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The Disenchanted Symphony by James Huneker

    The Earth hath bubbles—

    —MACBETH.

Pobloff began to whistle the second theme of his symphony. He was a short, round-bellied man with a high head upon which stood quill-like hair; when he smiled, his little lunar eyes closed completely, and his vast mouth opened—a trap filled with white blocks of polished bone; when he laughed, it sounded like a snorting tuba.... Nature had hesitated whether to endow him with the profile of Punch or Napoleon. He was dark, not in the least dangerous, and a native of Russia, though long a resident of Balak. Pobloff's wife dusted the music on the top of his old piano. “In God's name, Luga, let my manuscript in peace,” he adjured her. She snapped at him, but he continued whistling. “More original music?” She was ironically inquisitive as she danced about the white porcelain stove, tumbled over scores that littered the apartment as grass grown wild in a deserted alley; pushed violin cases that rattled; upset an empty bird-cage and finally threw wide back the metal-slatted shutters, admitting an inundation of sunshine.... It was early May, but in Balak, with its southeastern Europe climate, the weather was warm as a July day in Paris. “Hurrah!” Pobloff suddenly bellowed, “I have it, I have it!” Luga glanced at him sourly. “I suppose you'll set the world on fire this time for sure, my man; and then little Richard Strauss will be asking for advice! What are you going to call the new symphonic poem, Pobloff? Oh, name it after me!” She shrieked down the passage way at a slouching maid, and ran out, leaving Pobloff jolly and unruffled.

“Ouf!” he ejaculated, as her sarcasm finally penetrated his consciousness, “I'll call it 'The Fourth Dimension'—that's what I will. Luga! Where's that idle cat? Luga, some tea, tea, I'm thirsty.” And he again whistled the second theme of his new symphony.

I

Pobloff loved mathematics more than music—and he adored music. He was fond of comparing the two, and often quoted Leibnitz: “Music is an occult exercise of the mind unconsciously performing arithmetical calculations.” For him, so he assured his friends, music was a species of sensual mathematics. Before he left St. Petersburg to settle in Balak as its Kapellmeister he had studied at the University under the famous Lobatchewsky, and absorbed from him not a few of the radical theories containing the problematic fourth dimension. He read with avid interest of J. K. F. Zöllner's experiments which drove that unfortunate Leipzig physicist into incurable melancholia. Ah, what madmen these! Perpetual motion, squaring the circle, the fourth spatial dimension—all new variants of the old alchemical mystery, the vain pursuit of the philosophers' stone, the transmutation of the baser metals, the cabalistic Abracadabra, the quest of the absolute! Yet sincere and certainly quite sane men of scientific training had considered seriously this mathematic hypothesis. Cayley, Pobloff had read, and Abbot's “Flatland”; while the ingenious speculations of W. K. Clifford and the American, Simon Newcomb, fascinated him immeasurably. He cared little—being idealist and musician—for the grosser demonstrations of hyper-normal phenomena, though for a time he had wavered before the mysterious cross-roads of demoniac possession, subliminal divinations, and the strange rappings that emanate from souls smothered in hypnotic slumber. The testimony of such a man as Professor Crookes who had witnessed feats of human levitation greatly stirred him; but in the end he drifted back to his early passions—music and mathematics.

Zöllner had proved to his own satisfaction the existence of a fourth dimension, when he turned an India-rubber ball inside out without tearing it; but Pobloff, a man of tone, was more absorbed in the demonstration that Time could be shown in two dimensions. He often quoted Hugh Craig, who compared Time to a river always flowing, yet a permanent river: If one emerged from this stream at a certain moment and entered it an hour later, would it not signify that Time had two dimensions? And music—where did music stand in the eternal scheme of things? Was not harmony with its vertical structure and melody's horizontal flow, proof that music itself was but another dimension in Time? In the vast and complicated scores of Richard Strauss, the listener has set in motion two orders of auditions: he hears the music both horizontally and vertically. This combination of the upright and the transverse amused Pobloff immensely. He declared, with his inscrutable giggle, that all other arts were childish in their demands upon the intellect when compared to music. “You can see pictures, poems, sculpture, and architecture—but music you must hear, see, feel, smell, taste, to apprehend it rightfully: and all at the same time!” Pobloff shook his heavy head and tried to look solemn. “Think of it! With every sense and several more besides, going in different directions, brilliantly sputtering like wet fireworks, roaring like mighty cataracts!” Ah, it was a noble, crazy art, and the only art, except poetry, that moved. All the rest are beautiful gestures arrested....

Pobloff ate five meals a day, and sometimes expanding his chest to its utmost and extending his arms to the zenith, yawned prodigiously. Born a true pessimist, often was bored to the extreme by existence. In addition to the fortnightly symphony concerts and their necessary rehearsals, he did nothing but compose and dream of new spaces to conquer. He was a Czar over his orchestra, and though a fat, good-humored man, had a singularly nasty temper.

Convinced that in music lay the solution of this particular mathematical problem, he had been working for over a year on a symphonic poem which he jocularly christened “The Abysm.” Untouched by his wife's daily tauntings—she was an excellent musician and harpist in his band—he could not help admitting to his interior self, that she was right in her aspersions on his originality: Richard Strauss had shown him the way. Pobloff decided to leave map and compass behind, and march out with his music into some new country or other—he did not much care where. Could but the fourth dimension be traced to tone, to his tones, then would his name resound throughout the ages; for what was the feat of Columbus compared with this exploration of a vaster spiritual America! Pobloff trembled. He was so transported by the idea, that his capacious frame and large head became enveloped in a sort of magnetic halo. He diffused enthusiasm as a swan sheds water; and his men did not grumble at the numerous extra rehearsals, for they realized that their chief might make an important discovery.

The composer was a stern believer in absolute music. For him the charms of scenery, lights, odor, costume, singers, and the subtle voice of the prompter seemed factitious, mere excrescences on the fair surface of art. But he was a born colorist, and sought to arouse the imagination by stupendous orchestral effects, frescoes of tone wherein might be discerned terrifying perspectives, sinister avenues of drooping trees melting into iron dusks. If Pobloff was a mathematician, he was also a painter-poet. He did not credit the theory of the alienists, that the confusion of tone and color—audition colorée —betrayed the existence of a slight mental lesion; and he laughed consumedly at the notion of confounding musicians with madmen.

“Then my butcher and baker are just as mad,” he asserted; and swore that a man could both pray and think of eating at the same time. Why should the highly organized brain of a musician be considered abnormal because it could see tone, hear color, and out of a mixture of sound and silence, fashion images of awe and sweetness for a wondering, unbelieving world? If Man is a being afloat in an ocean of vibrations, as Maurice de Fleury wrote, then any or all vibrations are possible. Why not a synthesis? Why not a transposition of the neurons —according to Ramon y Cajal being little erectile bodies in the cells of the cortex, stirred to reflex motor impulse when a message is sent them from the sensory nerves? The crossing of filaments occurs oftener than imagined, and Pobloff, knowing these things, had boundless faith in his enterprise. So when he cried aloud, “I have it!” he really believed that at last he saw the way clear; and his symphonic poem was to be the key which would unlock the great mystery of existence.

II

Rehearsal had been called at eight o'clock, a late hour for Balak, which rises early only to get ready the sooner for the luxury of a long afternoon siesta. The conductor of the Royal Filharmonie Orchestra had sent out brief enough notice to his men; but they were in the opera house before he arrived. Pobloff believed in discipline; when he reached the stage, he cast a few quick glances about him: fifty-two men in all sat in their accustomed places; his concertmaster, Sven, was nodding at the leader. Then Pobloff surveyed the auditorium, its depths dimly lighted by the few clusters of lights on the platform; white linen coverings made more ghastly the background. He thought he saw some one moving near the main door. “Who's that?” He rapped sharply for an answer but none came. Sven said that the women who cleaned the opera house had not yet arrived. “Lock the doors and keep them out,” was the response, and one of the double-bass players ran down the steps to attend to the order. The men smiled; and some whispered that they were evidently in for a hard morning—all signs were ominous. Again the conductor's stick commanded silence.

In a few words he told them he would rehearse his new symphonic poem, “The Abysm:” “I call it by that title as an experiment. In fact the music is experimental—in the development-section I endeavor to represent the depths of starry space; one of those black abysms that are the despair of astronomer and telescope. Ahem!” Pobloff looked so conscious as he wiped his perspiring mop of a forehead that the tenor trombone coughed in his instrument. The strange cackle caused the composer to start: “How's that, what's that?” The man apologized. “Yes, yes, of course you didn't do it on purpose. But how did you do it? Try it again.” The trombone blatted and the orchestra roared with laughter. “Gentlemen, gentlemen, this will never do. I needed just such a crazy tone effect and always imagined the trombone too low for it.” “Try the oboe, Herr Kapellmeister,” suggested Sven, and this was received with noisy signs of joy. “Yes, the crazy oboe, that's the fellow for the crazy effects!”—they all shouted. Luga, at her harp, arpeggiated in sardonic excitement.

“What's the matter with you men this morning?” sternly inquired Pobloff. “Did you miss your breakfasts?” Stillness ensued and the rehearsal proceeded. It was very trying. Seven times the first violins, divided, essayed one passage, and after its chromaticism had been conquered it would not go at all when played with the wood-wind. It was nearly eleven o'clock. The heat increased and also the thirst of the men. As the doors were locked there was no relief. Grumbling started. Pobloff, very pale, his eyes staring out of his head, yelled, swore, stamped his feet, waved his arms and twice barely escaped tumbling over. The work continued and a glaze seemed to obscure his eyes; he was well-nigh speechless but beat time with an intensity that carried his men along like chips in a high surf. The free-fantasia of the poem was reached, and, roaring, the music neared its climacteric point. “Now,” whispered Pobloff, stooping, “when the pianissimo begins I shall watch for the Abysm.” As the wind sweepingly rushes to a howling apex so came the propulsive crash of the climax. The tone rapidly subsided and receded; for the composer had so cunningly scored it that groups of instruments were withdrawn without losing the thread of the musical tale. The tone, spun to a needle fineness, rushed up the fingerboard of the fiddles accompanied by the harp in a billowing glissando and—then on ragged rims of wide thunder a gust of air seemed to melt lights, men, instruments into a darkness that froze the eyeballs. With a scorching whiff of sulphur and violets, a thin, spiral scream, the music tapered into the sepulchral clang of a tam-tam. And Pobloff, his broad face awash with fear saw by a solitary wavering gas-jet that he was alone and upon his knees. Not a musician was to be seen. Not a sound save dull noises from the street without. He stared about him like a man suffering from some hideous ataxia, and the horror of the affair plucking at his soul, he beat his breast, groaning in an agony of envy.

“Oh, it is the Fourth Dimension they have found—my black abysm! Oh, why did I not fall into it with the ignorant dogs!” He was crying this over and over when the doors were smashed and Pobloff taken, half delirious, to his home....

III

The houses of Balak are seldom over two storeys high; an occasional earthquake is the reason for this architectural economy. Pobloff's sleeping apartment opened out upon a broad balcony just above the principal entrance. As he lay upon his couch his thoughts revolved like a coruscating wheel of fire. What! How! Where! And Luga, was she lost to him in that no-man's land of a fourth dimension? He closed his weary wet eyes. Then pricked by a sudden thought he sat up in jealous rage. No-man's land? Yes, but the entire orchestra of fifty-two men were with her—and he hated the horn-player, for had he not intercepted poisonous glances between Luga and that impertinent jackanapes? In his torture Pobloff groaned aloud and wondered how he had reached his home: he could remember nothing after the ebon music had devoured his band. How did it come about? Why was he not drawn within the fatal whirlpool of sound? Or was he outside the fringe of the vortex? As these questions thronged the chambers of his brain the consciousness of what he had discovered, accomplished, flashed over him in a superior hot wave of exultation. “I am greater than Pythagoras, Kepler, Newton!” he raved, only stopping for breath. Too well had he calculated his trap for the detection of a third dimension in Time, a fourth one in Space, only to catch the wrong game; for he had counted upon studying, if but for a few rapt moments, the vision of a land west of the sun, east of the moon—a novel territory, perhaps a vast playground for souls emancipated from the gyves of existence. But this!—he shuddered at the catastrophe: a very Pompeian calamity depriving him at a stroke of his wife, his orchestra—all, all had been engulfed. Forgetting his newly won crown, forgetting the tremendous import of his discovery to mankind, Pobloff began howling, “Luga, Luga, Akh! Wife of my bosom, my tender little violet of a harpist!”

His voice floated into the street, and it seemed to him to be echoed by a shrill chorus. Soprano voices reached him and he heard his name mentioned in a foreboding way.

“Where is the pig? Pobloff! Pobloff! Why don't you show your ugly face? Be a man! Where are our husbands?” He recognized a voice—it was the wife of the horn-player who thus insulted him. She was a tall, ugly woman and, as gossip averred, she beat her man if he did not return home sober with all his wages. Pobloff rushed out upon the balcony; it was not many feet above the level of the street. In the rays of a sinking sun he was received with jeers, groans, and imprecations. Balakian women have warm blood in their veins and are not given to measuring their words over-nicely. He stared about him in sheer wonderment. A mob of women gazed up at him and its one expression was unconcealed wrath. Children and men hung about the circle of vengeful amazons laughing, shouting and urging violence. Pobloff, in his dressing-gown, was a fair target. “Where are our husbands? Brute, beast, in what prison have you locked them up? Where is your good woman, Luga? Have you hidden her, you old tyrant?” “No!” shrieked the horn-player's wife, “he's jealous of her.” “And she's run away with your man,” snapped the wife of the crazy oboist. The two women struggled to get at each other, their fingers curved for hairplucking, but others interfered—it would not be right to promote a street fight, when the cause of the trouble was almost in their clutches. A disappointed yell arose. Pobloff had sneaked away, overjoyed at the chance, and, as his front door succumbed to angry feminine pressure, he was safely hidden in the opera house which he reached by running along back alleys in the twilight. There he learned from one of the stage hands that the real secret was his and his alone.

Alarmed by the absence of their husbands, the musicians' wives hung around the building pestering the officials. Pobloff has been found, they were informed, in a solitary fit, on the floor of the auditorium. The stage was in the greatest confusion—chairs and music stands being piled about as if a tornado had visited the place. Not a musician was there, and with the missing was Luga, the harp-player. A thousand wild rumors prevailed. The men, tired of tyrannical treatment, brutal rehearsals and continual abuse, had risen in a body and thrashed their leader; then fearing arrest, fled to the suburbs carrying off Luga with them as dangerous witness. But the summer-garden, where they usually foregathered, had not seen them since the Sunday previous—Luga not for weeks. This had been ascertained by interested scouts. The fact that Luga was with the rebels gave rise to disconcerting gossip. Possibly her husband had discovered a certain flirtation—heads shook knowingly. At five o'clock the news spread that Pobloff had by means of a trap in the stage, dropped the entire orchestra into the cellar, where they lay entombed in a half-dying condition. No one could trace this tale to its source, thought it was believed to have emanated from the oboe-player's wife. Half a hundred women rushed to the opera house and fell upon their hands and knees, scratching at the iron cellar gratings, and calling loudly through the little windows whose thick panes of glass were grimed with age. Finding nothing, hearing nothing, the dissatisfied crew only needed an angry explosion of bitterness from the lips of the horn-player's spouse to hatch hatred in their bosoms and to set them upon Pobloff at his home.

Now knowing that he was safe for the moment behind the thick walls of the opera house, he consoled himself with some bread and wine which his servant fetched him. And then he fell to thinking hard.

No, not a soul suspected the real reason for the disappearance of the band—that secret was his forever. By the light of a lamp in the property room he danced with joy at his escape from danger; and the tension being relaxed, he burst out sobbing: “Luga! Luga! Oh, where are you, my little harpist! I have not forgotten you, my violet. Let me go to you!” Pobloff rolled over the carpetless floor in an ecstasy of grief, the lamp barely casting enough light to cover his burly figure, his cheeks trilling with tears.

IV

A thin rift of sunshine fell across Pobloff's nose and awoke him. He sat up. It took fully five minutes for self-orientation, and the fixed idea bored vainly at his forehead. He groaned as he realized the hopelessness of the situation. Sometime the truth would have to be told. The king—what would His Majesty not say! Pobloff's life was in danger; he had no doubt on that head. At the best, if he escaped the infuriated women he would be cast into prison, or else wander an exile, all his hopes of glory gone. The prospect was chilling. If he had only kept the score—the score, where was it? In a moment he was on his feet, rummaging the stage for the missing music. It had vanished. Pobloff jumped from the platform to the spot where he had fallen; his sharp eye saw something white beneath the overturned music-stand. It did not take long to reveal the missing partitur. All was there, not a leaf missing, though some rumpled and soiled. When Pobloff had tumbled into the aisle, miraculously escaping a dislocated neck, the music and the rack had kept him company. Curiously he fingered the manuscript. Yes, there was the fatal spot! He gazed at the strange combination of instruments on the page in his own nervous handwriting. How came the cataclysm? Vainly the composer scanned the various clefs, vainly he strove to endow with significance the sparse bunches of notes scattered over the white ruled paper. He saw the violins in the highest, most screeching position; saw them disappear like a battalion of tiny balloons in a cloud. No, it was not by the violins the dread enigma was solved. But there were few other instruments on the leaf except the harp. Pooh! The harp was innocent enough with its fantastic spray of arpeggios; it was used only as gilding to warm the bitter, wiry tone of the fiddles. No, it was not the harp, Pobloff decided. The tam-tam, a pulsatile instrument! Perhaps its mordant sound coupled to the hissing of the fiddles, the cheeping of the wood-wind, and the roll of the harp; perhaps—and then he was gripped by a thrilling thought.

He paced the length of the empty hall talking aloud. What an idea! Why not put it into execution at once? But how? Pobloff moaned as he realized its futility. He could secure no other musicians because every one that once resided in Balak had disappeared; there was no hope for their recrudescence. He tramped the parquet like a savage hyena. To play the symphonic poem again, to rescue from eternity his lost Luga, his lost comrades, to hear their extraordinary stories!... Trembling seized him. If the work could by any possibility be played again would not the same awful fate overtake the new men and perhaps himself? Decidedly that way would be courting disaster.

As he strode desperately toward the stage, staring at its polished boards as if to extort their secret, he discerned the shining pipes of the monster mechanical organ that Balakian municipal pride had imported and installed there. Pobloff was a man of fertile invention: the organ might serve his purpose. But then came the discouraging knowledge that he could not play it well enough. No matter; he would make the attempt. He clambered over the stage, reached the instrument, threw open the case and inspected the manuals. By pulling out various stops he soon had a fair reproduction of the instrumental effects of his score. Trembling, he placed the music upon the rack, tremblingly he touched the button that set in movement the automatic motor. Forgetting the danger of detection, he set pealing in all its diapasonic majesty this Synthesis of Instruments. He reached the enchanted passage, he played it, his knees knocking like an undertaker's hammer, his fingers glued to the keys by moisty fear. The abysm was easily traversed; nothing occurred. Despair crowned the head of Pobloff, pressing spikes of remorse into his sweating brow. What could be the reason? Ah, there was no tam-tam! He rushed into the music-room and soon returned with an old, rusty Chinese gong. Again the page was played, the tam-tam's thin edge set shivering with mournful resonance. And again there was no result. Pobloff cursed the organ, cursed the gong, cursed his life, cursed the universe.

The door opened and the stage carpenter peeped in. “Say, Mr. Pobloff, do come and have your coffee! The coast's clear. All the women have gone away to the country on a wild goose chase.” His voice was kind though his expression was one of suspicion. Pobloff did seem a trifle mad. He went into the property room. As he drank his coffee the other watched him. Suddenly Pobloff let out a huge cry of satisfaction. “Fool! Dolt! Idiot that I am! Of course the passage will have to be played backward to get them to return, to disenchant the symphony!” He leaped with joy. “Yes, governor, but you've upset your coffee,” said the carpenter warningly. Pobloff heard nothing. The problem now was to play that vile passage backward. The organ—there stood the organ but, musician as he was, he could not play his score in reverse fashion. The thing was a manifest impossibility. Then a light beat in upon his tortured brain. The carpenter trembled for the conductor's reason.

“Look here, my boy,” Pobloff blurted, “will you do me a favor? Just take this music—these two pages to the organ factory. You know the address. Tell the superintendent it is a matter of life or death to me. Promise him money, opera tickets for the season, for two seasons, if he will have this music reproduced, cut out, perforated, whatever it is—on a roll that I can use in this organ. I must have it within an hour—or soon as he can. Hurry him, stand over him, threaten him, curse him, beat him, give him anything he asks—anything, do you hear?” Thrusting the astonished fellow out of the room into the entry, into the street, Pobloff barred the door and standing on one leg he hopped along the hall like a gay frog, lustily trolling all the while a melancholy Russian folk-song. Then throwing himself prostrate on the floor he spread out his arms cruciform fashion and with a Slavic apathy that was fatalistic awaited the return of the messenger.

       * * * * *

The deadly solemnity of the affair had robbed it for him of its strangeness, its abnormality; even his sense of its ludicrousness had fled. He was consumed by a desire to see Luga once more. She had been a burden: she was waspish of tongue and given to seeking the admiration of others, notably that of the damnable horn-player—Pobloff clenched his fists—but she was his wife, Luga, and could tell him what he wished most to know....

He seemed to have spent a week, his face pressed to the boards, his eyes concentrated on the uneven progress of a file of ants in a crack. The cautious tap at the stage door had not ceased before he was there seizing in a clutch of iron the carpenter. “The rolls! Have you got them with you?” he gasped. A cylinder was shoved into his eager hand and with it he fled to the auditorium, not even shutting the doors behind him. What did he care now? He was sure of victory. Placing the roll in reverse order in the cylinder he started the mechanism of the organ. Slowly, as if the grave were unwilling to give up its prey the music began to whimper, wheeze and squeak. It was sounding backward and it sounded three times before the unhappy man saw failure once more blinking at him mockingly. But he was not to be denied. He re-read the score, set it going on the organ, then picked up the tam-tam. “These old Chinese ghosts caused the trouble once and they can cause it again,” he muttered; and striking the instrument softly, the music for the fourth time went on its way quivering, its rear entering the world first....

       * * * * *

The terrified carpenter, in relating the affair later swore that the darkness was black as the wings of Satan. A lightning flash had ended the music; then he heard feet pausing in the gloom, and from his position in the doorway he saw the stage crowded with men, the musicians of the Balakian orchestra, all scraping, blaring and pounding away at the symphony, Pobloff, stick in hand, beating time, his eyes closed in bliss, his back arched like a cat's.

When they had finished playing, Pobloff wiped his forehead and said, “Thank you, gentlemen. That will do for to-day.” They immediately began to gabble, hastily putting away their instruments; while from without entered a crazy stream of women weeping, laughing, and scolding. In five minutes the hall was emptied of them all. Pobloff turned to Luga. She eyed him demurely, as she covered with historic green baize her brave harp.

“Well,” she said, joining him, “well! Give an account of yourself, sir!” Pobloff watched her, completely stupefied. Only his discipline, his routine had carried him through this tremendous resurrection: he had beaten time from a sense of duty—why he found himself at the head of his band he understood not. He only knew that the experiment of playing the enchanted symphony backward was a success: that it had become disenchanted; that Luga, his violet, his harpist, his wife was restored to him to bring him the wonderful tidings. He put his arms around her. She drew back in her primmest attitude.

“No, not yet, Pobloff. Not until you tell me where you have been all day.” He sat down and wept, wept as if his heart would strain and crack; and then the situation poking him in the risible rib he laughed until Luga herself relaxed.

“It may be very funny to you, husband, and no doubt you've had a jolly time, but you've not told where or with whom.” Pobloff seized her by the wrists.

“Where were you? What have you been doing, woman? What was it like, that strange country which you visited, and from which you are so marvellously returned to me like a stone upcast by a crater?” She lifted her eyebrows in astonishment.

“You know, Pobloff, I have warned you about your tendency to apoplexy. You bother your brain, such as it is, too much with figures. Stick to your last, Mr. Shoemaker, and don't eat so much. When you fell off the stage this morning I was sure you were killed, and we were all very much alarmed. But after the hornist told us you would be all right in a few hours, we—” “Whom do you mean by we, Luga?” “The men, of course.” “And you saw me faint?” “Certainly, Pobloff.”

“Where did you go, wife?” “Go? Nowhere. We remained here. Besides, the doors were locked, and the men couldn't get away.” “And you saw nothing strange, did not notice that you were out of my sight, out of the town's sight, for over thirty hours?” “Pobloff,” she vixenishly declared, “you've been at the vodka.”

“And so there is no true perception of time in the fourth dimension of space,” he sadly reflected. His brows became dark with jealousy: “What did you do all the time?” That accursed horn-player in her company for over a day!

“Do?” “Yes,” he repeated, “do? Were there no wonderful sights? Didn't you catch a glimpse, as through an open door, of rare planetary vistas, of a remoter plane of existence? Were there no grandiose and untrodden stars? O Luga, tell me!—you are a woman of imagination—what did you see, hear, feel in that many-colored land, out of time, out of space?”

“See?” she echoed irritably, for she was annoyed by her husband's poetic foolery, “what could I see in this hall? When the men weren't grumbling at having nothing to drink, they were playing pinochle.”

“They played cards in the fourth dimension of space!” Pobloff boomed out reproachfully, sorrowfully. Then he went meekly to his home with Luga, the harpist.

 
 
 

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