Full Online Books
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFair Margaret: A Portrait - Chapter 11
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Fair Margaret: A Portrait - Chapter 11 Post by :jackie Category :Long Stories Author :F. Marion Crawford Date :May 2011 Read :1574

Click below to download : Fair Margaret: A Portrait - Chapter 11 (Format : PDF)

Fair Margaret: A Portrait - Chapter 11


Great singers and, generally, all good singers, are perfectly healthy animals with solid nerves, in which respect they differ from other artists, with hardly an exception. They have good appetites, they sleep soundly, they are not oppressed by morbid anticipations of failure nor by the horrible reaction that follows a great artistic effort of any kind except singing. Without a large gift of calm physical strength they could not possibly do the physical work required of them, and as they possess the gift they have also the characteristics that go with it and help to preserve it.

It does not follow that they have no feelings; but it does follow that their feelings are natural and healthy, when those of other musicians are apt to be frightfully morbid. A great deal of nonsense has been thought and written about the famous Malibran, because Alfred de Musset was moved to write of her as if she were a consumptive and devoured by the flame of genius. Malibran was a genius, but she was no more consumptive than Hercules. She died of internal injuries caused by a fall from a horse.

Margaret Donne, when she was about to go on the stage as Margarita da Cordova, was a perfectly normal young woman; which does not mean that she felt no anxiety about her approaching _debut_, but only that her actual diffidence as to the result did not keep her awake or spoil her appetite, though it made her rather more quiet and thoughtful than usual, because so very much depended on success.

At least, she had thought so when Logotheti had set her down at the gate. Five minutes later that aspect of the matter had changed. Mrs. Rushmore met her at the door of the morning room and gathered her in with a large embrace.

'My dear child!' cried the good lady. 'My dear child!'

This was indefinite, but Margaret felt that something more was coming, of a nature which Mrs. Rushmore considered fortunate in the extreme, and in a short time she had learned the news, but with no mention of Logotheti's name.

Six months earlier Margaret would have rejoiced at her good fortune. Yesterday she might still have hesitated about keeping the engagement she had signed with Schreiermeyer; but between yesterday and today there was her first rehearsal, there was the echo of that little round of real applause from fellow-artists, there was the sound of her own voice, high and true, singing 'Anges pures'; and there was the smell of the stage, with its indescribable attraction. To have gone back now would have been to gainsay every instinct and every aspiration she felt. She told Mrs. Rushmore this, as quietly as she could.

'You're quite mad,' said Mrs. Rushmore. 'You may say what you please. I maintain that you are quite mad.'

'I can't help it,' Margaret answered without a smile. 'I began by wishing to do it to earn my living, if I could, but as it turns out, I have a great voice. I believe I have one of the great voices of the day. I'm born to sing, and I should sing if you told me I had millions. I feel it now, and I am not boasting in the least. Ask Schreiermeyer, if you like.'

'Who is that person with the queer name?' inquired Mrs. Rushmore severely.

'He's one of the big managers--the one who has engaged me.'

'Engaged fiddlesticks!' commented Mrs. Rushmore, with contempt. 'I say you are quite mad. If not, how do you account for your wishing to go on the stage?'

Margaret was thinking how she could account for it, when Mrs. Rushmore went on.

'I'll have a specialist out this afternoon to look at you,' she said. 'You're not sane. I wonder who the best man is.'

The last sentence was spoken in an undertone of reflection.

'Nonsense!' exclaimed Margaret emphatically, and adding to the emphasis by taking off her hat and throwing her head back, shaking it a little as if she wished her hair were down.

Mrs. Rushmore turned upon her with the moral dignity of five generations of Puritan ancestors.

'Do you mean to say that after all I've done to get you this money, you are going to give me up to be an actress?' she demanded with scorn. 'That you're going to give up your best friends, and your position as a lady, and the chance of making a respectable marriage, not to mention your immortal soul, just for the pleasure of showing yourself every night half-dressed to every commercial traveller in Europe? It's disgraceful. I don't care what you say. You're insane. You shan't do it!'

At this view of the case Margaret's forehead flushed a little.

'You talk as if I were going to be a music-hall singer,' she said.

'That's where you'll end!' retorted Mrs. Rushmore, without the slightest regard for facts. 'That's where they all end! There, or in the divorce courts--or both! It's the same thing!' she concluded triumphantly.

'I never heard a divorce court compared to a music-hall,' observed Margaret.

'You know exactly what I mean,' answered Mrs. Rushmore angrily. 'Don't take me up at every word! Contradicting isn't reasoning. Anybody can contradict.'

'And besides,' continued Margaret, growing cooler as the other grew warm, 'one cannot be divorced till one has been married.'

'Oh, you'll marry soon enough!' cried Mrs. Rushmore, infuriated by her calm. 'You'll marry an adventurer with dyed moustaches and a sham title, who'll steal your money and beat you! And though I am your dear mother's best friend, Margaret, I'm bound to say that it will serve you right. It's useless to deny it. It will serve you right.'

'It would certainly serve me right if I married the individual with the dyed moustaches,' said Margaret, smiling in spite of herself.

'I'm glad you agree with me at last. It shows that you're not so perfectly mad as you seemed. If you had gone on as you were talking at first I should certainly have had a mad doctor to examine you. As it is, I don't believe you're fit to have all that money. You mean well, I daresay. But you have no sense. None at all.'

Margaret laughed and took the opportunity of the lull in the battle to escape to her own room. A moment later Mrs. Rushmore followed her and knocked at the door.

'I'm sure you've had nothing to eat all day,' she called out anxiously, before Margaret could answer.

Margaret opened and put her head out, to explain that she had lunched, but she did not say where.

'Oh, very well!' answered Mrs. Rushmore, unwilling to show that her anger had subsided so soon. 'That's all I wanted to know.'

Like most Anglo-Saxons, she vaguely connected regular meals with morality.

When Margaret was alone she realised that she was more disturbed by Lushington's unexpected appearance at Logotheti's door than she had thought it possible to be. At the time, she had been surprised to see him and a little hurt by his manner, but she had attributed the latter to his natural shyness. Now that she could think quietly about the meeting, she remembered his eyes and the look of cold resentment she had seen in them for the first time since she had known him. He had no right to be angry with her for lunching with Logotheti, she was quite sure. He had parted from her, giving her to understand that they were to meet as little as possible in future. How could he possibly claim to criticise her actions after that? A few days ago, she would have married him, if he had not insisted that it was impossible. She was not sure that she would marry him now, if he came back. He had looked as if he meant to interfere in her life, after refusing to share it. No woman will tolerate that.

Yet she was disturbed, and a little sad, now that the day was over. Logotheti had found words for a thought that had passed through her mind, it was true; if Lushington loved her, how could he make an obstacle of what she had been so ready to overlook? The Greek's direct speeches had appealed to her, while he had been at her side. But now, she wished with all her heart that Lushington would appear to ask her questions, and let her answer them. She had a most unreasonable impression that she had somehow angered him, and wronged herself in his eyes. She would not ask herself whether she loved him still, or whether she had really loved him at all, but she longed to see him. He had said that he was leaving again in the evening, but perhaps he would think better of it and come out to see her. She even thought of writing to him, for she knew his London address. He lived in Bolton Street, Piccadilly, and she remembered his telling her that his windows looked upon a blank brick wall opposite, in which he sought inspiration and sometimes found it. Sometimes, he had said, he saw her face there.

Then she remembered the last hour they had spent together at Madame Bonanni's, and the quiet dignity and courage of his behaviour under circumstances that might almost have driven a sensitive man out of his senses.

She thought of him a great deal that afternoon, and the result of her thoughts was that she resolved not to go to Logotheti's house again, though she had a vague idea that such a resolution should not be connected with Lushington, if she meant to respect her own independence. But when she had reached this complicated state of mind, both Lushington and Logotheti took themselves suddenly out of the sphere of her meditations, and she was standing once more on the half-lighted stage, singing 'Anges pures' into the abyss of the dark and empty house.

The evening post brought Margaret three notes from Paris. One, in bad French, was from Schreiermeyer, to say that he had changed his mind, that she was to make her _debut in _Rigoletto instead of in _Faust_, and that a rehearsal of the former opera was called for the next day but one at eleven o'clock, at which, by kindness of the director of the Opera, she would be allowed to sing the part of Gilda.

When she read this, her face fell, and she felt a sharp little disappointment. She had already fancied herself Marguerite, the fair-haired Gretchen, mass-book in hand and eyes cast down, and then at the spinning-wheel, and in the church, and in the prison, and it was an effort of imagination to turn herself into the Italian Duke's Gilda, murdered to save her lover and dragged away in the sack--probably by proxy!

The next note was from Logotheti, who begged her to use his motor car for going in to her rehearsals. The chauffeur would bring it to Mrs. Rushmore's gate, the day after to-morrow, in plenty of time. The note was in French and ended with the assurance of 'most respectful homage.'

When she had read it she stared rather vacantly into the corner of her room for a few seconds, and then tossed the bit of paper into the basket under her writing-table.

The third letter was from Lushington. She had recognised the small scholarly handwriting and had purposely laid it aside to read last. It was rather stiffly worded, and it contained a somewhat unnecessary and not very contrite apology for having seemed rude that morning in answering her question so roughly and in hurrying away. He had not much else to say, except that he was going back at once to his London lodgings in Bolton Street--a hint that if Margaret wished to write to him he was to be found there.

She bit her lip and frowned. The note was useless and tactless as well. If he had wished to please her he might have written a word of greeting, as if nothing had happened, just to say that he wished he could have seen her for a few minutes. It would have been so easy to do that instead of sending a superfluous apology for having been rude on purpose! She read the note again and grew angry over it. It was so gratuitous! If he really meant to avoid her always, he need not have written at all. 'Superfluous' was the word; it was superfluous. She tore the letter into little bits and threw them into the basket; and then, by an afterthought, she fished up Logotheti's note, which she had not torn, and read it again.

At all events, he was a man of the world and could cover two pages of note-paper without saying anything that could irritate a woman. Like everything he said, what he wrote was just right. He did not protest that he could not use his motor car himself, and he did not apologise for taking the liberty of offering her the use of it; he did not even ask for an answer, as if he were trying to draw her into writing to him. The car would be at the gate, and he would be glad if she could use it; meaning that if she did not want it she could send it away. There was not the least shade of familiarity in the phrases. 'Respectful homage' was certainly not 'familiar.' Just because he did not ask for an answer, he should have one!

She took up her pen and began. When she had written three or four lines to thank him, she found herself going on to say more, and she told him of the change in regard to her _debut_, and asked if he knew why it was made so suddenly. She explained why she preferred _Faust to _Rigoletto_, and all at once she saw that she had filled a sheet and must either break off abruptly or take another. She finished the note hastily and signed her name. When it was done she remembered that she had not told him anything about the money which had unexpectedly come to her, and she hesitated a moment; but she decided that it was none of his business, and almost wondered why she had thought of telling him anything so entirely personal. She sealed the letter, stamped it and sent it to be posted.

Then she sat down at her piano to look over _Rigoletto_, whistling her part softly while she played, in order to save her voice, and in a few minutes she had forgotten Logotheti, Schreiermeyer and Lushington.

If you like this book please share to your friends :

Fair Margaret: A Portrait - Chapter 12 Fair Margaret: A Portrait - Chapter 12

Fair Margaret: A Portrait - Chapter 12
CHAPTER XIIMadame Bonanni sat in the spring sunshine by the closed window of her sitting-room in London; she was thankful that there was any sunshine at all, and by keeping the window shut and wrapping herself in furs she produced the illusion that it was warming her. The room was not very large and a good deal of space was taken up by a grand piano, a good deal more by the big table and the heavy furniture, and the rest by Madame Bonanni herself. Her bulk was considerably increased by the white furs, from which only her head emerged; and

Fair Margaret: A Portrait - Chapter 10 Fair Margaret: A Portrait - Chapter 10

Fair Margaret: A Portrait - Chapter 10
CHAPTER XLogotheti's motor car was built to combine the greatest comfort and the greatest speed which can be made compatible. It was not meant for sport, though it could easily beat most things on the road, for though the Greek lived a good deal among sporting men and often did what they did, he was not one himself. It was not in his nature to regard any sport as an object to be pursued for its own sake. Only the English take that view naturally, and, of late years, some Frenchmen. All other Europeans look upon sport as pastime which is