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Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica, economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore automatico interattivo FGA Translate

  1. Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
  2. Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
  3. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
  4. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
  5. Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
  6. Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
  7. Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
  8. Anonimo - BEOWULF
  9. Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
  10. Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
  11. Austen, Jane - EMMA
  12. Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
  13. Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
  14. Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
  15. Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
  16. Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
  17. Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
  18. Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
  19. Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
  20. Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
  21. Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
  22. Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
  23. Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
  24. Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
  25. Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
  26. Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
  27. Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
  28. Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
  29. Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
  30. Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
  31. Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
  32. Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
  33. Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
  34. Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
  35. Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
  36. Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
  37. Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
  38. Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
  39. Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
  40. Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
  41. Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
  42. Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
  43. Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  44. Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
  45. Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
  46. Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
  47. Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
  48. Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
  49. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
  50. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
  51. Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
  52. Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
  53. Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
  54. Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
  55. Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
  56. Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
  57. Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
  58. Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
  59. Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
  60. Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
  61. Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
  62. Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  63. Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY OF LIFE
  64. Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
  65. Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
  66. Collodi - PINOCCHIO
  67. Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
  68. Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  69. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
  70. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  71. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
  72. Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
  73. Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
  74. Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
  75. Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
  76. Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
  77. Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
  78. Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
  79. Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
  80. Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
  81. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
  82. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
  83. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
  84. Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
  85. Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
  86. Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
  87. Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
  88. Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
  89. Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
  90. Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
  91. Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
  92. Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
  93. Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
  94. Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
  95. Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
  96. Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
  97. Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
  98. Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
  99. Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
  100. Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
  101. Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
  102. Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
  103. Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
  104. Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
  105. Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
  106. Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
  107. Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
  108. Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
  109. Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
  110. Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
  111. Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
  112. Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
  113. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
  114. Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
  115. Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
  116. Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
  117. Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
  118. Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
  119. Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
  120. Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
  121. Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
  122. Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
  123. Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  124. Esopo - FABLES
  125. Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
  126. Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
  127. France, Anatole - THAIS
  128. France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
  129. France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
  130. France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
  131. Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
  132. Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
  133. Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  134. Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
  135. Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
  136. Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
  137. Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
  138. Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
  139. Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
  140. Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
  141. Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
  142. Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
  143. Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
  144. Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
  145. Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
  146. Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
  147. Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
  148. Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
  149. Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
  150. Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
  151. Goethe - FAUST
  152. Gogol - DEAD SOULS
  153. Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
  154. Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
  155. Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
  156. Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
  157. Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
  158. Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
  159. Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
  160. Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
  161. Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
  162. Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
  163. Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
  164. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
  165. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
  166. Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
  167. Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
  168. Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
  169. Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
  170. Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
  171. Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
  172. Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
  173. Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
  174. Homer - THE ILIAD
  175. Homer - THE ODYSSEY
  176. Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
  177. Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
  178. Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
  179. Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
  180. Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
  181. Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
  182. Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
  183. Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
  184. Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
  185. Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
  186. Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
  187. Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
  188. Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
  189. Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
  190. James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
  191. James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
  192. James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
  193. James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
  194. James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
  195. James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
  196. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
  197. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
  198. Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
  199. Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
  200. Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
  201. Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
  202. Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
  203. Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
  204. Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
  205. Joyce, James - ULYSSES
  206. Keats, John - ENDYMION
  207. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
  208. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
  209. King James - THE BIBLE
  210. Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
  211. Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
  212. Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
  213. Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
  214. Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
  215. Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
  216. Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
  217. Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
  218. Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
  219. Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
  220. Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
  221. Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
  222. Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
  223. Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
  224. Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
  225. Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
  226. Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
  227. Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
  228. Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
  229. Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
  230. Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
  231. Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
  232. Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
  233. Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
  234. Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
  235. Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
  236. Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
  237. London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
  238. London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
  239. London, Jack - WHITE FANG
  240. Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
  241. Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
  242. Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
  243. Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
  244. Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
  245. Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
  246. Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
  247. Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
  248. Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
  249. Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
  250. Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
  251. Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
  252. Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
  253. More, Thomas - UTOPIA
  254. Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
  255. Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
  256. Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
  257. Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
  258. Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
  259. Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
  260. Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
  261. Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
  262. Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
  263. Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
  264. Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
  265. Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
  266. Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
  267. Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
  268. Plato - THE REPUBLIC
  269. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
  270. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
  271. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
  272. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
  273. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
  274. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
  275. Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
  276. Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
  277. Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
  278. Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
  279. Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
  280. Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
  281. Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
  282. Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
  283. Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
  284. Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
  285. Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
  286. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
  287. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
  288. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
  289. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
  290. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
  291. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
  292. Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
  293. Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
  294. Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
  295. Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
  296. Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
  297. Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
  298. Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
  299. Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
  300. Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
  301. Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
  302. Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
  303. Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
  304. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
  305. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  306. Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
  307. Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
  308. Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
  309. Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
  310. Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
  311. Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
  312. Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
  313. Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
  314. Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
  315. Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
  316. Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
  317. Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
  318. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
  319. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
  320. Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
  321. Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
  322. Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
  323. Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
  324. Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
  325. Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
  326. Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
  327. Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
  328. Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
  329. Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
  330. Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
  331. Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
  332. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
  333. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
  334. Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
  335. Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
  336. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
  337. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
  338. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
  339. Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
  340. Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
  341. Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
  342. Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
  343. Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  344. Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
  345. Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
  346. Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
  347. Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
  348. Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
  349. Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
  350. Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
  351. Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
  352. Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
  353. Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
  354. Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
  355. Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
  356. Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
  357. Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
  358. Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
  359. Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
  360. Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
  361. Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
  362. Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
  363. Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
  364. Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
  365. Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
  366. Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
  367. Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
  368. Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
  369. Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
  370. Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
  371. Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
  372. Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
  373. Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
  374. Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
  375. Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
  376. Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
  377. Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
  378. Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
  379. Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
  380. White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
  381. Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
  382. Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
  383. Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
  384. Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
  385. Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
  386. Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
  387. Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
  388. Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
  389. Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
  390. Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
  391. Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
  392. Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
  393. Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
  394. Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
  395. Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
  396. Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
  397. Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
  398. Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
  399. Wordsworth, William - POEMS
  400. Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
  401. Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN

 




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George Du Maurier
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TRILBY

A Novel By GEORGE DU MAURIER

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

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! ??µ??--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

 

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