Paul Patoff


THE professor pushed aside the heavy curtain, and we entered a small room, simply furnished with a couple of tables, a bookcase, one or two easy-chairs, and a divan. The walls were dark, and the color of the curtains and carpet was a dark green, but two large lamps illuminated every corner of the apartment. At one of the tables a middle-aged woman sat reading; as we entered she looked up at us, and I saw that she was one of the nurses in charge of Madame Patoff. She wore a simple gown of dark material, and upon her head a dainty cap of French appearance was pinned, with a certain show of taste. The nurse had a kindly face and quiet eyes, accustomed, one would think, to look calmly upon sights which would astonish ordinary people. Her features were strongly marked, but gentle in expression and somewhat pale, and as she sat facing us, her large white hands were folded together on the foot of the open page, with an air of resolution that seemed appropriate to her character. She rose deliberately to her feet, as we came forward, and I saw that she was short, though when seated I should have guessed her to be tall.

“ Mrs. North,” said the professor, “this is my friend Mr. Griggs, who formerly knew Madame Patoff. I have hopes that she may recognize him. Can we see her now ? ”

“ If you will wait one moment,” answered Mrs. North, “ I will see whether you may go in.” Her voice was like herself, calm and gentle, but with a ring of strength and determination in it that was very attractive. She moved to the door opposite to the one by which we had entered, and opened it cautiously; after looking in, she turned and beckoned to us to advance. We went in, and she softly closed the door behind us.

I shall never forget the impression made upon me when I saw Madame Patoff. She was tall, and, though she was much over fifty years of age, her figure was erect and commanding, slight, but of good proportion ; whether by nature, or owing to her mental disease, it seemed as though she had escaped the effects of time, and had she concealed her hair with a veil she might easily have passed for a woman still young. Mary Carvel had been beautiful, and was beautiful still in a matronly, old-fashioned way; Hermione was beautiful after another and a smaller manner, slender and delicate and lovely ; but Madame Patoff belonged to a very different category. She was on a grander scale, and in her dark eyes there was room for deeper feeling than in the gentle looks of her sister and niece. One could understand how in her youth she had braved the opposition of father and mother and sisters, and had married the brilliant Russian, and had followed him to the ends of the earth during ten years, through peace and through war, till he died. One could understand how some great trouble and despair, which would send a duller, gentler soul to prayers and sad meditations, might have driven this grand, passionate creature to the very defiance of all despair and trouble, into the abyss of a self-sought death. I shuddered when I remembered that I had seen this very woman suspended in mid-air, her life depending on the slender strength of a wild cherry tree upon the cliff side. I had seen her, and yet had not seen her ; for the sudden impression of that terrible moment bore little or no relation to the calmer view of the present time.

Madame Patoff stood before us, dressed in a close-fitting gown of black velvet, closed at the throat with a clasp of pearls ; her thick hair, just turning gray, was coiled in masses low behind her head, drawn back in long broad waves on each side, in the manner of the Greeks. Her features, slightly aquiline and strongly defined, wore an expression of haughty indifference, not at all like the stolid stare which John Carvel had described to me, and though her dark eyes gazed upon us without apparent recognition, their look was not without intelligence. She had been walking up and down in the long drawing-room where we found her, and she had paused in her walk as we entered, standing beneath a chandelier which carried five lamps; there were others upon the wall, high up on brackets and beyond her reach. There Avas no fireplace, but the air was very warm, heated, I suppose, by some concealed apparatus. The furniture consisted of deep chairs, lounges and divans of every description ; three or four bookcases were filled with books, and there were many volumes piled in a disorderly fashion upon the different tables, and some lay upon the floor beside a cushioned lounge, which looked as though it were the favorite restingplace of the inmate of the apartment. At first sight it seemed to me that few precautions were observed; the nurse was seated in an outer apartment, and Madame Patoff was quite alone and free. But the room where she was left was so constructed that she could do herself no harm. There was no fire ; the lamps were all out of reach ; the windows were locked, and she could only go out by passing through the antechamber where the nurse was watching. There was a singular lack of all those little objects which encumbered the drawing-room of Carvel Place ; there was not a bit of porcelain nor glass, nor a paper-knife, nor any kind of metal object. There were a few pictures upon the walls, and the walls themselves were hung with a light gray material, that looked like silk and brilliantly reflected the strong light, making an extraordinary background for Madame Patoff’s figure, clad as she was in black velvet and white lace.

We stood before her, Cutter and I, for several seconds, watching for some change of expression in her face. He had hoped that my sudden appearance would arouse a memory in her disordered mind. I understood his anxiety, but it appeared to me very unlikely that when she failed to recognize him she should remember me. For some moments she gazed upon me, and then a slight flush rose to her pale cheeks, her fixed stare wavered, and her eyes fell. I could hear Cutter’s long-drawn breath of excitement. She clasped her hands together and turned away, resuming her walk. It was strange, — perhaps she really remembered.

“ He saved your life in Weissenstein,” said Cutter, in loud, clear tones. “ You ought to thank him for it, — you never did.”

The unhappy woman paused in her walk, stood still, then came swiftly towards us, and again paused. Her face had changed completely in its expression. Her teeth were closely set together, and her lip curled in scorn, while a dark flush overspread her pale face, and her hands twisted each other convulsively.

“ Do you remember Weissenstein ? ” asked the professor, in the same incisive voice, and through his round glasses he fixed his commanding glance upon her. But as he looked her eyes grew dull, and the blush subsided from her cheek. With a low, short laugh she turned away.

I started. I had forgotten the laugh behind the latticed wall, and if I had found time to reflect I should have known, from what John Carvel had told me, that it could have come from no one but the mad lady, who had been walking in the garden with her nurse, on that bright evening. It was the same low, rippling sound, silvery and clear, and it came so suddenly that I was startled. I thought that the professor sighed as he heard it. It was, perhaps, a strong evidence of insanity. In all my life of wandering and various experience I have chanced to be thrown into the society of but one insane person besides Madame Patoff. That was a curious case : a hardy old sea-captain, who chanced to make a fortune upon the New York stock exchange, and went stark mad a few weeks later. His madness seemed to come from elation at his success, and it was very curious to watch its progress, and very sad. He was a strong man, and in all his active life had never touched liquor nor tobacco. Nothing but wealth could have driven him out of his mind, but within two months of his acquiring a fortune he was confined in an asylum, and within the year he died of softening of the brain. I only mention this to show you that I had had no experience of insanity worth speaking of before I met Madame Patoff. I knew next to nothing of the signs of the disease.

Madame Patoff turned away, and crossed the room ; then she sank down upon the lounge which I have described as surrounded with books, and, taking a volume in her hand, she began to read, with the utmost unconcern.

“ Come,” said the professor, “ we may as well go.”

“ Wait a minute,” I suggested. “ Stay where you are.” Cutter looked at me, and shrugged his shoulders.

“ You can’t do any harm,” he replied, indifferently. “ I think she has a faint remembrance of you.”

You know I can speak the Russian language fairly well, for I have lived some time in the country. It had struck me, while I was waiting in the study, that it would be worth while to try the effect of a remark in a tongue with which Madame Patoff had been familiar for over thirty years. I went quietly up to the couch where she was lying, and spoke to her.

“ I am sorry I saved your life, since you wished to die,” I said, in a low voice, in Russian. " Forgive me.”

Madame Patoff started violently, and her white hands closed upon her book with such force that the strong binding bent and cracked. Cutter could not have seen this, for I was between him and her. She looked up at me, and fixed her dark eyes on mine. There was a great sadness in them, and at the same time a certain terror, but she did not speak. However, as I had made an im pression, I addressed her again in the same language.

“ Do you remember seeing Paul today ? ” I asked.

“ Paul ? ” she repeated, in a soft, sad voice that seemed to stir the heart into sympathy. “ Paul is dead.”

I thought it might have been her husband’s name as well as her son’s.

“ I mean your son. He was with you to-day ; you were unkind to him.”

“ Was I ? ” she asked. “ I have no son.” Still her eyes gazed into mine as though searching for something, and as I looked I thought the tears rose in them and trembled, but they did not overflow. I was profoundly surprised. They had told me that she had no memory for any one, and yet she seemed to have told me that her husband was dead, — if indeed his name had been Paul, — and although she said she had no son, her tears rose at the mention of him. Probably for the very reason that I had not then had any experience of insane persons, the impression formed itself in my mind that this poor lady was not mad, after all. It seemed madness on my own part to doubt the evidence before me, — the evidence of attendants trained to the duty of watching lunatics, the assurances of a man who had grown famous by studying diseases of the brain as Professor Cutter had, the unanimous opinion of Madame Patoff s family. How could they all be mistaken? Besides, she might have been really mad, and she might be now recovering; this might be one of her first lucid moments. I hardly knew how to continue, but I was so much interested by her first answers that I felt I must say something.

“ Why do you say you have no son ? He is here in the house ; you have seen him to-day. Your son is Paul Patoff. He loves you, and has come to see you.”

Again the low, silvery laugh came rippling from her lips. She let the book fall from her hands upon her lap, and leaned far back upon the couch.

“ Why do you torment me so ? ” she asked. “ I tell you I have no son.” Again she laughed, — less sweetly than before. “ Why do you torment me ? ”

“ I do not want to torment you. I will leave you. Shall I come again ? ”

“ Again ? ” she repeated, vacantly, as though not understanding. But as I stood beside her I moved a little, and I thought her eyes rested on the figure of the professor, standing at the other end of the room, and her face expressed dislike of him, while her answer to me was a meaningless repetition of my own word.

“ Yes,” I said. “Shall I come again ?

Do you like to talk Russian ? ” This time she said nothing, but her eyes remained fixed upon the professor. “ I am going,” I added. “ Good-by.”

She looked up suddenly. I bowed to her, out of habit, I suppose. Do people generally bow to insane persons ? To my surprise, she put out her hand and took mine, and shook it, in the most natural way imaginable; but she did not answer me. Just as I was turning from her she spoke again.

“ Who are you ? ” she asked in English.

“ My name is Griggs,” I replied, and lingered to see if she would say more. But she laughed again, — very little this time, — and she took up the book she had dropped and began to read.

Cutter smiled, too, as we left the room. I glanced back at the graceful figure of the gray-haired woman, extended upon her couch. She did not look up, and a moment later Cutter and I stood again in the antechamber. The professor slowly rubbed his hands together, — his gigantic hands, modeled by nature for dealing with big things. Mrs. North rose from her reading.

“ I have an idea that our patient has recognized this gentleman,” said the scientist. “ This has been a remarkably eventful day. She is probably very tired, and if you could induce her to go to bed it would be a very good thing, Mrs. North. Good-evening.”

“Good-evening,” I said. Mrs. North made a slight inclination with her head, in answer to our salutation. I pushed aside the heavy curtain, and we went out. Cutter had a pass-key to the heavy door in the passage, and opened it and closed it noiselessly behind us. I felt as though I had been in a dream, as we emerged into the dimly lighted great hall, where a huge fire burned in the old-fashioned fireplace, and Fang, the white deerhound, lay asleep upon the thick rug.

“ And now, Mr. Griggs,” said the professor, stopping short and thrusting his hands into his pockets, “ will you tell me what she said to you, and whether she gave any signs of intelligence ? ” He faced me very sharply, as though to disconcert me by the suddenness of his question. It was a habit he had.

“ She said very little,” I replied. “ She said that ‘ Paul ’ was dead. Was that her husband’s name as well as her son’s ? ”

“ Yes. What else ? ”

“ She told me she had no son ; and when I reminded her that she had seen him that very afternoon, she laughed and answered, ‘I tell you I have no son, — why do you torment me ? ’ She said all that in Russian. As I was going away you heard her ask me who I was, in English. My name appeared to amuse her.”

“ Yes,” assented Cutter, with a smile. “ Was that all ? ”

“That was all she said,” I answered, with perfect truth. Somehow I did not care to tell the professor of the look I thought I had seen in her face when her eyes rested on him. In the first place, as he was doing his best to cure her, it seemed useless to tell him that I thought she disliked him. It might have been only my imagination. Besides, that nameless, undefined suspicion had crossed my brain that Madame Patoff was not really mad ; and though her apparently meaningless words might have been interpreted to mean something in connection with her expression of face in speaking, it was all too vague to be worth detailing. I had determined that I would see her again, and see her alone, before long. I might then make some discovery, or satisfy myself that she was really insane.

“Well,” observed the professor, “it looks as though she remembered her husband’s death, at all events; and if she remembers that, she has the memory of her own identity, which is something in such cases. I think she faintly recognized you. That flush that came into her face was there when she saw her son this afternoon, so far as I can gather from Carvel’s description. I wish they had waited for me. This remark about her son is very curious, too. It is more like a monomania than anything we have had yet. It is like a fixed idea in character ; she certainly is not sane enough to have meant it ironically, — to have meant that Paul Patoff is not a son to her while thinking only of the other one who is dead. Did she speak Russian fluently ? She has not spoken it for more than eighteen months, — perhaps longer.”

“ She speaks it perfectly,” I replied.

“ What strange tricks this brain of ours will play us ! ” exclaimed the professor. “ Here is a woman who has forgotten every circumstance of her former life, has forgotten her friends and relations, and is puzzling us all with her extraordinary lack of memory, and who, nevertheless, remembers fluently the forms and expressions of one of the most complicated languages in the world. At the same time we do not think that she remembers what she reads. I wish we could find out. She acts like a person who has had an injury to some part of the head which has not affected the rest. But then, she never received any injury, to my knowledge.”

“ Not even when she fell at Weissenstein ? ”

“ Not the least. I made a careful examination.”

“ I do not see that we are likely to arrive at a conclusion by any amount of guessing,” I remarked. “ Nothing but time and experiments will show what is the matter with her.”

“ I have not the time, and I cannot invent the experiments,” replied the professor, impatiently. “ I have a great mind to advise Carvel to put her into an asylum, and have done with all this sort of thing.”

“ He will never consent to do that,” I answered. “ He evidently believes that she is recovering. I could see it in his face this evening. What do the nurses think of it ? ”

“ Mrs. North never says anything very encouraging, excepting that she has taken care of many insane women before, and remembers no case like this. She is a famous nurse, too. Those people, from their constant daily experience, sometimes understand things that we specialists do not. But on the other hand, she is so taciturn and cautious that she can hardly be induced to speak at all. The other woman is younger and more enthusiastic, but she has not half so much sense.”

I was silent. I was thinking that, according to all accounts, I had been more successful than any one hitherto, and that a possible clue to Madame Patoff’s condition might be obtained by encouraging her to speak in her adopted language. Perhaps something of the sort crossed the professor’s mind.

“ Would you like to see her again ? ” he inquired. “It will be interesting to know whether this return of memory is wholly transitory. She recognized her son to-day, and I think she had some recognition of you. You might both see her again to-morrow, and discover if the same symptoms present themselves.”

“ I should be glad to go again,” I replied. “ But if I can be of any service, it seems to me that I ought to be informed of the circumstances which led to her insanity. I might have a better chance of rousing her attention.”

“Carvel will never consent to that,” said the professor, shortly, and he looked away from me as I spoke.

I was about to ask whether Cutter himself was acquainted with the whole story, when Fang, the dog, who had taken no notice whatever of our presence in the hall, suddenly sprang to his feet, and trotted across the floor, wagging his tail. He had recognized the tread of his mistress, and a moment later Hermione entered and came towards us.

Hermione did not like the professor very much, and the professor knew it; for he was a man of quick and intuitive perceptions, who had a marvelous understanding of the sympathies and antipathies of those with whom he was thrown. He sniffed the air rather discontentedly as the young girl approached, and he looked at his watch.

“ Fang has good ears, Miss Carvel,” said he. “ He knew your step before you came in.”

“Yes,” answered Hermione, seating herself in one of the deep chairs by the fireside, and caressing the dog’s head as he laid his long muzzle upon her knee. “ Poor Fang, you know your friends, don’t you ? Mr. Griggs, this new collar is always unfastening itself. I believe you have bewitched it ! See, here it is falling off again.”

I bent down to examine the lock. The professor was not interested in the dog nor his collar, and, muttering something about speaking to Carvel before he went to bed, he left us.

“ I could not stay in there,” said Hermione. “ Aunt Chrysophrasia is talking to cousin Paul in her usual way. and Macaulay has got into a corner with mamma, so that I was left alone. Where have you been all this time ? ”

“ I have heard about what you could not tell me,” I answered. “ I have been to see Madame Patoff with the professor.”

“Not really? Oh, I am so glad! Now I can always talk to you about it. Did papa tell you ? Why did he want you to go ? ”

I briefly explained the circumstances of my seeing Madame Patoff in the Black Forest, and the hope that was entertained of her recognizing me.

“ Do you ever go in to see her, Miss Carvel ? ” I asked.

“ Sometimes. They do not like me to go,” said she ; “ they think it is too depressing for me. I cannot tell why. Poor dear aunt! she used to be glad to see me. Is not it dreadfully sad ? Can you imagine a man, who has just seen his mother in such a condition, behaving as Paul Patoff behaves this evening ? He talks as if nothing had happened.”

“No, I cannot imagine it. I suppose he does not want to make everybody feel badly about it.”

“ Mr. Griggs, is she really mad ? ” asked Hermione, in a low voice, leaning forward and clasping her hands.

“Why,” I began, very much surprised, “ does anybody doubt that she is insane ? ”

“ I do,” said the young girl, decidedly. “ I do not believe she is any more insane than you and I are.”

“ That is a very bold thing to say,” I objected, “when a man of Professor Cutter’s reputation in those things says that she is crazy, and gives up so much time to visiting her.”

“ All the same,” said Hermione, “ I do not believe it. I am sure people sometimes try to kill themselves without being insane, and that is all it rests on.”

“ But she has never recognized any one since that,” I urged.

“ Perhaps she is ashamed,” suggested my companion, simply.

I was struck by the reply. It was such a simple idea that it seemed almost foolish. But it was a woman’s thought about another woman, and it had its value. I laughed a little, but I answered seriously enough.

“ Why should she be ashamed ? ”

“ It seems to me,” said the young girl, “ that if I had done something very foolish and wicked, like trying to kill myself, and if people took it for granted that I was crazy, I would let them believe it, because I should be too much ashamed of myself to allow that I had consciously done anything so bad. Perhaps that is very silly ; do you think so ? ”

“ I do not think it is silly,” I replied. “ It is a very original idea.”

“Well, I will tell you something. Soon after she was first brought here I used to go and see her more often than I do now. She interested me so much.

I was often alone with her. She never answered any questions, but she would sometimes let me read aloud to her. I do not know whether she understood anything I read, but it soothed her, and occasionally she would go to sleep while I was reading. One day I was sitting quite quietly beside her, and she looked at me very sadly, as though she were thinking of somebody she had loved, — I cannot tell why; and without thinking I looked at her, and said, ’ Dear aunt Annie, tell me, you are not really mad, are you ? ’ Then she turned very pale and began to cry, so that I was frightened, and called the nurse, and went away. I never told anybody, because it seemed so foolish of me, and I thought I had been unkind, and had hurt her feelings. But after that she did not seem to want to see me when I came, and so I have thought a great deal about it. Do you see ? Perhaps there is not much connection.”

“ I think you ought to have told some one; your father, for instance,” I said. “It is very interesting.”

“ I have told you, though it is so long since it happened,” she answered ; and then she added, quickly, " Shall you tell Professor Cutter ? ”

“ No,” I replied, after a moment’s hesitation, “ I do not think I shall. Should you like me to tell him ? ”

“ Oh, no,” she exclaimed quickly, “ I should much rather you would not.”

“ Why ? ” I inquired. “ I agree with you, but I should like to know your reason.”

“ I think Professor Cutter knows more already than he will tell you or me ” — She checked herself, and then continued in a lower voice : “ It is prejudice, of course, but I do not like him. I positively cannot bear the sight of him.”

“ I fancy he knows that you do not like him,” I remarked. “ Tell me, Miss Carvel, do you know anything of the reason why Madame Patoff became insane ? If you do know, you must not tell me what it was, because your father does not wish me to hear it. But I should like to be sure whether you know all about it, or not; whether you and I judge her from the same point of view, or whether you are better instructed than I am.”

“ I know nothing about it,” said Hermione, quietly.

She sat gazing into the great fire, one small hand supporting her chin, and the other resting upon the sharp white head of Fang, who never moved from her knee. There was a pause, during which we were both wondering what strange circumstance could have brought the unhappy woman to her present condition, whether it were that of real or of assumed insanity.

“ I do not know,” she repeated, at last. " I wish I did, but I suppose it was something too dreadful to be told. There are such dreadful things in the world, you know.”

“Yes, I know there are,” I answered, gravely; and in truth I was persuaded that the prime cause must have been extraordinary indeed, since even John Carvel had said that he could not tell me.

“ There are such dreadful things,” Hermione said again. “ Just think how horrible it would be if ” — She stopped short, and blushed crimson in the ruddy firelight.

“ What ? ” I asked. But she did not answer, and I saw that the idea had pained her, whatever it might be. Presently she turned the phrase so as to make it appear natural enough.

“ What a horrible thing it would be if we found that poor aunt Annie only let us believe she was mad, because she had done something she was sorry for, and would not own it! ”

“ Dreadful indeed,” I replied. Hermione rose from her deep chair.

“ Good-night, Mr. Griggs,” she said.

“ I hope we may all understand everything some day.”

“ Good-night, Miss Carvel.”

“ How careful you are of the formalities ! ” she said, laughing. “ How two years change everything! It, used to be ‘ Good-night, Hermy,’ so short a time ago ! ”

“ Good-night, Hermy,” I said, laughing, too, as she took my hand. “ If you are old enough to be called Miss Carvel, I am old enough to call you Hermy still.”

“ Oh, I did not mean that,” she said, and went away.

I sat a few minutes by the fire after she had gone, and then, fearing lest I should be disturbed by the professor or John Carvel, I too left the hall, and went to my own room, to think over the events of the day. I had learned so much that I was confused, and needed rest and leisure to reflect. That morning I had waked with a sensation of unsatisfied curiosity. All I had wanted to discover had been told me before bedtime, and more also; and now I was unpleasantly aware that this very curiosity was redoubled, and that, having been promoted from knowing nothing to knowing something, I felt I had only begun to guess how much there was to be known.

Oh, this interest in other people’s business ! How grand and beautiful and simple a thing it is to mind one’s own affairs, and leave other people to mind what concerns them! And yet I defy the most indifferent man alive to let himself be put in my position, and not to feel curiosity; to be taken into a half confidence of the most intense interest, and not to desire exceedingly to be trusted with the remainder ; to be asked to consider and give an opinion upon certain effects, and to be deliberately informed that he may never know the causes which led to the results he sees.

On mature reflection, what had struck me as most remarkable in connection with the whole matter was Hermione’s simple, almost childlike guess, — that Madame Patoff was ashamed of something, and was willing to be considered insane, rather than let it be thought she was in possession of her faculties at the time when she did the deed, whatever it might be. That this was a conceivable hypothesis there was no manner of doubt, only I could hardly imagine what action, apart from the poor woman’s attempt at suicide, could have been so serious as to persuade her to act insanity for the rest of her life. Surely John Carvel, with his great, kind heart, would not be unforgiving. But John Carvel might not have been concerned in the matter at all. He spoke of knowing the details and being unable to tell them to me, but he never said they concerned any one but Madame Patoff.

Strange that Hermione should not know, either. Whatever the details were, they were not fit for her young ears. It was strange, too, that she should have conceived an antipathy for the professor. He was a man who was generally popular, or who at least had the faculty of making himself acceptable when he chose ; but it was perfectly evident that the scientist and the young girl disliked each other. There was more in it than appeared upon the surface. Innocent young girls do not suddenly contract violent prejudices against elderly and inoffensive men who do not weary them or annoy them in some way ; still less do men of large intellect and experience take unreasoning and foolish dislikes to young and beautiful maidens. We know little of the hidden sympathies and antipathies of the human heart, but we know enough to say with certainty that in broad cases the average human being will not, without cause, act wholly in contradiction to the dictates of reason and the probabilities of human nature.

I lay awake long that night, and for many nights afterwards, trying to explain to myself these problems, and planning ways and means for discovering whether or not the beautiful old lady down-stairs was in her right mind, or was playing a shameful and wicked trick upon the man who sheltered her. But though other events followed each other with rapidity, it was long before I got at the truth and settled the question. Whether or not I was right in wishing to pursue the secret to its ultimate source and explanation, I leave you to judge. I will only say that, although I was at first impelled by what seems now a wretched and worthless curiosity, I found, as time went on, that there was such a multiplicity of interests at stake, that the complications were so singular and unexpected and the passions aroused so masterful and desperate, that, being in the fight, I had no choice but to fight it to the end. So I did my very best in helping those to whom I owed allegiance by all the laws of hospitality and gratitude, and in concentrating my whole strength and intelligence and activity in the discovery of an evil which I suspected from the first to be very great, but of which I was far from realizing the magnitude and extent. You will forgive my thus speaking of myself, and this apology for my doings at this stage of my story; but I am aware that my motives hitherto may have appeared contemptible, and I am anxious to have you understand that when I found myself suddenly placed in what I regard as one of the most extraordinary situations of my life, I honestly put my hand out, and strove to become an agent for good in that strange series of events into which my poor curiosity had originally brought me. And having thus explained and expressed myself in concluding what I may regard as the first part of my story, I promise that I will not trouble you again, dear lady, with any unnecessary asseverations of my good faith, nor with any useless defense of my actions; conceiving that although I am responsible to you for the telling of this tale, I am answerable to many for the part I played in the circumstances here related ; and that, on the other hand, though no one can find much fault with me for my doings, none but you will have occasion to criticise my mode of telling them.

Henceforth, therefore, and to the end, I will speak of events which happened from an historical point of view, frequently detailing conversations in which I took no part and scenes of which I had not at the time any knowledge, and only introducing myself in the first person when the nature of the story requires it.


One might perhaps define the difference between Professor Cutter and Paul Patoff by saying that the Russian endeavored to make a favorable impression upon people about him, and then to lead them on by means of the impression he had created, whereas the scientist enjoyed feeling that he had a hidden power over his surroundings, while he allowed people to think that he was only blunt and outspoken. Essentially, there was between the two men the difference that exists between a diplomatist and a conspirator. Patoff loved to appear brilliant, to talk well, to be liked by everybody, and to accomplish everything by persuasion ; he seemed to enjoy the world and his position in it, and it was part of his plan of life to acknowledge his little vanities, and to make others feel that they need only take a sufficient prido in themselves to become as shining lights in the social world as Paul Patoff. At a small cost to himself, he favored the general opinion in regard to his eccentricity, because the reputation of it gave him a certain amount of freedom he would not otherwise have enjoyed. He undertook many obligations, in his constant readiness to be agreeable to all men, and perhaps, if he had not reserved to himself the liberty of some occasional repose, he would have found the burden of his responsibilities intolerable. It was his maxim that one should never appear to refuse anything to any one, and it is no easy matter to do that, especially when it is necessary never to neglect an opportunity of gaining an advantage for one’s self. For the whole aim of Patoff’s policy at that time was selfish. He believed that he possessed the secret of power in his own indomitable will, and he cultivated the science of persuasion, until he acquired an infinite art in adapting the means to the end. Every kind of knowledge served him, and though his mind was perhaps not really profound, it was far from being superficial, and the surface of it which he presented when he chose was vast. It was impossible to speak of any question of history, science, ethics, or æsthetics of which Patoff was ignorant, and his information on most points was more than sufficient to help him in artfully indorsing the opinions of those about him. He was full of tact. It was impossible to make him disagree with any one, and yet he was so skillful in his conversation that he was generally thought to have a very sound judgment. His system was substantially one of harmless flattery, and he never departed from it. He reckoned on the unfathomable vanity of man, and he rarely was out in his reckoning; he counted upon woman’s admiration of dominating characters, and was not disappointed, for women respected him, and were proportionately delighted when he asked their opinion.

In this, as in all other things, the professor was the precise opposite of the diplomatist. Cutter affected an air of sublime simplicity, and cultivated a straightforward bluntness of expression which was not without weight. He prided himself on saying at once that he either had an opinion upon a subject, or had none ; and if he chanced to have formed any judgment he was hot in its support. His intellect was really profound within the limits he had chosen for his activity, and his experience of mankind was varied and singular. He was a man who cared little for detail, except when details tended to elucidate the whole, for his first impressions were accurate and large. With his strong and sanguine nature he exhibited a rough frankness appropriate to his character. He was strong-handed, strong-minded, and strong-tongued; a man who loved to rule others, and who made no secret of it; impatient of contradiction when he stated his views, but sure never to assume a position in argument or in affairs which he did not believe himself able to maintain against all comers.

But with this appearance of hearty honesty, the scientist possessed the remarkable quality of discretion, not often found in sanguine temperaments. He loved to understand the secrets of men’s lives, and to feel that if need be he could govern people by main force and wholly against their will. He could conceal anything, any knowledge he possessed, any strong passion he felt, with amazing skill. At the very time when he seemed to be most frankly speaking his mind, when he made his honest strength appear as open as the day, as though scorning all concealment and courting inquiry into his motives, he was capable of completely hiding his real intentions, of professing ignorance in matters in which he was profoundly versed, of appearing to be as cold as stone when his heart was as hot as fire. He was a man of violent passions in love and hate, unforgetting and unforgiving, who never relented in the pursuit of an object, nor weighed the cruelty of the means in comparison with the importance of the end. He had by nature a temperament fitted for conspiracy and planned to disarm suspicion. He was incomparably superior to Paul Patoff in powers of mind and in the art of concealment, he was equal to him in the unchanging determination of his will, but he was by far inferior to him in those external gifts which charm the world and command social success.

These two remarkable men had met before they found themselves together under John Carvel’s roof, but they did not appear to have been intimate. It was, indeed, very difficult to imagine what their relations could have been, for they occasionally seemed to understand each other perfectly upon matters not understood by the rest of us, whereas they sometimes betrayed a surprising ignorance in regard to each other’s affairs.

From the time when the professor arrived it was apparent that Hermione did not like him, and that Cutter was aware of the fact. It had not needed the young girl’s own assurance to inform me of the antipathy she felt for the man of science. He had seen her before, but Hermione had suddenly grown into a young lady since his last visit, and the consequence was that she was thrown far more often into the society of the man she disliked than had been the case when she was still in the school-room. John Carvel never liked governesses, and as soon as practicable the last one had been discharged, so that Hermione was left to the society of her mother and aunt and of such visitors as chanced to be staying in the house. She was fond of her brother, but had seen little of him, and stood rather in awe of his superior genius ; for Macaulay was a young man who possessed in a very high degree what we call the advantages of modern education. She loved him and looked up to him, but did not understand him in the least, because people who have a great deal of heart do not easily comprehend the nature of people who have little ; and Macaulay Carvel’s manner of talking about men, and even nations, as though they were mere wooden pawns or sets of pawns, puzzled his sister’s simpler views of humanity. Her mother did not always interest her, either; she was devotedly attached to her, but Mrs. Carvel, as she grew older, became more and more absorbed in the strange sort of inner religious life which she had created for herself as a kind of stronghold in the midst of her surroundings, and when alone with her daughter was apt to talk too much upon serious subjects. To a young and beautiful girl, who felt herself entering the vestibule of the world in the glow of a wondrous dawn, the somewhat mournful contemplation of the spiritual future could not possibly have the charm such meditation possessed for a woman in middle age, who had passed through the halls of the palace of life without seeing many of its beauties, and who already, in the dim distance, caught sight of the shadowy gate whereby we must all descend from this world’s sumptuous dwelling, to tread the silent labyrinths of the unknown future.

Such society as Mrs. Carvel’s was not good for Hermione. It is not good for any girl. It is before all things important that youth should be young, lest it should not know how to be old when age comes upon it. Nor is there anything that should be further removed from youth than the contemplation of death, which to old age is but a haven of rest to be desired, whereas to those who are still young it is an abyss to be abhorred. It is well to say, “ Memento, homo, quia pulvis es,” but not to say it too often, lest the dust of individual human existence make cobwebs in the existence of humanity.

As for her aunt Chrysophrasia, Hermione liked to talk to her, because Miss Dabstreak was amusing, with her everlasting paradoxes upon everything ; and because, not being by nature of an evil heart, and desiring to be eccentric beyond her fellows, she was not altogether averse to the mild martyrdom of being thought ridiculous by those who held contrary opinions. Nevertheless, her aunt’s company did not satisfy all Hermione’s want of society, and the advent of strangers, even of myself, was hailed by her with delight. The fact of her conceiving a particular antipathy for the professor was therefore all the more remarkable, because she rarely shunned the society of any one with whom she had an opportunity of exchanging ideas. But Cutter did not like to be disliked, and he sought an occasion of making her change her mind in regard to him. A few days after my visit to Madame Patoff, the professor found his chance. Macaulay Carvel, Paul Patoff, and I left the house early to ride to a distant meet, for Patoff had expressed his desire to follow the hounds, and, as usual, everybody was anxious to oblige him.

After breakfast the professor watched until he saw Hermione enter the conservatory, where she usually spent a part of the morning alone among the flowers ; sometimes making an elaborate inspection of the plants she loved best, sometimes sitting for an hour or two with a book in some remote corner, among the giant tropical leaves and the bright-colored blossoms. She loved not only the flowers, but the warmth of the place, in the bitter winter weather.

Cutter entered with a supremely unconscious air, as though he believed there was no one in the conservatory. There was nothing professorial about his appearance, except his great spectacles, through which he gazed benignly at the luxuriant growth of plants, as he advanced, his hands in the pockets of his plaid shooting-coat. He was dressed as any other man might be in the country ; he had selected an unostentatious plaid for the material of his clothes, and he wore a colored tie, which just showed beneath the wave of his thick beard. He trod slowly but firmly, putting his feet down as though prepared to prove his right to the ground he trod on.

“ Oh ! Are you here, Miss Carvel ? ” he exclaimed, as he caught sight of Hermione installed in a cane chair behind some plants. She was not much pleased at being disturbed, but she looked up with a slight smile, willing to be civil.

“ Since you ask me, I am,” she replied.

“ Whereas if I had not asked you, you would have affected not to be here, you mean ? How odd it is that just when one sees a person one should always ask them if one sees them or not! In this case, I suppose the pleasure of seeing you was so great that I doubted the evidence of my senses. Is that the way to turn a speech ? ”

“It is a way of turning one, certainly,” answered Hermione. “ There may be other ways. I have not much experience of people who turn speeches.”

“ I have had great experience of them,” said the professor, “ and I confess to you that I consider the practice of turning everything into compliment as a disagreeable and tiresome humbug.”

“ I was just thinking the same thing,” said Hermione.

“ Then we shall agree.”

“ Provided you practice what you preach, we shall.”

“ Did you ever know me to preach what I did not practice ? ” asked Cutter, with a smile of honest amusement.

“ I have not known much of you, either in preaching or in practicing, as yet. We shall see.”

“ Shall I begin now ? ”

“ If you like,” answered the young girl.

“ Which shall it be, preaching or practicing ? ”

“ I should say that, as you have me entirely at your mercy, the opportunity is favorable for preaching.”

“ I would not make such an unfair use of my advantage,” said the professor. “ I detest preaching. In practice I never preach ” —

“ You are making too much conversation out of those two words,” interrupted Hermione. “ If I let you go on, you will be making puns upon them.”

“You do not like puns ? ”

“ I think nothing is more contemptible.”

“Merely because that way of being funny is grown old-fashioned,” said Cutter. “ Fifty or sixty years ago, a hundred years ago, when a man wanted to be very bitingly sarcastic, he would compose a criticism upon his enemy which was only a long string of abominable puns ; each pun was printed in italics. That was thought to be very funny.”

“ You would not imitate that sort of fun, would you ? ” asked Hermione.

“ No. You would think it no joke if I did,” answered Cutter, gravely.

“ I am not going to laugh.” said Hermione. But she laughed, nevertheless.

“ Pray do not laugh if you do not want to,” said Cutter. “ I am used to being thought dull. Your gravity would not wound me though I were chief clown to the whole universe, and yours were the only grave face in the world. By the bye, you are laughing, I see. I am much obliged for the appreciation. Shall I go on being funny ? ”

“ Not if you can Help it,” said Hermione.

“ Do you insinuate that I am naturally an object for laughter ? ” asked Cutter, smiling. “ Do you mean that ‘I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men ’ ? If so, I may yet make you spend a pleasant hour in despite of yourself, without any great effort on my own part. I will sit here, and you shall laugh at me. The morning will pass very agreeably.”

“ I should think you might find something better to do,”returned Hermione. " But they say that small things amuse great minds.”

“ If I had a great mind, do you think I should look upon it as a small thing to be laughed at by you, Miss Carvel?” inquired Cutter, quietly.

“ You offer yourself so readily to be my laughing-stock that I am forced to consider what you offer a small thing,” returned his companion.

“ You are exceedingly sarcastic. In that case, I have not a great mind, as you supposed.”

“ You are fishing for a compliment, I presume.”

“ Perhaps. I wish you would pay me compliments — in earnest. I am vain. I like to be appreciated. You do not like me, — I would like to be liked by you.”

“ You are talking nonsense, Professor Cutter,” said the young girl, raising her eyebrows a little. “If I did not like you, it would be uncivil of you to say you had found it out, unless I treated you rudely.”

“ It may be nonsense, Miss Carvel. I speak according to my lights.”

“ Then I should say that for a luminary of science your light is very limited,” returned Hermione.

“ In future I will hide my light under a bushel, since it displeases you.”

“ Something smaller than a bushel would serve the purpose. But it does not please me that you should be in the dark ; I would rather you had more light.”

“ You have only to look at me,” said the scientist, with a laugh.

“ I thought you professed not to make silly compliments. My mother tells me that the true light should come from within,” added Hermione, with a little scorn.

“ Religious enthusiasts, who make those phrases, spend their lives in studying themselves,” retorted Cutter. “ They think they see light where they most wish to find it. I spend my time in studying other people.”

“ I should think you would find it vastly more interesting.”

“ I do ; especially when you are one of the people I am permitted to study.”

“ If you think I will permit it long, you are mistaken, ’ said Hermione, who was beginning to lose her temper, without precisely knowing why. She took up her book and a piece of embroidery she had brought with her, as though she would go.

“ You cannot help my making a study of you,” returned the professor, calmly. “ If you leave me now, I regard it as an interesting feature in your case.”

“ I will afford you that much interest, at all events,” answered Hermione, rising to her feet. She was annoyed, and the blood rose to her delicate cheeks, while her downcast lashes hid the anger in her eyes. But she did not know the man, if she thought he would let himself be treated so lightly. She knew neither him nor his weapons.

“ Miss Carvel, permit me to ask your forgiveness,” he said. “I am so fond of hearing myself talk that my tongue runs away with me.”

“ Why do you tease me so ? ” asked Hermione, suddenly raising her eyes and facing Cutter. But before he could answer her she laid down her work and her book, and walked slowly away from him. She reached the opposite side of the broad conservatory, and turned back.

Cutter’s whole manner had changed the moment he saw that she was seriously annoyed. He knew well enough that he had said nothing for which the girl could be legitimately angry, but he understood her antipathy to him too well not to know that it could easily be excited at any moment to an open expression of dislike. On the present occasion, however, he had resolved to fathom, if possible, the secret cause of the feeling the beautiful Hermione entertained against him.

“ Miss Carvel,” he said, very gently, as she advanced again towards him, “ I like to talk to you, of all people, but you do not like me, — forgive my saying it, for I am in earnest, — and I lose my temper because I cannot find out why.”

Hermione stood still for a moment, and looked straight into the professor’s eyes; she saw that they met hers with such an honest expression of regret that her heart was touched. She stooped and picked a flower, and held it in her hand some seconds before she answered.

“It was I who was wrong,” she said, presently. “ Let us be friends. It is not that I do not like you, — really I believe it is not that. It is that, somehow, you do manage to — to tease me, I suppose.” She blushed. “ I am sure you do not mean it. It is very foolish of me, I know.”

“ If you could only tell me exactly where my fault lies,” said Cutter, earnestly, “ I am sure I would never commit it again. You do not seriously believe that I ever intend to annoy you ?

“ N— no,” hesitated Hermione. “ No, you do not intend to annoy me, and yet I think it amuses you sometimes to see that I am angry about nothing.”

“ It does not amuse me,” said Cutter. “ My tongue gets the better of me, and then I am very sorry afterwards. Let us be friends, as you say. We have more serious things to think of than quarreling in our conversation. Say you forgive me, as freely as I say that it has always been my fault.”

There was something so natural and humble in the way the man spoke that Hermione had no choice but to put out her hand and agree to the truce. Professor Cutter was as old as her father, though he looked ten years younger, or more; he had a world-wide reputation in more than one branch of science; he was altogether what is called a celebrated man; and he stood before her asking to “ make friends,” as simply as a schoolboy. Hermione had no choice.

“ Of course,” she answered, and then added with a smile, “only you must really not tease me any more.”

“ I won’t,” said Cutter, emphatically.

They sat down again, side by side, and were silent for some moments. It seemed to Hermione as though she had made an important compact, and she did not feel altogether certain of the result. She could have laughed at the idea that her making up her differences with the professor was of any real importance in her life, but nevertheless she felt that it was so, and she was inclined to think over what she had done. Her hands lay folded upon her lap, and she idly gazed at them, and thought how small and white they looked upon the dark blue serge. Cutter spoke first.

“ I suppose,” he began, “ that when we are not concerned with our own immediate affairs, we are all of us thinking of the same thing. Indeed, though we live very much as though nothing were the matter, we are constantly aware that one subject occupies us all alike.”

To tell the truth, Hermione was not at that moment thinking of poor Madame Patoff. She raised her eyes with an inquiring glance.

“ I am very much preoccupied,” continued the professor. “ I have not the least idea whether we have done wisely in allowing Paul to see his mother.”

“ If she knew him, I imagine it was a good thing,” answered Hermione. “ How long is it since they met ? ”

“ Eighteen months, or more. They met last in very painful circumstances, I believe. You see the impression was strong enough to outlive her insanity. She was not glad to see him.”

“ Why will they not tell me what drove her mad ? ” asked Hermione.

“ It is not a very nice story,” answered the professor. “It is probably on account of Paul.” There was a short pause.

“ Do you mean that she went mad on account of something Paul did ? ” asked Hermione, presently.

“ I am not sure I can tell you that. I wish you could know the whole story, but your father would never consent to it, I am sure.”

“ If it is not nice, I do not wish to hear it,” said Hermione, quietly. “ I only wanted to know about Paul. You gave me the impression that it was in some way his fault.”

“ In some way it was,” replied Cutter.

“ Poor lady, — I am not sure we should have let her see him.”

“ Does she suffer much, do you think ? ”

“No. If she suffered much, she would fall ill and probably die. I do not think she has any consciousness of her situation. I have known people like that who were mad only three or four days in the week. She never has a lucid moment. I am beginning to think it is hopeless, and we might as well advise your father to have her taken to a private asylum. The experiment would be interesting.”

“ Why ? ” asked Hermione. “ She gives nobody any trouble here. It would be unkind. She is not violent, nor anything of that sort. We should all feel dreadfully if anything happened to her in the asylum. Besides, I thought it was a great thing that she should have known Paul yesterday.”

“ Not as great as one might fancy. I think that if there were much chance of her recovery, the recognition of her son ought to have brought back a long train of memories, amounting almost to a lucid interval.”

“I understood that you had spoken more hopefully last night,” said Hermione, doubtfully. “ You seem discouraged to-day.”

“ With most people it is necessary to appear hopeful at any price,” answered Cutter. “ I feel that with you I am perfectly safe in saying precisely what I think. You will not misinterpret what I say, nor repeat it to every other member of the household.”

“ No, indeed. I am glad you tell me the truth, but I had hoped it was not so bad as you say.”

“ Your aunt is very mad indeed, Miss Carvel,” said the professor.

I may observe, in passing, that what the professor said to me differed very materially from what he said to Hermione, a circumstance we did not discover until a later date. For Hermione, having given her promise not to repeat what Cutter told her about her aunt, kept it faithfully, and did not even assume an air of superiority when speaking about the case to others. She believed exactly what the professor said, namely, that he trusted her, and no one else, with his true views of the matter ; and that, to all others, he assumed an air of hopefulness very far removed from his actual state of mind.

Singularly, — or naturally, as you look at it, — the result of the conversation between Hermione and the professor was the complete disappearance, for some time, of all their differences. Cutter ceased to annoy her with his sharp answers to all she said, and she showed a growing interest in him and in his conversation. They were frequently seen talking together, apparently taking pleasure in each other’s society, a fact which I alone noticed as interesting, for Patoff had not been long enough at Carvel Place to discover that there had ever been any antipathy between the two. On looking back, I ascribe the change to the influence Cutter obtained over Hermione by suddenly affecting a great earnestness and a sincere regret for the annoyance he had given in the past, and by admitting her, as he gave her to understand that he did, to his confidence in the matter of Madame Patoff’s insanity. Be that as it may, the result was obtained very easily by the professor; and when Hermione left him, before lunch, it is probable that in the solitude of the conservatory the man of science rubbed his gigantic hands together, and beamed upon the orchids with unusual benignity.

But while this new alliance was being formed in the conservatory, another conversation was taking place in a distant part of the house, not less interesting, perhaps, but not destined to reach so peaceable a conclusion. The scene of this other meeting was Miss Chrysophrasia Dabstreak’s especial boudoir, an apartment so singular in its furniture and adornment that I will leave out all description of it, and ask you merely to imagine, at will, the most æsthetic retreat of the most æsthetic old maid in existence.

After breakfast, that morning, Chrysophrasia had sent word to Mrs. Carvel that she should be glad to see her, if she could come up to her boudoir. Chrysophrasia never came down to breakfast. She regarded that meal as a barbarism, forgetting that the mediæval persons she admired began their days by taking to themselves a goodly supply of food. She never appeared before lunch, but spent her mornings in the solitude of her own apartment, probably in the composition of verses which have remained hitherto unpublished. Mrs. Carvel at once acceded to the request conveyed in her sister’s message, and went to answer the summons. She was not greatly pleased at the idea of spending the morning with her sister, for she devoted the early hours to religious reading whenever she was able ; but she was the most obliging woman in the world, and so she quietly put aside her own wishes, and mounted the stairs to Miss Dabstreak’s boudoir. She found the latter clad in loose garments of strange cut and hue, and a green silk handkerchief was tied about her forehead, presumably out of respect for certain concealed curl papers rather than for any direct purpose of adornment. Chrysophrasia looked very faded in the morning. As Mrs. Carvel entered the room, her sister pointed languidly to a chair, and then paused a moment, as though to recover from the exertion.

“ Mary,” said she at last, and even from the first tone of her voice Mrs. Carvel felt that a severe lecture was imminent, — “Mary, this thing is a hollow sham. It cannot be allowed to go on any longer.”

Mrs. Carvel’s face assumed a sweet and sad expression, and folding her hands upon her knees, she leaned slightly forward from the chair upon which she sat, and prepared to soothe her sister’s views upon hollow shams in general.

“ My dear,” said she, “ you must endeavor to be charitable.”

“ I do not see the use of being charitable,” returned Chrysophrasia, with more energy than she was wont to display. “ Dear me, Mary, what in the world has charity to do with the matter ? Can you look at me and say that it has anything to do with it ? ”

No. Mary could not look at her and say so, for a very good reason. She had not the most distant idea what Chrysophrasia was talking about. On general principles, she had made a remark about being charitable, and was now held to account for it. She smiled timidly, as though to deprecate her sister’s vengeance.

“ Mary,” said Chrysophrasia, in a tone of sorrowful rebuke, “ I am afraid you are not listening to me.”

“ Indeed I am,” said Mrs. Carvel, patiently.

“Well, then, Mary, I say it is a hollow sham, and that it cannot go on any longer.”

“Yes, my dear,” assented her sister. “ I have no doubt you are right; but what were you referring to as a hollow sham ? ”

“ You are hopeless, Mary, — you have no intuitions. Of course I mean Paul.”

Even this was not perfectly clear, and Mrs. Carvel looked inquiringly at her sister.

“ Is it possible you do not understand?” asked Chrysophrasia. “Do you propose to allow my niece — my niece, Mary, and your daughter,” she repeated with awful emphasis — “to fall in love with her own cousin ? ”

“ I am sure the dear child would never think of such a thing,” answered Mary Carvel, very gently, and as though not wishing to contradict her sister. “ He has not been here twenty-four hours.”

“ The dear child is thinking of it at this very moment,” said Chrysophrasia. “ And what is more, Paul has come here with the deliberate intention of marrying her. I have seen it from the first moment he entered the house. I can see it in his eyes.”

“ Well, my dear, you may be right. But I have not noticed anything of the sort, and I think you go too far. You will jump at conclusions, Chrysophrasia.”

“If I went at them at all, Mary, I would glide, — I certainly would not jump,” replied the æsthetic lady, with a languid smile. Mrs. Carvel looked wearily out of the window. “ Besides,” continued Chrysophrasia, “ the thing is quite impossible. Paul is not at all a match. Hermy will be very rich, some day. John will not leave everything to Macaulay. I have heard him say so.”

“ Why do you discuss the matter, Chrysophrasia ? ” objected Mrs. Carvel, with a little shade of very mild impatience. “ There is no question of Hermy marrying Paul.”

“ Then Paul ought to go away at once.”

“We cannot send him away. Besides, I think he is a very good fellow. You forget that poor Annie is in the house, and he has a right to see her, at least for a week.”

“ It seems to me that Annie might go and live with him.”

“ He has no home, poor fellow, — he is in the diplomatic service. He is made to fly from Constantinople to Persia, and from Persia to St. Petersburg; how could he take poor Annie with him ? ”

“ If poor Annie chose,” said Chrysophrasia, sniffing the air with a disagreeable expression, “ poor Annie could go. If she has sense enough to dress herself gorgeously and to read dry books all day, she has sense enough to travel.”

“ Oh, Chrysophrasia ! How dreadfully unkind you are ! You know how — ill she is.”

Mrs. Carvel did not like to pronounce the word “ insane.” She always spoke of Madame Patoffs “illness.”

“I do not believe it,” returned Miss Dabstreak. “ She is no more crazy than I am. I believe Professor Cutter knows it, too. Only he has been used to saying that she is mad for so long that he will not believe his senses, for fear of contradicting himself.”

“ In any case I would rather trust to him than to my own judgment.”

“ I would not. I am utterly sick of this perpetual disturbance about Annie’s state of mind. It destroys the charm of a peaceful existence. If I had the strength, I would go to her and tell her that I know she is perfectly sane, and that she must leave the house. John is so silly about her. He turns the place into an asylum, just because she chooses to hold her tongue.”

Mrs. Carvel rose with great dignity.

“ I will leave you, Chrysophrasia,” she said. “ I cannot bear to hear you talk in this way. You really ought to be more charitable.”

“ You are angry, Mary,” replied her sister. “ Good-by. I cannot bear the strain of arguing with you. When you are calmer you will remember what I have said.”

Poor Mrs. Carvel certainly exhibited none of the ordinary symptoms of anger, as she quietly left the room, with an expression of pain upon her gentle face. When Chrysophrasia was very unreasonable her only course was to go away; for she was wholly unable to give a rough answer, or to defend herself against her sister’s, attacks. Mary went in search of her husband, and was glad to find him in the library, among his books.

F. Marion Crawford.