who have only known apples?

Until la Svengali appeared, the world had only known apples--Catalanis,
Jenny Linds, Grisis, Albonis, Pattis! The best apples that can be, for
sure--but still only apples!

[Illustration: "AU CLAIR DE LA LUNE"]

If she had spread a pair of large white wings and gracefully fluttered
up to the roof and perched upon the chandelier, she could not have
produced a greater sensation. The like of that voice has never been
heard, nor ever will be again. A woman archangel might sing like that,
or some enchanted princess out of a fairy-tale.

Little Billee had already dropped his face into his hands and hid his
eyes in his pocket-handkerchief; a big tear had fallen on to Taffy's
left whisker; the Laird was trying hard to keep his tears back.

She sang the verse a second time, with but little added expression and
no louder; but with a sort of breathy widening of her voice that made it
like a broad heavenly smile of universal motherhood turned into sound.
One felt all the genial gayety and grace and impishness of Pierrot and
Columbine idealized into frolicsome beauty and holy innocence, as though
they were performing for the saints in Paradise--a baby Columbine, with
a cherub for clown! The dream of it all came over you for a second or
two--a revelation of some impossible golden age--priceless--never to be
forgotten! How on earth did she do it?

Little Billee had lost all control over himself, and was shaking with
his suppressed sobs--Little Billee, who hadn't shed a single tear for
five long years! Half the people in the house were in tears, but tears
of sheer delight, of delicate inner laughter.

Then she came back to earth, and saddened and veiled and darkened her
voice as she sang the verse for the third time; and it was a great and
sombre tragedy, too deep for any more tears; and somehow or other poor
Columbine, forlorn and betrayed and dying, out in the cold at
midnight--sinking down to hell, perhaps--was making her last frantic
appeal! It was no longer Pierrot and Columbine--it was Marguerite--it
was Faust! It was the most terrible and pathetic of all possible human
tragedies, but expressed with no dramatic or histrionic exaggeration of
any sort; by mere tone, slight, subtle changes in the quality of the
sound--too quick and elusive to be taken count of, but to be felt with,
oh, what poignant sympathy!

When the song was over the applause did not come immediately, and she
waited with her kind wide smile, as if she were well accustomed to wait
like this; and then the storm began, and grew and spread and rattled and
echoed--voice, hands, feet, sticks, umbrellas!--and down came the
bouquets, which the little page-boys picked up; and Trilby bowed to
front and right and left in her simple _débonnaire_ fashion. It was her
usual triumph. It had never failed, whatever the audience, whatever the
country, whatever the song.

Little Billee didn't applaud. He sat with his head in his hands, his
shoulders still heaving. He believed himself to be fast asleep and in a
dream, and was trying his utmost not to wake; for a great happiness was
his. It was one of those nights to be marked with a white stone!

As the first bars of the song came pouring out of her parted lips (whose
shape he so well remembered), and her dovelike eyes looked straight over
Svengali's head, straight in his own direction--nay, _at_ him--something
melted in his brain, and all his long-lost power of loving came back
with a rush.

It was like the sudden curing of a deafness that has been lasting for
years. The doctor blows through your nose into your Eustachian tube with
a little India-rubber machine; some obstacle gives way, there is a snap
in your head, and straightway you hear better than you had ever heard in
all your life, almost too well; and all your life is once more changed
for you!

At length he sat up again, in the middle of la Svengali's singing of the
"Nussbaum," and saw her; and saw the Laird sitting by him, and Taffy,
their eyes riveted on Trilby, and knew for certain that it was _no_
dream this time, and his joy was almost a pain!

[Illustration:

    "OUVRE-MOI TA PORTE
      POUR L'AMOUR DE DIEU!"
]

She sang the "Nussbaum" (to its heavenly accompaniment) as simply as she
had sung the previous song. Every separate note was a highly finished
gem of sound, linked to the next by a magic bond.

You did not require to be a lover of music to fall beneath the spell of
such a voice as that; the mere melodic phrase had all but ceased to
matter. Her phrasing, consummate as it was, was as simple as a child's.

It was as if she said: "See! what does the composer count for? Here is
about as beautiful a song as was ever written, with beautiful words to
match, and the words have been made French for you by one of your
smartest poets! But what do the words signify, any more than the tune,
or even the language? The 'Nussbaum' is neither better nor worse than
'Mon ami Pierrot' when _I_ am the singer; for I am _Svengali_; and you
shall hear nothing, see nothing, think of nothing but _Svengali,
Svengali, Svengali_!"

It was the apotheosis of voice and virtuosity! It was "il bel canto"
come back to earth after a hundred years--the bel canto of Vivarelli,
let us say, who sang the same song every night to the same King of Spain
for a quarter of a century, and was rewarded with a dukedom, and wealth
beyond the dreams of avarice.

And, indeed, here was this immense audience, made up of the most
cynically critical people in the world, and the most anti-German,
assisting with rapt ears and streaming eyes at the imagined spectacle of
a simple German damsel, a Mädchen, a Fräulein, just "verlobte"--a future
Hausfrau--sitting under a walnut-tree in some suburban garden--à
Berlin!--and around her her family and their friends, probably drinking
beer and smoking long porcelain pipes, and talking politics or business,
and cracking innocent elaborate old German jokes; with bated breath,
lest they should disturb her maiden dream of love! And all as though it
were a scene in Elysium, and the Fräulein a nymph of many-fountained
Ida, and her people Olympian gods and goddesses.

And such, indeed, they were when Trilby sang of them!

After this, when the long, frantic applause had subsided, she made a
gracious bow to the royal British opera-glass (which had never left her
face), and sang "Ben Bolt" in English!

And then Little Billee remembered there was such a person as Svengali in
the world, and recalled his little flexible flageolet!

"That is how I teach Gecko; that is how I teach la bedite Honorine; that
is how I teach il bel canto.... It was lost, il bel canto--and I found
it in a dream--I, Svengali!"

And his old cosmic vision of the beauty and sadness of things, the very
heart of them, and their pathetic evanescence, came back with a tenfold
clearness--that heavenly glimpse beyond the veil! And with it a crushing
sense of his own infinitesimal significance by the side of this glorious
pair of artists, one of whom had been his friend and the other his
love--a love who had offered to be his humble mistress and slave, not
feeling herself good enough to be his wife!

It made him sick and faint to remember, and filled him with hot shame,
and then and there his love for Trilby became as that of a dog for its
master!

She sang once more--"Chanson de Printemps," by Gounod (who was present,
and seemed very hysterical), and the first part of the concert was over,
and people had time to draw breath and talk over this new wonder, this
revelation of what the human voice could achieve; and an immense hum
filled the hall--astonishment, enthusiasm, ecstatic delight!

But our three friends found little to say--for what _they_ felt there
were as yet no words!

[Illustration: "MALBROUCK S'EN VA-T'EN GUERRE"]

Taffy and the Laird looked at Little Billee, who seemed to be looking
inward at some transcendent dream of his own; with red eyes, and his
face all pale and drawn, and his nose very pink, and rather thicker than
usual; and the dream appeared to be out of the common blissful, though
his eyes were swimming still, for his smile was almost idiotic in its
rapture!

The second part of the concert was still shorter than the first, and
created, if possible, a wilder enthusiasm.

Trilby only sang twice.

Her first song was "Malbrouck s'en va-t'en guerre."

She began it quite lightly and merrily, like a jolly march; in the
middle of her voice, which had not as yet revealed any exceptional
compass or range. People laughed quite frankly at the first verse:

    "Malbrouck s'en va-t'en guerre--
       _Mironton, mironton, mirontaine!_
     Malbrouck s'en va-t'en guerre....
       Ne sais quand reviendra!
       Ne sais quand reviendra!
       Ne sais quand reviendra!"

The _mironton, mirontaine_ was the very essence of high martial resolve
and heroic self-confidence; one would have led a forlorn hope after
hearing it once!

    "Il reviendra-z-à Pâques--
       _Mironton, mironton, mirontaine!_
     Il reviendra-z-à Pâques....
       Ou ... à la Trinité!"

People still laughed, though the _mironton, mirontaine_ betrayed an
uncomfortable sense of the dawning of doubts and fears--vague
forebodings!

    "La Trinité se passe--
       _Mironton, mironton, mirontaine!_
     La Trinité se passe....
       Malbrouck ne revient pas!"

And here, especially in the _mironton, mirontaine_, a note of anxiety
revealed itself--so poignant, so acutely natural and human, that it
became a personal anxiety of one's own, causing the heart to beat, and
one's breath was short.

    "Madame à sa tour monte--
       _Mironton, mironton, mirontaine!_
     Madame à sa tour monte,
       Si haut qu'elle peut monter!"

Oh! How one's heart went with her! Anne! Sister Anne! Do you see
anything?

    "Elle voit de loin son page--
       _Mironton, mironton, mirontaine!_
     Elle voit de loin son page,
       Tout de noir habillé!"

One is almost sick with the sense of impending calamity--it is all but
unbearable!

    "Mon page--mon beau page!--
       _Mironton, mironton, mirontaine!_
     Mon page--mon beau page!
       Quelles nouvelles apportez?"

And here Little Billee begins to weep again, and so does everybody else!
The _mironton, mirontaine_ is an agonized wail of suspense--poor
bereaved duchess!--poor Sarah Jennings! Did it all announce itself to
you just like that?

All this while the accompaniment had been quite simple--just a few
obvious ordinary chords.

But now, quite suddenly, without a single modulation or note of warning,
down goes the tune a full major third, from E to C--into the graver
depths of Trilby's great contralto--so solemn and ominous that there is
no more weeping, but the flesh creeps; the accompaniment slows and
elaborates itself; the march becomes a funeral march, with muted
strings, and quite slowly:

    "Aux nouvelles que j'apporte--
       _Mironton, mironton, mirontaine!_
     Aux nouvelles que j'apporte,
      Vos beaux yeux vont pleurer!"

Richer and richer grows the accompaniment. The _mironton, mirontaine_
becomes a dirge--

    "Quittez vos habits roses--
       _Mironton, mironton, mirontaine!_
     Quittez vos habits roses,
       Et vos satins brochés!"

Here the ding-donging of a big bell seems to mingle with the score; ...
and very slowly, and so impressively that the news will ring forever in
the ears and hearts of those who hear it from la Svengali's lips:

    "Le Sieur Malbrouck est mort--
       _Mironton, mironton, mirontaine!_
     Le Sieur--Malbrouck--est--mort!
       Est mort--et enterré!"

And thus it ends quite abruptly!

And this heart-rending tragedy, this great historical epic in two dozen
lines, at which some five or six thousand gay French people are
sniffling and mopping their eyes like so many Niobes, is just a common
old French comic song--a mere nursery ditty, like "Little Bo-peep"--to
the tune,

    "We won't go home till morning,
      Till daylight doth appear."

And after a second or two of silence (oppressive and impressive as that
which occurs at a burial when the handful of earth is being dropped on
the coffin-lid) the audience bursts once more into madness; and la
Svengali, who accepts no encores, has to bow for nearly five minutes,
standing amid a sea of flowers....

[Illustration:

    "AUX NOUVELLES QUE J'APPORTE,
      VOS BEAUX YEUX VONT PLEURER!"
]

Then comes her great and final performance. The orchestra swiftly plays
the first four bars of the bass in Chopin's Impromptu (A flat); and
suddenly, without words, as a light nymph catching the whirl of a double
skipping-rope, la Svengali breaks in, and vocalizes that astounding
piece of music that so few pianists can even play; but no pianist has
ever played it like this; no piano has ever given out such notes as
these!

Every single phrase is a string of perfect gems, of purest ray serene,
strung together on a loose golden thread! The higher and shriller she
sings, the sweeter it is; higher and shriller than any woman had ever
sung before.

Waves of sweet and tender laughter, the very heart and essence of
innocent, high-spirited girlhood, alive to all that is simple and joyous
and elementary in nature--the freshness of the morning, the ripple of
the stream, the click of the mill, the lisp of wind in the trees, the
song of the lark in the cloudless sky--the sun and the dew, the scent of
early flowers and summer woods and meadows--the sight of birds and bees
and butterflies and frolicsome young animals at play--all the sights and
scents and sounds that are the birthright of happy children, happy
savages in favored climes--things within the remembrance and the reach
of most of us! All this, the memory and the feel of it, are in Trilby's
voice as she warbles that long, smooth, lilting, dancing laugh, that
wondrous song without words; and those who hear feel it all, and
remember it with her. It is irresistible; it forces itself on you; no
words, no pictures, could ever do the like! So that the tears that are
shed out of all these many French eyes are tears of pure, unmixed
delight in happy reminiscence! (Chopin, it is true, may have meant
something quite different--a hot-house, perhaps, with orchids and arum
lilies and tuberoses and hydrangeas--but that is neither here nor
there.)

[Illustration: UN IMPROMPTU DE CHOPIN]

Then comes the slow movement, the sudden adagio, with its capricious
ornaments--the waking of the virgin heart, the stirring of the sap, the
dawn of love; its doubts and fears and questionings; and the mellow,
powerful, deep chest notes are like the pealing of great golden bells,
with a light little pearl shower tinkling round--drops from the upper
fringe of her grand voice as she shakes it....

Then back again the quick part, childhood once more, da capo, only
quicker! hurry, hurry! but distinct as ever. Loud and shrill and sweet
beyond compare--drowning the orchestra; of a piercing quality quite
ineffable; a joy there is no telling; a clear, purling, crystal stream
that gurgles and foams and bubbles along over sunlit stones; "a wonder,
a world's delight!"

And there is not a sign of effort, of difficulty overcome. All through,
Trilby smiles her broad, angelic smile; her lips well parted, her big
white teeth glistening as she gently jerks her head from side to side in
time to Svengali's bâton, as if to shake the willing notes out quicker
and higher and shriller....

And in a minute or two it is all over, like the lovely bouquet of
fireworks at the end of the show, and she lets what remains of it die
out and away like the afterglow of fading Bengal fires--her voice
receding into the distance--coming back to you like an echo from all
round, from anywhere you please--quite soft--hardly more than a breath;
but _such_ a breath! Then one last chromatically ascending rocket,
pianissimo, up to E in alt, and then darkness and silence!

And after a little pause the many-headed rises as one, and waves its
hats and sticks and handkerchiefs, and stamps and shouts.... "Vive la
Svengali! Vive la Svengali!"

Svengali steps on to the platform by his wife's side and kisses her
hand; and they both bow themselves backward through the curtains, which
fall, to rise again and again and again on this astounding pair!

Such was la Svengali's début in Paris.

It had lasted little over an hour, one quarter of which, at least, had
been spent in plaudits and courtesies!

The writer is no musician, alas! (as, no doubt, his musical readers have
found out by this) save in his thraldom to music of not too severe a
kind, and laments the clumsiness and inadequacy of this wild (though
somewhat ambitious) attempt to recall an impression received more than
thirty years ago; to revive the ever-blessed memory of that
unforgettable first night at the Cirque des Bashibazoucks.

Would that I could transcribe here Berlioz's famous series of twelve
articles, entitled "La Svengali," which were republished from _La Lyre
Éolienne_, and are now out of print!

Or Théophile Gautier's elaborate rhapsody, "Madame Svengali--Ange, ou
Femme?" in which he proves that one need not have a musical ear (he
hadn't) to be enslaved by such a voice as hers, any more than the eye
for beauty (this he _had_) to fall the victim of "her celestial form
and face." It is enough, he says, to be simply human! I forget in which
journal this eloquent tribute appeared; it is not to be found in his
collected works.

Or the intemperate diatribe by Herr Blagner (as I will christen him) on
the tyranny of the prima donna called "Svengalismus"; in which he
attempts to show that mere virtuosity carried to such a pitch is mere
viciosity--base acrobatismus of the vocal chords, a hysteric appeal to
morbid Gallic "sentimentalismus"; and that this monstrous development of
a phenomenal larynx, this degrading cultivation and practice of the
abnormalismus of a mere physical peculiarity, are death and destruction
to all true music; since they place Mozart and Beethoven, and even
_himself_, on a level with Bellini, Donizetti, Offenbach--any Italian
tune-tinkler, any ballad-monger of the hated Paris pavement! and can
make the highest music of all (even _his own_) go down with the common
French herd at the very first hearing, just as if it were some idiotic
refrain of the café chantant!

So much for Blagnerismus _v_. Svengalismus.

But I fear there is no space within the limits of this humble tale for
these masterpieces of technical musical criticism.

Besides, there are other reasons.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our three heroes walked back to the boulevards, the only silent ones
amid the throng that poured through the Rue St. Honoré, as the Cirque
des Bashibazoucks emptied itself of its over-excited audience.

They went arm in arm, as usual; but this time Little Billee was in the
middle. He wished to feel on each side of him the warm and genial
contact of his two beloved old friends. It seemed as if they had
suddenly been restored to him, after five long years of separation; his
heart was overflowing with affection for them, too full to speak just
yet! Overflowing, indeed, with the love of love, the love of life, the
love of death--the love of all that is, and ever was, and ever will be!
just as in his old way.

He could have hugged them both in the open street, before the whole
world; and the delight of it was that this was no dream; about that
there was no mistake. He was himself again at last, after five years,
and wide awake; and he owed it all to Trilby!

And what did he feel for Trilby? He couldn't tell yet. It was too vast
as yet to be measured; and, alas! it was weighted with such a burden of
sorrow and regret that he might well put off the thought of it a little
while longer, and gather in what bliss he might: like the man whose
hearing has been restored after long years, he would revel in the mere
physical delight of hearing for a space, and not go out of his way as
yet to listen for the bad news that was already in the air, and would
come to roost quite soon enough.

Taffy and the Laird were silent also; Trilby's voice was still in their
ears and hearts, her image in their eyes, and utter bewilderment still
oppressed them and kept them dumb.

It was a warm and balmy night, almost like mid-summer; and they stopped
at the first café they met on the Boulevard de la Madeleine (_comme
autrefois_), and ordered bocks of beer, and sat at a little table on
the pavement, the only one unoccupied; for the café was already crowded,
the hum of lively talk was great, and "la Svengali" was in every mouth.

The Laird was the first to speak. He emptied his bock at a draught, and
called for another, and lit a cigar, and said, "I don't believe it was
Trilby, after all!" It was the first time her name had been mentioned
between them that evening--and for five years!

"Good heavens!" said Taffy. "Can you doubt it?"

"Oh yes! that was Trilby," said Little Billee.

Then the Laird proceeded to explain that, putting aside the
impossibility of Trilby's ever being taught to sing in tune, and her
well-remembered loathing for Svengali, he had narrowly scanned her face
through his opera-glass, and found that in spite of a likeness quite
marvellous there were well-marked differences. Her face was narrower and
longer, her eyes larger, and their expression not the same; then she
seemed taller and stouter, and her shoulders broader and more drooping,
and so forth.

But the others wouldn't hear of it, and voted him cracked, and declared
they even recognized the peculiar twang of her old speaking voice in the
voice she now sang with, especially when she sang low down. And they all
three fell to discussing the wonders of her performance like everybody
else all round; Little Billee leading, with an eloquence and a seeming
of technical musical knowledge that quite impressed them, and made them
feel happy and at ease; for they were anxious for his sake about the
effect this sudden and so unexpected sight of her would have upon him
after all that had passed.

He seemed transcendently happy and elate--incomprehensibly so, in
fact--and looked at them both with quite a new light in his eyes, as if
all the music he had heard had trebled not only his joy in being alive,
but his pleasure at being with them. Evidently he had quite outgrown his
old passion for her, and that was a comfort indeed!

But Little Billee knew better.

He knew that his old passion for her had all come back, and was so
overwhelming and immense that he could not feel it just yet, nor yet the
hideous pangs of a jealousy so consuming that it would burn up his life.
He gave himself another twenty-four hours.

But he had not to wait so long. He woke up after a short, uneasy sleep
that very night, to find that the flood was over him; and he realized
how hopelessly, desperately, wickedly, insanely he loved this woman, who
might have been his, but was now the wife of another man; a greater than
he, and one to whom she owed it that she was more glorious than any
other woman on earth--a queen among queens--a goddess! for what was any
earthly throne compared to that she established in the hearts and souls
of all who came within the sight and hearing of her! beautiful as she
was besides--beautiful, beautiful! And what must be her love for the man
who had taught her and trained her, and revealed her towering genius to
herself and to the world!--a man resplendent also, handsome and tall and
commanding--a great artist from the crown of his head to the sole of his
foot!

And the remembrance of them--hand in hand, master and pupil, husband and
wife--smiling and bowing in the face of all that splendid tumult they
had called forth and could not quell, stung and tortured and maddened
him so that he could not lie still, but got up and raged and rampaged up
and down his hot, narrow, stuffy bedroom, and longed for his old
familiar brain-disease to come back and narcotize his trouble, and be
his friend, and stay with him till he died!

[Illustration: "AND THE REMEMBRANCE OF THEM--HAND IN HAND"]

Where was he to fly for relief from such new memories as these, which
would never cease; and the old memories, and all the glamour and grace
of them that had been so suddenly called out of the grave? And how could
he escape, now that he felt the sight of her face and the sound of her
voice would be a craving--a daily want--like that of some poor starving
outcast for warmth and meat and drink?

And little innocent, pathetic, ineffable, well-remembered sweetnesses of
her changing face kept painting themselves on his retina; and
incomparable tones of this new thing, her voice, her infinite voice,
went ringing in his head, till he all but shrieked aloud in his agony.

And then the poisoned and delirious sweetness of those mad kisses,

        "by hopeless fancy feigned
    On lips that are for others"!

And then the grewsome physical jealousy, that miserable inheritance of
all artistic sons of Adam, that plague and torment of the dramatic,
plastic imagination, which can idealize so well, and yet realize, alas!
so keenly. After three or four hours spent like this, he could stand it
no longer; madness was lying his way. So he hurried on a garment, and
went and knocked at Taffy's door.

"Good God! what's the matter with you?" exclaimed the good Taffy, as
Little Billee tumbled into his room, calling out:

"Oh, Taffy, Taffy, I've g-g-gone mad, I think!" And then, shivering all
over, and stammering incoherently, he tried to tell his friend what was
the matter with him, with great simplicity.

Taffy, in much alarm, slipped on his trousers and made Little Billee get
into his bed, and sat by his side holding his hand. He was greatly
perplexed, fearing the recurrence of another attack like that of five
years back. He didn't dare leave him for an instant to wake the Laird
and send for a doctor.

Suddenly Little Billee buried his face in the pillow and began to sob,
and some instinct told Taffy this was the best thing that could happen.
The boy had always been a highly strung, emotional, over-excitable,
over-sensitive, and quite uncontrolled mammy's-darling, a cry-baby sort
of chap, who had never been to school. It was all a part of his genius,
and also a part of his charm. It would do him good once more to have a
good blub after five years! After a while Little Billee grew quieter,
and then suddenly he said: "What a miserable ass you must think me, what
an unmanly duffer!"

"Why, my friend?"

"Why, for going on in this idiotic way. I really couldn't help it. I
went mad, I tell you. I've been walking up and down my room all night,
till everything seemed to go round."

"So have I."

"You? What for?"

"The very same reason."

"_What!_"

"I was just as fond of Trilby as you were. Only she happened to prefer
_you_."

"_What!_" cried Little Billee again. "_You_ were fond of Trilby?"

"I believe you, my boy!"

"In _love_ with her?"

"I believe you, my boy!"

"She never knew it, then!"

[Illustration: "'I BELIEVE YOU, MY BOY!'"]

"Oh yes, she did."

"She never told me, then!"

"Didn't she? That's like her. _I_ told _her_, at all events. I asked her
to marry me."

"Well--I _am_ damned! When?"

"That day we took her to Meudon, with Jeannot, and dined at the Garde
Champêtre's, and she danced the cancan with Sandy."

"Well--I _am_--And she _refused_ you?"

"Apparently so."

"Well, I--Why on earth did she refuse you?"

"Oh, I suppose she'd already begun to fancy _you_, my friend. _Il y en a
toujours un autre!_"

"Fancy _me_--prefer _me_--to _you_?"

"Well, yes. It _does_ seem odd--eh, old fellow? But there's no
accounting for tastes, you know. She's built on such an ample scale
herself, I suppose, that she likes little uns--contrast, you see. She's
very maternal, I think. Besides, you're a smart little chap; and you
ain't half bad; and you've got brains and talent, and lots of cheek, and
all that. I'm rather a _ponderous_ kind of party."

"Well--I _am_ damned!"

"_C'est comme ça!_ I took it lying down, you see."

"Does the Laird know?"

"No; and I don't want him to--nor anybody else."

"Taffy, what a regular downright old trump you are!"

"Glad you think so; anyhow, we're both in the same boat, and we've got
to make the best of it. She's another man's wife, and probably she's
very fond of him. I'm sure she ought to be, cad as he is, after all he's
done for her. So there's an end of it."

"Ah! there'll never be an end of it for _me_--never--never--oh, never,
my God! She would have married me but for my mother's meddling, and that
stupid old ass, my uncle. What a wife! Think of all she must have in her
heart and brain, only to _sing_ like that! And, O Lord! how beautiful
she is--a goddess! Oh, the brow and cheek and chin, and the way her
head's put on! did you _ever_ see anything like it! Oh, if only I hadn't
written and told my mother I was going to marry her! why, we should have
been man and wife for five years by this time--living at
Barbizon--painting away like mad! Oh, what a heavenly life! Oh, curse
all officious meddling with other people's affairs! Oh! oh!..."

"There you go again! What's the good? and where do _I_ come in, my
friend? _I_ should have been no better off, old fellow--worse than ever,
I think."

Then there was a long silence.

At length Little Billee said:

"Taffy, I can't tell you what a trump you are. All I've ever thought of
you--and God knows that's enough--will be nothing to what I shall always
think of you after this."

"All right, old chap."

"And now I think _I_'m all right again, for a time--and I shall cut back
to bed. Good-night! Thanks more than I can ever express!" And Little
Billee, restored to his balance, cut back to his own bed just as the day
was breaking.




Part Seventh

    "The moon made thy lips pale, beloved;
         The wind made thy bosom chill;
           The night did shed
           On thy dear head
     Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie
     Where the bitter breath of the naked sky
         Might visit thee at will."


Next morning our three friends lay late abed, and breakfasted in their
rooms.

They had all three passed "white nights"--even the Laird, who had tossed
about and pressed a sleepless pillow till dawn, so excited had he been
by the wonder of Trilby's reincarnation, so perplexed by his own doubts
as to whether it was really Trilby or not.

And certain haunting tones of her voice, that voice so cruelly sweet
(which clove the stillness with a clang so utterly new, so strangely
heart-piercing and seductive, that the desire to hear it once more
became nostalgic--almost an ache!), certain bits and bars and phrases of
the music she had sung, unspeakable felicities and facilities of
execution; sudden exotic warmths, fragrances, tendernesses, graces,
depths, and breadths; quick changes from grave to gay, from rough to
smooth, from great metallic brazen clangors to soft golden suavities;
all the varied modes of sound we try so vainly to borrow from vocal
nature by means of wind and reed and string--all this new "Trilbyness"
kept echoing in his brain all night (for he was of a nature deeply
musical), and sleep had been impossible to him.

    "As when we dwell upon a word we know,
     Repeating, till the word we know so well
     Becomes a wonder, and we know not why,"

so dwelt the Laird upon the poor old tune "Ben Bolt," which kept singing
itself over and over again in his tired consciousness, and maddened him
with novel, strange, unhackneyed, unsuspected beauties such as he had
never dreamed of in any earthly music.

It had become a wonder, and he knew not why!

They spent what was left of the morning at the Louvre, and tried to
interest themselves in the "Marriage of Cana," and the "Woman at the
Well," and Vandyck's man with the glove, and the little princess of
Velasquez, and Lisa Gioconda's smile: it was of no use trying. There was
no sight worth looking at in all Paris but Trilby in her golden raiment;
no other princess in the world; no smile but hers, when through her
parted lips came bubbling Chopin's Impromptu. They had not long to stay
in Paris, and they must drink of that bubbling fountain once
more--_coûte que coûte!_ They went to the Salle des Bashibazoucks, and
found that all seats all over the house had been taken for days and
weeks; and the "queue" at the door had already begun! and they had to
give up all hopes of slaking this particular thirst.

Then they went and lunched perfunctorily, and talked desultorily over
lunch, and read criticisms of la Svengali's début in the morning
papers--a chorus of journalistic acclamation gone mad, a frenzied eulogy
in every key--but nothing was good enough for them! Brand-new words were
wanted--another language!

Then they wanted a long walk, and could think of nowhere to go in all
Paris--that immense Paris, where they had promised themselves to see so
much that the week they were to spend there had seemed too short!

Looking in a paper, they saw it announced that the band of the Imperial
Guides would play that afternoon in the Pré Catelan, Bois de Boulogne,
and thought they might as well walk there as anywhere else, and walk
back again in time to dine with the Passefils--a prandial function which
did not promise to be very amusing; but still it was something to kill
the evening with, since they couldn't go and hear Trilby again.

Outside the Pré Catelan they found a crowd of cabs and carriages,
saddle-horses and grooms. One might have thought one's self in the
height of the Paris season. They went in, and strolled about here and
there, and listened to the band, which was famous (it has performed in
London at the Crystal Palace), and they looked about and studied life,
or tried to.

Suddenly they saw, sitting with three ladies (one of whom, the eldest,
was in black), a very smart young officer, a guide, all red and green
and gold, and recognized their old friend Zouzou. They bowed, and he
knew them at once, and jumped up and came to them and greeted them
warmly, especially his old friend Taffy, whom he took to his mother--the
lady in black--and introduced to the other ladies, the younger of whom,
strangely unlike the rest of her countrywomen, was so lamentably, so
pathetically plain that it would be brutal to attempt the cheap and easy
task of describing her. It was Miss Lavinia Hunks, the famous American
millionairess, and her mother. Then the good Zouzou came back and talked
to the Laird and Little Billee.

Zouzou, in some subtle and indescribable way, had become very ducal
indeed.

He looked extremely distinguished, for one thing, in his beautiful
guide's uniform, and was most gracefully and winningly polite. He
inquired warmly after Mrs. and Miss Bagot, and begged Little Billee
would recall him to their amiable remembrance when he saw them again. He
expressed most sympathetically his delight to see Little Billee looking
so strong and so well (Little Billee looked like a pallid little
washed-out ghost, after his white night).

They talked of Dodor. He said how attached he was to Dodor, and always
should be; but Dodor, it seemed, had made a great mistake in leaving the
army and going into a retail business (_petit commerce_). He had done
for himself--_dégringolé!_ He should have stuck to the _dragons_--with a
little patience and good conduct he would have "won his epaulet"--and
then one might have arranged for him a good little marriage--_un parti
convenable_--for he was "très joli garçon, Dodor! bonne tournure--et
très gentiment né! C'est très ancien, les Rigolot--dans le Poitou, je
crois--Lafarce, et tout ça; tout à fait bien!"

It was difficult to realize that this polished and discreet and somewhat
patronizing young man of the world was the jolly dog who had gone after
Little Billee's hat on all fours in the Rue Vieille des Mauvais Ladres
and brought it back in his mouth--the Caryhatide!

Little Billee little knew that Monsieur le Duc de la
Rochemartel-Boisségur had quite recently delighted a very small and
select and most august imperial supper-party at Compiègne with this very
story, not blinking a single detail of his own share in it--and had
given a most touching and sympathetic description of "le joli petit
peintre anglais qui s'appelait Litrebili, et ne pouvait pas se tenir sur
ses jambes--et qui pleurait d'amour fraternel dans les bras de mon
copain Dodor!"

"Ah! Monsieur Gontran, ce que je donnerais pour avoir vu ça!" had said
the greatest lady in France; "un de mes zouaves--à quatre pattes--dans
la rue--un chapeau dans la bouche--oh--c'est impayable!"

Zouzou kept these blackguard bohemian reminiscences for the imperial
circle alone--to which it was suspected that he was secretly rallying
himself. Among all outsiders--especially within the narrow precincts of
the cream of the noble Faubourg (which remained aloof from the
Tuileries)--he was a very proper and gentlemanlike person indeed, as his
brother had been--and, in his mother's fond belief, "très bien pensant,
très bien vu, à Frohsdorf et à Rome."

_On lui aurait donné le bon Dieu sans confession_--as Madame Vinard had
said of Little Billee--they would have shriven him at sight, and
admitted him to the holy communion on trust!

He did not present Little Billee and the Laird to his mother, nor to
Mrs. and Miss Hunks; that honor was reserved for "the Man of Blood"
alone; nor did he ask where they were staying, nor invite them to call
on him. But in parting he expressed the immense pleasure it had given
him to meet them again, and the hope he had of some day shaking their
hands in London.

As the friends walked back to Paris together, it transpired that "the
Man of Blood" had been invited by Madame Duchesse Mère (Maman Duchesse,
as Zouzou called her) to dine with her next day, and meet the Hunkses at
a furnished apartment she had taken in the Place Vendôme; for they had
let (to the Hunkses) the Hôtel de la Rochemartel in the Rue de Lille;
they had also been obliged to let their place in the country, le château
de Boisségur (to Monsieur Despoires, or "des Poires," as he chose to
spell himself on his visiting-cards--the famous soap-manufacturer--"Un
très brave homme, à ce qu'on dit!" and whose only son, by-the-way, soon
after married Mademoiselle Jeanne-Adélaïde d'Amaury-Brissac de
Roncesvaulx de Boisségur de la Rochemartel).

"Il ne fait pas gras chez nous à présent--je vous assure!" Madame
Duchesse Mère had pathetically said to Taffy--but had given him to
understand that things would be very much better for her son, in the
event of his marriage with Miss Hunks.

"Good heavens!" said Little Billee, on hearing this; "that grotesque
little bogy in blue? Why, she's deformed--she squints--she's a dwarf,
and looks like an idiot! Millions or no millions, the man who marries
her is a felon! As long as there are stones to break and a road to break
them on, the able-bodied man who marries a woman like that for anything
but pity and kindness--and even then--dishonors himself, insults his
ancestry, and inflicts on his descendants a wrong that nothing will ever
redeem--he nips them in the bud--he blasts them forever! He ought to be
cut by his fellow-men--sent to Coventry--to jail--to penal servitude for
life! He ought to have a separate hell to himself when he dies. He ought
to--"

"Shut up, you little blaspheming ruffian!" said the Laird. "Where do
_you_ expect to go to, yourself, with such frightful sentiments? And
what would become of your beautiful old twelfth-century dukedoms, with a
hundred yards of back-frontage opposite the Louvre, on a beautiful
historic river, and a dozen beautiful historic names, and no money--if
_you_ had your way?" and the Laird wunk his historic wink.

"Twelfth-century dukedoms be damned!" said Taffy _au grand sérieux_, as
usual. "Little Billee's quite right, and Zouzou makes me sick! Besides,
what does she marry _him_ for--not for his beauty either, I guess! She's
his fellow-criminal, his deliberate accomplice, _particeps delicti_,
accessory before the act and after! She has no right to marry at all!
tar and feathers and a rail for both of them--and for Maman Duchesse
too--and I suppose that's why I refused her invitation to dinner! and
now let's go and dine with Dodor--...anyhow Dodor's young woman doesn't
marry him for a dukedom--or even his 'de'--_mais bien pour ses beaux
yeux!_ and if the Rigolots of the future turn out less nice to look at
than their sire, and not quite so amusing, they will probably be a great
improvement on him in many other ways. There's room enough--and to
spare!"

[Illustration: "MAMAN DUCHESSE"]

"'Ear! 'ear!" said Little Billee (who always grew flippant when Taffy
got on his high horse). "Your 'ealth and song, sir--them's my sentiments
to a T! What shall we 'ave the pleasure of drinkin', after that wery nice
'armony?"

After which they walked on in silence, each, no doubt, musing on the
general contrariness of things, and imagining what splendid little
Wynnes, or Bagots, or McAlisters might have been ushered into a decadent
world for its regeneration if fate had so willed it that a certain
magnificent and singularly gifted grisette, etc., etc., etc....

Mrs. and Miss Hunks passed them as they walked along, in a beautiful
blue barouche with C springs--_un "huit-ressorts"_; Maman Duchesse
passed them in a hired fly; Zouzou passed them on horseback; "tout
Paris" passed them; but they were none the wiser, and agreed that the
show was not a patch on that in Hyde Park during the London season.

When they reached the Place de la Concorde it was that lovely hour of a
fine autumn day in beautiful bright cities when all the lamps are lit in
the shops and streets and under the trees, and it is still daylight--a
quickly fleeting joy; and as a special treat on this particular occasion
the sun set, and up rose the yellow moon over eastern Paris, and floated
above the chimney-pots of the Tuileries.

They stopped to gaze at the homeward procession of cabs and carriages,
as they used to do in the old times. Tout Paris was still passing; tout
Paris is very long.

They stood among a little crowd of sight-seers like themselves, Little
Billee right in front--in the road.

Presently a magnificent open carriage came by--more magnificent than
even the Hunkses', with liveries and harness quite vulgarly
resplendent--almost Napoleonic.

Lolling back in it lay Monsieur et Madame Svengali--he with his
broad-brimmed felt sombrero over his long black curls, wrapped in costly
furs, smoking his big cigar of the Havana.

By his side la Svengali--also in sables--with a large black velvet hat
on, her light brown hair done up in a huge knot on the nape of her neck.
She was rouged and pearl-powdered, and her eyes were blackened beneath,
and thus made to look twice their size; but in spite of all such
disfigurements she was a most splendid vision, and caused quite a little
sensation in the crowd as she came slowly by.

Little Billee's heart was in his mouth. He caught Svengali's eye, and
saw him speak to her. She turned her head and looked at him standing
there--they both did. Little Billee bowed. She stared at him with a cold
stare of disdain, and cut him dead--so did Svengali. And as they passed
he heard them both snigger--she with a little high-pitched, flippant
snigger worthy of a London bar-maid.

Little Billee was utterly crushed, and everything seemed turning round.

The Laird and Taffy had seen it all without losing a detail. The
Svengalis had not even looked their way. The Laird said:

"It's not Trilby--I swear! She could _never_ have done that--it's not
_in_ her! and it's another face altogether--I'm sure of it!"

[Illustration: THE CUT DIRECT]

Taffy was also staggered and in doubt. They caught hold of Little
Billee, each by an arm, and walked him off to the boulevards. He was
quite demoralized, and wanted not to dine at the Passefils'. He wanted
to go straight home at once. He longed for his mother as he used to long
for her when he was in trouble as a small boy and she was away from
home--longed for her desperately--to hug her and hold her and fondle
her, and be fondled, for his own sake and hers; all his old love for her
had come back in full--with what arrears! all his old love for his
sister, for his old home.

When they went back to the hotel to dress (for Dodor had begged them to
put on their best evening war-paint, so as to impress his future
mother-in-law), Little Billee became fractious and intractable. And it
was only on Taffy's promising that he would go all the way to Devonshire
with him on the morrow, and stay with him there, that he could be got to
dress and dine.

The huge Taffy lived entirely by his affections, and he hadn't many to
live by--the Laird, Trilby, and Little Billee.

Trilby was unattainable, the Laird was quite strong and independent
enough to get on by himself, and Taffy had concentrated all his
faculties of protection and affection on Little Billee, and was equal to
any burden or responsibility all this instinctive young fathering might
involve.

In the first place, Little Billee had always been able to do quite
easily, and better than any one else in the world, the very things Taffy
most longed to do himself and couldn't, and this inspired the good Taffy
with a chronic reverence and wonder he could not have expressed in
words.

Then Little Billee was physically small and weak, and incapable of
self-control. Then he was generous, amiable, affectionate, transparent
as crystal, without an atom of either egotism or conceit; and had a gift
of amusing you and interesting you by his talk (and its complete
sincerity) that never palled; and even his silence was charming--one
felt so sure of him--so there was hardly any sacrifice, little or big,
that big Taffy was not ready and glad to make for Little Billee. On the
other hand, there lay deep down under Taffy's surface irascibility and
earnestness about trifles (and beneath his harmless vanity of the strong
man), a long-suffering patience, a real humility, a robustness of
judgment, a sincerity and all-roundness, a completeness of sympathy,
that made him very good to trust and safe to lean upon. Then his
powerful, impressive aspect, his great stature, the gladiatorlike poise
of his small round head on his big neck and shoulders, his huge deltoids
and deep chest and slender loins, his clean-cut ankles and wrists, all
the long and bold and highly-finished athletic shapes of him, that easy
grace of strength that made all his movements a pleasure to watch, and
any garment look well when he wore it--all this was a perpetual feast to
the quick, prehensile, æsthetic eye. And then he had such a solemn,
earnest, lovable way of bending pokers round his neck, and breaking them
on his arm, and jumping his own height (or near it), and lifting up
arm-chairs by one leg with one hand, and what not else!

So that there was hardly any sacrifice, little or big, that Little
Billee would not accept from big Taffy as a mere matter of course--a
fitting and proper tribute rendered by bodily strength to genius.

_Par nobile fratrum_--well met and well mated for fast and long-enduring
friendship.

       *       *       *       *       *

The family banquet at Monsieur Passefil's would have been dull but for
the irrepressible Dodor, and still more for the Laird of Cockpen, who
rose to the occasion, and surpassed himself in geniality, drollery, and
eccentricity of French grammar and accent. Monsieur Passefil was also a
droll in his way, and had the quickly familiar, jocose facetiousness
that seems to belong to the successful middle-aged bourgeois all over
the world, when he's not pompous instead (he can even be both
sometimes).

Madame Passefil was not jocose. She was much impressed by the
aristocratic splendor of Taffy, the romantic melancholy and refinement
of Little Billee, and their quiet and dignified politeness. She always
spoke of Dodor as Monsieur de Lafarce, though the rest of the family
(and one or two friends who had been invited) always called him Monsieur
Théodore, and he was officially known as Monsieur Rigolot.

Whenever Madame Passefil addressed him or spoke of him in this
aristocratic manner (which happened very often), Dodor would wink at his
friends, with his tongue in his cheek. It seemed to amuse him beyond
measure.

Mademoiselle Ernestine was evidently too much in love to say anything,
and seldom took her eyes off Monsieur Théodore, whom she had never seen
in evening dress before. It must be owned that he looked very nice--more
ducal than even Zouzou--and to be Madame de Lafarce _en perspective_,
and the future owner of such a brilliant husband as Dodor, was enough to
turn a stronger little bourgeois head than Mademoiselle Ernestine's.

She was not beautiful, but healthy, well grown, well brought up, and
presumably of a sweet, kind, and amiable disposition--an _ingénue_ fresh
from her convent--innocent as a child, no doubt; and it was felt that
Dodor had done better for himself (and for his race) than Monsieur le
Duc. Little Dodors need have no fear.

After dinner the ladies and gentlemen left the dining-room together, and
sat in a pretty salon overlooking the boulevard, where cigarettes were
allowed, and there was music. Mademoiselle Ernestine laboriously played
"Les Cloches du Monastère" (by Monsieur Lefébure-Wély, if I'm not
mistaken). It's the most bourgeois piece of music I know.

[Illustration:

    "PETIT ENFANT, J'AIMAIS D'UN AMOUR TENDRE
      MA MÈRE ET DIEU--SAINTES AFFECTIONS!
    PUIS MON AMOUR AUX FLEURS SE FIT ENTENDRE,
      PUIS AUX OISEAUX, ET PUIS AUX PAPILLONS!"]

Then Dodor, with his sweet high voice, so strangely pathetic and true,
sang goody-goody little French songs of innocence (of which he seemed
to have an endless répertoire) to his future wife's conscientious
accompaniment--to the immense delight, also, of all his future family,
who were almost in tears--and to the great amusement of the Laird, at
whom he winked in the most pathetic parts, putting his forefinger to the
side of his nose, like Noah Claypole in _Oliver Twist_.

The wonder of the hour, la Svengali, was discussed, of course; it was
unavoidable. But our friends did not think it necessary to reveal that
she was "la grande Trilby." That would soon transpire by itself.

And, indeed, before the month was a week older the papers were full of
nothing else.

Madame Svengali--"la grande Trilby"--was the only daughter of the
honorable and reverend Sir Lord O'Ferrall.

She had run away from the primeval forests and lonely marshes of le
Dublin, to lead a free-and-easy life among the artists of the quartier
latin of Paris--_une vie de bohème!_

She was the Venus Anadyomene from top to toe.

She was _blanche comme neige, avec un volcan dans le cœur_.

Casts of her alabaster feet could be had at Brucciani's, in the Rue de
la Souricière St. Denis. (He made a fortune.)

Monsieur Ingres had painted her left foot on the wall of a studio in the
Place St. Anatole des Arts; and an eccentric Scotch milord (le Comte de
Pencock) had bought the house containing the flat containing the studio
containing the wall on which it was painted, had had the house pulled
down, and the wall framed and glazed and sent to his castle of
Édimbourg.

(This, unfortunately, was in excess of the truth. It was found
impossible to execute the Laird's wish, on account of the material the
wall was made of. So the Lord Count of Pencock--such was Madame Vinard's
version of Sandy's nickname--had to forego his purchase.)

       *       *       *       *       *

Next morning our friends were in readiness to leave Paris; even the
Laird had had enough of it, and longed to get back to his work again--a
"Hari-kari in Yokohama." (He had never been to Japan; but no more had
any one else in those early days.)

They had just finished breakfast, and were sitting in the court-yard of
the hotel, which was crowded, as usual.

Little Billee went into the hotel post-office to despatch a note to his
mother. Sitting sideways there at a small table and reading letters was
Svengali--of all people in the world. But for these two and a couple of
clerks the room was empty.

Svengali looked up; they were quite close together.

Little Billee, in his nervousness, began to shake, and half put out his
hand, and drew it back again, seeing the look of hate on Svengali's
face.

Svengali jumped up, put his letters together, and passing by Little
Billee on his way to the door, called him "verfluchter Schweinhund," and
deliberately spat in his face.

Little Billee was paralyzed for a second or two; then he ran after
Svengali, and caught him just at the top of the marble stairs, and
kicked him, and knocked off his hat, and made him drop all his letters.
Svengali turned round and struck him over the mouth and made it bleed,
and Little Billee hit out like a fury, but with no effect: he couldn't
reach high enough, for Svengali was well over six feet.

There was a crowd round them in a minute, including the beautiful old
man in the court suit and gold chain, who called out:

"Vite! vite! un commissaire de police!"--a cry that was echoed all over
the place.

Taffy saw the row, and shouted, "Bravo, little un!" and jumping up from
his table, jostled his way through the crowd; and Little Billee,
bleeding and gasping and perspiring and stammering, said:

"He spat in my face, Taffy--damn him! I'd never even spoken to him--not
a word, I swear!"

Svengali had not reckoned on Taffy's being there; he recognized him at
once, and turned white.

Taffy, who had dog-skin gloves on, put out his right hand, and deftly
seized Svengali's nose between his fore and middle fingers and nearly
pulled it off, and swung his head two or three times backward and
forward by it, and then from side to side, Svengali holding on to his
wrist; and then, letting him go, gave him a sounding open-handed smack
on his right cheek--and a smack on the face from Taffy (even in play)
was no joke, I'm told; it made one smell brimstone, and see and hear
things that didn't exist.

Svengali gasped worse than Little Billee, and couldn't speak for a
while. Then he said,

"Lâche--grand lâche! che fous enferrai mes témoins!"

"At your orders!" said Taffy, in beautiful French, and drew out his
card-case, and gave him his card in quite the orthodox French manner,
adding: "I shall be here till to-morrow at twelve--but that is my London
address, in case I don't hear from you before I leave. I'm sorry, but
you really mustn't spit, you know--it's not done. I will come to you
whenever you send for me--even if I have to come from the end of the
world."

"Très bien! très bien!" said a military-looking old gentleman close by,
who gave Taffy _his_ card, in case he might be of any service--and who
seemed quite delighted at the row--and indeed it was really pleasant to
note with what a smooth, flowing, rhythmical spontaneity the good Taffy
could always improvise these swift little acts of summary retributive
justice: no hurry or scurry or flurry whatever--not an inharmonious
gesture, not an infelicitous line--the very poetry of violence, and its
only excuse!

Whatever it was worth, this was Taffy's special gift, and it never
failed him at a pinch.

When the commissaire de police arrived, all was over. Svengali had gone
away in a cab, and Taffy put himself at the disposition of the
commissaire.

They went into the post-office and discussed it all with the old
military gentleman, and the major-domo in velvet, and the two clerks who
had seen the original insult. And all that was required of Taffy and his
friends for the present was "their names, prenames, titles, qualities,
age, address, nationality, occupation," etc.

[Illustration: "'VITE! VITE! UN COMMISSAIRE DE POLICE!'"]

"C'est une affaire qui s'arrangera autrement, et autre part!" had said
the military gentleman--monsieur le général Comte de la Tour-aux-Loups.

So it blew over quite simply; and all that day a fierce unholy joy
burned in Taffy's choleric blue eye.

Not, indeed, that he had any wish to injure Trilby's husband, or meant
to do him any grievous bodily harm, whatever happened. But he was glad
to have given Svengali a lesson in manners.

That Svengali should injure _him_ never entered into his calculations
for a moment. Besides, he didn't believe Svengali would show fight; and
in this he was not mistaken.

But he had, for hours, the feel of that long, thick, shapely Hebrew nose
being kneaded between his gloved knuckles, and a pleasing sense of the
effectiveness of the tweak he had given it. So he went about chewing the
cud of that heavenly remembrance all day, till reflection brought
remorse, and he felt sorry; for he was really the mildest-mannered man
that ever broke a head!

Only the sight of Little Billee's blood (which had been made to flow by
such an unequal antagonist) had roused the old Adam.

No message came from Svengali to ask for the names and addresses of
Taffy's seconds; so Dodor and Zouzou (not to mention Mister the general
Count of the Tooraloorals, as the Laird called him) were left
undisturbed; and our three musketeers went back to London clean of
blood, whole of limb, and heartily sick of Paris.

Little Billee stayed with his mother and sister in Devonshire till
Christmas, Taffy staying at the village inn.

It was Taffy who told Mrs. Bagot about la Svengali's all but certain
identity with Trilby, after Little Billee had gone to bed, tired and
worn out, the night of their arrival.

"Good heavens!" said poor Mrs. Bagot. "Why, that's the new singing woman
who's coming over here! There's an article about her in to-day's
_Times_. It says she's a wonder, and that there's no one like her!
Surely that can't be the Miss O'Ferrall I saw in Paris!"

"It seems impossible--but I'm almost certain it is--and Willy has no
doubts in the matter. On the other hand, McAlister declares it isn't."

"Oh, what trouble! So _that's_ why poor Willy looks so ill and
miserable! It's all come back again. Could she sing at all then, when
you knew her in Paris?"

"Not a note--her attempts at singing were quite grotesque."

"Is she still very beautiful?"

"Oh yes; there's no doubt about that; more than ever!"

"And her singing--is that so very wonderful? I remember that she had a
beautiful voice in speaking."

"Wonderful? Ah, yes; I never heard or dreamed the like of it. Grisi,
Alboni, Patti--not one of them to be mentioned in the same breath!"

"Good heavens! Why, she must be simply irresistible! I wonder you're not
in love with her yourself. How dreadful these sirens are, wrecking the
peace of families!"

"You mustn't forget that she gave way at once at a word from you, Mrs.
Bagot; and she was very fond of Willy. She wasn't a siren then."

"Oh yes--oh yes! that's true--she behaved very well--she did her duty--I
can't deny that! You must try and forgive me, Mr. Wynne--although I
can't forgive _her_!--that dreadful illness of poor Willy's--that bitter
time in Paris...."

And Mrs. Bagot began to cry, and Taffy forgave. "Oh, Mr. Wynne--let us
still hope that there's some mistake--that it's only somebody like her!
Why, she's coming to sing in London after Christmas! My poor boy's
infatuation will only increase. What _shall_ I do?

"Well--she's another man's wife, you see. So Willy's infatuation is
bound to burn itself out as soon as he fully recognizes that important
fact. Besides, she cut him dead in the Champs Élysées--and her husband
and Willy had a row next day at the hotel, and cuffed and kicked each
other--that's rather a bar to any future intimacy, I think."

"Oh, Mr. Wynne! my son cuffing and kicking a man whose wife he's in love
with! Good heavens!"

"Oh, it was all right--the man had grossly insulted him--and Willy
behaved like a brick, and got the best of it in the end, and nothing
came of it. I saw it all."

"Oh, Mr. Wynne--and you didn't interfere?'

"Oh yes, I interfered--everybody interfered. It was all right, I assure
you. No bones were broken on either side, and there was no nonsense
about calling out, or swords or pistols, and all that."

[Illustration: "I SUPPOSE YOU DO ALL THIS KIND OF THING FOR MERE
AMUSEMENT, MR. WYNNE?"]

"Thank Heaven!"

In a week or two Little Billee grew more like himself again, and painted
endless studies of rocks and cliffs and sea--and Taffy painted with him,
and was very content. The vicar and Little Billee patched up their feud.
The vicar also took an immense fancy to Taffy, whose cousin, Sir Oscar
Wynne, he had known at college, and lost no opportunity of being
hospitable and civil to him. And his daughter was away in Algiers.

And all "the nobility and gentry" of the neighborhood, including "the
poor dear marquis" (one of whose sons was in Taffy's old regiment), were
civil and hospitable also to the two painters--and Taffy got as much
sport as he wanted, and became immensely popular. And they had, on the
whole, a very good time till Christmas, and a very pleasant Christmas,
if not an exuberantly merry one.

After Christmas Little Billee insisted on going back to London--to paint
a picture for the Royal Academy; and Taffy went with him; and there was
dulness in the house of Bagot--and many misgivings in the maternal heart
of its mistress.

And people of all kinds, high and low, from the family at the Court to
the fishermen on the little pier and their wives and children, missed
the two genial painters, who were the friends of everybody, and made
such beautiful sketches of their beautiful coast.

       *       *       *       *       *

La Svengali has arrived in London. Her name is in every mouth. Her
photograph is in the shop-windows. She is to sing at J----'s monster
concerts next week. She was to have sung sooner, but it seems some hitch
has occurred--a quarrel between Monsieur Svengali and his first violin,
who is a very important person.

A crowd of people as usual, only bigger, is assembled in front of the
windows of the Stereoscopic Company in Regent Street, gazing at
presentments of Madame Svengali in all sizes and costumes. She is very
beautiful--there is no doubt of that; and the expression of her face is
sweet and kind and sad, and of such a distinction that one feels an
imperial crown would become her even better than her modest little
coronet of golden stars. One of the photographs represents her in
classical dress, with her left foot on a little stool, in something of
the attitude of the Venus of Milo, except that her hands are clasped
behind her back; and the foot is bare but for a Greek sandal, and so
smooth and delicate and charming, and with so rhythmical a set and curl
of the five slender toes (the big one slightly tip-tilted and well apart
from its longer and slighter and more aquiline neighbor), that this
presentment of her sells quicker than all the rest.

And a little man who, with two bigger men, has just forced his way in
front says to one of his friends: "Look, Sandy, look--_the foot!_ _Now_
have you got any doubts?"

"Oh yes--those are Trilby's toes, sure enough!" says Sandy. And they all
go in and purchase largely.

As far as I have been able to discover, the row between Svengali and his
first violin had occurred at a rehearsal in Drury Lane Theatre.

Svengali, it seems, had never been quite the same since the 15th of
October previous, and that was the day he had got his face slapped and
his nose tweaked by Taffy in Paris. He had become short-tempered and
irritable, especially with his wife (if she _was_ his wife). Svengali,
it seems, had reasons for passionately hating Little Billee.

He had not seen him for five years--not since the Christmas festivity in
the Place St. Anatole, when they had sparred together after supper, and
Svengali's nose had got in the way on this occasion, and had been made
to bleed; but that was not why he hated Little Billee.

When he caught sight of him standing on the curb in the Place de la
Concorde and watching the procession of "tout Paris," he knew him
directly, and all his hate flared up; he cut him dead, and made his wife
do the same.

Next morning he saw him again in the hotel post-office, looking small
and weak and flurried, and apparently alone; and being an Oriental
Israelite Hebrew Jew, he had not been able to resist the temptation of
spitting in his face, since he must not throttle him to death.

The minute he had done this he had regretted the folly of it. Little
Billee had run after him, and kicked and struck him, and he had returned
the blow and drawn blood; and then, suddenly and quite unexpectedly, had
come upon the scene that apparition so loathed and dreaded of old--the
pig-headed Yorkshireman--the huge British philistine, the irresponsible
bull, the junker, the ex-Crimean, Front-de-Bœuf, who had always
reminded him of the brutal and contemptuous sword-clanking,
spur-jingling aristocrats of his own country--ruffians that treated Jews
like dogs. Callous as he was to the woes of others, the self-indulgent
and highly-strung musician was extra sensitive about himself--a very
bundle of nerves--and especially sensitive to pain and rough usage, and
by no means physically brave. The stern, choleric, invincible blue eye
of the hated Northern gentile had cowed him at once. And that violent
tweaking of his nose, that heavy open-handed blow on his face, had so
shaken and demoralized him that he had never recovered from it.

He was thinking about it always--night and day--and constantly dreaming
at night that he was being tweaked and slapped over again by a colossal
nightmare Taffy, and waking up in agonies of terror, rage, and shame.
All healthy sleep had forsaken him.

Moreover, he was much older than he looked--nearly fifty--and far from
sound. His life had been a long, hard struggle.

He had for his wife, slave, and pupil a fierce, jealous kind of
affection that was a source of endless torment to him; for indelibly
graven in her heart, which he wished to occupy alone, was the
never-fading image of the little English painter, and of this she made
no secret.

Gecko no longer cared for the master. All Gecko's doglike devotion was
concentrated on the slave and pupil, whom he worshipped with a fierce
but pure and unselfish passion. The only living soul that Svengali could
trust was the old Jewess who lived with them--his relative--but even she
had come to love the pupil as much as the master.

On the occasion of this rehearsal at Drury Lane he (Svengali) was
conducting and Madame Svengali was singing. He interrupted her several
times, angrily and most unjustly, and told her she was singing out of
tune, "like a verfluchter tomcat," which was quite untrue. She was
singing beautifully, "Home, Sweet Home."

Finally he struck her two or three smart blows on her knuckles with his
little bâton, and she fell on her knees, weeping and crying out:

"Oh! oh! Svengali! ne me battez pas, mon ami--je fais tout ce que je
peux!"

On which little Gecko had suddenly jumped up and struck Svengali on the
neck near the collar-bone, and then it was seen that he had a little
bloody knife in his hand, and blood flowed from Svengali's neck, and at
the sight of it Svengali had fainted; and Madame Svengali had taken his
head on her lap, looking dazed and stupefied, as in a waking dream.

Gecko had been disarmed, but as Svengali recovered from his faint and
was taken home, the police had not been sent for, and the affair was
hushed up, and a public scandal avoided. But la Svengali's first
appearance, to Monsieur J----'s despair, had to be put off for a week.
For Svengali would not allow her to sing without him; nor, indeed, would
he be parted from her for a minute, or trust her out of his sight.

The wound was a slight one. The doctor who attended Svengali described
the wife as being quite imbecile, no doubt from grief and anxiety. But
she never left her husband's bedside for a moment, and had the obedience
and devotion of a dog.

When the night came round for the postponed début, Svengali was allowed
by the doctor to go to the theatre, but he was absolutely forbidden to
conduct.

[Illustration: THE FIRST VIOLIN LOSES HIS TEMPER]

His grief and anxiety at this were uncontrollable; he raved like a
madman; and Monsieur J---- was almost as bad.

Monsieur J---- had been conducting the Svengali band at rehearsals
during the week, in the absence of its master--an easy task. It had been
so thoroughly drilled and knew its business so well that it could almost
conduct itself, and it had played all the music it had to play (much of
which consisted of accompaniments to la Svengali's songs) many times
before. Her répertoire was immense, and Svengali had written these
orchestral scores with great care and felicity.

On the famous night it was arranged that Svengali should sit in a box
alone, exactly opposite his wife's place on the platform, where she
could see him well; and a code of simple signals was arranged between
him and Monsieur J---- and the band, so that virtually he might conduct,
himself, from his box should any hesitation or hitch occur. This
arrangement was rehearsed the day before (a Sunday) and had turned out
quite successfully, and la Svengali had sung in perfection in the empty
theatre.

When Monday evening arrived everything seemed to be going smoothly; the
house was soon crammed to suffocation, all but the middle box on the
grand tier. It was not a promenade concert, and the pit was turned into
guinea stalls (the promenade concerts were to be given a week later).

Right in the middle of these stalls sat the Laird and Taffy and Little
Billee.

The band came in by degrees and tuned their instruments.

Eyes were constantly being turned to the empty box, and people wondered
what royal personages would appear.

Monsieur J---- took his place amid immense applause, and bowed in his
inimitable way, looking often at the empty box.

Then he tapped and waved his bâton, and the band played its Hungarian
dance music with immense success; when this was over there was a pause,
and soon some signs of impatience from the gallery. Monsieur J---- had
disappeared.

Taffy stood up, his back to the orchestra, looking round.

Some one came into the empty box, and stood for a moment in front,
gazing at the house. A tall man, deathly pale, with long black hair and
a beard.

It was Svengali.

He caught sight of Taffy and met his eyes, and Taffy said: "Good God!
Look! look!"

Then Little Billee and the Laird got up and looked.

[Illustration: "HAST THOU FOUND ME, O MINE ENEMY?"]

And Svengali for a moment glared at them. And the expression of his face
was so terrible with wonder, rage, and fear that they were quite
appalled--and then he sat down, still glaring at Taffy, the whites of
his eyes showing at the top, and his teeth bared in a spasmodic grin of
hate.

Then thunders of applause filled the house, and turning round and
seating themselves, Taffy and Little Billee and the Laird saw Trilby
being led by J---- down the platform, between the players, to the front,
her face smiling rather vacantly, her eyes anxiously intent on Svengali
in his box.

She made her bows to right and left just as she had done in Paris.

The band struck up the opening bars of "Ben Bolt," with which she was
announced to make her début.

She still stared--but she didn't sing--and they played the little
symphony three times.

One could hear Monsieur J---- in a hoarse, anxious whisper saying,

"Mais chantez donc, madame--pour l'amour de Dieu, commencez
donc--commencez!"

She turned round with an extraordinary expression of face, and said,

"Chanter? pourquoi donc voulez-vous que je chante, moi? chanter quoi,
alors?"

"Mais 'Ben Bolt,' parbleu--chantez!"

"Ah--'Ben Bolt!' oui--je connais ça!"

Then the band began again.

And she tried, but failed to begin herself. She turned round and said,

"Comment diable voulez-vous que je chante avec tout ce train qu'ils
font, ces diables de musiciens!"

"Mais, mon Dieu, madame--qu'est-ce que vous avez donc?" cried Monsieur
J----.

[Illustration: "'OH, DON'T YOU REMEMBER SWEET ALICE, BEN BOLT?'"]

"J'ai que j'aime mieux chanter sans toute cette satanée musique,
parbleu! J'aime mieux chanter toute seule!"

"Sans musique, alors--mais chantez--chantez!"

The band was stopped--the house was in a state of indescribable wonder
and suspense.

She looked all round, and down at herself, and fingered her dress. Then
she looked up to the chandelier with a tender, sentimental smile, and
began:

    "Oh, don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt?
       Sweet Alice with hair so brown,
     Who wept with delight when you gave her a smile--"

She had not got further than this when the whole house was in an
uproar--shouts from the gallery--shouts of laughter, hoots, hisses,
catcalls, cock-crows.

She stopped and glared like a brave lioness, and called out:

"Qu'est-ce que vous avez donc, tous! tas de vieilles pommes cuites que
vous êtes! Est-ce qu'on a peur de vous?" and then, suddenly:

"Why, you're all English, aren't you?--what's all the row about?--what
have you brought me here for?--what have _I_ done, I should like to
know?"

And in asking these questions the depth and splendor of her voice were
so extraordinary--its tone so pathetically feminine, yet so full of hurt
and indignant command, that the tumult was stilled for a moment.

It was the voice of some being from another world--some insulted
daughter of a race more puissant and nobler than ours; a voice that
seemed as if it could never utter a false note.

Then came a voice from the gods in answer:

"Oh, ye're Henglish, har yer? Why don't yer sing as yer _hought_ to
sing--yer've got _voice_ enough, any'ow! why don't yer sing in _tune_?"

"Sing in _tune_!" cried Trilby. "I didn't want to sing at all--I only
sang because I was asked to sing--that gentleman asked me--that French
gentleman with the white waistcoat! I won't sing another note!"

"Oh, yer won't, won't yer! then let us 'ave our money back, or we'll
know what for!"

And again the din broke out, and the uproar was frightful.

Monsieur J---- screamed out across the theatre: "Svengali! Svengali!
qu'est-ce qu'elle a donc, votre femme?... Elle est devenue folle!"

Indeed she had tried to sing "Ben Bolt," but had sung it in her old
way--as she used to sing it in the quartier latin--the most lamentably
grotesque performance ever heard out of a human throat!

"Svengali! Svengali!" shrieked poor Monsieur J----, gesticulating
towards the box where Svengali was sitting, quite impassible, gazing at
Monsieur J----, and smiling a ghastly, sardonic smile, a rictus of hate
and triumphant revenge--as if he were saying,

"I've got the laugh of you _all_, this time!"

Taffy, the Laird, Little Billee, the whole house, were now staring at
Svengali, and his wife was forgotten.

She stood vacantly looking at everybody and everything--the chandelier,
Monsieur J----, Svengali in his box, the people in the stalls, in the
gallery--and smiling as if the noisy scene amused and excited her.

"Svengali! Svengali! Svengali!"

The whole house took up the cry, derisively. Monsieur J---- led Madame
Svengali away; she seemed quite passive. That terrible figure of
Svengali still sat, immovable, watching his wife's retreat--still
smiling his ghastly smile. All eyes were now turned on him once more.

Monsieur J---- was then seen to enter his box with a policeman and two
or three other men, one of them in evening dress. He quickly drew the
curtains to; then, a minute or two after, he reappeared on the platform,
bowing and scraping to the audience, as pale as death, and called for
silence, the gentleman in evening dress by his side; and this person
explained that a very dreadful thing had happened--that Monsieur
Svengali had suddenly died in that box--of apoplexy or heart-disease;
that his wife had seen it from her place on the stage, and had
apparently gone out of her senses, which accounted for her extraordinary
behavior.

He added that the money would be returned at the doors, and begged the
audience to disperse quietly.

Taffy, with his two friends behind him, forced his way to a stage door
he knew. The Laird had no longer any doubts on the score of Trilby's
identity--_this_ Trilby, at all events!

Taffy knocked and thumped till the door was opened, and gave his card to
the man who opened it, stating that he and his friends were old friends
of Madame Svengali, and must see her at once.

The man tried to slam the door in his face, but Taffy pushed through,
and shut it on the crowd outside, and insisted on being taken to
Monsieur J---- immediately; and was so authoritative and big, and
looked such a swell, that the man was cowed, and led him.

They passed an open door, through which they had a glimpse of a
prostrate form on a table--a man partially undressed, and some men
bending over him, doctors probably.

That was the last they saw of Svengali.

Then they were taken to another door, and Monsieur J---- came out, and
Taffy explained who they were, and they were admitted.

La Svengali was there, sitting in an arm-chair by the fire, with several
of the band standing round gesticulating, and talking German or Polish
or Yiddish. Gecko, on his knees, was alternately chafing her hands and
feet. She seemed quite dazed.

But at the sight of Taffy she jumped up and rushed at him, saying: "Oh,
Taffy dear--oh, Taffy! what's it all about? Where on earth am I? What an
age since we met?"

Then she caught sight of the Laird, and kissed him; and then she
recognized Little Billee.

She looked at him for a long while in great surprise, and then shook
hands with him.

"How pale you are! and so changed--you've got a mustache! What's the
matter? Why are you all dressed in black, with white cravats, as if you
were going to a ball? Where's Svengali? I should like to go home!"

"Where--what do you call--home, I mean--where is it?" asked Taffy.

"C'est à l'hôtel de Normandie, dans le Haymarket. On va vous y
conduire, madame!" said Monsieur J----.

"Oui--c'est ça!" said Trilby--"Hôtel de Normandie--mais Svengali--où
est-ce qu'il est?"

"Hélas! madame--il est très malade!"

"Malade? Qu'est-ce qu'il a? How funny you look, with your mustache,
Little Billee! dear, _dear_ Little Billee! so pale, so very pale! Are
you ill too? Oh, I hope not! How _glad_ I am to see you again--you can't
tell! though I promised your mother I wouldn't--never, never! Where are
we now, dear Little Billee?"

Monsieur J---- seemed to have lost his head. He was constantly running
in and out of the room, distracted. The bandsmen began to talk and try
to explain, in incomprehensible French, to Taffy. Gecko seemed to have
disappeared. It was a bewildering business--noises from outside, the
tramp and bustle and shouts of the departing crowd, people running in
and out and asking for Monsieur J----, policemen, firemen, and what not!

Then Little Billee, who had been exerting the most heroic self-control,
suggested that Trilby should come to his house in Fitzroy Square, first
of all, and be taken out of all this--and the idea struck Taffy as a
happy one--and it was proposed to Monsieur J----, who saw that our three
friends were old friends of Madame Svengali's, and people to be trusted;
and he was only too glad to be relieved of her, and gave his consent.

[Illustration: "THE LAST THEY SAW OF SVENGALI"]

Little Billee and Taffy drove to Fitzroy Square to prepare Little
Billee's landlady, who was much put out at first at having such a novel
and unexpected charge imposed on her. It was all explained to her that
it must be so. That Madame Svengali, the greatest singer in Europe and
an old friend of her tenant's, had suddenly gone out of her mind from
grief at the tragic death of her husband, and that for this night at
least the unhappy lady must sleep under that roof--indeed, in Little
Billee's own bed, and that he would sleep at a hotel; and that a nurse
would be provided at once--it might be only for that one night; and that
the lady was as quiet as a lamb, and would probably recover her
faculties after a night's rest. A doctor was sent for from close by; and
soon Trilby appeared, with the Laird, and her appearance and her
magnificent sables impressed Mrs. Godwin, the landlady--brought her
figuratively on her knees. Then Taffy, the Laird, and Little Billee
departed again and dispersed--to procure a nurse for the night, to find
Gecko, to fetch some of Trilby's belongings from the Hôtel de Normandie,
and her maid.

The maid (the old German Jewess and Svengali's relative), distracted by
the news of her master's death, had gone to the theatre. Gecko was in
the hands of the police. Things had got to a terrible pass. But our
three friends did their best, and were up most of the night.

So much for la Svengali's début in London.

The present scribe was not present on that memorable occasion, and has
written this inadequate and most incomplete description partly from
hearsay and private information, partly from the reports in the
contemporary newspapers.

Should any surviving eye-witness of that lamentable fiasco read these
pages, and see any gross inaccuracy in this bald account of it, the P.
S. will feel deeply obliged to the same for any corrections or
additions, and these will be duly acted upon and gratefully acknowledged
in all subsequent editions; which will be numerous, no doubt, on account
of the great interest still felt in "la Svengali," even by those who
never saw or heard her (and they are many), and also because the present
scribe is better qualified (by his opportunities) for the compiling of
this brief biographical sketch than any person now living, with the
exception, of course, of "Taffy" and "the Laird," to whose kindness,
even more than to his own personal recollections, he owes whatever it
may contain of serious historical value.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next morning they all three went to Fitzroy Square. Little Billee had
slept at Taffy's rooms in Jermyn Street.

Trilby seemed quite pathetically glad to see them again. She was dressed
simply and plainly--in black; her trunks had been sent from the hotel.

The hospital nurse was with her; the doctor had just left. He had said
that she was suffering from some great nervous shock--a pretty safe
diagnosis!

Her wits had apparently not come back, and she seemed in no way to
realize her position.

"Ah! what it is to see you again, all three! It makes one feel glad to
be alive! I've thought of many things, but never of this--never! Three
nice clean Englishmen, all speaking English--and _such_ dear old
friends! Ah! j'aime tant ça--c'est le ciel! I wonder I've got a word of
English left!"

[Illustration: "'THREE NICE CLEAN ENGLISHMEN'"]

Her voice was so soft and sweet and low that these ingenuous remarks
sounded like a beautiful song. And she "made the soft eyes" at them all
three, one after another, in her old way; and the soft eyes quickly
filled with tears.

She seemed ill and weak and worn out, and insisted on keeping the
Laird's hand in hers.

"What's the matter with Svengali? He must be dead!"

They all three looked at each other, perplexed.

"Ah! he's dead! I can see it in your faces. He'd got heart-disease. I'm
sorry! oh, very sorry indeed! He was always very kind, poor Svengali!"

"Yes. He's dead," said Taffy.

"And Gecko--dear little Gecko--is he dead too? I saw him last night--he
warmed my hands and feet: where were we?"

"No. Gecko's not dead. But he's had to be locked up for a little while.
He struck Svengali, you know. You saw it all."

"I? No! I never saw it. But I _dreamt_ something like it! Gecko with a
knife, and people holding him, and Svengali bleeding on the ground. That
was just before Svengali's illness. He'd cut himself in the neck, you
know--with a rusty nail, he told me. I wonder how!... But it was wrong
of Gecko to strike him. They were such friends. Why did he?"

"Well--it was because Svengali struck you with his conductor's wand when
you were rehearsing. Struck you on the fingers and made you cry! don't
you remember?"

"Struck _me_! _rehearsing?_--made me _cry_! what _are_ you talking
about, dear Taffy? Svengali never _struck_ me! he was kindness itself!
always! and what should _I_ rehearse?"

"Well, the songs you were to sing at the theatre in the evening."

"Sing at the theatre! _I_ never sang at any theatre--except last night,
if that big place was a theatre! and they didn't seem to like it! I'll
take precious good care never to sing in a theatre again! How they
howled! and there was Svengali in the box opposite, laughing at me. Why
was I taken there? and why did that funny little Frenchman in the white
waistcoat ask me to sing? I know very well I can't sing well enough to
sing in a place like that! What a fool I was! It all seems like a bad
dream! What was it all about? _Was_ it a dream, I wonder!"

"Well--but don't you remember singing at Paris, in the Salle des
Bashibazoucks--and at Vienna--St. Petersburg--lots of places?"

"What nonsense, dear--you're thinking of some one else! _I_ never sang
anywhere! I've been to Vienna and St. Petersburg--but I never _sang_
there--good heavens!"

Then there was a pause, and our three friends looked at her helplessly.

Little Billee said: "Tell me, Trilby--what made you cut me dead when I
bowed to you in the Place de la Concorde, and you were riding with
Svengali in that swell carriage?"

"_I_ never rode in a swell carriage with Svengali! omnibuses were more
in _our_ line! You're dreaming, dear Little Billee--you're taking me for
somebody else; and as for my cutting _you_--why, I'd sooner cut
myself--into little pieces!"

"_Where_ were you staying with Svengali in Paris?"

"I really forget. _Were_ we in Paris? Oh yes, of course. Hôtel Bertrand,
Place Notre Dame des Victoires."

"How long have you been going about with Svengali?"

"Oh, months, years--I forget. I was very ill. He cured me."

"Ill! What was the matter?"

"Oh! I was mad with grief, and pain in my eyes, and wanted to kill
myself, when I lost my dear little Jeannot, at Vibraye. I fancied I
hadn't been careful enough with him. I was crazed! Don't you remember
writing to me there, Taffy--through Angèle Boisse? Such a sweet letter
you wrote! I know it by heart! And you too, Sandy"; and she kissed him.
"I wonder where they are, your letters?--I've got nothing of my own in
the world--not even your dear letters--nor little Billee's--such lots of
them!

[Illustration: "PŒNA PEDE CLAUDO"]

"Well, Svengali used to write to me too--and then he got my address from
Angèle....

"When Jeannot died, I felt I must kill myself or get away from
Vibraye--get away from the people there--so when he was buried I cut my
hair short and got a workman's cap and blouse and trousers and walked
all the way to Paris without saying anything to anybody. I didn't want
anybody to know; I wanted to escape from Svengali, who wrote that he
was coming there to fetch me. I wanted to hide in Paris. When I got
there at last it was two o'clock in the morning, and I was in dreadful
pain--and I'd lost all my money--thirty francs--through a hole in my
trousers-pocket. Besides, I had a row with a carter in the Halle. He
thought I was a man, and hit me and gave me a black eye, just because I
patted his horse and fed it with a carrot I'd been trying to eat myself.
He was tipsy, I think. Well, I looked over the bridge at the river--just
by the Morgue--and wanted to jump in. But the Morgue sickened me, so I
hadn't the pluck. Svengali used to be always talking about the Morgue,
and my going there some day. He used to say he'd come and look at me
there, and the idea made me so sick I couldn't. I got bewildered, and
quite stupid.

"Then I went to Angèle's, in the Rue des Cloîtres Ste. Pétronille, and
waited about; but I hadn't the courage to ring, so I went to the Place
St. Anatole des Arts, and looked up at the old studio window, and
thought how comfortable it was in there, with the big settee near the
stove, and all that, and felt inclined to ring up Madame Vinard; and
then I remembered Little Billee was ill there, and his mother and sister
were with him. Angèle had written me, you know. Poor Little Billee!
There he was, very ill!

"So I walked about the place, and up and down the Rue des Mauvais
Ladres. Then I went down the Rue de Seine to the river again, and again
I hadn't the pluck to jump in. Besides, there was a sergent de ville who
followed and watched me. And the fun of it was that I knew him quite
well, and he didn't know me a bit. It was Célestin Beaumollet, who got
so tipsy on Christmas night. Don't you remember? The tall one, who was
pitted with the small-pox.

[Illustration: "THE OLD STUDIO"]

"Then I walked about till near daylight. Then I could stand it no
longer, and went to Svengali's, in the Rue Tire-Liard, but he'd moved to
the Rue des Saints Pères; and I went there and found him. I didn't want
to a bit, but I couldn't help myself. It was fate, I suppose! He was
very kind, and cured me almost directly, and got me coffee and
bread-and-butter--the best I ever tasted--and a warm bath from Bidet
Frères, in the Rue Savonarole. It was heavenly! And I slept for two days
and two nights! And then he told me how fond he was of me, and how he
would always cure me, and take care of me, and marry me, if I would go
away with him. He said he would devote his whole life to me, and took a
small room for me, next to his.

"I stayed with him there a week, never going out or seeing any one,
mostly asleep. I'd caught a chill.

"He played in two concerts and made a lot of money; and then we went
away to Germany together; and no one was a bit the wiser."

"And _did_ he marry you?"

"Well--no. He couldn't, poor fellow! He'd already got a wife living; and
three children, which he declared were not his. They live in Elberfeld
in Prussia; she keeps a small sweet-stuff shop there. He behaved very
badly to them. But it was not through me! He'd deserted them long
before; but he used to send them plenty of money when he'd got any; I
made him, for I was very sorry for her. He was always talking about her,
and what she said and what she did; and imitating her saying her prayers
and eating pickled cucumber with one hand and drinking schnapps with the
other, so as not to lose any time; till he made me die of laughing. He
could be very funny, Svengali, though he _was_ German, poor dear! And
then Gecko joined us, and Marta."

"Who's Marta?"

"His aunt. She cooked for us, and all that. She's coming here presently;
she sent word from the hotel; she's very fond of him. Poor Marta! Poor
Gecko! What _will_ they ever do without Svengali?"

"Then what did he do to live?"

"Oh! he played at concerts, I suppose--and all that."

"Did you ever hear him?"

"Yes. Sometimes Marta took me; at the beginning, you know. He was always
very much applauded. He plays beautifully. Everybody said so."

"Did he never try and teach you to sing?"

"Oh, maïe, aïe! not he! Why, he always laughed when I tried to sing; and
so did Marta; and so did Gecko! It made them roar! I used to sing 'Ben
Bolt.' They used to make me, just for fun--and go into fits. _I_ didn't
mind a scrap. I'd had no training, you know!"

"Was there anybody else he knew--any other woman?"

"Not that _I_ know of! He always made out he was so fond of me that he
couldn't even _look_ at another woman. Poor Svengali!" (Here her eyes
filled with tears again.) "He was always very kind! But I never could be
fond of him in the way he wished--never! It made me sick even to think
of! Once I used to hate him--in Paris--in the studio; don't you
remember?

"He hardly ever left me; and then Marta looked after me--for I've always
been weak and ill--and often so languid that I could hardly walk across
the room. It was that walk from Vibraye to Paris. I never got over it.

"I used to try and do all I could--be a daughter to him, as I couldn't
be anything else--mend his things, and all that, and cook him little
French dishes. I fancy he was very poor at one time; we were always
moving from place to place. But I always had the best of everything. He
insisted on that--even if he had to go without himself. It made him
quite unhappy when I wouldn't eat, so I used to force myself.

"Then, as soon as I felt uneasy about things, or had any pain, he would
say, 'Dors, ma mignonne!' and I would sleep at once--for hours, I
think--and wake up, oh, so tired! and find him kneeling by me, always so
anxious and kind--and Marta and Gecko! and sometimes we had the doctor,
and I was ill in bed.

"Gecko used to dine and breakfast with us--you've no idea what an angel
he is, poor little Gecko! But what a dreadful thing to strike Svengali!
_Why_ did he? Svengali taught him all he knows!"

"And you knew no one else--no other woman?"

"No one that I can remember--except Marta--not a soul!"

"And that beautiful dress you had on last night?"

"It isn't mine. It's on the bed up-stairs, and so's the fur cloak. They
belong to Marta. She's got lots of them, lovely things--silk, satin,
velvet--and lots of beautiful jewels. Marta deals in them, and makes
lots of money.

"I've often tried them on; I'm very easy to fit," she said, "being so
tall and thin. And poor Svengali would kneel down and cry, and kiss my
hands and feet, and tell me I was his goddess and empress, and all that,
which I hate. And Marta used to cry, too. And then he would say,

"'Et maintenant dors, ma mignonne!'

"And when I woke up I was so tired that I went to sleep again on my own
account.

[Illustration: "'ET MAINTENANT DORS, MA MIGNONNE!'"]

"But he was very patient. Oh, dear me! I've always been a poor,
helpless, useless log and burden to him!

"Once I actually walked in my sleep--and woke up in the market-place at
Prague--and found an immense crowd, and poor Svengali bleeding from the
forehead, in a faint on the ground. He'd been knocked down by a horse
and cart, he told me. He'd got his guitar with him. I suppose he and
Gecko had been playing somewhere, for Gecko had his fiddle. If Gecko
hadn't been there, I don't know what we should have done. You never saw
such queer people as they were--such crowds--you'd think they'd never
seen an Englishwoman before. The noise they made, and the things they
gave me ... some of them went down on their knees, and kissed my hands
and the skirts of my gown.

"He was ill in bed for a week after that, and I nursed him, and he was
very grateful. Poor Svengali! God knows _I_ felt grateful to _him_ for
many things! Tell me how he died! I hope he hadn't much pain."

They told her it was quite sudden, from heart-disease.

"Ah! I knew he had that; he wasn't a healthy man; he used to smoke too
much. Marta used always to be very anxious."

Just then Marta came in.

Marta was a fat, elderly Jewess of rather a grotesque and ignoble type.
She seemed overcome with grief--all but prostrate.

Trilby hugged and kissed her, and took off her bonnet and shawl, and
made her sit down in a big arm-chair, and got her a footstool.

She couldn't speak a word of anything but Polish and a little German.
Trilby had also picked up a little German, and with this and by means of
signs, and no doubt through a long intimacy with each other's ways, they
understood each other very well. She seemed a very good old creature,
and very fond of Trilby, but in mortal terror of the three Englishmen.

Lunch was brought up for the two women and the nurse, and our friends
left them, promising to come again that day.

They were utterly bewildered; and the Laird would have it that there was
another Madame Svengali somewhere, the real one, and that Trilby was a
fraud--self-deceived and self-deceiving--quite unconsciously so, of
course.

Truth looked out of her eyes, as it always had done--truth was in every
line of her face.

The truth only--nothing but the truth could ever be told in that "voice
of velvet," which rang as true when she spoke as that of any thrush or
nightingale, however rebellious it might be now (and forever perhaps) to
artificial melodic laws and limitations and restraints. The long
training it had been subjected to had made it "a wonder, a world's
delight," and though she might never sing another note, her mere speech
would always be more golden than any silence, whatever she might say.

Except on the one particular point of her singing, she had seemed
absolutely sane--so, at least, thought Taffy, the Laird, and Little
Billee. And each thought to himself, besides, that this last incarnation
of Trilbyness was quite the sweetest, most touching, most endearing of
all.

They had not failed to note how rapidly she had aged, now that they had
seen her without her rouge and pearl-powder; she looked thirty at
least--she was only twenty-three.

Her hands were almost transparent in their waxen whiteness; delicate
little frosty wrinkles had gathered round her eyes; there were gray
streaks in her hair; all strength and straightness and elasticity seemed
to have gone out of her with the memory of her endless triumphs (if she
really _was_ la Svengali), and of her many wanderings from city to city
all over Europe.

It was evident enough that the sudden stroke which had destroyed her
power of singing had left her physically a wreck.

But she was one of those rarely gifted beings who cannot look or speak
or even stir without waking up (and satisfying) some vague longing that
lies dormant in the hearts of most of us, men and women alike; grace,
charm, magnetism--whatever the nameless seduction should be called that
she possessed to such an unusual degree--she had lost none of it when
she lost her high spirits, her buoyant health and energy, her wits!

Tuneless and insane, she was more of a siren than ever--a quite
unconscious siren--without any guile, who appealed to the heart all the
more directly and irresistibly that she could no longer stir the
passions.

All this was keenly felt by all three--each in his different way--by
Taffy and Little Billee especially.

All her past life was forgiven--her sins of omission and commission! And
whatever might be her fate--recovery, madness, disease, or death--the
care of her till she died or recovered should be the principal business
of their lives.

Both had loved her. All three, perhaps. One had been loved by her as
passionately, as purely, as unselfishly as any man could wish to be
loved, and in some extraordinary manner had recovered, after many years,
at the mere sudden sight and sound of her, his lost share in our common
inheritance--the power to love, and all its joy and sorrow; without
which he had found life not worth living, though he had possessed every
other gift and blessing in such abundance.

"Oh, Circe, poor Circe, dear Circe, divine enchantress that you were!"
he said to himself, in his excitable way. "A mere look from your eyes, a
mere note of your heavenly voice, has turned a poor, miserable, callous
brute back into a man again! and I will never forget it--never! And now
that a still worse trouble than mine has befallen you, you shall always
be first in my thoughts till the end!"

And Taffy felt pretty much the same, though he was not by way of talking
to himself so eloquent about things as Little Billee.

       *       *       *       *       *

As they lunched, they read the accounts of the previous evening's events
in different papers, three or four of which (including the _Times_) had
already got leaders about the famous but unhappy singer who had been so
suddenly widowed and struck down in the midst of her glory. All these
accounts were more or less correct. In one paper it was mentioned that
Madame Svengali was under the roof and care of Mr. William Bagot, the
painter, in Fitzroy Square.

The inquest on Svengali was to take place that afternoon, and also
Gecko's examination at the Bow Street Police Court, for his assault.

[Illustration: "TAFFY WAS ALLOWED TO SEE GECKO"]

Taffy was allowed to see Gecko, who was remanded till the result of the
post-mortem should be made public. But beyond inquiring most anxiously
and minutely after Trilby, and betraying the most passionate concern for
her, he would say nothing, and seemed indifferent as to his own fate.

When they went to Fitzroy Square, late in the afternoon, they found
that many people, musical, literary, fashionable, and otherwise (and
many foreigners), had called to inquire after Madame Svengali, but no
one had been admitted to see her. Mrs. Godwin was much elated by the
importance of her new lodger.

Trilby had been writing to Angèle Boisse, at her old address in the Rue
des Cloîtres Ste. Pétronille, in the hope that this letter would find
her still there. She was anxious to go back and be a _blanchisseuse de
fin_ with her friend. It was a kind of nostalgia for Paris, the quartier
latin, her clean old trade.

This project our three heroes did not think it necessary to discuss with
her just yet; she seemed quite unfit for work of any kind.

The doctor, who had seen her again, had been puzzled by her strange
physical weakness, and wished for a consultation with some special
authority; Little Billee, who was intimate with most of the great
physicians, wrote about her to Sir Oliver Calthorpe.

She seemed to find a deep happiness in being with her three old friends,
and talked and listened with all her old eagerness and geniality, and
much of her old gayety, in spite of her strange and sorrowful position.
But for this it was impossible to realize that her brain was affected in
the slightest degree, except when some reference was made to her
singing, and this seemed to annoy and irritate her, as though she were
being made fun of. The whole of her marvellous musical career, and
everything connected with it, had been clean wiped out of her
recollection.

She was very anxious to get into other quarters, that Little Billee
should suffer no inconvenience, and they promised to take rooms for her
and Marta on the morrow.

They told her cautiously all about Svengali and Gecko; she was deeply
concerned, but betrayed no such poignant anguish as might have been
expected. The thought of Gecko troubled her most, and she showed much
anxiety as to what might befall him.

Next day she moved with Marta to some lodgings in Charlotte Street,
where everything was made as comfortable for them as possible.

Sir Oliver saw her with Dr. Thorne (the doctor who was attending her)
and Sir Jacob Wilcox.

Sir Oliver took the greatest interest in her case, both for her sake and
his friend Little Billee's. Also his own, for he was charmed with her.
He saw her three times in the course of the week, but could not say for
certain what was the matter with her, beyond taking the very gravest
view of her condition. For all he could advise or prescribe, her
weakness and physical prostration increased rapidly, through no cause he
could discover. Her insanity was not enough to account for it. She lost
weight daily; she seemed to be wasting and fading away from sheer
general atrophy.

Two or three times he took her and Marta for a drive.

On one of these occasions, as they went down Charlotte Street, she saw a
shop with transparent French blinds in the window, and through them some
French women, with neat white caps, ironing. It was a French
_blanchisserie de fin_, and the sight of it interested and excited her
so much that she must needs insist on being put down and on going into
it.

"Je voudrais bien parler à la patronne, si ça ne la dérange pas," she
said.

[Illustration: A FAIR BLANCHISSEUSE DE FIN]

The patronne, a genial Parisian, was much astonished to hear a great
French lady, in costly garments, evidently a person of fashion and
importance, applying to her rather humbly for employment in the
business, and showing a thorough knowledge of the work (and of the
Parisian work-woman's colloquial dialect). Marta managed to catch the
patronne's eye, and tapped her own forehead significantly, and Sir
Oliver nodded. So the good woman humored the great lady's fancy, and
promised her abundance of employment whenever she should want it.

Employment! Poor Trilby was hardly strong enough to walk back to the
carriage; and this was her last outing.

But this little adventure had filled her with hope and good spirits--for
she had as yet received no answer from Angèle Boisse (who was in
Marseilles), and had begun to realize how dreary the quartier latin
would be without Jeannot, without Angèle, without the trois Angliches in
the Place St. Anatole des Arts.

She was not allowed to see any of the strangers who came and made kind
inquiries. This her doctors had strictly forbidden. Any reference to
music or singing irritated her beyond measure. She would say to Marta,
in bad German:

"Tell them, Marta--what nonsense it is! They are taking me for
another--they are mad. They are trying to make a fool of me!"

And Marta would betray great uneasiness--almost terror--when she was
appealed to in this way.




Part Eighth

    "La vie est vaine:
       Un peu d'amour,
     Un peu de haine....
       Et puis--bonjour!

    "La vie est brève:
       Un peu d'espoir,
     Un peu de rève....
       Et puis--bonsoir."


Svengali had died from heart-disease. The cut he had received from Gecko
had not apparently (as far as the verdict of a coroner's inquest could
be trusted) had any effect in aggravating his malady or hastening his
death.

But Gecko was sent for trial at the Old Bailey, and sentenced to hard
labor for six months (a sentence which, if I remember aright, gave rise
to much comment at the time). Taffy saw him again, but with no better
result than before. He chose to preserve an obstinate silence on his
relations with the Svengalis and their relations with each other.

When he was told how hopelessly ill and insane Madame Svengali was, he
shed a few tears, and said: "Ah, pauvrette, pauvrette--ah! monsieur--je
l'aimais tant, je l'aimais tant! il n'y en a pas beaucoup comme elle,
Dieu de misère! C'est un ange du Paradis!"

And not another word was to be got out of him.

It took some time to settle Svengali's affairs after his death. No will
was found. His old mother came over from Germany, and two of his
sisters, but no wife. The comic wife and the three children, and the
sweet-stuff shop in Elberfeld, had been humorous inventions of his
own--a kind of Mrs. Harris!

He left three thousand pounds, every penny of which (and of far larger
sums that he had spent) had been earned by "la Svengali," but nothing
came to Trilby of this; nothing but the clothes and jewels he had given
her, and in this respect he had been lavish enough; and there were
countless costly gifts from emperors, kings, great people of all kinds.
Trilby was under the impression that all these belonged to Marta. Marta
behaved admirably; she seemed bound hand and foot to Trilby by a kind of
slavish adoration, as that of a plain old mother for a brilliant and
beautiful but dying child.

It soon became evident that, whatever her disease might be, Trilby had
but a very short time to live.

She was soon too weak even to be taken out in a Bath-chair, and remained
all day in her large sitting-room with Marta; and there, to her great
and only joy, she received her three old friends every afternoon, and
gave them coffee, and made them smoke cigarettes of caporal as of old;
and their hearts were daily harrowed as they watched her rapid decline.

Day by day she grew more beautiful in their eyes, in spite of her
increasing pallor and emaciation--her skin was so pure and white and
delicate, and the bones of her face so admirable!

[Illustration: A THRONE IN BOHEMIA]

Her eyes recovered all their old humorous brightness when les trois
Angliches were with her, and the expression of her face was so wistful
and tender for all her playfulness, so full of eager clinging to
existence and to them, that they felt the memory of it would haunt them
forever, and be the sweetest and saddest memory of their lives.

Her quick, though feeble gestures, full of reminiscences of the vigorous
and lively girl they had known a few years back, sent waves of pity
through them and pure brotherly love; and the incomparable tones and
changes and modulations of her voice, as she chatted and laughed,
bewitched them almost as much as when she had sung the "Nussbaum" of
Schumann in the Salle des Bashibazoucks.

Sometimes Lorrimer came, and Antony and the Greek. It was like a genial
little court of bohemia. And Lorrimer, Antony, the Laird, and Little
Billee made those beautiful chalk and pencil studies of her head which
are now so well known--all so singularly like her, and so singularly
unlike each other! _Trilby vue à travers quatre tempéraments!_

These afternoons were probably the happiest poor Trilby had ever spent
in her life--with these dear people round her, speaking the language she
loved; talking of old times and jolly Paris days, she never thought of
the morrow.

But later--at night, in the small hours--she would wake up with a start
from some dream full of tender and blissful recollection, and suddenly
realize her own mischance, and feel the icy hand of that which was to
come before many morrows were over; and taste the bitterness of death so
keenly that she longed to scream out loud, and get up, and walk up and
down, and wring her hands at the dreadful thought of parting forever!

But she lay motionless and mum as a poor little frightened mouse in a
trap, for fear of waking up the good old tired Marta, who was snoring at
her side.

And in an hour or two the bitterness would pass away, the creeps and the
horrors; and the stoical spirit of resignation would steal over her--the
balm, the blessed calm! and all her old bravery would come back.

And then she would sink into sleep again, and dream more blissfully than
ever, till the good Marta woke her with a motherly kiss and a fragrant
cup of coffee; and she would find, feeble as she was, and doomed as she
felt herself to be, that joy cometh of a morning; and life was still
sweet for her, with yet a whole day to look forward to.

       *       *       *       *       *

One day she was deeply moved at receiving a visit from Mrs. Bagot, who,
at Little Billee's earnest desire, had come all the way from Devonshire
to see her.

As the graceful little lady came in, pale and trembling all over, Trilby
rose from her chair to receive her, and rather timidly put out her hand,
and smiled in a frightened manner. Neither could speak for a second.
Mrs. Bagot stood stock-still by the door gazing (with all her heart in
her eyes) at the so terribly altered Trilby--the girl she had once so
dreaded.

Trilby, who seemed also bereft of motion, and whose face and lips were
ashen, exclaimed, "I'm afraid I haven't quite kept my promise to you,
after all! but things have turned out so differently! anyhow, you
needn't have any fear of me _now_."

[Illustration: "'OH, MY POOR GIRL! MY POOR GIRL!'"]

At the mere sound of that voice, Mrs. Bagot, who was as impulsive,
emotional, and unregulated as her son, rushed forward, crying, "Oh, my
poor girl, my poor girl!" and caught her in her arms, and kissed and
caressed her, and burst into a flood of tears, and forced her back into
her chair, hugging her as if she were a long-lost child.

"I love you now as much as I always admired you--pray believe it!"

"Oh, how kind of you to say that!" said Trilby, her own eyes filling.
"I'm not at all the dangerous or designing person you thought. I knew
quite well I wasn't a proper person to marry your son all the time; and
told him so again and again. It was very stupid of me to say yes at
last. I was miserable directly after, I assure you. Somehow I couldn't
help myself--I was driven."

"Oh, don't talk of that! don't talk of that! You've never been to blame
in any way--I've long known it--I've been full of remorse! You've been
in my thoughts always, night and day. Forgive a poor jealous mother. As
if _any_ man could help loving you--or any woman either. Forgive me!"

"Oh, Mrs. Bagot--forgive _you_! What a funny idea! But, anyhow, you've
forgiven _me_, and that's all I care for now. I was very fond of your
son--as fond as could be. I am now, but in quite a different sort of
way, you know--the sort of way _you_ must be, I fancy! There was never
another like him that I ever met--anywhere! You _must_ be so proud of
him; who wouldn't? _Nobody's_ good enough for him. I would have been
only too glad to be his servant, his humble servant! I used to tell him
so--but he wouldn't hear of it--he was much too kind! He always thought
of others before himself. And, oh! how rich and famous he's become! I've
heard all about it, and it did me good. It does me more good to think of
than anything else; far more than if I were to be ever so rich and
famous myself, I can tell you!"

This from la Svengali, whose overpowering fame, so utterly forgotten by
herself, was still ringing all over Europe; whose lamentable illness
and approaching death were being mourned and discussed and commented
upon in every capital of the civilized world, as one distressing
bulletin appeared after another. She might have been a royal personage!

Mrs. Bagot knew, of course, the strange form her insanity had taken, and
made no allusion to the flood of thoughts that rushed through her own
brain as she listened to this towering goddess of song, this poor mad
queen of the nightingales, humbly gloating over her son's success....

Poor Mrs. Bagot had just come from Little Billee's, in Fitzroy Square,
close by. There she had seen Taffy, in a corner of Little Billee's
studio, laboriously answering endless letters and telegrams from all
parts of Europe--for the good Taffy had constituted himself Trilby's
secretary and _homme d'affaires_--unknown to her, of course. And this
was no sinecure (though he liked it): putting aside the numerous people
he had to see and be interviewed by, there were kind inquiries and
messages of condolence and sympathy from nearly all the crowned heads of
Europe, through their chamberlains; applications for help from
unsuccessful musical strugglers all over the world to the pre-eminently
successful one; beautiful letters from great and famous people, musical
or otherwise; disinterested offers of service; interested proposals for
engagements when the present trouble should be over; beggings for an
interview from famous impresarios, to obtain which no distance would be
thought too great, etc., etc., etc. It was endless, in English, French,
German, Italian--in languages quite incomprehensible (many letters had
to remain unanswered)--Taffy took an almost malicious pleasure in
explaining all this to Mrs. Bagot.

Then there was a constant rolling of carriages up to the door, and a
thundering of Little Billee's knocker: Lord and Lady Palmerston wish to
know--the Lord Chief Justice wishes to know--the Dean of Westminster
wishes to know--the Marchioness of Westminster wishes to know--everybody
wishes to know if there is any better news of Madame Svengali!

These were small things, truly; but Mrs. Bagot was a small person from a
small village in Devonshire, and one whose heart and eye had hitherto
been filled by no larger image than that of Little Billee; and Little
Billee's fame, as she now discovered for the first time, did not quite
fill the entire universe.

And she mustn't be too much blamed if all these obvious signs of a
world-wide colossal celebrity impressed and even awed her a little.

Madame Svengali! Why, this was the beautiful girl whom she remembered so
well, whom she had so grandly discarded with a word, and who had
accepted her congé so meekly in a minute; whom, indeed, she had been
cursing in her heart for years, because--because what?

Poor Mrs. Bagot felt herself turn hot and red all over, and humbled
herself to the very dust, and almost forgot that she had been in the
right, after all, and that "la grande Trilby" was certainly no fit match
for her son!

So she went quite humbly to see Trilby, and found a poor, pathetic, mad
creature still more humble than herself, who still apologized for--for
what?

A poor, pathetic, mad creature who had clean forgotten that she was the
greatest singer in all the world--one of the greatest artists that had
ever lived; but who remembered with shame and contrition that she had
once taken the liberty of yielding (after endless pressure and repeated
disinterested refusals of her own, and out of sheer irresistible
affection) to the passionate pleadings of a little obscure art student,
a mere boy--no better off than herself--just as penniless and
insignificant a nobody; but--the son of Mrs. Bagot.

All due sense of proportion died out of the poor lady as she remembered
and realized all this!

And then Trilby's pathetic beauty, so touching, so winning, in its rapid
decay; the nameless charm of look and voice and manner that was her
special apanage, and which her malady and singular madness had only
increased; her childlike simplicity, her transparent forgetfulness of
self--all these so fascinated and entranced Mrs. Bagot, whose quick
susceptibility to such impressions was just as keen as her son's, that
she very soon found herself all but worshipping this fast-fading
lily--for so she called her in her own mind--quite forgetting (or
affecting to forget) on what very questionable soil the lily had been
reared, and through what strange vicissitudes of evil and corruption it
had managed to grow so tall and white and fragrant!

Oh, strange compelling power of weakness and grace and prettiness
combined, and sweet, sincere unconscious natural manners! not to speak
of world-wide fame!

For Mrs. Bagot was just a shrewd little conventional British country
matron of the good upper middle-class type, bristling all over with
provincial proprieties and respectabilities, a philistine of the
philistines, in spite of her artistic instincts; one who for years had
(rather unjustly) thought of Trilby as a wanton and perilous siren, an
unchaste and unprincipled and most dangerous daughter of Heth, and the
special enemy of her house.

And here she was--like all the rest of us monads and nomads and
bohemians--just sitting at Trilby's feet.... "A washer-woman! a figure
model! and Heaven knows what besides!" and she had never even heard her
sing!

It was truly comical to see and hear!

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Bagot did not go back to Devonshire. She remained in Fitzroy
Square, at her son's, and spent most of her time with Trilby, doing and
devising all kinds of things to distract and amuse her, and lead her
thoughts gently to heaven, and soften for her the coming end of all.

Trilby had a way of saying, and especially of looking, "Thank you" that
made one wish to do as many things for her as one could, if only to make
her say and look it again.

And she had retained much of her old, quaint, and amusing manner of
telling things, and had much to tell still left of her wandering life,
although there were so many strange lapses in her powers of
memory--gaps--which, if they could only have been filled up, would have
been full of such surpassing interest!

Then she was never tired of talking and hearing of Little Billee; and
that was a subject of which Mrs. Bagot could never tire either!

Then there were the recollections of her childhood. One day, in a
drawer, Mrs. Bagot came upon a faded daguerreotype of a woman in a Tam
o' Shanter, with a face so sweet and beautiful and saint-like that it
almost took her breath away. It was Trilby's mother.

"Who and what was your mother, Trilby?"

"Ah, poor mamma!" said Trilby, and she looked at the portrait a long
time. "Ah, she was ever so much prettier than that! Mamma was once a
demoiselle de comptoir--that's a bar-maid, you know--at the Montagnards
Écossais, in the Rue du Paradis Poissonnière--a place where men used to
drink and smoke without sitting down. That was unfortunate, wasn't it?

"Papa loved her with all his heart, although, of course, she wasn't his
equal. They were married at the Embassy, in the Rue du Faubourg St.
Honoré.

[Illustration: "'AH, POOR MAMMA! SHE WAS EVER SO MUCH PRETTIER THAN
THAT!'"]

"_Her_ parents weren't married at all. Her mother was the daughter of a
boatman on Loch Ness, near a place called Drumnadrockit; but her father
was the Honorable Colonel Desmond. He was related to all sorts of great
people in England and Ireland. He behaved very badly to my grandmother
and to poor mamma--his own daughter! deserted them both! Not very
_honorable_ of him, _was_ it? And that's all I know about him."

And then she went on to tell of the home in Paris that might have been
so happy but for her father's passion for drink; of her parents' deaths,
and little Jeannot, and so forth. And Mrs. Bagot was much moved and
interested by these naïve revelations, which accounted in a measure for
so much that seemed unaccountable in this extraordinary woman; who thus
turned out to be a kind of cousin (though on the wrong side of the
blanket) to no less a person than the famous Duchess of Towers.

With what joy would that ever kind and gracious lady have taken poor
Trilby to her bosom had she only known! She had once been all the way
from Paris to Vienna merely to hear her sing. But, unfortunately, the
Svengalis had just left for St. Petersburg, and she had her long journey
for nothing!

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Bagot brought her many good books, and read them to her--Dr.
Cummings on the approaching end of the world, and other works of a like
comforting tendency for those who are just about to leave it; the
_Pilgrim's Progress_, sweet little tracts, and what not.

Trilby was so grateful that she listened with much patient attention.
Only now and then a faint gleam of amusement would steal over her face,
and her lips would almost form themselves to ejaculate, "Oh, maïe, aïe!"

Then Mrs. Bagot, as a reward for such winning docility, would read her
_David Copperfield_, and that was heavenly indeed!

But the best of all was for Trilby to look over John Leech's _Pictures
of Life and Character_, just out. She had never seen any drawings of
Leech before, except now and then in an occasional _Punch_ that turned
up in the studio in Paris. And they never palled upon her, and taught
her more of the aspect of English life (the life she loved) than any
book she had ever read. She laughed and laughed; and it was almost as
sweet to listen to as if she were vocalizing the quick part in Chopin's
Impromptu.

       *       *       *       *       *

One day she said, her lips trembling: "I can't make out why you're so
wonderfully kind to me, Mrs. Bagot. I hope you have not forgotten who
and what I am, and what my story is. I hope you haven't forgotten that
I'm not a respectable woman?"

"Oh, my dear child--don't ask me.... I only know that you are you!...
and I am I! and that is enough for me ... you're my poor, gentle,
patient, suffering daughter, whatever else you are--more sinned against
than sinning, I feel sure! But there.... I've misjudged you so, and been
so unjust, that I would give worlds to make you some amends ... besides,
I should be just as fond of you if you'd committed a murder, I really
believe--you're so strange! you're irresistible! Did you ever, in all
your life, meet anybody that _wasn't_ fond of you?"

Trilby's eyes moistened with tender pleasure at such a pretty
compliment. Then, after a few minutes' thought, she said, with engaging
candor and quite simply: "No, I can't say I ever did, that I can think
of just now. But I've forgotten such lots of people!"

       *       *       *       *       *

One day Mrs. Bagot told Trilby that her brother-in-law, Mr. Thomas
Bagot, would much like to come and talk to her.

"Was that the gentleman who came with you to the studio in Paris?"

"Yes."

"Why, he's a clergyman, isn't he? What does he want to come and talk to
_me_ about?"

"Ah! my dear child ..." said Mrs. Bagot, her eyes filling.

Trilby was thoughtful for a while, and then said: "I'm going to die, I
suppose. Oh yes! oh yes! There's no mistake about that!"

"Dear Trilby, we are all in the hands of an Almighty Merciful God!" And
the tears rolled down Mrs. Bagot's cheeks.

After a long pause, during which she gazed out of the window, Trilby
said, in an abstracted kind of way, as though she were talking to
herself: "Après tout, c'est pas déjà si raide, de claquer! J'en ai tant
vus, qui ont passé par la! Au bout du fossé la culbute, ma foi!"

"What are you saying to yourself in French, Trilby? Your French is so
difficult to understand!"

"Oh, I beg your pardon! I was thinking it's not so difficult to die,
after all! I've seen such lots of people do it. I've nursed them, you
know--papa and mamma and Jeannot, and Angèle Boisse's mother-in-law, and
a poor casseur de pierres, Colin Maigret, who lived in the Impasse des
Taupes St. Germain. He'd been run over by an omnibus in the Rue
Vaugirard, and had to have both his legs cut off just above the knee.
They none of them seemed to mind dying a bit. They weren't a bit afraid!
_I'm_ not!

"Poor people don't think much of death. Rich people shouldn't either.
They should be taught when they're quite young to laugh at it and
despise it, like the Chinese. The Chinese die of laughing just as their
heads are being cut off, and cheat the executioner! It's all in the
day's work, and we're all in the same boat--so who's afraid!"

"Dying is not all, my poor child! Are you prepared to meet your Maker
face to face? Have you ever thought about God, and the possible wrath to
come if you should die unrepentant?"

"Oh, but I sha'n't! I've been repenting all my life! Besides, there'll
be no wrath for any of us--not even the worst! _Il y aura amnistie
générale!_ Papa told me so, and he'd been a clergyman, like Mr. Thomas
Bagot. I often think about God. I'm very fond of Him. One _must_ have
something perfect to look up to and be fond of--even if it's only an
idea!

"Though some people don't even believe He exists! Le père Martin
didn't--but, of course, _he_ was only a chiffonnier, and doesn't count.

"One day, though, Durien, the sculptor, who's very clever, and a very
good fellow indeed, said:

"'Vois-tu, Trilby--I'm very much afraid He doesn't really exist, le bon
Dieu! most unfortunately for _me_, for I _adore_ Him! I never do a piece
of work without thinking how nice it would be if I could only please
_Him_ with it!'

"And I've often thought, myself, how heavenly it must be to be able to
paint, or sculpt, or make music, or write beautiful poetry, for that
very reason!

"Why, once on a very hot afternoon we were sitting, a lot of us, in the
court-yard outside la mère Martin's shop, drinking coffee with an old
Invalide called Bastide Lendormi, one of the Vieille Garde, who'd only
got one leg and one arm and one eye, and everybody was very fond of him.
Well, a model called Mimi la Salope came out of the Mont-de-piété
opposite, and Père Martin called out to her to come and sit down, and
gave her a cup of coffee, and asked her to sing.

"She sang a song of Béranger's, about Napoleon the Great, in which it
says:

    "'Parlez-nous de lui, grandmère!
      Grandmère, parlez-nous de lui!'

I suppose she sang it very well, for it made old Bastide Lendormi cry;
and when Père Martin _blaguè'd_ him about it, he said,

"'C'est égal, voyez-vous! to sing like that is _to pray_!'

[Illustration: "'TO SING LIKE THAT IS _TO PRAY_!'"]

"And then I thought how lovely it would be if _I_ could only sing like
Mimi la Salope, and I've thought so ever since--just to _pray_!"

"_What!_ Trilby? if _you_ could only sing like--Oh, but never mind, I
forgot! Tell me, Trilby--do you ever pray to Him, as other people pray?"

"Pray to Him? Well, no--not often--not in words and on my knees and with
my hands together, you know! _Thinking's_ praying, very often--don't you
think so? And so's being sorry and ashamed when one's done a mean thing,
and glad when one's resisted a temptation, and grateful when it's a fine
day and one's enjoying one's self without hurting any one else! What is
it but praying when you try and bear up after losing all you cared to
live for? And very good praying too! There can be prayers without words
just as well as songs, I suppose; and Svengali used to say that songs
without words are the best!

"And then it seems mean to be always asking for things. Besides, you
don't get them any the faster that way, and that shows!

"La mère Martin used to be always praying. And Père Martin used always
to laugh at her; yet he always seemed to get the things _he_ wanted
oftenest!

"_I_ prayed once, very hard indeed! I prayed for Jeannot not to die!"

"Well--but how do you _repent_, Trilby, if you do not humble yourself,
and pray for forgiveness on your knees?"

"Oh, well--I don't exactly know! Look here, Mrs. Bagot, I'll tell you
the lowest and meanest thing I ever did...."

(Mrs. Bagot felt a little nervous.)

"I'd promised to take Jeannot on Palm-Sunday to St. Philippe du Roule,
to hear l'abbé Bergamot. But Durien (that's the sculptor, you know)
asked me to go with him to St. Germain, where there was a fair, or
something; and with Mathieu, who was a student in law; and a certain
Victorine Letellier, who--who was Mathieu's mistress, in fact. And I
went on Sunday morning to tell Jeannot that I couldn't take him.

"He cried so dreadfully that I thought I'd give up the others and take
him to St. Philippe, as I'd promised. But then Durien and Mathieu and
Victorine drove up and waited outside, and so I didn't take him, and
went with them, and I didn't enjoy anything all day, and was miserable.

"They were in an open carriage with two horses; it was Mathieu's treat;
and Jeannot might have ridden on the box by the coachman, without being
in anybody's way. But I was afraid they didn't want him, as they didn't
say anything, and so I didn't dare ask--and Jeannot saw us drive away,
and I _couldn't_ look back! And the worst of it is that when we were
half-way to St. Germain, Durien said, 'What a pity you didn't bring
Jeannot!' and they were all sorry I hadn't.

"It was six or seven years ago, and I really believe I've thought of it
almost every day, and sometimes in the middle of the night!

"Ah! and when Jeannot was dying! and when he was dead--the remembrance
of that Palm-Sunday!

"And if _that's_ not repenting, I don't know what is!"

"Oh, Trilby, what nonsense! _that's_ nothing; good heavens!--putting off
a small child! I'm thinking of far worse things--when you were in the
quartier latin, you know--sitting to painters and sculptors.... Surely,
so attractive as you are...."

"Oh yes.... I know what you mean--it was horrid, and I was frightfully
ashamed of myself; and it wasn't amusing a bit; _nothing_ was, till I
met your son and Taffy and dear Sandy McAlister! But then it wasn't
deceiving or disappointing anybody, or hurting their feelings--it was
only hurting myself!

"Besides, all that sort of thing, in women, is punished severely enough
down here, God knows! unless one's a Russian empress like Catherine the
Great, or a grande dame like lots of them, or a great genius like Madame
Rachel or George Sand!

[Illustration: "'THE REMEMBRANCE OF THAT PALM-SUNDAY!'"]

"Why, if it hadn't been for that, and sitting for the figure, I should
have felt myself good enough to marry your son, _although_ I was only a
blanchisseuse de fin--you've said so yourself!

"And I should have made him a good wife--of that I feel sure. He wanted
to live all his life at Barbizon, and paint, you know; and didn't care
for society in the least. Anyhow, I should have been equal to such a
life as that! Lots of their wives are blanchisseuses over there, or
people of that sort; and they get on very well indeed, and nobody
troubles about it!

"So I think I've been pretty well punished--richly as I've deserved to!"

"Trilby, have you ever been confirmed?"

"I forget. I fancy not!"

"Oh dear, oh dear! And do you know about our blessed Saviour, and the
Atonement and the Incarnation and the Resurrection...."

"Oh yes--I _used_ to, at least. I used to have to learn the Catechism on
Sundays--mamma made me. Whatever her faults and mistakes were, poor
mamma was always very particular about _that_! It all seemed very
complicated. But papa told me not to bother too much about it, but to be
good. He said that God would make it all right for us somehow, in the
end--all of us. And that seems sensible, _doesn't_ it?

"He told me to be good, and not to mind what priests and clergymen tell
us. He'd been a clergyman himself, and knew all about it, he said.

"I haven't been very good--there's not much doubt about that, I'm
afraid. But God knows I've repented often enough and sore enough; I do
now! But I'm rather glad to die, I think; and not a bit afraid--not a
scrap! I believe in poor papa, though he _was_ so unfortunate! He was
the cleverest man I ever knew, and the best--except Taffy and the Laird
and your dear son!

"There'll be no hell for any of us--he told me so--except what we make
for ourselves and each other down here; and that's bad enough for
anything. He told me that _he_ was responsible for me--he often said
so--and that mamma was too, and his parents for _him_, and his
grandfathers and grandmothers for _them_, and so on up to Noah and ever
so far beyond, and God for us all!

"He told me always to think of other people before myself, as Taffy
does, and your son; and never to tell lies or be afraid, and keep away
from drink, and I should be all right. But I've sometimes been all
wrong, all the same; and it wasn't papa's fault, but poor mamma's and
mine; and I've known it, and been miserable at the time, and after! and
I'm sure to be forgiven--perfectly certain--and so will everybody else,
even the wickedest that ever lived! Why, just give them sense enough in
the next world to understand all their wickedness in this, and that'll
punish them enough for anything, I think! That's simple enough, _isn't_
it? Besides, there may be _no_ next world--that's on the cards too, you
know!--and that will be simpler still!

"Not all the clergymen in all the world, not even the Pope of Rome, will
ever make me doubt papa, or believe in any punishment after what we've
all got to go through here! _Ce serait trop bête!_

"So that if you don't want me to very much, and he won't think it
unkind, I'd rather not talk to Mr. Thomas Bagot about it. I'd rather
talk to Taffy if I must. He's very clever, Taffy, though he doesn't
often say such clever things as your son does, or paint nearly so well;
and I'm sure he'll think papa was right."

And as a matter of fact the good Taffy, in his opinion on this solemn
subject, was found to be at one with the late Reverend Patrick Michael
O'Ferrall--and so was the Laird--and so (to his mother's shocked and
pained surprise) was Little Billee.

And so were Sir Oliver Calthorpe and Sir Jacob Wilcox and Doctor Thorne
and Antony and Lorrimer and the Greek!

And so--in after-years, when grief had well pierced and torn and riddled
her through and through, and time and age had healed the wounds, and
nothing remained but the consciousness of great inward scars of
recollection to remind her how deep and jagged and wide the wounds had
once been--did Mrs. Bagot herself!

       *       *       *       *       *

Late on one memorable Saturday afternoon, just as it was getting dusk in
Charlotte Street, Trilby, in her pretty blue dressing-gown, lay on the
sofa by the fire--her head well propped, her knees drawn up--looking
very placid and content.

She had spent the early part of the day dictating her will to the
conscientious Taffy.

It was a simple document, although she was not without many valuable
trinkets to leave: quite a fortune! Souvenirs from many men and women
she had charmed by her singing, from royalties downward.

She had been looking them over with the faithful Marta, to whom she had
always thought they belonged. It was explained to her that they were
gifts of Svengali's; since she did not remember when and where and by
whom they were presented to her, except a few that Svengali had given
her himself, with many passionate expressions of his love, which seems
to have been deep and constant and sincere; none the less so, perhaps,
that she could never return it!

She had left the bulk of these to the faithful Marta.

But to each of the trois Angliches she had bequeathed a beautiful ring,
which was to be worn by their brides if they ever married, and the
brides didn't object.

To Mrs. Bagot she left a pearl necklace; to Miss Bagot her gold coronet
of stars; and pretty (and most costly) gifts to each of the three
doctors who had attended her and been so assiduous in their care; and
who, as she was told, would make no charge for attending on Madame
Svengali. And studs and scarf-pins to Antony, Lorrimer, the Greek,
Dodor, and Zouzou; and to Carnegie a little German-silver vinaigrette
which had once belonged to Lord Witlow; and pretty souvenirs to the
Vinards, Angèle Boisse, Durien, and others.

And she left a magnificent gold watch and chain to Gecko, with a most
affectionate letter and a hundred pounds--which was all she had in money
of her own.

She had taken great interest in discussing with Taffy the particular
kind of trinket which would best suit the idiosyncrasy of each
particular legatee, and derived great comfort from the business-like and
sympathetic conscientiousness with which the good Taffy entered upon all
these minutiæ--he was so solemn and serious about it, and took such
pains. She little guessed how his dumb but deeply feeling heart was
harrowed!

This document had been duly signed and witnessed and intrusted to his
care; and Trilby lay tranquil and happy, and with a sense that nothing
remained for her but to enjoy the fleeting hour, and make the most of
each precious moment as it went by.

She was quite without pain of either mind or body, and surrounded by the
people she adored--Taffy, the Laird, and Little Billee, and Mrs. Bagot,
and Marta, who sat knitting in a corner with her black mittens on, and
her brass spectacles.

She listened to the chat and joined in it, laughing as usual; "love in
her eyes sat playing," as she looked from one to another, for she loved
them all beyond expression. "Love on her lips was straying, and warbling
in her breath," whenever she spoke; and her weakened voice was still
larger, fuller, softer than any other voice in the room, in the
world--of another kind, from another sphere.

A cart drove up, there was a ring at the door, and presently a wooden
packing-case was brought into the room.

At Trilby's request it was opened, and found to contain a large
photograph, framed and glazed, of Svengali, in the military uniform of
his own Hungarian band, and looking straight out of the picture,
straight at you. He was standing by his desk with his left hand turning
over a leaf of music, and waving his bâton with his right. It was a
splendid photograph, by a Viennese photographer, and a most speaking
likeness; and Svengali looked truly fine--all made up of importance and
authority, and his big black eyes were full of stern command.

[Illustration: FOR GECKO]

Marta trembled as she looked. It was handed to Trilby, who exclaimed
in surprise. She had never seen it. She had no photograph of him, and
had never possessed one.

No message of any kind, no letter of explanation, accompanied this
unexpected present, which, from the postmarks on the case, seemed to
have travelled all over Europe to London, out of some remote province in
eastern Russia--out of the mysterious East! The poisonous
East--birthplace and home of an ill wind that blows nobody good.

Trilby laid it against her legs as on a lectern, and lay gazing at it
with close attention for a long time, making a casual remark now and
then, as, "He was very handsome, I think"; or, "That uniform becomes him
very well. Why has he got it on, I wonder?"

[Illustration: "OUT OF THE MYSTERIOUS EAST"]

The others went on talking, and Mrs. Bagot made coffee.

Presently Mrs. Bagot took a cup of coffee to Trilby, and found her still
staring intently at the portrait, but with her eyes dilated, and quite a
strange light in them.

"Trilby, Trilby, your coffee! What is the matter, Trilby?"

Trilby was smiling, with fixed eyes, and made no answer.

The others got up and gathered round her in some alarm. Marta seemed
terror-stricken, and wished to snatch the photograph away, but was
prevented from doing so; one didn't know what the consequences might be.

Taffy rang the bell, and sent a servant for Dr. Thorne, who lived close
by, in Fitzroy Square.

Presently Trilby began to speak, quite softly, in French: "Encore une
fois? bon! je veux bien! avec la voix blanche alors, n'est-ce pas? et
puis foncer au milieu. Et pas trop vite en commençant! Battez bien la
mesure, Svengali--que je puisse bien voir--car il fait déjà nuit! c'est
ça! Allons, Gecko--donne-moi le ton!"

Then she smiled, and seemed to beat time softly by moving her head a
little from side to side, her eyes intent on Svengali's in the portrait,
and suddenly she began to sing Chopin's Impromptu in A flat.

She hardly seemed to breathe as the notes came pouring out, without
words--mere vocalizing. It was as if breath were unnecessary for so
little voice as she was using, though there was enough of it to fill the
room--to fill the house--to drown her small audience in holy, heavenly
sweetness.

She was a consummate mistress of her art. How that could be seen! And
also how splendid had been her training! It all seemed as easy to her as
opening and shutting her eyes, and yet how utterly impossible to anybody
else!

Between wonder, enchantment, and alarm they were frozen to statues--all
except Marta, who ran out of the room, crying: "Gott im Himmel! wieder
zurück! wieder zurück!"

She sang it just as she had sung it at the Salle des Bashibazoucks, only
it sounded still more ineffably seductive, as she was using less
voice--using the essence of her voice, in fact--the pure spirit, the
very cream of it.

There can be little doubt that these four watchers by that enchanted
couch were listening to not only the most divinely beautiful, but also
the most astounding feat of musical utterance ever heard out of a human
throat.

The usual effect was produced. Tears were streaming down the cheeks of
Mrs. Bagot and Little Billee. Tears were in the Laird's eyes, a tear on
one of Taffy's whiskers--tears of sheer delight.

When she came back to the quick movement again, after the adagio, her
voice grew louder and shriller, and sweet with a sweetness not of this
earth; and went on increasing in volume as she quickened the time,
nearing the end; and then came the dying away into all but nothing--a
mere melodic breath; and then the little soft chromatic ascending
rocket, up to E in alt, the last parting caress (which Svengali had
introduced as a finale, for it does not exist in the piano score).

When it was over, she said: "Ça y est-il, cette fois, Svengali? Ah! tant
mieux, à la fin! c'est pas malheureux! Et maintenant, mon ami, _je suis
fatiguée--bon soir_!"

Her head fell back on the pillow, and she lay fast asleep.

Mrs. Bagot took the portrait away gently. Little Billee knelt down and
held Trilby's hand in his and felt for her pulse, and could not find it.

He said, "Trilby! Trilby!" and put his ear to her mouth to hear her
breathe. Her breath was inaudible.

But soon she folded her hands across her breast, and uttered a little
short sigh, and in a weak voice said: "_Svengali.... Svengali....
Svengali!..._"

They remained in silence round her for several minutes, terror-stricken.

The doctor came; he put his hand to her heart, his ear to her lips. He
turned up one of her eyelids and looked at her eye. And then, his voice
quivering with strong emotion, he stood up and said, "Madame Svengali's
trials and sufferings are all over!"

"Oh, good God! is she _dead_?" cried Mrs. Bagot.

"Yes, Mrs. Bagot. She has been dead several minutes--perhaps a quarter
of an hour."


VINGT ANS APRÈS

PORTHOS-ATHOS, _alias_ Taffy Wynne, is sitting to breakfast (opposite
his wife) at a little table in the court-yard of that huge caravanserai
on the Boulevard des Capucines, Paris, where he had sat more than twenty
years ago with the Laird and Little Billee; where, in fact, he had
pulled Svengali's nose.

Little is changed in the aspect of the place: the same cosmopolite
company, with more of the American element, perhaps; the same arrivals
and departures in railway omnibuses, cabs, hired carriages; and, airing
his calves on the marble steps, stood just such another colossal and
beautiful old man in black cloth coat and knee-breeches and silk
stockings as of yore, with probably the very same pinchbeck chain. Where
do they breed these magnificent old Frenchmen? In Germany, perhaps,
"where all the good big waiters come from!"

And also the same fine weather. It is always fine weather in the
court-yard of the Grand Hôtel. As the Laird would say, they manage these
things better there!

Taffy wears a short beard, which is turning gray. His kind blue eye is
no longer choleric, but mild and friendly--as frank as ever; and full of
humorous patience. He has grown stouter; he is very big indeed, in all
three dimensions, but the symmetry and the gainliness of the athlete
belong to him still in movement and repose; and his clothes fit him
beautifully, though they are not new, and show careful beating and
brushing and ironing, and even a faint suspicion of all but
imperceptible fine-drawing here and there.

What a magnificent old man _he_ will make some day, should the Grand
Hôtel ever run short of them! He looks as if he could be trusted down to
the ground--in all things, little or big; as if his word were as good as
his bond, and even better; his wink as good as his word, his nod as good
as his wink; and, in truth, as he looks, so he is.

[Illustration: "'SVENGALI!... SVENGALI!... SVENGALI!...'"]

The most cynical disbeliever in "the grand old name of gentleman," and
its virtues as a noun of definition, would almost be justified in quite
dogmatically asserting at sight, and without even being introduced,
that, at all events, Taffy is a "gentleman," inside and out, up and
down--from the crown of his head (which is getting rather bald) to the
sole of his foot (by no means a small one, or a lightly shod--_ex pede
Herculem_)!

Indeed, this is always the first thing people say of Taffy--and the
last. It means, perhaps, that he may be a trifle dull. Well, one can't
be everything!

Porthos was a trifle dull--and so was Athos, I think; and likewise his
son, the faithful Viscount of Bragelonne--_bon chien chasse de race_!
And so was Wilfred of Ivanhoe, the disinherited; and Edgar, the Lord of
Ravenswood! and so, for that matter, was Colonel Newcome, of immortal
memory!

Yet who does not love them--who would not wish to be like them, for
better, for worse!

Taffy's wife is unlike Taffy in many ways; but (fortunately for both)
very like him in some. She is a little woman, very well shaped, very
dark, with black, wavy hair, and very small hands and feet; a very
graceful, handsome, and vivacious person; by no means dull; full,
indeed, of quick perceptions and intuitions; deeply interested in all
that is going on about and around her, and with always lots to say about
it, but not too much.

She distinctly belongs to the rare, and ever-blessed, and most precious
race of charmers.

She had fallen in love with the stalwart Taffy more than a quarter of a
century ago in the Place St. Anatole des Arts, where he and she and her
mother had tended the sick-couch of Little Billee--but she had never
told her love. _Tout vient à point, pour qui sait attendre!_

[Illustration: "TOUT VIENT À POINT, POUR QUI SAIT ATTENDRE!"]

That is a capital proverb, and sometimes even a true one. Blanche Bagot
had found it to be both!

       *       *       *       *       *

One terrible night, never to be forgotten, Taffy lay fast asleep in bed,
at his rooms in Jermyn Street, for he was very tired; grief tires more
than anything, and brings a deeper slumber.

That day he had followed Trilby to her last home in Kensal Green, with
Little Billee, Mrs. Bagot, the Laird, Antony, the Greek, and Durien (who
had come over from Paris on purpose) as chief mourners; and very many
other people, noble, famous, or otherwise, English and foreign; a
splendid and most representative gathering, as was duly chronicled in
all the newspapers here and abroad; a fitting ceremony to close the
brief but splendid career of the greatest pleasure-giver of our time.

He was awakened by a tremendous ringing at the street-door bell, as if
the house were on fire; and then there was a hurried scrambling up in
the dark, a tumbling over stairs and kicking against banisters, and
Little Billee had burst into his room, calling out: "Oh! Taffy, Taffy!
I'm g-going mad--I'm g-going m-mad! I'm d-d-done for...."

"All right, old fellow--just wait till I strike a light!"

"Oh, Taffy! I haven't slept for four nights--not a wink! She d-d-died
with Sv--Sv--Sv ... damn it, I can't get it out! that ruffian's name on
her lips!... it was just as if he were calling her from the t-t-tomb!
She recovered her senses the very minute she saw his photograph--she was
so f-fond of him she f-forgot everybody else! She's gone straight to
him, after all--in some other life!... to slave for him, and sing for
him, and help him to make better music than ever! Oh, T--T--oh--oh!
Taffy--oh! oh! oh! catch hold! c-c-catch...." And Little Billee had all
but fallen on the floor in a fit.

And all the old miserable business of five years before had begun over
again!

There has been too much sickness in this story, so I will tell as little
as possible of poor Little Billee's long illness, his slow and only
partial recovery, the paralysis of his powers as a painter, his quick
decline, his early death, his manly, calm, and most beautiful
surrender--the wedding of the moth with the star, of the night with the
morrow!

[Illustration: "I, PETE COELESTES...."]

For all but blameless as his short life had been, and so full of
splendid promise and performance, nothing ever became him better than
the way he left it. It was as if he were starting on some distant holy
quest, like some gallant knight of old--"A Bagot to the Rescue!" It
shook the infallibility of a certain vicar down to its very foundations,
and made him think more deeply about things than he had ever thought
yet. It gave him pause!... and so wrung his heart that when, at the
last, he stooped to kiss his poor young dead friend's pure white
forehead, he dropped a bigger tear on it than Little Billee (once so
given to the dropping of big tears) had ever dropped in his life.

But it is all too sad to write about.

It was by Little Billee's bedside, in Devonshire, that Taffy had grown
to love Blanche Bagot, and not very many weeks after it was all over
that Taffy had asked her to be his wife; and in a year they were
married, and a very happy marriage it turned out--the one thing that
poor Mrs. Bagot still looks upon as a compensation for all the griefs
and troubles of her life.

During the first year or two Blanche had perhaps been the most ardently
loving of this well-assorted pair. That beautiful look of love surprised
(which makes all women's eyes look the same) came into hers whenever she
looked at Taffy, and filled his heart with tender compunction, and a
queer sense of his own unworthiness.

Then a boy was born to them, and that look fell on the boy, and the good
Taffy caught it as it passed him by, and he felt a helpless, absurd
jealousy, that was none the less painful for being so ridiculous! and
then that look fell on another boy and yet another, so that it was
through these boys that she looked at their father. Then _his_ eyes
caught the look, and kept it for their own use; and he grew never to
look at his wife without it; and as no daughter came, she retained for
life the monopoly of that most sweet and expressive regard.

They are not very rich. He is a far better sportsman than he will ever
be a painter; and if he doesn't sell his pictures, it is not because
they are too good for the public taste: indeed, he has no illusions on
that score himself, even if his wife has! He is quite the least
conceited art-duffer I ever met--and I have met many far worse duffers
than Taffy.

Would only that I might kill off his cousin Sir Oscar, and Sir Oscar's
five sons (the Wynnes are good at sons), and his seventeen grandsons,
and the fourteen cousins (and their numerous male progeny), that stand
between Taffy and the baronetcy, and whatever property goes with it, so
that he might be Sir Taffy, and dear Blanche Bagot (that was) might be
called "my lady"! This Shakespearian holocaust would scarcely cost me a
pang!

It is a great temptation, when you have duly slain your first hero, to
enrich hero number two beyond the dreams of avarice, and provide him
with a title and a castle and park, as well as a handsome wife and a
nice family! But truth is inexorable--and, besides, they are just as
happy as they are.

They are well off enough, anyhow, to spend a week in Paris at last, and
even to stop at the Grand Hôtel! now that two of their sons are at
Harrow (where their father was before them), and the third is safe at a
preparatory school at Elstree, Herts.

It is their first outing since the honeymoon, and the Laird should have
come with them.

But the good Laird of Cockpen (who is now a famous Royal Academician) is
preparing for a honeymoon of his own. He has gone to Scotland to be
married himself--to wed a fair and clever country-woman of just a
suitable age, for he has known her ever since she was a bright little
lassie in short frocks, and he a promising A.R.A. (the pride of his
native Dundee)--a marriage of reason, and well-seasoned affection, and
mutual esteem--and therefore sure to turn out a happy one! and in
another fortnight or so the pair of them will very possibly be sitting
to breakfast opposite each other at that very corner table in the
court-yard of the Grand Hôtel! and she will laugh at everything he
says--and they will live happily ever after.

So much for hero number three--D'Artagnan! Here's to you, Sandy
McAlister, canniest, genialest, and most humorous of Scots! most
delicate, and dainty, and fanciful of British painters! "I trink your
health, mit your family's--may you lif long--and brosper!"

       *       *       *       *       *

So Taffy and his wife have come for their second honeymoon, their
Indian-summer honeymoon, alone; and are well content that it should be
so. Two's always company for such a pair--the amusing one and the
amusable!--and they are making the most of it!

They have been all over the quartier latin, and revisited the
well-remembered spots; and even been allowed to enter the old studio,
through the kindness of the concierge (who is no longer Madame Vinard).
It is tenanted by two American painters, who are coldly civil on being
thus disturbed in the middle of their work.

The studio is very spick and span, and most respectable. Trilby's foot,
and the poem, and the sheet of plate-glass have been improved away, and
a bookshelf put in their place. The new concierge (who has only been
there a year) knows nothing of Trilby, and of the Vinards, only that
they are rich and prosperous, and live somewhere in the south of France,
and that Monsieur Vinard is mayor of his commune. _Que le bon Dieu les
bénisse! c'étaient de bien braves gens._

Then Mr. and Mrs. Taffy have also been driven (in an open calèche with
two horses) through the Bois de Boulogne to St. Cloud; and to
Versailles, where they lunched at the Hôtel des Réservoirs--_parlez-moi
de ça_! and to St. Germain, and to Meudon (where they lunched at la loge
du garde champêtre--a new one); they have visited the Salon, the Louvre,
the porcelain manufactory at Sèvres, the Gobelins, the Hôtel Cluny, the
Invalides, with Napoleon's tomb, and seen half a dozen churches,
including Notre Dame and the Sainte Chapelle; and dined with the Dodors
at their charming villa near Asnières, and with the Zouzous at the
splendid Hôtel de la Rochemartel, and with the Duriens in the Parc
Monceau (Dodor's food was best and Zouzou's worst; and at Durien's the
company and talk were so good that one forgot to notice the food--and
that was a pity). And the young Dodors are all right--and so are the
young Duriens. As for the young Zouzous, there aren't any--and that's a
relief.

And they've been to the Variétés and seen Madame Chaumont, and to the
Français and seen Sarah Bernhardt and Côquelin and Delaunay, and to the
Opéra and heard Monsieur Lassalle.

And to-day being their last day, they are going to laze and flane about
the boulevards, and buy things, and lunch anywhere, "sur le pouce," and
do the Bois once more and see tout Paris, and dine early at Durand's, or
Bignon's (or else the Café des Ambassadeurs), and finish up the
well-spent day at the "Mouches d'Espagne"--the new theatre in the
Boulevard Poissonnière--to see Madame Cantharidi in "Petits Bonheurs de
Contrebande," which they are told is immensely droll and quite
proper--funny without being vulgar! Dodor was their informant--he had
taken Madame Dodor to see it three or four times.

Madame Cantharidi, as everybody knows, is a very clever but extremely
plain old woman with a cracked voice--of spotless reputation, and the
irreproachable mother of a grown-up family whom she has brought up in
perfection. They have never been allowed to see their mother (and
grandmother) act--not even the sons. Their excellent father (who adores
both them and her) has drawn the line at that!

In private life she is "quite the lady," but on the stage--well, go and
see her, and you will understand how she comes to be the idol of the
Parisian public. For she is the true and liberal dispenser to them of
that modern "esprit gaulois" which would make the good Rabelais turn
uneasily in his grave and blush there like a Benedictine Sister.

And truly she deserves the reverential love and gratitude of her chers
Parisiens! She amused them all through the Empire; during the _année
terrible_ she was their only stay and comfort, and has been their chief
delight ever since, and is now.

When they come back from _La Revanche_, may Madame Cantharidi be still
at her post, "Les mouches d'Espagne," to welcome the returning heroes,
and exult and crow with them in her funny cracked old voice; or, haply,
even console them once more, as the case may be.

[Illustration: "PETITS BONHEURS DE CONTREBANDE"]

"Victors or vanquished, they will laugh the same!"

Mrs. Taffy is a poor French scholar. One must know French very well
indeed (and many other things besides) to seize the subtle points of
Madame Cantharidi's play (and by-play)!

But Madame Cantharidi has so droll a face and voice, and such very
droll, odd movements that Mrs. Taffy goes into fits of laughter as soon
as the quaint little old lady comes on the stage. So heartily does she
laugh that a good Parisian bourgeois turns round and remarks to his
wife: "V'là une jolie p'tite Anglaise qui n'est pas bégueule, an moins!
Et l' gros bœuf avec les yeux bleus en boules de loto--c'est son
mari, sans doute! il n'a pas l'air trop content par exemple, celui-là!"

The fact is that the good Taffy (who knows French very well indeed) is
quite scandalized, and very angry with Dodor for sending them there; and
as soon as the first act is finished he means, without any fuss, to take
his wife away.

As he sits patiently, too indignant to laugh at what is really funny in
the piece (much of it is vulgar _without_ being funny), he finds himself
watching a little white-haired man in the orchestra, a fiddler, the
shape of whose back seems somehow familiar, as he plays an _obbligato_
accompaniment to a very broadly comic song of Madame Cantharidi's. He
plays beautifully--like a master--and the loud applause is as much for
him as for the vocalist.

Presently this fiddler turns his head so that his profile can be seen,
and Taffy recognizes him.

After five minutes' thought, Taffy takes a leaf out of his pocket-book
and writes (in perfectly grammatical French):

     "DEAR GECKO,--You have not forgotten Taffy Wynne, I hope; and
     Litrebili, and Litrebili's sister, who is now Mrs. Taffy Wynne. We
     leave Paris to-morrow, and would like very much to see you once
     more. Will you, after the play, come and sup with us at the Café
     Anglais? If so, look up and make 'yes' with the head, and enchant

     "Your well-devoted TAFFY WYNNE."

He gives this, folded, to an attendant--for "le premier violon--celui
qui a des cheveux blancs."

Presently he sees Gecko receive the note and read it and ponder for a
while.

Then Gecko looks round the theatre, and Taffy waves his handkerchief and
catches the eye of the premier violon, who "makes 'yes' with the head."

And then, the first act over, Mr. and Mrs. Wynne leave the theatre; Mr.
explaining why, and Mrs. very ready to go, as she was beginning to feel
strangely uncomfortable without quite realizing as yet what was amiss
with the lively Madame Cantharidi.

They went to the Café Anglais and bespoke a nice little room on the
entresol overlooking the boulevard, and ordered a nice little supper;
salmi of something very good, mayonnaise of lobster, and one or two
other dishes better still--and chambertin of the best. Taffy was
particular about these things on a holiday, and regardless of expense.
Porthos was very hospitable, and liked good food and plenty of it; and
Athos dearly loved good wine!

And then they went and sat at a little round table outside the Café de
la Paix on the boulevard, near the Grand Opéra, where it is always very
gay, and studied Paris life, and nursed their appetites till
supper-time.

At half-past eleven Gecko made his appearance--very meek and humble. He
looked old--ten years older than he really was--much bowed down, and as
if he had roughed it all his life, and had found living a desperate
long, hard grind.

He kissed Mrs. Taffy's hand, and seemed half inclined to kiss Taffy's
too, and was almost tearful in his pleasure at meeting them again, and
his gratitude at being asked to sup with them. He had soft, clinging,
caressing manners, like a nice dog's, that made you his friend at once.
He was obviously genuine and sincere, and quite pathetically simple, as
he always had been.

At first he could scarcely eat for nervous excitement; but Taffy's fine
example and Mrs. Taffy's genial, easy-going cordiality (and a couple of
glasses of chambertin) soon put him at his ease and woke up his dormant
appetite; which was a very large one, poor fellow!

He was told all about Little Billee's death, and deeply moved to hear
the cause which had brought it about, and then they talked of Trilby.

[Illustration: ENTER GECKO]

He pulled her watch out of his waistcoat-pocket and reverently kissed
it, exclaiming: "Ah! c'était un ange! un ange du Paradis! when I tell
you I lived with them for five years! Oh! her kindness, Dio, dio Maria!
It was 'Gecko this!' and 'Gecko that!' and 'Poor Gecko, your toothache,
how it worries me!' and 'Gecko, how tired and pale you look--you
distress me so, looking like that! Shall I mix you a maitrank?' And
'Gecko, you love artichokes à la Barigoule; they remind you of Paris--I
have heard you say so. Well, I have found out where to get artichokes,
and I know how to do them à la Barigoule, and you shall have them for
dinner to-day and to-morrow and all the week after!' and we did!

"Ach! dear kind one--what did I really care for artichokes à la
Barigoule?...

"And it was always like that--always--and to Svengali and old Marta just
the same! and she was never well--never! toujours souffrante!

"And it was she who supported us all--in luxury and splendor sometimes!"

"And _what_ an artist!" said Taffy.

"Ah, yes! but all that was Svengali, you know. Svengali was the greatest
artist I ever met! Monsieur, Svengali was a demon, a magician! I used to
think him a god! He found me playing in the streets for copper coins,
and took me by the hand, and was my only friend, and taught me all I
ever knew--and yet he could not play my instrument!

"And now he is dead, I have forgotten how to play it myself! That
English jail! it demoralized me, ruined me forever! ach! quel enfer, nom
de Dieu (pardon, madame)! I am just good enough to play the _obbligato_
at the Mouches d'Espagne, when the old Cantharidi sings,

    "'V'là mon mari qui r'garde
      Prends garde--ne m'chatouille plus!'

"It does not want much of an _obbligato_, hein, a song so noble and so
beautiful as that!

"And that song, monsieur, all Paris is singing it now. And that is the
Paris that went mad when Trilby sang the 'Nussbaum' of Schumann at the
Salle des Bashibazoucks. You heard her? Well!"

And here poor Gecko tried to laugh a little sardonic laugh in falsetto,
like Svengali's, full of scorn and bitterness--and very nearly
succeeded.

"But what made you strike him with--with that knife, you know?"

"Ah, monsieur, it had been coming on for a long time. He used to work
Trilby too hard; it was killing her--it killed her at last! And then at
the end he was unkind to her and scolded her and called her
names--horrid names--and then one day in London he struck her. He struck
her on the fingers with his bâton, and she fell down on her knees and
cried ...

"Monsieur, I would have defended Trilby against a locomotive going
grande vitesse! against my own father--against the Emperor of
Austria--against the Pope! and I am a good Catholic, monsieur! I would
have gone to the scaffold for her, and to the devil after!"

And he piously crossed himself.

"But, Svengali--wasn't _he_ very fond of her?"

"Oh yes, monsieur! quant à ça, passionately! But she did not love him as
he wished to be loved. She loved Litrebili, monsieur! Litrebili, the
brother of madame. And I suppose that Svengali grew angry and jealous at
last. He changed as soon as he came to Paris. Perhaps Paris reminded him
of Litrebili--and reminded Trilby, too!"

"But how on earth did Svengali ever manage to teach her how to sing
like that? She had no ear for music whatever when _we_ knew her!"

Gecko was silent for a while, and Taffy filled his glass, and gave him a
cigar, and lit one himself.

"Monsieur, no--that is true. She had not much ear. But she had such a
voice as had never been heard. Svengali knew that. He had found it out
long ago. Litolff had found it out, too. One day Svengali heard Litolff
tell Meyerbeer that the most beautiful female voice in Europe belonged
to an English grisette who sat as a model to sculptors in the quartier
latin, but that unfortunately she was quite tone-deaf, and couldn't sing
one single note in tune. Imagine how Svengali chuckled! I see it from
here!

"Well, we both taught her together--for three years--morning, noon, and
night--six--eight hours a day. It used to split me the heart to see her
worked like that! We took her voice note by note--there was no end to
her notes, each more beautiful than the other--velvet and gold,
beautiful flowers, pearls, diamonds, rubies--drops of dew and honey;
peaches, oranges, and lemons! en veux-tu en voilà!--all the perfumes and
spices of the Garden of Eden! Svengali with his little flexible
flageolet, I with my violin--that is how we taught her to make the
sounds--and then how to use them. She was a phénomène, monsieur! She
could keep on one note and make it go through all the colors in the
rainbow--according to the way Svengali looked at her. It would make you
laugh--it would make you cry--but, cry or laugh, it was the sweetest,
the most touching, the most beautiful note you ever heard--except all
her others! and each had as many overtones as the bells in the Carillon
de Notre Dame. She could run up and down the scales, chromatic scales,
quicker and better and smoother than Svengali on the piano, and more in
tune than any piano! and her shake--ach! twin stars, monsieur! She was
the greatest contralto, the greatest soprano the world has ever known!
the like of her has never been! the like of her will never be again! and
yet she only sang in public for two years.

[Illustration: "'WE TOOK HER VOICE NOTE BY NOTE'"]

"Ach! those breaks and runs and sudden leaps from darkness into light
and back again--from earth to heaven!... those slurs and swoops and
slides à la Paganini from one note to another, like a swallow
flying!... or a gull! Do you remember them? how they drove you mad? Let
any other singer in the world try to imitate them--they would make you
sick! That was Svengali ... he was a magician!

"And how she looked, singing! do you remember? her hands behind her--her
dear, sweet, slender foot on a little stool--her thick hair lying down
all along her back! And that good smile like the Madonna's so soft and
bright and kind! _Ach! Bel ucel di Dio!_ it was to make you weep for
love, merely to see her (_c'était à vous faire pleurer d'amour, rien que
de la voir_)! That was Trilby! Nightingale and bird-of-paradise in one!

"Enfin she could do anything--utter any sound she liked, when once
Svengali had shown her how--and he was the greatest master that ever
lived! and when once she knew a thing, she knew it. _Et voilà!_"

"How strange," said Taffy, "that she should have suddenly gone out of
her senses that night at Drury Lane, and so completely forgotten it all!
I suppose she saw Svengali die in the box opposite, and that drove her
mad!"

And then Taffy told the little fiddler about Trilby's death-song, like a
swan's, and Svengali's photograph. But Gecko had heard it all from
Marta, who was now dead.

Gecko sat and smoked and pondered for a while, and looked from one to
the other. Then he pulled himself together with an effort, so to speak,
and said, "Monsieur, she never went mad--not for one moment!"

"What! Do you mean to say she _deceived_ us all?"

"Non, monsieur! She could never deceive anybody, and never would. _She
had forgotten--voilà tout!_"

"But hang it all, my friend, one doesn't _forget_ such a--"

"Monsieur, listen! She is dead. And Svengali is dead--and Marta also.
And I have a good little malady that will kill me soon, _Gott sei
dank_--and without much pain.

"I will tell you a secret.

"_There were two Trilbys._ There was the Trilby you knew, who could not
sing one single note in tune. She was an angel of paradise. She is now!
But she had no more idea of singing than I have of winning a
steeple-chase at the croix de Berny. She could no more sing than a
fiddle can play itself! She could never tell one tune from another--one
note from the next. Do you remember how she tried to sing 'Ben Bolt'
that day when she first came to the studio in the Place St. Anatole des
Arts? It was droll, _hein? à se boucher les oreilles_! Well, that was
Trilby, your Trilby! that was my Trilby too--and I loved her as one
loves an only love, an only sister, an only child--a gentle martyr on
earth, a blessed saint in heaven! And that Trilby was enough for _me_!

"And that was the Trilby that loved your brother, madame--oh! but with
all the love that was in her! He did not know what he had lost, your
brother! Her love, it was immense, like her voice, and just as full of
celestial sweetness and sympathy! She told me everything! _ce pauvre
Litrebili, ce qu'il a perdu_!

"But all at once--pr-r-r-out! presto! augenblick!... with one wave of
his hand over her--with one look of his eye--with a word--Svengali could
turn her into the other Trilby, _his_ Trilby, and make her do whatever
he liked ... you might have run a red-hot needle into her and she would
not have felt it....

"He had but to say 'Dors!' and she suddenly became an unconscious Trilby
of marble, who could produce wonderful sounds--just the sounds he
wanted, and nothing else--and think his thoughts and wish his
wishes--and love him at his bidding with a strange unreal factitious
love ... just his own love for himself turned inside out--_à
l'envers_--and reflected back on him, as from a mirror ... _un écho, un
simulacre, quoi! pas autre chose!_.... It was not worth having! I was
not even jealous!

"Well, that was the Trilby he taught how to sing--and--and I helped him,
God of heaven forgive me! That Trilby was just a singing-machine--an
organ to play upon--an instrument of music--a Stradivarius--a flexible
flageolet of flesh and blood--a voice, and nothing more--just the
unconscious voice that Svengali sang with--for it takes two to sing like
la Svengali, monsieur--the one who has got the voice, and the one who
knows what to do with it.... So that when you heard her sing the
'Nussbaum,' the 'Impromptu,' you heard Svengali singing with her voice,
just as you hear Joachim play a chaconne of Bach with his fiddle!...
Herr Joachim's fiddle ... what does it know of Sebastian Bach? and as
for chaconnes ... _il s'en moque pas mal, ce fameux violon!_ ...

"And _our_ Trilby ... what did she know of Schumann, Chopin?--nothing at
all! She mocked herself not badly of Nussbaums and impromptus ... they
would make her yawn to demantibulate her jaws!... When Svengali's Trilby
was being taught to sing ... when Svengali's Trilby was singing--or
seemed to _you_ as if she were singing--_our_ Trilby had ceased to exist
... _our_ Trilby was fast asleep ... in fact, _our_ Trilby was
_dead_....

[Illustration: THE NIGHTINGALE'S FIRST SONG]

"Ah, monsieur ... that Trilby of Svengali's! I have heard her sing to
kings and queens in royal palaces!... as no woman has ever sung before
or since.... I have seen emperors and grand-dukes kiss her hand,
monsieur--and their wives and daughters kiss her lips, and weep....

"I have seen the horses taken out of her sledge and the pick of the
nobility drag her home to the hotel ... with torchlights and choruses
and shoutings of glory and long life to her!... and serenades all night,
under her window!... _she_ never knew! she heard nothing--felt
nothing--saw nothing! and she bowed to them, right and left, like a
queen!

"I have played the fiddle for her while she sang in the streets, at
fairs and festas and Kermessen ... and seen the people go mad to hear
her ... and once, at Prague, Svengali fell down in a fit from sheer
excitement! and then, suddenly, _our_ Trilby woke up and wondered what
it was all about ... and we took him home and put him to bed and left
him with Marta--and Trilby and I went together arm in arm all over the
town to fetch a doctor and buy things for supper--and that was the
happiest hour in all my life!

"Ach! what an existence! what travels! what triumphs! what adventures!
Things to fill a book--a dozen books--Those five happy years--with those
two Trilbys! what recollections!... I think of nothing else, night or
day ... even as I play the fiddle for old Cantharidi. Ach!... To think
how often I have played the fiddle for la Svengali ... to have done that
is to have lived ... and then to come home to Trilby ... _our_ Trilby
... the _real_ Trilby!... Got sei dank! Ich habe _geliebt und gelebet!
geliebt und gelebet! geliebt und gelebet!_ Cristo di Dio.... Sweet
sister in heaven.... Ô Dieu de Misère, ayez pitié de nous...."

       *       *       *       *       *

His eyes were red, and his voice was high and shrill and tremulous and
full of tears; these remembrances were too much for him; and perhaps
also the chambertin! He put his elbows on the table and hid his face in
his hands and wept, muttering to himself in his own language (Whatever
that might have been--Polish, probably) as if he were praying.

[Illustration: "'ICH HABE _GELIEBT UND GELEBET_!'"]

Taffy and his wife got up and leaned on the window-bar and looked out
on the deserted boulevards, where an army of scavengers, noiseless and
taciturn, was cleansing the asphalt roadway. The night above was dark,
but "star-dials hinted of morn," and a fresh breeze had sprung up,
making the leaves dance and rustle on the sycamore-trees along the
Boulevard--a nice little breeze; just the sort of little breeze to do
Paris good. A four-wheel cab came by at a foot pace, the driver humming
a tune; Taffy hailed him; he said, "V'là, m'sieur!" and drew up.

Taffy rang the bell, and asked for the bill, and paid it. Gecko had
apparently fallen asleep. Taffy gently woke him up, and told him how
late it was. The poor little man seemed dazed and rather tipsy, and
looked older than ever; sixty, seventy--any age you like. Taffy helped
him on with his great-coat, and, taking him by the arm, led him
down-stairs, giving him his card, and telling him how glad he was to
have seen him, and that he would write to him from England--a promise
which was kept, one may be sure.

Gecko uncovered his fuzzy white head, and took Mrs. Taffy's hand and
kissed it, and thanked her warmly for her "si bon et sympathique
accueil."

Then Taffy all but lifted him into the cab, the jolly cabman saying:

"Ah! bon--connais bien, celui là; vous savez--c'est lui qui joue du
violon aux Mouches d'Espagne! Il a soupé, l'bourgeois; n'est-ce pas,
m'sieur? 'petits bonheurs de contrebande,' hein?... ayez pas peur! on
vous aura soin de lui! il joue joliment bien, m'sieur; n'est-ce pas?"

Taffy shook Gecko's hand, and asked,

"Où restez-vous, Gecko?"

"Quarante-huit, Rue des Pousse-cailloux, au cinquième."

"How strange!" said Taffy to his wife--"how touching! why, that's where
Trilby used to live--the very number! the very floor!"

"Oui, oui," said Gecko, waking up; "c'est l'ancienne mansarde à
Trilby--j'y suis depuis douze ans--_j'y suis, j'y reste_...."

And he laughed feebly at his mild little joke.

Taffy told the address to the cabman, and gave him five francs.

"Merci, m'sieur! C'est de l'aut' côté de l'eau--près de la Sorbonne,
s'pas? On vous aura soin du bourgeois; soyez tranquille--ayez pas peur!
quarante-huit; on y va! Bonsoir, monsieur et dame!" And he clacked his
whip and rattled away, singing:

    "V'là mon mari qui r'garde--
       Prends garde!
     Ne m'chatouill' plus!"

Mr. and Mrs. Wynne walked back to the hotel, which was not far. She hung
on to his big arm and crept close to him, and shivered a little. It was
quite chilly. Their footsteps were very audible in the stillness;
"pit-pat, flopety-clop," otherwise they were both silent. They were
tired, yawny, sleepy, and very sad; and each was thinking (and knew the
other was thinking) that a week in Paris was just enough--and how nice
it would be, in just a few hours more, to hear the rooks cawing round
their own quiet little English country home--where three jolly boys
would soon be coming for the holidays.

And there we will leave them to their useful, hum-drum, happy domestic
existence--than which there is no better that I know of, at their time
of life--and no better time of life than theirs!

    "_Où peut-on être mieux qu'au sein de ta famille?_"

That blessed harbor of refuge well within our reach, and having really
cut our wisdom teeth at last, and learned the ropes, and left off
hankering after the moon--we can do with so little down here....

    A little work, a little play
    To keep us going--and so, good-day!

    A little warmth, a little light
    Of love's bestowing--and so, good-night!

    A little fun, to match the sorrow
    Of each day's growing--and so, good-morrow!

    A little trust that when we die
    We reap our sowing! And so--good-bye!

[Illustration]


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       *       *       *       *       *

The following typographical errors have been corrected by the etext
transcriber:

Stendahl and George Sand=>Stendhal and George Sand

déjà debout après heir soir?=>déjà debout après hier soir?

Madame Boisse's, in the Rue des Cloitres Ste. Pétronille.=>Madame
Boisse's, in the Rue des Cloîtres Ste. Pétronille.

But the mere sight of a boxing-glove make him sick=>But the mere sight
of a boxing-glove made him sick

excuted a series of cancan steps=>executed a series of cancan steps

"A--a--its the _Origin of Species_, by Charles Darwin.=>"A--a--it's the
_Origin of Species_, by Charles Darwin.

Pavilon de Flore=>Pavillon de Flore

Quelle nouvelles apportez=>Quelles nouvelles apportez

the hum of lively talk was great, and "la Sevengali" was in every
mouth=>the hum of lively talk was great, and "la Svengali" was in every
mouth

beautiful blue barouch with C springs=>beautiful blue barouche with C
springs

Then M. Carrell came every day to chat with his favorite pupil=>Then M.
Carrel came every day to chat with his favorite pupil

Trilbiness=>Trilbyness

Tireliard=>Tire-Liard

       *       *       *       *       *



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