Paul Patoff



WHILE Balsamides dismissed the coachman, I led Alexander quickly into the house and up the narrow stairs. In a few minutes Gregorios joined us, and coffee was brought.

“I think you could wear my clothes,” he said, looking at Alexander with a scarcely perceptible smile. “We are nearly the same height, and I am almost as thin as you.”

“ If you would be so very kind as to send for a barber,” suggested Patoff. “ I have never been allowed one, for fear I should get hold of his razor, and kill myself or somebody else.”

“ I will go and send one,” said I. “ And I will rouse your brother, and bring him back with me.”

“ Stop ! ” cried Balsamides. “ You cannot go like that! ” I had forgotten that I still wore the adjutant’s uniform. “ Take care of our friend,” he added, “ and I will go myself.”

We should probably have felt very tired, after our night’s excursion, had we not been sustained by the sense of triumph at having at last succeeded beyond all hope. It was hard to imagine what the effect would be upon Madame Patoff, and I began to fear for her reason as I remembered how improbable it had always seemed to me that we should find her son alive. I was full of curiosity to hear his story, but I knew that he was exhausted with fatigue and emotion, so that I put him in possession of my room and gave him some of my friend’s clothes. In a few moments the barber arrived, and while he was performing his operations I myself resumed my ordinary dress.

Balsamides found Paul in bed and fast asleep, but, pushing the servant aside, he walked in and opened the windows.

“ Wake up, Patoff! ” he shouted, making a great noise with the fastenings.

“ Holloa ! What is the matter ? ” cried Paul, opening his sleepy eyes wide with astonishment as he saw Balsamides standing before him, white as death with the excitement of the night. “ Has anything happened ? ”

“ Everything has happened,” said Gregorios. “ The sun is risen, the birds are singing, the Jews are wrangling in the bazaar, the dogs are fighting at Galata Serai, and, last of all, your brother, Alexander Patoff, is at this moment drinking his coffee in my rooms.”

“ My brother ! ” cried Paul, fairly leaping out of bed in his excitement. “ Are you in earnest ? Come, let us go at once.”

“ Your costume,” remarked Balsamides quietly, “ smacks too much of the classic for the Grande Rue de Pera. I will wait while you dress.”

“ Does my mother know ? ” asked Patoff.

“ No,” replied Balsamides. “ Your brother had not been five minutes in my house when I came here.” Then he told Paul briefly how we had found Alexander.

Paul Patoff was not a man to be easily surprised; but in the present case the issue had been so important that, beingtaken utterly unawares by the news, he felt stunned and dazed as he tried to realize the whole truth. He sat down in the midst of dressing, and for one moment buried his face in his hands. Balsamides looked on quietly. He knew how much even that simple action meant in a man of Paul’s proud and undemonstrative temper. In a few seconds Paul rose from his seat, and completed his toilette.

“ You know how grateful I am to you both,” he said. “ You must guess it, for nothing I could say could express what I feel.”

“ Do not mention it,” answered Balsamides. “No thanks could give me half the pleasure I have in seeing your satisfaction. You must prepare to find your brother much changed, I fancy. He seemed to me to be thin and pale, but I think he is not ill in any way. If you are ready, we will go.”

Meanwhile, Alexander had had his hair cut short, in the military fashion, and had been divested of the immense beard which hid half his face. A tub and a suit of civilized clothes did the rest, even though the latter did not fit him as well as Gregorios had expected. Gregorios is a deceptive man, and is larger than he looks, for his coat was too broad for Alexander, and hung loosely over the latter’s shoulders and chest. But in spite of the imperfect fit, the change in the man’s appearance was so great that I started in surprise when he entered the sitting-room, taking him for an intruder who had walked in unannounced.

He was very beautiful; that is the only word which applies to his appearance. His regular features were ethereal as the face of an angel in their extreme thinness, but he had not the painful look of emaciation which one so often sees in the faces of those long kept in confinement. He was very thin, indeed, but there was a perfect grace in all his movements, an ease and self-possession in his gestures, a quiet, earnest, trustful look in his dark eyes, which seemed almost unearthly. I watched him with the greatest interest, and with the greatest admiration also. Had I been asked at that moment to state what man or woman in the whole world I considered most perfectly beautiful, I should have answered unhesitatingly, Alexander Patoff. He had that about him which is scarcely ever met with in men, and which does not always please others, though it never fails to attract attention. I mean that he had the delicate beauty of a woman combined with the activity and dash of a man. I saw how the lightness, the alternate indolence and reckless excitement, of such a nature must act upon a man of Paul Patoff’s character. Every point and peculiarity of Alexander’s temper and bearing would necessarily irritate Paul, who was stern, cold, and manly before all else, and who readily despised every species of weakness except pride, and every demonstration of feeling except physical courage. Alexander was like his mother; so like her, indeed, that as soon as I saw him without his beard I realized the cause of Madame Patoff’s singular preference for the elder son, and much which had seemed unnatural before was explained by this sudden revelation. Paul probably resembled his father’s family more than his mother’s. Madame Patoff, who had loved that same cold, determined character in her husband, because she was awed by it, hated it in her child, because she could neither bend it nor influence it, nor make it express any of that exuberant affection which Alexander so easily felt. Both boys had inherited from their father a goodly share of the Slav element, but, finding very different ground upon which to work in the natures of the two brothers, the strong Russian individuality had developed in widely different ways. In Alexander were expressed all the wild extremes of mood of which the true Russian is so eminently capable ; all the overflowing and uncultivated talent and love of art and beauty, which in Russia brings forth so much that approaches indefinitely near to genius without ever quite reaching it. In Paul the effect of the Slavonic blood was totally opposite, and showed itself in that strange stolidity, that cold and ruthless exercise of force and pursuance of conviction, which have characterized so many Russian generals, so many Russian monarchs, and which have produced also so many Russian martyrs. There is something fateful in that terrible sternness, something which very well excites horror while imposing respect, and especially when forced to submit to superior force ; and when vanquished, there is something grand in the capacity such a character possesses for submitting to destiny, and bearing the extremest suffering.

It was clear enough that there could never be any love lost between two such men, and I was curious to see their meeting. I wondered whether each would fall upon the other’s neck and shed tears of rejoicing, or whether they would shake hands and express their satisfaction more formally. In looking forward to the scene which was soon to take place, I almost wished that Paul might have accompanied us in the disguise of a second adjutant, and thus have had a hand in the final stroke by which we had effected Alexander’s liberation. But I knew that he would only have been in the way, and that, considering the whole situation, we had done wisely. The least mistake on his part might have led to a struggle inside the Khanum’s house, and we had good cause to congratulate ourselves upon having freed the prisoner without shedding blood. There was something pleasantly ludicrous in the thought that all our anticipations of a fight had ended in that one solemn kick with which Balsamides had consigned Selim to the prison whence we had taken Alexander.

I was giving the latter a few more details of the events of the night, when Paul and Balsamides entered the room together. Paul showed more emotion than I had expected, and clasped his brother in his arms in genuine delight at having found him at last. Then he looked long at his face, as though trying to see how far Alexander was changed in the twenty months which had elapsed since they had met.

“You are a little thinner, — you look as though you had been ill,” said Paul.

“ No, I have not been ill, but I have suffered horribly in many ways,” answered Alexander, in his smooth, musical voice.

For some minutes they exchanged questions, while they overcame their first excitement at being once more together. It was, indeed, little less than a resurrection, and Alexander’s ethereal face was that of a spirit returning to earth rather than of a living man who had never left it. At last Paul grew calmer.

“ Will you tell us how it happened ? ” he asked, as he sat down upon the divan beside his brother. Balsamides and I established ourselves in chairs, ready to listen with breathless interest to the tale Alexander was about to tell.

“ You remember that night at Santa Sophia, Paul ? ” began the young man, leaning back among the cushions, which showed to strong advantage the extreme beauty of his delicate face. “ Yes, of course you remember it, very vividly, for Mr. Griggs has told me how you acted, and all the trouble you took to find me. Very well; you remember, then, that the last time I saw you we were all looking down at those fellows as they went through their prayers and prostrations, and I stood a little apart from you. You were very much absorbed in the sight, and the kaváss, who was a Mussulman, was looking on very devoutly. I thought I should like to see the sight from the other side, and I walked away and turned the corner of the gallery. You did not notice me, I suppose, and the noise of the crowd, rising and falling on their knees, must have drowned my footsteps.”

“ I had not the slightest idea that you had moved from where you stood,” said Paul.

“ No. When I reached the corner, I was very much surprised to see a man standing in the shadow of the pillar. I was still more astonished when I recognized the hideous negro who had knocked off my hat in the afternoon. I expected that he would insult me, and I suppose I made as though I would show fight; but he raised his finger to his lips, and with the other hand held out a letter, composing his face into a sort of horrible leer, intended to be attractive. I took the letter without speaking, for I knew he could not understand a word I said, and that I could not understand him. The envelope contained a sheet of pink paper, on which, in an ill-formed hand, but in tolerably good French, were written a few words. It was a declaration of love.”

“ From Laleli ? ” asked Balsamides, with a laugh.

“ Exactly,” replied Alexander. “ It was a declaration of love from Laleli. I leave you to imagine what I supposed Laleli to be like at that time, and Paul, who knows me, will tell you that I was not likely to hesitate at such a moment. The note ended by saying that the faithful Selim would conduct me to her presence without delay. I was delighted with the adventure, and crept noiselessly after him in the shadow of the gallery, lest you should see me ; for I knew you would prevent my going with the man. We descended the stairs, but it was not until we reached the bottom that I saw we had not come down by the way I had ascended. Selim was most obsequious, and seemed ready to do everything for my comfort. As we walked down a narrow street, he presented me with a new fez, and made signs to me to put it on instead of my hat, which he then carefully wrapped in a handkerchief and carried in his hand. At a place near the bridge several caïques were lying side by side. He invited me to enter one, which I observed was very luxuriously fitted, and which I thought I recognized as the one in which I had so often seen the woman with the impenetrable veil. I lay back among the cushions and smoked, while Selim perched himself on the raised seat behind me, and the four boatmen pulled rapidly away. It was heavy work for them, I dare say, tugging up-stream, but to me the voyage was enchanting. The shores were all illuminated, and the Bosphorus swarmed with boats. It was the last time I was in a caïque. I do not know whether I could bear the sight of one now.”

“ So they took you to Laleli’s house ? ” said Paul, anxious to hear the rest.

“Yes, I was taken to Laleli’s house, and I never got out of it till last night,” continued Alexander. “ How long is it ? I have not the least idea of the European date.”

“This is the 29th of March,” said I.

“ And that was the end of June, — twenty-one months. I have learned Turkish since I was caught, to pass the time, and I always knew the Turkish date after I had learned their way of counting, but I had lost all reckoning by our style. Well, to go on with my story. They brought me to the stone pier before the house. Selim admitted me by a curiously concealed panel at one end of the building, and we found ourselves in a very narrow place, whence half a dozen steps ascended to a small door. A little oil lamp burned in one corner. He led the way, and the door at the top slid back into the wall. We entered, and he closed it again. We were in the corner of a small room, richly furnished in the worst possible taste. I dare say you know the style these natives admire. Selim left me there for a moment. I looked carefully at the wall, and tried to find the panel; but, to my surprise, the wainscoting was perfectly smooth and even, and I could not discover the place where it opened, nor detect any spring or sign of a fastening. Laleli, I thought, understood those things. Presently a door opened on one side of the room, and I saw the figure I had so often watched, beckoning to me to come. Of course I obeyed, and she retired into the room beyond, which was very high and had no windows, though I noticed that there was a dome at the top, which in the daytime would admit the light.”

“ The Khanum was waiting for you ? ” I asked.

“ Yes. I was surprised to see her dressed in the clothes she wore out-ofdoors, and as thickly veiled as ever. There were lights in the room. She held out her small hand, — you remember noticing that she had small white hands ? ”

“ Like a young woman’s,” replied Balsamides.

“ Yes. I took her hand, and spoke in French. I dare say I looked very sentimental and passionate, as I gazed into her black eyes. I could see nothing of her face. She answered me in Turkish, which of course I could not understand. All I could say was Pek güzel, very beautiful, which I repeated amidst my French phrases, giving the words as passionate an accent as I could command. At last she seemed to relent, and as she bent towards me I expected that she was about to speak very softly some Turkish love word. What was my horror when she suddenly screamed into my ear, with a hideous harsh voice, my own words, Pek güzel! In a moment she threw off her black ferigee, and tore the thick veil from her head. I could have yelled with rage, for I saw what a fool I had made of myself, and that the old hag had played a practical joke on me in revenge for the affair in the Valley of Roses. I cursed her in French, I cursed her in Russian, I cursed her in English, and stamped about the room, trying to get out. The horrible old witch screamed herself hoarse with laughter, making hideous grimaces and pointing at me in scorn. What could I do ? I tried to force one of the doors, and twisted at the handle, and tugged and pushed with all my might. While I was thus engaged I heard the door at the other end of the room open quickly, and as I turned and sprang towards it I caught sight of her baggy, snuff-colored gown disappearing, as she slammed the door behind her. Before I could reach it the lock was turned, and I was caught in the trap, — caught like a mouse.”

“ What a spiteful old thing she was ! ” I exclaimed. “ She might have been satisfied with keeping you there a day instead of two years.”

“ Nearly two years. I did everything humanly possible to escape. I gave all I possessed to Selim to take a message to Paul, to anybody, but of course that was useless. At first they kept me in the room where I had been caught. My food was brought to me by the Turkish porter, a brawny fellow, who could have brained me with his fist. He was always accompanied by another man, as big as himself, who carried a loaded pistol, in case I attacked the first. I had no chance, and I wished I might go mad. Then, one night, they set upon me suddenly, and tied a handkerchief over my mouth, and bound me hand and foot, in spite of my struggles. I thought I was to be put into a sack and drowned. They carried me like a log out into the garden, and put me into that cell where you found me, which had apparently been just built, for the stones were new and the cement was fresh. There, at least, I could look through the gratings. I even thought at one time that I could make myself heard, having no idea of the desolate position of the place. But I soon gave up the attempt and abandoned myself to despair. There it was that Selim used to come occasionally, and talk to me through the bars. That was better than nothing, and the villain amused his leisure moments by teaching me to speak Turkish. One day he brought me a book, which I hailed with delight. It was an old French method for learning the language. I made great progress, as I studied from morning till night. Selim grew more familiar to me, and I confess with shame that I missed his visits when he did not come. The men who brought my food seemed absolutely mute, and I never succeeded in extracting a word from either of them. Even Selim was a companion, and talking to him saved me from going mad. I asked him all sorts of questions, and at last I guessed from his answers that the Khanum had been terrified by the disturbance my disappearance had created, and was afraid to set me free lest I should take vengeance on her. She was also afraid to kill me, for some reason or other. The result was that, from having merely wished to revenge upon me the affair in the Valley of Roses by means of a practical joke, she found herself obliged to keep me a prisoner. I used every means of persuasion to move Selim. I told him I was rich, and would make him rich if he would help me to escape. I promised to take no steps against the Khanum. It was in vain. I assure you I have conceived a very high opinion of the fidelity of Lalas in general, and of Selim in particular.”

“ They are very faithful,” said Balsamides gravely. I have since fancied that he had some reason for knowing.

Alexander afterwards told us many more details of his confinement, but this was his first account of it, and embraced all that is most important to know. The whole affair made a very strong impression on me. The unfortunate man had fallen a victim to a chain of circumstances which it had been entirely impossible to foresee, all resulting directly from his first, imprudent action in addressing the veiled lady in the Valley of Roses. A little piece of folly had ruined two years of his life, and subjected him to a punishment such as a court of justice would have inflicted for a very considerable crime.

The remainder of the day was occupied by the meeting of Alexander with his mother and his introduction to his English relations, upon which it is needless to dwell long. I never knew what passed between the mother and son, but the interview must have been a very extraordinary one. It was necessary, of course, to prepare Madame Patoff for the news and for the sight of the child she seemed to love better than anything in the world. Hermione performed the task, as being the one who understood her best. She began by hinting vaguely that we had advanced another step in our search, and that we were now confident of finding Alexander before long, — perhaps in a few hours. She gradually, in talking, spoke of the moment when he would appear, wondering how he would look, and insensibly accustoming Madame Patoff to the idea. At last she confessed that he had been found during the night, and that he was ready to come to his mother at any moment.

It was well done, and the force of the shock was broken. The old lady nearly swooned with joy, but the danger was past when she recovered her consciousness and demanded to see Alexander at once. He was admitted to her room, and the two were left alone to their happiness.

The rest of the family were mad with delight. John Carvel grew ten years younger, and Mrs. Carvel fairly cried with joy, while Chrysophrasia declared that it was worth while to be disappointed by the first impression of Constantinople, when one was consoled by such a thrilling tale with so joyous a termination, — or happy end, as I should have said. Hermione’s face beamed with happiness, and Macaulay literally melted in smiles, as he retired to write down the story in his diary.

“Oh, Paul!” Hermione exclaimed, when they were alone, “ you never told me he was such a beauty ! ”

“Yes,” he answered quietly, “he is far better looking than I am. You must not fall in love with him, Hermy.”

“ The idea of such a thing! ” she cried, with a light laugh.

“ I should not be surprised if he fell in love with you, dear,” said Paul, smiling.

“ You only say that because you do not like him,” she answered. “ But you will like him now, won’t you ? You are so good, — I am sure you will. But think what a splendid thing it is that you should have found him. If aunt Chrysophrasia says, ‘ Where is your brother ? ’ you can just answer that he is in the next room.”

“ Yes ; I am a free man now. No one can ever accuse me again. But apart from that, I am really and sincerely glad that he is alive. I wish him no ill. It is not his fault that I have been under a cloud for nearly two years. He was as anxious to be found as I was to find him. After all, it was not I. It was Balsamides and Griggs who did it at last. I dare say that if I had been with them I should have spoiled it all. I could not have dressed myself like a Turkish officer, to begin with. If I had been caught in the uniform, belonging as I do to the embassy, there would have been a terrible fuss. I should have been obliged to go away, very likely without having found my brother at all. I owe everything to those two men.”

“ If you had not made up your mind that he should be found, they would never have found him ; they would not have thought of taking the trouble.”

Hermione spoke in a reassuring tone, as though to comfort Paul for having had no share in the final stroke which had liberated his brother. In reality Paul needed no consolation. In his heart he was glad that Alexander had been set free by others, and need therefore never feel himself under heavy obligations to Paul. It was not in the strong man’s nature to wish to revenge himself upon his brother because the latter had been the favored child and the favorite son. Nor, if he had contemplated any kind of vengeance, would he have chosen the Christian method of heaping coals of fire upon his head. He merely thought of Alexander as he would have thought of any other man not his relation at all, and he did not wish to appear in the light of his liberator. It was enough for Paul that he had been found at last, and that his own reputation was now free from stain. Nothing prevented him any longer from marrying Hermione, and he looked forward to the consummation of all his hopes in the immediate future.

The day closed in a great rejoicing. John Carvel insisted that we should all dine with him that night; and our numbers being now swelled by the addition of Alexander Patoff and Gregorios Balsamides, we were a large party, — ten at table. I shall never forget the genuine happiness which was on every face. The conversation flowed brilliantly, and every one felt as though a weight had been lifted from his or her spirits. Alexder Patoff was of course the most prominent person, and as he turned his beautiful eyes from one to the other of us, and told us his story with many episodes and comments, I think we all fell under his fascination, and understood the intense love his mother felt for him. He had indeed a woman’s beauty with a man’s energy, when his energy was roused at all; and though the feminine element at first seemed out of place in him, it gave him that singular faculty of charming when he pleased, and that brilliancy which no manly beauty can ever have.

It was late when we got home, and I went to bed with a profound conviction that Paul Patoff’s troubles had come to a happy end, and that he would probably be married to Hermione in the course of the summer. If things had ended thus, my story would end here, and perhaps it would be complete. Unfortunately, events rarely take place as we expect that they will, still more rarely as we hope that they may ; and it is generally when our hopes coincide with our expectations, and we feel most sure of ourselves, that fate overtakes us with the most cruel disappointments. Paul Patoff had not yet reached the quiet haven of his hopes, and I have not reached the end of my story. It would, indeed, be a very easy matter, as I have said before, to collect all the things which happened to him into a neat romance, of which the action should not cover more than four and twenty hours of such excitement as no one of the actors could have borne in real life, any more than Salvini could act a tragedy which should begin at noon to-day and end at midday to-morrow. I might have divested Paul of many of his surroundings, have bereaved him of many of his friends, and made him do himself what others did for him ; but if he were to read such an account of his life he would laugh scornfully, and say that the real thing was very different indeed, as without doubt it was.

This is the reason why I have not hesitated to bring before you a great number of personages, each of whom, in a great or a small way, affected his life. I do not believe that you could understand his actions in the sequel without knowing the details of those situations through which he had passed before. We are largely influenced by little things and little events. The statement is a truism in the eyes of the moralist, but the truth is, unfortunately, too often forgotten in real life. The man who falls down-stairs and breaks his leg has not noticed the tiny spot of candle grease which made the polished step so slippery just where he trod.


There were great rejoicings when it was known in Pera that Alexander Patoff had been found. His disappearance had furnished the gossips with a subject of conversation during many weeks, and his coming back revived the whole story, with the addition of a satisfactory ending. In consideration of the fact that Laleli Khanum was dead, Count Ananoff thought it best to take no official notice of the matter. To treat it diplomatically would be useless, he said. Alexander had fallen a victim to his own folly, and though the penalty had been severe, it was impossible to hold the Ottoman government responsible for what Patoff had suffered, now that the Khanum had departed this life. Alexander received permission to take three months’ leave to recruit his health before returning to his regiment, and he resolved to spend a part of the time in Constantinople, after which his mother promised to accompany him to St. Petersburg.

The Carvels had very soon made the acquaintance of the small but brilliant society of which the diplomatic corps constituted the chief element; and if anything had been needed to make them thoroughly popular, their near connection with the young man whose story was in every one’s mouth would alone have sufficed to surround them with interest. The adventure was told with every conceivable variety of detail, and Alexander was often called upon to settle disputes as to what had happened to him. He was ready enough at all times to play the chief part in a drawing-room, and delighted in being questioned by grave old gentlemen, as well as by inquisitive young women. The women admired him for his beauty, his grace and brilliancy, and especially for the expression of his eyes, which they declared in a variety of languages to be absolutely fascinating. The men were interested in his story, and envied him the additional social success which he obtained as the hero of so strange an adventure. Some people admired and praised his devotion to his mother, which they said was most touching, whatever that may mean. Others said that he had an angelic disposition, flavored by a dash of the devil, which saved him from being goody; and this criticism of his character conveyed some meaning to the minds of those who uttered it. People have a strange way of talking about their favorites, and when the praise they mean to bestow is not faint, the expression of it is apt to be feeble and involved.

Pera is a gay place, for when a set of men and women are temporarily exiled from their homes to a strange country, where they do not find the society of a great capital, they naturally seek amusement and pursue it; creating among themselves those pastimes which in the great European cities others so often provide for them. Politically, also, Constantinople is a very important place to most of the powers, who choose their representatives for the post from among the cleverest men they can find ; and I will venture to say that there is scarcely a court in the world where so many first-rate diplomatists are gathered together as are to be met with among the missions to the Sublime Porte. Diplomacy in Constantinople has preserved something of the character it had all over the world fifty years ago. Personal influence is of far greater importance when negotiations are to be undertaken with a half-civilized form of administration, which is carried on chiefly by persons of imperfect education, but of immense natural talent for intrigue. The absence of an hereditary nobility in Turkey, and the extremely democratic nature of the army and the civil service, make it possible for men of the lowest birth to attain to the highest power. The immense and complicated bureaucracy is not in the hands of any one class of the people; its prizes are won by men of all sorts and conditions, who continue to pursue their own interests and fortunes with undiminished energy, when they ought to be devoting their whole powers to the service of the country. Their power is indeed checked by the centralization of all the executive faculties in the person of the sovereign. Without the Sultan’s signature the minister of war cannot order a gun to be cast in the arsenal of Tophanè, the minister of marine cannot buy a ton of coal for the ironclads which lie behind Galata bridge in the Golden Horn, the minister of foreign affairs cannot give a reply to an ambassador, nor can the minister of justice avail himself of the machinery of the law. Every smallest act must be justified by the Sultan’s own signature, and the chief object of all diplomacy from without, and of all personal intrigue from within, is to obtain this imperial consent to measures suggested by considerations of private advantage or public necessity. The Ottoman Empire may be described as an irregular democracy, whose acts are all subject to the veto of an absolute autocrat. The officials pass their lives in proposing, and his majesty very generally spends his time in opposing, all manner of schemes, good, bad, and indifferent. The contradictory nature of the system produces the anomalous position occupied by the Ottoman Empire in Europe.

The fact that there is no aristocracy and the seclusion of women among the Mussulmans are the chief reasons why there is no native society, in our sense of the word. A few of the great Greek families still survive, descendants of those Fanariotes whose ancestors had played an important part in the decadence of the Eastern Empire. A certain number of Armenians who have gained wealth and influence follow more or less closely the customs of the West. But beyond these few there cannot be said to be many houses of the social kind. Two or three pashas, of European origin, and Christians by religion, mix with their families in the gayety of Pera and the Bosphorus. A few Turkish officers, and Prussian officers in Turkish service, show their brilliant uniforms in the ball-rooms, and occasionally some high official of the Porte appears at formal receptions ; but on the whole the society is diplomatic, and depends almost entirely upon the diplomatists for its existence and for its diversions The lead once given, the old Greek aristocrats have not been behindhand in following it; but their numbers are small, and the movement and interest in Pera, or on the Bosphorus, centre in the great embassies, as they do nowhere else in the world.

Small as the society is, it is, nevertheless, exceedingly brilliant and very amusing. Intimacies grow up quickly, and often become lasting friendships when fostered by such influences. Every one knows every one else, and every one meets everybody else at least once a week. The arrival of a new secretary is expected with unbounded interest. The departure of one who has been long in Constantinople is mourned as a public loss. Occasionally society is convulsed to its foundations by the departure of an ambassador to whom every one has been so long accustomed that he has come to be regarded as one of the fathers of the community, whose hospitality every one has enjoyed, whose tact and knowledge of the world have been a source of satisfaction to his colleagues in many a diplomatic difficulty, and whose palace in Pera is associated in the minds of all with many hours of pleasure and with much delightful intercourse. He goes, and society turns out in a body to see him off. The occasion is like a funeral. People send hundreds of baskets of flowers. There is an address, there are many leave-takings. Once, at least, I remember seeing two thirds of the people shedding tears, — genuine wet tears of sorrow. And there was good reason for their grief. In such communities as the diplomatic colony in Pera, people understand the value of those who not only do more than their share in contributing to the pleasantness of life, but who possess in an abundant degree those talents which delight us in individuals, and those qualities which are dear to us in friends. It would be easy to write a book about society in Pera, and it would be a pleasant book. But these are not the days of Samuel Pepys ; we have hardly passed the age of Mr. George Ticknor.

In a short time after their arrival, and after the reappearance of Alexander Patoff, the Carvels knew everybody, and everybody knew them. Each member of the party found something to praise and some one to like. John Carvel was soon lost in admiration of Lord Mavourneen, while Mrs. Carvel talked much with the English missionary bishop of Western Kamtchatka, who happened to be spending a few days at the embassy. She asked him many questions concerning the differences between Armenian orthodox, Armenian catholic, Greek orthodox, and Russian orthodox; and though his lordship found a great deal to say on the subject, I am bound to allow that he was almost as much puzzled as herself when brought face to face in the reality with such a variety of sects. Chrysophrasia had not come to the East for nothing, either. She meant to indulge what John called her fancy for pots and pans and old rags; in other words, she intended to try her luck in the bazaar, and with the bloodhound’s scent of the true collector she detected by instinct the bricabrac hunters of society. There is always a goodly number of them wherever antiquities are to be found, and Chrysophrasia was hailed by those of her persuasion with the mingled delight and jealousy which scientific bodies feel when a new scientist appears upon the horizon.

As for Hermione, she created a great sensation, and the hearts of many secretaries palpitated in the most lively manner when she first entered the ball-room of one of the embassies, two days after her arrival. The astonishment was great when it was known that she was Paul Patoff’s own cousin, and when it was observed that Paul was very often with her the cry went up that he had fallen in love at last. Thereupon all the women who had said that he was a bore, a monster, a statue, and a piece of ice, immediately declared that there must be something in him, after all, and began to talk to him whenever they got a chance. Some disappointment was felt, too, when it was observed that Alexander Patoff also showed a manifest preference for the society of his beautiful cousin, and wise old ladies said there would be trouble. Everybody, however, received the addition to society with open arms, and hoped that the Carvels’ visit might be prolonged for at least a whole year.

Many of these comments reached my ears, and the remarks concerning Alexander’s growing attachment for Hermione startled me, and chilled me with a sense of evil to come. I opened my eyes and watched, as every one else was doing, and in a short time I came to the conclusion that public opinion was right. It was very disagreeable to me to admit it, but I soon saw that there was no doubt that Alexander was falling in love with his cousin. I saw, too, what others who knew them less well did not see: Madame Patoff exercised all her ingenuity in giving her favorite son opportunities of seeing Hermione alone. It was very easy to do this, and she did it in the most natural way ; she affected to repent bitterly of her injustice to Paul, and took delight in calling him to her side, and keeping him with her as long as possible. Sometimes she would make him stay an hour by her side at a party, going over and over the strange story of Alexander’s imprisonment, and asking him questions again and again, until he grew weary and absent, and answered her with rather incoherent phrases, or in short monosyllables not always to the point. Then at last, when she saw that she could keep him no longer, she would let him go, asking him to forgive her for being so importunate, and explaining as an excuse that she could never hear enough of a story that had ended so happily. Meanwhile Alexander had found ample opportunity for talking with Hermione, and had made the most of his time.

I have said that I had always been very fond of the young girl, and I thought that I understood her character well enough; but I find it hard to understand the phases through which she passed after she first met Alexander. I believe she loved Paul very sincerely from the first, and I know that she contemplated the prospect of marrying him at no distant time. But I am equally sure that she did not escape the influence of that wonderful fascination which Alexander exercised over everybody. If it is possible to explain it at all, which is more than doubtful, I should think that it might be accounted for on some such theory as this. Hermione was negative as compared with Paul, but in comparison with Alexander she was positive. It is clear that if this were so she must have experienced two totally different sets of impressions, according as she was with the one or the other of the brothers.

To define more clearly what I mean, I will state this theory in other words. Paul Patoff was a very masculine and dominating man. Hermione Carvel was a young girl, who resembled her strong, sensible, and manly father far more than her meek and delicate mother. Though she was still very young, there was much in her which showed the determined will and energetic purpose which a man needs to possess more than a woman. Alexander Patoff, on the other hand, without being effeminate, was intensely feminine. He had fine sensibilities, he had quick intuitions, he was capricious and womanly in his ideas. It follows that, in the scale of characters, Hermione held the mean between the two brothers. Compared with Paul’s powerful nature, her qualities were those of a woman; in comparison with Alexander’s delicate organization of mind, Hermione’s character was more like that of a man. The effect of this singular scale of personalities was, that when she found herself alternately in the society of the two brothers she felt as though she were alternately two different women. To a man entering a house on a bitter winter’s night the hall seems comfortably warm ; but it seems cold to a man who has been sitting over a fire in a hermetically sealed study.

Now Hermione had loved Paul when he was practically the only man of those she had ever known intimately whom she believed it possible to love at all. But she had seen very little of the world, and had known very few men. Her first recollections of society were indistinct, and no one individual had made any more impression upon her than another, perhaps because she was in reality not very impressionable. But Paul was preëminently a man able to impress himself upon others, when he chose. He had come to Carvel Place, had loved his cousin, and she had returned his love with a readiness which had surprised herself. It was genuine in its way, and she knew that it was ; nor could she doubt that Paul was in earnest, since a word from her had sufficed to make him curtail his visit, and go to the ends of the earth to find his brother. Hermione more than once wished that she had never spoken that word.

She now entered upon a new phase of her life, she saw a new sort of society, and she met a man who upset in a moment all her convictions about men in general. The result of all this novelty was that she began to look at life from a different point of view. Alexander amused her, and at the same time he made her feel of more importance in her own eyes. He talked well, but he made her fancy that she herself talked better. His thoughts were subtle, though not always logical, and his quick instincts gave him an immense advantage over people of slower intelligence. He knew all this himself, perhaps ; at all events, he used his gifts in the cleverest possible way. He possessed the power to attract Hermione without dominating her ; in other words, he made her like him of her own free will.

She liked him very much, and she felt that there was no harm in it. He was the brother of her future husband, so that she easily felt it a duty to like him, as well as a pleasure. Alexander himself affected to treat her with a sort of cousinly-brotherly affection, and spoke always of Paul with the greatest respect, when he spoke of him at all; but he manifestly sought opportunities of expressing his affection, and avoided all mention of Paul when not absolutely necessary. The position was certainly a difficult one, but he managed it with the tact of a woman and the daring of a man. I have always believed that he was really fond of Hermione; for I cannot imagine him so vile as to attempt to take her from Paul, when Paul had done so much towards liberating him from his prison. But whatever were his motives or his feelings, it was evident to me that he was making love to her in good earnest, that the girl was more interested in him than she supposed, and that Madame Patoff was cunningly scheming to break off the match with Paul in order to marry Hermione to Alexander.

Balsamides had of course become a friend of the family, after the part he had played in effecting Alexander’s escape, and in his own way I think he watched the situation when he got a chance with as much interest as I myself. One evening we were sitting in his rooms, about midnight, talking, as we talked eternally, upon all manner of subjects.

Griggs,” said he, suddenly changing the topic of our conversation, “ it is a great pity we ever took the trouble to find Alexander. I often wish he were still lying in that pleasant den in Laleli’s garden.”

“ If would be better for every one concerned, except himself, if he were,” I answered.

“ I detest the fellow’s face. If it were not for his mustache, he might pass for a woman anywhere.”

“ He is as beautiful as an angel,” I said, wishing to give him his due.

“ What business have men with such beauty as that ? ” asked Gregorios, scornfully. “ I would rather look like a Kurd hamál than like Alexander Patoff. He is spoiling Paul’s life. Not that I care ! ” he added, shrugging his shoulders.

“ No,” I said, “ it is none of our business. I liked him at first, I confess, and I thought that Alexander and Miss Carvel would make a very pretty couple. But I like him less the more I see of him. However, he will soon be going back to his regiment, and we shall hear no more of him.”

11 His leave is not over yet,” answered my friend. “ A fellow like that can do a deal of harm in a few weeks.”

Gregorios is a man of violent sympathies and antipathies, though no one would suppose it from his cold manner and general indifference. But I know him better than I have known most men, and he is less reticent with me than with the generality of his friends. It was impossible to say whether he took enough interest in the Carvels or in Paul to attempt to influence their destiny, but I was sure that if he crossed Alexander’s path the latter would get the worst of it, and I mentally noted the fact in summing up Paul’s chances.

At that time nothing had openly occurred which suggested the possibility of a rupture of the unacknowledged engagement between Paul and Hermione. Paul several times told her that he wished to speak formally to John Carvel, and obtain his consent to the marriage ; but Hermione advised him to wait a little longer, arguing that she herself had spoken, and that there was therefore no concealment about the matter. The longer they waited, she said, the more her father would become accustomed to the idea, and the more he would learn to like Paul, so that in another month there would be no doubt but that he would gladly give his consent. But Paul himself was not satisfied. His mother’s conduct irritated him beyond measure, and he began seriously to suspect her of wishing to make trouble. He was no longer deceived by her constant show of affection for himself, for she continued always to make it most manifest just when it prevented him from talking with Hermione. Alexander, too, treated him as he had not done before, with a deference and a sort of feline softness which inspired distrust. Two years ago Paul would have been the first to expect foul play from his brother, and would have been upon his guard from the beginning; but Paul himself was changed, and had grown more merciful in his judgment of others. He found it hard to persuade himself that Alexander really meant to steal Hermione’s love ; and even when he began to suspect the possibility of such a thing, he believed that he could treat the matter lightly enough. Nevertheless, Hermione continued to dissuade him from going to her father, and he yielded to her advice, though much against his will. He found himself in a situation which to his conscience seemed equivocal. He knew from what John Carvel had written to me that his suit was not likely to meet with any serious opposition; he understood that John expected him to speak, and he began to fancy that his future father-in-law looked at him inquiringly from time to time, as though anticipating a question, and wondering why it was not asked.

One day he came to see me, and found me alone. Gregorios had gone to the palace, and I have no doubt that Paul, who knew his habits, had chosen a morning for his visit when he was certain that Balsamides would not be at home. He looked annoyed and almost nervous, as he sat down in silence and began to smoke.

“ Anything wrong ? ” I asked.

“ I hardly know,” he replied. “ I am very uncomfortable. I am in a very disagreeable situation. ”

I was silent. I did not want to invite his confidence, and if he had come to tell me anything about himself, it was better to let him tell it in his own way.

“ I am in a very disagreeable position,” he repeated slowly. “ I want to ask your advice.”

“ That is always a rash thing to do,” I replied.

“ I do not care. I must confide in you, as I did once before, but this time I only want your advice. My position is intolerable. I feel every day that I ought to ask Mr. Carvel to give me his daughter, and yet I cannot do it.”

“ Why not ? It is certainly your duty,” said I.

“ Because Miss Carvel objects,” he answered, with sudden energy. His voice sounded almost fierce as he spoke.

“ Do you mean that she has not accepted ” —

“ I do not know what I mean, nor what she means, either! ” exclaimed Paul, rising, and beginning to pace the floor.

“ My dear Patoff,” I said, “ you made a grave mistake in making me find your brother. Excuse my abruptness, but that is my opinion.”

He turned suddenly upon me, and his face was very pale, while his eyes gleamed disagreeably and his lip trembled.

“ So you have noticed that, too,” he said in a low voice. “ Well — go on ! What do you advise me to do ? How am I to get him out of the way ? ”

“ There can be no doubt that Balsamides would advise you to cut his throat,” I replied. 64 As for me, I advise you to wait, and see what comes of it. He must soon go home and rejoin his regiment.”

“ Wait! ” exclaimed Paul impatiently. “Wait! Yes, — and while I am waiting he will be working, and he will succeed ! With that angel’s face of his, he will certainly succeed ! Besides, my mother will help him, as you know.”

“ Look here,” said I. “ Either Miss Carvel loves you, or she does not. If she does, she will not love your brother. If she does not love you, you had better not marry her. That is the reasonable view.”

“No doubt, — no doubt. But I do not mean to be reasonable in that way. You forget that I love her. The argument might have some weight.”

“ Not much. After all, why do you love her ? You do not know her well.”

Paul stared at me as though he thought I were going mad. I dare say that I must have appeared to him to be perfectly insane. But I was disconcerted by the gravity of the situation, and I believed that he had a bad chance against Alexander. It was wiser to accustom his mind to the idea of failure than to flatter him with imaginary hopes of success. A man in love is either a hero or a fool : heroes who fail are generally called fools for their pains, and fools who succeed are sometimes called heroes. Paul stared, and turned away in silence.

“You do not seem to have any answer ready,” I observed. “ You say you love a certain lady. Is there any reason, in the nature of things, why some one else should not love her at the same time ? Then it follows that the most important point is this, — she must love you. If she does not, your affection is wasted. I am not an old man, but I am far from being a young one, and I have seen much in my time. You may analyze your feelings and those of others, when in love, as much as you please, but you will not get at any other result. Unless a woman loves you, it is of very little use that you love her.”

“ What in the world are you talking about, Griggs ? ” asked Paul, whose ideas, perhaps, did not coincide with mine. “ What can you know about love ? You are nothing but a hardened old bachelor ; you never loved a woman in your life, I am sure.”

I was much struck by the truth of this observation, and I held my peace. A cannibal cannot be expected to understand French cooking.

“ I tell you,” continued Paul, “ that Miss Carvel has promised to marry me, and I constantly speak to her of our marriage.”

“ But does she speak to you of it ? ” I asked. “ I fancy that she never alludes to it except to tell you not to go to her father.”

In his turn Paul was silent, and bent his brows. He must have been half distracted, or he would not have talked to me as he did. I never knew a less communicative man.

“This is a very delicate matter,” I said presently. “ You ask my advice ; I will give you the best I can. Do one of two things. Either go to Mr. Carvel without his daughter’s permission, or else fight it out as you can until your brother goes. Then you will have the field to yourself.”

“ The difficulty lies in the choice,” said Paul.

“ The choice depends upon your own state of mind, and upon your strength, or rather upon the strength of your position. If Miss Carvel has promised to marry you, I think you have a right to push matters as fast as you can.”

“ I will,” said Paul. “ Good-by.”

He left me at once, and I began to reflect upon what had passed. It seemed to me that he was foolish and irrational, altogether unlike himself. He had asked my advice upon a point in which his own judgment would serve him better than mine, and it was contrary to his nature to ask advice at all in such matters. He was evidently hard pressed and unhappy, and I wished I could help him, but it was impossible. He was in a dilemma from which he could issue only by his own efforts ; and although I was curious to see what he would do, I felt that I was not in a position to suggest any very definite line of action. I looked idly out of the window at the people who passed, and I began to wonder whether even my curiosity to see the end could keep me much longer in Pera. The crowd jostled and elbowed itself in the narrow way, as usual. The fez, in every shade of red, and in every condition of newness, shabbiness, and mediocrity, with tassel and without, rocked, swayed, wagged, turned, and moved beneath my window till I grew sick of the sight of it, and longed to see a turban, or a tall hat, or no hat at all, — anything for a change of head-dress. I left the window rather wearily, and took up one of the many novels which lay on the table, pondering on the probable fate of Paul Patoff’s love for his cousin.


Hermione found herself placed in quite as embarrassing a position as Paul, and before long she began to feel that she had lost herself in a sort of labyrinth of new sensations. She hardly trusted herself to think or to reflect, so confusing were the questions which constantly presented themselves to her mind. It seems an easy matter for a woman to say, I love this man, or, I love that man, and to know that she speaks truly in so saying. With some natures first love is a fact, a certainty against which there is no appeal, and beside which there is no alternative. To see, with them, is practically to love, and to love once is to love forever. We may laugh over “love at first sight,” as we call it, but history and every-day life afford so many instances of its reality that we cannot deny its existence. But the conditions in which it is found are rare. To love each other at first sight, both the persons must be impulsive; each must find in the other exactly what each has long sought and most earnestly desired, and each must recognize the discovery instantaneously. I suppose, also, that unless such love lasts it does not deserve the name ; but in order that it may be durable it is necessary that the persons should realize that they have not been deceived in their estimate of each other, that they should possess in themselves the capacity for endurance, that their tastes should change little and their hearts not at all. People who are at once very impulsive and very enduring are few in the world and very hard to mate; wherefore love at first sight, but of a lasting nature, is a rare phenomenon.

Hermione did not belong to this class, and she had certainly not loved Paul during the first few days of their acquaintance. Her nature was relatively slow and hard to rouse. A season in society had produced no impression upon her, and if Paul had stayed only a week, or even a fortnight, at Carvel Place he might have fared no better than all the other men who had been presented to her, had talked and danced with her, and had gone away, leaving her life serenely calm as before. But Paul had been very assiduous, and had lost no time. Moreover, he loved her, and was in earnest about it; so that when, on that memorable day in the park, he had spoken at last, she had accepted his speech and had sealed her answer.

She believed that she loved him with all her heart, but she was new to love, and the waking sentiment was not yet a passion. It was only a sensation, and though its strength was great enough to influence Hermione’s life, it had not yet acquired any great stability. A more impulsive nature would have been more suddenly moved, but Hermione’s love needed time for its development, and the time had been very short. Since she had admitted that she loved Paul, she had not seen him until the eve of his brother’s reappearance ; and now, owing to Madame Patoff’s skillful management, she talked with Alexander more frequently than with Paul. Alexander was apparently doing his best to make her love him, and the world said that he was succeeding. Hermione herself was startled when she tried to understand her own feelings, for she saw that a great change had taken place in her, and she could neither account for it nor assure herself where it would end. It would be unjust to blame her, or to say that she was unfaithful. She did not waver in her determination to marry Paul, but she tried to put it off as long as possible, struggling to clear away her doubts, and trying hard to feel that she was acting rightly. After all, it is easy to comprehend the confusion which arises in a young girl’s mind when placed in such a position. We say too readily that a woman who wavers and hesitates is treating a man badly. Men are so quick to jump at the conclusion that women love them that they resent violently the smallest signs of hesitation in the other sex. They do not see that a woman needs time to decide, just as a man does ; and they think it quite enough that they themselves have made up their minds, as if women existed only to submit themselves to the choice of men, and had no manner of right to question that choice when once made.

Paul could not imagine why Hermione hesitated, and she herself would certainly have refused to account for the delay she caused, by admitting that Alexander had made an impression upon her heart. But she felt the charm the man exercised, and her life was really influenced by it. The strange adventure which had so long kept him a prisoner in Laleli’s house lent him an atmosphere of romantic interest, and his own nature increased the illusion. The brilliant young officer, with his almost supernatural beauty, his ready tongue, his sweet voice, and his dashing grace, was well calculated to make an impression upon any woman ; to a young girl who had grown up in very quiet surroundings, who had hitherto regarded Paul Patoff as the ideal of all that a man should be, the soldier brother seemed like a being from another world. At the same time Hermione was reaching the age when she could enjoy society, because she began to feel at home in it, because the first dazzling impression of it had given way to a quieter appreciation of what it offered, and lastly because she herself was surrounded by many admirers, and had become a personage of more importance than she had ever thought possible before. Under such circumstances a young girl’s impressions change very rapidly. She feels the disturbing influence and enjoys the moment, but while it lasts she feels also that she is unfit to decide upon the greatest question of her life. She needs time, because she can employ very little of the time she has in serious thought, and because she doubts whether all her previous convictions are not shaken to their foundations. She dreads a mistake, and is afraid that in speaking too quickly she may speak untruly. It is the desire to be honest which forbids her to continue in the course she had chosen before this new phase of her life began, or to come to any new decision involving immediate action, especially immediate marriage.

Herein lies the great danger to a young girl who has promised to marry a man before she has seen anything of the world, and who suddenly begins to see a great deal of the world before the marriage actually takes place. She is just enough attached to the man to feel that she loves him, but the bonds are not yet so close as to make her know that his love is altogether the dominating influence of her life. Unless this same man whom she has chosen stands out as conspicuously in the new world she has entered as in the quiet home she has left, there is great danger that he may fall in her estimation ; and in those early stages of love, estimation is a terribly important element. By estimation I do not mean esteem. There is a subtle difference between the two ; for though our estimation may be high or low, our esteem is generally high. When a young girl is old enough to be at home in society, she sets a value on every man, and perhaps on every woman, whom she meets. They take their places in the scale she forms, and their places are not easily changed. Among them the man she has previously promised to marry almost inevitably finds his rank, and she is fortunate if he is among the highest; for if he is not, she will not fail to regret that he does not possess some quality or qualities which she supposes to exist in those men whom she ranks first among her acquaintance. Where criticism begins, sympathy very often ends, and with it love. Then, if she is honest, a woman owns that she has made a mistake, and refuses to abide by her engagement, because she feels that she cannot make the man happy. Or if her ideas of faith forbid her from doing this, she marries him in spite of her convictions, and generally makes him miserable for the rest of his days. When a girl throws a man over, as the phrase goes, the world sets up a howl, and vows that she has treated him very badly; but it always seems to me that by a single act of courage she has freed herself and the man who loves her from the fearful consequences of a marriage where all the love would have been on one side, and all the criticism on the other. It is not always a girl’s own fault when she does not know her own mind, and when she has discovered her mistake she is wise if she refuses to persist in it. There is more to be said in favor of breaking off engagements than is generally allowed, and there is usually far too much said against the woman who has the courage to pursue such a course.

In comparing the two brothers, as she undoubtedly did, Hermione was not aware that she was making any real comparison between them. What she felt and understood was that when she was with Paul she was one person, and when she was with Alexander she was quite another; and the knowledge of this fact confused her, and made her uncertain of herself. With Paul she was, in her own feelings, the Hermione he had known in England; with Alexander she was some one else, — some one she did not recognize, and who should have been called by another name. Until she could unravel this mystery, and explain to herself what she felt, she was resolved not to take any further steps in regard to her marriage.

F. Marion Crawford.