The Music Master
by Charles Klein
Anton Von Barwig rapped on the conductor's desk for silence and laid
down his baton. The hundred men constituting the Leipsic Philharmonic
Orchestra stopped playing as if by magic, and those who looked up from
their music saw in their leader's face, for the first time in their
three years' experience under his direction, a pained expression of
Either I can't hear you this morning, or the first violins are late
in attacking and the wood wind dragsdragsdrags.
What's the matter? We've played this a hundred times, growled
Karlschmidt, the bass clarionet player, to Poons, the Dutch horn
soloist, who sat at the desk next to him.
Karlschmidt was a socialist, a student of Karl Marx, and took more
interest in communism than in his allotted share of the score of
Isolde's Liebestodt. Indeed, nearly all the men were interested
in something other than the occupation which afforded them a living.
For them the pleasure of music had died in the business of attaining
What did he say? asked Poons, losing Von Barwig's next remark in
trying to hear what Karlschmidt was mumbling.
He said it's his own fault, whispered the second flute.
He's quite right, assented Karlschmidt.
Hush, hush! came from one or two others. Von Barwig was addressing
the men again, and they wanted to hear.
Let's play; cut the speeches out, growled Karlschmidt. For God's
sake, what's he saying now?
Damn it! How can we hear when you won't keep quiet? blurted a
Germanised Englishman who had an engagement at the old Rathaus and
wanted to get away.
We're dismissed, said Poons, who couldn't hear. But the men at the
violin desks down front were rising and putting away their instruments,
and the others were slowly following their example.
Karlschmidt's face expanded into a smile; the prospect of avoiding
the unpleasant grind of rehearsal had restored him to good humour. The
lines of men were now breaking up into knots; bows were being loosened,
violins put into cases and brass instruments into bags, while laughing
and chatting became general. Poons looked at Von Barwig, who still
stood on the small dais, staring out into space, and he saw that
something was the matter. He loved Von Barwig; for years before, when
hard times had sent him over the border from Amsterdam toward the
German music centres, Von Barwig had extended him a helping hand,
indeed had almost kept him from starving until he got an engagement in
one of the minor Dresden theatres; Poons was grateful; and gratitude is
a form of love that lies deeper than mere sympathy.
Can I do something for you, Anton? he asked a few moments later,
as he stood at the conductor's desk. Von Barwig did not answer; and
with his round face, and smiling eyes glancing appealingly at his
conductor, Poons stood waiting like a little dog that patiently wags
his tall in hope of his master's recognition. Presently he shook his
head gravely and sighed. Surely something was wrong, for Anton was not
himself. Never before had he stopped rehearsal and dismissed his men on
the morning preceding a concert night, and, moreover, the night of the
first performance of a new symphonyVon Barwig's own work.
The men were rapidly disappearing, and the Gewandhaus concert
platform was almost empty. Von Barwig seemed deeply interested in
watching his men carry off their instruments, and yet, when Poons
looked closely into his face, he knew that the leader did not see that
which he was apparently watching so closely.
Shall I wait for you, Anton? ventured Poons finally. As if to
remind Von Barwig of his presence, he touched him gently on the arm.
Von Barwig started. A look of recognition came into his eye, and with
it a smile that metamorphosed his homely, almost ugly face into
something beyond mere beauty; a smile that transformed a somewhat
commonplace personality into an appealing and compelling individuality.
There is no need to describe the delicate, sensitive, rugged
countenance, which, when he smiled, radiated love and sympathy for his
fellow-beings and made him what is ordinarily described as magnetic.
Poons caught this smile, and his own broad grin deepened as he
recognised his old friend again.
Come, let's go, Von Barwig said briefly; and without another word
they walked out of the Gewandhaus. They passed the statue of
Mendelssohn erected in front of the building, walking down the August
Platz as far as the University. Poons noticed that unusual things were
happening that morning. First, his friend was walking rapidly, so
rapidly that he himself almost had to trot to keep up with him; second,
he was muttering to himself, a most unusual thing for Von Barwig to do;
third, every now and then a look of intense hatred beclouded his face;
and last, he was not talking over the events of the morning with his
friend. Furthermore, so engrossed was Von Barwig in his own thoughts
that he passed Schumann's monument without lifting his hat, and
Bismarck's monument without shaking his fist; and these two things Von
Barwig had done, day in and day out, ever since Poons had known him.
Finally, when at the Thomas Kirche Poons ventured to ask, Where are we
going? Von Barwig stopped short in the middle of the street he was
That's it, that's it! he said excitedly; where am I going? Where
am I going? and he looked at Poons as if he expected that his
frightened friend would answer his question.
Poons took his friend's arm and pushed him out of the road on to the
pavement just in time to save him from being grazed by a cab which
rapidly whisked by them. Then he stopped and laid his hand on Von
What's the matter, Anton? he said soothingly. Can't you tell me?
In God's name, what has happened?
Anton looked at Poons. The unexpected had happened; his devoted
follower had dared to question him. The shock almost awoke him to a
sense of his surroundings, and the ghost of his old smile stole over
his face as he shook his head slowly.
That's it! he gasped. I don't know! I don't know! It's the
uncertainty that is killing me. By God, August, I'll kill him! I'll
kill him! And then Poons understood.
They walked on in silence, whither neither of them knew. It was now
Poons's turn to walk faster than his companion and to mutter to
himself. His face had lost its grin, and he was no longer conscious of
his immediate surroundings. After they had passed Auerbach's cellar he
could contain himself no longer, and an explosion took place. He
stopped Von Barwig in the middle of the pavement, grabbing him by the
arm, and in a hoarse, gutteral voice, choked with emotion, shouted,
Von Barwig looked at his friend in mute surprise. Poons, oblivious
of the bystanderswho were looking to see why a man should shout so
By God, Anton, I kill him, too!
This appealed to Von Barwig's sense of humour, and he burst Into
laughter, a laughter perilously near to tears. It never occurred to him
to ask Poons what he knew or what he had heard. The fact that what was
preying on his mind, his carefully guarded secret, was common property
did not strike him at that moment. He merely thought that his friend
was agreeing with him in the sentiment of killing some one as he
agreed with him in all matters of music, philosophy and art. In Anton
Von Barwig's condition of mind at that moment, had it occurred to him
that Poons knew the awful fact that was confronting him, he would have
taken him by the throat and then and there compelled him to confess
what he knew or thought he knew; but he walked on in silence, followed
by his devoted friend.
They turned up a small side street of the August Platz and stopped
in front of the house where Anton Von Barwig lived. It was the centre
of a row of large modern apartment houses where lived for the most part
the art world of Leipsic, and this world included beside the rich,
professional element, the wealthy publishers, of whom in this important
centre of Germany there were a large number. As Von Barwig stood
waiting for Poons to enter with him, he noticed Poons's outstretched
Aren't you coming in? he asked. Poons shook his head.
I'd better not, he said simply.
Why not? asked Von Barwig.
Because, Poons faltered. He did not want to tell his friend that
at such times as these it is better for a man to be alone with his
Why not? cried Von Barwig; but Poons did not speak. He stood like
some dumb animal awaiting his master's lash; and then Von Barwig knew
that Poons knew.
Come! said Von Barwig in a low, hard voice, with such firmness and
determination that Poons, in spite of himself, was compelled to go
forward. Silently they walked up three flights, neither of them
noticing the salute of the porter as they passed him. Anton took out
his keys and opened a door which led into a magnificently furnished
musical studio, the largest apartment in Koenigs Strasse. It was here
that he and Madam Elene Von Barwig, his wife, held their musical
receptions and entertained the great German and foreign artists that
came to Leipsic. These receptions were famous affairs, and invitations
were eagerly sought, not only by musical celebrities, but by such of
the nobility as happened to be in town. Members of the royal family had
been known to grace more than one of these affairs; for though a
conductor of the Leipsic Philharmonic is not necessarily a rich man,
his social position is unquestioned.
Perhaps some such fleeting thoughts as theseglimpses into the past
like those of a drowning mancame into Anton Von Barwig's
consciousness as he stepped quietly to the door leading from the
reception-room and studio and passed into the corridor toward the
living apartments. He listened intently; but hearing nothing, closed
the door quietly, and somewhat to Poons's alarm turned the key in the
Now tell me, he demanded, in a voice that was as strange as it was
determined; what do you know? Sit down. This last was a direct
Poons felt that nothing was to be gained by silence. He had, so to
speak, put his foot in it by allowing himself, through sympathy in his
friend's affairs, to betray the fact that he knew what was troubling
him. He felt, therefore, that by making a clean breast of it, he might
not only mitigate Von Barwig's sufferings but enable him to see what
the world, or at least the world of Leipsic, had seen for some time.
Poons was not a rapid thinker, but these thoughts flashed through
his mind in less time than it took him to obey Von Barwig. He sat down
in the chair indicated by his friend and tried to collect his thoughts.
What do you know? repeated Von Barwig. Poons moistened his lips
with his tongue, as if to enable him to speak; but words would not
come. He loved Anton; he knew that what he had to say would make him
suffer; and that he could not bear to see. He tried to speak, faltered
I cannot, I cannot! and burst into tears. Von Barwig walked up to the
window and gazed steadily into the street.
It's more serious than I thought, he said after a few moments'
pause, giving Poons time to recover in some slight degree from his
emotion. It is serious, eh?
Yes, assented Poons, relieved that Anton's question required only
a monosyllable for an answer.
Very serious, eh? asked Von Barwig, steeling himself for the
answer he expected.
Yes, I think so, nodded Poons, gulping down a sob.
The worst, eh?
God, you know what scandal-mongers are; what people saywhen they
do sayhow they talk! They have no mercy, no brains, no sense! What is
a woman's reputation to them? They repeat, theytheythe
wretchesthe murderers Poons seemed to be trying to shift the blame
on a number of people; it was easier for him to generalise at this
moment than to answer his questioner straightforwardly.
Do they say that my wifethat Madam Von Barwig neglects her home?
And her child?
No, no! eagerly interrupted Poons, quite joyous at being able to
deny something at last.
Do they say that sheneglects me, that she doesn't care for me,
that Von Barwig spoke now with an effort; that she no longer loves
Poons nodded affirmatively. He was summoning up all his courage for
the question that he knew was coming; and it came.
Do they say, do they mentionhis name?
Poons again nodded affirmatively.
Von Barwig held his breath for a moment; then literally heaved a
sigh. What he most feared had indeed come upon him. The world knew; his
heart was on his sleeve for daws to peck at.
How long have you known this?
Poons hung his head, he could not answer. He was longing to throw
his arms around his friend's neck and cry on his shoulder; and he could
think of nothing to say but Poor Anton! Poor Anton!
Don't pity me, damn you! don't pity me! burst out Von Barwig. And
don't sit there bleating like a lost sheep of Israel! I'm not a
womantears are no panacea for suffering like mine. Put the world back
five years, restore for me the past few months; then I could live life
over again, then I could see and know and act differently. Don't sit
there like a wailing widow, moaning and moping over other people's
miseries! That isn't sympathy, that's weakness! If you want to help me,
tell me to be a man, to face my troubles like a man; don't cry like a
That's right, assented Poons, go on; it does you good. Give it to
me, I deserve it!
Poor old Poons, you do your best! Ah, your love does me good, old
friend; but there's hell to face! She threatens to leave me, to leave
me because I refused to allow him to come here. I've warned him! And if
he shows his face in Leipsic again, I'll kill him! Look! Von Barwig
felt in his inner pocket. Now you can understand why I couldn't hold
the men together at rehearsal this morning. My mind was with her, with
him. Ha! the mother of my little girl, my little Hélène! That's the
pity of it, Poons, that's the pity of it! and now it was Von Barwig's
turn to show weakness. That's what I can't understand. A woman's love
for a man, yes, it can go here, there, anywhere; but the mother
instinct, how can that change?
Doesn't she love her little girl any more? asked Poons in simple
She loves him, said Anton. Can there be room for the
mother love with such love as he inspires?
He looked at the letter in his hand and passed it to Poons. This
morning, just as I was leaving for rehearsal, the servant handed me
this. My little girl is all I have left now. His voice choked with
emotion as he turned once more toward the window.
At the sight of his friend's suffering Poons could no longer contain
himself, and he fairly blubbered as he read the following:
DEAR ANTON: Henry Ahlmann is in Leipsic and I have seen him. I
cannot live a lie, so I am going away with him. Believe me, it is
better so; I feel that you can never forgive me and that we can never
again be happy together. Kiss my darling Hélène for me, and oh, Anton,
don't tell the little one her unhappy mother's miserable history until
she is old enough to understand!
ELENE VON BARWIG.
Well, that's conclusive, isn't it? asked Von Barwig grimly as soon
as Poons finished reading.
Poons's voice failed him. Hot, scalding tears were fairly raining
down his cheeks as the letter fell out of his trembling hands and
fluttered to the floor.
Well, what's to be done; what's to be done?
Then she has gone?
Von Barwig nodded. I suppose so! I don't know, I can't tell, he
said helplessly. I didn't try to stop her, he went on after a pause.
What's the use, to what end? Oh, I don't want the entire blame to rest
on her shoulders! A beautiful woman, twenty-five years of age, a
pampered, petted, spoiled child, craving constant excitement; and he, a
handsome, young American, rich and romantic. I, as you know, am a
mature man of forty, devoted to an art in which she takes little
interest. I introduced them. Ha! that's the irony of it! I brought them
together, I left them together, Iit's my fault, Poonsmy fault! I
neglected her for my work. With me, all was music: the compositions,
the rehearsal, the concert, the pupil, the conservatory, the opera, the
singer, the player. He used to take her to my concerts; and I,fool,
foolencouraged him, for it gave me more time to devote to my art. An
artist is a selfish dog! He must be, or there is no art. What could I
expect? I am fifteen years older than she; ugly
No, no! blurted out Poons.
My friend can lie, but my looking-glass doesn't. I know, I know!
God, how will it all end? How will it all end?
At this point the door shook a little as though some one were trying
to get in.
She's come back! almost gasped Anton, and walking firmly to the
door, he unlocked and opened it. As he did so, a little fairy creature
between three and four years of age, with golden, flaxen curls and blue
eyes, bounded into the room, calling out, Papa! Papa! Where is oo?
Where is oo?
Von Barwig was on his knees in a moment, and the child threw her
left arm around his neck and hugged him so tightly that the little doll
she held in her right hand was almost crushed between them.
Hélène, Hélène! my poor, motherless little baby! And then for the
first time Von Barwig gave way to tears.
We are alone, alone, alone! Oh, God! Oh, God! he sobbed as he
rocked from side to side in his agony. Poons crept softly out of the
room and closed the door gently after him.
It was past seven o'clock that evening when Poons returned to Von
Barwig's apartment on his way to the Gewandhaus concert. His old
overcoat buttoned tightly over his well-worn dress suit covered a
palpitating heart; for Poons was afraid. A few minutes before, when he
had kissed his motherly wife good-bye and told her to take good, extra
good care of their little son August, she had noticed that his hand was
trembling. And when he tried to account for his nervous condition by
reminding her that Anton Von Barwig's new symphony was to be played
that night and that a member of the Royal family was to be present on
the occasion, she had shaken her head gravely, accusing him of being a
foolish, timid old boy. It needed all the courage he could muster up to
enable him to ring the door-bell of Von Barwig's dwelling. There was
such a death-like stillness that Poons thought for a moment no one was
there; he dreaded he knew not what. As he stood listening to the
silence, he thought he heard a child's laughter, and he sighed in
relief. The servant came to the door, a sleepy-eyed German mädchen
as strong as an ox and nearly as stupid. Oh, it's Herr Poons, she
said. Come in. I tell Herr Von Barwig
Is heis he? How is he? faltered Poons, much relieved that
the girl showed no evidence of acquaintance with the real condition of
her master's mind.
I tell him, repeated the girl stolidly, without answering his
Closing the hall door, she ushered him into the studio and left him
standing there. Poons looked at his watch; it was a quarter past seven.
He still had fifteen minutes to spare before the concert engagement,
which began at eight o'clock, called him to the Gewandhaus.
While he was wondering what he could say to his friend, the servant
opened the door leading to the living apartments of the family and
intimated that he should come in. Poons passed through a magnificently
furnished drawing-room and library, and thence into the dining-room.
This way, said the girl, opening the dining-room door, beyond
which was a passage leading to the kitchen and bedrooms. Poons looked
surprised, and the girl hastened to say:
Herr Von Barwig is in the nursery.
Ah, of course, nodded Poons, as he followed her.
Not very observant usually, Poons noticed that the dinner table was
set for two persons. Both places were undisturbed and the food was
He has not eaten, thought Poons. Of course she is not here! Oh,
God! that is the tragedy of it! The empty chair, always the empty
chairit is like death!
As the nursery door opened Poons heard the sound of voices and
laughter and, to his utter astonishment, saw his friend Von Barwig on
the floor playing with little Hélène's dolls' house. Hélène was
shrieking with childish laughter because Von Barwig pretended to be
angry with one of her dolls which would not eat the cake he tried to
make it swallow.
As Von Barwig saw his friend, a look of intense pain crossed his
face, but he forced himself to smile and say:
Come in, Herr Doctor Poons, and mend this little girl's eye. See,
I've given her cake to eat, but it won't do her eye any good!
Hélène laughed gleefully at the idea of cake being good for a broken
Good gracious, how did the eye fall out? said Dr. Poons, shaking
his head gravely.
She fell down and I kicked it, lisped the little one. I kicked
it, she laughed, unconscious that she had committed an unprovoked
assault on her plaything. Mend it; oh, please mend it!
Poons shook his head gravely. The child mistook this for a
confession of his inability to do what she wished.
Mamma 'll fix it when she comes home. She won't be long, will she?
said the child, somewhat tearfully. She had asked the question many
times, and her father seemed unable to answer her.
I am trying to make her forget, said Anton savagely to Poons, in
answer to his look of painful inquiry. She must forget soon; I've been
with her ever since you left me this morning. His arm stole around the
child's neck, and drawing her to him gently, he kissed her again and
again with such sad, lingering tenderness that the ever-ready tears
welled up into Poons's eyes, and he turned his head to conceal them.
The child struggled to free herself.
Papa so rough, eh? Well, he won't be, or Herr Poons will beat him,
Surely, assented Poons.
Papa will be so gentle and so kind, went on Von Barwig tenderly.
He'll love his little girl as no little girl in this wide, wide world
was ever loved before, eh?
Little Hélène did not understand, and as she had nothing at this
precise moment to occupy her attention, she answered him by asking the
one question that absorbed her mind, Where's mamma?
Von Barwig and Poons looked at each other helplessly. Apart from the
tragedy of two men trying to comfort a little child that had lost its
parent, there remained in Von Barwig's mind a sense of the utter
inability of the masculine individuality to fill the place of mother in
the child's heart. In after years, Von Barwig always remembered the
sinking sensation he felt when this fact came home to him in full
Well, one thing, said Anton, as he swallowed something that came
in his throat and threatened to choke him, one thing, she was kind to
the little one; the was a kind mother, eh?
Kind? kind? began Poons fiercely. Is it kind to
Von Barwig silenced him with a look.
Yes, she was a good mother, he admitted conciliatingly. But, by
God, if we don't go we shall be late! Phew! he whistled as he looked
at his watch, half past seven. Von Barwig sat still for a moment.
Half past seven? Yes. Then, as if it were slowly dawning upon him
that he had duties, he arose, dusting his knees mechanically.
Half past seven, yes. It begins at eight, eh? and I must dress.
Yes, I suppose I must dress!
The little girl was now putting her dolls back into the dolls'
house; the doorway was blocked up and she was pushing one through a
broken window in the little house as Von Barwig caught her in his arms
and caressed her.
How can I leave her? Good God, how can I leave her? he groaned. He
stroked her face, her hair, and kissed her again and again.
She's all I have, all; she's all I want. I won't go to-night, I
won't leave her, do you hear? Let Ruhlmeyer conduct to-night. I can't
go, I can't leave her alone! Suppose something were to happen to her?
But you must go! said Poons firmly; desperation had given him
courage. You must go!
Von Barwig looked at him in surprise; Poons's tone sobered him a
For her sake you must work, went on Poons, gaining courage as he
saw that his words had an effect on his friend.
Yes, I must work, assented Von Barwig, feeling the force of
Poons's words. Shall I go, little Hélène, my little darling? Shall I
Yes, go and tell mamma to come, was the little one's reply.
Come, hurry, Anton! You must dress, you have barely five minutes:
five to dress, ten to get to the Gewandhaus.
Ha! they can wait! said Von Barwig grimly. Prince Mecklenburg
Strelitz, the Kaiser, all Germany can wait, while I mend the strings of
The nurse-maid came in and suggested that it was time to put little
Fräulein to bed. Poons looked at her closely; her eyelids were red,
for she had been crying.
Take good care of the little Fräulein, said Von Barwig as
he handed her over to the maid. It was long past her bedtime, and the
little child had almost fallen asleep in her father's arms.
Let me kiss her just once more; I won't wake her up!
The girl burst into tears as Von Barwig bent over the child, kissing
her tenderly; then she hurried into the next room with her precious
She knows? inquired Poons.
Yes, nodded Von Barwig; and then, with a sigh, She knows.
Five minutes later, Von Barwig, accompanied by Poons, left the house
and hurriedly took a cab to the concert hall.
It was noticed by more than one member of the Leipsic Philharmonic
Orchestra that Herr Director Von Barwig was in unusually high spirits
that evening. Many attributed it to the fact that he was nervous
because of the first production of his new symphony. Karlschmidt hinted
to his deskmate that Von Barwig was nervous and was trying to conceal
it by pretending to be delighted with everything and everybody. This
was probably true in a measure; at all events, when he came into the
artists' room at the Gewandhaus at about five minutes to eight, he
shook hands with everybody, joked with his men, and talked almost
incessantly, as if he wanted to keep at high pressure. Poons watched
him closely. Von Barwig was unusually pale, and as he slapped his
concert meister on the back Poons noticed that, though his face wore a
smile, his lips quivered.
For heaven's sake, he heard him say to the leader of the second
violins, don't play the pizzicato in the third movement as if
you were picking up eggs! Poons rejoiced that his friend could forget
It was, however, when Von Barwig walked out on the platform to the
dais, bowed to the immense audience, and turned to his men, that the
deadly pallor of his face was most apparent. Some of the audience
noticed it as he acknowledged the applause he received. There was not a
tremor of hand or muscle, not an undecided movement; merely a deadly
pallor of countenance as if he no longer had blood in his veins, but
ice. The men felt the absence of the compelling force that always
emanated from him, that seemed to ooze from his baton; that psychic
something that compelled the player to feel as his director feltthe
force we call magnetism. The firmness of mouth showed that the
determination to dominate was still there, but the absence of that
mental power left only the automatic rhythm and swing, sans heart, sans
soul, sans feeling. The beat was the beat of the finely trained
academic conductor, but the genius of it was gone. The ghost of a
departed Von Barwig was beating time for the Von Barwig that had lived
and died that night.
Perhaps the audience did not feel this as much as the men did, for
they applauded heartily at the end of the opening number. They did
notice that Von Barwig did not acknowledge their applause and seemed to
be oblivious of their presence. The fact that an ultra-fashionable
audience was present, including a prince and princess of the Royal
Family, and the élite of Leipsic, to say nothing of the American
Ambassador, Mr. Cruger, apparently did not affect Von Barwig in the
least. This appealed very much to the democratic instinct of Mr.
Cruger, and at the end of the first part he asked his friend, Prince
Holberg-Meckstein, to present him to the conductor.
I will present him to you, said his highness, carefully
readjusting the pronouns; and he sent for Von Barwig.
A curious personality! remarked Mr. Cruger to the prince as Von
Barwig bowed himself out of the box a few minutes later.
Yes, and a fine musician, said the prince. But he's not at his
As Von Barwig passed through the artists' room, Poons approached
him. Anton motioned him away as if to say, Don't speak to me, and
Poons walked sadly away.
The second part of the programme was to begin with Von Barwig's
Quick, put the score of the symphony on my desk, he said to the
librarian, who happened to be passing at the moment. I intended to
conduct it from memory; but I have forgotten.
As the librarian placed the score on the conductor's desk, he
thought it strange that a man who had been rehearsing from memory for
weeks should so suddenly forget.
Von Barwig opened the score a few moments later, raised his baton,
and the wood wind began the new work. He conducted as mechanically as
before, for his dead heart could pump no enthusiasm into his work, and
the audience suddenly felt a sense of disappointment. But after the
first few passages had been played the leader lost his
self-consciousness and forgot his surroundings. He began to feel the
music, to compose it again, and the mechanism of the conductor was lost
in the inspiration of the composer. It was a beautiful movement marked
andante sostenutopathos itself, and Von Barwig drew from his men
their very souls, forcing them in turn to draw out of their strings all
the suffering he had been going through for the past few days. Then a
curious psychic phenomenon took place. Von Barwig completely forgot
himself, his audience, his orchestra; he was living in his music, and
the music took him back to the precise moment of inspiration. Once more
he was in his studio, seated at his work table, looking up from his
score into the face of his beloved Elene. She was smiling at him,
encouraging him to go on with his work, the work that she had
prophesied would make him famous and her the happiest of women. This
dream had almost the appearance of reality to Von Barwig. Indeed it was
real, as real as reality itself, until the wild applause of an
enthusiastic audience awoke him alike to the consciousness of the
success of his work and the hopeless misery of his present position;
his success in his music only accentuating the failure his life had
The playing of this movement made such an impression that Von Barwig
was compelled again and again to acknowledge the plaudits of the
audience. Indeed, they wanted him to repeat it, but this he steadfastly
refused to do. There was a slight intermission between the playing of
the first and the second parts of the symphony, and during this pause
the librarian handed a note to Von Barwig, whispering to him, You must
read it. The woman is outside in hysterics.
What woman? demanded Von Barwig, his thoughts reverting to his
Trembling and fearful of he knew not what the leader read the
following hastily scrawled note:
Come at once. The Fräulein is gone. She has been stolen
away. Please come. GRETCHEN.
Von Barwig crushed the note in his hand and looked about helplessly,
almost lurching forward in his bewilderment.
Hélène stolen? What did it mean? He could not understand.
He knew instinctively it was time to go on with the next movement,
and that he must make an effort for the sake of others. Already there
were signs of impatience in the great audience. Slowly he stepped upon
the dais, steadying himself by means of the music-stand. He raised his
baton, his men played the opening bars, and as they did so the full
meaning of the awful news he had just read flashed upon him. He
realised suddenly that his men were no longer with him; the first
violin looked up at him panic stricken. He sawed the air wildly as he
felt the great audience surging around him and his orchestra swaying to
and fro. Then he reeled, stumbled, clutching at the music-stand for
support; and fell face forward upon the floor.
* * * * * *
Some six weeks later loving friends had gently nursed him back to
life and reason. It was slow work, but Von Barwig weathered the point
of death and sailed slowly into the harbour of life. As he grew
stronger, he realised by degrees all that had happened. One day he
called for his beloved Poons, but they did not dare to tell him that
his faithful friend was dead; the shock of that night had brought on a
stroke from which Poons never recovered. When they did tell him long
afterward, he only smiled, shook his head sadly, and said, Why not?
All is gone! Why should my old friend remain to me?
When Von Barwig was strong enough he took the train to Berlin and
consulted with the police authorities in reference to the whereabouts
of his lost wife and child; but they had left no trace behind them
except an indication that they had passed through Paris on their way to
some unknown destination. He called on Mr. Cruger, the American
Ambassador, who could throw no light on the subject. A search of the
steamship lists failed to reveal their whereabouts; and at last, though
Anton Von Barwig felt that they were hopelessly lost to him, he
returned to Leipsic, more than ever determined to find them. It was the
only idea he had: to find themto find themto find them. His other
thoughts were without stimulating powerirresolute, vague, uncertain.
This one idea grew and grew until it became an obsession. He could no
longer bear the sound of music; so it was no sacrifice to him to give
up his profession. He hated the very streets he walked in, for had
Elene not walked in them? He must find her; he must find his child. He
could hear the little girl calling for him, he kept telling himself. It
was his only duty, his only object and mission in life; so it became an
ideal, a religion. But where to go, where to go? Finally, he made up
his mind to leave Leipsic for Paris and start from there. One day,
after living in Paris for some months, the idea occurred to him to go
to America, the place of the man's birth. A week later he packed up all
his effects and took passage on a steamer sailing for the port of New
It was a hot August afternoon in New York, especially hot in the
downtown districts, where it was damp and muggy, for it had been
drizzling all the morning. The sun blazing behind the thin vapour-like
clouds had converted the rain into steam, and the almost complete
absence of a breeze had added to the personal discomfort of those who
were compelled to be out of doors. Altogether it was a most
uncomfortable afternoon; and the task of running up and down stairs and
answering the front door-bell increased the misery of the maid of all
work in Miss Husted's furnished-room establishment on Houston Street,
near Second Avenue.
Phew, ain't it a scorcher? muttered the young woman as she mounted
the kitchen stairs in answer to some visitor's second tug at the bell.
She walked across the hall that led to the front door.
Don't the dratted bell keep goin', she went on as she tugged open
the door, which the damp weather had caused to swell and stick to the
Forgot your key? she said as she recognised Signor Tagliafico,
better known as Fico, the third-floor, hall-bedroom guest, as Miss
Husted insisted on calling her lodgers.
Forgot your key? repeated the girl, as the gentleman from Italy
shrugged his shoulders and otherwise disported himself in an endeavour
to convey to her the news that he had lost his key and felt extremely
sorry to trouble her.
Keys is made to open doors, not to forget, continued the girl,
banging the door shut.
The noise brought Miss Husted out into the hall in less time than it
takes to state the fact.
What is it, Thurza? she asked, showing evidence of being startled
out of a doze by the noise.
Third floor front forgot his key, Miss Houston, said the girl
sulkily, as Fico trudged upstairs to his room.
I wouldn't mind if he wasn't behind three weeks, said Miss Husted,
who usually answered to the name of Miss Houston, chiefly because she
lived in Houston Street.
Well, I mind it, muttered the girl to herself, whether
he's behind or whether he isn't. It makes work for me, and there ain't
enough time for regular, let alone extras, she went on, as she turned
to go down stairs to the kitchen.
Quite right, said Miss Husted, as she closed the door and returned
to her room. Experience had taught her that it was useless to argue
with Thurza. The girl was open to impression, but not to explanation;
once an idea found lodgment in her brain it stayed there, despite all
argument to the contrary. It was most mortifying to Miss Husted that
Thurza had such deep-rooted prejudices against every guest that found
his way into her establishment. Lodgers made work; the more lodgers the
more work; ergo, lodgers were enemies, is the way Thurza reasoned it
out; and she resumed her occupation of cleaning silver (save the mark)
almost as cheerfully as she had left it to answer the door-bell.
Dear me, sighed Miss Husted, how hard it is to get help and how
much harder it is to keep them! Back again already? Why, Jenny, you
must have flown! this last to a rather pretty little girl who had just
entered the door.
Yes, aunt, replied the girl, I knew Thurza must be busysoII
I can see that, her aunt said reprovingly, you are dripping wet;
you shouldn't walk so fast in this hot weather.
Jenny was a thoughtful child. She had lived rather an unhappy
existence with her parents, for her father had deserted her mother when
she was three years old and after her mother's death she had come to
her aunt for a few days until a home could be found for her. The few
days were over some years before, for Miss Husted loved the child far
too well to let her go, and gladly made a home for her. Jenny loved her
aunt and stayed on. Curiously enough, not a word had ever been spoken
between them on the subject, and the little girl just fitted in,
adapting herself to Aunt Sarah's ways. Now this process of adjustment
was by no means an easy accomplishment, for Aunt Sarah had no sense of
time. She thought and felt herself to be just as young as she was years
and years ago.
Her looking-glass must have given her several hard jolts, but she
either believed a looking-glass to be an illusion or ignored its
evidence altogether; for though it showed her the face of a woman near
the danger line of fifty, she insisted on considering herself as in the
neighbourhood of thirty. She carried herself with the dignity of a
duchess; that is, a conventional duchess, and talked habitually with
the hauteur and elegance of a stage queen. Her kingdom was the Houston
Street establishment, her guests were her subjects, her aristocracy
were the foreign gentlemen who occupied rooms in the various parts of
her house, mostly hall bedrooms. She doted on fashion, refinement,
pungent perfumery and expensive flowers; anything that to her mind
suggested social grandeur appealed intensely to her. Even the old
house, now situated in an exceedingly unfashionable quarter, held a
place in her affections because years before it had been a part of
fashionable New York, and she felt quite proud because she was known as
Miss Houston of Houston Street. The name suggested a title, and a title
of all things was dear to her heart. Perhaps her love for Jenny was
stronger because her father was supposedby his unfortunate wife at
leastto have been the scion of a proud and aristocratic family, who
had not been too proud, however, to leave her to starve. Altogether,
Miss Husted was an exceedingly romantic, high-strung, middle-aged
spinster, miles and miles above her station in life, whose heart and
purse were open to any foreigner who had discernment enough to see her
weakness and tact enough to pander to it by hinting at his noble
lineage. This love of things and beings aristocratic was more than a
weakness. It was a disease, for it kept poor a good soul, who otherwise
might have been, if not well-to-do, at least fairly prosperous.
Jenny, young as she was, knew all this. She knew that Fico, or
Signor Tagliafico, was a struggling musician and not an artist in any
sense of the word. She knew he was an ordinary Italian fiddler who
preferred to fiddle for food rather than to work manually for it. And
yet her aunt had confided to her that she was sure he was a count,
because one day Miss Husted had asked him the question, and the man,
not quite understanding, had smiled and shrugged his shoulders. Still,
he had not denied it, so thenceforth was known as Count Fico.
And Pinac, the gentleman who occupied the other back room next to
that of Fico? Miss Husted was sure that he was a descendant of the
noble refugees from France, who emigrated during the Reign of Terror in
the French Revolution. The romance of this appealed highly to her.
Monsieur Pinac was always silent when questioned on this point, but
Miss Husted was much interested. His silence surely meant something,
and besides, he looked every inch a nobleman with his fashionably cut
Van Dyck beard. There was a picture of the Duc de Guise in one of the
bedroomsHeavens only knows where Miss Husted got it, but there it
wasand pointing to it with great pride, she defied Monsieur Pinac to
deny his relationship to the defunct duke. Pinac did not take the
trouble to deny it! As a matter of fact, he was simply an ordinary
musician who continued to follow his profession because it paid him
better than any other business he could embark in. Music is often the
line of easiest resistance, and many there be that slide down its
graceful curves. In more senses than one, it is easier to play than to
work. But when Miss Husted conferred a patent of nobility on a foreign
gentleman, were he an Italian organ-grinder or a French waiter, that
title stood, his own protest to the contrary notwithstanding. In this
particular view-point Miss Husted was completely opposite to her maid
of all work.
Thurza's mental attitude was the socialistic slant that made for the
destruction of aristocracy; Miss Husted's system created one of her
own. To Thurza foreigners were either dagoes or Dutch; to Miss
Husted they were either gentlemen or noblemen or both. In this way,
perhaps, the balance of harmony was restored in Houston Mansion, as
Miss Husted dearly loved to call her home. There was some foundation
for believing that the name Houston Mansion was painted on the glass
over the front door, but it was so worn that no one could decipher it.
A violent ring at the door-bell interrupted the conversation between
Miss Husted and her niece.
They'll break the bell if they're not careful, remarked the elder
lady, arranging her ringlets in the event that it might be some one to
It's a lady, whispered Jenny to her aunt a few moments later. She
wants a room.
Miss Husted sniffed. I don't like ladies; they're twice the trouble
that gentlemen are, andI don't knowI don't like 'em. Ladies looking
for furnished rooms always have a historyand a past; I don't like
Jenny nodded without in the least understanding her aunt. She had
heard this before, but she knew it was a peculiarity of Miss Husted
always to say the same thing under the same circumstances, whether the
occasion called for it or not.
Shall I ask her in, or will you come out into the hall? went on
Ask her kindly to step into the reception-room, said her aunt,
kicking a feather duster under the sofa and generally tidying up a bit.
A large, stout person of uncertain age stood in the doorway.
Is this the reception-room? asked the lady, fixing her glasses and
looking about her as if quite prepared to disbelieve any statement Miss
Husted was about to make. That lady, much offended, drew herself up
Yes, this is the reception-room, she said, in a tone intended to
be frigidly polite. May I inquire to what am I indebted for the honour
of this visit?
The fat lady sniffed contemptuously and sat down.
I think it's the sign 'Furnished Rooms' that can claim the honour,
she said simply.
Sit down, Jenny, and stop fidgeting, Miss Husted snapped out,
ignoring the fat lady's attempt at smartness.
I want a room if you have one vacant. My name is Mangenborn.
Top floor? inquired Miss Husted.
I suppose you think a lady of my avoirdupois ought to live on the
top floor so as to have plenty of exercise, eh? inquired Mrs.
Mangenborn with an attempt at humour. Then, without waiting for a
reply, she went on:
Well, you've just guessed right! What kind of people do you have in
My guests are artists and gentlemen.
Which? inquired the stout lady, and laughed; she saw the joke if
Miss Husted didn't and was good natured enough to laugh even if it were
her own. Well, I'm an artist, she said after a pause.
Indeed? said Miss Husted, and there was a slight inflection of
sarcasm in that lady's voice.
Mrs. Mangenborn was either deaf or did not notice it, for she went
Yes, I am an artista second-sight artist.
Yes; I tell fortunes, read the future
Oh? said Miss Husted, and that one word was enough to have driven
an ordinary person out of the front door, convinced of being insulted,
but Mrs. Mangenborn was not sensitive.
I should like a cup of tea, she said simply. It's a very hot
The magnificent coolness of this request fairly caught Miss Husted.
This woman spoke like one accustomed to command; and much to Jenny's
astonishment (she had been listening attentively) her aunt sent her to
order tea for two.
Given a person who can tell fortunes, and another person on the
lookout for one, a person who has infinite hope in the future, whose
whole life indeed is in the future, and it doesn't take long to
establish an entente cordiale. When Jenny came back a few
minutes later, to her utter astonishment she saw the mysterious fat
lady dealing cards to her aunt and talking of events past, present, and
future; and her aunt chatting as pleasantly as if she had known the
woman all her life.
However can you tell that? asked Miss Husted as she sipped her tea
and cut the cards for the ninetieth time.
Don't you see the king? That means a visitor!
Yes; but how did you know that my best first-floor rooms were to
Mrs. Mangenborn shrugged her shoulders and smiled.
That I cannot tell you; I can't even tell myself; it just
comes to me.
She did not remind Miss Husted that the best rooms in most boarding
establishments in that locality were usually to let, because the people
who could afford to pay the price seldom wanted to live in that
neighbourhood; but she did tell her several things that must have
pleased her immensely, for in a short while, after Mrs. Mangenborn had
disposed of a second cup of tea, that lady was fairly ensconced in a
seven-dollar front room on the first floor for a price that did not
exceed three dollars. However, if half her predictions came true, it
would have been a fine bargain for Miss Husted or any other landlady to
have her as a guest.
As Jenny confided to Thurza in the kitchen a few hours later:
You'll see. If the ground-floor parlor and bedroom aren't let next
week, the new lady in the first floor front will get notice to leave
because she's told a fortune that won't come true, and aunt will be
angry. She keeps her word and she always expects people to keep
My fortune never came true, grunted Thurza as she lifted a tub of
washing off the table.
Jenny, Mrs. Mangenborn wants you to go on an errand for her,
called her aunt downstairs.
Thought she wasn't never goin' to take females in her home again,
said Thurza, as Jenny went upstairs to obey her aunt's order.
As Jenny closed the front door gently on her way to the stores, she
mused sadly on the fact that her aunt, and not Mrs. Mangenborn, had
given her the money with which to make the purchases. She hoped with
childish optimism that the second-sight lady would pay her back; the
other guests never did. Jenny sighed as she thought how much easier it
would be on rent-days if auntie didn't advance money.
The front-door bell rang so often that day that Thurza declared it
rang when it didn't ring, and was equally positive that the dratted
bell didn't ring when it did ring. At all events, when the bell had
been nearly jerked out of its socket for the third time, Miss Husted
poked her head out of Mrs. Mangenborn's room and shouted for Thurza to
hurry up and answer it. As she received no answer, she went down a
flight to the head of the kitchen stairs, and gave vent to a most
unusual display of temper. This was brought on by the fact that Mrs.
Mangenborn had just declared that never in all her born days (to say
nothing of her unborn moments) had she seen such a wonderful display of
good fortune as that which lay in the cards spread on the table before
them; there was a marriage just as sure as death. Mrs. Mangenborn was
proceeding to describe the masculine element in the marriage
proposition, and Miss Husted was trying to think who it could be, when
the bell rang for the third time just as Thurza's head made its
appearance above the kitchen stairs. Miss Husted decided to forget her
dignity and go to the door herself.
Outside stood a hack piled up with baggage, and on the doorstep,
waiting patiently, stood a gentleman who bowed when the door was opened
and asked gently with a foreign accent, if Miss Husted had a room for a
studio and a bedroom. There was much bustle and excitement, a great
deal of noise, and a still greater deal of confusion, but when it had
subsided and the hackman had been paid three times as much as he was
legally entitled to, the baggage was carried, or rather tumbled, into
the rooms engaged by the gentleman with the foreign accent. Miss Husted
rushed into Mrs. Mangenborn's room and breathlessly gasped that her
fortune had come true, for the front parlor and bedroom were let at
their full prices.
Just think of it, Mrs. Mangborn, as Miss Husted insisted on
calling her guest, just think of it, full price in summer!
Mrs. Mangenborn rose to the occasion.
Why not? demanded she, as if offended by Miss Husted's enthusiasm,
why not? The cards never lie! How much do you say he is to pay? she
went on, as if Miss Husted had told her and she had forgotten the
Fourteen, replied Miss Husted, and it's a good price.
Not bad! But wait, you'll see that's only the beginning, and Mrs.
Mangenborn mixed up the cards lying on the table oblivious of the fact
that she had just shuffled Miss Husted's marital prospects out of
Oh, that's nothing, she hastened to say as she saw the expression
of alarm on Miss Husted's face. It'll come out again. It's in the
cards and it must come out. Then she asked, Who is he? What is he?
He's an artist of some sort, a fine, noble-looking old gentleman.
German! oh such fine, elegant manners; to the manner born I am sure! A
musician, I think; he had a violin with him.
Mrs. Mangenborn's nose elevated itself a little.
No money in music! What's his name? she asked.
I don't know, said Miss Husted. He gave me his card, but I was so
flustered I didn't look at it.
She opened the reticule she always carried at her side, containing
keys, recipes, receipts, almost everything that could be crowded into
it, and after quite a little sifting and sorting she took out a card on
which was inscribed:
Herr Anton Von Barwig.
There was a decided air of mystery about the new occupant of the
parlor-floor suite, or at least so it appeared to Miss Husted of
Houston Street. As a matter of fact, Herr Von Barwig minded his own
business and evidently expected every one else to do likewise, for he
kept his door and his ears closed to all polite advances during the
first few days after his arrival at Houston Mansion. Despite Miss
Husted's oft-repeated inquiries after the professor's health (the title
had been conferred on him by virtue of his possessing a violin and on
the arrival of a piano for his room), despite her endeavours to direct
conversation into a channel which might lead to a discussion of his
personal affairs, Herr Von Barwig remained tacit; hence a mystery
attached itself to the personality of the professor. It is a curious
fact that the one gentleman of genuine title that found his way into
the Houston Street establishment was ruthlessly shorn of his right to
distinction and dubbed professor, which sobriquet clung to him for
many, many years. However, this did not annoy Herr Von Barwig, for he
had not yet realised that in America every concertina and rag-time
piano-player, as well as barber, corn-doctor, and teacher of the manly
art of boxing, is entitled to the distinction of being called
The professor has beautiful mannersoh, such beautiful manners,
confided Miss Husted to her new friend, Mrs. Mangenborn, about two
weeks after his arrival. Every time I speak he bows, and there's oh,
such dignity, such grace in the bending of his head. How polite he is,
too; he always says, 'No, madam, thank you;' or 'yes, if madam will be
so kind,' and then he bows again and waits for me to go.
Is that all he says? inquired Mrs. Mangenborn. I guess he knows
how to keep his mouth shut, then! If you want a man to talk never ask
him questions; men are a suspicious lot.
Ah, but he is different, said Miss Husted. He has such a
sad, far-away, wistful look in his noble, dark eyes.
That may be, but far-away looks don't pay any rent for you! You
can't attach any importance to things like that. My first husband had a
far-away look, and I haven't seen him for ten years. That Steinway
grand the professor's got, did he hire it or buy it? A man's got to
have money to support one of those instruments, went on Mrs.
I don't know, replied Miss Husted, who could not help thinking
that her friend had a somewhat mercenary mind. No one's been to see
him, so he hasn't got it for his friends; his violin has a beautiful
sound. Mr. Pinac tells me that it must be a rare old instrument.
The door-bell was heard ringing, but no one seemed to pay any
attention to it until they heard the whistle that followed; then
everybody bustled about. The postman always created a little excitement
in Houston Street, and his arrival was the one occasion on which even
Thurza hurried to the door. It was also the one occasion on which she
need not have done so, for she invariably found Miss Rusted or one of
the guests ahead of her.
Registered letter for Herr Von Barwig.
I'll take it to him, said Miss Husted sweetly.
He's got to come and sign it himself, said the letter-carrier,
shaking his head.
Where's it from? asked Mrs. Mangenborn, her head appearing over
Miss Husted looked at the letter-carrier inquiringly, but that
official appeared not to have heard the question. At all events, he
made no reply, and Miss Husted knocked on the professor's door.
Miss Husted opened the door.
Ah, madam, what can I do for you? said Von Barwig, rising from the
table at which he was writing.
Miss Husted smiled sweetly. She noticed that he was writing music,
so he must be a composer as well as a professor.
Will you please come and sign for a registered letter? she said.
Ah, yes! I come at once.
He arose, held the door open for Miss Husted to pass out, bowing to
her as she did so, and then coming into the hallway, fulfilled the
postal requirements, totally unconscious that several pairs of eyes
were watching the operation. The letter-carrier handed him two letters;
one bearing the postmark Leipsic, the other that of New York.
Von Barwig returned to his room and read the following from a firm
of stock brokers:
Herr Anton Von Barwig.
DEAR SIR: Pursuant to your instructions, we have sold the balance
of the securities you left with us, but they have so depreciated in
value during your seven years' absence from Leipsic, that we hesitated
to sell them at their present market price. However, your instructions
in regard to these securities were definite and we have obeyed them.
Hoping this will meet with your satisfaction, we remain,
A draft on Drexel, Morgan's bank, for $1,000 dropped from Von
Barwig's hand; he picked it up mechanically and looked at it.
The last, the very last, barely one-tenth the price I paid for
them, he thought; and sighing, put the draft into a pocketbook and
deposited it in an inner pocket.
The other letter was from a detective agency in Eighth Street, and
read as follows:
DEAR SIR: Call on us at your earliest convenience. We have news.
That was all, but it was enough to cause Von Barwig to change
hastily from his slippers and dressing-gown to his shoes and hat; and
to be out in the street in less than one minute after reading the
News, news, news! Good God, is it possible? No, no! I mustn't
believe it; I dare not. Hélène, Hélène, my little girl! No, no, I
won't; I won't! and he read the letter again. After all, he mused,
it may be news of a thousand little girls and yet not of mine. I beg
your pardon, madam! In turning from Houston Street into the Bowery,
still reading the letter, he had bumped suddenly into a middle-aged
lady, who retaliated by deliberately pushing him back, at the same time
asking him a somewhat unnecessary question as to where he was going.
Then she had gone on her way without waiting to hear his apology.
Hatch &Buckley's private detective agency, situated just off
Broadway and Eighth Street, had a large office divided into several
small offices. For some occult reason only one person could get in or
out at a time, and this made confidential conversation a necessity
rather than a matter of choice. The senior member of the firm was in
when Von Barwig called. Be it understood at the beginning that this
large, stout personage, who invariably spoke in a whisper, and referred
so often to his partner, had no partner but a number of detectives on
his staff, to whom he was wont to speak or whisper of as partner when
discussing what they had ferreted out or left undiscovered. This man,
fat, florid, and fifty, had been a central office detective for many
years. After a time, being exceedingly useful in a political sense, he
had been admitted to the inner circle at Tammany Hall and was at
present one of the leading geniuses in that hallowed body of faithful
Come in, come in, said this gentleman urbanely as Von Barwig stood
waiting as patiently as he could for the news he was so anxious to
Well, I think we've got something, he added.
Von Barwig said nothing; he waited to hear more.
First of all, business before pleasure, said Mr. Hatch, and suited
the action to the word by handing Von Barwig a bill for $556.84, for
Yes, yes; but tell me the news! faltered Von Barwig, without
looking at the bill. Have you found her? Tell me! The pleading look
in Von Barwig's face would have melted the heart of any ordinary
scoundrel; but Mr. Hatch was no ordinary scoundrel.
It's customary, Mr. Barwig, he said drily, to settle one account
before opening another.
Von Barwig looked at the bill that had been handed to him, saw the
amount, shook his head pathetically, and smiled. There must be some
mistake, he said.
My partner went to California on this clue and followed it clean to
British Columbia; railroad fares alone amount to two fifty; there's
hotel bills, carfare; there's salaries, office expenses, stamps; and
thenthere's me. If Mr. Hatch had put himself first there would have
been little need to refer to the other items.
There's the vouchers, he went on, pushing a lot of papers toward
Von Barwig. Everything O.K.'d; everything on the level, open and above
board. He leaned back in his chair as if determined not to say another
word until the matter was settled.
Then you refuse to tell me any more until this is paid?
Not at all, not at all! I'd just as leave tell you right now; but
it wouldn't be business, it wouldn't be business. He repeated this as
if to impress his listener with the importance of the business aspect
of the situation being well preserved.
You are right; it is not business! It is life and death; it's my
heart, my soul, my very existence! My little girl, my little Hélène is
I suppose not, assented the fat man, not to you; but our end of
it rests on a commercial basis. We've laid out the money and we're
entitled to be paid for it.
But I have paid you already so much! I cannot afford more. For
years I have hunted high and low for my wife and child through city
after city for thousands upon thousands of miles. At last I came to
you, and there have been months and months of weary waiting, hunting
false clues; disappointments upon disappointments.
I know, I know, nodded the senior partner. That's part of the
I have spent with you nearly all the money I have, and nothing has
come of it. Every now and then you raise my hopes by saying you have
found her. Then, when the news comes, you ask for more money and when I
have given it, it is again a false clue.
That ain't our fault! observed the stout gentleman. My partner
follows a clue, and you can't blame him if it don't turn out exactly
the right one. This fellow Ahlmann is an eel; that's what he is, an
eel! But I think we've got him now, I'm almost sure!
You think? eagerly inquired Von Barwig.
Well, of course there's nothing absolutely sure, but this is the
last report he's sent in. Seems to me to pretty well cover the case,
but it's been a hard job. This fellow Ahlmann has completely covered
The child? Sheshe lives?
Oh, yes; yes!
And the mother?
I think he's located them all. I can't tell you for sure till I
read the report again.
Von Barwig, his hands trembling with excitement, wrote a cheque for
the amount required, and with breathless impatience awaited the
information as to the whereabouts of his lost wife and child.
They're in Chicago, said Hatch, taking up the cheque and scanning
Both of them? asked Von Barwig in a hoarse whisper.
Both of them, repeated Hatch, conveniently remembering the detail
without reading the report. George, bring me Mr. Bailey's telegram in
the Barwig case, and when George, a smart young office boy, brought
the required documents, he was quietly instructed by his employer to
cash Von Barwig's cheque immediately.
When will you go? asked Mr. Hatch.
As soon as possible.
Here's the address, and Mr. Hatch handed him a card. You'll meet
my partner there, 1120 State Avenue; he'll take you to the parties.
Shall I get your railroad tickets?
No. II get them.
It's twenty-six hours to Chicago; you'll need a Pullman ticket.
Thank you; I get them.
Well, just as you say. Good luck to you, Mr. Barwig.
Thank you, said Von Barwig simply. He did not tell Mr. Hatch that
he had nearly come to the end of his resources and that he would ride
in the day car. Not that he felt ashamed of not being able to afford
luxuries, but he instinctively resented making a confidant of a man
like the senior partner of the firm of Hatch &Buckley.
As he walked rapidly toward Houston Street he found himself thinking
for the first time since his arrival in America of the question of his
future, but this question did not occupy his mind long. Like all his
ideas on any subject other than that of his lost wife and child, it was
forced into the background. As he neared his rooms in Houston Street
his hopes began to rise; and the prospect of going to Chicago, the
possibility of seeing his wife and child, began to work in his mind.
His heart began to beat tumultuously. This time his dream would come
true, and in his mind's eye he clasped his little girl tightly to
himself and rained kisses on her little upturned face. He even found it
in his heart to forgive the mother; after all, she was the mother of
his little one, that he could never forget.
As for Ahlmann, he could not picture him; his mind refused to
conjure up a thought of the man. It seemed as if he were dead, and that
Von Barwig was on his way to rescue the wife and child from some danger
that threatened them. This work of rescue was the fulfilment of an
ideal. Nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of it! The senior
partner of Hatch &Buckley had been quick to note this condition of mind
and to reap the profits that came therefrom. Monomania means money, was
a business axiom in that gentleman's office, but he had pumped the
stream dry and Von Barwig was now at the end of his resources. By some
strange process of thought, Von Barwig recognised this fact, but it
seemed to him to mean that because his money had come to an end his
search had also come to an end. The result of his trip to Chicago could
not but be favourable, because he dared not think of its failure. So
great is the influence of hope upon imagination that by the time Von
Barwig reached his rooms he was already contemplating the possibility
of keeping his wife and child there, at least until he could obtain
better quarters for them. So, when he opened the door of his room, and
found Jenny there polishing the brass andirons, he took more notice
than usual of the little girl, and to her intense joy promised to bring
her a box of candy from out West, where he told her he was going as he
busied himself packing his handbag.
In a few hours Anton Von Barwig, his heart beating high in
expectation, was seated in one of the day coaches of a fast
Pennsylvania Railroad train on his way to Chicago.
[Illustration: The music master can no longer pay rent for the
Von Barwig had left New York with a light heart. Hope had ripened
into expectation, and for the first time since his arrival in America,
seven years since, he had felt something like a positive assurance that
this time his mission was going to result favourably. Hatch had assured
him that his partner had positively found the missing wife and child;
and Von Barwig had gradually allowed himself to think it possible, then
probable, and finally he became almost certain of the successful result
of his journey to Chicago.
As Jenny watched him pack his valise on the afternoon he left for
Chicago, she had noticed that now and then his face beamed with
happiness, the happiness of expected joy. And when he jokingly asked
her how she would like to be his little girl, it made her, so happy
that she wanted to throw her arms around his neck and cry on his
shoulder. She felt that he was just the kind of father she would like
to have, but the conversation didn't get very far, for Von Barwig had a
train to catch and was too busy to hear the little girl's response to
Jenny thought he was not quite in earnest, certainly not so deeply
in earnest as she was. Her aunt did not quite understand her, and she
needed some one to whom she could open her heart. She felt that Mr. Von
Barwig would listen to her little confidences and sympathise with her;
perhaps even tell her his troubles. Young as the girl was, she felt
that the man had suffered. She couldn't tell why, but her little heart
had gone out to him in sympathy almost from the moment she saw him. How
it was she could not have explained, but she loved him. Jenny thought
these things over long after Mr. Von Barwig had departed on his
journey. It made her glad to think how happy he was when he left the
house with his valise and umbrella, hurrying to catch the little
bobtail car that wended its way across town to the Pennsylvania ferry.
So it came about that when Jenny, looking out of the window some few
days later, saw him coming up the street slowly, disconsolately, almost
dragging himself along, the little girl experienced a great shock. The
man seemed to have changed altogether. It was the same dear Mr. Von
Barwig, yes, but the eyes of love cannot be deceived; he looked older,
and oh, so careworn and tired! She rushed to the door at once, to save
him the trouble of finding his night key, and greeted him with
affectionate inquiry. To her intense disappointment, he nodded
absentmindedly to signify his appreciation of her act. The faint, ghost
of a smile came over his face, but he did not look at her. Silently he
opened the door to his room and passed into it without speaking,
closing the door firmly behind him. Jenny's heart sank; she felt rather
than knew that her friend was in trouble, for he did not pat her on the
head or pinch her cheek as he had always done before when she opened
the door for him.
Her inability to be of any service to him only added to the child's
sorrow; tears came into her eyes as she stood looking at the closed
door, for she felt completely shut out of his life. At supper that
night, when her aunt asked her what ailed her, and invited Mrs.
Mangenborn to look at Jenny's long face, the child tried to laugh,
failed completely, and burst into a flood of tears. Jenny could not
have explained to herself the whys and wherefores of her tearful
outburst, but the child could not forget poor Von Barwig's drawn,
haggard face and its weary, hopeless expression.
She's a queer child, commented Mrs. Mangenborn, when Jenny had
gone to bed that night.
Her father had blue blood, replied Miss Husted impressively, and
you always find hysterical natures in high-born families.
I shouldn't wonder, agreed her friend; something is wrong with
the child, that's plain.
What do you suppose it is, said Miss Husted, rather anxiously.
Perhaps she's working up for an illness! Oh, dear, she went on,
almost in tears, for shallow as she was herself, she loved the child
deeply, shall I send for a doctor? I think I'd better; I always feel
safer with a doctor in the house.
Wait till the morning, suggested Mrs. Mangenborn; if anything's
going to develop, you'll know what it is by then.
Do you think anything will develop? inquired Miss Husted,
clutching Mrs. Mangenborn by the arm.
I don't know for certain, replied her friend, but it can't be
much anyway, or I'd have seen it there, pointing to a pack of cards on
the mantelpiece. Wait a moment, she said suddenly, and then she knit
her brows as if thinking very hard; didn't the six of spades come out
true? Yes, it did! and she shook her head thoughtfully.
I shan't feel comfortable till I go and see her, said Miss Husted,
now thoroughly alarmed; and taking a lamp from a side table, the good
lady went upstairs to look at her niece.
That six of spades surely came out for something, muttered Mrs.
Mangenborn to herself. Six is tragedy! Well, we must take what comes,
she continued philosophically as she helped herself liberally to some
chocolate caramels that Miss Husted had thoughtfully, or thoughtlessly,
left on the table.
In the meantime, another tragedy of a very different sort was being
enacted in the room on the parlor floorthe tragedy of the death of
hope. For when Anton Von Barwig closed the door of his room on the
evening of his return from Chicago, he closed it finally and forever
upon hope, and gave himself up completely to dull, grim, sodden
despair. Not only this, but he cursed himself for ever having hoped. He
never suspected for a moment that the eminent firm of Hatch & Buckley
had wilfully deceived him, for Mr. Hatch's partner almost cried with
vexation and disappointment when he found that the woman and child he
pointed out were not the parties they were looking for. Indeed, Mr.
Buckley's grief was so poignant that Von Barwig almost felt sorry for
the man, who declared that his professional honour as a detective was
ruined from that moment. It was, in this case, for Von Barwig made up
his mind at once never to employ him again.
The summer twilight was fast deepening into night as Von Barwig sat
staring out of his window, looking at the passers-by and seeing them
not. He rebelled against fate, conditions, life; and for the first time
in his career he railed at his Creator. He had asked for light, and no
light came in answer to his prayer; only more darkness, more
disappointment, more loneliness. He sat with bowed head, wondering what
was the meaning of it all. Who could solve the problem; who could
straighten out his tangled life; who could explain it? Was the devil
really and truly greater than Godthe God who is Love?
Von Barwig had read Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Haeckel, all the school
of pessimistic philosophers that exercised such a tremendous influence
upon the thought of his day; but he had always instinctively rebelled
against the nihilism of their creed, the creed of materialism. Yet, at
this moment he was perilously near to believing that the force for evil
was greater than the force for good. There was no love in his life; and
for him love was life itself. As he sat there with eyes fixed and
staring, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, he thought over the events
that had come to him since his sojourn in America. For the past seven
years he had devoted every thought, every energy, and nearly every
penny he had to the search for his loved ones. And he had failed,
When the first shock of his loss came upon him in Leipsic he had
asked himself the meaning of it, and the answer had come to him that
Art had been his mistress, and that she had stepped in between him and
the ones he loved. He had been selfish, he had loved his Art as much,
more perhaps, than his own flesh and bloodand this was his
punishment. Yet he had given up his mistress, Art; he no longer lived
for her; he would live for his wife and child, if he could only find
them, if, if, if! He felt that there was indeed nothing to live for!
Then why live, he asked himself? Better be dead; far better be dead!
Who would care if he were no more? At this moment Von Barwig caught
himself up, and realising his own danger refused to allow himself to
drift along that line of thought. Life meant nothing to him now, but
live he must, live he would; that he was determined on. Complex as the
problem was, he would go on with it. He was not a coward, and for this
he thanked his Creator.
In thanking Him he gained a little courage, and he asked for a sign,
something to indicate that he was not the sport of fate, the creature
of circumstance; something, anything, to indicate that God had not
completely forgotten him. With bowed head Von Barwig prayed that he
might be saved from himself; that thoughts of self-destruction might
never again come into his mind; for he felt that he might not always
have the power to reject them. He asked that the desire to live might
again come upon him; for it dawned upon him that perhaps his duty lay
in the direction of serving others. Desire is prayer, and Von Barwig's
prayer was answered, for when he looked into the street he saw life
once more. Opening his window he heard the voices of the children at
play. He saw their joy, and rejoicing with them, he thanked God that he
could rejoice. As he arose from his chair he sighed, a deep, deep sigh,
and the darkest moment in his life had passed.
Was that a knock? Anton asked himself as he turned toward his
door. Surely not a visitor?
Lighting his lamp, he looked at the cuckoo clock upon the wall. It
said a quarter past nine o'clock; he had not heard the cuckoo strike
seven, eight, or nine!
Phew! he whistled, I had no idea it was so late. Again the timid
Surely I can't be mistaken again, thought Von Barwig, and walking
to the door he threw it wide open.
To his utter astonishment, a little girl in a white night-gown stood
there, silently sobbing as if her heart would break.
Why, Jenny, Jenny! and Von Barwig, taking the trembling child in
his arms, placed her gently in his armchair. Jenny, my dear child.
IIcouldn't go to sleep until I'd said good-night; I tried to
but I couldn't, sobbed Jenny as soon as she could speak coherently.
Why, what has happened? asked Von Barwig, as he covered her with a
You asked me to be your little girl, and then, when I said 'Yes,'
you didn't answer; and
Whenyoucamein, I felt so sorry for you, and you looked so unhappy
that I had to come down and ask you to forgive me. II just couldn't
helpit. You're not angry, are you?
My dear, dear little girl. I, angry? Von Barwig shook his head.
How could I be angry with you? Why should I? Why, it'sit's
impossible! and Von Barwig laughed at the very idea. Jenny sighed
deeply and remained silent; she seemed contented simply to be with him.
After a few moments' silence Von Barwig looked at her.
Is this my answer; is thismyanswer? he thought, and then he
said slowly, I am glad, more glad than I can ever tell you, that you
have come to me at this moment.
He looked at the girl thoughtfully; she was not his little Hélène,
but he would try to love her as if she were. Von Barwig took her hand
in his and tenderly stroked her cheek.
You shall be my little girl, my little one, eh, eh? You shall!
Yes, nodded Jenny, smiling happily, I'll be your little girl, if
you'll have me. And from that moment Von Barwig never again felt quite
alone in the world.
At this instant a loud scream was heard, followed by another, and
Von Barwig rushed into the hallway, followed by Jenny.
She's gone, gone! jumped out of the window! screamed Miss Husted,
from the top floor. Look! the window's open, and she's gone; jumped
Who, who? shouted Thurza, rushing upstairs.
Jenny, Jenny! wailed Miss Hustedso excited that she was almost
Jenny and Von Barwig looked at one another in astonishment and the
little girl hurried after Thurza, arriving upstairs just in time to
prevent her aunt from going into hysterics.
Here I am, auntie, she said, and Miss Husted was so delighted to
see her niece again, that she forgot to scold her. As she came
downstairs after satisfying herself that Jenny was not only safe and
sound, but in her usual healthshe found Herr Von Barwig at the foot
of the stairs waiting for her.
She is all right, eh, madam?
Oh, yes, responded that lady, pleased that Herr Von Barwig should
be interested in the welfare of any member of her family.
She is a good child; I like her very much, very much.
Yes, Jenny is a very good girl; her father was a member of one of
the oldest New York families, quite the aristocrat let me tell you!
Ah, yes. Her father is dead? repeated Von Barwig, and her mother
also? he asked.
I am her only living relative, sighed Miss Husted.
Ah, I am glad of that, said Von Barwig simply, YesIJenny and
I have come to an understanding. I am herwhat you callnot
Von Barwig fumbled a little with the English language until he made
Miss Husted understand that he had taken her niece under his wing, so
to speak; and hoped that she would have no objection. On the contrary,
Miss Husted was highly pleased, for one of her lodgers had told her
that Von Barwig had been a great man in Germany.
I shall go out to dinner. Is there a restaurant near here that you
can recommend? asked Von Barwig. Dinner? Why it's nearly ten
o'clock! replied Miss Hasted, let me get you a cup of tea.
No, thank you, madam. I must go into the street, into the café, where there is life, and people; I must get away from myself. Here I
think too much my own thoughts. Where did you say?
Galazatti's across the street is a nice little café, she
replied, and he serves a nice table d'hôte.
Ah, I shall go there, then. Thank you, madame. Good-night! and Von
Barwig bowing to Miss Husted, closed the front door quietly and went
into the street.
When Anton arose the next morning after a refreshing night's rest,
he became conscious that he was looking at the world through different
coloured spectacles; and that there was no longer a dull feeling of
despair gnawing at his heart. For the first time in many years his
plans for the day did not include a search in this or that direction
for his lost ones. It was not that he had forgotten, but he thought of
them now as dead and gone; and this certainty, this lack of suspense,
lightened his heart to such an extent that his manner was almost
buoyant. Realising the fact that he had spent nearly all of the large
sum of money he brought with him from Germany, he thought of his
future, his welfare. To do for others, he must first do for himself; he
must think of his music again; in short, he must earn a living. So,
after a light breakfast at Galazatti's, he took an inventory of his
available assets. They included some old music; some compositions which
he would now try to sell; a genuine Amati violin worth at least three
thousand dollars; a grand piano; one or two paintings; some silverware,
presents, and jewelry; and about eight hundred dollars in cash.
Von Barwig was completely bewildered; he had purposely avoided
meeting musicians in New York and scarcely any one knew him; those who
had known him by reputation had now completely forgotten his existence.
He had not felt sufficient interest in affairs going on around him to
realise the state of musical art in America, so he scarcely knew how to
begin. It seemed like the commencement of a new life. The period was
that between Jenny Lind and Adelina Patti, and he soon realised that
musical art was at its lowest ebb. There were one or two ambitious
orchestra conductors in America; one in Chicago trying to introduce the
Wagnerian polyphonic school, and perhaps one or two in New York; but
the public clamoured after divas, prima donnas and tenors with
temperaments and vocal pyrotechnic skill. For orchestral music there
was little demand. Wagner was as yet unknown to the publiccertainly
he was unheard except on the rarest occasions and the majority of
musicians did not like him because he was difficult to play.
So it happened that Von Barwig's compositions, which were of the
modern German school and rather heavy, did not find a ready market, in
fact they did not find a market at all. Day after day he would visit
the music stores with his music roll tucked under his arm. After a few
months the music publishers used to smile when they saw him coming into
their places of business, and shake their heads before he had a chance
even to show them his manuscripts. As time went on he came to be a
byword among them.
Here comes poor old Von Barwig, they would say, and then they
would smile at his earnest face with its sad, longing expression and
sympathise with him for his beautiful smile of resignation as he folded
up his package of compositions and went sadly away. They admired his
technical skill, but thought him very foolish to waste his time on such
stuff as they called it. They advised him to write for the hour, and
not for posterity.
You must give the public what they want, said Schumein.
How can you tell what they want if you don't try? pleaded Von
Barwig. If you give them only what you acknowledge is bad, how will
they ever know what is better?
It's no use, was Schumein's reply, music like yours has no market
value. We're not in business for our health; once strike a popular tune
and you'll be famous!
Von Barwig had never mentioned his Leipsic reputation, and if he
had, in all probability, it would have been useless. Seven years is a
long time for even a genius to remain in obscurity.
Bring in a good waltz, said one.
What we want is a catchy melody; something that everybody
whistles, said another.
Finally they were too busy to see Von Barwig at all; and after
waiting hours and hours in vain efforts to obtain an interview, he
would walk home slowly, thinking over the events of the day, or trying
to create a tune that might make an appeal to the music-loving, or
rather music-buying public.
Alas! he would say to himself, after giving up the effort. I do
not understand these people. The American people do not like my work.
It did not occur to him that the Americans were not a music-loving
nation, at least not at that period. And so Anton Von Barwig gradually
came out of the world of dreams into the world of life. He had been
reborn, of necessity, for he was nearly down to his last penny. He used
to talk over the condition of the music market with Tagliafico, our old
friend, Fico, of the hall bedroom on the top floor of Miss Husted's
establishment, and Pinac, Fico's friend, who occupied the room
adjoining. The meeting of these three men, which subsequently resulted
in a friendship lasting many years, came about as follows:
While eating dinner at Galazatti's one night, Von Barwig found
himself at the same table as Fico. Fico bowed to him and he graciously
acknowledged his salute, not knowing who the man was, but vaguely
remembering his features. Fico then introduced Pinac, his
fellow-lodger. Fico had recognised Von Barwig as the occupant of the
first floor and took this opportunity of making the acquaintance of the
musician whose music he had so often heard on the pianofor Von Barwig
frequently played his own compositions and the strains were wafted
through the open window. Pinac was most enthusiastic, for he knew Von
Barwig slightly by reputation. He had been in Dresden and he had heard
of Anton Von Barwig, the musical conductor. It seemed scarcely possible
that the gentleman before him was that great man.
Von Barwig was silent, smiling a little at Pinac's enthusiasm, but
as he did not deny his identity Pinac felt sure that he was right. The
three men soon became quite friendly and often met in the little
café to talk things over. Galazatti's was frequented chiefly by
foreigners and the din of loud voices added to the rattle and clatter
of knives and forks made conversation difficult. But its patrons soon
became used to this and the table d'hôte was cheap and good at
the price, twenty-five cents. It was a combination of East Side Tivoli
and French Brasserie and Hungarian Goulash Rendezvousa tiny
cosmopolis in itselfand it did a rushing business.
So the months dragged along in unending monotony. Poor Von Barwig
tried hard to do work that would please the gentlemen who controlled
the music trades, but failed. One day, while looking over his
manuscripts to discover if possible the cause of his failure, he was
struck by the similarity of one of his compositions to another. They
all seemed to contain the same melody, in one form or another, and he
saw plainly at last that he was subconsciously haunted by the leading
motif of the first movement of his last symphony, the symphony that was
played on that dreadful night for the first and last time. The
inference was plain enough. This melody haunted him, he could not
forget it; it showed itself in all his work and he realised that his
career as a composer had come to an end.
After that Von Barwig tore up all his compositions and turned his
attention to teaching, an occupation he had always hated ever since he
had given up the professorship of counterpoint and harmony in the
Leipsic Conservatory. Teachingthe very thought had made him shudder.
He looked about him and found that New York was fast moving uptown, and
that Houston Street was not a good locality for a musical conservatory.
People who could afford to study music did not live in that
neighbourhood; but he could not summon up sufficient energy or courage
to leave the place. He had come to like the old house; it had become a
home to him now. He liked Miss Husted, too, though she made him the
repository for all her troubles, and then there were Fico, and Pinac
and Jennyhe really loved Jenny. His little world was all in Houston
Street and he made up his mind not to leave it, even if the location
made the getting of pupils harder. Besides he felt that he was not a
fashionable teacher; he could teach only those who learned music
because they loved it and not because they wanted to be accomplished.
Von Barwig did not speak to his friends of all this; his pride would
not allow him to discuss his personal affairs with them. Besides
neither Pinac nor Fico could throw much light on the pupil question,
for though they were musicians, yes, for they played, they did not
teach. Pinac did not even know until Von Barwig showed him how to hold
his violin properly he used to grab it with his whole hand instead of
by his finger and thumb; and as for Fico, he could not read music until
Von Barwig taught him, but played the mandolin, guitar and piano by
ear. These men were not only grateful to Von Barwig for his kindness,
but they loved him, and recognising in him the real artist had
unbounded respect for him. As for Von Barwig, he found them simple
fellows, sentimental, unpretentious and good-hearted, and he liked them
and felt at ease with them because they did not seek to probe into that
part of his life which he preferred should remain unknown to them. They
merely accepted him as they found him and for this Von Barwig was
grateful. As time went on, Von Barwig found himself badly in need of
ready money. One day when Miss Husted came for her rent, he hesitated
before he paid her; he had forgotten it was rent day and was
unprepared. The poor lady was kindness itself, but her kindness
embarrassed Von Barwig extremely, for he had never been in a position
in his life where he actually needed cash for his daily wants.
Leave it a week, a month, a year, my dear professor! said Miss
Husted, and she implored him not to pay her if it afforded him the
I go to the bankif you come in an hour I will have it for you,
said poor Von Barwig, quite overcome. He did not know what it was to be
behind, and the experience was painful to him.
This was the beginning of the end, and the valuable Amati violin
soon went for eight hundred dollars, one-fourth its value, to a
scoundrelly violin maker and dealer who told Von Barwig he had tried
everywhere but could get no more for it, since there was a doubt as to
Von Barwig took the money, which was further decreased by a twenty
per cent. commission. The man told him he was very lucky to get it; and
perhaps he was.
This amount tided Von Barwig over for several months, during which
time he secured several pupils and seemed for a time to be in a fair
way to make a living. Be it understood that he was no longer the Anton
Von Barwig who lived in Leipsic ten years before. Gone was the fire of
his genius; dead was his ambition. His soul was not in his workthe
man was alive, but the artist was dead.
And so the years passed away; one, two, three, Von Barwig did not
keep count now. One year was just like another, equally profitless,
equally monotonous; the struggle for existence just as keen, the
interest in this or that pupil just as superficial, the interest in
obtaining pupils perhaps the greatest of all. But the drudgery of
teaching the young mind to distinguish between crotchet and quaver, and
mark time, mark time, wore Von Barwig out.
Good God, he would think, will it ever come that time shall cease
to be, and I shall cease to mark it? The old man often smiled as he
contrasted the Leipsic days with the present. Then he had but to raise
his arm and from a hundred instruments and five hundred voices would
vibrate sounds of beauty, of colour, of joy, in harmony and rhythm. Now
when he beat time some dirty-fingered little pupil would tinkle out
sounds that nearly drove him mad with their monotony. Von Barwig had
been compelled to sell his good piano and rent one on the installment
plan; a cheap tin-pan affair, with a sounding board that sent forth the
most metallic sort of music. This went on until Von Barwig hated the
very sound of a musical instrument. He must have suffered terribly, but
he made no mention of it. At the close of his day's work he would shut
his piano wearily, put away his violin and go to Galazatti's, where he
would meet his friends, Fico and Pinac. He did not complain, but they
did. Fico was playing the mandolin on a Coney Island boat; Pinac was
doing nothing, but sat in Galazatti's all day. When they complained to
Von Barwig of their ill luck, their inability to obtain good
engagements because they could not get into the Musical Union, Von
Barwig did not spare them. He told them plainly that they had talent
but that they were lazy; they would neither study nor practise, and yet
they expected to enjoy the fruits of labour without its drudgery. Both
Fico and Pinac felt that he was right, and from that day forward they
did practise and study, with the result that a year or so later they
were admitted into the Union; but times were hard and good regular
engagements were rare.
One day while Von Barwig was labouring hard to beat time and other
musical values into the head of a square-browed, freckle-faced youth of
nineteen, whom nature had ordained for the carpenter's bench and not
for the piano, a knock came at the door, and on invitation to enter, in
came a little fellow not more than nine years of age, black-haired,
dark-eyed, of olive complexion, his features plainly bearing the stamp
of his Hebraic origin. As he stood at the door trying to speak, Von
Barwig could not help commenting on his finely chiselled features and
the intelligence and fire in his eyes.
What can I do for you, little man? inquired Von Barwig. His soft
voice and kindly look of interest gave the boy courage; for he was
obviously afraid to speak.
Come to me, said Von Barwig tenderly, and after he had closed the
door, he placed his arm around the boy's neck. The old man's trained
eye discerned in a moment the sensitive play of the lad's mouth, the
quivering of the nostril that denotes what we call temperament.
I want to studyI want to learnand they won't let me, blurted
out the boy, bursting into tears.
Who won't let you? gently inquired Von Barwig.
My people, sobbed the child.
Hully Gee, you're in luck! interrupted the shock-headed youth. I
wish my people wouldn't let me.
You go home, Underman! You have no soul; this child has.
You bet I will! and with a dart at his hat, the big boy seized it
and ran out of the door in a moment.
So you want to study music and they won't let you?
Yes, sir. Ithey'll let me play at night, but in the daytime, II
In a short half hour Von Barwig made the discovery that the child
was a musical genius. He had taken no lessons and yet his manipulation
of the keys was marvellous, but all by ear. Chords, arpeggios,
diminished sevenths, modulation, expression, all were mixed up in
formless melody. The boy knew nothing, but felt everything. In Von
Barwig's experience it had generally been the other way.
Who sent you to me? asked Von Barwig after he had heard the child
The sign says that you teach music, and IIthen I saw your name
outside. The little fellow seemed to think that he had committed some
crime in coming in unasked. Von Barwig put him at his ease, then called
in Pinac and Fico, and they listened to the child's playing in
open-mouthed astonishment. Bit by bit Von Barwig elicited his history
from him. His name, it appeared, was Josef Branski, and he was the
oldest of seven children. His father and mother had come from Warsaw,
in Poland, and worked in a sweat shop below Grand Street near the
river. Josef himself worked there, too, and helped to support his
family, who all lived in three small rooms. His parents would miss him
and be angry, he said, and this partly accounted for the little
fellow's anxiety. Von Barwig shook his head; he already had many pupils
who couldn't pay, as well as several who didn't pay, but here was one
who had to steal the time in which to learn his beloved art. It would
be a crime not to teach the boy, he thought, so he determined to take
him as his pupil.
Some six months later an excited Pole bounded into Von Barwig's room
and in a mixture of Polish, German and Hebrew threatened Von Barwig
with the law if he continued to take his son away from him. He was, as
nearly as Von Barwig could make out, little Josef Branski's father. Von
Barwig vainly endeavoured to explain to the man that the boy could make
his parents rich if they allowed him to study and develop himself as an
artist, but they must give him time to practise, instead of compelling
him to sew at a machine twelve or fourteen hours a day. The older
Branski either could not or would not understand. He declared that he
did not want his son to be a worthless musician (for he evidently
associated Von Barwig with the gipsy, an inferior type of musician) and
could not be made to understand that the boy had talent, even genius.
He needed the boy's help and wanted no further interference from Von
Barwig. Von Barwig saw that it was useless and gave up trying to
dissuade him from his purpose in condemning the boy to the merciless
grind of a sweat shop machine. So it was that little Josef came at
night only for his lessons. This went on for some time, but Von Barwig
shook his head sadly as he saw that the boy was tired out with his
day's work and could not take in the instruction. Finally he told Josef
that he had better not come again, as the strain of night study
following the grind of machine work during the day was plainly telling
on his health. But the boy pleaded hard:
Take away my music and you take away my life, he said. Some day
father and mother will see and then they'll let me study with you.
Von Barwig looked at the boy sadly.
They love me and they want to see me famous, but they don't
understand. They work so hard, they have so little to eat, and there
are so many of them. Mother can't work, you know, she has to nurse the
baby. I must do all I can; I'm the eldest, it's my duty!
The boy's eyes filled with tears as he thought of the hardships his
parents went through. Father worked till twelve o'clock last night;
he's working now, and the little chap looked at the cuckoo clock,
which was just striking ten.
How long will it be before I can play to the gentlemen you're going
to take me to? he asked wistfully.
I think you'd better have a little rest before you play to them,
Josef. You've been working very hard; up at five, to bed at midnight!
Von Barwig noticed that Josef's face was peaked and white, but his
great black eyes looked appealingly at his master.
But I must play to them; they'll give me money and I can give the
money to father. Then he'll believe me, and he'll believe you, said
the boy in a tearful voice. His urgent, appealing manner had its effect
on Von Barwig.
I'll take you to-morrow morning, he said. Will your father let
I'll beg him, I'll beg him, oh, so hard, on my bended knees. He
won't refuse, he can't refuse! If he does, II'll just make an excuse
and leave the machine as if I were going for oil, or cotton or
something. I'll come! Don't disappoint me, will you?
And so it was arranged that the boy should call for Von Barwig on
the morrow and that they should go to Steinway Hall, where Josef should
play before some musical gentlemen that Von Barwig had come to know.
The morning arrived, but little Josef did not appear. After waiting
three hours, Von Barwig made up his mind that the father would not let
the boy go, so he sadly gave up the idea for that day, and waited till
evening for Josef to come as usual for his lesson. When the child did
not come, Von Barwig experienced again that sensation of fear, for the
first time in several years; and with it came the train of sickening
thought, the old dread of impending evil. Von Barwig soon threw this
off, and waited for events with as much calmness and patience as he
could muster up.
A week passed, and Miss Husted could not understand why Von Barwig
spoke in such a low tone when he replied to her cheery good-evening.
Mrs. Mangenborn put it down to hard times. Jenny knew something was
wrong, for he said very little to her as she swept out his room. She
knew something had happened, but experience had taught her that
sympathy doesn't ask questions. As for Pinac and Fico, they were too
full of their own affairs to notice anything unless it was brought
directly to their attention, and as Von Barwig made it a rule never to
burden other people with his troubles they were in blissful ignorance
of his mental perturbation. So it went on till the tenth day, when Von
Barwig made up his mind to go and call on his little pupil and find out
what was the matter.
After much hunting and questioning, Von Barwig found the family he
was looking for on the fourth floor of a crowded tenement house in
Rivington Street. He heard the whirr of sewing machines and as he
opened the door he saw the father of his pupil, and several others, all
sewing rapidly as if for dear life. The six machines made such a noise
he could barely hear the sound of his own voice. As soon as Branski saw
Von Barwig, he jumped up from his machine and railed at him in terms of
bitter reproach. It was well perhaps that Von Barwig could not
understand and that the noise of the machines and the crying of babies
prevented his hearing what was said. The father pointed into the next
room and motioned him to go in there. Pushing aside a little chintz
curtain, for there was no door, Von Barwig saw the object of his search
lying on a cot in the corner of a small inner room with no window, only
an air shaft for light and air, moaning in the grasp of mortal illness.
The mother sat by the bedside of the sick boy rocking herself
slowly, and at the same time holding a babe to her heart. The little
one was trying in vain to get sustenance enough to satisfy its pangs of
hunger and crying because it couldn't. Another child of two years of
age was playing on the floor, banging two pieces of wood together and
shouting gleefully when it succeeded in making a noise. The woman
looked at her sick son helplessly and then at Von Barwig.
Doctor? she asked feebly.
Von Barwig shook his head slowly. He saw that his little pupil was
too weak to recognise him and gazed at him too moved to speak. His lips
quivered, and kneeling down by the lad's bedside he wept scalding hot
tears of agony, for he felt rather than knew that the boy was dying. It
appeared from the mother's story that when Josef had reached home that
night he had been in too excited a state to sleep. All night he moaned
and tossedthe next morning he was delirious. The prospect of
deliverance from his life of drudgery had been too much for him and had
resulted in brain fever. The doctor said he had a bad cold, then
finally announced that tubercular complications had set in, and as
nearly as Von Barwig could find out the boy was now rapidly wasting
away with the dreaded white disease. Von Barwig looked around him
helplessly; the light was bad, the air rank poison and the noise and
What hope could there be for his recovery? thought Von Barwig, and
he then and there resolved on a plan of action. Before he left the
house he had given the father all the money he had and secured a room
with plenty of light and air and a nurse for the boy. His efforts were
crowned with success. In a few weeks little Josef was gently nursed
back to life, and at the first signs of returning health Von Barwig saw
to it that he was sent South. His only chance, the doctor had said.
It was Von Barwig who gave him that chance, but in order to do so he
parted with his last remaining bit of valuable jewelry.
* * * * * *
It was some time before Von Barwig recovered from the effects of
witnessing the sufferings of his pupil. When Jenny asked him about
Josef Branski he smiled sadly and shook his head.
The doctor says it may be years before he can touch an instrument
again. Poor Josefhis little frame completely went to pieces under the
burning fire of his genius; if any one was ever born out of harmony
with his surroundings, he was. He might have become a great artist,
added Von Barwig thoughtfully and then he sighed. It was a great
struggle for him to send the money to keep the little chap alive down
South, but he made the sacrifice without a murmur. If only the boy
recovered, it would be sufficient reward for all his work. But it was
not to be, for a few weeks later they brought him the news that his
little pupil had died peacefully, without pain. Von Barwig said
nothinghis mouth tightened a little and he smiled, a sad, far-away
smile. Miss Husted tried to cheer him up. She had learned from Jenny
the details of the affair and her heart went out to the old man in
womanly sympathy. She had liked the boy, too, and when he came for his
lesson had given him many a slice of cake, for she thought he always
looked pinched and hungry, underfed, as she called it.
Do come and have a bit of dinner with us, professor, she said.
With her dinner was a universal panacea, but Von Barwig declined with
many thanks. He had grown to like Miss Husted and realised that she was
far, far above the average woman of her class. Moreover, he felt that
she liked him, and sympathy begets sympathy.
Professor, you are always doing things for folks, but you never
allow folks to do anything for you, said Miss Husted, slightly piqued
by his refusal of her invitation.
Ah, then I accept! said Von Barwig, seeing that she was hurt,
just to show you that you are more powerful than my own resolutions.
But I warn you I shall be sad company; I don't feel quite myself
tonight. It is better, far better, that little Josef should haveleft
us, for I do not think he would have ever been strong enough to play
again, but and Von Barwig sighed, it is sad enough. A little light
prematurely snuffed out is always sad. Ah, well! I won't make you
miserable. Life is full of sorrow for us all; don't let me selfishly
add to yours.
At dinner he was the life of the party. He pinched Jenny's cheek; he
joked with Miss Husted; he smiled at Thurza, and he even ventured a few
remarks to Mrs. Mangenborn, whom he cordially disliked. Every one
present thought that Von Barwig was as happy as could be.
That night, after he had closed the door of his room he sighed
deeply and looked out of his window into the street at the blinking
lamplights. Once more that mournful far-away expression came into his
face and he asked himself: Why? Why is it my fate to lose everything I
love? Have I not yet drunk the dregs of my cup of sorrow?
* * * * * *
Good-night, professor, came Miss Husted's cheery voice from the
hallway, interrupting his reverie.
Good-night, Mr. Von Barwig, said Jenny, as she passed his room on
her way to bed. He opened the door and kissed her tenderly.
Good-night, good-night, my friends, said Von Barwig. The sound of
their voices comforted him not a little and then he thought, I mustn't
be ungrateful; there are many, many kind hearts in this world. And he
slept peacefully all that night.
The next morning, while Von Barwig was waiting for a pupilhe had
very few in these daysJenny came into his room with a letter, at the
sight of which his heart beat rapidly, for it was post-marked Germany.
The handwriting was in a boyish scrawl he did not recognise.
Not many pupils to-day? ventured Jenny.
No, they don't come; I'm afraid this is not just exactly the
neighbourhood. New York is going uptown. I gave only fifteen lessons
That's not bad, is it? asked Jenny.
Not so bad when they pay, but they don't, laughed Von Barwig, and
seeing that his visitor was in no hurry to leave him, Von Barwig
ventured to open his letter and read it. He read it again and then
looked at Jenny with such a perplexed expression on his face that she
was forced to laugh in spite of herself.
Young Poons is coming, he said finally.
Is he? replied Jenny doubtfully.
Yes, he is coming. He is the son of an old friend; a very dear old
friend. His name is August and he wants me toto give him a start in
life. He is a 'cello player. You know what is a 'cello? It's a large
violin and stands up when you play it, so, and he took his own violin
and placing it between his knees showed her how the 'cello was
He sails on the steamship City of Berlin. He is coming here
to make his fortune, and Von Barwig laughed at the idea of making a
fortune at music in America.
How old is he? asked Jenny.
Humhe must be seventeen by this time! Jenny became quite
interested. I knew him when he was quite a little chap; his father was
a horn player in my orchestra atat Von Barwig hesitated; in
Germany. I must help him. Yes, Jenny, I must help him. Poor old August,
I must be a father to his son! He was a dear little chap, he said
reminiscently. Tell your aunt we shall want one of her bedrooms on the
top floor if it is at liberty.
The one next to Mr. Pinac is empty. Aunt will be so pleased that a
friend of yours is going to take it. And Jenny rushed off to acquaint
her aunt with the good news.
Von Barwig told the news of the impending arrival of his friend's
son to Pinac and Fico, and the three men went down to the docks to meet
him. At the docks they learned that he had arrived with eleven hundred
other steerage passengers and had landed at Castle Garden, so they went
down to the Battery to try and find him. They found him in an inner
room off the immigrants' reception hall, sitting on an old trunk, and
busily engaged in trying to prevent his 'cello, which was protected
only by a green bag, from being smashed by the rushing, gesticulating
crowd of baggage men, porters and immigrants. With his round, smiling
face and blond hair he was the picture of his father, and Von Barwig,
recognising him in a moment, embraced him cordially.
I am to be sent back, he cried in German.
Nonsense! said Von Barwig, placing his arm around the young man
affectionately. After Von Barwig had introduced his friend, they
noticed his crestfallen manner.
What's the matter? asked Pinac, who could not understand German,
but who knew something was wrong, and wanted to show Poons that he knew
the ropes in the States. Poons poured out a tale of woe which was
intended to touch Von Barwig's heart and gain his sympathy, instead of
which it made him laugh heartily.
Some one is investing his money for him and hasn't come back yet,
Von Barwig confided to his friends; and they laughed too. Poons could
not understand why the men laughed at his troubles. The simple German
lad had been swindled out of all his money, two hundred marks, by the
simplest and most transparent of the many methods of swindling, the
confidence game, and the immigration authorities had refused to allow
him to land, as he had no means of subsistence. Von Barwig had very
little money with him, so he consulted with his friends. They were
playing in a café at night and had a few dollars in their
pockets, which they cheerfully handed to Von Barwig. Between them they
managed to find the necessary money and Poons was allowed to land. On
the way uptown the boy was profuse in his gratitude for the money that
Von Barwig had sent to his mother while she lived. It was she who had
given her son Von Barwig's address and begged him to seek him out in
America and greet him for her. Poons was greatly astonished at Von
Barwig's appearance and condition, for he had always heard of him as
one of the great conductors of Germany. He did not understand how Herr
Von Barwig could be so poor, but he accepted the facts as they were and
ceased to ask himself any further questions.
In due course they arrived at Miss Husted's and young Poons, bag and
baggage and 'cello, was shortly afterward ensconced in a hall bedroom
on the top floor of that lady's establishment. Von Barwig hurried to
his room, locked the door and looked around him. A little later when he
let himself quietly into the street, he had under his arm, carefully
wrapped up, his cuckoo clock and a couple of pictures. That night at
Galazatti's, when he handed to Pinac and Fico the money he had borrowed
from them at Castle Garden and paid for the little dinner which he gave
them to celebrate the arrival of Poons in America, they did not suspect
that he had spent the very last dollar he had in the world.
* * * * * *
Young Poons was not a success at first. He had a good technique and
was a well-grounded musician, but he could not get an engagement suited
to him, as he was not in the Union, and the foolish boy would not play
dance music. He said he couldn't, and unfortunately the responsibility
for his financial condition rested on Von Barwig. It was he who was
compelled to make arrangements with Miss Husted and it was a hard blow
to him to have the additional incumbrance, especially when times were
so hard and pupils so scarce. It may be imagined that Miss Husted did
not take very kindly to the new arrival, who was unable to pay even his
first week's room rent. Of course she sympathised with his misfortune,
but thought he should have taken care of his money and not have handed
it to the first person who asked for it, so that now he was a pauper.
She discussed this delicate point with Mrs. Mangenborn in the strict
privacy of her room, but Jenny's ears were very sharp and her sympathy
went out to young Poons. Poor young man, she thought, what a pity
that he had been robbed. That his mother and father were dead added to
the romance, and she felt a sort of a fellow-orphan's interest in him.
Poor boy! robbed of his fortune on his arrival in a strange country;
penniless and homeless; can't speak a word of English; as helpless as a
child. The maternal instinct in the child was aroused, and his large
innocent blue eyes and blond hair made a very strong appeal to her. He
needed a mother and she determined to be a mother to him. So, many a
little delicacy was left surreptitiously in his room; now a box of
chocolates, now a slice of cake, or even a few flowers. When young
Poons would thank Miss Husted for these attentions in the choicest
German that lady would turn on him and tell him to mind his own
business, and he would smile and bow deferentially to her, saying, Ja,
As the weeks went on, the struggle for Von Barwig to pay expenses
became greater and greater. Poons saw that it was an effort and
determined to sink his pride, so he begged Pinac to help him get
something for him to do; anything, anywhere. It was a great day for
Poons when Fico announced to him that the proprietor of the café
where they played had given them permission to bring him and his 'cello
on trial for a week at a salary of six dollars and his supper, at the
end of the night concert. Jenny was quite proud. I told you that Mr.
Poons would succeed, she said joyfully to her aunt.
Wait, replied Miss Husted, he's not out of the woods yet.
But she was mistaken, for he held on to his engagement and at the
end of the week was taken on permanently. This was most fortunate, for
by this time Von Barwig had completely denuded his room of all
superfluous articles of value; even the fine old prints that had
adorned his bedroom went for a mere trifle. A silver baton that had
been given him by the director of the Gewandhaus was the last thing to
go. It was quite a wrench to part with it, for it was the last link
between Von Barwig and his musical past.
In the meantime he had lowered his prices for music lessons in the
hopes of increasing the number of his pupils, and at Miss Husted's
suggestion even had a new sign made with large letters in gold-leaf.
But pupils did not come, and Von Barwig felt that he was indeed doomed
to failure. Everything he touched turned to dross; his one pupil of
promise had died; there was no future, no outlook, no hope, and yet he
did not give up, nor did he speak of his troubles to his friends. How
he kept Miss Husted paid up she never knew, and yet, punctually every
week, he handed to her the sum of money due her. When he suggested
taking a smaller room upstairs she offered to lower the price of the
room he was occupying. This sacrifice the old man would not accept; so
he remained where he was, always hoping, hoping, hoping. He did not
complain directly to her, but she knew that he was taking in little or
no money. She blamed him for not being more exacting with those who
were indebted to him, and as a matter of fact had he been able to
collect all that was owing to him he would have been in far better
circumstances; but no one seemed to think he needed moneyhe had such
a prosperous air.
What can I do? said Von Barwig apologetically, when she told him
to sue his delinquent pupils. I tell them their course of lessons is
finished and they make no reply, or if they do, it is an excuse or a
promise. I cannot go to law with them, and if I could, just think what
it would cost for the lawyer! Besides, they are very poorthese
neighbours of ours. Music with them is a luxury, not a necessity. Poor
souls, it brings a little joy into their lives! They struggle so hard
to get higher in the scale of existence; why should I impede their
progress by demanding my pound of flesh? No, my dear Miss Husted, they
do the best they can; but they are poor.
And so are you, replied Miss Husted, shaking her curls.
Von Barwig shook his head dubiously. I'm afraidII don't put my
heart into my work. He did not like to tell her he thought the
neighborhood he lived in was partly to blame.
Who could put soul into a thing like that? and he pointed to a
cheap violin he had bought to play to his pupils when he taught them.
Or that? and he dropped the lid of his piano to show his contempt for
the tin pan, called by courtesy a concert grand. Miss Husted looked
sad; the ever-present tear was close at hand and Von Barwig saw it
But, never mind, my dear Miss Husted; all comes right in the end!
It's all for some good or other. I can't see it myself, but I know it's
all for my good. Come! Cheer up, cheer up! and he looked at her with
such a beatific smile that she thought for the moment that she was very
unhappy and that he was trying to help her.
Very well, I will, she said resignedly, allowing herself to be
That was one of Von Barwig's individual traits. No one ever thought
of cheering him up, for no one knew that he suffered, except perhaps
Jenny. She alone saw through his smile, and felt rather than knew that
it hid a heart torn with suffering and emotion.
A few days after this Von Barwig read in one of the papers that a
man named Van Praag, whom he knew years before in Berlin as a
ticket-taker in one of the theatres, was going to give a series of
concerts in one of the large concert halls in New York. He mustered up
courage to go and see him. Van Praag received him cordially and invited
him to dinner that evening at one of the big hotels. Von Barwig put on
his old dress suit, and Houston Mansion quickly recognised the fact.
Miss Husted especially was most enthusiastic.
Oh, professor, how well you look! she cried. Mrs. Mangenborn, do
come and see the professor with his evening clothes on, he looks a
Von Barwig was compelled to leave an hour before the time appointed
for the dinner, in order to escape from the congratulations of his
friends. That night, for the first time in his life, he begged for a
position. He had failed at composing, at teaching, at playing, but
surely he could still conduct an orchestra. The desire for success grew
on him again. Van Praag seemed convinced, and at the end of the dinner,
after taking his address, he promised Von Barwig he would do what he
could; but he must consult the director first, etc., etc.
Von Barwig went home that night almost happy. A pint of champagne at
dinner, with a liqueur afterward, had completely aroused his spirit;
and for the first time in many years he felt quite jovial. He went to
bed but couldn't go to sleep, so he rose and awakened Pinac and Fico
out of their slumbers to tell them the good news, adding that he
intended to engage them for his orchestra. Poons, hearing the sound of
voices in the room next to his, came in, and the men sat talking over
their prospects. Their hopes, their ambitions were about to be
realised, and they talked and smoked the cigars Von Barwig had brought
home with him until sleep was out of the question; they were too
excited to go to bed again. Twice did Miss Husted send up to beg them
to make less noise, as the second floor front, Mrs. Mangenborn, had
complained that her slumbers were being rudely disturbed. So the men
dressed themselves and went down into Von Barwig's rooms, where they
sat till daylight, talking and smoking; after which they all went out
to breakfast at Galazatti's.
As the weeks went by and Von Barwig received no word from Van Praag
the certainty of the engagement died out and became merely a hope.
Finally Von Barwig came to the conclusion that Van Praag had forgotten,
and wrote to him reminding him of his promise. He received no answer to
his letter, and even the hope of getting the engagement died out some
few months after its birth.
The winter had now fairly set in and it was remembered by New
Yorkers as the hardest in many years. Miss Husted declared it was the
coldest in her experience, for the plumber's presence was constantly
required to thaw out the frozen pipes. Certainly Von Barwig remembered
it because he had to wrap blankets around him to keep warm while he was
copying music at a few cents a page. He had other uses for the money
that coal would cost; besides it was very expensive. So he preferred to
write in bed rather than spend money for fuel, until one day some sixty
odd pages of music were returned to him, because they were so badly
written as to be almost illegible. The fact is, the old man's hands
trembled so with the cold that he could not hold his pen tightly. After
this loss he gave up copying music, and so even this last meagre means
of getting money was denied him.
As he walked up and down his room, feeling intuitively that it was
breakfast time, he became really angry with himself for his repeated
failures. Lately he had been thinking of his wife and child; but
fourteen years had somewhat benumbed his memory. When he thought of the
happiness of his life with them, it was more as a happy dream that he
delighted to ponder over than a tangible something of which he had been
robbed. The wound was there but the pain had ceased.
Are you coming out to breakfast? said Pinac's voice outside.
Come on, Anton, shouted Fico, it's late!
I've had my breakfast, said Von Barwig, and he felt that he was
lying in a good cause. The men would have torn down the door and
carried him over to the restaurant by main force had they guessed the
truth. Thank God it hasn't come to that, he thought.
He is an early bird, commented Pinac, and he went out humming the
latest music-hall ditty which he was playing nightly to the patrons of
the café. Poons went along; he had no more idea of his
benefactor's condition than the man in the moon. The three men had not
seen much of him lately, for they always left him to himself when he
signified by his silence that he wanted to be alone. They respected his
dignity, his slightest suggestion was law to them; they loved him, so
they left him alone.
Come on, you wretch, said Von Barwig to his violin, after the men
had gone, you are the last of the Mohicans! and, polishing it, he put
it in its case, having determined to sell it.
This will be the first meal with which you have provided me, he
said, shaking his fist at it, so at last you are going to accomplish
something, you cheap wooden cigar-box of a fiddle! I cannot play you to
advantage but I can eat you. That's all you are good fora few dinners
and breakfasts! He went out into the street with the violin under his
cloak, and from Houston Street he turned into the Bowery. There was no
elevated road at that time and the thundering, ear-splitting, overhead
noises heard nowadays were not yet in existence. Still it was noisy, a
perfect bedlam of jabbering foreigners, who crowded this busiest of
busy streets as they crowded no other section of this cosmopolitan
city. Von Barwig, usually so sensitive to noises, apparently did not
notice this babel. Curiously enough his thoughts were miles away from
New York, and the idea that he was going to sell his violin to buy a
breakfast was not borne in upon him with sufficient force to prevent
his thinking of something else. Although it was very cold he did not
notice the weather, so he did not walk fast. His progress was a
mechanical movement, for in fancy he was in Leipsic again, walking down
the August Platz. It was a pleasant day dream, one from which Von
Barwig did not like to awaken himself. He pictured to himself the joy,
the happiness of his loved ones when they saw him, and thus he felt the
reflex of this joy. These mental pictures were almost real to him, and
he enjoyed them while they lasted, though he knew that they were not
It is better to dream than to think of the present, he said to
himself. What is there going on about me but misery and starvation and
folly? Why should I focus my mind on the evils of existence, analyse
them, make them my bosom companions to the exclusion of all joy? No, I
will think of those things that make for happiness. Little Hélène shall
be my companion. These shadows (and he looked at the people who passed
him), these caricatures of life shall not find a place in my mind. I
will shut them out and in that way they shall cease to exist for me;
since what we do not know cannot make us suffer.
Von Barwig walked down the crowded thoroughfare, barely conscious
that he was dreaming, yet in his dreams finding peace. The old man knew
that there was a musical instrument shop somewhere in the
neighbourhood, but it is quite possible that he would have passed it by
had not the sound of a loud, roaring voice, accompanied by the banging
of a big drum, attracted, or rather demanded his attention and aroused
him from his day dream.
Eat 'em alive, eat 'em alive! bellowed the voice. Bang! bang! went
the drum. Bosco, Bosco, the armless wonder, bang! bang! bites their
heads off and eats their bodies; eats 'em alive, eats 'em alive! Bang!
bang! Bosco, Bosco! the drum punctuating each phrase, making a
hideous, ear-splitting duet.
What hellish syncopation! thought poor Von Barwig mechanically, as
he looked at the individual from whom issued the voice that sounded so
like the bellowing of a bull.
The owner of this extraordinary vocal organ was a big, fat,
florid-faced individual with a dark, bluish-red complexion. He wore a
flaring diamond ring around a glaring red necktie; and a loud checked
suit that matched his voice perfectly. In fact, his whole make-up
harmonised remarkably with the unearthly noise that issued from his
throat. He was standing before a flashy-fronted building, on which was
painted in large yellow letters, intended to be gold, the legend Dime
Museum. In the front entrance were several cheap wax figures of a
theatrical nature, and some still cheaper scenes, showing the figure of
a nude savage without arms, biting the head off a huge fish and eating
it alive apparently. On the canvas were also painted pictures of a wild
man from Borneo, a tattooed man, a skeleton, numerous fat ladies,
mermaids, sylphs, and fauns; the whole forming a group of pictures and
figures calculated to arrest the attention of the passers-by and
attract them into the theatretorium, as he of the loud voice called
It was not the paintings that caught Von Barwig's attention; it was
the voice that offended his sensitive ear. He looked at the man in
astonishment; never in his life had he heard such an utter lack of
music in a human voice, such volume of tone, such a surplusage of
quantity and an absence of quality. Barwig was fascinated and wondered
how it could be possible. At this moment he caught the man's eye, and
then a strange thing happened. The man stopped roaring, and, looking
over at Von Barwig, in a more natural tone called out:
Say, professor, I want to see you.
Are you speaking to me? said Von Barwig; his voice faltering.
Yes, replied the showman, that's just what I am. Coming over to
Von Barwig he took him by the arm and led him almost by force into the
entrance of the Museum. Say, professor, he asked, how would you like
A job? Von Barwig repeated helplessly, trying to realise the
meaning of the man's words.
A job; yes, to be sure. Can you thump the ivories?
Thump the ivories? Von Barwig looked so mystified that the man
volunteered an explanation.
Play the pianner, and suiting the action to the word he perforated
the air with ten large fingers.
I playyes. II play a littlenot well
Well, do you want the job? We've got a day professor, but we need a
night professor. Day professor plays from eight till eight; night
professor from eight till two or three. Depends on the crowds. Come on,
now; I like your looks. Say the word and the job is yours.
It was not pride that made Von Barwig silent when he wanted to
speak; he simply did not grasp the man's meaning.
I see you've got your fiddle there. You can play the incidental
music for the dramas with that; and you can play the pianner for the
curios and the intermissions. Dollar a night; what do you say?
A dollar a night! Von Barwig at last caught the man's meaning. He
wanted him to play for that amount, at night, and it would not
interfere with his teaching in the daytime.
I only play a very little, just enough to show my pupils, he said
Oh, you're all right! You can read music, can't you?
Von Barwig smiled. Yes, he replied simply.
Well, you'll get on to it.
But Von Barwig still held back.
What's the matter, ain't it enough?
Von Barwig was silent.
Damn it all, the showman blurted out. I'll risk it; a dollar and
a half a night. Your long hair is worth that; you look the goods. I'll
make a special feature of youa real professor. Come on inside and
take a look at the place. A dollar and a half a night, eight till
three; is it a bargain?
Von Barwig paused, then drew a long deep breath and nodded
You'll be finefine, said he of the big voice. I can see it in
your eye; you ain't one of them smart felleys.
He grabbed the hand of his new attraction and shook it heartily.
Say, George, he roared, come here! This is the new night professor.
George, the young man who was beating the drum, ceased that
occupation and came over to the showman and Von Barwig.
What's your name? the showman suddenly asked Von Barwig.
Anton Von Barwig, came the reply in a low tone.
Well, Anton, my name is Costello, Al Costello. Then with dignity,
Professor Anton, shake hands with George Pikehe's my assistant. This
is the new night professor, George.
Happy to meet you, professor, said that individual, grasping Von
Barwig's hand and shaking it effusively. This hand-shaking process
seemed a part of the theatrical trade.
Say, George, take him inside and introduce him to the curios and
just tell 'em from me that if they don't treat him better than they did
the other night professor, by the eternal jumpin' Jerusalem, I'll fire
the whole bunch! With that Mr. Costello slapped Von Barwig on the
back, and resumed his occupation of attracting public attention.
As George and Von Barwig passed the turnstile and went up the
passage that led into the main hall, the huge voice outside continued
Bosco, Bosco, the armless wonder! Bites their heads off and eats
their bodies; eats them alive, eats them alive! And so Anton Von
Barwig became the night professor in a dime museum on the Bowery.
It astonished even Von Barwig himself, when he found how easily he
adapted himself to his new position. In a very short time he found his
occupation far less irksome and tedious than he had expected. As to the
disgrace of appearing nightly in a dime museum, Von Barwig felt it
keenly enough, but he preferred to pay his way and suffer himself,
rather than to make others suffer through his inability to make
sufficient money to meet his expenses. Not a word escaped him as to his
new engagement, for he was determined not to parade his shame before
his friends' eyes until it became absolutely necessary for them to
[Illustration: Anton Von Barwig is compelled to pawn his favorite
His duties were simple enough in their way; he extemporised
incidental music on the piano or violin while the curios were being
exhibited, and during the progress of the little abbreviated dramas
that were played by the troupe of actors in the theatre upstairs. It
did not add to Von Barwig's happiness that Mr. Costello always insisted
upon calling the attention of the audience to the special music as
played by Professor An-tone of Germany, Europe, and would
point at him and start clapping until the audience gave him the round
of applause that he felt the professor was entitled to. To Von Barwig's
astonishment and embarrassment, Costello took a violent fancy to him,
and would talk to him whenever a chance offered itself.
Professor, he would say, you're different from the gang that
hangs around here. I like to talk to you; it does me good. You don't
never try to give me no songs and dances about how much more you're
worth than I'm paying you, and how much more you know than the day
professor. You ain't forever talkin' about yourself.
Von Barwig accepted this praise philosophically. He didn't in the
least understand it, but he felt that Mr. Costello intended to be
complimentary. He was grateful to him, too, for the man had raised his
salary to two dollars a night without being asked, and on several
occasions had let him go home early. Besides that, he treated Von
Barwig with far more consideration and respect than he did any one
else, even his own wife. The latter liked the professor and told her
husband she was sure he had seen better days.
This deference made things much easier for the night professor, who
otherwise would have suffered many an indignity. Indeed the position
seemed to call for special insult from any one who chose to bestow it.
He heard the day professor roundly abused on several occasions because
he did not play to suit the performers. Not only insults, but cushions
were flung at him, and Von Barwig determined if ever this happened to
him he would leave at once. He was willing to sacrifice his dignity and
his pride, but not his self-respect. Thanks to Mr. Costello nothing
happened to mar the harmony of his existence there. The curios were
very fond of Von Barwig, and he took quite an interest in them. Poor,
crippled human beings, the sadness of their existence aroused his
sympathy; their very affliction earning a livelihood for them. Was life
not a living hell for them?
He found on closer intimacy with them that it was not, for they
enjoyed life after their own manner and were capable of real affection.
The midgets always shook hands with him every evening when he came to
play. They were a loving little pair, brother, and sister, and they
grew quite fond of him. Von Barwig, for his part, used to look upon
them as children, although they were both well past forty years of age.
Once he saluted the little girl, as he called her, with a kiss, and
he was quite astonished when she blushed. Her brother clapped his hands
and enjoyed what he called the fun. But it was the untoward affection
of the fat lady that nearly brought about a catastrophe, for her
constant smile at the professor aroused the jealousy of the living
skeleton and brought about an ultimatum from that gentleman in the
shape of a challenge to fight a duel to the death. The fat lady was an
agreeable individual. She seemed to have one occupation only, that of
sitting in a rocking chair and rocking and fanning herself by the hour.
The skeleton was quite sure that the professor was trying to win her
affections, but as a matter of fact, Von Barwig was so fascinated by
her constant rocking and fanning that he simply could not help looking
at her, and she evidently could not help smiling. As he explained to
the skeleton, her tempo was against the beat, or in other words, the
rhythm of her rocking and fanning conflicted with the rhythm of the
music he was playing. The skeleton did not altogether understand Von
Barwig's explanation, but he accepted it willingly, for it was clear
that the professor had withdrawn from the candidacy for the fat lady's
It must by no means be understood, however, that Von Barwig liked
his new occupation. On the contrary, it grieved his very soul; but it
was far less painful than he had anticipated. Mr. Costello seemed to
realise that his night professor was not in his element and he made it
as easy for him as possible. The weary months went on, and Von Barwig
by teaching during the day and working at night just barely made ends
I am getting thinner and thinner, thought he as a ring slipped
from his finger and rolled under the old sofa which had been in his
room for a long time. In looking for it he came across an old
portmanteau which had been slipped under the sofa and had entirely
escaped his memory during his residence in Miss Husted's house. He
opened it and his heart beat rapidly as he saw the case of pistols he
had brought from Leipsic intending to force Ahlmann to fight a duel. He
looked at themthere they lay, old-fashioned, duelling
pistolsweapons for the shedding of blood. He had found no use for
them in all these years and now he would not use them if he could, so
he gently laid them down on the piano and looked further into the
Within its depths, among many relics of the past he found one or two
of his compositions, pieces for the piano. He lifted them up and
underneath lay the symphony played by his orchestra the night she left
himthe symphony that had never been heard in its entirety. He let the
lid of the portmanteau fall. The dust flew up in his face, but he did
not notice it, for memories of that fatal night came thronging into his
brain and he could think of nothing but that never-to-be-forgotten
scene. A great longing to hear that music again came upon him, a
longing he could not resist. It was dusk and the gas lamps were being
lit when he sat down at the piano. How long he played he never knew,
for when they found him several hours later, it was quite dark and the
old man was completely unconscious; his head had fallen on his arm
which rested on the keyboard of the piano.
* * * * * *
Mr. Costello was quite disturbed at the absence of Professor Antone
of Germany that night, and when, the next night, Von Barwig walked
into the Museum, his violin under his arm as usual, he was greeted
Well, well, well, profess'! So you didn't give us the shake after
all! Say, George, he's come back! bawled Costello at the top of his
Yes, said Von Barwig simply, I've come back.
The midgets laughed, the skeleton scowled, the fat lady smiled; and
the old man took out his violin and prepared to go to work.
Miss Husted was a woman of few ideas, but once an idea obtained
lodgment in her brain it was by no means an easy matter for her to rid
herself of it. She pondered over it and thought it out until it became
too big for one person to hold. Then, under the ban of secrecy, she
confided it to another, and another, and another, until it became
everybody's secret. She went through this process in regard to her
aversion to young Poons, whom she suspected in one way or another of
being a burden to the dear professor. In addition she had a haunting
dread that Mr. Poons was in love with her niece. Jenny was now nearly
nineteen years of age, and although she looked barely sixteen, she had
developed into a remarkably good-looking young woman, a fact which
young Poons had evidently noticed.
Miss Husted trembled with dismay when she saw Poons look at Jenny.
She was very grateful that he couldn't speak to her in English, and
still more grateful that Jenny couldn't understand German. Mrs.
Mangenborn, aided and abetted by the cards, had predicted a most
advantageous marriage for her niece; indeed the cards had pointed to
either a title or a million, or both, and Miss Husted dreaded lest any
premature, ill-considered love match should interfere with this happy
prediction. She declared vehemently that Jenny was too young even to
look at a man.
Now Jenny had no idea that she liked young Poons. She was interested
in him because she was sorry for him, and she was sorry for him because
her aunt was always speaking against him. So Miss Husted brought about
the very condition she most dreaded, for her niece began to like the
young man from the moment her aunt forbade her to speak to him. This
secret was originally Miss Husted's, but after she had begged Pinac to
tell Poons not to behave like a moon-calf, had asked Fico to prevent
the young German from sighing audibly whenever he saw Jenny, and had
finally told Von Barwig she wouldn't keep Poons in the house at any
price, everybody in the house began to suspect something. This
suspicion ripened into certainty, and with the solitary exception of
Miss Husted everybody sympathised with the young pair and aided and
abetted them in their love-making.
But this was not the only awful secret that was troubling Miss
Husted's innermost soul. For some time she had been troubled and
depressed, for she had found several pawn tickets in Von Barwig's room.
She had also missed several ornaments, pictures and even garments that
had formerly been conspicuous possessions. His fur-lined coat was gone;
and the cuckoo clock, what had become of it? When she saw the pawn
tickets she knew, and the knowledge troubled her, for she realised how
very badly the professor must need money to pledge articles of such
small value. She pondered over her discovery until it became too big
for her to bear alone, so she confided it first to Skippy, the little
black and tan terrier that the professor had given her as a Christmas
gift, and then not getting much response from that quarter she told her
secret to Mrs. Mangenborn. She had suspected all along that poor, dear
Professor Barwig was not doing well, but she never dreamed it had come
to this. Tears came into the good woman's eyes as she showed Mrs.
Mangenborn the pawn tickets and tearfully asked her what she could do.
Mrs. Mangenborn, being a practical person, suggested reducing his rent
and Miss Husted made up her mind to do this forthwith.
She could hear the strains of music coming from his room, so she
picked up the little dog, which was now her constant companion, and
knocked at the door. Receiving no reply she opened it and walked in.
The three men who were playing stopped; Jenny, who was there also,
looked very guilty, and began dusting the furniture. Pinac was playing
his violin, Poons the 'cello and Fico was at the piano, with Jenny
apparently as the audience.
Isn't Professor Barwig here? inquired Miss Husted, surprised at
his room being occupied during his absence.
No, Miss Owstong, said Pinac, always the spokesman of the trio. He
spoke English slightly better than Fico, who could barely make himself
understood. There was an awkward pause. He lets us come down here to
play. We practise to go into the Union. We use his piano; he is very
kind, Pinac explained.
At this point the unfortunate Poons dropped his bow and in picking
it up, knocked his music stand over. When Miss Husted glared at him,
Poons grinned guiltily, and stole a glance in the direction of Jenny.
Miss Husted followed this glance with her eye and rather testily
suggested to her niece that the bell was ringing and there was no one
to answer it. Jenny, who was glad to get out alive, hurriedly made her
escape. Poons, sighing deeply, went into the alcove and looked out of
the window. Miss Husted sat down, looked around the room pathetically,
then followed Poons's example and sighed.
Gentlemen, she began; then hesitated. After all it was the
professor's secret. Perhaps they knew; if not, 'twas better they
should. The men looked at each other inquiringly, and waited for her to
I'm very glad I've found you togethervery glad. Do you notice any
change in me?
Pinac and Fico shook their heads, mainly because they were
I haven't been sociable lately; not at all like myself, went on
Miss Husted, I'm so upset.
That's all right, said Fico, who didn't know what else to say.
Sure, nodded Pinac, who felt he had to add his share to the
conversation; then they picked up their music and started to leave the
room, but Miss Husted held up her hand and signified that she wanted
them to remain. When they came back to her she looked around the room
pathetically once more, and began plaintively:
I said to myself, 'These foreign gentlemen will miss your cheery
word in the hall and on the stairs.'
The men began to feel very uncomfortable, for they had missed
nothing. Pinac thought she referred in some way to Poons, and tried to
catch his eye and motion to him to get out of the room, but that
lovelorn youth was mooning out of the window, so Pinac nodded
sympathetically at Miss Husted and said, Oui, oui. Yes, oh, yes!
Fico looked very grave and muttered: Too bad; too bad!
Again Miss Husted looked around the room very mysteriously and
motioned to the men to come closer. They obeyed, somewhat
apprehensively this time.
What did it all mean? they thought. Why this mystery?
I've something to tell you in confidence, she said finally. She
tried to open her reticule and finding Skippy in the way, she handed
the little animal to Fico, saying:
Will one of you gentlemen please hold Skippy while I find those
tickets? He just had a bath and if he rolls over he'll get soiled.
Fico took the dog, which promptly yelped, so he hurriedly handed it
to Pinac. Pinac, who was afraid of dogs, transferred the animal to
Poons. Poons, anxious to be of some service to Miss Husted, tried to
pet the dog, but looking at Miss Husted for approval instead of
watching the beast, he held it so awkwardly that its head hung down and
its tail stuck up in the air. Miss Husted, in the act of pulling pawn
tickets out of her reticule, caught sight of the unfortunate animal
suspended in mid air, and jumped up quickly.
Look at him! Look how the stupid, stupid fellow is holding Skippy!
All the blood will rush into his poor little head. The dog, the dog;
you foolish fellow; the d-o-g, dog! I can't make him understand. Please
tell him, Mr. Pinac.
Hundhund! shouted Fico to Poons.
Le chienLe chien! Idiot, stupid! said Pinac.
Poons was so startled by hearing them all shout at him at once that
he dropped the dog into Von Barwig's coal scuttle, whence it finally
issued covered with coal dust and ran yelping into Miss Husted's arms.
That lady petted the frightened animal while Pinac pushed the
unfortunate Poons out of the room.
When Miss Husted had completely recovered herself, she held up the
I found them, she said dolefully, under that pile of music.
Gritt Scott! said Pinac. He knew at a glance what they were;
experience had taught him.
Are they of Von Barwig? he inquired.
Fico took three or four of the tickets. From Anton; yes, and then
he sighed and shook his head.
The men knew Von Barwig was poor, but they had no idea to what
extent his poverty had reached.
His cuckoo clock: nine dollars! read Fico.
That was the first thing I missedthat cuckoo, evenings, sighed
Mozart, gone! almost shouted Pinac, pointing to the spot on the
wall where that musician's portrait had once reposed. And Beethoven!
And where is Gluck? Then looking around: Nom de Dieu! even his
metronome have gonehis metronome! Dieu, Dieu!
I should say it was dear, dear! said Miss Husted, who slightly
And so the truth dawned upon them. For months, for years he had
deceived them with his smile, his optimism, his gay manner and cheery
word, and above all by the open-hearted manner in which he gave away to
all who came to him.
All these years has Professor Von Barwig been in my house and he
has paid me like a gentleman. He pays me now, how does he do it? Oh,
dear! Miss Husted tried hard not to cry, but the tears would come. The
men looked on sadly; they had always accepted his bounty, and now they
were reproaching themselves.
Miss Husted's feelings made her reminiscent, and when she was
reminiscent she invariably exaggeratedin retrospect she saw
everything as she would have liked it to have been. When he first came
here what a man he was! And this, what a neighbourhood then, an elegant
residential district. I had a position then, I could recommend him;
everybody knew Miss Houston of Houston Street. In spite of her sorrow
she felt proud of the past.
The men looked at each other. They had heard this for the past
fifteen years. It meant a long session and they wanted to practise
their music; so Pinac merely nodded, and Fico shook his head gravely.
Why, I was pointed out by everybody as Miss Houston of Houston
Street. I was a landmark; a sight.
Yes, said Pinac unconsciously. You were; and you are still.
Miss Husted looked at him sharply. Was he venturing to laugh at
her? she thought. But his sad face belied any such intention.
How things have changed? went on Miss Husted tremulously. There's
not a child in this neighbourhood that can afford to pay for his
lesson! And when they can't afford it, he won't take the money! He
gives away the very bread out of his mouth.
Pinac and Fico shifted uncomfortably.
Everything he had of value has gone long ago. Do you remember that
Ah, yes! his Amati. Yes, yes! He bought instead a cheap one. I
wondered why, but did not ask him.
And still he pays me. Where does he get it? asked Miss Husted
tearfully. What is he doing out every night, nearly all night?
The men looked at each other; this was another revelation. They were
out at night themselves and so did not know of his absence.
There's something done up to go to pawn now, said Miss Husted,
pointing to a box wrapped up in a paper on the piano. It was Von
Barwig's case of pistols. Pinac and Fico looked at each other in
Pistols for duel! said Pinac at once. He had seen them in the
theatre, long, thin, single barrel pistols.
Sometimes I feel that he came to this country purposely to take
vengeance on some one, said Miss Husted mysteriously. The men were
much impressed, but neither of them spoke.
I don't believe the poor man has his meals half the time, went on
Miss Husted, somewhat irrelevantly. I am almost sure he doesn't.
We ask him to dine the evening, said Fico, with a look of triumph,
feeling that he had not only discovered the problem but had also solved
Yes, assented Pinac, we ask him.
At this moment Poons came back into the room, having forgotten his
Miss Husted was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she had no time
to frown at him.
A door bang was heard, and her sharp ears detected the sound. There
he is now, she said. Please don't tell him that I spoke of his
affairs. You know how sensitive he is.
A key was heard in the door; Von Barwig evidently thought the room
was empty. As he came in, followed by Jenny, the sad expression on his
Ah, he said, with a sigh of satisfaction; when I set foot here, I
am among friends. So glad, so glad! Welcome to you all.
Miss Husted, making a few lame excuses, hurried out. She felt that
she had been guilty of an indiscretion in betraying the professor's
secret to his friends.
Von Barwig greeted his friends warmly.
Well, how is the little hausfrau? he said as he handed
Jenny a flower that he had brought for her. Beauty is a fairy, eh?
Sometimes it hides in a flower, sometimes in a fresh young face, and
he pinched her cheek tenderly. Here blooms a rose; not picked, not
picked, August! Poons smiled and shook his head.
He doesn't understand me, said Von Barwig. The son of my old
friend has been six months in this country, and not a word of English
can he speak.
Never mind, Jenny! I find you a splendid fellow; one who can speak
his own mind in his own language. Not a selfish fellow like these
bachelors. Bah! a bachelor is not a citizen of his country; he is not
even civilised. He isa nondescriptaa
The men were looking at him sadly as if trying to read his innermost
thoughts. They seemed to have realised for the first time that his
gaiety was forced. His spirits this afternoon were unusually high; and
it made the reality stand out in greater contrast. Pinac felt that he
might resent any reference to his financial condition, so he did not
speak of it.
It is a long time since we have had a nice little dinner together,
he said in his Gallic way.
Yes, assented Von Barwig, a long time!
A dinner during which we can exchange confidences, ventured Fico,
interspersing his English with Italian, and a word or two of slang.
Pinac gave Fico a look of warning.
He means a 'art to 'art talk, explained Pinac.
Excellent, excellent! said Von Barwig, rubbing his hands, and
going over to the window he pulled up the blind.
He falls into our trap very easily, whispered Pinac to Fico; but
Poons looked on and smiled as usual.
I should like nothing better, said Von Barwig. You shall all dine
with me, and before his friends could remonstrate he had invited Poons
to the banquet.
But I asked you! said Pinac.
He ask you, repeated Fico.
I ask you; we all ask you, asserted Pinac.
In my apartment! demanded Von Barwig, with some slight show of
dignity. Come, come! The matter is settled. It is good to have old
friends at the table. We won't go to the restaurant; it's too noisy
there; we shall dine here. Galazatti will send over a dinner without
extra charge, if we order enough.
I am not hungry, began Fico, but Von Barwig silenced him with a
Then please find your appetite at once, he said.
They saw it was useless to remonstrate with him and for a moment
remained silent, but Pinac determined to make another effort.
You cannot afford such expense, he began. It is too much.
Pardon me, said Von Barwig, with quiet dignity, I can always
afford to invite my friends to dinner. I have had lessons all day, ever
since early morning. Please, my dear Pinac, and you, Fico, old friend,
do not refer to the financial side of our little festivity. It robs it
of the zest of enjoyment, of comradeship. Let us eat and drink and be
merry! The question is, what shall we have for dinner, not who shall
pay for it? And then without awaiting a reply, he opened the door and
called for Jenny.
Pinac and Fico looked at each other. It was evident to them that
Miss Husted had exaggerated Von Barwig's poverty, so their spirits rose
Jenny! We take dinner here. Get me the menu, Poons. Jenny,
you will ask your good aunt, Miss Husted, to dine with us en famille
one of our old-time dinners. Now, what shall we have? he said,
scanning the well-thumbed menu that Poons had handed to him.
It is an old one, suggested Fico.
It is always the same. It is only the date they change, said Von
Barwig. Pinac looked over his shoulder at the menu.
Chicken à la Marengo, said the Frenchman, with a
soupçon of garlic.
No, said Von Barwig decidedly, Miss Husted doesn't like garlic!
À la Polenta is better, suggested the Italian.
Ein Bischen Limburger, put in Poons, which was instantly
frowned upon by all.
Jenny was asked to take down the order, and the process of selecting
the dishes for the dinner was gone through; each ordering according to
his own taste. Jenny tried to write down everything they wanted, but
gave it up after she had filled three pages of suggestions and
scratched them out again. Finally Von Barwig ordered a nice little
dinner, including spaghetti and garlic. As Jenny was about to take the
order to Galazatti's, Miss Husted made her appearance. Jenny told her
that the professor had invited her to dinner, and she realised in a
moment what had happened. It was the old story; the professor was to be
the host. She suggested that she herself get up a little dinner for the
men, but Von Barwig wouldn't hear of putting her to the trouble and so
his ideas were carried out as usual. It was really a most enjoyable
dinner! To this day Miss Husted speaks of it as one of those gala
Bohemian affairs that must be seen and heard and eaten to be
appreciated. As she afterward told her friend, Mrs. Mangenborn, they
had a hip, hip hurray of a time. The dear professor was just as jolly
as he could be. Even Poons was tolerable, although she would not for
worlds sit next to him at the table. It was simply impossible for her
to describe the dinner in detail, but how Fico swallowed the spaghetti
without losing it down his shirt front was a mystery. How the man got
so much on his fork and swallowed it down by the yard nobody knew, it
was simply a sublime feat! But the toasts they drank (with the last of
the professor's claret), the songs they sang, the art they discussed!
Every word was a scream of laughter.
Just listen to this, said Miss Husted, laughing at the very memory
of the joke. Young Poons asked what was garlic, and the professor
said: 'Garlic is a vegetable limburger!' The idea of such a thing!
Even Mrs. Mangenborn consented to smile.
And when Mr. Fico said, 'Wine is the enemy of mankind,' Mr. Pinac
jumped up and said, 'Is it? Then give me my enemy, that I may drink him
down.' Oh, it was a most enjoyable affair. I can't tell you all that
was said, went on Miss Husted. But how the wit did flow! Wit and
wine; no, wit and water; there wasn't much wine. We didn't in the least
mind the noise that the Donizetti family made overhead; though once
when the chandelier nearly came down the professor did say they ought
to live in the cellar! I think I'll give them notice next week, she
added thoughtfully, though God knows I need the money.
What about the pawn tickets? asked Mrs. Mangenborn.
Not a word was said about them, replied Miss Husted. I don't know
what to think! The professor was justoh, he waswell, we had a great
time. There's something about Bohemia that appeals to my innermost
nature. Give me a Bohemian dinner every time! she said, when she had
spoken her final word on the subject.
He must have money in the bank, commented Mrs. Mangenborn.
Miss Husted shook her head. I don't think so, she said.
On the same evening the collection agent for the Blickner Piano
Company called on Professor Von Barwig, and presented him with a final
I intended to pay you to-day, said Von Barwig. I will pay you
next week. Won't you please wait? I have two lessons to-morrow.
You'll pay, or we'll take the piano away; that's all! You're six
I had the money and I intended to give it to you to-day, Von
Barwig pleaded. Butsome friends came to dinner, and He paused,
and then smiled as it occurred to him how thoughtless he had been. The
collector left the notice in Von Barwig's possession, and walked away
without further comment.
Affairs had not been going along very smoothly at the Museum. About
this time, there came into existence a new tempo in music that appealed
chiefly to people whose musical tastes were not yet developed, or who
had no musical taste or ear whatsoever. Now the performers at
Costello's Museum, who were called artists on the playbills, insisted
that the Night Profess' play their accompaniments to their acts in
this new style of musical rhythmragtime as it was most appropriately
called. But Von Barwig, being a musician, whose music lay in his soul
and not merely in his feet and fingers, could not do this. He worked
hard to get it, but could not, and the artists complained to the
manager. As a result Mr. Costello called upon Von Barwig at his
lodgings; much to the professor's astonishment and dismay.
Say, who was that freak that poked her head out or the door as I
came in? said that gentleman, as soon as he had banged the door shut,
and seated himself comfortably in Von Barwig's armchair.
Freak? Freak? we have no freaks here! Oh, and a faint smile stole
over Von Barwig's features, which he tried hard to repress. You mean
perhaps Miss Husted?
Do I? inquired Costello, well, p'raps I do! She's of the vintage
of 1776, and looks like a waxwork edition of
Please, please! remonstrated Von Barwig. She is a lady, a most
hospitable, kind-hearted lady! You would like her if you knew her,
Maybe so, said Costello, somewhat dubiously; and then he blurted
out: Well, profess', I've come on a professional visit! I want to put
you wise before you turn up to play to-night.
Von Barwig looked pained. Costello was bawling at the top of his
voice, and he was afraid that the household would hear.
Hush, please! You speak so loud. As you know, my visits to the
Museum are, in a sense, a secret. I keep my private and my professional
life apart, as it were. Forgive me, but please, please, don't speak
loudly! I do not wish it known; for they think that Ithey do not know
that Ihave Von Barwig was about to say, fallen so low, but he
did not wish to hurt the amiable Costello's feelings; so he paused.
That's all right, profess', broke in Costello; I'm having a
little trouble with my main attraction, Bosco, the armless wonder. I
wish she was a tongueless wonder! She has no arms, but my God; how she
can talk! I left her taking it out of the day professor; she was
swearing a blue streak. Ain't it funny how these stars kick? and Mr.
Costello bit the end off a cigar, viciously lit it, and puffed
furiously at it till the room was clouded with smoke. Von Barwig was
silent. He was waiting for Mr. Costello to tell him the worst, that he
could not come again. His heart began to beat; what should he do if he
lost his position?
She says your music is queering her act, said Mr. Costello
finally, she says you don't give it to her thumpin' enough; she wants
ragtime or she can't work.
I will do my best, said the old man simply. I try hard to please
her; indeed I do!
I know you do, I know you do, profess'! But, say, you can't do
anything with them guys! You know I like you, you've got such damned
elegant mannersthe gentleman all over. Yes, sir, you're a twenty-two
karat gentleman; you're the first professor the freaks darsent josh!
Von Barwig bowed his head. He was grateful to Costello; the man had
made his hideous task almost bearable.
Now I don't want to lose her and I don't want to lose you,
Costello went on, but things have got to go right, see? They've got
to! You're one of them kind that can take a tip. Give her what she
wants! What's the difference? You're a gentlemanshe's a lady! She
doesn't know any better!
I am so sorry, so very sorry to trouble faltered Von Barwig.
You're all right, profess', broke in Costello, you earn your
money if it is small pay; but the job goes against you, now don't it?
His voice was almost soft. You ain't used to our kind, are you? The
man's brusque kindness touched Von Barwig, and he choked up a little as
WellIII have had higher thoughts. Here in Houston Street life
is strange, and I must take what I find. Times are a little hard, a
little hard, and the parents of my pupils are pushed for money. They
don't pay, otherwise, perhaps I and Von Barwig sighed.
You ain't suited, that's what's the matter!
Oh, yes; oh, yes! I broke in Von Barwig, afraid that Costello
might dispense with his services altogether. I acknowledge the curios
came a little on my nerves at first. It was all so strange: the people
staring, the midgets chattering, the stout lady fanning, fanning,
always fanning, the lecturing of the lecturer; and you at the door
always calling 'Insides, insides!'
Costello laughed, You mean 'Insi-i-ide.'
Yes, insides, went on Von Barwig, unconsciously making the same
mistake. Then he added, trying to convince himself, Better times will
come soon and then, perhaps, we shall part, but for the present I
remain, eh, yes?
Costello nodded. As long as you like, profess'; as long as you
like! and he held out his hand for Von Barwig to shake. As Von Barwig
did so, he said: I shall always remember it was your money that helped
me to bridge overmymy difficulties
That's all right, that's all right! asserted Costello. You're
worth the money or you wouldn't get it. But don't forget, when the
lecturer says, 'Bosco, Bosco, the armless wonder!' play up lively, see?
and when he says, 'Bites their heads off and eats their bodies; eats
'em alive, eats 'em alive!' give it to her thumpin'!
Here Von Barwig drew a deep breath. He was tired, tired unto his
very soul of the whole business; but he had to go on.
Yes, he said, with a pathetic smile, she shall eat 'em alive yet
This appeared to satisfy Costello, and shaking hands with Von Barwig
once more, he went out and left him standing in the middle of the room.
Von Barwig's eye fell on a daguerreotype of Mendelssohn, and it called
him back to Leipsic. Eat 'em alive, eat 'em alive, eat 'em alive!
rang in his ears. Good God, to what have I fallen, to what have I
fallen? he cried to himself; then he stopped. I must have more
courage. I am a coward, I am always railing at fate! Who can tell what
the future shall have in store for me? Then he thought of the songs he
had found in his old trunk with his symphony. He hastily opened the
trunk, took them out and hurried uptown for the purpose of selling
them, but the symphony he did not takehe had not the courage to sell
It was some years since Von Barwig had tried to dispose of his
compositions and he made the rounds of the various music publishers
with as little success as usual. There is no demand for my music, he
thought, and he went into a fashionable music emporium, as a last hope.
The clerks at Schumein's recognised him in a moment; his was a face
one could not forget. Mr. Schumein, the head of the firm, could not see
him; he was busy.
I will wait, said Von Barwig, and he sat down.
I'm afraid he'll be busy all the afternoon, said the clerk
I can wait all the afternoon, if necessary, said Von Barwig. He
was tired and was glad to sit down.
Suppose you leave your songs here and I'll hand them to our
reader, suggested the clerk, after Von Barwig had been waiting over
They won't see me, thought Von Barwig, I can no longer obtain an
interview. I am not worth seeing, and he smiled to himself as he
thought of the days when people used to wait for hours to see him.
Well, he spoke aloud, I will leave them; and to-morrow I will call
for the answer.
Better leave it till next week; our reader is very busy, said the
clerk, a little impatiently.
I will call again next week, said Von Barwig patiently.
What's your address? asked the clerk.
Von Barwig told him and he wrote it on the back of the manuscript.
All right, I'll attend to it, and the young man threw the songs
carelessly into a drawer in his desk. Von Barwig thanked him, bowed
politely, and walked slowly out.
Who is that? asked a young lady who had just arrived in a
fashionable carriage and pair. She had been watching Von Barwig for the
past few moments and was struck by the sweet, gentle sadness of his
He's a sort of a composer, miss; that is, he writes songs and
things. He's a music master, I fancy, in one of the poorer quarters of
the city, said the clerk, taking out the manuscript he had just thrown
into a drawer.
Yes, he added, as she saw the address, he has a studio at 970
Houston Street. Rather far downtown, he added.
Nine hundred and seventy Houston Street, repeated the girl; that
must be near our settlement headquarters. She made some purchases, and
a few moments later the footman opened the door, and she was whisked
rapidly away by a pair of fine blooded horses.
Who is that? asked a fellow-clerk.
Why don't you know? asked the other with a slight tinge of
superiority. It's Miss Stanton, the heiress.
Is that so? She's a beauty!
Yes, went on his informant, her father is only worth about
The other clerk whistled.
During Von Barwig's absence from his room that morning, young Poons
had taken possession of it for the purpose of practising on his 'cello,
but this was not his only reason. Jenny invariably made it a point to
straighten out Von Barwig's room at just about the time that Poons
happened to arrive. There he could look at her and speak to her in
little broken bits of the English language, without fear of being
interrupted by Miss Husted. Jenny's knowledge of German was as
hopelessly nil as his ideas of English; so they made up their minds to
study each other's language from each other. To help matters along,
they bought two English-German Conversation Made Easy books, and in
the security of Von Barwig's studio they exchanged cut and dried
sentences by the page, neither understanding what the other said. On
this particular morning young Poons, with the assistance of Fico, had
written out an English sentence, which he had recited to himself dozens
of times that morning, for he had made up his mind to declare himself.
The opportunity came quickly. Poons had scarcely been practising
three minutes before the door opened, and in walked Jenny with Mr.
Ach, Fräulein Chenny! said Poons, blushing.
Mr. Poons, gasped Jenny, in complete astonishment, although she
must have heard him playing as she came through the hall.
Ach, Fräulein Chenny, he repeated, trying to remember his
declaration, but by this time the English sentence he had learned by
heart had completely left him.
I could not speak to you for two days because auntie, that is, Miss
Husted, was watching, said Jenny, laying the cloth. Poons nodded and
smiled. She was watching, said Jenny, but he made no sign. Verstay?
Verstay? she repeated, making her little stock of German go as far as
Nein! Ich said Poons hopelessly. He was hunting for the piece of
paper with his declaration of love on it, and was having a great deal
of trouble finding it. Where was it? He knew it was in one of his
pockets; but which one? He looked very awkward and embarrassed.
Have you your lessons learned? asked Jenny, taking out her
English-German Conversation Made Easy book, and hoping to help him
out by starting on a topic.
Nein, replied Poons, who knew what she meant when he saw the book.
Then he added in German that he had been so thoroughly occupied in
practising that he had no time, but that he had something of great
importance that he wanted to say to her.
Jenny almost shook her head off trying to make it clear that she
didn't understand a word he said.
Fräulein Chenny, he began again, but gave it up. He opened the
lesson book and read in English, with a strong German accent, Heff you
diehett ofdie poyfound? Then he looked at her ardently, as if he
had just uttered the most delicate sentiment. Jenny smiled, and read
what she considered to be an appropriate answer.
Nein, ich hab die slissell meineGrossmutter
She looked at him for approval,
Schlüssel, corrected Poons.
Slissell, repeated Jenny.
Poons gave up trying and went back to his book, reading the
following with deep-bated breath and loving emphasis.
Vich-issto der hoteldievay?
Jenny's reply came with business-like rapidity.
Der pantoffle ist in die zimmer
Puntoffel, corrected Poons.
Pantoffle, responded his pupil.
Tsimmer, said he.
Zimmer, repeated she, placing the accent strongly on the Z; and
so the lesson went on. Suddenly a smile of joy spread itself over
Poons's features. In searching for his handkerchief he had fished out a
piece of paper from his hip-pocket. Joy! it was the lost declaration of
dependence! He opened it, and read her the following with such ardent
tenderness and affection, that the girl's heart fairly beat double
Fräulein Chenny, he began, putting the piece of paper in the book
and pretending that it was part of his lesson. Fräulein Chenny, I
cannot mit you life midoutyou liff, and then, feeling that he had
somewhat entangled his words, he repeated: I cannot life
midoutyouChennyyou Chenny midout. Jenny looked at him in
perplexity. His manner, the wordsall were so strange!
That isn't in the lesson, she managed to gasp, holding down her
I cannot life midout you liff! Luff, Chenny, luff! he added. He
meant love, for he knew the meaning of that, and he waited for her
answer. Perhaps she did not understand, but if she did, all she seemed
able to say was:
That isn't in my lesson, Mr. Poons; it isn't in my lesson!
What Poons said in response to Jenny's statement will never be
known, for at that precise moment in walked Von Barwig, who had just
returned from his weary, useless effort to sell his compositions. His
face brightened up as he saw the young lovers, and a beautiful smile
chased away the lines of sorrow and suffering. There was no mistaking
Poon's attitude. His eyes were full of love, and he held Jenny's hand
in his. Although she indignantly snatched it away as soon as the door
opened, probably thinking it was her aunt, Von Barwig saw the action,
and it brought joy to his poor, bruised old heart.
Come here, Jenny, he said. She nestled by his side.
Poons, he said sternly in German, how long has this been going
I don't know, Herr Von Barwig, replied Poons, in a low voice.
Jenny, do you approve of his action?
I don't know, professor, I Jenny laid her head on his shoulder
and Von Barwig knew that she loved the young man.
Scoundrel! began Von Barwig, turning to Poons. He tried to be
serious, but the expression on Poons's face made him smile in spite of
himself. Poons begged him to speak to Jenny for him; he pleaded so hard
that Jenny asked Von Barwig if he was talking about her.
Ask him if he likes me! said Jenny innocently.
I will, replied Von Barwig, and he turned to Poons. Do you love
her? he asked.
Poons's reply was a torrent of burning love, a flood of words that
let loose the pent-up emotion of a highly strung musical temperament
that for months had longed for utterance. The way he poured out the
German language surprised both his hearers; it seemed as if he could
not restrain himself. In vain did Von Barwig try to stem the onward
rush of the tidal wave of talk, for declaration followed on
declaration, until Poons had completely poured out all he had wanted to
tell Jenny for months. He only stopped then because he had fairly
exhausted the subject.
What did he say? asked Jenny anxiously.
He said, yes, said Von Barwig, with a faint smile.
Jenny looked at him shyly, and held out her hand.
Go on, love, you loon! said Von Barwig to Poons in German, you
have caught your fish. Don't dangle it too long on the hook!
Poons acted on the suggestion, and took Jenny in his arms and kissed
her. The old man looked on approvingly; his eyes were moist with tears,
but his thoughts were far away from the lovers. He loved them, yes;
they were good children, good; dear, children, but his heart yearned
for his own flesh and blood. It did not satisfy him that Jenny put her
arms around his neck and kissed him gratefully, or that Poons embraced
him and cried over him. Their happiness only emphasised his misery. He
wanted his own flesh and blood; he wanted his wife and his little
But, feeling that he was selfish, he kissed them both
affectionately, and promised he would speak to Miss Husted for them at
the first opportunity. He did not have to wait long, for a few moments
later Miss Husted came into the room with a letter for the professor,
and saw enough to convince her that Poons and her niece were more than
friends. Poons wanted to pour out his heart to Miss Husted and tell her
all, but Von Barwig promptly squelched this impulse, and sent him out
of the room. Jenny followed him, and Von Barwig faced Miss Husted
They are charming young people, began Von Barwig.
Yes, when they're apart, she replied.
Now what have you against young Poons? he asked conciliatingly.
Nothing, replied Miss Husted, but I don't like him!
Ah, if you knew his father!
I don't see how that would make any difference; it's the young man
himself I object to! Besides, I have tremendous prospects for Jenny;
she is going to marry a rich man, a very rich man.
This is news, said Von Barwig.
Yes, replied Miss Husted.
Who is the gentleman? asked Von Barwig.
We don't know him yet; he Miss Husted hesitated.
Ah, I see! said Von Barwig, a flood of light breaking in on him.
But I know he will come!
Von Barwig shook his head. You have been consulting Mrs.
Mangenborn, the lady who promises you a fortune for fifty cents. Ah, my
dear Miss Husted, when will you understand life as it is? You take the
false for the real and the real for the false!
I take Mr. Poons for a fool! said Miss Husted with some asperity,
and I am not far wrong.
On the contrary, assented Von Barwig, to some extent you are
right, quite right! But he is young, and he is in love. To you,
perhaps; love is foolishness; but love is all there is in life. There
was quite a pause. Miss Husted toyed with the letter she had not yet
given to the professor.
You may be right, of course, said Miss Husted after a while. She
was more placid now, more like herself. In thought she had gone back
many years to a certain episode, the memory of which softened her
toward love's young dream, and even toward Poons.
Von Barwig looked at her a moment, then took her hand in his.
Is it possible, dear lady, that you, in your woman's heart, never
wished that you had something to take care of besides Skippy?
Yes, but Mr. Poons is not began Miss Husted, and then she
blurted out I can't understand him; he can't understand me. I might
talk to him for a week and he wouldn't know what I was talking about!
Yes, but Jenny understands him. What joy have you in life alone?
Think of the joy of seeing a young couple begin life, just like two
young birds in a little bird's nest! God put love into their hearts;
can you stop them? No, neither you nor I can forbid! As well try to
count the sands of the sea, as well try to stop the waves, the tides!
Miss Husted did not reply for a moment. It was evident that Von
Barwig had made some impression on her, but she would not admit it.
I had built such hopes on Jenny, she said, shaking her head sadly.
Can you tell how Poons will turn out? inquired Von Barwig, feeling
that he was gaining ground.
Miss Husted elevated her nose slightly, and handed the professor his
letter. He'll turn out of this house if he makes love to my niece!
Give the matter a little thought, urged Von Barwig. They both
love you, he added.
Miss Husted sighed deeply as if thoroughly disappointed. Then she
began to whimper. She told Von Barwig the story of Jenny's life; which
story, with variations, he had heard annually for many years. He
listened patiently, and agreed with her. Finally he extracted from her
a promise to suspend action in reference to Poons until she had given
the matter more thought.
But in the meantime, insisted Miss Husted, they must not speak!
Knowing the extent of their knowledge of each other's language, Von
Barwig readily promised on behalf of Poons to obey her injunction to
the letter, and she left the room in a state of resignation.
Von Barwig opened his letter, his eyes fairly glittering with
excitement as he read the following:
MY DEAR VON BARWIG: No doubt you thought I had forgotten you, but
such is not the case. Your appointment as conductor of the 'Harmony
Hall Concerts' has been passed on favourably by the promoters of the
venture. None of them knew you or had ever heard of you, but I soon won
them over, and I am now empowered to offer you a liberal salary during
the engagement. So come up to the hall at your earliest convenience and
let us discuss details.
Yours always faithfully,
HERMANN VAN PRAAG.
P.S. We are having some trouble with the Unions, but I do not
anticipate any serious impediment to our progress.
Von Barwig's blood ran hot and cold; his heart beat so rapidly he
could hear it. He read the letter again and again. His first impulse
was to rush out into the hall to tell all his friends; to shout, to
dance, to, give way to excitement. This he resisted. Then a great calm
came over him; the end of his ill luck had come at last. It was a long
lane, but the turning was there and he had reached it. Deep, deep down
in his heart the man thanked God for His kindness. And as he read the
letter once more, he wept tears of joy, for he felt that his
deliverance was at hand. At last, at last, when well on the brink of
failure, of despair, perhaps of starvation, this great joy had come to
In order to realise it to its fullest possible extent he sat down in
his armchair and thought it all out. He could give engagements to
Poons, to Fico, to Pinac. Pinac was a fairly good violin player, both
he and Fico played well enough to sit at the back desk of the second
violins. Poons would, of course, be one of his 'cellists. And he,
himself? He need never go to the dreadful Museum again; for this alone
he was grateful. Yes, he could share his good fortune with his friends;
he could even make it possible for Poons to marry Jenny. These thoughts
filled him with such wild excitement that he could restrain himself no
longer. He rushed out into the hall, and called up the stairway for his
friends. They were in, he knew, for he could hear them practising. As
soon as they heard his voice they came trooping down the stairs, making
so much noise that Miss Husted rushed out of her room and asked whether
the house was on fire.
They all crowded pell-mell into Von Barwig's room. Was this the
usually calm, dignified professor? Could it really be Von Barwig who
was now almost shouting at the top of his voice, telling them to send
in their resignations from the café, that they need play no more
at a wretched twenty-five cent table d'hôte for their existence.
He would provide for them, he would engage them forthwith for his
orchestra. By degrees they understood, and when they did understand
they made his little outburst of enthusiasm appear almost feeble and
weak-kneed compared to the wild, unrestrained, excited, and
enthusiastic yells of joy that they let loose. They embraced each other
and danced around the room. They hugged Miss Husted. Poons even dared
to kiss her, and although she slapped his face, she joined in the
Latin-Franco-Teutonic mêlée of joy as though she herself had
been one of them. In fact, she was one of them! Even then their
happiness did not come to an end, for they ordered a good dinner for
themselves at Galazatti's.
To hell with the café, said Fico as he wrote to his
employer, the proprietor of the restaurant, saying they did not intend
to play that night, and could never come again.
Table d'hôte, nothing! Not for me, never again, said Pinac
as he indited his resignation. À bas le café!
I don't trouble to write at all, said Poons in German, I simply
Presently the dinner came, and what a dinner it was. The
(California) wine flowed like water, and this was true literally, for
more than once Von Barwig was compelled to put water in the demijohn to
make it last out. They all talked at once, and everybody ate, drank and
made merry. Miss Husted sang a song!
After the rattle and banging of plates, knives and forks had
subsided and the coffee had been brought in, Von Barwig was called upon
to make a speech. Somehow or other his mind reverted to the last speech
he had made, so many, many years ago, when he had accepted the
conductorship of the Leipsic Philharmonic Orchestra. It seemed strange
to him now, nearly twenty years later, that he should be called upon to
speak on an almost similar occasion. Then, too, there had been a
banquet. He made a few remarks appropriate to the occasion and finally
drank a toast to the standard of musical purity.
This was Pinac's opportunity. No, no, Von Barwig! he said, we are
not fit to drink such a toast! We are in the gutter. It is you, my
friend, you alone of all these present, who does not sink himself to
play for money at a café on Liberty Street. To Von Barwig, the
The rattle of plates, knives and forks attested the popularity of
this sentiment; then Fico began:
It is you only who keeps up the standard. More applause. You are
the standard bearer, the general. You lead; we follow, at which the
clapping was vociferous.
Von Barwig felt keenly the falsity of his position at that moment.
He thought of the deception, the lie he was practising on them. He had
sunk lower than they, far lower, for he was playing in a dime museum.
He could not bear their praises; for he knew he did not deserve them.
He inwardly determined to tell them the truth, but not at that moment,
for he did not want to dampen their spirits. As the cognac and cigars
were placed on the table Miss Husted rose grandly, and stated that the
ladies would now withdraw; whereupon she and Jenny left the room,
proudly curtseying themselves out. La grande dame! said Pinac
as he bowed low to her. The men then talked over their prospects, their
hopes, even getting so far as to discuss the opening programme. An idea
occurred to Von Barwig, Why not open with his symphony? The men
almost cheered at the idea, so he unlocked the little trunk and took it
out. There it was, covered with the dust of years and almost
coffee-coloured. As he took it out of the trunk, something fell out
from between the pages and dropped upon the floor. He picked it up, and
his heart stood still for a moment as he glanced at it, for it was a
miniature portrait of his wife. He thrust it hastily in his pocket and
went on distributing the parts of the symphony.
You, the first violin, Pinac, and he handed him his part. For
you, Fico, the second violin. Poons, the 'cello, of course, and the
men hurried to get their instruments.
It was late the following morning when Von Barwig returned from his
interview with Van Praag. All the details had been settled
satisfactorily, and his three friends were to be engaged. Von Barwig
had not yet left the Museum; his sense of obligation to Costello was
too great to permit him to desert him without notice, so it was
understood that he was to leave at the end of the week. How Von Barwig
welcomed the thought of that Saturday night, and it was only Wednesday!
When Von Barwig came in, the men were in his room practising their
parts of the symphony. His arrival put an end to further work. They
wanted to talk about their grand new engagement, as Pinac called it.
Von Barwig produced some cigars that Van Praag had forced on him,
and the men sat talking of their prospects, and smoking until the room
looked like an inferno.
While they were debating as to where they should dine that night,
there was a knock at the door, and, Von Barwig hastened to open it. A
somewhat portly, rather well-dressed, middle-aged individual entered.
He was followed by another person, a tall, lantern-jawed man of the
artisan type, who looked around defiantly as he came into the room.
Does Anton Von Barwig live here? demanded the first comer.
Von Barwig did not know the gentleman who made the inquiry.
Why, it is Schwarz! how do you do, Mr. Schwarz? said Pinac, coming
forward and shaking hands with him, and he then introduced him to Von
Barwig as Mr. Wolf Schwarz, the Secretary of the Amalgamated Musical
Mr. Schwarz then introduced his companion as Mr. Ryan, the
representative of the Brickmakers' Union. Shake hands with Professor
Von Barwig, Mr. Ryan, said Schwarz. Mr. Ryan did so with such
enthusiasm that Von Barwig was glad to withdraw his hand.
Mr. Schwarz was an Americanised German, far more American than the
most dyed-in-the-wool, natural-born citizen of the United States. Had
any one called him a German, he would have repudiated the suggestion as
an insult. He knew the American Constitution backward, and he
determined that others should know it, too. His demand for his rights
as an American citizen was the predominating characteristic of his
nature, for he was a born demagogue of the most pronounced type. It did
not take Mr. Schwarz long to make clear the object of his visit.
You don't come to our rooms very much, Von Barwig, he said.
Von Barwig pleaded stress of business as an excuse.
If you had, went on Mr. Schwarz, taking up the thread of his
remarks without noticing Von Barwig's apology, you'd know that Van
Praag and those fellows up at Harmony Hall are on the black-list.
Black-list? said Von Barwig apprehensively.
Mr. Ryan here represents a delegation from the Brickmakers' Union,
stated Mr. Schwarz, coughing and clearing his throat, thus indicating
the importance of the statement that he was about to make.
Well? asked Von Barwig, who did not see the value of the
information just furnished by Mr. Schwarz.
Well, repeated Mr. Schwarz, The Brickmakers' Union has just
affiliated with our musical association.
Music and bricksaffiliated! The idea rather appealed to Von
Barwig's sense of humour and he laughed. Music and bricks, he
repeated, but this attempt at pleasantry did not meet with much
response from Mr. Schwarz. That gentleman merely shrugged his shoulders
while Mr. Ryan, the brickmakers' delegate, contented himself with
squirting some tobacco juice into the adjacent fireplace and tilting
his hat, which he had neglected to remove, over one eye, while he
surveyed Von Barwig with an unpleasant stare from the other, thus
indicating that he wanted no nonsense.
Music and bricks, repeated Von Barwig, who evidently enjoyed the
incongruity of the combination. Then noticing that Ryan was standing he
said with a smile, Brother artist, be seated! Pinac and Fico roared
with laughter. Mr. Ryan sat down, mumbling to himself that that sort of
sarcasm didn't go with him; he was a workman, not an artist. Von Barwig
apologised and then, looking at Schwarz, waited for him to speak. A
very awkward pause ensued.
You've had an offer from the Harmony Hall Concerts, under the
management of Van Praag, stated Schwarz.
Yes, assented Von Barwig, who began to perceive for the first time
that his visitors had come on a matter of more or less serious Import.
Well, began Schwarz, you've got to hold off for the present.
I do not understand, said Von Barwig.
You've got to throw up the job, broke in Mr. Ryan, emphasising the
statement by allowing his walking stick to fall heavily on a pile of
music which lay on the piano.
Von Barwig looked at him but did not speak.
You can't go on, said Schwarz.
Not while scabs are working there, added Mr. Ryan sententiously.
Von Barwig tried to speak but could not; words would not come. His
heart had almost stopped beating. Finally he managed to gasp, What
does it mean; all this?
Our association has been notified that Van Praag is having his new
music hall built with non-union bricks, and
Scabs, broke in Mr. Ryan, once more banging the inoffensive music
with his stick. Scabs! We called out our men and they put in scab
carpenters. The carpenters went out and the plumbers have gone out;
they've all gone out, and now it's only fairthatyou should go out.
Stick together and we'll win; in other words, 'united we stand, divided
we fall.' Am I right, Schwarz?
Mr. Schwarz did not commit himself as to the merits of the case; he
was not there for that purpose. He was there to carry out the wishes of
the association, so he merely contented himself with saying that the
musicians would undoubtedly have to go out under the term of the
Music and bricks has got to stand by each other, said Mr. Ryan,
unconsciously quoting Von Barwig. They've got to, or there'll be no
music; and no bricks.
Music and bricks, then, was no longer a joke. It was a reality, a
dreadful impossibility that had become true; and Von Barwig's heart
sank as he looked at his friends, and saw by their faces that they,
too, realised what it meant. They were in the midst of a sympathetic
strike; the question of the right or wrong of it did not appear. It was
immaterial; right or wrong, they must go out because others went; those
were the orders from headquarters.
Of course, Von Barwig, you'll stand for whatever the Amalgamated
stands for? said Schwarz.
You'll resign until the matter is settled, I presume? queried Mr.
Ryan. Von Barwig shook his head. A faint no issued from his throat,
which had literally dried up from fear; the fear of losing the
happiness he had had just now, the fear of going back to that dreaded
night-drudgery again. All their hopes were shattered, their
anticipations were not to be realised.
Of courseII am of the Union. I stand by the Unionof course.
Ibut it'sit's hard! Then with an effort, It will not last long,
No, said Mr. Ryan, it won't last a month! We'll put them out of
business if it does. They'll weaken, Mr. Barwig, you'll see! They'll
weaken all right. The ashen appearance of Von Barwig's face, the
abject despair he saw depicted there aroused the man's sympathy. It
won't be long, Mr. Barwig, he repeated in a softened voice. I know
it's hard, but what are we to do? If we don't stand together, we'll be
That's right, said Schwarz.
It ain't sympathy; it's self-defence, Barwig, declared Mr. Ryan,
uttering what he thought was a great truth.
Yes, yes, muttered Von Barwig. Hope had gone completely from him
Self-defence, he repeated, and then he laughed bitterly. The art
of music progresses. Wagner should be glad that he is dead.
Wagner? Who is Wagner? inquired Mr. Ryan.
No one, no one! replied Von Barwig, shaking his head, he did not
belong to the Union
Then he's a scab, remarked Mr. Ryan.
Von Barwig looked at him and burst out laughing, the laughter of
despair. Pinac and Fico looked at each other. Von Barwig's laugh grated
harshly on their ears; they did not like to see their beloved friend
act in that manner. Pinac touched him gently on the arm and looked
appealingly at him. Von Barwig nodded, then rising from his chair, with
his habitual gentleness, suggested that the interview was at an end.
Messrs. Schwarz and Ryan bowed themselves out and the four friends were
left there alone with their misery.
Von Barwig turned to his friends. It was for them that his heart
bled, for they had resigned their positions at his request. For the
first time since their friendship he had been the cause of misfortune
coming to them. He felt it more than all the disappointments that he
had experienced during his stay in America. I am accursed, he
thought, doomed always to disappointments, and I am now a curse to
others, to those I love. He tried to tell them how grieved he was at
their misfortune, but they would not allow him to apologise, so he sat
down in his old armchair and tried to smoke, but he could not. His
heart was as heavy as lead. They saw this and they felt for him; they
felt his sufferings more than they did their own.
We have resign from the café, yes, but we are glad, damn
glad, said Pinac, lying like a true Gallic gentleman. Von Barwig, I
tell you we are deuced damn glad, he repeated with emphasis.
Von Barwig silently shook his hand and smiled.
I said to hell with the caféI say it now! ejaculated
Fico. The café to hell, and many of him!
My beautiful 'cello is wasted in that food hole, said Poons to Von
Barwig in German, then he laughed and told him a funny story that he
had read that day in the Fliegende Blätter. He did his best to
make the old man laugh with him, but Von Barwig only smiled sadly. He
did not speak; his heart was too heavy.
It won't last long! You see, it won't last long! said Pinac, again
trying to comfort him. Come, boys, we go upstairs and play. We play
for you, Anton, eh?
Von Barwig made no reply. The men looked at each other significantly
and tried to cheer him up by striking up a song and marching around the
room; but they saw that the iron had entered deep, deep into his soul,
and that he was thoroughly disheartened.
Come! We go and play; perhaps that will arouse him, whispered
Pinac to the others. And they marched out of the room singing the
refrain of one of the student glees that Von Barwig had taught them.
[Illustration: Beverly brings Hélène a wedding gift.]
Von Barwig sat there quite still for a long time. His thoughts were
formless. In a chaotic way he realised that he had played the game of
life and had lost; he seemed to feel instinctively that the end had
come. He had the Museum to go to, that could supply his daily needs,
but he was tired, oh, so tired of the struggle. There was nothing to
look forward tonothing, nothing. He arose with a deep, deep sigh.
I am tired, he said to himself, tired out completely. I am like
an old broken-down violin that can no longer emit a sound. My heart is
gone; there is no sounding post; I am finished. I have been finished a
long time, only I did not know it. He arose slowly from his chair and
took his pipe off the mantelpiece. As he slowly filled it his eyes
lighted on a wooden baton that lay on the mantelpiece. He took it up
and looked at it. It was the baton with which he conducted his last
symphony. He smiled and shook his head. I am through; thoroughly and
completely through, and he broke the conductor's wand in pieces and
threw them into the fire. That finishes me! he said. I am snapped;
broken in little bits. I did not ask to live, but now,now, I ask to
die! To die, that is all I ask, to die. He took out the little
miniature of his wife and looked at it long and tenderly. Elene,
Elene! My wife, where are you? If you knew what I go through you would
come to me! Give me the sign I wait for so long, that I may find you.
He listened, but no answer came; then a new thought came to him.
I go back home, home; for here I am a stranger; they do not know
me. The way is long, so long and then he started, for he heard the
strains of the second movement of his symphony which was being played
in the room above. It brought him back to himself, and he
listenedlistened as one who hears a voice from the dead. It seemed to
him that the requiem of all his hopes was being played. He was still
looking at the picture of his wife when Jenny entered. She had come to
fetch the lamp, to fill it with oil. The short winter afternoon was
drawing to a close and the dusk was deepening into darkness. The red
rays of the setting sun came in through the window and as it bathed him
in its crimson glow it made a sort of a halo around the old man's head.
Jenny gazed at him for a long time and was surprised that he did not
speak; but Von Barwig was not conscious of her presence. She looked at
him more closely and saw the tears in his eyes; then she came over to
him and nestled closely by his side. In a moment her woman's instinct
divined his need of sympathy and her heart went out to him.
Don't look like that, she pleaded, I can't bear to see it! I've
always known that something troubled you, that you've something to bear
that you've kept back from us. Tell me, tell me! Don't keep it to
yourself, it's eating your heart out. You know I love you; don'tdon't
keep it back, and she placed her arm around his neck and wept as if
her heart would break. Her action brought Von Barwig to himself and he
patted her gently on the back. Why, Jenny, my little Jenny! Yes, I
know you love me, and II tell you. Yes, Jenny, I tell you
Jenny nestled closer to him; it was a sorrowful moment for the old
man, and he needed some one to lead him into the light. Slowly, slowly,
but surely the young girl led him out of his mental chaos. His heart
had been perilously near the breaking point, but he could think more
IwhenI came over to this country II looked for some one that
I never found. I haveno luck, Jenny, no luck, he said in a broken
voice, and I bring no luck to others. He paused and then went on: I
stay here no longer, Jenny. I go back; it's better! Yes, I go back to
my own country.
Oh, no, don't go back! pleaded the girl.
Yes, I go; I must go, the old man said.
She clung tightly to him now, as if she would not let him go. He
smiled at her but shook his head. It is better, he said gravely, far
better. I cannot trust myself here alone; it is too much alone! I love
you all, but I am alone. There is an aching void which must be filled.
I cannot trust myself alone any longer.
She did not understand him, nor did she inquire of him his meaning.
She only clung to him, as if determined not to lose him.
When you are married, Jenny, he went on, I shall not be here. But
keep well to the house, love your husband, stay at home. Don't search
here, there, everywhere for excitement! The real happiness for the
mother is always in the home; always, always! One imprudent step and
the mother's happiness goes, and the father's, too, he added
Whose picture is that? asked Jenny, as she caught sight of the
miniature in Von Barwig's hand.
The mother, my wife; he said in a low, sad voice.
Ah! and Jenny looked closely at the picture.
The mother who loved not the home, and from that's come all the
sorrow! She loved not the home. Von Barwig's words came quickly now,
and were interspersed with dry, inarticulate sobs. The mother of my
little girl, for whose memory I love you. Ah, keep to the home, Jenny,
for God's sake! Always the home!
Jenny nodded. Where are they? she asked, pointing to the portrait.
Ah, where are they? he almost sobbed. For sixteen years I have
not seen my own flesh and blood! He, my friend who did this to me,
robbed me of them, and took them far, far away from me. I mustn't say
Jenny understood; she no longer looked tenderly at the portrait. She
pointed to it almost in horror. She was not a good woman?
Von Barwig was shocked. Here was the verdict of the world, through
the mouth of a child. He had never thought of his wife as bad.
She was a good woman; not bad, not bad! No, no, Jenny! I thought of
nothing but my art, of music, of fame, fortune. One night, the night of
the big concert, when I came home she had gone and she had taken with
her my little Hélène. It was the night that symphony was played.
Listen, you hear, you hear? It's the second movement. It was a
wonderful success, but ah, Jenny, that night I won the world's
applause, but I lost my own soul!
The strains of the music came through the open door. Jenny looked at
him. He was listening eagerly now. In the red glow of the late
afternoon sun his eyes sparkled with unnatural excitement.
It takes me home, he said, and then he looked at the picture. Not
bad; oh, no, Jenny; she is not bad!
Jenny shook her head. She hated the woman from that moment.
She is bad, she thought, or how could she have done it? But she
did not speak, and the old man went on:
I am not angry! No, mein Gott, no! I only want my little girl.
Anything to have her back, my baby, my little baby girl, gone these
sixteen years! My little baby!
Yes, but she wouldn't be a baby now, broke in Jenny.
Von Barwig, about to speak, stopped suddenly. Of course not; I
never thought of that! Then he shook his head violently.
I cannot think of her as anything but a baby!
Yes, but she'd be a grown-up young lady, insisted Jenny.
How old was she when youwhen shewhen you left her.
Three years and two months, said Von Barwig softly.
Then she'd be nineteen, said Jenny, just my age; big, grown-up
She is my little baby, repeated Von Barwig plaintively. I can see
her now so plainly; always playing with her little dollthe doll with
one eye out. That was the doll she loved, Jenny; the doll she had when
I last saw her.
The old man was calm now. The idea that the girl was a grown-up
young woman, although obvious enough, changed his train of thought. For
the moment it took his attention from the immediate cause of his
unhappiness, and brought his imagination into play.
A grown-up young lady! he mused. Yes, of course! But I can't see
her as grown up; I can't see her, Jenny. I can only remember her as a
wee tot walking around with her one-eyed doll; the eye she kicked out!
I remember that so well.
In spite of his misery, the old man laughed aloud as he recalled the
circumstance that led up to the loss of the eye. The consternation in
the face of the child as she handed him the piece of broken eye had
made him laugh; and he laughed now hysterically as he recalled the
incident. Jenny seeing him laugh, laughed too.
Thank God he can still laugh, she thought.
Ah, well! he went on, drawing a deep breath. They are gone, and
Ilook no more. My search is over, Jenny, over and done. But I go
back; I see once more my Leipsic. There they know me! Here I am an
outcast, a beggar.
Jenny could only shake her head and look at him helplessly. She
realised that any effort she might make to influence him to change his
plans would be useless; and more and more did she hate the woman who
had been the cause of all his misery, the woman whose portrait he
looked at so lovingly.
A beggar, Von Barwig repeated to himself. Yes, that's it! I can
fall no lower, I give up!
The fortune of the broken-spirited, broken-hearted old man was now
at its lowest ebb; and he gave up the fight. There was a long silence.
Jenny was thinking hard. What could she say or do; how could she help
A knock at the door broke the stillness, which had become almost
Come in, said Von Barwig wearily. He barely looked at the door as
it opened. In the ordinary course of events it was likely to be the
laundry boy, or Thurza with coal, or one of the musicians who lived in
the house, or perhaps a collector. It might have been almost any one
but the liveried footman who now stood at the door, hat in hand, with a
look of inquiry upon his face. Von Barwig stared at the man in
astonishment. Liveries in Houston Street were most uncommon.
Excuse me, sir, I am looking for a Mr. Von Barwig, he said. I was
directed to come here. Is this the right place, sir? The man's manner
was polite enough, but there was a decided attitude of superiority in
his somewhat supercilious tone. Jenny made her escape hastily.
Von Barwig could not collect his thoughts. He simply looked at the
man and made no reply.
He's a music master in the neighbourhood, I believe, sir, went on
the servant. A music master, he repeated.
Yes, he was; but he is no more, said Von Barwig, who now realised
that the man wanted to find him.
No, I am Mr. Von Barwig. I teach, but I give up. You hear? I have
finished; I give up, I give up! he repeated in a voice quivering with
emotion as he walked up to the window. There was such utter pathos in
the old man's bearing that it caused even the footman to turn and look
at the speaker more closely. There was a pause; the servant appeared
uncertain what to do.
Did you find him, Joles? asked some one coming into the room. The
voice was that of a young lady, who was accompanied by a little boy
carrying a violin case. At the sound of her voice Von Barwig started as
if he had been shot, and with a half articulate cry he turned and gazed
in the direction from whence the voice came. He saw in the dim
twilight, for the sun had now nearly gone down, the half-blurred vision
of a young lady dressed in the height of fashion. Her features he could
not distinguish, as her back was to the window, but he could see that
she was a handsome young woman of about twenty years of age. As Von
Barwig turned toward her she looked at her note-book and asked if he
were Herr Von Barwig.
The old man bowed, tried to speak, but could not. His tongue cleaved
to the roof of his mouth. He pointed to a chair, and indicated that she
should be seated. She noticed his embarrassment and addressed the
You had better wait for me downstairs, Joles, she said quickly.
Then as the man closed the door behind him she turned to Von Barwig,
and spoke in a rich, warm, contralto voice that vibrated with youth and
health. You teach music, do you not? At least they said you did!
Von Barwig swallowed a huge lump in his throat. I did, butnot
now; I have given up. She looked at him but did not seem to
understand. Lieber Gott, Lieber Gott! broke from him in spite of his
efforts to suppress himself. Elene, Elene! Then he looked more
closely at her and shook his head.
So you are not teaching any longer? Ah, what a pity! she said.
They speak so well of you in the neighbourhood. Perhaps I may be able
to induce you to change your mind!
Von Barwig was now slowly gaining mastery over himself.
Perhaps, he said, with a great effort at self-control.
You do not know me, Herr Von Barwig?
The old man's eyes glowed like live coals. Elene, Elene! he
murmured. The living image! Lieber Gott, the living image!
I am Miss Hélène Stanton, she said with unconscious dignity. You
may have heard of me, she added with a smile.
Miss Stanton's name was a household word in New York, especially in
that quarter of the city where her large charities had done so much to
alleviate the sufferings of the poor. Von Barwig had heard the name
many times, but at that moment he did not recognise it, although it was
the name of the greatest heiress in New York.
His ear caught the word Hélène and he could only repeat it over
and over again.
Hélène, corrected Miss Stanton.
Ah, in my language it is Elene; yes, Elene! Then a great hope took
possession of him. Some one has sent you to me? he asked. Some one
has sent you?
Not exactly, she replied, but you were well recommended. The old
man's manner, his emotion, his earnestness, somewhat embarrassed her.
Why does he look at me so earnestly? she thought. Perhaps it was a
mannerism peculiar to a man of his years.
Then she went on: I am connected with mission work in the
neighbourhood here. I go among the poor a great deal
Ah, charity! he said. Yes. And then he went up to the window and
pulled up the blinds as far as they would go that he might get more of
the fast-fading light.
I saw you a few days ago at Schumein's, the music publishers, and
your name was suggested to me by one of the young ladies at the mission
as music master.
Ah, you desire to take lessons? he asked eagerly.
Miss Stanton smiled. No, the child. Come here, Danny, and the boy
came toward her.
Von Barwig had seen no one but her. The little boy had remained in
the corner of the room, where the shadow of evening made it too dark to
distinguish the outline of his form.
Ah, the boy? he said with a tone or disappointment in his voice.
Not you, the boy? He needs instruction? Then he looked at her again.
It was too dark for him to see the colour of her eyes. He went to the
door. Jenny, he called, only he pronounced it Chenny; a lamp if
How courteous and dignified his manner is! thought Miss Stanton,
even in the most commonplace and trivial details of life a man's
breeding shows itself.
We think the boy is a genius, she said aloud, but his parents are
very poor and cannot afford to pay for his tuition.
It is a poor neighbourhood, said Von Barwig, but there will be no
charge. I will teach him forfor you! He had already forgotten that
he had decided to take no more pupils.
I have taken charge of his future, said Miss Stanton pointedly;
and of course shall defray all the expense of his tuition myself. I
have the consent of his parents
Jenny came in with a large lamp and placed it on the piano. Von
Barwig could now see his visitor's face, and his heart beat rapidly.
Tell me, he said, forcing himself to be calm, your father and
mother? Are they?
Miss Stanton drew herself up slightly. I am speaking of his
parents, she said.
Yes, his parents, of course! Yes, but your fatheryour mother, he
asked insistently. Is sheis sheliving?
The deep earnestness and anxiety with which Von Barwig put this
question made it clear to Miss Stanton that it was not merely idle
curiosity that prompted him to ask, so stifling her first impulse to
ignore the question altogether she replied rather abruptly:
No, she is not living. Then she added formally, but that is quite
apart from the subject we are discussing.
Von Barwig did not hear the latter part of her answer. His eyes were
riveted on her. He could only repeat, Deaddead. Then he looked at
her and slowly shook his head in mournful tenderness, repeating the
To her own surprise Miss Stanton did not resent this sympathy.
I take an especial interest in this boy because his sister is one
of the maids in my father's home, she began.
Von Barwig's face fell. Ah, he said, you have a father. Fool that
I am, he went on. Yes, of course; you have a father, and it is
At this point Miss Stanton made up her mind that Herr Von Barwig did
not understand English quite as well as he spoke it, for she repeated
rather sharply this time that she was discussing the boy's musical
education, not her own. Then she added that there remained only the
question of terms to discuss and she would detain him no longer.
Von Barwig did not hear her. He could only mutter to himself in
German, A father, she has a father! Then he told the boy to call the
next afternoon and he would hear him play. The lad thanked him and went
home to his parents.
After the boy's departure, Miss Stanton repeated her request to be
allowed to discuss the terms for the boy's tuition; and when the music
master made no response she said: Very well; whatever your charges are
I will pay them.
There will be none, said Von Barwig decidedly.
But I wish to defray the entire expense, said Miss Stanton,
greatly mystified at Von Barwig's refusal to receive payment for his
I cannot take money from you, he said.
Cannot take money from me? I do not understand you! and Miss
Stanton arose. Please explain. There was an awkward pause.
Von Barwig saw that he had made a mistake. I like to help all
children, he said somewhat lamely. You are engaged in work of
charity; I do my share, he added.
The explanation only partially satisfied her, and she regarded him
Von Barwig realised now that he had shown himself over-anxious. I
do something for him, I shall take an interest in him, he said,
because you brought him here.
What a strange man! she thought as she looked at him in surprise.
A poor, struggling musician with the air and grace of a nobleman
conferring a favour on a lady of his own class! Then she looked around
the studio with its old-fashioned piano and the stacks of old music
lying about here and there; a violin with one or two bows and resin
boxes in the corner, some music stands, Poons's 'cello case, a broken
metronome; and on the walls some cheap pictures of the old musicians.
In a fit of generosity, Miss Husted had bought them and put them on the
walls. Von Barwig had not the heart to remove them, although cheap art
did not appeal to him.
Miss Stanton looked at them now, and then at him, and a deep feeling
of pity came into her heart. He has so little, she thought, yet he
is willing to give; and he gives with the air of a prince!
I cannot allow you toto she began. You are not rich, and yet
you wish to teach for nothing. Surely your time isis valuable
I have more than I need, he replied with quiet dignity.
The heiress to twenty-five millions felt the rebuff and she liked
him all the more for it, but she would not accept his offer without an
effort to prevent the sacrifice.
Why should you sacrifice yourself? she asked.
It is no sacrifice toahplease, please! Put it down to the whim
of an old manwhat you will; but don't deny me this pleasure! Don't,
His pleading look disarmed her and she gave up trying to dissuade
Very well, she said. It shall be as you wish.
She could not help liking him, she said to herself. His manner, at
first a little embarrassing, now interested her strangely. He reminded
her of a German nobleman she had met in Washington at the German
Embassy. His grace, his bearing, his whole demeanour was noble and
dignified in the extreme. Under ordinary circumstances, she would have
regarded his offer to teach her little charge for nothing as a gross
breach of politeness, but with him she did not feel angry in the least.
It's curious, she said, I came here with a good object in view;
and you calmly appropriate my good intentions and make them your own,
and what is still more strange I allow you to do so.
Ah, don't say that! still the tearful, pleading voice that moved
Yes, I allow you to do so, she persisted, and then she added, Do
you know, Herr Barwig, I like you, in spite of a strong temptation to
be very angry with you?
She had now moved around to the piano.
You know, she said enthusiastically, I love music and musical
people. Some of the very greatest artists come to my father's
My father, the words made Von Barwig's heart sink. My father!
She sat down at the piano; he raised the lamp and looked into her
eyes, and as he stood there with the lamp uplifted she looked into his
Of whom do you remind me? she said quickly. Don't move
There was a deep silence. The old man could hear his heart beat.
Of whom, of whom? he gasped. Go on; tell me! Try to remember! For
God's sake try to remember!
There, now, it's gone! she said. I can't think, she added after
a pause, greatly surprised at his look. You know somehow or other I
always feel at home with musicians. What a busy little studio this is,
she went on, looking around. You're quite successful, aren't you?
Von Barwig nodded.
It must be very gratifying to earn a lot of money through your own
efforts; not for the mere money, but for the success. I'm glad you're
successful! she said with such feeling that it surprised even herself.
Why? asked Von Barwig. Why are you glad?
I don't know. I suppose she paused. She did not like to say it
was because she had thought he was very poor and was delighted to find
that he was not; so she said it was because of his kindness to the boy,
and because II love music, she added.
You play? he inquired.
Play for me. The words came almost unbidden. It was an impulse to
which he responded because he could not help it. Play for me, he
She ran her hands idly over the keys. I ought to be angry, she
thought, he, a mere music master, to ask me to play for him as if he
were an equal.
But the gentle expression on the old man's face as he regarded her
with a tender smile was so full of hallowed affection and respect that
she could not utter the words which came to her lips. She merely looked
at him and returned his smile with one of her own and Heaven opened for
the old man. She began to play.
You know I play very little, she said.
I love to hear music from your fingers, was all he could say.
Miss Stanton listened a moment.
What music is that? She heard the men upstairs playing. It's very
pretty, she added. They both listened for a few moments. It's really
beautiful! Can I get it? I'd like to know that melody.
I make for you a piano score. It's the music they played the night
that she, that she his breath came quickly. Lieber Gott! Elene; so
like Elene, so like! he said, as he gazed at her.
Miss Stanton took off her gloves and began to play. She had hardly
struck the opening chords of a simple pianoforte piece when there came
a knock at the door. Before Von Barwig could speak a man entered. She
stopped playing and Von Barwig's heart sank as he recognised the
collector for the pianoforte house.
I am engaged, sir. If you please, another time!
I've called for the piano, said the man, taking some papers out of
Another time, for God's sake! pleaded Von Barwig. Please go on,
I want the piano or the money, said the man automatically.
I have notnow. To-morrow I will call.
The money or the piano is my instructions, said the collector. Von
Barwig stood as if stricken dumb. The shame, the degradation were too
great. He appealed to the man with outstretched hands. Tears were in
his eyes, but the man did not look at him; he went into the hall,
opened the front door, and yelled out, Come on, Bill
Miss Stanton arose from the piano and walked over to the window. It
is a very busy view from here, isn't it? she said; gracious, how
crowded the streets are!
Poor Von Barwig's cup of misery was now full. She had been a witness
of his poverty. His lies about his success and his pupils were all laid
bare to her; he was disgraced forever in her eyes. He had lied to her,
and she had found him out.
The collector came back with the men and the process of moving the
piano began. Von Barwig's sense of humour came to his rescue.
Thank heaven they are taking that box of discords away at last!
What a piano! Did you notice it, Miss Stanton?
Miss Stanton had noticed it, and nodded, I did indeed, she said.
Not one note in harmonious relationship with another, went on Von
Barwig, trying to smile as they upset his music on the floor. Not a
sharp or a flat that is on good terms with his neighbour.
The only reply the piano mover made was to drop one of the piano
legs heavily on the floor, making the dust fly.
The black and white keys forever at war with each other, said Von
Barwig, forcing a laugh, in which his visitor joined. Seeing her
merriment, Von Barwig began to recover his spirits. The next time you
call, Miss Stanton, he said, I will have here an instrument that
shall contain at least a faint suggestion of music. In the meantime I
am most thankful that I have no longer to listen to a piano that sounds
like a banjo.
The whole situation appealed forcefully to Miss Stanton's sense of
humour, and she thoroughly enjoyed the old man's jesting. If he can
rise above a condition like that, she thought, he must be a splendid
man. She longed to comfort, to help him; but how?
As the men finally took out the piano, Von Barwig pretended to
breathe a sigh of relief.
I'm glad it's gone, he said, you can't tell what a relief! He
laughed, but his laugh did not deceive her; her musical ear recognised
its artificiality in a moment. She could feel rather than see he was
suffering, and she felt for him.
They were left standing alone together. The room looked quite empty
without the piano; it was like the breaking up of a home. Neither of
them spoke for a moment, and Von Barwig could see that she had found
him out again.
What an awful liar she must think I am, thought he.
Poor, dear old man trying to conceal his poverty, thought she.
Then an idea came to her.
I want you to come and see me, Herr Von Barwig, she said. I am
going to take up piano study again, and I want you to help me. I shall
be at home to-morrow afternoon at three. Of course you must be very
busy, but if you have no other engagement will you call?
I will call, madam. II amnot engaged at that hour, said Von
Barwig gratefully, as he bowed to her. Miss Stanton acknowledged the
You won't find me a very apt pupil, but you'll take me, won't you?
Do, please take me!
The old man could not speak; too many conflicting thoughts were
working in his mind. Take her! Good God The very idea overwhelmed
You will take me, won't you? she urged gently.
He took the card, and nodded. He dared not trust himself to speak;
he would have broken down and he knew it.
Good-bye! she said. Good-bye; it's getting so late, I must go!
She held out her hand. He took it and kissed it reverently, bowing his
head as if she were a queen.
Good-bye, she said again at the hall door. Don't forget! she
added, as she waved her hand from the carriage window. Joles slammed
the door shut and got on the box, and she was driven away.
The old man watched the carriage until it was out of sight,
returning to his room in a dream. He could not realise or explain his
feelings. He had been happy, perfectly happy; that was all he knew. He
had been at rest, contented, satisfied for a few brief moments, and
that glimpse of heaven had put new, strange thoughts into his
lifethoughts that made his blood pulsate. He recognised that life had
taken on a new aspect; how or why he knew not. A strange young lady had
called upon him, and had left a card; he was to see her again, and his
whole life was changed. This was the only point that was clear to him,
that his life had changed. How long he sat there, trying to think it
out and understand, he knew not.
The old crack-faced clock, with one hand, that Miss Husted had put
on the mantelpiece, struck the hour with its old cracked bell, and it
startled him. He had heard it hundreds of times, but now its weird,
metallic tone jarred on the harmony of his feelings. He counted the
strokes; five, six, seven, eight. Eight o'clock! He started up, for his
dream had come to an end, and he came back to earth again, back into
the world of Houston Street, back to the Bowery, to Costello, to the
Museum, to his nightly labour for his daily bread. Mechanically he
changed his velvet jacket for his street dress, and hastily put on his
cape coat and hat. No, it's not a dream! he told himself, as he read
the card she had given him. Miss Hélène Stanton, Fifth Avenue and
Fifty-seventh Street. He put the card carefully in his pocket-book and
placing his violin case under his arm started to go out. Then
remembering that the lamp was still burning, he went back and carefully
turned it out.
Fifth Avenue, and Fifty-seventh Street, he said to himself;
to-morrow at three, to-morrow at three.
He went into the street and the noise and bustle of the Bowery
jarred upon his sensitive ear. To-morrow at three, he joyfully sang
to himself. To-morrow at three! But high above the din and rattle of
traffic and street noises, high above Von Barwig's song, rang out
Costello's voice as if to drown his happiness.
Eat 'em alive, it said. Eat 'em alive; eat 'em alive! Von Barwig
heard it; shuddered, and sang no more. Eat 'em alive, he muttered
mournfully to himself. Eat 'em aliveeat 'em alive.
Von Barwig arose at daybreak, for a great hope had come to him. At
last life held out a promise; of what he knew not. He only knew that he
experienced a sensation of joy, and his great, loving heart throbbed in
response. His cheerfulness communicated itself to his friends upstairs,
for they came into his room and insisted on his accompanying them to
breakfast at Galazatti's. They were all in high spirits. Pinac and Fico
were determined to let him see that the loss of their positions had not
caused them any uneasiness.
Bah! we get the engagement back again, laughed Fico.
Pinac snapped his fingers. The café! Pouf, pouf, pouf!
Poons grinned amiably. He had been warned by the others, notably by
Pinac in very bad German, not to let Von Barwig see that they felt down
in the mouth. He kept a smile on his face when he thought of it, and
was exceedingly sorrowful when he didn't; so the expression on his face
altered from time to time, much to Von Barwig's astonishment. Once,
during breakfast, Pinac heard Poons sigh and kicked him under the
table, whereupon he immediately grinned. Von Barwig saw this lightning
change and wondered what was the matter.
Are you in pain? he asked.
No, replied Poons, trying to smile, but only succeeding in
grinning. Then he laughed with real tears in his eyes.
Are you laughing or crying? asked Von Barwig. If you are
laughing, please cry; and if you are crying, for heaven's sake laugh.
Poons nodded. I am very happy, he said tearfully, so happy.
Then you don't know how to show it, commented Von Barwig;
whereupon they all laughed at him until he laughed too, in spite of
himself. They joked all through the breakfast. So noisy were they that
they attracted the attention of Galazatti, the proprietor or the
café, who came over to the four friends and shook hands with them.
He had served them for many years, and he was glad to see them enjoy
How is the good lady of your house? he asked.
Miss Husted is at the top of the notch, replied Pinac, who
generally constituted himself spokesman for the party. We are all top
of the notch, he added, eh, Poonsie? slapping the young man on the
What a strange thing is this human existence! thought Von Barwig,
as he left his friends and walked back to his studio alone. Here I am
in the middle of Houston Street, giving music instructions for fifty
cents per lesson, playing out nights in a dime museum, and yet my
heart, my mind is with this daughter of a great millionaire. To-day at
three I shall be with her, and I can think of nothing else. What is she
to me that I should care so much? A chance likeness, perhaps no
likeness at all except that which exists in my brain! Am I mad? Is this
world of shadows real? What does it all mean? Who will tear the veil
from this mystery, and tell me why one human being is so much more to
us than another, why one human being so resembles another, and yet is
not that one?
From time to time he looked at the clock wishing the time would pass
more quickly. He brushed his clothes very carefully that morning. The
frock coat he had worn for a dozen years now proved its claim to being
made of the finest texture, for it responded splendidly to the brush,
and gave up most of its spots; but it still retained its shine. When he
had put on a clean collar and cuffs and his best white dress shirt, Von
Barwig looked at himself in the glass.
If only this shine on my coat were transferred to my boots, what a
happy transformation! thought Von Barwig. Still, if that button on my
sleeve is transferred to my coat, it will restore the balance of
harmony, so Jenny's services were called into requisition.
Where are you going this morning? she asked as she stitched on the
To a new pupil, replied Von Barwig as carelessly as he could,
though his heart fairly bumped as he spoke. He did not like to speak of
his visitor of yesterday afternoon to others. It was too sacred a
subject to be mentioned in Houston Street.
The young lady that came yesterday? inquired Jenny, but Von Barwig
made no reply. Jenny looked at him closely; his silence chilled her.
There was an imperceptible change in him, she thought. She could not
say exactly what it was, but it seemed to her that when his eyes rested
on her it was no longer with the same glance of lingering affection
that he had always bestowed on her. Now he barely glanced at her, and
his eyes did not rest on her for a moment. The girl's sensitive nature
made her conscious that he did not think of her when he spoke to her.
What's her name? asked Jenny, after a long pause, during which Von
Barwig put on his cape coat. Once more he did not appear to hear her,
and Jenny repeated the question. What's her name, Herr Von Barwig?
This time she spoke with directness.
I beg your pardon, said Von Barwig, with unconscious dignity. It
was the old Leipsic conductor that spoke, and there was such unbending
sternness and severity in the tone of his voice, such coldness in his
eye, that Jenny shrank back and looked at him as if he had struck her.
Oh, Herr Von Barwig, she gasped, and burst into tears.
Jenny, Jenny, my little Jenny! What is it, what did I say? he
asked in genuine distress. His thoughts had been miles away.
I didn't mean totoberude, she sobbed. II onlyyou looked
soso happy! Iwanted to know.
Come, come! he said, taking her in his arms, and patting her
affectionately on the cheek. Don't cry! I meant nothing, my child;
only I did not want to speak of matters thatthat you could not
understand. Come, it is two o'clock, and I must go, and he kissed her
tenderly on the forehead. You are all right now, eh? he said, as she
Forgive me, won't you? asked Jenny, who was now comforted. He
still loved her; that was all she asked.
As he walked up Third Avenue and turned into Union Square, he went
into a florist's.
A bunch of violets, please, he said, and the young man tied up a
very small quantity of violets with a very large silk tassel and a lot
of green leaves, tin foil, oil paper and wire; putting the whole into a
box, which he carefully tied up with more ribbon.
What a ceremony over a few violets! thought Von Barwig, as he laid
a twenty-five cent piece on the counter.
One dollar, please, said the young man, surveying the quarter with
a somewhat pitying smile.
Von Barwig's heart sank. He had forgotten that it was winter, that
flowers were expensive, that coloured cardboard and tin foil and ribbon
cost money, too. He searched his pockets and found the necessary
dollar, but it was within a few cents of all he had. They are not too
good for her, thought Von Barwig as he carried the box away. He walked
up Broadway into Fifth Avenue, and stopped at the corner of
Fifty-seventh Street. The number he sought was inscribed on the door of
a large brownstone mansion with a most imposing entrance, one of those
palatial residences that cover the space of four ordinary houses and
stamp its owner as a multi-millionaire. As he nervously pulled the
bell, he upbraided himself for having dared to think that she was like
his child. It was a trick of the fading light, an optical illusion. His
reflection was cut short, for the door was opened by a man-servant.
Have you a card? inquired the footman, as Von Barwig asked for
The old man shook his head.
Herr Von Barwig is the name; I have an appointment.
You can wait in there; I'll see if Miss Stanton is in, said the
flunky, as he turned on his heel. Such nondescript visitors were most
An old person without a card, Mr. Joles, he confided to that
individual below stairs; name Barkwick or something, says he has an
appointment. Quite genteel, but and he shrugged his shoulders
Joles made no reply, but went up to interview Mr. Barkwick. The
Stantons had so many applications from persons who needed charity for
themselves or others that the standing order had gone forth to admit no
stranger, under any pretext, unless of course he had complete
Herr Von Barwig was standing in the reception-room, hat in hand,
when Joles entered.
No card, eh? Ahumdear me, and Mr. Joles rubbed his chin in a
perplexed way. He looked around, none of the pictures were missing, nor
had the statuary been removed. But Denning shouldn't have asked the
stranger into the reception-room.
Von Barwig ventured to say that he had an appointment. Mr. Joles
Oh, you have an appointment! Written?
No, replied Von Barwig.
Oh, verbal? At what hour? questioned Mr. Joles.
Three, answered Von Barwig.
Are you quite sure? inquired Mr. Joles doubtfully. I have
received no orders.
Von Barwig remained silent. What could he say? The man evidently
doubted his word.
If you will please tell her, he said gently.
I am not at all sure that Miss Stanton is in, said Mr. Joles, and
he stood there as if in doubt as to how to proceed. But any further
question as to Miss Stanton's being in or out was settled by the young
lady herself, who dashed into the room in evident haste.
I beg your pardon, Herr Von Barwig; I forgot to leave word that you
were coming! Forgive me, won't you? and she held out her hand to him
in such a friendly manner that it drew from the servant a faint
I beg your pardon, sir, he began.
It's all right, Joles, said Miss Stanton, cutting him rather
short. She evidently did not value that gentleman's explanations very
highly, and took it for granted that Herr Von Barwig didn't care to
hear them. Joles bowed and left the room.
Well! I'm right glad to see you. It's a long way up town, isn't
Von Barwig nodded. He could not speak; he could only look at her.
For me? she asked as he held out the box of violets. Oh, how
kind, how thoughtful! she murmured, as he bowed in response to her
question. She opened the box. Violets in winter are a luxury, you
Von Barwig smiled with pleasure; he was almost too happy.
I congratulate myself on having pleased you, he managed to say.
Now do sit down and talk to me! she said, placing a chair for him
and almost pushing him into it. He looked rather perplexed.
I thought, he began.
You surely didn't expect me to take a lesson to-day, did you? she
said, and then she went on: Oh dear me, no; not to-day! To-morrow.
Besides, my music room is upstairs; this is not my part of the house at
all. How about the little boy? When does he begin? Do you think he has
Von Barwig looked bewildered. He had not only forgotten the
appointment he had made with the boy to hear him play, but he had
forgotten his very existence.
Iit is not settled, he faltered. To-morrow perhaps. Yes,
to-morrow, he will call and then I will let you know.
Oh, I thought you were to hear him to-day! I was rather anxious to
know what you thought.
Von Barwig felt quite guilty.
Do you know I've been thinking of you quite a great deal, she
You are too kind, he replied in a low voice.
Miss Stanton was evidently in a very communicative frame of mind,
for from that moment she talked rapidly on current musical topics. She
knew the latest operas, and loved the spirit of unrest, the unsettled
minor chords of the new school of music; preferred the leit motif
to the aria, music drama to opera, and was altogether
exceedingly modern in her tastes. She did not like recitative in music,
and preferred Wagner and Tschaikowsky to Bach and Verdi. She loved to
be stirred up, she said. She liked Beethoven, yes, but he was too
mathematical. As for Handel, he was uninteresting in the extreme; and
so she went on and on.
The old man could only gaze at her in silence. There she sat, the
living image of his dead wife, talking musical matters in a foreign
tongue; an absolute stranger to him, and yet he felt drawn toward her
in a strange and unusual way. Who was she? What was she? Had the dead
come to life? What had happened? He could only look at her, and feel so
very, very happy. What did it all mean?
How is your father? he asked when there was a lull in the
conversation, brought about by Miss Stanton's pausing to breathe.
Her face fell. He is in Europe, she said, and did not continue the
Von Barwig noticed that her face saddened when she spoke of her
She must love him very much, he thought, and the thought brought
him to his senses.
Don't be a fool, Barwig, he said to himself. Her father is a
multi-millionaire, one of the great men of the country. Her mother is
dead, and you must content yourself with having dreamed that she was
yours. You must not look at her, you understand? Don't look at her, or
she will suspect what you think and you will be turned away. You have
had your dream. Now wake up, wake up!
It was time for him to awaken, for she was asking him if he thought
that musical genius was allied to madness.
II don't know, he replied. I am not a genius!
Will you play for me? he said, to hide his confusion.
Not now, she replied. I have an engagement. Come to-morrow at
this hour. I'll leave word this time, she added with a smile. Mr.
Stanton is so particular about callers that no one can get near me
without being personally guaranteed by Joles or Mr. Ditson.
You haven't seen Mr. Ditson, have you? He is father's secretary. I
don't like him, and I'm so sorry. I can't bear not to like any one,
and she sighed.
Von Barwig was looking at her again; in spite of himself he could
not keep his eyes from her.
Of what were you thinking when you looked at me in that way? she
asked, with a curious smile.
IIdon't know, said Von Barwig, rather startled, and this was
You're thinking that I am a great rattle-box, aren't you? Now,
confess! I am talking a great deal, am I not? But I can't seem to help
it! I'm not always like this; indeed I'm not, she said earnestly.
It's a positive luxury to utter the first thought that comes into
one's minda luxury I seldom get, I can tell you! Somehow or other you
drew me out, and I allowed myself to ramble on and on without in the
least knowing why. Can you explain it? she asked laughingly.
He shook his head. Perhaps you feel that I am interested in you, if
you will pardon the liberty I take in saying so.
Very likely, she said thoughtfully. There was a long pause, for
they were so occupied with their own thoughts that neither spoke. The
reaction had set in, and she was now strangely quiet; indeed she hardly
spoke again that afternoon. After a while Von Barwig rose to take his
Have I offended her? he asked himself, as he left the house. How
dare I tell her that I am interested in her! What impertinence, what a
liberty! Who am I that I should dare to say such a thing! You old
fool! he now addressed himself directly. You have happiness well
within your grasp, and instead of gently taking it to yourself you grab
it with both hands and pluck it up by the roots. You have offended her
and she won't see you again. You'll see, you won't be admitted to the
house! The old man almost cried as he thought of his temerity, his
folly, his stupidity. He walked faster and faster in his excitement. I
must curb my unfortunate tongue; I must, I will, if I ever get another
chance! He sighed deeply. And yetwhy should she press my hand and
ask me to come to-morrow and be sure not to forget the hour? She has
forgiven me, yes, yes, she likes me; I know she does, but I must be
careful! And so he walked rapidly home to his lodgings, alternately in
a heaven of joy or in a hell of despair.
What a strange old man, mused Hélène, as she sat in a box that
night at the Academy of Music and listened to an aria from William
Tell. Why do I think of him so constantly?
My dear Hélène, you are not a very attentive hostess, said
Charlotte Wendall, a tall brunette. It was after the curtain had fallen
on the act, and the box was filled up with visitors. There was always a
crowd in the Stanton box on the grand tier when Hélène Stanton was
My cousin Beverly has spoken to you twice, and you have not even
intimated that you are aware of his presence.
Charlotte Wendall, as a classmate of Hélène's at Vassar, took a
school friend's privilege of saying just what she thought. Besides,
Hélène was fond of her, and permitted her to say what she pleased.
Won't you speak to me? pleaded Beverly. I do so want to be
noticed! I'll be satisfied with a glance in my direction.
Beverly Cruger had recently finished a post-graduate course at
Harvard and was just budding into the diplomatic service. He was a fine
manly looking chap of twenty-seven, and as he looked down into Hélène
Stanton's face, his pleading eyes attested to the fact that he was more
than merely interested in her.
I beg your pardon, said Hélène, shaking hands with him warmly.
Hélène is very pensive to-night. I can't make her out, interposed
Octavie, a pretty little blonde sprite, and a perfect antithesis to her
sister Charlotte. She is thinking of some one who is not here.
Quite true, nodded Hélène, smiling.
Happy fellow, murmured Beverly.
On the contrary, said Hélène, who had sharp ears. The fellow I am
thinking about is very unhappy.
Ah, one of those sad affairs, with languishing eyes, who simpers
and sighs! said Charlotte laughingly, bursting into what she called
Hélène smiled a little. You'd never guess, she said thoughtfully.
Then, after a pause, I am thinking of a musician, a music master who
lives downtown in one of the little side streets of our crowded city.
He is an artist and a gentleman, who has in all probability devoted the
best years of his life to his music; and he has made a failure of it.
Did he tell you his story? asked Beverly, slightly interested.
Hélène shook her head. He told me he was a great success, a
flourishing artist, a rich man (in her enthusiasm Hélène exaggerated
slightly), and not three minutes afterward the very piano on which he
made his living was taken away from him because he had not sufficient
money to pay for its hire. It was the most pitiful thing I ever saw; I
simply can't forget it!
Poor chap! Can't we do anything for him? asked Beverly, now
He is very proud. I took one of our mission boys there, a lad who
has great talent for music, and this strange individual refused to take
any compensation for teaching him. He insisted on taking him for
nothing, and said he loved children.
I should say he was a strange individual, commented Beverly. He
ought to feel highly flattered at the interest you are taking in him.
You want to look out for these distingué foreigners, Hélène!
You're an heiress, you know, said Octavie, who was an omnivorous
Yes, said Hélène, and then she was silent. Beverly Cruger looked
at her. Her face, usually happy and smiling, was sad and thoughtful.
This stranger has made quite an impression on her, he thought.
What is his name? he asked, a strange sense of annoyance creeping
over him in spite of himself.
Herr Von Barwig, replied Hélène.
Oh, a nobleman, broke in the irrepressible Octavie, who read
novels as well as the newspapers; a German nobleman! It is a romance,
isn't it? Is he a count, or a baron; or aprince, perhaps?
He didn't tell me, replied Hélène, who could not help smiling at
the curiosity she had aroused. They were all looking at her very
anxiously now, even Mrs. Van Arsdale, the girls' chaperone, was
He didn't tell me, repeated Hélène; really he didn't.
Oh, well, he will! said Beverly, forcing a smile. He did not like
to admit to himself that he was not exactly enjoying Hélène's romance.
I am going to see him to-morrow, and I'll make it a point to ask
him, said Hélène, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. She rather
enjoyed Beverly's obvious consternation.
To-morrow? You see him to-morrow? asked Beverly, and his heart
sank. The lights were lowered and the next act had begun before she
could make any reply, and then it was too late. He had known her only a
few months, but in that brief time he had seen a great deal of her. He
loved her; of that he was quite sure. It was her immense wealth that
prevented him from asking her to be his wife. But for that he would
have spoken a score of times.
Where were you? asked his mother as he returned to his seat beside
her in the stall.
In box 39, he replied.
Mr. Stanton's box? she asked.
Yes, said Beverly. I wanted to see Charlotte and Octavie.
And Miss Stanton? added his mother. Beverly made no reply.
You were at her house yesterday, said Mrs. Cruger.
Beverly, you must be careful! Your father objects to Miss Stanton.
Objects to her friendship for my cousins?
No, to your friendship for her, replied his mother. You have
already shown her marked attention. She is a very beautiful girl, and
he is afraid that the intimacy may ripen into something more than mere
Beverly was unusually silent during the progress of the opera, and
when they arrived home he went straight to his father's study.
Andrew Cruger occupied a position of leadership in New York society
that practically made his position unassailable. He was not a rich man,
but he was the most highly respected diplomat in America; a scholarly
gentleman, the friend of kings and presidents. He had been of the
greatest possible assistance to the secretaries of state of both
parties in solving international problems. The respect of the entire
world was his and he was far more solicitous about his good name than
about his financial [Transcriber's note: A line of the book appears to
be missing here, but the sentence probably ends with affairs",
business", or something similar.]
What is your objection to Miss Stanton, father? demanded Beverly
in a somewhat excited manner.
I have no objection to her, my boy, replied his father. Then,
seeing that his son was terribly in earnest, he said in a more serious
tone, There is some question as to her father's social integrity.
What has that to do with Miss Stanton? asked Beverly.
Nothing, my boy. And may I ask, what has the entire question to do
I love her, father. I want to make her my wife.
Andrew Cruger put down the pen with which he was writing and looked
at his son.
That's very serious, he said, and walking over to the fireplace he
leaned against the mantelpiece. You are slated by the incoming
administration for one of the under secretaryships of the German
Legation. You are on the threshold of a great career. A marriage with
Henry Stanton's daughter would not affect you at this stage, but when
you rise to the dignity of ambassadorial honour, as in the course of
events you logically will, your wife, my lad, must be beyond the breath
of calumny. No scandal, no mystery must attach itself to her name.
What's there against Miss Stanton, father? Won't you tell me?
Nothing against her! Henry Stanton's early life is shrouded
in mystery. He inherited his immense fortune from his uncle. Who her
mother was, no one seems to know, and there lies the mystery. Mr.
Stanton's immense works of charity have succeeded to some extent in
getting him a foothold in New York, but the foundation of his social
position is very insecure. I need scarcely tell you, Beverly, that
although money is a lever that can do much to help a man along in
society, it is almost utterly valueless in the diplomatic world. In
that smallest of small worlds one's name, one's record, one's wife,
one's family must be almost immaculate, subject to the most minute
scrutiny. You are in the diplomatic world; your name will pass muster.
But what of the woman you propose to make your wife?
Beverly was silent. He had hitherto heard nothing against Henry
Stanton, much less against his daughter.
It will make no difference to me, he said firmly. I love her,
and, father, in saying this I mean no disrespect to your authority,
but, if she will accept me, I intend to marry her.
Andrew Cruger made no answer. He merely lowered his head and looked
at his son.
When? he asked briefly.
I have not spoken to her yet, said Beverly.
Old Cruger looked at him quizzically.
Perhaps I've been a little premature, suggested Beverly. The elder
Cruger shrugged his shoulders. That is the chief characteristic of
American youth, he said, with a slight smile.
I should never think of settling the question of dates, or of doing
anything final until I had consulted you and my mother. Nor would I
speak to her without first asking your consent, he added, to please
Andrew Cruger smiled once more. Suppose I refuse my consent? he
Well, Beverly hesitated.
You'll marry her without it? Of course you will! That's if she'll
have you, my boy. The authority of parents is only nominal; therefore I
content myself with warning you that you may ruin your career by such a
I'll risk it, said Beverly.
In other words you will give up your career?
Yes, replied Beverly.
Quite so, agreed old Cruger. But if you are too willing to take
the risk, too indifferent as to your future, the world, our world,
which after all is the only world, may say that your wife's fortune
made it unnecessary for you to bother about a career or even about
having to earn your own living.
Beverly looked indignant.
You know the world, particularly our section of it, has rather an
unpleasant way of putting things. I should not like to have a son of
mine accused of such motives even though I knew it to be untrue.
Beverly was silent. He dimly saw that his father was right.
Think it over, suggested old Cruger.
Have I your consent? asked Beverly.
Don't put me in the position of being compelled to say, 'Bless you,
my child,' after I have damned you for disobedience, said the elder
Cruger laughingly. Be quite sure, my boy, that I shall adapt myself to
conditions. If I say 'yes,' it is because I know you will do as you
please in any event, and I don't want to cloud your happiness by
interposing useless objections. I merely warn you! Good-night,
Good-night, father. Beverly left the room and the elder Cruger
returned to his work.
It was about five minutes before three the next afternoon when Anton
Von Barwig's card was brought up to Hélène's room by Joles. Herr Von
Barwig had evidently taken the precaution to have his name printed on a
piece of pasteboard, so as not to offend Joles's delicate sense of
Will you see him, miss? asked the man-servant; glancing at the
cardboard somewhat suspiciously.
Ask him up at once, please, said Miss Stanton, in such a decided
tone that Joles hastened to obey her orders.
Hélène was perplexed; she had been thinking all the morning of the
false position she found herself in. She had told the old music master
that she could not play at all, or could only play a little, and that
she wanted to take piano lessons. At the very outset he would discover
that she was quite a good amateur pianoforte player, with a fine
musical ear, and then he would see through her ruse and refuse to teach
her. She felt that he would see her pretences were only for the purpose
of getting him to give her lessons and she was afraid that he would be
very much offended.
After all, what does it matter? she asked herself; and the answer
came quickly, It does matter. The more she thought of this the more
perplexed she became. Why should she care one way or the other? Who was
this man that she should consider his feelings toward her? The whole
thing was ridiculous! Yet Von Barwig made an irresistible appeal to
her, and she felt that she must rest contented with the fact as it was,
without seeking to know how or why. One point, however, stood out very
clearly: Beverly Cruger had been obviously jealous last night at the
opera. Octavie's silly prattle about a young and handsome foreign
nobleman had had a marked effect upon him, and Hélène's heart beat
slightly faster as she pondered over this phase of the matter.
He's actually jealous, she thought, and she enjoyed the idea.
Beverly's earnest manliness made her admire him greatly. It almost
reconciled her to Octavie's silliness! He was so different from the
swarm of social bees who sipped only the sweets of pleasure. He was a
worker, a sincere worker, and his promised appointment to the
diplomatic service, notwithstanding his youth, attested the fact that
he was unusual. He takes an interest in his country's welfare,
thought Hélène, and does not ignore it as does the world in which he
lives and moves. He is a patriot; he loves his country. He is
unselfish, too. A good-looking society man who is unselfish, what an
anomaly! Hélène felt rather grateful to the innocent cause of Beverly
Cruger's jealousy, and when he entered the room she greeted him with a
I am so pleased to see you, she said unaffectedly.
Von Barwig had a little paper parcel in his hand. He carefully
removed the paper, putting it in his pocket, and then held out a very
tiny bunch of violets.
You are spoiling me, declared Hélène, as she took them from him.
She had a large bouquet of orchids in her corsage, which she quickly
removed, and placed the violets there instead.
I think violets are far prettier than orchids, she said.
Von Barwig looked rather dubious. He was pleased, but he doubted.
Do sit down! she said, and he went toward the piano. Not at the
piano; here, said Hélène, seating him beside her. Now, listen to me,
sir! You must not bring me expensive flowers every time you call.
They are not expensive, said Von Barwig with a smile. It is the
box and the ribbon that costs. You may have observed that I avoided
them on this occasion.
Well, what shall we talk about? asked Hélène, after a pause.
Talk about? repeated Von Barwig, slightly perplexed. Our music
Oh, I don't feel like taking a lesson to-day, said Hélène. I want
Yes, but Iit is I who must talk, if I am to teach, faltered Von
Barwig in a low voice. He didn't want to go too far, for he had heard
that American heiresses were capricious and whimsical and that they
took likes and dislikes very suddenly. He did not want her to dislike
him, so he would humour her; but he also wanted to teach her.
You know, she said confidentially, I think I have a rather
discontented nature. Certain people have a horrible effect on me. I
want to run about, play, sing, read, quarrel, do anything rather than
talk to them. But you, how I like to talk to you! You have a sort of
awhat shall I call itan all-pervading calmness, that communicates
itself to me, and soothes my ruffled feelings. I don't seem to feel in
a hurry when you're here. And when you smile, as you're smiling now, I
don't know why, but I feel just happy, and contented with myself. Do
you understand what I mean? The girl had a far-away expression in her
eyes, as if she were day-dreaming. The old man regarded her with a
You are trying to put me at my ease, he said finally, and you
have succeeded, but we make no progress at our music.
What music have you brought? she asked.
I cannot tell what books you will need until I hear you, he
You'd better get me Bach's studies, she said carelessly.
Won't you play? he asked, and then I can judge.
Not now, replied Hélène, and then she went on again, telling him
of herself, her life, her aims and ambitions, her predilections and
prejudices. She seldom referred to her father, and mentioned her mother
only occasionally. How I do ramble on, don't I? I seem to have known
you for years.
You are very happy, are you not? he asked.
Oh, yes, I suppose so! she replied. There seemed to be a tinge of
sadness in her manner, a sort of mental reservation as to her happiness
that she did not like to confess even to herself. Yes, I think
I am, she said finally.
Why not? he answered. Here all is peaceful, beautiful and
harmonious. What surroundings you have! and he looked around,
beautiful art objects to look at, the beautiful park at your very
window. Here all is beauty, joy, peace, without and within. Your
architect was a fine artist, or is it your own tasteall this?
Hélène nodded. I designed this part of the house myself, she
replied. The tapestry and pictures and statuary of course add greatly
to its general appearance, but you are quite rightthe architect was
He must have been, commented Von Barwig, looking about
[Illustration: Anton learns that his newly found daughter is to be
Are you looking at that cabinet, the one with the dolls in it?
That's a sixteenth century piece; it belonged to Maria Theresa. Father
brought it from Paris himself. It's beautiful, isn't it? I keep all my
dolls in it, and some day I'll show them to you. I have a great
collection; but I don't suppose you take much interest in dolls, said
Your fatherhe must be a fine man, said Von Barwig with a sigh.
I have heard so much of his goodness to the poor, his charity, his
interest in church matters
Yes, he is very good, said Hélène, without any enthusiasm in her
voice. There is not a hospital or a church or an asylum that doesn't
number him among its patrons. Yes, he is really a very good man I
suppose, repeated Hélène as if she were trying to assure herself of
his goodness. He lays more corner stones and endows more orphanages
than any man in America. He makes beautiful speeches; no public dinner
seems to be complete without him. He knows just what to say and how to
say it, and what is better than all, he knows when not to say
Von Barwig nodded. It's a great gift, that of speech, he said. I
despair of ever being able to speak this language with fluency.
But you speak English splendidly, said Hélène.
My accent is terrible, said Von Barwig. Can you not hear it?
Your accent is beautiful to me, a rich German aristocratic
roundness of expression, with nothing in the least harsh or grating to
the ear. I just love to hear you talk! declared Hélène.
Really? asked Von Barwig in surprise.
Really! responded Hélène with positive emphasis.
Ah, you spoil me, young lady; you spoil me! But come, just a few
bars on the piano, that I may see where my young pupil stands.
Hélène looked at him and laughed mischievously.
Very well, she said, rising with evident reluctance. I will play
you 'The Maiden's Prayer'
Hum, said Von Barwig dubiously. She has prayed so many times this
poor maiden; it is time she should be answered. However, it is for you
Hélène seated herself at the piano and played that well-known and
sorely tried air through as badly as she possibly could. When she had
finished she placed her elbows on the keyboard and said: How do you
like this maiden's prayer?
Von Barwig looked at her critically. You can do better than that,
How do you know? she asked quickly.
Because, at some points you added notes of your own. You increased
the bass, greatly improving the original harmony of the composition,
replied Von Barwig. You have talent, he added. Badly as you play,
badly as you execute, your talent stands out. No one can add to the
composer's work without having musical ideas of his own.
He has found me out already, thought Hélène. Then she mechanically
picked a tune on the piano with one finger.
Von Barwig's trained musical ear caught the melody in a moment.
Where did you hear that? he asked quickly.
At your house, she answered, the night I brought Danny to you. I
have a very keen ear for music, she added.
You gave me quite a start, he said. It is my symphony, my dead
and buried work. To hear that music from you was startling. There was
a pause. Do you know the bass part? he asked.
She closed the piano quickly with a bang. What do you think of
Danny? she asked, ignoring his question.
What a curious girl! thought Von Barwig, and then he said aloud,
The boy has possibilities, and so have you, he added.
Hélène laughed. It's a shame to deceive him, she thought.
Herr Von Barwig, she began, I want to be serious a moment. I'm
afraid I've been guilty of a littlewhat shall I call it?
Indiscretion? No, deception; that's better. I have deceived you She
paused; the look of deep consternation on Von Barwig's face arrested
her. What's the matter? she asked.
The old man gazed at her. I don't know, he said, swallowing a lump
in his throat The fear that something had happened to prevent
thecontinuationofI am so happy hereI He apparently was
unable to explain his meaning, for he stopped short.
Go on, she said.
Von Barwig shook his head. You look so serious, he said after a
pause. I thought perhaps something had happened to prevent my coming
here, and the thought made me very unhappy. I am a foolish old man, eh?
But, I am so happy here, so happy! I try to explain, he said.
Everything I have had in this world, everything I love I have lost! I
am afraid to love anything for fear that I shall lose it. That's
superstition, is it not? You tell me you have deceived me, and
immediately I think she is going to tell me that she will no longer
deceive me, that she does not like me for a music master! I know, he
added plaintively, that I am foolish. But my life here since I have
been in this country has made of me a coward. Forgive me; please
The girl's eyes filled with tears. No, no! she said gently. You
need not fear. I shall never want any other music master but you,
Pinac and Fico noticed it and so did Miss Husted. Poons probably
would have noticed it, too, if he had not been in love. But Jenny was
the only one who really felt the change in Professor Von Barwig. Try as
he would, the old man could not conceal from them the fact that
something had happened. Not that he was not just as affable to Miss
Husted as ever, not that he was any less warm in his manner toward his
friends, but there was something missing and Jenny was the only one who
came anywhere near guessing the truth. He has found some one whom he
loves more than us, thought she, and she felt glad at heart for his
sake; though she did not understand.
He feels so bad with himself that we have lost our engagement
through him that he cannot come over it, said Fico in answer to
Pinac's query as to what was the matter with Von Barwig. They knew
there was no chance now of their getting the symphony engagement, for
Van Praag, hampered by creditors, unable to carry out his contracts
owing to the strike, had gone into bankruptcy and retired from the
venture with the loss of all his money. He wrote a letter to Von Barwig
saying he was going back to Germany, where musical art was one thing
and bricks another. Von Barwig sadly showed them the letter, but his
mind was so taken up with his new pupil that he did not feel the loss
of the engagement as they did.
And yet his financial position was daily growing worse and worse,
for he had practically no pupils at allthat is, no paying pupils.
Besides this, the weather was so cold and business had dropped off to
such an extent at the Museum that Costello had been compelled to reduce
Von Barwig's salary fifty per cent. A half a loaf is better than
none, he had told the night professor as he handed him his envelope
with half salary in it; so Von Barwig had been compelled to take what
he could get. He now seriously considered moving upstairs.
We haven't a room vacant, said Miss Husted in a decided tone; and
if we had, tenderly, no, professor, no top floor for you! I couldn't
bear the idea of it; I couldn't really! Pay me when you get it, she
said when the old man pleaded that he must live within his means.
But I may never get it, expostulated the professor.
Oh, yes, you will, confidently replied Miss Husted. Mrs.
Mangenborn says it is in the cards that great fortune is coming to
In the next world, perhaps, said Von Barwig, laughing in spite of
Besides, went on Miss Husted, it doesn't matter one way or the
other. I could never bear the idea. Stay here for my sake, she pleaded
when she saw that the professor was obstinate; and so he remained in
his old rooms, though he squeezed every penny in order to pay her.
On the afternoon following his interview with his father, Beverly
Cruger made up his mind to speak to Hélène, to ask her to be his wife.
He called at her home, and was informed by Joles that she was engaged;
that a German gentleman was giving her music instruction, and that her
orders were that she was not to be disturbed. Beverly left his card,
intending to call the next day, but the fates were against him, and he
was sent for by the State Department in regard to his diplomatic
position and had to go to Washington. On his return to New York a week
later, he again called on Miss Stanton. To his astonishment and, it
must be confessed, to his extreme annoyance, he found Miss Stanton
again engaged. Herr Von Barwig, her music master, was there. Please
take up my card, Joles, and tell Miss Stanton that I wish to see her on
a matter of the utmost importancethe utmost importance, repeated
Yes, sir, replied Joles.
Herr Von Barwig appears to be persona gratissima, thought
Beverly, and then it occurred to him that it was very strange that an
accomplished musician like Hélène Stanton should take music lessons.
He must be a very superior sort of a musical personage, very superior
indeed. Beverly would not acknowledge even to himself that he resented
Herr Von Barwig's presence at the Stantons'. How can our American
women be so deceived by the artificial deference, the insincere, highly
polished politeness of these foreigners! he mused. Von Barwig is
probably an offshoot of some noble German house, but she's not apt to
be attracted by an empty title! He had loved her for months, he told
himself, and each time he had made up his mind to speak this foreigner
had been the means of preventing him.
Send him up please, Joles. I want you to meet Mr. Cruger, Herr Von
Barwig, said Hélène as she glanced at the card Joles handed her, and
rose from the piano where she was taking a lesson. I haven't seen him
for days and days; I wondered what had become of him.
Von Barwig noticed the heightened colour in Miss Stanton's cheeks
and he made a mental note that he must like Mr. Beverly Cruger, too,
yet, if the truth must be known, he felt a pang of regret. She loves
him, he said to himself, she will forget me.
Shall we not continue the lesson? he said aloud.
Hélène shook her head. No more to-day, she said.
Then Miss Stanton will perhaps pardon my leaving, said Von Barwig.
On the contrary, Herr Professor, Miss Stanton insists on your
remaining, said Hélène, motioning him to a seat. Von Barwig bowed
You have disappointed me to-day, he said. Ach, your tempos
changelike the winds! At one moment it is 6-8, the next 2-4, and
almost in the same measure, you play 4-4. At one moment you play with
your thumbs, like a little girl; at another, you play like a
professional, an artist. I cannot understand it. Technically I don't
know where you are. I am puzzled! I admit it; I am puzzled, and he
looked at her in perplexed uncertainty.
Hélène's only answer was a ripple of laughter. She was beginning to
enjoy her own cleverness in deceiving him, and his confusion endeared
him to her more than ever. The greater his perplexity the more she
sympathised with him.
Poor old gentleman, she thought, It is downright wicked of me to
deceive him. But what can I do? If I let him know I don't need his
services he will not come.
I have made up my mind to bring you some simple exercises for our
next lesson, Miss Stanton. No more Bach and unevenly played Beethoven!
said Von Barwig. It is necessary that we begin at the beginning and
work up. That's it! We begin all over again, at the very beginning, and
work up to the top. Then you will have some style, some form, some
technique that you can call your own.
Oh, dear, you're not going to make me play exercises, are you? Oh,
Herr Von Barwig, dear Herr Von Barwig, please don't! said Hélène, with
such a pleading accent that Von Barwig was compelled to smile.
It just serves me right, she thought. I shall literally have to
face the music, she said to herself with a laugh.
Beverly Cruger heard that laugh as he came into the room, and he
made up his mind that Herr Von Barwig was one of those highly
entertaining foreigners who appeal to the feminine mind with their
superficial brilliancy and capture all before them.
Herr Von Barwig, this is Mr. Beverly Cruger, broke in Hélène, and
Mr. Cruger was formally introduced to his rival.
Beverly could hardly repress a smile as his eyes fell on the slim
figure of the poor, grey-headed, homely old artist. Was this the noble
young foreigner, the handsome German music master he had pictured to
himself? Was this Hélène's romance?
Gott in Himmel, what a squeeze he gives the hand! thought Von
Barwig, as he tried to release his injured digits from the vice that
I am so glad to see you, Herr Von Barwig, said Beverly; and he
Yes, and I, too, groaned Von Barwig as he rubbed his fingers. A
fine fellow, he thought. Such a welcome as that must come from the
heart. But ach Gott, what a muscle! It's like iron!
Hélène was surprised. Beverly Cruger was far and away the most
undemonstrative man of her acquaintance, and his cordial greeting of
her old music master went straight to her heart. He likes him
becauseperhaps, because I do, she thought.
Do you know you remind me very much of a splendid bust of Beethoven
I saw in the British Museum? Upon my word you do!
Von Barwig bowed.
Oh, I think Mozart rather than Beethoven, suggested Hélène. He's
not stern enough for Beethoven.
Again Von Barwig bowed.
Beverly Cruger shook his head. Beethoven, he said, looking at Von
Barwig critically. StillwellI'm not sure, perhaps
Mozart, insisted Hélène.
Are you sure you don't mean Liszt? We really do look alike! Von
Barwig said, with a twinkle in his eye. Then he added, Ah, you are
very kind to me, very kind! Dear me, I am afraid you spoil me. Those
are the giants, the leaders of a great art. I am the most humble of all
its followers. Even to resemble them is in itself a great honour.
Hélène could never quite clearly remember how or when Von Barwig
took his leave that memorable afternoon, but when he came on the
following day to give his lesson she held both his hands in hers.
You shall be the first one to hear the news, she said almost in a
whisper. I'm so happy, so very, very happy! He looked at her, and
Herr Cruger? he asked. She nodded affirmatively.
How did you know?
Ah! He is an excellent young man; I approve very highly of him.
Then he was afraid of his own temerity. What right had he to approve?
He must curb his tongue, he thought. I beg your pardon! I mean he is
a most excellent gentleman.
Hélène hardly heard him, for her thoughts were far away at that
moment. I wonder what father will say? she said.
Von Barwig started. The word father sounded strange, as if a discord
had been struck in the midst of a beautiful harmony. Why should I feel
like that? he asked himself. Barwig, you are a fool, a madman! Mr.
Stanton is her father; I must love him, too. My heart must not beat
every time I hear his name. Come! Let us go to work; our studies he
said aloud, tapping the book. We must go to work. I have brought with
me the book of exercises.
No! no study to-day. But please don't gojust yet, she added as
Von Barwig prepared to take his departure. Sit down! I am going to be
very angry with you.
Angry with me? the old man smiled. He knew it was only the girl's
way of finding some little trivial fault with him. Angry with me, he
repeated. And you said you were so very, very happy.
Yes, I forgot when you came in that I ought to be very angry with
Ah, you ought to be, but you are not! No, surely not, said Von
Why did you send me back my cheque? This one! Don't look so
innocent; you know what I mean, sir! and Hélène held up the cheque
that Von Barwig had found awaiting him at his room the night before,
and that he had carefully mailed back to her.
Von Barwig looked pained.
Herr Von Barwig, let us have a little understanding! said Hélène
in a far more serious tone than she usually took with her music master.
Ah, don't be angry, please don't be angry to-day! Not on such a day
as this! he urged. To-morrow you may scold me if you like; but
to-day, no, please, no! and he looked at her so pleadingly that Hélène
was forced to smile. I wish nothing to happen that shall interfere
with the happiness that has come to you, he added.
But Hélène was insistent. It has been on my mind some time to ask
you why you take such an interest in me, she said, and now this, and
she looked at the cheque.
Von Barwig was silent. What could he say? He dared not tell her the
When I came to your studio with the little boy and asked you to
teach him, you refused to accept money. Your reasons were that you were
devoted to your art and that you loved to help the children of the
poor. Surely I don't come under that classification, Herr Von
Oh, no, no! faltered poor Von Barwig.
Then why do you refuse to take my money? Heaven only knows you've
worked hard enough for it! Your efforts to instill your ideas into my
head deserve far greater recognition than mere money payment.
No, no! I have not worked. It has been so great a pleasure. No,
decidedly there has been no work! I do not feel myself entitled to
take, until you show some progress. Von Barwig felt himself on terra
All that is begging the question, my dear Maestro! Whether your
work affords you pleasure or no, it is still your work. Teaching is
your means of livelihood, is it not?
Not altogether; I play at and then he thought of the Dime Museum
and was silent. He looked at her; she was regarding him quite
seriously, and he was afraid he had offended her. There was a pause
during which he tried to think out a course of action calculated to
offset his mistake. Hélène broke the silence.
You left your own country, where I understand you were well known
and successful, and you came over here, where, pardon my saying so, you
are not known and where you Hélène hesitated slightly, where you
are not so prosperous. When I bring you a pupil you refuse to take
money for his tuition. When I take lessons from you myself, you refuse
to take money from me. Now, my dear Herr Von Barwig, I confess that I
cannot understand! You must explain. There was a dead silence. What
does it mean? demanded Hélène. Von Barwig looked at her helplessly. He
had no explanation, or, rather, he realised that the one he had was
Why do you take so much interest in me? she asked.
At first for a likeness, a likeness to some one I knew, replied
Von Barwig, in a low voice. You resemble a memory I have known, a
memory that gives me so much happiness. She is gone, and now
youpardon the libertyyou take her place. I take interest because it
was sheand it is nowyouyoua fresh young girl that will never
grow old! You have taken the place ofof Von Barwig could not go
on. He knew what he meant, but he could not express it.
As I said before, Herr Von Barwig, and Hélène spoke now with less
show of wounded dignity, I do not understand. It is simply
incomprehensible, but it amounts to thisyou must not refuse this
cheque. If you do, II shall be compelled toto refuse to go on with
my lessons, and Hélène held out the cheque toward him. Von Barwig
looked at her; his sweet melancholy smile deepened as he slowly shook
If you knew, if you knew, Miss Hélène, how I love to teach you, you
would realise that I am over-compensated now. I am a foolish old man, I
suppose, a foolish, sentimental old man! Perhaps I do not understand
the ways of this country. Here there is no what we call esprit de
corps, no enthusiasm, no love of art for the sake of art, no love
of beauty for the mere sake of beauty. All is exchange and barter; so
much done, so much to be paid for. Music, bricks, painting, sculpture
and sewing machines all in one itemall to be paid for. Here for me is
fairyland! It may not be fairyland for others, but for me it is
fairyland. When I walk up the steps of this house and ring the bell, I
stand there impatiently till your Mr. Joles opens up for me heaven.
When I tell you that Mr. Joles is for me an angel, the archangel that
unlocks for me paradise, you will realise to what extent I separate
this world of love, of joy, of happiness, the world over which you
preside, from the outside world, where together come music and bricks
and human misery. Here is my heaven, my haven of rest and sweet
contentment. Shall I take money for it; shall I be paid for my
happiness? Ah, Fräulein, Fräulein, I dream, I dream! For sixteen years
I have not rested. Don't wake me, please don't wake me!
Hélène tore the cheque into little pieces.
To-morrow at three, Herr Von Barwig, she said. And when he had
gone she burst into tears without in the least knowing why.
Whatever Andrew Cruger may have thought in his inner consciousness
on the subject of his son's engagement to Hélène Stanton, he outwardly
showed no sign that he was not well pleased. He simply gave the consent
that Beverly asked of him, and accepted the new condition as another
event in the continuity of life. Of course there can be no formal
engagement until her father returns from Europe, said he.
Can't we get his consent by cable? asked his son.
I don't believe in these irregularities, said the elder Cruger,
whose diplomatic training had made him something of a stickler for
formality and precedent. There will be time enough for that when he
Beverly submitted without another word, for he felt that his father
had already given way to him a good deal. The young people did not
cable to Mr. Stanton for his consent, for all agreed that there would
be time enough to acquaint him with the fact when he returned. Whatever
Mr. Cruger's mental attitude toward the engagement might have been his
manner toward Hélène was most cordial. As for Beverly's mother, she was
delighted beyond all words.
The dear, dear girl, how I shall love her! she said to Beverly, on
hearing the news. And after she had showered mother kisses, plentifully
mixed with mother tears, on them both, her happiness was well-nigh
That afternoon the Crugers were to make a formal call on Hélène.
Andrew Cruger had finally yielded to his son's entreaties and consented
to call on her, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Stanton was still in
Europe and his formal consent had not been obtained.
I have been looking forward to the day when I should see my son's
wife, said the elder Cruger, somewhat pompously to Hélène, as he
greeted her with outstretched hand. He could never get over the idea
that formalism was the soul of function.
I have always felt that I would demand a great deal of her, went
on Mr. Cruger, in his best after-dinner manner. I thank you for giving
me everything I could desire! You are the daughter of a man whose
charity and beneficence we all respect and admire, and Here he
paused to take breath.
Thank you, said Hélène simply. She was surprised that he did not
kiss her instead of making a formal speech.
I know that father means what he says, remarked Beverly to his
mother; but I do wish he would say it in a less stereotyped manner.
Hush! replied his mother, your father is speaking again.
I want your married life to begin auspiciously, continued the
elder Cruger, as if he had not been interrupted. So I have made what I
consider to be a sacrifice for you. I had hoped to retire from public
life, but I have altered my decision. I shall again represent my
country in a foreign land.
Hélène gratefully acknowledged the sacrifice, although she did not
quite see where it came in. She had heard that most American
representatives at foreign courts managed rather to enjoy life than
When I go abroad as hostess in the Embassy that Mr. Cruger
represents, Mrs. Cruger said, taking up the thread of the
conversation, I want my son's wife to share my honours. A sweet young
woman, far younger than I, is almost aa
A charming necessity, added Mr. Cruger, who made it a habit to
finish his wife's sentences.
Yes, a charming necessity, echoed his wife, and, then she
The fact that Octavie is engaged suggests a double wedding. They
will marry in June, if the weather is good.
What has the weather to do with Octavie's wedding? inquired Mr.
Simply that it's an automobile wedding, Andrew, replied his wife.
Mr. Cruger looked almost pained. Permit me to remark, Mary, that no
Cruger was ever married in an automobile and I trust that no Cruger
will so far forget himself or herself as to establish so ridiculous a
The motor business comes in after the wedding, father; at least so
Octavie said, whispered Beverly.
Your niece is very frivolous, remarked Mr. Cruger to his wife. I
shall take pains to remind her that we Crugers marry quietly in
Hélène laughed aloud. The idea of Octavie doing anything quietly
appealed to her sense of humour.
She does not take us very seriously, thought Mr. Cruger. Mrs.
Cruger glanced at her husband and noticed a rather injured expression
appear upon his face. Evidently he was not highly pleased at Hélène's
You have written to your father? Mr. Cruger asked her presently.
No, Mr. Cruger, replied Hélène after a pause.
No, my dear? echoed Mr. Cruger in surprise.
I will tell him when he returns, said Hélène.
Mr. Cruger was almost dismayed. You have not written to your
father? he repeated. My dear Hélène, these formalities must be
complied with! Your father's consent is of the utmost importance. Not
that I anticipate anyeropposition from that quarter, but it's
merely the idea of the thing! Of course, I am somewhat old-fashioned, I
In France, for instance, it is against the law, interrupted
Beverly in a satirical tone.
Hélène smiled. Her prospective father-in-law appeared to her
somewhat punctilious, but she determined to humour him.
Your father is quite right, Beverly, she said. I should have
cabled at once.
At this moment Joles entered, apparently somewhat nervous. Mr. Von
Barwig is here, miss, he explained. I told him you were engaged,
Ask him to come up, Joles. Joles was surprised, but being a
well-trained servant, his face gave no outward indication of his
It is my music master, Mrs. Cruger. I think this is a splendid
opportunity for you to see him about your niece's music lessons. Mr.
Cruger looked almost shocked. A music master invited to take part in a
family function! Such conduct savoured of socialism, and socialism did
not appeal to him.
Herr Von Barwig is a most exceptionable person, said Hélène, quite
unconscious of the thought her words had aroused in her prospective
Von Barwig? Von Barwig? repeated Mr. Cruger, apparently interested
in the name. Don't I know that name? It seems quite familiar. A music
master, you say? Yes, it seems to me that I do know it!
He's one of the dearest old chaps I ever met, broke in Beverly,
such a gentle creature, a most excellent musician, but rather
I know the name quite well, but if it's the man I mean it's
impossible that it can be the same. He was a fine musician, from
Dresden I think. Was it Dresden? he asked himself, as if annoyed that
his memory had played him false. It must have been Dresden or
Herr Von Barwig, announced Joles, in his most formal and freezing
Poor old Von Barwig came into the room expecting to see no one but
Hélène, and was painfully astounded to see so many strangers. He wore
his old broadcloth suit; it was well brushed, but more shiny than ever.
Poons had carefully brushed it for him that morning and it was more
than scrupulously clean. His gloves were old, but Jenny had mended up
the holes the night before, so he looked even neater and more genteel
than usual this afternoon. He carried the cheap little bunch of
violets, wrapped in paper, in one hand and his hat in the other, for
Joles had never been able to persuade him to leave it in the hall. He
stood by the door, as close as he could get to it, as if afraid to come
in, and then bowed low to Hélène and the others. There he waited with
timid dignity, uncertain as to what he should do next. There was a dead
silence for a few moments.
I'm so glad to see you, said Hélène in an affectionate tone,
coming to the rescue; and taking him warmly by the hand she led him
away from the door into the middle of the room.
Glad to meet you again, Herr Von Barwig, said Beverly, coming
forward, and shaking hands with him far more cordially than the
occasion called for. He then introduced Von Barwig to his mother and
father. The elder Cruger looked at him very closely.
It seems to me that we have met before, sir. Your face is very
familiar. Yes, yes; Prince Holberg Meckstein introduced me to you at
one of your concerts.
Holberg Meckstein, repeated Von Barwig in a frightened voice.
Yes, II knew him; butbutIforgive me, II do not remember!
It was in Leipsic; oh, it must be fifteen years ago! said Mr.
Cruger. At that time I had the United States Embassy at Berlin.
Surely, you must remember! You became nervous that night while
conducting your own symphony, and you fainted away right before the
audience. Don't you remember?
I remember, said Von Barwig, in a low hoarse voice, which he
controlled with great difficulty.
And then a few months later you made some inquiries at the Embassy
for me, went on Mr. Cruger, but I was unfortunately not there at the
time, and so was unable to be of service to you. You had some mission,
some object in going to America, the Secretary of Legation said. You
wanted a list of all the large towns in the United States. I hope you
were successful in finding what you were searching for?
No, sir, I did not accomplishmy mission, replied Von Barwig, who
had gained command of himself to some extent, and could speak without
giving evidence of his emotion. It is extremely kind of you to
remember me! His retiring, bashful manner was somewhat disconcerting,
but beneath it there was the unmistakable evidence of birth, breeding
I am glad to find you in the house of such a distinguished citizen
of the United States as Mr. Stanton, said Mr. Cruger at parting with
Ah, you know him, her father! He is a distinguished citizen? said
Von Barwig, and the last ray of hope died within him. He is a
distinguished citizen, he said to himself, and he is her father. He
sighed deeply, and reproached himself for ever having hoped.
That old man has a history, thought the elder Cruger, as he went
up to Hélène, intent on saying good-bye to her. Joles had announced his
wife's nieces, and he did not care to stay longer. He had done his duty
by Beverly and that was all that was necessary. As he shook hands
warmly with Hélène, he said to her:
I should like to see Herr Von Barwig again.
Hélène squeezed his hand warmly; it was the first note of affection
that had been sounded between them.
Let me know if I can be of any service to him, he said.
I will, I promise you I will, replied Hélène, and Mr. Cruger took
his departure, accompanied by his son.
The girls were introduced to Herr Von Barwig. And this is Hélène's
romance, thought Octavie, as she looked at Von Barwig and laughed
aloud. Von Barwig thought she was a very pleasant young lady, and
smiled back in return.
I should like Charlotte to study for the next two years, Herr Von
Barwig, and Octavie till about June, said Mrs. Cruger, who was
determined to get Herr Von Barwig to teach her nieces, since Hélène had
recommended him so highly.
I don't want to study at all, said Octavie. Who ever heard of an
engaged girl studying?
And pray, am I not an engaged girl, as you call it? asked Hélène,
who was pouring out tea. And do I not study?
Yes, but you're an accomplished musician and
One lump or two, Herr Von Barwig? broke in Hélène, to change the
No lumps! Yes, thank you, I take one, said Von Barwig, somewhat
confused by the incessant chatter of the young ladies, who smiled at
Cake, Herr Von Barwig? Hélène held out the dish to her music
No, thank you, he replied quietly, and then catching an appealing
look from her, he took a cake, and then another.
The idea of waiting on a music master, whispered Octavie to
Charlotte; she'll spoil him.
She's a socialist, said Charlotte.
Come, girls, tell Herr Von Barwig what you know. If he can teach
such a finished pianist as Hélène, I am determined that you shall have
the advantage of his tutelage.
A finished musician? thought Von Barwig. Heaven save us! You have
had lessons before? he continued to ask one of the gay young ladies.
You have studied a great deal, yes?
We've had lots of lessons, replied Octavie, but I don't think
we've studied; at least I haven't! she confessed.
Don't count on me! I know nothing; absolutely nothing! volunteered
Well, said Von Barwig sententiously, that is something at all
events! Many musicians take years to discover that.
I only want to know enough to do a few stunts, said Charlotte to
Von Barwig's face fell. Stunts! they do not love music, he
thought, they want to do tricks. And then the girls talked on the
subject of musical comedies, popular songs and dance music, until their
aunt interrupted them.
Come, Charlotte, said the excellent Mrs. Cruger. She thought her
nieces had had time to prevail on the eminent professor to take them.
Remember your appointment at the museum.
Von Barwig, in the act of drinking tea, nearly choked. He thought of
his Dime Museum. If they should ever dream of such a thing!
My drawing master is meeting me at the Museum of Art, explained
Charlotte to Von Barwig.
Will you play something before you go? asked Von Barwig. Charlotte
went to the piano and banged out a two-step march that was the raging
popular tune of the day.
Ah, that is the stunt! Now, if you will play some music, ventured
Von Barwig, I can just tell you where you are.
Isn't that music? asked Charlotte.
It is rhythm and jinglea stunt as you call it. Real musicians do
not write such things.
Isn't there a method of learning how to play without practising?
broke in Octavie.
From nothing comes nothing, said Von Barwig with a sigh.
Quite true, assented Mrs. Cruger.
Some day, said Von Barwig prophetically, some day they will
invent a machine that will play itself. All you will have to do is to
pump a bellows, or turn a wheel and the music will play itself! You
will see; there is so much demand for it, some one will rise to the
Splendid! said Charlotte. Won't that save lots of hard work!
We'll write and make an appointment; Hélène will give us the
address, said Octavie, as they said good-bye to Von Barwig.
Thank you so much, Herr Professor, for your patience and courtesy,
said Mrs. Cruger at parting.
Herr Von Barwig bowed. The girls accompanied by their aunt took
their leave, and he was left alone with Hélène. He took the paper from
the little bunch of violets he had brought with him, and handed them to
Ah, thank you so much! But why do you always bring me flowers?
Why do we love the light? he asked. Because it gives us joy.
She took an orchid she was wearing and tried to pin it on his coat.
I am afraid, said Von Barwig, that it is healed up! Hélène laughed.
What a curious expression! she said. Then she walked up to the
window and looked out.
Shall we begin where we left off? asked Von Barwig as he opened
the music. He had been waiting some time for her to come to the piano.
You like him, don't you? said Hélène in a low voice.
The young Herr Cruger? asked Von Barwig. Then without waiting for
an answer he went on: Yes, he has a fine noble heart. He is different
to the young men here; quite different.
I am glad you like him!
I don't know. I am glad, that's all!
At that moment Von Barwig was supremely happy. Neither of them spoke
for a few moments.
Shall we not begin? he said, breaking the silence.
Hélène walked slowly to the piano and sat down.
At that moment Joles entered the room with a message for Miss
Put it down, Joles, she said, striking a note here and there on
It's a telegram, miss.
Oh! bring it to me, then. He obeyed. She opened it and read:
Left Paris this morning en route to New York.
A feeling of dread crept over her; the smile on her face gave way to
a hardness of expression. Gone was the joy, the happiness, in the
girl's face, and in its place was doubt, apprehension, anxiety.
Von Barwig looked at her; the keen eye of love quickly detected the
presence of fear. He did not speak, but his look demanded an answer to
My father is coming home, she said, forcing herself to smile.
Ah? So? I shall be glad to meet him, said Von Barwig.
Henry Stanton's return to New York was not marked by any special
outburst of joy on the part of the large retinue of dependents that
constituted the machinery of his household. He was feared rather than
loved by his servants, and this feeling, as has been indicated, was
shared by his daughter in common with others. It was not that he did
not want to be loved, or that he was indifferent to the feelings and
opinion of others concerning him. On the contrary, he, of all men, was
most anxious that others should think well of him. But his manner was
stern, harsh and repellent, and he did not seem to have the capacity to
gain the confidence or sympathy of those around him. Although generous
even to extravagance where it gratified his vanity, of broad-minded
charity in its higher and nobler sense the man knew nothing. He gave
not because he loved, but because his charities reflected lustre on his
name; and here was the man's most vulnerable point, his sensitiveness
as to name, fame, honour, reputation dignity, public opinion. What
will the world think? stood out in blazing letters on a glittering
signpost pointing to the motive of all he did. And so when Mr. Stanton
told his daughter, the day after his arrival, that he approved of her
engagement to Beverly Cruger and that it gave him great happiness, the
utter absence of genuine fatherly tenderness in his manner showed the
girl plainly that his happiness was brought about mainly by the fact
that it advanced him several rungs in the social ladder, and not
because she was going to marry a man who would make her happy.
He is a splendid catch, were Mr. Stanton's words on first hearing
the news. He belongs to a fine solid family and you will have
entrée into the first establishments in America and Europe.
Hélène was instinctively repelled by the manner of his
congratulations. Not one solitary word was uttered as to love,
happiness, or the sacred nature of marriage itself, not a regret at
parting with her; nothing but an adding up of the advantages that would
accrue to him from a social point of view.
The Van Nesses and the de Morelles can't refuse to meet us now. We
can snap our fingers at them! Bravo, my girl, you have achieved a
splendid victory. They can't dig up hidden and dead scandals now.
Hélène had never known that the Van Nesses and the de Morelles had
refused to meet them. She knew that several of the historic New York
families did not make it a point to ask them to their functions, but
she had always thought it was because her father was personally
unpopular with the more exclusive set. His reference to hidden and dead
scandals she did not in the least understand, for she had heard
At a moment like this, Hélène thought, if he had only opened his
heart, if he would only let me love him! But no, he had not shown the
slightest encouragement, not a particle of sentiment.
With your husband's people and my money back of you, he said, you
ought to become a leader, nothing less than a leader! I'd give half a
million to see you take Julia Van Ness's place.
Hélène was disappointed. Oh, father, please don't speak of those
things now! It's not a question of social advantage. It's my whole
future happiness; my whole life itself is Involved.
Do you know, Hélène, you are rather selfish in your love affair as
I suppose you call it, cried Mr. Stanton angrily. My ambition is for
you, not for myself.
I have no ambition, said Hélène, stifling a tendency to burst into
tears, that is, no social ambition. I love my friends and they love
me. Indeed, father, I have no desire to extend my circle of
acquaintances; I can't do justice to those I know now! If it is for my
sake you are trying to
At these words Mr. Stanton completely lost his temper. Of course it
is for your sake, don't you believe me when I say so? Please remember
that I am your father, and it is your duty to believe me whether my
statement convinces you or not. It is your duty to believe me and to
God knows I try hard enough, broke from the girl, and now she too
lost control of herself. I hate myself for saying it, but it's true,
father, it's true! I don't seem to love you, not as most girls love
their fathers, and I want to, I do so want to! You believe that, don't
Mr. Stanton was silent, and Hélène went on: I always feel that
there is something between us. I think of myself only as one of your
possessions. You were so good, so gentle to mother; why aren't you more
kind, more loving to me?
Is there anything you want that you do not get? demanded Mr.
Yes, cried Hélène, there is love, love! I do not get it! Your
manner is cold, hard, repellent!
How dare you! shouted her father.
I repeat it! cried Hélène, now utterly regardless of consequences.
Something in you repels me. I came to you this morning with the news
of my engagement of marriage. I came to you with earnest longing to
have you take me into your arms and kiss me, to have you congratulate
me on my happiness. Instead of this you repelled me with cold
calculations as to the effect the marriage would have on your own
social position. Oh, father, father! is that the way to sympathise with
a girl? I have no mother; you should supply her place. All the luxuries
in this palace don't make up to me for the lack of love I find in it.
Is it my fault that your mother died when you were eight years
old? said Mr. Stanton in a milder tone. The reference to his dead wife
had had a softening influence upon him.
No, no, father; no, no! I can't help thinking of her now, that's
all! I need her now, so much. I have no one to go to but you, and
the girl shook her head helplessly. I can just remember her, so
delicate, so beautiful! She was an angel, wasn't she?
He nodded assent. I remember that she was always in tears, always
afraid to go out in the streets, afraid to be seen, said Hélène
somewhat irrelevantly. You did love her, didn't you? I always feel you
did! Why, why can't you love me as you did her? Why am I not as near to
you as she was? Your own flesh and blood should be very near and very
dear to you; especially at such a time as this.
He regarded her more tenderly. You are near me, he said and kissed
her. Poor little thing, he muttered to himself. I suppose I am
selfish, he said aloud, but you'll have my money some day. Surely
that should give you a great deal of comfort!
Hélène smiled sadly. Her father seemed incapable of understanding
her. She could only shake her head and say, That's nothing, nothing!
You'll find it a great deal, my girl, he said.
That afternoon when her music master came he was astonished to find
her pensive and downcast instead of joyful and happy, as he expected.
There has been a lovers' quarrel, he said to himself. Little missie
wanted her way and young master wanted his. It is nothing, he decided,
as he opened the music books.
Have you studied your lesson? he asked.
No, replied Hélène, without thinking.
Well, do the best you can, he said. To his utter astonishment she
played the whole exercise through without looking at the music, without
any effort and without playing a single false note.
To say that Von Barwig was astounded is putting it mildly. He simply
gasped for breath.
Gott in Himmel, Fräulein! Ach, du lieber Gott! what style, what
touch, what progress! Ah, and then it came to him all at once, your
father has come back; you want to show him progress, is it not? You
have practised on the sly, eh? Ah and he shook his finger
reproachfully at her.
Hélène looked at him and laughed. If father was only like you, she
Yes, she said aloud. I suppose I wanted to show my father the
progress I have made, so I practised on the sly.
Let us continue, said Von Barwig, who was now very anxious to see
what new surprise his pupil was going to give him.
Have you arranged with Mrs. Cruger about giving her nieces
lessons? asked Hélène, carelessly striking a few chords on the piano.
Not yet, replied Von Barwig, I am to go next week. Then he added
with a little laugh, The young ladies postpone me as long as
Here they were interrupted by the entrance of Denning, the
under-butler, who informed Miss Stanton that her father wished to see
her in the library. Von Barwig saw a downcast expression on Hélène's
face as she left the room. Perhaps he does not approve of the
marriage, this Mr. Stanton. Well, I do! he said with emphasis. I do,
and I am determined that she shall marry the man of her choice. He is a
splendid fellow, fully worthy of her. If this father interferes, I
shall Let me see, what shall I do?
Von Barwig laughed at his own foolishness in allowing his thoughts
to run on unchecked. Somehow they always led him into a ridiculous
position from which he could never extricate himself.
I shall tell this father, he went on in a more compromising vein
of thought, I shall tell him that his daughter's happiness is at
stake, and that he must not allow personal considerations to interfere
with that happiness. Then he will have me flung out of his house. No,
thank you, Barwig, you will not speak; but none the less that is what I
think! Her happiness first, last and all the time. Let me tell you a
secret, Mr. Stanton, said Von Barwig mentally. His thoughts rushed him
along pell-mell now and he followed them, thoroughly enjoying the
mental pictures they brought up. Let me tell you my secret, Mr.
Stanton! She is my daughter as well as yours. I have adopted her. She
does not know it, nor do you, but I do! She has taken the place of my
own little one and I love her, Mr. Stanton. I love her just as much,
aye, even more than you do, sir, and this love gives me the right to
speak. You shall not interfere with her happiness! Do you hear me,
Von Barwig had now lashed himself into a whirlwind of imaginary
indignation and was pacing up and down the music room; his thoughts
completely engrossing him. They were the only realities in life to him
now, these thoughts, and he treasured them as philosophers do the
truths of existence. All at once his eye caught a pile of music that
lay on the table next to Miss Stanton's dolls' cabinet in the corner of
the room opposite the piano. He observed the Beethoven Concerto for
pianoforte which had Hélène Stanton's name on it, also the C Minor and
F Minor concertos of Chopin, besides other compositions for pianoforte
of an exceedingly difficult character; all this music was marked with
her name and the date.
There must be some mistake, he thought, as he read the names. She
cannot play these difficult compositions, surely! It may be her mother
had played them, but no, they are dated within a year or so of the
Everything was explained to him now. He was no longer surprised at
the unaccountable unevenness of her playing. She had deceived him.
Why, why? he wondered.
Then it came to him. Of course! Fool, dolt, idiot! she wanted to
benefit you, so she pretends she cannot play and takes lessons she does
not need. But why should she wish to befriend you, why?
Von Barwig was silent a long time. Why, why? he kept asking
himself and his thoughts could get no further. Am I dreaming? He
looked around. Is it all a dream? Do I merely believe these things
happen, or are they real? Sometimes these people seem like phantoms of
the past; phantoms that come and vanish like the thoughts that give
them existence. There seems to be no substance in them. But real or
phantom, dreaming or waking, my love for her is real. That is God's
truth! I feel it, I know it! I love her, I love her! Of that alone I am
certain. That is truth, if nothing else is!
In the meantime, Hélène found her father awaiting her in the
library. Mr. Stanton was in very excellent spirits.
Why did you trouble to come down, my dear child? I intended to come
up and see you, he said as she entered the door. I told Denning to
find out if you could receive me; servants are so stupid!
Oh, it doesn't matter! I was only taking a music lesson.
Yes, so Denning said. I didn't know you'd taken up your musical
studies again, and then before Hélène could reply, he went on:
Sit down, my dear, I want to ask, no, not ask; I want to make a
suggestion. I want you to do something for my sake. The spring has
fairly set in; in a few weeks it will be summer, and I may want to go
abroad again. Can you arrange to have your marriage take place late in
June or early in July?
No, father! replied Hélène in a somewhat decided tone. I am
sorry, she added quickly, as she saw an expression of disappointment
in his face.
Why not, may I ask? inquired her father.
Because Beverly is engaged in Washington at the State Department.
The secretary has promised him an under-secretaryship in one of the
European embassies if his work there is satisfactory, and our marriage
would interrupt his work.
Not necessarily, said Mr. Stanton. Besides he doesn't need any
career! He will have plenty of money, and
I don't think all the money in the world would be sufficient to
support Beverly Cruger in idleness, responded Hélène with some spirit.
The Crugers are not well off, and he refuses to accept anything from
his father; and as for living on my income, it's out of the question,
father! He insists on earning his own living and working out his own
Well, after all, that shows a good spirit, said Mr. Stanton, but
I really don't see how an early marriage would interfere with his
resolutions on that point. He could go on working.
His income is insufficient just at present, said Hélène, and it
will be until next year. The marriage cannot take place till then. I am
Some time next winter, eh? That's a long time, Hélène; so many
things may happen, said Mr. Stanton thoughtfully.
What could happen? asked Hélène in surprise. What do you mean?
I don't know; I'm nervous and apprehensive. I want to see you
married and settled, replied her father almost peevishly, as if he
didn't want to go into explanations. I've a curious notion that I want
to see you married and settled. It's aamy anxiety for you, Hélène,
added Mr. Stanton, forcing a smile.
You're very kind, repeated Hélène. She did not understand her
father in the least. He seemed to be afraid of something, his manner
was distinctly apprehensive. She moved slowly toward the door, deep in
Are you going? asked Mr. Stanton.
My music master is waiting for me, replied Hélène.
Your music master? Oh, yes, you said you'd taken up your studies
Hélène smiled. You can hardly call it taking up my studies, she
said. Herr Von Barwig justso to speakgoes over; I hardly know how
to describe it. I think he tries to improve my technique.
Was it imagination or had her father turned ashen pale? He looked at
her, barely able to speak; he seemed to have received an awful shock
and he was gasping for breath. What had happened? There was a pause
during which Hélène wondered why she had not noticed before how pale
and ill her father looked, and how his hands trembled.
What did you say was his name? asked Mr. Stanton, barely able to
repress the emotion in his voice.
Professor Von Barwig. Oh, he's not known here as well as he was in
Germany! What's the matter, father? she cried out as the man almost
tottered into his chair. Father, father! what is it?
Nothing, nothing; what should be the matter? Ithese attacks come
periodically now. A little heart troubleit will soon pass away. Ring
She obeyed him instantly.
Good God, good God! Is it possible? Right under my own roof!
muttered Stanton, and with her! Oh, God!
I rang for him, father, said Hélène, looking at him anxiously.
It's Ditson I want to see. Ditson, Ditson! not Joles. Then he
added quickly, No, I don't want to see any one! I'm better now; these
attacks pass away quickly. Sit down, my dear child; I want to talk to
you. What were you saying? he asked, anxious to hear and yet not
wishing to arouse her suspicion as to the cause of his anxiety.
Nothing of any importance, father.
Yes, yes; I insist! Go right on with our conversation where we left
off. You were speaking of youryourmusical professor, Anton Von
Barwig. Mr. Stanton had almost completely recovered himself now.
How did you know his first name, father?
You mentioned it, you must have done so, said Mr. Stanton quickly.
Yes, I remember you did! When you first mentioned his name, you called
him Anton. And he is upstairs, added her father with a curious laugh,
in this house.
Hélène thought his manner most strange. He was regarding her now
with a curious, searching gaze. He can have told her nothing, he
muttered, he must be as ignorant of the truth as she is. Good God,
what a coincidence!
Joles came and Ditson was sent for. When the confidential secretary
arrived, Mr. Stanton and he went into the private study. Hélène
Will you need me any more, father? she asked anxiously.
No, no! replied Mr. Stanton.
Hélène went out and closed the door. As she reached the stairway she
heard the key turn in the lock. Why does he lock himself in? she
thought. When Hélène returned to the music room she found her music
master waiting patiently for her.
Forgive me for keeping you waiting! she said.
There is great pleasure even in waiting for those we love; we love
to teach, I should say, he added quickly.
Inwardly Hélène found herself contrasting her father with this man.
If only he had the tenderness, the lovable qualities of this old
musician, she thought, how I could love him! As he was taking his
leave, her eye caught the music on top of the cabinet and in a moment
she saw it had been disturbed. She looked quickly at Von Barwig, but he
gave no sign that he knew of its existence.
I hope some day to be able to play those compositions for you, she
said, pointing to them.
Yes, replied Von Barwig with a smile. I hope so.
I'll surprise you some day, she added.
Yes, said Von Barwig simply, and he determined to allow her to
surprise him. Good-bye! he said, bowing. She held out her hand.
Good-bye! she replied almost tenderly.
To-morrow at the same time? he asked anxiously.
Yes, of course.
Von Barwig breathed a sigh of relief. She is not angry, he
thought. And it will very soon be to-morrow!
As Von Barwig walked down Fifth Avenue on his way home to his
lodgings in Houston Street he could not help contrasting his present
happy existence with the miserably hopeless state in which he had found
himself on his first arrival in New York. And it is to her, Miss
Stanton, that I owe all this blessedness. I am a changed man, he said
to himself, almost gaily, I live, I enjoy, for to-morrow I shall see
her again. To live that one hour of restful blessedness, he thought,
is well worth the bare existence of the other twenty-three. His
friends felt the change, too. They all knew that something had
happened, that something had entered the life of the old professor and
changed it, but not one of them attempted to pry into his secret.
Ma foi, said Pinac, he shall tell himself if he wants to.
If not, he shall not!
Fico's reply was characteristic of that Italian's sunny disposition,
and it inverted a familiar saying.
What the hell we care, so long as he is happy, he said.
Poons loved Von Barwig as a son, but the best of sons are
self-centred when they are in love; and Poons saw nothing.
Jenny was silent, she felt that she had lost her dear professor, but
with that spirit of sacrifice of which woman alone is capable, she
resigned her place in his heart to another. Be it said to her credit
there was not a jealous pang, not a moment of envy, nothing but
mournful regret and sweet resignation to the inevitable. As a mother
gives her son to another woman in marriage, so did Jenny give up Von
Barwig; to whom she knew not, nor did she seek to know.
His secret was sacred to all his friends, all, save one, and this
solitary exception led to a slight change in the Houston Street
establishment. It came about as follows:
When a man comes home with orchids pinned to his coat, confided
Mrs. Mangenborn to her friend Miss Husted, it looks as if it was only
a question of time when he would move uptown into more elegant
apartments. Orchids in winter only goes with blue diamonds and
Miss Husted shook her head. Move upstairs more likely than uptown,
replied that lady regretfully. Why, the poor old gentleman don't even
get enough to eat. You mark my word for it, some day he's going to keel
over! Only yesterday morning I had to beg him almost on my bended knees
to join us at dinner and then he only came in to oblige me. He ate
scarcely anything, poor dear!
Does he pay regularly? inquired Mrs. Mangenborn, with a lack of
sympathy noted by her friend.
As regularly as clockwork, snapped Miss Husted. Half price, but
how long will he be able to pay even that? Only three pupils, and only
one of them pays him in cash. Oh, how people round here have changed
since I first came here; how much they do expect for their money
He's out every afternoon, regularly. He's out evenings with his
fiddle; home at four in the morning, he doesn't do that for nothing. I
don't think he tells all he knows, concluded Mrs. Mangenborn with a
significant wink of the eye, which brought her fat cheek very close to
Well, said Miss Husted with a sigh, of course it's no business of
mine where he goes and what he does, butwhatever it is, it's all
right! That you can depend on, it is all right.
This was intended to be a rebuke to Mrs. Mangenborn, but it was
entirely lost on that lady, for with the very next breath she said
bluntly: Why don't you ask him?
Miss Husted set her lips firmly together, and this movement might
have warned a less obtuse person.
Why don't you ask him? repeated Mrs. Mangenborn.
Because, replied Miss Husted, with more temper than she had ever
exhibited before to her friend, because, Mrs. Mangenborn, it's none of
There was a slight pause.
Not wishing to give you a short answer, my dear, supplemented Miss
Husted, sorry that she had been compelled to take extreme measures to
stay her friend's curiosity.
To her utter surprise Mrs. Mangenborn still persisted.
Well, it is your business, in a sense, went on that lady. This is
your house, and it is your duty to see that it is conducted
Respectably? Am I to understand, Mrs. Mangenborn, that you intend
to convey a hint that my house is not conducted respectably? demanded
Miss Husted. Her back at this moment could not have been straighter had
she been leaning against the wall.
Why, no! assented Mrs. Mangenborn, who saw that she had gone a
little too far. I merely said that it was your duty, and so it is!
People should always do their duty, she added somewhat vaguely.
I trust I know my duty, Mrs. Mangenborn, said Miss Husted
severely, nor do I require to be put in the path of my duty by
anybody, be it he, or be it she, be it transient, or be it permanent.
This was a direct shot and Mrs. Mangenborn gave signs that it had
gone home; for she arose. I am very sorry, she said with heavy-weight
dignity, I am very sorry.
There is nothing to be sorry for, only this, Mrs. Mangenborn! I'd
like it to be thoroughly understood that no person in this living world
can besmirch the character of Professor Von Barwig without besmirching
me, and Miss Husted folded her arms somewhat defiantly.
Oh, Miss Husted, Miss Husted, how can you say such a thing! Did I
besmirch even a particle of his character? Just prove your words,
please; did I, did I?
Mrs. Mangenborn now came slightly closer to Miss Husted and for a
moment it looked as though there would be a personal altercation
between the two ladies.
You said that his hours were not respectable hours, and that he
didn't tell all he knew, andandoh, I can't remember all you said,
Mrs. Mangenborn, nor does it matter in the least! Pray, why should he
tell all he knows? It's no lady's businesswhat he knows! For that
matter, do you tell all you know? No, went on Miss Husted, now
thoroughly aroused, but you tell a great many things that you don't
know! Not one of your fortunes has come true, lately, not one!
The cards had toppled over, there were no more fortunes in them, and
Mrs. Mangenborn saw that her reign had come to an end.
I do not care to discuss the question any further, she said
loftily, and giving a wide sweep to her skirts she added somewhat
Kindly send my bill to my room, and please consider yourself at
perfect liberty to dispose of it to some one else.
With great pleasure, Mrs. Mangenborn, replied Miss Husted, with
very great pleasure! And I may add I was going to ask you for your room
this very evening.
Mrs. Mangenborn's only answer was a loud and prolonged laugh, which
she kept up all the way to her room and which only ceased when she had
shut her door with a loud bang.
Good riddance! thought Miss Husted, a very good riddance!
Thus the friendship of years was sundered.
[Illustration: Hélène prepares her trousseau.]
At this precise moment the innocent object of their strife let
himself in at the front door.
Ah, my dear Professor Von Barwig, I was just thinking of you, said
Miss Husted, as she followed him into his rooms. I've got rid of her
at last; Mrs. Mangenborn is going.
Von Barwig smiled. Is she? he said simply, I am glad for your
sake. Now you will be mistress of your own establishment.
I was always mistress of my own establishment, professor, replied
Miss Husted with dignity. Always.
Except sometimes when the cards would direct the policy of the
house, said Von Barwig. Whenever there is a superstition, dear lady,
he went on, there is no freedom! We become slaves of our own beliefs.
Well, I'm glad she's going, anyway, said Miss Husted, not quite
comprehending, but not wishing to dispute with Von Barwig. Why,
professor! and Miss Husted started. She had just noticed that his
clothes and books were packed into bundles, as if ready to be carried
away. Professor, professor! she gasped, what is the meaning of
that? and she pointed to a big stack of music tied up, and that, and
that, and that, pointing to various articles.
It means, dear lady, that I'm going to move, said Von Barwig
Move! almost shrieked Miss Husted.
Yes, as the top floor will not come down to me, I shall move up to
the top floor. You see I am nearly all ready. Pinac and Fico will help
me; and up I shall go! It is one way of getting up in the world, eh,
Miss Husted? he said with a little laugh, and he looked at her as if
he expected her to laugh, too, but she did not join in his merriment.
There's no room upstairs, she said at last, as if determined he
should not go.
Oh, yes, in the hallway; a nice little room, large enough for my
But that is a storeroom, cried Miss Husted.
When I occupy it, it will be a bedroom, laughed Von Barwig, and
just think, he added, I shall be nearer my friends! They can visit me
without running up and down stairs. I shall have additional advantages,
at a less rental.
Miss Husted looked at him sorrowfully. She knew it was useless to
argue with him, so she gave her consent, but insisted on taking a very
small sum for her room. And so Von Barwig moved from the ground floor
to the attic. This floor with its huge atelier window on the roof and
its stair running down at the back had been used by an artist on
account of the splendid light. Although a hallway, it was fitted up as
a room. There was a stove, a sink, a large cupboard, and other
conveniences for light housekeeping. There were four bedroom doors
opening into this hallway, three of which were occupied by Pinac, Fico
and Poons, and the fourth Von Barwig took possession of. They all
begged him to take their rooms, but he shook his head and smiled and
they knew it was useless to ask him, so the skylight musketeers, as
they called themselves, had complete possession of the hall, which
served them as a common parlour.
It was roomy and airy in the summer, but draughty and cold in the
winter; as it was now warm weather, Von Barwig and his friends did not
suffer any inconvenience at this time. The men did not see much of each
other in these days. Pinac and Fico had secured engagements on an
excursion steamboat that plied its way to Coney Island and back. They
were away all day, and when they came back late at night Von Barwig was
at the Museum. He saw more of Poons than he did of the others, for that
young man had no regular engagement, but played now and then as
substitute in one of the downtown theatre orchestras, so he just about
managed to eke out an existence on a cash basis, and the three older
men were as proud of this fact as if he were their own son. Von Barwig
was strangely happy; he took no interest whatever in his physical
existence. His immediate surroundings, the people he saw, the food he
ate, made no mental impression upon him. Life was a mechanical process,
a routine existence to him till midday, when he would, to quote his own
words, begin to live, that is, he would start uptown on his walk to
Fifty-seventh Street. Rain or shine he would not ride, for the motion
of riding on the bumpy stages interfered with the flow of his thoughts.
Now begins my day, he would say to himself as he started on his
journey to his pupil's house, some four or five miles from Miss
Husted's establishment. The old man was happy; happy in going, happy
when there, happy when thinking that the next day he would see her
again. So when, for the third successive time, in as many days, Joles
informed him that Miss Stanton was not at home, Von Barwig experienced
a feeling of disappointment accompanied by a sense of fear.
SheMiss Stanton is well? faltered he to the dignified Mr. Joles,
who was regarding him with a haughty expression, not unaccompanied with
I beg your pardon! said Joles in anything but an apologetic
Miss Stanton is well? repeated Von Barwig.
Oh, yes, replied Joles. Indeed, yes. His answer intended to
convey to Von Barwig that such a question was entirely unnecessary, not
to say uncalled for.
It's very strange, Von Barwig mused as he walked home. She always
writes me a little note or leaves a message for me with one of the
servants, letting me know when to come for the next lesson.
Then he tried to assure himself that it was all right, that in the
stress of her social obligations she had forgotten.
It's all right, Barwig, you make yourself miserable for nothing.
You expect too much. She is a petted, pampered, fêted young lady of
fortune, the daughter of a Croesus; do you think she can always think
of you? Who are you that she should spare you so much time? You
overrate yourself; youyou idiot. People stopped in the streets to
look at the old man, who was walking so rapidly and gesticulating so
excitedly. When Von Barwig saw that he was observed, he calmed down.
It's all right, he said. To-morrow! I shall see her to-morrow!
That evening at the Museum the night professor was strangely
inattentive. So deeply was he engrossed in his own thoughts that he
entirely forgot to play when Bosco was announced. He was rewarded by
that young lady with a look that was intended to annihilate him on the
spot, but the professor did not happen to be looking that way. She
will be there to-morrow, or she will leave a message, he was saying to
Bites their heads off; bites their heads off! Holy gee! Don't you
hear, profess'? It's her cue, came in thundering tones from the throat
of Mr. Al Costello. What the hell's the matter, profess'? Eats 'em
alive, eats 'em alive! he bawled, glaring at Von Barwig, and then the
night professor found himself.
Oh, my gracious, he thought as he banged on the pianothe chords
intended to depict musically the armless wonder's cannibalistic
proclivities. Bosco not only bit their heads off, she bit her lips with
vexation. It was too late; not a hand applauded when she came on and
the fat lady laughed aloud and fanned herself vigorously. She hated
Miss Bosco, who, being a headliner, had lorded it over the rest of the
unfortunate freaks in a manner deeply resented by them; so the fat lady
was glad to see Bosco's act fall down. The skeleton looked wise and
tapped his bony forehead with his bony fingers.
Dippy, he articulated. All musicians are dippy, he added.
The midgets looked serious, for they loved the professor. Tears
started in the little lady's eyes; she expected a storm, for she was
terribly afraid of Bosco.
I do hope that Mr. Costello won't haul him over the coals, said
the albino to the tattooed girl. He's such a nice old guy!
After the show Mr. Costello listened to Von Barwig's apology in
silence, and silence meant a great deal of self-restraint for him.
It's all right if she don't raise a holler, he said, taking his
diamond ring off his necktie and placing it on his finger for the
night. But you must keep awake, see? It looks like blazes to see the
profess' asleep! It not only sets the audience a bad example, but it
looks as if we was givin' a bum show. Then he added warningly, We had
one profess' last year who went to sleep on us regular, and snored so
that we used his noise instead of the snare drums. Well, we left him
sound asleep after the show one night and turned the lights off. When
he woke up he thought the wax figures was ghosts, and he threw a fit
right on the piano. Holy Mackerel! It took nearly two quarts of whiskey
to get him right for the next show; so don't do it again, profess', he
Von Barwig promised that he would notbut he made up his mind that
just as soon as terms for teaching Mrs. Cruger's nieces were arranged,
he would at once give Mr. Costello notice of his determination to
resign from the night professorship at the Museum. This thought
contributed in no small degree to his peace of mind, for he had begun
to loathe the very thought of this place.
When Von Barwig arrived home he found a letter on the hall table. He
went up to his little room, lit the candle, sat down on his bed and
read the following:
Mrs. Cruger presents her compliments to Herr Von Barwig, and
regrets to inform him that unexpected circumstances have arisen which
will obviate the necessity of his calling upon her in regard to her
Very well, he said to himself, as he folded up the letter. I
shall have more time to think of her, and he went to bed and slept
A week elapsed. Each day he had patiently gone uptown to Miss
Stanton's house. He had started out full of hope and returned home in
despair. On each occasion he had been informed by Mr. Joles that Miss
Stanton was out, that she had left no message for him, and that he did
not know when she would return. Finally he wrote to her and waited
patiently for an answer; but there was no word. The old man's hope of
seeing her again gradually grew smaller and smaller until at last the
old feeling of dull despair, the old gnawing pain of unsatisfied
affection came back to him again. I am doomed, he thought; doomed to
live my life alone! He would sit for hours and hours and try to think
out why she did not see him, why she did not answer his letter. Was she
away? If so, why did she not let him know? Had she found out that he
played in a Bowery museum? Or did she suspect that he knew that she did
not need lessons? If so, was that sufficient cause for her neglect? No,
he could not reason it out on those lines! Why did Mrs. Cruger send him
a note dismissing him after practically promising to engage him as
music master to her nieces? Did Mrs. Cruger dismiss him at all, or had
circumstances arisen that obviated the necessity of engaging him? Was
it merely a coincidence that she should dismiss him at the same time
that Hélène avoided seeing him? Were these two conditions in any way
connected with each other? Was Hélène really trying to avoid him? Had
she received his letter? Did she really know? This last question gave
him much comfort and he persistently dwelt on that phase of the
situation. To believe that she knew; it was inconceivable to him. She
would surely have written. Did I address the letters properly? Did I
put stamps on? he asked himself. There is a mistake somewhere, he
concluded; a mistake that time will surely adjust.
The next day, after going through the usual performance of asking
for Miss Stanton and being informed by Mr. Joles of the young lady's
absence, Von Barwig ventured to extend the field of his inquiry.
Is Mr. Stanton in? he asked in a low voice, scarcely knowing why
he should ask for her father, or what he should say if he was fortunate
enough to obtain an interview with him.
Mr. Stanton! repeated Mr. Joles, almost horrified at the idea of
Von Barwig's asking for his master.
Mr. Stanton? he repeated. Have you an appointment with him?
Von Barwig admitted that he had not.
Mr. Stanton sees no one without an appointment, said Mr. Joles,
slowly recovering from the shock Von Barwig had given him. Besides
which, he is at present at Bar Harbour.
Are you sure there is no message for me? pleaded Von Barwig.
Quite sure, responded Mr. Joles.
But there must be, pleaded the old man. He was desperate now. Did
she get my note?
My advice is for you to go home and wait till Miss Stanton
signifies that your presence is required. That's the best thing to
doreally. Mr. Joles volunteered this advice, which contained little
comfort, but Von Barwig's lip quivered and he nodded his head
thankfully. Even the advice to go away and stay away contained more
hope than the cold stolid stone-wall indifference he had encountered
day after day from Mr. Joles.
Thank you, Mr. Joles! I will, I will, and Von Barwig plodded his
way wearily back to Houston Street. For one whole week he did not go
near the Stanton house. He contented himself with hoping. He would sit
in his little room and rush out every time he heard the
letter-carrier's whistle, but no letter came. One day, when he could no
longer restrain himself, he carefully brushed his clothes and prepared
to walk uptown again.
She must be in, she must be in; and she will see me. This time I
know she will see me; I am sure of it; sure of it, he kept repeating
to himself. She can't be so cruel!
He found himself looking into a florist's window and started with a
cry of joy.
That's a good omen, a very good omen! You're all right, Barwig; she
will see you.
He had recognised the florist in Union Square that he had bought the
violets he presented her with on the day he first called upon her. He
went in and bought a bunch of violets.
We begin all over again, he said to himself. We forget all this
weary waiting, all this stupid fear. Now, Miss Hélène, we are prepared
for our lesson, he said, as he took the box of flowers and walked
uptown with renewed hope. His heart beat very rapidly as he walked up
Courage, Barwig, he said to himself; the tide turns I You will
He rang the bell. There was no answer. Several times he repeated
this action; each time he waited several minutes. Finally he rang the
bell, and added to it a loud knock. His persistence was rewarded, for
Mr. Joles came to the door. He did not wait for Von Barwig to speak, as
he usually did, but proceeded to inform the old man that his actions
were simply disgraceful.
Miss Stanton is not in and what's more she is not liable to be in,
he said severely. Some people cannot take a hint! If Miss Stanton
wanted to see you, Miss Stanton would have sent for you, added Mr.
Joles, and his manner was quite ruffled. He took it as a personal
offence that Mr. Von Barwig should so persist in calling at a house
where it was evident he was not wanted.
Von Barwig was speechless; he could make no reply. Insulted, turned
away, humiliated by her servants! She must know, he felt sure she knew
now and his degradation was complete. The old man turned to go now
desiring only to get away, somewhere, anywhere, where he could hide his
head, where he could hide his grief from the world. Joles shut the door
with a bang. He evidently intended that the music master's dismissal
should be final. That door bang put a new idea into Von Barwig's
That does not come from her, he cried, she does not insult, she
does not lacerate the heart, she would not purposely humiliate me. No,
this last degradation could emanate only from one who has the soul of a
servant. This is revenge! He hates me, but why? Good God! Why? I've
done nothing to him, and the old man groaned aloud in his misery.
I'll wait and see, perhaps she is at Bar Harbour with her father. How
do I know? How do I know?
After this, Von Barwig did something that he had never done before
in his whole life; he hid himself in the shadow of the opposite corner,
and watched. It is a mean action, he said to himself, but she will
forgive, she will forgive!
For hours he stood there watching and waiting, and the time slipped
by almost without his being conscious of it, until the shadows of night
began to fall. Once a policeman, seeing him crouched in the corner,
stopped and looked at him.
What are you doing there? he asked.
Von Barwig turned his pale, tear-stained countenance and looked at
the officer; then a gentle smile crept over his face.
I am waiting, he said simply.
There was such utter pathos in the old man's voice, such gentle
dignity in his manner, such a pleading look in his eyes that it seemed
to satisfy the guardian of the law, for he walked on without uttering
Von Barwig's weary vigil soon came to an end. A pair of horses and a
carriage drove up to the Stanton mansion and stopped at its doors. Von
Barwig instantly recognised the Stanton livery, but the carriage was
It is waiting for some one, he muttered to himself. Courage,
courage! We shall soon see!
It was now nearly dark, and he could approach nearer to the house
without fear of being seen. The carriage stood there quite a time,
during which the horses pawed the ground impatiently.
Patience, patience, said Von Barwig to himself. You soon see.
His patience was rewarded, for the door opened, and Hélène Stanton
issued forth, clad in a handsome evening costume. To Von Barwig's
fevered mind, she looked more radiantly beautiful, more tranquilly
happy than he had ever before seen her. She walked rapidly down the
brown stone steps, stepped quickly into the carriage and was whirled
away before Von Barwig could realise what had happened. The old man
could have shrieked aloud in his agony.
She knows, she knows, she knows! he kept saying to himself, as he
groped his way toward home. He was dazed, benumbed. The many figures
coming and going, this way and that way, seemed like a spectral vision
to him. How he got as far as Union Square he never knew, but the first
place he recognised was the open square. A large piano organ was
playing and quite a number of people were grouped around it. This music
recalled him to himself.
I know the worst now; the sword of hope no longer hangs over my
head. At least my suspense is over, he said, thank God it is over!
He now realised what had happened.
No more waiting and watching for the word that never comes! he
thought. My dream is over! I am awake again, I will think no more of
He was walking across the square now. The evening was warm and
sultry and all the benches were crowded with people except one on which
a woman was seated holding a babe that was crying.
Either people do not want to disturb her, or they do not want to be
disturbed by the crying infant, thought Von Barwig, mechanically
taking in the situation. He was now acutely conscious of things going
on around him.
What is the matter with that baby? he wondered. He stooped and
looked at the infant. It was crying piteously, so he looked at the
woman and was struck by the fact that she was taking no notice of her
child. She seemed to be absolutely unconscious of the fact that it was
How strange! thought Von Barwig.
She was a young, girlish woman with rather attractive features, but
pale and wan. Von Barwig could not help noticing the look of abject
despair on her face. The child cried on, but she seemed oblivious of
Can she hear it? he asked himself. Is she the mother and yet
allows the babe to suffer without trying to help it? Von Barwig's
interest was aroused and he determined to speak to her.
I beg your pardon, he said gently to the girl. Can I not do
something for you?
She turned to him and shook her head.
Can I do something for the child? Itit suffers.
Yes, responded the girl in a hoarse voice. I suppose it
Instinctively Von Barwig put his hand in his pocket, but the girl
shook her head.
Not that, not that! she said quickly. I have enough to eat,
but She looked at him more closely, looked into his eyes, and felt
rather than saw that it was not mere idle curiosity that was prompting
It's very kind of you to take an interest in a stranger. I'm
feeding the child myself, she said after a pause; but I can't now, I
can't! The girl tried hard to keep back her tears. It would poison
her if I did! I dare not until I feel different. I'm full of hate and
misery and hell, and I dare not feed it to the child. Mother's milk is
poison when the mother feels as I do! she cried, striking her breast
in her misery.
The old man took her hand. Don't, please don't, he said gently;
unless you want the child to die. Compose yourself, my dear girl, and
tell me what has happened. I'm a stranger to you, yes, but misery
brings us together and makes us old friends. He seated himself beside
her. Tell me; I am old enough to be your father! You have none, eh?
Yes, said the girl, I have, but she broke off suddenly. Then
she said, My husband has left me, and the child not eight weeks old.
Isn't that hard luck? Left mefor another! Oh, I know it's an old
story, but it's new enough to me. God knows it's new enough to me!
Von Barwig comforted her as well as he could, and when the girl
quieted down she told him her story. It was conventional enough. She
had run away from home and married a young fellow she met in a Harlem
dance hall. She knew nothing of his people or of his early life. She
simply married him, and now he had deserted her after the arrival of
her child. There was nothing uncommon or strange either in her story or
her way of telling it. Von Barwig had heard such stories hundreds of
times, but to him the pathos of the situation lay in the inability of
the young mother to feed the crying child owing to her distracted
mental condition. Further, the fact that she was sufficiently
acquainted with the laws of physiology to realise this truth showed Von
Barwig that the girl had received a better education than most of her
Have you money? he asked her.
A little, the girl replied listlessly. Oh, God, if the child
would only stop crying, she said as she kissed and fondled the babe.
Then she sighed. I feel better now, she said, much better. Perhaps
in a little while I shall be myself again. Von Barwig handed her a
five dollar bill.
You will buy the little fellow something with the compliments of a
stranger. What do you call him? he said quickly, for he saw that his
generous action had brought tears to the girl's eyes and he wanted to
prevent her crying. He's a fine little chap, he added.
It's a girl, she said, the ghost of a smile coming into her face.
Her name is Annie. I'll take this for her sake. Thank you, sir, thank
A little girl, he said in his low, gentle voice; a little girl! I
had a little girl once, and he stifled the sob that came into his
throat. The girl heard this sob and squeezed his hand gently in
Let me tell you a story, my child, it may help you to bear the
burden of life, as your story has helped me!
Von Barwig reseated himself by the girl's side and recounted to her
the whole story of his miserable unhappy existence from beginning to
end. This stranger was the only one to whom he had ever told it all.
The girl was intensely interested, and it had the desired effect of
taking her thoughts off her own misery. When Von Barwig took his leave
of her an hour or so later, the colour had come into her waxen cheeks
and she was quietly nursing her baby.
I have been asleep, he said to himself, but I am awake now. Life
is all about me; I must not be blind to it again!
As Von Barwig turned the corner of Houston Street and the Bowery, he
glanced at the clock in the watchmaker's on the corner. It was eleven
o'clock. He did not go to the Museum that night.
Are you quite sure there is no letter for me, Joles? Hélène asked
anxiously, as she came in late that night.
Quite sure, miss.
Hélène thought a moment. It's very strange, she said. I've
written to him so many times.
Joles's face expressed nothing. Hélène shook her f head slowly and
walked upstairs. Before she went to bed that night she sent the
MY DEAREST BEVERLY: Come to-morrow morning and take me to lunch. I
want you to do a little diplomatic work for me.
Von Barwig now firmly made up his mind that it would never be his
good fortune to see his beloved pupil again. She has gone out of my
life as suddenly as she came into it, he said with a deep sigh.
To a man of his mental activity the loss of almost the sole object
of his thoughts created an aching void, and yet so hopeful was he in
spite of the constant repetition of blasted hopes and unfilled desire
that two or three days after the occurrences just narrated he had
resolved on a new plan of action.
Poons and Jenny shall marry at once, said he as he arose that
morning and dressed himself to go to the rehearsal of a new songstress
at the Museum.
The son of your old friend and the niece of your good landlady
shall mark a new epoch for you, Barwig. You overrated yourself, you
loved the daughter of millions, you lived beyond your means, my friend.
Now it is time you lived within your income, he said, looking at
himself in the glass, as he combed his grey hair. Love Jenny and
Poons; poor little neglected ones, you had forgotten their existence!
No more extravagances, no more reaching for the impossible! Here down
in Houston Street is your life! It is your own, live it! Don't go after
the fleshpots of Fifth Avenue, don't cheapen yourself that servants and
lackeys may insult and deride you.
Yet ever as he spoke, a mental image of his beloved pupil came
before him, and his heart sank as he thought that he should never see
Why has a mere thought, a stray idea the power to make us so
unhappy? he asked himself. This question was still unanswered when
there came into his mind the memory of the unfortunate young woman he
had met on Union Square a few nights before. Her misery, her agony of
mind, the crying babe, all came before him in a flash. My God, when I
think of her, I am ashamed of myself! Here I howl and tear my hair and
rail at fortune because I lose something that I never had; she was
never minethis girl of millionsI had no right to her. But the
sufferings of that poor child-wife are real, deep, heartrending; and
there are thousands of others like her in this world. Get up, sluggard,
get up! Go out and comfort them; go out into the world and mend broken
hearts. It is your trade! You have qualified, for your own is battered
This idea gave him peace of mind for a short time, but presently his
thoughts ran into the old groove. Try as he would he could not direct
them away from the line of easiest mental resistance.
If I could only see her once again, he thought, perhaps I could
explain away the cause of our separation. Perhaps I and he started
up suddenly, the idea sweeping him off his feet. By God, I make one
more effort; just one more effort! And if that fails, I give it up; it
shall be the last! This time I swear it shall be the last. Yes, I go, I
demand an interview. It is my right. He was as full of hope now as he
had ever been. As a gambler eagerly stakes his last bet, so Von Barwig
hastened to finish dressing and go to her, to make his one last appeal.
As he brushed his coat hurriedly, there came a knock at the door.
Come in, said Von Barwig rather impatiently, thinking that it was
Poons. He did not feel in the mood just at that moment for casual
conversation. Come in, he repeated in a louder voice, and to his
utter amazement in walked Beverly Cruger.
Von Barwig could only stare at him in speechless astonishment. He
was literally dumfounded. Young Cruger evidently saw this, for he
seized Von Barwig's hand and shook it warmly.
How do you do, Herr Von Barwig? he said.
Thank you, well! Sit down, the old man managed to gasp out, as he
pointed to a chair. You come from her, from Miss Stanton? he
articulated in a voice just loud enough to be heard by the younger man.
Yes, said Beverly, taking off his gloves and placing them on the
table. I want to have a little talk with you. May I?
Von Barwig did not answer his question.
Didshedid she send you? he asked. His eyes glistened; his very
life seemed to depend on the answer.
Beverly nodded. Yes, she wanted me to ask you a few questions. Are
you sure you have the time to spare?
Von Barwig laughed from sheer joy. Time! to some one who came from
her! He could only nod in acquiescence and wait for the young man to
How many letters have you received from Miss Stanton? asked
Von Barwig looked at him. Not any, he replied, shaking his head
Beverly made no comment, but he made a mental note. It was not his
intention at that moment at least to acquaint Herr Von Barwig with all
that had passed between Hélène and himself as to the letters that had
failed to reach their destination.
Didn't receive one, eh?
No, not one, said Von Barwig, in a low voice. Has she written?
he asked falteringly.
Beverly made no reply, but thought a moment.
How many letters have you sent Miss Stanton? he asked.
Von Barwig hesitated. Perhapsperhaps some five or six, he said
Hum! commented Beverly, five or six, eh? How many times have you
called during, say, the past month?
Von Barwig shook his head; he could not remember. Perhaps twenty,
perhaps thirty times.
And she was always out? queried Beverly.
Yes, said Von Barwig sorrowfully, always!
Whom did you see?
Mr. Joles, came the ready reply.
Every time you called?
Yes, II think so!
Beverly Cruger looked at Von Barwig a few moments and knitted his
brows thoughtfully. It's damn queer, he said, after a pause.
Has she written any letter to me? It did not reach me, that I am
sure, began the old man.
That's all right. Now let me give you Miss Stanton's message! She
would like you to be at her home at four o'clock this afternoon. Can
you manage it?
Von Barwig did not trust himself to reply. He could only nod his
I'm glad I came up; awfully glad!
Beverly arose from his seat and held out his hand to Von Barwig.
Good-bye! Be on time, won't you? he said.
Von Barwig smiled. Yes, I'll be on time, he said joyfully.
The look in the old man's face went to Beverly Cruger's heart and he
showed his sympathy as he shook hands with him again. He hurriedly
passed through the group of children who had gathered to look at the
not too familiar spectacle of a hansom cab waiting at the door of Miss
Von Barwig will always remember how wearily the hours dragged along
until the time of his appointment uptown came. Finally they did pass,
and though it lacked several minutes of the hour of four, Von Barwig
walked up the stone steps of Mr. Henry Stanton's house on Fifth Avenue
and Fifty-seventh Street.
There was no change in the expression of Mr. Joles's face to denote
that he had received imperative instructions from Miss Stanton to admit
Herr Von Barwig the moment he called. Nor did Mr. Joles appear to think
it at all curious that young Mr. Cruger should happen to be in the
hallway just as the music master came in at the door. His face
displayed no emotion whatever when that young gentleman came forward
and led the old man upstairs to Miss Stanton's room. Neither Mr. Cruger
nor the music master saw the pale face of Mr. Stanton's secretary,
Ditson, peering over the staircase at them. But a moment later a
telegram was sent to Mr. Stanton, telling him that there was an urgent
necessity for him to come home at once. Curiously enough at about the
same time Mr. Stanton received this telegram, he also received a letter
from his daughter begging him to come home as soon as he could, as her
mail had been tampered with and she strongly suspected Joles of acting
in a most deceitful manner for reasons she could not fathom. It was
because she expected her father that she acted under Beverly's advice
and did not mention the subject to Joles, nor even to Herr Von Barwig
until her father had instituted an inquiry.
The meeting between Von Barwig and his pupil was marked by no
special display of emotion or even more than ordinary interest; for Von
Barwig had steeled himself for the occasion. They greeted each other
cordially, but it was only with the greatest self-control that he
managed to conceal his delight at seeing her once more. Again occurred
the formal presentation of the little bunch of violets; again the
casual remarks about the weather.
You are not angry? asked Hélène tenderly.
Von Barwig dared not reply; he could only smile and look at her in
silence. After a pause he ventured to say:
I have offended Mr. Joles's feelings. I am sorry! Hélène held up a
warning finger, indicating her desire to keep silence on that subject,
at least for the present.
Later on! she said. I intend to take up the subject with my
father when he returns.
Von Barwig watched himself closely. He was determined to make no
more mistakes, nor to yield to any temptation to give way to his
feelings in the slightest degree.
You have practised since Iduring my absence? he asked, assuming
a sternness he by no means felt, and that she saw through at once.
Yes, maestro, she replied meekly. I have practised every
day. I've really made great progress, caro maestro! and she
We shall see, said Von Barwig, with a critical frown on his face.
He was a little self-conscious. He knew his own weakness, his
temptation to become sentimental, and he had to watch himself
continually to prevent his emotional nature from getting uppermost.
This self-restraint made him slightly ill at ease, and Hélène noticed
You are strangely quiet this afternoon, she said. I should have
thought you would have had a great deal to tell me. Von Barwig merely
looked at her.
Come, said he, we must get to work!
You did not receive a single line from me? she asked as they
neared the end of the lesson. What must you have thought?
What right have I to think? replied Von Barwig. I am only a
teacher! There are so many. I thought perhaps you had replaced me.
Don't talk like that, please, said Hélène quickly, and shutting
the piano up with a bang, she arose. You know that I esteem you very
highly, and she stopped suddenly. I am going to find out all about
these stolen letters and father will punish the culprit. He is very
strict in these matters; he always punishes the guilty.
But it is over and done now, so why punish any one? began Von
Barwig. Hélène shook her head.
It hasn't begun yet, she said, ringing the bell. Denning answered
it. Send Joles please, she said.
Denning bowed and a little later Joles appeared.
Herr Von Barwig, my music master, will be here at three o'clock
to-morrow afternoon. You will please admit him at once.
Yes, madam, and Joles bowed his head rather lower than usual.
Von Barwig took leave of his pupil, appearing not to notice her
outstretched hand, but merely bowing to her as he said good-bye. Joles
opened the front door for him and Von Barwig looked at him pityingly.
His triumph over the servant was so complete that he felt sorry for
Perhaps you did not mean to keep back the letters, said Von Barwig
to him in a low, sympathetic voice.
Joles looked at him in blank astonishment.
You have perhaps a family to support, went on Von Barwig. I will
ask Mr. Stanton to forgive you.
Sir! said Mr. Joles, with some slight show of indignation, I do
not understand you.
Von Barwig looked at the man a moment, and seeing that it was
useless to discuss the matter with him he walked slowly down the stone
steps, wondering what it all meant.
On the following morning Mr. Stanton arrived home. He appeared to be
in very high spirits. Hélène could not remember when her father had
been so light-hearted and gay. She wanted to tell him about the
suppression of her letters, of Joles's contempt for her orders, and his
lies about Von Barwig, but these were matters that evidently did not
interest Mr. Stanton, for he paid very little attention to her
It is your birthday, he said, let no unpleasant features mar the
day! See, I have not forgotten! and Mr. Stanton produced a box that
came from the most fashionable and most expensive jewelry establishment
in America. A trifle, he said. Put it with your other gifts and show
it to your friends when they come this afternoon.
Hélène opened the box. Accustomed as she was to beautiful jewels,
she could only gasp. Within it was a magnificent pearl necklace,
beautifully graded, with colour matching to perfection.
A trifle! she repeated. Father, it's beautiful! She wanted to
throw her arms around his neck, to kiss him for his bountiful gift, but
something in his manner checked her, so she stifled the impulse and
contented herself with holding up her face. Mr. Stanton kissed her
coldly and Hélène drew back. It was an instinctive repulsion and she
could not help showing it; he, on his part, appeared not to notice it.
I will inquire into the matter of your letters being tampered
with, he said, although I am confident that you will find that you
are labouring under some mistake. Joles is as honest as the day. What
could be his motive?
Hélène was silent. Her father did not pursue the subject.
The Crugers are coming to-day, he said finally.
Indeed? said Hélène, somewhat surprised. Beverly is coming, I
believe; but I did not know his father and mother were.
I informed the Crugers that I had returned to town, and that I
should be very pleased to see them this afternoon. I told them it was
your birthday and He paused, saying in a more decided tone:
It is my intention to urge an immediate marriage, Hélène. He spoke
with an effort. I may be called away at any moment, and
Hélène noticed that her father looked pale and worried and decidedly
ill at ease.
I shall esteem it a great favour if you will not interpose any
objection to my project for this marriage. I have asked several of our
friends here to-day, and I have given them to understand that the date
of the marriage would be announced. It is your birthday, so it will be
a double event, as it were. He paused and looked at her.
Do as you think best! she said finally. She felt it was useless to
contend with him. For some reason or other he wanted an early marriage;
so be it!
You have asked several friends, she said. Have you asked any of
my mother's people?
No, replied Mr. Stanton abruptly.
Mrs. Cruger said she hoped some day to meet some of my mother's
relations. Father, how is it I know nothing of her or her people? What
is the mystery about her? Every time cards are sent out from this house
for any function I am always reminded that there is not one of her
family to come to this house. On an occasion like this I should have
She had no relatives, interrupted Mr. Stanton, or I should have
asked them. Please discontinue the subject; it is by no means a
pleasant one. Good God, what a girl you are! I come to you with a gift
fit for a princess; and you, you ungrateful
Mr. Stanton looked at her with a look of intense anger, almost of
hatred; then turned on his heel and walked out of the room.
Hélène returned to her room. She was quite thoughtful. An early
marriage! Yes, the sooner the better! She almost threw the necklace
among the many gifts that had been sent her. She wished her father had
not given it to her. It was evidently not in her to express the
gratitude he deserved and she was angry with herself that she was not
more grateful to him.
That afternoon when Von Barwig was admitted to her presence he saw a
pile of boxes, flowers, jewelrygifts of all sorts on the piano. He
noticed also that the dolls were on the outside of the cabinet, instead
of inside, where she usually kept them.
It's my birthday, she said in explanation. I've been having a
good time with my dolls. She smiled as she saw that he was holding out
a little bunch of violets.
For you! he said.
You must really stop this sort of thing, sir, or I shall be very
angry! But she took them and pressed them to her face.
They look very meagre among all this great horticultural display,
said Von Barwig regretfully.
They came from the heart and I love them, she said as she fastened
them in her corsage.
Well, now we begin, he said as he took out the lead pencil that he
always used as a baton. There must be progress to-day.
He opened the piano and she sat down and looked at the music he
placed there for her. He had chosen a well-known exercise, a Czerny;
not a difficult one, but requiring some technique to play with
Come, begin! and she rattled off at a 6-8 allegretto, the music
which was intended to be played in three-quarter andante.
Very pretty, commented Von Barwig, very pretty indeed, but you
finish before you commence!
That's the rate at which I'm thinking, said Hélène. When I think
rapidly I play rapidly. My thoughts can only be described as presto.
That's rather hard on the composer, Miss Stanton. Come, I count for
you! One, two, three. One, two, three; One, two, three. The fingers
should be little hammers, so! One, two, three. Dear young lady, this is
not a thumb exercise; it is for the fingers.
Am I playing with my thumbs? she asked.
Come; please, please! he entreated.
I can't refuse when you plead so hard, she said.
One, two, three; one, two, three, he counted monotonously.
You like me, don't you? she asked irrelevantly, a mischievous
smile on her face. Von Barwig tried to look stern but failed
ignominiously. Please attend, he said. One, two, three; one, two,
three. Ah, you play so unevenly! Sometimes you have the touch of an
artist, at another you make bungles.
Bungles? repeated Hélène, laughing. What are they?
One, two, three; not six-eighth, dear lady, not six-eighth! So!
One, two, three! one, two, three.
Did I show you my new necklace? she asked as she played on.
Von Barwig shook his head. One, two, three, was all she could
elicit from him.
Father gave it to me; to-day is my birthday.
Your birthday; so? said Von Barwig, still marking time. Your
birthday? he repeated.
Yes, mio maestro; I am nineteen to-day.
Nineteen! One, two, three; one, two, three, he counted. Then after
a pause, nineteen?
She looked up, he was still counting and beating time with the lead
pencil as a baton. But there was a far-away look in his eyes, as if he
were trying to recall something. Nineteen to-day; nineteen to-day! he
repeated, as if he had not quite realised what she said.
One, two, three; one, two, three. Was there a break in his voice?
Nineteen to-day! Then he looked at her as she played.
Where were you born? he asked suddenly.
In Leipsic, she replied carelessly.
Von Barwig stopped counting, his baton poised in the air.
In Leipsic! he repeated hoarsely. In Leipsic? Shewould have
been nineteen to-day. Ach Gott, Gott!
Hélène turned and looked at him.
One, two, three; one, two, three, chanted the music master. He
dared not let her see his agitation. What does it mean? How can it be?
Good God, how can it be? His brain was in a whirl; the possibilities
came to him in an overwhelming flood.
You really must see that pearl necklace, said Hélène, and some of
the other presents are very beautiful. Do look at them!
One, two, three; one, two, three, came in monotonous tones from
the old man. Completely gone was his sense of rhythm now. One, two,
three; one, two, three, he continued, trying to collect his scattered
thoughts. Does it mean that she is mymy Oh, God! I must be mad,
crazy! Barwig, Barwig, pull yourself together, for God's sake; or you
lose her again. One, two, three; one, two, three seemed to be the only
safe ground for him to tread on!
Hélène felt that he was not following the music, for her fingers
strayed idly over the keys, playing snatches of different melodies, a
fact which he apparently did not notice.
The necklace is over there, she said.
Yes, yes, he gasped, going in the direction she pointed. One,
two, three; one, two, three. It is beautiful; beautiful! He scarcely
looked at it.
Did you ever see my dolls? I don't think I ever showed them to you.
They're over there in the cabinet.
Your dolls? Yes, I look at them! he said. He was glad of an
opportunity to escape observation. After a while his mind became calm
enough for him to be able to realise what he was thinking, and the
urgent necessity for him to conceal from her his mad folly. Nineteen
to-day, born in Leipsic, the daughter of the rich millionaire; yet, on
the other hand, the image of his own lost Hélène, born on the same day,
at the same place and bearing the same name. It was all so consistent
and yet so contradictory! What could it mean? Was it a phantasy of his
brain, a dream? It seemed to him that he had once witnessed just such a
scene as was taking place at that moment. Surely it had occurred
before! He was now picking up first one doll, then another, but he did
not see them
One, two, three; one, two, three; he said pathetically, trying to
control his thoughts. He realised that he was counting up in the air,
so to speak, but he was afraid of betraying himself. If she suspected
that I dared to think that she was my own Hélène, she'd turn me from
the house, he thought.
I've kept all these old dolls since I was a little baby; even my
little German doll is there, said Hélène as she played on.
Von Barwig took up the dolls, one by one. Your German doll? he
Yes, the one I had in Leipsic. It's a queer little sawdust affair,
but I love it to pieces. It always reminds me of my mother. Do you know
what I am playing? but Von Barwig did not hear her.
The little German doll, he repeated. The one she had in Leipsic.
I heard this at your house the night we first met, went on Hélène,
playing dreamily. It's a beautiful melody; it has so much sentiment in
it, so much pathos, but oh, isn't it sad, and she sighed deeply.
Was it illusion, too, that the ghost of his long-forgotten symphony
should be played by the girl at the piano there, who so resembled his
own lost loved one? Was it illusion that he should recognise that
little doll, her doll, as the doll with which his own child, his own
Hélène, had played so long ago?
Von Barwig did not start as he picked up this mute evidence of the
truth; he was almost prepared for it. It was as if he knew she was his
own, and yet did not know it.
That eye was never mended after all, he said in a pathetic, broken
voice, and as he spoke the whole scene of years gone by came back to
him. He saw once more his little girl pleading with him to mend the
doll with the broken eye.
Von Barwig was quite calm now. He had grasped a certainty at last;
he knew now that he did not dream. He looked over at the piano. The
girl felt deeply the music that she was playing, for it responded to
something in her own nature; and so interested was she at this moment
that she almost forgot his presence. Tears filled his eyes as he gazed
at her longingly, lovingly.
Little heart! Ach, lieber Gott, my little Hélène; my little baby!
How long, how long! he murmured, smothering his emotion, but looking
now at her, now at the little German doll clutched tightly in his hand.
[Illustration: I want you to come with us?]
After a while a feeling of great peace came upon him. His mission
was ended; he had found her at last. His longing heart had reached its
That's the doll my mother loved best, said Hélène, without pausing
in her playing. She loved to play with that doll and me.
He, too, was thinking of her mother. Was it telepathy that she
should think the very thought that was uppermost in his mind?
There's a portrait of her in the next room, and she pointed to the
door off the main room. It was painted by an artist here in New York
three years before she died.
Von Barwig dared not trust himself to speak. He silently opened the
door and looked. Elene, Elene! he murmured in a low voice. He stood
there some time gazing at the portrait of his dead wife, and his eyes
were swimming with tears. Yes, there she is, he said, his low, sad
voice scarcely audible through the music. Elene! Ach, Gott! dead,
dead! Better so; betterso
He closed the door gently. As he did so a tear ran down his cheek
and dropped on the little German doll. I baptise it, he said with a
smile, and then he sighed deeply.
The feeling of deep, unsatisfied longing died out of his heart and
from that moment a sense of great freedom took possession of him. He
looked over at his beloved Hélène. She was still rhapsodising on the
piano, utterly unconscious of the great struggle going on in the heart
of her music master. What could he offer her? Should he ruin all her
prospects? Had he a home fit for her to come to?
These thoughts surged through his mind as he looked at her. His
first great impulse was to tell her who he was and take her to his
heart, but with a supreme effort he controlled himself. He had so often
pictured the scene of his first meeting with his child that it seemed
almost as if he had been through this crisis before, but he had never
dreamed that she would be occupying such a high station in life, never
dreamed that to make his relationship known would ruin her prospects,
and perhaps her happiness. This realisation gave him a perspective of
the situation and he resolved for the sake of her future not to betray
himself. He walked slowly to the piano, and stood behind her a few
moments, then suddenly he lost control of himself and took her hands in
What is it? she said, in some surprise, but with no tinge of anger
in her voice.
You slurred, he faltered, not daring to look her in the face, for
fear his great love would show itself.
You mustn't slurplease, he murmured apologetically.
Did I slur? she asked. Well, I assure you, it was unconscious. I
didn't mean to do it.
You are very happy here? he asked.
Yes, she answered, surprised at the irrelevancy of the question.
He was now stroking her hair with his gentle, loving hand.
You have everything in the world, everything? he asked.
Yes, she replied, scarcely conscious of his meaning.
And you are happy? he repeated.
Why shouldn't I be? she said. I suppose I have everything to make
She stopped playing. This seemed to bring Von Barwig to a sense of
Come, he said. We must work! To the lesson! One, two, three; one,
He could not resist the impulse. He leaned over and again grasped
her hands in his. She looked up at him, this time in utter surprise.
You were slurring again, slurring again, he said, frightened at
his lack of self-control.
Was I, indeed? said Hélène. Well, you'll have to punish me
severely if this goes on.
One, two, three; one, two, three, he counted. His voice was choked
with emotion, and he could barely see for his tears.
No, no; I could not punish you. I could not put one straw in your
wayonlyI want to meet your father. Yes, he said in a more decided
tone, I want to meet your father! One, two, three; one, two, three.
Whenever Von Barwig wanted to conceal his real feelings he counted.
I've gone into the 4-4 exercise, commented Hélène.
Yes, yes! One, two, three, four, counted Von Barwig timidly. One,
two, three, four; yes, I want to meet him. Then he added almost
savagely, I must meet him!
The lesson was interrupted by Denning.
If you please, miss, will you come down in the library?
What is it, Denning?
Mr. Stanton wishes to see you at once, miss, said Denning in a low
voice, so that Von Barwig could not hear.
My father? repeated Hélène. Please don't go till I return, Herr
Von Barwig, and Hélène left the music master alone.
Hélène found her father awaiting her in the library. His manner was
excessively nervous. He seemed to be labouring under a strain.
Sit down, he said briefly. His voice was harsh, his manner
commanding. Hélène sat down. In front of Mr. Stanton lay a pile of
letters. He pointed to them.
Here are your letters to this man, and his letters to you. They
were withheld by my orders.
Then Joles, began Hélène.
I am responsible, not Joles, he interrupted.
Hélène arose; the blood mounted to her face.
Why have you done this? she demanded.
I wished to bring your association with this man to an end. I
ordered him to be turned from the house, his letters kept from you and
yours from him.
But, father, why did you not come to me? cried Hélène.
Please don't interrupt me! thundered Stanton. I won't have that
man in this house! Please understand that. Send for him, tell him you
do not wish to continue your lessons, and dismiss him definitely,
Father, I cannot. Hélène could scarcely go on.
You must, Hélène; you must, insisted Mr. Stanton.
I cannot! she repeated.
You can say you have changed your mind.
But I tell you you must! I won't have this man in my house again.
What has he done? Tell me, what has he done? demanded Hélène.
Stanton paused. Hehe is a scoundrel, a disgrace to
societytoto Then in sudden fury he went on: When a man gets
down to playing for a mere pittance, as he does, in a disreputable
theatre, and dwelling in a squalid neighbourhood, with low
Can he help his poverty? interrupted Hélène, now thoroughly
aroused. The man has pride, he refuses to take money; he is a
gentleman! You have no right to insult him because he is poor.
There are other reasons, said Stanton quickly.
What are they?
Stanton was silent.
What are they? again demanded Hélène.
It is enough that I know, replied Stanton. It is enough for you
to know that I know.
Hélène shook her head. It is not enough, she said.
If you don't tell him to go at once, you will force me to have him
ordered from the house!
Father, Hélène was almost calm now. Tell me, for God's sake, tell
me what has he done?
Stanton bit his lip with anger. The obstinacy of the girl was fast
driving him to extremes. He is not fit to be in this house, he almost
shouted, or to associate with gentlefolk.
But he is so good, so gentle! How can I suddenly tell him to go?
Father, I cannot believe that.
You don't believe me? Has it come to a question of my wordyour
father's word against a stranger, a beggar! Do you know I can have the
man put in prison?
Hélène stopped suddenly; she was very quiet now. Is it as bad as
that? she asked almost in a whisper. Stanton was silent. Father, can
Stanton felt that it was necessary to convince her.
I think the situation speaks for itself, he said. He, too, was
calm now, for he felt that he had to resort to extreme measures. The
man leaves his own country, where he is successful, and comes here, and
lives with the lowest of the low. Would a man do that if he were
notafraidor in danger?
Hélène's heart sank.
Don't say any more, don't please! She felt that her father had
good reasons for speaking as he did.
If you had only told me before, she said plaintively; if you had
only confided in me it would have saved so much suffering. Why didn't
you speak before, father?
Stanton shook his head.
Very well, youyou shall be obeyed, father. she said in a low
voice. I'll tell him that you
No, he interrupted quickly. No! I don't wish him to know that I'm
in any way cognisant of his presence here. Simply dismiss him and let
him go. Above all, make him understand that he is never to come here
Hélène nodded. If his coming here is likely to endanger his
liberty, he must not come, she thought Stanton thanked her, but she
did not hear his words. Silently, sorrowfully, she returned to the
music room, where she found Von Barwig awaiting her.
The old man looked up as she entered the room. She came toward him
and looked at him a few moments in silence. The same tender, gentle
smile that had so endeared him to her from the first was on his face.
She could not bear to look at him, so she turned her gaze away and
spoke without seeing him.
Herr Von Barwig, she said, and then she paused. It was so hard, so
very hard, to say what she had to say. He stood there expectantly,
waiting for her to continue, as a little child looks up at the sound of
its mother's voice.
I'm very sorry, she said in a deep, low voice. Idon't, still
she hesitated, then finally, with much effort she said: I cannot take
any more lessons from you.
Von Barwig looked at her as if he did not comprehend her meaning.
Not to-day, no, but to-morrow?
Hélène shook her head.
Ah, the next day!
Again Hélène shook her head. No, she said in an almost inaudible
voice. Von Barwig noted that her face was sad, that her tone was low
and mournful and his voice faltered as he asked, with his usual smile,
The day after that, perhaps?
No, Herr Von Barwig. I cannot take any more lessons from you.
Cannot take any more lessons, he repeated mechanically; then as he
realised her meaning he tried to speak, but his tongue clove to the
roof of his mouth. There was a long pause, during which neither of them
You wish me no more at all? he asked finally.
I am very sorry, I am very grateful; believe me I am, Herr Von
Barwig, but she shook her head rapidly. She could not trust herself
Idonotunderstand, he said, and his voice was almost
inaudible, for his heart was beating so furiously that he could feel
its palpitation. She could only shake her head in reply. Von Barwig
suddenly found his voice, for he was desperate now.
A moment ago we were here, good friends, and suddenly an idea
occurred to him. Some one has told you that I played at the Museum,
the Dime Museum. Ah, is that Indeed so terrible? I do not play there
from choice, believe me, deardear Fräulein! It is poverty.
Yes, yes; I know, I know! cried Hélène. She was nearly frantic
now. It is not your fault, but please, please, dear Herr Von Barwig,
let us say no more! Good-bye, and she held out her hand, good-bye! I
hope better fortune may come to you.
No better fortune can come if youif you are not there, wailed
Von Barwig. You don't knowwhat I know; if you did you would realise
that he paused. I cannot stay away! It is simply impossibleI
You must, said Hélène firmly. Please go! Don't you understand
that it is as hard for me as it is for you?
Why do you so punish me? pleaded Von Barwig. For what? What have
I am not punishing you, Herr Von Barwig. I Don't ask me to
explain! You must not call again. Please go; go! There, I've said it;
I've said it! cried Hélène in despair, and she walked to the window to
hide her emotion.
Von Barwig looked at her in silence.
Very well, he said after a few moments and then he looked around
for his hat, which he always brought into the room with him.
He realised that it was useless to try and move her and he turned to
go. He reached the door and had partly opened it when he felt impelled
to make one more effort.
I leave the Museum, he said at the door. I go there no more.
Hélène shook her head. The old man came toward her.
You must forgive me, Miss Hélène, I must speak, he said in a low
voice choked with emotion; his English was very broken now. A moment
ago I was thinking what shall be best for you, for your future, your
happiness; and I said to myself: 'Don't say that which will perhaps
hurt her prospects, her future, her marriage with Herr Beverly
I don't understand, said Hélène in surprise. What can you say,
Herr Von Barwig, that will hurt my prospects or in any way affect my
marriage with Mr. Cruger?
Ah, I don't know what I say, pleaded Von Barwig, who felt at that
moment that for her sake he must not tell her who he was. I don't know
what I say! I am struck down; I cannot rise, I cannot think! Ah, don't
discharge me, please don't discharge me! wailed the old man pitifully.
Let me come here as I always do; don't send me away!
Hélène was silent; she felt that she could say no more.
It is the first time in my life I have ever begged of a living
soul, pleaded Von Barwig, and now I beg, I beg that you will not send
me away! You have made me so happy, so happy, and nowplease don't
discharge me, don't discharge me! It was all he seemed able to say.
Hélène was looking at him now, looking him full in the face while a
great storm was surging in her mind. I can't obey my father, she was
saying to herself, I can't! It's too hardtoo hard! The old man
mistook her silence for the rejection of his prayer and slowly turned
to go. The shrinking figure, the concentrated misery, the hopeless
expression on his face, the tears in his eyes, the pathetic woebegone
listlessness in his walk were too much for her; she could resist no
Herr Von Barwig, she cried, her voice ringing out in clear strong
tones, I don't believe it, I don't believe it! He turned with a
slight look of inquiry on his face and gazed at her through his
tear-bedimmed eyes. I don't believe that you ever did a dishonourable
action in all your life, she cried. My father is mistaken, mistaken!
I'm sure of it.
Your father? There was no hesitation in his voice now. Your
father, he repeated, his voice rising higher. Ah! and a flood of
light came in upon him. When you left me a few moments ago, you went
to him, and then, on your returnyouyou sent me away; is it not so?
Tell me, he demanded, is it not so?
Gone was the hopeless misery, gone were the shambling gait, the
pathetic smile, the helplessness of resignation to overwhelming
conditions. Gone, too, were the tears, the pleading look, and in their
place stood Anton Von Barwig, erect and strong, his eyes glittering
with fire, the fire of righteous indignation, his voice strong and
clear. Hélène looked at him in amazement. She could not understand the
Your father! repeated Von Barwig in a loud, stern voice. So! the
time has come! I think perhaps I see your father. It is time we met; a
little explanation is due. Miss Stanton, I shall seeyourfather.
Yes, you shall see him! said the girl. I'llI'll speak to him
for you; I am sure you can explain.
Yes, I can explain, said Von Barwig with a low, hard laugh. Where
In the library, replied Hélène.
Ah? Then I go there and see him, said Von Barwig in a decided
tone. This new mental attitude of the music master amazed her. The
little low, shambling figure was transformed into an overwhelming
Perhaps I had better see him first, suggested Hélène.
No, said Von Barwig. I see him. His tone was almost commanding.
Hélène looked at him in astonishment. She was pleased; at least these
were not signs of guilt on his part. She no longer hesitated.
Perhaps you're right, she said. Come, we'll see him together.
Von Barwig followed Hélène through the corridors that led to the
library. She paused a moment as she stood at the door and looked around
at Von Barwig. There was a stern, cold, hard look in his face which was
new to her. He feels the injustice as I do, thought Hélène, and he
is angry. Thank God, he will be able to clear himself! She turned the
handle of the door and went in. Von Barwig followed her. Stanton was
sitting at a desk table, writing, as they entered.
There has been a mistake, father, she said.
Stanton looked up and started as if he had been struck. He saw his
daughter, and he saw the man he had wronged standing there in the
doorway like an avenging Nemesis. He tried to speak, but could not.
What's the matter, father? cried Hélène in alarm.
Nothingnothing! replied Stanton incoherently. He was trembling
in every limb.
Hélène, he said, forcing himself to speak, I will have a word
with Herr Von Barwig alone.
I beg your pardon for coming in unannounced, but we wanted to see
you, father, began Hélène.
Yes, yes; please excuse us now, Hélène. I'll see him alone, said
Stanton, speaking with great difficulty. Alone! he repeated sharply.
Hélène turned and looked at Von Barwig. He stood there in silence,
his slight figure seeming to tower above everything in the room. Even
Stanton, tall as he was, seemed dwarfed by the strong personality of
the music master. At this moment Joles made his appearance. A number
of ladies have arrived, miss, he said to Hélène, his quick eye
catching sight of Von Barwig without looking at him. They are in the
I must go at once, said Hélène. I forgot all about my birthday
Young Mr. Cruger and his father are asking for you, sir, Joles
said quietly to Mr. Stanton.
Ask them to waitI must see this gentleman, said Stanton,
indicating Von Barwig. Joles bowed himself out. Hélène was pleased that
her father acceded so readily to her wishes. She went to him and
placing her hand on his arm said in a low voice:
Let him explain, father! I want him to come back to me. It will
make me very happypleasethis is my birthday.
Stanton nodded, but made no reply. Hélène gave Von Barwig an
encouraging smile and went out of the room, quietly closing the door
Von Barwig had been studying the man before him. There was quite a
Well, Henry? he said after a few moments.
Anton, murmured Stanton in a low tone as if ashamed to speak. Von
Barwig's eyes glittered as he heard his name familiarly pronounced by
the man he was regarding with deadly enmity.
The world has revolved a few times since I last saw youbut I am
here, he said, repressing his anger; and this repression gave a
curiously hard and guttural effect to his voice.
I have been expecting this moment for a long time, said Stanton in
a conciliating tone. I've tried to forget.
You have been very successful, replied Von Barwig. You have
forgotten your own name for sixteen years. A prosperous friend has a
poor memory, Henry.
I have not prospered, said Stanton quickly; that is, not in the
real sense of the word. I am rich, yes; but I am not prosperous.
You have changed your name? said Von Barwig.
Yes; my uncle Stanton died in California. I took his name when he
left me his great fortune.
That is why I could not find a trace of you, said Von Barwig
Stanton thought he detected signs of relenting in Von Barwig's
I suppose there's no use my telling you how sorry I am for
Sorry, sorry! almost screamed Von Barwig. Does that bring back
anything? Does that put sixteen years in my hands? Damn the empty
phrase 'I am sorry' when there is no use in being sorry!
I have repented, Anton! Before God I have repented! said Stanton
huskily. She made me repent, and God knows she repented. She never had
one happy hour since she left you!
Von Barwig was silent.
This is the only blot on my lifethe one blot on my life, cried
And that one blot was my wife and child, said Von Barwig. While
you were at it you accomplished a great deal. Mein Gott, you were
colossal! You always were a damned successful fellow, Ahlmann, he
Before God, Anton, cried Stanton with a show of emotion, I didn't
mean to do it; I swear I didn't. It was a mad impulse! It's not in my
Nature never makes a blunder. When she makes a scoundrel she means
it, said Von Barwig.
Stanton started and then looked through the library window. His
sharp ear had detected the sound of carriage wheels stopping in front
of the house.
What are you going to do? he asked quickly. The fear of exposure
was doubly increased by knowledge of the fact that his guests were
arriving. Von Barwig made no reply.
Barwig, for God's sake don't ruin me! At least, I've given the
child everything. She knows nothing, and the world respects
The world always respects a successful rascal, interrupted Von
Barwig with a harsh laugh. Of all people he is the most respected.
Why, if I had not found you, I have no doubt you would live on a church
window-pane after you died! But now I anticipate that everybody shall
know your virtues while you are alive. I cut off that window-pane! I am
going to baptise you, Ahlmann; I give you back your name.
Anton, Anton! Why not sit down calmly and talk it over? pleaded
Ah, you were always a polite man, the kind women like; a man born
with kid gloves and no soul. Now we take off the gloves; we show you as
you are, and Von Barwig shook his finger at the man opposite him.
There were echoes of laughter out in the hallway; Stanton heard them
and trembled. He recognised the voices of Mrs. Cruger's nieces. If
these gossips, ever found out the truth, he thought, not a family in
New York but would be acquainted with the facts in twenty-four hours.
Anton, be calm, he pleaded. Give me a few days to think it over.
No! declared Von Barwig.
A few hours, pleaded Stanton.
No! repeated Von Barwig; not even a few minutes.
Stanton moved toward the door.
Stay here! commanded Von Barwig. He was plainly master of the
situation now, for Stanton instinctively obeyed him. If I let you go
into the next room it might be sixteen years before you got back again!
Stanton obeyed him and there was a slight pause.
You know what a scandal this will make, he pleaded.
I know, replied Von Barwig in a quiet tone. I know!
The whole country will ring with it, said Stanton.
You shouldn't have prayed so loud, Ahlmann, replied Von Barwig
with a sardonic smile. You laid too many cornerstones; your charities
are too well known. You should have kept them a secret and not blazoned
your generosity to the whole world. When you fed an orphan or a widow
you shouldn't have advertised it in the newspapers.
Stanton looked at him and saw no hope.
You're going to ruin me? he asked.
Von Barwig made no reply.
You're going to tell her? demanded Stanton.
Yes, replied Von Barwig in a quiet tone; I'm going to tell her.
You'd better think first.
I have thought.
How will you explain her mother's shame?
Ah! Von Barwig glared at him in silence. You will shield yourself
behind the mother, eh? he asked.
How will you explain her mother's shame? again asked Stanton.
I don't explain it! You talked her mother's name awaynow talk it
back! You're a clever man with words. You'll find a way out of it,
Stanton was now almost beside himself with fear and anger.
What can you do for the girl after you have disgraced her? Think
what I have done for her, pleaded Stanton. She is honoured,
respected, cultured, refined, a lady of social distinction. Are you
going to drag her down to Houston Street, to the Bowery, to the Dime
Von Barwig felt the force of this argument, and he knew there was no
reply to be made. His anger was gonehe was thoughtful now.
Stanton saw that he was gaining ground. For her sake, Von Barwig,
he pleaded; for her sake! Just think!
Von Barwig interrupted him with a gesture, motioning him to silence.
Look here, Ahlmann, his voice was strangely quiet now. I knew! I
knew an hour ago who you were, whose house I was in. As she sat at the
piano near me I could have touched her with my hand. My heart cried
out, 'I am her father; I am her father!' For sixteen years I wait for
that moment and then I get it; I get it! It's mine; but I pass it! I
put it aside; I would not tell her.
You knew, interrupted Stanton, and you did not speak!
I would have come here, to this house, went on Von Barwig, his
voice quivering with excitement and emotion; I would have come and
gone as a friend, an old friend, if you had kept silent. But no, two
fathers cannot live so with a child between them. One of them is bound
to speak out and that one is you, you! You spoke. 'Twas you who said to
your servants, 'Take this man and throw him into the streets like a
dog.' 'Twas you who destroyed my letters; 'twas you who destroyed my
child's lettersletters to me. 'Twas you who told my own flesh and
blood to treat me as a doga dog! You made me plead and beg; you made
me suffer for sixteen long and weary years. Now I take what is mine,
screamed Von Barwig. You hear! I take what is mine! and he strode
over to the bell and deliberately rang it.
Don't, don't for heaven's sake! shouted Stanton, trying to
restrain him. It was too late and Stanton almost fell back into his
Come, stand up! To your feet, Ahlmann! shouted Von Barwig in a
loud voice. I cannot throw you from your house as you would me; but I
can empty it for you. Come! I want to introduce you to your friends.
He threw the door wide open. Stanton came forward as if to close it,
but Von Barwig waved him back. Stay where you are, he cried. I
introduce yon to your friends as you are. She shall choose between us.
Against your money and respectability I put my life. Your friends shall
choose; she shall choose; the young man she is to marryhe shall
choose. The old man was now almost incoherent. I have her back! she
is mine, she is mine! At this juncture Joles entered.
Speak; tell him! shouted Von Barwig. If you don't, I do!
Call Miss Stanton, said Mr. Stanton.
And her friends, commanded Von Barwig.
Stanton nodded acquiescence; and Joles left the room.
You've ruined me; and you'll ruin her, said Stanton in despair.
I get her back, I get her back! repeated Von Barwig over and over
again. She is mine.
Very well! she is yours, then, replied Stanton in desperation.
Yours with this disgraceful scandal over her head.
I don't care! She is mineI get her back, was all Von Barwig
Yours with her engagement at an end, her heart broken! Yes, her
heart broken! Do you think they'll take her into that family, do you
think they will receive your daughter, the daughter of a
Von Barwig was now almost hysterical. If they don't take her, I
take her! If they don't want her, I want her. She's mine, I'm going to
have her! I want my own flesh and blood. Do you hear, Ahlmann? I'm
tired of waiting, tired of starving for the love of my own. I'm
selfish, I'm selfish! in his excitement the old man banged his
clenched fist several times on the table. I'm selfish! I want her, and
by God I'm going to have her! At this juncture Hélène came into the
room. There was a dead silence. Von Barwig saw her and his clenched
fist dropped harmlessly by his side. He stood there silently waiting.
Hélène looked at Mr. Stanton; his head was bowed low and he uttered not
a word. She looked inquiringly at Von Barwig. He seemed incapable of
Father, she said in a low, gentle voice. Neither man answered.
Stanton dared not, and Von Barwig steeled himself against telling her
the truth. Stanton's words had had their effect; Von Barwig was
unwilling to ruin the girl's chances for his own selfish interests.
You have explained? she asked Von Barwig. He nodded, but did not
speak. The sound of approaching voices caught their ears. Joles threw
open both doors and Mr. Cruger came into the room with his son and Mrs.
Cruger, followed by many others. They greeted Mr. Stanton, who welcomed
them as well as he could. In a few moments the conversation became
general. Von Barwig stood apart from them. Mr. Stanton, nervous and
anxious, watched him closely. Mrs. Cruger fastened a beautiful diamond
pendant on Hélène's neck. Mr. Cruger kissed her.
We cannot give you the wealth of your father, my dear child, said
he; but we can give you a name against which there has never been a
breath; an honoured name, a name with which we are very proud to
Von Barwig heard this, and groaned aloud in his misery.
I'm very happy, very happy! said Hélène.
Others gathered around the happy pair and showered congratulations
on them. After a short while Beverly saw Von Barwig in the corner of
the room and went over and greeted him. Hélène joined them.
Is it all arranged between you and father? she asked.
Von Barwig nodded.
I knew you could explain, said Hélène.
Yes, he has let me explain! said Von Barwig with a deep sigh. He
was quite calm now. Pardon the liberty I takeIforgive me he
placed Beverly's and Hélène's hands one in the other. Pardon the
liberty I take; I am an old man, he said in a low voice. I wish you
bothlong lifemuch prosperitymuch happinessmuch joy to you both.
God bless you, children; excuse me, I speak as a father. God bless
you! and the old man picked his hat up from the table on which he had
deposited it and wiped away the tears that were coursing down his
cheeks. Stanton, who had been watching him closely, uttered a cry of
joy. Von Barwig went out of the room slowly, shutting the door behind
It was midwinter nearly a year later. The cold was the severest in
the memory of any inmate of the Houston Street establishment, including
Miss Husted herself. Everything was frozen solid. It was nearly as cold
inside the house as it was outside, greatly to Miss Husted's dismay,
for added to the increased expenditure for coal, the services of the
plumber to thaw out frozen water and gas pipes were in constant
requisition. Houston Mansion was a corner house with an open space next
door, and the biting north winds on three sides of the unprotected old
walls added greatly to the discomfort and suffering of the guests
within. In every sense it was a record breaker. There had already been
three blizzards in the past month and a fourth was now in progress. It
was on the top floor, however, that the extreme severity of the winter
was felt. The cold biting winds howled and wailed over the roof,
circling around the skylight and forcing their way through the cracked
and broken panes of glass. It was impossible to keep the draughty old
hallway warm with the one small stove intended for that purpose. Pinac,
Fico and Poons, huddled together around the fire bundled up in their
overcoats, had to place their feet on the stove to keep them warm or
blow on their fingers and walk about the room to keep their blood in
At this time Pinac and Fico were playing at Galazatti's for their
dinners, being unable to obtain more profitable engagements, and Poons
was playing in an uptown theatre. Poons was trying to save enough money
to get married, and neither Pinac nor Fico would touch a penny of his
earnings, although the boy generously offered them all or any part of
his savings to help them tide over until the Spring, when they were
reasonably sure of obtaining lucrative engagements. The men had just
finished their breakfast and Jenny was washing the dishes for them.
I shall lay a cloth for the breakfast of Von Barwig when he shall
wake up, said Pinac, suiting the action to the word and spreading a
red tablecloth on the rickety wooden table. His work at the Museum
keeps him so late he must sleep late.
Sacoroto, the rotten museum he play at, I wish it was dead,
They knew now that Von Barwig played at a cheap amusement resort on
the Bowery, and that it kept him out till early morning; and they loved
him for it all the more. They knew that necessity, not choice, had
driven him to it. Besides, it made them more akin to him, for it
brought him nearer their own artistic standard, and yet they did not
lose one atom of respect for the old man. Gone was his commanding
spirit, and in its place was a quiet, gentle dignity which called forth
respect as well as love; but above alllove.
He is sleeping later than usual, said Jenny as she restored the
crockery to its proper place in the cupboard.
All the strength of the coffee will boil away, murmured Fico.
Parbleu! we make new coffee for him, replied Pinac.
He have sleep long enough. I call him, said Fico, tapping lightly
on the door of the lumber room that served Von Barwig as a bedroom.
Receiving no reply, Fico knocked louder. Finally he pushed open the
door. It had no lock on it and the catch was broken. Fico looked into
the room, shook his head and then turned and stared at his friends. He
have gone up, he said with an anxious look. You mean he have get up,
suggested Pinac. Got up! corrected Jenny. Yes, replied Fico. He is
got up and out.
Poons, who had not quite followed the intricacies of the
conversation, went into Von Barwig's room and satisfied himself that
his beloved friend was not there. The three men stared at each other.
They said nothing, but the expression on their faces denoted anxiety.
Where has he gone? seemed to be the question each asked silently of
Von Barwig had been very quiet in the past year, so quiet that his
actions seemed to his friends to be almost mysterious. Not that he was
more reserved than usual, but there was a calmness, a resignation to
existing conditions, a listlessness that seemed to them to amount to
almost a lack of interest in life, and this mental attitude on Von
Barwig's part caused them no little anxiety.
It's such an awful day, said Pinac as he looked out of the window.
By God, yes! assented Fico. Another bliz.
The wind was howling up and down the streets and flurries of snow
were being driven against the windows, banging the shutters to and fro
as the great gusts of wind caught them in their grasp. The iron catch
that held the shutter had long since been torn out by the winter
blizzards, and the constant banging sound grated harshly on the
sensitive ears of the musicians. Poons suffered more than the rest, and
swore roundly in German every time the shutter struck against the
Jenny, came the shrill voice of Miss Husted up the stairway at the
back of the hall. That lady was more than ever set against her niece's
taking up with a musician, as she called the love match between Poons
and Jenny. Whenever Miss Husted missed Jenny on the floors below she
invariably found her upstairs talking to young August.
We were looking for the professor, said Jenny, as her aunt's head
came up into view from the staircase below.
Looking for the professor! Why, where is he? asked Miss Husted.
Surely he hasn't gone out on a day like this! Why, it's not fit for a
dog; not fit for a dog! Oh dear, dear! I'll be worried to death till he
comes back, and Miss Husted pressed Skippy more closely to her and
went down stairs again; not, however, without first sending Jenny to
the floor below, out of the reach of Poons's love-making eyes.
It is true; he has gone out, said Pinac dolefully, as he looked
out of the window at the blizzard.
Von Barwig had risen very early that morning and dressed himself
with more than his usual care. He had much to do, for on the morrow he
was to depart from the shores of America and return to his old home. He
was going back to Leipsic, and the steamship sailed very early the next
morning. The real cause of his absence at that moment was the fact that
his daughter Hélène was to be married that day, and he desired to
witness the ceremony. Altogether, there was much to be done and little
time to do it in. He had told Mr. Costello the night before that he was
not going to return to the Museum; so that was ended, and his few
clothes were packed in his little portmanteau with the assistance of
Jenny, who was the only one who knew his secret. He also had to go
downtown and buy his steamship ticket and make arrangements with an
expressman to take his trunk, and he felt he must say good-bye to a few
acquaintances before he went away forever. So, in order to complete all
these arrangements in time to get to the church where the wedding was
to take place, he had to get up quite early.
Von Barwig did not mind the cold weather at all. He trudged along
the streets and stamped his feet to keep them warm while he brushed the
snow off his face as it blew under his umbrella. His heart was light,
for he rejoiced that his darling Hélène was going to marry the man she
loved. Her happiness was assured, he thought; besides, he himself was
going to do something. He had a plan of action and he was going to
carry it out. During the last few months he had had a great yearning to
see his old home again, to hear his native language spoken, to hear the
folk songs and familiar German airs sung once more and to look upon the
faces of his fellow-countrymen again. Now that he knew his child was
happy, he felt that he would be content simply to sit placidly in an
obscure corner of the market-place in Leipsic, and watch the ebb and
flow of life as it is lived over there in the beloved Fatherland. He
did not ask to take part in it or to be one with his countrymen; all he
asked was the privilege of watching their life for the few remaining
years of his earthly existence. His pride had completely gone now, and
it caused him not one pang to feel that he had left his native land in
the flush and prime of success and was going to return an old,
broken-down failure. On the contrary, the thought of again walking the
streets of his native land, breathing the atmosphere, and hearing the
voices of his beloved countrymen so lightened his heart that his steps
were almost elastic. He kicked the snow aside with vigour, and jumped
on the street car as if he were a boy. He saluted the conductor with
such a hearty good-morning, that the man looked at him in astonishment.
You must be feeling pretty good to call this a good morning, said
that functionary, as he collected his fare.
Back of this awful blizzard is the beautiful sunshine, said Von
Barwig, with a smile.
Yes, if you can see it! replied the man, compelled to smile when
he looked into Von Barwig's beaming face. How far are you going
downtown? asked the conductor to prolong the conversation. The car was
empty, and Von Barwig's cheery smile encouraged him to talk.
Fowling Green, replied Von Barwig. I buy my ticket back to
Germany, he added lightly.
Ah! said the man, as if that explained everything. You're glad to
go back, eh? Most of 'em would never have come if they knew what they
were going to get over here.
Von Barwig shrugged his shoulders and laughed a little.
If you don't strike it right, went on the car conductor, it's
worse here than anywhere in the world! Von Barwig nodded. There's no
room in America for the man who fails, he added, ringing up a fare
with an angry jerk and then relapsing into moody silence.
After many delays, owing to the packing of the snow on the car
tracks, Von Barwig arrived at the steamship office, bought his ticket,
and commenced his weary journey uptown.
I shall see her to-day, he thought. I shall see her. How
beautiful she will look in her white dress and her orange blossoms!
Hehewill give her to her husband. That scoundrel! Von Barwig's
heart sank. But she is happy, she is happy! and this thought
[Illustration: Hélène and Beverly find love's haven.]
He had not seen her since the memorable moment in which he had
placed the hand of his beloved pupil in that of her affianced husband
and wished them joy and happiness. He had written to her and told her
that her father, Mr. Stanton, was right; that it would be better that
he did not resume his teaching. He had done this, that her happiness
might not be destroyed by the coming to light of the scandal that had
been dead and buried so many years. He felt it would not be right in
the highest sense for him to expose Stanton merely to gratify his own
sense of revenge. He believed that his child had learned to love
Stanton as her own father; that it would be a cruelty to her to expose
him; that it would rob her of her social position and perhaps of the
man she loved. The girl might even turn on him and hate him for his
selfish indulgence of revenge at the expense of her happiness. At the
very best, he had nothing to offer her, and he knew she would refuse
Stanton's bounty when she learned the truth. Von Barwig had reasoned it
out on these lines, and at every fresh pang of suffering he found
comfort in the false logic that seemed so like truth. It never occurred
to him that Hélène disliked Stanton; that she felt in her heart that
the man was not her father; and that young Cruger would have married
her in spite of a dozen scandals. Furthermore, he did not even dream
that his pupil loved him and grieved for him to such an extent, that
Stanton felt it absolutely necessary to separate them completely by
telling her that her old music master had gone back to Germany and had
died there. The car windows rattled noisily and the bells jangled
monotonously, as the horses tramped through the snow on their way
uptown, but Von Barwig heard them not, for his brain was thronged with
thoughts of his darling Hélène and his impending departure to his own
country. How could he leave those kind hearts in Houston StreetJenny,
Poons, Miss Husted, Fico, Pinac! What would they all say?
Von Barwig bought a morning paper and in it he read that his
daughter's marriage was to be attended by a very large and fashionable
audience; that admission to the church was only by personal invitation.
Von Barwig started. How was he to get into the church? He had no card
of invitation. He almost laughed aloud as he thought of his position;
her own father would not see her married because he had no invitation.
He must invent some story to get in, but he must attract no attention.
No one who knew of his association with the family must see him. He
dare not risk a public exposé at the eleventh hour. No, her
happiness must not be clouded even for a moment! But he must get in; he
made up his mind to that.
When Von Barwig arrived at the church there were quite a number of
people gathered there in spite of the inclemency of the weather, for
news of the wedding had been largely heralded forth by the New York
daily papers, owing to the great wealth of Mr. Stanton and the high
social position of the Crugers, and it was looked upon as one of the
great fashionable events of the year.
Thanks to Mr. Stanton's love of display and lavish outlay of money,
the presents had been enumerated, the trousseau described, the names of
the guests published in all the fashionable papers, greatly to Hélène's
annoyance. She would have preferred a quiet little wedding unattended
save by those directly interested in the marriage, but Mr. Stanton
wanted to spend money, and he did, most lavishly. A special orchestra
and tons of flowers were ordered, notwithstanding that it was
midwinter, and every prominent social and political person available
had been invited to attend. In consequence, a platoon of police was
needed to keep the crowds back, and when Von Barwig arrived, a long
line of carriages had already formed at the church door.
A policeman barred his way when he attempted to enter without a
ticket. Sorry, sir; but we must obey orders, said the man in uniform.
It was the same at all the doors, and Von Barwig soon saw that it was
useless to attempt to get in without a ticket. He stood there for a few
moments trying to think what he should do, when he saw several men
carrying violins and other musical instruments going through a small
side door on the side street, off Fifth Avenue, that led into the
vestry situated at the end of the great church. I am a musician; I go
in with the musicians, said Von Barwig, and he followed the men,
unchallenged and unquestioned through the passage leading to the vestry
and from thence into the body of the great church. For the first time
in my life, thought Von Barwig, my profession is of service to me!
The great church was beautifully decorated with flowers, and the
guests were now beginning to arrive. Von Barwig, unobserved, crept
silently to the darkest and farthest end of the church. He seated
himself in a great pew on the centre aisle, where he could see without
being seen. The church was now filling up; it was a splendid sight. The
orchestra and the organ played some selections; finally the wedding
march from Lohengrin sounded, and every one arose to get a peep at what
was happening in the centre aisle. Von Barwig craned his neck to see.
The bride had entered the church and was coming up the aisle on the arm
of Mr. Stanton, her supposed father, preceded by the ushers. The
bridegroom and his best man awaited them at the chancel steps. At the
sight of Stanton Von Barwig felt his heart beat thickly. This man had
broken up his home, robbed him of his wife and child, and now posed as
the girl's father. What a splendid revenge he could take by publicly
denouncing him in the midst of his friends. Von Barwig quickly stifled
any impulse in that direction. He had come to witness his daughter's
happiness, not to mar it by the demonstration of publicly unmasking a
villain. He sat back in his seat and watched the proceedings with
breathless interest. The marriage ceremony proceeded. The old clergyman
who read the service, unlike most of his class, read it with feeling,
as if he understood the meaning of the words he was uttering. So clear,
so natural was his utterance that Von Barwig followed every word of it,
scarcely realising that the man was reading and not merely speaking.
When he came to the question, Who giveth this woman to be married to
this man? the clergyman looked around the church as if expecting some
one in the vast congregation to rise and say, I do. There was no
answer. It seemed to Von Barwig that the minister was looking directly
at him, and not only looking at him, but tacitly asking a reply. Once
more in compelling tones came the momentous question, Who giveth this
woman to be married to this man? Von Barwig was now quite positive
that the clergyman was addressing himself directly to him, and he felt
that the moment had come to declare the truth to the whole world.
As in a dream one makes no effort to connect the present with the
past or future or to account in any way for the logic of events, so did
Von Barwig make no effort to understand how or why his secret was known
to the clergyman. He simply accepted the fact as it appeared to him and
made no effort to resist the impulse to rise and declare himself. So
when Henry Stanton uttered the words, I do, almost at the same moment
from the back of the church came the loud, deep voice of Von Barwig
quivering with emotion, I do, I do! Everybody arose and looked
around. For a moment there was great consternation in the church. Cries
of Hush, hush! came from every quarter and several of the ushers came
over to the pew in which Von Barwig sat. At the sound of Von Barwig's
voice, Hélène started as if she had received an electric shock. Beverly
thought she was going to faint and supported her with his arm.
Hélène recognised in a moment that it was the voice of her old music
master, the man she had been told was dead and buried months ago. She
looked quickly at Mr. Stanton for an explanation. He is not dead; what
does it mean? she asked. Go on with the ceremony, was all the reply
she could get from Mr. Stanton. The clergyman went on quietly with the
marriage service. Von Barwig, as soon as the usher tapped him on the
arm, realised that he had made a dreadful mistake, and sank back into
his seat, trembling with excitement and shame. He had not intended to
do such a thing and could not explain even to himself how it had
happened. The wedding ceremony was now over, the process of signing and
witnessing gone over in the vestry, and in a short while the bride and
bridegroom came down the aisle to the sound of Mendelssohn's inspiring
wedding march. As they passed by the pew in which Von Barwig crouched
to avoid recognition, some of the roses in the bride's bouquet fell to
the ground almost at his feet. He picked them up and tenderly kissed
them. Apparently unconscious of his presence, Hélène, surrounded by her
friends, passed down the aisle, down the steps and out into her
carriage escorted by Beverly. They were both radiantly happy.
It's a happy marriage, said society with an approving nod.
It's a happy marriage, alike said friends and relations.
It's a happy marriage, said the stranger outside as the blushing
bride stepped into her carriage and the smiling bridegroom closed the
door shutting them out from view.
It's a happy marriage, echoed Von Barwig as he trudged through the
snow on his way home. It's a happy marriage. Thank God for that!
As Von Barwig walked wearily up the stairway leading from the third
floor to the top floor (or atelier as Miss Husted preferred to
call it), he heard the sounds of music. It was Fico playing a waltz,
The Artist's Life, on the mandolin, while Poons extemporised a
pizzicato accompaniment on the 'cello.
Ah, my boys, they are in, he said to himself. I hope they didn't
wait breakfast for me.
Professor, professor! came the cheery voice of Miss Husted, as she
greeted him warmly. I'm so glad to see you!
The music stopped.
Hello, Anton, old friend, cried Fico as he grasped Von Barwig by
Go on playing, don't stop for me! said Von Barwig, taking off his
rubbers and brushing the snow off his hat and coat.
Poons hurriedly put away his 'cello. He was ashamed of playing
ordinary waltz music in the presence of Von Barwig. With him tradition
was strong; the old man was still Herr Von Barwig, the great Leipsic
Gewandhaus Concert conductor, with whom his father had had the honour
of playing first horn.
The boy's mother had instilled this into his very soul.
Why, Great Scott! Look at him! Where have you been? Ma foi,
you look like a wedding; oh, Fico? and Pinac pointed to Von Barwig.
That's so, professor, you look just as handsome as a bridegroom,
burst out Miss Husted.
Von Barwig wore a grey satin tie, a flower was pinned in the lapel
of his old Prince Albert coat, and his spotlessly clean cuffs and kid
gloves gave him an appearance of festivity that was most unusual. A
wedding? You are right, all of you! said Von Barwig, with a deep
breath. Then he added, I have been to a wedding, yes, a wedding! Ah,
Jenny, how is my little girl? Von Barwig took the flower he had in his
coat and placed it in her hand. Wear it, Jenny, wear it! Perhaps it
will bring you good fortune! There should be two weddings, not one, he
added, looking at Poons.
Two, indeed! ejaculated Miss Husted, with a toss of her curls.
One is too many sometimes! Then she asked suddenly, Have you had
your breakfast yet?
Von Barwig shook his head.
Then, professor, you won't say no to a bite of hot breakfast with
me, and Miss Husted smiled sweetly. Von Barwig still shook his head.
Ah, do, pleaded Jenny.
Dear, good, kind hearts, no! Many thousand thanks, no! I have much
to do. Early to-morrow morning, my He was going to tell them that
the steamship on which he had taken passage was going to sail early
next morning. He looked at them all and did not complete his sentence.
How can I tell them I am going to leave them forever, he thought.
I am not at all hungry; I have had breakfast, I assure you, he
added quickly, partly to change the subject, and partly to avoid
breakfasting alone with Miss Husted. He was in no mood to listen to
I'm sorry, very sorry! sighed that lady, and she went downstairs,
disappointed, taking Jenny with her.
Von Barwig put on his little velvet house coat. What have you for
lunch, boys? he asked. I am a bit hungry.
I thought so, said Pinac, quickly jumping up and opening the
cupboard which housed their slender stock of provisions. Some sausage,
some loaf, some cold potato, he said, as he surveyed the contents of
the shelf on which reposed the articles mentioned.
Good; splendid! said Von Barwig.
Fico laid the cloth while Poons set the knives and forks.
And here's a 'arf bottle of wine, said Pinac.
The same wine as yesterday? asked Von Barwig.
The very same wine, replied Pinac, handing him the bottle.
The old man pulled out the cork and smelled the contents of the
bottle. It was wine; it is vinegar, he remarked tersely
as he handed Pinac back the bottle. I prefer coffee!
Pinac rushed to get it. Poons put on a few coals and some more wood
into the little stove, and the process of coffee-making began.
There's nothing like hot coffee to cheer you up on a cold day,
said Von Barwig, rubbing his hands. Not that I need cheering up,
boys, he added quickly; but hot coffee, the smell alone is enough
totowhoever invented hot coffee was a genius! The chord of the
ninth and the diminished seventh were ordinary discoveries; any
musician was bound to stumble across them sooner or later. But this,
and he poured the ground coffee into the pot, is a positive invention
Pinac noticed that Von Barwig was thinking of something else than
what he was saying, for his eyes were glistening, and he was obviously
labouring under some great excitement.
We could have waited for you, Anton, but we were cold, said Pinac.
And hungry, added Fico.
You were right; quite right! said Von Barwig.
Whose wedding did you attend, Anton? asked Pinac.
A pupil's wedding, answered Von Barwig quickly; as if he expected
the question and was prepared to answer it. Gott in Himmel, it's cold!
Ha, of course, and he looked up; that skylight isn't mended! Dear
Miss Husted, she always forgets it. I must fix it myself. Yes, he went
on thoughtfully, a pupil of mine was married; a young lady. She is
very happy, very happy; and I am happy that she is happyI must always
Remember what? inquired Fico after a pause.
Always remember that this is a happy moment and that I must live on
it. This moment is my future; it is all I have to live on. The wedding
day of my pupil is the sum and end of all for me.
Was it a fine wedding, Anton? asked Pinac gently. He could see
that the old man was much moved and he wanted to bring him out of the
world of abstract ideas into the world of tangible, concrete thought.
Very fine, replied Von Barwig. There was silence for a moment,
then he went on reminiscently: The father and mother of the bridegroom
sat in church. The mother of my little pupil is dead, or sheshe would
have been there. When the minister said, 'Who giveth this woman to be
married to this man?' perhaps you think I did not envy that father who
answered 'II do!' Ah, he was a fine looking man, indeed yes, a fine
looking man! After the wedding was overII walked home. What is in
my heart I cannot tell you; but she is happy, happy! What more can I
ask? What more dare I ask? he broke off suddenly.
What is it, Anton? asked Fico gently, you are worried, anxious!
You are in trouble, Anton, said Pinac, taking Von Barwig's hand.
Come confide in your friends; they help you.
Von Barwig forced a laugh. I troubled? Why, no, no! I have been to
a wedding; a happy wedding, a smiling bride, a fine fellow of a
bridegroom. A few tears, yes; but happy, happy tears! Come, come, long
faces! Cheer up, cried Von Barwig hysterically, and he slapped Poons
on the back to conceal his emotion.
Mazette! Do you smell something? inquired Pinac, sniffing the air.
Something is burning!
Von Barwig started and hastily looked into the coffee pot. Ach
Gott, boys, he said, it's the coffee! and he laughed.
Is it boiling? asked Pinac.
Boiling! No, it's burning! Iforgot to put the water in it, and
he laughed aloud.
Let me make the coffee this time, said Pinac, busying himself at
that occupation without further delay.
Yes, and I mend that skylight, said Von Barwig, climbing up the
steps that led to the skylight window. But Von Barwig was not
successful. The wind was so strong that it blew away everything that he
tried to substitute for the missing pane of glass. Finally he
determined, as he could not mend it, to stuff it up temporarily and to
that end he asked Pinac to hand him up a cloak, which was lying on a
chair, and which he thought was his own. His effort to stuff it into
the broken skylight was only too successful, for, as it went through to
the other side, the wind caught it, tore it out of his hands and blew
it completely away. There was a great outcry as the men realised that
Pinac's overcoat had blown away and was lost. It was only when Jenny
brought up the missing article, which had fallen into the street below,
that their excitement was allayed. Von Barwig made no further effort to
mend the skylight.
A little later, after the men had gone out to their respective
engagements, Jenny found Von Barwig busily engaged in packing his last
few remaining possessions into the little old-fashioned portmanteau
which he had brought over from Leipsic with him. He had pulled it out
into the hallway, as his room was too small for him to pack
I've packed all your other things away. Everything is ready now,
said Jenny in a low voice.
The old man nodded and patted her hand as if to thank her for all
Have you told them? she asked.
No, replied Von Barwig sadly; I can't, I haven't the courage. I
can't stand parting; I shall write them.
Jenny was so filled with emotion that she could hardly speak. You
told me, she said after a while.
Yes, you are the only one that could understand. I had to tell you,
Jenny! I can't go like a thief in the night without letting some one
know. You will tell them that I had to go, that there was nothing else
to do. Explain for me; you will do that, won't you? Don't let them
think that II didn't care.
Jenny nodded. Tears were running down her cheeks. And you never
found the baby, the lost little girl you came over to find; the baby
that is now a young lady?
Ja, I go back without her, said Von Barwig, avoiding the question.
That is our secret, eh, little friend? You will never speak of it,
never tell a soul, eh? And you write to me, you tell me all the news of
the neighbourhood. Let me know how the poor pupils get on without their
old music master. Here, Jenny! here is money for stamps.
The girl shook her head. No, no! she cried, not that!
Hush! Money for stamps for the little letters, about the little
pupils, and Von Barwig pressed a bill into her hand.
Any one on these woiks? bellowed a loud, deep bass voice from
Von Barwig started as he recognised the voice of Mr. Al Costello. I
see you again before I go, Jenny, he said quickly as the portly person
of the Museum manager emerged up the stairway. He carried a large
newspaper parcel in his hands. Jenny looked in amazement at the fat,
florid face of the big man. The incongruity of this great big, noisy
individual calling on the dear, quiet little professor was too much for
her and she went away wondering.
Say, profess'! bawled he of the large diamond; if the freak that
runs this joint don't put some one on the door, one of these days
she'll get her props pinched.
Von Barwig bowed. He had not the slightest idea what Mr. Costello
was talking about, but he knew it was advice of some sort and that he
must appear to be grateful.
After shaking hands with Von Barwig and making a few passing
inquiries as to the night professor's health Mr. Costello came to the
direct object of his visit.
The members of my bloomin', blink house, began Mr. Costello in his
most ponderous manner, want me to present you with thisertoken, as
a memento and a souvenir and a memorial of the occasion, in which our
night professor gave us the grand shake, or words to that effect. I
can't remember the exact hinkey dink they gave me; but, professor, it
amounts to this, and Mr. Costello unwrapped the parcel he had so
carefully brought upstairs with him. This loving cup is a token of the
regard and esteem in which you are held by us in general, and me and my
wife in particular. And I can tell you my wife is particular, very
particular, added Mr. Costello sententiously. Here, take it! and the
Bowery Museum proprietor thrust a large pewter water pitcher into Von
The old man was quite surprised and not a little affected. This new
proof of the affection of the poor, unfortunate creatures who made
their afflictions the means of earning their livelihood touched him to
the very heart, and for a moment he was unable to find words to express
Mr. Costello lit a cigar.
Von Barwig looked at the water pitcher and then at Costello and
began: Mr. Costello, andand he paused.
Freaks, prompted Costello.
No, no! interposed Von Barwig quickly. No, not freaks! Ladies and
gentlemen of the Curio Salon.
Very neatly put, but they'd get a swelled head if they heard it,
broke in Costello, puffing on his cigar.
I accept your gift withwith greatgreat pleasure, went on Von
Barwig; with more pleasure than I can say!
Drink hearty and often, said Costello loudly. May it never be
empty! Say, profess', the fat woman's all broke up; honest, she liked
you! and the big man roared with laughter at the bare idea of the
stout lady's sorrow.
The midgets, inquired Von Barwig. How is their health?
You couldn't kill 'em with an axe! replied Costello.
And 'eat 'em alive!' She is still eating 'em, eh? inquired Von
Barwig with a slight smile.
She does nothing but eat! Ah! she gives me a pain; she's a
four-flush! growled the Museum proprietor. She don't make good!
Tell them, I have grown fond of them all, and Ipart from them
with regret, deep regret! They have kind hearts. Ah, there are many
kind hearts in this world, and Von Barwig sighed deeply.
Costello looked at him and shook his head slowly: the man was
touched. That any one could express anything like affection or
sentiment for the poor creatures in his curiously assorted collection
was a marvel to him.
Put it there, profess', he said, and held out his hand to Von
Barwig. You're all right, profess'; you're all right, and your job is
always open for you, rain or shine, summer or winter! You can always
come backgood or bad bizthe job is yours for the askin'. There
ain't nobody that can touch you in your line; and you're all to the
good at that! Good-bye, profess', and shaking Von Barwig's hand
heartily the big man went away, leaving the object of his praises
standing alone, deep in thought.
His reverie was interrupted by the sound of a slight scream. It was
Miss Husted. She had met Mr. Costello on the stairway, and that
gentleman had frightened her by playfully poking her in the ribs and
bursting into a loud laugh.
Von Barwig hastily put the water pitcher into his trunk.
What a rude man! declared Miss Husted, as she came into the room,
holding Skippy in one hand and a dish of hot steak and potatoes in the
other. Well, professor she said with her sweetest smile, if
Mahomet won't come to the breakfast, the breakfast must come to
Mahomet! There's some hot coffee downstairs, oh, I see you have some,
she said, as she looked at the coffee pot on the stove; come now, sit
down and eat!
Von Barwig meekly obeyed her. In his excitement he had forgotten
that he had not tasted a mouthful that day. He did not know how hungry
he was until he sat down to the steaming hot coffee and the excellent
little steak and potatoes furnished by Miss Husted. If she furnished
the professor with food for the body, she also furnished him with food
for the mind, for the dear good lady talked, and talked, and talked.
Fortunately Von Barwig was a good listener; that is, he had the faculty
of thinking of something else than what was being said. He had always
been the repository for all her troubles, but until to-day she had
never gone so far as to confess to him the reasons why she had never
married, and would never marry, not if the last man in the world asked
her. She told him of her first engagement and how it had resulted
disastrously, how she had loaned the object of her affections large
sums of money, until finally he ran away, leaving her penniless, and
she had been compelled to work for a living. Von Barwig was very
sympathetic that morning and it was this sympathy which drew her out.
We live too much in the past, you and I, said Von Barwig. Then,
after a pause, he added: I, too, have had a loss. You live in your
loss, I in mine. We remember what we should forget and we forget what
we should remember. We must turn to the present, the here, and the now;
the living claims our attention, not the dead. What is gone before is
over and done with. Have done with it. The memory of the past kills the
present and the future. It never cures it. Ah, dear lady, live in the
present; it's your only chance of happiness. Jenny, August Poons, they
are the present! Live in them, don't discount their happiness, your own
happiness, by waiting for some impossible future for your niece. It is
in them, my dear friend, you will find happiness. It is in them you
will find affection and love. It is in their joy you will find joy;
their children shall be your children. Don't deny yourself that
Miss Husted was silent for a long while. Von Barwig took her hand in
his, speaking in a low, gentle voice. It is the last request I make
before I go to-morrow!
Before you go! cried Miss Husted. Why, where are you going?
Von Barwig still held her hand tenderly clasped in his. He looked at
her sadly, but made no answer.
Professor! she gasped, and then for the first time she noticed
that his trunk was outside his room; packed, ready to go.
You're going away? she wailed pathetically. You're going away?
The tears came to her eyes. Where, where are you going? she asked in
a tone of entreaty. Where? Where?
Home, he replied simply.
Home? she repeated tearfully.
Home, back to Leipsic. My life here is over. I should have gone
months ago, but I waited to see a dear, dear pupil married. What I have
come for is accomplished, and now I go back; my mission is ended. See,
I have bought my ticket, and Von Barwig brought out his ticket to show
Miss Husted was fairly stunned. She could only look at him in
Look! see my ticket, repeated Von Barwig, handing it to her to
First-class? she asked plaintively. She always thought for her
dear professor's comfort.
Yes, first-class steamer, he replied.
Why it's a steerage ticket! she said, looking closely at it.
Yes, first-class steerage! Ach, what does it matter? I get there
all right, said Von Barwig. Here is what I owe you, all reckoned up
to the penny! Here, and he thrust a small roll of bills in her hand.
Oh, professor! wailed Miss Husted. It was all she could say. She
did not even realise that he had given her money.
I shall not tell the others until the very last moment. I'll wake
them up before daylight and say good-bye to them. Ah, it is not easy to
see these old friends go out; one by one, like lamps in the dark!
Miss Husted could only gaze at him through her tear-bedimmed eyes
and shake her head mournfully. Von Barwig tried to cheer her.
Come, think of Jenny, of Poons! New thoughts, new life, a new
family! Now I say good-bye to one or two good neighbours, to Galazatti
and the grocer, and the poor old Schneider. I'll be back, I'll be
back, and Von Barwig put on his cloak and rushed off.
How long Miss Husted sat there at the table she never knew; she was
too stunned to think. Going, her dear professor, going! It could not be
true, she would not believe it! But she had seen his steamship ticket
and there was his trunk. She went over to the little portmanteau and
saw that the key was in the lock. She opened it to see if it was packed
properly. She then noticed the little roll of bills in her hand and for
the first time realised that it was his money she had taken. Perhaps
it is his last few dollars, she mourned. She stooped down and secreted
the money in one of the pockets of his Prince Albert coat; then she
closed the lid of the portmanteau. As she did so she burst into a flood
of tears, and giving way completely to her feelings, she knelt by the
little trunk and fairly sobbed as if her heart would break. When Pinac,
Fico and Poons returned to their respective rooms they found her
kneeling by the trunk. When they spoke to her she pretended to be
singing a worn-out ditty of years gone by. It struck the men as being
most tearful for a comic song.
It was some time before Miss Husted had sufficiently recovered
herself to knock at Poons's door and inform him that she had withdrawn
her opposition to his marriage with her niece. How she made herself
understood is one of the mysteries and must remain so, but Poons
understood and felt that she was now his friend. With a boyish shout he
seized her around the neck and hugged her so tightly and kissed her so
fervently that her principal curl came near severing its connection
with the portion of her hair that really and truly belonged to her. It
was not until she had slapped his face several times, and told him she
was to be his aunt and not his sweetheart, that he released her, and
even then he insisted on holding her hand and telling her how much he
loved Jenny. So much noise did the boy make that Pinac and Fico rushed
out of their room to find out what was the matter.
Poons's explanation to them was nearly as lucid as his previous
effort to enlighten Miss Husted. He threw his arms around their necks
and kissed them on both cheeks and danced them around the room. He
pointed to Miss Husted and tried to kiss her again, just to show his
friends the relationship between them, but that good lady had had
enough of Poons's osculatory manifestations and indignantly threatened
to slap him again if he tried to carry on with her! Jenny joined them
and there was more explaining and still more kissing. When Von Barwig
came back he found them all in an uproar congratulating each other in
mixed American and Continental fashion. His presence added to the
general joy. He kissed Jenny tenderly and formally gave her to Poons.
He squeezed Miss Husted's hand in silence as he realised that his
efforts on behalf of the young couple had been successful and he shook
hands with his friends.
It is a day of rejoicing, so let us rejoice! said Von Barwig, as
he emerged from his little room with a violin bow and some music in his
hand. He then took a ring off his finger. Poons, here! This ring was
given me by your father twenty-five years ago. Wear it for my sake! For
you, Pinac, my Mendelssohn Concerto. See, here is Mendelssohn's own
signature! Fico, here is my Tuart bow. It is broken in two places, but
it is a fine bow.
What is all this? asked Pinac.
It is my birthday! replied Von Barwig, slightly at a loss for an
Your birthday is next month, Anton, said Fico.
Well, I celebrate it now! It is my birthday, I celebrate it when I
please. Come, no more questions, let us make this a day of rejoicing!
Come, wish me luck! Your hands in mine, boys, and wish me luck and
They did not understand, but did as he asked them. Miss Husted and
Jenny understood, and they were sad and silent as they watched the men
wish Von Barwig good luck. As they stood there, clasping each other by
the hands and singing one of their glees, Thurza rushed up stairs and
shouted: Some one to see Miss Husted. The good lady invited them all
downstairs to her room to have a glass of wine in honour of the
occasion, and disappeared below stairs, followed by the men. Von Barwig
promised to join them later, but now he wanted to be alone.
After they had gone he seated himself by the stove.
All is finished, he thought. Hélène is married; a happy marriage.
Jenny and Poons are provided for, so my work is done. To-morrow I shall
be here no longer! Leipsic, once more Leipsic. Heimweh, Heimweh!
Although he spoke habitually in English, he thought in the German
language. How strange it all seemed! The music of his last symphony had
been running through his head all morning. He could hear it plainly.
I pick up the pieces of my life where I left off, he mused. Back
to Leipsic I go. How strange it will seem after all these years? Home,
home; the thought soothed him. He was tired out, for he had been awake
since early dawn and the food he had eaten and the warm glow of the
fire on his face made him drowsy. With the music of his last symphony
echoing in his mind, the old man fell asleep.
Without doubt it was one of the largest and most fashionable
weddings ever given in New York's social history. Society attended
en masse, not so much because it was the fashionable thing to do,
as that the young people were great favourites in their world.
The wedding breakfast was a crowded affair, and both Hélène and her
husband were glad when that function was finished, and the business of
receiving congratulations and saying good-byes was over and done with.
The steamer on which they were going to Europe was to sail in three
Let us go early, and escape from our friends, whispered Beverly to
I must have an interview with my father before I go. I must! said
Helen. Then she added in a voice that sounded strangely harsh, He has
avoided me ever since the ceremony!
Beverly Cruger had noticed that Hélène was nervous and emotional,
and he attributed it to the excitement of the moment. But the
deep-drawn lines of her mouth and the stern look in her eye indicated
anger and deep-seated determination, rather than mere excitement.
What is it, darling? he asked tenderly. Can't you trust me?
My father has purposely avoided me, she replied. He knows it is
necessary that I should see him, and Hélène then told her husband of
her recognition of Von Barwig in church. I have mourned for him as one
dead and gone, and when I saw him to-day rising up like a spectre, as
if reproaching me for my neglect, I was terribly overcome. Oh, Beverly,
I can't explain, I don't understand why, but I think of him constantly,
and my heart goes out to him! Even at this moment I am haunted by the
thought of his dear, sweet, gentle smile. Why did my father tell me he
was dead? There is some mystery connected with Herr Von Barwig that I
am determined to find out! You'll help me, won't you? I mean, you'll be
patient with mymy unaccountable anxiety? Beverly nodded.
Of course I will, he said. Aren't you my wife?
Somehow or other, Hélène went on, almost unconscious of Beverly's
presence, I feel sure that he is in some way connected with my mother.
I know you'll think I'm foolish, but whenever I look at her portrait I
think of him. Why should I think of him, unless Hélène
paused. I shall never forget that day, the day I dismissed him. He
stood at the door gazing at her portrait, the tears running down his
cheeks, and oh, such a sad, sad, longing expression on his face! Why
should the sight of my mother's portrait make him cry? What is he to
Beverly shook his head. I wish to God I hadn't sent him away,
moaned Hélène. What is this man to me that even the memory of his face
makes me suffer! To-day of all days I should be happy, but I'm
miserable, miserable, miserable!
If Mr. Stanton knows, he must tell us, declared Beverly
Yes, he shall tell us! echoed Hélène. Let's go to him and demand
You stay here, Hélène! I'll bring him to you.
Three minutes later Beverly had found his father-in-law surrounded
by friends, and had taken him by the arm and led him to Hélène's room.
It was the room in which the old music master had given her lessons on
the piano. Hélène now confronted him; and Beverly going up to her stood
beside her as if to protect his wife.
Why did you tell me he was dead? demanded Hélène. Stanton was
You must tell her, sir, said Beverly. It is necessary for her
peace of mind!
It is necessary for her peace of mind that I remain silent, said
But she is suffering! cried Beverly.
She'll suffer more if I tell her the truth, and Stanton turned to
One moment, sir, and Beverly laid his hand gently on Mr. Stanton's
arm; you must answer, this uncertainty and suspense must come to an
What is he to me? Tell me! entreated Hélène. Father, father,
won't you tell me? for God's sake tell me! and Hélène clasped him by
Tell her, sir, said Beverly in a commanding voice.
II cannot, faltered Stanton; it's impossible!
Then I'll find out from him, cried Hélène. Stanton realised that
he was cornered.
Find out what you please, from whom you please, he said harshly.
We'll go to him; he'll tell us. We should have done that at first,
and Hélène turned to Beverly.
I warn you, you'll bring untold misery on your head! shouted
Stanton. He was infuriated at the idea of his authority being ignored.
We want the truth, the truth! cried Hélène.
Stanton was now beside himself with rage. Then have it; have it!
The words came in short gasps. And pay the price for it! The man is
your father! Now you know the truth; you can get the details from him!
and Stanton went out slamming the door behind him, the same door
through which Von Barwig had gone out in despair the day that Hélène
Herr Von Barwig my father! My father! Hélène sank on her knees and
clasped her hands. She was trembling with joy. Thank God! Thank God!
* * * * * *
As Von Barwig partially awoke from his sleep he became dimly
conscious that he was not alone. Without opening his eyes he realised
where he was, and that he was still sitting by the stove, for he felt
the glare of the fire on his face, and his immediate surroundings were
familiar. The snow on the glass roof above, the portmanteau outside his
bedroom door, packed and ready to go; the broken balustrade at the back
of the hallway, the sink in the corner, the shelf with the lamps on it;
all these familiar objects seemed to be present without his looking
directly at them. But there was something else, for a dim figure
hovered over him like an angel beckoning him to a fairer, happier land;
and the perfume of flowers seemed to fill the room.
I sleep, said Von Barwig to himself, but I shall soon wake, and
thenit will go. Soon the figure began to take form and to his
half-conscious mind it seemed to assume the shape of his dead wife. It
was her face, her figure as he had known her many, many years ago.
Elene, Elene! he murmured, you have come to take me away from
this place. Oh, God, I hope I never wake up!
The figure now stretched out its arms, and seemed to be handing Von
Barwig a bunch of flowers. The old man's eyes were fully opened now,
and, as he gazed up, he recognised the face of his beloved pupil. Then
he knew that he was not sleeping. The dreaming and waking process had
probably occupied but a few seconds of time, but it seemed to Von
Barwig to have lasted many hours. Hélène was looking down at him now as
he sat there, her great blue eyes suffused with tears. She beamed
tenderness and love upon him and her outstretched hand held a bunch of
You didn't seek me out to-day, so I came to you, she said in a
low, tender voice. I have brought you my orange blossoms!
Von Barwig did not speak. Another figure now outlined itself to his
vision and became flesh and bloodthe figure of Beverly Cruger.
It seemed to Von Barwig that young Mr. Cruger looked pale and
What does he know? the old man asked himself. Is he here to find
out? and in that moment he determined to keep his secret.
Hélène waited for Von Barwig to speak, but he remained silent.
You must think it strange that I should call upon you to-day of all
days, she said, shaking her head sadly, and that I should bring
mymy husband with me. She looked around at Beverly and he smiled
approvingly. But I am going away, Herr Von Barwig, and it would be
very sad if we never met again; wouldn't it?
Von Barwig still looked at her sadly, smilingly, but did not speak.
I feel, she went on sadly, I always have felt that you never
meant to see me again. Von Barwig nodded; he dared not trust himself
to speak now.
What does she know? What does she know? he asked himself. Shall
her mother's disgrace fall on her young shoulders as a wedding gift
from me? No, no, no!
Again the girl spoke: I am beginning life all over again; from
to-day, she said.
Ah, that is right! murmured Von Barwig.
We were going to spend our honeymoon in Paris, said Hélène in a
curiously strained voice, for it was all she could do to keep back her
tears; but now we have changed our plans! We are going to the little
town where I was born.
Von Barwig drew a deep breath and nodded. So?
We are going to Leipsic, and Hélène Cruger looked closely,
anxiously, into the old man's face. No sign of recognition was there.
Shall we go? she asked after a pause. He shook his head.
Don't go! he said simply.
Why not? asked Hélène, as if his answer meant a great deal to her.
Leipsic is not aa pleasant place for honeymoons, he replied
That's just whatmymy father said. She was watching him closely
now. The expression on Von Barwig's face was unchanged.
Your father isright, he said finally.
I told him to-day after the service, said Hélène, that we were
going to Leipsic, and he tried to make me promise not to go. When I
refused, he forbade me to go, but he can't forbid me any more; he is
beginning to understand that for the first time to-day. She spoke now
with a deep-rooted sense of injury Von Barwig could only nod. He knew
now that she had made some discovery.
It's so easy to deceive a child, continued Hélène in a voice that
must have betrayed the great depth of her feelings. A child believes
everything you tell it. It will grow up on lies, but when that child is
older and a woman, then the truth comes out! Herr Von Barwig, the truth
comes out! She looked him full in the face, but still there was no
What truth? faltered the old man. He realised now that she knew;
but exactly what did she know?
You ask me that? she said sadly. You, mymyold music master!
A music master who taught you nothing, he said evasively.
Shall I go to Leipsic? asked Hélène.
The old man shook his head. No! he articulated faintly.
Why not? demanded Hélène. There was no reply. And you won't tell
I have told you, faltered Von Barwig.
What have I done, what have I done! cried Hélène, that you won't
claim me? Her voice was now choked with sobs and she no longer made
any effort to restrain them. He wouldn't tell me either; he
referred me to you. What have I done? I have waited and waited and
waited, but you won't speak! You knew me from the first. You must have
known me from the likeness. I was under your roof, you were under mine;
but you wouldn't claim me. There is some disgrace! The old man nodded.
Ah, then it's my mother! cried Hélène.
Your mother? No! No! cried Von Barwig. No! she was an angel; an
angel of goodness, of purity.
Then what are you concealing? cried Hélène; of what are you
ashamed? Of what is he ashamed?
Von Barwig rocked himself in agony, but at last he forced himself to
It's a little story of life, of lovefoolishness; ofof folly.
Ah, it is ended, ended! wailed the old man. It is over and done with.
Why should we bring it out into the daylight when it has slept so long
over there in Leipsic. Surely it has slept itself into silence. No! no!
The secret is buried there in Leipsic. II put these orange blossoms
on its grave! and Von Barwig gently took the flowers from her. I take
them back to Leipsic; a little token of silence she would love.
Now I know why she cried so constantly, sobbed Hélène. She was
thinking of you! She grasped his hand and looked pleadingly into his
face. Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?
Von Barwig shook his head. Silence is best! The marriage is over; I
have the orange blossoms, and the old man kissed them tenderly.
Who giveth this woman to be married to this man? entreated Hélène.
Your husband, what does he say? said Von Barwig, in a low voice.
He felt he could not restrain himself much longer.
Beverly came forward. He says: 'Who giveth this woman to be married
to this man?'
Von Barwig shook his head. The tears were running down his cheeks,
and when he tried to withdraw his hand from hers Hélène refused to let
Who giveth this woman to be married to this man? she said
Von Barwig could restrain himself no longer. Well, perhaps I do,
he said in a voice trembling with emotion; perhaps I do! Taking her
in his arms, he kissed her again and again.
At last, at last! My little Elene! My little babymy little baby!
Father, father! was all Hélène could say. Beverly looked out of
Now we mend that doll with the broken eye, said the old man,
gulping down a sob and smiling through his tears.
Yes, father, and Hélène took his face between her two hands.
Say it again! he murmured. It is the sound I have listened for
these sixteen years.
Father! repeated Hélène.
Beverly looked at his watch. The steamer leaves in less than an
hour, he said. How long will it take you to pack? he asked. You are
going with us now, father, he added, patting the old man on the back
and shaking him by the hand. Von Barwig seemed dazed.
Come, father, pleaded Hélène, no foolish pride! My home is your
home after this. Now don't hesitate!
Hesitate? I, hesitate? and rushing to the stairway the old man
shouted loudly for Miss Husted. Poons was just coming up the stairs to
find out why Von Barwig didn't come down to drink Jenny's health. Von
Barwig gave him a message which brought them all up in breathless
Mr. and Mrs. Cruger had gone below, and Von Barwig had finished
packing and was locking his portmanteau as his friends stood around
begging him to tell them why he was going and where.
I go on a honeymoon, he said, and they all laughed. I go home,
he added. No cruel farewells, no sad partings! Jenny will tell you. I
am called away. Sit down, all of you, where you always sit. Fico, your
mandolin; Pinac, your violin! Poons, your 'cello! They did as he asked
them, So, now! Play, sing, be happy, just as always! Come, the old
dinner song we always sang; let it ring in my ears as I go! Though
their hearts were heavy, they burst into their oft-sung glee, Miss
Husted and Jenny joining in the chorus.
So, so! murmured the old man, beating time and smiling approval.
I want to go away seeing you all happy, as happy as I am, smiling,
You will come back? whispered Jenny as the old man kissed her
I come back, he said gently, I come back! Good-bye, good-bye all
of you! Yes, I come back, I come back, and Anton Von Barwig
disappeared down the stairs and out of their lives. His eyes were still
wet with tears as he took his seat in the carriage. Hélène dried them
with a beautiful Duchesse lace handkerchief.
Don't cry, father, she pleaded.
Ach, I don't cry! said the old man as he patted her hand. II
he hesitated. When I think of the many, many kind hearts in this
worldII just feel happy, that's all!